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Warship numbers and losses, 1914-18

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Setting aside the unfortunate "Baralong" incident, the Q-ships were certainly an exciting and heroic part of the war at sea. However, the loss of six Special Service ships as late as August 1917 lends credence to the impression they were not a useful part of the Allied anti-submarine effort. This can be judged by the following summary of the scope of the mainly British Q-ship campaign which got under way as early as 1914 and ended in November 1918, as well as the debits and credits in U-boats sunk and Q-ships lost.

Whatever they accomplished, it is worth noting that apart from the actual U-boats sunk, there were other benefits to the Allies. Even more U-boats were damaged, sometimes severely, and it must have made it that much harder for U-boats to get into survivable attacking positions for fear the target might turn out to be a Q-ship. Hence many merchant ships could have been spared torpedoing or gun attack because Q-ships were at sea. Certainly the following, admittedly crude figures suggest the Q-ships were, at least until mid 1917, a large but valuable part of the Allies anti-U-boat campaign


[number of Q-ships lost in square brackets]



Fishing Vessels

Sailing Ships

Convoy Escorts









15 [6]

12 [3]



29 [9]


15 [3]

15 [6]


5 [2]

41 [11]


22 [7]

17 [2]

20 [1]

36 [7]

95 [17]


4 [1]




25 [1]

Totals (2)

58 [17]

51 [11]

37 [1]

47 [9]

193 [38]



(1) Types of Q-ships or Special Service ships included :

Steamships - cargo ships, coasters, colliers, store carriers, tramps, tugs
Fishing vessels - steam trawlers, drifters, trawling smacks
Sailing ships, some fitted with auxiliary engines - schooners, barquentines, brigantines, ketches
Convoy sloops - 1 decoy ship, 13 PC-"type decoy patrol boats, and convoy sloops of the "Azalea","Aubrietia" and "Anchusa" classes

Most Special Service ships paid off after a period varying from months to years, and reverted to other duties. Not all the ships were lost while on Special Service. Some were sunk after reverting to other duties.

(2) Because of problems of definition, duplication, and the highly secretive nature of Q-ship operations, these figures are approximate.



Year Lost

U-boats confirmed
(in date order)

U-boat possibles
(in date order)

Merchantman Q-ships lost (1)

Convoy escort Q-ships lost







U-40(2), U-23(2),
U-36, UB-4,
(3), U-41(3)





U-68(4), UB-13,


2 (6)



UB-37(5), U-83(4),
UC-18, U-85,
UC-29(4), UC-72

UB-39, U-88





UB-54, U-34









Notes :

(1) Includes all converted civilian ships except small steam and sailing vessels, fishing trawlers and drifters

(2) "U-40" and "U-23" were sunk by British submarines working in company with decoy trawlers

(3) "U-27" and "U-41" both sunk by Q-ship "Baralong"

(4) "U-68", "U-83" and "UC-29" sunk by "Farnborough" and "Pargust", ships commanded by Cdr Campbell VC

(5) "UB-19" and "UB-37" both sunk by "Penshurst"

(6) Both in the Mediterranean ("Remembrance", "Perugia")

(7) Two in the Mediterranean ("Redbreast", Bradford City"); remainder in Atlantic and British waters

(8) Five Q-ships were lost in the month of August 1917 ("Bracondale", "Dunraven", sloop "Bergamot", schooner "First Prize", and "Vala")

(9) Some of the convoy sloops although designated Special Service ships were by now sailing as naval escort vessels. 




(excludes Fishing and Sailing Vessels unless involved in significant incidents - see below; and convoy escorts even when employed as Special Service Q-ships - see Convoy Escorts)

Acton (Q.34), credited by German sources with sinking coastal submarine "UC.72" on 20th August 1917 in Bay of Biscay. Some sources still show her loss due to aircraft attack on the 22nd August 1917. Assuming "Acton" did sink "UC.72" this would have been the last confirmed Q-ship sinking

Anchusa - see "Lady Patricia"

Baralong sank "U.27" on the 19th August 1915 of SW England. Known as the "Baralong Incident" following German accusations that "U.27’s" crew were executed

Baralong, now renamed "Wyandra" sank "U.41" on 24th September 1915, SW of England

Bombola - see "Willow Branch"
Boverton - see "Dunraven"

BRACONDALE, 7th August 1917, North Atlantic - torpedoed three times by German "U.44". Q-ship "Bracondale" (or "Chagford", collier, 2,100grt, 1-4in/2-12pdr/2-18in tt, built 1903) was sunk in the action but not before seriously damaging the U-boat by gunfire. Although it was dangerous to dive, "U.44" remained on patrol, but five days later off Norway was rammed and sunk by British destroyer "Oracle". "Bracondale’s" complement and casualties are not known

