HMS Minstrel (1911)

HMS Minstrel (1911) was an Acorn class destroyer that served with the Second Destroyer Flotilla with the Grand Fleet in 1914-15 and at Devonport in late 1915. She moved to the Mediterranean at the start of 1916 and was based at Malta, at first in British hands, but from September 1917 onwards as the Japanese manned Sendan.  

HMS Minstrel from the right HMS Minstrel from the right

The Minstrel was laid down by Thornycroft at Southampton on 11 March 1910, launched on 2 February 1911 and completed in May 1911.

On her full power trials the Minstrel averaged 29.627 knots on 16,431shp at 828.6rpm

From 1911-14 the Minstrel, 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.

The Minstrel ran aground off Portsmouth on 20 July 1911. On Wednesday 11 October her captain, Commander William George Ainslie Kennedy was found guilty of negligently stranding his ship and severely reprimanded. His defence had been that he had been on the bridge for two days and nights, and that the searchlights at the entrance to Spithead had blinded his crew.

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 Minstrel 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.

During the second half of 1915 the Second Flotilla began to move south to Devonport. Minstrel was still with the Grand Fleet in October 1915, but had moved south to Devonport by November 1915.

In December 1915 the Acorn, Minstrel, Rifleman and Sheldrake were sent to join the forces under the command of Admiral Limpus at Malta. During the voyage from Britain they were also used to escort troop transports to Malta.  All four remained together at Malta from then until February 1918  At first they were considered to be part of the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, but were listed as serving as tenders to Egmont, the shore base on Malta, but from May 1917 they were listed as part of a separate Malta Flotilla.

In January 1916 the Acorn had just arrived at Malta, reaching port on 31 December 1915. From then until March 1917 the original four of four destroyers formed the Malta detachment. In April 1917 they were joined by four of their sister ships (Cameleon, Nereide, Larne and Nemesis) that had previously been serving with the British Adriatic Squadron, supporting the Italian fleet.

In April 1917 a Japanese force reached Malta, to help in the campaign against Austrian and German U-boats in the Mediterranean. In June 1917 the Minstrel and the Nemesis were transferred to Japanese control, and manned and officered by the Japanese Navy. The Minstrel became the Sendan and the Nemesis became the Kanran.

In January 1918 she wasn’t listed in the Pink List by name, as she had passed to Japanese control, but was probably one of the fourteen Japanese destroyers at Malta.

Until February 1918 she was still listed as part of the British Malta Flotilla, although under her Japanese name. From March 1918 onwards she was listed as being embedded within the Japanese flotilla.

In June and November 1918 she was one of fourteen Japanese destroyers based at Malta, as the Sendan.  After the war the two Acorn class boats were returned to British control.

In November 1919 she was one of seven H class destroyers in the hands of care and maintenance parties in the Devonport reserve.

Wartime Career
-August 1914-October 1915: Second Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
November 1915-December 1915: Second Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport
January 1916-March 1916-: Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean
May 1916-April 1917: Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Malta
May 1917-August 1917: Malta Flotilla
September 1917-February 1918: Malta Flotilla but under Japanese flag as Sendan
March 1918-November 1918: Malta as part of Japanese flotilla

Commander William George Ainslie Kennedy: - 20 July-October 1911-
Lt-Commander Arthur K. Gregory: 1 March 1912-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

11 March 1910


2 February 1911


May 1911

To Japan

June 1917

Back from Japan


Sold for break up

December 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 (1 April 2021), HMS Minstrel (1911) ,

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