Vindictive's story

HMS Vindictive was built in Chatham in 1897. She was an Arrogant Class Cruiser with a crew of 480. She was designed to be a ram ship with a reinforced bow intended to sink already disabled ships in battle. For this role she needed good manoeuvrability and she had a reduced length-to-beam ratio compared to previous classes as well as a second rudder. She also had a heavily protected conning tower with 9 inch thick armour, as she was expected to be under fire at short range. She had a protective band of armour around her waterline as defence against torpedoes and she was armed with ten large calibre quick firing naval guns. (1:72 scale model by Dirk Bonne, of Belgium)

Vindictive in 1900 with awnings on rear deck

Vindictive's crew in white tropical uniform

Vindictive served with the Mediterranean Squadron from 1900 visiting Larnaka, Cyprus in June 1902.

In 1903 she towed the sailing ship 'Terra Nova' from Gibraltar to Aden via Suez on her urgent voyage to rescue Capt Scott's first Antarctic Expedition

Vindictive coaling at Port Said 1903

Vindictive in the Suez Canal en route to Aden 1903

Photographs from the Dr W C Souter's Collection at the University of Aberdeen; Antarctic Trip 1903-04

Vindictive was refitted in 1909 for service in the Home Fleet and in March 1912 she became a tender to the training establishment HMS Vernon in Portsmouth.

Although she was obsolescent by the start of WW1 she was assigned to the 9th Cruiser Squadron and in September 1914 she captured the German coal ships Schlesien and Slawentzitz. (Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-21)

In 1915 she was sent to patrol the southeast coast of South America and from 1916 to late 1917 she served in the White Sea in Northern Russia.

Vindictive's voyages in 1914 (www.naval-history.net)

Early in 1918 Vindictive was fitted out as an assault ship for the Zeebrugge Raid

Most of her guns were replaced by howitzers, flame-throwers (flammenwerfer) and mortars, ramps and extending brows were fitted on her port side

A model of HMS Vindictive at the Imperial War Museum London, showing her prepared for the assault on Zeebrugge

On the evening of 22 April 1918 Vindictive led the attack fleet across the Channel. She carried 300 assault troops and towed the ferries Iris and Daffodil carrying another 600 Royal Marines. Vindictive was hit by German shells before she reached the Mole and ten of her twelve gangways were destroyed and many men and key officers were killed. Once alongside the Mole, the Vindictive came under a huge barrage of close range fire. After just over an hour of intensive bombardment the Vindictive left the Mole and headed for Dover.

Back in Dover the damage she had suffered became very clear but although she was in a bad way, it was decided to send her out again for an attack on Ostende; but this time she was not to return as she was scuttled in Ostende harbour. And there she lay until 1920 when she was raised to be broken up for scrap. Her funnels and superstructure were removed and the damaged decks became a tourist attraction. Her bows were removed and placed in the middle of a roundabout in Ostende where they stood for over 50 years. In early 2013 the Ostende town council removed Vindictive's bows and had them completely restored. They were then relocated in a specially prepared site overlooking the entrance to Ostende harbour on Staketsel Straat. The site was officially opened in a ceremony attended by the King of Belgium.