Ships Nostalgia banner

1 - 1 of 1 Posts

3,931 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
  • 1 The name Princess Royal
  • 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 Princess Royal[edit]


This image, one of my own collection, shows the Princess Royal being assisted out of the builders yard to carry out her sea trials in 1912

Although not as numerous as some ships names, five ships have been named Princess Royal, who's first use stems back to 1728 when a vessel called the Princess was renamed Princess Royal.

  1. The first Princess Royal started out as a 2nd rate full rigged ship of the line mounting ninety guns, she was a 1,307 ton vessel some 161 feet long and 45 feet in the beam and built at Portsmouth Dockyard in 1682, in 1682 she was rebuilt by Deptford Shipyard and renamed Prince in 1705 and Princess in 1716 she was further renamed becoming the Princess Royal under which name she survived until 1773 when she was scrapped.
  2. Was a simple store-ship of 541 tons bought in for the purpose in 1739, she was some 123 feet long and 32 feet in the beam, she was sold on in 1750.
  3. Was a 90 gun 2nd rate ship of the line built by Portsmouth Dockyard in 1773, she was 177'06" long and 50'06" in the beam and in 1800 was rebuilt to mount 98 guns, in later life she was reduce to 74 guns and scrapped in October 1807
  4. Was laid down on the 26th March 1842 as the Prince Albert and was to be a 91 gun second rate ship of the line whilst still on the building ways she was renamed Princess Royal and the design modified to that of a screw driven two decker still mounting 91 guns. Her dimensions were: L 217 feet with a 58 foot beam and a displacement of 4540 tons.

She was launched on the 23 June 1853 and commissioned into the Royal navy under the command of Captain Lord Clarence Edward Paget on the 29 October 1853. Her commissions were in the Baltic for the first year of her life followed by the Mediterranean until 1859; this was flowed by time in the Channel Squadron and the East India and China station.In 1867 she went into lay-up and was scrapped in 1872 being sold to Castles for breaking up at Charlton - then a port on the Thames opposite what is now Silvertown.

  1. Was the Lion class battle-cruiser of this article since her scrapping in 1922 the name has not been in use.
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.Originally designed for a crew of 1,000 men after one year of world war one this had risen to just over 1,100.

Building data[edit]

Princess Royal was laid down by Vickers at their Barrow in Furness yard on the 02nd May 1910; she was launched on the 24th April 1911, and commissioned for the 1CS in November 1912. She was launched by her name-sake namely Princess Louise, the Princess Royal.


This image from an old magazine clipping of my fathers shows Princess Royal with Lion in the back-ground at anchor off Rosyth in the Firth of Forth circa: late 1916/early 1917

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 considerable 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 nearer the reality for a fully loaded ship.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.Steering was by twin rudders as in previous classes. The number of boiler rooms is difficult to make out from plans that I have studied but it may have been five, one more than the Invincible and Indefatigable classes four.


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 its 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 its 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, and the breech lock would release allowing the gun to elevate to its 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 Princess Royal this was in the fighting top - and when ready the gun could be fired. It was normal practice in daylight to initially fire salvos, i.e. half the guns - normally all the left guns would fire together, and 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 funnels were round instead of oval. These guns fired a 31lb shell to about 12,000 yards.The class also carried four three pounder guns primarily used as signalling guns In 1915 two 3" (12 pounder) AA guns were added to the boat deck aft with a further two 4" HA AA guns being added in 1917.

Fire Control Equipment[edit]

At the time of the Lion classes construction fire-control was in its infancy, previously each individual gun was aimed and fired by its 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 an Mk3 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 was 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, and 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.


