HMS Acorn (1910)

HMS Acorn (1910) was the name ship of the Acorn class of destroyers, and served with the Second Flotilla with the Grand Fleet in 1914-15 and at Devonport in 1915, then with the Malta Patrol in 1916-1918, before ending the war with the Aegean squadron.

The Acorn was laid down by John Brown on Clydebank on 12 January 1910, launched on 1 July 1910 and completed in December 1910.

Acorn reached 27.355knots at 15,072shp at 745rpm on her full speed trials, at a rather light displacement of 735 tons.


From 1911-14 the Acorn, along with the entire Acorn class and the Laferoy class destroyer HMS Lark formed the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, a fully manned flotilla that was part of the 2nd Division of the Home Fleet until 1912, then part of the First Fleet from 1912-1914. At the outbreak of war in 1914 the First Fleet became the Grand Fleet.

HMS Acorn from the right HMS Acorn from the right

In early March 1911 the Acorn and the Redpole collided during night exercises in the Channel. The Redpole rammed the Acorn in the stern, damaging her own bows. The Redpole had to return to their starting point at Portland, but the Acorn was able to continue on to Devonport, although with an escort in case any further problems developed, arriving late on 7 March 1911.

On Saturday 1 July 1911 seven members of the class (Acorn, Alarm, Rifleman, Nemesis, Lyra, Nymphe and Larne) carried out high speed trials off Berehaven, where they were all said to have reached 28 knots. However the weather was rough, and when they reached Portland on Tuesday 4 July they were all said to have been leaking, with some water getting into the oil bunkers. Repairs had to be carried out by divers at Portland.

In late October 1912 one of her 4in shells exploded, injuring two sailors, one of whom (seaman Baird) later died of his wounds.

In January 1914 she was part of the Second Destroyer Flotilla, and was commanded by Lt Arthur Marsden. 

In July 1914 she was one of twenty destroyers in the Second Flotilla, part of the First Fleet of the Home Fleet, which contained the most modern battleships. The Second Flotilla contained the entire Acorn or H class of destroyers.

First World War

After the outbreak of war in August 1915 the Acorn and the entire class formed the Second Flotilla of the Grand Fleet. By November 1914 they had been joined by the flotilla leader Broke. On 19 February 1915 her sister ship Goldfinch was wrecked, leaving the nineteen survivors in the flotilla. By June 1915 the flotilla contained all nineteen of the Acorn class boats and the M class destroyer HMS Moon.

The class finally began to split up in the summer of 1915. The first big change came in September 1915, when Acorn, Comet, Fury, Hope, Redpole, Sheldrake and Staunch moved south to Devonport. They were still part of the 2nd Flotilla, but were listed as being on detached service as tenders to Vivid, the shore base at Devonport. Over the next few months most of the rest of the class moved south to Devonport, while most of the first wave of ships to move south went on to the Mediterranean.

In December 1915 the Acorn, Minstrel, Rifleman and Sheldrake were sent to join the forces under the command of Admiral Limpus at Malta. During the voyage from Britain they were also used to escort troop transports to Malta.  All four remained together at Malta from then until February 1918 (although the Minstrel was transferred to the Japanese Navy by September 1917, becoming the Sendan). At first they were considered to be part of the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, but were listed as serving as tenders to Egmont, the shore base on Malta, but from May 1917 they were listed as part of a separate Malta Flotilla.

In January 1916 the Acorn had just arrived at Malta, reaching port on 31 December 1915. From then until March 1917 the original four of four destroyers formed the Malta detachment. In April 1917 they were joined by four of their sister ships (Cameleon, Nereide, Larne and Nemesis) that had previously been serving with the British Adriatic Squadron, supporting the Italian fleet.

In June 1917 she was one of six H class destroyers at Malta, but one (Comet) was there for repairs.

Late in 1917 the Acorn was used in experiments conducted by the Mediterranean Hydrophone Flotillas to discover if destroyers could safely come to a stop to use hydrophones without damaging its engines. The Acorn carried out a series of five repetitions of a 4min 30sec routine, dropping the hydrophone one minute after stopping the engines, and obtaining a bearing two minutes later and starting her engines after 4min 30seconds. In one test the engines were stopped for 24 minutes, and the steam pressure dropped from 200lbs to 120lbs. The conclusion was that the destroyers could indeed operate in this way, and stop for long enough to get a hydrophone bearing then get moving again quickly.

In January 1918 she was one of six H class destroyers that were part of the Malta Patrol. The official Naval Operations history has her as being at Malta but detached from the Aegean Squadron, but this was probably because that was the official base for all of the Mediterranean destroyers at that point.

By July 1918 the ships in the Malta Flotilla had joined the Fifth Flotilla, which was based at Brindisi. In addition they had finally been joined by the Brisk, which had disappeared from Ireland in June, and arrived in the Mediterranean in July. This was the first time since June 1915, when the first ships left the Grand Fleet to move to Devonport, that all of the surviving Acorn class ships still in British service had been gathered in the same formation. It didn’t last for long, as by August 1918 Lyra had been moved to Gibraltar.

In November 1918 she was one of fourteen H class destroyers in the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, now at Mudros, part of the Aegean Squadron. It isn’t clear when the destroyers moved from Brindisi to Mudros.

In the February 1919 Navy List she was part of the destroyer flotilla at Malta.

In November 1919 she was one of seven H class destroyers in the hands of care and maintenance parties in the Devonport reserve.

Wartime Career
-August 1914-August 1915: Second Flotilla, Grand Fleet
September 1915-November 1915: Second Flotilla, tender to Vivid at Devonport
December 1915: Send to join Admiral at Malta
January 1916-April 1917: Fifth Flotilla, tender to Egmont at Malta
May 1917-June 1918: Malta Flotilla
July 1918-August 1918: Fifth Flotilla, Brindisi
December 1918: Aegean Squadron

Lt & Commander Arthur Marsden: 31 July 191-January 1914-
Lt Commander Morman A.K. Money: - July 1914-October 1914-
Commander William B. Mackenzie: 20 July 1918-February 1919-
Gunner Henry J. Perryer: - December 1919-

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

27 knots


3-shaft Parsons turbines (most in class)
4 Yarrow boilers (most in class)




246ft oa


25ft 3in to 25ft 5.5in


Two 4in BL Mk VIII guns
Two 12-pounder/ 12cwt guns
Two 21in torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

12 January 1910


1 July 1910


December 1910

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 (14 January 2020), HMS Acorn (1910) ,

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