HMS Munster (1915)

HMS Munster (1915) was a repeat M class destroyer that served with the Twelfth then Third Destroyer Flotillas of the Grand Fleet from February 1916 to the end of the First World War, fighting at Jutland.

The Munster was a Thornycroft special repeat M class destroyer that was ordered as part of the First War Programme of September 1914. She was originally going to be named HMS Monitor. She was laid down on 2 December 1915, launched on 24 November 1915 and completed in January 1916.


The Munster served with the Twelfth Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet from February 1916 to August 1918.

On 28 February 1916 the armed merchant cruisers HMS Alcantara and HMS Andes encountered the German raider Greif in the gap between the Shetlands and Norway. The Andes was forced to back away after sighting a U-boat, while the Alcantara was surprised by the Greif, which she had mistakenly believed to be a neutral ship. The Greif opened fire first, but both ships suffered heavy damage in the duel. The Alcantara sank, while the Greif’s crew abandoned ship. At this point the Comus and Munster arrived on the scene. The Munster rescued the survivors from the Alcantara, while the Comus and Andes sank the Greif (which had been left with her German ensign flying). They then rescued the German survivors. 69 men were killed on the Alcantara, while 210 German survivors were rescued and a similar number of men killed.


On the eve of Jutland the Munster was part of the Twelfth Destroyer Flotilla, which was at Scapa Flow, and filled entirely with twelve Repeat M class destroyers. The flotilla put to sea with Admiral Jellicoe and the main body of the Grand Fleet by 10.30pm on 30 May.

HMS Munster, 1917 HMS Munster, 1917

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. 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.  The Menace and Nonsuch from the 12th Flotilla clashed with the German cruisers Frankfurt and Pillau and were lucky to escape.

Despite all of the chaos and confusion, a large part of the 12th Flotilla ended up in position to launch one final attack on the High Seas Fleet as it passed behind the Grand Fleet. Twelve destroyers and two flotilla leaders were still together, and had been forced into a position some thirty miles behind the main fleet. As they headlined south they ran into the German fleet. The Germans were sighted at about 1.45am on 1 June. The flotilla commander ordered his 1st Division to attack, and signalled the news of the sighting to Jellicoe. The Germans turned away to avoid the torpedo attack and were briefly lost to sight. However the flotilla soon found them again, and was able to launch a powerful torpedo attack. One torpedo hit the Pommern, which exploded, taking her entire crew with her. The Germans were forced to turn away again, preventing the rest of the flotilla from attacking effectively. The Munster was in that part of the flotilla.

After Jutland

Early on 6 June the Opal, Menace, Munster and Napier were ordered to put to sea to take part in the search for any survivors from HMS Hampshire, which had been sunk by a mine on the previous day at the start of a voyage to carry Lord Kitchener to Russia. They were sent to search for any of Hampshire’s boats off Marwick Head, but there were only twelve survivors, all of whom had come ashore on three carley floats.


In June 1917 the Munster took part in Destroyer Operation B.B., an attempt to try and intercept a number of U-boats that were expected to be heading home around the northern coast of Scotland. The twelve destroyers of the 12th Flotilla were used to patrol the area west of the Hebrides, with eight at sea and four in port at Stornoway at any time. On the morning of 17 June the armed trawler Walpole, escorting SS  Queen Adelaide, reported spotting a U-boat 80 miles to the west of their patrol area. The Munster and Strongbow were sent, but failed to find the U-boat, and just before noon on 18 June the Queen Adelaide was sunk by U-70.

At some point between 22 June and 10 August 1917 some of the Confidential Books were lost from the Munster, resulting in an Admiralty investigation.

On 31 October the Munster salvaged the SS Magrete and her cargo in the seas to the east of the Shetlands. This led to a court case in 1919, although I have been unable to find the result.

The Munster was part of the destroyer screen for the 1st Battle Squadron during the brief action in the Heligoland Bight (16-17 November 1917).


In November 1918-December 1918 the Munster was part of the Third Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet.

The Munster was awarded a battle honour for Jutland.

In November 1919 she was in the hands of a care and maintenance party in the Portsmouth reserve. She was sold for scrap in November 1921.

Service Record
February 1916-August 1918: 12th Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
November 1918-December 1918: 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet

Displacement (standard)

1,025t (Admiralty design)
985t (Thornycroft)
895t (Yarrow)

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35 knots at 26,500shp


3-shaft turbines




274ft 3in (Thornycroft)


27ft 3in (Thornycroft)


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

2 December 1915


24 November 1915


January 1916

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 (14 August 2023), HMS Munster (1915) ,

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