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

Sunday, October 23, 2016

First and Last Ships To Be Sunk

The first ship to be sunk in the Great War was the German auxiliary minelayer SS Königin Luise, which was scuttled after damage by Royal Navy fire on 5 August 1914. It had been attempting to lay mines off of the Thames Estuary. During the action the destroyer HMS Lance also fired what is believed to be the first British shot of the war. Launched in 1913, it  operated as a steam ferry between Hamburg and the Netherlands, until it was commandeered as a mine sweeper

SS Königin Luise During Its Service as a Ferry

The last ship sunk was the pre-dreadnought British battleship HMS Britannia. She was en route to Gibraltar when she was torpedoed off Cape Trafalgar on 9 November 1918 by U-50. The obsolete capital ship had been assigned as a convoy escort. Fifty men of the crew perished in the sinking.

HMS Britannia, Launched 1904


  1. It has been claimed that the first 'British' shot of the war was fired on the other side of the world, and in the Southern Hemisphere.

  2. True, but I imagine the Australians would object to this being described as a "British" shot!
    And let's not forget the shots exchanged between Russians and Germans from August 1st onward.