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

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HMS Redoubtable



1st July 1914 HMS Revenge (1892)  HMS Revenge (1894 to 1915) then renamed Redoubtable (1915 to 1919). Not to be confused with HMS Revenge (1915) the reason for her being renamed.

HMS Revenge was a pre-dreadnought battleship of the Royal Sovereign class of the British Royal Navy. She was renamed HMS Redoubtable in 1915. Revenge notably served as the flagship of the Flying Squadron and bombarding the coast of Flanders during World War I before being refitted as an accommodation ship in 1915. As the last surviving member of her class, she was sold for scrap in December 1919. The renaming to Redoubtable was to make way for the next Revenge commissioned in 1915.

Revenge was laid down by Palmers on 12 February 1891, launched on 3 November 1892, and completed in March 1894. She was 410 feet long and had a maximum cruising speed of 17 knots. Her armament included four 67-ton 13.5-inch (343-mm) guns and several smaller calibre guns.

The Royal Sovereign-class battleships were designed by Sir William White and were the most potent battleships in the world until HMS Dreadnought rendered them obsolete overnight in 1906. In their day the Royal Sovereigns had also embodied revolutionary improvements in firepower, armour and speed. The main armament of four 13.5-inch (343-mm) guns was housed in two barbettes, rather than turrets, at either end of the ship which allowed a high freeboard, greatly increasing their capacity for fighting in rough weather; however, they tended to develop a heavy roll in some conditions, and after HMS Resolution rolled badly in heavy seas in 1893, the entire class was nicknamed the "Rolling Ressies," which stuck even though the problem was quickly corrected by the fitting of bilge keels.[1] The secondary armament was designed to provide potent, quick firing support for the main battery. Despite their greatly increased weight, thanks to a main armour belt which ran for two thirds of their length, they were the fastest capital ships in the world in their time. In 1906, the Royal Sovereigns, like every other battleship in the world, were made obsolete with the launch of the revolutionary HMS Dreadnought, the first all-big-gun battleship. Of the Royal Sovereign class, only Revenge survived to see the outbreak of World War 1.

Other class members (sister ships)

  • Royal Sovereign
  • Royal Oak
  • Resolution
  • Repulse
  • Ramilles
  • Empress of India
  • Hood
All of which were decomissioned before WW1

WW1 Service

Unlike her sister ships, Revenge was given a reprieve from the scrapyard by the outbreak of World War I in August 1914. It was decided to bring her back into service for use in coastal bombardment duties off the coast of Flanders. In September and October 1914, she was refitted at Portsmouth for this mission, including the relining of her 13.5-inch (343-mm) guns to 12-inch (305-mm) caliber. Her refit completed, she was ordered on 31 October 1914 to stand by to relieve battleship HMS Venerable as flagship there.

Revenge was declared ready for service on 5 November 1914, and formed the Channel Fleet's new 6th Battle Squadron with battleships HMS Albemarle, HMS Cornwallis, HMS Duncan, HMS Exmouth. and HMS Russell. Plans for the squadron to participate in an attack on German submarine bases were cancelled due to bad weather on 14 November 1914, and instead Revenge and battleship HMS Majestic left Dover, England, for Dunkirk, France.

Revenge took her first action of the war when she joined gunboat HMS Bustard, six British and four French destroyers and a French torpedo boat in bombarding German troops from off of Nieuwpoort, Belgium, on 22 November 1914. She was recalled to Dover the same day.

On 15 December 1914, Revenge returned to her bombardment duties, joining Majestic in searching for and bombarding German heavy artillery sites. She took two 8-inch (203-mm) shell hits, one of which penetrated her hull below the waterline and caused a serious leak. She again bombarded the Flanders coast on 16 December 1914.

In April and May 1915 she underwent a refit at Chatham in which she had anti-torpedo bulges fitted, the first ship to be fitted with them operationally. In August 1915, she was renamed HMS Redoubtable.

On 7 September 1915, she returned to combat, joining gunboats HMS Bustard and HMS Excellent in bombarding German troops at Ostend and German barracks and gun positions at Westende, inflicting much damage on the Germans. One of her antitorpedo bulges was deliberately flooded to impart a list that would increase the range of her main battery.

Decommissioning and subsidiary duties

Redoubtable underwent another refit from October to December 1915. Afterwards, she was not recommissioned, instead serving as an accommodation ship at Portsmouth until February 1919.[8]

Disposal[edit]

The last surviving member of her class, Redoubtable was sold for scrapping in December 1919.

John Doran


1st August 1915 HMS Redoubtable formerly Revenge (1894)  HMS Redoubtable (1915 to 1919) formerly HMS Revenge (1894) Royal Sovereign class pre-dreadnought battleship. Only survivor of its class during WW1.

It was renamed as a new Revenge (ship and class of dreadnoughts) was about to be commissioned (see Revenge (1915)).

Full details are listed under HMS Revenge.(keycode reveng1). The new Revenge is listed as HMS Revenge(1915) (keycode reveng2)

John Doran


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