Help us solve the mystery of HMS Howe, the Royal Navy Battleship, as seen through the lens of WW2

By Pierre Kosmidis

Photos by Cathy Gaffney

High ranking officer boarding HMS Howe. Credit: Cathy Gaffney
High ranking officer boarding HMS Howe. Credit: Cathy Gaffney

A series of previously unpublished photographs of HMS Howe, the last of the five British King George V-class battleships of the Royal Navy comes to light, thanks to Mrs. Cathy Gaffney.

The battleship's mascot with HMS Howe's bell. Credit: Cathy
The battleship’s mascot with HMS Howe’s bell. Credit: Cathy Gaffney

These photos, which depict the daily lives of sailors aboard HMS Howe, as well as official ceremonies, are a great testament to the history of the Royal Navy during WW2.

We would like to ask for any info related to the high ranking officers and other persons appearing on these photos, as well as any other details regarding this WW2 Battleship.

The guns of HMS Howe fire a salvo
The guns of HMS Howe fire a salvo. Credit: Cathy Gaffney

Howe was completed on 29 August 1942 after her building time was extended, as needed war supplies were diverted to work of a higher priority such as the construction and repair of both merchant ships and escort ships. Like her sister-ship Anson, Howe spent most of her career in the Arctic providing cover for Russian convoys.

A seaplane is hoisted back to HMS Howe. Credit: Cathy Gaffney

In 1943 Howe took part in Operation Husky and bombarded Trapani naval base and Favignana in support of the allied invasions. Along with King George V, Howe escorted two surrendered Italian battleships to Alexandria. Howe was also sent to the Pacific and attached to Task Force 113, where she provided naval bombardments for the Allied landings at Okinawa on 1 April 1945.

HMS Howe crew. Credit: Cathy Gaffney
HMS Howe crew. Credit: Cathy Gaffney

Following the end of the war, Howe spent four years as flagship of the Training Squadron at Portland, before she was placed in reserve in 1950. The battleship was marked for disposal in 1957, sold for scrap in 1958, and completely broken up by 1961.

Photo taken during an official ceremony on board HMS Howe. Anyone recognises the official delivering a speech? Credit: Cathy Gaffney
Photo taken during an official ceremony on board HMS Howe. Does anyone recognise the official delivering a speech? Credit: Cathy Gaffney
The Royal Navy battleship HMS Howe (32), flagship of the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser, passing through the Suez Canal on its way to the Pacific. Royal Navy official photographer - This is photograph TR 2619 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums. U.S. Navy photo NH 94456-KN available at the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command
The Royal Navy battleship HMS Howe (32), flagship of the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser, passing through the Suez Canal on its way to the Pacific. Royal Navy official photographer – This is photograph TR 2619 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums. U.S. Navy photo NH 94456-KN available at the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command