WW1 Timeline


 04 Aug 1914 – War declared on Germany

 06 Aug 1914 – HMS Amphion sunk by a mine in the North Sea.  Four Ulstermen among the first to die in WW1.

 28 Aug 1914 – Battle of Heligoland.  German light cruisers “Koln,” “Mainz,” and “Ariadne” sunk by British squadron.

05 Sep 1914 – HMS Pathfinder torpedoed by U21 in the Firth of Forth.

22 Sep 1914 – HMS Cressy, HMS Hogue &  HMS Aboukir torpedoed by German submarine U-9 in the North Sea.

15 Oct 1914 – HMS Hawke was torpedoed by German submarine U-9 in the North Sea off the coast of Aberdeen.

From 18 October 1914 – Grand Fleet in Lough Swilly. It was on 16th/17th October 1914, that the “Battle of Scapa Flow” took place, when a report that a submarine was in the Flow caused great excitement, and every available type of craft got under way in the endeavour to locate and sink it, firing at anything remotely resembling a periscope, and at night-time sweeping the seas with their searchlights. It was, I believe, never actually ascertained whether a submarine was present, but, as a result, the Grand Fleet moved further westwards to Lough Swilly, and did not return to Scapa until a few months later when the defences were somewhat more secure. More: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/45583/45583-h/45583-h.htm

During the First World War, the lough was used by the Royal Navy as an anchorage for elements of the Grand Fleet, an amalgamation of the pre-war Home and Atlantic Fleets, under Admiral Jellicoe and a gathering/staging point for Atlantic convoys. During this period a boom was placed across the lough between Macamish and Ned’s point, supported by a number of trawlers to prevent U-Boat attacks. After the Irish War of Independence the lough was also one of the Treaty Ports specified in the Anglo-Irish Treaty until its final handing over at Fort Dunree in 1938. More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lough_Swilly

27 Oct 1914 – HMS Audacious sunk by German mine off Lough Swilly. On 27 October 1914, the 2nd Battle Squadron – consisting of the ‘super-dreadnoughts’ King George V, Ajax, Centurion, Audacious, Monarch, Thunderer and Orion – left Lough Swilly to conduct gunnery exercises at Loch na Keal in Ireland.  The crew of Audacious take to lifeboats to be taken aboard OlympicIn the middle of a turn, at 08:45, Audacious ran upon a mine laid by the German auxiliary minelayer Berlin off Tory Island.  Attempts were made to save her and tow her back to Lough Swilly but eventually abandon ship was ordered and Audacious sank. More:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Audacious_(1912)


01 Nov 1914 – Battle of Coronel – HMS Good Hope and HMS Monmouth sunk by Admiral von Spee’s Squadron.

08 Dec 1914 – Battle of Falklands.  Admiral von Spee’s squadron destroyed. “Scharnhorst,” “Gneisenau,” “Leipzig,” and “Nürnberg” sunk. Admiral von Spee killed.


18 Jan 1915 – Battle of Dogger Bank.  German cruiser “Blücher” sunk.

19 Feb 1915 – Dardanelles & Gallipoli Campaign.  Allied naval attack on the Dardanelles forts commences.

25 Apr 1915 – Gallipoli Landings.  Allied Forces effect landing at the Dardanelles.

The 63rd (Royal Naval) Division was a United Kingdom infantry division which served during the First World War. It was originally formed as the Royal Naval Division at the outbreak of the war, from Royal Navy and Royal Marine reservists and volunteers who were not needed for service at sea, and fought at Antwerp and at Gallipoli. In 1916, following heavy losses among the original naval volunteers, it was transferred to the British Army as the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division, re-using the number from a disbanded Territorial Force division. More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/63rd_(Royal_Naval)_Division

Following the outbreak of war it became apparent that there was a large surplus of mobilised manpower in the Navy itself, and on 17 August a decision was taken by Winston Churchill (then First Lord of the Admiralty) to form eight battalions in two Naval Brigades, which would join with the Marine Brigade to produce a composite Royal Naval Division.

After serving in Belgium in late 1914 the division was shipped to Egypt prior to serving in the Battle of Gallipoli. The RND was one of two British divisions (the other being the Regular Army 29th Division) at the Gallipoli landings. Originally the division was only required to make a diversion at Bulair in support of the main landings at Anzac Cove and Cape Helles. This diversion was carried out by one man, Bernard Freyberg. Shortly afterwards, on 28 April, four battalions were sent to Anzac to reinforce the hard-pressed Australian and New Zealand troops. Later the RND moved to Helles where it remained for the rest of the campaign on the peninsula.

After the evacuation of Gallipoli, the RND moved to France where it participated in the final phase of the Battle of the Somme, advancing along the River Ancre to capture Beaucourt.

