HMS Meteor (1914)

HMS Meteor (1914) was a Thornycroft special M class destroyer that served with the 1st Flotilla after entering service, fighting at the battle of Dogger Bank, then served with the 10th Flotilla at Harwich from 1915-1917 and the 6th Flotilla at Dover for the rest of the war, operating in the North Sea, Channel and Western Approaches. 

The Meteor was laid down at Thornycroft on 17 May 1913, launched on 24 July 1914 and completed in September 1914. The Thornycroft Specials had four boilers and three funnels, while the standard Admiralty design had three of each

In November 1914 she was part of the First Flotilla, which now contained nineteen I class boats and three new M class boats.

On 18-19 October she took part in a sweep by Harwich Flotilla, carried out into an attempt to find out the purpose of recent German destroyer sweeps. On 18 October the sweep found the German SS Ophelia. The Meteor was send to examine her, and discovered that she was claiming to be a German hospital ship. However her behaviour was considered to be suspicious, and she was sent into Lowestoft. She was later examined by a Prize Court, which found that she had never attempted to act as a hospital ship and was instead serving as a scout for the German fleet.


In January 1915 she was part of the First Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet, which was commanded by the admiral in command of the Third Battle Squadron. The Meteor was the flagship of the second in command of the flotilla. She was still part of the 1st Flotilla into March 1915.

At the battle of Dogger Bank of 25 January 1915 the Tenth Flotilla contained the Aurora, Meteor, Miranda, Milne, Mentor, Mastiff, Minos and Morris, organised into a single ‘M’ Division. All eight were awarded a battle honour for Dogger Bank. The fastest four – Meteor, Miranda, Mentor and Milne attempted to keep up with the battlecruiser action, but without success. However she was able to take part in the final attacks on the damaged German cruiser Blucher. She attempted to get into position to fire a torpedo, but instead hit by a heavy shell which detonated in her forward boiler room and almost knocked her out of action. Three men were killed on the day and a fourth died of his wounds on the following day. She had to be towed back to the Humber by HMS Liberty.

On 19 February 1915 in a report on the status of the Harwich destroyers the Meteor and Mastiff were listed as being defective and at Southhampton, presumably for repairs. The Meteor was then listed as being second in command of the 1st Flotilla.

From June 1915 she was part of the Tenth Destroyer Flotilla, part of the Harwich Force. In June 1915 she was one of fourteen destroyers in the Tenth Destroyer Flotilla, which was made up of all thirteen ships in the original M class and HMS Medea¸ which had been under construction for Greece and was taken over by the Royal Navy at the outbreak of war. She was part of the Tenth Flotilla into January 1917.

At the start of July 1915 the Tenth Flotilla (Aurora, Manly, Mansfield, Mastiff, Matchless, Medea, Mentor, Meteor, Milne, Minos, Miranda, Moorsom, Morris, Murray and Myngs) was operating from Devonport, escorting troop transports, either incoming from Canada or on their way to the Dardanelles.

On 31 October 1915 the Meteor took part in a large sweep across the Heligoland Bight from south to north and back again, carried out by five cruisers and fourteen destroyers from the Harwich force. This squadron found one suspicious Swedish steamer which was sent to the Humber to be inspected, and plenty of Dutch trawlers, but no German ships, and was back at Harwich by the afternoon of 1 November.


In January 1916 she was part of the Tenth Flotilla, which was still officially based at Harwich, but that was rather widely scattered at the start of 1916.

The Meteor was one of eight M class destroyers from the flotilla which took part in the Hoyer Raid of 24-25 March 1916. This was an attempt to use five seaplanes from HMS Vindex to attack a Zeppelin base that was believed to be at Hoyer. No such base existed, but one was found a little further inland at Tondern. No bombs were dropped on this base, and the destroyer Medusa had to be abandoned after she was rammed by the Laverock.

Early on 25 April the Manly, Meteor, Mastiff, Lightfoot and Termagant left Harwich with the cruisers Conquest, Cleopatra and Penelope in an attempt to intercept the German forces heading for Lowestoft. This flotilla sailed east at first, but when news arrived that the Germans were probably heading for Yarmouth, it turned north, and moved up the coast inside the British minefield. At 3.50am the German light cruisers were spotted, soon followed by the battlecruisers. The Commodore (T) turned south, in the hope that the Germans would follow, but at first they didn’t, and instead focused on the bombardment of Lowestoft. The British turned back north to keep in touch. At about 4.20 the German light cruisers had turned to the south-east, and soon after 4.30 the two forces opened fire. However the range was too long and nobody hit anything. However the German battlecruisers then came on the scene, and at 4.49 opened fire. The cruiser Conquest was hit by several 12in shells but the destroyers were largely untouched. At 4.56 the Germans turned east to begin the voyage home before the more powerful British forces heading their way could reach the scene. The Harwich force attempted to pursue, but without success, and the Penelope was torpedoed during the operation (although survived).

