HMS Ruby (1910)

HMS Ruby (1910) was an Acorn class destroyer that served with the Second Destroyer Flotilla with the Grand Fleet in 1914-15 and at Devonport from late 1915 to late 1917, then on the Coast of Ireland Station in September-October 1917 before moving to the Mediterranean in December 1917, serving with the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla for the rest of the war.

The Ruby was laid down by White on the Isle of Wight on 15 February 1910, launched on 4 November 1910 and completed on 7 April 1911.

HMS Ruby from the left HMS Ruby from the left

On her full speed trials the Ruby averaged 30.335 knots on 16,776shp at a weight of 736 tons.

From 1911-14 the Ruby, along with the entire Acorn class and the Laferoy class destroyer HMS Lark formed the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, a fully manned flotilla that was part of the 2nd Division of the Home Fleet until 1912, then part of the First Fleet from 1912-1914. At the outbreak of war in 1914 the First Fleet became the Grand Fleet.

On 15 March 1912 the Goldfinch and the Ruby collided while entering their berths at Portland. The Goldfinch was almost undamaged, but the Ruby’s whaler was smashed, three of her hull plates buckled and her port forward gun dismantled. Earlier in the day their sister ship Comet had been caught by the wind while leaving her berth and damaged when she collided with a coal lighter.

In July 1914 she was one of twenty destroyers in the Second Flotilla, part of the First Fleet of the Home Fleet, which contained the most modern battleships. The Second Flotilla contained the entire Acorn or H class of destroyers.

First World War

After the outbreak of war in August 1915 the Ruby and the entire class formed the Second Flotilla of the Grand Fleet. By November 1914 they had been joined by the flotilla leader Broke. On 19 February 1915 her sister ship Goldfinch was wrecked, leaving the nineteen survivors in the flotilla. By June 1915 the flotilla contained all nineteen of the Acorn class boats and the M class destroyer HMS Moon.

On 23 August the Ruby was at sea with the main battle fleet, when she reported seeing a submarine. However this was a false alarm, one of many at this stage of the war.

The Ruby was damaged by gales in the North Sea on 27 December 1914. This was part of a much larger incident, which also saw the dreadnoughts Monarch and Conqueror collide, taking them out of action and the destroyers Hope, Redpole and Ruby all damaged in the storm.

In February 1915 the Ruby’s division (Cameleon, Larne, Rifleman and Ruby) was sent from Scapa Flow into the Irish Sea to help defend against a U-boat raid and were posted at Barrow-in-Furness. However this was a short-lived posting. They remained at Barrow for a few days, then escorted the battleship HMS Conqueror south to Liverpool on her to Devonport for repairs after suffering damage in a collision. They arrived at Liverpool on 14 February, and then began the voyage back to Scapa. This didn’t go terribly well – the Larne was the only one to reach Scapa without problems. Ruby and Riflemen was found to be leaking when they reached the Clyde and had to dock, while the Cameleon ran into the harbour wall at Greenock! The Ruby reached Scapa on 18 February, the Cameleon and Rifleman on 24 February!

On 7 May 1915 a U-boat was sighted and attacked in the Fair Island Channel (between Orkney and Shetland). Admiral Jellicoe through it was likely that the submarine would head down the west coast of Scotland, and sent the Cameleon and Ruby to try and catch her near the Butt of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. They didn’t find the U-boat, and moved on to Broadhaven Bay on the northern coast of Ireland, in case the submarine was sheltering there. Again nothing was found, so they returned to Scapa. Jellicoe has been correct about the submarine’s route, but his destroyers had simply missed her.

During the second half of 1915 the Second Flotilla began to move south to Devonport. Ruby was still with the Grand Fleet in October 1915, but had moved south to Devonport by November 1915.

On 12 September 1916 the Dutch SS Antwerpen was damaged by a U-boat in the Channel, and her crew abandoned ship. They were rescued by the Cameleon, and the stricken merchant ship was then sunk by a torpedo.

On 24 October a U-boat stopped two merchant ships, SS Sidmouth and SS Anna Guirine, south of Wolf Rock. The Anna Guirine was sunk by bombs, but the Cameleon, which was nearby escorting a convoy, then attempted to attack. However the submarine was able to torpedo the Sidmouth before escaping.