'This image courtesy of the Maritimequest website shows Princess Royal circa 1912-1915

Service History[edit]

On completion of her acceptance trials Princess Royal commissioned into the 1st Cruiser Squadron (1CS) in November 1912 and when the term battle-cruiser was coined she became part of the 1st Battle-cruiser Squadron (1BCS) in January 1913, this in turn became part of the newly formed Grand fleet in August 1914.Her first real action was at the battle of Helgoland Bight on the 28th August 1914 First Helgoland battle

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 Helgoland Bight and it was the intentions of Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt's light cruiser and destroyers forces out of Harwich to incept and destroy 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 Tyrwhitt 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 he 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.

Following the Helgoland bight action Princess Royal was detached from the IBCS to escort for Canadian troop convoys during their Atlantic crossing, she was there to provide a heavy escort in case a surface raider attempted to attack the convoys.A battle-cruiser was ideally suited for this purpose and it was for this very role they were designed, most commerce raiders were either cruisers or merchantmen converted into auxiliary cruisers, whilst usually armed with 6" guns and quite powerful warships in their own right they were however no match for the battle-cruiser with its 12", or in the case of Princess Royal, 13.5" guns. In October she returned to the 1BCS and the Grand Fleet, however events around the world dictated this would be short lived.

Vice-Admiral Maxillian Von Spee's armoured cruisers had scored a major victory over Rear admiral Sir Christopher Craddock's older and inferior fleet off Coronel in Chile on the 01st November 1914, this was Britain's first naval defeat since 1812 and the Admiralty were stung into action.In Mid November Princess Royal detached from the IBCS and sailed for Halifax , refuelling here she sailed south to cover any possible return of Graf Spee's squadron should it try to return home, however Graf Spee's ships were caught and sunk by the battle-cruisers Invincible, Inflexible, along with the armoured cruisers Carnarvon, Cornwall and Kent and the light cruisers Bristol and Glasgow thus freeing the Princess Royal to return home, she bunkered at Kingston Jamaica and sailed for the UK in mid December 1914 rejoining the IBCS in January 1915 just in time for her next major action at the Dogger bank.

Dogger Bank Action

This action was contrived rather than the accidental meeting of two opposing forces, although Britain had not yet completed all its new building of capital ships it still held a numerical superiority, just, over its German adversary , it was the German plan to reduce that superiority by trapping a portion of the Royal navies fleet and destroying it using a superior force, to this end they had been goading the British by using their fast battle-cruiser fleet to attack British coastal towns, on the 16th December 1914 Hipper with his 1SG ( First Scouting Group) consisting of Seydlitz, Moltke, Von der Tann, Derfflinger and the armoured cruiser Blucher split into two groups with Von der Tann and Derfflinger bombarding Hartlepool and the remaining three ships steaming further south to Bombard Whitby and Scarborough this heavy attack in which over a thousand shells were used on Hartlepool alone, the raids killed 122 and wounded more than four hundred , although there was a skirmish between the German raiding force and the local defense force which consisted of a handful of destroyers the main damage done to the German ships, which was quite light, was down to the Heugh and Cemetery coastal batteries at Hartlepool ( 6" and 4.7" guns) - Hitting Blucher 4 times, Seydlitz 3 times and Derfflinger once.

The British public were angry and called out for revenge, The German navy now had a further attack to goad the Royal navy however the action did not go as planned, for some time the British had been able to read German naval messages, this department called 'Room Forty' were aware of the next German raid, this was to be on the British fishing fleet and it's escorting force on the Dogger Bank - a prime fishing area in the central North Sea. Britain's ability to read Germany's radio codes came from the accidental grounding of the light cruiser Magdeburg, she had run aground on the 26th August 1914 near the Odensholm lighthouse in the Baltic, attempts to refloat her failed and two Russian cruisers Bogatyr and Pallada arrived and shelled her to destruction, they also captured her code books and passed these onto Britain.

