Sunday, April 30, 2017

HMS Iron Duke, a dreadnought battleship

1. HMS Iron Duke officers and civic dignitaries
During a goodwill visit to Haig Pit, Whitehaven
Royal Navy Week' (June 1934) 

[Image courtesy of 'The Whitehaven News']

Those seen in the party above are (left to right):
Mr. T. Banks (agent), Mr. T.S. Durham, 
Engineer-Commander C.B. Evington, Dr. Henry Peile, 
Commander Crane, Mr Francis Priestman, 
Pay Lieut.-Cmndr. Brockman, 
Rear-Admiral Sir Noel F. Laurence K.C.B., D.S.O., 
Flag-Lieutenant Commander Crossman, 
Father T.A. Agius, OSB (Mayor's Chaplain), 
Mr. Haswell Peile, Surgeon-Commander Harkins, 
Mr. George Peile, Mr W. Morgan (Haig Pit manager)     
2. HMS Iron Duke off Whitehaven harbour
(While making  a goodwill visit, June 1934)
[Image courtesy of 'The Whitehaven News']

3. Hugh Cecil Lowther, 5th Earl of Lonsdale
Wearing the Mayoral chain of Whitehaven
(He sent a message of welcome to Iron Duke's crew)
Portrait by John Henry Frederick Bacon (1868 - 1914)

[Collection of The Beacon Museum, Whitehaven]
Photographs No 1 and No 2 above show HMS Iron Duke and some of her officers with local dignitaries from Whitehaven, Cumberland. These were taken during a goodwill visit to the port in June 1934 as part of 'Royal Navy Week'. HMS Iron Duke was commissioned into the Royal Navy in March 1914 and was scrapped in March 1946,  shortly after WW2.

Photograph No 3 shows a portrait of Hugh Cecil Lowther, 5th Earl of Lonsdale (1857 - 1944) wearing the Whitehaven Mayoral chain. Lord Lonsdale was the Lord of the Manor of Whitehaven, had been the first Mayor of Whitehaven (1894 - 1896) and was the Hereditary Admiral of the Coasts of Cumberland and Westmorland. Although the Earl of Lonsdale was unable to attend Whitehaven during HMS Iron Duke's goodwill visit he sent a message welcoming the crew to the town.

For additional infomation click on 'Comments' below.


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information
A brief service history of HMS Iron Duke

The dreadnought battleship HMS Iron Duke was one of four Iron Duke-class battleships of the Royal Navy. She was named 'Iron Duke' after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, who commanded the victorious allied army in the decisive battle against Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815.

HMS Iron Duke was laid down on 12 January 1912, launched on 12 October 1912 and commissioned into the Royal Navy in March 1914. For much of the First World War until January 1917, HMS Iron Duke served as the flagship of the Grand Fleet and was Admiral Sir John Jellicoe's flagship at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

After the First World War she served as flagship of the Royal Navy's Mediterranean Fleet until 1926 and then the Atlantic Fleet where she served as a training ship. Following the 1930 London Naval Treaty the Iron Duke-class battleships were demilitarised. HMS Iron Duke was then converted to become mainly a gunnery training vessel with much of the armour and weaponry removed.

In September 1939 at the beginning of WW2, HMS Iron Duke was deployed to Scapa Flow and moored as a harbour defence ship. In October 1939 she was badly damaged during an attack by German bombers and was run aground to prevent her sinking. For most of the Second World War she was used as an anti-aircraft platform and subsequently refloated. HMS Iron Duke was sold for scrap in March 1946 after 32 years service to the Royal Navy.

Sunday, 30 April, 2017  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...


