HMS Lennox (1914)

HMS Lennox (1914) was a Laforey class destroyer that served with the 3rd then 9th Flotillas at Harwich from 1914 to March 1917, fighting at the battle of Heligoland, then with the 4th Flotilla at Devonport from April 1917 onwards. She spent most of her time taking part in the battle against the U-boats.

The Lennox was laid down at Beardmore on 14 November 1912, launched on 17 March 1914 and commissioned in July 1914.

HMS Lennox from the left HMS Lennox from the left

In August 1914 she was one of sixteen L class destroyers in the Third Flotilla, now part of what was about to become the Grand Fleet. At the outbreak of war the flotilla was at Harwich. The Lennox remained at Harwich into March 1917, although the flotilla number changed in October 1915.

On 8 August the Legion was one of a number of destroyers posted between the Galloper and the West Hinder in the entrance to the English Channel, to watch for any attempt by the German High Sea Fleet to interfere with the crossing of the first BEF to France. In the event no such attempt was made.

The Lennox fought at the battle of Heligoland (28 August 1914) where she was part of the 1st Division of the Third Flotilla (Lookout, Leonidas, Legion and Lennox).

During the battle her division attacked the German cruiser Strassburg, to support the British cruiser Arethusa, firing their torpedoes at her. The German cruiser turned away and disappeared into the mists. During the battle the Lennox fired 42 shells and 1 torpedo.

On 22 September 1914 U-9 sank the three elderly cruisers Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy, one of the first signs that the U-Boat was going to be a deadly weapon during this war. The Lance, Lucifer and Lennox were with the Third Flotilla when it came to try and rescue and survivors, and all mistakenly reported spotting submarines in the area around the disaster site. By this point U-9 had left the area, but Commodore Tyrwhitt used four of his eight destroyers to screen his flagship, the Lowestoft, during the rescue efforts.

The Lennox took part in a clash with German torpedo boats off the island of Texel on 17 October 1914, when she was serving with the Harwich Force. A force consisting of the light cruiser HMS Undaunted and the destroyers Loyal, Legion, Lance and Lennox spotted the torpedo boats while patrolling in the area and gave chase. By the end of the action all four torpedo boats had been sunk. The Lennoxand Lance began the action, sinking the leading torpedo boat. One man from the Loyal was fatally wounded during the battle.

In November 1914 she was one of twenty L class destroyers that formed the Third Flotilla, now part of the Harwich Force.

On the night of 2-3 November 1914 the Laurel, Legion, Lennox and Lysander, led by the Undaunted, were at sea after a patrol off Terschelling, and passed just behind the German raiding force heading for Yarmouth, but were too far off to detect the Germans. However once the Germans were detected the Undaunted and her destroyers were ordered to intercept, and at about 9.05am they spotted Admiral Hipper’s light cruisers. The British turned north to escape from the more powerful force, and was then ordered to try and follow the Germans. However by this point the two forces had lost touch with each other, although they were both heading east on parallel courses. By noon the Undaunted’s division was the only British force anywhere near the Germans, and were only fifteen miles to their north-west, but once again they failed to come into contact, and at 12.37 the British turned back. 

On 23-24 November the Lennox took part in an operation that combined an attempted seaplane attack on the Zeppelin base at Cuxhaven with an attempt to lure the High Seas Fleet to sea. In the even the air raid had to be cancelled and the Germans failed to respond. The operation was mounted in response to intelligence that the High Seas Fleet appeared to be about to put to sea, but this turned out to be simply a training cruise for the new battlecruiser Derflinger.

On 26 November Miranda, Lance, Lennox, Landrail, Leonidas, Linnet, Louis and Laforey were ordered from Harwich to Dover, to carry out anti-submarine patrols to the west of the area covered by the Dover Patrol. This was in response to the cruise of U-21, which was then operating in the Channel and had sunk several ships near the French coast. On 27 November the British destroyers swept the area from Dover to the Needles. That night U-21 passed Dover heading east, evading an attack by three French destroyers. On 28 November the British destroyers were ordered to repeat their patrol to the Needles, but there was no longer anything to find.

1915

In February 1915 a U-boat (U-30) was operating in the Irish Sea, threatening the approaches to Liverpool. The Lance, Legion, Lennox and Loyal were dispatched from Harwich on 20 February, under the command of the captain of the Lance. Their base was to be Pembroke while they were hunting submarines.

