HMS Noble (1915)

HMS Noble (1915) was a repeat M class destroyer that served with the Grand Fleet from February 1916 to the end of the First World War, fighting at Jutland,

The Noble was ordered as part of the Third War Programme of late November 1914. She was laid down at Stephens on 2 February 1915, launched on 25 November 1915 and completed on 15 February 1916.


The Noble served with the 12th Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet from February 1916 until June 1918.

On the eve of Jutland the Noble was part of the Twelfth Destroyer Flotilla, which was at Scapa Flow, and filled entirely with twelve Repeat M class destroyers. The flotilla put to sea with Admiral Jellicoe and the main body of the Grand Fleet by 10.30pm on 30 May.

HMS Noble, 1917 HMS Noble, 1917

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 Jellicoe’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 key moment of the night actions came at around 11.30, when the High Seas Fleet finally attempted to pass behind the Grand Fleet and ran into the British destroyers. The Germans would make contact with the 4th Destroyer Flotilla, which was towards the right of the British line. There was then a seven mile gap to the 13th Flotilla, with the 9th and 10th Flotilla close by, and the 12th Flotilla to their rear.

In a series of clashes the Germans inflicted heavy damage on the 4th Flotilla, but instead of rushing to their aid, the 13th Flotilla, which was next in line, believed they were the target of the gunfire, and that there were friendly ships between them and the Germans preventing a torpedo attack. The flotilla leader Captain Farie ordered the flotilla to turn away to the east to get out of range, but he failed to signal the move, so only two of the flotilla followed him. His move also forced the 9th and 10th Flotillas and the 12th Flotilla to turn to port to get out of the way. As a result the British destroyers were no longer in the correct place when the High Seas Fleet passed behind the Grand Fleet. As a result the Germans were able to move past almost without being detected and the one clash that did occur was with two cruisers so didn’t cause any alarm.  The Menace and Nonsuch from the 12th Flotilla clashed with the German cruisers Frankfurt and Pillau and were lucky to escape.

Despite all of the chaos and confusion, a large part of the 12th Flotilla ended up in position to launch one final attack on the High Seas Fleet as it passed behind the Grand Fleet. Twelve destroyers and two flotilla leaders were still together, and had been forced into a position some thirty miles behind the main fleet. As they headlined south they ran into the German fleet. The Germans were sighted at about 1.45am on 1 June. The flotilla commander ordered his 1st Division to attack, and signalled the news of the sighting to Jellicoe. The Germans turned away to avoid the torpedo attack and were briefly lost to sight. However the flotilla soon found them again, and was able to launch a powerful torpedo attack. One torpedo hit the Pommern, which exploded, taking her entire crew with her. The Noble was unable to get into position to fire during this encounter. The Germans were forced to turn away again, preventing the rest of the flotilla from attacking effectively.


On 4 August 1916 the Noble collided with the drifter Ethelbald while they were seven-eight miles east of Kinnaird Head. The Ethelbald sank with the loss of five of her crew.

In mid-December the Noble took part in an attempt to intercept the German steamship SS Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm, which had been interned in northern Norway early in the war, but was about to attempt to return to Germany. The German ship managed to get past the initial British trap and reached Stavanger on 13 December. The main British force in the area left to try and intercept a German raider believed to be heading north, leaving the Comus and Noble to watch the exit from Stavanger. However the Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm was able to escape from Stavanger early on 14 December, passing around 20 miles from the Comus and then getting back into Norwegian territorial waters, where she couldn’t be touched.


Soon after midnight on the night of 14-15 March 1917 the ‘standby’ destroyer division (Maenad, Noble, Mindful and Nessus) was sent out to sea to try and intercept a damaged German submarine (U.48) that was attempting to get home. Just after noon on 15 March the destroyers found a surfaced submarine. The submarine signalled an identification challenge, but although they were still 150 miles short of their destination, the destroyers assumed this was their target and opened fire from 3,000 yards. Two depth charges were dropped and the captains of the Maenad and Noble were sure the submarine had been sunk. Only after their return to port was it discovered that their target had been the British submarine G.12, which had been damaged but luckily not sunk.

On 30 April the Noble sighted a submarine, possibly UB-22, off Peterhead. She passed directly over the possible submarine and dropped a depth charge, but without result.

On 14 June the Noble and Nessus were sent out to escort the armed merchant cruiser Avenger back to Scapa Flow after a patrol. However at 2.03am the Avenger was torpedoed by U-69 and badly damaged. At 2.30am her captain ordered the crew to abandon ship. At 4am the two destroyers arrived and picked up the survivors. They then remained on the scene, as the Avenger was still afloat. At 5.30am the Noble spotted a periscope and both destroyers dropped depth charges but without result. By 8.30 it was clear that the Avenger was sinking and her captain left the ship. At 10.50am the Noble and Nessus left, leaving the Relentless, which had arrived later, to watch her sink at 12.25.

When the Germans attacked a Scandinavian convoy on 16 October, sinking the destroyers Mary Rose and Strongbow, the Noble and Menace from the 12th Flotilla and Medina, Nonpareil, Offa and Patriot from the 14th Flotilla were attached to the 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron at Scapa. When news arrived that the Germans were at sea the 3rd LCS was ordered to patrol in the central part of the North Sea, the northernmost of three cruiser squadrons deployed in that area. However by the time news of the German attack had reached the Admiralty and new orders could be issued to the cruiser squadrons the Germans had already escaped to the south.

The Noble was one of the destroyers that screened the 1st Battle Squadron during the action in the Heligoland Bight on 17 November 1917. However that part of the British fleet never got into action.


The Noble served with the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet from July 1918 until at least December 1918.

The 3rd Flotilla took part in the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet on 21 November 1918.

In December 1919 she was in the charge of a Care and Maintenance Party at Devonport.

She was sold to be broken up in November 1921

The Noble was awarded a battle honour for Jutland.

Service Record
February 1916-June 1918: 12th Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
July 1918-December 1918: 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet

Displacement (standard)

1,025t (Admiralty design)
985t (Thornycroft)
895t (Yarrow)

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

34 knots


3-shaft Brown-Curtis or Parsons turbines
3 Babcock & Wilcox boilers




273ft 4in (Admiralty)
274ft 3in (Thornycroft)
270ft 6in (Yarrow)


26ft 8ft (Admiralty)
27ft 3in (Thornycroft)
24ft 7.5in (Yarrow)


Three 4in/ 45cal QF Mk IV
Two 1-pounder pom pom
One 2-pounder pom pom
Four 21-in torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

2 February 1915


25 November 1915


15 February 1916

Sold for break up

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 (9 November 2023), HMS Noble (1915) ,

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