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World War 1 at Sea
by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.NetFS Jauréguiberry, predreadnought battleship (Maritime Quest, click to enlarge)
Naval War in Outline
French warship names
Warship numbers & losses, 1914-18
Losses by year
Key to main characteristics including French torpedo and gun calibres in inches
Main ship types - Dreadnoughts to Submarines
NAVAL WAR IN OUTLINE
Following the 1904 Anglo-French Entente Cordiale, French Navy policy was to concentrate its forces in the Mediterranean against a likely Italian-Austrian coalition, while maintaining a mainly defensive position in the north (North Sea, English Channel, Atlantic coast) where the Royal Navy would predominate. French forces in this area initially included seven cruisers and a number of destroyers, torpedo boats and submarines for patrol duty in the western English Channel. In the Mediterranean on the other hand was the 1st Armée Navale under the command of Adm de Lapeyrère with 21 battleships (including four newly-commissioned dreadnoughts and 6 "Danton" class pre-dreadnoughts), 15 cruisers, around 43 destroyers and 15 submarines.
The first task of the Mediterranean battle squadrons was to escort troop transports carrying North African divisions to France in time for the Battle of the Marne. By the end of August 1914, 14 battleships, 6 armoured cruisers, destroyers and submarines were based at Malta and patrolling the southern Adriatic Sea to prevent any attack by the Austrian Fleet. They also shelled Cattaro and Lissa. In September 1914, two French pre-dreadnoughts joined the British squadron watching the Turkish Dardanelles to prevent the German battlecruiser "Goeben" breaking out.
Once Italy entered the war on the Allied side in May 1915 the French moved to more forward bases at Brindisi on the Italian Adriatic coast and the Greek island of Corfu. By December 1915, the Serbs had been defeated and the Army retreated across the mountains to the Albanian coast. From here the French Navy evacuated the Serbs first to Corfu, then to Bizerta in northern Tunisia, and once reformed to Salonika in north east Greece. An eventual total of 270,000 men were evacuated by mainly French forces without loss.
In December 1916 the French played the major role in resolving the confused Greek situation. French warships arrived off Athens, and after landing sailors and bombarding, forced the pro-German Greek government to support Allied policies. A number of Greek warships were seized, commissioned into the French Navy and later made a valuable contribution to Allied anti-U-boat measures.
By 1918, the French had come to play an important part in the war against the U-boats - both on patrol and as convoy escorts. Apart from destroyers, anti-submarine forces were organised into nine patrol and escort commands with 111 torpedo boat's, 35 submarines, 63 sloops and gunboats, 153 submarine chasers and 734 armed trawlers.
Although the French nations' contribution to the Allied effort lay mainly with their vast Army on the Western Front, they also played their part in the war at sea and paid the price accordingly. Losses included one semi-dreadnought and three pre-dreadnought battleships, four armoured and one protected cruiser, twelve destroyers and fourteen submarines.
French Warship Names
Warship names are generally:
Capital ships & cruisers - kings, admirals, generals, politicians, men of letters, cities and provinces
Destroyers - weapons, soldiers, naval heroes
Submarines - sea creatures, precious stones, mythological characters, scientists, months of the First Republic calendar
WARSHIP NUMBERS and LOSSES - 1914-18Type
August 1914 Strength
3Coast defence ships
Note * Includes 11 seized Greek destroyers. One was lost, but is included in the Greek section
LOSSES BY YEAR - (In date order within each year)Year - Ships lost (All in Mediterranean unless otherwise stated) 1914 - destroyer 'Mousquet' (Far East), submarine 'Curie' 1915 - submarine 'Saphir', destroyer 'Dague', pre-dreadnought 'Bouvet', armoured cruiser 'Léon Gambetta', submarine 'Joule', ex-torpedo cruiser 'Casabianca', submarine 'Mariotte, destroyer 'Branlebas' (northern France), submarines 'Turquoise', 'Fresnel', 'Monge' 1916 - armoured cruiser 'Amiral Charner', destroyers 'Renaudin', 'Fantassin', 'Fourche', submarine 'Foucault', destroyer 'Yatagan' (northern France), pre-dreadnought 'Suffren' (Atlantic), pre-dreadnought 'Gaulois' 1917 - ex-torpedo cruiser 'Cassini', semi-dreadnought 'Danton', destroyers 'Etendard' (northern France), 'Boutefeu', submarine 'Ariane', armoured cruiser 'Kléber' (western France), protected cruiser 'Chateaurenault' 1918 - submarines 'Diane' (western France), 'Bernoulli', destroyer 'Faulx', submarine 'Prairial' (northern France), destroyer 'Catapulte', submarine 'Floréal', armoured cruiser 'Dupetit-Thouars' (Atlantic), submarine 'Circé', destroyer 'Carabinier'
Key to Main Characteristics
Tonnage - standard displacement; Speed - designed speed at standard displacement, rarely attained in service; Main armament - sometimes changed as the war progressed; secondary armament usually changed; Complement - normal peace time. Exceeded in war with consequent reduction in living space and higher battle casualties; Year - year or years class completed and normally entered service. Only includes ships completed up to war's end; Loss Positions - estimated from location unless available from reliable sources; Casualties - totals of men lost, or survivors plus saved, will often exceed peacetime complements.
French torpedo and gun calibres in inches:
Torpedoes: 45.7cm - 18in; 45cm - 17.7in; 38cm - 15in
Guns: 34cm - 13.4in; 30.5cm - 12in; 27.4cm - 10.8in; 24cm - 9.4in; 19.4cm - 7.5in; 16.47cm - 6.4in; 13.86cm - 5.4in; 12cm - 4.7in; 10.2cm - 4in; 10cm - 3.9in; 7.6cm - 3in; 7.5cm - 2.9in; 6.5cm - 2.5in; 4.7cm - 1.8in
August 1914 Strength (2 plus 2 on trials)
1. COURBET class, COURBET (19th cen Admiral), FRANCE, JEAN BART (17th cen Admiral), PARIS (capital of France), 4 ships - 22,200t, 20 knots, 12-30.5cm/22-13.86cm, c 1,100 crew, 1913-14
All Courbet class in the Mediterranean with 1st Armée Navale
Jean Bart, damaged 21st December 1914, southern Adriatic Sea in Strait of Otranto - torpedoed once by Austrian "U-12". As the French battlefleet was carrying out a sweep into the Adriatic covering the transport of supplies to Montenegro, they experienced the power of the submarine to influence surface ship strategy and tactics. Adm Lapeyrères unscreened flagship "Jean Bart" was hit in the bow by a torpedo, reportedly abreast the wine-store and just before the forward magazine which remained intact. Although she stayed afloat and reached Malta safely, the French blockade of the Adriatic was moved south of the Otranto Straits and thus became more distant. Some sources, even recently published ones, describe "Jean Bart" as sunk in this attack. In fact she survived, was demilitarised in 1936 and renamed "Océan", scuttled at Toulon on 27 November 1942 and finally scrapped after the war.
