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World War 1 at Sea - Royal Navy Vessels Lost and Damaged




HM Submarine E.18, some 30 E-class boats were lost, including E.18 (Rose Morton, click to enlarge)

on to April 1915

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(1) Ships in BOLD capitals are those sunk or otherwise lost; in lower case bold are attacked and/or damaged. Variations in the published information are in brackets starting with the abbreviation for the source  e.g. (dx - in 58.35N, 01.56E)

(2) Warship information is generally in the order - type, class, displacement tonnage, launch year, armament, speed, crew, captain if known, unit, operation if known. How sunk or damaged, lives lost (in brackets: source abbreviations starting with + for original HMSO)

(3) Auxiliary and hired vessel information is in the order - gross tonnage/build year, owner, registration port or place of ownership/management, crew if known, master or skipper, voyage and cargo, conditions if known. How sunk or damaged, lives lost (source abbreviations starting with + for original HMSO)

(4) Click for Notes, Abbreviations and Sources

(5) Link to Royal Navy casualty lists





Central Mediterranean

Two Admiralty blockships, 180ft long, Puglia SS Co, Bari, Italy-reg, purchased 1914/15, for use at Malta; location and date of scuttling not known:

GARGANO, 700/1884 (Lr/D)

LUCANO, 709/1884 (Lr/D)



Dardanelles Campaign - Russians asked the Allies to take Turkish pressure off their forces in the Caucasus. First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill gained support of the War Council for a naval attack on the Dardanelles. By the end of January, Admiralty directed to bombard and take Gallipoli with Constantinople as its objective, but no troops were to be made available

U.31 possibly mined in North Sea in January


Friday 1 January

English Channel

FORMIDABLE (below - Maritime Quest), battleship, Formidable-class, 15,800t, 1898, 4-12in/12-6in/18-12pdr/4-18in tt, 18kts, c800 crew, Pennant No.50, 5th BS, Capt Arthur Loxley, flagship Vice-Adm Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander-­in‑Chief, Channel Fleet, Squadron based at Sheerness but now less HMS Bulwark. Sailed 30 December for firing practice off Portland, escorted by six Harwich Force destroyers as far as Folkestone where they turned back as the Channel was believed free of U-boats, now only accompanied by attached light cruiser Topaze of 5th BS and Diamond of 6th. Reaching Portland at daybreak on New Year's Day, 6th BS did not enter harbour but exercised 25 miles from Portland Bill for most of the day, Adm Bayly decided to stay at sea and to be ready for further exercises next day, headed for a position south of the Isle of Wight. Abreast of the Needles at 1900, and in accordance with Fleet Orders that if there was any possibilty of a submarine attack a course change should be made just after dark, the squadron turned back with the two cruisers following, sailing a straight course for Start Point, Devon ready to turn again, Formidable now at rear, sea rough, night cloudy with visibility two miles. Torpedoed by U.24 (Rudolph Schneider) starboard side abreast foremost funnel at 0220 (He - 0230), engine-room flooded and ship listed 20° to starboard, at 0230 Formidable was seen to fall out of line, Topaze came up to find her lowering launch, pinnace and two barges, one of which capsized in the now violent seas. About 0305 a second torpedo hit port-side abreast after funnel, rising sea and wind and intense darkness made rescue difficult for Topaze and Diamond. With bows now awash, Formidable began to heel rapidly to starboard around 0445, settling by the bow, abandon ship was ordered and she sank (dx - 21 mile E of Start Point; ke - 25 miles off Portland; wi - off Start Point, in 50.13.12N, 03.03.58W); 547 men drowned or died of exposure - 34 officers including Capt Loxley, 511 ratings and 2 canteen staff (He - 35 officers and 512 men died, and 233 survived; ke - 233 survivors), Topaze took off 43 men from the barge, Diamond rescued 37, the launch got clear, picked up more men, then was found at noon near Berry Head by Brixham trawler Provident and her crew of 4 who took off all 71 in gale-force winds before the launch sank. Another boat drifted ashore near Lyme Regis with 46 men (+J/Rn/C/Cn/D/He/dk/dx/ke/un; ADM.116/1437A)


Monday 4 January

North Sea

C.31, submarine, C-class, c290/320t, 1909, 2‑18in tt with 4 torpedoes, 13/7½kts, c16 crew, Pennant No.I.61, 4th Submarine Flotilla, Dover Patrol, Lt George Pilkington, sailed Dover 4th to investigate German naval activity off Zeebrugge, then report to Harwich on 7th, never heard from again, “overdue, presumed lost”. On or after 4th (ke - possiby 4th) - Lost off Belgium coast, cause unknown, possibly mined in German field off Zeebrugge or by accident, RNAS aircraft failed to observe any salvage operations off Zeebrugge that may have been connected with her loss, Cdre Keyes went out night of the 9th/10th with destroyers Lurcher and Firedrake in the forelorn hope of finding her. Declared lost on the 7th; 3 officers and 14 ratings lost, no survivors (+J/Rn/C/Cn/D/He/bs/bw/dk/dq/dx/ke/on)


Wednesday 6 January

North Sea

BANYERS or The Banyers, Admiralty trawler, 448/1914, South Western Steam Fishing, Grimsby-reg GY128, hired 12/14 as minesweeper, Admiralty No.450, Lt Hubert Boothby RNR, sweeping. Mined in Scarborough field laid by German cruiser Kolberg between Fiely and Scarborough, sank “very quickly” off Cayton Bay, S of Scarborough (wi - in 54.15.07N, 00.15.24W); 2 ratings lost (He/wi - 6 crew), Skipper escaped through wheel-house window, 11 survivors rescued by other ships. Lt Boothby lost HMS Orianda less than a month before, was awarded the DSC and later wrote about his experiences in “Spunyarn”, published 1935 (+L/Lr/C/D/He/ap/dk/wi; ADM.137/84)


Saturday 9 January

North Atlantic

Charybdis, old light cruiser, Astraea-class, 4,360t, 12th CS, operating in South Western Approaches in 1914. Damaged in collision presumably in Atlantic. Laid up at Bermuda, commissioned for harbour service in 1917, converted to cargo carrier March 1918 for mercantile operation (Rn/Cn/D)


Tuesday 12 January

German East Africa Campaign - Mafia Is, S of Zanzibar and off Rufuji River captured by troops of King's African Rifles. Old light cruiser Fox, armed merchant cruiser Kinfauns Castle took part. supported to seaward by light cruiser Weymouth, gunboat Duplex and ex-German tug Adjutant


Wednesday 13 January


ROEDEAN, ex-Roebuck, auxiliary screw minesweeper, railway packet, 1,094/1897, Great Western Railway Co, Milford Haven-reg, hired 2/10/14, armed with 1 or 2-12pdr, Pennant No.M.35, renamed Roedean 12/14, Cdr Stephen Pidgeon RNR. Sank at entrance to Longhope Sound, SE Hoy island (wi - in 58.48.36N, 03.09.48W), cause originally not recorded; no lives lost. “Wreck Index” notes that one source describes her as mined, but with Hepper, goes on to confirm that she actually dragged her anchor in bad weather, collided with the bow of harbour repair hulk Fisgard, ex-Imperieuse, was holed, and foundered as she passed down the starboard side of Fisgard. Cdr Pidgeon was reprimanded for only having one anchor out (+J/Lr/C/Cn/D/He/dk/wi; ADM.1/8409/20)