List of vessels lost during Dardanelles / Gallipoli:

18 Mar 1915 – British battleships HMS Irresistible and HMS Ocean sunk by mines.

17 Apr 1915 – Submarine HMS E15 ran aground.

29 Apr 1915 – Submarine HMS AE2 sunk by torpedo boat.

13 May 1915 – Battleship HMS Goliath sunk by torpedo boat.

25 May 1915 – Battleship HMS Triumph sunk submarine U21.

27 May 1915 – Battleship HMS Majestic sunk by submarine U21.

06 Nov 1915 – Submarine HMS E20 sunk by submarine U14 on the surface.


07 May 1915 – Lusitania sunk off Queenstown, Co CorkSS Lusitania sunk by German submarine U20 off Queenstown.  At 13.40 on May 7th, Captain Turner could see the Old Head of Kinsale.  At around the same time, the Lusitania was spotted by U20. The first torpedo was fired at 14.09.  The Lusitania took just eighteen minutes to sink. The speed and the angle of sinking made it extremely difficult to launch the life boats and the first one that did get into the water spilled its occupants into the sea.  1153 passengers and crew drowned. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/lusitania.htm

 27 May 1915 – HMS Princess Irene – exploded in the Medway Estuary.

October 1915 – First military airbase in Ireland established at Bentra, Whitehead for the Royal Naval Air Service.

 30 December 1915 – HMS Natal sunk by an internal explosion off the east coast of Scotland.


31 May 1916 to 01 Jun 1916 – Battle of Jutland.  British ships sunk:

  1. HMS Indefatigable – she was hit several times in the first minutes of the “Run to the South”, the opening phase of the battlecruiser action. Shells from the German battlecruiser Von der Tann caused an explosion ripping a hole in her hull, and a second explosion hurled large pieces of the ship 200 feet (60 m) in the air. Only two of the crew of 1,019 survived.
  2. HMS Invincible – Two German ships fired three salvoes each at Invincible and sank her in 90 seconds. At least one 305 mm (12-inch) shell from the third salvo struck her midships ‘Q’ turret. The shell penetrated the front of ‘Q’ turret, blew off the roof and detonated the midships magazines, which blew the ship in half. Of her complement, 1026 officers and men were killed, including Rear-Admiral Hood.
  3. HMS Queen Mary – she was hit twice by the German battlecruiser Derfflinger during the early part of the battle and her magazines exploded shortly afterwards, sinking the ship. It is the grave of 1,266 officers and men.
  4. HMS Black Prince – The German battleship Thüringen and five other close ships bombarded the Black Prince, which was quickly sunk with heavy loss of life.
  5. HMS Defence – While positioning herself to attack SMS Wiesbaden, she was struck by adjacent German battlecruiser salvos, which hit her magazine triggering multiple explosions, whereupon she sank with her entire complement of 903.
  6. HMS Warrior – Warrior was heavily damaged at the Battle of Jutland by the German shells, which caused large fires and heavy flooding, although her engines continued running for long enough to allow her to withdraw to the west. She was taken in tow by the seaplane tender HMS Engadine who took off her surviving crew of 743.

German ships sunk:

  1. SMS Pommern
  2. SMS Luetzow
  3. SMS Elbing
  4. SMS Frauenlob
  5. SMS Rostock
  6. SMS Wiesbaden

19 Aug 1916 – HMS Nottingham – 2nd light cruiser Squadron but sunk after being torpedoed.

25 Aug 1916 – HMS Duke of Albany – sunk by SM UB-27, approximately 20 miles east of the Pentland Skerries.

25 Jan 1917 – SS Laurentic sunk by German mine in Lough Swilly 

In the gathering darkness of late afternoon on January 25th, the SS Laurentic nosed out of Lough Swilly, toward the open sea. She passed through the boom that stretched across the Lough, protecting the waters from the U-Boat threat.  The SS Laurentic had struck two German mines. Within twenty minutes the great liner sank, barely enough time for lifeboats to be lowered into the frigid waters. For many, however, the lifeboats were of no help. Some 354 men died from wounds, drowning, or exposure in the dreadful weather conditions, which at the time of sinking was described as a full-blown snow storm. More: http://www.irishabroad.com/blogs/PostView.aspx?pid=4376

09 July 1917 – HMS Vanguard – 4th Battle Squadron Dreadnought Sunk 9 July 1917 (Accidental Explosion) 804 men lost 2 survivors.

02 October 1917 – HMS Drake sunk (see shipwrecks).  18 died with Petty Officer Stoker Robert O’Brien (Dublin) among them.


22 Apr 1918 – Raid on Zeebrugge and Ostend.  Blocking raid by British naval light forces.  Cruisers HMS Sirius and HMS Brilliant lost.

09 May 1918 – HMS Vindictive sunk to block the harbour.

27 June 1918 – HMHS Llandovery Castle sunk by submarine U86 116 miles west of Fastnet off the Coast of Ireland.  Under command of Lt-Col. Thomas Howard MacDonald of Nova Scotia, the HMHS Llandovery Castle was torpedoed and sunk by SM U-86.  Firing at a hospital ship was against international law and standing orders of the Imperial German Navy. The captain of the U-86, Helmut Brümmer-Patzig, sought to destroy the evidence of torpedoing the ship. When the crew took to the lifeboats, U-86, surfaced, ran down all the lifeboats and machine-gunned the survivors remaining in the water and on the lifeboats. Only 24 people in one remaining lifeboat survived.  They were rescued shortly afterwards and testified as to what had happened. More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMHS_Llandovery_Castle

15 Nov 1918 – German Naval surrender.  German cruiser “Koenigsberg” with German naval delegates, enters Firth of Forth to arrange surrender of the German fleet.

More: http://www.naval-history.net/

Next: Harbours, Dockyards and Anchorages in Ireland