HMS Scorpion (1910)

HMS Scorpion (1910) was a Beagle class destroyer that spent most of the First World War in the Mediterranean, where she took part in the Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaigns. She returned to home waters early in 1918 to take part in anti-submarine and convoy escort duties

In August 1910 it was announced that the Harpy, Scorpion and Mosquito were all to join the First Flotilla, at Harwich.

HMS Scorpion from the left HMS Scorpion from the left

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. 

The Scorpion was commanded by Lt Commander Andrew Cunningham from January 1911 until January 1918, an unusually long period.

On 15 November 1911 she was damaged in a collision with the Danish sailing vessel Tyn in the North Sea. The Scorpion had a hole knocked in her side and had to go to Sheerness for repairs. The Tyn had to be towed to safety in danger of sinking.

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

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

War Service

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 First Division of the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla (Wolverine, Renard, Scorpion and Scourge), which was at Alexandria.

In August 1914 she was part of the 1st Division of the Fifth Flotilla, which still contained all of the G Class destroyers, and was based at Malta

HMS Scorpion, Malta, c.1913-1918
HMS Scorpion, Malta, c.1913-1918

By 9 August nine of the Beagles – Scorpion, Wolverine, Basilisk, Racoon, Renard, Beagle, Scourge, Mosquito and Foxhound were at Zante, off the north-west coast of Greece, partly because of an erroneous message that Britain was at war with Austria and partly to try and intercept the German cruisers Goeben and Breslau. They took on coal, and continued to operate around the entrance to the Adriatic, but by this point the Germans had already slipped away to the east, and soon entered the Dardanelles.

Late in 1914 it was decided to move the Beagle class destroyers home, to help escort the troop convoys across the Channel. The first four were home by the end of November, and the second four during December 1914.

Not all of the Beagles came home. The January 1915 Navy List lists eight of them – Basilisk, Grampus, Grasshopper, Mosquito, Racoon, Renard, Scorpion and Wolverine – as ‘Ships Joining Squadrons’, attached to the destroyer depot ship HMS Blenheim, which was based in the Mediterranean. By March 1915 all eight had returned to the Fifth Destroyer Squadron. In January that flotilla had contained the seven River class destroyers from the China station.

On 1 November the Wolverine and Scorpion were sent to cut out a minelayer believed to be sheltering in the Gulf of Smyrna. On their arrival they found a large armed yacht, the Beyrout, and summoned it to surrender. Her crew responded by setting her on fire. The two destroyers opened fire, and she sank. A series of large explosions as she sank suggested that she was the minelayer being searched for. A smaller supply vessel also sank, once again with explosions that suggested she was carrying mines.

Dardanelles and Gallipoli

The Scorpion served at Gallipoli, where her captain was Andrew Cunningham, the famous admiral of the Second World War. He commanded her from 1911 to 1918, an impressive seven years with the same ship and a record for the Royal Navy.

On 3 March she was one of four destroyers (Scorpion, Renard, Wolverine and Grampus) that took part in an attack on the Turkish guns in the straits. When the larger ships withdrew the four destroyers remained in place to support the minesweeping trawlers.

On 4 March she supported the third attempt to land troops to demolish some of the Turkish forts. During the attack she bombarded a Turkish gun battery near In Tepe and silenced it. However the overall attack was rather less successful, and the Scorpion, Basilisk, Renard, Wolverine and Grampus were all called on to bombard the Turkish trenches at Yeni Shehr to cover the retreat. At the end of the action the Scorpion sent in an armed whaler that rescued the last seven men from the beach.

On 16 April 1915 the submarine HMS E.15 rank aground while attempting to pass through the Dardanelles. She came under Turkish fire, her commander was killed, and the survivors forced to surrender. However the British outside the straits didn’t know that, and a series of attempts were made to reach her – either to rescue her if she was intact, or destroy her if not. The submarine B.6 made the first attempt to destroyer her. On the night of 17-18 April the Scorpion and Grampus attempted to find her. They also came under heavy fire, and although they got within 1,000 yards of their target were unable to spot her.

On 28 April 1915 she was hit by shore fire during the First Battle of Krithia, while being used as a minesweeper. The shell started a fire in her seaman’s messdeck, which was soon put out.

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. The Scorpion and Wolverine attempted to intercept the destroyer as she returned to the Straits, but failed.

After two battleships were sunk by the same U-boat in May the role of providing on-demand fire support for the troops was passed to the destroyers. The Wolverine and the Scorpion were posted off Cape Helles.

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.

On 28 June 1915 she was one of three destroyers (Scorpion, Wolverine and Renard) that were used to bombard the western end of the Turkish lines, where their trenches came down towards the sea, during the attack at Gully Ravine. The British made some progress during the day, and the Turks counterattacked at night in an attempt to regain the lost ground. On the coastal front the Scorpion and the Wolverine lit up the attackers with their searchlights and helped defeat the counterattack with their guns.

In August 1915 she was Admiral Nicholson’s flagship during the operation at Cape Helles carried out to support the landings at Sulva Bay.

In the autumn of 1915 the Beagle, Basilisk and Scorpion were assigned to a British squadron that was being prepared for a possible war with Greece, as tensions rose after the Allied landings at Salonika in October. However this fleet was never needed.

In January 1916 she was one of eight G Class destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean, where she was serving alongside a mix of other types

At the start of January she was part of the force posted in the Aegean to support the last stages of the retreat from Gallipoli. During the night of 7-8 January she helped defeat a Turkish attack on the British lines around Gully Spur.

The Scorpion was awarded one battle honour, for the Dardanelles 1915-16.

Mediterranean 1916-1918

In October 1916 she was one of thirty two destroyers in the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla of the Mediterranean Fleet, which now contained fifteen G class destroyers (the Scourge wasn’t listed),

On 30 November 1916 the Scorpion was rammed from the right by the Wolverine. One crewman was killed, and she suffered damage that required her to move to Malta for repairs.

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

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

In the autumn of 1917 the Beagle class ships began to move home to join the Second Destroyer Flotilla at Londonderry. However the move was staggered, and the Scorpion was one of the later ships to move.

In December 1917 there were six Beagle class destroyers left in the Mediterranean – Basilisk and Scorpion were with the Malta Flotilla, while Grampus, Pincher, Rattlesnake and Renard werewith the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla

In January 1918 she was one of twenty eight destroyers in the Mediterranean, one of only five G class ships left in the area.

Home Waters 1918

By February 1918 she had finally moved to the Second Destroyer Flotilla at Londonderry, where her new role was a mix of anti-submarine patrols and convoy escort duties.

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.

In June 1918 she was part of the large Fourth Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport, which contained around fifth destroyers of various types.

In November 1918 she was one of forty destroyers from the Patrol and Escort Forces that were based at Devonport. By this point some of the G-class ships had moved back to Ireland, leaving seven at Devonport (Bulldog, Grasshopper, Harpy, Mosquito, Savage, Scorpion and Scourge).

By the end of the war the home based Beagles were allocated two depth charge throwers and thirty depth charges, surrendering their aft gun and torpedo tube to make space.

In November 1919 she was in the Reserve at the Nore, in the hands of a care & maintenance party.

Career Summary
First Destroyer Flotilla: 1910-1011
Third Destroyer Flotilla, First Fleet: May 1912-October 1913
Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean: November 1913-January 1918
Second Destroyer Flotilla, Buncrana, Ireland: February-March 1918-
Fourth Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport: -June-November 1918-

January 1911-January 1918: A. B. Cunningham

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

3 May 1909


19 February 1910


August 1910

Sold for break up

October 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 (pending), Title,

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