…or the Live Bait Squadron.
The 7th Cruiser Squadron was assigned to patrol the eastern part of the English Channel and the southern part of the North Sea also known as the “Broad Fourteens”.
With support from destroyers from the Harwich Force, the 7th Cruiser Squadron was to not only protect shipping going from Britain to France supporting the British Expeditionary Force but to also to ensure German raiders and minelayers were not able to ply their trade. They were even used to find and bring to battle the German High Seas Fleet that often would attack the British east coast early in the war. In the days before radar and long range aircraft this was an important mission.
While the squadron had its worse day on the 22nd of September 1914 when three cruisers were sunk by a single submarine, these ships were known to be past their used by date.
With the last armored cruiser only completed a decade previous these recent constructions were well out of date. The Cressy-class and all armored cruisers were designed to act a cheap battleship (pre-dreadnoughts) replacements. Able to stand in the battle-line; act in trade protection, seeing independent service.
Unfortunately (for the armored cruisers) after the turn of the centurary along came the battlecruisers and dreadnoughts. These would force the armored cruisers from the battle-line and eventually from the sea.
Yet in their prime from the 1870s to the turn of the century these warships were able to ensure the peace. With costing as much as the contemporary battleships the armored cruisers had a significant advantage in range. This range and their heavy armament made them the premier warship on foreign stations. What they were lacking was armor. That was seen on both the 22nd of September 1914 and again at Jutland were the HMS Warrior, HMS Defence and HMS Black Prince were lost.
These warships did have a positive effect in The Great War. They could act as convoy escorts, support in areas were the Royal Navy was supreme and act as support ships. Not glamorous duty but needed.