HMS Magic (1915)

HMS Magic (1915) was a repeat M class destroyer that served with the Eleventh Flotilla of the Grand Fleet, fighting at Jutland, then was detached to the Coast of Ireland station in early 1917, before returning to the Grand Fleet, then moving back to the Irish station in the spring of 1918.

The Magic was an Admiralty M class destroyer that was laid down at White on 1 January 1915, launched on 10 September 1915 and completed on 8 January 1916.

From December 1915 to February 1918 the Magic was part of the Eleventh Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet, although from February 1917 she was on detached duty on the Irish station.

She was meant to be equipped with mine sweeping gear when she joined the Flotilla.


On the eve of Jutland the Magic was one of twelve Repeat M class destroyers from the Eleventh Destroyer Flotila which were at Invergordon in Cromarty (one division of the flotilla was at Scapa Flow).  She sailed with the fleet on 30 May.

The part of the flotilla at Scapa put to sea with Admiral Jellicoe and the main body of the Grand Fleet by 10.30pm on 30 May. The part of the flotilla at Cromarty was also soon at sea, and joined the main body of the fleet at 2pm on 31 May.

HMS Magic, Scapa Flow, 1917 HMS Magic, Scapa Flow, 1917

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.

Jellicoe now couldn’t be sure which way the Germans had gone and struggled to make firm contact with Scheer during the night. However the fighting didn’t end. Part of the 11th flotilla was now on the port side of Jellicoe’s flagship, with the flotilla cruiser Castor. They spotted smoke to the W.N.W. and discovered twelve German destroyers apparently preparing to attack Beatty’s battlecruisers. The 11th Flotilla and the 4th Light Cruiser Squadron forced the German destroyers away, and the Grand Fleet made contact with the Germans for the third time. Once again the Germans turned away under heavy fire, and by 8.35pm had disappeared into the mist once again. 

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 fighting had ended with the Germans sailing south, just to the west of the Grand Fleet. Admiral Scheer’s plan was to try and turn east and cut behind the Grand Fleet, to reach Horn Reefs and a safe route home. His leading cruisers were sent ahead to try and find the British, and soon after 9.30 then ran into the 11th Flotilla, which was now at the back-right corner of the Grand Fleet. They weren’t at all sure who was approaching them, and so while some of the flotilla fired torpedoes, most of the destroyers believed these were British ships. The Magic was one of the destroyers that did fire a torpedo, but none of them hit. However at the time it was believed that the Magic’s torpedo probably did hit, as an explosion was reported, and her commander, Lt Commander Gerald Charles Wynter, was promoted to Commander for his actions.


On 31 January 1917 Germany announced the resumption of unrestricted U-boat warfare, and in the first week of February they sank 35 ships in the Channel and western approaches. One of the British responses was to move four destroyers (Magic, Peyton, Parthian and Narwhal) from the Grand Fleet to Queenstown (now Cobh) in southern Ireland, where they came under the command of Admiral Bayly.

Separate records in the British National Archive have the Magic colliding with the Schooners Pet and Ellen Benzon at Queenstown on 18 February 1917.

On 1 March Admiral Bayly sent the Magic and Narwhal to Milford, to take part in the hunt for U-70, which was believed to be about to head though that area heading north. However they didn’t encounter the U-boat.

On 22 March UC-65 laid mines off Liverpool, forcing the port to be closed on 24 March. It was opened again on 26 March and the Magic, Narwhal and two sloops were sent to sea to escort ships that had been stuck at Queenstown to Liverpool. However that night UC-65 laid more mines, Liverpool had to be closed again, and the destroyers and their ships had to put into Milford instead.

On 5 April U-46 torpedoed the SS Benheather off the Fastnet Rock. The Benheather was carrying a cargo of timber, stayed afloat and was able broadcast an S.O.S. The Magic was one of the ships that responded, but the submarine escaped.

On 22 April U-50 torpedoed the steamer Dykland, which was heading to Falmouth with a cargo of wood. The submarine surfaced to ask about her cargo then submerged. Early on 23 April the British submarine H.5 reached the scene and waited for dawn, when U-50 reappeared and shelled the Dykland. This gave H.5 the chance to try and torpedo the U-boat, but she missed and the submarine escaped. H.5 then picked up the survivors from the Dykland. Later on 23 April the Magic and began to tow her towards safety. She passed the task onto the Snowdrop later in the day. The task was later taken over by the Primrose, but on 26 April the Dykland finally sank, still thirty miles from shore.

On 24 April U-43 torpedoed SS Abosso which was heading to Liverpool. She was able to broadcast an SOS, which the Magic responded to, rescuing 189 survivors from the 300 people onboard.

On 26 April U-43 sank the Russian schooner Ehrglis, which was heading for Fleetwood. All seven of her crew escaped into her boats and were rescued by the Magic on 27 April.

Later on 26 April U-43 sank the Norwegian SS Hektoria heading for Birkenhead. Her crew escaped in three boats and were rescued by the Magic on 28 April.

In May 1917 Admiral Bayly decided that his destroyers would operate in pairs when possible. The Narwhal and the Magic were one of the pairs.

On 24 May the Magic collided with HMS Gentian at Glasgow.

On 18 June 1917 the Magic dropped a depth charge on a suspected U-boat.

In the Pink List of 30 June 1917, which listed the location of every warship, she was listed with the 11th Destroyer Flotilla once again.

On 17 September the Magic collided with the Fleet Auxiliary Oiler San Eduardo off Scapa Flow.


From March-April 1918 the Magic was part of the Third Destroyer Flotilla, still part of the Grand Fleet.

On 29 March 1918 the Magic was at Birkenhead, where she collided with the dock.

On 10 April 1918 the Magic was damaged when she hit a mine 1.5 miles to the ENE of Fanad Head. Twenty five men were killed. 

From May-December 1918 she was part of the Second Destroyer Flotilla, part of the Northern Division of the Coast of Ireland Station, based at Buncrana.

The Magic was awarded a battle honour for Jutland.


The Magic was sold to be broke up on September 1921.

Service Record
December 1915-February 1918: 11th Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
March-April 1918: 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
May-December 1918: 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, Northern Division Coast of Ireland, Buncrana

Displacement (standard)

1,025t (Admiralty design)
985t (Thornycroft)
895t (Yarrow)

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

34 knots


3-shaft Brown-Curtis or Parsons geared turbines
3 White-Forster boilers




273ft 4in (Admiralty)
274ft 3in (Thornycroft)
270ft 6in (Yarrow)


26ft 8ft (Admiralty)
27ft 3in (Thornycroft)
24ft 7.5in (Yarrow)


Three 4in/ 45cal QF Mk IV
Two 1-pounder pom pom
One 2-pounder pom pom
Four 21-in torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

1 January 1915


10 September 1915


8 January 1916

Sold for break up

September 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 (8 March 2023), HMS Magic (1915) ,

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us - Privacy