HMS Hyacinth

HMS Hyacinth was a Highflyer second class cruiser that served on the Cape and East Africa station during the First World War. She had relieved the Hermes as flagship of that station in 1913, and in August 1914 was the flagship of Rear-Admiral King-Hall. In the period immediately before the outbreak of the war, he took his squadron to visit Zanzibar, with orders to track any German cruisers he encountered. On 31 July he sighted the Königsberg outside Dar-es-Salaam, but none of his ships were quick enough to catch her.

After this earlier visit to the east coast, the focus turned west for a period. In September the Hyacinth was used to escort the troopships carrying the regular solders of the Cape garrison home. In October she was called back to the Cape to provide support against the Boer rebels. She was still at the Cape when news arrived of the battle of Coronel. The Cape squadron was reinforced by the cruisers Minotaur and Defence, and Admiral King-Hall transferred his flag to the Minotaur. After the battle of the Falklands, the two more powerful cruisers were recalled, and the admiral swapped back to the Hyacinth, before transferring out again, this time to the Goliath.

At the start of January 1915 the Hyacinth was supporting the invasion of German South West Africa. She was then sent around to East Africa, to join the force blockading the Königsberg in the Rufiji delta. On 7 March Admiral King-Hall arrived in the Goliath, but on 25 March she was ordered away, and once again he transferred his flag to the Hyacinth. In April it became clear that the Germans were about to try and get supplies to their troops in East Africa. The ship chosen was a captured British merchantman, the Rubens. Lacking any more suitable ships, Admiral King-Hall undertook the hunt himself, in the Hyacinth. On 14 April he sighted the Rubens, and gave chase, but the Hyacinth’s starboard engine then broke down. This gave the German crew of the Rubens time to beach her in Mansa Bay. When the Hyacinth finally arrived, the Rubens was set alight, but most of her supplies were in her flooded cargo hold, and after the Hyacinth sailed away it was salvaged.

The Hyacinth stayed on the Cape and East Africa station until the end of the war. She was paid off in August 1919.



Top Speed

20kts (design)
19.1kts (trial)

Armour – deck

1.5in – 3in

 - conning tower


 - gunshields


 - engine hatches





Eleven 6in quick firing guns
Nine 12pdr quick firing guns
Six 3prd quick firing guns
Two 18in submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement



27 October 1898


3 September 1900


D. M. Anderson

Sold for break up


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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 November 2007), HMS Hyacinth ,

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