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

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HMS Albion



1st July 1914 HMS Albion  

HMS Albion

HMS Albion (1901 - 1920) was built at Thames Iron Works, laid down on 3rd December 1896, launched on 21st June 1898 Commissioned in June 1901 and Scrapped in 1920.
A member of the Canopus class of pre dreadnought battleships designed by Sir William White for use in the Far East and entered service between 1899 and 1902.
HMS Albion was the lead ship and was followed by Canopus, Glory, Goliath, Ocean and Vengeance.
The class had primary armament consisting of four 12 inch (305 mm) 35 calibre long guns and six 6-inch (152 mm) 40 calibre long guns.

The introduction of HMS Dreadnought in 1906 rendered the class, and all other pre-dreadnought battleships, obsolete only a few years after the last-of-class entered service in 1902. The class saw service across the globe: in home waters, on the China Station, in the Mediterranean Fleet, in the Atlantic, in Africa, at Archangel, and in the Mediterranean where HMS Goliath and HMS Ocean were sunk during the Dardanelles campaign. The four surviving ships were reduced to subsidiary duties late in World War I and were scrapped in the early 1920s.

List of Ships in Canopus Class

  • HMS Albion
  • HMS Canopus
  • HMS Glory
  • HMS Goliath
  • HMS Ocean
  • HMS Vengeance

General characteristics

The Canopus-class battleships were designed for use in the Far East to counter the expanding Japanese navy and were required to be able to pass through the Suez Canal. They were designed to be smaller, lighter and faster than their predecessors, the Majestic-class battleships, although at 421.5 ft (128.5 m) they were slightly longer.

Armour

The armoured belt, situated at the waterline of the vessel, was 6 inches (152 mm) thick.
To save weight the Canopus class carried less armour than the Majestics, but a change from Harvey armour in the Majestics to Krupp armour in the Canopus class meant that the protective capability of the armour was maintained.[nb 1] Part of their armour scheme included the use of a special 1 in (25 mm) armoured deck over the armour belt to defend against plunging fire by the howitzers that France had reportedly planned to install on its ships, although this report proved to be false.

Armament

Like the Majestics, the Canopus class ships had four 12-inch (305 mm) guns mounted in twin turrets fore and aft. The final ship, Vengeance, had an improved mounting that allowed loading at any elevation; her turret gunhouses differed from those of her sisters in being Krupp-armoured and flat-sided (Krupp armour plates were difficult to form into curves).[5] The ships mounted twelve 6-inch (152 mm) guns[nb 2] in armoured casemates as well having some smaller guns and four submerged 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes.

Propulsion

The Canopuses were the first British battleships with water-tube boilers, which generated more power for their weight when compared with the cylindrical boilers used in previous ships. The new boilers led to the adoption of fore-and-aft funnels, rather than the side-by-side funnel arrangement used in many previous British battleships. The Canopus-class ships proved to be good steamers, consuming 10 short tons (9.1 t) of coal per hour at full speed.[7] At 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph) they were fast for battleships of their time, a full 2 kn (2.3 mph) faster than the Majestics. The Canopuses were able to reach 4,500 mi (7,200 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph) with a full load of coal.

First World War Service

When World War I broke out in August 1914, Albion was assigned to the 8th Battle Squadron, Channel Fleet. On 15 August 1914, she became second flagship of the new 7th Battle Squadron. On 21 August 1914, she was sent to the Saint Vincent-Finisterre Station to provide battleship support to cruiser squadrons operating in the Atlantic in case German Navy heavy ships broke out into the open Atlantic. On 3 September 1914, she transferred her flag, becoming a private ship, and moved to the Cape Verde-Canary Islands station on to relieve her sister ship Canopus there.

Albion was transferred to the Cape of Good Hope Station in South Africa in October 1914, where she took up duty as a guard ship at Walvis Bay through November 1914. In December 1914 and January 1915, she participated in Allied operations against German Southwest Africa.

Dardanelles campaign

Albion transferred to the Mediterranean in January 1915 to participate in the Dardanelles campaign. She took part in the bombardment of the Ottoman Turkish forts guarding the outer entrance to the Dardanelles on 18 February 1915 and 19 February 1915. Albion, Majestic, and Triumph became the first Allied battleships to enter the Turkish Straits during the Dardanelles campaign on 26 February 1915 when they made the initial attack on the inner forts. Albion then supported the first Allied landings in late February 1915 and early March 1915.

In action against Ottoman forts on 1 March 1915, Albion took repeated hits but sustained no serious damage. She participated in the main attack on the forts on 18 March 1915, and supported the main landings at V Beach at Cape Helles on 25 April 1915. On 28 April 1915 she suffered significant damage from Ottoman shore batteries during an attack on Krithia, forcing her to retire to Mudros for repairs. Back in action on 2 May 1915, she again suffered damage necessitating repairs at Mudros.

On the night of 22–23 May 1915, Albion beached on a sandbank off Gaba Tepe and came under heavy fire from Ottoman shore batteries. About 200 fragmentation shells hit her, but they could not penetrate her armor and did no serious damage and Albion suffered fewer than a dozen casualties. After efforts were made to free her by reducing her weight and by using the recoil of firing her main guns simultaneously, her sister ship Canopus towed her to safety on 24 May 1915, Albion still firing at the Ottoman forts while being towed clear. Albion left the area for repairs on 26 May 1915 and underwent a refit at Malta in May–June 1915.

Later operations

On 4 October 1915, Albion arrived at Salonika to become a unit of the 3rd Detached Squadron, tasked with assisting the French Navy in a blockade of the coasts of Greece and Bulgaria and with reinforcing the Suez Canal Patrol. She embarked the first British Army contingent of 1,500 troops for Salonika and escorted French troopships carrying the French second contingent.

Albion served on the Salonika Station until April 1916, then became a guard ship at Queenstown, Ireland, later that month. In May 1916 she moved to Devonport for a refit; that completed, she moved on to the Humber in August 1916 for service as a guard ship there.

Subsidiary duties

In October 1918, Albion's service as a guard ship came to an end, and she was reduced to service as an accommodation ship.

Disposal

In August 1919, Albion was placed on the disposal list at Devonport. She was sold for scrapping on 11 December 1919. She left Devonport under her own steam on 3 January 1920, arriving at Morecambe for scrapping on 6 January 1920.

John Doran


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