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4,558 Posts
  • 1 The name HMS Lion
  • 2 Class information
  • 3 Building data
  • 4 Basic Details
  • 5 Machinery
  • 6 Armament
  • 7 Fire Control Equipment
  • 8 Torpedo armament
  • 9 Armour Protection
  • 10 Service History
  • 11 Bibliography
The name HMS Lion[edit]

Vehicle Warship Naval ship Armored cruiser Ship

HMS Lion in a 1913 image courtesy of MaritimeQuest website, I have been unable to find an earlier image of her showing the original tripod foremast which was immediately behind the fore funnel

Lion is a traditional name and it's use stems back to the early 1500's

  1. was a 36 gun ship of about 120 tons captured from the Scots in 1511 and sold on after two years
  2. Was a 50 gun 150 ton ship built in 1536, it disappeared from the naval list 3 years later
  3. Was another ship captured from the Scots in 1549, she ran aground off Harwich
  4. Originally called the Golden Lion, she was a 500 ton ship of 61 guns built in 1557 and rebuilt in 1582, she was rebuilt on the Thames at Deptford in 1609 becoming the Red Lion, rebuilt again in 1640 at Chatham she was renamed Lion, now displacing 750 tons she was some 130 feet long with a 35'06" beam, rebuilt for the 4th time in 1658 she was sold on in December 1698 after 141 years of service.
  5. Was a ketch of just 44 tons captured from the Dutch in 1665, sold on in 1667, bought back in 1668 she sank of Sheerness in 1673, she also carried the name Young Lion
  6. Was a 5th rate ship of the line captured from Algeria in 1683, of 300 tons and some 93 by 26 feet she sold that same year.
  7. Was a Hoy or a small sloop-rigged cargo carrying coastal vessel, some 55 feet long armed with four 4 pounder cannon she was bought in February 1702, in 1707 she was captured by the French in 1707 and taken back in 1709, rebuilt in 1738 at Deptford she was sold on in 1737.
  8. Was a 3rd rate ship of the line mounting 60 guns of 900 tons and 144 feet long with a 38 foot beam built at Chatham Dockyard in 1709, she was rebuilt at Deptford in 1738 and now displaced about 1070 tons, she was sold on in March 1765
  9. Was a 150 ton, 72 foot long transport built by Adams at Bucklers Hard in 1753 , she was converted to a hulk in 1775 and sold in 1786
  10. Was a small 61 ton cutter bought in 1763 and sold on in 1771
  11. Was a Discovery vessel, in modern times it would be called a survey ship, in service from 1777 to 1785
  12. Was a 3rd rate ship of the line of 63 guns of some 1378 tons she measured 159 feet long with a beam of 45 feet, built by Portsmouth Dockyard in 1777 she was hulked at Sheerness in 1816 and scrapped at Chatham in 1837
  13. Was a small schooner in service from 1781 to 1785
  14. Was a gun vessel converted from a Dutch Hoy in 1794, measuring just 67 by 15 feet she was sold on in 1795
  15. Was an 88 tons schooner in service from 1823 to 1826
  16. Was a second rate ship of the line of 2,580 tons and measuring 190 feet long with a 57 foot beam and a draft of 13 feet , she was armed with sixty-eight 32 pounder guns and 12 eight inch guns, she was built by Pembroke Dockyard in 1847 and rebuilt 1859 as a screw driven ship now displacing 3,482 tons, she was sold on in 1905
  17. Was the battle-cruiser of this article
  18. Was to be the lead ship of the Lion class of battleships, this class of four ships were to be a modified King George class mounting nine 16" guns, the cancellation of this class , and the development of the 16" gun left vanguard - Britain's final battleship having to accept 15" guns from WW1 warships. Lion was laid down, along with her sister-ship Temeraire in 1939 , suspended shortly after wards and scrapped. In 1946 it was intended to re-instate the design to a modified standard , but was abandoned when it was ascertained that to protect the ship from the bombs of that era their deck armour would have had to have been 12" thick.
  19. Was to have been named defence , a cruiser of just under 10,000 tons, she was built by Scotts in 1944 and renamed Lion that year, she was scrapped at Iinverkeithing in 1975

Since 1975 the name Lion has lain idle

Class information[edit]

This class of elegant battle-cruisers were nick-named the Splendid cats because of that elegance and the air of power they projected, despite this air of power the class still lacked proper armour although at 9" the main belt was fifty per-cent thicker at than the previous Invincible and Indefatigable classes , possibly proof against the eleven inch guns mounted by their German counter-parts but certainly nothing larger. They were also to be far larger than earlier classes to accommodate more powerful machinery for ever higher speeds and of course to mount the new 13.5" gun which meant the class could fire almost double the weight of broadside, 10,112 lbs against 6,800lbs .The class originally planned to number four ships comprised just two ships, Lion herself and the Princess Royal, these two were to be built under the 1909 programme of building, the third battle-cruiser, the Queen Mary built under the 1910 programme was really a half sister mounting the modified 13.5" gun. The fourth ship Tiger was built under the 1911-2 programme and the design for her was totally reworked so although referred to as one of the four 'Splendid cats' she was in reality a totally different ship to the other three.Three major errors were made in the building of the Lion class, the first was that although super-firing was used for A and B turrets, X was fitted aft alone and the fourth turret, Q, was fitted amidships between the second and third funnels, apart from placing the associated magazine between two sets of boilers this arrangement limited Q from firing from right ahead to 30 degrees on either beam and similarly for 30 degrees from right aft., the location of Q magazine between two boiler rooms necessitated that it be fitted with air-conditioning as the cordite shell propellant became unstable at high temperatures.The second error was the problem of smoke affecting the spotting top this, initially the mast supporting the spotting top was positioned between the first and second funnels, the previous battle-cruisers with 31 and 32 boilers suffered this problem but with 42 boilers fitted to the Lions this position untenable and the first Sea Lord, Winston Churchill, had to appropriate funds of £60,000 to modify the design in 1912, thankfully the Princess Royal was not far enough along the line to need the mast moving but on the Lion following sea-trials the mast had to be moved to a new position forwards of the funnels, even so when steaming hard the access to the masts was so hot that no-one could either climb up to, nor leave, the fighting tops. The third error was the sighting of the bridge directly on top of the armoured conning tower, a practice discontinued many years previous as the collapse of the relatively light structure of the bridge in battle could block the view from the conning tower There was a huge amount of propaganda written about the capabilities of these ships but it was mostly hugely exaggerated indeed the term capital ship was coined for these very ships however with just 23% of the ships total weight given over to protection and with the ships leading a very busy war they were extremely vulnerable to damage as the loss of the Queen Mary proved at the battle of Jutland, or the Battle of the Skagerrak as it was termed by the German navy.It is a widely discussed subject as to whether the Japanese Kongo class were based on British designs or it was the other way round, whilst there is no hard evidence of collaboration it is obvious that the Kongo design followed the Lion class and as such would have borrowed and learned from these designs and that the follow on Tiger would have learned from the Kongo, although that being said the Tiger was also a natural progression of British design.

