HMS Obedient (1915)

HMS Obedient (1915) was a repeat M class destroyer that served with the Grand Fleet from 1916 to April 1918, fighting at Jutland, then serving from Devonport for the rest of the war.

The Obedient was ordered as part of the Third War Programme of late November 1914. She was laid down by Scotts, launched on 6 November 1915 and completed in February 1916.


From February 1916 to April 1918 the Obedient was part of the Twelfth Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet.

On the eve of Jutland the Obedient was part of the Twelfth Destroyer Flotilla, which was at Scapa Flow, and filled entirely with 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.

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.  TheMenace 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.

On 15 June the Obedient was damaged in a collision with the tug Neptune.


On 13 March 1917 the Obedient and Onslaught collided in the seas between the North Minch and Scapa.

In June 1917 the Obedient 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 18 June the SS Buffalo was torpedoed by U-70. Maenad and Obedient were close by and saw the gunfire. They were able to force the U-boat to submerge, but an attempt by the Obedient to tow the Buffalo to safety failed when the merchant ship sank at 3.45pm on 19 June.

On 22 June the Obedient spotted another U-boat, possible U-61, but the submarine submerged before she could be attacked.

Tragically on 10 July 1917 a boy was drowned after he was swept off Abercrombie jetty by the wash from HMS Obedient.

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 20 October, once it was clear that the raiding forces had left the area, the convoys resumed. The Narwhal and Obedient were allocated to escort the east-bound convoy, heading from Lerwick to Bergen. The Obedient then fouled her propellers and had to be replaced by the Marmion, which had to try and catch up with the convoy. However the captain of the Narwhal had mis-calculated his position, and gave the Marmion the wrong instructions. As a result the Marmion ended up running straight into the west-bound convoy, escorted by the R class destroyers Tirade and Sarpedon. Despite having the entire North Sea to operate in the Tirade and Marmion ended up colliding. The Marmion was almost split in half, and one of her depth charges fell off and exploded below her. She quickly began to sink, with the loss of all but 19 of her crew. Captain Hudson of the Narwhal was blamed for the incident, although he wasn’t court martialled for it.

On 16 November the Onslaught collided with both the Obedient and the trawler Aracari in the Firth of Forth.


From May to December 1918 the Obedient was part of the 4th Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport.

On 1 June the Obedient and SS Hydaspes collided in the River Clyde.

On 6 October 1918 the Ambrose and Obedient collided eight miles to the south of the Isle of Wight.

In December 1919 she was in the charge of a Care and Maintenance Party at Devonport.

She was sold to be broken up in November 1921

The Obedient was awarded a battle honour for Jutland.

-May/ June 1916-: Commander G.W. Campbell

Service Record
February 1916-April 1918: 12th Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
May 1918-December 1918: 4th Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport

Displacement (standard)

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

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

34 knots


3-shaft Brown-Curtis or Parsons turbines
3 Yarrow boilers




273ft 4in (Admiralty)
274ft 3in (Thornycroft)
270ft 6in (Yarrow)


26ft 8ft (Admiralty)
27ft 3in (Thornycroft)
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



6 November 1915


February 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 (17 January 2024), HMS Obedient (1915) ,

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