HMS Venerable

HMS Venerable was a London class battleship that was heavily involved in the fighting on the Belgian coast in 1914-15 before serving off the Dardanelles and in the Aegean. Like the rest of her class she formed part of the 5th Battle Squadron of the Channel Fleet in August 1914, helping to protect the BEF as it crossed to France. Later that month she was used to transport part of the Portsmouth battalion of marines to Ostend.

HMS Venerable
HMS Venerable,
London class battleship

HMS Venerable - 12in gun turret
HMS Venerable
12in gun turret

By late October she was at Dover, serving as the flagship of Admiral Hood. This was a crucial period during the Race to the Sea, and on 27 October the Venerable anchored off the Belgian coast to help support the Belgian army in the battle of the Yser. The sluice gates had been opened to flood the area in front of the Belgian lines, but the water had not yet risen high enough to stop the Germans attacking. HMS Venerable took part in the bombardment of German positions from 7am to 8.15am. At that time a submarine was spotted, and the Venerable was sent to Dunkirk. At that time Admiral Hood felt that his smaller ships were doing that was needed. The Venerable rejoined the bombardment on 28 October, and remained until 30 October. On that day the seaplane carrier HMS Hermes was lost, and it was decided to withdraw the larger ships.

In November 1914 she was at the Nore during the German raid on Gorleston, having just returned from Dunkirk. She was ordered to sea with five submarines, but did not make contact with the German ships.

By February 1915 only four battleships remained with the Channel Fleet. In March two of those four were sent to the Dardanelles, but HMS Venerable remained in the channel to take part in further bombardments of the Belgian coast. On 11 March she bombarded the coast close to the Yser as part of moves to support the battle of Neuve-Chapelle, 10-13 March 1915. In early May she returned to the area in an attempt to find some long range German guns that were firing into Dunkirk Harbour, but failed to find them before she too was ordered to the Dardanelles on 15 May.

Plans of Formidable and London Class Battleships
Plans of
Formidable and
London Class

May 1915 saw a series of changes to the Dardanelles squadron. HMS Queen, HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Implacable and HMS London were sent to the Adriatic under the terms of the agreement that brought Italy into the war. HMS Queen Elizabeth, a brand new battleship only completed in January 1915 and armed with eight 15in guns was called home to reinforce the Grand Fleet, and HMS Venerable was sent out to the Dardanelles, officially to replace the Queen Elizabeth.

Once at the Dardanelles she took part in the Suvla landings of August 1915, bombarding Turkish positions to support the troops on the beach. She then followed her sisters to the Adriatic to support the Italians, remaining there until early in 1917. She then returned home, so that her crew could be paid off and used to man the ever increasing numbers of anti-submarine vessels needed.

Displacement (loaded)


Displacement (Queen and Prince of Wales)


Top Speed


Armour – deck


 - belt


 - bulkheads


 - barbettes


 - gun houses


 - casemates


 - conning tower



431ft 9in


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

Crew complement



2 November 1899


November 1902


V. H. G. Bernard (1914)

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]
cover cover cover

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (2 November 2007), HMS Venerable ,

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