HMS Martin (1910)

HMS Martin (1910) was an Acorn class destroyer that served with the Second Destroyer Flotilla with the Grand Fleet in 1914-15, at Devonport from late 1915 to late 1917 and then on the Irish Station, before moving to the Mediterranean where she spent all of 1918.

HMS Martin from the left HMS Martin from the left

The Martin was laid down by Thornycroft at Southampton on 21 December 1909, launched on 15 December 1910 and completed in March 1911.

From 1911-14 the Martin, along with the entire Acorn class and the Laferoy class destroyer HMS Lark formed the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, a fully manned flotilla that was part of the 2nd Division of the Home Fleet until 1912, then part of the First Fleet from 1912-1914. At the outbreak of war in 1914 the First Fleet became the Grand Fleet.

In July 1914 she was one of twenty destroyers in the Second Flotilla, part of the First Fleet of the Home Fleet, which contained the most modern battleships. The Second Flotilla contained the entire Acorn or H class of destroyers.

First World War

After the outbreak of war in August 1915 the Martin and the entire class formed the Second Flotilla of the Grand Fleet. By November 1914 they had been joined by the flotilla leader Broke. On 19 February 1915 her sister ship Goldfinch was wrecked, leaving the nineteen survivors in the flotilla. By June 1915 the flotilla contained all nineteen of the Acorn class boats and the M class destroyer HMS Moon.

In September 1915 the flotilla was split up. Martin was one of twelve that remained with the Grand Fleet, while seven moved to Devonport. Over the next few months that first batch of ships would move on to the Mediterranean, while the ships still with the Grand Fleet would move south to replace them. Martin was still in Scotland in November 1915, but had moved south to Devonport by December 1915.

One of her duties was to carry out sweeps of the Channel hunting for submarines, but without any effective way of detecting them this was often a futile exercise. On 8 November 1916 the Martin, Brisk and Unity from Devonport and Cockatrice from Portland had set out on a sweep, but on 10 November they didn’t even report hearing a gun battle between a submarine and two British armed trawlers!

One of her duties was to escort significant convoys to port (mainly troopships and munitions ships), but this didn’t always go well. On 25 January 1917 the Hydra, Tigress, Ruby, Brisk and Goshawk sailed to meet with an incoming convoy on the last stage of a voyage from Australia, but bad weather forced them to take shelter in the Scillies. Luckily for the convoy another group of five destroyers, led by the Martin happened to be at the rendezvous point, having escorted an outbound convoy, so they were able to take over the task.

On 19 February 1917 the Martin was escorting the SS Headley, inbound from Portland, Maine, when she was torpedoed by U-60. The Martin didn’t spot the submarine, but could see the torpedo track, and steamed back down it, dropping a depth charge. This would seem to have done some damage, as a sailor being held captive onboard the U-boat later reported that she was hit, and her fresh water tanks damaged.

On 7 August 1917 the Martin, Lyra, Lapwing, Goshawk, Ruby and Hydra were leaving Lough Swilly to meet up with the incoming troopship Orama when they spotted a periscope and conning tower off Fanad Head. Between them the destroyers dropped fourteen depth charges, but the U-boat escaped. This may have been U-44, which had been attacked and damaged by the Q-ship Chagford, and may have been unable to submerge. After this incident she attempted to return home by sailing around the north of Scotland, but was sunk off the coast of Norway on 12 August.

By September 1917 five of the six ships that had still been at Devonport (Alarm, Brisk, Hope, Martin and Ruby) had moved with the 2nd Flotilla to join the Northern Division of the Coast of Ireland Station, which was based at Buncrana.

On 2 October 1917 the cruiser Drake was torpedoed by U-79 off the coast of Northern Ireland. She reached Church Bay on Rathlin Island, but it soon became clear that she couldn’t be saved. The Martin and the Delphinium rescued her crew, and later on the same day the Drake capsized.

In November 1917 Alarm, Hope and Ruby were no longer listed as being in Ireland, leaving only Brisk and Martin. However the Brisk had hit a mine on 2 October, so was out of action for some time, effectively leaving only the Martin.

In the January 1918 Pink List of warship locations she was one of two H class destroyers in the large Second Destroyer Flotilla at Londonderry but was undergoing repairs at Portsmouth. However the Navy List shows that by the end of the month she had reached the Mediterranean where she joined the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla.

By July 1918 the ships in the Malta Flotilla had joined the Fifth Flotilla, which was based at Brindisi. In addition they had finally been joined by the Brisk, which had disappeared from Ireland in June, and arrived in the Mediterranean in July. This was the first time since June 1915, when the first ships left the Grand Fleet to move to Devonport, that all of the surviving Acorn class ships still in British service had been gathered in the same formation. It didn’t last for long, as by August 1918 Lyra had been moved to Gibraltar.

In November 1918 she was one of fourteen H class destroyers in the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, now at Mudros.

In the February 1919 Navy List she was part of the destroyer flotilla at Malta.

In November 1919 she was one of three H class destroyers in the hands of a care and maintenance party in the Portsmouth reserve.

. Wartime Career
-August 1914- November 1915: Second Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
December 1915-August 1917: Second Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport
September 1917-November 1917: Second Destroyer Flotilla, Coast of Ireland Station, Northern Division, based at Buncrana
-January-1918-: Second Destroyer Flotilla, Londonderry (under repair)
January 1918-June 1918: Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean
July 1918-August 1918-: Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Brindisi
-December 1918-February 1919-: Aegean Squadron, Mudros

Commander Harold E. Sulivan: 2 January 1913-October 1914-

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

27 knots


3-shaft Parsons turbines (most in class)
4 Yarrow boilers (most in class)




246ft oa


25ft 3in to 25ft 5.5in


Two 4in BL Mk VIII guns
Two 12-pounder/ 12cwt guns
Two 21in torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

21 December 1909


15 December 1910


March 1911

Sold for break up

August 1920

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 March 2021), HMS Martin (1910) ,

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