- HMS Goliath during the Great War -
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1st July 1914 HMS Goliath
HMS Goliath (1900 - 1915) was built at Portsmouth Dockyard, laid down on 4th January 1897, launched on 3rd March 1898, Commissioned in March 1900 and Sunk by torpedo in May 1915.
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.
The lead ship was HMS Albion, which 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
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.
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. 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.
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). The ships mounted twelve 6-inch (152 mm) guns in armoured casemates as well having some smaller guns and four submerged 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes.
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. 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 the First World War broke out in August 1914, Goliath returned to full commission and was assigned to the 8th Battle Squadron, Channel Fleet, operating out of Devonport. She was sent to Loch Ewe as guard ship to defend the Grand Fleet anchorage and then covered the landing of the Plymouth Marine Battalion at Ostend, Belgium on 25 August 1914.
Goliath transferred to the East Indies Station on 20 September to support cruisers on convoy duty in the Middle East, escorting an Indian convoy to the Persian Gulf and German East Africa until October. She then took part in the blockade of the German light cruiser SMS Königsberg in the Rufiji River until November, during which crew member Commander Henry Peel Ritchie won the Victoria Cross. She bombarded Dar es Salaam on 28 November and 30 November.
Goliath underwent a refit at Simonstown, South Africa, from December 1914 – February 1915. When it was completed, she went back into service as flagship for Vice Admiral King Hall and resumed operations against Königsberg at the Rufiji River until March 1915.
On 25 March 1915, Goliath was ordered to the Çanakkale Strait(Dardanelles) to participate in the campaign there. She transferred her flag to second-class cruiser Hyacinth and departed for the Çanakkale Strait (Dardanelles) on 1 April.
Commanded by Captain Thomas Lawrie Shelford, Goliath was part of the Allied fleet supporting the landing at X and Y Beaches. During the landing at Cape Mehmetçik (Cape Helles) on 25 April, she sustained some damage from the gunfire of Ottoman Turkish forts and shore batteries, and supported Allied troops ashore during the First Battle of Alçıtepe that day. She covered the evacuation on 26 April. She was damaged by Turkish guns again on 2 May.
Since the Turkish Army had no long range cannons, battleships with large calibre armament like Goliath were able to remain out of range and had caused excessive casualties on the Turkish side. Though it seemed impossible, the Turkish General Staff decided to sink Goliath. On the night of 12–13 May, Goliath was anchored in Morto Bay off Cape Mehmetçik (Cape Helles), along with Cornwallis and a screen of five destroyers, in foggy conditions. Around 0100 on 13 May, the Turkish torpedo boat destroyer Muâvenet-i Millîye eluded the destroyers Beagle and Bulldog and three others and closed on the battleships. Muâvenet-i Millîye fired two torpedoes which struck Goliath almost simultaneously abreast her fore turret and abeam the fore funnel, causing a massive explosion. Goliath began to capsize almost immediately, and was lying on her beam ends when a third torpedo struck near her after turret. She then rolled over completely and began to sink by the bows, taking 570 of the 700-strong crew to the bottom, including her commanding officer, Captain Thomas Lawrie Shelford.
Although sighted and fired on after the first torpedo hit, Muâvenet-i Millîye escaped unscathed. Goliath was the fourth Allied pre-dreadnought battleship to be sunk in the Dardanelles; after her loss the flagship Queen Elizabeth was sent back to England. For sinking Goliath, Turkish Captain of Muâvenet-i Millîye Ahmet Saffet Bey was promoted to rank of Commander (Major) and awarded the Gold Medal and the German consultant, Kapitänleutnant Rudolph Firle was also awarded the Gold Medal by Ottoman Sultan (Rudolph Firle was also awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class by the German General Staff because he was a German national).John Doran
1st October 1914 Battle of Rufiji Delta The Battle of the Rufiji Delta took place in German East Africa (modern Tanzania) from October 1914 to July 1915 during the First World War. It was fought between the German light cruiser SMS Königsberg and a powerful group of British warships. The battle was a series of attempts to sink the blockaded German cruiser that eventually resulted in the destruction of Königsberg.