Atlantic off N Ireland

VIKNOR, ex-Viking or The Viking, Admiralty armed merchant cruiser, ex-cruise ship, 5,386/1888, Viking Cruise Co, 15kts, hired 19/11/14, Pennant No.M.82, 10th CS Grand Fleet, Cdr Ernest Ballantyne, most northerly ship on Northern Patrol line B north of the Shetlands. On the 11th, at around 62N, 02.24W, intercepted Norwegian SS Bergensfiord carrying an important German secret service agent and other nationals from New York, Viknor ordered to put prize crew on board, escort the Norwegian ship towards Lerwick, then continue on to Liverpool with a total of eight German prisoners. Last message from Viknor on 13th (He – off Malin Head; ss - at 1600 in 56.18N, 09W, course S21ºW), nothing more was heard of her. Probably 13th - Believed sunk off Northern Ireland by one of Berlin's mines broken free by heavy gales off Tory Island (Rn - foundered in heavy weather; C - Wrecked on north coast of Ireland), wreckage and bodies washed ashore at Portrush; 294 lives lost - 22 officers, 196 ratings, 74 MN and 1 canteen staff plus prisoners, no survivors (He – 259, ke - 295) (+J/Rn/C/D/bi/dk/gf/ke/ss; ADM.137/185, ADM.116/1442)


Saturday 16 January

Dover Straits

CHAR, Admiralty screw tug, 149/1899, North Eastern Railway Co, West Hartlepool-reg, hired 17/11/14 as ABS, patrol and inspection tug in The Downs, Lt John Whale RNR, failed to answer radio signals from 16th, went missing. Run down at 0100 “in very rough conditions” by SS Erivan, sank between Deal and Goodwin Sands (wi - near North Goodwin buoy in 51.17.15N, 01.29.45E), wreck found with masts above water; 3 officers, 8 ratings and 7 MMR lost, no survivors (+Lr/C/D/He/dk/gs/wi; ADM.1/8409/18)


Sunday 17 January

North Sea

Archer, destroyer, I-class, c990t, 1st DF, taking part in Harwich Force sweep by three light cruisers and 32 destroyers in to Heligoland Bight, returning in the afternoon. Rammed by trawler and damaged, escorted to Sheerness by sister-ship Ferret (Cn/D/ty)


Monday 18 January

North Sea

Duke of Cornwall, Admiralty armed boarding vessel, 1,528/1898, hired 31/10/14. Collided with and sank trawler Earl Marischal 206grt, 30 miles NE by N of Buchan Ness, one of the trawler crew was lost (D/gr)

E.10, submarine, E-class, c667/807t, 1913, 1-12pdr/5-18in tt with 10 torpedoes, 15/9kts, c30 crew, Pennant No.I.90, Harwich-based 8th Flotilla, Lt-Cdr William Fraser, sailed from Harwich on 18th in company with E.5 and E.15 for Heligoland patrol, E.10 to the NNW of the island, never seen or heard from again, “overdue, presumed lost”. On or after 18th (ke - possibly 18th) - Lost, cause unknown, possibly mined off Heligoland in unknown field laid by Germans on 22 December; 3 officers and 28 ratings lost, no survivors. Wreck discovered in 130ft of water near Heligoland in 2003, damage to starboard ballast tanks and open hatches suggest a mine explosion while running on the surface, presumably at night (+J/C/Cn/D/He/bw/dk/ke/on)


Friday 19 January

North Sea

BLAKEDOWN, Admiralty trawler, 207/1900, Grimsby-reg GY1162, hired 1/15, Admiralty No.1044. (Other sources – 19 February) - Stranded and total wreck at Crudensgeir or Cruden Skares, near Peterhead, Aberdeenshire (wi - Bay of Cruden, near Newburgh, in 57.24.30N, 01.51.15W); no lives lost (+D/He/dk/wi; ADM.137/86)


Thursday 21 January

U.7 accidentally torpedoed by U.22 off Dutch coast


Sunday 24 January


Contemporary postcard of the Battle from the scrapbook of Leading Signalman George Smith,
present on board HM Destroyer Forester

German 1st SG - battlecruisers Seydlitz (flag, Adm Hipper), Moltke (both 11in-armed), Derfflinger (12in), armoured cruiser Blücher (8.2in), 2nd SG light cruisers Graudenz, Stralsund, Rostock, Kolberg, and destroyers sailed to attack British fishing vessels and patrols on the Dogger Bank (map right - click to enlarge). Warned by Room 40, Grand Fleet including the 1st LCS (Cdre Goodenough) and 1st BCS (Lion, flag, Adm Beatty) together with Harwich Force (Cdre Tyrwhitt) put to sea to rendezvous in the NE part of the Bank.

Delays due to fog meant that Harwich Force light cruiser Arethusa was heading north half an hour ahead of light cruiser leaders Aurora, Undaunted and their destroyers. Shortly after 0700 Aurora, sighted a cruiser in the SE Dogger Bank area, believed her to be Arethusa and challenged, then opened fire on the German Kolberg at 0715 from 8,000yds:

Aurora, Arethusa-class, 4,400t, 2-6in/6-4in/4-21in tt, leader 1st DF Harwich Force. Hit three times and slightly damaged, Kolberg damaged more severely and turned away (Rn/Cn/D/ty)

As the British ships continued towards the rendezvous, the Germans sighted 1st LCS, shortly turned for home and by 0750 could be seen by Adm Beatty’s 1st LCS. In the ensuing stern chase, the battlecruisers headed approximately south east:

                                                                                    Blücher – Derfflinger – Moltke - Seydlitz >

 Indomitable       - New Zealand - Princess Royal – Tiger - Lion >

with Indomitable lagging behind. Lion opened fire on Blücher at 0852, started hitting at 0907, then moved up to Derfflinger while Tiger and Princess Royal concentrated on Blücher, both Germans being hit. Lion received her first damage around 0928, and at 0935 Beatty ordered 1st BCS to engage their opposite numbers - New Zealand on Blücher, Princess Royal on Derfflinger, Tiger on Moltke, Lion on Seydlitz. Unfortunately Tiger fired at Seydlitz, leaving Moltke free to concentrate on Lion, and although the German ships were being hit, Lion was again hurt at 0954 and 1001. Blücher now pulled out of line while the other three German ships continued on their course, and by 1048 was circling out of control.

Lion was damaged again at 1018 and between 1035 and 1050. At 1100 her damaged was so severe she dropped astern, then due to signalling errors, the other three British battlecruisers concentrated on Blücher. Adm Beatty crossed to destroyer Attack and by 1150 was getting ready to transfer his flag to Princess Royal and continue after the Germans. Then at noon the battlecruisers returned from sinking Blücher. Although Seydlitz and Derfflinger were badly damaged (their experiences led to far better flash protection that served them well at Jutland), Adm Beatty was deeply disappointed he had failed to destroy all four big ships. Tiger was also hit but the other three battlecruisers were untouched:

Lion, Lion-class, 29,680t, 8-13.5in/16-4in/2-21in tt. Hit and damaged a number of times: (1) three German ships firing at her by 0928, shell hit on waterline penetrated the bunkers but damage made good, (2) when Moltke was not engaged, A-turret smashed at 0954 and one gun out of action, (3) 11in shell from Seydlitz pierced the armour at 1001, flooding started and listed to port, (4) hit hard at 1018 - one shell struck the armour below the waterline, drove in several plates and flooded foremost port bunker, and a second pierced armour on waterline, burst in torpedo body room and flooded all adjacent compartments, (5) when Blücher pulled out of line, the other three German ships again concentrated on Lion, hit by numerous shells between 1035 and 1050, armour pierced and more flooding, shell burst in A-turret lobby and started fire, (6) at 1100, shell drove in armour on the waterline abreast one of the boiler rooms, seriously damaged, port engine had to be stopped, light and power failed, list to port increased to 10°, speed dropped to 15kts and Lion dropped astern. She continued for home without Adm Beatty at 12kts, around 1430 speed dropped to 8kts, Indomitable took her in tow and she reached the Firth of Forth at dawn on the 26th; 11 men wounded. Fired a total of 243 heavy shells, hit Blücher once, Derfflinger once, Seydlitz twice, in turn hit by 16-11in and 12in shells, also 1-8.2in. Temporarily repaired at Rosyth, repairs completed by Palmers, returned to service as flagship of new Battle Cruiser force (Rn/Cn/D)