BRADFORD CITY, 16th August 1917, Central Mediterranean off SW Italian coast in the Straits of Messina - torpedoed by German U-boat. Q-ship "Bradford City" (or "Saros", ex-collier, 3,700grt, 2-4in, built 1910) had been allocated to Senior Naval Officer, Gibraltar; her complement and casualties are not known

Britannia - see "Willow Branch"
Chagford - see "Bracondale"
Charyce - see "Stockforce"
Cullis - see "Westphalia"
Donlevon - see "Glenfoyle"

DUNRAVEN, 10th August 1917, English Channel, to the north of Ushant island, France (48░38’N, 5░28’W) - foundered from torpedo and gunfire damage by German "UC-71". British Q-ship "Dunraven" (or "Boverton", collier, 3,100grt, 1-4in, 4-12pdr, 2-14in tt, built 1910), commanded by Capt Gordon Campbell V.C. (his third Q-ship after "Farnborough" and "Pargust") was slightly bigger than the earlier "Pargust" damaged and paid off in June 1917, but with the same crew. On the 8th August 1917, 130 miles southwest of Ushant in the Bay of Biscay at 48░00’N, 7░37’W, coastal minelayer "UC-71" was seen which submerged and closed before surfacing astern at the start of a three hour engagement. The submarine slowly approached and at 11.43hrs opened fire at long range, Campbell making smoke and sending off a panic party.

"Dunraven" was hit, her depth charges detonated and the stern caught fire. Crew members, including Lt Bonner and PO Pitcher stayed hidden as the fire raged. A 4 inch gun and crew was then blown away revealing "Dunraven's" identity and "UC-71" dived. A second panic party abandoned ship, and after "Dunraven" had been hit by a torpedo, yet a third party went over the side, leaving only two guns manned. "UC-71" came back up, shelled "Dunraven" and again submerged. Campbell now replied with two torpedoes that missed, and around 15.00hrs, the U-boat finally headed away; "Dunraven’s" complement is not known, but one of her crew was killed.

British destroyer "Christopher" picked up the survivors and took "Dunraven" in tow before heading for Plymouth, but she sank at 01.30hrs early on the 10th August 1917 to the north of Ushant (48░38’N, 5░28’W). Two V.C.'s were again awarded by ballot (the first time was two months earlier in "Pargust"), one to the First Lieutenant, Lt Charles George Bonner RNR and the other to the 4in gunlayer, PO Ernest Herbert Pitcher

Farnborough sank "U.68" on 22nd March 1916 SW of Ireland (first sinking by Lt Cdr Gordon Campbell, and his first Q-ship command)

Farnborough damaged 17th February 1917 while sinking "U.83" SW of Ireland (second sinking by Cdr Gordon Campbell - awarded VC)

Glenfoyle is credited in some sources with the sinking "U.88" on the 17th September 1917 in the Atlantic. The U-boat was more likely mined on the 5th September 1917 in the North Sea.

GLENFOYLE, 18th September 1917, North Atlantic - German U-boat. Q-ship "Glenfoyle" (or "Stonecrop", or "Donlevon", ex-collier, 1,680grt, 1-4in, 4-18in tt, built 1913) was lost the day after her claimed sinking of "U.88"; "Glenfoyle’s" complement and casualties are not known

Jurassic - see "Westphalia"

LADY OLIVE, 19th February 1917, English Channel, west of the Channel Island of Jersey (49░15’N, 02░34’W) - sunk by German coastal minelayer "UC.18". Q-ship "Lady Olive" ("Q-18", steam coaster "Tees Trader", 700grt, 1-4in, built 1913) sank "UC.18" in the action. The U-boat was caught in a mined anti-submarine net, forced to surface and finished off by gunfire. "Lady Olive" was sunk possibly by a torpedo.

LADY PATRICIA, 20th May 1917, North Atlantic, about 100 miles west of Fastnet Rock, southern Ireland - torpedoed by German "U-46". Q-ship "Lady Patricia" (or "Anchusa", or "Paxton", "Q-25", cargo ship, 1,370grt, 1-4in/2-12pdr, built 1916) was in action earlier that day with a U-boat which submerged and disappeared. Then at 19.15hrs, "Lady Patricia" (Lt Cdr George Hewett) was torpedoed by "U.46" and two men killed. Still afloat, a second torpedo fifteen minutes later sank her in four minutes. Cdr Hewett and one his officers was taken prisoner. Her complement and other casualties are not known.

