HMS Laverock (1913)

HMS Laverock (1913) was a Laforey class destroyer that served with the Third then Ninth Flotillas at Harwich from 1914-March 1917, then briefly with the Sixth Flotilla at Dover, before spending the rest of the war with the Fourth Flotilla at Devonport. She spent most of the war engaged in the  long battle against the U-boats, on anti-submarine patrols and escort duties.   

The Laverock was laid down at Yarrow on 24 July 1912, launched on 19 November 1913 and commissioned in October 1914. She was originally to be named Hereward but became Laverock when the entire class got L names.

By November 1914 she had joined her sister ships and was one of twenty L class destroyers that formed the Third Flotilla, part of the Harwich Force. She would remain based at Harwich until March 1917 (although spent a lot of 1915 on detached duty elsewhere).

Early on 2 November 1914 Aurora, Lark, Lawford and Laverock left Harwich to search for U-boats in the Broad Fourteens. The Landrail was meant to have been with them but had been unable to leave port on time. She joined the division during the afternoon after Lawford suffered from leaky condensers and had to return to base. Early on 3 November the three destroyers were detached to search for submarines, with orders to rejoin the Aurura at 8am. The plan was for them to stay at sea all day, then for the three destroyers to protect a group of minelayers as they worked on the night of 3-4 November. However this plan had to be abandoned, as on 3 November the Germans raided Yarmouth. The Aurora and her destroyers took part in the attempt to catch the Germans as they withdrew, but missed a key order and ended up five hours behind them.

1915

At the start of March 1915 the Laverock, Lawford, Louis and Lydiard were ordered to Avonmouth to replace the Ferret’s division of the 2nd Half Flotilla on escort duty for troop transports leaving for the Mediterranean.

HMS Laverock from the left HMS Laverock from the left

The new ships were soon put to work. The Louis and Laverock escorted the Lusitania on the first stage of her voyage, then on 7 March escorted the Tunisian from Barry, where she had collected troops from the Dongola, which had run aground on the Welsh coast on 4 March.

On the night of 16-17 March 1915  the Laverock, Lawford, Legion, Lennox, Loyal, Louis and Lydiard were all needed to escort four transports carrying the first contingent of men from the 29th Division as they departed for the Mediterranean. On 17-18 March the same seven ships and the Lookout escorted the second batch of four transports. Two more transports sailed on 18-19 March. The following night was a day of rest, before on 20-21 March the Laverock escorted the Tintoretto, Legion and Lennox escorted the Arcadian, Lydiard and Lawford escorted the Manitou and Lookout and Louis escorted the Campanello. On 21-22 March seven escorts were needed. On 22-23 March only one troop ship sailed, escorted by Lydiard and Lawford. On 23-24 March the final two troop transports left. On the same day the newly refitted Cornwall departed for Sierra Leone, escorted on the first stage of the voyage by Lydiard and Lawford. With the move of the 29th Division completed, four of the L class destroyers were recalled to Harwich, but four were left to prepare to escort the 2nd Mounted Division as it moved to the Mediterranean.

On 22 April the Laverock, Linnet, Lucifer and Lydiard replaced the Laforey’s division on escort duty in the Bristol Channel. On their way the new destroyers escorted the Orion into Devonport for a refit. The Lydiard’s division was sent north to escort the 10th Division as it crossed from Ireland to England.

On 10 May 1915 the SS Poona signalled that she was being chased by a submarine in the middle of the English Channel. The Laverock and four Devonport destroyers were sent to find her, but only found a French drifter. The Laverock radioed the Poona asking her to fire a rocket to reveal her location, but her master refused to take that risk. The destroyers then returned to port, convinced that they had been the victims of a German trap, and that at least one torpedo had been fired at them. In the aftermath the Admiralty sided with the master of the Poona, and ruled that the Commander of the Laverock had made an error of judgement when he asked the Poona to reveal her location in waters believed to contain a submarine. The various torpedoes were all judged to have been porpoises. After failing to find the Poona the destroyers separated, with the Laverock returning to Harwich.

In June 1915 she was one of twenty L class destroyers in the Third Flotilla at Harwich, still officially a Grand Fleet Destroyer Flotilla.

At the start of August 1915 the Leonidas, Legion, Laurel, Fury, Landrail and Liberty were sent to join the Laverock and Louis at Queenstown, to serve under Admiral Bayly while he hunted for two U-boats that were known to be heading past the Fastnet rock on their way to the Mediterranean. This gave Bayly eight destroyers. Four were used to patrol an area west of Fastnet, patrolling in line abreast supported by the cruiser Adventure, the other four and the cruiser Tipperary operated in a series of individual boxes to the south-west of Fastnet. The first group were in place by 6pm on 8 August and the second by midnight. They remained in place until 1pm on 9 August then returned to port, without sighting either U-boat. In fact the intelligence had been good but the timing poor, as U-35 passed through the exact same area on 10 August on her way south, and two more passed through the area just after the destroyers had returned to port.

By 30 August the Laverock was back at Devonport, but she was about to return to Queenstown for service under Admiral Bayly.

