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HMS Colossus 

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HMS Colossus, Royal Naval battleship with sister ship HMS Edinburgh, launched 1882. Colossus served in the Mediterranean until 1893 and then became a coastguard ship before being placed in reserve in 1901. She then became a tender to HMS Excellent in 1904. In these ships the 12 inch breechloader was adopted and an attempt at what was then a very considerable speed was made. An auxiliary armament of five 6 inch guns were mounted on the superstructure. HMS Colossus was put up for sale by the Royal Navy in 1906 but was not broken up until October 1908.

Displacement: 9,420 tons.    Length: 325ft.     Beam:68ft.     Draught: 26' 3".    Guns: Four 45 ton BLR, five 6 inch guns.    Horse power: 7,500 hp.    Speed: 15.5 knots.

HMS Colossus.

A large image size 10" x 7" approx, is available.  Reproduced from the original Symonds glass negative.   Price 25.   Order photograph here   Order Code  SYM33

HMS Colossus pictured pre 1896

A reproduction of this original photo / photo-postcard size 10" x 7" approx available.  Order photograph here  Walker Archive. Order Code  PH6

HMS Colossus, March, 1895

HMS Colossus

A reproduction of this original photo / photo-postcard size 10" x 7" approx available.  Order photograph here  MPL. Order Code  PH5


The first HMS Colossus was a 74-gun ship, launched at Gravesend in 1787. She was of 1610 tons and carried a crew of 640 men. Her length 172ft.  beam 48 feet and draught 18 feet.  On June 6th 1793 HMS Colossus commanded by Captain Charles M Pole, captured the 6 - gun vessel Vanneau in the Bay of Biscay.  In 1793 HMS Colossus,  was one of a fleet of 51 ships of various kinds commanded by Vice-Admiral Lord Hood with his flag on HMS Victory. They arrived off Toulon on August 15th to keep the French Fleet in check. Inside the port were 58 ships, frigates and corvettes. the Royalist forces surrendered the town, works and ships to Lord Hood, who landed seamen and took possession of the forts. the Spaniards under Admiral Don Juan de Langara cooperated with the English. Soon afterwards the French Republican forces laid siege to the town, and continued their operations with such activity that on December 15th the English and Spanish allies were forced to evacuate the place. They took away with them 15,000 of the Royalist population and before leaving destroyed the dockyards and magazines and large number of the ships in the harbour. The Royalists who were left behind were massacred  by the republicans. 

In June 1795 HMS Colossus commanded by Captain John Monkton was one of a fleet of 25 ships in all commanded by Admiral Lord Bridport with his flagship HMS Royal George The French Fleet of 23 ships under Rear Admiral Villaret-Joyeuse were sighted at 3.30 AM. A calm delayed three meeting, but at 3AM on the 23rd an action started off Isle Groix with both fleets scattered and spread over a large area. At 6AM a French ship struck and at 7.15 a second and third hauled down their colours. Soon after this Lord Bridport, with a strange forbearance, ordered the action to discontinue, and nine French ships of capital importance were permitted to escape. the British lost lost 31 Killed and 113 wounded, to which HMS Colossus contributed 3 Killed and 30 wounded. The French loss is unknown but in the three prizes alone there were 670 killed and wounded. captain Monkton, an enthusiastic Scotsman, kept a kilted piper on Board, and the story goes than when the battle began the piper was ordered into the maintop mast staysail netting, where he skirled merrily for the three hours the ship was in action.   In 1797 HMS Colossus commanded by captain George Murray was one of a fleet of 15 ships and 7 small craft commanded by admiral Sir John Jervis with his flagship HMS Victory. On February 14th they fought a battle of Cape St Vincent with a Spanish Fleet of 27 ships commanded by Admiral Don Jose de Cordova. On February 13th the Minerve flying the broad pennant of Commodore Horatio Nelson, joined Sir John Jervis and informed him that the Spaniards were at sea. the Spanish fleet was sighted at 6.30 am on the 14th and the British at once chased. the British leading ship opened fire at 11.30am and the action was general by 1.30 pm. HMS Colossus while tacking into action, had her foreyard and foretopsail yard shot away in the slings, and her foretopmast went a little above the cap. She then became exposed to a raking fire, but Captain Sir James Saumarez in HMS Orion most gallantly backed his maintop sail and lay by to cover his friend until the danger had passed. The "Captain" with commodore Horatio nelson on board, boarded and captured the san Nicholas and San Josef which had fouled one another. the action ceased at 4.30am when the British had captured four Spanish ships of the line and had crippled several others.  The British lost no ships, but had 73 men killed and 227 seriously wounded.  HMS Colossus lost 5 wounded. the Spaniards ;lost about 1000 Killed and wounded. Sir John Jervis was created Earl St Vincent and was given a pension of 3,000 a year. but it had already been decided to make him a Baron before the Victory. several baronets and knighthoods were given, and the thanks of both Houses of Parliament were voted to the fleet.

In October 1798 HMS Colossus commanded by captain George Murray was one of a squadron under Rear Admiral Lord Nelson with his Flagship HMS Vanguard which took part in the Blockade of Malta, then occupied by the French, and on October 28th the neighboring and dependant island of Gozo capitulated. On December 10th 1798 HMS Colossus commanded by Captain George Murray was wrecked and lost off the Scilly Islands, but  fortunately no lives were lost.


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