HMS Marvel (1915)

HMS Marvel (1915) was a repeat M class destroyer that served with the Twelfth then Third Flotillas of the Grand Fleet, fighting at Jutland.

The Marvel was an Admiralty type repeat M class destroyer that was ordered under the Second War Programme of November 1914. She was laid down at Denny on 11 January 1915, launched on 7 October 1915 and completed on 28 December 1915.

In the Navy’s Pink List for January 1916 she was recorded as having arrived on the Clyde on 30 December 1915, damaged.


From January 1916 to July 1918 the Marvel served with the Twelfth Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet

In January 1916 she was one of five repeat-M class destroyers that formed the Twelth Flotilla at Scapa, along with the flotilla leader Marksman and the light cruiser Royalist.

On the eve of Jutland the Marvel was part of the Twelfth Destroyer Flotilla, which was at Scapa Flow, and filled entirely with Repeat M class destroyers. She sailed with the fleet on 30 May.
The flotilla contained twelve Repeat M class destroyers at Jutland.

The flotilla put to sea with Admiral Jellicoe and the main body of the Grand Fleet by 10.30pm on 30 May.

HMS Marvel, 1917 HMS Marvel, 1917

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. After more confused manoeuvres the two fleets came into range of each other for a third time after 8pm, but the Germans turned away for a third time, and disappeared into the mists by 8.35.

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 key moment of the night actions came at around 11.30, when the High Seas Fleet finally attempted to pass behind the Grand Fleet and ran into the British destroyers. The Germans would make contact with the 4th Destroyer Flotilla, which was towards the right of the British line. There was then a seven mile gap to the 13th Flotilla, with the 9th and 10th Flotilla close by, and the 12th Flotilla to their rear.

In a series of clashes the Germans inflicted heavy damage on the 4th Flotilla, but instead of rushing to their aid, the 13th Flotilla, which was next in line, believed they were the target of the gunfire, and that there were friendly ships between them and the Germans preventing a torpedo attack. The flotilla leader Captain Farie ordered the flotilla to turn away to the east to get out of range, but he failed to signal the move, so only two of the flotilla followed him. His move also forced the 9th and 10th Flotillas and the 12th Flotilla to turn to port to get out of the way. As a result the British destroyers were no longer in the correct place when the High Seas Fleet passed behind the Grand Fleet. As a result the Germans were able to move past almost without being detected and the one clash that did occur was with two cruisers so didn’t cause any alarm.  The Menace and Nonsuch from the 12th Flotilla clashed with the German cruisers Frankfurt and Pillau and were lucky to escape.

Despite all of the chaos and confusion, a large part of the 12th Flotilla ended up in position to launch one final attack on the High Seas Fleet as it passed behind the Grand Fleet. Twelve destroyers and two flotilla leaders were still together, and had been forced into a position some thirty miles behind the main fleet. As they headlined south they ran into the German fleet. The Germans were sighted at about 1.45am on 1 June. The flotilla commander ordered his 1st Division to attack, and signalled the news of the sighting to Jellicoe. The Germans turned away to avoid the torpedo attack and were briefly lost to sight. However the flotilla soon found them again, and was able to launch a powerful torpedo attack. The Marvel fired four torpedoes. One torpedo hit the Pommern, which exploded, taking her entire crew with her. The Germans were forced to turn away again, preventing the rest of the flotilla from attacking effectively.

The German High Seas fleet put to sea once again in August 1916. The Grand Fleet responded by putting to sea on the afternoon of 18 August, but at the time Admiral Jellicoe was further south, on the Royalist. The Iron Duke was ordered to leave the fleet and press on ahead to pick up Jellico, escorted by the Marvel and Onslaught. By 7.55pm the Iron Duke and Royalist had joined up, but at that point a torpedo track was spotting heading for the Onslaught. It missed, but it was clear that it was too dangerous for the ships to stop and transfer Jellicoe. Instead they continued on for another hour, before the transfer was finally made at around 9pm.

On 21 December 1916, during exercises in the North Sea, the destroyers Hoste and Negro collided. The Hoste’s depth charges dropped off and exploded, breaking the back of the Hoste. The Marvel came alongside repeatedly to rescue her crew, and managed to save all but four men, three of whom were killed when they fell between the two ships.


On 9 April 1917 the Marvel was damaged in a collision while entering Wallasey Dock, Liverpool.

In June 1917 the Marvel took part in a diplomatically embarrassing sweep along the coast of Norway, carried out in an attempt to intercept German ships moving between Narvik and Germany. The cruisers Cambrian and Comus, supported by four destroyers were sent to sweep around the southern end of the Norwegian coast from Utsira to the Naze (Lindesnes), keeping outside Norwegian territorial waters.

HMS Marvel and HMS Menace, Firth of Forth, 1917 HMS Marvel and HMS Menace, Firth of Forth, 1917

On 2 June the Cambrian, screened by the Marvel and Mindful was on the inshore side of the formation, and was sweeping along the coast when she sighted the German steamer Gamma. The Gamma ignored an order to ‘heave to’ and headed towards the shore. The Marvel was sent to intercept her, and the Gamma ran aground. Captain Fountaine of the Marvel decided to torpedo her, and signalled her crew to abandon ship. The Germans were already doing so, and twenty minutes later the Marvel fired a torpedo. Her performance was unimpressive – the first torpedo missed, hit a rock and failed to explode. A second torpedo also missed and ran up the beach. The Mindful joined in and fired a torpedo that hit aft. The Cambrian also joined the attack, and the Gamma was wrecked. Unsurprisingly the Norwegian government protested, and the British issued an ‘expression of deep regret’ to the Norwegian government. To make things worse, five of the seven neutral ships stopped on the same cruise also protested, and once again the British had to apologise. 

At some point on 2 June the Marvel and Menace collided, and the Menace’s bows were damaged. This appears to have been early in the day, as the coordinates for the collision place it close to Utsira.

Similar sweeps were carried out on 11 and 29 June, but far more care was taken to stay in neutral waters!

In October 1917 the Marmion, Sarpedon, Mary Rose, Obedient, Strongbow, Tirade, Marvel and Morning Star were all being used to escort convoys moving between the Shetlands and Norway.

Early on 17 October the German cruisers Brummer and Bremse attacked a west-bound convoy that was escorted by the Strongbow and Mary Rose. Both of those destroyers were quickly sunk, and the convoy was destroyed. The destroyers had been unable to send out a warning message, so news of the disaster only reached when the Marmion and Obedient, escorting the next east-bound convoy, ran into the armed trawler Elise, heading west with some of the survivors from the battle. An attempt was made to intercept the retreating Germans, but it was too late and they returned home safely.


From August 1918 to December 1918 she was part of the Third Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet.


The Marvel  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 Marvel was sold for scrap in May 1921.

Service Record
January 1916-July 1918: 12th Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
August 1918-December 1918: 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet

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
Four 21-in torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

11 January 1915


7 October 1915


28 December 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 (27 April 2023), HMS Marvel (1915) ,

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