Building data[edit]

Lion was built by the Devonport Royal Dockyard being laid down on the 29th of September 1909, she was launched just ten and a half months later on the 06th August 1910 and commissioned on 04th June 1912 into the 1st Cruiser Squadron (1CS).

Basic Details[edit]

L 700' B 88'06" Draft 28'10" Displacement 26,720 tons standard and 29,680 tons full load


Quadruple screws driven by Parsons Steam turbines supplied with steam by 42 Yarrow large tube coal fired boilers which were also fitted with oil sprayers to give greater output for high speed steaming, developed power was normally 70,000 shp which gave a speed of 27 knots, however on trials considerably more power was developed, the Princess Royal attained just over 96,000 SHP giving her a speed of a little over 28 knots, this gross forcing of the machinery resulted in permanent damage and was discontinued as a result.The reason for the excess forcing was the ridiculous claims for these ships - up to 34 knots was one such claim, when in reality even with forcing 28 knots was really optimistic.Coal bunker capacity was 3,500 tons with 1,150 tons of oil which gave a range of 5,600 miles at 10 knots and just 2,500 miles at 22-3 knots, whilst faster than previous designs the operational range was less due to the huge amount of power developed and the inefficiency of direct drive turbines.Although several sources give that the class was fitted with Parsons geared turbines this is not correct, the first large warship to be so fitted was the Courageous laid down over five years later in 1915.The machinery layout was virtually identical to that of the Invincible class battle-cruisers , the turbines consisted of a high pressure ahead and astern turbine on the inboard shafts and a low pressure ahead and astern on the two outboard shafts, the inboard shafts also incorporated an ahead cruising turbine for fuel economy. The machinery was split into two engine spaces separated by a centre-line watertight bulkhead. The number of boiler rooms is difficult to make of from plans that I have studied but it may have been five, one more than the Invincible and Indefatigable classes four.

Steering was by twin rudders as in previous classes making them quite manoueverable ships.


Vehicle Warship Naval ship Watercraft Boat

Hms lion circa 1913, she is still fitted with her anti torpedo net booms here , image courtesy of the MaritimeQuest website

Main battery

Eight 13.5" Mk5L C45 guns in four twin Mk2 turrets, two forwards, one mid-ships and one aft , the MK5L signifying that the guns fired the lighter design of 13,5" shell weighing 1,250 lbs, this was fired using a little over 290 lbs of MD45 cordite, the MD45 indicating cordite manufactured in rods of .45" in diameter.The maximum range for these guns was about 24,000 yards at 20 degrees elevation with a maximum rate of fire of two rounds per minute ( 2RPM) on trials but in reality this would be nearer 2 rounds in 1min 20 seconds in actual use, 80 rounds per gun were carried.To explain how these guns worked, a person would have to understand the layout of the guns, on view is the turret, or gun-house with it's two guns, this fits into a circular protective sleeve, the barbette, this 9" thick metal cylinder protects the turrets rotating mechanism and ammunition hoists. Immediately under the turret is a circular handling room and below that a circular trunk which runs down to stand on it's bearing on the inside of the double bottom of the ship, all of this structure rotates with the turret within the confines of the barbette. Around the base of the turret trunk is the shell handling room around this is the shell room with water-tight doors leading into the handling space, the shell room contained 160 shells - 80 rounds per gun were carried To feed the guns two shells at a time are passed out of the shell room doors and loaded into the lower part of a three layer hoist, there were two hoists, one for each gun, the 1,250 lb shells were stored horizontally and picked out of their storage racks by hydraulic grabs on overhead rails.

Immediately above the shell rooms lay the magazines , round the turret trunk was a circular handling room and off this were four separate magazines arranged in a square, each separate magazine was closed off from the handling space by a watertight door which led onto a short narrow passageway into the magazine..As a safety precaution only one door to any one room should be open at any time. The cordite charges for the guns comprised four quarter charges each one weighing about 73 lbs and consisted of cordite rods contained in a bag of a type of artificial silk called shallon, shallon burnt rapidly without leaving any burning embers, at the base of each charge was a small igniter charge of fine black powder.The charges were stored in tubular protective cases, two quarter charges to a case so each magazine contained 100 cases with a total of 400 cases or 200 full charges per turret, with four turrets the total for the ship was 1,600 cases or 228,800 lbs of explosive, precautions in working in the magazines required all smoking materials to be left outside, and only cotton clothing and special shoes to be worn. As a demonstration of the need for special shoes and clothing, after a gunnery drill on the Lion the magazine floors were swept and the dust laid out in a trail on deck, a match to one end of this trails caused it to flash off instantly. It should be noted that slightly more full charges than shells were carried.

To load the guns only one full charge - four cases should be in the lower handling room at any one time, the charges were removed from their cases and then had loaded into the upper two layers of the main hoist, when completely loaded with a shell and four quarter charges the main hoist would be sent up to the upper handling room passing through a set of flap type flash doors on the way.

