HMS Foyle (1903)

HMS Foyle (1903) was a River class destroyer that served with the Ninth Flotilla in 1914, with the Grand Fleet early in 1915 and with the Devonport Local Defence Flotilla from 1915 until she was sunk by a mine on 15 March 1917.

The Foyle was built to the original design, with her forward 6-pdr guns on sponsons on either side of the forecastle. This made them rather wet in some seas, and they were lifted to a higher position on ships from the 1902/3 batch and later.

The Foyle was one of three River class destroyers ordered from Laird in the 1901-1902 batch. They both had two funnels.

By 1912 Brassey’s Naval Annual listed her as being armed with four 12-pounders, after the 6-pounders were replaced across the River class as they were no longer felt to be effective


In late April 1930 the Foyle was at sea carrying out steam trials off Devonport. She and the Leven were returning to port when the Leven collided with the Devonport ferry, suffering significant damage above the waterline. The Foyle was actually ahead of the Leven, but acted quickly enough to avoid a collision of her own.

In 1905-1906 the Foyle was one of two River class destroyers in the Atlantic Fleet, which was based at Gibraltar until it was disbanded in February 1906.

In the spring of 1905 the Foyle was part of a flotilla that supported a royal visit to the Mediterranean. Algiers by Edward VII and Queen Alexandria. On Monday 3 April she arrived at Marseilles carrying dispatches from the Royal yacht. On 12 April the Royal party, escorted by the cruiser Suffolk and the Foyle arrived at Palma, Majorca. On Thursday 20 April she remained at Algiers while the rest of the royal party moved on to Bougie, to wait for the King’s mail to arrive. At the end of April the Royal party finished their tour at Marseilles, where the Foyle caught up with them with mail from Ajaccio. The King then departed for Paris, while the Queen set off for her own cruise into the Aegean. The Royal yacht was escorted by the cruisers Suffolk and Aboukir and the Foyle.

In 1906-1907 the Foyle was one of six River class destroyers in the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, part of the Channel Fleet, which then contained the main battleship force.

The Royal connection was resumed in 1907. In August the King cruised in the Solent on the Britannia, a Royal racing yacht, and the Foyle acted as an escort.

In early December 1907 the Express collided with the fleet repair ship Aquarius off Lamlash on the Isle of Arran. After the crew of the Aquarius patched her up, the Express steamed to Pembroke Dock, escorted by the Foyle, arriving on Saturday 7 December.

In 1907-1909 the Foyle 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.

In 1909-11 the Foyle was one of thirteen River Class destroyers in the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, part of the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet. This contained the older battleships and its destroyers were partly manned.

On the night of 14 May 1909 the Foyle was sent into Dundee to collect stores for the battlefleet which was then anchored off the mouth of the Tay.

In 1911-12 the Foyle was part of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, which was made up of twenty-three River class destroyers and was part of the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet. This contained the older battleships and the destroyers were all partly manned.

In the 1912 battle practice the Foyle came top of her class (River class) with 155 points.

In July 1912 the Foyle suffered a mishap while taking part in the annual naval exercises, and had to go to Wallsend for repairs. The exercise was built around a major naval battle between the Red and Blue Fleets off the east coast of Yorkshire. This must have been quite a dramatic experience along the coast, as the sound of the fighting could be heard clearly onshore.

In 1912-14 the Foyle was one of twenty five River class destroyers that formed the 9th Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, one of the new Patrol Flotillas.

In July 1914 she was one of sixteen River class destroyers in the Ninth Flotilla at Chatham.

First World War

In August 1914 she was one of seven River class destroyers from the Ninth Flotilla that were on the Tyne.

In November 1914 she was one of eighteen destroyers attacked to Admiral Jellicoe in his role as C-in-C of the Grand Fleet.

In December 1914 the Foyle received 252 articles of clothing from the Exeter Line League.

In January 1915 she was attached to the Grand Fleet.

In January 1915 the seamen and signalmen of the Foyle sent an enlarged framed photograph of the Foyle to the children of the Caledonian Road School, Perth, who had sent several hundred items of warm cloths to the fleet.

The Exe, Teviot, Ure, Boyne and Foyle left Scapa Flow heading for Dover and Devonport on 27 February 1915, to begin escort duties.

By April 1915 the Boyne and the Foyle had been posted to Plymouth, where their main job was to escort transport ships heading from Devonport to the Mediterranean or India. They were also used to support the local anti-submarine forces. In mid-May they were joined by the Lawford, Legion, Lucifer and Linnet from Harwich to escort three transports and an ammo ship heading to the Mediterranean.

In June 1915 she was one of six destroyers in the Devonport Local Defence Flotilla, which contained two River class boats and four 30-knotters.

In January 1916 she was one of six destroyers in the Devonport Local Defence Flotilla and was undergoing repairs that were expected to be complete by 16 January.

In October 1916 she was one of six destroyers in the Devonport Local Defence Flotilla.

In January 1917 she was one of six destroyers in the Devonport Local Defence Flotilla

On 15 March 1917 the Foyle hit a mine laid by UC-68 in the western Channel. Her bow was blown off forward of the bridge and thirty of her crew were killed. The stern stayed afloat and at first light was taken under tow, heading for Plymouth. She reached the area of Hewstone, only a few miles from Plymouth, but sank at around 1500.

Lt & Commander Roger V. Alison: 1 February 1912-January 1914-
Lt in Command Henry D. C. Stanistreet: 21 April 1914-January 1915-
Lt-Cdr Frederick Thompson: -15 March 1917

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



Laird-Normand Boilers




226.75ft oa
220ft pp




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

Crew complement


Laid down

15 August 1902


25 February 1903


March 1904


15 March 1917

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 (10 March 2020), HMS Foyle (1903) ,

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