In October 1916 she was part of the Tenth Flotilla at Harwich, which now contained all thirteen of the original M class ships, the flotilla leader HMS Nimrod and the ex Greek destroyer HMS Melpomene.


In January 1917 she was one of ten destroyers from the Tenth Flotilla that were still at Harwich, while the rest had been detached to Dover.

On 22 January 1917 the Germans sent the 6th Flotilla of torpedo boats from Germany to reinforce the Flanders command. The British intercepted radio communications and correctly guessed that the force was heading for Zeebrugge. The British dispatched Tyrwhitt’s Harwich Force to attempt to intercept the Germans. He had six light cruisers (split into two division), one flotilla leader and ten destroyers from his own command and another flotilla leader and six destroyers from Dover in support. Tyrwhitt placed two destroyer divisions, under the Nimrod and Simoom to the south, seven destroyers (including the Meteor) further north to patrol off the Mass and his cruisers furthest from the coast. Early on 23 January the Germans briefly clashed with the two cruiser divisions, and their formation partly broken, although most reached their destination intact. The Meteor attempted to move towards the sound of the guns, but didn’t get into action. However she did come close to a German U-boat, as a torpedo that had been fired at the cruiser Grenville passed directly under her.

On 10 February 1917 the Matchless spotted a U-boat while escorting a west bound convoy from the Netherlands. After dropping one depth charge she returned to the convoy and ordered the Meteor to take over the hunt. At 11.38 the Meteor opened fire on a suspected U-boat, driving it down. She continued to hunt the U-boat for some time, but it escaped undamaged (possibly UC-4, on her way to lay mines of Lowestoft).

By March 1917 the Meteor had been officially transferred to the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover, and by July she had been joined by her entire class.

On 13 March 1917 the Meteor struck a barrage mine and suffered damaged.

In June 1917 she was one of five destroyers from the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover that was undergoing a refit at Chatham.

During 1917 the Meteor was converted into a minelayer. She could carry 38 large mines or 64 smaller H2 mines, but this reduced her speed. The work was completed by 25 June 1917.

On 14 July she took part in a minelaying operation off the Middelkerke Bank, carrying forty mines on the operation. During the operation the Tarpon, another of the British minelayers, struck a mine which damaged her stern and resulted in her being towed back to Dover.


In January 1918 she was part of the large destroyer force at Dover.

On 21 April 1918 the Meteor collided with the West Indies Docks in London, damaging the docks.

The Meteor took part in the attempted Ostend raid of 23 April 1918, where she was one of three destroyers that escorted the seven monitors allocated to the bombardment. During the bombardment itself she supported the Marshall Soult and General Craufurd.

In June 1918 she wasn’t listed.

On 19 August 1918 the Meteor collided with HMS trawler War Setter in Boulogne Roads.

In September and October 1918 the Meteor along with the 20th Destroyer Flotilla laid 472 of an experimental anti-submarine mine, the ‘M Sinker Mk I’, off the coast of Belgium. These mines were concrete cones that contained 1,000lbs of TNT and that were to be triggered by a magnetic dip needle, but they proved to be too unstable, and many exploded soon after being laid.

In November 1918 she was one of eighteen destroyers in the Sixth Flotilla at Dover, which had lost most of its modern boats and was mainly made up of River and Tribal class boats.

On 21 December 1918 the Meteor collided with the collier Primo in Dover Harbour.

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

The Meteor was awarded a battle honour for Dogger Bank 1915

Wartime Service
November 1914-March 1915: 1st Destroyer Flotilla
June 1915-January 1917: 10th Destroyer Flotilla, Harwich
March 1917-December 1918-: 6th Destroyer Flotilla, Dover

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35 knots


2-shaft Parsons independent reduction turbines
4 Yarrow boilers




274ft 3in oa


27ft 3in


Three 4in/ 45 QF Mk IV guns
Two 1-pounder pom pom guns
Four 21in torpedo tubes with four torpedoes

Crew complement


Laid down

17 May 1913


24 July 1914


24 July 1914

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 (4 January 2023), HMS Meteor (1914) ,

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