In the upper handing room the cage would stop opposite the gun loading cage were the shells and cordite would be rammed across into the gun loading cage, and the main hoist sent back down below for the next load, the gun loading cage would then be hoisted up to the gun stopping at the lower layer, the gun at this time would be in the load position with the breech lock in ( a type of huge door bolt stopping the gun moving during the loading ) the breech itself would be open. The shell would now be rammed into the gun a preset distance so that the copper driving bands at the base of the shell would engage with the rifling in the gun barrel. The rammer would withdraw and the cage move down one level and the first two quarter charges would be rammed home, with the rammer and hoist repeating the operation for the two quarter charges on the upper tray. The loading tray and gun loading cage would now withdraw dropping back into the upper handling room for the next load, the breech would slam shut and rotate to the lock position, the breech lock would release allowing the gun to elevate to it's firing position. Once all the safety interlocks had opened and the gun had been aligned with the direction and elevation dials fed from the main battery director transmitting station the gun ready lights would come on in the main battery director - for the Lion this was in the fighting top - and when ready the gun could be fired. It was normal practice in daylight to initially fire salvo's, i.e. half the guns - normally all the left guns would fire together , then wait for the shell to land . Observation of the fall of shot would indicate whether the firing solution was correct, if not it would be adjusted before firing the other four guns. Once on target full broadsides could be fired if required although this was rarely done unless the chance of a hit was an almost certainty, at night because the fall of shot could not be seen it was the usual practice to fire full broadsides. One of the major draw-backs to these guns and their fire-control was that the director system only worked to 15 degrees of elevation, thus limiting the ship to 15,000 yards range, beyond this she had to use her turret control gear.

Secondary battery

Sixteen 4" C50 MK7 guns all contained in single case-mate mounts within the fore and aft deck-houses, there were four guns to each side of the aft deck- house, all on the same level and four to a side in the forward deck-house but in this case the forward pair on each side were placed one over the other, this feature was not built into the Queen Mary thus close observation of this point helps ID her from the other two ships, that and the fact that her mid funnel was more rounded than the other Lion class ships. These guns fired a 31lb shell to about 12,000 yards.The class also carried four three pounder guns primarily used as salluting guns and for arming the picket boats.

Fire Control Equipment[edit]

At the time of the Lion classes construction fire-control was in it's infancy, previous each individual gun was aimed and fired by it's own turret captain , to control and concentrate the fire of newer ships all guns came under control of the gunnery officer in the spotting top - a large platform high up the masts.The Lion class were fitted with a Mk4 Dreyer table and a Dreyer- Elphinstone clock.The Dreyer table was invented by Admiral Sir Frederic Charles Dreyer, the table was in fact a mechanical computer which from a large number of variable inputs such as target and own ships course and speeds, wind direction etc calculated the settings to place on a gun where it's shell would fall were the target would be predicted to be. On observing the fall of shot the gunnery officer could manually input corrections to the table. The table was contained well down in the ship, below the armoured deck in a space called the 'transmitting room', from here feeds to two pairs of dials - bearing and elevation in each turret were taken , thus the trainers and pointers at the guns would follow these pointers and so all guns would be trained and elevated together on the intended target.The Dreyer- Elphinstone clock was a collaboration between Dreyer and Keith Elphinstone from the civil engineering company Elliot Brothers, in simple terms the 'clock' was a mechanical calculator for the change of range in two ships, this clock was a development of an earlier device the Dumaresq clock, the data from the clock was one of the many inputs into the Dreyer table. Although not a bad system it was to be further improved by the Argo-clock fitted in the Queen Mary.Range finding was by a nine-foot base coincident type range finder manufactured by Barr and Stroud.Barr and Stroud's was founded in 1888 by two inventors, Archibald Barr who became the Professor of Engineering at Glasgow university and William Stroud who was the Professor of Physics at the Yorkshire College Initially working from a small workshop in Glasgow they later moved to a large factory at Anniesland in 1904. The coincidence range-finder consisted of a single eye-piece in the centre of a long tube with two lenses facing the target at either end of the tube, prisms are rotated by a dial and thus range is read off the dial corresponding to the angle of the prisms.Much has been written about the supposed superiority of German range finders which used the Stereoscopic principle, these worked in a similar way but used two eye-pieces, one advantage of the German system was that it did not as absorb as much light as did the British system so it would work better in poor lighting so on first sighting of each other the German range finders gave the edge over the British units in that they were more likely to obtain an early hit. But once the British had got the range their superior fire control meant that they would keep on hitting with greater frequency.

Torpedo armament[edit]

Two 21" submerged torpedoes were fitted, one on either beam in a torpedo space located forwards of A turret, the tubes themselves were fixed and projected into the torpedo body room were the reloads were stored, after firing only one tube at a time could be reloaded due to constrictions of space in the room.

Armour Protection[edit]

Although a great improvement on the Invincible and Indefatigable classes which had 6" of armour on their main belt the Lion class were still rather poorly protected with a main belt of 9" although it should be noted this is only poor if the ships were confronted with a ship with heavy guns, a task which was not intended in the original design scenario. Another improvement of the armoured belt over the Invincible and Indefatigable classes was that it was carried up one deck higher, it did however only project three feet below the normal water-line If the side armour was viewed as lacking then the deck armour was very poor, when the ships were conceived the fact that the longer gunnery ranges had not as yet been taken into consideration, the armour configuration was that at short ranges the shells trajectory was almost flat and would thus hit the side armour belt, at longer ranges the higher trajectory meant arriving shell would be on a steep descending path - referred to as plunging fire. To defend against this the defence was two armoured decks , the upper and lower decks at just 1" thick, this would prove woefully inadequate at longer ranges and following Jutland additional plating was inserted over the magazines of surviving British battle-cruisers. The deck over the steering gear was a little better at 2.5" thick.Closing off the armoured citadel of decks and the side armour belt were armoured bulkheads 4" thick fore and aft. The 13.5" gun turrets had 9" thick face plates with 3.5" sides and roof plates, the barbettes were of 9".Below water line the magazines were protected by anti-torpedo, or screen, bulkheads 2.5" thick tapering to 1" outside of the magazine areas.The heaviest armour on board was the 10" conning tower and the communications tubes connecting this with other parts of the ship were 4" and the funnel uptakes were protected by 1" plating .