They were also drawn into escort duties while they were posted in the west. In early March Lance and Lennox escorted the transport Minnewaska from Avonmouth at the start of a voyage to the Dardanelles. After escorting this transport across the danger zone they continued on to Queenstown, where they picked up the Missanable, carrying troops from Canada, and escorted her into Avonmouth.

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 6 May 1915 the Lennox was part of a force that left Harwich at daybreak to carry out an air raid on a German wireless station at Norddeich. However the Lennox was badly damaged in a collision right at the start of the operation and had to withdraw. The remaining ships didn’t get away until 1.30pm and they were soon recalled.

On 30 August 1915 Lennox and Liberty were back at Devonport on escort duty, and were ordered to move to Queenstown, Ireland, to hunt submarines once they had escorted the Jupiter through the danger zone.

In October 1915 the Third Flotilla became the Ninth Flotilla but kept all of the same ships. The Lennox remained based 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 flotilla was filled out with the flotilla leader HMS Lightfoot, the light cruiser HMS Undaunted and the depot ship HMS Dido.

On 10 March 1916 the Lennox and Miranda collided, probably during an operation in the North Sea.

On 22 April eight L class destroyers (Laforey, Lennox, Lark, Lookout, Lance, Laurel, Llewellyn and Lucifer) were sent from Harwich to Sheerness to escort minelayers that were to take part in an upcoming barrage operation along the Flanders coast. A large barrage of mined nets was laid off Zeebrugge on the morning of 24 April.

However British plans were soon to be disrupted, first by the news of the Easter Rising in Dublin, and then by reports that the High Seas Fleet was about to sortie. This was indeed true, and marked the start of the Lowestoft Raid. The British reacted by ordering the Grand Fleet to sea, and deploying the Harwich Force to defend the east coast while the fleet was on its way south. Plans to patrol the newly laid barrage had to be abandoned. Late on 24 April the eight destroyers that had escorted the minelayers were ordered to leave the Nore to join the rest of the Harwich flotilla, but they were given an outdated rendezvous point and as a result when the Germans attacked Lowestoft, the eight were just leaving the Thames. They were then ordered to head north, and did at least force UB-18 to abandon a possible attack on three British light cruisers and dive. However at 8.50am they were ordered to return to base, after playing a very limited role in the days actions.

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.

On 24 September 1916 the Lance led out two divisions of destroyers from Harwick to search for U-boats that had sunk two small ships on the previous day. One of the submarines spotted this force on 25 September and fired a torpedo at the Lennox, although without success. The Lennox dropped two depth charges along the track of the torpedo but neither exploded.

1917

On 29 January 1917 the Lennox was one of twelve destroyers that put to sea in response to a sortie by part of the High Seas Fleet and patrolled the area between the Shipwash and Corton  Light Vessels, but without sighting any German ships.

On 12 March 1917 the Lennox was one of five destroyers from Harwich that sailed to protect the steamers heading east to Holland. However while they were at sea the destroyer Skate was torpedoed. The Lennox had been close by at the time, having just dropped two depth charges on UB-10 (without success). Her crew heard the explosion and came to the assistance of the Skate, and with the Lawford began to tow her back to port. They were soon joined by the Nimrod, which had been at sea to meet with the westbound trade, and the Skate was safely returned to port.

On 7 April 1917 the Lennox and Leonidas arrived at Devonport to join the Fourth Flotilla, which had the job of hunting for U-boats, a rather inefficient operation given that they had no way to actually detect them while underwater. The Lennox remained base at Devonport for the rest of the war.

The Lennox hadn’t been part of the Fourth Flotilla for long when on 22 April she collided with the Ariel. Both ships suffered significant damage and needed repairs.

By June 1917 the Fourth Flotilla had moved to Devonport. It now contained fourteen K class destroyers and six Laforey or L class destroyers.

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.

The Lennox was awarded battle honours for Heligoland (28 August 1914)

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

Displacement (standard)

965t-1010t

Displacement (loaded)

1150t-1300t

Top Speed

29 knots

Engine

2-shaft Parsons turbines
4 Yarrow boilers

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

14 November 1912

Launched

17 March 1914

Completed

July 1914

Sold for break up

October 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 (31 August 2022), HMS Lennox (1914) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Lennox_1914.html

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