Admiral Franz von Hipper Sailed from the Jade River in Germany with the 1SG on the 23rd January 1915 flying his flag in the Seydlitz with 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 Hipper 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 steadily building up to 28 knots for the chase.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 at 1030 Princess Royal hit the Blucher in her Boiler Rooms causing her speed to fall to well below 20 knots, her fate was now sealed, the reduction in speed allowed the two slower battle-cruisers of Moore's 2BCS to close the 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 in the 9" barbette armour 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 standing 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 he now transferred his command to the destroyer Attack and set off after the remaining battle-cruisers, 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 laid 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 not lost power and made a mess of flag signaling Hippers force may well have been totally lost.As a post script to this action Rear Admiral Moore was quietly moved side-ways, although he followed 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.During the action Princess Royal was not hit nor did she have any casualties, in return she **** the Derfflinger with one 13.5" shell, although some sources attribute three hits to her, this single hit caused a fairly serious fire in Derfflinger.Although a victory for the British, their signalling was very poor and this enabling Hipper to withdraw during the confusion, a mistake they pay dearly for in the near future.

Following the Dogger bank action Princess royal remained with the 1BCS stationed mainly in the Firth of Forth, due to Germany's earlier attacks on Britain's coastal towns the fast battle-cruiser squadrons had moved south from Scapa flow and Cromarty to be nearer and faster on the scene should the need arise. In the months following the Dogger Bank action the two opposing fleets were largely inactive, playing a watching and waiting game

Princess Royal's next major action was to be at the Battle of Jutland (or Skagerrak as the German historians refer to it), This battle started as a German plan to isolate part of the British fleet, in this case Beatty's battle-cruiser fleet, and destroy it thus weakening the Royal navy and reducing its overall numerical superiority - however the British were so some extent aware of this and intended to draw the German High-Seas Fleet further north than they usually patrolled and into the arms of Jellicoe's Grand Fleet.Accordingly Jellicoe sailed from Scapa Flow on the evening of the 30th June and Beatty with his battle-cruisers from the Forth at 2300 hrs.Beatty's fleet disposition was as follows; 1BCS: Lion (flag- Beatty) Captain A.E.M. Chatfield, Princess Royal - Rear Admiral Brock and Captain Walter .H. Cowan, Queen Mary Captain C.I. Prowse, Tiger Captain H.B.

2BCS, Rosyth, New Zealand (flag), Rear Admiral W.C. Packenham, Captain JFE. Green, Indefatigable Captain C.A. Selby Supporting the battle-cruisers were the three light cruiser squadrons: 1LCS Galatea, (flag) Commodore E.S. Alexander-Sinclair, Phaeton, Inconstant, and Cordelia, 2LCS, Southampton (flag) Commodore W.E. Goodenough, Birmingham, Nottingham, and Dublin 3LCS Falmouth (flag) Rear Admiral TDW. Napier, Yarmouth, Birkenhead and Gloucester, Escorting destroyers: Champion, Landrail, Laurel, Lydiard, Liberty, Nestor, Nomad, Narborough, Moresby, Moorsom, Morris, Nerissa, Nicator, Obdurate, Onslow, Petard, Pelican, Stanistreet, Termagant, TurbulentAlso attached to Beatty's force due to absence of the 3BCS ( Invincible, Indomitable and Inflexible which were temporarily attached to Jellicoe's fleet for training) was the 5th battle squadron (5BCS) Barham (flag) Rear Admiral Hugh Evans-Thomas, Captain A.W.C. Waller , Valiant - Captain M. Woollcombe , Warspite -Captain E. Phillpotts, and Malaya - Captain the Hon. A.D.E.H. Boyle .Screening the 5BCS were the destroyers Acheron, Ariel, Attack, Defender, Hydra, Badger, Fearless, Goshawk, Lizard and Lapwing

Also accompanying Beatty was the seaplane carrier Engadine escorted by the destroyers Onslow and Moresby, Engadines planes made one scouting sortie sighting the light cruisers Elbing Franfurt and Pillau which opened fire on the seaplane, this force was reported to Beatty before mechanical failure force the plane to return to Engadine, later the sea became too rough for the carriers sea- planes