Wartime Additions (3)
2. BRETAGNE class, BRETAGNE (the region of Brittany), LORRAINE (of Lorraine), PROVENCE (below) (of Provence) , 3 ships - 23,200t, 20 knots, 10-34cm/22-13.86cm, c 1,130 crew, 1915-16
All Bretagne class joined 1st Armée Navale in the Mediterranean
August 1914 Strength (6)
3. DANTON class, CONDORCET (18th cen philosopher), DANTON (French Revolution leader), DIDEROT (18th cen philosopher), MIRABEAU (French Revolution leader), VERGNIAUD (French Revolution leader), VOLTAIRE (18th cen writer), 6 ships, 1 lost - 18,300t, 19 knots, 4-30.5cm/12-24cm/16-7.5cm, c 900 crew, 1911.
All Danton class in the Mediterranean with 1st Armée Navale.
Four of the Dantons plus dreadnought "Provence" appeared off Athens in December 1916 in a demonstration of power which led to the Greek government accepting Allied proposals for their conduct in the war
DANTON, 19th March 1917, Central Mediterranean, off SW Sardinia, 30 miles southwest of San Pietro island (c 38.45N, 07.45E) - torpedoed by German "U-64". Following a refit "Danton" was sailing from Toulon, southern France to the French base at Corfu off western Greece to join the blockade of the Strait of Otranto. Her normal complement was greatly exceeded and 1,102 men were on board. Zig-zagging at the time and apparently escorted by only one destroyer, "U-64" (Lt Cdr Robert Moraht) successfully fired her torpedoes but then lost trim, surfaced and was attacked with depth charges by the escorting "Massue". She escaped and "Massue" went to the rescue of the survivors. "Danton" took 45 minutes to founder and in that time 806 men were saved, but 296 were lost. Other sources place her loss around 20 miles from the Sardinian coast. They also vary on the number of torpedo hits - one or two.
Four of the surviving Dantons and three "Liberté" class battleships formed the main element of Allied forces in the Aegean Sea based at Mudros (Lemnos) in 1918
Voltaire, damaged night of 10th/11th October 1918, Eastern Mediterranean, off S coast of Greece, near Cerigotto island (or Antikythira) (c 36°00N, 23°00E) - torpedoed twice by German "UB-48". Sailing for the Allied northern Aegean base of Mudros, Lemnos island after refit, "Voltaire" was only lightly damaged by "UB-48" (Lt Cdr Steinbauer - presumably the same Steinbauer who sank "Gaulois" in "UB-47" two years earlier)
Voltaire and other "Dantons" of the Aegean Sea Squadron joined the Allied Fleet that anchored off Constantinople on the 13th November 1918
August 1914 Strength (15)
Nine in the Mediterranean with 1st Armée Navale
4. CHARLES MARTEL types, CARNOT (Napoleonic war general & politician), CHARLES MARTEL (8th cen Frankish king), JAURÉGUIBERRY, MASSÉNA (Napoleonic war marshall), BOUVET (18th cen explorer), 5 ships, 1 lost - c12,000t, c17 knots, 2-30.5cm/2-27.4cm/8-13.86cm, c 650 crew, 1897-98
Bouvet took part in the February and March 1915 naval attacks on the Dardanelles forts and defences
BOUVET, 18th March 1915, Turkish waters, some 7 miles inside the Dardanelles, Eren Keui Bay - one Turkish mine. "Bouvet" was third from left of the four French battleship squadron (Rear-Adm Emile Guépratte) taking part in the Main Naval Attack on the Dardanelles defences, this time far enough in to bombard the Narrows at Chanak. Around noon, as the Line A of British ships continued bombarding at long range, the French Line B was signalled to pass through for a more close-range attack on the Narrows defences. Two of the French ships ("Gaulois" and "Suffren" below; the fourth battleship was "Charlemagne") were badly damaged by return shellfire, but worse was to come. As "Bouvet" retired led by flagship "Suffren" turning south towards the Asia shore, she exploded, apparently hit in a magazine by a heavy shell at 13.54hrs and capsized and sank in two minutes taking most of her c 700 crew crew with her. Reportedly 640 men including the captain were killed and 21 saved. In fact she had been mined in an area believed cleared by the Allies. The small Turkish "Nusret" (365 tons) had laid a line of just 20 mines on the night of the 8th March in an area they noticed was used by the Allied warship for manoeuvring. Only three had been swept by the British minesweepers. Some sources, including modern ones still credit her loss to a shell hit in a magazine even though post-Great War research confirmed that a mine sank "Bouvet".
