HMS Druid (1911)

HMS Druid (1911) was an Acheron class destroyer that took part in the battles of Heligoland and Dogger Bank, then served with the 3rd Battle Squadron, and with destroyer flotillas on the south coast, before spending most of 1918 in the Mediterranean.

The Druid was laid down at Denny on 8 November 1910, launched on 4 December 1911 and commissioned in April 1912.

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, Thorneycroft and Parsons types of the Acheron or I class of destroyers.

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 First Flotilla was allocated to the Harwich Force, a ‘swing force’ that could support either the Grand Fleet in the North Sea or the Channel Fleet.

Heligoland Bight

The Druid fought at the battle of Heligoland Bight (28 August 1914). She was part of Division 3 of the First Flotilla (Ferret, Forester, Druid and Defender). One crewmember was wounded during the battle.

HMS Druid from the left HMS Druid from the left

At the start of the battle the Druid’s flotilla, lead by the cruiser Fearless, were second in the British line, behind Commodore Tyrwhitt in the Arethusa (leading the Third Destroyer Flotilla). The fighting began when Tyrwhitt detached some of his destroyers to chase down a German destroyer, before joining in the chase with the rest of his flotilla. However the Germans were aware of the British plan, and had set a trap of their own. Tyrwhitt soon found himself under attack by two German cruisers, Stettin and Frauenlob. The Fearless and her flotilla reached the scene just after 8am, and the Stettin began to withdraw to the east.Fearless and the First Flotilla gave chase, but soon afterwards the German guns on Heligoland began to fire, and Tyrwhitt gave the order to begin the second part of the British plan, a sweep to the west. The Fearless and her destroyers received the order at 8.12am, and turned west, leaving the Stettin alone.

At 8.15 the flotilla sighted the German destroyer V-187. Fearless opened fire, and Division 5 was ordered to give chase. However a few minutes later the order was cancelled in the mistaken belief that V-187 was actually the Acasta class destroyer Lurcher , which was in the area working with her submarine flotilla. At 8.25 V-187 was sighted again and Division 5 moved to attack. V-187 attempted to escape to the south, only to run into the cruisers Nottingham and Lowestoft. She attempted to turn east, but found her route blocked by Druid and the rest of Division 3. V-187 then attempted to escape by turning north to run through the 5th Division, but was caught and knocked out of action. At 8.50 Divisions 3 and 5 were left to finish her off, while the Fearless rejoined the rest of the flotilla, still moving west. In the belief that the battle was over the British destroyers lowered their boats to begin a rescue attempt, but the Germans had not yet surrendered, and in the belief that they were about to be boards opened fire with one remaining gun. The British opened fire again, and V-187 sank at 9.10. The rescue attempt was then resumed, but the German cruiser Stettin then appeared and opened fire. 

At about 11am, early in the third phase of the battle, the damaged cruiser Arethusa became involved in a battle with the German cruiser Stralsund. The Fearless and the entire First Flotilla were ordered to launch a torpedo attack on the German cruiser, which withdrew in the face of such a large attack. The Arethusa, Fearless and their destroyers then turned back west. However a few minutes later the German cruiser Stettin appeared from the east, and another fight began, this time between the Stettinand the two British cruisers. At 11.20 the Acheron received an order to lead the 1st divisionin a torpedo attack on the German cruiser and turned back to head towards the last known location of this fight.

At about the same time the rest of the flotilla sighted another German cruiser, the Mainz, which appeared to their south-west, heading north across their course on her way to help the Stralsund. The 2nd Division turned north to try and engage her. The 3rd (Ferret, Forester, Druid and Defender) and 5th Divisions followed her, and a long range gun battle followed. However after twenty minutes the Mainzturned though 180 degrees and began to run to the south, after sighting Commodore Goodenough’s four light cruisers coming from the north. The 2nd and 3rd Divisions turned west to join up with the light cruisers, while the 5th Division turned south to try and keep up with the Mainz. The heavier ships then dominated the later stages of the battle.