Opposing Beatty with the battle-cruiser was: the first scouting group (1SG) Lützow ( flag) Vizeadmiral Franz von Hipper - Kapitän zur See Harder, Derflinger - Kapitän zur See Hartog, Seydlitz - Kapitän zur See von Egidy, Moltke - Kapitän zur See Harpf and the von der Tann - Kapitän zur See Zenker; Supporting hipper were the cruisers of the 2SG, Frankfurt, Pillau, Elbing and Wiesbaden and the torpedo boats (destroyers) V26, V27, V28, V29, V30 S 33. S34, S35, S51, S52, B97, B98, B109, B110, B111, B112, G101.G102, G103, G104 G41, G87.G86, G41, V44, V45, V46, V69, S50 and G37.

To keep this article short I will concentrate only on the actions of the Princess Royal during the battle of Jutland on the 31st may and 01st June 1916, for a little more detail read the article on HMS Lion which goes into the action with a little more details.Princess Royal first came to action when she made a signal to Beatty in Lion at 1523 to indicate smoke on a bearing of 066 degrees, at about 1548 Lion opened first followed very shortly afterwards on the leading German ship, Lutzow, the German fleet reply at more or less the same time, both sides initially over-estimated the ranges and all shells fell over the target, visibility was not particularly good but favoured the German ships and soon funnel and cordite smoke would make it much worse, the range at this time was about 18,500 yards.Initially British shooting was poor as they had not yet acquired the range however with the better visibility the German battle-cruiser found the range first and at 1558 when two 12" shells hit Princess Royal, the first hit was on the 6" main belt below B turret from a range of about 15,500 yards, this hit pierced the armour making a 13" diameter hole, the shell then entered the port forward reserve coal bunker and exploded 5 feet from the entry point with the blast travelling downwards blowing a hole 6 feet by 5 feet in the main deck and inwards damaging the inner water-tight bulkhead over a length of 8 feet, flooding occurred in the bunkers over a length of 32 feet, this bunker was position outside of the turret and it's magazines as part of the protection scheme and in this case certainly prevented the shell reaching the magazine.The second shell hit the 6" main belt below the bridge structure and burst on impact the shock of one of this hit temporarily disabled the fire control system by causing it's fuses to blow so that B turret had to take over fire control with the turret's own fire control system, there was also some splinter damage attributable to this hit.At 1600 PR was hit by a third 12" shell on the hull side above the armoured belt between the foc'sle and upper decks just aft of B gun barbette, the shell passed through the side plating, a coaling trunk, two light bulkheads and exploded 22 feet inside the ship on the 1" upper-deck blowing a five foot hole in the deck, serious damage was caused to nearby light structures and the 8" barbette armour set back by 1", small fires were started and 8 men were killed and 38 wounded mainly due to burns and gas from this one hit.At 1630 PR was hit again on the right gun muzzle of Q turret amidships, although a small crack was put into the guns 'A' tube the gun continued in service, at the same time a shell passed completely through the No.2 funnel without exploding a ricochet off the water also hit the ship at this time on the armoured belt under the fore funnel and although exploding on contact it did not penetrate. At this time serious problems occurred in a turret with the left gun breaking down and not being repaired for 11 hours, the right gun also suffered a bent retractor lever causing misfires.

At 1615 Princess Royal (PR) hit the Lutzow with two 13.5" shells, one landing between the forward turrets striking the 1" foc'sle deck it penetrated below and destroyed the forward dressing station, the second landing on the main armour abaft the main mast although it did not penetrate the main belt and caused no real damage it did however seriously shake the whole ship.

Between 1636 and 1641 Hipper turned his ships away in succession to assume a southerly course, thus starting the section of the battle known as the run to the south in which Hipper hoped to lure Beatty into the guns of the High Seas Fleet, The action between the battle-cruisers fleets largely died out as the range opened and ships disappeared in the smoke and mist. At 1649 the PR sited a German Graudenz Class light cruiser, the Regensberg and fired four salvoes at this target and then reopened briefly on an unknown battle-cruiser but did not claim any hits, due to damage on board the flagship, Lion, Beatty was now relaying his signals back via light and flag to the PR who was radioing these back on behalf of Beatty to Jellicoe.

