HMS Minos (1914)

HMS Minos (1914) was a Yarrow special M class destroyer that briefly served with the 1st then 3rd Flotillas after entering service, fighting at the battle of Dogger Bank, then with the 10th Flotilla at Harwich in 1915-1917, the 6th Flotilla at Dover in 1917 before moving to the Second Destroyer Flotilla at Londonderry for the rest of the war.

HMS Minos (H81) from the left HMS Minos (H81) from the left

The Minos was laid down at Yarrow on 9 May 1913, launched on 6 August 1914 and completed in September 1914. The Yarrow specials were the only members of the class to have two funnels.

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

On 13 November the Admiralty ordered the M class destroyers not to move north as they became available, but instead to go to Harwich. When the order was issued Minos and Mastiff were at Portland.

On 15 December the Commodore (T) was ordered to concentrate the First and Third Destroyer Flotillas and all available light cruisers off Yarmouth by daylight on 16 December, as part of a series of movements to counter  a possible German raid timed to take advantage of the absence of the battlecruisers that had been sent to the South Atlantic in the aftermath of the British defeat at Coronel. The Minos was ordered to move ahead to patrol the area north-east of Southwold from midnight to 0900. The Admiralty was right to be concerned, but the Germans operated further to the north, bombarding Hartlepool and Scarborough.


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.

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.

On 19 February the Minos, Morris and Penelope were on patrol near the Hoofden area when they spotted a U-boat. The Penelope attempted to ram but without success, and a search by all three ships failed to fight the U-boat again.

By March 1915 she was part of the Tenth Destroyer Flotilla of the Harwich Force, and remained with that flotilla into May 1917.

In late March a series of sweeps were carried in the southern North Sea in an attempt to protect the Great Eastern Railway Company steamers that were operating between Harwich and Rotterdam. On 30 March a sweep by 22 destroyers sighted one submarine, U-24, which dived and wasn’t seen again. 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.

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 14 June 1915 the Aurura, Mansfield, Matchless, Minos and Myngs arrived at Milford to help escort the 13th Division on the first stages of the voyage from Britain to the Mediterranean. The Minos and Myngs were then ordered on to Queenstown to escort the Sutlej, but they weren’t required for that task so instead escorted an ammunition ship to Avonmouth.

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 17 August 1915 seven destroyers from the 10th Flotilla (Mentor, Minos, Moorsom, Miranda, Manly, Matchless and Medusa) along with four from the 4th Flotilla and the Harwich Light Cruiser Squadron escorted the minelayer Princess Margaret as she laid the first British minefield in the Heligoland Bight. The operation wasn’t a success. The force ran into part of the German 2nd Torpedo Boat Flotilla, and in the resulting clash the Mentor was hit and her bows blown off (but she managed to get back to port). The Princess Margaret withdrew when the clash began, and when she turned back she couldn’t find most of the escorts and hadn’t laid any mines when the entire force was recalled because a more powerful German fleet was believed to be in the area.

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 31 October 1915 the Minos 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 Minos was undergoing a refit at Chatham, which was expected to be complete by 7 January.

The Minos 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.

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 the night of 29-30 January 1917 the Minos 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 5 March 1917 the Minos and Sylph were escorting the Copenhagen, a fast steamer that was used to carry diplomatic despatches between Harwich and the Hook of Holland. She had safely carried out this mission for five months, but on 5 March the two destroyers were forced to slow down by high seas, and the unescorted Copenhagen was torpedoed. The Minos soon caught up with her, and then had to turn to avoid a torpedo that had been fired at her. They were soon joined by the Sylph and a destroyer flotilla led by the Nimrod, and the survivors from the Copenhagen were rescued.

On 12 March the Skate, Setter, Minos, Northstar and Lennox were sent to escort the east-bound traffic to Holland. The Skate was torpedoed at 3.30pm near the Maas Light Vessel, but survived and was towed back to safety by the Nimrod, which had been protecting the west-bound traffic.  

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

On 10 May 1917 the Minos was at sea with the Harwich Force protecting the Dutch traffic when a force of German destroyers attempted to attack the same traffic. A brief gunfight between the two sides followed, but neither managed any hits. However the Sturgeon was badly damaged when one of her depth charges exploded accidentally, and had to be towed back to safety by the Minos.

On 17 May the Minos, Sylph, Setter and Recruit were once again at sea protecting the Dutch traffic when they again ran into German destroyers, this time in thick fog. In the fog the Sylph ended up ramming the Setter, after briefly thinking she was German, and eventually the Setter sank. The Germans had more success and sank the SS Cito (819 tons).

On 28 May 1917 the Matchless and Minos collided off the Goodwin Light Vessel. The Matchless had to be towed back to Dover.

On 30 May 1917 the Minos lost her starboard lower anchor and cable.

By June 1917 the Minos 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 December 1917 she was listed as being about to join the Northern Division of the Coast of Ireland Station.


In January 1918 she was part of the large destroyer force at Dover according to the Navy Pink Lists of ship locations, but the Navy List still had her about to move to Ireland.

By February 1918 she had joined the Northern Division of the Coast of Ireland Station, and that was where she was placed by the Navy List for the rest of the war.

In June 1918 she was one of twenty two destroyers in the Second Destroyer Flotilla at Londonderry.

In July 1918 the Minos collided with Princes Dock at Liverpool.

In November 1918 she was one of twenty destroyers in the Second Destroyer Flotilla at Londonderry.

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

The Minos was awarded a battle honour for Dogger Bank 1915.

Wartime Service
November 1914: On way to 1st Destroyer Flotilla
January 1915: 3rd Destroyer Flotilla
March 1915-May 1917: 10th Destroyer Flotilla, Harwich
June 1917-November 1917: 6th Destroyer Flotilla, Dover
December 1917-December 1918-: North Division, Coast of Ireland Station

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35 knots


2-shaft Brown-Curtis turbines




269ft 6in oa


25ft 7.5in


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

Crew complement


Laid down

9 May 1913


6 August 1914


September 1914

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 (26 January 2023), HMS Minos (1914) ,

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