HMS Alarm (1910)

HMS Alarm (1910) was an Acorn class destroyer that served with the Second Flotilla of the Grand Fleet in 1914-15 and at Devonport in 1916-17, the Coast of Ireland Station briefly late in 1917, then with the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean for the rest of the war.

The Alarm was laid down by John Brown on Clydebank on 7 February 1910, launched on 29 August 1910 and completed in March 1911

From 1911-14 the Alarm, 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 Alarm from the left HMS Alarm from the left

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.

On 26 January 1912 the Admiralty ordered the installation of single sweeps (early anti-submarine warfare weapons) on seven destroyers including the Alarm. The work was completed by May, when a series of trials were carried out. This involved divisions of three destroyers attacked a line of simulated periscopes with gunfire and their sweeps. They were able to hit their targets with gunfire, but the sweeps performed badly against the old submarine A3. The reason given was that the charges were at a depth of twenty feet, but the submarine only at ten feet, which suggests that the circumstances would have had to be exactly correct for the sweeps to be effective.  

In January 1914 she was part of the Second Destroyer Flotilla, and was commanded by Lt Henry C. Rawlings.

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 Alarm 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.

On 15 October 1914 the Alarm was part of a division of destroyers (Alarm, Lyra, Nemesis and Nymphe) sent out to patrol off the eastern entrance to Scapa Flow after the cruiser HMS Hawke was sunk by a U-boat. The destroyers were themselves attacked at about 1.30pm, and both the Nymphe and the Alarm narrowly avoided torpedoes.

The Alarm remained with the Grand Fleet into December 1915, but by this point only six members of the class were still with the fleet. The flotilla had begun a slow move to Devonport by September 1915, and the Alarm moved south early in 1916. She was listed as being based at Devonport in the January 1916 Navy Lists, although she was actually undergoing repairs on the Clyde, with no set date for their completion.

The Alarm was listed as part of the Second Flotilla at Devonport from January 1916 until August 1917.

One of her duties was now to escort merchant ships on the last stage of the voyage across the Atlantic. On 13 November she was ordered out to sea to meet the SS Idaho, carrying munitions from America. However the Alarm was delayed by fog and didn’t get to sea until 11am on 14 November, an hour after she had been caught by U-49. Luckily for the crew of the Idaho, another British warship, the Tigress, was close by, and arrived on the scene before the U-boat could sink her victim!

Another of her roles was to escort warships, and on 22 March she and the Tigress were escorting the battleship HMS Duncan. As a result they weren’t available to take part in a hunt for a U-boat operating in the area.

On 24 March 1917 she rescued eleven survivors from the SS Achille Adam, which had been sunk while travelling on the route between Newhaven and Dieppe on the previous day.

Her duties could often take her a long way from Devonport – on 14 July 1917 she was one of four destroyers (Ariel, Alarm, Brisk and Acheron) that were at Liverpool to escort the troop ship Olympic (sister ship to the Titanic), probably at the start of one of her many trips to Canada.

By September 1917 five of the six ships that had still been at Devonport (Alarm, Brisk, Hope, Martin and Ruby) had moved with the 2nd Flotilla to join the Northern Division of the Coast of Ireland Station, which was based at Buncrana. However the Alarm was only listed with that unit in September and October 1917.

By December 1917 the Alarm had joined the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean. On 20 January she was reported as being detached from the Aegean Squadron, on patrol from Brindisi.

On the night of 22 April 1918 the Alarm was part of a force of light warships that were protecting the Straits of Otranto, while various attempts at blocking it with nets were being tested and built. The Austro-Hungarians decided to attack these vulnerable ships, and sent a force of destroyers south on a raid. HMS Hornet was very badly damaged in the attack, while the Alarm arrived on the scene after the Austrians had withdrawn.

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 with the Aegean Squadron. It isn’t clear when she moved from Brindisi to Mudros.

In November 1919 she was one of three H class destroyers in the hands of a care and maintenance party in the Portsmouth reserve. As with all remaining members of the class she was soon sold off and scrapped.

Wartime Career
-July 1914-December 1915: Second Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
January 1916-August 1917: Second Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport
September 1917-October 1917: Second Destroyer Flotilla, Coast of Ireland Station, Northern Division, based at Buncrana
December 1917-June 1918: Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean
July 1918-August 1918-: Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Brindisi, Mediterranean
-November 1918-December 1918-: Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Mudros/ Aegean Squadron

Lt & Commander Henry C. Rawlings: 1 April 1912-October 1914-
Lt in Command Kenneth L. Campbell: 22 November 1917-February 1919-
Ch. Artif. Eng John M Williams: -December 1919-January 1920-

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

7 February 1910


29 August 1910


March 1911

Sold for break up

May 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 January 2021), HMS Alarm (1910) ,

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