HMS Triumph

HMS Triumph was a Swiftsure class battleship, designed for Chile but purchased by Britain in 1903. In April 1913 she had been sent to Hong Kong to relieve HMS Tamar, but by the start of the First World War she had been demobilised and was in dock at Hong Kong. The navy had great difficulty in finding a crew to man her. Even after stripping the crews from a number of older gunboats, they still had to use 108 volunteers from the 2nd Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.

The manning of the Triumph allowed Admiral Jerram to take his three ships with the longest range to Yap to destroy the German radio station. At the same time the Triumph with the cruisers Yarmouth and Dupleix swept up the trade route from Hong Kong to the German colony of Tsingtao. She then went on to the German colony at Wei-hai-wei to disembark the army volunteers, before returning to Tsingtao to cooperate with the Japanese.

Plans of Swiftsure Class Battleships
Plans of
Swiftsure Class

In January 1915 the Triumph was ordered to join Admiral Cardan at the Dardanelles. Her journey was delayed by the Turkish attack on the Suez Canal, but she was allowed to continue on her way on 12 February. She took part in the first bombardment of the Turkish forts on 19 February, firing on the fort on Cape Helles (Fort No.1 to the Allies), firing at 7,700 yards with her 10in guns. She was only able to fire 14 rounds between 10.00am and 12.15pm, because it was difficult to spot where her shells were landing.

On 25 February she supported the destroyers and minesweepers during the bombardment of 25 February. On the next day she was one of three battleships chosen to make the first opposed entry into the straits for one hundred years, in an attempt to attack the Turkish forts directly. During this period Captain FitzMaurice wrote a report in which he concluded that the naval bombardment could not succeed unless the Allied occupied part of the Gallipoli peninsula, to provide a stable base to observe the effect of the naval guns.

On 18 March the Triumph was one of the battleships that took part in the attempt to force the narrows. Her role was to support the first squadron by firing on the Turkish barrage guns. She was then relieved by her sister ship HMS Swiftsure. She made another entry into the straits on 15 April, with army officers on board, to see what naval guns would do to trenches and barbed wire – the answer was “not enough”.

During the Gallipoli landings on 25 April HMS Triumph was one of the ships allocated to support the Anzac landing at Gaba Tepe. She was the first ship to take up position off the landing beaches, where her role was to act as a guide for the rest of the fleet, showing a dim light when required. She then supported the landings, partly by helping to force the Turkish flagship Torgud Reis to pull back out of bombardment range. 

On 25 May the Triumph was bombarding Turkish positions around Gaba Tepe. She had her anti-torpedo nets in the water, her light guns were manned against submarine attack, her watertight doors were all manned and she was being protected by the destroyer HMS Chelmer. Despite this, U-21 under Lieutenant-Commander Hersing was able to hit her with a torpedo. She began to list to one side, and sank in half an hour. Fortunately Captain FitzMaurice had ordered the crew to abandon ship the moment the list became dangerous, and all by 73 of her crew survived. The Chelmer alone rescued over 500 men. The lost of the Triumph was one of a series of sinkings by U-boats that forced the navy to pull its battleships out of the danger zone, significantly reducing the chances of the attack on Gallipoli.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – deck


 - belt


 - bulkheads


 - barbettes


 - gun houses


 - battery


 - coning tower


 - decks



479ft 9in


Four 10 guns
Fourteen 7.5in guns
Fourteen 14pdr quick firing guns
Two 12pdr quick firing guns
Four 6pdr quick firing guns
Two 18in submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement



15 January 1903


June 1904


Captain M. S. FitzMaurice (1914)


25 May 1915

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cover cover cover

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (6 November 2007), HMS Triumph ,

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