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HMS E15 in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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HMS E15



25th May 1915 HMS Triumph  

HMS Triumph

HMS Triumph, (Swiftsure class) pre-dreadnought battleship.
Built Vickers, Barrow, laid down February 1902, completed June 1904, cost 956,596.
Size: Length 462 feet 6 inch waterline 475 feet 3 inch overall, beam 71 feet 2 inches, draught 24 feet 8 inches, displacement 11,740 load 13,432 tons deep.
Propulsion: 2 shaft Triple Expansion, 12,500 ihp, speed 19 knots.

Armour: 7-3inch belt, 10inch barbettes, 10inch gun houses, 3-1inch decks.
Armament: 4 x 10inch 45 cal BL (2 x 2), 14 x 7.5inch BL (14 x 1), 14 x 14pounder QF (14 x 1), 2 x 12pounder QF (2 x 1), 4 x 6pounder (4 x 1), 2 x 18inch TT.
Crew complement 729 Offficers and ratings.

Originally designed by Sir Edward Reed for Chile to counter Argentinean armoured cruisers but owing to financial problems the ships were put up for sale before completion. The ships were purchased by the British government in December 1903 mainly to prevent their possible sale to Russia. The design emphasised speed and a heavy secondary armament at the expense of protection and main armament.

Swiftsure Class. As you would expect for a design originally for overseas navy these ships were quite distinctive from the normal British designs with wide spaced funnels and prominent cranes between them, smaller main gun turrets. The ships were only considered Second Class Battleships in British service.

The two ships had slightly different main guns as they were armed by their respective builders. They were the only British battleships to mount a 7.5 inch gun although that calibre was used in some cruisers. Likewise the 14 pounder anti torpedo boat guns were unique to this class.

World War 1 Service:

  • In reserve at Hong Kong at the start of war and re-commissioned there.
  • Took part in search for Admiral Graf Spee and captured a German collier.
  • August-November 1914 attached to Japanese Second Fleet for action against German base at Tsingtau.
  • November 1914-January 1915 under refit at Hong Kong.
  • February 1915 joined Dardanelles Squadron.
  • Took part in attacks on forts and supported landings.
  • 18 April 1915 one of her picket boats along with one from HMS Majestic destroyed the grounded British submarine E15 to prevent capture.
  • 25 May 1915 torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U21.

Upon completion of her refit in January 1915, Triumph was transferred to the Dardanelles for service in the Dardanelles Campaign. The ship departed Hong Kong on 12 January and stopped at Suez from 7 February to 12 February before moving on to join the Dardanelles Squadron. Triumph took part in the opening attack on the entrance forts on 18 February and 19 February, and joined the pre-dreadnoughts Albion and Cornwallis in using her secondary battery to silence the fort at Sedd el Bahr on 25 February. She, Albion, and Majestic were the first Allied battleships to enter the Turkish Straits during the campaign when they carried out the initial attack on the inner forts on 26 February. She also took part in the attack on Fort Dardanos on 2 March 1915. She and Swiftsure were detached from the Dardanelles on 5 March for operations against forts at Smyrna, returning to the Dardanelles on 9 March.

Triumph participated in the main attack on the Narrows forts on 18 March, and fired on Ottoman trenches at Achi Baba on 15 April. On 18 April, one of her picket boats and one from Majestic torpedoed and sank the British submarine E15, which had run aground near Fort Dardanos and was in danger of being captured by Ottoman forces. Triumph supported the main landing by the Anzac forces at Gaba Tepe on 25 April, and continued to support them through May. On 25 May, the ship was underway off Gaba Tepe, firing on Ottoman positions, with torpedo nets out and most watertight doors shut, when she sighted a submarine periscope 300 to 400 yards (270 to 370 m) off her starboard beam at about 1230 hours. It belonged to the U-boat U-21. Triumph opened fire on the periscope, but was almost immediately struck by a torpedo, which easily cut through her torpedo net, on her starboard side. A tremendous explosion resulted, and Triumph took on a list 10 to starboard. She held that list for about five minutes, then it increased to 30. The destroyer Chelmer evacuated most of her crew before she capsized ten minutes later. She remained afloat upside down for about 30 minutes, then began to sink slowly in about 180 feet (55 m) of water. Three officers and 75 enlisted men died in her sinking.

John Doran


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HMS E15

during the Great War 1914-1918.

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