HMS Lydiard (1914)

HMS Lydiard (1914) was a Laforey class destroyer that served with the 3rd then 9th Flotillas at Harwich from 1914 to 1917, fighting at Heligoland, Dogger Bank and Jutland, briefly visited the Mediterranean to take part in the evacuation from Gallipoli, then with the 6th Flotilla at Dover in April-May 1917, the 1st Flotilla at Portsmouth to January 1918 before spending the rest of the war on convoy escort duty from the Firth of Forth.

HMS Lydiard from the left HMS Lydiard from the left

The Lydiard was laid down at Fairfield on 14 December 1912, launched on 26 February 1914 and commissioned in June 1914. Before the class was given L names she was to have been the Waverley.

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 Lydiard remained base at Harwich unto October 1915 when she was moved to the Mediterranean.

The Lydiard 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 her torpedoes at the German cruiser Mainz, and may have hit her. The Mainz was certainly hit by one torpedo, and sank after suffering heavy damage. The Lydiard fired 239 shells and two torpedoes during the battle.


The Lydiard was part of the 3rd Division of the Third Flotilla during the battle of Dogger Bank of 24 January 1915.

On 30 January U.21 sank a series of ships close to Liverpool. In response the Admiralty ordered the Commodore (T) to send a light cruiser and twelve destroyers to the Irish Channel to deal with the new threat, and he chose to send the Undaunted (Capitan F.G.St. John) and eight (soon increased to twelve) L class destroyers (Laforey, Liberty, Landrail, Lysander, Lawford, Lydiard, Lucifer, Lookout, Loyal, Laurel, Laertes and Llewellyn). This force left Harwich at 10.50pm on 30 January, and by the morning of 31 January reached Milford Haven. At about the same time U.21 had clashed with the armed yacht Vanduara and been forced to submerge. Captain St John sent four of his destroyers to the position reported by the Vanduara, but the report didn’t reach him for an hour, and the yacht had reported her position incorrectly, so they found nothing. The Captain then set up a patrol scheme for his four divisions of destroyers (the 12 L class and four from Scapa Flow). On each day one division would rest at Milford, one would patrol Liverpool Bay, one would sweep from Liverpool to Milford and the last from Milford to Liverpool. This routine was carried out into February, and the flotilla reported that up to nine submarines were active in the Irish Sea. However there had only ever been one, U.21, and she returned home after the clash with the Vanduara, so there were none to find.

Captain St. John’s force was still partly based at Milford Haven when the Canadian Division was transported to France from Avonmouth, and he was given the task of escorting it on the first stage of the trip. The Laertes led a division of destroyers in a sweep of the Bristol Channel on 7 February to cover a planned sailing on the night of 7-8 February, but that was cancelled. On 8 February her division swept both sides of the Bristol Channel and reported three submarines (once again none were operating in the area). The first batch of transport ships sailed that night, and an escort of eight destroyers was assigned to them, but the weather was so poor that the two groups of ships never managed to find each other, and the troop transports safely made their way to France without any escort. Three more transports sailed on 9-10 February, this time with an escort. On the night of 10-11 February a batch of five ships sailed, escorted by the Laertes division, and a final batch of six on 12-13 February, this time escorted by the Laertes and Laforey divisions, a total of eight destroyers. Once they were past the danger zone the destroyers left the troop transports to head for Portsmouth, at the start of the trip back to Harwich. 

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. On 4 March the Lydiard and Lawford departed with the Dongola, but in the dark they ran ashore on the Welsh coast and were too damaged to continue. The troops from the Dongola had to be transferred to the Tunisian, while the two destroyers needed a week in drydock for repairs.

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 the Laverock, Linnet, Lucifer and Lydiard replaced the Laforey’s division on escort duty in the Bristol Channel. On their way the new destroyers escorted the Orion into Devonport for a refit. The Lydiard’s division was sent north to escort the 10th Division as it crossed from Ireland to England.

On 1 June 1915 the Lydiard was part of a force that was guarding paddle steamers which were sweeping a German minefield on Dogger Bank. On 2 June this force was spotted by a Zeppelin, which was itself protecting a force of German minesweepers working north of Heligoland. The Zeppelin was driven off, but reported the sighting. However she got the position wrong, so all but one of the German aircraft sent out failed to find the British. One did find them, and in response the Admiralty ordered the Harwich Force to move west. On 3 June the paddle sweepers had to return to port as they were running short of coal, and at 6pm the Harwich Force left the area. 

