HMS Minerva

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Hms Minerva was an Eclipse class second class cruiser that served in the Red Sea, at Gallipoli and on the East Africa station during the First World War. At the start of the First World War the Minerva was part of the 11th Cruiser Squadron, based in Ireland and patrolling the trade routes to the west. In mid-August she was detached from that squadron, and sent south to join Admiral de Robeck’s 9th Cruiser Squadron, to guard against the German raider Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse. The squadron also had the job of catching German and Austrian merchant ships that were still at sea. The difficulty of this job is demonstrated by the case of the Austrian Lloyd Line ship Bathori. She was travelling from Amsterdam to Vigo, with a British pass. The Minerva seized and scuttled her, unaware of this pass. The crew were then repatriated and the British government agreed to consider paying compensation to her owners after the war.  

In September 1914 the Minerva escorted a troop convoy containing the East Lancashire Territorial Division, going to Egypt, and two Territorial Brigades, going to Gibraltar and Malta, to free up regulars for the western front. The Minerva was then detached from de Robeck’s command to go to the East Indies.

She reached the Suez Canal on 30 October with the convoy. She was then sent to Aqaba, at the head of the Red Sea, to attack any Turkish troops using the coast road. On 29 December she bombarded an infantry working party close to the shore, but otherwise it was a quiet area. Early in 1915 she returned to the Suez Canal. During the Turkish attack on the canal, her station was at the southern end of the Little Bitter Lake.

By March the Minerva was attached to the fleet off the Dardanelles. In April she was used to blockade Smyrna, while the army was being moved from Egypt to the Dardanelles, in preparation for the Gallipoli campaign. The only attack on the troop ships came on 16 April, when the Turkish torpedo boat Demir Hissar attempted to torpedo one troop ship. The Minerva was taking on coal, but was able to get to sea in time to help trap the Demir Hissar.

In April 1915 she was attached to the First Battle Squadron of the Gallipoli Fleet, helping to support the attack on the southern end of the peninsula. In August, during the Sulva landings, she was used to protect a feint attack made by 350 men at the head of the Gulf of Saros.

During 1916 she was sent to the China Station, but by the start of 1917 she was back in the Red Sea. In January 1917 she was sent to Socotra, at the entrance to the Red Sea, to protect against the German raider Wolf. She stayed off East Africa for the rest of the war – in November 1917, later in the raid of the Wolf, she was at Kilwa Kisiwani (Tanzania). She ended the war at the Cape of Good Hope.  

Displacement (loaded)

5,600t

Top Speed

19.5kts

Armour – deck

3in-1.5in

 - gunshields

3in

 - engine hatch

6in

 - conning tower

6in

Length

373ft

Armaments as built

Five 6in quick firing guns
Six 4.7in quick firing guns
Six 3pdr quick firing guns
Two machine guns
Three 18in torpedo tubes

Armament after 1905

Eleven 6in guns
Three 12pdr guns
Three 18in torpedo tubes

Crew complement

450

Launched

23 September 1895

Completed

4 February 1897

Captains

P. H. Warleigh
Captain Jackson
Captain Raikes

Sold for break up

1920

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (11 November 2007), HMS Minerva , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Minerva.html

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