HMS Racoon (1910)

HMS Racoon (1910) was a Beagle class destroyer that spent most of the First World War in the Mediterranean, where she took part in the Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaigns. She returned to home waters late in 1917 to take part in anti-submarine patrols and convoy escort duties, but she was lost with all hands on 9 January 1918 after hitting rocks on a dangerous part of the coast.

The Racoon was launched at the Cammell Laird yard at Birkenhead on Tuesday 15 February 1910.

After entering service the Beagle class destroyers joined the First Destroyer Flotilla, and were part of that unit until the autumn of 1911. At the time the Navy was planning to form a new Seventh Destroyer Flotilla, and there may have been some thought of filling it with the Beagles. The Seventh Flotilla was formed in November 1911, so it is possible that the Beagles were briefly part of it, before moving to the Third Flotilla early in 1912. 

In 1912-1913 all sixteen of them were part of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, part of the First Fleet.

In 1913 the entire class moved to the Mediterranean, where they formed the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla.

War Service

In July 1914 she was one of sixteen destroyers in the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, then part of the Mediterranean Fleet. At this point the flotilla contained all sixteen Beagle or G Class Destroyers.

On 27 July 1914 she was part of the Second Division of the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla (Foxhound, Racoon, Mosquito and Basilisk). This squadron was split between Alexandria, Malta and Durazzo. The Racoon was at Durazzo, as part of an International Squadron that was watching the situation in Albanian. On the same day the Grampus left Malta to replace the Racoon. Late on 28 July the official warning telegram reached the fleet, and the Racoon was recalled to Malta.

HMS Racoon from the left HMS Racoon from the left

In August 1914 she was part of the 2nd Division of the Fifth Flotilla, which still contained all of the G Class destroyers, and was based at Malta

By 9 August nine of the Beagles – Scorpion, Wolverine, Basilisk, Racoon, Renard, Beagle, Scourge, Mosquito and Foxhound were at Zante, off the north-west coast of Greece, partly because of an erroneous message that Britain was at war with Austria and partly to try and intercept the German cruisers Goeben and Breslau. They took on coal, and continued to operate around the entrance to the Adriatic, but by this point the Germans had already slipped away to the east, and soon entered the Dardanelles.

On 21 August she was one of four destroyers (Foxhound, Mosquito, Racoon and Basilisk) that arrived at Port Said from Malta to help protect the Suez Canal.

In early October she escorted the 1st Suffolk Regiment from Alexandria to Malta, on the second stage of their voyage home from Khartoum.

On 25 October the Racoon and Basilisk were ordered to move from Port Said to the Gulf of Suez, at the southern end of the canal, to guard against any Turkish attempt to lay mines in the area in an attempt to block the passage of troop convoys. 

In November 1914 she was at Port Said.

By November it had been decided to replace the Beagle class destroyers with seven River class destroyers from the China station, so that the Beagles could return to home waters. The first step was to move the six Beagle class destroyers in Egyptian waters to the Dardanelles, to allow eight destroyers from the Dardanelles to return home. The Racoon, Basilisk, Savage and Scourge left Port Said on 19 November, followed by the Foxhound and Mosquito on 21 November, all heading for Tenedos, the British supply base just to the south of the Dardanelles.

Not all of the Beagles came home. The January 1918 Navy List lists eight of them – Basilisk, Grampus, Grasshopper, Mosquito, Racoon, Renard, Scorpion and Wolverine – as ‘Ships Joining Squadrons’, attached to the destroyer depot ship HMS Blenheim, which was based in the Mediterranean. By March 1918 all eight had returned to the Fifth Destroyer Squadron. In January that flotilla had contained the seven River class destroyers from the China station.

Dardanelles and Gallipoli

The Racoon took part in the naval attempt to force the Dardanelles and supported the land battle at Gallipoli.

On 7 February Admiral Carden, the British naval commander at the Dardanelles, arrived at Malta to supervise the final stages of preparations for the naval attack on the straits. He decided to use the Racoon as his flagship.

The Racoon was part of the fleet that supported the first attempt to destroy the Turkish forts at the mouth of the Dardanelles on 26 February 1915.

On the night of 1-2 March 1915 the Basilisk, Grasshopper, Racoon and Mosquito supported the trawlers attempting to sweep the Turkish minefields in the Dardanelles. The trawlers came under fire, and the destroyers had to dash into action to help their escape.

On 18 March 1915 the fleets made one final attempt to force their way past the Turkish defences of the straits, but with disastrous results. Three battleships were lost and others badly damaged. The Basilisk, Racoon and four River class boats came under heavy fire during the rescue operations after the battleships were damaged. The Racoon was damaged by concussion from a large shell that burst underwater near her.

 

On 25 April 1915 she acted as a minesweeper off Anzac Cove at the start of the Gallipoli campaign. At some point soon afterwards she was hit by Turkish fire while off Seddul Bahr and one of her boilers was damaged.

In June 1915 she was one of twenty one destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean, which now contained all sixteen G Class destroyers and five River class boats.

On 28 June 1915 she was one of four destroyers that shielded the Talbot as it bombarded Turkish positions during the Allied attack on Gully Ravine (Beagle, Bulldog, Basilisk and Racoon).

The Racoon was awarded one battle honour, for the Dardanelles 1915-16.

Mediterranean 1916-1917

In January 1916 she was one of eight G Class destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean, where she was serving alongside a mix of other types

In October 1916 she was one of thirty two destroyers in the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla of the Mediterranean Fleet, which now contained the entire class.

In January 1917 she was one of twenty nine destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean, along with the entire G class.

In June 1917 she was one of twenty nine destroyers in the Mediterranean, along with the entire G class

Home Waters 1917-1918

Late in 1917 there was a change in the use of the G class ships, and most of them were called home to serve with the Second Destroyer Flotilla at Londonderry. The Racoon wasn’t one of the first few to arrive, but was one of nine that were with the flotilla by November 1917. By December that had risen to ten.

The Racoon was wrecked off the north of Ireland on 9 January 1918 with the loss of ninety-five men, her entire crew apart from nine men who had been left behind at her last port. She was reported to have foundered in a snow storm after hitting rocks at about 2am. She was still listed as part of the flotilla in the February 1918 Navy list, but had been removed by the March edition.

Career Summary
First Destroyer Flotilla: 1910-1011
Third Destroyer Flotilla, First Fleet: May 1912-October 1913
Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean: November 1913-October 1917-
Second Destroyer Flotilla, Buncrana, Ireland: November 1917-9 January 1918

Commanders
Lt Commander Arthur G. Muller: 25 February 1911-January 1915-
Lt George L. M. Napier: to 9 January 1918

Displacement (standard)

945t (average)

Displacement (loaded)

1,100t

Top Speed

27 knots

Engine

3-shaft Parsons turbines
5 Yarrow boilers (most ships)

Range

 

Length

263ft 11.25in pp

Width

26ft 10in

Armaments

One 4in/ 45cal QF Mk VIII gun
Three 12-pounder/ 12cwt guns
Two 21in torpedo tubes with four torpedoes

Crew complement

96

Laid down

1 May 1909

Launched

15 February 1910

Completed

October 1910

Wrecked

9 January 1918

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 (8 October 2020), HMS Racoon (1910), http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Racoon_1910.html

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