HMS Champion

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HMS Champion was a Calliope class light cruiser that fought at the battle of Jutland as leader of the 13th Destroyer Flotilla. She took up that post in December 1915, and held it until early 1919.

HMS Champion and the 13th Destroyer Flotilla were part of David Beatty’s battlecruiser squadron during the battle of Jutland. Captain Farie of the Champion had ten of the most modern destroyers in the fleet under his command. They came into action during the battlecruiser phase of the battle. After the disasters to the British battlecruisers, the arrival of Beatty’s battleship squadron forced Admiral Hipper to pull back. Beatty sent in his destroyers. They fought off a German destroyer attack, and then launched their own torpedoes at the German ships, without success. HMS Southampton then sighted the main German battle fleet approaching. This news was confirmed by the Champion, who was in advance of the main fleet. The destroyers were recalled, and Beatty began his retreat north towards Jellicoe and the Grand Fleet. 

Early in the night action the destroyer flotillas had a chance to prove that the pre-war hype surrounding them was justified when they found themselves between the High Seas Fleet and safety. The result was disappointing – the German cruiser Elbing was lost after a collision caused by attempts to evade a torpedo, but the main battle fleet was hardly troubled. HMS Champion and the 13th Flotilla were nearly hit by shells aimed at the 4th Flotilla, and took evasive action which opened a gap for the High Seas Fleet. Most of the flotilla became detached, and by the early morning of 1 June Captain Farie was only supported by two of his original ten destroyers. At this stage the destroyers gained their biggest success, sinking the German pre-dreadnaught battleship Pommern, the only battleship on either side lost in the battle. Champion and her few destroyers fired some of the last shots of the battle. At 3.30 am, while heading back to the north, they encountered four German destroyers, attacking and probably crippling one of them (G 40)

During April 1917 HMS Champion and her flotilla took part in an unsucceful attempt to catch German auxiliaries (mostly mine sweepers) operating off the Horn Reefs light vessel. This was part of the campaign to mine the Heligoland Bight, preventing German ships from using the area in safely. In October 1917, they were amongst the ships that took part in an anti-submarine operation in the Bight that resulted in the destruction of three German submarines (U 50, U 66 and U 106). This was a massive operation centred on an anti-submarine net and minefield. Finally, in November 1917 Champion and her flotilla were used the screen the 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron during the unsuccessful action in Heligoland Bight, designed to trap German ships operating on the outer edge of the minefields.

After the war HMS Champion served as a training ship, first with the Vernon Torpedo School (1919-1924), then as a Gunnery Firing Ship (1925-1928) and finally with the Signal School (1928-1933).

Displacement (loaded)

4,695t

Top Speed

Calliope 29.5kts
Champion 29kts

Armour – deck

1in

 - belt

4in-1.5in

 - conning tower

6in

Length

446ft

Armaments

Two 6in Mk XII guns
Eight 4in quick firing Mk IV guns
One 13pdr anti-aircraft gun
Four 3pdr guns
Two 21in above-water torpedo tubes

Crew complement

368

Launched

29 May 1915

Completed

December 1915

Sold for break up

1934

Captains

J. U. Farie (1916)

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (25 October 2007), HMS Champion , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Champion.html

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