HMS Linnet (1913)

HMS Linnet (1913) was a Laforey class destroyer that served with the 3rd then 9th Flotillas at Harwich in 1914-1917, fighting at Heligoland, then at Dover and Portsmouth before moving to the Firth of Forth where she spent the rest of the war on convoy escort duties.

The Linnet was laid down at Yarrow on 28 June 1912, launched on 16 August 1913 and commissioned in October 1914. She was going to be called Havock, but was named Linnet when the entire class was given L names.

In July 1914 she was one of thirteen Laforey or L class destroyers that formed the Third Flotilla, part of the First Fleet of the Home Fleet, the formation that contained the most modern battleships.

HMS Linnet from the left HMS Linnet from the left

At the start of the First World War the Linnet was one of sixteen L class destroyers in the Third Flotilla of the Harwich force. The Linnet remained based at Harwich into March 1917, although the flotilla number changed in October 1915.

On 4 August 1914 she took part in the first British naval action of the war, the sinking of the German mine layer Konigin Luise. The action was begun by the destroyers Lance and Landrail, soon joined by the Lark and Linnet. However on the following day the light cruiser HMS Amphion was sunk by one of the mines laid by the Konigin Luise before she was caught. The Linnet was damaged by debris from the Amphion, including a bunker lid which penetrated one of her boiler room. She was also narrowly missed by one of the cruiser’s 4in guns.

The Linnet fought at the battle of Heligoland Bight (28 August 1914), where she was part of the 2nd Division of the Third Flotilla (Lark, Lance, Linnet, Landrail). During the battle she fired 2287 shells and two torpedoes, one at Strassburg and one at Mainz.

In November 1914 she was one of twenty L class destroyers that formed the Third Flotilla, now part of the Harwich Force. She had been equipped with a modified sweep.

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.


On 20 February 1915 the Linnet was at sea with the Harwich force, patrolling along the Dutch coast, when she spotted a submarine about three miles to her NNW. The Linnet attempted to attack, but the submarine dived before she reached the area.

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.

In early May 1915 the Lawford, Legion, Linnet and Lucifer were ordered from Harwich to Devonport to help escort two artillery brigades and reinforcements on the first stage of the voyage to the Mediterranean.

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

On 23 August 1915 twelve of the Harwich destroyers (Laurel, Lydiard, Legion, Linnet, Lookout, Morris, Murray, Moorsom, Milne, Melpone, Minos and Manly) were attached to the Dover Patrol for a bombardment of Zeebrugge by a force of monitors. At the time it was believed that this operation had destroyed the first lock on the canal to Bruges and destroyed two U-boats, but in fact it did little damage.

On 30 August 1915 two merchant ships hit mines near the Longsand Light Vessel, revealing the existence of a new minefield. The Laurel, Linnet, Lookout and Lysander were sent out from Harwich to patrol the area, but didn’t find anything and returned to port on the following morning.

On 11 September 1915 Loyal, Legion, Lysander, Lucifer and Linnet were used to support a minelaying operation on Amrum Bank. They were the only members of the flotilla available at Harwich, as the rest were all at Devonport on escort duty.

In October 1915 the Third Flotilla became the Ninth Flotilla, although it kept all of the same ships. The Liberty remained based at Harwich until March 1917.


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 20 March 1916 the Linnet took part in a sizable operation that included minelaying off the Thames estuary, air raids near Zeebrugge and an attack on the German seaplane base on Zeebrugge Mole by aircraft from the seaplace carriers Riviera and Vindex. The Linnet was part of the escort for the carriers, and was attacked by three German destroyers. The Germans were soon driven off, but not before badly damaging the Lance. However nobody was killed onboard. The Linnet also came under fire,

On 24-26 March 1916 the Linnet 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.

Early on 24 April two divisions of destroyers (Loyal, Laertes, Linnet, Lochinvar, Legion, Lassoo, Miranda and Lysander) led by the cruiser Nimrod left Harwich in response to the German raid on Lowestoft. They moved north along the coast and joined Commodore Tyrwhitt at about 3.20. Half an hour later the German raiding force came into view, with at least four battlecruisers and six light cruisers. Tyrwhitt’s response was to head south at full speed in an attempt to draw the Germans into a chase. They ignored him, and instead soon opened fire on Lowestoft. Tyrwhitt turned back north to keep in touch with the Germans, although his force of three light cruisers and eighteen destroyers wasn’t powerful enough to risk an attack on the Germans. The German light cruisers then moved south and came into range, but withdrew after the British opened fire. The German battlecruisers responded by ending their bombardment and heading south to support their light cruisers. At 4.37am the light cruisers briefly opened fire at very long range. The British returned fire, but at 4.45 the German battlecruisers reached the scene and opened fire. The light cruiser Conquest was hit and damaged, and the Laertes was hit by fragments from a near miss. The destroyers were ordered to head south away from the action then scatter and make smoke. At this point the Germans had a real chance to destroy the Harwich Force, but their battlecruisers turned away after ten minutes and retired to the east. The light cruisers attempted to follow them, but this effectively ended the destroyer’s part in the fighting. 


When the Germans raided into the Straits of Dover and the Downs on 17-18 March 1917 the Linnet was one of five destroyers in reserve at Dover. When the news of the raid first reached Dover this force was ordered to put to sea, but the commander of the Laforey then signalled that the attack was being carried out by submarines, and they were recalled, and dedicated anti-submarine ‘P’ Boats sent out instead.

In April 1917 the Linnet was part of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover, but she was only reported as being based there for one month.

From May 1917-January 1918 the Linnet was part of the First Flotilla at Portsmouth.

In June 1917 she was one of six L class destroyers in the First Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth, making up just under half of the flotilla.

By June 1917 the Linnet had been given a depth charge chute at the stern and two throwers, one on each side. In that month she was used to test how practical it was to drop three depth charges at once, one from the chute and one from each thrower.

In January 1918 she was one of six L class destroyers in the First Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth. They were now the only destroyers in the flotilla, which also included the former submarine HMS Swordfish, now converted into a patrol vessel.

In February 1918 she was based in the Firth of Forth.

From March-December 1918 she was one of six L class destroyers in the Methil Convoy Flotilla, based on the east coast of Scotland, to the north-east of Edinburgh. One of her main tasks now was to escort the Scandinavian convoys, which had been attacked by German surface vessels.

In November 1918 she was one of six L class destroyers in the Methil Convoy Flotilla.

The Liberty was awarded a battle honour for Heligoland (28 August 1914).

In November 1919 was in the hands of a care and maintenance party in the Devonport reserve.

War Service
July 1914-June 1915: 3rd Flotilla, 1st Fleet (Harwich Force)
July-September 1915: 3rd Flotilla, Harwich
October 1915-March 1917: 9th Flotilla, Harwich
April 1917: 6th Flotilla, Dover
May 1917-January 1918: 1st Flotilla, Portsmouth
February 1918: Firth of Forth
March-December 1918: Methil Convoy Flotilla

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

29 knots


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




268ft 10in oa


27ft 8in


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

Crew complement


Laid down

28 June 1912


16 August 1913


December 1913


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 (21 September 2022), HMS Linnet (1913) ,

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