Author Topic: HMS Arethusa (1913 - 1916)  (Read 146 times)

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Offline Smiffy

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Re: HMS Arethusa (1913 - 1916)
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2019, 01:29:41 PM »

I don't know if it's true or not, but I have read elsewhere that despite the development of sophisticated mechanical calculators for directing gunfire, at this time the Royal Navy generally employed the method of laying down as many shells as they could as quickly as possible towards the enemy, rather than taking the time to send fewer, more accurate shots that had a better chance of hitting the target.
I'm wondering if Reginald Tyrwitt was in any way connected to Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake who built Maidstone Zoo.

Offline castle261

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Re: HMS Arethusa (1913 - 1916)
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2019, 10:01:35 AM »
Thank you Stuart, very enlightening !

Offline stuartwaters

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HMS Arethusa (1913 - 1916)
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2019, 10:39:54 PM »

HMS Arethusa was the lead ship of a class of four small light cruisers and was built at Chatham immediately before the outbreak of the First World War. She was significant in the history of ship-building at Chatham because she was the first ship built by the dockyard to be exclusively fuelled by oil. She went on to have a brief but spectacular and action-packed career.

The Arethusa Class light cruisers were a new and very fast type of light cruiser, intended to operate with destroyers and were effectively 'destroyer destroyers'.

HMS Arethusa was laid down at Chatham on 28th October 1912 and was launched on 25th October 1913. She had an unusual start to her career when she was commissioned before completion or sea trials in August 1914. Her sea trials were to be carried out in action.

When she was completed, she displaced 3,500 tons, was 436 ft long and 39 ft wide across the beam. She was armed with 3 6" guns, 4 4" guns, 2 3" guns and 8 21" torpedo tubes.. She was powered by 8 oil-fired Yarrow boilers feeding Curtiss reduction geared steam turbines developing 40,000 shp giving her a spectacular (for the day) maximum speed of 28.5 knots.

By the end of August 1914, HMS Arethusa was flying the Broad Pennant of Commodore Reginald Trywhitt, in command of the North Sea Destroyer Force, based at Harwich. Earlier that month, Trywhitt, together with Commodore Roger Keyes, then commanding the North Sea Submarine Force, also based at Harwich had concocted a daring plan to bring the Germans to action. Trywhitt and Keyes had noted that the Germans had settled into a regular pattern of destroyer patrols in the Heligoland Bight area. The plan was quite simple - to wait until the Germans had put to sea, cut off their escape route back to their bases with submarines, then engage and destroy them. The plan was put to Sir Winston Churchill, 1st Lord of the Admiralty, who approved it, modifying the plan so that Vice-Admiral David Beatty would back up the force of destroyers and cruisers with his battlecruiser force if needed.

Trywhitt put to sea in HMS Arethusa, leading the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla consisting of 16 modern L class destroyers, while his 2IC, Captain Wilfred Blunt put to sea in the light cruiser HMS Fearless accompanied by 1st Destroyer Flotilla comprised of 16 older destroyers. At 07:00 on 28th August 1914, HMS Arethusa was steaming south towards the anticipated position of the German force, when she sighted the German destroyer G-194. 1.7 miles behind Arethusa was Fearless and her destroyer force and 8 miles behind them was Commodore William Goodenough, commanding a force of 6 light cruisers. Visibility at the time was no more than three miles and on being sighted, G-194 immediately turned towards Heligoland. G-194 had contacted her flag officer, Rear Admiral Leberecht Maas, who in turn contacted Rear Admiral Franz Hipper who commanded both the local defences and the German battlecruiser squadron. The German destroyer force turned for home and the British attacked. Hipper had ordered the German light cruisers Frauenlob and Stettin to put to sea immediately and defend the destroyers. 6 other German light cruisers had been ordered to raise steam and join the action as soon as possible. At 07:58, Stettin and Frauenlob arrived on the scene and the British destroyers were ordered to disengage while Arethusa took on the two German cruisers. The enemy's fire was as deadly as it was furious and one by one, HMS Arethusa's guns were put out of action. Damage from underwater hits reduced HMS Arethusa's speed by several knots. When HMS Fearless arrived on the scene, she immediately went to HMS Arethusa's aid and drew the fire of the German ships, who thought that Arethusa was finished. Badly damaged as she was, Arethusa was by no means finished and continued firing at the Germans with her remaining guns. An enemy shell exploded amongst the 4" ammunition stored around one of the guns and started a serious fire. Thanks to the actions of Chief Petty Officer Frederick Wrench, the fire was put out before any serious damage was done. Wrench received the DSM for his actions that day. The fight continued until HMS Arethusa's sole remaining 6" gun  scored a direct hit on the Frauenlob's bridge, destroying it and killing 37 men including her captain, forcing the German cruiser to withdraw from the scene. HMS Fearless came alongside the by now very badly damaged HMS Arethusa at 10:17 and assisted with repairs to her boilers.

