HMS Wear (1905)

HMS Wear (1905) was a River class destroyer that served with the Ninth Flotilla on the Tyne in 1914, at the Dardanelles in 1915 where she supported both the naval and land phases of the battle, then remained in the Mediterranean as part of the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla for the rest of the war.

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 Wear appears to have been built without the sponsons, and with the guns on the side of the bridge.

The Swale, Ure and Wear were all built with automatic forced lubrication gear that had been tested in HMS Syren in April 1903. This pumped oil into the bearings, removing the need to have this done manually.

The Wear was one of thee River class destroyers ordered from Palmers in the 1903/4 batch. They all had four funnels, in two pairs.

Brassey’s Naval Annual of 1906 reported the results of her official trials. She averaged 25.62 knots at 7,294ihp during her four hour speed trial. They also gave the details of her boilers, which had 15,520sq.ft. of heating surfaces and 319 sq.ft of grate area. Each builder was able to use their own boilers. The Reed boilers used on the Palmers River class boats had the largest grate area, but were in the middle on heating surface.

In 1907-8 the Wear was one of a number of River class destroyers that had their five 6-pounders removed and replaced with three 12-pounder 8cwt guns, two replacing the forward 6-pounders and one on the centerline aft.

Pre-War Career

The Wear arrived at Sheerness from Jarrow in early August 1905. She was commissioned into the Sheerness-Chatham reserve division.

In 1906-1907 the Wear was part of the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, part of the Channel Fleet, which was then the Royal Navy’s main battleship force.

On Saturday 6 October 1906 one of her crew had a lucky escape at Sheerness. Leading Stoker Duncan McCulman spotted a sailor from the Swale in the water, and attempted to rescue him. While the Swale man was able to get ashore, McCulman’s foot got tangled up in the iron supports of the pier and he was unable to escape. By the time he was rescued the water had reached his neck!

In 1907-1909 the Wear was part of either the 2nd or 4th Destroyer Flotillas, part of the Home Fleet, which was becoming the main battleship force.

On Saturday 12 January 1907 the Wear was off Beachy Head with the Sheerness flotilla when she collided with the West Hartlepool steamer Etna. The Wear was badly damaged in the collision, losing 30 feet of side plating on the starboard side. She was able to reach Stokes Bay, escorted by the Earnest, and then went on to Portsmouth for repairs. She was considered to be lucky not to have sunk, and the credit was given to the bulkheads protecting the machinery spaces, which survived, keeping the engine rooms dry. The Etna was also serious damaged and had to make for Dover. In the aftermath of the first collision the Wear also collided with the Ness, caused damage below the waterline on her starboard side.

In the aftermath of the collision the Admiralty sued the Etna’s owner. In December 1907 Mr Justice Bucknill judged that both sides were partly to blame – the Etna for getting between two divisions of a destroyer flotilla, and the Wear for not reacting quickly enough. As a result the Admiralty was awarded part of their claim. The case of the Wear was later raised in Parliament, when it was revealed that it had taken nineteen weeks to carry out the repairs, as some special materials were needed that weren’t in stock.

In 1909-1911 the Wear was one of seven River class destroyers in the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, part of the 2nd Division of the Home Fleet. This was a front line force and its destroyers were fully manned.

In 1911-12 the Wear 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.

In 1912-14 the Wear was one of twenty five River class destroyers that formed the 9th Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, one of the new Patrol Flotillas.

In January 1913 the Wear was at Dundee when the naval base was visited by a high powered party, including Winston Churchill and Violet Asquith, the Prime Minister’s daughter.

In the January 1914 Navy List she was listed as being under the orders of the Admiral Commanding Coast Guard and Reserves, North Sea Fisheries.

In July 1914 she wasn’t listed in the Pink List.

First World War

In August 1914 she was part of the Ninth Patrol Flotilla, and was one of three destroyers from the flotilla based at Sheerness.

In September 1914 she was undergoing a refit at Gibraltar and was without a crew. The Minerva departed from England on 11 September heading for the Mediterranean, and also carrying a crew for the Wear, which was to be commissioned for local service in the Gibraltar Straits Patrol. Her job was to search vessels passing through the straits, and over the winter of 1914-15 the patrol searched over 1,000 ships per month. In the build-up to the Dardanelles campaign the patrol was also meant to watch out for any U-boats entering the Mediterranean, although without much success.

In November 1914 she was officially part of the Ninth Flotilla on the Tyne, but was actually at Gibraltar. She was listed as being at Gibraltar in the January 1915 Navy List.

Early in 1915 she was sent to the Dardanelles.

She was present on 18 March 1915 when the British and French fleets carried out a heavy bombardment of the Ottoman forts in the Dardanelles. The idea was for the battleships to bombard the forts from a distance to allow the minesweepers to do their work, before moving in to close range to finish the job. The result was the loss of the French battleship Bouvet and the British battleship HMS Irresistible, both of which hit mines. The Wear was sent in to help the damaged Irresistible, but by the time she arrived it was already clear that the battleship couldn’t be saved. The Wear managed to rescue 28 officers and 582 men from the Irresistible, despite being under heavy fire. The Wear was then sent back to order the Ocean to give up an attempt to tow the Irresistible to safety, but the Ocean also hit a mine and was lost.

In mid-April the Wear and the Welland, supported by the cruiser HMS Minerva, were blockading Smyrna, to prevent the Ottoman naval forces there attacking the transports bringing troops to the area ready for the attack at Gallipoli. However they failed to spot the torpedo boat Demir Hissar, which managed to get to sea on 16 April and intercepted the Manitou, which was carrying the 147th Brigade R.F.A, a transport unit and an infantry working party. The German captain of the torpedo boat ordered her crew and passengers to abandon ship, but his attempts to torpedo her failed after two torpedoes missed! By this point a sizable British naval force was heading to the scene, including the Wear. The Kennet and Jed spotted the torpedo boat, and chased her towards the oncoming Wear. When it was clear that they couldn’t escape, the torpedo boat was beached in Kalamati Bay and her crew interned by the Greeks.

In June 1915 she was one of twenty two destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean, supporting operations at Gallipoli.

In January 1916 she was one of eight River Class destroyers in the sizable destroyer forces in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In October 1916 she was one of seven River Class destroyers in the large Fifth Destroyer Flotilla of the Mediterranean Fleet.

The Wear was awarded a battle honour for her service off the Dardanelles in 1915-16.

In January 1917 she was one of eight River Class destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In June 1917 she was one of eight River Class destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In January 1918 she was one of eight River Class destroyers in the Mediterranean (serving with the Aegean Squadron), and was undergoing repairs at Malta. She was thus out action when the Goeben and Breslau made their disastrous sortie in January 1918.

In June 1918 she was one of eight River Class destroyers in the large Fifth Destroyer Flotilla based at Brindisi, but in the July 1918 Navy List she was listed as being back at Malta. She was still there in the August and October 1918 lists.

In November 1918 she was one of eight River Class destroyers in the large Firth Destroyer Flotilla based at Mudros.

By February 1919 she had been ordered to return home.

Lt & Commander Frederic G. Schurr: 18 January 1912-April 1913-
Lt & Commander Oswald T. Hodgson: 14 November 1913-January 1914-
Captain (retired) Christopher P. Metcalfe: -January-March 1915-
Lt in Command: Frederick T. Stringer: 14 May 1918-February 1919-

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed







230ft oa
225ft pp


23ft 11in


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

Crew complement


Laid down

7 March 1904


21 January 1905


August 1905

Broken Up


Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (3 December 2019), HMS Wear (1905) ,

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