Service History[edit]

Lion commissioned in the 1st. Cruiser Squadron (1CS) in June 1912 assuming the role of Flagship 1CS in July, in 1913 on the forming of the battle-cruiser squadrons she hoisted the flag of rear Admiral David Beatty as flagship of the 1BCS and in 1914 she joined the 1BCS joined the newly formed Grand fleet in August 1914.Although World war one started officially at 2300 on the 04th August 1914 and the first maritime shots of that war had been fired by the foc'sle gun of the Laforey class destroyer Lance at a converted excursion steamer the Koningen Louise Which had been laying mines in the mouth of the Thames estuary on the early morning of the 5th August, Lance and her sister Landrail sank the intruder - Lance's focsle gun is in the Imperial War museum in London, the battle-cruisers had no real action until the 28th August 1914 during the first battle of the Heligoland Bight.

Heligoland Bight Action ( first)

It was known that German light mine-laying forces and supporting torpedo boats ( the German name for destroyers) were working from the Jade and Elbe rivers in the Heligoland Bight and it was the intentions of Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt's light cruiser and destroyers forces out of Harwich to incept and destroyer some of these forces.The initial attack by Tyrwhitt in the light cruisers Arethusa and Fearless with 16 destroyers each was on these German light forces with the intention of drawing out heavier German units over a line of seven D and E class submarines.Backing up Tyrwhitt in close support were the six light cruisers of Commodore W.E. Goodenough's 1st LCS |: Southampton (flag), Birmingham, Falmouth, Liverpool, Lowestoft and Nottingham , and as distant cover at the last minute Admiral Jellicoe assigned the three ships of Admiral David Beatty's 1BCS - Lion (flag) , Princess Royal and the Queen Mary and the two ships of Admiral John Moore's 2BCS New Zealand (flag) and Invincible Due to a failure of communications neither Tyrhwitt nor Goodenough were aware of Beattie's forces being assigned, nor were Beatty and Goodenough aware of the submarines, thankfully a chance meeting of the forces before the battle put these unknowns correct.The initial contact between the two light forces went the way of the British plan, although the day was bright with good initial visibility a mist of the western horizon hid the supporting ships from the German view, the time of the attack had been for low water on the River jade were the German heavy forces were thus preventing them leaving until the tide made sufficiently for them to safely cross the bar. The British forces initially attacked two destroyers G187 and 194 with great success but as more German light cruisers responded to this attack and the fact that Tyrwhitt though that some German heavy forces were in the vicinity her requested the assistance of Beatty. Beatty is his typical dashing fashion wading in with his battle-cruisers, the 1BCS being faster at 28 knots left the 2BCS behind at their more sedate 25 knots, Between 1135 and 1200 Beattie's ships burst of the fog and Lion immediately engaged the light cruiser Koln with two salvoes virtually disabling her, the following battle-cruisers tore this hapless ship to pieces sinking her with repeated salvoes with her went the German Konter-Admiral Leberect-Maass and all but one of her crew, the effect of the battle-cruisers was described as a tribe of elephants stampeding through a pack of dogs, next to feel their heavy salvoes was the light cruiser Ariadne, she was hit so often and burning furiously the heavy smoke hide her from view and saved her from the fate of the Koln, the light cruiser Stralsund took her in tow later but she capsized and sank before reaching port.Forming mist made the battle confused and dangerous from all sides and 1300 Beatty signalled a recall and the British ships returned to port, although communications had been poor between both forces the battle-cruisers had distinguished themselves well in the task for which they had been designed: the destruction the of opposing fleets scouting cruisers.Britain had lost no ships however two light cruisers and three destroyers had received considerable damage, 35 men had been killed and 40 injured whilst the Germans had had three light cruisers sunk and one torpedo boat sunk, and three light cruisers damaged - 1 severely plus a number of destroyers, more than 700 killed with nearly 350 taken prisoner - both sides had gallantly rescued survivors.The next several months were spent on routine patrols and sweeps of the North Sea during this time an event in the Baltic was to have a far reaching event on the war, the German Magdeburg class light cruiser - Magdeburg ran aground near the Odensholm lighthouse she tried to refloat herself but two Russian cruisers, the Bogatyr and Pallada, found her and destroyed her, they also captured all her code books intact and passed these on to the British, unknown to the German fleet the British fleet now knew most of their movements.The knowledge of the German fleet movements led to the 1BCS's next encounter with the German navy.Dogger Bank Action

Dogger Bank Action

Admiral Franz von Hipper, commander of the German battle-cruiser squadron the 1st Scouting group (1SG): Seydlitz (flag), Moltke, and Derfflinger and two flotillas of destroyers had planned to attack the British fishing fleet and it's protective forces on the Dogger bank in the central North Sea, as his forces were rather weak due to one of his battle-cruisers, Von der Tann, being in dry-dock it was decided to include the armoured cruiser Blucher, this was a grave error, Blucher had been conceived as a response to the Invincible and Indomitable class battle-cruisers when their true size and gun power was hidden beneath a layer of propaganda. Blucher displaced just over 15,000 tons standard and was armed with 8.2" guns although rather good for the time it was no match for the 12" and 13.5" guns of the British battle-cruiser nor could her top speed of just 23 knots match even her own fleet let alone the faster British ships.

