HMS Badger (1911)

HMS Badger (1911) was a Parsons special Acheron class destroyer, and served with the First Flotilla in 1914-1916, fighting at Heligoland and Jutland, then the Escort Flotilla at Portsmouth in 1916-17, the Second Flotilla at Devonport in the summer of 1917, on the Coast of Ireland station in 1917-18 before moving the Mediterranean in April 1918 where she spent the rest of the war.

The Badger was laid down at Parsons on 17 October 1910, launched on 11 July 1911 and commissioned in August 1912.

In January 1914 she was part of the First Destroyer Flotilla, and was commanded by Lt Charles A. Fremantle.

In July 1914 she was one of twenty destroyers in the First Flotilla of the First Fleet, which contained the more modern battleships. At the time the Flotilla contained all of the Admiralty, Yarrow, Thornycroft and Parsons types of the Acheron or I class of destroyers.

HMS Badger from the right HMS Badger from the right

In August 1914 she was one of twenty I class destroyers in the First Flotilla of what was about to become the Grand Fleet, and was at sea when war broke out. The flotilla became part of the Harwich Force, swing force that could operate with the Grand Fleet in the North Sea or with the Channel Fleet, often operating against the U-boats.

She was part of the 4th Division of the 1st Flotilla during the battle of Heligoland Bight (28 August 1914), where her division (Badger, Beaver, Jackel and Sandfly) was detached to accompany the battlecruisers based on the Humber. As a result she didn’t see as much action as some of her sister-ships, as the arrival of the battlecruisers ended the small ship part of the battle.

On the day after the battle it was decided that the Humber wasn’t a safe base for the battlecruisers, and they were ordered to move to Rosyth, while Badger, Beaver, Jackel and Sandfly were sent back to Harwich.

On 24 October 1914 she rammed the U-boat U-19, inflicting heavy damage. However the U-boat survived the attack. This attack took place during an attempt to use the seaplane carriers Engadine and Riviera to attack the German Zeppelin sheds at Cuxhaven. She was meant to have been one of ten destroyers (Faulknor, Acheron, Archer, Ariel, Badger, Beaver, Hind, Hydra, Lapwing and Lizard) that were used to carry out a diversion off the Ems, which flows into the North Sea close to the German-Dutch border but she suffered too much damage in the attack on U-19 and had to return to Harwich. The destroyer force was ignored by the Germans, and the entire raid ended in failure as the seaplanes were unable to reach their targets.

In November 1914 she was part of the First Flotilla, which now contained nineteen I class boats and three new M class boats. The Badger was at Sheerness having defects repaired. She was also to be installed with a modified sweep

On 5-6 February 1915 the Badger and Beaver escorted an ammunition ship on the first stage of its voyage from Woolwich to the Mediterranean, taking them as far as the Casquets. The two destroyers reached Portland on 7 February, where the Badger needed 24 hours of repairs.

On 15 February 1915 it was decided to move the 1st Destroyer Flotilla from Harwich to Rosyth, where it was to come under the command of the Vice-Admiral commanding the 3rd Battle Squadron. This would allow eight Grand Fleet destroyers currently based at Rosyth to return to Scapa, which would in turn allow seven older River or ‘E’ class destroyers to move from Scapa Flow to the south coast to be used to escort transport ships across the Channel. The first batch of destroyers from the flotilla (Acheron, Ariel, Attack, Badger, Beaver, Jackal, Lapwing and Sandfly, led by the cruiser Fearless) reached Rosyth on 18 February.

Late on 24 March the cruiser Undaunted was badly damaged in a collision with the Cleopatra during Operation H.RA., an attack on a possible German Zeppelin base at Hoyer. The Undaunted was left behind when the rest of the fleet withdrew, and had to make her own way back across the North Sea. She was alone for most of this voyage, and didn’t reach other British ships until early on 27 March. On the night of 27-28 March the Badger, Beaver and Defender helped escort the damaged cruiser on the last stage of her difficult voyage back from Heligoland Bight to safety on the Tyne.

On the eve of Jutland the Badger was with the part of the First Destroyer Flotilla that was part of Admiral Beatty’s battle cruiser fleet at Rosyth. That fleet put to sea late on 30 May, and moved towards a rendezvous position about seventy miles to the south of the main Grand Fleet.

During the advance east across the North Sea the destroyers were used to guard the flanks of the battle cruiser fleet, while the light cruisers advanced ahead of the fleet. At 2.25pm on 31 May, just after the first contact between Beatty’s cruisers and the German cruisers, the destroyers were ordered to form an anti-submarine screen heading S.S.E. He then followed with his capital ships, in the hope of cutting off the retreat of the German cruisers that had been spotted. The German battlecruisers turned south, and retreated towards the main High Seas Fleet. This chase lasted until around 4.30, when the British spotted the German battleships of the High Seas Fleet, and Beatty was forced to abandon his attack and turn north to run towards the battleships of the Grand Fleet. Towards the end of this phase the British battlecruiser Invincible was destroyed, and the Badger picked up the six survivors.