Tiger, improved Lion-class, 35,700t, 8-13.5in/12-6in/4-21in tt. Hit by 6 shells including one 11in on Q-turret, splinters jammed training gear and left turret out of action; 1 officer and 9 men killed, 3 officers and 5 men wounded (Cn - 10 crew killed, 11 wounded). Repaired by 8 February (Rn/Cn/D/ti)

Meteor, destroyer, M-class, 980t, 3-4in/1-2pdr/4-21in tt, 1st DF Harwich Force, Captain D’s ship, Capt H Meade. Came up on the battered Blücher, manoeuvred to fire a torpedo and hit forward by heavy shell at 1120, exploded in foremost boiler room, almost putting her out of action; 3 stokers killed, 1 DOW and 2 crew wounded. Towed into Humber by destroyer Liberty (Rn/Cn/D/ty)

Royal Navy Battle Honour - DOGGER BANK 1915

see Despatch, dated 2 February 1915 in London gazette, No.29088


Tuesday 26 January

North Sea

Britannia, battleship, King Edward VII-class, c17,290t, 3rd BS Grand Fleet. Ran aground on Inchkeith island, Firth of Forth in fog, ashore for 36hr and considerably damaged, refloated, needed dockyard repairs (Cn/D/gf)


Thursday 28 January

Dardanelles Campaign - British Government agreed to naval attack on the Dardanelles

Commerce raiding - Auxiliary cruiser Prinz Eitel Friedrich sank American sailing ship William P Frye, the first US loss of the war


Friday 29 January

U-boat Raid - U.21, the first U-boat in the Irish Sea, shelled airship sheds on Walney Is, Barrow-in-Furness but did little damage, driven off by shore batteries.


Saturday 30 January

U-boat warfare - three British steamships torpedoed by U.20 in English Channel, the first merchant ships sunk without warning, apparently as a deliberate policy.

Irish Sea

Admiralty collier (and two British steamships) captured by U.21 (Otto Hersing) in Liverpool Bay:

BEN CRUACHAN, 3,092/1902, Morrison Shipping Co, North Shields-reg, Mr W Harley, sailing Scapa Flow for Liverpool (te/wi - Cardiff for Scapa Flow with coal). Torpedoed but failed to sink, U-boat went alongside, boarding party laid explosive scuttling charges, ship sank at 1030, 15 miles NW of Morecambe LV (L/te/un/wi - in 53.36N, 03.51W); crew in two boats directed to steer for sailing trawler Margaret, landed at Fleetwood (+L/Lr/Mn/ap/ge/te/un/wi)




North Sea

E.11, submarine, E-class, 667/807t, Harwich-based 8th Flotilla. February - Ran ashore on Scroby Sands, Great Yarmouth, got off (Cn/gr)

North Atlantic

Two armed merchant cruisers of 10th CS on Northern Patrol damaged in the winter gales, dates not known, possibly February:

Caribbean, 5,824/1890, hired 19/11/14, 8-4.7in/2-6pdr, normally on line B, north of Shetlands, proving unsuitable, old and slow. Rolled in heavy weather up to 50º with gunwhale submerged, reported dynamo disabled and funnel shifted (Mn/D/bi)

Teutonic, 9,984/1889, hired 5/9/14, on patrol in heavy seas possibly N of Shetlands. Six-inch shell unshipped from ready-use rack, exploded against bulwarks; no one injured, damage repaired by crew (D/bi)


Wednesday 3 February

Suez Canal - Turkish attack on Suez Canal repulsed with the support of British and French warships, battleships Swiftsure, Ocean, old light cruisers, Minerva, Proserpine, sloop Clio, armed merchant cruiser Himalaya, torpedo boat No.043, Royal Indian Marine armed troopships Dufferin, Hardinge took part; Royal Navy Battle Honour - SUEZ CANAL 1915, to 4th.

See Army Despatches, dated 6 February 1915 to 9 April 1916, in London Gazette, No.29632 - Egyptian Campaign,  including Defence of Suez Canal and Western Desert Operations

South African Campaign - Surrender of South African rebels, Upington

Atlantic off NW Scotland

CLAN MACNAUGHTON, Admiralty armed merchant cruiser, ex-passenger ship, 4,985/1911, 14kts, Cayzer, Irvine/Clan Line, Glasgow-reg, hired 19/11/14, 8-4.7in, Pennant No.M.81, 10th CS Grand Fleet, 261 crew, Cdr Robert Jeffreys i/c, master, Lt George Weldrick RNR, sailed from Liverpool on 23 January. On Northern Patrol line D to NNW of St Kilda, heavy SW gale on 2nd, "one of the worst the Tenth Cruiser Squadron experienced during the whole war", 10th CS ships lying to with heavy seas sweeping over them, all ships except Clan Macnaughton answered signals on morning of 3rd, went missing. Night of 2nd/3rd (usually listed as 3rd) - Believed foundered off Hebrides (Mn/C/Cn/D/ke - presumed mined; Mn - in 58.47N, 09.27W), Digby, Hildebrand, Patuca spent a week searching but only found some wreckage (He - in the area of 60.25N 09.37W), ship considered stable and seaworthy but floating mines, probably Berlin's, reported in the area, possibly hit one during the gale; 277 lives lost – 20 officers, 190 ratings and 67 MN (bi – 284 lives, ke - 261). Contrary to other sources, Hepper reports there were concerns about her stability (+J/Rn/Mn/C/Cn/D/He/bi/dk/gf/ke/ss; ADM.116/1441)

Suez Canal

Hardinge, armed troopship (RIM), 7,457t, 1900, c8-4in/8-3pdr, Cdr T Linberry, taking part in defence of Suez Canal, providing naval support for British-Indian counter-attack 3 miles S of Tussum. Under fire from 4in and heavier guns from 0700, could not locate them, so concentrated firing on infantry. About 0825 both funnels damaged and ship so badly hit, had to slip and move out of channel into Lake Timsah to avoid sinking in the channel; no one killed (Rn/D)


Thursday 4 February

U-boat Warfare - Denied a swift victory on land, Germany decided to start unrestricted submarine warfare without warning against merchant shipping from the 18th. Admiralty hired drifter Tarlair equipped with first anti-submarine hydrophone.


Saturday 6 February

North Sea

ERNE, destroyer, E-class, 620t, 1903, 4‑12pdr/2‑18in tt, 25kts, 70 crew, Pennant No.N.58, Scapa Flow Patrol Flotilla, Lt-Cdr John Landon. Grounded on the beach about 800yds S of Rattray Head lighthouse on the Aberdeen coast in severe easterly gale, failed to be refloated and abandoned as a wreck in October; no lives lost. A survey in November found her back was broken, wreck sold for £405 in January 1916 to Forth shipbreaking, Bo’ness for BU (+J/C/Cn/D/He/dk/gf/ke; ADM.156/2471, ADM.116/1422)

Dover Straits

JOHN SHERBURN, Admiralty trawler, 244/1902 (wi - 1915), Humber Steam Trawling, Hull-reg H644, hired 1915 (D - 12/14) as auxiliary patrol vessel, Admiralty No.815, Dover Patrol, Lt Walter Smith RNR (wi - S Carnassa, Captain). (Other sources – 6 March) - Stranded in poor weather in St Margaret's Bay, near Dover, wrecked (wi - in 51.07N, 01.27E); no lives lost (+Lr/C/D/He/dq/dk/hw/wi; ADM.137/90)