Opposing them and sailing in good time to protect the fishing fleet and supporting forces was Rear Admiral David Beatty with the 1BCS: Lion (flag) Tiger ( new and not yet fully worked up) and the Princess Royal, and Rear Admiral Archibald Moore's 2BCS: New Zealand (flag) and Indomitable, also with Beatty was Goodenough from Harwich with four light cruisers - Southampton, Birmingham, Lowestoft and Nottingham plus two and a half flotilla's of destroyers.At 0700 on the 24th January 1915 Beatty was positioned 40 miles north of the Dogger bank and maintaining strict radio silence, stationed 40 miles to the NW as a covering force and to prevent Hipper approaching from a more northerly course was Vice Admiral Bradford's 3rd battle squadron ( 3BS) comprising seven pre-dreadnought battleships.Shortly after 0700 first contact with the German fleet was made when the cruiser Kolberg was sighted, she was on the port flank of Hippers main force, fire was opened between the opposing cruiser forces, Beatty expecting this contact moved in at high Speed on a SSE course with his battle-cruisers whilst Hipper took a more cautious line as he could see the heavy smoke to the NW and had to be wary that this was not a large part of the British Grand Fleet, on sighting Beatties battle-cruiser force her performed an almost 180 degree turn to the SE, his position was not good, almost 200 miles from base with no help, he increased to the maximum speed of Blucher - 23 knots and Beatty set off in chase keeping clear to starboard of the wake of the German ships in case of dropped mines and steadily building up to 28 knots.At 0900, Lion in the van, and at 20,000 yards commenced firing at the rear of the German line - Blucher, the two fleets now manoeuvred so that the Germans were in En-echelon and could return fire from their after starboard guns and the British their forward port guns.Shortly after 0900 all the British ships were concentrating on the rear of the German line and the Blucher was hit frequently, a hit on the water-line reduced her speed so that the two slower battle-cruisers of Moore's 2BCS were within range. As with all the British ships concentrating on the nearest ship so were the German ships on the Lion, at 0928 she was hit on the water-line causing some flooding of her bunker spaces but did not penetrate past them. At 0935 Indomitable was ordered to engage Blucher whilst Beattie's ships and New Zealand engaged opposite numbers in Hippers battle-cruisers with Lion engaging Seydlitz, Tiger mistakenly also engaged Seydlitz leaving Moltke to fire at Lion unchallenged, Princess Royal engaged Derfflinger. All three German ships maintained their fire on Lion which inevitably began to receive quite heavy damage. Although under heavy fire Lion almost immediately hit the Seydlitz a devastating blow, at a range of 17,500 yards she hit the deck abreast the after turret, D on German ships, this hit penetrated the decks and hit the barbette of D guns, although this only made a small hole red-hot splinters of armour sprayed round the upper handling room inside the barbette and ignited two sets of charges in the gun loading cages waiting to be loaded into the guns, the white hot flames from the rapidly burning charges killed all the men in the gun house and tragically also shot down the turret trunk into the lower handling room were two more sets of charges were waiting to be sent up to the handling room for the following load, these two sets ignited as well killing all the crew in the lower handling spaces, in their desperation to escape the lower handling space crews opened the doors from D magazine to the magazine spaces for the super-firing C turret, tragically the flames passed from D to C magazine spaces and incinerated all the crews there as well, in all 159 men died and the loss of the ship was only prevented by the rapid flooding of the two after magazines, had Seydlitz been using the same type of propellant as the British she would almost certainly have been lost, the connecting doors were there to pass ammunition between turrets should one run out of ammunition.Tiger at this time was still firing at Seydlitz but unknown to her she was spotting on Lion's shells and in fact her shells were landing 3,000 yards over (past) the Seydlitz.Lion was hit on A turret roof just before 1000 hrs putting one of the guns out of action, just after 1000 an 11" shell from Seydlitz hit on the water line penetrating the 9" side armour belt and flooding the engineers workshops and disabling two of the ships dynamo's, the after fire control was also disabled by this hit. At 1018 Derfflinger hit the Lion with two 12" shells one flooded the torpedo flat the other the port bunkers , Lions speed now began to fall, Beatty and his staff stood out on the open bridge were soaked from near misses,. At 1052 Lion was hit in the boiler rooms and caused flooding to the feed tank, this shortly stopped the port turbines due to salt in the boiler water and flooding reducing her speed to 15 knots, also as the list developed to about 10 degrees her third and final dynamo failed thus she could now only signal by flags.Being left behind Beatty could only watch as the rest of the ships sped past in pursuit of the German ships which were taking as great a punishment as the Lion, at this moment a submarine was supposedly sighted and Beatty signaled a turn to port to the NE across the wake of the German ships a second signal was then hoisted 'attack the rear of the enemy' meaning the rear of Hippers ships but due to a signaling blunder this was hauled down at the same time as the signal for a NE course and was thus interpreted as 'attack the enemy to the NE' so the remaining four British battle-cruisers attacked the luckless Blucher which now badly damaged by the Indomitable and new Zealand lay to the NE. A further signal meant to be Nelsonian in style 'engage the enemy more closely' ended up with the nearest modern equivalent Keep nearer to the enemy'.Beatty realising he had lost control of the battle and what was happening now transferred his command to the destroyer Attack but all was in vain, to the NE 4 British battle-cruisers turned the Blucher into a living hell but she bravely returned fire until at 1210, hit by torpedoes she turned over and capsized , her losses were very high but she had bought time for Hipper to flee back to Germany.Blucher lay bottom up for a few minutes and 260 of her brave crew were rescued by British destroyers and the cruiser Arethusa, tragically a German sea-plane arrived on the scene and bombed the British ships which may have prevented the rescue of more men, the German admiralty heavily criticised his decision to attack the destroyers at this time.The attack caught up with the Princess Royal at 1220 hrs and Beatty transferred his flag to her, on learning what had happened little could be done to pursue the remainder of Hippers ships, they would be almost back at their base before they could be overtaken so Beatty signaled the return to Rosyth, Lion was now slowly steaming back towards base herself, salt contamination and flooding had reduced her speed to barely 8 knots and 1530 it had fallen further still when a tow rope was passed from the Indomitable, the rest of the force provided a screen round the invalid whose engines failed totally and was towed home by Indomitable.Lion arrived back under tow at the Firth of Forth in the early hours of the 26th January , repairs from the 16 heavy shell hits took four months, British damage was limited to the Lion , very slight damage to the Tiger and cruiser Aurora and medium damage to the destroyer Meteor with a total of 15 dead against the loss of one armoured cruiser, severe damage to the Seydlitz and less serious to the Derfflinger and Kolberg but over 1,000 men had died and had the Lion lost power and made a mess of flag signaling Hipper's force may well have been totally lost.As a post script to this action Rear Admiral Moore was quietly moved side-ways, although following his superiors perceived orders to the letter, it was thought that initiative should have sent him after the real target, Hippers ships and left what was a lame duck, the Blucher, to Indomitable, but once again Hipper had escaped the clutches of the British through inadequate communications.The Dogger bank action also showed that although gunnery ranges had increased greatly, gunnery control, on both sides, had not advanced as much and the hit ratio had fallen as a result. Lion had fired 243 rounds of 13.5" shell and had scored only 4 hits - 1.6% low but no different to other ships, her hits were one on the Blucher, One on Derfflinger and two on Seydlitz., most of the hits by the German ships were on the Lion, sixteen 11 and 12" and one 8,2" ( Blucher), although badly damaged she had show that British battle-cruisers could with-stand battle damage and survive even though their armour was on the thin side, Lion suffered just 11 men injured with no deaths.