By this time, more German cruisers were arriving and one of them, the Strassburg, sighted HMS Arethusa and opened fire with guns and torpedoes. She was driven off by the destroyers. Trywhitt turned Arethusa away to the west, but then another German cruiser, the Koln, approached from the south-east and she too was chased off by the destroyers. At this point, Trywhitt contacted Beatty and requested assistance. Goodenough came to their assistance with 4 British cruisers. Beatty was on his way anyway having been monitoring events by radio and was steaming towards the scene with his 5 battlecruisers at full speed. Meanwhile, at 11:30, Trywhitt's squadron had encountered another German cruiser, the Mainz. After engaging the German for 20 minutes, Arethusa and her accompanying destroyers were relieved to see the arrival of Goodenough and his cruisers. This caused the Mainz to attempt to flee the scene, but in attempting to escape, she encountered Arethusa and her destroyers, who damaged her steering causing her to run into Goodenoughs ships again. At 12:20, the German captain had had enough and ordered his ship to be scuttled. Keyes had arrived aboard the destroyer HMS Lurcher and brought his ship alongside the German cruiser and took off survivors before the Mainz sank.

The German cruisers Strassburg and Koln then tried to attack, but at that moment, Beatty and his force arrived. Beatty's squadron, which consisted of HMS Lion, HMS New Zealand, HMS Queen Mary, HMS Invincible and HMS Princess Royal tore into the Germans. The Battle of Heligoland Bight ended with an overwhelming British victory. The Germans had lost three cruisers and a destroyer, with 1,242 casualties and another 336 men taken prisoner by the British. the British on the other had lost no ships and had suffered 35 deaths.

HMS Arethusa at speed

HMS Arethusa was repaired and on Christmas Day 1914, entered the history books again when she participated in the Cuxhaven Raid. This was the first sea-borne air raid in history and was carried out against zeppelin sheds and facilities by seaplanes operating from the seaplane carriers HMS Engadine, HMS Empress and HMS Riviera, supported by the Harwich Force commanded by Trywhitt, including HMS Arethusa. The raid was not a complete success due to the weather conditions, but it demonstrated the potential of attacks carried out by sea-borne aircraft and showed the strategic importance of this type of weapon. It led directly to the development of the Aircraft Carrier.

[/size]The 'Saucy Arethusa' moored.[size=78%]

On 24th January 1915, the Harwich Force, still commanded by Reginald Trywhitt in HMS Arethusa, participated in the Battle of Dogger Bank. The Harwich Force played a supporting role in this battle, as the main participants were the battlecruisers of the Grand Fleet, still led by Vice-Admiral Beatty. Although a British victory, it demonstrated the superior design of the German ships and their superior gunnery and was a portent for the disaster which was to befall the battlecruiser force at Jutland.

Later in 1915, HMS Arethusa was transferred to the 5th Light Cruiser Squadron, in the Harwich Force. In the September of that year, while patrolling with her destroyers in the North Sea, she captured 4 German fishing vessels.

The ship's spectacular career came to an end on 11th February 1916, when she struck a mine believed to have been laid by the German submarine UC-7 off Felixstowe. Although she didn't sink, the ship lost all power and was completely out of control. Despite rescue efforts by tugs, she could not be brought under control, drifted ashore and was wrecked.

The end. HMS Arethusa down by the stern as a tug stands by.

The Trywhitt connection did not end there. On 6th March 1934, Reginald Trywitt's wife launched the next HMS Arethusa, from No 8 slip at Chatham.

"I did not say the French would not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl St Vincent.