HMS Marne (1915)

HMS Marne (1915) was a repeat M class destroyer that served with the 11th Flotilla of the Grand Fleet from 1915-17, fighting at Jutland, then with the Northern Division on the Irish Station.

The Marne was an Admiralty type repeat M class destroyer that was ordered under the First War Programme of September 1914. She was laid down at Brown on 30 September 1914, launched on 29 May 1915 and completed in September 1915.

From September 1915 to July 1917 the Marne served with the 11th Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet


In January 1916 she was one of fifteen repeat M class destroyers that formed the Eleventh Flotilla at Cromarty, along with the flotilla leader Kempenfelt and the light cruiser Castor.

On 6 January 1916 the pre-dreadnought battleship King Edward VII ran into a mine off Cape Wrath while on her way from Scapa Flow to Belfast. After nine hours it was clear that she couldn’t be saved, and the Musketeer, Marne, Fortune and Nessus came alongside and rescued the entire crew. The abandoned battleship sank four hours later. The mine turned out to have been laid by the surface raider Moewe on the night of 1-2 January.

The Marne served with the Eleventh Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet during the battle of Jutland. The flotilla contained fourteen Repeat M class destroyers at Jutland. On the eve of battle the flotilla was split, with one division of four ships at Scapa Flow and nine destroyers with the 2nd Battle Squadron at Cromarty. The Marne was one of the four ships at Scapa Flow.

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.

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 Marne was one of the destroyers that did fire a torpedo, but none of them hit


On 1 May 1917 U-81 sank the oiler SS San Urbino, which was heading for Liverpool. The Marne later rescued her crew, who had taken to their boats. The U-boat was sunk later on the same day by the British submarine E.54.

In May 1917 the Marne was operating under Admiral Bayly’s command from Queenstown, Ireland. In that month she was paired up with HMS Rigorous.

From September 1917 to December 1918 the Marne served with the Second Destroyer Flotilla, part of the Northern Division of the Coast of Ireland Station, based at Buncrana.

On 2 October she was sent to protect the cruiser Drake, which was anchored in Church Bay after being torpedoed by a U-boat off the north coast of Ireland. However during the afternoon the Drake capsized (having already been abandoned), and the Marne was recalled.


On 20 July 1918 the Marne was operating off the north-west coast of Ireland, when UB-124 torpedoed the SS Justicia. In the resulting battle UB-124 was badly damaged and the crew were forced to abandon ship. After twenty minutes in the water they were rescued by the Marne. Credit for the victory was shared by the Marne, Milbrook and Pigeon.

On 11 November 1918 the Marne, Medway, Michael, Mystic, Nicator and Pelican were all temporarily attached to the 15th Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet.

Post War

The Marne was awarded a battle honour for Jutland.

In November 1919 she was in the hands of a care and maintenance party in the Devonport reserve.

The Marne was sold to be broken up in September 1921.

Service Record
September 1915-July 1917: 11th Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
September 1917-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 turbines
3 Yarrow 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

30 September 1914


29 May 1915


September 1915

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 (13 April 2023), HMS Marne (1915),

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