The 1919 "Janes Fighting Ships" reported her sunk by a shore torpedo fired from the White Cliffs in the Dardanelles. Sources also differ on the name of the commanding officer and include Capt Rageot and Capt R de la Touche
This same short line of mines also sank British battleship "Irresistible", finished off the shellfire-damaged "Ocean", and badly flooded battlecruiser "Inflexible". On that day, out of 16 Allied capital ships taking part, three were sunk and three heavily damaged in exchange for a few Turkish guns destroyed. As with the submarine, this was another example of how a small "weapon system" could change history. The small "Nusrets" feat led to the Gallipoli landings, the subsequent Allied failure to take Constantinople and relieve the Russians, and as some historians suggest the Russian Revolution and all that followed
Jauréguiberry took part in the Gallipoli campaign
Masséna was hulked in 1915 and scuttled off Cape Helles, Gallipoli in November 1915 as breakwater for the January 1916 evacuation
5. CHARLEMAGNE class, CHARLEMAGNE (9th cen Holy Roman emperor), GAULOIS (Gallic, of Gaul), ST LOUIS, 3 ships, 1 lost - 11,100t, 18 knots, 4-30.5cm/10-13.86cm/8-10cm, 695 crew, 1899-1900
Charlemagne, Gaulois both took part in the February and March 1915 naval attacks on the Dardanelles forts and defences
Gaulois, damaged 18th March 1915, Turkish waters, up to some 8 miles inside the Dardanelles - Turkish fixed and mobile land batteries. "Gaulois" was on the extreme left of the four French battleship squadron taking part in the Main Naval Attack on the Dardanelles defences which led to the loss of "Bouvet" (see above). Badly holed below the waterline in the early afternoon by the return fire, "Gaulois" flooded rapidly and had to be beached off the entrance to the Dardanelles on Rabbit Island, north of Tenedos. After pumping out, patching and refloating she went to Malta to be repaired. Casualties were reportedly light
GAULOIS, sunk 27th December 1916, Eastern Mediterranean, off S coast of Greece, 30 miles E of Cerigo island (or Kythira, Kithira, Cythera) (36°30N, 23°45E) - torpedoed once by German "UB-47". "Gaulois" was on passage from the French base at Corfu off the west coast of Greece around to the Allied enclave at Salonika in the NW Aegean. Rounding Greece on course for and 80 miles from the island of Milos, "UB-47" (Lt Wolfgang Steinbauer) penetrated her escort of one destroyer and two trawlers and sank her. The explosion killed four men, but she stayed afloat for 25 minutes before sinking on an even keel. The rest of the crew of 631 was taken off by the escorting vessels
6. HENRI IV - 8,950t, 17 knots, 2-27.4cm/7-13.86cm, 460 crew, 1903
Henri IV took part in the Gallipoli campaign
7. SUFFREN (18th cen Admiral), lost - 12,700t, 18 knots, 4-30.5cm/10-16.47cm/8-10cm, launched 1899
Suffren took part in the February and March 1915 naval attacks on the Dardanelles forts and defences
Suffren, damaged 18th March 1915, Turkish waters up to some 8 miles inside the Dardanelles - Turkish fixed and mobile land batteries. "Suffren" (flagship of Rear-Adm Emile Guépratte) was on the extreme right of the four French battleship squadron taking part in the Main Naval Attack on the Dardanelles defences which led to the loss of "Bouvet" (see above). She was damaged by the return fire. Hit around 14 times, a large plunging shell struck forward and flooded some compartments, and a 9.4in started a potentially disastrous ammunition fire. She returned to Malta for repairs with reportedly light casualties
SUFFREN, sunk night of the 25th/26th November 1916, North Atlantic, 90 miles W of Portugal at the longitude of the coastal Berlenga (or Burling) islands (c 39.30N, 11-00W) - torpedoed twice by German "U-52". Following service off Gallipoli and Salonika, "Suffren" (Capt Guepin) was sailing to Brest or Lorient (sources vary) on the French Biscay coast for a badly needed refit. Damaged at the Dardanelles and in a later collision her engines were incapable of pushing her at more than 10 knots. Steaming at 9 knots in a heavy sea and without escort, the torpedo is believed to have exploded her magazines and she went down instantly; there were no survivors from the crew of 648 men. "U-52" (Lt Cdr Walther Hans) was on passage south from Germany to Cattaro in the Adriatic for Mediterranean operations. Other sources place her loss around 50 miles northwest of Lisbon.
8. RÉPUBLIQUE class, RÉPUBLIQUE (republic), PATRIE (country), 2 ships - 14,600t, 19 knots, 4-30.5cm/18-16.47cm, 770 crew, 1906
9. LIBERTÉ class, DÉMOCRATIE (democracy), JUSTICE (justice), VERITÉ (truth), 3 ships - 14,850t, 19 knots, 4-30.5cm/10-19.4cm, 740 crew, 1908
Class nameship Liberté was sunk by internal explosion in 1911.
The three Libertés and four of the surviving "Dantons" formed the main element of Allied forces in the Aegean Sea based at Mudros (Lemnos) in 1918
COAST DEFENCE SHIPS
August 1914 Strength (2)
10. AMIRAL TRÉHOURT class, AMIRAL TRÉHOURT, BOUVINES (1214 Flanders battle), 2 ships - 6,680t, 17 knots, 230.5cm/8-10.2cm, launched 1892
Amiral Tréhourt spent the war as a submarine depot ship
August 1914 Strength (22)
Seven in the Mediterranean with 1st Armée Navale
11. AMIRAL CHARNER class, AMIRAL CHARNER (19th cen admiral), BRUIX, LATOUCHE-TRÉVILLE, 3 ships, 1 lost - c4,800t, 18 knots, 2-19.4cm/6-13.86cm, 390 crew, 1894/96
Amiral Charner & protected cruiser "DEntrecasteaux" spent 1914 patrolling and bombarding the Syrian coast, and in February 1915 took part in the defence of the Suez Canal against Turkish land attack with other British and French warships
AMIRAL CHARNER, 8th February 1916, Eastern Mediterranean, west of Beirut, Turkish Syria - torpedoed by German "U-21". "Amiral Charner" was on patrol off the Syrian (now Lebanese) coast when attacked by "U-21" (Lt Cdr Otto Hersing who sank British battleships "Triumph" and "Majestic" off Gallipoli ten months earlier). She went down in only four minutes with the loss of all her crew of 335 (or 374?) officers and men, except for one single survivor.