One of her duties was to escort significant convoys to port (mainly troopships and munitions ships), but this didn’t always go well. On 25 January 1917 the Hydra, Tigress, Ruby, Brisk and Goshawk sailed to meet with an incoming convoy on the last stage of a voyage from Australia, but bad weather forced them to take shelter in the Scillies. Luckily for the convoy another group of five destroyers, led by the Martin happened to be at the rendezvous point, having escorted an outbound convoy, so they were able to take over the tasl.

Her duties could often take her a long way from Devonport – on 31 January 1917 she was one of three destroyers (Brisk, Ruby and Goshawk) that departed from Liverpool escorting the Calgarian as she sailed for Canada carrying a cargo of gold. On 28 February the Ruby spotted a derelict and rammed it in the belief that it was a U-boat, causing serious damage to herself. What happened to the derelict isn’t recorded.

Although the flotilla was officially based at Devonport, its ships were often scattered rather widely. On 28 May 1917 only the Brisk and Ruby were actually at Devonport. Of the other fifteen destroyers then in the flotilla, five were at Lough Swilly and three were at Liverpool.  

In June 1917 she was one of six H class destroyers in the Second Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport.

On 24 July 1917 the Ruby spotted a periscope while operating off Plymouth and dropped two depth charges. This was probably UC-62, which was undamaged in the attack.

On 7 August 1917 the Martin, Lyra, Lapwing, Goshawk, Ruby and Hydra were leaving Lough Swilly to meet up with the incoming troopship Orama when they spotted a periscope and conning tower off Fanad Head. Between them the destroyers dropped fourteen depth charges, but the U-boat escaped. This may have been U-44, which had been attacked and damaged by the Q-ship Chagford, and may have been unable to submerge. After this incident she attempted to return home by sailing around the north of Scotland, but was sunk off the coast of Norway on 12 August.

By September 1917 five of the six ships that had still been at Devonport (Alarm, Brisk, Hope, Martin and Ruby) had moved with the 2nd Flotilla to join the Northern Division of the Coast of Ireland Station, which was based at Buncrana. She was still in Ireland in October 1917, but by December 1917 had joined the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean.

In January 1918 she was one of six H class destroyers that were in the Mediterranean and was undergoing repairs at Malta.

By July 1918 the ships in the Malta Flotilla had joined the Fifth Flotilla, which was based at Brindisi. In addition they had finally been joined by the Brisk, which had disappeared from Ireland in June, and arrived in the Mediterranean in July. This was the first time since June 1915, when the first ships left the Grand Fleet to move to Devonport, that all of the surviving Acorn class ships still in British service had been gathered in the same formation. It didn’t last for long, as by August 1918 Lyra had been moved to Gibraltar.

On 2 October 1918 the Ruby supported the Allied bombardment of Durazzo in Albania, then held by the Austro-Hungarians. Her role was to protect the northern flank of the main bombardment force and support a force of US sub-chasers.

In November 1918 she was one of fourteen H class destroyers in the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, now at Mudros.

In the February 1919 Navy List she was part of the destroyer flotilla at Malta.

In November 1919 she was in the hands of a care and maintenance party in the Nore reserve.

Wartime Career
-August 1914-October 1915: Second Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
December 1915-August 1917-: Second Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport
September 1917-October 1917: Second Destroyer Flotilla, Coast of Ireland Station, Northern Division, based at Buncrana
December 1917-June 1918: Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean
July 1918-August 1918-: Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Brindisi
-December 1918-February 1919-: Aegean Squadron, Mudros

Commanders
Lt-Commander Edward McC. W. Lawrie: 25 January 1912-October 1914-

Displacement (standard)

772t

Displacement (loaded)

970t

Top Speed

27 knots

Engine

3-shaft Parsons turbines (most in class)
4 White-Forester boilers
13,500shp

Range

 

Length

246ft oa

Width

25ft 3in to 25ft 5.5in

Armaments

Two 4in BL Mk VIII guns
Two 12-pounder/ 12cwt guns
Two 21in torpedo tubes

Crew complement

72

Laid down

15 February 1910

Launched

4 November 1910

Completed

7 April 1911

Sold for break up

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 (13 May 2021), HMS Ruby (1910) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Ruby_1910.html

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