HMS Hardy (1913)

HMS Hardy (1913) was an Acasta class destroyer that served with the 4th Destroyer Flotilla, and fought against the Yorkshire coast raid of 1914 and at Jutland, before moving to the Humber then the south coast to take part in the fight against the U-boats.

The Hardy was laid down at Thornycroft on 13 November 1911, launched on 10 October 1912 and commissioned in September 1913. When the Acasta class became the K Class the new name Kelpie was chosen for her, but it was never used.

HMS Hardy from the right HMS Hardy from the right

When the construction of the class was approved, the Hardy was selected to use internal combustion engines. She was to have steam turbines to power two wing propeller shafts and Sulzer diesels to power the centre shafts for economical cruising. However the diesels weren’t ready in time, so she was built with normal turbines instead.

In July 1914 she was one of twenty destroyers in the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla of the First Fleet, which contained the most modern battleships. The flotilla contained all twenty Acasta or K Class destroyers.

In August 1914 she was one of twenty K destroyers in the Fourth Flotilla of what was becoming the Grand Fleet. At the outbreak of war all but the Porpoise were at sea. Over the next two years five members of the class were sunk, while the surviving members of the class remained with the Flotilla into July 1916.

On 14 September 1914 three of her crew were drowned.

In November 1914 all twenty K class destroyers were in the Fourth Flotilla, part of the Grand Fleet. The Hardy had just undergone repairs on the Tyne, completed o 29 October, and was equipped with a submarine sweep.

Yorkshire Coast Raid

On 24 November the British attempted to raid a possible Zeppelin base at Cuxhaven, in the hope of drawing out the High Seas Fleet. The Hardy, Lynx, Midge and Owl were part of the fleet that ventured into the Heligoland Bight, but the operation had to be abandoned when a force of German cruisers entered the area the seaplanes would have had to launch from. 

When the Germans raided the Yorkshire Coast in December 1914 the Hardy was one of seven Acasta class destroyers that were with Admiral Warrender’s 2nd Battle Squadron when it was sent out to try and intercept them. During the night of 15-16 December the destroyers were posted ten miles to the port of the battle squadron, with orders to close in on them at daylight. The Hardy was part of the 1st Division of the Fourth Flotilla during this sortie.

At about 5.15am the Lynx, at the head of the flotilla, spotted a destroyer that failed to answer the identification correctly. The Lynx opened fire and turned to port to give chase. The German retreated north, while the rest of the British destroyer flotilla followed the Lynx. The Hardy was in the middle of the column, and sighted more German destroyers off to port. A gun battle developed between these destroyers and the rear of the British column, but the Lynx then suffered a fault with her steering and turned further to port. The rest of the flotilla followed, and the second set of German destroyers disappeared to the east. The original target soon followed them.

The Lynx then turned to the south-west to close up with the battle squadron, but only three minutes later, at 5.58, a German cruiser was sighted about 600-700 yards to the port of Hardy and Shark. The cruiser switched on recognition lights, which identified her as German. A gun battle then developed between the cruiser and the Hardy and the Shark. The Hardy was soon taking heavy damage and was forced to steer to the starboard. The destroyers behind her followed, while the Lynx and Unity at the head of the column continued on their original course and were soon out of the battle.

The Hardy quickly turned back onto a parallel course with the cruiser, followed by the rest of the flotilla. However by 0600 she had been so badly damaged that her captain had to take her out of the line. Her steering gear was badly damaged, but luckily her captain had ordered an emergency system to be set up, and he was able to steer with his engines. However at this point the cruiser, which was only 500 yards away from her, turned on her searchlights and opened fire again. At this point the Hardy’s gunner fired a torpedo, which exploded very close to the cruiser. Everyone on the British side was convinced they’d scored a hit, but German records suggest they narrowly missed. Even so this was enough to convince the German cruiser to turn off her lights and retreat.

The Hardy was still under control, and was able to take up a position at the rear of the 2nd Division. This was now all that was left of the flotilla, with Lynx and Unity having lost contact, and Ambuscade having to retire damaged. The formation was now led by the Shark, followed by Acasta, Spitfire and Hardy.

The clash had been with the light cruiser Hamburg and several of the German destroyers, which were part of the screen for Admiral von Ingenohl and the High Seas Fleet, which were there to protect the forces actually carrying out the raid. News of the clash with British destroyers convinced von Ingenohl to withdraw, as part of his orders were not to risk losses

At about 6.50 the Shark sighted smoke to the south-east, and by 7.00 could make out five German destroyers. The flotilla gave chase, and were soon able to open fire. However a few minutes later they spotted a heavy cruiser, which they believed to be the Yorck class cruiser Roon. By now the Germans were retiring, so the Roon didn’t open fire open fire, and the four British destroyers were able to shadow her for some time. By 7.30 they had alerted Admiral Warrender, who moved east to try and catch the cruiser. Admiral Beatty with the battlecruisers also arrived on the scene, but didn’t join the chase until just before 8.20. By this point the situation for the destroyers had changed. Visibility had got worse, and at about 7.40 the destroyers had been forced to get closer to the Roon to keep her in sight. At this point the Germans sent three light cruisers to chase them off. The British destroyers turned north in an attempt to lure the Germans into a trap, but by about 8.35 the Germans had turned back to rejoin the fleet. The destroyers then found the British light cruisers and joined with them.

During the clash the Hardy lost two dead and fifteen wounded.

1915-16

On 1 February 1915 the armed yacht Vanduara clashed with U-21 north-west of Fishguard, during a cruise that had halted shipping in the Irish Sea. The Admiralty dispatched reinforcements to the area, including the cruiser Faulknor and the destroyers Achates, Owl, Hardy and Ambuscade from Scapa. They arrived at Milford Haven on 2 February, and were used to patrol the area between there and Liverpool for part of February.

