HMS Terrible

HMS Terrible played a decisive role in two imperial wars and ended her days being broken up and parts of her sold as souvenirs.

HMS Terrible was a massive military cruiser built by J. G. Thomson and launched at Glasgow in May 1895. She was a sister ship to HMS Powerful.

The Boer Wars

In 1899, she steamed to South Africa during the Second Boer War where she supplied some of her 6-inch and 12-pounder guns for land use. Captain Percy Scott designed mountings to make the guns mobile and they were transported overland to relieve the beleaguered British holed up at the Siege of Ladysmith.

To China

When the Boxer Rebellion broke out in 1900, HMS Terrible re-embarked her crew and guns and went to China. The Boxers were fighting against foreign involvement in China, particularly from Christian missionaries.

HMS Terrible arrived in June 1900. She carried 300 of the Second Battalion of Royal Welsh Fusiliers and 40 Royal Engineers.

The force arrived in Tientsin on June 21st. A 12-pounder gun from HMS Terrible was hauled to Tientsin by 100 men of the Wei-hai-Wei Chinese Regiment. The gun attacked the Peiyang Arsenal on the 27 June 1900. Four of Terrible's 12-pounder quick-firing guns were used in the successful attack on the town of Tientsin which began on July 13 1900.


After refits in 1902–04, HMS Terrible spent most of her remaining years in reserve. She was employed as a troop ship in 1915 and then served as an accommodation ship until 1920 when she became TS Fisguard III. She was broken up in 1932.


Boxes and other souvenirs were frequently made from the wood and metal of famous ships when they were broken up, salvaged or undergoing a major refit. The museum has in its collection a napkin ring with a brass plaque inscribed:

From the teak of HMS Terrible whose guns relieved Ladysmith.

Entry to the National Maritime Museum is free, open daily from 10am

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