HMS Tigress (1911)

HMS Tigress (1911) was an Acheron class destroyer that served with the First Destroyer Flotilla and fought at Dogger Bank, then with the Second then Fourth Flotilla at Devonport in 1916-1917 before spending 1918 in the Mediterranean, where she helped oppose the last sortie of the Goeben and Breslau.

The Tigress was laid down at Hawthorn on 13 February 1911, launched on 20 December 1911 and commissioned in April 1912.

In July 1914 she was one of twenty destroyers in the First Flotilla of the First Fleet, which contained the more modern battleships. At the time the Flotilla contained all of the Admiralty, Yarrow, Thornycroft and Parsons types of the Acheron or I class of destroyers.

In August 1914 she was one of twenty I class destroyers in the First Flotilla of what was about to become the Grand Fleet, and was at sea when war broke out. This was a swing force, so she was available to support the Grand Fleet in major actions in the North Sea, and also take part in the anti-submarine battles in the Channel. However she wasn’t with the flotilla during the battle of Heligoland Bight (28 August 1914)

HMS Tigress from the right HMS Tigress from the right

Early on 1 January 1915 the battleship HMS Formidable was torpedoed and sunk by U-24 while returning to port from gunnery exercises. The Tigress was one of ten destroyers ordered out to sea to patrol in an area bounded by the line Brighton-Cape Antifer in the east and Cherbourg-Anvil Point in the west. Poor weather forced them into harbour on 1 January, but they soon resumed the patrol. Unsurprisingly no real submarines were spotted, but the Hornet reported being attacked just after 10.30am on 4 January, and an impressive array of U-boats were spotted over the next few days, even though none were actually operating in the channel at the time. Two submarines were reported to have been spotted to the rear of the Tigress as she passed Teignmouth on 4 January. The Hornet’s division returned to Harwich on 6 January.

At the battle of Dogger Bank (24 January 1915) she was part of the 4th Division of the First Flotilla (Hornet, Tigress, Sandfly and Jackal). This division had missed the battle of Heligoland Bight. However this battle was dominated by the battlecruisers, and the destroyers had little to do.

In June 1915 she was one of twenty one destroyers in the First Flotilla at Rosyth, made of the original I class boats and one flotilla leader.

On the eve of Jutland the Tigress was with the part of the First Destroyer Flotilla that was with the battlecruiser fleet at Rosyth but she was in dockyard hands

In July 1916 she was moved from the First Flotilla to the Second Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport, moving her away from the Grand Fleet. Her main duties were now anti-submarine patrols and the escort of important ships

On 14 November 1916 she saved the ammo carrying cargo ship SS Idaho from being sunk by U-49. The U-boat had fired two torpedoes, both of which missed, then opened fire on the Idaho. She sent out an S.O.S. which was picked up by the Tigress, 36 miles to the north-west on her way home after escorting an outward bound convoy. The Idaho was soon forced to surrender because of her explosive cargo, and the crew had already been taken off when the Tigress arrived on the scene. The U-boat submerged, and the Idaho’s crew were able to go back onboard and get her to port. The Tigress was also able to rescue the Danish S.S. Terese, which had been captured by the U-boat. U-49 returned home after this close shave, have sunk ten ships on her cruise.

In January 1917 she was one of fourteen destroyers in the Second Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport.

The difficulties of attempting convoy escort with short range destroyers was demonstrated towards the end of January. On 25 January 1917 the Tigress was one of five destroyers that was sent from Devonport to meet up with a convoy coming from Australia, but the destroyers were forced to take shelter from bad weather in the Scillies. Luckily another group of destroyers happened to be at the rendezvous point having escorted an outbound convoy, so an escort was provided.

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

In September 1917 the Acheron class ships with the 2nd Flotilla were split up. The Tigress was one of four that remained at Devonport, but as part of the large Fourth Destroyer Flotilla.

Towards the end of the war most surviving members of the class ended up with the 5th Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean. The Tigress made the move in December 1917.

On 19-20 January 1918, when the Goeben and Breslau made their last sortie, she was part of the 2nd Detached Squadron, Dardanelles, and was out on patrol with the Lizard. When the Germans approached Kusu Bay the Tigress was some way to the west, but she received a warning message broadcast by the Lizard¸ and headed east. When he arrived he found that the Germans had already sunk the monitors Raglan and M.28. and were heading back south out to sea. The Lizard had been driven north by German gunfire, but was now on her way back. The Tigress came under fire from the Breslau, but wasn’t hit.

The two British destroyers followed the Germans as they attempted to withdraw from Kusu Bay ready to attack Mudros. However the Germans then ran into a minefield. The Breslau struck first, and the Goeben hit another mine while coming in to try and tow the Breslau to safety. The Breslau then detonated more mines, while the Goeben retreated back into the Straits. The Tigress and Lizard followed, and became engaged in a brief gun battle with a group of destroyers that had been left behind earlier by the Germans, and were now coming out to try and help the Breslau. The enemy destroyers were soon driven off, but the British had to abandon the chase after coming under fire from the Turkish shore guns. They then picked up 14 officers and 148 men from the Breslau.

In June 1918 she was part of the large Fifth Destroyer Flotilla at Brindisi.

In November 1918 she was part of the large Fifth Destroyer Flotilla at Mudros.

In November 1919 was in the hands of a care and maintenance party in the Devonport reserve. She was sold to be broke up in May 1921.

The Tigress was awarded one battle honour, for Dogger Bank

War Record
August 1914-June 1916: 1st Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
July 1916-August 1917: 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport
September-November 1917: 4th Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport
December 1917-June 1918: 5th Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean
July-August 1918: 5th Destroyer Flotilla, Brindisi
December 1918: Aegean Squadron

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

27 knots


3-shaft Parsons turbines
3 Yarrow boilers




246ft oa


25ft 8in


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

Crew complement


Laid down

13 February 1911


20 December 1911


April 1912


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 (23 September 2021), HMS Tigress (1911),

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