HMS Morning Star (1915)

HMS Morning Star (1915) was a repeat M class destroyer that served with the Eleventh Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet from September 1915 to March 1918, fighting at Jutland, then with the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport.

HMS Morning Star was a Yarrow special repeat M class destroyer that was ordered as part of the Second War Programme of early November 1914. She was laid down on 18 October 1914, launched on 26 June 1915 and completed in August 1915.

The Morning Star served with the Eleventh Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet from September 1915 to March 1918. When she joined the flotilla she was equipped as a mine sweeper.

On 23 December 1915 the Morning Star and Porpoise were escorting a Russian ice breaker north when they were forced to heave to by heavy weather near Fair Island Channel. Both destroyers were badly damaged by the heavy weather and had many compartments flooded. The First Cruiser Squadron was sent out to search for them but without success and returned to Scapa Flow on 26 December. By that point the Porpoise had already reached Cromarty, and the Morning Star reached the same place on 26 December.

In January 1916 she was one of fifteen repeat M class destroyers that formed the Eleventh Flotilla at Cromarty, along with the flotilla leader Kempenfelt and the light cruiser Castor.

On the eve of Jutland the Morning Star was one of twelve Repeat M class destroyers from the Eleventh Destroyer Flotila which were at Invergordon in Cromarty (a smaller part of the flotilla was at Scapa Flow).  The part of the flotilla at Scapa put to sea with Admiral Jellicoe and the main body of the Grand Fleet by 10.30pm on 30 May. The part of the flotilla at Cromarty was also soon at sea, and joined the main body of the fleet at 2pm on 31 May.

HMS Mary Rose from the right HMS Mary Rose from the right

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.

Jellicoe now couldn’t be sure which way the Germans had gone and struggled to make firm contact with Scheer during the night. However the fighting didn’t end. Part of the 11th flotilla was now on the port side of Jellicoe’s flagship, with the flotilla cruiser Castor. They spotted smoke to the W.N.W. and discovered twelve German destroyers apparently preparing to attack Beatty’s battlecruisers. The 11th Flotilla and the 4th Light Cruiser Squadron forced the German destroyers away, and the Grand Fleet made contact with the Germans for the third time. Once again the Germans turned away under heavy fire, and by 8.35pm had disappeared into the mist once again. 

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 fighting had ended with the Germans sailing south, just to the west of the Grand Fleet. Admiral Scheer’s plan was to try and turn east and cut behind the Grand Fleet, to reach Horn Reefs and a safe route home. His leading cruisers were sent ahead to try and find the British, and soon after 9.30 then ran into the 11th Flotilla, which was now at the back-right corner of the Grand Fleet. They weren’t at all sure who was approaching them, and so while some of the flotilla fired torpedoes, most of the destroyers believed these were British ships.


In January 1917 Commodore Tyrwhitt at Harwich was ordered to send eight of his destroyer to Dunkirk to help protect against any German raids. To replace them the Grenville and eight destroyers from the Grand Fleet (Morning Star, Moon, Musketeer, Mandate, Opal, Nonsuch, Napier and Strongbow) were sent to Harwich arriving on 19 January. They almost immediately took part in a large minesweeping operation on the Swarte Bank (to the north-east of Lowestoft). After this operation Tyrwhitt was told he could keep the destroyers for the time being.

On 12 May U-19 sank the British SS Wirrall, which was on her way to Archangel carrying munitions. She was part of a convoy that was escorted by two destroyers, including the Morning Star, but no submarine was seen by the escorts. Her crew of 42 were all rescued by the Morning Star.

On 5-9 July 1917 the Maenad, Morning Star, Moon, Patriot and Anzac took part in Operation CC, an experimental attempt to hunt submarines using destroyers equipped with kite balloons. The five destroyers (along with HMS Norman without a balloon) were sent to patrol an area with a radius of 40-50 miles on the route the U-boats were believed to be using to return home. Visibility was excellent, and the Shetlands could be seen at a range of 80 miles from the balloons. A number of possible submarines were sighted from the balloons, but couldn’t be found by the surface ships.

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.


On 26 January 1918 the Moon and Morning Star collided

From April 1918-December 1918 the Morning Star served with the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport, carrying out a mix of escort duties and anti-submarine patrols.

On 4 June 1918 the Morning Star collided with SS Euryolochus in the English Channel, half way between the Isle of Wight and Cherbourg.

The Morning Star 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. She was sold for scrap in December 1921.


Service Record
September 1915-March 1918: 11th Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
April 1918-December 1918: 4th Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport

Displacement (standard)

895t (Yarrow)

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35 knots at 23,000shp


2-shaft turbines




270ft 6in (Yarrow)


24ft 7.5in (Yarrow)


Three 4in/ 45cal QF Mk IV
Two 1-pounder pom pom
One 2-pounder pom pom
Four 21-in torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

18 October 1914


26 June 1915


August 1915


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 August 2023), HMS Morning Star (1915) ,

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