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HMS Ajax in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- HMS Ajax during the Great War -

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HMS Ajax


HMS Ajax

HMS Ajax was a King George V-class battleship (one of four ships of the class). Ajax was laid down at Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering, Greenock yard on 27 February 1911. She was launched on 21 March 1912 and completed in March 1913. She underwent sea trials during April 1913, and was commissioned into the first division of the second battle squadron of the Grand Fleet at Devonport on 31 October 1913. She had a displacement of 23,400 tonnes, Length: 598 ft (182.3 m), Beam: 89 ft (27.1 m), Draught: 28 ft (8.5 m) Her propulsion was provided by 18 boilers driving 4 Parsons turbines, and direct drive to 4 shafts, producing 27,000 shp (20,100 kW), which gave her a top speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph) Her ships complement was 900 officers and ratings. Her armament consisted of 10 BL 13.5-inch (343 mm) Mk V guns, 16 BL 4-inch (102 mm) Mk VII guns, 4 3-pounder (47-mm) guns, 3 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes. Her Armour Belt was 8 to 12 in (203 to 305 mm) Decks: 1 to 4 in (25 to 102 mm) Barbettes: 3 to 10 in (76 to 254 mm) Turrets: 11 in (279 mm) Her only distinctive pre-war activity was her participation, with her sisters HMS King George V, HMS Audacious and HMS Centurion, at the Kiel canal celebrations in June 1914. She transferred to Scapa Flow with the rest of the Grand fleet on 29 July 1914, in response to the increasing political tension in Europe.

She remained with the Grand Fleet for the duration of World War I. She saw action only at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916. In this action the first division of the second battle squadron, commanded by Vice-Admiral Sir Martyn Jerram, consisted of HMS King George V, HMS Ajax, HMS Centurion and HMS Erin. She sighted the leading ships of the battle line of the German High Seas Fleet and the German battle cruisers and fired on them. She herself received no hits; because of the number of ships involved it was not possible to establish if she made any hits on her targets.

She remained at Scapa Flow until June 1919, being transferred to the third battle squadron for the final four months of her time there. In June 1919 she was transferred to the fourth battle squadron, which formed part of the Mediterranean Fleet. She took part with her battle squadron in actions against the Bolsheviks and Turkish nationalists in 1919 in the Black Sea and in the Sea of Marmora. When the Sultan of Turkey was deposed in 1923 he was conveyed to Mecca in HMS Ajax. In April 1924 she returned to Devonport, and was part of the Reserve Fleet until October 1926, when she was paid off onto the disposal list. On 10 December 1926 she was sold to Alloa Shipbreaking Company, and broken up at Rosyth from 14 December 1926.

John Doran

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Those known to have served in

HMS Ajax

during the Great War 1914-1918.

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