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When was H.M.Y. SHEMARA stationed at Lerwick in 1914


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SHEMARA Naval List at October 1914 per Ancestry.


I'm trying to establish when H.M.Y. SHEMARA was first stationed at Lerwick in the Shetland Islands.

"British Warships 1914-1919" by F J Dittmar & J J Colledge has SHEMARA entering service on 13 Sept. 1914, so I'm assuming its shortly after this date.

SHEMARA was the headquarters of the Senior Naval Officer at Lerwick until a shore base was opened in March 1915. The S.N.O. was Commander James Startin. 

I thought I may find some information on this in her officers service records. I have only been able to find the record for Commander James Startin at ADM 196/19/331. This is the relevant section regarding his appointment on SHEMARA.


I have not been able to locate the other officers records. Some help with this would be appreciated.

Photo of SHEMERA at Lerwick harbour 1914-1915.

Shetland Museum and Archives::H.M.Y. SHEMARA

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Not entirely sure when SHEMARA was first stationed at Lerwick, but I know that she visited Busta Voe on 28 October 1914.



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The officers’ records indicate that SHEMARA was commissioned on 16 September 1914, which agrees with their appointment dates in the Navy List. TNA have a good coverage of late 1914-early 1915 (and later) SHEMARA ship’s logs in ADM 53.


It may be significant that the logs do not start until 30 September 1914. Before that date SHEMARA was probably still fitting-out for RN service, following her acquisition by the Admiralty on 13 September.

Her place of fitting-out is not known but it might be assumed that SHEMARA would have undertaken some weeks of shake-down trials and work-up locally before proceeding on operations around Shetland.

I believe that Lerwick was not designated as an examination port for the 10th Cruiser Squadron blockade until November 1914. This date may be linked to the date when command of SHEMARA was passed from Lt Cdr STARTIN to Commander Spencer VY de HORSEY RNR on 14 November but noting that the Navy Lists place (now promoted) Captain STARTIN back in command on 20 November. The reason for this 6-day change of command is not readily apparent.

It would seem that the answer to this and the OP question will need access to the SHEMARA logs, which are not online.

Edited by horatio2
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14 minutes ago, horatio2 said:

It may be significant that the logs do not start until 30 September 1914. Before that date SHEMARA was probably still fitting-out for RN service, following her acquisition by the Admiralty on 13 September.

Thanks @horatio2 that's very helpful.

I have obtained confirmation from local Lerwick Harbour records held by @johnvoe that SHEMARA and an unknown number of armed Patrol Trawlers arrived in Lerwick on 1 October 1914.

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Dittmar & Colledge list "Numbers in the Auxiliary Patrol - Area II Shetland Islands"  :- 1 January 1915" :- Yachts 3;   Trawlers 20;  Motor boats 5. They are not identified by name but I expect numbers built up quite rapidly in the early months of the war.

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@horatio2 here is Shetland Auxiliary Patrol - Area II weekly Report from 10 to 17 April 1915 which provides a detailed list of vessels stationed there. Source TNA ADM 137-138 extracts.IMG_2363.JPG.2daca93964fa6c15ab9eea05a96a2979.JPGIMG_2364.JPG.eac7231c9e0f0fc8ab25d06828c77c06.JPGIMG_2365.JPG.52386bd0738ebdc3b42b342710619ca6.JPG

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Thank you for posting that report.     Now that we have the names of 18 trawlers, I can tell when they were taken onto the books of HMS CYCLOPS at Scapa. Those dates tell us, at least, when they were available for operations around the Northern Isles.

The first boat to appear on the books of CYCLOPS was FORTALBERT, from 30 August 1914. Seven more of these trawlers were taken on by CYCLOPS on 26 September and a further eight in late November/early December. All of these 16 boats were transferred from CYCLOPS onto the books of HMS ZARIA at Scapa on 1 January 1915. They were joined by the final two of the 18 named (SWEEPER and BERYL) in late-March and early-April 1915

Of course, being parented at Scapa by CYCLOPS/ZARIA does not indicate when they were first dedicated to the Shetlands patrols but all the trawlers named (bar one) were transferred from ZARIA to HMS BRILLIANT on 1 November 1915 when she became the depot ship at LERWICK. It does, however, suggest that about half of the Shetland boats named in the April report were available on-station from late-September and most by early December.

The August/September boats are probably those arriving with SHEMARA at Lerwick on 1 October: HORATIO, BEATRICE,VIOLA, RIEL II, PEREHELION, DENTARIA, FORT ALBERT and TOURACO

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