German East Africa

ADJUTANT, patrol vessel, ex-German tug, 231/1905, captured 10 October 1914 in East Africa by light cruiser Dartmouth, armed with 1-3pdr, took part in capture of Mafia Island 12 January, now with force blockading light cruiser Königsberg in Rufiji delta, Sub‑Lt Wilfred Price in command, carrying out reconnaissance of one of the entrances. Heavily shelled from the shore by German forces protecting approaches to Königsberg, steam-pipe cut, drifted ashore and recaptured; 1 ratings lost, rest of crew taken prisoner. Salvaged by the Germans, got through British naval blockade, steamed to Dar-es-Salaam, taken to pieces by railway engineers and carried by train to Kigoma, reassembled for operations on Lake Tanganyika. Hepper, possibly in error, reports that “light cruiser Pyramus later closed and destroyed her where she lay” (Rn/C/Cn/D/ap/dk/kp)


Saturday 13 February

Atlantic off N Ireland

BEDOUIN, Admiralty trawler, 188/1902, GN80, T L Devlin, Granton-reg hired 8/14 as minesweeper, Admiralty No.353, Skipper George Hollins RNR (wi - W Forbes up to 1914). Sailed from Sheephaven, northern Ireland to clear mines in the Berlin's Tory Island field with other trawlers, recovering her gear around 1555 and at least one mine seen to be snagged, orders given to veer away, but one exploded blowing away her starboard quarter, sank stern first off Tory Is, off Co Donegal; no lives lost (+L/Lr/C/D/He/dk/wi; ADM.137/3116)


Monday 15 February

Dover Straits

Undaunted, light cruiser, Arethusa-class, 3rd DF leader, Harwich Force and eight destroyers, probably division of 3rd DF on passage from Harwich to Irish Sea because of increased U-boat activity there. Unsuccessful U-boat torpedo attack off Dungeness, possibly by U.16 (Rn/Mn/Cn/D/ty)


Thursday 18 February

U-boat Warfare - First German unrestricted submarine campaign came into effect. All waters around British Isles including the English Channel declared a War Zone where all merchant ships could be destroyed without ensuring the safety of passengers and crew; neutral ships would be at risk from attack. Britain extended the defensive arming of merchant ships to protect themselves against surfaced U-boats leading to later German claims that armed vessels should be treated as warships. US protests led to U-boats being ordered not to attack ships flying neutral flags, hospital ships (unless obviously engaged in trooping) and Belgian Relief ships. The sinking shortly of the liner Lusitania started to swing American opinion strongly against Germany, leading up to entry into the war two years later. In 1915, only some 20 percent of ships were sunk without warning (some sources list start date as the 28th)


GOLDFINCH, destroyer, H-class, 970t, 1910, 2-4in/2-12pdr/2-21in tt, 27kts, 72 crew, Pennant No.H.44, 2nd DF Grand Fleet, Lt-Cdr Reginald Stone. Night of 18th/19th - Ran aground in dense fog on Start Point, Sanday Is (wi - in 59.17N, 02.25W), abandoned as a wreck; no lives lost. Sold for BU 4/19, possibly to Metal Industries (+J/C/Cn/D/He/dx/gf/ke/wi)

Sparrowhawk, destroyer, K-class, c1,300t, 4th DF Grand Fleet. Probably sometime in February after Goldfinch was lost - Went ashore, got off, but "considerably damaged" (Cn/D/gr/gf)


Friday 19 February

U-boat Warfare - Norwegian tanker Belridge carrying oil from US to Holland torpedoed without warning and damaged by U.8 in Dover Straits, first neutral ship attacked in the new U-boat campaign

Dardanelles Campaign

First Bombardment of Outer Dardanelles Forts

Gallipoli and area - click to enlarge

Vengeance, battleship, Canopus-class, 14,300t, 4-12in/12-6in/12-12pdr/4-18in tt, 8th BS Channel Fleet 8/14, later to Mediterranean. The bombardment of the defences around Cape Helles on the European side and Kum Kale/Orkanie on the Asiatic was initially carried out by battlecruiser Inflexible (flag, Adm Carden, C-in-C), battleships Albion, Cornwallis, Triumph, the French Suffren (French flag) and Bouvet, supported by French Suffren and light cruiser Amethyst. Vengeance (division flag, Adm de Robeck) observed for her division, and the force was later joined by dreadnought Queen Elizabeth and battleship Agamemnon. Vengeance fired at and was fired on by Orkanie batteries on Asiatic side, not hit but spars and rigging damaged by four near misses, Cornwallis was slightly less damaged (Rn/Cn/D)

Royal Navy Battle Honour - DARDANELLES 1915-16, to 8 January 1916


Saturday 20 February

Dardanelles Campaign - Second planned bombardment to complete the destruction of the outer forts cancelled because of gale-force conditions, accurate gunlaying not possible and spotting aircraft could not fly. The bad weather continued until the 25th

North Sea

CORCYRA, Admiralty trawler, 225/1914, Grimsby-reg GY63, hired 8/14 as minesweeper, Admiralty No.278, Skipper Leonard Shenton RNR. Stranded (H - wrecked) near Bacton, Norfolk; no lives lost. Later salved, but not taken back into Naval service, in Fishery Reserve, listed until 1919, served again in WW2 (+C/D/He/dk)


Monday 22 February

Central Atlantic

Carnarvon, armoured cruiser, Devonshire-class, 10,850t, flag, Rear-Adm Stoddart, searching South American waters for light cruiser Karlsruhe and raider Kronprinz Wilhelm. Left Abrolhos Rock anchorage, shortly after weighing she hit uncharted shoal and ripped 95ft of bottom plating, beached and out of action, patched and sent into Rio de Janeiro where repairs were allowed because she had "suffered peril of the sea". Flag transferred to cruiser Vindictive (Rn/Cn/D/gr)


Tuesday 23 February

Dardanelles Campaign - Royal Marines occupied Greek island of Lemnos, off the Dardanelles; the harbour of Mudros became a major advanced Allied base

off N Scotland

TERN, Admiralty trawler, 199/1907, Kelsall Bros & Beeching, Hull-reg H.961, hired 10/14 as minesweeper (D/He - auxiliary patrol vessel), Admiralty No.548, Skipper Daniel Stather RNR (wi - J Lewis). Wrecked (H - Mined) in Loch Erribol, E of Cape Wrath (wi - in 58.30N, 04.40W); 6 ratings lost. Note: exclusion from Lloyds listing suggests loss was due to marine cause, confirmed by Hepper (+Lr/C/D/He/dk/hw/wi; ADM.1/8413/55, ADM.1/8413/60)

English Channel

Two non-commissioned Admiralty chartered colliers torpedoed and sunk by U.8 (Alfred Stoss):

OAKBY, 1,976/1897, Sir R Ropner & Co, West Hartlepool-reg, Mr F Bartlett, sailng London for Barry/Cardiff in ballast (would probably be carrying coal in that case; un – London for Barry Roads in ballast). Hit port side, forecastle was level with the water within 5min, 2nd engineer went below to stop engines to allow boats to be lowered, armed trawler Isle of Man came up and tried to tow her to Dover, but sank 4 miles E by N of Royal Sovereign LV (L - yorpedoed 2 miles E of Royal Sovereign LV, sank off Folkestone Pier; Mn - sank near Varne LV; wi - in 50.44N, 00.32E) (+L/Lr/Mn/te/un/wi)

BRANKSOME CHINE, 2,026/1899, Branksome Chine SS Co (H G Harper & Co), Cardiff-reg, Mr F Anstey, Grimsby Roads for Portsmouth with coal. Sank 6 miles E by S ¾S of Beachy Head, near Eastbourne (L - about 6 miles ESE of; wi - in 50.41.06N, 00.20.30E) (+L/Lr/Mn/te/un/wi)


Thursday 25 February

Dardanelles Campaign

Second Bombardment of Outer Dardanelles Forts

Second bombardment resumed after delays due to bad weather. Runs were made by battleships Vengeance and Cornwallis, French Suffren and Charlemagne, supported by anchored dreadnought Queen Elizabeth, battleships Agamemnon, Irresistible and French Gaulois. Fired was opened around around 1015, but within a short time, Agamemnon was hit:

Agamemnon, battleship, Lord Nelson-class, 17,680t, 4-12in/10-9.2in/24-12pdr/5-18in tt, 5th BS Channel Fleet 8/14, later to Mediterranean, anchored about 2½m WSW of Cape Yeni Shehr on Asiatic side. Cape Helles batteries opened fire at 1017 at 10,000yds and straddled her after 15min, ordered to weigh but within 10min hit by seven armour piercing shells, most of which broke up, but holed above waterline, hydraulic engine and main derrick damaged; 3 ratings killed, one DOW and four seriously injured. Cleared up wreckage, continued in action and repaired damage off Tenedos next day (Rn/Cn/D/da/dk)

By 1500 the outer batteries had been practically silenced by the Anglo-French ships. Minesweeping trawlers escorted by destroyers and covered by battleships Vengeance, Albion and Triumph then started sweeping the entrance. At 1600 the rest of the fleet retired to Tenedos. By 2000 the sweepers had penetrated four miles without finding any mines.


