i wonder if anyone could assist me here. I'm researching into the halcyon & havelock which were based in lowestoft during WW1, but i've ground to a halt trying to find more info about the two of them. Hope i find the Info i'm lookin for here
Welcome Anna, I can offer some information on your two very different WW I RN ships:-
HMS Halcyon was completed by Devonport Dockyard in 1985 as a Torpedo Gunboat. In the last quarter of the 19th Century the Admiralty became very concerned by the threat posed to the RN battle fleet by the development of torpedo boats. The first response to this threat was the construction of a series of torpedo gun boats, which were essentially scaled down cruisers. They were not very effective and were quickly replaced by scaled up torpedo boats, called Torpedo Boat Destroyers; quickly shortened to Destroyers.
Halcyon belonged to the last class of torpedo gunboats to be built. When new she was 1070 tons, 250 feet in length (pp), capable of 18 knots, carried 5 X 18 inch torpedo tubes plus 2 X 4.7 inch guns with 4 X 6 pounders and a Nordenfeld 5-barreled machine gun. She had an original complement of 120 men.
Halcyon became an RNR drillship in 1908, then served in the Fishery Protection Service from 1909 to 1914. She served as a minesweeper from 1914 to 1915, then was converted into a submarine depot ship before being scrapped in 1920.
HMS Havelock was a Monitor, delivered by Harland & Wolff in 1915. (The archiavist of H&W is the member Tmac1720. He may be able to provide a photo.) When the Germans reached the Belgian coast in October 1914 it was clear that the RN needed specialist monitors to support the land front. In November 1914 the President of the American builders, Bethlehem Steel offered Winston Churchill four twin 14 inch gun turrets they were building for a Greek battleship being built in Germany. The Americans realised that they had no hope of delivering the guns because of the British blockade. This was offer was instantly accepted and 4 monitors were ordered, 3 from H&W and one from Swan Hunter.
The original intention had been to name the ships after famous American military figures, but as the entire deal was in flagrant breach of the neutrality regulations this idea was dropped. The ship that was to have been named General Grant became HMS Havelock. She went first to the Dardanelles, then in 1916 returned home and was sent to Lowestoft in May to act as guard ship against German raids. She was refitted on the Tyne in June 1917, but apart from occasional false alarms and some AA activity saw no more action. She was paid off in Immingham in May 1919 and eventually scrapped in 1927.
HMS Havelock was a ship of 6150 tons, 335 feet 6 inches oa, capable of 10 knots on a good day and armed with 2 X 14 inch guns, 2 X 12 pounder AA and 2 X 3 inch AA. She had a complement of 198 men.
I have a HMS HALCYON, paddle minesweeper, of the Ascot class, built dunlop Bremner 29 3 1916, which was sold 14 12 1921 to Stanlee, Dover.
The Dryad class HALCYON listed above was built in 1894, sold in 1919 for breaking at Dover. Dont have a pic of this Halcyon, but this is Hazard of the same class
HMS Havelock, initially called MHS General Grant, was launched on 29th April in Belfast 1915. She was Harland and Wolff's ship number 473. Belfast built a number of monitors - I wrote a story recently in a locla newspaper about them - see below.
Written for publication in Belfast Newsletter, 10.11.05
Ninety years ago today a small Belfast built warship was braving the edge of a wintry
storm in an enclosed bay close to the Gallipoli peninsula. The 1st World War fighting ship was the M33, one of five Monitors constructed on the Lagan which took part in the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign. M33 was built by Workman Clark, an often forgotten yet substantial part of our maritime heritage; at one time the company employed over 10,000 shipyard workers. The five monitors were to all intents and purposes floating gun platforms designed to bombard the enemy’s coastal artillery emplacements. Some 480,000 allied troops were dedicated to the beleaguered Gallopoli campaign. British casualties including imperial forces amounted to approximately 205,000. French losses were estimated at around 47,000 and Turkey incurred around 250,000 casualties. Tomorrow and Sunday, as we remember the awesome tragedy and heroism of war, it is comforting to know that the M33, launched on the Lagan with two of her sister Monitors on 22nd May 1915, still survives in dry dock in Portsmouth. She is one of only two British warships to still with us from the Great War of 1914-18. (The other, HMS Caroline, is berthed in Alexandra Dock in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast and now serves as the HQ for the Ulster Division Royal Naval Reserve.) Belfast’s Monitors were built in record time by Harland and Wolff and Workman Clark at the urgent request of Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty. The 580 ton M33 survived her Gallipoli duties, pounding the German and Turkish artillery with her twin six inch guns, supporting military landings and patrolling a coastline where men from all over the British Empire, especially Australia and New Zealand, fought desperate battles with the Turkish and German defenders. Because of “U” Boats, battleships could no longer be risked close inshore so the much smaller Monitors were earmarked by Churchill to give artillery support to the allies. Exactly ninety years ago the M33 and her crew of sixty had been busily engaged in attempting to keep the Black Sea open to allied supply ships, and had retreated into a bay to wait out the weather and replenish supplies. Being so small, winter gales caused great discomfort to her crew. She’d left Belfast for the Dardanelles and Gallipoli in June 1915 and took on stores and crew in Pembroke – a number of sailors had prematurely disembarked due to “illness”. It’s thought they didn’t relish a long voyage on such a small vessel! In his journal, M33’s Leading Signalman Henry Mulligan apprehensively recorded the vessel’s departure. “Fresh provisions sent on board last night. Know where we’re going now. Dardanelles for us. Hope we’re lucky.” With the Gallapoli campaign over, and after helping to withdraw allied forces from the battlefield M33 continued to serve in the Mediterranean and joined an Anglo-French force to destroy the Greek fleet in Salamis Bay on the 1st September, 1916. She was temporarily retired after three and a half years of active service. Returning to England for a refit, she was re-commissioned in May and ordered to steam to Northern Russia along with five other monitors to join the British Relief Force in Murmansk, and cover the withdrawal of Allied and White Russian forces in what was to become known as the Dvina river campaign. Arriving in early June, she sailed upriver and engaged Bolshevic positions. These bombardments continued into August enabling the Allied forces to make an orderly retreat. Throughout the campaign the river depth was unusually low, and when the order to return came at the end of August she had her guns loaded onto barges to lighten her weight. M33’s armaments were replaced with dummy guns made from driftwood, pipes and biscuit tins to fool the enemy. Fully re-stocked and re-armed with her six inch guns, she returned upriver to assist in the evacuation of the remaining British troops and then home to Chatham. Having received only minor damage during her numerous duties M33 become known as “the lucky ship” – an unsunk hero! So Leading Signalman Henry Mulligan’s lucky words at the start of the campaign were prophetic, and still are because the sturdy little ship is now part of another campaign – to have her preserved. I wonder would M33’s luck stretch to having her returned to Belfast!
Rather a late reply to your query of 2005 regarding HMS Halcyon but I have only just started researching my father's WW1 service in the Navy. He served on a minesweeper operating out of Lowestoft. He was the ships radio operator (Ordinary Telegraphist) and was only on the ship for a few months. From his service record he joined the ship on 25 Nov. 1918 and left for demobilisation on 18 Feb 1919. My understanding from his comments before he died is that it was a converted trawler or drifter. However, looking through the various forums some people think that it was a converted gunship. Hopefully I can make contact with these other responders to learn from where they have obtained their information so that I can perhaps follow it up. Hopefully this message is all OK because I am completely new to this game
Best regards and good hunting
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