Court-Martial of Rear-Admiral Troubridge

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Documents surrounding the Court Martial can be found at the National Archives.[1]


The Court finds as follows :—

  1. That on the 2nd August 1914 the Accused left Malta in accordance with the orders of the Commander-in-Chief with the following ships in company :— Defence (Flag) Indomitable, Indefatigable, Duke of Edinburgh, Warrior, Gloucester and the 1st and 2nd Divisions of Destroyers, and was informed that "should we become engaged in war it will be important at first to husband the naval force in the Mediterranean and, in the early stages, to avoid being brought to action against Superior Forces". He was also informed that "Goeben" must be shadowed by two battlecruisers, approach to Adriatic Coast must be watched by Cruisers and Destroyers. It is believed that Italy will remain neutral but you cannot yet count absolutely on this.
  2. That in compliance with these orders the Accused proceeded towards the approaches to the Adriatic.
  3. That at 3.19 p.m. on 3rd August the "Indomitable" and "Indefatigable" were detached by the Commander-in-Chief and proceeded to search for the "Goeben" west of Sicily.
  4. That on the 4th August the Black Prince rejoined the First Cruiser Squadron.
  5. That at 1.45 a.m. on the 5th August the Accused received the Admiralty general signal to commence hostilities at once against Germany.
  6. That on the 5th August at 0.31 p.m. the Accused received news that the Austrian Fleet was cruising outside Pola and at 4.0 p.m. the "Goeben" was at Messina.
  7. That at 6.15 p.m. on the 6th August the Accused received news that the "Goeben" had left Messina steering East shadowed by "Gloucester". That after then "Goeben" and probably "Breslau" were steering N.5p.E. towards the Adriatic. The Accused's action in proposing to arrive at Fano Island at daylight next day was justifiable.
  8. That at 11 p.m. on 6th August the Accused was informed by "Gloucester" that "Goeben" was going to the south east. That at that time his position was N.86.E 145 miles from the "Goeben" approximately. That at that time the battlecruisers were disposed as follows :— Inflexible (Flag) and Indefatigable about 30 miles west of Marsala, Sicily, and the Indomitable had left Bizerta at 8.0 p.m. after coaling steering eastwards. That the destroyers were at Vasilico Bay, Santa Maura, seriously short of coal and unable therefore to proceed at high speed to attack the Goeben at night.
  9. That it therefore appeared that the Accused would get no support for the 1st C.S. and that from his then position it was impossible from him to attack the Goeben before daylight.
  10. That in view of the instructions he received from the Admiralty Accused was justified in considering that he must not abandon his watch on the Adriatic having regard to the transportation of the French troops then taking place between Algeria and France and the possibility of the Austrian Fleet coming out.
  11. That in view of the instruction received from the Admiralty by the Commander-in-Chief and repeated by him in his Sailing Orders to the Accused, and also the Signal made on the 4th August, viz — 1st C.S. and Gloucester are not to get seriously engaged with superior force — the Court are of the opinion that under the particular circumstances of weather, time and position, the Accused was justified in considering the Goeben was a superior force to the 1st C.S. at the time they would have met, viz — 8 a.m. on the 7th August in full daylight on the open sea.
  12. That, although it might have been possible to bring the Goeben to action off Capa Malea or in the Cervi Channel, the Court considers that in view of the Accused's orders to keep a close watch on the Adriatic, he was justified in abandoning the chase at the time he did as he had no news or prospect of any force being sent to his assistance.
  13. The Court therefore finds that the charge against the Accused is not proved, and fully and honourably acquits him of the same.


  1. Escape of German Warships Goeben and Breslau in the Mediterranean. Arrangements for Court Martial of Rear Admiral E.C.T. Troubridge R.N. Commanding First Cruiser Squadron The National Archives. ADM 156/12