HMS Maori


HMS Maori (1909) was a Tribal class destroyer that served with the Dover Patrol during the First World War, and took part in the early bombardments of the Belgian coast, and helped to sink U-8 before she was sunk by a mine in May 1915.

The Maori was one of five Tribal class destroyers built in the 1907-8 programme, the last members of the class. The Maori had four funnels. At first the forward funnel on the four funnel boats was too low, pouring smoke onto the bridge, but they were later raised to try and reduce the problem. The Maori was armed with two 4in guns and two 18in torpedo tubes.

Pre-War Career

In July 1909 the Afridi, Nubian, Crusader, Maori, Zulu and Viking were all ordered to join the First Destroyer Division as soon as they were commissioned, to replace River class boats.

The Maori served with the 1st Destroyer Flotilla, attached to the 1st Division of the Home Fleet, from 1909. Five of the Tribal class destroyers joined the flotilla in 1909, and two in 1910.

In mid-November 1910 the Crusader and the Maori took part in a test of an early anti-submarine weapon, the explosive sweep. This was a long cable that was towed behind a destroyer, and held underwater by a kite. If a submarine was detected an explosive could be released down the cable, hopefully hitting and damaging the submarine. The two destroyers carried out a series of sweeps at speeds of up to 17 knots. However attempts to hit the modified submarine HMS A1 failed - on one occasion she even split the cable.

In 1911-1912 she was part of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla, attached to the 1st Division of the Home Fleet. The flotilla contained all twelve Tribal class destroyers.

1911 didn’t start well for the Maori. On Wednesday 8 February she carried out a high speed run at over 30 knots along the measured mile off Maplin Sands, but she created such a massive wave that the mate of a nearby barge was knocked overboard and apparently drowned.

On Monday 31 July 1911 Lt Randolph Divett from the Maori was court-martialed for steeling £24 that he had been given to pay the mess bill, and for forging the signatures of three tradesmen who were owned part of the money. At the time he had been in temporary command of the Maori while she was at Chatham. His defence was that the money had been stolen from a drawer in his cabin and he hadn’t wanted to report the loss as he feared being charged with neglect of duty. He was found guilty and dismissed from the Navy.

In 1912-1914 she was part of the 4th Destroyer Flotilla, part of the First Fleet, which contained the most modern battleships. She was fully manned in this role. The Flotilla was made up of all twelve Tribal class destroyers and eighteen Acasta or K class destroyers

In June 1912 a modified single sweep was produced, carrying nine 90lb charges along the length of a lower wire. The idea was that the submarine could be damaged along the entire length of the sweep. After promising tests in June 1912 on HMS Seagull, the Maori was used for future tests. In July 1913 it was decided to carry out large scale trials.

During 1913 the Crusader was one of four Tribal class destroyers temporarily moved to the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, after its existing ships were moved to the Mediterranean to form the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla.

In July 1914 she was one of twenty three destroyers in the Sixth Patrol Flotilla at Portsmouth, made up of a mix of Tribal class and old 30-knotters.

First World War

In August 1914 she was part of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla, and was one of six boats from that flotilla posted on the Downs.

In October 1914 she was sent north to reinforce the defences of the Clyde, but she can’t have been there for long, as she was back at Dover by late November.

In November 1914 she was part of the Sixth Flotilla

On 21 November 1914 she was one of six destroyers from the Dover patrol that escorted Admiral Hood, in HMS Crusader, along with HMS Revenge and HMS Bustard as they moved to Dunkirk as part of a plan to bombard Zeebrugge. Eventually the bombardment was carried out by the four Duncan class battleships of Admiral Nicholson’s division of the 3rd Battle Squadron.

In January 1915 she was part of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla, one of the Patrol Flotillas.

On 11 February 1915 the Maori and the Mohawk were used to support a large air raid on German targets along the Belgian coast. They took up position near the normal position of the Wandelaar Light Vessel, to act as rescue ships if any of the seaplanes involved got in trouble. The two destroyers were within sight of the coast, and German guns opened fire but didn’t have the range to hit. During the afternoon a series of German seaplanes attacked the two destroyers. The Maori  was able to manoeuvre away from the attacks, and neither destroyer was hit.

On 23 February 1915 the collier Branksome Chine was torpedoed and began to sink. The Maori was sent from the Dover Patrol to try and find her, but instead found the Oakby, which had also be torpedoed by the same submarine, U-8. The Maori and the Ghurka attempted to find the submarine, but without success.

On 4 March 1915 U-8 ran into one of the British anti-submarine nets and was forced to surface. She came to the top close to HMS Ghurka and HMS Maori, who both opened fire. U-8’s crew scuttled her.

On 13 April 1915 the Maori and the Nubian carried out a patrol off Ostende. During the afternoon they were attacked by German aircraft, but without suffering any damage, but so no German naval activity apart from a patrol by small coastal craft.

On 7 May 1915 it was the Maori’s turn. At the time she was carrying out a reconnaissance of the Belgium coast between Hayst and Blankenberge, to lay down markers for a bombardment by the battleship HMS Venerable. At 1515 she hit a mine. She then came under heavy German artillery fire and sank. Her sister ship Crusader was nearby, and lowered a boat to try and rescue the crew. However she came under heavy gun fire and had to retreat. Nobody was killed in either ship, but the Maori’s crew of 7 officers and 87 men all reached the shore where they were captured, along with thirteen men from HMS Crusader.

The Maori was awarded one battle honour, for the Belgian Coast in 1914-15.

Lt & Commander Henry F.H. Wakefield: 12 January 1911-April 1913-
Lt & Commander Henry de B. Tupper: 3 December 1913-January 1914-
Lt Commander Benjamin W. Barrow: 30 July 1914-January 1915-

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

33 knots


3-shaft Parsons steam turbines
6 Yarrow boilers




279ft 11.75in pp


27ft 1in


Two 4in/ 45cal BL Mk VI
Two 18in Torpedo Tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

6 August 1909


24 May 1909


November 1909


7 May 1915

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 (25 June 2020), HMS Maori ,

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