Warship Wednesday March 30, 2016: Of Mines and Khartoum

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, March 30, 2016: Of Mines and Khartoum

IWM Q 38999

IWM Q 38999

Here we see the Royal Navy Devonshire-class armored cruiser HMS Hampshire during her brief life. Although a warship in the RN during the toughest period of the Great War at sea, Hampshire is remembered more for whom she carried rather than where she fought.

The Devonshires were a six-pack of mixed armament (4×7.5-inch; 6×6-inch) cruisers that were popular around the 1900s. These 11,000-ton ships were designed to act independent of the main battle fleet and could cruise worldwide and protect sea-lanes from enemy surface raiders, or in turn become a surface raider themselves.

The concept was invalidated in the Russo-Japanese War when Russian armored cruisers failed to make much impact on the extensive Japanese maru fleet, while they were sent to the bottom wholesale in warship v. warship ops. In turn, the armored cruiser concept was replaced by the more traditional all-big-gun fast heavy cruiser, and their flawed cousin the battlecruiser, both of which reigned for some time through WWII.

Still, the Devonshires, though obsolete almost as soon as they were commissioned, gave yeoman service while they were around.

The subject of our tale, Hampshire, was laid down at Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd in Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, 1 September 1902. She was the fourth such warship to carry that name on the fleet list, dating back to a 46-gun ship built in 1653 for Cromwell’s Commonwealth.

Ironically, Hampshire was completed 15 July 1905, just six weeks after the Battle of Tsushima that largely invalidated her existence. Her cost, £833,817.

Page 102 001

After cutting her teeth with the 1st Cruiser Squadron of the Channel Fleet for a few years as a shiny new warship for HM, Hampshire had her hull scraped and boilers reworked before being transferred to Hong Kong to sit the China Station in 1912.


1912, note the awnings for service in the tropics.
See https://deceptico.deviantart.com/art/H-M-S-Hampshire-1912-372335568

There, she waved the flag while keeping an eye on the German armored cruisers of Adm. Maximilian von Spee’s East Asia Squadron, preparing for Der Tag.

IWM Q 38999

IWM Q 38999

When the balloon went up, Hampshire sortied for the German colony of Yap to destroy the wireless station there, on the way sinking the German collier SS Elspeth just seven days after the England joined the war. The lack of coal for Spee’s ships would be an albatross that ultimately ended his squadron. (Note: Hampshire’s sister, HMS Carnarvon, was present at the Battle of the Falklands and got licks in on both Spee’s SMS Gneisenau and Scharnhorst).

While in the Pacific, Hampshire just barely missed an opportunity to sink the much smaller cruiser SMS Emden (4200-tons; 10x105mm guns), however, she did carry that stricken raider’s skipper, Kvtkpn. Karl von Müller, to POW camp in England, while escorting an ANZAC troop convoy through the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea to Egypt.

At Malta

At Malta

Arriving back in home waters in January 1915, Hampshire landed Müller, who was sent on to captivity at the University of Nottingham, then joined the Grand Fleet.

Fighting at Jutland with the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, her 7.5-inchers tried but failed to hit any German ships during that epic surface battle. Likewise, Hampshire herself came away unscathed.


In July, she was chosen to carry Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, PC, “Baron Kitchener of Khartoum” to Imperial Russia via the White Sea. Kitchener and his staff were to help revitalize the Tsar’s war machine; after all, he was literally the face of the mighty BEF, which had swollen from a small volunteer force of just six infantry divisions to a modern army capable of holding the Kaiser in place on the Western Front.

Kitchener poster LORD KITCHENER SAYS

Lord Kitchener on board HMS Iron Duke at Scapa Flow, about one hour before he sailed on Hampshire

Lord Kitchener aboard HMS Iron Duke at Scapa Flow, about one hour before he sailed on Hampshire. This is believed to be the last image of the legendary soldier.

Leaving Scapa Flow for Archangelsk, Hampshire and her two destroyer escorts ran afoul of a minefield laid by U-75 in May.

