Third Battle Squadron (Royal Navy)

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The Third Battle Squadron was a battleship squadron of the Royal Navy in the period before, during, and after the First World War.

As the war approached, the Squadron was comprised of pre-dreadnought battleships, serving in a Battle Fleet that was quickly becoming one exclusively of dreadnoughts. This obsolescent nature was handled, at first, by allowing it as many as twelve units than the customary eight. Just before the Battle of Jutland, it was removed from service in the Battle Fleet though it was technically still attached to the Grand Fleet.

In late 1917, the pre-dreadnoughts were slowly detached, leaving it with just Dreadnought, its only-ever "dreadnought", at the time of its abolishment in April, 1918.

History

In the House of Commons on 18 May, 1912, the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston S. Churchill, announced that the battleships of the Atlantic Fleet, hitherto based on Gibraltar, would become the Third Battle Squadron and would be based on Home Ports. The strength of the squadron would be increased from six battleships to eight as new ships joined the Fleet.[1]

Evidently it had been intended as early as January, 1916, to transfer older dreadnoughts to the Third Battle Squadron as newer battleships joined the Grand Fleet, and Bradford expressed his belief to the Second Sea Lord, Sir Frederick T. Hamilton, that he would be hoisting his flag in Dreadnought in April.[2]

Rear-Admiral Sir Douglas R. M. Nicholson was appointed Rear-Admiral Commanding the Third Battle Squadron in the newly-constituted Home Fleet on 8 April, 1919.[3]

Composition

May, 1912

December, 1912

The Fleet flagship was Neptune, which was not part of any Battle Squadron.[4]

December, 1913

The Fleet flagship was noted as being Neptune, which was not part of any Battle Squadron. The ships are listed in a different order, but remain unchanged from the previous year.[5]

By this time, this squadron had been equipped with Battleship Auxiliary W/T sets.[6]

July, 1914

The Squadron's roster was:[7]

Attached: third class protected cruiser Blanche

September, 1914

Additions of Duncan, Exmouth and Albemarle from the disbanded Sixth Battle Squadron brought the strength up to a stultifying twelve pre-dreadnought battleships. The squadron was one of four attached to the Home Fleet under fleet flagship Iron Duke.[8]

Attached: third class protected cruiser Blanche

This configuration would last until November or December.[9][10]

December, 1914

After calving Russell, Albemarle, Exmouth and Duncan to form the bulk of the new Sixth Battle Squadron, the squadron is now a more manageable eight battleships.[11]

Attached: third class protected cruiser Blanche

This configuration would last until April, 1915.[12][13][14]

April, 1915

Now part of the Grand Fleet, the squadron has been bolstered by the return of Albemarle and Russell from the newly-disbanded Sixth Battle Squadron, and also a new small cruiser.[15]

Attached: third class protected cruiser Blanche, corvette Diamond

This line-up would last until June.[16][17]

June, 1915

Hindustan has taken over as flagship.[18]

Attached: third class protected cruiser Blanche, corvette Diamond

This line-up would last just one month.[19]

July, 1915

King Edward VII has resumed her place as flagship.[20]

Attached: third class protected cruiser Blanche, corvette Diamond

This line-up would prevail until December.[21][22][23][24][25]

December, 1915

Hibernia, Zealandia and Russell were detached so they could take up service in the Mediterranean Fleet.[26]

Attached: third class protected cruiser Blanche, corvette Diamond

This line-up would prevail for just one month.[27]

January, 1916

Blanche has been re-assigned to the Fourth Battle Squadron.[28]

Attached: corvette Diamond

This line-up would remain for just a single month.

February, 1916

Flagship King Edward VII was mined and lost on 6 January, necessitating a transfer of flag to Britannia and Albemarle was detached to some unnamed purpose "in Home Waters or on detached service." To make up the slack, Hibernia and Zealandia joined from the Mediterranean Fleet.[29]

Attached: corvette Diamond

This line-up would remain until May, 1916.[30][31][32]

May, 1916

The squadron was pulled from regular Grand Fleet duty, leaving a Battle Fleet comprised solely of dreadnought types, but that it remained "attached" to the Grand Fleet.[33]

Attached: corvette Diamond

This roster would remain in force just one month.

