HMS Beaver (1911)

HMS Beaver (1911)was a Parsons special Acheron class destroyer that served with the First Destroyer Flotilla in 1914-, fighting at the battle of Heligoland, then with the 3rd Battle Squadron from June 1916-March 1917, then the First Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth before moving to the Mediterranean in April 1918.

The Beaver was laid down at Parsons on 18 October 1910, launched on 6 June 1911 and commissioned in November 1912.

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.

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.

HMS Beaver from the left HMS Beaver from the left

She was part of the 4th Division of the 1st Flotilla during the battle of Heligoland Bight (28 August 1914), where her division (Badger, Beaver, Jackel and Sandfly) was detached to accompany the battlecruisers based on the Humber. As a result she didn’t as much action as some of her sister-ships, as the arrival of the battlecruisers ended the small ship part of the battle.

On the day after the battle it was decided that the Humber wasn’t a safe base for the battlecruisers, and they were ordered to move to Rosyth, while Badger, Beaver, Jackel and Sandfly were sent back to Harwich.

The Beaver 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 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 5-6 February 1915 the Badger and Beaver escorted an ammunition ship on the first stage of its voyage from Woolwich to the Mediterranean, taking them as far as the Casquets. The two destroyers reached Portland on 7 February.

On 15 February 1915 it was decided to move the 1st Destroyer Flotilla from Harwich to Rosyth, where it was to come under the command of the Vice-Admiral commanding the 3rd Battle Squadron. This would allow eight Grand Fleet destroyers currently based at Rosyth to return to Scapa, which would in turn allow seven older River or ‘E’ class destroyers to move from Scapa Flow to the south coast to be used to escort transport ships across the Channel. The first batch of destroyers from the flotilla (Acheron, Ariel, Attack, Badger, Beaver, Jackal, Lapwing and Sandfly, led by the cruiser Fearless) reached Rosyth on 18 February.

On the night of 27-28 March the Badger, Beaver and Defender escorted the damaged Arethusa class cruiser HMS Undaunted, which had collided with HMS Cleopatra during an attempted air raid on a Zeppelin base at Hoyer. On the following day the Undaunted reached Newcastle

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.

In January 1916 she was one of twenty one destroyers in the First Flotilla, made of the original I class boats and one flotilla leader

In June 1916 eight of the Acheron class destroyers, including the Beaver, were moved from the 1st Destroyer Flotilla to become the destroyer flotilla attached to the 3rd Battle Squadron, a force of older battleships that had been moved to the Thames to guard against any further German raids on the East Coast.  This arrangement lasted until November 1916.

In August 1916 the Defender was still officially part of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla at Harwich, but she was detached at Devonport.

On 3 September she was at Portland with the 3rd Battle Squadron (along with the Druid, Forester, Hind and Hornet).

In October 1916 the Beaver was one of eight destroyers attached to the Third Battle Squadron (led by HMS Dreadnought)

In November 1916 the ships that had remained with the original 1st Destroyer Flotilla were split up, and the title was passed onto the eight ships with the 3rd Battle Squadron, including the Beaver. This arrangement lasted into March 1917.

At the start of February 1917 Beaver, Defender, Druid, Forester and Hornet were all based at Portsmouth, from where they were hunting U-boats.

On 26 February the Beaver sighted a conning tower breaking the surface directly ahead of them and attempted to ram it. The possible submarine submerged, and the Beaver dropped two depth charges, both of which exploded. However the war diary of UC-16, the U-boat known to be in the area at the time didn’t mention the attack.

On 31 March 1917 the hospital ship Gloucester Castle was torpedoed by UB-32 while on her way from Havre to Southhampton. The Beaver was one of a number of ships who came to her rescue, taking 65 patients and 30 crew off her. However the Gloucester Castle stayed afloat, and was safely towed to Stokes Bay where she was beached.

In April 1917 the Beaver, and the rest of the First Destroyer Flotilla, lost their connection to the 3rd Battle Squadron, and moved to Portsmouth.

In June 1917 she was one of seven I class destroyers in the First Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth.

On 7 July 1917 the Beaver was part of the escort for the inbound convoy HH4 when the destroyer HMS Ettrick was sunk by a torpedo from UC-61 that had been aimed at the oiler Madrono.

On 10 July 1917 the hired trawler Vale of Leven was sunk after a collision with the BEF transport Londonderry and sank off Worthing. The Beaver was able to rescue eight of her crew, but four men were lost.

In August 1917 she moved from the First Flotilla at Portsmouth to the 4th Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport.

In April 1918 she moved to the Mediterranean, where she joined most of the surviving members of the Acheron class in the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla.

In June 1918 she was part of the large Fifth Destroyer Flotilla at Brindisi, on the Adriatic coast of Italy.

In November 1918 she was part of the large Fifth Destroyer Flotilla at Mudros in the Aegean, close to the Dardanelles.

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

The Beaver was awarded battle honours for Heligoland

War Service
August 1914-May 1916: 1st Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
June-October 1916: Destroyer Flotilla with 3rd Battle Squadron
November 1916-March 1917: 1st Destroyer Flotilla, 3rd Battle Squadron
April 1917-July 1917: 1st Destroyer Flotilla, Portsmouth
August 1917-March 1918: 4th Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport
April-June 1918: 5th Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean
July-August 1918: 5th Destroyer Flotilla, Brindisi
December 1918: Aegean Squadron


Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

27 knots


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

18 October 1910


6 June 1911


November 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 (4 November 2021), HMS Beaver (1911),

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