HMS Murray (1914)

HMS Murray (1914) was an Admiralty type M class destroyer that served with the 10th Flotilla at Harwich in 1915-17, the 6th Flotilla at Dover in 1917-18 and ended the war with a newly formed 21st Destroyer Flotilla in the Grand Fleet.

The Murray was laid down at Palmer on 4 December 1913, launched on 6 August 1914 and completed in December 1914. The Admiralty type had three boilers and three funnels

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.

The Murray had joined the Tenth Destroyer Flotilla at Harwich by March 1915, and remained with that flotilla into June 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.

During the first week of July the Moorsom and Murray escorted transports carrying the Xth (Ulster) Division from Belfast to Liverpool, at the start of their voyage to the Dardanelles. On 7 July they escorted the Transylvania from Liverpool carrying 2,983 troops heading for the Mediterranean. They escorted her to 50N 8.30W, reaching that point at 6.45pm on 8 July. They then turned back to meet the Mauretania, which was carrying part of the Xth Division, and escorted her to the same point. They parted company with her at 10.45am on 10 July and returned to Devonport.

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 Murray 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 13 November 1915 the Matchless was on her way back to Harwich when she ran into a German mine. Her stern, rudder and screws were all blown off, she was down by the stern and rolling. She was towed most of the way to Harwich by the Murray, but the tow parted when they were almost back, and the tow was completed by a light cruiser. The Matchless was then towed to Chatham to get a new stern.


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. She was equipped with a high speed sweep, and had arrived at Chatham on 29 December 1915.

On 21-22 February 1916 the Milne and the Murray collided during exercises that also served to cover some minesweepers. The Murray was too badly damaged for Harwich to fix, so she had to be sent to Chatham for repairs.

The Murray 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 1916 the Milne took part in a large operation to lay the first minefield and net barrage along the Belgian coast. After the anti-submarine minefields had been laid a force of net drifters and the Milne’s division of destroyers stayed to guard it. An air attack achieved nothing. At 1445 three German destroyers emerged from Zeebrugge and the Medea, Murray, Melpomene and Milne moved to attack them. However this brought them too close to the shore and they were fired on by German shore batteries armed with a range of guns from 41in up to 12in.

The Murray was hit by a 6in shell which passed through her side without exploding. The Melpomene was hit by a 4.1in shell that failed to explode, but still did enough damage to flood an engine room, cutting her speed. The Milne came up to take her under tow, but got the tow cable wrapped around one of her own propellers. The Murray and Medea closed in around them  and all four destroyers passed over the mined nets. The German destroyers came out to attack, and the Murray dropped back to engage them. She was joined by the Medea, and longer range 12in fire from the monitor Prince Eugene, drove off the German destroyers. Once again the British destroyers came under fire from the shore, but all were able to get away quickly with the aid of a smokescreen laid by Murray. All four destroyers suffered some damage during this clash. Murray had a temporary patch installed on her bows and full repairs waited until her next refit at Chatham.  

On 18 August the Moorsom, Milne, Murray and Termagant were detached on service with the Dover Patrol when the German High Seas Fleet made its first sortie since Jutland. They were ordered to join the 3rd Battle Squadron in the Swin, giving it seven destroyers. Although both fleets did put to sea, there was no clash between them.

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.

The Murray was still assigned to the Tenth Flotilla until June 1917

By July 1917 the Murray had been officially transferred to the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover, making her the last of the original M class ships to move to the Sixth Flotilla.  

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.

In June 1917 she was part of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover but was undergoing a refit on the Humber.


In January 1918 she was part of the large destroyer force at Dover, and was undergoing repairs at Immingham.

On 14 January 1918 the Murray and Vehement collided at Dover.

When the Germans raided into the Dover Straits on the night of 14-15 February 1918 the Murray, Nugent and Crusader were in the Downs, but they didn’t manage to get into action.

On 23 May the Murray and Indent collided off Dunkirk.

On 26 May the Murray ran aground on Hills Bank while anchoring,

On 21 March 1918 the Matchless took part in a destroyer action off Dunkirk in which the German torpedo boats A.19 and A.7 were sunk, but the flotilla leader HMS Botha was badly damaged.

In June 1918 she was part of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover,

On 9 June 1918 the Murray and P.50 collided outside Dover harbour.

On 6 September the Murray and Phoebe collided at the Dyck light vessel, off Calais.

In November 1918 she was one of eleven destroyers that had been transferred from Dover to form the Twenty-First Destroyer Flotilla, under the command of the Grand Fleet.

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

The Murray was awarded a battle honour for the Belgian Coast 1916

Wartime Service
March 1915-June 1917: 10th Destroyer Flotilla, Harwich
July 1917-August 1918-: 6th Destroyer Flotilla, Dover
November-December 1918-: 21st Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

34 knots


3-shaft Parsons 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

4 December 1913


6 August 1914


December 1914


May 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 (22 February 2023), HMS Murray (1914) ,

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