HMS Foxhound (1909)

HMS Foxhound (1909) was a Beagle class destroyer that served in the Mediterranean for most of the First World War, taking part in the Gallipoli campaign. She briefly returned to home waters over the winter of 1914-15 to escort troop ships to France, and permanently late in 1917 to carry out anti-submarine warfare patrols and convoy escort duties.

The Foxhound was launched on the Clyde on 11 December 1909, in front of a delegation from the Chinese Naval Commission.

HMS Foxhound at Gallipoli HMS Foxhound at Gallipoli

After entering service the Beagle class destroyers joined the First Destroyer Flotilla, and were part of that unit until the autumn of 1911. At the time the Navy was planning to form a new Seventh Destroyer Flotilla, and there may have been some thought of filling it with the Beagles. The Seventh Flotilla was formed in November 1911, so it is possible that the Beagles were briefly part of it, before moving to the Third Flotilla early in 1912. 

In 1912-1913 all sixteen of them were part of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, part of the First Fleet.

In February 1912 one of her crew, Stoker Frederick Ireland, was arrested while she was off Christiania carrying out torpedo trials. He was discovered making notes in a cipher, and refused to explain what he was doing. Ireland was escorted back to Hull on the liner Eskimo, then taken to Chatham, as the Foxhound was then serving with the First (Harwich) Flotilla. After a month in custody Ireland was released without charge, but he was also dismissed from the navy. Ireland was German by birth, but had naturalised as British. At first glance this may seem like a case of ‘spy mania’, but at the outbreak of the First World War one of the key German spies in Britain, Karl Gustav Ernst, was arrested, and convicted of conspiring with Ireland to pass secret information to the German Secret Service!

In 1913 the entire class moved to the Mediterranean, where they formed the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla.

War Service

In July 1914 she was one of sixteen destroyers in the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, then part of the Mediterranean Fleet. At this point the flotilla contained all sixteen Beagle or G Class Destroyers.

HMS Foxhound from the right HMS Foxhound from the right

On 27 July 1914 she was part of the Second Division of the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla (Foxhound, Racoon, Mosquito and Basilisk). This squadron was split between Alexandria, Malta and Durazzo, and the Foxhound was at Malta, where she was undergoing a regular six-monthly docking.

In August 1914 she was part of the 2nd Division of the Fifth Flotilla, which still contained all of the G Class destroyers, and was based at Malta

By 9 August nine of the Beagles – Scorpion, Wolverine, Basilisk, Racoon, Renard, Beagle, Scourge, Mosquito and Foxhound were at Zante, off the north-west coast of Greece, partly because of an erroneous message that Britain was at war with Austria and partly to try and intercept the German cruisers Goeben and Breslau. They took on coal, and continued to operate around the entrance to the Adriatic, but by this point the Germans had already slipped away to the east, and soon entered the Dardanelles.

On 21 August she was one of four destroyers (Foxhound, Mosquito, Racoon and Basilisk) that arrived at Port Said from Malta to help protect the Suez Canal. From 23 October she patrolled the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba, from where any possible Turkish minelayers would probably emerge. On 10 November the Foxhound and the Mosquito were ordered to move to Port Sudan, to protect an isolated British garrison.

In November 1914 she was at Suez. However in that month it had been decided to move the Beagle class ships back to home waters to help escort troop ships across the Channel.

Home Service, 1914-15

By November it had been decided to replace the Beagle class destroyers with seven River class destroyers from the China station, so that the Beagles could return to home waters. The first step was to move the six Beagle class destroyers in Egyptian waters to the Dardanelles, to allow eight destroyers from the Dardanelles to return home. The Racoon, Basilisk, Savage and Scourge left Port Said on 19 November, followed by the Foxhound and Mosquito on 21 November, all heading for Tenedos, the British supply base just to the south of the Dardanelles. The Foxhound was part of the second group of four

By February 1915 eight of the Beagle class destroyers were based at Portsmouth (Beagle, Bulldog, Foxhound, Harpy, Pincher, Rattlesnake, Savage and Scourge) and were kept very busy escorting troop ships to France

In March it was decided to replace the Beagles with a similar number of River class destroyers. On 26 March the Beagle class destroyers were ordered to move to the Dardanelles as soon as they had been replaced, and the change was made by the end of the month.