Latouche-Tréville took part in the Gallipoli campaign
Latouche-Tréville, damaged 1915, Turkish waters, off Gallipoli - Turkish gunfire
12. POTHUAU - 5,600t, 19 knots, 2-19.4cm/10-13.86cm, 460 crew, 1897
13. JEANNE DARC (St Joan of Arc, 15th cen) - 11,100t, 21 knots, 2-19.4cm/14-13.86cm, 650 crew, 1902
Jeanne DArc took part in the Gallipoli campaign
14. GUEYDON class, GUEYDON, DUPETIT-THOUARS (Napoleonic war admiral), MONTCALM (18th cen general), 3 ships, 1 lost - c 9,400t, 21 knots, 2-19.4cm/8-14.67cm/4-10cm, 570 crew, 1902-05
DUPETIT-THOUARS, 7th August 1918, North Atlantic, 400 miles from Brest, western France - torpedoed twice by German "U-62". "Dupetit-Thouars" had joined or was about to join (sources vary) the escort of a 28 ship convoy from New York for the last stage of its voyage to Brest when attacked at dusk by "U-62" (Lt Cdr Ernst Hashagen). She went down in about 20 minutes with small loss of life; most of her crew were picked up by escorting American destroyers
15. DUPLEIX class, DESAIX (18th cen general), DUPLEIX (18th cen French India governor), KLÉBER (Napoleonic war general), 3 ships, 1 lost - c 7,600t, 20 knots, 8-16.47cm/4-10cm, 530 crew, 1903-04
KLÉBER, 27th June 1917, off Pointe de St-Matthieu in the Iroise entrance to Brest, western France (c 48.15N, 04.45W) - mine laid by German "UC-61". After service off Gallipoli and in the Aegean, "Kléber" was refitted at Bordeaux in 1916 before sailing to Dakar, French West Africa as flagship of the 6th Squadron. Now returning to France, she was sunk with the loss of 42 (or 38?) men; most of her crew being saved by escorting destroyers
16. GLOIRE class, AMIRAL AUBE, CONDÉ (17th cen general), GLOIRE (glory), MARSEILLAISE (the national anthem), 4 ships - c 10,000t, 21 knots, 2-19.4cm/8-16.47cm/6-10cm, 615 crew, 1903-04
Amiral Aube took part in the July 1918 occupation of northern Russia to protect Allied stockpiles from Bolshevist forces. With two destroyers, she also represented the French Navy at the November 1918 surrender of the German High Seas Fleet
17. LÉON GAMBETTA class, LÉON GAMBETTA (19th cen politician), JULES FERRY (19th cen prime minister), VICTOR HUGO (19th cen poet & novelist), 3 ships, 1 lost - c12,400t, 22 knots, 4-19.4cm/16-16.47cm, 730 crew, 1905-07
LÉON GAMBETTA, night of 26th/27th April 1915, Central Mediterranean, 15 miles south of Cape Santa Maria di Leuca, SE tip of Italy in the Ionian Sea (c 39.30N, 18.15E) - torpedoed twice by Austrian "U-5". "Léon Gambetta" was part of the French Fleet based at Malta blockading the the Austrian Navy in the Adriatic, usually from a position south of the Strait of Otranto. At this time the blockade line was moved further north because of expected Austrian naval activity - the Allies were negotiating with the Italians which shortly led to them declaring war on Austria-Hungary. In spite of the growing threat from Austrian and now German U-boats in the Mediterranean, the armoured cruiser was patrolling unescorted at a reported seven knots on a clear, calm night just to the south of the Otranto Straits when she was hit by "U-5" (Lt Cdr Ritter von Trapp, later made famous when his story was partly told in the stage musical and film "The Sound of Music"). "Léon Gambetta" sank in just 10 minutes. Out of 821 men on board, 684 including Rear-Adm Sénès, commander of the 2nd Light Division were lost. There were 137 survivors. The French cruiser patrol line was moved south to the longitude of Cephalonia, western Greece. Other sources place her loss 20 miles off Cape Leuca.
18. JULES MICHELET (19th cen historian) - 13,100t, 22 knots, 4-19.4cm/12-16.47cm, 770 crew, 1908
19. ERNEST RENAN (19th cen philosopher) - 13,500t, 23 knots, 4-19.4cm/12-16.47cm, 820 crew, 1909
20. EDGAR QUINET class, EDGAR QUINET (19th cen philosopher) (below), WALDECK-ROUSSEAU (19th cen prime minister), 2 ships - 13,900t, 23 knots, 14-19.4cm, 860 crew, 1911
August 1914 Strength (9)
Up to 8 in Mediterranean with 1st Armée Navale
21. FRIANT - 3,980t, 18 knots, 6-16.47cm/4-10cm, 340 crew, 1895.
Served as repair ship
22. DESCARTES (17th cen philosopher & mathematician) - 3,960t, 19 knots, 4-16.47cm/10-10cm, 380 crew, 1896
23. DASSAS class, CASSARD, DU CHAYLA (Napoleonic war admiral), 2 ships - 3,900t, 20 knots, 6-16.47cm/4-10cm, 370 crew, 1898.
"DAssas" broken up in 1914
24. DENTRECASTEAUX (18th cen explorer) - 19 knots, 2-24cm/12-13.86cm, 560 crew,1899
DEntrecasteaux & armoured cruiser "Amiral Charner" spent 1914 patrolling and bombarding the Syrian coast, and in February 1915 took part in the defence of the Suez Canal against Turkish land attack with other British and French warships
25. GUICHEN - 8,150t, 23 knots, 2-16.47cm/6-13.86cm, 605 crew, 1899
26. CHÂTEAURENAULT (17th cent Admiral), lost - 7,900t, 24 knots, 2-16.47in/6-13.86cm, 605 crew, 1902
CHÂTEAURENAULT, 14th December 1917, off north Cephalonia, Ionian Sea (38°15N, 20°22E) - 2 torpedoes from German coastal minelayer 'UC-38'. Sailing as a fast transport carrying troops between Taranto and Itea in support of the Allied Army in Salonika, the old cruiser was sunk just before entering the passage through to the Corinth Canal. Escorting destroyers 'Mameluk' and 'Lansquenet' sink "UC-38", and saved 1,162 lives, most of the crew and troops
27. DESTRÉES (17th cent Admiral) - 2,430t, 20 knots, 2-13.86cm/4-10cm, 235 crew, 1899
28. JURIEN DE LA GRAVIERRE - 5,600t, 22 knots, 8-16.47cm, 460 crew, 1903
August 1914 Strength (5)
29. DIBERVILLE class, CASABIANCA (Napoleonic War Captain), CASSINI, DIBERVILLE, 3 ships, 2 lost - 970t, 21 knots, 1-10cm/3-6.5cm/100 mines, 140 crew, 1894-96.
