HMS Manly (1914)

HMS Manly (1914) was a Yarrow special M class destroyer that served with the Harwich Force from 1915 to June 1917, mainly operating in the Channel and Western Approaches, then with the Dover Patrol for the rest of the war, taking part in the Zeebrugge Raid.

The Manly was laid down at Yarrow on 12 May 1913, launched on 12 October 1914 and completed in November 1914. The Yarrow specials were the only members of the class to have two funnels.


In January 1915 she was part of the Third Destroyer Flotilla, which was officially part of the Grand Fleet, but was under the command of the Commodore (T) at Harwich. She was about to join the Tenth Flotilla, which was being formed as the M class destroyers entered service.

HMS Manly from the left HMS Manly from the left

On 31 January 1915 the Miranda, Manly, Morris, Minos, Matchless, Milne and Murray arrived at Sheerness to act as the escort for minelayers that were to lay a new minefield on the route used by German ships heading along the Belgian coast towards the Dover Straits. The start of the operation was delayed until 4 February by bad weather, and fog stopped work on 7 February. On 9 February the M class destroyers were replaced by eight destroyers from the 3rd Flotilla. They were then used to support an air raid on the Belgian coast which was planned for 11 February, and were back at Harwich on 13 February. The mine laying operation itself continued to 16 February and 3,390 mines were laid.

By March 1915 she was listed as part of the Tenth Destroyer Flotilla, part of the Harwich Force. She remained part of the Tenth Flotilla until May 1917

On 27 March Laurel, Liberty, Leonidas and Lucifer were sent to patrol between the Mass and the North Hinder Light Vessel, to protect the Great Eastern Railway Company steamers which were still operating on the Harwich to Rotterdam route. The destroyers spotted a submarine at 4pm on 28 March, and spent the night attempting to keep her submerged. Six M class destroyers (Mentor, Manly, Morris, Milne, Mastiff and Murray) were sent to help, but early on 29 March the entire force was recalled to deal with a possible sortie by a German battlecruiser squadron. However it was soon discovered that the battlecruisers had returned to port, so the destroyers were sent back to patrol the same area. At 8.30am on 30 March the destroyers (by now raised to a total of 22) spotted U.24, but she dived and escaped. The patrols lasted until 5 April.

In June 1915 she was one of fourteen destroyers in the Tenth Destroyer Flotilla at Harwich, which was made up of all thirteen ships in the original M class and HMS Medea¸ which had been under construction for Greece and was taken over by the Royal Navy at the outbreak of war.
In mid June the Manly and Morris were used to escort a cable repair ship west into the eastern Atlantic, before returning to Devonport.

At the start of July 1915 the Tenth Flotilla (Aurora, Manly, Mansfield, Mastiff, Matchless, Medea, Mentor, Meteor, Milne, Minos, Miranda, Moorsom, Morris, Murray and Myngs) was operating from Devonport, escorting troop transports, either incoming from Canada or on their way to the Dardanelles.

On 2 July the Empress of Britain left Liverpool at the start of a voyage to the Dardanelles, carrying 4,500 troops. The Manly, Mentor and Miranda were sent from Devonport to escort her through the Irish Channel. Originally they were to escort her well out into the Western Approaches, but she was slow getting underway, so the Mentor and Miranda were ordered back at 5pm on 2 July to escort the Aquitania¸ which left Liverpool on 3 July with 5,939 troops onboard. The Manly stayed with the Empress of Britain until 9pm, and was then sent to Queenstown to take on oil. She was meant to go on to join the Aquitania, but ran aground off Queenstown in thick fog leaving only the two destroyers to escort the massive liner.

On 17 August 1915 seven destroyers from the 10th Flotilla (Mentor, Minos, Moorsom, Miranda, Manly, Matchless and Medusa) along with four from the 4th Flotilla and the Harwich Light Cruiser Squadron escorted the minelayer Princess Margaret as she laid the first British minefield in the Heligoland Bight. The operation wasn’t a success. The force ran into part of the German 2nd Torpedo Boat Flotilla, and in the resulting clash the Mentor was hit and her bows blown off (but managed to get back to port). The Princess Margaret withdrew when the clash began, and when she turned back she couldn’t find most of the escorts and hadn’t laid any mines when the entire force was recalled because a more powerful German fleet was believed to be in 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.

