Fritz-X Survivor HMCS Quebec Visit to Barcelona

by Antoni Casinos from

(Google Translation)

On the morning of March 28, 1955, after the formal salute to the cannon, the light cruiser HMCS Quebec of the Royal Canadian Navy made its entrance to the port of Barcelona on a courtesy visit, which was on a midshipman training trip.

The arrival of the Canadian cruiser raised a lot of expectation among the people of Barcelona (Museo Marítimo de Barcelona)

The cruise ship, which came from the French port of Ville-franche, was commanded by the ship’s captain Edward William Finch-Noyes and proceeded to moor at the Barcelona Wharf south facing where the civil and military authorities of the city were waiting for it and there would remain until April 3.

The cruise ship HMCS Quebec was on an instructional trip that began on January 14, 1955 with 60 midshipmen on board, the trip took it around the African coast, making HMCS Quebec the first Canadian ship to make a trip of these characteristics . On their departure from Barcelona they would set sail for Gibraltar and end the instructional cruise in the port of Halifax.

On the night of HMCS Quebec’s arrival in Barcelona, ​​activities began in honor of the ship and its crew, with a gala in honor at the Ritz hotel. The next day the sailors on the cruise ship were treated to a visit to the Gothic Quarter and a reception at the Municipal Palace hosted by the mayor of the city, Antonio María Simarro. At noon they attended a lunch hosted by the Head of the Naval Sector of Catalonia, Rear Admiral Bobadilla with the assistance of the Canadian Ambassador in Madrid, Mr. Pope, and the Consul General of Great Britain in Barcelona. In the afternoon they enjoyed a folklore exhibition at the Pueblo Español on the Montjuich mountain.

The HMCS Quebec in navigation wearing the numeral of C-31

At first glance, nobody would say it thanks to the good maintenance of the ship to which its crew submits it, but this ship fought in World War II under two flags and suffered, under the English flag, the attack of one of the secret weapons of the Luftwaffe, luckily many crew members and the ship itself were able to survive to tell about it, others did not have that privilege.

The HMCS Quebec cruise ship
It was originally built under the name of HMS Uganda for the Royal Navy, it belonged to the Crown Colony class of light cruisers of which 11 units saw the light and of these 2 were lost in the war.

The HMS Uganda was built by the Vickers-Armstrong shipyards in Newcastle upon Tyne, being launched on August 7, 1941 and its delivery became effective on January 3, 1943, later on October 21, 1944 it would be transferred to Canada.

HMS Uganda launched (National Archives)
HMS UGANDA, BRITISH CRUISER. 1944, AT SEA. (A 27727) Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

It displaced 11,024 tons at full load, its dimensions were 169.3 meters long by 18.9 meters wide and 5.3 meters deep. It was powered by four oil-fired boilers and four four-axis turbines with a power of 72,500 SHP., Which gave it a top speed of 33 knots and a range of 10,200 nautical miles at 12 knots. Endowment in wartime, 730 crew members.

As armament it had 3 triple towers of 152 mm. Mk. XXIII, 4 doubles of 102 mm. Mk. XVI, 4 x 40mm quad mounts. Mk. VII, 10 doubles of 20 mm. Mk. II and 2 triple 533 mm torpedo launchers, it could also board two Supermarine Walrus seaplanes.

To the war
As soon as the acclimatization and training phase of the ship’s crew was finished in Scapa Flow, it joined the fleet. From July 9 to August 17, 1943, he participated in the Allied invasion campaign in Sicily codenamed Operation Husky, first escorting troop carriers and then bombarding the coast prior to landing.

HMS UGANDA, MAURITIUS CLASS CRUISER. JANUARY 1943, SCAPA FLOW. (A 22963) Broadside view. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

On September 9, 1943, he was assigned to bomb and cover fire for the British X Corps in the invasion of Salerno in Operation Avalanche . Everything was developing normally within the foreseeable future until on September 11, 1943 the Germans began the counterattack with planes from the Kampfgeschwader 100 or KG 100 squadron based in Marseille. This unit had medium and heavy bombers of the Dornier Do-217, Heikel He-111 and Heinkel He-177 models. The attack was carried out on the North American cruisers of the US Navy USS Savannah and USS Philadelphia, and of the Royal Navy HMS Uganda and the destroyers HMS Loyal and HMS Nubian.

