HMS Psyche

HMS Psyche was a Pelorus third class cruiser that spent the entire First World War serving in the Pacific. At the start of the war she was the flagship of the New Zealand Division, consisting of three “P” class cruisers (Psyche, Pyramus and Philomel) under the command of her captain, H. J. T. Marshall. Their first duty was to

HMS Psyche from the left
HMS Psyche from the left

escort the New Zealand expedition that captured Samoa at the end of August 1914. They then returned to New Zealand with the empty transport ships, to join up with the convoy that was about to take the first troops from New Zealand to Britain. The three “P” class cruisers were used to escort that ten-ship troop convoy on the first 3,000 miles of its journey, to join up with the Australian convoy at St. George’s Sound, Albany (on the south west tip of Australia).

The division was then split up when in November Pyramus and Philomel were sent to Singapore. In July 1915 the Psyche was transferred to the Royal Australian Navy, and posted to the China station. By now she was very much one of those cruisers that were “too weak to fight", if not yet "too slow to run”. At the start of 1917, when the German raider Wolf was at large, the Psyche was ordered not to confront her alone. The Wolf was armed with seven 5.9in guns, so could certainly outfight the Psyche (although in this case the Psyche was fast enough to run, with a top speed nearly twice that of the Wolf). Despite her weakness compared to the German raider, a shortage of suitable escorts meant that in March the Psyche was used on escort duties between Rangoon and Calcutta.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

18.5kts natural draft
20kts forced draft

Armour – deck


 - gunshields


 - conning tower



313ft 6in


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

Crew complement



19 July 1898




Captain Marshall
Commander Feakes, R.A.N.

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 Psyche ,

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