HMS Amethyst

HMS Amethyst was a Gem class third class cruiser that began the First World War as the flagship of Commodore Tyrwhitt at Harwich. She was then transferred to the Mediterranean, taking part in the naval campaign off the Dardanelles and the first part of the Gallipoli landings, before being sent to Italy in May 1915. Finally, from 1916 to 1918 was stationed on the east coast of South America.

Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt (1870-1951)
Reginald Tyrwhitt

At the start of August 1914 the Amethyst was the leader of the Harwich Force and Destroyer Command and the flagship of Commodore Tyrwhitt. In this role she led the first raid into the Heligoland Bight, on 5 August 1914, but she had been relieved by HMS Arethusa before the battle of Heligoland Bight (28 August 1914). In September she was the light cruiser attached to HMS Euryalus, the flagship of Admiral Christian, commander of the Southern Force. On 22 September, with the admiral onboard she was one of the ships that raced to the scene of the sinking of the three Cressy class cruisers.

A very brief spell with the Grand Fleet followed. This was followed by an equally short time with the 6th Battle Squadron on the south coast, before she was assigned to the fleet then being formed at the Dardanelles. On 19 February she acted as a support ship for HMS Albion during the first bombardment of the Turkish forts. Their role was to sweep the area west of the Gallipoli peninsula to clear the way for HMS Queen Elizabeth to get involved in the bombardment from a safe distance. This began a period in which the Amethyst was attached to the minesweepers. On the night of 1-2 March Amethyst and her minesweepers came under Turkish fire, but were able to make some progress. A second attempt of 7 March was less successful – a searchlight picked out the minesweepers and couldn’t be destroyed. After failures on 10 and 11 March it was decided to man the minesweepers with naval crews, but their first attempt at the task, on 14-15 March, ended in failure. The searchlight was still present, and the Amethyst was hit by one shell in the stoker’s bathroom and another in the mess-deck, taking 60 casualties.

During the main Gallipoli landings on 25 April HMS Amethyst and her sister HMS Sapphire were part of the Fourth Squadron, otherwise made up of minesweepers, and attached to the First Squadron. Early on the morning of 25 April they were used to land troops on Y-Beach. Although they helped to fight off a counterattack on the same day, on the second day of the campaign they had to help evacuate that beach.

On 28 April the Amethyst took part in an attack on Ibriji, further up the peninsula, as a feint. This was just about her last action at Gallipoli, for in May she was sent to join the Italian fleet under the terms of the agreement that brought Italy into the war. Unlike many of the ships sent to join the Italians, the Amethyst soon moved on again, and from 1916 until the end of the war she was serving off the east coast of South American. In early January 1917 she came very close to catching the German raider Moewe – so close that the Moewe actually captured one of the Amethyst’s support ships!

Top Speed (design)

22.5kts (Amethyst)

Top Speed (trials)

23.4kits (Amethyst)

Armour – deck


 - gunshields


 - conning tower



373ft 9in


Twelve 4in quick firing guns
Eight 3pdr quick firing guns
Four machine guns
Two 18in above water torpedo tubes

Crew complement



5 November 1903


17 March 1905


Commander G. J. Todd
Captain Unwin
Commander the Earl of Glasgow

Sold for break up


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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (13 November 2007), HMS Amethyst ,

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