On return to Rosyth on the 26th Lion was docked for initial repairs before sailing to the Tyne where she was fully repaired by Palmers, on re-commissioning in April 1915 she resumed her role as Flagship of the IBCS.The German navy learned by paying a heavy price on the Seydlitz that their methods of ammunition handling, similar in many ways to the British methods, were not safe enough and that they had been very fortunate indeed not to lose the Seydlitz, this lesson did not go unlearned. Ammunition handling procedures were changed and tightened up with only the minimum of propellant charges removed from their magazines and protective cases, additional flash-tight doors were also fitted outside the magazines, in the turret trunk and below the upper handling room floor, these arrangements were to serve the German ships well at Jutland, for the British ships no such near misses had occurred and thus they had no lesson the learn from until their fearful losses at Jutland.

Vehicle Warship Naval ship Battleship Ship

Lion circa 1913: image courtesy of the MaritimeQuest

Battle of Jutland

Post The dogger bank the IBCS spent the time on routine sweeps and patrols with little or no action until the battle of Jutland at the end of May.Late in the evening of the 30th May beatties forces sailed from Rosyth on the Firth of Forth these comprised: Lion - Captain A.E.M. Chatfield - Flag Vice Admiral Sir David Beatty, followed by Princess Royal - Captain W.H, Cowan and flying the flag Rear Admiral Brock - RA1BCS, Queen Mary - Captain C.I. Prowse and finally Tiger Captain H.B. Pelly. And the 2BCS comprising: New Zealand - Captain J.F.E. Green and flying the flag of Rear Admiral W.C. Packenham RA2BCS followed by Indefatigable - Captain C.A. Selby, Australia was missing due to being in an earlier collision with New Zealand she was still in dry-dock.With the battle-cruisers were the escorting vessels of the 1st Light cruiser Squadron ( 1LCS) - Galatea, Phaeton, Inconstant and Cordelia, 2LCS - Southampton, Birmingham, Nottingham and Dublin, 3LCS Falmouth, Yarmouth, Birkenhead and Gloucester, the 13th DF - Champion with ten M class and two Talisman class destroyers as a screen on the 1BCS, the 2BCS had as a screen four L class and two M class destroyers As the 3BCS had been on a temporary attachment at Scapa flow for gunnery practice replacing them was Rear Admiral Hugh Evans-Thomas's 5BS comprising four ships of the Queen Elizabeth class battleships, assigned due to their top speed of 24 knots being close to that of the battle-cruisers and certainly faster than other battleships, these four were: Barham ( flag) - Captain A.W.C. Waller, Valiant - Captain M. Woollcombe, Warspite - Captain E. Phillpotts and Malaya Capt A.D.E.H. Boyle, the Queen Elizabeth was under refit at Rosyth and so missed the action. Screening the 5BS was the 1DF of 11 destroyers of the L class.The chief protagonists were to be the German battle-cruisers led by Vizeadmiral Franz von Hipper - Lutzow (flag) captain Erich Raeder, Derfflinger - Captain Hartog, , Seydlitz - Captain von Egidy, Moltke Captain Harpf and Von der Tann- Captain Zenker, as scouting forces the four light cruisers of Konteradmiral F. Boedicker's 2nd Scouting group (2SG) - Frankfurt, Pillau, Elbing and Wiesbaden were attached, escorting the battle-cruisers were eleven destroyers of the 9DF ten of the 2DF and nine of the 6DF.To summarise Jutland into a very basic outline there were two schools of thought, Jellicoe knowing he out-numbered his opponents wanted to crush and destroy them without unduly risking his fleet, without which Britain could not blockade Germany into submission, Churchill stated that only one man could win or lose WW1 in an afternoon, that man was ADMIRAL Sir John Jellicoe, Admiral of the British Grand fleet. The German plan under Admirals Reinhard Scheer and Franz von Hipper was simpler, to lure out what was seen as the weaker part of the Royal Navy, Beattie's battle-cruiser forces, Beatty was known to be a man of action and for refusing to let go once he had his teeth into an opponent, it was intended to use this sometimes impetuousness and lure Beatties ships into the arms of Scheer's battleships using Hippers battle-cruisers, this way the Royal Navy would be seriously weakened. Rather prophetically Beatty had been warned by Jellicoe in letter that the Scheer may well be intending this very manoeuvre, Beatty came within a whisker of this very trap and was only saved by the intervention of Evan -Thomas's 5BS, he then turned this near defeat round into a brilliant tactical win by leading Scheer and Hipper into the arms of Jellicoe.

As this article is about the Lion it is concentrated mainly on her, otherwise the article will end up as a book, the manoeuvres and speeds have been simplified to the very basics giving general courses and speeds so as to keep this article short.Lion first came to action with Beatty steering a course of NNE at 23 knots, Hipper was steering SW at 18 knots, on sighting smoke clouds just after 1500 , Beatty altered more to the east and increased to maximum speed thus leaving the 5BCS behind, not a good manoeuvre as they were his most powerful and well armed ships but typical of Beatty's let me at them strategy. Hipper in turn turned to starboard to ESE and increased to 23 knots, all six British battle-cruisers were in line astern in their relative stations with Lion leading , the German ships were also in line astern of their leader.

