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Remembered Today:

HMS Audacious - anniversary of sinking (27/10/14)


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The news of the loss of HMS Audacious on 27/10/14, although apparently widely known, was not officially released until after the war had ended some four years later (according to The Times of 14th November '18, which carried the announcement of the loss, '....kept secret at the urgent request of the Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet, and the press loyally refrained from giving it any publicity.')

Today's (27/10/09) MoD Defence News: On this day... 27 October ( http://www.operations.mod.uk/onthisday/onthsday.htm NB this will only be valid today) gives:


HMS Audacious, the only Royal Navy dreadnought battleship to be lost during the First World War, was sunk by a German mine off the Irish coast. Her loss reduced the Grand Fleet's superiority over the German High Seas Fleet to a dangerous margin for some time, and the loss of the vessel was not admitted for many months.

IMO a 'few years' would be a little more accurate!

Reading in another thread

that a 'dummy' version of Audacious was constructed, I couldn't help wondering whether the aim of this might have been more for home consumption than any attempt to fool the enemy as The Times of 15th November '18 reported:


A Government which discloses the loss of the battleship Audacious four years after it had been described - and even illustrated by photographs - in the press of every country in the World except our own need not fear to trust the discretion of the conductors of newspapers

I would imagine that the government would have issued a 'D notice' on this and, although not compulsory, the press in the mood of the time would have dutifully & patriotically complied with the request. (not so today I suspect, as if not published by the papers, the news would very quickly be widely available on the WWW)


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It does at least make a change to be able to mark the anniversary of the sinking of a major capital ship without having to deplore the loss of hundreds of crew members. Given that a number of dreadnoughts had technical problems at that time, and some newer battleships were not yet fully operational, the decision not to formally announce the loss of Audacious cannot have surprised the Germans - who would very likely have done the same in similar circumstances. Nevertheless, it must have been a profound shock to the Admiralty and to the Fleet to learn that a George V class battleship could be sent to the bottom by a single German mine - and I wonder how much the loss of Audacious contributed to the cautious policy of not sending the dreadnoughts to sea unless absolutely necessary.

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Interesting story

From Wikipedia

Vice-Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, commander of the First Battle Squadron, arrived on the scene in the boarding vessel Cambria and took over the rescue operation. With dark approaching, Bayly, Dampier and the remaining men on Audacious were taken off at 19:15. At 21:00 Audacious capsized and exploded, sending débris into the air. A piece of armour plate fell on and killed a petty officer on Liverpool, which was 800 yards (730 m) distant. This was the only casualty in connection with the sinking

Couple of good photographs there too; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Audacious_(1912)

From the CWGC


Initials: W

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Petty Officer

Regiment/Service: Royal Navy

Unit Text: H.M.S. "Liverpool"

Age: 30

Date of Death: 27/10/1914

Service No: 209113(PO)

Additional information: Son of Lawson and Matilda Burgess, of 12, Gainsborough Rd., Plaistow, Essex.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: In South-East part.


Edited by michaeldr
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Even Admiral Scheer considered that the British Admiralty had domne the correct thing in keeping the loss of the AUDACIOUS secret for as long as it could.

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Interesting story

I'm happy to say I'm largely responsible for that Wikipedia article as it now stands (any spelling errors are mine). I was re-examining my sources a few weeks ago, however, and I was struck by the inconsistency between Corbett (Official History) and Goldrick ("The King's Ships were at Sea"). Neither agreed on the time the ship was mined or sunk, which is NOT helpful. Which source do you trust? The contemporary "official" version or the supposed modern "historical" version?


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I enjoyed the read (and am the last person in the world to comment on other people's spelling!)

The records used for Official History can be checked via this file


The RN Court of Inquiry must have left some records, and perhaps they are cited here also


You must be correct there; if the loss of the Audacious was denied, one wonders what the PO's family were told of the circumstances of his death



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Which source do you trust? The contemporary "official" version or the supposed modern "historical" version?

Alternatively you could read Admiralty files such as ADM 137/1012 Western Approaches: AUDACIOUS, 1914.

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HMS Audacious, the only Royal Navy dreadnought battleship to be lost during the First World War,

It is disappointing that the MOD have not heard of HMS Vanguard.

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