HMS Grasshopper (1909)

HMS Grasshopper (1909) was a Beagle class destroyer that spent most of the First World War in the Mediterranean, where she took part in the Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaigns. She returned to home waters in 1917 to serve on anti-submarine warfare and convoy escort duties.

The Grasshopper was launched at Fairfield’s Govan shipyard on Tuesday 23 November 1909. Reports of her launch gave fairly accurate accounts of her dimensions and correctly reported that she was powered by three Parsons turbines and five water-tube boilers.

In June 1910 it was announced that the Beagle and the Grasshopper were to replace two River class destroyers in the first destroyer flotilla, then based on the East Coast.

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.

On Monday 20 January 1913 the barge Wardencourt collided with the Grasshopper at Chatham, causing some damage to the destroyer. The Grasshopper was reported to be attached to the Third Flotilla at Harwich at the time.

Late 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.

On 27 July 1914 she was part of the Third Division of the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla (Beagle, Bulldog, Harpy and Grasshopper) and was at Alexandria. As tensions rose they returned to Malta.

On 3 August the division was briefly ordered to join the cruiser Black Prince and reinforce the squadron at the mouth of the Adriatic, but the order was cancelled because it wasn’t possible to ensure they would have enough coal.

On 7 August the Harpy and Grasshopper from the 3rd Division and the Grampus from the 4th Division were ordered to move from Malta to watch the southern end of the Straits of Messina.

In November 1914 she wasn’t listed in the Pink List of ship locations, but at this point the Admiralty had decided to move the Beagles back to home waters to help escort troop ships across the Channel, so she was probably in limbo while her next move was decided.

Not all of the Beagles came home. The January 1914 Navy List lists eight of them – Basilisk, Grampus, Grasshopper, Mosquito, Racoon, Renard, Scorpion and Wolverine – as ‘Ships Joining Squadrons’, attached to the destroyer depot ship HMS Blenheim, which was based in the Mediterranean. By March 1914 all eight had returned to the Fifth Destroyer Squadron. In January that flotilla had contained the seven River class destroyers from the China station.

Dardanelles and Gallipoli

The Grasshopper took part in the naval campaign in the Dardanelles and the land campaign at Gallipoli.

On the night of 1-2 March 1915 the Basilisk, Grasshopper, Racoon and Mosquito supported the trawlers attempting to sweep the Turkish minefields in the Dardanelles. The trawlers came under fire, and the destroyers had to dash into action to help their escape.

On 25 April the Grasshopper and Basilisk were detached by Admiral Wemyss to support the landings at Cape Hellas.

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 8-9 January 1916 she took part in the last stage of the retreat from Gallipoli, helping to pick up the some of the last troops from Helles

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

Mediterranean 1916-1917

In January 1916 she was one of eight G Class destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean, where she was serving alongside a mix of other types

In October 1916 she was one of thirty two destroyers in the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla of the Mediterranean Fleet, which now contained fifteen G class destroyers (the Scourge wasn’t listed),

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 Waters 1917-1918

Late in 1917 there was a change in the use of the G class, and many of them were recalled home to join the Second Destroyer Flotilla, based at Buncrana west of Londonderry. The Grasshopper was one of six that had joined that flotilla by October 1917. By December 1917 that had risen to ten, and by February 1918 eleven. She was still based in Ireland in March 1918. Her new role was a mix of anti-submarine patrols and convoy escort duties.

At some point between March and June 1918 all of the G class destroyers that had been in Ireland were moved to join the large Fourth Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport, which contained around fifth destroyers of various types. The Pincher was lost on 24 July 1918, leaving nine at Devonport in August.

The Grasshopper was engaged in convoy escort work in the summer of 1918, and was present when the Gregory was torpedoed while part of a convoy heading out of Falmouth. A tug was sent out to the Gregory, but was later diverted to the Covington, an American transport that was torpedoed on 1 July. The Gregory survived, despite the Grasshopper reporting that she had been hit by a second torpedo on 1 July. The Covington was less fortunate, and sank during an attempt to tow her to safety.

In November 1918 she was one of forty destroyers from the Patrol and Escort Forces that were based at Devonport.

By the end of the war the home based Beagles were allocated two depth charge throwers and thirty depth charges, surrendering their aft gun and torpedo tube to make space.

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-June 1917-
Second Destroyer Flotilla, Buncrana, Ireland: -October 1917-March 1918-
Fourth Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport: - June 1918-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

17 April 1909

Launched

23 November 1909

Completed

July 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 (10 September 2020), HMS Grasshopper (1909) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Grasshopper_1909.html

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