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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

HMS Topaze

Clive Temple

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I'm trying to add some flesh to the bones of my grandad's naval service record (there's only 1 page).

The service part reads as follows...

Enlisted for the duration of hostilities as a cook on 18 October 1917 ( a week after his 18th birthday).

Victory I - 18 Oct 1917 - 3 Mar 1918 (I assume this was shore based training).

Topaze - 4 Mar 1918 - 12 Sep 1919 (was this the ship he left England on?)

Egmont - 13 Sep 1919 - 30 Nov 1919

Victory I - 1 Dec 1920 - 29 Jan 1920 (recuperation?)

Following the last entry he is noted as 'Invalided'.

Now... when I were a nipper and used to sit on his knee and get to poke the shrapnel lumps still in his arm (from when Vickers was bombed in WW2) and hear how when he worked there he had to fix Barnes Wallis' model T (because BW was a bit thick when it came to engineering :rolleyes: )...

Grandad used to tell me the following tale as far as I remember.

He was 'fighting the Turks in Aden' and whilst winching up cordite from the open hold a shell passed overhead and into the hold which blew up and injured him in the stomach.

Can anyone add anything to this or point me to the diaries of these ships so I can add to the story. For all I know the Aden bit may be totally wrong.

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HMS Egmont Malta

The need for a depot ship to be based on Grand Harbour and to supply spare ratings to make up shortages in the fleet had been recognised as far back as the early years of the 19th century. Various sailing warships had been used, but in 1855 HMS Hibernia, a first rate ship of 110 guns, was specially fitted out at Portsmouth as the 'Receiving and Guard Ship' for Malta, replacing Ceylon; another first rate which had been performing the duty.

Hibernia continued in service in Grand Harbour until 1909, when she was broken up locally. Her successor was Achilles, a first class armoured cruiser built in Chatham in 1863, and she in turn was specially fitted out for service in Malta. At first re-named Hibernia, she was re-christened Egmont in 1904 and she had three other ships as tenders, Cruiser, Bulldog and Firefly.

HMS Egmont was towed back to England in 1912, and Fort St Angelo took on her name as the base ship for the fleet. To conform to the British Naval Discipline Act, the commissioning pendant of the Captain of St Angelo must be flown afloat and until 1945 this was proudly carried by a small brass-funnelled picket boat moored in Kalkara Creek.

HMS Topaze

Built - Laird, Birkenhead, laid down - August 1902. completed - November 1904.

Length 373 feet 9 inches overall, beam 40 feet, draught 14 feet 6 inches, displacement 3,000 tons.


12 x 4in QF (12 x 1), 8 x 3 pounder QF (8 x 1), 2 x 18in TT

Service during WWI

1914 Attached to the 5th Battle Squadron Channel.

1915 Mediterranean.

1917 Red Sea.

1921 Sold for scrap.

http://www.battleships-cruisers.co.uk/gem_class.htm#HMS Topaze

REgards Charles

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FORT ST ANGELO - alias HMS Egmont - taken from the Upper Barracca Gardens, Valletta (Malta).



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HMS Egmont would also be used for ratings in Malta naval hospital. If there was an incident it was probably recorded in the ship's logs.

ADM 53/63317 TOPAZE 1918 Mar. 1 - 1918 Mar. 28

ADM 53/63318 TOPAZE 1918 Mar. 28 - 1918 April 30

ADM 53/63319 TOPAZE 1918 May 1 - 1918 May 31

ADM 53/63320 TOPAZE 1918 June 1 - 1918 June 30

ADM 53/63321 TOPAZE 1918 July 1 - 1918 July 31

ADM 53/63322 TOPAZE 1918 Aug. 1 - 1918 Aug. 31

ADM 53/63323 TOPAZE 1918 Sept. 1 - 1919 July 31 last I could find on the catalogue.

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  • 15 years later...

Hello all, I'm trying to find out about an incident aboard HMS Topaze (probably in Aden). My grandad was injured hauling cordite out of the hold in Aden when a shell went over and into the hold. Ive read through the log book but cannot find any mention of Topaze being hit. Any help appreciated. Thanks.

Edited by Clive Temple
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The narrative does not ring true. Any serious incident involving injury and/or the ship coming under enemy fire would be entered in the TOPAZE ship's log. I agree that no such entry leaps off the pages   -   http://www.naval-history.net/OWShips-WW1-05-HMS_Topaze.htm

On a note of nomenclature:  it is most unlikely that cordite would have been stowed in a cruiser's hold(s). Cordite was invariably stowed in the ship's magazines. A shell landing in a magazine would certainly merit comment!

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Rank ?, Name ?, service number ?, may have a service record which may or may not give date of accident to help.


Edited by busterfield
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This may be a red herring but the TOPAZE log for March 1917, when she was preparing for docking at Taranto, shows that frequently between 5th and 10th March "Gunners Party working in magazines & shell rooms." They were almost certainly clearing out ammunition prior to entering dry dock on 12th March. During this period the log notes on 8th March: "1.50am: Heavy Explosion occurred; apparently in Outer Harbour."

It is possible that this is the incident referred to in the OP.

Edit - but impossible if he did not join TOPAZE until March 1918 as indicated in @busterfield link above.

Edited by horatio2
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4 hours ago, horatio2 said:

Edit - but impossible if he did not join TOPAZE until March 1918 as indicated in @busterfield link above.

Now there’s a coincidence, my Grandfather (see avatar) joined HMS Topaze on the 4th March 1918 in Aden, served on her until paid off on 7th October 1919 having docked at Portsmouth 25th Sept, and his war service then ended.

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