HMS Irresistible

HMS Irresistible was a Formidable class pre-dreadnought battleship sunk during the Allied attempt to force the Dardanelles on 18 March 1915. Like the rest of her class, in August 1914 she was part of the 5th Battle Squadron, helping to defend the BEF as it crossed the channel to France. In late August she was used to carry the Portsmouth Battalion of Marines to Ostend as part of a naval attempt to save that port. In October she was at Dover, under the command of Admiral Hood. During the German raid on Gorleston of 3 November she was ordered to sea but did not come into action.

Plans of Formidable and London Class Battleships
Plans of
Formidable and
London Class

On 1 February 1915 she set sail for the Dardanelles, in company with HMS Majestic. There she formed part of the 2nd Division of the battleship fleet during the early bombardments, and then part of the 3rd Sub-Division of Division II of the battleship squadron

She was one of four British battleships chosen to take part in the attempt to force the narrows on 18 March (Ocean, Vengeance, Albion and Irresistible). At 4.15pm she was taking part in a bombardment of Turkish forts, from a distance of 11,000 yards. She was drifting with her engines stopped, and ran onto a submerged moored mine.

This hit under the bilge of the starboard engine-room, very near to the centre line of the ship. The engine room flooded and only three men escaped. The water pressure then broke down the midship bulkhead, and the port engine-room also flooded. The ship was listing at seven degrees, with her stern down and the engine gone. She then came under heavy Turkish fire. Captain Dent ordered the crew to abandon ship. Despite being under heavy fire, HMS Wear managed to rescue 28 officers and 582 men from the Irresistible. Ten volunteers and Captain Dent remained onboard in an attempt to get a towing wire across to HMS Ocean, but these efforts failed and at 5.50pm the ship was abandoned. She was still afloat, and it was hoped to return after dark with destroyers and minesweepers to rescue her, but when that attempt was made, the Irresistible had disappeared. After being abandoned she had drifted back into range of the Turkish forts, and had been sunk by gunfire at 7.30pm.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed




Armour – deck


 - belt


 - bulkheads


 - barbettes


 - gun houses


 - casemates


 - conning tower



431ft 9in


Four 12in guns
Twelve 6in quick firing guns
Sixteen 12pdr quick firing guns
Six 3pdr quick firing guns
Four 18in torpedo tubes

Crew complement



15 December 1898


September 1901


D. L. Dent


18 March 1915

British Battleships 1889-1904 New Revised Edition, R A Burt. Magnificent study of the Royal Navy's pre-dreadnought battleships, amongst the most powerful ships in the world when built, but seen as obsolete by the outbreak of war in 1914. Traces the development of the 'classic' pre-dreadnought design and the slow increase in the power of the secondary armament, leading up to the all-big gun ships that followed. [read full review]
cover cover cover

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (1 November 2007), HMS Irresistible ,

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