After Heligoland

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

In November the Druid was one of eight destroyers that were sent from Harwich to support the four Duncan class battleships when they bombarded Zeebrugge on 23 November,

At the battle of Dogger Bank (24 January 1915) she was part of the 2nd Division of the First Flotilla (Ferret, Forester, Defender and Druid). This was the same group of ships that had formed the 3rd Division at Heligoland Bight. However this battle was dominated by the battlecruisers, and the destroyers had little to do.

On 30 January 1915 the Defender, Druid, Ferret and Hind left Harwich to escort the Irresistible to Portland. They then moved to Sheerness, where they were used as escort ships while submarines were known to be in the area.

On 9 February 1915 the Attack, Defender, Druid, Forester, Goshawk, Lapwing, Ferret and Phoenix replaced a group of M class destroyers on escort duty, covering minelayers that were laying a new mine field across the Dover Straits, in an attempt to stop German submarines operating so freely in the English Channel.

On 24 February the Defender, Druid, Ferret and Forester were chosen to escort the transports carrying the Royal Naval Division on the first stage of their voyage from Avonmouth to the Dardanelles. They were to reach Avonmouth by 27 February, but it was soon realised that in the winter weather the destroyers were unable to keep up with the transports, so most of them sailed without escort. The destroyers remained at Avonmouth until the start of march, when they were replaced by other destroyers from Harwich.

In June 1915 she was one of twenty one destroyers in the First Flotilla at Rosyth, made of the original I class boats and one flotilla leader.

In June 1916 the Druid was one of eight members of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla that were transferred to the control of the Third Battle Squadron. This was made up of older battleships, and was moved to the Thames to help protect the east coast against any further German raids. As a result she didn’t take part in the battle of Jutland, as the older battleships in the squadron had no real use in the main battle fleet.

In August 1916 the Druid was still officially part of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla at Harwich, but she was detached at Devonport.

In November 1916 the Druid and her sisters with the Third Battle Squadron officially became the First Destroyer Flotilla once again, while those ships that had remained with the original flotilla were scattered to other duties. This assignment lasted until April 1917.

In mid January 1917 the Druid, Defender and Ferret were hunting submarines between the Isle of Wight and Lyme Regis. They may have come close to UB-37, just before that submarine was sunk by the Q Ship Penshurst.

At the start of February 1917 Beaver, Defender, Druid, Forester and Hornet were all based at Portsmouth, from where they were hunting U-boats.

In April 1917 the connection to the Third Battle Squadron ended, and the Druid and the rest of the flotilla moved to Portsmouth, where they remained into July 1917.

From April 1917 until March 1918 the Druid was part of the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport, under the command of the Commander-in-Chief at Devonport.

In January 1918 she was part of the large Fourth Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth, and was undergoing repairs.

In the spring of 1918 the Druid moved to the Mediterranean, and from April 1918 onwards she was part of the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean. 

In June-August 1918 she was part of the large Fifth Destroyer Flotilla at Brindisi.

In November 1918 she was part of the large Fifth Destroyer Flotilla at Mudros.

In the December 1918 Navy List she was part of the Aegean Squadron.

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

The Druid was awarded battle honours for Heligoland and Dogger Bank.

War Service
August 1914-May 1916: 1st Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
June-October 1916: Destroyer Flotilla with 3rd Battle Squadron
November 1916-March 1917: 1st Destroyer Flotilla, 3rd Battle Squadron
April 1917-July 1917: 1st Destroyer Flotilla, Portsmouth
August 1917-March 1918: 4th Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport
April-June 1918: 5th Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean
July-August 1918: 5th Destroyer Flotilla, Brindisi
December 1918: Aegean Squadron

Commanders
Lt-Com Edmond J.G. Mackinnon: 11 March 1914-January 1915-

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

8 November 1910

Launched

4 December 1911

Completed

April 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 (17 June 2021), HMS Druid (1911) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Druid_1911.html

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