Converted to minelaying gunboats in 1913
CASABIANCA, night of the 3rd/4th June 1915, Turkey, off Smyrna - own mines. The Allies attempted to blockade Smyrna and close off the Gulf of Smyrna with minefields. During the operation, "Casabianca" blew up and sank on one of her own mines.
CASSINI, 28th February 1917, Central Mediterranean between Corsica and Sardinia in Straits of Bonificio - German mine laid by "UC-35". She was first thought to have been torpedoed by "UC-35", but was more likely lost on the U-boats mines. Some sources give the date as the 20th February 1917.
30. DUNOIS class, DUNOIS (15th cen count), LA HIRE (17th cen painter), 2 ships - 890t, 21 knots, 6-6.5cm, 140 crew, 1898/99
August 1914 Strength (1)
31. FOUDRE (lightning) - 5,970t, 19 knots, 8-10cm/4-6.5cm/4-8 seaplanes, 410 crew, completed 1986
Originally a torpedo cruiser (or torpedo boat carrier) eventually converted to seaplane carrier at Toulon in 1912 with 4 to 8 seaplanes. Served from August 1914 with the 1st Armée Navale based at Malta, but transferred to Suez where her Nieuport floatplanes played an important reconnaissance role during the early 1915 Turkish attack on the Canal. From March to May 1915, she was part of the French squadron including pre-dreadnoughts "Bouvet", "Charlemagne", "Gaulois" and "Suffren" that joined the Royal Navy in the naval attack on the Dardanelles. Later that year she was re-equipped with Franco-British Aviation (FBA) flying boats, but for the rest of the war served at various times mainly as submarine tender and command ship.
Wartime Additions (4)
32. CAMPINAS - 3,300grt, 11 knots, 1-10cm/6-10 seaplanes, completed 1897, ex-Chargeurs Reunis cargo liner.
Converted at Port Said in late 1915, and commissioned January 1916. Equipped with Nieuport floatplanes and later FBA flying boats. Served in the eastern Mediterranean area including the Aegean Sea and Levant, and took part in the mainly French Navy intervention off Athens in December 1916/January 1917
33. Channel Packets, NORD, PAS-DE-CALAIS (northern France départements) - 1,540grt, 21 knots, 2-3 flying boats, completed 1899, requisitioned Cie Chemins de Fer du Nord Channel paddle-steamers.
"Pas de Calais" was commissioned in July 1915 and based at Cherbourg; "Nord" in June 1916 and based at Dunkirk. Both were equipped with FBA flying boats and carried out Channel patrols until taken out of aviation service in 1917
34. ROUEN (city) - 1,650grt, 24 knots, launched 1912, ex-Channel packet requisitioned in 1914 as an auxiliary cruiser.
Equipped as a seaplane carrier with two FBA flying boats in 1916 or 1917. Served as a convoy escort in the Mediterranean in 1917, but then reverted to a transport.
August 1914 Strength (83)
Approximately 24 in Mediterranean with 1st Armée Navale
35. DURANDAL class, DURANDAL, FAUCONNEAU (falconet), HALLEBARDE (halberd), 3 ships - 300t, 26 knots, 1-6.5cm/6-4.7cm/2-38cm tt, 52 crew, 1899-1900
36. FRAMÉE class, EPÉE (sword), PIQUE (pike), YATAGAN (Turkish dagger), 3 ships, 1 lost - 315t, 26 knots, 1-6.5cm/6-4.7cm/2-38cm tt, 48 crew, 1900-01.
Class nameship Framée (Frankish lance) sunk in 1900
YATAGAN, 3rd November 1916, English Channel off Dieppe, France - collision with British steamship 'Teviot'. "Yatagan" spent the war as a fishery protection vessel and was on these duties when rammed and sunk. Some sources date her loss on the 4th November, suggesting the night of the 3rd/4th.
37. PERTUISANE class, ESCOPETTE (carbine), FLAMBERGE (sword), PERTUISANE (halberd), RAPIERE (rapier), 4 ships - 305t, 1-6.5cm/6-4.7cm/2-38cm tt, 52 crew, 1902-03
38. ARQUEBUSE class, ARQUEBUSE (arquebuse), CARABINE (rifle), CATAPULTE (catapult), MOUSQUET (musket) and others, 20 ships in total, 2 lost - 300t, 1-6.5cm/6-4.7cm/2-38cm tt, 60 crew, 1902-04
Carabine, damaged date unknown, Mediterranean - collision with with British steamship "Mentor". Towed to Palermo, Sicily and patched up for voyage to Bizerta, Tunisia where she was stricken
CATAPULTE, 18th May 1918, Mediterranean near Bizerta, Tunisia - collision with British steamship "Warrimoo". Other sources place her loss location further west off Bone, Algeria
MOUSQUET, 28th October 1914, Malay waters, off entrance to Penang harbour in Strait of Malacca (5-38’N, 100-25’E) - gunfire of German cruiser "Emden". On patrol off north entrance to Penang harbour during the Allied ocean-wide hunt for the German cruiser "Emden". Among the ships at anchor was Russian cruiser "Zhemchug". As "Emden" totally surprised and sank her, "Mousquet" returned to the sound of gunfire and was herself destroyed by the "Emden’s" guns around 07.44hrs; many of her crew died including the CO, Lt Théroinne
39. CLAYMORE class, CLAYMORE (claymore sword) and others, 13 ships in total - 350t, 28 knots, 1-6.5cm/6-4.7cm/2-45cm tt, 60 crew, launched 1905-08
40. BRANLEBAS class, BRANLEBAS (clear for action!), ETENDARD (standard) and others, 10 ships in total, 2 lost - 340t, 27 knots, 1-6.5cm/6-4.7cm/2-45cm tt, 60 crew, launched 1907-09
BRANLEBAS, 30th September 1915, southern North Sea, off Nieuport, West Flanders, Belgium - mined. Serving with the North Sea flotillas. The 1919 "Jane’s Fighting Ships" locates her loss further west off Dunkirk, France
ETENDARD, 25th April 1917, English Channel off Dunkirk - torpedoed by German destroyers. Blown up and sunk with all hands
41. SPAHI class, CARABINIER (rifleman), SPAHI (Algerian soldier) and others, 7 ships in total, 1 lost - 530t, 28 knots, 6-6.5cm/3-45cm tt, 78 crew, launched 1908-11
CARABINIER, 13th/15th November 1918, Eastern Mediterranean off Latakia, Syria - stranded and scuttled under Turkish gunfire. Ran aground on the 13th and destroyed two days later on the 15th, even though the Ottoman Empire had formally surrendered to the Allies
42. VOLTIGEUR class, TIRAILLEUR (skirmisher), VOLTIGEUR (rifleman), 2 ships - 450t, 28 knots, 6-6.5cm/3-45cm tt, 77 crew, launched 1908/09
43. CHASSEUR class, CAVALIER (cavalryman), CHASSEUR (light infantry), FANTASSIN (foot-soldier), JANISSAIRE (soldiers of Turkish origin), 4 ships, 1 lost - 450t, 28 knots, 6-6.5cm/3-45cm tt, 78 crew, launched 1909/10
FANTASSIN, 5th June 1916, Central Mediterranean off the island of Fano, south of the Straits of Otranto in the Ionian Sea - collision with French destroyer "Mameluk'. Rammed at night during a submarine hunt, "Fantassin" was finished off by gunfire from the older destroyer 'Fauconneau'.
