HMS Russell

HMS Russell was a Duncan class pre-dreadnought battleship that took part in the final evacuation from Gallipoli before being sunk by a mine early in 1916.

At the start of August 1914 the “Duncan” class ships made up the 6th Battle Squadron of the channel fleet. HMS Russell was the flagship of the squadron. 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 squadron returned to the Channel Fleet. It was then split in two, with the King Edward VIIs returning to Scapa while the Duncans formed a new 6th Battle Squadron for special duties off the Belgian coast. In the event these operations did not take place, as the battleships were felt to be too valuable to be risked in such dangerous waters, but HMS Russell and HMS Exmouth did bombard Zeebrugge on 23 November. HMS Russell served as the flagship of Rear Admiral S. Nicholson during this attack.

During 1915 HMS Russell returned to the 3rd Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet, but in November she was sent to the Dardanelles. The first attempt to leave Scotland, with HMS Albemarle, HMS Hibernia and HMS Zealandia was stopped by a storm that destroyed the bridge of HMS Albemarle, but the Russell did reach the Dardanelles during November. She spent much of her time there in reserve, first at Mudros, and then during the evacuation of Helles at Imbros. On 7 January she took part in a bombardment to support the evacuation, and on 8 January she cruised off the coast, ready to fire along the Turkish lines if a serious attack developed.

On 27 April 1916, while steaming east of Malta she ran into a mine, sinking with the loss of 126 men.

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



19 January 1901


February 1903


W. Bowden-Smith


27 April 1916

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]
cover cover cover

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

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

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