In February 1915 the 1st Canadian Division was ready to be transported from Avonmouth to St. Nazaire. On 7 February Faulknor, Christopher, Contest, and Hardy were sent to act as an escort for the first two ships, but they didn’t sail as planned and instead joined the second group of ships. The Faulknor’s division were then used to escort the third batch of ships, which sailed on 9-10 February. At 5pm on 10 February the transports were judged to be safe, and the Faulknor’s division headed north to Barrow where they replaced the Laurel’s division before heading north to rejoin the Grand Fleet. They reached Barrow on 13 February, but as they were approaching the narrow entrance channel sighted the signal forbidding entrance because another vessel was coming out. Christopher, Contest and Owl all ran aground while attempting to turn around and stayed aground until the following day. Only the Hardy made the turn succesfully.

In January 1916 nineteen K class destroyers were in the Fourth Flotilla, based at Scapa. She had been equipped with a submarine sweep. She was on the Clyde undergoing repairs, which were expected to be complete by 12 January.

In April 1916 Admiral Jellicoe asked for eight of the class to have one of their 4in guns converted to a high angle gun by placing it on a trap door that could tilt up to fifty degrees. The Hardy was one of the ships selected to be converted.

Jutland

The flotilla contained sixteen Acasta class destroyers and one Repeat M class destroyer at Jutland. The flotilla put to sea with Admiral Jellicoe and the main body of the Grand Fleet by 10.30pm on 30 May.

As the Grand Fleet advanced into contact with the High Seas Fleet, part of the flotilla was with the British 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron (Shark, Acasta, Ophelia and Christopher), forming an anti-submarine screen ahead of Admiral Hood’s capital ships. The 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron was some way ahead of the main battleship force and was thus the first part of the Grand Fleet to get into action. The destroyers found themselves on the port flank of Hood’s battlecruisers, in a position to attack a force of German cruisers. However they soon became engaged in a battle with German destroyers which left the Shark crippled, but stopped the Germans attacking Hood’s battlecruisers. 

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 4th Flotilla was now split into three. Ophelia and Christopher were with Beatty’s battlecruisers off to the south-west. Owl, Hardy and Midge were with the armoured cruisers. That left ten destroyers and two flotilla leaders with the main part of the flotilla. The Hardy thus missed the night action, which did involve the main part of the flotilla.

After Jutland

In August 1916 the Fourth Flotilla was relegated from the Grand Fleet after losing several ships in the battle, and now formed the Humber Force. It contained fifteen of the K class destroyers.

On 28 November the Hardy, Midge and Active escorted four million pounds worth of gold across the channel from Cherbourg.

On 29 November the Christoper, Cockatrice, Hardy and Midge were hunting submarines in the Portsmouth area, but without success.

In December 1916 the Hardy and the Fourth Flotilla moved again, and was now based at Portsmouth. It had also been reduced in size once again, and now contained ten K class destroyers (and the light cruiser HMS Active). The remaining five members of the class moved to the Sixth Flotilla at Dover.

On 18 January 1917 the Christopher and the Hardy were hunting for submarines fifty miles to the north-west of the Scillies. On that day UB-38 sank the Norwegian SS Asp which was carrying coal from Barry to Fayal. The Hardy rescued her crew from their lifeboats.

In March 1917 the Fourth Flotilla moved to Devonport. It now contained ten Acasta class destroyers and six Laforey or L class destroyers. In April the five ships from Dover rejoined the flotilla at Devonport.

In mid-March 1917 the Germans had three submarines, U-53, UC-47 and UC-66 operating off the south coast of Ireland. The Christopher, Contest, Hardy and Orestes were sent from Devonport to hunt for them, but without success.

On 11 May 1917 the first convoy from Gibraltar set sail, heading for the UK. On 16 May UC-17 attacked the Hermitte, heading from Falmouth to Australia. The Commander-in-Chief at Plymouth sent the Achates and one other destroyer out to sweep that area, then meet up with the convoy. They were due to meet early on 18 May, but the convoy was east of its expected position, so they didn’t join up until 18 May. On 19 May the Hardy, Laurel, Porpoise, Spitfire and Acasta joined the convoy, which reached the UK safely. This was the first experimental convoy, and was judged to have been a great success. 

On 16 July 1917 the  armed trawler Asama was sunk after an hour long gun battle with U-48. One mane was killed and the ten survivors were rescued by the Hardy.

In January 1918 she was one of forty destroyers in the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla at Plymouth, which was now made up of a mix of various types. In June 1918 she was one of fifty destroyers in the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport, made up of a mix of types. In November 1918 she was one of forty destroyers at Devonport.

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 Hardy was awarded a battle honour for Jutland.

War Service
August 1914-July 1916: 4th Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
August-November 1916: 4th Destroyer Flotilla, Humber Force
December 1916-January 1917: 4th Destroyer Flotilla, Portsmouth
March 1917-December 1918: 4th Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport

Displacement (standard)

1,072t

Displacement (loaded)

1,300t

Top Speed

29 knots

Engine

2-shaft Parsons turbines
4 Yarrow boilers
24,500shp

Range

 

Length

267ft 6in

Width

27ft

Armaments

Three 4in/ 45cal BL Mk VIII
Two 21in torpedo tubes with four torpedoes

Crew complement

73

Laid down

13 November 1911

Launched

10 October 1913

Completed

September 1913

Sold for break up

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 (24 February 2022), HMS Hardy (1913) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Hardy_1913.html

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