HMS Morris (1914)

HMS Morris (1914) was an Admiralty type M class destroyer that served with the 10th Flotilla at Harwich from 1915-1917, fighting at Dogger Bank and Jutland, then the 6th Flotilla at Dover for the rest of the war, taking part in the Zeebrugge raid.

The Morris (1914) was laid down at Browns on 20 January 1914, launched on 19 November 1914 and completed in December 1914. The Admiralty type had three boilers and three funnels


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.

The Morris had joined the Tenth Destroyer Flotilla at Harwich by March 1915, and she remained with that flotilla into January 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. The patrols lasted until 5 April.

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.

In mid June the Manly and Morris were used to escort a cable repair ship west into the eastern Atlantic, before returning to Devonport.

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 eight destroyers from the 10th Flotilla (Mentor, Minos, Moorsom, Miranda, Manly, Matchless, Morris 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 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 Morris 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.

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. The Morris was at Chatham, and had been equipped with a high speed sweep.

The Morris 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. During the search for the returning aircraft the Morris, Mansfield and Murray sank two German armed trawlers, the Braunschweig and Otto Rudolf, off the northern type of Sylt Island.

On 24 April the Morris departed for Hull where she underwent a refit.

On the eve of Jutland the Morris was one of four destroyers from the Tenth Destroyer Flotilla that were with the battlecruiser fleet at Rosyth. She sailed with the fleet on 30 May.
The combined flotilla was made up of two Talisman class destroyers, two M class destroyers and four Laforey class destroyers.

The flotilla was part of Admiral Beatty’s battle cruiser fleet. That fleet put to sea late on 30 May, and moved towards a rendezvous position about seventy miles to the south of the main Grand Fleet.

During the advance east across the North Sea the destroyers were used to guard the flanks of the battle cruiser fleet, while the light cruisers advanced ahead of the fleet. At 2.25pm on 31 May, just after the first contact between Beatty’s cruisers and the German cruisers, the destroyers were ordered to form an anti-submarine screen heading S.S.E. He then followed with his capital ships, in the hope of cutting off the retreat of the German cruisers that had been spotted. The German battlecruisers turned south, and retreated towards the main High Seas Fleet.

During the battlecruiser action, the four Laforey class destroyers from the Ninth Flotilla attempted to get into position to attack the Germans, but in doing so ended up getting between the Princess Royal and Tiger and their targets. In an attempt to reach maximum speed they produced a great deal of smoke and obscured the view from the battle cruisers, but their commander decided to stay where they were in the vague hope of launching a torpedo attack.

At about 4pm Beatty ordered the Thirteenth Flotilla to launch an attack on the German battlecruisers. Turbulent, Termagant, Morris and Moorsom all joined this attack. German destroyers came out at the same time, originally with the aim of attacking the fast battleships of the British Fifth Battle Squadron. The result was a rather confused melee, in which the German destroyers V-27 and V-29 were sunk, but so were the Nomad and Nestor. This destroyer battle ended at 4.43 when Admiral Beatty recalled the destroyers after the German battleships of the High Seas Fleet were sited to the south. Beatty was forced to turn north and begin his own retreat back towards Jellicoe and the Grand Fleet.

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 Jellicoe’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. After more confused manoeuvres the two fleets came into range of each other for a third time after 8pm, but the Germans turned away for a third time, and disappeared into the mists by 8.35.

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 key moment of the night actions came at around 11.30, when the High Seas Fleet finally attempted to pass behind the Grand Fleet and ran into the British destroyers. The Germans would make contact with the 4th Destroyer Flotilla, which was towards the right of the British line. There was then a seven mile gap to the 13th Flotilla, with the 9th and 10th Flotilla close by, and the 12th Flotilla to their rear.

In a series of clashes the Germans inflicted heavy damage on the 4th Flotilla, but instead of rushing to their aid, the 13th Flotilla, which was next in line, believed they were the target of the gunfire, and that there were friendly ships between them and the Germans preventing a torpedo attack. The flotilla leader Captain Farie ordered the flotilla to turn away to the east to get out of range, but he failed to signal the move, so only two of the flotilla followed him. His move also forced the 9th and 10th Flotillas and the 12th Flotilla to turn to port to get out of the way. As a result the British destroyers were no longer in the correct place when the High Seas Fleet passed behind the Grand Fleet. As a result the Germans were able to move past almost without being detected and the one clash that did occur was with two cruisers so didn’t cause any alarm. 