In 1914, the most powerful German ship in the Indian Ocean was the light cruiser Königsberg. After an engine failure, Königsberg, along with her supply ship Somali, sought refuge in the delta of the Rufiji River. She planned to hide there while her damaged machinery was transported overland to Dar es Salaam for repair. The British cruiser HMS Chatham discovered Königsberg in the delta towards the end of October. On 5 November, two additional British cruisers, HMS Dartmouth and Weymouth, arrived at the scene and blockaded the German ship in the delta. In early November, Chatham opened fire at long range and set fire to Somali, but she failed to hit Königsberg, which promptly moved further upstream. The British ships were more powerful than Königsberg, but were unable to navigate the delta. The crew of Königsberg disguised their ship so it looked like the forest around the delta.
The British made several attempts to sink Königsberg including one to slip a shallow-draught torpedo boat (with escorts) within range, an operation easily repulsed by the force in the delta. A blockship, the Newbridge, was successfully sunk by the British across one of the delta mouths to prevent her escape. However it was soon realized that Königsberg could still escape through one of the delta's other channels. Dummy mines were laid in some of these alternates, but they were considered a doubtful deterrent. A civilian pilot named Cutler was hired to bring his Curtiss seaplane for reconnaissance. His plane was shot down, although they verified the presence of the elusive cruiser. A pair of Royal Naval Air Service Sopwith seaplanes were brought up with the intention of scouting and even bombing the ship, but they soon fell apart in the tropical conditions. A trio of Short seaplanes fared a little better, managing to take photographs of the ship before they were grounded by the glue-melting tropical heat and German fire. Attempts to use the 12 inch guns of the old battleship HMS Goliath to sink the cruiser were unsuccessful, once again because the shallow waters prevented the battleship getting within range. However, by March 1915 food supplies were low and many of the crew members aboard the Königsberg died from malaria and other tropical diseases. Generally cut off from the outside world, the morale of the sailors fell. However, the situation was marginally improved with a scheme to resupply the ship and give her a fighting chance to return home. A captured British merchant ship, Rubens, was renamed Kronborg and given a Danish flag, papers, and a crew of German sailors specially selected for their ability to speak Danish. She was then loaded with coal, field guns, ammunition, fresh water, and supplies. After successfully infiltrating the waters of East Africa, she was intercepted by the alerted HMS Hyacinth, which chased her to Manza Bay. The trapped ship was set on fire by the crew and left. The Germans later salvaged much of her cargo which went on to be used in the land campaign and some transported to the Königsberg.
Two shallow-draught monitors, HMS Mersey and Severn, were towed to the Rufiji from Malta by the Red Sea making it to the delta in June 1915. With nonessential items removed, added armour bolted on, and covered by a full bombardment from the rest of the fleet, they ran the gauntlet. Aided by a squadron of four land planes—two Caudrons and two Henry Farmans, based at Mafia Island to spot the fall of shells, they engaged in a long-range duel with Königsberg, which was assisted by shore-based spotters. Although Mersey was hit and the monitors were unable to score on the first day, they returned again on 11 July. Finally, their 6 in guns knocked out Königsberg's armament and then reduced her to a wreck. At around 1400, Looff ordered her scuttled with a torpedo. After the battle, the British were unquestionably the strongest naval power in the Indian Ocean.
The next day, 33 German dead were buried by the 188 remaining crewmen. A plaque reading "Beim Untergang S.M.S. Königsberg am 11.7.15 gefallen..." was placed near the graves, followed by a list of the dead. The Germans recovered Königsberg's ten 105-millimetre quick-firing guns, mounted them on improvised field carriages, and used them with great success as powerful field guns in their guerrilla campaign against the Allies around East Africa. The guns were used as harbor fortifications in Dar es Salaam, with one being remounted onto the passenger ship Graf von Götzen. The last gun was not knocked out until October 1917. The remaining crew from Königsberg went on to serve as ground troops under General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck. Three of Königsberg's 105-mm guns survived; one is on display outside Fort Jesus, Mombasa, Kenya, another outside the Union Building in Pretoria, South Africa and a third at Jinja Barracks in Uganda. There are stories of another in the Congo, but no details have been forthcoming.John Doran
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