HMS Garry (1905)

HMS Garry (1905) was a River class destroyer that was attached to the Grand Fleet at the outbreak of the First World War, then served with the North Channel Patrol in 1915-1917 then escorted the Scandinavian Convoys in 1917-18.

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 Garry was one of two River class destroyers ordered from Yarrow in the 1903/4 batch. They both had four funnels, in two pairs. Her sister ship Gala was given a new type of flat overhanging stern, but was lost in a collision in 1908. When the two ships were being designed, Yarrow suggested merging the two single stokeholds into one, so that the forward funnel could be moved aft. The idea wasn’t taken up, but it was revived when Yarrow put in a tender for the 1904-5 batch of destroyers.

The Garry was launched on Tuesday 21 March 1905 at Yarrow.

Brassey’s Naval Annual of 1906 published the results of her four hour speed trial where she averaged 26.51 knots at7,859ihp. They also gave details of her Yarrow boilers, which had a heating surface of 16,000 sq ft (one of the largest in the River class) and a grate area of 269 sq ft (towards the lower end).

By 1912 Brassey reported that her mixed armament had been replaced with four 12-pounders. The 6-pounders had been found to be ineffective and were replaced across the class.

Pre War

In September 1905 a nucleus crew under Lt. Commander R. Collins was sent to take over the Garry and bring it to join the Sheerness-Chatham Reserve Division.

In 1906 the Garry carried an experimental radio set, which she used during the 1906 naval manoeuvres. The radio was placed in the wood locker under the forecastle, a rather noisy location for an early radio. However she was still able to pick up signals at fifty miles range. During the manoeuvres the radio allowed the Rear Admiral (D) to avoid a potentially dangerous rendezvous between two destroyer forces after thick fog surrounded one of the two, proving that the radios were operationally useful.

In 1906-1907 the Garry 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 Garry was part of either the 2nd or 4th Destroyer Flotillas, part of the Home Fleet, which was becoming the main battleship force.

On Sunday 2 June 1907 two of her crew were drowned. Engine room artificer W.T. Mathews was washed overboard by a heavy sea. Able-seaman MacDonald dived in to try and save Mather but both men drowned. A third sailor, Signalman F. Scrutton, also jumped in and was able to keep Mathews afloat, but he was already dead when they were brought back onboard. The incident happened while the Garry was around the south-west of England heading for Portsmouth after suffering from mechanical problems in the Irish Sea, with various press reports placing it in the Bristol Channel, around Lands End or off Spithead.

On Monday 8 July 1907 four sailors, from the Garry and the Patrol were charged with being absentees at Hull Police court and were handed over to a naval escort.

On Friday 27 July 1907 the Waveney fouled the Garry during exercises in the Channel. The Waveney suffered damage to her bows, but the Garry was undamaged.

On 28 April 1908 the destroyer Gala was cut in half by the cruiser Attentive during night exercises off Kent. Her stern remained afloat and was towed into shallow water, where her crew was rescued by the Garry.

In August 1908 J Clough of the Garry came second in the 200 yards swimming at the Invergordon Regatta.

In 1909-1911 the Garry 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.

In August 1909 the Garry had to tow the Royal Yacht Britannia around the Isle of Wight, after the king’s pleasure cruise in the Solent was spoilt by a lack of wind!

On 5 May 1910 the Garry was part of the escort for the Royal Yacht Alexandra as she carried the Queen back from Calais to Dover. She was returning to Britain as King Edward VII was seriously ill, and he died on 6 May.

In the April 1913 Navy List she was at Malta, under the command of an engineering lieutenant, suggesting that she might have been undergoing a refit.

In the January 1914 Navy List she was listed with the Ninth Flotilla at Chatham, one of the patrol flotillas.

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

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 attached to Admiral Jellicoe in his role as C-in-C of the Grand Fleet.