Lammeroo - see "Remembrance"
Loderer - see "Farnborough"
Manford - see "Penshurst"

Pargust, damaged 7th June 1917 while sinking coastal minelayer "UC.29" off SW Ireland (third sinking by Cdr Gordon Campbell and his second Q-ship command. Two VC's were awarded by ballot)

Paxton - see "Lady Patricia"
Paxton - see also "Perugia"

Penshurst sank coastal submarines "UB.19" on the 30th November 1916 and "UB.37" on 14th January 1917, both in the English Channel

PENSHURST, 25th December 1917, North Atlantic, off the Bristol Channel, SW Britain - torpedoed by German "U-110". Q-ship "Penshurst" (or "Manford", "Q-7", cargo ship, 1,190grt, 2-4in, 1906) sank "UB-19" and "UB-37". Her loss came on Christmas Day; casualties are not known

PERUGIA, 3rd December 1916, Central Mediterranean, of the NW coast of Italy in the Gulf of Genoa - torpedoed by German "U-63". Q-ship "Perugia" (or "Paxton", "Q-1", cargo ship, 4,350grt, 1-4in/2-13pdr, 1901); her complement and casualties are not known

PEVERIL, 6th November 1917, North Atlantic, west of the Straits of Gibraltar (35░44’N, 6░48’W) - sunk by German "U-63". Q-ship "Peveril" (or "Puma", or "Polyanthus", "Q-36", cargo ship, 1,460grt, 2-12pdr, 1904) was apparently sunk by the "U.63" which also accounted for "Perugia" (above) off Italy. Although "U.63" was out in the Mediterranean from late 1916 to the end of the war, the reason for her being in the Atlantic off Gibraltar at this time is not known. Neither are "Peveril’s" complement and casualties.

Polyanthus - see "Peveril"

Prince Charles, 270t collier sank "U.36" on the 24th July 1915 off the Hebrides, the first success by a Q-ship working alone i.e. not acting as a decoy to an accompanying submarine

Privet sank "U.85" on the 12th March 1917 in the English Channel. Some sources credit her with sinking "U.34" on the 9th November 1918 in the Straits of Gibraltar, but the U-boat's cause of loss is still unknown

Puma - see "Peveril"

Q-1 - see "Perugia"
Q-5 - see "Farnborough"
Q-6 -see "Zylpha"
Q-7 - see "Penshurst"
Q-8 - see "Vala"
Q-10 - "Azalea" class sloop "Begonia" - see convoys escorts for Q-10 to Q-16 following
Q-12 - "Aubretia" class sloop "Tulip"
Q-13 - "Aubretia" class sloop "Aubretia"
Q-15 - "Aubretia" class sloop "Salvia"
Q-16 - "Aubretia" class sloop "Heather"
Q-18 - see "Lady Olive"
Q-19 - see "Privet"
Q-21 - see "Prize"
Q-25 - see "Lady Patricia"
Q-27 - see "Warner"
Q-34 - see "Acton"
Q-36 - see "Peveril"

REDBREAST, 15th July 1917, Mediterranean - sunk by German coastal minelayer "UC-38". Q-ship "Redbreast" (naval fleet messenger, 1,300grt, 1908) was allocated to the Senior Naval Officer Malta for operations as a Special Service ship; her complement and casualties are not known

REMEMBRANCE, 14th August 1916, Eastern Mediterranean in Aegean Sea - sunk by German "U.38". Q-ship "Remembrance" (or "Lammeroo", collier, 3,660grt, 2-4in, 1910); her complement and casualties are not known

Saros - see "Bradford City

STOCK FORCE, 30th July 1918, English Channel, 25 miles SW of Start Point, Devon, SW England - torpedo and gunfire of German U-boat. Q-ship "Stock Force" (or "Stockforce", or "Charyce", steam coaster, 730grt, 2-4in, 2-14in tt, 1917) was torpedoed forward and badly damaged in the English Channel. The commanding officer, Lt Auten ordered the panic party to abandon the flooding ship, waited for the U-boat to approach, and opened fire, apparently damaging her. "Stock Force" (Lt Harold Auten DSC RNR, who was awarded the Victoria Cross) sank in tow that evening. The U-boat was the "UB-80" or "U-98", depending on sources, and contrary to some accounts, the attacker was not sunk. "Stock Force’s" complement and casualties are not known

Stonecrop - see "Glenfoyle"
Tees Trader - see "Lady Olive"

VALA, 21st August 1917, Atlantic Ocean - sunk by German medium submarine "UB-54. Q-ship "Vala" ("Q-8", collier, 1,010grt, 4-12pdr, 1894); her complement and casualties are not known

WARNER, 13th March 1917, North Atlantic, west of Ireland - torpedoed once by German "U-38". Q-ship "Warner" ("Q-27", cargo ship, 1,300grt, 1911) was on an eastward course as a tempting U-boat target. She was torpedoed around 09.00hrs, going down in five minutes. Some of her survivors were picked up by British submarine "D.3"; her complement and casualties are not known

