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HMS Ladybird (1916)
HMS Ladybird Port Said 1917 IWM SP 000560.jpg
HMS Ladybird at Port Said, November 1917
Career (UK) RN Ensign
Name: HMS Ladybird
Launched: 1916
Fate: Sunk in shallow water 12 May 1941, used as Anti-aircraft position.
General characteristics
Class & type: Insect-class gunboat

HMS Ladybird was an Insect-class gunboat of the Royal Navy, launched in 1916. This class are also referred to as "large China gunboats". Originally built to patrol the River Danube during World War I, she was later shipped to China to serve on the Yangtze River.


On 12 December 1937, Ladybird, along with Bee became involved in the Panay incident and came under fire from a Japanese artillery unit near Wuhu on the Yangtze River. Ladybird was hit by six shells and Bee dodged a shell as she came upon the scene.

In 1939 the original pair of 6 inch Mk VII 45-calibre guns were replaced by more modern and 30 inches longer 6-inch Mk XIII 50-calibre guns from the decommissioned HMS Agincourt.

Ladybird was allocated to Singapore in 1940 and then, along with five others of the class, stripped down and towed to the Mediterranean. During the journey she sustained damage which meant she was limited to a speed of 7 knots (13 km/h) due to a misaligned hull. She was initially used to guard Port Said.

Off Bardia, 31 December 1940

Ladybird's gunners in action during the bombardment of Bardia, 31 December 1940

In late December 1940 and early January 1941 Ladybird was engaged at close range in bombarding the Italian port of Bardia in Libya, in preparation and support of the Allied assault and capture of Bardia on 5 January 1941 as part of Operation Compass. On 25 February 1941 she landed a Royal Marines unit during Operation Abstention, an ill-fated attempt to seize the Italian island of Kastelorizo, where she was hit by an aerial bomb. Later, acting in support of the Tobruk garrison, she shelled the Gazala airfield and ferried in supplies. During this duty, on 12 May 1941, she was severely damaged by dive bombers and set on fire, settling on an even keel in ten feet of water. Still above water, her three-inch gun was used in an anti-aircraft role. Gnat then replaced Ladybird in supporting Tobruk.

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Coordinates: 32°4′33″N 23°58′21″E / 32.07583°N 23.9725°E / 32.07583; 23.9725

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