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

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- HMS Montagu during the Great War -

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HMS Montagu

1st July 1914 HMS Montagu  

HMS Montagu - aground Lundy Island 1906

HMS Montagu was a Duncan-class pre-dreadnought battleship of the British Royal Navy. In May 1906 in thick fog, she was wrecked on Lundy Island, fortunately without loss of life. Although she would soon have been obsolescent if she had not been wrecked, this loss of one of its newest battleships was a blow to the Royal Navy, then in the early stages of the naval arms race with Germany.

HMS Montagu was laid down at Devonport Dockyard on 23 November 1899, and launched on 5 March 1901, when she was christened by Lady Charles Scott, wife of Lord Charles Scott, Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth. She began trials in February 1903.

HMS Montagu commissioned on 28 July 1903 at Devonport Dockyard for service in the Mediterranean Fleet. In February 1905, she transferred to the Channel Fleet.


At 0200 hours on 30 May 1906 during radio communication trials carried out in thick fog, Montagu was steaming at high speed in the Bristol Channel when she ran into Shutter Rock on the southwest corner of Lundy Island. The force of impact was so great that her foremast was raked forward. The ship settled hard aground, with many holes in her hull, the worst of which was a 91-foot (28 m) long gash in her starboard side.[11]

A pilot cutter cruising in the vicinity of Lundy Island had encountered Montagu a short time earlier. The battleship had stopped engines, come abreast, and hailed from the bridge requesting a distance and bearing for Hartland Point on the mainland of England. Though the cutter supplied these accurately, the voice from the battleship's bridge replied that they must be wrong and that the pilot cutter must have lost her bearings. As Montagu restarted her engines and began to move ahead, the cutter shouted back that on her present course Montagu would be on Shutter Rock within ten minutes, and a short time later the sound of the battleship running aground carried through the fog.

The battleship's captain, believing Montagu was aground at Hartland Point, sent a party on a rowing boat to the north, instructing them to contact the Hartland Point Lighthouse. They instead got to the North light on Lundy Island, where officers asked the lighthouse keeper to inform the British Admiralty that they were aground south of Hartland Point. An argument ensued with the keeper over where they were until he pointed out he knew what lighthouse he kept.

The court martial convened for the affair blamed the thick fog and faulty navigation for the wreck,[14] and her commanding officer, Thomas B. S. Adair, and navigating officer, Lieutenant J. H. Dathan, were severely reprimanded and "dismissed the ship", Dathan losing two years' seniority.

John Doran

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HMS Montagu

during the Great War 1914-1918.

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