On 23 August 1915 twelve of the Harwich destroyers (Laurel, Lydiard, Legion, Linnet, Lookout, Morris, Murray, Moorsom, Milne, Melpone, Minos and Manly) were attached to the Dover Patrol for a bombardment of Zeebrugge by a force of monitors. At the time it was believed that this operation had destroyed the first lock on the canal to Bruges and destroyed two U-boats, but in fact it did little damage.

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.


On 8 January 1916 she took part in the evacuation of troops from W Beach at Cape Helles at Gallipoli, taking troops off from a hulk at one end of the beach. She had to wait until the troop carrier Ermine had been filled, and didn’t take her place until 10.15am. However soon afterwards the floating bridge that was being used to bring troops to her failed, and she had to use lighters to complete her task.

The Lydiard was listed as being in the Mediterranean until March 1916.

On 24 April 1916 the Lydiard left Harwich for a refit at Immingham.

From May 1916 to March 1917 she was part of the Ninth Flotilla at Harwich, the Third Flotilla with a new number.

On the eve of Jutland the Lydiard was one of four destroyers from the Ninth Destroyer Flotilla that were with the battlecruiser fleet at Rosyth. She sailed with the fleet on 30 May.

The Lydiard was the flagship of the combined Ninth and Tenth Flotillas at Jutland, part of the Battlecruiser Fleet. Towards the end of the battle this flotilla was one of the last British units that could have reported Scheer’s location as he attempted to reach safety, but despite a brief clash with the German battleships no report was made.
The combined flotilla was made up of two Talisman class destroyers, two M class destroyers and four Laforey class destroyers.

During the advance east across the North Sea the destroyers were used to guard the flanks of the battle cruiser fleet, while the light cruisers advanced ahead of the fleet. At 2.25pm on 31 May, just after the first contact between Beatty’s cruisers and the German cruisers, the destroyers were ordered to form an anti-submarine screen heading S.S.E. He then followed with his capital ships, in the hope of cutting off the retreat of the German cruisers that had been spotted. The German battlecruisers turned south, and retreated towards the main High Seas Fleet.

During the battlecruiser action, the four Laforey class destroyers from the Ninth Flotilla attempted to get into position to attack the Germans, but in doing so ended up getting between the Princess Royal and Tiger and their targets. In an attempt to reach maximum speed they produced a great deal of smoke and obscured the view from the battle cruisers, but their commander decided to stay where it was in the vague hope of launching a torpedo attack.

At about 4pm Beatty ordered the Thirteenth Flotilla to launch an attack on the German battlecruisers. Turbulent, Termagant, Morris and Moorsom all joined this attack. German destroyers came out at the same time, originally with the aim of attacking the fast battleships of the British Fifth Battle Squadron. The result was a rather confused melee, in which the German destroyers V-27 and V-29 were sunk, but so were the Nomad and Nestor. This destroyer battle ended at 4.43 when Admiral Beatty recalled the destroyers after the German battleships of the High Seas Fleet were sited to the south. Beatty was forced to turn north and begin his own retreat back towards Jellicoe and the Grand Fleet.

The two main fleets finally came together at about 6.30pm on 31 May. By this point the battleships of the German High Seas Fleet were heading north, while the battleships of the Grand Fleet were forming a line running roughly east to west in front of them. For a few minutes the British were able to concentrate their fire on the leading ships of the German line, but the Germans then carried out their famous sixteen point turn, and within a few minutes were heading away south into the North Sea mist. However Admiral Scheer then mis-judged the British movements, and turned back east in the hope that he could pass behind the main British force. Just after 7pm the Germans found themselves steaming straight towards Jelicoe’s battleships, and by 7.15 the bulk of the Grand Fleet was finally able to open fire on the Germans. Once again Scheer was forced to reverse course. During this phase of the battle the destroyer flotillas struggled to keep up with the fast moving battleships and rather disappear from the narrative. After more confused manoeuvres the two fleets came into range of each other for a third time after 8pm, but the Germans turned away for a third time, and disappeared into the mists by 8.35.

Jellicoe was unwilling to risk a night battle, and at 9.17 ordered the fleet into its night cruising formation. The battleships formed up into lines in their divisions, with the destroyers following behind. The entire formation began to move south in an attempt to keep between the Germans and their home bases. By 10pm the destroyer flotillas were in line, with the 12th Flotilla at the eastern (left) end of the line, then the combined 9th and 10th Flotillas, 13th Flotilla, 4th Flotilla and finally the 11th Flotilla at the western (right) end of the line.

