HMS Archer (1911)

HMS Archer (1911) was a Yarrow type Acheron class destroyer that was part of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla from 1914-16, fighting at Heligoland, but missing Jutland. At the end of 1916 she moved to the 2nd Flotilla at Devonport, then in September 1917 to the Mediterranean where she spent the rest of the war.

The Archer was laid down at Yarrow on 1 September 1910, launched on 21 October 1911 and commissioned in March 1912.

In January 1914 she was part of the First Destroyer Flotilla, and was commanded by Lt. Herbert F. Littledale.

In July 1914 she was one of twenty destroyers in the First Flotilla of the First Fleet, which contained the more modern battleships. At the time the Flotilla contained all of the Admiralty, Yarrow, Thornycroft and Parsons types of the Acheron or I class of destroyers.

HMS Archer from the left HMS Archer from the left

In August 1914 she was one of twenty I class destroyers in the First Flotilla of what was about to become the Grand Fleet, and was at sea when war broke out. The flotilla was allocated to the Harwich Force, a swing force that joined the Grand Fleet in the North Sea and also supported the Channel Fleet in the fight against the U-boats.

She was part of Division 1 of the First Flotilla during the battle of Heligoland (28 August 1914)

Her division wasn’t involving in the fighting in the first phases of the battle. However at about 11am, early in the third phase of the battle, the damaged cruiser Arethusa became involved in a battle with the German cruiser Stralsund. The Fearless and the entire First Flotilla were ordered to launch a torpedo attack on the German cruiser, which withdrew in the face of such a large attack. The Arethusa, Fearless and their destroyers then turned back west. However a few minutes later the German cruiser Stettin appeared from the east, and another fight began, this time between the Stettinand the two British cruisers. At 11.20 the Acheron received an order to lead the 1st division (Acheron, Attack, Hind and Archer) in a torpedo attack on the German cruiser and turned back to head towards the last known location of this fight. A few minutes later they found the Stralsund instead and attacked her, forcing the German cruiser to turn north. The division was then ordered to take part in a torpedo attack on the Mainz, which was repulsed by the German cruiser.

The Archer took part in an attempted seaplane attack on the German airship sheds at Cuxhaven on 25 October 1914. She was one of ten destroyers (Faulknor, Acheron, Archer, Ariel, Badger, Beaver, Hind, Hydra, Lapwing and Lizard) that were used to carry out a diversion off the Ems, which flows into the North Sea close to the German-Dutch border. The destroyer force was ignored by the Germans, and the entire raid ended in failure as the seaplanes were unable to reach their targets.

In November 1914 she was part of the First Flotilla, which now contained nineteen I class boats and three new M class boats.

In November the Archer was one of eight destroyers that were sent from Harwich to support the four Duncan class battleships when they bombarded Zeebrugge on 23 November,

In January 1915 she was part of the First Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet, which was commanded by the admiral in command of the Third Battle Squadron.

On 15 February 1915 it was decided to move the First Flotilla to Rosyth, as part of a larger re-organisation of the destroyer force that was designed to free up some of the older River class boats for service as escort vessels in the Channel. The Archer wasn’t in the first batch to make the move, but does appear to have made the move by the summer of 1915. In June 1915 she was one of twenty one destroyers in the First Flotilla at Rosyth, made of the original I class boats and one flotilla leader.

On the eve of Jutland the Archer was with the part of the First Destroyer Flotilla that was with the battlecruiser fleet at Rosyth, but she was in dockyard hands.

HMS Archer from the right HMS Archer from the right

Until June 1916 the entire class had been part of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla. In June the class was split, with some remaining with the flotilla and others joining the 3rd Battle Squadron, which had been moved south to the Thames. The Archer remained with the 1st Flotilla.

This arrangement lasted until November 1916, when the ships that were still with the 1st Flotilla were split – two went to Dover, two to Portsmouth and the rest, including the Archer to the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport. She remained with the 2nd Flotilla into August 1917.

In late March 1917 Ariel, Goshawk, Archer, Acheron and Lizard were used to escort the battleships of the London class to Portsmouth and Dover.

Towards the end of the war the surviving members of the class were slowly moved to the Mediterranean. The Archer was one of the first to move, and was part of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean from September 1917.

On 19-20 January 1918, when the Goeben and Breslau made their last sortie, she was part of the 2nd Detached Squadron, Dardanelles, and was escorting an oiler along with HMS Renard.

In June 1918 she was part of the large Fifth Destroyer Flotilla at Brindisi.

In November 1918 she was part of the large Fifth Destroyer Flotilla at Mudros.

In November 1919 she was in the hands of a care and maintenance party in the Nore Reserve. She was sold to be broken up in May 1921.

The Archer was awarded battle honours for Heligoland

War Service
August 1914-September 1916: 1st Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
November 1916-August 1917: 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport
September 1917-June 1918: 5th Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean
July-August 1918: 5th Destroyer Flotilla, Brindisi
December 1918: Aegean Squadron

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

28 knots (Yarrow specials)


Admiralty Type:
3-shaft Parsons turbines
3 Yarrow boilers




246ft oa


25ft 8in


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

Crew complement


Laid down

1 September 1910


21 October 1911


March 1912


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 (30 September 2021), HMS Archer (1911) ,

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