Friday 26 February

Dardanelles Campaign

Battleships Albion, Triumph and Majestic entered the Straits at 0800 to complete the destruction of the entrance forts and to attack the defences further inside, Albion along the European or north shore, Majestic along the Asiatic or south. Both soon came under fire which they returned, but as the day progressed the fixed shore guns were joined by concealed and mobile howitzer and field gun batteries and only by constantly shifting their positions could the two battleships avoid serious damage, that is until Majestic was hit. They were recalled at 1600:

Majestic, battleship, Majestic-class, c16,000t, 4-12in/12-6in/18-12pdr/5-18in tt, 7th BS Channel Fleet 8/14, later to Mediterranean, now with howitzer mounted on each of her turrets. Holed below waterline and leaking (Rn/Cn/D/da/vc)

Before then, at 1430, Royal Marine covering and Royal Navy demolition parties were landed near the entrance forts to complete their destruction, men from Irresistible on the European side, and from Vengeance on the Asiatic side covered by battleship Cornwallis, light cruiser Dublin and destroyers Racoon and Basilisk. The missions were successfully carried out with some casualties; Lt-Cdr Eric Gascoigne Robinson who led the Vengeance demolition party was awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry under fire. He later took part in the successful destruction of stranded submarine E.15.



MARCH 1915

Dover Straits

SPANISH PRINCE, 6,505/1894, 450ft, Prince Line, Newcastle-reg, purchased as replacement for Dover blockship Montrose lost 20 December 1914, fitted out in same way; March - Scuttled on east side of southern entrance across from Livonian (ms – 6,394grt, owned by J Knott, scuttled off Dover Breakwater, November 1914) (Lr/D/dq/ms)


Monday 1 March

Dardanelles Campaign

Battleships Albion and Ocean, Canopus-class, 14,300t, 4-12in/12-6in, Triumph, Swiftsure-class, 11,985t, 4-10in/14-7.5in, and Majestic, Majestic-class, c16,060t, 4-12in/12-6in, taking part in the second attack within the Dardanelles after more delays due to the weather. Albion and Triumph to engage Fort Dardanos, Ocean and Majestic to search for mobile guns. All ships engaged by concealed guns, continually hit sometimes by 4in howitzers but not seriously; 1 officer and 4 men in Albion injured by splinters (Rn/Cn/D/da)

That night the trawlers started sweeping towards Kephez Point, escorted by destroyers Basilisk, Grasshopper, Racoon and Mosquito supported by light cruiser Amethyst. Just short of the first line of mines at 2300 they were illuminated by searchlights, subjected to heavy fire by the minefield protection guns, and forced to withdraw under cover of the supporting ships.


Tuesday 2 March

Dardanelles Campaign

Battleships Canopus, Canopus-class, 14,300t, 4-12in/12-6in, Cornwallis, Duncan-class, c15,000t, 4-12in/12-6in and Swiftsure, Swiftsure-class, 11,800, 4-10in/14-7.5in, taking part in third attack within the Straits. Opened fire on Fort Dardanos at 1420 which did not reply until 1615 but immediately straddled the ships. Canopus hit on quarter-deck wrecking wardroom, another shell carried away main topmast, and a third went through after funnel and wrecked two boats, all ships received minor damage; one man slightly wounded. Weather remained bad making aerial reconnaissance impossible, and again that night the minesweeping trawlers were driven back. However further landings were made by beach and demolition parties around Cape Helles and Kum Kale on the 3rd and 4th (Rn/Cn/D/da)


Wednesday 3 March


RONDO, Admiralty trawler, 117/1893, George F Sleight, Grimsby-reg GY528, hired 1915 (D - 11/14) as auxiliary patrol vessel, Admiralty No.666, (wi - F Harlow, Captain up to 1914). (He – 2nd) - Stranded on Unicorn Rocks, Tingwall, Shetland Islands at 2015 (wi - position unknown, but quotes 60.20N, 01.15W), bow held by rocks, flooded rapidly and sank by the stern, a wreck; crew stood by for an hour before leaving her in the boat, no lives lost (+Lr/C/D/He/dk/wi; ADM.137/98)


Thursday 4 March

U.8 detected by indicator nets in their first success, then sunk by destroyers Ghurka and Maori in Strait of Dover

Dardanelles Campaign

Landings by beach and demolition parties around Kum Kale resulted in a number of Royal Navy and Royal Marine casualties, including two ratings killed from battleship Lord Nelson, one from battleship Ocean, and 23 Marines from the Plymouth Battalion of the Royal Naval Division. Others died of wounds (dk)


Friday 5 March

Dardanelles Campaign - Phase 1 had been successful with the outer defences destroyed, beach and demolition parties landed, little damage to the bombarding ships, and few casualties. Now Adm Carden was ready for Phase 2 - sweeping the minefields, believed to consist of ten lines of mines starting 8 miles inside the entrance and reducing the gun and other defences right up to the Narrows. For the latter, naval forces included 14 British and 4 French capital ships and four British light cruisers, but the only minesweepers were eight slow trawlers.

Turkish Coastal Operations - Attempt to reduce Smyrna (Izmir) forts by bombardment was unsuccessful because of defensive minefields; battleships Swiftsure, Triumph, armoured cruiser Euryalus, seaplane carrier Aenne Rickmers, five trawler minesweepers took part. Minesweeper No.285 sunk on 8th, Aenne Rickmers damaged on 11th

Dardanelles Campaign

Queen Elizabeth, dreadnought, Queen Elizabeth-class, 31,500t, completed January 1915, 8-15in/16-6in, taking leading part in first bombardment of the inner defences, anchored in the Aegean 2½m W of Gaba Tepe and firing over the Gallipoli peninsula at the Narrows forts, spotting by seaplanes and battleship Albion within the Straits. Turks brought up mobile field guns and howitzers, mainly 12pdrs and hit her 17 times, no serious damage (Rn/Cn/D/da)


Saturday 6 March

Dardanelles Campaign

Queen Elizabeth continued indirect fire across the peninsula with Albion spotting, while Agamemnon and Lord Nelson entered the straits to carry out their attacks on the Narrows forts:

Majestic, battleship, Majestic-class, covering Albion while she spotted. Hit by a heavy shell from Messudieh Fort (Rn/Cn/D)

Agamemnon and Lord Nelson, battleships, Lord Nelson-class, c17,700t, 4-12in/10-9.2in, nicknamed "Aggie" and "Nellie", covered by the French battleship division, opened fire about 1230 on the powerful Chanak forts. Agamemnon soon hit on armour by 6in shell, at 1300 on quarterdeck apparently by 14in shell which blew a great hole, wrecked the wardroom and gunroom and drove splinters through the foretop, followed by two more heavy shells. As both ships continued to come under intense fire from many batteries, both were hit several times from 1400 on, rigging and upper works damaged. Agamemnon hit by a total of 8 heavy shells, Lord Nelson by 7 including one which hit her armour below the waterline, flooded two bunkers and also sent splinters into her conning tower; Capt McClintock and two crew wounded by the splinters. Both ships returned to Tenedos, and next day Lord Nelson left for Mudros and the repair ships there (Rn/Cn/D/da)

