HMS Severn

HMS Severn was a Humber class monitor that took part in fighting off the Belgian coast and the east coast of Africa during the First World War. She saw service off the Belgian coast during October-November 1914, taking part in the race to the sea and the battle of the Yser. Her turret guns then had to be replaced. The turret was removed and she was given one 6in Mk VII gun at each end.

In March 1915 Severn and Mersey were dispatched to the Dardanelles, but after reaching Malta they were diverted to the east coast of Africa. There they were to take part in an attack on the German cruiser Königsberg, then trapped in the shallow Rufiji Delta. After a difficult journey, the two monitors arrived at Mafia Island on 3 June, and were ready to take part in attack by 5 June.

The first attack was made on 6 June. The two monitors took up a position 11,000 yards from the Königsberg and opened fire. They came under immediate fire from the Germans, who had clearly prepared to bombard that location. After an hour, the Severn was hit, and her forward gun knocked out. She was then holed by a second hit just above the waterline and forced to retreat, although did return to the fight later in the day.

The first attack ended in failure. A second attempt, on 11 July, was more successful. This time the Mersey stopped at the first position, while the Severn sailed on for another mile. She opened fire at 12.30pm, while an aircraft overhead observed her fire. At 12.53 an explosion was observed, and by 2.30 the battle was over.

HMS Severn remained off East Africa during 1917. In October 1918 all three Humber class monitors were back together at Mudros, passing through the Dardanelles after the Turkish surrender. HMS Severn actually operated as a river monitor for three months on the Danube, before returning home in preparation for operations in Russia. Those operations were cancelled, and HMS Severn was soon sold off.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed




Armour – belt


 - bulkheads


 - barbette


 - turret face



266ft 9in

Armaments as built

Two 6in guns
Two 4.7in howitzers
Four 3pdr guns
Six 7mm Hotchkiss machine guns

Crew complement



19 August 1913


January 1914

Sold for break up



Commander E. J. A.  Fullerton
Commander W. B. C. Jones
Lt. Commander Venn

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (26 October 2007), HMS Severn ,

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