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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

H.M.S Excellent (ex Handy)


demon1883
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I am part of a small group who are trying to rescue an ex Royal Navy gunboat from a scrap yard in Portsmouth.

It was built by W.G Armstrong, Mitchell co. and launched as H.M.S Handy in 1883. She was sent to the Whale Island gunnery school in 1891 and renamed H.M.S Excellent until 1917 when she was renamed H.M.S Calcutta and then H.M.S Snapper until her disposal in the 1920's to the Dover Harbour Board which turned her into a floating crane, Demon.

Does anyone have any information on this vessel? Details of her history, activites during the war, names of crew who served on her would all be most welcome, as well as any pictures.

Apparently she was involved in bombarding the Belgian coast during the war, but i'm not sure of the dates.

Many thanks in advance.

Rob Buckel

savethehandy@hotmail.com

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The EXCELLENT seems to have been ordered into action off Westende during November, 1914 (armed with a 9.2" gun) in bombardments of that area of the coast and again on March 11th 1915. Bacon, in "The Dover Patrol" has her, under Commander Edward McC. W. Lawrie, bombarding the Westende Batteries on 7th September, 1915. These activities are all covered in "Naval Operations".

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Dittmar and Colledge British Warships 1914 -1919 gives

- HMS EXCELLENT, ex HANDY, 508 tons launched 1883, - Gunnery School Portsmouth - became Gunboat at Dover 1914 - 1915, disarmed 10/1916. became HMS CALCUTTA 12/1916, became HMS SNAPPER II 8/1917. disposed of 27/4/1922.

Now the hard bit!

Do not get confused with HMS DRUDGE which became HMS EXCELLENT in November 1916 - Gunboat ( picture attached) which was 850 tons also launched 1883 which was armed with a single 9.2 inch gun. became HMS DRYAD in January 1919.

Purchased 28/02/1901. Served as a Gunboat based at Dover 1914-1915, disarmed by order 5/11/1915 and laid-up. Sold 27/03/1920.

Also there were three other Excellents but they were Admiralty trawlers.

Confusing!

Aye

Malcolm

post-129-1210937556.jpg

post-129-1210937567.jpg

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Thank you to everyone who replied to this topic, some great information which has led me in some new directions.

Tragically, I must report that this 125 year old historic ship was broken up last week, (around the 15th May 2008). Around 20ft has been cut from her bow, her superstructure has been removed along with most of her starboard deck, making a rescue attempt virtually impossible.

This unique vessel should have been saved for the future, not consigned to the past. Yet another tragic loss for our martime heritage.

Regards,

Rob Buckel

savethehandy@hotmail.com

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