British Monitor Classes of the First World War

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The First World War Monitors were shallow draft ships carrying one or two large guns. They were designed for coastal bombardment duties, especially off the coast of Belgium, where battleships could not easily reach. The eight classes of monitors used by the British during the First World War came from a variety of sources – the Humber class ships had been built as river monitors for Brazil, the Gorgon class as coastal battleships for the Norwegians. Their guns also came from a variety of sources – some were spare at the beginning of the war, others were removed from older battleships or modified cruisers while the 14in guns carried by the Abercrombie class monitors had been donated by Charles M. Schwab, the President of Bethlehem Steel, an American company.

The shallow draft and low speed of the monitors made them very poor deep sea sailors, but despite this they saw service in some unexpected places. They made their most important contributions off the coast of Belgium, but they also took part in the bombardment of the Dardanelles and even reached German East Africa, taking part in the operations against the German cruiser Königsberg, in the shallow Rufiji River. This type of monitor was very much a product of the First World War. Only two more were built for the Royal Navy after the war, the two ships of the Roberts class of 1941-1943.

Name

Size (loaded)

Speed

Biggest guns

Built

Ships

Humber

1,520

9.5kts

2x6in, 2x4.7in

1913-1914

3

Abercrombie

6,150t

10kts

2x14in

1914-1915

4

Lord Clive

6,150t

6.5kts

2x12in

1915

8

Marshal Soult

6,900t

6kts

2x15in

1915

2

Gorgon

5,746t

12kts

2x9.2in

1914-1918

2

M 15

650t

11kts

1x9.2in

1915

14

M 29

580t

9kts

2x6in

1915

5

Erebus

8,450t

12kts

2x15in

1916

2

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (9 September 2007), British Monitor Classes of the First World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/lists_monitor_classes_british_WWI.html

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