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Battle Damage

Catalogue number 118018

German torpedo boat mined in shallow water

There are several details that lead us to suggest that this is not S168, notably that Gröner gives S168 as being sold to the Turkish Navy in 1910 and broken up in Istanbul around 1921. The S138 class of torpedo boats had the rudder well under the stern which is not the case here. We believe this is V107 with its rudder extending down from the transom stern and with a characteristic rounded shape. The ship is partially sunk in shallow water and it has been possible to salvage the two screws, the aft gun and the searchlight. V107 hit a mine (8th May 1915) when leaving the port of Libau hence some salvaging would have been possible before the ship sank. Today the wreck is in 7.5m of water, 2km off the harbour entrance and within the outer breakwater.

Verso: “S.M. Torpedo boat “S168” lost on the Finnish coast” in German and in black ink

12.3cm x 8.2cm Matt gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 41204

The minesweeper M23 sinking

The minesweeper M23 (commissioned 1915) hit a mine on 4th June 1917 and sank 20 km north of the island of Borkum. Here she is shown with the stern settled on the seabed in 20m of water and a large part of the 56m oa hull still floating. Note the slight whaleback forecastle characteristic of the Type 1914 minesweepers and the ship’s boat still hanging from the derrick

Recto: "M23 sinking" in German

13.9cm x 8.9cm Matt gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 52155

Russian cruiser Varyag

Varyag (also spelt Variag) was a Russian protected cruiser that participated in the Battle of Chemulpo (now Incheon, South Korea) at the beginning of the Russo-Japanese war of 1904 - 1905. In an attempt to break out of the harbour, Varyag was fired upon by the 8-inch guns of the Japanese cruise Asama then by all the six ships of the Japanese squadron. The Russian ship was badly knocked about but managed to retreat back into the harbour mooring close to the neutral ships present - and so avoiding further fire from the Japanese. The decision was made to scuttle the ship and she is show here viewed from the stern and over on the port side. Despite the damage, the wreck was later raised by the Japanese and became the I.J.N. ship Soya in 1907.

Verso: “Bataille de Chemulpo Croiseur “Varyag”” in light pencil

11.4cm x 4.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 28010

Russian battleship interned, 1904

This photograph shows the Tsessarevitch, part of the Russian squadron interned in the German treaty port of Tsingtau. In the background, the ship with three funnels maybe either Peresviet or Probieda. The Russian battleship Tsessarevitch (completed 1903) was hit by thirteen 12-inch shells during the Battle of the Yellow Sea in 1904. Two hits from Asahi caused considerable problems to the Russians. Descriptions of events vary as to the effect of these two shells - was it a hit to the foremast or was it shell fragments from another hit on the lower edge of the conning tower that killed people? Whatever, Rear Admiral Vitgeft, two staff officers and the helmsman were killed and the helm was jammed.

11.8cm x 9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 28010

Damage to Tsessarevitch

The rest of the Russian fleet was ordered back to Port Arthur whilst Tsessarevitch tried to get to Vladivostok but damage to her funnels reduced speed to 6 knots and she was forced to run into the German treaty port of Tsingtau where the ship along with others was interned. The hit to the conning tower can be seen just below and to the right of the far-most hammock. The damage to the funnels is clearly evident.

12.3cm x 7.6cm Gelatin silver print

11.8cm x 9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 113039

Target ship U.S.S. San Marcos

In March 1911, the battleship U.S.S. San Marcos, ex-U.S.S. Texas was used as a target ship in Chesapeake Bay. Although not examples of battle damage, the trial was taken to assess the effect of the latest model of armour-piercing shells on a battleship. The photographs show the destruction caused by gunfire from the battleship U.S.S. New Hampshire. The trial was also the occasion to demonstrate the accuracy of “spotting” at the time i.e. noting where the shells landed and correcting for firing over the target or short of the target. Here we have a general view of the mid-ship area with the two en echelon turrets still in place.

Credit: Lt. Cdr. Radford Moses

14cm x 9.6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 113041

Target ship U.S.S. San Marcos

The hull has been hit by several shells of different caliber carrying away armour and hull plating.