At 1700 the battle now reversed course onto a northerly heading with Beatty now luring the German fleet onto the guns of Jellicoe, this phase of the battle being known as the run to the north,, at 1705 PR engaged what was thought to be the Lutzow but at 1708 the target had again disappeared into the smoke, not hits being claimed.

At 1741 both the Lion and PR again sighted the Lutzow and both opened fire on her, visibility was bad and as other targets appeared and disappeared into the smoke these were fire on, at times only the wake of the target could be seen, even so at 1747 PR at a range of 16,500 yards hit the Lutzow with a 13.5" shell which hit the side of the superstructure abreast the port forward 5.9" gun and apparently did little damage, shortly afterwards all targets disappeared except for the disabled German light cruiser Weisbaden which briefly appeared out of the mist, PR fired a single salvo which fell well short.

At 1822 Pr was hit again by two more 122 shells, who fired the shells from the Markgraf they came from abaft the beam at a range of 13,000 yards, the first hit at an oblique angle on the 9" armour of X turret about two feet above the upper deck, the shell was deflected downwards by armour through the 1" upper-deck and exploding just under the deck, a large fragment of the armour some 6 feet x feet was blown upwards into the turret through the turntable ending up in the gun house alongside the left gun killing all the left gun crew, although damage was done to the gun both guns could still fire but damage to the turntable meant the gun was jammed in train.The second shell hit the starboard side main 6" side armour belt below X turret, the hit penetrated just above the level of the main-deck leaving a 12" hole, , tearing through the 3/82 main deck it then bounced upwards and tore through various bulkheads and fan rooms before detonating 52 feet from impact on the port side of the ship blowing a six foot hole in the 1" upper-deck and riddling the main deck with fragment holes causing heavy casualties amongst the after 4" gun crews and damage control parties. The flash of this explosion also ignited a few 4" cordite charges and heavy smoke reached the after engine and boiler rooms, all told these two hits killed 11 men and injured another 31.At about 1830 PR reopened fire but again the visibility was very poor, the target was not known and firing was checked shortly afterwards, at 1840 PR reported a torpedo passing under her amidships but this is thought to be erroneous even though the German 6th and 9th torpedo boats had been making torpedo attacks to cover the rescue of the crew from the disabled and sinking Weisbaden.

At 1914 PR again opened fire as a target appeared out of the smoke, this was probably the Derfflinger at a range of 18,000 yards, three minutes of firing produced no hits when the target disappeared into the smoke again. At 2019 PR again opened fire on the Derfflinger at 12,000 yards but she soon disappeared and fire was shifted to the Seydlitz at 9.500 yards, although funnel smoke from Lion ahead was making shooting difficult heavy fire was maintained and the Seydlitz was hit twice for certain, the first hit at 1914 hit the 6" armour of the No.4 port 5.9" gun casemate, the armour was penetrated and the shell exploded as it did so with the blast going inwards into the gun casemate, blowing a hole nearly 3 foot square, Shell and armour fragments pierced the longitudinal bulkhead 18 feet away from the blast , the 5.9" gun had all its control cables severed and a nearby engineers workshop was wrecked, additionally heavy damage was done to the battery deck, funnel casing and ventilation ducts and caused flooding to the port inner coal bunker of No.2 boiler room.The second hit from the PR at 2028 was on the admirals chart house bursting inside three feet from the control tower although some splinters entered the tower via the sighting slits it was largely undamaged although the navigating officer and two men were killed by a splinters that had come through a sighting slits. The damage outside however was substantial wrecking the admiral's bridge, destroying half the searchlights. The foremast and gunnery control station was very heavily shaken and afterwards the gunnery pointer gear showed a large degree of error in elevation.

