HMS Milne (1914)

HMS Milne (1914) was an Admiralty type M class destroyer that entered service with the 3rd Flotilla, but served with the 10th Flotilla in 1915-1917, then the 6th Flotilla at Dover, before ending the war as part of a newly formed 21st Flotilla in the Grand Fleet. She fought at the battle of Dogger Bank, and in 1917 rammed and sank UC-26.

The Milne was laid down at Browns on 18 December 1913, launched on 5 October 1914 and completed in December 1914. The Admiralty type had three boilers and three funnels

In January 1915 she was part of the Third Destroyer Flotilla, part of the Grand Fleet, and under the command of the Commodore (T), but was about to join the Tenth Flotilla.

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.

On 31 January 1915 the Miranda, Manly, Morris, Minos, Matchless, Milne and Murray arrived at Sheerness to act as the escort for minelayers that were to lay a new minefield on the route used by German ships heading along the Belgian coast towards the Dover Straits. The start of the operation was delayed until 4 February by bad weather, and fog stopped work on 7 February. On 9 February the M class destroyers were replaced by eight destroyers from the 3rd Flotilla. They were then used to support an air raid on the Belgian coast which was planned for 11 February, and were back at Harwich on 13 February. The mine laying operation itself continued to 16 February and 3,390 mines were laid.

From March 1915 she was part of the Tenth Destroyer Flotilla, part of the Harwich Force. She remained part of the Tenth Flotilla into May 1917

On 27 March Laurel, Liberty, Leonidas and Lucifer were sent to patrol between the Mass and the North Hinder Light Vessel, to protect the Great Eastern Railway Company steamers which were still operating on the Harwich to Rotterdam route. The destroyers spotted a submarine at 4pm on 28 March, and spent the night attempting to keep her submerged. Six M class destroyers (Mentor, Manly, Morris, Milne, Mastiff and Murray) were sent to help, but early on 29 March the entire force was recalled to deal with a possible sortie by a German battlecruiser squadron. However it was soon discovered that the battlecruisers had returned to port, so the destroyers were sent back to patrol the same area. At 8.30am on 30 March the destroyers (by now raised to a total of 22) spotted U.24, but she dived and escaped. After the destroyers returned to port the Mastiff, Moorsom, Milne and Minos were sent out to continue the hunt. They were at sea from daybreak to dusk on 31 March, but the submarine returned to Zeebrugge late on 30 March. The patrols lasted until 5 April.

On 16 May 1915 the Admiralty ordered the Admiral in command at Devonport to send eight destroyers (Mentor, Milne, Moorsom, Myngs, Laforey, Leonidas, Loyal and Louis) to Liverpool, from where they were to escort the Mauretania and Aquitania when they left port at the start of a voyage on 18 May 1915. Once the escort mission was over the destroyers were to return to Devonport.

In June 1915 she was one of fourteen destroyers in the Tenth Destroyer Flotilla at Harwich, 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.

On 16 June 1915 the Milne and Lark met the Amphitrite and escorted her into Portsmouth.

On 28 June 1915 the mule ship Armenian was sunk by U-24. Her crew were rescued by a Belgian trawler and then passed to the Mansfield and Milne, which were still operating on the escort duties and had been sent out after the Armenian broadcast an S.O.S.

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 23 August 1915 twelve of the Harwich destroyers (Laurel, Lydiard, Legion, Linnet, Lookout, Morris, Murray, Moorsom, Milne, Melpone, Minos and Manly) were attached to the Dover Patrol for a bombardment of Zeebrugge by a force of monitors. At the time it was believed that this operation had destroyed the first lock on the canal to Bruges and destroyed two U-boats, but in fact it did little damage.

On 25 December the transport Van Stirum was sunk by U-boats on her way north past Milford Haven. In response two divisions of destroyers from Harwich were ordered to go to Portsmouth and then on to the South-west Approaches. Mentor, Moorsom, Manly, Melpomene, Mansfield, Myngs, Morris and Milne were sent, led by the Nimrod. By the time the reached Portsmouth they were no longer needed there, so they were sent on to Milford, where they were temporarily placed under the command of Admiral Bayly but only if there was more news of submarines. The U-boats were active again on 28 December, sinking the oiler El Zorro, but the weather was so bad that the M class destroyers were stuck in port part from a brief foray on 30 December.


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. She was undergoing repairs at Milford, which were expected to have been completed on 31 December.

On 21 February 1916 the Milne and the Murray collided during exercises that also served to cover some minesweepers. The Murray was too badly damaged for Harwich to fix, so she had to be sent to Chatham for repairs.

On 24 April 1916 the Milne took part in a large operation to lay the first minefield and net barrage along the Belgian coast. After the anti-submarine minefields had been laid a force of net drifters and the Milne’s division of destroyers stayed to guard it. An air attack achieved nothing. At 1445 three German destroyers (V.67, V.68 and V.47) emerged from Zeebrugge and the Medea, Murray, Melpomene and Milne moved to attack them. However this brought them too close to the shore and they were fired on by German shore batteries armed with a range of guns from 41in up to 12in.