June, 1916

Dreadnought joined the squadron from the Fourth Battle Squadron. The addition merited promoting Hibernia to become a second flagship.[34]

Attached: corvette Diamond

This roster would remain in force until August.[35][36]

August, 1916

Dreadnought stole the flagship role in August. The affiliation with the Grand Fleet seems to have lapsed.[37]

Attached: corvette Diamond

This roster would remain in force until some time in September, when Africa and Britannia were being detached.[38][39][40]

October, 1916

Africa and Britannia have been detached to take up service with the British Adriatic Squadron.[41]

Attached: corvette Diamond

This roster would remain in force until August, 1917.[42]13}}

It appears that Zealandia would be second flagship for a time, as Rear-Admiral Nicholson hoisted his flag in her on 13 March, 1917 before transferring it to Hibernia on 26 March.[43]

August, 1917

In August, Dreadnought temporarily transferred its flag to Zealandia.[44] Another source, however, indicates that Zealandia was flag from 5 December, 1916 and transferred to Dreadnought on 26 August, 1917.[45]

Attached: corvette Diamond

This roster would remain in force only for the month of August.

September, 1917

Dreadnought resumed her role as flagship.[46]

Attached: corvette Diamond

This roster would remain in force for just one month.

October, 1917

Hibernia ceased acting as second flagship, leaving the squadron under a single flagship.[47]

Attached: corvette Diamond

This roster would remain in force for just one month.

November, 1917

Hibernia left the squadron for Home Waters or detached service.[48]

Attached: corvette Diamond

This roster would remain in force until January, 1918.[49][50]

January, 1918

In January, Commonwealth and Zealandia also left the squadron to join Hibernia for miscellaneous duties "in Home Waters or on detached service", leaving the strength at just three battleships.[51]

Attached: corvette Diamond

This roster would remain in force until March, 1918.[52][53]

March, 1918

In March, Hindustan also left the squadron for "Miscellaneous Service".[54]

Attached: corvette Diamond

This roster would remain in force for just one month.

April, 1918

Dominion departed to become an accommodation ship in Chatham-Sheerness. The squadron has become an all-dreadnought formation, the hard way![55]

Attached: corvette Diamond

This roster would remain in force until the Squadron was abolished on 20 April, 1918.[56]

In Command

Dates of appointment given:

The contradiction between Kitson and Casement is noted.

Rear-Admirals, Second-in-Command

Dates of appointment given:

Footnotes

  1. Hansard. HC Deb 18 March 1912 vol 35 c1564.
  2. Bradford to Hamilton. Letter of 20 January, 1916. Hamilton Papers. National Maritime Museum. HTN/117/A.
  3. "End of Grand Fleet" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Thursday, 3 April, 1919. Issue 42065, col D, p. 13.
  4. Handwritten notes in Albert Francis Barclay Bridges papers at The Caird Library at the National Maritime Museum. [BRG 1/1]
  5. Handwritten notes in Albert Francis Barclay Bridges papers at The Caird Library at the National Maritime Museum. [BRG 1/1]
  6. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1913. W/T Appendix, p. 13.
  7. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 109 of 10 July, 1914.
  8. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (September 1914). p. 8.
  9. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (October, 1914). p. 8.
  10. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (December, 1914). p. 8.
  11. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (December, 1914). pp. 8, 9.
  12. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (January, 1915). p. 8.
  13. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (March, 1915). p. 10.
  14. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (April, 1915). p. 10.
  15. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (April, 1915). p. 10.
  16. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (May, 1915). p. 10.
  17. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (June, 1915). p. 10.
  18. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (June, 1915). p. 10.
  19. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (July, 1915). p. 10.
  20. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (July, 1915). p. 10.
  21. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (August, 1915). p. 10.
  22. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (September, 1915). p. 10.
  23. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (October, 1915). p. 10.
  24. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (November, 1915). p. 10.
  25. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (December, 1915). p. 10.
  26. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (December, 1915). pp. 10, 20.
  27. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (January, 1916). p. 10.
  28. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (January, 1915). p. 10.
  29. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (March, 1916). pp. 10, 14, 20.
  30. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (March, 1916). p. 10.
  31. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (April, 1916). p. 10.
  32. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (May, 1916). p. 10.
  33. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (May, 1916). pp. 10-13.
  34. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (June, 1916). p. 13.
  35. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (July, 1916). p. 13.
  36. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (August, 1916). p. 13.
  37. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (August, 1916). p. 13.
  38. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (July, 1916). p. 13.
  39. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (August, 1916). p. 13.
  40. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (September, 1916). p. 13.
  41. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (October, 1916). pp. 13, 20.
  42. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (November, 1916). p. 13 and Supplements through July, 1917.
  43. Nicholson Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 457.
  44. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (August, 1917). p. 13.
  45. Heath Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 200.
  46. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (September, 1917). p. 13.
  47. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (October, 1917). p. 13.
  48. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (November, 1917). pp. 13, 14.
  49. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (December, 1917). p. 13.
  50. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (January, 1918). p. 13.
  51. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (January, 1918). pp. 13, 14.
  52. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (February, 1918). p. 13.
  53. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (March, 1918). p. 13.
  54. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (March, 1918). pp. 13, 19.
  55. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (April, 1918). pp. 13, 19.
  56. Squadrons and Senior Naval Officers in Existence on 11th November, 1918. p. 4.
  57. Bayly Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/19. f. 444.
  58. Bayly Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/19. f. 444.
  59. Squadrons and Senior Naval Officers in Existence on 11th November, 1918. p. 4.
  60. Bradford Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/20. f. 335.
  61. Squadrons and Senior Naval Officers in Existence on 11th November, 1918. p. 4.
  62. Squadrons and Senior Naval Officers in Existence on 11th November, 1918. p. 4.
  63. Heath Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 200.
  64. Heath Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 200.
  65. Squadrons and Senior Naval Officers in Existence on 11th November, 1918. p. 4.
  66. De Chair Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 259.
  67. Squadrons and Senior Naval Officers in Existence on 11th November, 1918. p. 4.
  68. Nicholson Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 290.
  69. Nicholson Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 290.
  70. Watson Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 214.
  71. Watson Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 214.
  72. Hodges Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 250.
  73. Hodges Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 250.
  74. Casement Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44. f. 381.
  75. Casement Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44. f. 381.
  76. Kitson Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44. f. 186.
  77. Kitson Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44. f. 186.
  78. Walker Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/53/12. f. 11.
  79. Walker Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/53/12. f. 11.
  80. Thursby Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/20. f. 658.
  81. Thursby Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/20. f. 658.
  82. Squadrons and Senior Naval Officers in Existence on 11th November, 1918. p. 4.
  83. Squadrons and Senior Naval Officers in Existence on 11th November, 1918. p. 4.
  84. Fremantle Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 473.
  85. Squadrons and Senior Naval Officers in Existence on 11th November, 1918. p. 4.
  86. Dampier Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 497.
  87. Squadrons and Senior Naval Officers in Existence on 11th November, 1918. p. 4.
  88. Squadrons and Senior Naval Officers in Existence on 11th November, 1918. p. 4.
  89. Backhouse Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44. f. 474.
  90. Backhouse Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44. f. 474.
  91. Holland Service Record The National Archives. ADM 196/51/23. f. 23.
  92. Holland Service Record The National Archives. ADM 196/51/23. f. 23.
  93. Bonham-Carter Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/52/81. f. 441.
  94. Bonham-Carter Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/52/81. f. 441.

Bibliography

  • Dittmar, F.J.; Colledge, J.J. (1972). British Warships 1914–1919. London: Ian Allan.


British Battle Squadrons
First Battle Squadron | Second Battle Squadron | Third Battle Squadron | Fourth Battle Squadron
Fifth Battle Squadron | Sixth Battle Squadron | Seventh Battle Squadron | Eighth Battle Squadron