At 2030 the Nassau class battleship Posen sighted the British IBCS ship and engaged the PR hitting her with a single 11" shell this hit a starboard strut of the fore-mast almost severing it, passed through the forward funnel then half severed the port strut of the foremast before passing overboard without exploding, although the gunnery director carried on working the secondary wiring and all the voice pipes in the struts were severed.Two minutes later the PR fired a single 21" torpedo at the extreme range setting, the target being an unidentified three-funnelled battleship, although the torpedo was launched correctly it is thought to have run incorrectly and narrowly missed the Inflexible at 2035.Effectively this was now the end of the battle as far as the Princess Royal was concerned further contact between the two fleets of warships did not occur during the night and by day-break the German ships had returned to home waters via the Horns reefs passage.Princess Royal returned to Rosyth arriving on the 02nd June and remained there until the 10th when she sailed for Portsmouth were arrived on the 13th June, she was in the No.14 dry-dock from the 15th June to the 10th July and finally sailed on the 15th July for Rosyth arriving back at her base on the 23rd July.During the battle Princess Royal had lost 22 men, and had a further 81 injured she fired a total of 230 rounds of 13.5" shell, unfortunately the ammunition returns for her have been lost and the type is assumed to have been mainly if not all APC - armour piecing capped, she did not use her secondary batteries at all during the battle, in return she was hit by a total of eight 12" and ne 11" shells.

Following the battle of Jutland the Grand Fleet returned to its previous strategy of maintaining a distant blockade of Germany. There were two strategies it could employ, a cruiser blockade where it's ships steamed up and down the coast of Germany thus preventing all movements of German shipping, but this exposed the ships of the Grand fleet to the possibility of submarine attack and also would possibly give the Germans the advantage in being able to isolate a few ships of the Grand Fleet and destroy them thus reducing the Grand Fleets numerical superiority.Jellicoe was well aware of the risks in cruiser warfare off the German coast and thus elected to follow the safer and far less risky practice of maintaining a distant blockade with his ships split between four bases, the main battle-fleet at Cromarty in the Moray Firth, the battle-cruisers at Rosyth in the Firth of Forth, the cruiser forces at Harwich and finally should the High seas fleet attempt anything in the Dover Straits the old fleets of pre-dreadnoughts stationed on Dover, this was not thought to be very likely hence the old battleships used on this station. This stalemate went on for months with the Princess Royal, like her sisters, spending many months playing the waiting game swinging round her anchors only proceeding to sea for gunnery practice and fleet manoeuvres, for their part the German admirals were now pretty sure that the British could read their naval codes and to counter-act this reduced the amount of signals traffic and communicated by other means whilst in port.In November 1917 Princess Royal was involved in the fringes of the second battle of the Helgoland Bight, in this action occurred when German minesweepers were clearing a path in British laid field in the Bight, the minesweepers were attacked by two British cruisers, Caledon and Calypso, and their escorting destroyers , the minesweepers as their escorting cruisers fought with the two British cruisers retreated back towards base and the protection of two Kaiser class battleships the Kaiser and Kaiserin, in turn the British called up their supporting force the newly reorganised Ist. BCS under the command of Admiral Sir Charles Napier comprising the battle-cruisers Tiger, Renown, Repulse, Courageous and Glorious, only Repulse opened fire briefly on the German battleships as they retreated before a superior force, Princess Royal's only role in this was as part of a distant covering force were along with Lion she saw no action. Calypso had had a lucky escape in this action as she was hit by a 12" shell which called all on her bridge, the German forces in return lost a small torpedo / observation boat the Kedingen, 21 men were killed and further 41 wounded.