The two main fleets finally came together at about 6.30pm on 31 May. By this point the battleships of the German High Seas Fleet were heading north, while the battleships of the Grand Fleet were forming a line running roughly east to west in front of them. For a few minutes the British were able to concentrate their fire on the leading ships of the German line, but the Germans then carried out their famous sixteen point turn, and within a few minutes were heading away south into the North Sea mist. However Admiral Scheer then mis-judged the British movements, and turned back east in the hope that he could pass behind the main British force. Just after 7pm the Germans found themselves steaming straight towards Jelicoe’s battleships, and by 7.15 the bulk of the Grand Fleet was finally able to open fire on the Germans. Once again Scheer was forced to reverse course. During this phase of the battle the destroyer flotillas struggled to keep up with the fast moving battleships and rather disappear from the narrative. After more confused manoeuvres the two fleets came into range of each other for a third time after 8pm, but the Germans turned away for a third time, and disappeared into the mists by 8.35.

Jellicoe was unwilling to risk a night battle, and at 9.17 ordered the fleet into its night cruising formation. The battleships formed up into lines in their divisions, with the destroyers following behind. The entire formation began to move south in an attempt to keep between the Germans and their home bases. By 10pm the destroyer flotillas were in line, with the 12th Flotilla at the eastern (left) end of the line, then the combined 9th and 10th Flotillas, 13th Flotilla, 4th Flotilla and finally the 11th Flotilla at the western (right) end of the line. The 1st Flotilla remained with Beatty during the night, so missed the night action.

Until June 1916 the entire class had been part of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla. In June the class was split, with some remaining with the flotilla and others joining the 3rd Battle Squadron, which had been moved south to the Thames.

This arrangement lasted until November, when the ships that were still with the 1st Flotilla were split – most went to Devonport, two to Dover, while Badger and Jackal joined the Escort Flotilla at Portsmouth.

In January 1917 she was one of thirteen destroyers in the Escort Flotilla at Portsmouth, mainly made up of older River class boats.

On 17 April 1917 UB-40 sank the hospital ship Lanfranc as she was heading from Havre to Southampton carrying 234 British wounded and 167 Germans. However a this point in the war the Germans had already made it clear that they would be attacking hospital ships in the Channel and the Admiralty had decided to run the Southampton ships as ‘wounded carriers’, painting in naval grey and escorted by warships. The Lanfranc was still marked as a hospital ship, but the Germans had already officially been told that she no longer had that status. Thirty four men were killed in the attack, but the Badger, Jackal, P.37 and the French patrol vessel Roitelet rescued 570 survivors.

On 16 May 1917 the Badger was quickly on the scene after the SS Highland Corrie was torpedoed by UB-40 close to the end of a voyage from Montevideo. The Badger attempted to take her in tow, but without success.

In June 1917 the Badger and Jackal moved from Dover to join ten of their sister ships in the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport.

In September 1917 she joined the Northern Division of the Coast of Ireland station.

In January 1918 she was part of the Second Destroyer Flotilla at Londonderry, but was at Milford in south-west Wales.

Towards the end of the war most of the surviving Acheron class ships moved to the Mediterranean. The Badger made the move in April 1918 and spent the rest of the war in the Mediterranean.

In June 1918 she was part of the large Fifth Destroyer Flotilla at Brindisi on the Adriatic coast of Italy.

In November 1918 she was part of the large Fifth Destroyer Flotilla at Mudros in the Aegean, just off the entrance to the Dardanelles.

In November 1919 she was in the hands of a care and maintenance party in the Portsmouth Reserve. She was sold to be broke up in May 1921.

War Service
August 1914-September 1916: 1st Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
November 1916-May 1917: Escort Flotilla, Portsmouth
June-August 1917: 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport
September 1917-March 1918: Coast of Ireland, Northern Division
April-June 1918: 5th Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean
July-August 1918: 5th Destroyer Flotilla, Brindisi
December 1918: Aegean Squadron

The Badger was awarded battle honours for Heligoland and Jutland

Displacement (standard)

778t

Displacement (loaded)

990t

Top Speed

27 knots

Engine

3-shaft Parsons turbines
3 Yarrow boilers
13,500shp

Range

 

Length

246ft oa

Width

25ft 8in

Armaments

Two 4in BL Mk VIII guns
Two 12-pounder/ 12cwt guns
Two 21in torpedo tubes

Crew complement

70

Laid down

17 October 1910

Launched

11 July 1911

Completed

August 1912

Sold

May 1921

British Destroyers From Earliest Days to the Second World War, Norman Friedman. A very detailed look at the design of British destroyers from their earliest roots as torpedo boat destroyers, though the First World War and up to the start of the Second World War, supported by vast numbers of plans and well chosen photographs [read full review]
cover cover cover

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 October 2021), HMS Badger (1911) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Badger_1911.html

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