HMS Fearless

HMS Fearless was an Active class scout cruiser that led the 1st Destroyer Flotilla from 1914 until 1916, taking part in the battles of Heligoland Bight (28 August 1914) and of Jutland (31 May-1 June 1914).

HMS Fearless from the right
HMS Fearless from the right

At the start of the First World War the 1st Destroyer Flotilla was part of the Harwich force. Her first clash with the Germans came on 18 August. The flotilla was patrolling in the Broad Fourteens when at 6.30am it encountered a German cruiser believed to be either the Roon or the Yorck. The Fearless was forced to turn and flee, soon escaping from this more powerful but slower opponent. She then encountered the light cruiser Rostock, but by now the flotilla had been scattered, and so once again the Fearless was forced to retreat. At 7.00am the Rostock gave up the chase. The Fearless gathered her destroyers and turned back to chase the German cruiser, but without success.

The 1st and 3rd Destroyer Flotillas were the main force used to raid the Heligoland Bight on 28 August 1914. The 3rd Flotilla took the lead, with Fearless and the 1st Flotilla two miles behind. In the first phase of the battle Fearless and her destroyers chased the German cruiser Stettin across the bight and into the cover of the Heligoland forts. They then returned west, catching and destroying the German destroyer V 187 on the way. Later in the battle the Fearless fired a torpedo at the German cruiser Mainz, but the torpedo suffered a gyroscope failure, forcing Fearless to take evasive action to avoid being hit herself. Once this damage was averted she then helped to disable the German cruiser.

On 25 December the Fearless was used to escort the seaplane carriers that took part in the attack on the German Zeppelin sheds at Cuxhaven. She was in dockyard hands in January 1915, and so missed the battle of Dogger Bank.

In February 1915 Fearless and the 1st Destroyer Flotilla were moved to Rosyth as part of a redistribution of the fleet designed to improve the defences of the East Coast. This move meant that Fearless and nine destroyers from the 1st Flotilla took part in the battle of Jutland, forming part of Admiral Beatty’s Battle Cruiser Force. Fearless was detached from the fleet early on 1 June to escort the badly damaged battleship HMS Marlborough back to port.

From 1916 to the end of the war the Fearless was the leader of the 12th Submarine Flotilla of the Grand Fleet, made up of “K” class submarines. On 31 January 1918 she accidentally rammed and sank the submarine K 17 in what became known as the “battle of May Island”.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – deck


 - conning tower





Ten 4in Mk VIII guns
Four 3pdr guns
Two 18in torpedo tubes

Crew complement



12 June 1912


October 1913


Captain W. F. Blunt
Captain Roper

Sold for break up


Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (16 November 2007), HMS Fearless,

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