44. BOUCLIER class, BOUCLIER (small shield), BOUTEFEU (cannon linstock), CIMITERRE (scimitar), DAGUE (dagger), FAULX (scythe), FOURCHE (pitchfork) and others, 12 ships in total, 4 lost - 800t, 30 knots, 2-10cm/6-6.5cm/4-45cm tt, 80 crew, launched 1910-12
BOUTEFEU, 15th May 1917, southern Adriatic Sea off Brindisi, SE Italy - mines laid by German "UC-25". In the 15th May 1917 "Otranto Action", Austrian cruisers raided the drifters patrolling the Otranto anti-U-boat barrage. In support of them the Austrians and Germans carried out a number of actions including laying U-boat mines off Brindisi. Protecting the British drifters was a patrol of one Italian and three French destroyers (less the "Boutefeu" with engine trouble). Allied warships, including two British light cruisers sailed to intercept the Austrian forces and the "Dartmouth" was torpedoed and badly damaged by the German "UC-25" which had already laid the mines off Brindisi. As "Boutefeu" sailed to assist, she struck one of the mines just after clearing the Brindisi boom, was blown in half and sank within two minutes.
DAGUE, 24th February 1915, southern Adriatic Sea in Antivari Roads - drifting mine. "Dague", on duty off the port of Antivari through which Allied supplies passed for Montenegro, was the first French warship lost in the Adriatic
FAULX, 18th April 1918, Southern Adriatic Sea in the Straits of Otranto - rammed by French destroyer "Mangani". Both destroyers were part of a force of seven or eight Italian and French destroyers escorting three Italian battleships from Brindisi to Taranto. In the Strait of Otranto, "Mangani’s" steering broke down and she collided with and sank "Faulx". An hour later in the Ionian Sea, the Italian destroyer 'Carini' rammed and sank 'Benedetto Cairoli' (some sources date the Italian collision on the 10th)
FOURCHE, 23rd June 1916, southern Adriatic Sea, east of Otranto in the Strait of Otranto - 1 torpedo from Austrian "U-15". "Fourche" was in company with Italian AMC 'Città di Messina" when the latter was hit by "U-15" and sank. The destroyer attacked with depth-charges, and believing the submarine destroyed, started to pick up survivors from the AMC. Hit by another torpedo, the Brindisi-based "Fourche" was cut in half
45. BISSON class, BISSON, MANGANI, RENAUDIN (Napoleonic war captain) and others, 6 ships in total, 5 completed by August 1914, 1 lost - c 760t, 30 knots, 2-10cm/4-6.5cm/4-45cm tt, 80 crew, launched 1912-14
Bisson took part with Italian AMC 'Città di Messina" in the sinking of Austrian submarine "U-3" in the Strait of Otranto on the 13th August 1915. In May 1917, with "Bouclier" class destroyers "Boutefeu" (sunk), "Cimiterre" and "Commandant Rivière" she took part in the Allied naval action which followed the Austrian cruiser attack on the Otranto Barrage drifter line
Mangani and the British "Shark" on the 10th November 1918, were the first Allied ships to anchor off Constantinople on passage through to the Black Sea
RENAUDIN, 18th March 1916, southern Adriatic Sea, off Durazzo (Durres), Albania - torpedoed by Austrian "U-6". On a sweep from Brindisi across the Adriatic with other Allied ships, "Renaudin" was hit by one of the few Austrian submarines available for operations. As with other French destroyer losses, she also was cut in two.
Wartime Additions (30)
46. ENSEIGNE ROUX class, ENSEIGNE ROUX, MECANICIEN PRINCIPAL LESTIN, 2 ships - 850t, 30 knots, 2-10cm/4-6.5cm/4-45cm tt, 80 crew, launched 1915
47. AVENTURIER class, AVENTURIER (adventurer), INTRÉPIDE (intrepid), OPINIÂTRE (obstinate), TÉMÉRAIRE (reckless), 4 ships - 930t, 32 knots, 4-10cm/4-45.7cm tt, 140 crew, launched 1911.
Argentine Navy orders taken over in August 1914 and completed with French armament
48. ARABE class, ARABE (Arabian) and others, 12 ships in total - 680t, 29 knots, 1-12cm/4-7.6cm/4-45cm tt, 86 crew, launched 1917.