Gallipoli

HMS Foxhound from the left HMS Foxhound from the left

On 25 April 1915 the Beagle, Bulldog, Foxhound and Scourge were part of the Second Squadron, which supported the landings at Anzac Cove at the start of the Gallipoli campaign.

In June 1915 she was one of twenty one destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean, which now contained all sixteen G Class destroyers and five River class boats.

On 7 August 1915 she helped support the landings at Suvla Bay, and helped to secure the British position on the left of the landing zone. Later in the day she helped to get supplies to the troops pinned down on the beach.

The Foxhound was awarded one battle honour, for the Dardanelles 1915-16.

Mediterranean 1916-1917

In January 1916 she was at Belfast undergoing a refit that was expected to be over by 4 January.

In October 1916 she was one of thirty two destroyers in the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla of the Mediterranean Fleet, which now contained the entire G class.

On 12 November 1916 the converted liner Britannic (a sister ship to the Titanic) ran into a mine in the Zea Channel, 4 miles to the west of Port St. Nikolo on the Greek island of Kea. At the time she was being escorted by the Foxhound and the Scourge, and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Heroic. Between them they managed to rescue all but 30 of the 1,065 people on board.

In January 1917 she was one of twenty nine destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean, along with the entire G class.

In June 1917 she was one of twenty nine destroyers in the Mediterranean, along with the entire G class

Home Service 1917-1918

Late in 1917 there was a change in the use of the G class, and an ever increasing number of them were moved back to home waters to join the Second Destroyer Flotilla, at Buncrana west of Londonderry. The Foxhound was one of the first six to arrive, and was listed there in October 1917. In January 1918 she was one of ten members of the class with the Second Destroyer Flotilla, although she was detached at Milford. The Foxhound was still with the Second Flotilla in March 1918. Her new role was a mix of anti-submarine patrols and convoy escort duties, protecting the eastern end of the trans-Atlantic convoy route.

In June 1918 she was part of the large Fourth Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport, which contained around fifth destroyers of various types including ten of the G class ships. In mid-July the Beagle and Foxhound were on detached duty with the Northern Patrol, operating between the Shetland Islands and Faroe Islands, supporting military trawlers. In August 1918 she was once again listed as being at Devonport, but by November 1918 she was one of six G Class destroyers that were back with the Second Destroyer Flotilla at Londonderry.

The Basilisk was one of only three members of the class (Basilisk, Foxhound and Mosquito) to end the war with both of her torpedo tubes. The other members of the class had lost the rear tube and gun to make space for more depth charges.

By the end of the war the home based Beagles were allocated two depth charge throwers and thirty depth charges.

In November 1919 she was in the Reserve at the Nore, in the hands of a care & maintenance party.

Career Summary
First Destroyer Flotilla: 1910-1011
Third Destroyer Flotilla, First Fleet: May 1912-October 1913
Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean: November 1913-November 1914-
Portsmouth Escort Flotilla: -February-March 1915
Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean: March 1915-June 1917-
Second Destroyer Flotilla, Buncrana, Ireland: -October 1917-March 1918-
Fourth Destroyer Flotilla: Devonport: -June-August 1918-
Second Destroyer Flotilla, Buncrana, Ireland: -November 1918

Displacement (standard)

945t (average)

Displacement (loaded)

1,100t

Top Speed

27 knots

Engine

3-shaft Parsons turbines
5 Yarrow boilers (most ships)

Range

 

Length

263ft 11.25in pp

Width

26ft 10in

Armaments

One 4in/ 45cal QF Mk VIII gun
Three 12-pounder/ 12cwt guns
Two 21in torpedo tubes with four torpedoes

Crew complement

96

Laid down

1 April 1909

Launched

11 December 1909

Completed

September 1910

Sold for break up

November 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 (27 August 2020), HMS Foxhound (1909) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Foxhound_1909.html

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