Credit: Lt. Cdr. Radford Moses

14cm x 9.6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 1130433

Effect of armour-piercing shell on armour plate

A perpendicular hit on the hull has punched through the armour plate, bursting or knocking out bolts and rivets. The starboard turret can be seen left of center

Credit: Lt. Cdr. Radford Moses

14cm x 9.6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 113040

Recording the scene

There is a lot of damage on the deck but nothing seems to be threatening the integrity of the hull. There are two photographers on board, one in uniform and the other in civilian dress, to document the effects of naval fire.

Credit: Lt. Cdr. Radford Moses

14cm x 9.6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 113044

A ripped-up deck

A heavy shell has cut through the deck before going off into the sea without exploding. The wooden deck would be a major risk in the case of fire.

Credit: Lt. Cdr. Radford Moses

14cm x 9.6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 35181

Damage to S.M.S. Seydlitz

The Battle of Jutland. The shell which hit the rear gun turret was from one of Beatty’s battlecruisers. It penetrated the working chamber and set the cordite on fire. All in all, Seydlitz was hit by 21 heavy-caliber shells, two secondary battery shells and a torpedo. The armour on the turret was 23cm thick and was made of Krupp cemented and nickel steel plate.

Recto: “Turret hit on “Seidlitz” in the Battle of Skagerrak ”

10.7cm x 7.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 102036

Shell trajectory, S.M.S. Seydlitz

Here a shell has gone through the trunking to the left and exploded on the splinter bulkhead (längssplitterschott). It blew in part of the deck at a point where there was a companionway - note the ladder coming up from the lower deck. Judging by the hole in the trunking, it would appear to have been a large caliber shell. In itself, such a hit is not a lethal blow to the integrity of the ship but shell splinters would kill and injure crew in and around the point of impact.

Credit: F.Finke

13.6cm x 8.5cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 114103

Patching up Seydlitz

A shell has gone right through the hull of Seydlitz. The ship suffered numerous hits in the hull above and below the waterline. With the hole made by the torpedo hit as well, Seydlitz began to flood and was down heavily by the bows when she eventually reached port. Damage control sealed holes in the hull above the waterline with wooden mats, hammocks and wedges. That Seydlitz made it back to port after such a battering is a testimony to the sound construction of German warships - “made to float”, with extensive subdivision of the hull.

Verso: “Ein Granastreffer (shell strike) und seine Welkung an der Bordwand von (on the side of) S.M.S. Seydlitz” in black ink

13.4cm x 8.8cm Matt gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 41279

Seydlitz makes it back to port

When the badly damaged Seydlitz made it back to Wilhelmshaven, she had taken on 5,3000 tons of water and was down at the bow with only 2.5 meters freeboard as this photograph shows. We can see a hit on the starboard wing turret. The guns have been removed from the forward turret to lighten the ship. The hits and damage to Seydlitz are well-documented in “German Battlecruisers of World War One, their design, construction and operations” by G. Staff, Seaforth Publishing, 2014.June 1916

13.1cm x 7.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 29004

Damage to S.M.S. Koenig

At the Battle of Jutland, the German battleship Koenig was hit by one 15-inch shell and nine 13.5-inch shells from the British warships. Here a shell has gone through the superstructure just above the stowed torpedo nets to explode in the space behind.

Verso: “A direct hit on S.M.S. Koenig” in German and in black ink

11.1cm x 7.8cm Matt gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 118052

Damage to S.M.S. von der Tann, Battle of Jutland

During the Battle of Jutland (Skagerrakschlacht in German), on 31st May, the German battlecruiser von der Tann (commissioned 1910) was hit four times by heavy-calibre shells fired by the British 5 Battle Squadron (first hit by H.M.S. Barham, then two from H.M.S. Tiger and finally one from H.M.S. Revenge). This photograph shows the damaged caused by the explosion of the first 13.5-inch shell from H.M.S. Tiger. The plunging shot penetrated the outer deck passing through the battery deck, a bulkhead and a horizontal bulkhead before exploding. The torn edges of the hole in the battery deck, with light coming in, can be seen directly above the sailor, at the top of the photograph. Extensive damage was made to the barbette of C turret which was out of action for the rest of the engagement. We can see the cracked and splintered armour around the hole in the turret base, center of the photograph. Debris prevented the turret from turning and we can see the efforts of the damage control party to free the jammed turret from the shattered barbette - a rope pulls back torn metal, above this, a rope has been tied around a metal beam and part of the barbette to free it from the turret base.

