Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What Happened to HMS Audacious?

HMS Audacious, commissioned in October 1913, was a Royal Navy battleship of the type known as a super(second generation)-dreadnought.  

Crew of HMS Audacious Being Evacuated

Returning to a temporary base in Northern Ireland from a training cruise, Audacious hit a mine at 08:45 off of the northwestern coast of Ireland, near Tory Island on 27 October 1914. It was a serious loss to the fleet at the time and kept largely secret since its sinking diminished the advantage marginally held over the High Seas Fleet. All the crew was evacuated successfully. Audacious was the only super-dreadnought to be lost during the war.

Some interesting aspects of the sinking include:

1.  The mine was laid by the German liner Berlin.

2.  The German naval command did not know about the base in Northern Ireland.

3.  The White Star liner Olympic helped evacuate the crew.

4.  For most of the day, the ship's listing was managed, but it steadily sank by the stern due to flooding. Eventually, though, Audacious began listing at a dramatic rate, capsizing and sinking at about 2100 hrs.

5.  After capsizing, one large and two secondary explosions were heard before the ship finally disappeared beneath the waves.


  1. An interesting episode of the naval war.

  2. The Admiralty did not announce the loss of HMS Audacious until after the end of the war.