HMS Triumph (1903) - Construction and Service - World War I

World War I

Triumph was recommissioned using the crews of demobilised river gunboats, supplemented with two officers, 100 enlisted men, and six signallers from the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, and was ready for sea on 6 August 1914. Triumph took part in operations against the East Asia Squadron in early August 1914, capturing a collier. On 23 August 1914, she was attached to the Imperial Japanese Navy's Second Fleet to participate in the campaign against the German colony at Tsingtao, China, and assisted in its capture. When the ship reached Wei-hai-wei, she disembarked her volunteers from the Army. With Tsingtao in Japanese hands, Triumph returned to Hong Kong for a refit in November 1914.

Upon completion of her refit in January 1915, Triumph was transferred to the Dardanelles for service in the Dardanelles Campaign. The ship departed Hong Kong on 12 January and stopped at Suez from 7 February to 12 February before moving on to join the Dardanelles Squadron. Triumph took part in the opening attack on the entrance forts on 18 February and 19 February, and joined the predreadnoughts Albion and Cornwallis in using her secondary battery to silence the fort at Sedd el Bahr on 25 February. She, Albion, and Majestic were the first Allied battleships to enter the Turkish Straits during the campaign when they carried out the initial attack on the inner forts on 26 February. She also took part in the attack on Fort Dardanos on 2 March 1915. She and Swiftsure were detached from the Dardanelles on 5 March for operations against forts at Smyrna, returning to the Dardanelles on 9 March.

Triumph participated in the main attack on the Narrows forts on 18 March, and fired on Ottoman trenches at Achi Baba on 15 April. On 18 April, one of her picket boats and one from Majestic torpedoed and sank the British submarine E15, which had run aground near Fort Dardanos and was in danger of being captured by Ottoman forces. Triumph supported the main landing by the Anzac forces at Gaba Tepe on 25 April, and continued to support them through May. On 25 May, the ship was underway off Gaba Tepe, firing on Ottoman positions, with torpedo nets out and most watertight doors shut, when she sighted a submarine periscope 300 to 400 yards (270 to 370 m) off her starboard beam at about 1230 hours. It belonged to the U-boat U-21. Triumph opened fire on the periscope, but was almost immediately struck by a torpedo, which easily cut through her torpedo net, on her starboard side. A tremendous explosion resulted, and Triumph took on a list 10° to starboard. She held that list for about five minutes, then it increased to 30°. The destroyer Chelmer evacuated most of her crew before she capsized ten minutes later. She remained afloat upside down for about 30 minutes, then began to sink slowly in about 180 feet (55 m) of water. Three officers and 75 enlisted men died in her sinking.

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