The visibility at the time was better for the Germans with their light grey ships difficult to see in the haze whilst the dark grey of the RN stood out far better, also the smoke from the British was blowing towards the German ships thus obscuring their view even further, this lack of a clear view delayed the British ships using the advantage of the longer range of their bigger guns - a thing feared by Hipper thus at 1548 the German ships fired first with the range at 16,000 yards the Lion replied first some 30 seconds later.At 1551 Lion was hit by a single shell from the Lutzow and hit again at 1552 and at 1600 she was hit again this time on Q turret , Lion had recently changed Chief gunners, the old one had let things get into a chaotic state and ammunition handling practices were poor, the new Gunner Mr ( later captain) Alexander Grant immediately tightened ship, this needed all the ships cordite being changed and handling practices were improved greatly, the main improvement was to reduce the number of charges outside of the magazines and that those charges were only removed from their protective cases when actually necessary and only one of the four individual magazine doors to be opened at any one time. The hit on Q turret was a 12" SAP ( semi Armour Piecing) thought to be on the face plate, above and between the two guns, this hit exploded and blew off all the armour plates of the gun house killing or mortally wounding all in the gun house, the Captain of the gun, 43 year old Major Francis J.W. Harvey - the turret was manned by the Royal marines, mortally wounded having had his legs blown off ordered the flooding of the magazines moments before he died thus he was the second man to save the Lion from destruction. Within the turret in the gun loading hoists lay two shells and eight quarter charges and lower down in the turret trunk lay a further eight quarter charges and two shells in the main hoist cages , some 30 minutes after the initial hit these were ignited, whether by a small fire in the trunk or a further hit is unknown but they ignited with a vast roar and a huge pillar of flame shot up from the turret and it's surrounding accesses, had these been closed down the pressure may have caused much further damage, as it was all the magazine bulkheads were dished in but the flooded magazines saved the ship, tragically all the ammunition handling crews were still in the lower handling room and were killed by the fire, Major Francis Harvey became the first posthumous Victoria Cross recipient in the Royal Marines.

During this period Lion made two hits at the Lutzow around 1555, the battle now involved all the battle-cruisers which were also now using their secondary batteries as well., as the range decreased to rather less than Beatty wanted her turned his ships outwards by about 30 degrees to open the range during this period.At 1602 or 3 Indefatigable was hit by the Von der Tann and exploded and sank, at 1605 due to cutting corners Evan Thomas's four battleships of the 5BS finally managed to catch-up and opened fire thus at least adding their fire onto the German battle-cruisers, although not the amount of fire on Beatties ships as Hipper maintained fire on the battle-cruisers ignoring the 5BS, at 1621 the Queen Mary was hit also on Q turret putting the right gun out of action, further hits occurred at 1626, one of these hits is thought to have hit the port side of the gun deck just aft of B turret and penetrated the deck exploding inside, the flash from this explosion is then thought to have ignited the forward 4" magazines blowing the ship in half, a following explosion of the forward 13.5" magazine destroyed the forward section of the ship with X magazine detonating later destroying the stern, these instances were witnessed by survivors of Q turret thus proving that she survived the hit on Q, Lion at this time was still engaging the Lutzow.From about 1630 Beatty altered course slowly to the South until he was steering approximately 130, and very shortly afterwards sighted the leading battleships of Scheers High Seas fleet, on this sighting Beatty made a 180 degree turn away from Scheer's ships thus beginning the period of the battle known as the run to the north, far from a cowardly act this was what Beatty wanted, the entire German High Seas Fleet following him on a northerly course towards Jellicoe's Grand Fleet, the trap as far as Beatty's concern was now set.

The firing between the battle-cruiser fleets had now died down due to poor visibility caused largely by vast ammounts of funnel and gun smoke.During the above action lion was hit by a further eight definite hits by 12" sap shells, apart from the most serious hit - that on Q turret, exactly which ship hit the Lion for each hit is not known but it is though four were from the Seydlitz and five from the Derfflinger, these were, one, 115 feet back from the bows shattering the starboard capstan and holing the focsle deck but did not explode, two, a hit on the foc'sle and upper decks near the fwd funnel causing a difficult fire in the navigators cabin. No3 was near the base of the centre funnel causing extensive damage to the up-takes. Four, was a ricochet off the sea which landed between the centre funnel and it's screen without exploding, Five, hit the 6" armour belt just forward of Q turret causing little damage, six, passed through the thin plating of the after control position without exploding or causing much damage. Seven and eight landed very close to one-another hitting the vertical plating between the upper and foc'sle decks, these hits caused heavy splinter damage and many casualties amongst the nearby 4" guns crews with 19 dead and 35 wounded from these hits alone.During this Period Lion Hit Lutzow with two 13.5" shells at about 1600 hrs, although the very large hole blown in the focsle deck was well above water the damage these two hits caused helped seal the Lutzow's fate later as further hits caused her bow to sink deep in the water, Lions damage allowed still more water to flood the doomed vessel.

Apart from occasional shells all was quiet until Beatty turned starboard slightly at 1557 to close the range with Scheers ships, shortly afterwards Lion was hit again by a single 12" shell from Lutzow so Beatty turned away again increasing the range from 17,500 to 21,000 yards at 1700, the speed at this time was about 24 knots.At 1745 Beatty altered back to starboard to NNE and reopened fire with Lion and Princess Royal engaging the Lutzow, visibility was very poor for both sides, so bad that Lion opened fire at 10,000 yards but had spotted the fall of shot up to nearly 15,000 yards in a few salvoes indicating she was under firing by nearly 4 miles., although hits were claimed it is unlikely any were made,, however lion was hit by a further three 12" shells from the Lutzow during this time, these were one shell in the superstructure causing a lot of splinter damage in the galley area and fwd funnel casing although the armoured funnel up-take gratings kept splinters out of the boiler rooms. Two 4" guns were disabled and a fire started in 4" ready use ammunition., the next hit was on the sick-bay skylight aft on the main deck, this caused a lot of splinter damage to light structures and destroying the sick-bay. The third hit was on the mainmast which passed through without exploding but nearly caused the mast to fall. The fourth hit struck the hull plating forward of A turret on the starboard bow but causing little damage other than a small hole.