The Melpomene was hit by a 4.1in shell that failed to explode, but still did enough damage to flood an engine room, cutting her speed. The Milne came up to take her under tow, but got the tow cable wrapped around one of her own propellers. The Murray and Medea closed in around them  and all four destroyers passed over the mined nets. The German destroyers came out to attack, and the Murray dropped back to engage them. She was joined by the Medea, and longer range 12in fire from the monitor Prince Eugene, drove off the German destroyers. Once again the British destroyers came under fire from the shore, but all were able to get away quickly. All four destroyers suffered some damage during this clash, and the Milne had to go into the floating dry dock at Dover to get the towing cable removed from her port propeller.

On 22 July 1916 the German Second Flotilla carried out a mission aimed at disrupting the Anglo-Dutch sea routes by laying mines off the North Hinder Light Vessel. The British had sizable forces at sea, including the cruiser Carysfort with a destroyer division near North Hinder and the cruiser Canterbury and four destroyers (Melpomene, Matchless, Morris and Milne) near the Maas Light Vessel. This second group took part in the most significant clash with the Germans, starting when the Melpomene reporting seeing six destroyers at 0145. The captain of the Canterbury wasn’t sure if this was the Carysfort group, while his destroyers were forced to split up after the Matchless was unable to keep up and the captain of the Milne decided to accompany her. Melpomene and Morris gave chase, but the Melpomene was hit by German gunfire, before the chase had to be called off.

On 18 August the Moorsom, Milne, Murray and Termagant were detached on service with the Dover Patrol when the German High Seas Fleet made its first sortie since Jutland. They were ordered to join the 3rd Battle Squadron in the Swin, giving it seven destroyers. Although both fleets did put to sea, there was no clash between them.

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 eight destroyers from the Tenth Destroyer Flotilla that were detached at Dover.

On 22 January intelligence came in that a German destroyer flotilla was going to pass along the Belgian coast heading for Zeebrugge that afternoon, and Commodore Tyrwhitt was ordered to try and intercept.

The Milne was one of four destroyers that were posted between the Schouwen Bank light vessel and the Schar.

At about 2.45am on 23 January the Germans ran into three British light cruisers and in the resulting fight two of the German destroyers were badly damaged. However this was the highpoint of the night for the British. Commodore Tyrwhitt sent out signals informing the rest of the force what had happened, but gave no orders, so each detachment was left to decide what to do. As a result the British force scattered, with some staying in position and others heading to the sound of the guns. The Nimrod and her six destroyers decided to move north-east to try and prevent the Germans retreating. Once Tyrwhitt realised what was happening he ordered them all back to their patrols, and by 3.30am all of the British ships were heading back to their original position. This allowed most of the German destroyers to split past the British blockade, but the S.50 was straggling, and ran into the Nimrod’s force and a second detachment, made up of the Simoom, Starfish, Surprise and Milne. Even now things went badly for the British. S.50 focused her fire on Simoom, and hit her with a torpedo which detonated her magazine. The German destroyer was then able to get away, while the two British detachments became mingled. The Simoom remained afloat but was clearly doomed, and had to be sunk. The British remained in the area until dawn, but the Germans were safely out of the way.

On the night of 29-30 January 1917 the Milne was one of twelve destroyers from the Harwich Force that patrolled between the Shipwash and Corton Light Vessels to watch for any westward movement of German light crusiers, which were at sea to support an operation by part of the High Seas Fleet. They saw nothing and were back in port by 1pm on 30 January.

On 28 February the Milne and four other destroyers were escorting merchant ships coming from Holland when she sighted a periscope, followed by a torpedo track. The Milne took evasive action then dropped a depth charge, but without results.

The Milne was still assigned to the Tenth Flotilla until May 1917

On 9 May 1917 the Milne rammed UC-26, which was on her way back to base after laying mines off Havre, Caen Roads and Cherbourg. The U-boat sank to the bottom and was unable to surface. Only two of her crew managed to escape, including Leutnant Heinrich Peterson. The Milne ended up with a damaged stem and parts of the U-boats casing embedded in her forecastle.

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

In June 1917 she was one of twenty nine destroyers in the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover.


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

On 8 January the Milne collided with the harbour oiler RFA Elderol. The Elderol survived the incident and remained in service until 1954.

On 29 March the Milne collided with the SS Florence in Boulogne Roads.

In June 1918 she was part of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover,

On 29 July the Milne collided with a submerged hulk that was part of the boom defences of Dover.

In November 1918 she was one of eleven destroyers that had been transferred from Dover to form the Twenty-First Destroyer Flotilla, under the command of the Grand Fleet.

In November 1919 she was in the hands of a care and maintenance party in the Nore Reserve.

The Milne was awarded battle honours for Dogger Bank 1915 and the Belgian coast 1916.

Wartime Service
January 1915: 3rd Destroyer Flotilla
March 1915-May 1917: 10th Destroyer Flotilla, Harwich
June 1917-August 1918: 6th Destroyer Flotilla, Dover
November-December 1918-: 21st Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

34 knots


3-shaft Brown-Curtis turbines
4 Yarrow boilers, 25,000shp




273ft 4in oa


26ft 8in


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

Crew complement


Laid down

18 December 1913


5 October 1914


December 1914

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 (12 January 2023), HMS Milne (1914) ,

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