In November 1914 the Garry rammed and critically damaged U-18 close to Scapa Flow. The U-boat had already been damaged by the trawler Dorothy Grey, which had rammed her earlier, forcing her to dive. The U-boat then hit the seabed and was forced to the surface, where she was rammed by the Garry. The U-boat was forced to surface and her crew surrendered, although the U-boat herself was scuttled. The Garry rescued her crew.

On 3 December 1914 the Garry reported that she had detected a U-boat attempting to get into the upper eastern entrance of Scapa Flow. She engaged the target twice, and reported that a torpedo had been fired at her. Commander Wilson of the Garry described his target as having a clear conning tower and two periscopes, and was very sure that he had attacked a submarine. However there is no record of any such attack on that day, and the last known attempt by a U-boat to get into Scapa Flow in 1914 was on 24 November.

In January 1915 she was attached to the Grand Fleet.

On 16 February the Garry, Thorn and Dove left Scapa to form the new North Channel Patrol. They were joined a few days later by the Dee, which had been in dock at Glasgow on the 16th.

On 19 April HMS Orophesa of the 10th Cruiser Squadron was attacked by a U-boat between Oversay and Skerryvore. News of the attack reached the Garry at 12.30, just over an hour after the attack. At the time she was already coming out of Stranraer, with the Senior Officer of the North Channel Patrol onboard. She headed for the sight of the battle, but turned back after news arrived that the Orophesa had driven off the attacker with gunfire.

In June 1915 she was one of four destroyers in the North Channel Patrol based at Larne.

In January 1916 she was one of four destroyers in the North Channel Patrol based at Larne and had been equipped with a submarine sweep.

In October 1916 she was one of two destroyers in the North Channel Patrol, the other two having been taken over by the Senior Naval Officer at Liverpool.

In January 1917 she was one of two destroyers in the North Channel Patrol

In June 1917 she was one of two destroyers in the North Channel Patrol

In the spring of 1917 the Royal Navy began to escort merchant ships heading for Scandinavia, but the most powerful ships involved were old 30-knot destroyers. Admiral Sir Frederick Brock requested more modern ships, and it was decided to send six River class destroyers to the Humber by late August. The first two to be sent were Garry and Dee, who were ordered to leave Larne to move to the Humber on 15 July.

The Garry was at sea when the Germans carried out their second attack on the Scandinavian Convoys in December 1917. The Garry and the Ouse left Lerwick escorting the south-bound coastal convoy during the afternoon on 10 December. By noon on 11 December the German force was actually heading towards this convoy, which was roughly level with Aberdeen, but the Germans then found one of their stragglers, the Danish steamer Peter Willemoes, which they proceeded to sink. At this point the Ouse and Garry were only thirty miles to the south, with the rest of the convoy, but the Germans didn’t pick up any prisoners, and so didn’t realise that there was a major target nearby. Instead they headed north, missing their chance to destroy the coastal convoy.

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.

On 19 July 1918 the Garry was escorting a convoy when one of the merchant ships signalled that they had sighted a submarine. This turned out to be UB-110. The Garry dropped two depth charges which forced the submarine to come to the surface. The Garry then rammed her, which briefly forced her under the surface. UB-110 came back to the surface after thirty seconds, and the Garry opened fire before ramming for a second time. The submarine sank, with the loss of two thirds of her crew. The Garry suffered heavy damage in the attack, but her crew managed to shore up her damaged decks and bulkheads and she reached home safely. After the war her crew were awarded a prize award for the UB-110.

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 February 1919 she was still part of the Seventh Flotilla.

Eng. Lieut Richard S. Pearce: -March 1913-April 1913-
Chief Artif. Eng; Robert Hawton: - January 1914-
Commander William Werden Wilson: 28 July 1914-January 1915-
Lt Geoffrey H. Barnish, DSO: 25 July 1918-February 1919-

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed







231.25ft oa
225ft pp




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

Crew complement


Laid down

25 April 1904


21 March 1905


September 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 (10 February 2020), HMS Garry (1905),

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