WESTPHALIA, 11th February 1918, Irish Sea, NE of Dublin, Ireland - sunk by German U-boat. Q-ship "Westphalia" (or "Cullis", ex-cargo ship "Jurassic", 1,470grt, 1-4in, 2-14in tt, 1913); her complement and casualties are not known

WILLOW BRANCH, 25th April 1918, Central Atlantic, NE of the Cape Verde Islands, off Cape Blanco (now Ras Nouadhibou), Mauritania (20░50’N, 17░20’W) - sunk by German submarine cruisers "U-153" & "U-154". Q-ship "Willow Branch" (or "Bombola", or "Britannia", collier, 3,300grt, 2-14pdr, 1892) was sunk in a hard fought action with "U-153" and "U-154" each armed with two 10.5cm and two 8.8cm guns. They were working together off NW Africa at the time. "Willow Branch’s" complement is not known, but there were no survivors

Wyandra - see "Baralong"

ZYLPHA, 15th June 1917, Atlantic Ocean, SW of Ireland - German U-boat. Q-ship "Zylpha" ("Q-6", collier, 1894, 2,910grt, 3-12pdr); complement and casualties are not known




Cheerio - see action with "Telesia"

Cymric, barquentine sank British submarine "J.6" in error on 15th October 1918 in the North Sea

Else - see "Prize"
Energic - see action with "Telesia"
Ethel & Millie - see loss of "Nelson"
First Prize - see "Prize"
G&E - see "Nelson"

Glen, schooner, is credited by some sources with sinking "UB.39" on 17th May 1917 in the English Channel. The U-boat was more likely mined two days earlier around the 15th May

Inverlyon, 93t trawling smack sank coastal submarine "UB.4" on the 15th August 1915 in the North Sea

NELSON with ETHEL & MILLIE, 14th August 1917, central North Sea, off Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire on the English East Coast - gunfire of German "UC.63". Special Service trawling smacks "Nelson" (or "G&E", 61grt, 1-3pdr, built 1905) & "Ethel and Millie" (58grt, 1-6pdr, built 1908) were fishing with trawls shot, when in mid-afternoon a U-boat was sighted at 3 to 4 miles which closed and opened fire with her 8.8cm gun. The smacks were out of range and waited for "UC.63" to come nearer. "Nelson" was hit and Skipper Crisp mortally wounded, but remained in command, giving orders to open fire and then abandon ship. His son took command of the ship's boat, and Skipper Thomas Crisp DSC RNR, posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, went down with his smack. The "Ethel & Millie" was also sunk by gunfire. Some sources date the action on the 15th; total complements and casualties are not known

Princess Louise, decoy steam trawler and submarine "C.27" sank "U.23" on 20th July 1915 between the Orkneys and Shetlands off Fair Isle, the second and last success employing this Q-ship combination. The first was by "Taranaki" (below).

Princess Marie JosÚ - in some sources identified as the trawler associated with the sinking of "U.23"; see "Princess Louise".

Prize, damaged 30th April 1917, North Atlantic, about 120 miles SW of Fastnet Rock, southern Ireland - gunfire of German "U-93". With U-boats increasingly wary of suspicious steamships, full-rigged and auxiliary sailing vessels were sailing as Q-ships. The "Prize", a 200t, three masted topsail schooner was out in the Atlantic off southern Ireland in the early evening of the 30th. "U-93" came to the surface and opened fire with her 10.5cm gun at medium range. "Prize" was hit, the panic party went over the side and with the schooner apparently sinking, closed right in. At less than 100 yards, "Prize" opened up a devastating fire with her 3-12pdr guns, "U-93" appeared to sink and her commanding officer Lt Cdr von Spiegel and two of his crew were picked up. The damaged Q-ship (Acting Lt William Sanders RNR, awarded the Victoria Cross) reached Kinsale, S Ireland on the 2nd May. The badly damaged submarine also reached port.

PRIZE, 30th August 1917, North Atlantic - sunk by German U-boat. "Prize" (or "First Prize", or "Else", "Q-21", 3 masted topsail schooner, 200t, 3-12pdr, 1901) was lost exactly four months after her action with "U.93"; complement and casualties are not known

Taranaki, steam trawler, working as a decoy Q-ship with submarine "C.24" helped sink "U.40" on 23rd June 1915 in the North Sea. The first of only two U-boat sinkings of this kind.

Telesia & Energic (or "Cheerio"), 59t Special Service fishing smacks sank "UB.13" on 24th April 1916 off Belgian using mined nets


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