By the time this confusion ended the remaining seven boats from the 9th and 10th Flotillas had been joined by one ship from the 4th and five from the 13th. This force of twelve destroyers was led south-west in an attempt to find the German van, but most of his force passed in front of the Germans without spotting them. Two boats from the 13th, the Pelican and Petard did spot the Germans, but the Petard had fired all of her torpedoes, so was unable to take advantage, while the Pelican was out of position for an attack.

After Jutland

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. Melpomene and Morris gave chase, but the Melpomene was hit by German gunfire, before the chase had to be called off.

When the German High Seas Fleet sortied in mid August the Morris was on her way back to Dover after serving briefly with the 3rd Battle Squadron in the Swin, but she was recalled to form part of the squadron’s destroyer escort.

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.

At the end of December 1916 Commodore Tyrwhitt was ordered to send the Nimrod and eight destroyers from the 10th Flotilla to Dunkirk to guard against the possibility of a German raid on the Downs or the Thames during the darkest nights of the winter. On 19 January 1917 he sent Nimrod, Moorsom, Phoebe, Morris, Matchless, Manly and Mansfield. However they wouldn’t be there for long. 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. At the same time Admiral Bacon, at Dover, was ordered to send six destroyers to Harwich, and chose to sent back the destroyers he had just received to reinforce Dunkirk. They reached Harwich during the afternoon of 22 January, in time to take part in the planned raid.

The reinforcements from Dover were chosen to patrol between the Schouwen Bank light vessel and the South Banjaard Bank light buoy. They were the last group to leave Harwich, at 6pm. 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 Morris picked up her survivors. The British remained in the area until dawn, but the Germans were safely out of the way.

On 10 February 1917 the Morris lost an anchor and cable, probably while anchored in the outer Thames estuary.

Also 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, and was later joined by the Morris and Myngs, but it escaped undamaged (possibly UC-4, on her way to lay mines of Lowestoft).

When the Germans raided into the Dover straits on 17 March 1917 the Morris and Myngs were part of the reserve force at Dover. When the fighting began the reserve force was ordered to put to sea, but soon afterwards a false report reached Dover that the attack had been by submarines, so the reserve force was recalled.

On 20 April 1917 the Matchless, Morris, Amazon and Nugent spent the day patrolling along the Dover barrage. That night the destroyers joined the Nugent and the combined force patrolled along the eastern side of the barrage, at the Calais end. That night the Germans carried out a raid into the channel, shelling Calais and Dover. The Nugent’s force saw the gun flashes from Calais and briefly headed toward them, but returned to their patrol when the gunfire ended.

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

The Morris was one of eight destroyers from the Sixth Flotilla that supported the bombardment of Zeebrugge on the night of 11-12 May 1917. Although this bombardment scored a number of near misses on its targets, Zeebrugge remained in operation as a German base.

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

On 15 December 1917 the Morris damaged the Admiralty pier at Dover.


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 6 March 1918 the Morris lost her whaler when it was swamped.

On the night of 20 March 1918 the Morris, HMS Botha and the French destroyers Capitaine Mehl, Magon and Bouclier were operating together. At 3.45am on 21 March they heard gunfire from further up the coast, indicating a German raid on the coastal flank of the British army, then located between Dunkirk and La Panne. They put to sea, and heading for the firing. Starshells revealed a force of German torpedo boats and the Morris opened fire. At the same time the Botha rammed and sank the torpedo boat A.7. However the Botha was accidentally torpedoed by one of the French destroyers and had to be towed to safety by the Morris.

Velox, Melpomeme, Moorsom and Morris formed Unit R during the Zeebrugge Raid of 23 April 1918.

Manly, Morris and Pheobe formed the escort for the Erebus and Terror for the less successful attempt to attack Ostend in mid-May 1918.

In June 1918 she was part of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover, but was undergoing repairs.

On the night of 28-29 September 1918 the Mastiff, Moorsom, Melpomene, Matchless, Morris, Phoebe, Velox and Broke carried out shore bombardments and fired star shells in support of the ground forces advancing in Flanders, replacing a force of Coastal Motor Boats that had been forced back to port by weather too rough for them to cope with.

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 1 January 1919 the Morris caused damage to the barge Dick by passing her at excessive speed.

On 12 January 1919 the Morris collided with HM Trawler Savitri in Dover harbour.

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

The Morris was awarded battle honours for Dogger Bank 1915, Jutland, the Belgian Coast 1917/18 and Zeebrugge 23 April 1918.

Wartime Service
March 1915-January 1917: 10th Destroyer Flotilla, Harwich
March 1917-December 1918-: 6th Destroyer Flotilla, Dover

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

20 January 1944


19 November 1914


December 1914

Sold for break up

November 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 (15 February 2023), HMS Morris (1914) ,

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