Smyrna Blockade

Triumph, battleship, Swiftsure-class and Euryalus, armoured cruiser, Cressy-class, 12,000t, 2-9.2in/12-6in, taking part in blockade of Smyrna to prevent it being used as a submarine base. The intention was to destroy the forts ready for an attack, with minesweeping trawlers sweeping ahead, covered by Triumph, Swiftsure and Euryalus. Turks opened heavy and accurate fire forcing the trawlers to withdraw, Triumph, Euryalus and minesweepers hit; 1 officer DOW, 1 officer and 6 ratings wounded (Rn/Cn/D)


Sunday 7 March

German East Africa Campaign - British lake steamers Winifred and Kavirondo drove German gunboat Mwanza ashore at the southern end of Lake Victoria and established local control

Bristol Channel

BENGROVE, Admiralty collier, 3,840/1910, Steam Transport Co (Joseph Hoult & Co), Liverpool-reg, 33 crew, Mr W Barber, Barry for France with 5,850t coal, steaming at 9kts. Torpedoed abaft engine room by U.20 Walther Schweiger), settled with list to starboard, boats ordered away, sank stern first about 30min later, 5 miles NNE of Ilfracombe, Devon (L - 5 miles N of; wi - in 51.17.52N 04.07.28W); crew rowed to SS Paignton, transferred to Ilfracombe lifeboat, landed there soon after 1500 (+L/Lr/te/un/wi)

Dardanelles Campaign

Dublin, light cruiser, Chatham-class, 6,000t, 8-6in/4-3pdr/2-21in tt, in Gulf of Xeros/Saros, keeping watch off Bulair at the neck of Gallipoli peninsula. Hidden battery opened fire, hit four times, damage not serious (Rn/Cn/D)


Monday 8 March

Smyrna Blockade

OKINO, Admiralty trawler, 241/1914, H L Taylor, Grimsby-reg GY4, hired 8/14 as minesweeper, Admiralty No.285, 15 crew, Lt Geoffrey Whitehouse RNR in command, sweeping channel into Smyrna (Izmir) at night to allow battleships to close and bombard the forts, battleships Triumph and Swiftsure firing on the searchlights. Night of 8th/9th - Mined and sunk about 3,000yds from Fort Yeni Kali, S side of Gulf of Smyrna (H/C/D/sc - in the Dardanelles); 10 crew lost, skipper and four men saved (+L/Lr/Rn/C/D/He/ap/dk/sc; ADM.1/8413/60, ADM.137/1089)


Tuesday 9 March

North Sea

Leviathan, armoured cruiser, Drake-class, was 6th CS Grand Fleet, now ordered to Rosyth prior to becoming flagship North American Station, zig-zagging near Bell Rock around 1730. Torpedo fired by U.12, missed (Rn/Cn/D/gf)


Wednesday 10 March

Western Front - Battles of Neuve Chapelle to 13th

U.12 rammed by destroyer Ariel off Fife Ness in North Sea

North Sea

Indomitable, battlecruiser, Invincible-class, Rosyth-based 3rd BCS, sailing Scapa Flow for Rosyth. Sighted submarine getting into position to fire off Montrose at dusk, turned and forced the U-boat to dive (Rn/Cn)

Ariel, destroyer, I-class, c990t, 2-4in/2-12pdr/2-21in tt, 1st DF, now believed based at Rosyth for service with Grand Fleet, Lt-Cdr Cyril Calaghan. U-boat sighted by trawler off Fife Ness, SE Scotland, three destroyers including Attack and Acheron called up, spotted her on the surface and opened fire, Ariel then rammed the conning tower as she submerged, U.12 came back up, was hit again and scuttled by the crew. Ariel's bow considerably damaged, stern high out of water, docked at Leith for repairs (Rn/Cn/D/ap/gf/ub)

Dardanelles Campaign

MANX HERO, Admiralty trawler, 221/1910, W H Beeley, Grimsby-reg GY585, hired 8/14 as minesweeper, 1-6pdr, Admiralty No.339, Skipper Edward Bray RNR, one of seven trawlers with 3rd Minesweeping Group accompanied by two picket boats, four escorting destroyers and supported by battleship Canopus and light cruiser Amethyst, taking part in attempt to sweep Kephez minefields in the dark. Instead of sweeping against the strong 3-4kt current, the intention was to get above the first line of mines and sweep down. Trawlers reached their position, passed sweeps in pairs and started back. Night of 10th/11th - Two mines exploded, one of them possibly so close to Manx Hero she sank, otherwise she hit a third, Turks opened fire, two trawlers hit and damaged by 6in shells, all then retired under destroyer cover; no lives lost in Manx Hero, crew picked up by HM Trawler Koorah (+L/Lr/Rn/C/D/He/ap/dk/sc; ADM.137/1089)


Thursday 11 March

German auxiliary cruiser Prinz Eitel Friedrich, running out of coal and with machinery wearing out, entered Newport News (Va), interned around 8/4/15

North Channel

Ambrose, Admiralty armed merchant cruiser, 4,595/1903, hired 20/11/14, 10th CS. Heading for Liverpool to coal, approaching North Channel, two torpedoes fired in separate attacks off Oversay Island (ss - Ornsay island) off Islay, possibly by U.20. During third attack, conning tower spotted and fired at (Rn/Mn/D/bi/ss)

BAYANO, Admiralty armed merchant cruiser, ex-passenger ship, 5,948/1913, 14kts, Elders & Fyffes, Liverpool, hired 8/14 (C/wi - 21/11/14), 2-6in, Pennant No.M.78, 10th CS Northern Patrol, Cdr Henry Carr i/c, master, Lt Bernard Dunphy RNR. After coaling in the Clyde, left night of 10th to return to patrol line (Rn/wd - for Liverpool to coal), sailing without lights at 13kts, very calm dark night. Torpedoed by U.27 (Bernd Wegener) amidships under boiler room around 0515, magazines exploded and she sank within 4min in Firth of Clyde, 10 miles SE by E of Corsewall Point, Galloway (ke - 10 miles WNW of; wi - in 55.03.03N, 05.26.03W); 196 lives lost - 14 officers, 124 ratings and 59 merchant seamen (ke - 195 lost), 26 survivors - 2nd i/c, 7 officers and men picked up by ABS Tara, 18 PO's and men on two liferafts by SS Balmerino and landed at Ayr. Wreck believed to lie at 330ft (+J/L/Rn/Mn/C/Cn/D/He/bi/dk/gf/ke/ss/te/un/wd/wi; ADM.137/185)

Dardanelles Campaign

Six trawler minesweepers again attempted to sweep the Kephez lines; one unknown trawler hit by 6in shell and repaired by Agamemnon's carpenters. Gunfire so heavy the trawlers soon withdrew, next night the French sweepers failed to make any progress sailing against the current, and it was decided to man some of the trawlers with regular navy crews. It was noted that the mines were “not as violent as North Sea mines” (Rn/ap/da)

Smyrna Blockade

Aenne Rickmers, seaplane carrier, German steamship, 7,000t/4,083grt, 1911, 1-12pdr/2 seaplanes, seized at Port Said 8/14, taken over as seaplane carrier in January with minimum of modifications, under Red ensign with mixed naval/civilian crew, French aircraft with French pilots and British observers, operated off Sinai, Syrian & Turkish coasts, taking part in British naval blockade of Smyrna. Torpedoed by German-commanded, Turkish torpedo boat Demir Hisar at 0200, grounded at Mudros for shoring-up by HMS Reliance, refloated 12 May, to Alexandria for repairs, completed 18 June. Recommissioned as HMS Anne with naval crew 5 August, paid off August 1917 (Rn/C/Cn/D/bt/nw)


