Photograph of HMS Dido’s Main Armament

This week’s photograph has a naval theme as it depicts HMS Dido, however unlike typical three-quarter point views of a ship at sea, this image is taken from the foc’stle looking aft and shows the ships guns and superstructure:SKM_C284e18070313140 - CopyThe ship’s three gun turrets can be clearly seen:SKM_C284e18070313140 - Copy - CopyEach turret housed a pair of 5.25 inch dual purpose guns and in this view it can be seen that they are encased in plastic. Some writing on the back of the photograph helps explain this as this indicates the photograph was taken in 1954. At this date the ship had been decommissioned and was in Fareham Creek in reserve. As such many of her critical systems were cocooned to prevent them rusting and deteriorating. This was common practice in the early 1950s when large fleets were being decommissioned but no one was sure if war with the Soviets was on the horizon and they might be needed again at short notice. As such relatively modern ships were put into deep storage like HMS Dido just in case they would be needed again. Dido would not be called on again and in 1957 she would be sent to the breakers.

Above the three gun turrets can be seen the ship’s bridge:SKM_C284e18070313140 - Copy - Copy (2)Like many cruisers of the era, her bridge is open and above can be seen various directors and the base of her mast. In the foreground we can see capstans and anchor chains that filled her fore deck:SKM_C284e18070313140 - Copy - Copy (3)The Dido was the lead ship in her class and the eleven ships of the Dido class and five of the Bellona sub class were well regarded during the Second World War where their heavy armament and anti-aircraft capability meant they were well suited to operations in the Mediterranean. Having been laid down in 1937 Dido was the oldest member of her class but was only commissioned in 1940 meaning that she saw just fourteen years of active service before passing to reserve status and subsequently going to the scrap-man.

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