There, on 5 June off the mainland of Orkney between Brough of Birsay and Marwick Head, Hampshire struck a single mine and was holed, sinking rapidly in just 15 minutes by the bow, taking 737 members of her crew and passengers to the bottom with her. Only 12 crewmen survived and made it to shore.

Able Seaman (Signalman) William George Waterman Tyneside Z/4464. Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, one of the 737 men lost on HMS Hampshire. IWM image

Able Seaman (Signalman) William George Waterman Tyneside Z/4464. Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, one of the 737 men lost on HMS Hampshire. IWM image

One other purported survivor, Boer spy Frederick “Fritz” Joubert Duquesne, known to history as “The man who killed Kitchener” claimed to have guided a German U-boat to sink the HMS Hampshire via torpedo from shore, though nothing supports that claim.



Attaching himself to Kitchener’s staff, he claimed to have escaped Hampshire alone to be picked up by a waiting U-boat. But anyway…

The news of Kitchener’s loss, coming after the carnage of the Somme, was a blow to the Allied war effort.


The Wreck of the Hampshire by Geoffrey Stephen Allfree, IWM ART 5252

The Wreck of the Hampshire by Geoffrey Stephen Allfree, IWM ART 5252

Further, without a shot in the arm, the Tsar’s army largely walked away from the war the next year, though not even the hero of Khartoum would likely have changed that.

Remnants of Hampshire are considered relics in the IWM collection.

Fragment of boat belonging to HMS HAMPSHIRE in IWM collection

Fragment of boat belonging to HMS HAMPSHIRE in IWM collection

Royal Navy cap tally found among the effects of Midshipman E E Fellowes. Image via IWM

Royal Navy cap tally found among the effects of Midshipman E E Fellowes. Image via IWM

Fragment of a pinnace, or ship's boat, from the wreckage of the armoured cruiser HMS Hampshire, washed up in Hoy Sound, June 1916. Image via IWM

Fragment of a pinnace, or ship’s boat, from the wreckage of the armored cruiser HMS Hampshire, washed up in Hoy Sound, June 1916. Image via IWM

Located in 180 feet of water, a small gun, some other minor wreckage, and one of her props were illegally salvaged in 1983 but have been recovered and preserved in museums.

HMS Hampshire gun at Marwick Head

HMS Hampshire gun at Marwick Head

hampshire prop

As for her sisters, the five other Devonshires were luckier, with the exception of HMS Argyll, which wrecked on the Bell Rock, 28 October 1915. The four surviving ships were paid off soon after the war and sold for scrap.

Hampshire‘s name, though currently not in use, was bestowed to a County-class guided missile destroyer (D06) in 1963 and scrapped in 1979 after just 16 years service as part of the Labour Government’s severe defense cuts pre-Thatcher.

A memorial, planned by the Orkney Heritage Society is trying to raise £200,000 to more extensively commemorate the ship.

Image via Orkney Heritage Society

Image via Orkney Heritage Society

Some 737 names will be inscribed in panels on the wall, which will arc around the tower, with a separate panel for the staff of Lord Kitchener – and another one bearing the names of nine men killed on the drifter Laurel Crown, which was blown up in June 1916 while trying to clear the minefield.


BR hampshire 1
Displacement: 10,850 long tons (11,020 t) (normal)
Length: 473 ft. 6 in (144.3 m) (o/a)
Beam: 68 ft. 6 in (20.9 m)
Draught: 24 ft. (7.3 m)
Installed power:
21,000 ihp (16,000 kW)
17 Yarrow boilers; 6 cylindrical boilers
2 × Shafts
2 × 4-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines
Speed: 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph)
Complement: 610
4 × single BL 7.5-inch (191 mm) Mk I guns
6 × single BL 6-inch (152 mm) Mk VII guns
2 × single 12-pounder (3-inch, 76 mm) 8 cwt guns
18 × single QF 3-pounder (47 mm) Hotchkiss guns
2 × single 18-inch (45 cm) torpedo tubes
Belt: 2–6 in (51–152 mm)
Decks: .75–2 in (19–51 mm)
Barbettes: 6 in (152 mm)
Turrets: 5 in (130 mm)
Conning tower: 12 in (305 mm)
Bulkheads: 5 in (127 mm)

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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