H.M.S. Amphion (1911)

From The Dreadnought Project
Jump to: navigation, search
H.M.S. Amphion (1911)
Pendant Number: N/A[1]
Builder: Pembroke Royal Dockyard[2]
Ordered: 1910 Programme[3]
Laid down: 15 Mar, 1911[4]
Launched: 1911[5]
Commissioned: Mar, 1913[6]
Mined: 6 Aug, 1914[7]
Fate: in North Sea

Light cruiser H.M.S. Amphion, completed in 1913, was the first ship of the Royal Navy lost in the war.

Modern sources often treat her as a member of a three-vessel Active class, but we treat her as contemporary documents do, as one of seven ships of the Boadicea class.


In 1913, Amphion was the best ship in the fleet in the heavy gun laying test (here meaning 4-in or heavier), scoring 150.0 points and participating as part of the Fourth Battle Squadron.[8]


The gunlayer's telescope from her aft 4-in gun, salvaged from her wreck.
In the collection of Tony Lovell.

On 5 August, 1914, Amphion led the Third Destroyer Flotilla out of Harwich behind Fearless and the Third Destroyer Flotilla, to search and engage any enemy vessels encountered. Amphion and Lance and Landrail encountered the ferry-cum-minelayer Template:DE-KonigenLuise. With Amphion four miles behind, Lance fired the first shots of the war. After a pursuit of 30 minutes, Amphion opened fire.

Captain Fox later reported on the gunnery which caused the enemy to soon start burning fiercely:[9]

When permission to open fire had been given, I commenced with salvoes from the three foremost guns with 7,200 yards on the sights; the first salvo was short and badly out for deflection; I made a lucky correction for the latter and went up 500; one round of the next salvo hit the top of the Keonign [sic] Louise's foremast and exploded. This was too much for the guns' crews, whom I previously imagined to be drill perfect; they started off firing as fast as they could, and it was a good minute before by dint of throwing things at them that I could stop them; the sights were again corrected and the order given for rapid independent — "Fire three rounds." At least two out of the three shots hit consistently. This order I consider is most useful in a small ship and ensures not losing control or wasting ammunition, as if you are still hitting with the third round you have only to repeat the order. The gunlayers fired beautifully with only a very small spread; this was verified afterwards by reports from the C.O.'s of two of our destroyers, which were at right angles to the line of our fire.

During the chase and whilst closing, Amphion and T.B.D.'s kept well clear of the track of the Königen Louise to avoid any mines that might have been dropped. She was gradually headed off to the N. and N.W., in which direction she was heading when her engines stopped. At first she was flying two ensigns, after about 20 minutes one of these came down, whether shot away or struck on purpose I don't know; anyhow, the order "Cease fire" was given, but directly afterwards one of her guns opened fire, and as one or two of our destroyers were by then close to her, fire was again opened and continued until all her guns were silenced.

After picking up German survivors, the Third Flotilla continued with its sweep. At 6:30 am on 6 August Amphion struck two of Königen Luise’s mines in quick succession. and sank with the loss of one one officer and 150 men of her and 18 Germans. She was then seven miles of what Fox had estimated to be the location of Königen Luise’s minefield but was within a mile of the location reported by a survivor of the German ship. The British sailors killed when Amphion sank were the first British servicemen to be killed by enemy action in the First World War. The Königen Luise and her crew were the first casualties to be inflicted on the enemy by the British.


On 2 October 1914, the Admiralty inserted into its Weekly Orders a note of "Appreciation of Conduct of Officers and Crews of Ships recently destroyed", mentioning this ship as one of six whose men displayed "exemplary steadiness and coolness... in face of imminent death".[10]


Dates of appointment are provided when known.

See Also


  1. Dittmar; Colledge. British Warships 1914–1919. p. 45.
  2. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. p. 53.
  3. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. p. 53.
  4. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. p. 53.
  5. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. p. 53.
  6. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. p. 53.
  7. Dittmar; Colledge. British Warships 1914–1919. p. 45.
  8. Test of Gunlayers, 1913. p. 3.
  9. The Naval Review. Volume V, 1917. p. 133.
  10. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 426 of 2 Oct, 1914.
  11. The Navy List. (July, 1913). p. 278.
  12. Dreyer Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44. f. 353.
  13. Gilbert Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 19643/164. ff. 164, 248.
  14. The Navy List. (April, 1914). p. 278.
  15. Gilbert Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 19643/164. ff. 164, 248.
  16. Fox Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43/320. f. 320.
  17. Fox Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43/320. f. 320.


  • Fox, Captain Cecil H. (1917) "The Destruction of the Königen Louise and the Sinking of the Amphion." The Naval Review V: pp. 132-139.
  • Naval Staff Monograph (1924) X, Home Waters part i, From the Outbreak of War to 27 August 1914.

Boadicea Class Scout Cruiser
Boadicea Group
  Boadicea Bellona  
Blonde Group
  Blonde Blanche  
Active Group
  Active Amphion Fearless  
<– Sentinel Class Minor Cruisers (UK) Bristol Class –>