Below is a summary of HMS Iron Duke's specifications when a battleship:

Normal displacement: 25,000 long tons (25,400 t)
Full load: 29,560 long tons (30,030 t)
Length: 622 ft 9 in (189.81 metres) a
Beam: 90 ft (27.4 metres)
Draught: 29 ft 6 in (8.99 metres)
Installed power: 29,000 shp (22,000 kW)
Propulsion: 4 × Parsons turbines; 18 × Babcock & Wilcox boilers
Speed: 21.25 kn (24.5 mph; 39.4 km/h)
Range: 7,800 nmi (8,976 mi; 14,446 km) at 10 kn (11.5 mph; 18.5 km/h)
Ship's complement: 995 – 1,022

10 × BL 13.5 in (343 mm)/45 cal Mk V guns
12 × 6 in (152 mm)/45 cal Mk VII guns
2 × QF 3 in (76 mm) 20 cwt AA guns
4 × 3-pounder (47 mm (1.9 in)) guns
4 × 21 in (533 mm) submerged beam torpedo tubes

Belt: 12 in (305 mm)
Deck: 2.5 in (64 mm)
Barbettes: 10 in (254 mm)
Turrets: 11 in (279 mm)

Sunday, 30 April, 2017  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

HMS Iron Duke's visit to Whitehaven in June 1934

An important part of Royal Navy battleships is the admiral's quarters. If the admiral or captain happens to be the senior officer present in harbour then there can be a considerable amount of official welcoming and entertaining on board. This was the case during the official visit of HMS Iron Duke during her goodwill visit to Whitehaven as part of Navy Week in June 1934 when the senior Naval officer aboard was Rear-Admiral Sir Noel Frank Laurence, K.C.B., D.S.O. She was commanded by Captain Hamilton Colclough Allen, R.N., whose wife, Mrs Dorothy Allen (nee Gillbanks) was a native of Cumberland. In fact, Captain and Mrs Allen had been married at Carlisle Cathedral in the north of Cumberland.
It had been only a matter of days before Iron Duke sailed into port that Rear-Admiral Laurence had been awarded the K.C.B. in the King's Birthday Honours list. He went on to become Vice-Admiral in 1936 and Admiral in 1940. Captain H.C. Allen went on to become Rear-Admiral in 1935.

Coming only five years before the beginning of WW2 it is of interest to consider some of what happened or was said during this visit to Whitehaven in June 1934 which was the town's first Naval Week since 1898. During WW2 other Royal Navy vessels and personnel would visit the port of Whitehaven on goodwill visits, most notably the minesweeper HMS Whitehaven, the town's adopted warship.

The official reception party from the Borough Council that embarked on the Admiral's barge to meet the crew on board HMS Iron Duke comprised of the Mayor, Alderman W. Stephenson, the Town Clerk, Mr T.C. Bone, the Mayor's Chaplain Father T.A. (Ambrose) Agius, O.S.B. of St Begh's Parish, Whitehaven, Whitehaven's M.P. Mr. William Nunn (Conservative), Lieutenant-Colonel G. Dixon (Deputy Chairman of Whitehaven Magistrates), Mr. O.F. Ormrod (Magistrates' Clerk) and Mr P.T. Browne (Chief Constable for Cumberland). The Lord of the Manor of Whitehaven, the 5th Earl of Lonsdale [seen in photograph No. 3] a life-long keen sailor and sportsman, was unable to be present to welcome the Rear-Admiral, other officers and crew of Iron Duke to the town. Nevertheless, the Earl was represented by his agent, Mr E.L. Nanson, who delivered the following letter to Rear-Admiral Laurence:

"I should be very grateful if you could tell Rear-Admiral Laurence and Lieutenant Sladen how very sorry I am not to be present to receive them which, as Hereditary Admiral of the Coasts of Cumberland and Westmorland and Vice-Admiral of the Fleet, I should have been delighted to have done, but I am sure they will understand. I am also sorry not to be able to entertain them all as I should wish, but perhaps I may have another opportunity of doing so if they are up in the North later. Further, will you please explain to them that I am not now at Lowther, or I would have been delighted to have welcomed them and made all arrangements for their reception."

