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32000 Tons (Standard)
4 x 40mm
June 12, 1924
December 10, 1941
World War I
Repulse's first rebuild took place between 1918 to 1920. The major element of refit was the replacement of her 6 inch (152 mm) armour belt with 9 inches (229 mm) and a further 6 inch (152 mm) section above it protecting what had previously been unarmoured. Together with improved anti-torpedo bulges this meant an additional 4,300 tons of armour. Her torpedo tubes were moved from underwater to on deck. In 1924-1925, the mixture of low angle 4 inch (102 mm) and high angle 3 inch (76 mm) guns were changed to 4" (102 mm) high angle guns. Also included were improvements to the anti-aircraft armament, and facilities for a spotter aircraft. The last major refit was 1933-1936 when she received more armour, more anti-aircraft guns (2 pdr pom-poms (40 mm) and 0.5 inch (12.7 mm) Vickers machine guns) and an aircraft catapult with two hangers. Initially the aircraft were Fairey Swordfish floatplanes (replaced in 1941 with the Supermarine Walrus). After the refit she went on the Mediterranean.
In January 1941, Repulse participated in the hunt for the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. In May, she took part in the chase of the Bismarck. Originally scheduled to escort convoy WS-8B to the Middle East around Africa, Repulse operated as part of the Home Fleet, but was detached from the main body prior to the last engagement due to fears of a repeat of the loss of Hood and to lack of fuel.
In August, she was transferred to Cape Town, South Africa, and in October, she was transferred to India, arriving on 28 October. At the end of 1941, as the threat of war with Japan loomed ever larger, Repulse was detached to the Far East as a deterrent to further Japanese aggression.
Shortly after the outbreak of the Pacific War on December 8, 1941, Repulse departed Singapore with HMS Prince of Wales and four destroyers of the Eastern Fleet, to try and intercept Japanese invasion force heading towards Malaya.
The Repulse survived a bomb hit and managed to dodge 14 torpedoes before being sunk in 20 minutes after receiving 5 torpedo hits. 327 crew members died in the sinking.
The destroyers HMS Electra and HMAS Vampire rescued survivors of Repulse, while Express rescued survivors of the Prince of Wales. Even after they were rescued, some survivors of the Repulse manned Action Stations on HMS Electra, to free the Electra sailors to rescue more survivors. In total, 1,285 survivors of the Repulse were rescued, of which Electra saved 571; 327 died. Electra and the other destroyers then returned to Singapore to drop off the survivors.
The wreck site was designated as a 'Protected Place' in 2001 under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986, just prior to the 60th anniversary of her sinking. The Royal Navy maintains a White Ensign flag on the mast of the Repulse.
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