Guided bomb attack

Representation of a guided bomb attack against an allied convoy (Imperial War Museum)

On September 13, 1943 at 2:40 p.m., a KG 100 Dornier Do-217 K-2 aircraft dropped a Ruhrstahl X-1 or Fritz-X radio-guided bomb on HMS Uganda, the 1.4 bomb. tons pierced through seven decks, piercing the keel and exploding beneath it, the detonation immediately extinguishing the boiler fires, leaving the ship without propulsion. 1,300 tons of water entered through the gap under the keel, luckily the damage control team managed to control the flooding saving the ship but they could not prevent the death of 16 sailors. Finally a North American tugboat, the USS Narragansett, towed the cruiser HMS Uganda to the island of Malta to be repaired.

Moment of the impact of a guided bomb on the American cruiser USS Savannah (via

Fritz-X guided bomb
The German radio-guided bomb Ruhrstahl X-1 or Fritz X was in operation during 1943 to 1944, the person in charge of the design was Max Otto Kramer (1903-1986). The bomb was designed as a guided bomb and as an anti-ship bomb to be able to penetrate the armor of the British or North American King George V class battleships. Up to six variants were designed, highlighting the X-2 or the X-3 with transonic fall velocity, or the X-5 with an explosive charge of 2,250 kilograms.

Fritz-X guided bomb

Fritz-X guided bomb
The last variant that he developed and that luckily for the allies did not arrive in time was the X-4, an air-to-air missile, designed to attack large formations of bombers.

The Fritz X guided bomb made its debut on August 25, 1943 when a small ship, the HMS Landguard, was nearly sunk in the Bay of Biscay. On August 27, 18 Do-217 sank the 1,200-ton ship HMS Egret and damaged the Canadian destroyer HMCS Athabaskan of about 2,500 tons.

Other ships that were attacked with the Fritz-X bombs were the 33,000-ton battleship HMS Warspite (damaged), the 2,300-ton destroyer HMS Janus (F-53) (sunk), and the 46,000-ton Italian battleship Roma (sunk). .

Battleship Rome
The 46,215-ton, 240-meter-long battleship Roma was one of the victims of these dreaded weapons

After the war, Dr. Max Otto Kramer was one of the German scientists who through Operation Paperclip were transferred to the United States, there he would work between 1947 and 1952 at the “Pilotless Aircraft Laboratory” and help in the development of unmanned vehicles. From 1952 he held the position of Technical Director at the “Coleman Engineering Company”, there he investigated with new materials in order to improve the navigation of submarines under water, in the same way that dolphins did. This is how he discovered a new material that would reduce water resistance in underwater vehicles. He patented his invention and tried to sell it to the US government without success, apparently the patent ended up in the hands of the Soviets much more grateful than the former.

Not to the war
The HMCS Uganda already in the Royal Canadian Navy continued to participate in various campaigns of World War II as the flagship of its nation. He was assigned to the British Pacific Fleet which in turn was integrated into the allied Task Force 57, participating in the Battle of Okinawa and in the Truk, Formosa and Sakushi Gunto attacks. Under the command of the North American Admiral Raymond Spruance he was in the Leyte operations and engaged in combat against the Japanese Imperial naval units.

HMS Uganda Secondary Artillery Opening Fire on Sukuma Airfield on Miyako-Jima Island (National Archives)

On April 4, 1945 there was a change in the policy of the Government of Canada regarding the status of a sailor in combat, the new regulation established that all sailors who were going to fight in the Pacific had to be volunteers. Curiously, this policy was applied to all the sailors who were already there, so the government and the navy command had to ask them whether or not they wanted to remain in the conflict zone. On May 7, 1945, the consultation was put to a vote, the majority result being to return home, so the ship had to withdraw from the war to the annoyance of the Allies, becoming the first warship to say “no to the war”. HMCS Uganda’s replacement did not come until July 27, 1945.

HMCS Uganda

In the middle of the return trip, the HMCS Uganda had a major breakdown in a boiler which left the ship practically without a government, with many problems they reached Pearl Harbor, but due to the Allied disgust of their withdrawal from the war they could only refuel without repairing the machine, which they managed to do at the Canadian naval base at Esquimalt.

After World War II, the HMCS Uganda went to the reserve, it was modernized and reactivated under the name of HMCS Quebec with the numeral C-31, being the fourth ship of its nation to bear this name, participating in the Korean conflict in 1952 .

In 1953 as the flagship of the Canadian flotilla under the command of Vice Admiral Bidwell, she was present at Spithead for the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, on June 2, 1953. Her last assignment in the Royal Canadian Navy was as a ship. midshipman school with new numeral, CCL-1.

HMCS Quebec at full throttle

The light cruiser HMCS Quebec was decommissioned on January 15, 1956 and sold for scrap in Japan.

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