All built in Japan
49. Greek NIKI class, NIKI and others, 4 ships in total, 1 lost - See Greek Navy for details.
Seized in 1916, served in French Navy 1917-18
50. Greek THYELLA class, THYELLA and others, 4 ships in total - See Greek Navy for details.
Seized in 1916, served in French Navy 1917-18
51. Greek AETOS class, AETOS and others, 3 ships in total - See Greek Navy for details.
Seized in 1916, served in French Navy 1917-18
August 1914 Strength (55)
52. SIRENE class, ESPADON (swordfish), SILURE (silurus), SIRENE (mermaid), TRITON (the sea-god), 4 boats, 155/215t, 9/5 knots, 4-45cm external torpedoes, 13 crew, launched 1901
53. AIGRETTE class, AIGRETTE (egret), COGOGNE, 2 boats - 180/255t, 9/6 knots, 4-45cm external torpedoes, 14 crew, launched 1904
54. OMEGA - 305/410t, 10/6 knots, 2-45cm tt/4-45cm external torpedoes, 22 crew, launched 1905
55. ÉMERAUDE class, ÉMERAUDE (emerald), OPALE (opal), RUBIS (ruby), SAPHIR (sapphire), TOPASE (topaz), TURQUOISE (turquoise), 6 boats, 2 lost - 390/425t, 11/9 knots, 6-45cm tt, 21 crew, launched 1906-08
SAPHIR, 15th January 1915, Turkish waters in the Dardanelles Narrows, off Nagara Point - probably ran aground. A month after British submarine "B.11" reached almost as far as Chanak in the Dardanelles and sank guardship "Mesudiye", "Saphir" was the first to try to break right through to the Sea of Marmara. She passed Chanak and got as far as Nagara Point against the fierce currents and after passing under ten lines of mines before her luck ran out. At this point, sources vary. She probably ran aground trying to avoid the minefields, surfaced and and was either scuttled or destroyed by shore batteries. In some sources she was mined. Many of her crew were lost, reportedly 14 men killed and 13 survivors. Other sources date her loss on the 17th January 1915
Of the four unhandy French boats that attempted to reach the Sea of Marmara in 1915, only one made it - "Turquoise" (following). Two more - "Joule" and "Mariotte" - were lost trying to break through before "Turquoise" succeeded
TURQUOISE, 30th October 1915, Turkish waters in the Dardanelles Narrows, off Nagara Point - probably ran aground. After successfully reaching the Sea of Marmara, "Turquoise" (Lt Ravenel or Ravene?) was forced to turn back for her base at Mudros in the Aegean because of mechanical defects. Returning through the Dardanelles, the strong currents ran her aground on the southern shore at Nagara Point right under a Turkish fort. To save the lives of his crew, Lt Ravenel surrendered and "Turquoise" was captured intact. All the crew of 25 were saved and taken prisoner. Unfortunately confidential papers and charts were not destroyed, and a notebook or chart (sources vary) revealed information about a rendezvous with the British "E-20". A week later, on the 5th November "E-20" was ambushed and sunk by German U-boat "UB-14". In other accounts, she was damaged by Turkish shore batteries and beached; ran aground and hit; or sunk by the gunfire of Turkish warships. Her date of loss is also given as the 31st October.
Turquoise was refloated on the 3rd November 1915 and incorporated into the Turkish Navy as 'Mustadieh Ombashi', but never recommissioned.
56. CIRCÉ (Circe, mythology), lost - 350/490t, 11/7 knots, 6-45cm external torpedoes/1-4.7cm, 22 crew, launched 1907
CIRCÉ, 20th September 1918, southern Adriatic Sea, off Kattaro (Kotor) - torpedoed by Austrian 'U-47' (ex-German 'UB-47'). "Circé" was on anti-submarine patrol at the time; one survivor picked up
57. PLUVIOSE class, FLORÉAL (from flowering - eighth month of First Republic calendar), FRESNEL (19th cen physicist), MONGE, PLUVIOSE (from rainy - eighth month .... ), PRAIRIAL (from meadow - ninth month .... ) and others, 17 boats in total, 4 lost - 400/550t, 12/8 knots, 1-45cm tt/6-45cm external torpedoes, 24 crew, launched 1907-10
FLORÉAL, 2nd August 1918, northern Aegean Sea - collision with British armed boarding steamer "Hazel". Two locations are given - off Salonika, NE Greece or off Mudros on the island of Lemnos; all 26 crew were saved
FRESNEL, 5th December 1915, southern Adriatic Sea off the mouth of the Bojana River, northern Albania - ran aground and destroyed by Austrian forces. On patrol off the Albanian coast, "Fresnel" ran aground at night in heavy fog on a sandbank off the Bojana. Her crew made every effort to free her but without success. At daylight she was sighted by an Austrian light force including cruiser "Novara" and four destroyers returning from a raid along the coast between Bojano and San Giovanni de Medua (Shengjin), north Albania where they sank a number of ships. Destroyer 'Warasdiner' (or 'Varasdinier') took off "Fresnel’s" crew and finished her with gunfire. All 26 crew were saved. Other sources give two varying accounts of her loss - (1) "Fresnel" was surprised further north off Cattaro by Austrian aircraft, attacked by the 'Warasdiner', beached, abandoned and blown up; and (2) torpedoed further south off Durazzo by Austrian destroyers.
MONGE, 29th December 1915, south Adriatic Sea, south of Cattaro (Kotor) - Austrian warships. An Austrian force of new scout cruiser 'Helgoland' and five 'Tatra' class destroyers sailed from the advance southern Austrian base of Cattaro late on the 28th to attack Durazzo and interfere with the evacuation of Serbian forces. On passage they sighted the "Monge" early on the 29th on patrol to the south of Cattaro. Destroyer "Balaton" opened fire, rammed and sank her. Before the Austrian operation was over, two of the "Tatra" destroyers were lost on mines. The 1919 "Jane’s Fighting Ships" attributes her loss to ramming by the cruiser "Helgoland" off Cattaro.
PRAIRIAL, 28th/29th April 1918, English Channel off Le Havre, northern France - collision with British steamship 'Tropic'. She was run down and lost on the night of the 28th/29th April;19 men lost and seven survivors. Some sources date her loss on the 25th.
58. BRUMAIRE class, BERNOULLI (18th cen Swiss scientist), BRUMAIRE (from wintry - second month of First Republic calendar), CURIE (19th/20th cen Polish/French physicists), FOUCAULT (19th cen physicist), JOULE (19th cen English physicist) and others, 16 boats in total, 4 lost - 400/550t, 13/8 knots, 1-45cm tt/6-45cm external torpedoes, 29 crew, launched 1911-13
Bernoulli took part in the Allied naval action in May 1917 which followed the Austrian cruiser attack on the Otranto drifter line, firing at the escaping destroyer "Balaton" but missing
BERNOULLI, 13th February 1918, southern Adriatic Sea, off Durazzo (Durres), Albania - probably Austrian mines. Date of loss is approximate; sunk with all hands. The 1919 "Jane’s Fighting Ships" attributes her loss to an Austrian U-boat on the 13th February 1918.