On 25 December the transport Van Stirum was sunk by U-boats on her way north past Milford Haven. In response two divisions of destroyers from Harwich were ordered to go to Portsmouth and then on to the South-west Approaches. Mentor, Moorsom, Manly, Melpomene, Mansfield, Myngs, Morris and Milne were sent, led by the Nimrod. By the time the reached Portsmouth they were no longer needed there, so they were sent on to Milford, where they were temporarily placed under the command of Admiral Bayly but only if there was more news of submarines. The U-boats were active again on 28 December, sinking the oiler El Zorro, but the weather was so bad that the M class destroyers were stuck in port part from a brief foray on 30 December.


In January 1916 she was part of the Tenth Flotilla, which was still officially based at Harwich, but that was rather widely scattered at the start of 1916. The Manly was one of four ships from the flotilla that had arrived at Queenstown, Ireland, on 30 December 1915.

The Manly was one of eight M class destroyers from the flotilla which took part in the Hoyer Raid of 24-25 March 1916. This was an attempt to use five seaplanes from HMS Vindex to attack a Zeppelin base that was believed to be at Hoyer. No such base existed, but one was found a little further inland at Tondern. No bombs were dropped on this base, and the destroyer Medusa had to be abandoned after she was rammed by the Laverock.

Early on 25 April the Manly, Meteor, Mastiff, Lightfoot and Termagant left Harwich with the cruisers Conquest, Cleopatra and Penelope in an attempt to intercept the German forces heading for Lowestoft. This flotilla sailed east at first, but when news arrived that the Germans were probably heading for Yarmouth, it turned north, and moved up the coast inside the British minefield. At 3.50am the German light cruisers were spotted, soon followed by the battlecruisers. The Commodore (T) turned south, in the hope that the Germans would follow, but at first they didn’t, and instead focused on the bombardment of Lowestoft. The British turned back north to keep in touch. At about 4.20 the German light cruisers had turned to the south-east, and soon after 4.30 the two forces opened fire. However the range was too long and nobody hit anything. However the German battlecruisers then came on the scene, and at 4.49 opened fire. The cruiser Conquest was hit by several 12in shells but the destroyers were largely untouched. At 4.56 the Germans turned east to begin the voyage home before the more powerful British forces heading their way could reach the scene. The Harwich force attempted to pursue, but without success, and the Penelope was torpedoed during the operation (although survived).

The Manly was one of seven M class destroyers that put to sea on the night of 22 July to patrol the sea lanes between Felixstowe and Holland, part of a force of two cruisers and eight destroyers. The Manly was in the 1st Division, which took the lead, and early in the morning ran into three German destroyers that were out in an attempt to capture some of the merchant shipping on the same route. The division opened fire for a few minutes before the Germans were able to escape under cover of rain squall and smoke screen. Later the 2nd Division caught up with the entire German force of six destroyers, but after a short chase the Germans were getting close to the minefields off Zeebrugge, so the British withdrew.

On 3 September 1916 the Manly, Mansfield, Melpomene and Miranda were part of a larger force that was at Portland (with the 3rd Battle Squadron and five destroyers from the 1st Flotilla), when news arrived that a U-boat was operating between Beachy Head and Cape d’Antifer. The destroyers were there to protect the 3rd Battle Squadron as it carried out gunnery and torpedo exercises. At first this fleet was ordered to remain in port. By the morning of 5 September, when no more news of the U-boat had been received, the battle squadron was given permission to leave Portland, but soon afterwards two new U-boats were detected. The battleships were ordered to remain in port, while her destroyers were sent out to try and find the U-boats. They remained involved in this search until 17 September, but without success. On 18 September they escorted the battle squadron back to its base in the Thames.

In October 1916 she was part of the Tenth Flotilla at Harwich, which now contained all thirteen of the original M class ships, the flotilla leader HMS Nimrod and the ex Greek destroyer HMS Melpomene.


In January 1917 she was one of eight destroyers from the Tenth Destroyer Flotilla that were detached at Dover.