In late 1917 a small group of German cruisers had attacked a British convoy running from Northern Britain to Scandinavia sinking the convoy and it's single escorting destroyers, the British response was improve the escort of these regular convoys with a full battle-squadron.In the early months of 1918 the German armies were fighting very hard and there was building resentment over an expensive navy sitting at home in its bases, Naval commanders were well aware of the British convoys across the North Sea from Methil to Bergen and that the escort now consisted of a full battle squadron, trapping and destroying this squadron would be both a great morale booster and would succeed in reducing the overall numerical RN superiority. The plan was to sail from the Schillig roadstead in the Jade River on the evening of the 22nd April 1918 and steam north to incept the planned convoy, two errors now went into play to upset Admiral Scheer 's plans, the first was that they had the wrong dates for the convoys thus when Scheer and his fleet arrived the convoy would be home and safe in the UK and the other was that he thought the Grand fleets battleships were home at Scapa Flow whilst in fact the Grand Fleet now under the control of Admiral David Beattie was based at Cromarty - much further south and nearer.Due to maintain radio silence the British were un-aware of Scheers movements and throughout the 23rd he steamed fast to the north and he would have remained undetected until the early hours of the 24th when the Moltke, one of the German battle-cruisers lost a propeller at 0510 losing the propeller was bad enough but the steam turbine over-sped to the extent that the main turbine gear wheel disintegrated spraying fragments round the engine room and shattering the main condenser sea water line causing immediate and serious flooding of the engine room. Moltke has to send a radio message to Scheer informing him of the problems, as flooding became more serious and temporary total loss of power occurred further message were sent, these message were picked by the British and the game of secrecy was over.Sheer closed on the ailing battle-cruiser with his battle fleet and realising that he could no longer proceed reversed course to return to base,, at this time Scheer was on a level with the Northern tip of Scotland, Beatty now fully alerted sailed virtually the entire grand fleet and the battle-cruiser forces just after lunch on the 24th, his force comprised 31 battleships, 4 battle-cruisers - including the princess Royal, 2 heavy and 24 light cruisers and no less than 85 destroyers. Although Beatty steamed hard it was all in vain the German fleet was already in retreat, had he been alerted 12 hours earlier he could have cut off his old adversaries of Scheer and Hipper from their bases but luck remained with the German admirals and the made home safely and it was left to Beatty to return home without making contact, the slight solace to the British was that one of the few British submarines , the E42, sighted the tail end charley of the German battle-fleet, the luckless Moltke, and fired a full salvo of four 18" torpedoes at her hitting his target with one out of the four, further damaged the Moltke still made it home.This was to be the last sortie of the German High seas fleet, the next time it put to sea in a large number of ships was to be on the 23rd November 1918 when it surrendered to the Grand fleet off the Firth of Forth, one of the British escorting ships that day was the Princess Royal.Following WW1 Princess Royal remained with the Ist BCS along with the Lion and Tiger she was one of only three British battle-cruisers though to be worth sailing with the battle-fleet, however with the end of the war and the conference on the limitation of armament held at Washington DC from November 12th 1921 to February 06th 1922 Britain, along with other countries, had to reduce her level of naval armaments, Princess Royal became one of the many casualties of this treaty and was decommissioned initially she was offered for sale to Chile but this was declined by Chile so Princess Royal was sold for scrapping in December 1922 to a company called AJ Purves, AJ Purves handled quite a few ex RN ships including the battle-cruiser New Zealand but do not appear to have carried out any scrapping themselves, Princess Royal was resold finally arriving at the breakers, Rosyth Ship-breaking in 1926

  1. IWM,
  2. Jutland - John Campbell,
  3. Jutland - Geoffrey Bennett,
  4. Conway's 1906-21
  5. Ships of the Royal Navy9 List of ships named Princess Royal) - JJ Colledge and Ben Warlow
  6. warships and battles of WW1 Phoebus

Article completed 17th November 2008 - by Steve Woodward

Template loop detected: Template:Lion Class Battle-Cruisers

Lion Class Battle-Cruisers
Lion Class Battle-Cruiser - HMS Lion Lion Class Battle-Cruiser - HMS Princess Royal
1 - 1 of 1 Posts