HMS Cleopatra

HMS Cleopatra was a Caroline class light cruiser that spent the First World War with the Harwich Force, taking part in the attack on the Zeppelin base at Tondern. In June 1915 she was commissioned into the 5th Light Cruiser Squadron at Harwich. In February 1916 she replaced the Arethusa as Commodore Tyrwhitt’s flagship. The Harwich Force was always busy, conducting a wide range of operations, including sweeps of the Heligoland Bight. In August 1915 Cleopatra was one of the ships involved in the hunt for the German minelayer Meteor.

Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt (1870-1951)
Reginald Tyrwhitt

On 24 March 1916 Cleopatra was Commodore Tyrwhitt’s flagship during the raid against Tondern. The raid was originally aimed at a Zeppelin base believed to exist at Hoyer, on the Schleswig coast, behind the island of Sylt. When the British seaplanes reached the scene they discovered that the base was actually at Tondern.

During the return journey, the captain of the Cleopatra spotted a German destroyer (G 194) steaming across his bows, turned towards it, rammed it and cut it in two. The German destroyer sank, but the rapid collision put Cleopatra right in front of the cruiser Undaunted, and the two ships collided. Undaunted was seriously damaged, and took four days to return to port. Cleopatra was less seriously damaged, and was able to return with the rest of the squadron. She was back in service in time to take part in a clash with German destroyers on 18 July 1916.

The Cleopatra was at sea during the Lowestoft raid, 24-25 April 1916, and was part of Commodore Tyrwhitt’s force that found the German ships carrying out the raid but was unable to distract them from their mission. On 4 August 1916 she hit a mine off Thornton Ridge, but was soon back in action.

In January 1917 she took part in an unsuccessful attempt to attack German destroyers off the Belgian coast. On 5 June she helped to protect the forces bombarding the German base at Ostend. In October 1917 the Harwich cruisers were deployed in an attempt to intercept the German fleet as it attacked the Scandinavian convoys. The Harwich cruisers were allocated a patrol zone in the southern part of the North Sea.

In August 1918 the Cleopatra became flagship of the 7th Light Cruiser Squadron of the Grand Fleet, remaining there until March 1919.

In 1915 Cleopatra was one of a number of cruisers briefly equipped with an aircraft platform over the forecastle. During 1916-1917 the 13pdr AA gun was replaced by two 4in and two 2pdr aircraft guns.

After the war HMS Cleopatra served with the 2nd LCS of the Harwich Force (1919), during which period the squadron was sent to the Baltic. She was in intermittent service during the 1920s, with the 1st LCS (1919-20), Atlantic Fleet (1920), Nore Reserve (1921-23), 3rd LCS (1923), 2nd LCS (1925) and finally the Nore Reserve (1927-1931). She was used to take troops to the Mediterranean during 1928 and to China in 1929.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – deck


 - belt


 - conning tower





Two 6in Mk XII guns
Eight 4in quick firing Mk IV guns
One 13pdr anti-aircraft gun
Four 3pdr guns
Four 21in above-water torpedo tubes

Crew complement



14 January 1915


June 1915

Sold for break up



F. P. Loder-Symonds

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (24 October 2007), HMS Cleopatra,

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