HMS Mansfield (1914)

HMS Mansfield (1914) was a Hawthorn Leslie special M class destroyer that served with the Tenth Flotilla at Harwich from 1915-1917, operating in the North Sea, English Channel and Western Approaches, then the Sixth Flotilla at Dover for the rest of the war, where she took part in the Zeebrugge raid.

The Mansfield was laid down at Hawthorn on 9 July 1913, launched on 3 December 1914 and completed in April 1915. The Hawthorn Leslie specials had four boilers and four funnels, while the Admiralty types had three of each.

HMS Medea and HMS Mansfield at Plymouth HMS Medea and HMS Mansfield at Plymouth

The Mansfield was one of the last of the original M class destroyers to enter service. She didn’t appear in the Navy List until June 1915 when 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. She remained in the Tenth Flotilla until May 1917.

On 14 June 1915 the Aurura, Mansfield, Matchless, Minos and Myngs arrived at Milford to help escort the 13th Division on the first stages of the voyage from Britain to the Mediterranean.

On 16 June 1915 the Mansfield and Matchless escorted the first transport ship out from Milford.

On 28 June 1915 the mule ship Armenian was sunk by U-24. Her crew were rescued by a Belgian trawler and then passed to the Mansfield and Milne, which were still operating on the escort duties and had been sent out after the Armenian broadcast an S.O.S.o

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 4-5 August 1915 the Mentor, Mansfield, Medea and Medusa supported the cruisers Arethusa, Conquest, Aurora and Undaunted during a sweep through the Heligoland Bight as far as Terschelling off the north Dutch coast, in the hope of finding a German trawler and torpedo boat patrol that had been reported in the area. The cruisers sweep in line abreast with a gap of five miles between each ship, with one destroyer attached to each cruiser for boarding actions. No German ships were found and the force returned safely to Harwich.

On 31 October 1915 the Mansfield took part in a large sweep across the Heligoland Bight from south to north and back again, carried out by five cruisers and fourteen destroyers from the Harwich force. This squadron found one suspicious Swedish steamer which was sent to the Humber to be inspected, and plenty of Dutch trawlers, but no German ships, and was back at Harwich by the afternoon of 1 November.

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 Mansfield arrived at Milford on 27 December 1915.

The Mansfield 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. During the search for the returning aircraft the Morris, Mansfield and Murray sank two German armed trawlers, the Braunschweig and Otto Rudolf, off the northern tip of Sylt Island.

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. The Mansfield and Matchless followed soon afterwards and the Mentor at 3.05am. 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 Mansfield 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 Mansfield 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 ten destroyers from the Tenth Flotilla that were still at Harwich, while the rest had been detached to 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.

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

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

In June 1917 she was one of twenty nine destroyers in the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover.

On 12 November 1917 the Mansfield and Mastiff collided bear the South Goodwin light vessel.


In January 1918 she was part of the large destroyer force at Dover.

On 12 April 1917 the Manfield collided with HMCMB No.7.

Mansfield and Trident formed Unit M during the Zeebrugge Raid of 23 April 1918. During the approach to Zeebrugge she was used to tow the submarine HMS C3 to her starting position for the attack.

The Mansfield was part of the 33rd Division during the attempted attack on Ostend on 9 May 1918, which failed to achieve its objectives.

In June 1918 she was part of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover,

In November 1918 she was one of eleven destroyers that had been transferred from Dover to form the Twenty-First Destroyer Flotilla, under the command of the Grand Fleet.

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

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

Wartime Service
June 1915-May 1917: 10th Destroyer Flotilla, Harwich
June 1917-August 1918-: 6th Destroyer Flotilla, Dover
November-December 1918-: 21st Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet

Displacement (standard)

Hawthorn Leslie: 1,055t

Displacement (loaded)

Admiralty design: 1,100t

Top Speed

35 knots


2-shaft Parsons independent reduction turbines
4 Yarrow boilers




271ft 6in oa




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

Crew complement


Laid down

9 July 1913


3 December 1914


April 1915


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 (7 December 2022), HMS Mansfield (1914),

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