25 November 2016 marks the 75th Anniversary of the loss of the British battleship HMS Barham and the deaths of over 860 of the ship’s company.
When Barham was launched in 1914 she was one of the most powerful warships in the world. She saw action in the First World War at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, and was present at the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet in 1918.
Upon the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, she was still a potent and formidable warship. She saw much action in British home waters and in the Mediterranean, where she took part in escorts and patrols, and in raids on Italian and German bases and shipping.
On 24 November 1941, Barham left Alexandria harbour with a Royal Navy flotilla and sailed into the Mediterranean to seek and destroy Italian convoys. At 16:25 on 25 November, she was attacked by the German submarine U-331, and Barham was hit by 3 torpedoes. She quickly capsized to port and, as the crew abandoned ship, one of her magazines exploded. Over 860 of her crew were killed.
The sinking and the explosion was captured by a Pathé cameraman from a nearby British ship.
Most of those who died aboard Barham have no known grave but the sea. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorates all of those who died. Their names can be found inscribed upon the three great Naval Memorials in the United Kingdom. The majority are commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, and many of their names can be found on Panels 45-61.