HMS Martial (1915)

HMS Martial (1915) was a repeat M class destroyer that served with the Eleventh Flotilla of the Grand Fleet from 1915-1917, fighting at Jutland, then on the Northern Division of the Irish Station.

The Martial was an Admiralty type repeat M class destroyer that was ordered under the First War Programme of September 1914.

The Martial was laid down at Swan Hunter on 22 October 1914, launched on 1 July 1915 and completed on October 1915.

From October 1915 to August 1917 the Martial served with the Eleventh 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.

HMS Martial, Gutter Sound, 1917 HMS Martial, Gutter Sound, 1917

On the eve of Jutland the Martial was one of twelve Repeat M class destroyers from the Eleventh Destroyer Flotila which were at Invergordon (a smaller part 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.

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.


From September 1917 to December 1918 the Martial served with the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, part of the Northern Division of the Coast of Ireland Station, based at Buncrana

On 2 October 1917 the cruiser Drake was torpedoed by a U-boat just after dispersing Convoy HH.24 off the North Coast of Ireland. Her commander attempted to make for Rathlin Island, and called for a destroyer escort. She was soon protected by the Brisk, Martin, Delphinium, Martial, Lizard and three other destroyers. The Drake reached Church Bay in Rathlin Sound by noon, but began to heel over rapidly and had to be abandoned (later sinking). While this was going on the Martial and the Lizard were sent to divert shipping traffic from the possible danger zone.

On 19 November 1917 the Martial collided with the outer gate of the Alfred Dock at Birkenhead.


On 8 February the Martial collided with the entrance to Albert harbour at Greenock.

On 17 May 1918 the Martial and some of the ships in Convoy O.L.10 ran aground on Tor Point. This can’t have been a terribly serious incident as the Martial was soon at Belfast.

On 21 May 1918 the Martial collided with SS Ardgarviel in the Spencer basin at Belfast.

Post War

The Martial was awarded a battle honour for Jutland.

On 10 March 1919 the Martial grounded whilst entering Holyhead.

The Martial was sold for scrap in May 1921.

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

Service Record
October 1915-August 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

22 October 1914


1 July 1915


October 1915

Sold for break up

May 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 (20 April 2023), HMS Martial (1915) ,

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