Friday 12 March

North Sea

INVERGYLE, Admiralty collier, 1,794/1907, Invergyle SS Co (Stewart & Gray), Glasgow-reg, Mr D Minto, Scapa Flow for Hartlepool in ballast. (te/un - 13th) - Torpedoed by U.23 (Hans Schulthess), sank 12 miles NNE of Tyne estuary (L/wi - 15 miles NNE of, in 55.18.40N, 01.25.44W) (+L/Mn/Lr/te/un/wi)


Saturday 13 March

U-boat Warfare - First neutral sinking, possibly by mistake, Swedish steamer Hanna carrying coal from Tyne to Las Palmas torpedoed without warning and sunk in North Sea off Scarborough

North Channel

G.M.V., Admiralty drifter, 94/1907, Lowestoft-reg LT.1062, hired 2/15 as net drifter, 1-3pdr, Admiralty No.1109, Skipper William Woodgate RNR. In collision with minesweeping trawler Hungarian (186grt) off Mull of Kintyre/Larne, Co Antrim in North Channel (wi - blt 1909, Inverness-reg, Skipper G McLeod, lost in 54.53N, 05.33W); no lives lost (+D/He/dk/wi; ADM.137/100)


Sunday 14 March

Western Front - Battles of Neuve Chapelle, St. Eloi to 15th

Light cruiser Dresden discovered at Chilean island of Mas a Fuera, Juan Fernandez group in SE Pacific by armoured cruiser Kent, light cruiser Glasgow & armed merchant cruiser Orama, shelled, then scuttled

off NW & W Scotland

ORLANDO, Admiralty trawler, 276/1907, Dolphin Steam Fishing, Grimsby-reg GY248, hired 8/14 as minesweeper (wi – armed patrol trawler), armed, Admiralty No.365, Skipper Frederick Mercer RNR. Ran ashore on Sgeir More (possibly Mhor) rock, Tarskavaig Point, southern Isle of Skye in bad weather and wrecked (H/D - near Stornaway, Hebrides; wi - in 58.12N, 06.22W); no lives lost (+Lr/C/D/He/wi; ADM.137/100)

Digby, Admiralty armed merchant cruiser, 3,966/1913, hired 22/11/14 (later French Artois), 10th CS. (bi - 15th) - Held up in the Clyde because of attacks on Ambrose and Bayano, now heading for patrol area. Cleared North Channel, chased by U-boat off Skerryvore, took refuge in Tobermory Harbour, following day escorted out by destroyer and headed for patrol line (Mn/D/bi/ss)

Caribbean, 5,824/1890 and Colombella, 8,292/1902, armed merchant cruisers hired c19/11/14, 10th CS Northern Patrol. Dates not known - Attacked by U-boat(s) around the time of the attacks on Ambrose and Digby, escaped (D/ss)

Dardanelles Campaign

Amethyst, old light cruiser, Gem-class, 3,000t, 12-4in/8-3pdr/2-18in tt, supporting minesweepers in final attempt to clear the Kephez mines at night. Trawlers headed for positions above the mines to be swept, heavy fire disabled all the working crews of two trawlers with damage to gear and winches in the rest so great, only two vessels could get out their sweeps, leaving four trawlers and one picket boat out of action. Amethyst was near Kephez Point at this time trying to draw fire from the sweepers. Night of 14th/15th - Two shells exploded in stoker’s bathroom, starboard side forward and on messdeck; 21 killed and 28 severely wounded, of whom 4 DOW in Amethyst. Around 5 killed and 15 wounded in the other vessels (dk – only three others killed on the 14th, one in battleship Ocean and two on trawler Fentonian (following)) (Rn/Cn/da/dk/sm/sc)

Fentonian, Admiralty trawler, 221/1913, Grimsby-reg GY804, hired 3/15 as minesweeper, 1-6pdr, Admiralty No.448; 2 crew killed (D/dk)


Monday 15 March

Aviation war - start of German aircraft attacks on shipping in North Sea, 10 vessels bombed in March and April near North Hinder and Galloper LV's

Dardanelles Campaign

Dartmouth, light cruiser, Weymouth-class, 5,800t, believed within Dardanelles. Boiler explosion (1 of 12 Yarrow-manufactured) totally wrecking a boiler room, moved and anchored astern of battleship Agamemnon off Tenedos at 1100; 4 killed, seven died of injuries. Back in action within Dardanelles by 17th/18th (Rn/D/da/dk)


Wednesday 17 March

North Sea

Nemesis and Nymphe, destroyers, H-class, 970t, 2nd DF, taking part in Grand Fleet movements in northern and central North Sea since 16th, weather now too bad and Flotilla sent back to Scapa. Two ships collided, both needed docking for repairs (D/gf/gr)


Thursday 18 March

Naval Aviation - Only days after construction had been approved by the Admiralty on 28 February, the maiden flight of small non-rigid Sea Scout-class SS.1 airship took place at RNAS Station, Kingsnorth, Kent; sometimes referred to as SS Submarine Scout. Smaller and cheaper than the planned rigid airships, they joined RNAS aircraft on maritime patrols off the British coasts. By the end of the war more than 200 British non-rigid airships of different types had been built, of which more than 100 were operational, plus 200 naval balloons

U.29 rammed and sunk by battleship Dreadnought in North Sea, E of Pentland Firth

North Sea

Neptune, dreadnought, 1st BS, and Dreadnought, the first dreadnought battleship, 21,840t, 10-12in/27-12pdr, flagship 4th BS, both Grand Fleet, battle fleet and cruisers carried out "strategical exercise" in the early morning, then returned to their bases because of submarine warnings, 1st BS to Scapa, and 4th BS detached to Cromarty. Marlborough, flagship 1st BS reported sighting a periscope east of the Pentland Firth at 1218 and that a torpedo had passed just astern of Neptune. Around 1230 as 4th BS crossed under the stern of the rest of the battle fleet to head for Cromarty, Dreadnought sighted the periscope, altered course and rammed, sinking U.29 commanded by Lt-Cdr Otto Weddigen (dx - in 58.21N, 01.12E) who had sunk the three Cressy's and Hawke in U.9 (Cn/D/dx/gf)

Lord Airedale, Admiralty trawler, 215/1911, Grimsby-reg, hired 2/15 as minesweeper, Skipper J R Dawson, believed at anchor in "hurricane-force winds". Sank 150yds off the beach at Bridlington, Yorkshire probably after dragging her anchor; Skipper and 11 ratings lost. Salvaged and returned to service (D/dk)

Dardanelles Campaign

Final Naval Attack on the Narrows

Gallipoli and area - click to enlarge

With Adm de Robeck now in command, an all out attack was launched against the Narrows defences by most of the 14 British and 4 French capital ships in three main groups. Ranging from the European side to the Asiatic in line abreast, these were (ships lost in italic CAPITALS sunk, and italic lower case damaged):

Line A, 1st Division - Queen Elizabeth, Agamemnon, Lord Nelson, Inflexible to go in first to bombard and dominate the Narrows forts.

Line B, 3rd Division - French ships Gaulois, Charlemagne, BOUVET, Suffren to pass through Line A and engage the forts more closely, covered by Prince George on the European side and Triumph on the Asiatic

2nd Division ships Vengeance, IRRESISTIBLE, Albion, OCEAN to relieve the French Line, and Majestic/Swiftsure to take over from Prince George/Triumph.

