- Haigh, Gideon
- Battles and operations, Ship design and development, Ship histories and stories, WWI operations
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 2007 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
When divers visited Invincible’s wreck on the 75th anniversary of its sinking, they found her breeches loaded, as if still poised for the word to fire. And the grieving took comfort that the end had been quick. ‘Anyhow, there was no struggle, no minute to think, because the ship sank in 10 to 15 seconds,’ wrote one widow to Hood’s widow. ‘I am writing all this fully because I want you to have with me the comfort of knowing that they were all so happy and satisfied up to the moment when they passed without feeling the passage into the next world.’ For naval planners, however, the quick end was disturbing. By the time Invincible exploded, Queen Mary and Indefatigable had met similarly apocalyptic fates, with losses of more than 1000 men each time. And while Jutland’s controversial inconclusion would be extensively debated, no one seriously disagreed that Fisher’s invention had been tried and found wanting at inordinate cost. Even a popular amusement, ‘The Game of Jutland’, had no space for battle cruisers.
Invincible was largely forgotten; Players reassigned its smoking sailor to Excellent, the shore-based gunnery school that was perforce unsinkable, out of deference to the bereaved. Only traces survived; in fact, when the name was revived in 1980, the new ship’s captain C.H. Layman revealed an heirloom. His grandfather had been an officer on Inflexible at Jutland when a smoking fragment of Invincible had landed at his feet; mounted in a gold brooch for his wife, it had remained in the family. The Invincible that Layman commanded in the Falklands two years later, however, was an aircraft-carrier: the sort of vessel that had completed the eclipse of the capital ship begun at Jutland, and a development unforeseen even by Jacky Fisher.