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"British naval order of battle August 1914?" Topic

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Comments or corrections?

Killerkatanas02 Apr 2023 8:36 p.m. PST

Hello all,

I am compiling information on the British Navy in August 1914 for a future game. In particular, I would like to know where their ships were located/positioned, the types of ships that were present (dreadnoughts, cruisers, destroyers, ect), and the quantity, for the beginning of the war.

Does any one know of a source that has all this? I have tried looking online with no luck.

Thank you.

rmaker02 Apr 2023 9:30 p.m. PST

I think you want to find the RN official history, which should be online somewhere. Otherwise, check interlibrary loan from your local library.

NCC171703 Apr 2023 2:58 a.m. PST
Robert Johnson03 Apr 2023 4:44 a.m. PST

This is probably the most comprehensive information in one place.


You will need to study it carefully, and cross reference.

Warspite103 Apr 2023 4:44 a.m. PST

I can tell you where most of the RN was in July 1914 – at the Spithead Review.


Many ships had been mobilised for Spithead including those with reservist crews and the fleet was not de-mobilised after because of the looming war clouds.

In turn most of these then went to the war anchorage which, I recall at this stage, was Lough Swilley as Scapa Flow was not yet ready.

An email to either the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich OR the Imperial War Museum at Lambeth might produce better information.


Robert Johnson03 Apr 2023 5:25 a.m. PST

Only the Home Fleets (plural) would have been in British waters. The ships on foreign station stayed were they were.

charles popp03 Apr 2023 8:34 a.m. PST

to crown the waves has it as well as the Nafziger files

Killerkatanas03 Apr 2023 2:36 p.m. PST

Wonderful, thank you.

That Naval History Homepage was very useful. However, it had no maps to show where the squadrons were located, and many of the locations just say "at sea."

I don't suppose anyone can point out a source that shows where these squadrons are located?

Blutarski03 Apr 2023 4:37 p.m. PST

Hi KK,
"British Warships 1914-1919" by Dittmar & Colledge will be VERY useful to you, I think.

For example, it states that, as of 5 August 1914 -

5th & 6th Battle Squadrons (incl the names of each ship) were at Portland.

7th & 8th Battle Squadrons (ditto re names) were at Devonport.

But the IMPORTANT assist to your research will be in the fact that the entire Grand Fleet had been assembled at Spithead starting on 29 July 1914 upon the orders of Admiralty First Lord Churchill; it was officially billed as a Naval Review", but was really a war alert assembly of the fleet.

Dittmar & Colledge, I think, should get you the rest of the way home in your project. I bought my copy of this book 50+ years ago and I would not sell it. It is a great well-organized little compendium of useful info.

Go here -

and here -


Killerkatanas03 Apr 2023 8:53 p.m. PST

Thanks again for all the assistance.

The Spithead review is fascinating, but it ended before hostilities between England and Germany began.

At the site mentioned above, it provided the locations for the ships on August 5th, but many say "at sea," and I want to know the general areas where they were.

There is a book called "Great War at Sea: A Naval Atlas by Marcus Faulkner." Might this show the position of those ships that were at sea?

Blutarski04 Apr 2023 6:21 a.m. PST

Re movements of the GF in the week leading up to the British declaration of war, try Corbett's "Naval Operations" Volume 1.

Re "At Sea" issues, I can imagine two scenarios -
(a) the ship/squadron might be en route to a new station assignment.
(b) if a given day is in question, it might simply be a question of being on patrol station.

Examples of case (b) for 5 Aug 1914, per Dittmar & Colledge -

> 7th Cruiser Squadron (BACCHANTE, HOGUE, CRESSY, ABOUKIR) is listed as being in the "Southern North Sea". WE know from later events that the squadron was on patrol.

> 10th Cruiser Squadron (8 old cruisers) is listed as being on the "Northern Patrol" (covering the merchant sea lanes entering the North Sea from the North Atlantic.

When in doubt (if this is a "Mission from God" project) it might be possible to track down there whereabouts of ships from the log books (a number of ships' logs @; it might also be worth searching individual ships in the Dreadnought Project website).

Good luck with your efforts!


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