The key moment of the night actions came at around 11.30, when the High Seas Fleet finally attempted to pass behind the Grand Fleet and ran into the British destroyers. The Germans would make contact with the 4th Destroyer Flotilla, which was towards the right of the British line. There was then a seven mile gap to the 13th Flotilla, with the 9th and 10th Flotilla close by, and the 12th Flotilla to their rear.

In a series of clashes the Germans inflicted heavy damage on the 4th Flotilla, but instead of rushing to their aid, the 13th Flotilla, which was next in line, believed they were the target of the gunfire, and that there were friendly ships between them and the Germans preventing a torpedo attack. The flotilla leader Captain Farie ordered the flotilla to turn away to the east to get out of range, but he failed to signal the move, so only two of the flotilla followed him. His move also forced the 9th and 10th Flotillas and the 12th Flotilla to turn to port to get out of the way. As a result the British destroyers were no longer in the correct place when the High Seas Fleet passed behind the Grand Fleet. As a result the Germans were able to move past almost without being detected and the one clash that did occur was with two cruisers so didn’t cause any alarm. 

By the time this confusion ended the remaining seven boats from the 9th and 10th Flotillas had been joined by one ship from the 4th and five from the 13th. This force of twelve destroyers was led south-west in an attempt to find the German van, but most of his force passed in front of the Germans without spotting them. Two boats from the 13th, the Pelican and Petard did spot the Germans, but the Petard had fired all of her torpedoes, so was unable to take advantage, while the Pelican was out of position for an attack.

After Jutland

On 5 August 1916 Laertes, Lydiard, Landrail and Lochinvar left Harwich to search for a U-boat that had been spotted passing Dover a few days early, before sinking nine ships between Cherbourg and Portland. They didn’t find the U-boat, but there was a gap in sinkings until 9 August.

In October 1916 she was one of twenty L class destroyers in the Ninth Destroyer Flotilla at Harwich, along with the Lightfoot and Undaunted.

On 1 October 1916 the Lydiard was ordered to go from Portsmouth to Liverpool to escort the Calgarian on the first stage of a voyage.


When the Germans raided the Dover Straits on 20-21 April 1917 the Mentor, Lucifer and Lydiard were in reserve. The German raiders ran into the larger destroyers Broke and Swift resulting in what became one of the more famous destroyer actions of the war. The reserves were sent out but didn’t arrive until the fighting war over. The Lydiard took part in the rescue efforts. The Mentor and Lydiard then stayed with the badly damaged Broke until tugs arrived to bring her back to port. During her rescue efforts the Lydiard had picked up three officers and 27 men from G.85.

From April-May 1917 the Lydiard was part of the large Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover.

In May 1917 the Lydiard was part of the force that took part in an operation to bombard Zeebrugge using monitors. After several delays the operation took place on 12 May, but it had little impact on the operations of the port. The Lydiard supported the Lochinvar when that destroyer made a daring dash towards the famous and heavily defended mole to get an bearing for the buoy marking the bombardment point.

From June 1917-January 1918 she was part of the First Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth.

In June 1917 she was one of six L class destroyers in the First Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth, making up just under half of the flotilla.


In January 1918 she was one of six L class destroyers in the First Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth. They were now the only destroyers in the flotilla, which also included the former submarine HMS Swordfish, now converted into a patrol vessel.

In February 1918 she was serving in the Firth of Forth, and from March-December 1918 with the Methil Convoy Flotilla.

In June 1918 she was one of six L class destroyers in the Methil Convoy Flotilla, based on the east coast of Scotland, to the north-east of Edinburgh.

In November 1918 she was one of six L class destroyers in the Methil Convoy Flotilla.

In November 1919 she was serving with the Torpedo School on the Nore.

The Lydiard was awarded battle honours for Heligoland (28 August 1914), Dogger Bank (25 January 1915), the Dardanelles (1915/16) and Jutland (31 May 1916).

-May June 1916-: Commander M. L. Goldsmith

War Service
July 1914-June 1915: 3rd Flotilla, 1st Fleet (Harwich Force)
July-September 1915: 3rd Flotilla, Harwich
October 1915-March 1916: Mediterranean
May 1916-March 1917: 9th Flotilla, Harwich
April-May 1917: 6th Flotilla, Dover
June 1917-January 1918: 1st Flotilla, Portsmouth
February 1918: Firth of Forth
March-December 1918: Methil Convoy Flotilla

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

14 December 1912


26 February 1914


June 1914

Sold for break up

November 1921

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 (9 November 2022), HMS Lydiard (1914) ,

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