HMS Exmouth

HMS Exmouth was a Duncan class pre-dreadnought class battleship that served at the Dardanelles and in the Mediterranean during the First World War. At the start of August 1914 the “Duncan” class ships made up the 6th Battle Squadron of the channel fleet. On 5 August, before all five ships had joined the squadron, they were offered to Jellicoe for service in the Grand Fleet. HMSs Russell, Albemarle and Exmouth were already fully crewed, and so were sent ahead, with the other two members of the class following behind. They joined the 3rd Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet (with the King Edward VII class ships), remaining there until 2 November. During their time at Scapa the “Duncans” formed part of the Northern Patrol, operating north of the Shetlands.

Plans of Duncan Class Battleships
Plans of
Duncan Class

In November the entire squadron was moved south. The King Edward VIIs were then returned to Scapa, while the Duncans remained in the channel, forming a new 6th Battle Squadron. It had originally been planned to use the entire squadron to attack Zeebrugge, but in the event only HMS Exmouth and HMS Russell were actually used. The attack took place on 23 November, and reports from Holland suggested that it had been a great success, destroying parts of six U-boats and making the port temporarily unusable. It had been hoped to use British airships to observe the bombardment, but they failed to reach Zeebrugge and so the Navy was never sure what the real impact of the bombardment had been.

In May 1915 HMS Exmouth was sent to the Dardanelles, as part of a general reorganisation of the fleet. The dreadnought HMS Queen Elizabeth had returned to Britain to join the Grand Fleet, while a number of battleships had to be detached from the Dardanelles to join the Italian navy under the terms of the agreement that brought Italy into the war.

HMS Exmouth became the flagship of Admiral Nicholson at Kephalo on Imbros. She had particularly heavy anti-torpedo nets, and so remained at Kephalo in June, after HMS Goliath, HMS Majestic and HMS Triumph were sunk by torpedoes. By July the harbour defences had been improved and she was joined by the rest of the support squadron. During the Suvla landings of August 1915 the Exmouth was used to support a simultaneous attack from the existing beachhead.

During 1916 Allied relationships with Greece went through a series of crises. In June 1916 an Allied naval squadron was formed to support an intervention. HMS Exmouth was the British battleship allocated to this force, to operate with the very similar French battleship Patrie (carrying four 12in and eighteen 6.4in guns). This operation was cancelled after the Greeks gave in to the Allied demands, but in August-September the Exmouth took part in the seizure of the Greek fleet at Salamis, and in December provided marines for a landing at Athens.

In March 1917 she was used to patrol the trade routes between Colombo and Bombay during the scare caused by the German commerce raider Wolf. Late that year she returned to home waters and was paid off to free her crew to serve on more modern ships.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – deck


 - belt


 - bulkheads


 - barbettes


 - gun houses


 - casemates


 - conning tower





Four 12in guns
Twelve 6in quick firing guns
Ten 12pdr quick firing guns
Six 3pdr guns
Four 18in torpedo tubes

Crew complement



 31 August 1901


 May 1903


Captain H. R. Veale
Captain Mitchell

Sold for break up


British Battleships 1889-1904 New Revised Edition, R A Burt. Magnificent study of the Royal Navy's pre-dreadnought battleships, amongst the most powerful ships in the world when built, but seen as obsolete by the outbreak of war in 1914. Traces the development of the 'classic' pre-dreadnought design and the slow increase in the power of the secondary armament, leading up to the all-big gun ships that followed. [read full review]
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Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (5 November 2007), HMS Exmouth ,

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