Canopus and Cornwallis were reserved for minesweeping cover that night

Line A was in action about 1130, came under fire from concealed guns and howitzers but not badly hit until Agamemnon and Inflexible began to suffer:

Agamemnon, battleship, Lord Nelson-class, 17,680t, 4-12in/10-9.2in. Between 1245 and 1310 hit at least 12 times by 6in howitzers from Eren Keui, five times on the armour without damage, seven times above it, with much structural damage, continued in operation (Rn/Cn/D/da/sm/tg)

Inflexible, battlecruiser, Invincible-class, 20,080t, 8-12in/16-4in. Also under fire from Eren Keui howitzers, hit on the bridge and wireless put out of action about 1220, hit three more times in the next 10min and picket boat alongside sunk, forebridge on fire and hit twice more, stayed on station to support the French; some men wounded (Rn/Cn/D)

Queen Elizabeth, dreadnought, Queen Elizabeth-class, 31,500t, 8-15in/16-6in. Hit frequently on superstructure, not seriously damaged, continued in operation; few if any casualties (Rn/Cn/D/tg)

French Line B with Prince George and Triumph passed through Line A at 1220, Suffren was badly damaged, Gaulois badly holed and had to be beached on Rabbit Island, then as BOUVET passed back through British Line A she blew up near the Asiatic shore around 1345, presumed at the time to have been hit in a magazine by a Turkish shell or possibly by shore torpedo.

The British 2nd Division ships proceeded to take the place of the retiring French, opening fire at 1439. At 1514 there was a heavy explosion alongside Irresistible from a heavy shell. Between 1530 and 1600 mines were reported where Bouvet went down. Shortly after and in an area far short of the Kephez lines of mines, Inflexible exploded one, then Irresistible and, after trying to tow Irresistible clear, Ocean detonated yet another nearly two hours later.

Before then the general recall for all ships had been hoisted:

Inflexible, battlecruiser, Capt Phillimore, on station in Line A since 1430. Mined on starboard bow by the forward submerged flat around 1611, immediately flooded, ship began to list and settle by the head, made for Tenedos and water continued to rise, reached there with difficulty an hour and a half after the explosion, anchored on north side of island; 3 officers, 31 ratings and 1 civilian contractor lost including every man in the forward flat killed, wounded taken off in a cutter during the journey to Tenedos. Towed to Malta and repaired by May (Rn/Cn/dk)

IRRESISTIBLE (above, sinking - Pat Gariepy), battleship, Formidable-class, 15,800t, 1898, 4-12in/12-6in/18-12pdr/4-18in tt, 18kts, c780 crew, Pennant No.64, 5th BS Channel Fleet 8/14, then to Mediterranean, Capt Douglas Dent, with 2nd Division, hit alongside at 1514 by heavy shell from Fort Hamadieh and by 1532 had taken a slight list, drifting with engines stopped about 1615. Mined near Eren Keui Bay (J/C - shore torpedo from White Cliffs battery), exploded under starboard engine-room near centre-line, engine-room quickly flooded, midship bulkhead buckled and port engine-room flooded leaving both engines disabled. Took 7° list to starboard, down by the stern and Turks concentrated fire on her, destroyer Wear and a picket boat came to assist and Ocean was ordered to stand by to tow. As Irresistible could not be saved, abandon ship was ordered under heavy fire causing casualties on deck, but 10 volunteers stayed to get a wire across to Ocean, list increased and ship lay bows on to the Asiatic shore leaving Ocean subjected to cross-fire. The two ship's captains decided to take off the volunteers, Irresistible abandoned at 1750, and Ocean withdrew, the intention being for destroyers and minesweepers to try to save her after dark. According to the Turks, she drifted back towards the Narrows Forts, was fired on and sank about 1930 (He – about 2000; da - now partly salvaged, lays in 40.04N, 26.20E); 4 officers killed and one DOW, 7 ratings killed and one more DOW, only three men got out of the rapidly flooded engine room, 28 surviving officers and 582 men taken off by Wear (ke - 200 casualties, 610 survivors) (+J/Rn/C/Cn/D/He/da/dk/ke/mf; ADM.116/1443)

OCEAN, battleship, Canopus-class, 14,300t, 1898, 4-12in/12-6in/12-12pdr/4-18in tt, c750 crew, Pennant No.N.56, 8th BS Channel Fleet 8/14, later to Mediterranean, Capt Arthur Hayes-Sadler, with 2nd Division, now withdrawing under heavy fire from Dardanos and other forts. Mined around 1805 (J - shore torpedo from White Cliffs battery; C - by shore batteries), detonated starboard side adjacent to coal bunkers, nearby passages flooded and helmed jammed to port, at the same time, hit starboard-side aft by a shell, tiller-room and starboard steering engine-room flooded and repairs not possible, took 15° list. Abandon ship ordered and crew taken off. Ship abandoned, hopefully to drift out of danger if she stayed afloat, Jed lay off with Capt Hayes-Sadler on board until dark, finally left to her fate about 1930. The Turks reported she drifted into Morto Bay and sank there about 2230 (da - now partly salvaged, lays in 40.03N, 26.17E); 1 rating lost (He/ke - all 683 crew saved), most of crew taken off by destroyers Colne, Jed and Chelmer under cross fire, four men accidently left on board rescued by Jed after dark (+J/Rn/C/Cn/D/He/dk/ke/mf; ADM.116/1443)

Mosquito, Racoon, G-class, c1,100t and Chelmer, Jed, Kennet, Wear, E-class, c630t, destroyers taking part in rescue operations, all subjected to "terrific" enemy gunfire. Racoon damaged by the concussion of a large shell bursting under water, also by shrapnel bullets; all destroyers "sustained comparatively few casualties” (D/dd)

The loss of Bouvet, Irresistible, Ocean and near-fatal damage to Inflexible were all due to a line of just 20 mines laid in Eren Keui Bay parallel to the Asiatic shore by 365t auxiliary minelayer Nousret or Nusret. The final Allied attempt to break through to Constantinople by naval power alone was over in just one day, with three capital ships sunk and three out of action out of the 16 taking part.


Sunday 21 March

Dardanelles Campaign

TB.064, torpedo boat, Yarrow 125ft-type, c87t, 1886, 19kts, 2-3pdr/5-14in tt, 16 crew, Chief Gunner James Cottrell in command. One of  a group of six torpedo boats, including TB’s 063 and 070, sailed on 17th from Port Said for Mudros on the island of Lemnos, in company with old light cruiser Doris and collier Kasala. On the 20th, off the island of Khio (or Chios) with the weather worsening, they coaled, but TB.064 only took on half her bunkers. Continuing on to Lemnos in strong NE gales and following a course change, 064 became separated, and Doris, after reaching Mudros with the other five TB's, went out to search for the missing one. She was found off the east coast of the island, at anchor, with hardly any remaining coal and in no condition to proceed. Night of 21st - anchors dragged, drifted ashore and wrecked E side of Lemnos island; no lives lost, crew saved after a stoker swam ashore with a line (+J/Rn/C/Cn/D/He/dk/ke; ADM.137/3119)


Monday 22 March

Eastern Front - Russians captured Przemysl


Wednesday 24 March

North Sea

Undaunted, light cruiser, Arethusa-class, 4,400t, 3rd DF leader and Landrail, destroyer, L-class, c1,300t, 3rd DF, Harwich Force, in collision. Damaged to Undaunted not known but three crew drowned, Landrail towed home with badly crumpled bow (D/dk)


Thursday 25 March

U-boat Warfare - First deliberate neutral sinking, Dutch SS Medea sailing Valencia for London with oranges, stopped and searched then sunk by U.28 in English Channel off Beachy Head. Dutch government made strong protests


Tuesday 30 March

off SW Scotland

TRYGON, Admiralty trawler, 289/1908, Fleetwood-reg FD.221, Mount Steam Fishing, hired 1914 as minesweeper (D - 2/15 as auxiliary patrol vessel; He – 1915 as patrol vessel), Admiralty No.978, Lt Henry Oakley RNR (wi - J Price, Captain). In collision with SS Myrtle Grove, 2,640grt (ms - Myrtlegrove), foundered in River Clyde (wi - exact position unknown, but River Clyde, in 55.58N, 04.52W); no lives lost (+Lr/C/D/He/ms/dk/fd/wi; ADM.137/103)


on to April 1915

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