Operation Hammer (iii)

This was a British naval gunfire bombardment of the north-western side of the ‘toe’ of southern Italy in the area between Reggio di Calabria and Pellaro in preparation for ‘Baytown’ (i) (30/31 August 1943).

The ships involved were the battleships Nelson and Rodney, light cruiser Orion, and destroyers Offa, Petard, Quail, Queenborough, Quilliam, Tartar, Troubridge, Tumult, Tyrian and Free Polish Piorun.

At the southern entrance to the Strait of Messina, the bombardment force opened fire at 10.00 on 31 August against coastal batteries, including two 203-mm (8-in) guns, to the north-east of Reggio di Calabria. One of Rodney's early salvoes landed in the middle of an ammunition dump, and the Supermarine Spitfire spotter aircraft were soon able to report that the targets had been saturated with fire and that at least one 203-mm (8-in) gun had been destroyed. The bombardment ended at 12.00 and the ships started their return to Malta.