HMS Louis (1913)

HMS Louis (1913) was a Laforey class destroyer that served with the 3rd Flotilla at Harwich from 1914 until September 1915. She was then sent to the Mediterranean, but ran aground in a winter storm at Suvla Bay and was totally wrecked.

The Louis was laid down at Fairfield on 5 December 1912, launched on 30 December 1913 and commissioned in March 1914. Before the class was given L names she was to have been called Talisman.

HMS Louis from the left HMS Louis from the left

In July 1914 she was one of thirteen Laforey or L class destroyers that formed the Third Flotilla, part of the First Fleet of the Home Fleet, the formation that contained the most modern battleships.

In August 1914 she was one of sixteen L class destroyers in the Third Flotilla, now part of what was about to become the Grand Fleet. At the outbreak of war the flotilla was at Harwich. The Louis remained there until October 1915 when she was one of four Laforey class destroyers that were sent to the Dardanelles.

The Louis was part of the third division of the Third Flotilla at the battle of Heligoland Bight (Laforey, Lawford, Louis and Lydiard). During the battle she fired 320 shells but none of her torpedoes.

On 26 November Miranda, Lance, Lennox, Landrail, Leonidas, Linnet, Louis and Laforey were ordered from Harwich to Dover, to carry out anti-submarine patrols to the west of the area covered by the Dover Patrol. This was in response to the cruise of U-21, which was then operating in the Channel and had sunk several ships near the French coast. On 27 November the British destroyers swept the area from Dover to the Needles. That night U-21 passed Dover heading east, evading an attack by three French destroyers. On 28 November the British destroyers were ordered to repeat their patrol to the Needles, but there was no longer anything to find.


The Louis was part of the 3rd Division of the 3rd Flotilla at the battle of Dogger Bank, 24 January 1915 (Laforey, Lawford, Lydiard, Louis).

At the start of March 1915 the Laverock, Lawford, Louis and Lydiard were ordered to Avonmouth to replace the Ferret’s division of the 2nd Half Flotilla on escort duty for troop transports leaving for the Mediterranean.

The new ships were soon put to work. The Louis and Laverock escorted the Lusitania on the first stage of her voyage, then on 7 March escorted the Tunisian from Barry, where she had collected troops from the Dongola, which had run aground on the Welsh coast on 4 March.

On the night of 16-17 March 1915  the Laverock, Lawford, Legion, Lennox, Loyal, Louis and Lydiard were all needed to escort four transports carrying the first contingent of men from the 29th Division as they departed for the Mediterranean. On 17-18 March the same seven ships and the Lookout escorted the second batch of four transports. Two more transports sailed on 18-19 March. The following night was a day of rest, before on 20-21 March the Laverock escorted the Tintoretto, Legion and Lennox escorted the Arcadian, Lydiard and Lawford escorted the Manitou and Lookout and Louis escorted the Campanello. On 21-22 March seven escorts were needed. On 22-23 March only one troop ship sailed, escorted by Lydiard and Lawford. On 23-24 March the final two troop transports left. On the same day the newly refitted Cornwall departed for Sierra Leone, escorted on the first stage of the voyage by Lydiard and Lawford. With the move of the 29th Division completed, four of the L class destroyers were recalled to Harwich, but four were left to prepare to escort the 2nd Mounted Division as it moved to the Mediterranean.

On 22 April 1915 the German High Seas Fleet made a sortie. The British attempted to intercept, but without much success. The only contract on the day was between a force of British submarines posted at the Haaks Light Vessel (accompanied by the Louis) and U-boats from the Flanders force. Four torpedoes were seen and the Louis attempted to ram one U-boat but without success. Neither side suffered any damage during this brief encounter.

On 16 May 1915 Laforey, Leonidas, Loyal and Louis was amongst eight destroyers ordered from Devonport to Liverpool to escort the Mauretania and Aquitania when they sailed on 18 May. Each liner was to be escorted by four destroyers, which were then to return to Devonport.

On 26 May 1915 U-41 torpedoed the collier Morwenna. A Belgian trawler, the Jacqueline, came up and attempted to ram the submarine, which eventually gave up and submerged. Only eight hours after the Morwenna had transmitted an SOS call were the Loyal and Louis sent out from Pembroke to hunt for submarines, and unsurprisingly they failed to find anything.

In June 1915 she was one of twenty L class destroyers in the Third Flotilla at Harwich, still officially a Grand Fleet Destroyer Flotilla. She was undergoing repairs at Chatham.

At the start of August 1915 the Leonidas, Legion, Laurel, Fury, Landrail and Liberty were sent to join the Laverock and Louis at Queenstown, to serve under Admiral Bayly while he hunted for two U-boats that were known to be heading past the Fastnet rock on their way to the Mediterranean. This gave Bayly eight destroyers. Four were used to patrol an area west of Fastnet, patrolling in line abreast supported by the cruiser Adventure, the other four and the cruiser Tipperary operated in a series of individual boxes to the south-west of Fastnet. The first group were in place by 6pm on 8 August and the second by midnight. They remained in place until 1pm on 9 August then returned to port, without sighting either U-boat. In fact the intelligence had been good but the timing poor, as U-35 passed through the exact same area on 10 August on her way south, and two more passed through the area just after the destroyers had returned to port.

In the autumn of 1915 Commodore Tyrwhitt was ordered to send four of his destroyers to the Mediterranean. He chose Laforey, Lawford, Louis and Lydiard, and they left Sheerness heading for the Mediterranean on 13 September 1915.

By October the Louis was anchored in Suvla Bay, preparing to take part in the evacuation of Gallipoli. However on the night of 31 October-1 November she was hit by a fierce winter storm, her anchors dragged and she ran ashore. Her entire crew was saved, but a combination of south-westerly winds and Turkish artillery meant that she was soon reduced to a total wreck.

The Louis was awarded battle honours for Heligoland (28 August 1914), Dogger Bank (25 January 1915) and the Dardanelles 1915/16.

War Service
July 1914-June 1915: 3rd Flotilla, 1st Fleet (Harwich Force)
July-September 1915: 3rd Flotilla, Harwich
October 1915-31 October 1915: Mediterranean

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

29 knots


2-shaft Brown-Curtis turbines




268ft 10in oa


27ft 8in


Three 4in/ 45 cal QF Mk IV guns
1 0.303in Maxim Machine Gun
Four 21in torpedo tubes with four torpedoes

Crew complement


Laid down



30 December 1913




31 October 1915

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 (pending), HMS Louis (1913) ,

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