HMS Patrol

HMS Patrol was a Pathfinder class scout cruiser, designed to work with the destroyer flotillas. She was present at Hartlepool during the German raid of 16 December 1914, and was heavily damaged during the fighting.

Before the First World War the Patrol joined the Home Fleet (October 1907), then the 3rd Fleet at the Nore (1908). In 1909 she served a short spell as leader of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth, then moved to the 3rd Flotilla, then the 1st (both 1910). In 1913-14 she was stationed at Haulbowline, a naval base in Cork, now the headquarters of the Irish Navy.

HMS Patrol from the right
HMS Patrol from the right

At the start of the First World War the Patrol was part of the 9th Destroyer Flotilla, defending the coast between the Firth of Forth and the Tyne. On 15 December she was present in the port of Hartlepool, under Captain Alan C. Bruce, at that point the senior naval officer in the port. Also at Hartlepool was the Forward, another scout class cruiser, four destroyers from the 9th Flotilla (Doon, Waveney, Test and Moy) and the submarine C 9. The town was about to become the target of a raid by the German battlecruisers Seydlitz and Moltke and the cruiser Blücher.

At 5.30 am on the morning of 16 December the destroyers had put out to sea. They had reported that the heavy swell outside the tidal harbour at Hartlepool would have made it dangerous for the cruisers to come out, and so Forward and Patrol remained in port.

At 8 a.m. the destroyers sighted the German ships and narrowly escaped serious damage. The Germans then opened fire on the defences of Hartlepool – two gun batteries mounting three 6in guns. They then turned their attention to the port and harbour entrance.

The moment the German presence was reported, Captain Bruce began the tricky task of getting the Patrol out of the harbour. The harbour entrance was by then under heavy bombardment, and Bruce’s only option was to attempt to dash past the danger area. The ploy worked until the Patrol came into sight of the Blücher, then the southernmost of the three Germans ships, at which point she was hit twice by heavy shells (around 8.45 am). Four men were killed and seven wounded, and the ship soon ran aground. Luckily by this point the bombardment had already been going on for over half an hour, and at about the same time the three Germans ships turned east and began their escape.

The Patrol had been badly holed by the German shells, and was now too low in the water to re-enter Hartlepool Harbour. Fortunately by the time she went aground she was almost at the entrance to the Tees, and was able to limp into the docks at Middlesbrough. 

After undergoing repairs, the Patrol joined the 7th Destroyer Flotilla in the Humber (1915), where she remained until 1918 when she was transferred first to the Irish Sea, and then back to the 9th Destroyer Flotilla at the Nore. She was paid off in 1919 and sold in the following year.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – deck

1.5 to 5/8 inch

 - conning tower


 - belt




Armaments – as built

Ten 12pdr quick firing guns
Eight 3pdr quick firing guns
Two 18in torpedo tubes above the water

Armaments – as modified 1911/12

Nine 4in guns
Six 6pdr guns
Two 18 torpedo tubes

Crew complement



16 July 1904


18 July 1905



Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 September 2007), HMS Patrol ,

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