In October 1915 the Third Flotilla became the Ninth Flotilla, but remained at Harwich and kept the same ships. The Laverock remained at Harwich into March 1917.

1916

In January 1916 she was one of eighteen L class destroyers in the Ninth Flotilla at Harwich, and was one of seven actually based at Harwich, with the rest split between Chatham and Devonport. The Ninth was essentially the old Third Flotilla given a new number. The flotilla was filled out with the flotilla leader HMS Lightfoot, the light cruiser HMS Undaunted and the depot ship HMS Dido. She had been equipped with a high speed sweep.

On 24-26 March 1916 the Laverock was one of eight Laforey class destroyers (Laforey, Liberty, Llewellyn, Laurel, Laertes, Lassoo, Laverock and Linnet) that took part in the attempted seaplane raid on a Zeppelin base that was believed to be at Hoyer, on the west coast of Schleswig, shielded by the island of Sylt. The seaplanes took off early on 25 March, but discovered that there was no base at Hoyer. One was found further inland at Tondern, but only one aircraft found it, and her bombing gear jammed. Only two of the seaplanes returned to the fleet, and Commodore Tyrwhitt ordered his destroyers to sweep towards the German coast in an attempt to find the missing three aircraft. No sign of the aircraft was found, but the destroyers were then attacked by German aircraft, and in the confusion the Laverock rammed the Medusa. The cruiser Lightfoot, escorted by the Laertes and Lassoo attempted to tow the Medusa to safety, but she eventually had to be abandoned because of a fierce gale. The Undaunted them rammed the Cleopatra, slowing the fleet down once again. The German High Seas Fleet did put to sea, but the storm was so fierce that they soon returned to port, and the British were able to retire back to base.

On 13 August 1916 the Lance, Lassoo, Lennox and Laverock were escorting a convoy of seven ships to the Netherlands. At about 5.37am the Lassoo, which was leading the group, was torpedoed by UB-10 when about ten miles to the west of the Maas Light Vessel. The Lance attempted to save the forward part of the ship, but her back was broken and at 6.15 she broke in half and sank., Only six men were killed, four in the initial explosion.

In October 1916 she was one of twenty L class destroyers in the Ninth Destroyer Flotilla at Harwich, along with the Lightfoot and Undaunted.

1917

In January 1917 she was one of twenty L class destroyers in the Ninth Flotilla, along with the Lightfoot and Undaunted.

On 25 February 1917 the Lance, Landrail, Lochinvar, Laverock and Laurel were patrolling around the buoys on the Dover Barrage when the Germans raided into the Dover Straits. The Lochinvar sighted one German destroyer, S.49, from a force that was hoping to bombard Dover. The Germans opened fire, and the Laverock turned to starboard to avoid a torpedo, passing behind S.49. A fierce gun battle developed between the Laverock and a force of either four or six German destroyers, and five more torpedoes were fired by the German flotilla. However after ten minutes the Germans retired to the north-east and disappeared into the dark. With any chance of surprise gone this part of the German force retired. The Laverock turned out to have been very lucky, as one torpedo had hit on the starboard side but failed to explode. Even so it had caused a 3in deep dent which was detected after seawater got into the fresh water supply.  

In April-May 1917 the Laverock was part of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover.

The Laverock was moored in the small Downs when the Germans raided into the Dover Straits on 20 April 1917, and played no part in the action.

By June 1917 the Fourth Flotilla had moved to Devonport. It now contained fourteen K class destroyers and six Laforey or L class destroyers. The Laverock remained with Fourth Flotilla until the end of the war.

On 21 June 1917 the Laverock was patrolling in the western approaches when the SS Orlona was torpedoed and sunk by U-50 only a mile and a half away from her position.

On 7 July 1917 UB-31 sank the SS Bellucia, which was being escorted by the Lyra. The Lyra dropped four depth charges. The Laverock, Lennox and Lookout were only half a mile away on their way back from escorting a convoy, and the Lennox dropped another four, but the submarine escaped.

1918

In January 1918 she was one of forty destroyers in the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport, 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 Nore Reserve.

War Service
November 1914-June 1915: 3rd Flotilla, 1st Fleet (Harwich Force)
July-September 1915: 3rd Flotilla, Harwich
October 1915-March 1917: 9th Flotilla, Harwich
April 1917-May 1917: 6th Flotilla, Dover
June 1917-December 1918-: 4th Flotilla, Devonport

Displacement (standard)

965t-1010t

Displacement (loaded)

1150t-1300t

Top Speed

29 knots

Engine

2-shaft Brown-Curtis turbines
3 Yarrow boilers (Yarrow boats)

Range

 

Length

268ft 10in oa

Width

27ft 8in

Armaments

Three 4in/ 45 cal QF Mk IV guns
1 0.303in Maxim Machine Gun
Four 21in torpedo tubes with four torpedoes

Crew complement

73

Laid down

24 July 1912

Launched

19 November 1913

Completed

October 1914

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 (4 August 2022), HMS Laverock (1913) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Laverock_1913.html

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