CURIE, 20th December 1914, northern Adriatic Sea, in Pola naval base - damaged by defences and scuttled. "Curie" (Lt Dupetit-Thouars, descendant of the Napoleonic war admiral), was caught in the Pola nets trying to break into the main Austrian base. She was refloated and recommissioned into the Austrian navy as "U-14". Returned to France in 1918
FOUCAULT, 15th September 1916, central Adriatic Sea, ten miles off Cattaro (Kotor) - bombed by Austrian Navy flying boats. Caught by flying boats or seaplanes L-132 and L-135, "Foucault" was the first submarine sunk at sea by aircraft. The two aircraft landed, took the survivors on board and waited for a torpedo-boat to arrive.
JOULE, 1st May 1915, Turkish waters, in the Dardanelles Narrows - Turkish mines. On the 25th April, the first Allied submarine, Australian "AE-2", broke through to the Sea of Marmara although she only survived until the 30th. Next day, and following the loss of "Saphir" in mid January, "Joule" was the next French boat to try and fail. She attempted to negotiate the ten lines of mines guarding the final few miles to Chanak, but detonated one or more and was lost with all hands
59. ARCHIMEDE (3rd cen BC Greek mathematician & "engineer") - 600/810t, 14/10 knots, 1-45cm tt/6-45cm external torpedoes, 26 crew, launched 1909.
Reciprocating steam engines for surface propulsion
60. MARIOTTE (17th cen physicist) - 530/630t, 14/11 knots, 4-45cm tt/2-45cm external torpedoes, 29 crew, 1911
MARIOTTE, 27th July 1915, Turkish waters in the Dardanelles, off Chanak in the Narrows - Turkish net defences and shore batteries. By now two French boats ("Saphir" and "Joule") had been lost trying to break through to the Sea of Marmara. Setting out on the 26th, "Mariotte" sailed to join the successful British "E.14" now on her third patrol in the Marmara. "Mariotte" safely passed under the lines of mines, but off Chanak was trapped in the anti-submarine net newly installed by the Germans. Forced to surface, she was shelled by the shore defences and scuttled. One source gives the date as the 25th July. British "E-7" was stopped and sunk by the same nets in September 1915
61. AMIRAL BOURGOIS - 555/735t, 13/8knots, 4-45cm tt, 25 crew, launched 1912
62. CHARLES BRUN - 355/450t, 13/7 knots, 2-45cm tt/4-45cm external torpedoes, 24 crew, launched 1910.
63. CLORINDE class, CLORINDE, CORNÉLIE, 2 boats - 415/570t, 13/9 knots, 8-45cm external torpedoes, 29 crew, launched 1913
64. GUSTAVE ZÉDÉ class, GUSTAVE ZÉDÉ, NÉRÉIDE (Nereid, mythology), 2 boats - c 850/1100t, c 17/11 knots, 6-45cm tt/2-45cm external torpedoes/1-7.5cm/1-4.7cm, 47 crew, launched 1913/14.
Gustave Zédé, 24th August 1916, Adriatic area - battery explosion. Gray reports her sunk with 4 men dead and 36 survivors. She was not stricken until 1937, and was presumably refloated and returned to service. Also in other sources, Gustave Zédé was steam-powered until after the war.
Wartime Additions (c 19)
65. AMPHITRITE class, AMPHITRITE (Amphitrite), ARIANE (Ariadne, both from mythology) and others, 8 boats in total, 1 lost - 415/610t, 13/9 knots, 8-45cm external torpedoes, 29 crew, launched 1914-16
ARIANE, 19th June 1917, central Mediterranean, north of Bizerta, North Africa - torpedoed once by German coastal minelayer "UC-22". "Ariane" was off the entrance to the Gulf of Bizerta undergoing sea-trials after repairs when she was sunk
66. BELLONE class, BELLONE (Bellona), GORGONE (Gorgon), HERMIONE (Hermione, all from mythology), 3 boats - 525/790t, 14/9 knots, 8-45cm tt/1-7.5cm gun, 38 crew, launched 1914-17
67. DUPUY DE LOME class, DUPUY DE LOME, SANÉ, 2 boats - 830/1290t, 17/11 knots, 8-45cm tt/2-7.5cm guns, 43 crew, launched 1915/16
68. DIANE class, DAPHNÉ (Daphne), DIANA (Diana, both from mythology), 2 boats, 1 lost - 635/890t, 17/11 knots, 10-45cm tt/1-7.5cm, 43 crew, launched 1915/16
DIANE, 11th February 1918, North Atlantic, off La Pallice, western France in Bay of Biscay - internal explosion, cause unknown. Escorting a four-masted sailing ship, "Diane" went down at night with the loss of all her crew. The 1919 "Jane’s Fighting Ships" places her loss around the 10th March 1918 in the English Channel.
69. ARMIDE class, AMAZONE (Amazon), ANTIGONE (Antigone, both from mythology), ARMIDE, 3 boats - 460/670t, 17/11 knots, 4 or 6-45cm tt/1-4.7cm or 7.5cm, 31 crew, launched 1915-16.
Two Greek and one Japanese boats building in France and requisitioned
70. ex-German "UB.18" class coastal submarine, ROLAND MORILLOT (ex-German "UB.26") - 265/290t, 9/5 knots, 2-50cm tt/1-5cm gun, 22 crew, launched 1915.
Scuttled off Le Havre, northern France in April 1916, refloated and commissioned into the French Navy in August 1917
71. JOESSEL/FULTON class, FULTON (early 19th cen US steamship builder), JOESSEL, 2 boats - 870/1250t, 16/11 knots, 8-45cm tt/2-7.5cm guns, c 50 crew, launched 1917/19.
Only Joessel was launched during the war
72. LAGRANGE class, LAGRANGE (18th cen mathematician), LAPLACE (18th cen astronomer & mathematician), REGNAULT, ROMAZOTTI, 4 boats - 920/1320t, 16/11 knots, 8-45cm tt/2-7.5cm guns, 47 crew, launched 1917-24.
Only two launched during the war
Louis Bechennec, Fireman, French Navy, including Serbian Evacuation
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