Shortly after 1800 firing ceased or became sporadic, at about this time the ships of Hoods 3BCS, Invincible, Inflexible and Indomitable, were sighted to the NE and Hood adjusted his course to fall in line astern of Beatty, although action taken to avoid a torpedo attack resulted in hood taking station ahead of Beatty. Also at this time Jellicoe was forming his fleet from columns in line to all ships in line ahead in preparation for battle with the meeting of the two fleets now imminent, once again this is simply outline information as to keep this article as short as possible I am trying to concentrate purely on Lion.Also at this time Hipper had turned his battle-cruisers back to join with Scheer now that the 3BCS had joined with Beatty he require more gun power, bearing in mind the Germans were still un-aware of Jellicoe's fleet.At 1817 hrs Lion again opened fire on the Lutzow as she appeared out of the mist and smoke, she fired a total of ten two-gun salvoes before Lutzow disappeared into the mist once more, Lion hit the Lutzow twice in this brief encounter with one hit starting a serious fire, the German battle-cruiser was now in a very bad way with very serious flooding and was at 1837 out of action and in retreat, although given every assistance to return to Germany she was eventually scuttled.Lion then opened fire on an unknown battleship in the German 3rd squadron, she also fired three torpedoes at this time as the range was very short but targets were poor due to smoke and mist. Due tom poor visibility there were no targets in sight.Just before 1900 due to a major fire in area of the navigators cabin area, Lions Captain requested to go below to inspect the area himself briefly handing over to Beatty's Chief of Staff, Captain Bentick , during this a turn to the south was commenced but the Gyro compasses failed and Lion swung through more than 360 degrees, thus it was not until 1904 that Lion steadied up on a southerly course in pursuit of the now fleeing German fleets, this left the battle-cruisers several miles astern of their intended position, it is doubtful that this event had any great bearing on subsequent events.At 1914 lion fired four salvoes in quick succession at the Derfflinger at a range of 16,000 yards but again visibility was poor and the target disappeared into the smoke and mist, no hits were claimed or made. At 1930 in a major drill error the gun loading cage of the right gun in X turret was put out of action by an attempt to double load the cage, the second shell falling on the cage put the cordite part of it out of action, the gun however remained in action as the cordite was loaded via the secondary hoist.At approximately 2020hrs there was a brief flurry of fire between the two battle-cruiser fleets with Lion firing a single salvo at the light cruiser Pillau followed by fourteen salvoes in just six minutes at the Derfflinger at a range of around 11,000 yards, one hit was made on Derfflinger jamming her fore turret. Lion was hit in return by a single 5.9" German shell, apart from a small fire and some splinter damage the only real casualty from this hit was a steam pinnace which was wrecked

Night was now falling and in the poor visibility and darkness no proper contact was made between the two fleets and a failure in communications from the Admiralty failed to advise Jellicoe of the German fleets intended line of retreat thus allowing Scheer and Hipper to return Via the Horns Reefs., this was effectively the end of the battle.Lion returned to be repaired initially at Rosyth from the 05th to the 26th June and then to the Tyne were her damaged Q turret was removed by Armstrongs and her armour repaired from the 27th June to the 08th July, she had a further visit to Rosyth from the 08th to the 20th July for hull repairs following which she was back in service as a three turret / six gun ship.Q turrets was finally returned to her by Armstrongs on the Tyne from the 6th to the 23rd September.

Motor vehicle Vehicle Car

'This a scan from an old magazine clipping of unknown origin, by process of elimination this is the damaged Q turret of Lion, by the dress of the men inside the gun house they are shipyard workmen so this could be either the initial assessment at Rosyth (05th to the 26th June) or prior to the removal of the turret for repairs by Armstrongs on the Tyne 27th June to the 08th July.It is thought that the incoming 12" shell hit the 9" face plate (which is missing in this image) towards it's upper edge blowing off the left and right sections of the 3.5" front roof plate. I first thought that damage had been done to the left gun with the upper part of the trunnion bearing being missing but now think this has been removed prior to the removal of the guns - note the tool boxes lying on the left side of the bearing, each gun weighing something like 75-80 tons would have to be removed to reduce the weight of the turret to managable proportions say 450 tons or so. Also note the 9" barbette armour at the base of the turret'

During the battle Lion had suffered 99 dead with 51 wounded, she fired 326 rounds of 13.5" 1,250 lbs shell, all APC ( Armour Piercing Capped) she did not fire her secondary batteries at all. In return she was hit by a total of thirteen 12" and one 5.9" shell and another of undermined calibre.

Following Jutland Lion fought no more battles but did form part of the covering force for the Heligoland Bight action on the 17th November 1917, here she was part of the distant covering force and saw no action, she was the Flagship of Rear-Admiral William C. Pakenham. Post war she remained as flagship of the 1BCS but the 1922 Washington naval treaty spelt her end, in 1923 she was paid off for disposal under the terms of the treaty and at the end of January 1924 she was sold to Hughes-Bolkow, partially scrapped at Jarrow to reduce her draft she was finished off at Blyth. Her otherwise excellent 13.5" guns were removed for further use, they were stored until used as shore battery guns in WW2.

  1. IWM
  2. Jutland - John Campbell,
  3. Jutland - Geoffrey Bennett,
  4. Conway's 1906-21
  5. Ships of the Royal Navy List of ships named Lion - JJ Colledge
  6. account of the battle of Jutland by Mr ( later Captain) Alexander Grant - Gunner HMS Lion

This article was completed by Steve Woodward on the 02nd September 2008

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