HMS Pincher (1910)

HMS Pincher (1910) was a Beagle class destroyer that spent most of the First World War in the Mediterranean, where she took part in the Gallipoli campaign. She returned to home waters briefly over the winter of 1914-15 to escort troop ships to France, and permanently in 1917, but she was wrecked after hitting rocks between Cornwall and Scilly on 24 July 1918.

After entering service the Beagle class destroyers joined the First Destroyer Flotilla, and were part of that unit until the autumn of 1911. At the time the Navy was planning to form a new Seventh Destroyer Flotilla, and there may have been some thought of filling it with the Beagles. The Seventh Flotilla was formed in November 1911, so it is possible that the Beagles were briefly part of it, before moving to the Third Flotilla early in 1912. 

On Tuesday 18 October 1910 the Pincher collided with the Boyne in Portland Harbour. The Pincher was moored at the time, and suffered damage to her stern, while the Boyne was damaged in the bows.

In 1912-1913 all sixteen of them were part of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, part of the First Fleet.

On 26 January 1912 the Admiralty ordered single sweeps to be fitting on seven destroyers, including the Pincher. This was an early anti-submarine weapon, but in trials later in the year the single sweeps weren’t terribly effective.

In 1913 the entire class moved to the Mediterranean, where they formed the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla.

War Service

HMS Pincher from the left HMS Pincher from the left

In July 1914 she was one of sixteen destroyers in the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, then part of the Mediterranean Fleet. At this point the flotilla contained all sixteen Beagle or G Class Destroyers.

On 27 July 1914 she was part of the Fourth Division of the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla. Within the division Savage, Pincher and Rattlesnake were at Alexandria and Grampus was at Malta.

On 5 August the Pincher, Savage and Rattlesnake were part of a fleet that was ordered to concentrate off Pantellaria after news arrived of the declaration of war. The Pincher was then detached to escort a captured German merchant ship. She reached Bizerte early on 6 August with the Kawak and Kaylmnos. On the following day the Savage and Rattlesnake arrived with another German prize. On 8 August all three were then ordered to return to Malta.

Home Service 1914-1915

In November 1914 it was decided to move the Beagle class destroyers back to home waters to help protect the shipping routes between Britain and France. On 17 November the Beagle, Bulldog, Pincher and Rattlesnake were ordered home. They arrived at Plymouth on 29 November and were sent on to Portsmouth, with orders to protect the transport route and patrol the Channel.

By February 1915 eight of the Beagle class destroyers were based at Portsmouth (Beagle, Bulldog, Foxhound, Harpy, Pincher, Rattlesnake, Savage and Scourge) and were kept very busy escorting troop ships to France

In March it was decided to replace the Beagles with a similar number of River class destroyers. On 26 March the Beagle class destroyers were ordered to move to the Dardanelles as soon as they had been replaced, and the change was made by the end of the month.


The Pincher helped support the land campaign at Gallipoli, although was one of two Beagle class destroyers not to be given a battle honour for the campaign.

On the night of 12-13 May 1915 she was one of five G class destroyers (Beagle, Bulldog, Pincher, Scorpion and Wolverine) that were on guard duty off the Dardanelles when the Turkish destroyer Muavenet-i-Miliet managed to slip out and torpedo the battleship Goliath, which sank after being hit by three torpedoes.

In June 1915 she was one of twenty one destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean, which now contained all sixteen G Class destroyers and five River class boats.

In late July 1915 the British expected there to be a major attack along the Turkish lines, to mark Ramadan, and the Pincher was given an area of the line to support. However the anticipated attack never took place.

Mediterranean 1916-1917

In January 1916 she was undergoing repairs at Malta, expected to end on 8 January.

In October 1916 she was one of thirty two destroyers in the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla of the Mediterranean Fleet, which now contained the entire Beagle class.

In January 1917 she was one of twenty nine destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean, along with the entire G class. However early in 1917 she was undergoing a refit back in home waters.

In June 1917 she was one of twenty nine destroyers in the Mediterranean, along with the entire G class

Late in 1917 there was a change in the use of the G class, and most of them were called home to join the Second Destroyer Flotilla at Londonderry. However the move was staggered, and the Pincher wasn’t one of the first six, which were in place by October. Instead she was still listed with the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla until December 1917.

Home Waters 1918

The Pincher was finally listed with the Second Destroyer Flotilla in January 1918. 

At some point between March and June 1918 all of the G class destroyers that had been in Ireland were moved to join the large Fourth Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport, which contained around fifth destroyers of various types. The Pincher was lost on 24 July 1918, leaving nine at Devonport in August.

The Pincher was wrecked on 24 July 1918 while escorting a tanker through the western approaches. She hit the Seven Stones Reef, between Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, at some speed, and she sank. Her captain, Patrick Weir, was reprimanded for steering a dangerous course, but received three more commands after the incident.

Career Summary
First Destroyer Flotilla: 1910-1011
Third Destroyer Flotilla, First Fleet: May 1912-October 1913
Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean: November 1913-November 1914
Portsmouth Escort Flotilla: November 1914-March 1915
Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean: March 1915-December 1917
Second Destroyer Flotilla, Buncrana, Ireland: January-March 1918-
Fourth Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport: -June-24 July 1918

Displacement (standard)

945t (average)

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

27 knots


3-shaft Parsons turbines
5 Yarrow boilers (most ships)




263ft 11.25in pp


26ft 10in


One 4in/ 45cal QF Mk VIII gun
Three 12-pounder/ 12cwt guns
Two 21in torpedo tubes with four torpedoes

Crew complement


Laid down

20 May 1909


15 March 1910


September 1910


24 July 1918

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 (1 October 2020), HMS Pincher (1910),

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