HMS Liffey (1904)

HMS Liffey (1904) was a River class destroyer that served with the Ninth Flotilla in 1914, with the Grand Fleet early in 1915, the Portsmouth Escort and Local Defence Flotillas from 1915 to 1917, the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the East Coast in 1917-18 and the First Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth for the rest of 1918.

The original River class boats carried their forward 6-pdr guns on sponsons on either side of the forecastle, but this made them too low and rather wet in some circumstances. From the 1902/3 batch onwards the forward guns were thus moved to a higher position alongside the 12-pdr gun.

The Liffey was one of three River class destroyers ordered from Laird in the 1903/4 batch. They all had two funnels.

By 1912 Brassey’s Naval Annual listed her as being armed with four 12-pounders, after the 6-pounders were replaced across the River class as they were no longer felt to be effective

Pre-War Career

In 1906-1907 the Foyle was one of six River class destroyers in the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, part of the Channel Fleet, which then contained the main battleship force.

In 1907-1909 the Liffey was one of fourteen River class destroyers in the 1st or 3rd Destroyer Flotillas of the Channel Fleet, which was now becoming less important. As a result its destroyers only had nucleus crews.

In the summer of 1907 the Liffey visited Scotland, and on Saturday 26 May 1907 Signalman S. J. Hope saved a boy from drowning at the mouth of Troon harbour. Hope was rewarded with a medal from the boy’s father, and by donations collected in the town.

At the start of September 1908 the Liffey and the Arun escorted the King on the Royal Yacht Alexandra as he left Calais to cross to Dover.

In 1909-11 the Liffey was one of thirteen River Class destroyers in the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, part of the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet. This contained the older battleships and its destroyers were partly manned.

On Friday 28 May 1909 there was an explosion in her coal bunkers while she was moored on the Hamoaze, after returning from the north of Scotland. The explosion was triggered when a working party entered the coal bunker, and three stokers were injured.

In the summer of 1910 the Liffey was part of a flotilla of destroyers that took part in a cruise up the East Coast of England and Scotland, starting from Portland (Chelmire, Moy, Erne, Liffey, Boyne and Thelmer). In August they were at Dundee

In 1911-12 the Liffey was part of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, which was made up of twenty-three River class destroyers and was part of the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet. This contained the older battleships and the destroyers were all partly manned.

On Tuesday 1 October 1912 the Liffey collided with a merchant ship near Clacton. Damage was suffered above and below the waterline and three men sleeping in the compartment under the forecastle were lucky to escape without injury. The Liffey had to be towed into Sheerness to be examined. Press reports of the incident stated that she was attached to the First Destroyer Flotilla or the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla.

On Tuesday 11 March 1913 the Liffey arrived in the Tay, replacing a destroyer named in error in the Dundee Courier as HMS Pest.

On Thursday 14 August 1913 the Liffey supported the Sennen and Newlyn lifeboats as they went to the assistance of the coaler J Duncan, which ran aground near Land’s End.

In 1914 she joined the 9th Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, one of the Patrol Flotillas.

First World War

In July 1914 she was one of sixteen River class destroyers in the Ninth Flotilla at Chatham.

In August 1914 she was one of seven River class destroyers from the Ninth Flotilla that were on the Tyne.

In November 1914 she was one of eighteen destroyers attached to Admiral Jellicoe in his role as C-in-C of the Grand Fleet.

In January 1915 she was attached to the Grand Fleet.

At the end of March 1915 the Beagle class destroyers, which had been escorting troops across the Channel, were sent to the Dardanelles. The Liffey was one of eight destroyers that were moved south to take over from them, forming the Portsmouth Escort Flotilla.  She was originally allocated to Devonport, but soon after she arrived there on 27 March she was moved to Portsmouth

On 28 March 1915 U-28 sank the steamship Falaba, which had left Liverpool heading for West Africa on the previous day. The Liffey took part in the rescue efforts, and found a fishing boat (the Eileen Emma) carrying survivors from the Falaba.

In June 1915 the Liffey was one of seventeen destroyers in the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla, which had been expanded, in part by giving it eighth River class destroyers.

On 15 June 1915 two of her crew were killed in an accident.

In January 1916 she was one of eighteen destroyers in the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla.

In October 1916 she was one of nine destroyers in the Portsmouth Escort Flotilla, all River class boats.

In January 1917 she was one of thirteen destroyers in the Portsmouth Escort Flotilla, now a mix of types.

On 2 February 1917 the Liffey fired on a suspected U-boat close to the coast near Brighton. This might have been U-85, which was passing through the area at the time, and had to spend several hours on the surface after becoming entangled with a mine. The submarine survived intact and continued with her raid.

On 17 April 1917 the Liffey and the Jackel were escorting the SS Donegal as she carried wounded solders back from Le Havre to Southampton. At 7.43pm the Donegal was hit by a torpedo that blew up her stern, and eventually sank her. Between them the two destroyers were able to rescue 52 of the crew and 612 of the wounded.

In June 1917 she was one of nine destroyers in the Portsmouth Escort Flotilla, once again all River class boats.

In October 1917 she was part of the large Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber, part of the East Coast Convoys organisation.

In January 1918 she was one of twenty seven destroyers in the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla, based on the Humber.

In February 1918 she was one of eight River class destroyers in the First Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth.

By April 1918 she carried two depth charge throwers and twenty-two charges. One of the light 12-pounders was to be converted to high angle fire and the rear torpedo tube was to be removed.

In June 1918 she was one of eight destroyers in the First Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth, which now also included the steam powered submarine HMS Swordfish, which had been converted into a surface patrol vessel.

In November 1918 she was one of eight destroyers in the First Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth, although two of the other boats were on detached duty.

She was broken up in 1919

Commanders
Lt & Commander: George O. Hewett: 14 May 1911-March 1913-
Artif. Eng George A. Trim: -January 1914-
Lt. in Command Harry Welch: 26 September 1918-December 1918-
Gunner Arthur Burton (acting): -February 1919-

Displacement (standard)

550t

Displacement (loaded)

625t

Top Speed

25.5kts

Engine

7,000ihp

Range

 

Length

226.75ft oa
220ft pp

Width

23.75ft

Armaments

One 12-pounder gun
Five 6-pounder guns
Two 18in torpedo tubes

Crew complement

70

Laid down

22 March 1904

Launched

23 September 1904

Completed

May 1905

Broken Up

1919

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 (19 March 2020), HMS Liffey (1904) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Liffey_1904.html

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