At the end of December 1916 Commodore Tyrwhitt was ordered to send the Nimrod and eight destroyers from the 10th Flotilla to Dunkirk to guard against the possibility of a German raid on the Downs or the Thames during the darkest nights of the winter. On 19 January 1917 he sent Nimrod, Moorsom, Phoebe, Morris, Matchless, Manly and Mansfield. However they wouldn’t be there for long. On 22 January intelligence came in that a German destroyer flotilla was going to pass along the Belgian coast heading for Zeebrugge that afternoon, and Commodore Tyrwhitt was ordered to try and intercept. At the same time Admiral Bacon, at Dover, was ordered to send six destroyers to Harwich, and chose to sent back the destroyers he had just received to reinforce Dunkirk. They reached Harwich during the afternoon of 22 January, in time to take part in the planned raid.

The reinforcements from Dover were chosen to patrol between the Schouwen Bank light vessel and the South Banjaard Bank light buoy. They were the last group to leave Harwich, at 6pm. At about 2.45am on 23 January the Germans ran into three British light cruisers and in the resulting fight two of the German destroyers were badly damaged. However this was the highpoint of the night for the British. Commodore Tyrwhitt sent out signals informing the rest of the force what had happened, but gave no orders, so each detachment was left to decide what to do. As a result the British force scattered, with some staying in position and others heading to the sound of the guns. The Nimrod and her six destroyers decided to move north-east to try and prevent the Germans retreating. Once Tyrwhitt realised what was happening he ordered them all back to their patrols, and by 3.30am all of the British ships were heading back to their original position. This allowed most of the German destroyers to split past the British blockade, but the S.50 was straggling, and ran into the Nimrod’s force and a second detachment, made up of the Simoom, Starfish, Surprise and Milne. Even now things went badly for the British. S.50 focused her fire on Simoom, and hit her with a torpedo which detonated her magazine. The German destroyer was then able to get away, while the two British detachments became mingled. The Simoom remained afloat but was clearly doomed, and had to be sunk. The British remained in the area until dawn, but the Germans were safely out of the way.

At some point before 18 March 1917 the Manly collided with the Matchless.

The Manly was still assigned to the Tenth Flotilla until May 1917

On 10 May 1917 the Manly collided with a water tank (yard craft 95) in Dover Harbour.

By June 1917 the Manly had been officially transferred to the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover, and by July she had been joined by her entire class.

At the start of June the Manly, Mentor, Moorsom and Miranda were part of the bombardment force that attempted to bombard Ostend. This force left Dover at 10pm on 4 June, while support forces left Harwich. The bombardment itself was carried out early on 5 June, and although the monitors Erebus and Terror fired 115 shells at the port little serious damage was done. The force then returned to base safely.


In January 1918 she was part of the large destroyer force at Dover, and was undergoing repairs on the Thames.

On 31 March 1918 the Manly collided with HM armed trawler Hydra II at Dover.

Manly, Truculent and Termagant formed the escort for the monitors Erebus and Terror for the Zeebrugge raid of April 1918.

Manly, Morris and Pheobe formed the escort for the Erebus and Terror for the less successful attempt to attack Ostend in mid-May 1918.

In June 1918 she was part of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover, but was undergoing repairs.

In July she was listed as being paid off, but she was back in active service in August.

In November 1918 she was one of eighteen destroyers in the Sixth Flotilla at Dover, which had lost most of its modern boats and was mainly made up of River and Tribal class boats.

On 26 November 1918 the Manly combined with the tunnel minesweeper Mazurka.

In November 1919 she was in the hands of a care and maintenance party in the Nore Reserve.

The Manly was awarded battle honours for the Belgian Coast 1916/18 and Zeebrugge 23 April 1918

Wartime Service
January 1915: 3rd Destroyer Flotilla
March 1915-May 1917: 10th Destroyer Flotilla, Harwich
June 1917-December 1918-: 6th Destroyer Flotilla, Dover

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35 knots


2-shaft Brown-Curtis turbines




269ft 6in oa


25ft 7.5in


Three 4in/ 45 QF Mk IV guns
Two 1-pounder pom pom guns
Four 21in torpedo tubes with four torpedoes

Crew complement


Laid down

12 May 1913


12 October 1914


November 1914


October 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 (30 November 2022), HMS Manly (1914) ,

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