HMS Doon (1904)

HMS Doon was a River class destroyer that served with the Ninth and Seventh Flotillas on the East Coast during the First World War, and was the only one of the four destroyers involved in the Hartlepool raid to suffer casualties.

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 Doon was one of three River class destroyers ordered from Hawthorn Leslie in the 1903/04 batch. They both had two funnels.

Brassey’s Naval Annual of 1906 published the results of her four hour speed trial, where she averaged 25.80knots at 7,358ihp

By 1912 Brassey’s were listed her as being armed with four 12-pounders after the 6-pounders were replaced because they were ineffective.

Pre-War Career

In 1906-1907 the Doon was one of six River class destroyers in the 1st Destroyer Flotilla, part of the Channel Fleet, at that time the main battleship force of the Royal Navy.

In 1907-1909 the Doon was one of fourteen River class destroyers in the 1st or 3rd Destroyer Flotillas of the Channel Fleet, which was now becoming less important. As a result its destroyers only had nucleus crews.

During a trip to Esbjerg the Doon struck some sunken wreckage and damaged a propeller shaft. She returned to Sheerness on Wednesday 1 July 1908 to have the damage repaired.

HMS Doon from the right
HMS Doon from the right

In 1909-1911 the Doon was one of six River class destroyers (although the Gala was lost in 1909) in the 1st Destroyer Flotilla, which supported the 1st Division of the Home Fleet. All of these destroyers were fully manned.

On Wednesday 3 March 1909 the Doon collided with and sank the Lowestoft trawler Halcyon off the Owers lightship. The Doon rescued her crew. During the collision the Doon’s bows were almost torn off!

In 1912-14 the Doon 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 she was operating with the C Division of submarines when Lt T.C Meryon was washed overseas from Submarine C.21 and drowned while on exercises in St. Andrews Bay.

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

First World War

In August 1914 she was one of three destroyers from the Ninth Flotilla that were at Sheerness, while the bulk of the flotilla was moving north to the Tyne.

In November 1914 she was one of four destroyers in the 2nd Division of the Ninth Flotilla, now operating from the Tyne.

The Doon took part in the clash with German battlecruisers Seydlitz and Moltke and the heavy cruiser Blucher during the Hartlepool raid of 16 December 1914. She was one of four destroyers that were detached to Hartlepool (Waveney, Doon, Test and Moy), and were already at sea when the Germans appeared off the town. During the clash the Doonwas damaged by the battlecruisers, and suffered two dead (one killed in the battle, one died of wounds later) and ten wounded.

In January 1915 she was part of the Ninth Destroyer Flotilla, a patrol flotilla

This flotilla consisted of the Pathfinder class scout cruiser Patrol and twelve destroyers, and was normally split into four divisions. One would be at Immingham in the Humber, having their boilers cleaned. The other three, each of three destroyers, were based on the Tyne and Tees, with the task of patrolling the area between St Abb’s Head in the north and Flamborough Head in the south. In March this force had to cope with the appearance of German U-boats off the east coast.

In June 1915 she was one of ten River class destroyers in the Ninth Destroyer Flotilla on the Tyne.

In October 1915 her commander, Lt-Commander Harry MacLeod Fraser, was removed from command and told to report to the naval depot HMS Pembroke at Chatham. He was then told that he was to go to hospital to be observed for insanity! In 1918 Fraser attempted to sue Balfour, First Lord of the Admiralty at the time, for damage to his career. He lost in the lower courts and took his case to the House of Lords where he can’t have helped his case with a rant against biased judges and the law! After the war Fraser appears to have become violently anti-semetic and somewhat paranoid. In 1919 he was successfully sued for libel by Sir Alfred Mond, the First Commission of Works and a senior Jewish industrialist, after Fraser put up a poster accusing Mond of being a traitor.

In January 1916 she was one of twelve destroyers from the Seventh Flotilla that were based in the Humber. A similar number were then based in the Tyne.

On 18 August 1916 the cruiser HMS Falmouth was hit by a torpedo from U-66, during an operation by the German High Seas Fleet that had been designed to lure the British onto a line of German submarines. The Falmouth remained afloat for several hours after being hit, and an attempt was made to tow her to safety. On the following day the Doon and the Thrasher escorted a tug to the Falmouth, but despite the efforts of a large force of nine destroyers U-63 was able to hit her with two more torpedoes, sinking her.

On 19 August the Doon and Thrasher were attacked by the German airship L.21 twenty miles off the Humber, but she was driven off by Seaplane 8131.

In October 1916 she was one of nineteen destroyers in the Seventh Flotilla, a mix of River class boats and older 30-knotters.

In January 1917 she was one of eighteen destroyers in the Seventh Flotilla.

On 7 February 1917 UB-34 sank the Corsican Prince off Whitby. The St. Ninian stopped to rescue the survivors, and two armed trawlers arrived on the scene but they were unable to stop the U-boat sinking the St. Ninian. The Doon and the Waveney were ordered to the scene, but the Waveney’s depth charge failed and the Doon was unable to get into position to drop her ‘G’ type charges. 

In June 1917 she was one of twenty three destroyers in a new formation, East Coast Convoys, Humber, that was formed around the Seventh Flotilla to help run the new convoy system.

In January 1918 she was one of twenty seven destroyers in the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla, based on the Humber.

In June 1918 she was one of twenty five destroyers in the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber, a mix of River class and 30-knotters.

In November 1918 she was one of twenty seven destroyers serving with the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla, which included ten River Class destroyers that were part of the flotilla and two borrowed from Portsmouth.

In the December 1918 Navy List she was listed with the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla, but had been paid off.

She was broken up in 1919

Lt & Commander Reginald V. Holt: 15 October 1912-April 1913-
Lt Commander Harry MacLeod Fraser: August 1914-October 1915
Commander Herbert M. Denny (acting): - December 1918-
Ch. Artif Eng. Frederick Smith: - February 1919-

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed







225.5ft oa
220ft pp


23ft 7in


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

Crew complement


Laid down

16 February 1904


8 November 1904


June 1905

Broken Up


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 (3 March 2020), HMS Doon (1904) ,

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