Sunday, 30 April, 2017  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

During the goodwill visit to Whitehaven, about 2,000 townsfolk and 950 local schoolchildren took the opportunity to be shown round HMS Iron Duke during the time she was lying offshore. There was also the opportunity for some of the officers to go down one of the local coal mines, Haig Pit, and look round the mine workings which extended under the sea. This party can be seen in photograph No. 1.

Several sporting and social activities involving Iron Duke's crew and a number of townsfolk during the visit. A cricket match between an Iron Duke XI and a Whitehaven XI was won by the Whitehaven side (Whitehaven made 105 runs for 6 wickets and the Iron Duke XI made 79 all out). However, a friendly football match between an Iron Duke XI and a Mayor of Whitehaven's XI was a victory for the visiting sailors (5 goals to 2).

There was also a swimming gala at Whitehaven Baths, an open-air boxing match, a dinner for about 100 guests at the Whitehaven Central School and two well attended late-night dances at the Oddfellows Hall and Empress Ballroom. In addition, some of the sailors were taken for a ride to visit the nearby countryside of English Lakeland.

Sunday, 30 April, 2017  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Rear-Admiral Laurence's address on the role of the Royal Navy

During the after-dinner speech given to the guests at the formal dinner at the Whitehaven Central School, Rear-Admiral Sir Noel Frank Laurence referred to the role of the Royal Navy at this time in the 1930s when disarmament was one of the major issues of the day. He also mentioned the raid on Whitehaven made by the American admiral, John Paul Jones, during the American Revolution. It was reported in 'The Whitehaven News', and given again here:

"I feel honoured at being called upon to represent the British Fleet. Although I am not allowed to talk politics, I think quite a lot! Reference has been made to disarmement and I think about that quite a lot. Although we do not covet one inch of territory in the world, although we are not threatened by anybody, we are spending two million pounds a week on 'defence'. That wants some thinking about.

But a fleet is necessary for the purposes of playing our role as defenders of the seas for the freedom of trade. It may not be considered that Whitehaven has played a great part in the building up of the Navy, but this district provides the raw material without which the Navy could not be built.

One of my officers in looking for material for this speech has come across the story of the attack of Paul Jones, and how the people of Whitehaven had repulsed him. Everybody hopes this country will never again suffer the horrors of war, but I feel sure that if we are called upon the people of Whitehaven will again show the same martial spirit as your forefathers.

To conclude, I would like to thank the people of Whitehaven for their hospitality."

Sunday, 30 April, 2017  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...


HMS Iron Duke's 1934 goodwill visit evidently proved to be a success, as confirmed during the visit by Rear-Admiral Laurence at a reception at Whitehaven Town Hall:

"I am afraid that by this time next year I shall be translated to other spheres but I shall certainly suggest to my successor what a nice place it is to come to. And I shall certainly tell the Admiralty how extra-ordinarily well we have been received in Whitehaven and perhaps their Lordships will send a ship another year."

Thus, after a brief visit to Whitehaven in June 1934 with a full programme of activities, HMS Iron Duke sailed away from the Cumberland coast. Who could have foreseen then that she, along with the rest of the Royal Navy, would be back on a war footing against Germany in a little over five years?

Sunday, 30 April, 2017  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

A Royal Navy prayer

"Go forth into the world in peace: be of good courage; hold fast that which is good; render no man evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honour all men; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen."


'The Whitehaven News'
(7 June 1934, 14 June 1934 & 21 June 1934)

Cumbria County Archives
Whitehaven Archive and Local Studies Centre,
Scotch Street, Whitehaven, Cumbria. CA28 7NL

The Beacon Museum
West Strand, Whitehaven, Cumbria. CA28 7LY

Sunday, 30 April, 2017  
Blogger Peter Agius said...

Great article on the visit of HMS Ironduke to Whitehaven.

The Chaplain/Priest featured in the first photo is my great-uncle Fr Ambrose Agius. Is there a clearer/high res copy of that photo around anywhere?


Peter Agius

Sunday, 04 June, 2017  

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