HMS Lyra (1910)

HMS Lyra (1910) was an Acorn class destroyer that served with the Second Destroyer Flotilla with the Grand Fleet in 1914-15 and at Devonport from late 1915 to late 1917. She was with the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean from January-July 1918 then based at Gibraltar from August to the end of the war.

The Lyra was laid down by Thornycroft at Southampton on 8 December 1909, launched on 4 October 1910 and completed in February 1911.

From 1911-14 the Lyra, along with the entire Acorn class and the Laferoy class destroyer HMS Lark formed the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, a fully manned flotilla that was part of the 2nd Division of the Home Fleet until 1912, then part of the First Fleet from 1912-1914. At the outbreak of war in 1914 the First Fleet became the Grand Fleet.

Early in November 1910 the Lyra collided with the wall while entering Southampton docks, slightly damaging her bow.

On Friday 7 April 1911 the Lyra ran aground on the western side of the isle of Gairsay, Orkney, but she was soon refloated and was able to return to Kirkwall without any signs of serious damage.

HMS Lyra from the left HMS Lyra from the left

On Saturday 1 July 1911 seven members of the class (Acorn, Alarm, Rifleman, Nemesis, Lyra, Nymphe and Larne) carried out high speed trials off Berehaven, where they were all said to have reached 28 knots. However the weather was rough, and when they reached Portland on Tuesday 4 July they were all said to have been leaking, with some water getting into the oil bunkers. Repairs had to be carried out by divers at Portland.

In July 1914 she was one of twenty destroyers in the Second Flotilla, part of the First Fleet of the Home Fleet, which contained the most modern battleships. The Second Flotilla contained the entire Acorn or H class of destroyers.

First World War

After the outbreak of war in August 1915 the Lyra and the entire class formed the Second Flotilla of the Grand Fleet. By November 1914 they had been joined by the flotilla leader Broke. On 19 February 1915 her sister ship Goldfinch was wrecked, leaving the nineteen survivors in the flotilla. By June 1915 the flotilla contained all nineteen of the Acorn class boats and the M class destroyer HMS Moon.

On 15 October 1914 the Alarm was part of a division of destroyers (Alarm, Lyra, Nemesis and Nymphe) sent out to patrol off the eastern entrance to Scapa Flow after the cruiser HMS Hawke was sunk by a U-boat. The destroyers were themselves attacked at about 1.30pm, and both the Nymphe and the Alarm narrowly avoided torpedoes.

In September 1915 the Flotilla was split up, with twelve ships (including Lyra) remaining with the Grand Fleet and the other seven moving south to Devonport. Over the next few months the remaining ships moved to Devonport, while most of the first batch of Devonport ships moved to the Mediterranean. Lyra made the move between December 1915 when she was still with the Grand Fleet, and January 1916 when she was in Devonport. This only left two of the class still in Scotland.

In January 1916 she was one of nine H class destroyers in the Second Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport. She was undergoing a refit on the Clyde, with an uncertain completion date.

One of her duties was to escort troop transports around the British coast – on 3 December 1916 when the Commander-in-Chief at Devonport asked for six destroyers to be sent out to hunt submarines at the entrance to the Channel the Lyra was absent, having escorted troop transports to Liverpool.

In December 1916 four of the ten Acorn class destroyers at Devonport moved to the Mediterranean, to join the British Adriatic Squadron. This left six (Alarm, Brisk, Lyra, Hope, Martin and Ruby) still at Devonport. The same group remained together at Devonport into August 1917. By September five moved to the Coast of Ireland station, leaving only Lyra at Devonport.

In January 1917 U-57 carried out a series of successful attacks in the western approaches. On 22 January she attacked the SS Bendoran, early in a voyage to Hong Kong. This was a rather lengthy battle, suggesting the U-boat was short of torpedoes. The attack began at 3.40pm when the U-boat opened fire. The Bendoran broadcast an S.O.S., which the Lyra picked up thirty miles to the north at 5.25pm.! She arrived on the scene at 7pm, more than three hours after the attack had begun. The Lyra was able to force the U-boat to submerge, but was then hit by a shot from the 12-pounder on the Bendoran, wounding an officer!

On 10 February the Lyra was close to the Japanese SS Japanese Prince when she was sunk by UC-47 near the Scillies. The Lyra was unable to protect the merchant ship, but did save her crew.  

On 26 May 1917 the Lyra and Lapwing were at Lough Swilly, waiting to escort the Calgarian and four transports coming from Halifax, when U-87 attacked SS Ebro north of Ireland. The commander at Lough Swilly was given permission to sent them out to try and spot the U-boat, but they had no success.

On 7 July 1917 she was escorting the SS Bellucia off the Lizard when she was hit by a torpedo from UB-31. The Lyra dropped four depth charges, and the nearby Lennox also attacked with depth charges, while the Bellucia slowly drifted ashore, capsizing near Beast Point by the Lizard. The u-boat escaped.

On 7 August 1917 the Martin, Lyra, Lapwing, Goshawk, Ruby and Hydra were leaving Lough Swilly to meet up with the incoming troopship Orama when they spotted a periscope and conning tower off Fanad Head. Between them the destroyers dropped fourteen depth charges, but the U-boat escaped. This may have been U-44, which had been attacked and damaged by the Q-ship Chagford, and may have been unable to submerge. After this incident she attempted to return home by sailing around the north of Scotland, but was sunk off the coast of Norway on 12 August.

Although she was clearly still operating with her sister ships in Irish waters, the Lyra was listed as being part of the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport in October 1917. However by November 1917 she wasn’t mentioned in the Navy List, and was either preparing for her move to the Mediterranean or already on her way.

On 20 January 1918 she was on her was from home waters to the Mediterranean, to relieve the Attack in the Aegean squadron. She was listed as being part of the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla from January 1918.

By July 1918 the ships in the Malta Flotilla had joined the Fifth Flotilla, which was based at Brindisi. In addition they had finally been joined by the Brisk, which had disappeared from Ireland in June, and arrived in the Mediterranean in July. This was the first time since June 1915, when the first ships left the Grand Fleet to move to Devonport, that all of the surviving Acorn class ships still in British service had been gathered in the same formation. It didn’t last for long, as by August 1918 Lyra had been moved to Gibraltar.

In November 1918 she was one of two destroyers posted at Gibraltar, having spent the rest of the war based there.

On 8 November 1918 the Lyra was missed by two torpedoes fired by a U-boat in the western Mediterranean, seventy miles east of Gibraltar. The Lyra dropped all of her depth charges and claimed to have sunk the U-boat, but none were actually lost in November. By the time the official history was published it was known that the attack had been without result.

In the February 1919 Navy List she was part of the destroyer flotilla at Malta.

In November 1919 she was one of three H class destroyers in the hands of a care and maintenance party in the Portsmouth reserve. Soon afterwards she was sold for scrap.

Wartime Career
-August 1914-December 1915: Second Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
January 1916-September 1917: Second Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport
October 1917: Fourth Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport
January 1918-June 1918: Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean
July 1918: Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Brindisi
August 1918-November 1918-: Gibraltar
February 1919: Destroyer Flotilla, Malta

Ernest G. W. Davidson: 7 September 1912-October 1914-

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

27 knots


3-shaft Parsons turbines (most in class)
4 Yarrow boilers (most in class)




246ft oa


25ft 3in to 25ft 5.5in


Two 4in BL Mk VIII guns
Two 12-pounder/ 12cwt guns
Two 21in torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

8 December 1909


4 October 1910


February 1911

Sold for break up

May 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 (18 March 2021), HMS Lyra (1910) ,

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