Recto: “Battlecruiser v.d. Tann effect of an exploding 34cm shell belowdecks, Battle of the Skagerrak” in German and in black ink

14cm x 10cm Matt gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 29039

S.M.S. Augsburg in the Baltic Sea

The German light cruiser Augsburg was in the Baltic Sea during the First World War and had several engagements with the Russian Navy. This photograph was taken on 27th June 1915 and shows the damage cause by a shell that went through the hull just below the portholes and apparently exploded beyond the room. There is only light damage here but shell fragments could section essential control lines and piping.

Verso: “Hit in the ….decks of Augsburg” in German and in black ink

13.8cm x 8.8cm Matt gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 104032

Torpedo hits on the battleship Voltaire

Torpedo damage is the subject of another topic on this website but this photograph has been included to illustrate the devastation that a crippling blow for torpedo attack can produce. An underwater explosion and the subsequent pressure wave in water is more devastating than an explosion in the air. The French battleship Voltaire was hit by two torpedoes fired by the German submarine UB-48 off the island of Milos. The torpedoes struck below the armoured belt, knocking in hull plates or the plates giving way as rivets were ripped out.

Recto: “November 1918 “Voltaire” in dry dock at Bizerte after being torpedoed” in French

18.5cm x 16.3cm Matt gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 20033

The effects of plunging fire

4th June 1915 Dardanelles. As guns became more powerful so fighting distance increased and the trajectory of a shell went from essentially horizontal fire to plunging fire in which the shell trajectory would make an arc with the final part being a vertical plunge onto the target. This photograph shows the effect of plunging fire on the French cruiser Latouche-Treville. Whilst participating in the Dardanelles operation, the ship was hit by a shell from the batteries of Atchi-Baba. The deck has been blown inwards and the shell disintegrated on hitting the lower deck, destroying the saloon.

11.8cm x 8.7cm Matt gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 70130

The Japanese Navy in the Mediterranean

The quarter deck of this Japanese destroyer has been carried away by a direct hit. Fortunately the bulkhead remained intact and the ship was able to make it to port in Le Pirée. The Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902 included a clause of mutual defence in the case of aggression by a third nation and the presence of Japanese warships in the Mediterranean Sea was of great help to the Allies and to the British in particular. It enabled the Royal Navy to move ships from the Mediterranean to reinforce the battle fleet in North Sea.

Verso: “Damaged Japanese destroyer after battle with a Boche submarine. Le Pirée 11/7” in French and in pencil

10.5cm x 8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 14046

A direct hit on the destroyer Mogador, 1940

The destroyer Mogador was hit by a 15-inch shell during the British attack on Mers-el-Kébir in July, 1940. The shell detonated depth charges and the explosion blew away the stern. The heavily damaged ship was towed to Oran and it is seen here in a floating dry dock. Turrets 3 and 4 are damaged and the port screw appears to have part of one blade missing.

10.2cm x 7.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 35039

The remarkable recovery of U.S.S. Franklin, 1945

On 19th March 1945, U.S.S. Franklin was within 80 km of the Japanese coast when it was bombed by a Japanese plane. We can see that the forward lift has been knock down into the hangar, the bomb damage was further aft. The wounded and remaining crew were taken off by the light cruiser U.S.S. Santa Fe. There were 724 killed and 265 wounded, fire and fumes from aviation fuel were the major causes of death.This photograph was taken as U.S.S. Santa Fe pulled away after leaving a skeleton crew on board with the carrier then being taken in tow by U.S.S. Pittsburgh. Eventually, after exceptional damage control, the engines were repaired and the carrier worked up speed to 14 kts eventually reaching Pearl Harbour.

Verso: “An American aircraft carrier hit by a Japanese suicide plane: Whilst taking part in operations against Japanese forces off the coast of Japan, the aircraft carrier “Franklin” was hit by two 500-pound bombs carried by a Japanese “suicide” plane. Despite the grave damage and a thousand or so casualties, the aircraft carrier was taken back to its home port. The damaged aircraft carrier shortly after the attack whilst a cruiser comes to its aid.” in French

Credit: Keystone

17.9cm x 13.1cm Gelatin silver print

Catalogue number 38046

Hit on the bridge

This photograph may be of the light cruiser S.M.S. Pillau after a 12-inch shell exploded in the chart house during the engagement off Jutland. Much of the light bridge structure has been carried away and we can see the covered range finder on the conning tower aft of the two 15cm guns.

8cm x 11cm Gelatin silver print