HMS Welland (1904)

HMS Welland (1904) was a River class destroyer that was on the China station at the outbreak of the First World War, before moving to the Mediterranean at the end of 1914, where she remained for the rest of the war.

The original River class boats carried their forward 6-pdr guns on sponsons on either side of the forecastle, but this made them too low and rather wet in some circumstances. From the 1902/3 batch onwards the forward guns were thus moved to a higher position alongside the 12-pdr gun.

The Welland was the only River class destroyers ordered from Yarrow in the 1902-1903 batch. She  had four funnels, in two pairs.

The Welland was launched on Thursday 14 April 1904 at Yarrow.

In the summer of 1904 the new River class boats took part in a series of torpedo craft manoeuvres, where they proved themselves to be more capable than the 30 knotters. In addition after the end of the manoeuvres a force of 31 destroyers left Falmouth and the Sicily Islands to head back to Queenstown and Waterford. They ran into a heavy gale off Land’s End, and only four River class boats (Avon, Cherwell, Eden and Welland) reached Waterford intact. Only one of the older boats, the Hunter was still with them, but she had been badly damaged by the storm.

On Thursday 12 May 1904 she carried out a speed trial on the measured mile off Dover, averaging 26.24 knots at 7,766ihp. At the time this was the best achieve by any of the River class boats.

Pre-War Career

The Welland arrived at Sheerness in mid July 1904. In August 1904 it was announced that the Welland was to replace the Greyhound in the Felixstowe Flotilla, and take over her crew.

In 1904-1905 the Welland was one of six River class destroyers that were part of the Nore Flotilla, one of three that contained all of the home based destroyers. The River class boats were all based at Felixstowe.

In 1906-1907 the Welland was one of six River class destroyers in the 4th Destroyer Flotilla of the Home Fleet,

In 1907-1909 the Welland was part of either the 2nd or 4th Destroyer Flotillas, part of the Home Fleet, which was becoming the main battleship force.

HMS Welland from the left
HMS Welland from the left

In November 1908 the Welland escorted the King and Queen of Sweden as they arrived at Portsmouth at the start of a visit to Britain. Unfortunately she broke her starboard propeller during the visit and had to return to Sheerness for repairs.

In 1909-1911 the Welland was one of four River class destroyers in the 4th Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth. This was part of the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet, which contained the older battleships. The destroyers were partly manned.

On Saturday 17 July 1909 the Welland took part in a massive naval pageant in the Thames, slightly spoiling the effect by colliding with the pleasure steamer Southend Belle. Luckily neither ship was seriously damaged. The incident was caused by the strong tides in the river, which caused the destroyer to get out of control and hit the moored steamer.

In August 1909 the Welland and the Swale escorted the King on the Royal Yacht Alexandra from Dover to Calais at the start of a trip to the Marienbad.

In 1911 the Ribble and the Welland moved to the China Station.

In April 1913 the Welland was one of eight destroyers on the China Station, which  included three river class boats.

In January 1914 the Welland was still one of eight destroyers on the China station, but most of the older boats had been removed, so there were now seven river class boats.

In July 1914 the Welland was one of eight destroyers on the China Station.

First World War

In August 1914 the Ribble was one of five River Class destroyers on the China Station, all of which reported to be ‘at sea’ at the outbreak of war. When the preliminary warning telegraph reached the China Squadron on 28 July they had just returned to Wei-hai-wei after a cruise. Admiral Jerram, commander on the China station, was then ordered to move to Hong Kong.

In November 1914 she was one of eight destroyers on the China Station based at Hong Kong. When the German raider Emdem appeared in the Indian Ocean the Japanese cruiser Yakumo and the River class cruisers Colne, Jed and Welland left Singapore heading for the Sunda Strait to stop the raider escaping to the ast. However the Emdenwas sunk by HMS Sydney at the Cocos Islands on 9 November, just as this move was being made. On 17 Novemer Admiral Jerram was ordered to send all of his River class destroyers to Egypt, so the Colne, Jed, Chelmer and Wellandwere ordered to dock at Singapore to prepare for the trip. Joined by the Kennet, they arrived at Suez on 28 December and were then sent on to Malta.

In mid-April 1915 the Wear and the Welland, supported by the cruiser HMS Minerva, were blockading Smyrna, to prevent the Ottoman naval forces there attacking the transports bringing troops to the area ready for the attack at Gallipoli. However they failed to spot the torpedo boat Demir Hissar, which managed to get to sea on 16 April and intercepted the Manitou, which was carrying the 147th Brigade R.F.A, a transport unit and an infantry working party. The German captain of the torpedo boat ordered her crew and passengers to abandon ship, but his attempts to torpedo her failed after two torpedoes missed! The Wear was ordered to join the hunt for her, but the Welland appears to have stayed off Smyrna.

In June 1915 she was one of twenty two destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean, supporting operations at Gallipoli.

In January 1916 she was one of eight River Class destroyers in the sizable destroyer forces in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Wellandwas awarded the Dardanelles battle honour.

In October 1916 she was one of seven River Class destroyers in the large Fifth Destroyer Flotilla of the Mediterranean Fleet.

In January 1917 she was one of eight River Class destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In June 1917 she was one of eight River Class destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In January 1918 she was one of eight River Class destroyers in the Mediterranean.

When the two German ships in Turkish service made their final sortie in January 1918 the Welland was in the Smyrna area, with the 4th Detached Squadron.

In June 1918 she was one of eight River Class destroyers in the large Fifth Destroyer Flotilla based at Brindisi.

By July 1918 the eight River class destroyers were listed as being at Malta, but there was a large flotilla of more modern destroyers at Brindisi.

In November 1918 she was one of eight River Class destroyers in the large Fifth Destroyer Flotilla based at Mudros.

By January 1920 she was to be sold.

Commander Claude Seymour: 17 April 1912-January 1914-
Lt-Commander Charles A. Poignand: 7 April 1914-January 1915-
Commander George H. Newman: 17 August 1918-December 1918-

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



Yarrow boilers




231.25ft oa
225ft pp




One 12-pounder gun
Five 6-pounder guns
Two 18in torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

1 October 1902


14 April 1904


July 1904

Broken Up


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 (5 February 2020), HMS Welland (1904) ,

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