HMS Wizard (1895)

HMS Wizard was an A class destroyer that served with the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla for most of the First World War, before being withdrawn from service in March-April 1917.

HMS Wizard before 1908
HMS Wizard before 1908

The Wizard was one of three 27-knot destroyers ordered from White as part of the 1893-94 destroyer programme. She carried the standard armament of British destroyers of the period - two 18in torpedo tubes, one 12-pounder gun and five 6-pounder guns. She and her two sisters struggled to reach their contract speed, despite having some of the more powerful engines installed in this generation, and didn’t enter service until 1899, 4-5 years after her contemporaries. As a result White didn’t get any orders for the next generation of 30-knot destroyers.

The White 27 knot destroyers used three White boilers, placing a coal bunker between the two forward boilers. This was reflected in the layout of the funnels - the forward funnel was quite well forward and there was then a gap to the two rear funnels.

The White destroyers were the only ones from this generation of destroyers to be built with inward turning propellers, which made them very difficult to handle.

The Wizard was laid down on 3 April 1894, launched on 26 February 1895, but not accepted into the Navy until July 1899.

Pre-War Career

When the Navy split its single destroyer force into flotillas the Wizard joined the Portsmouth Flotilla.

The Wizard took part in the 1901 naval manoeuvres, which began in late July. These involved two fleets – Fleet B began in the North Sea, and had the task of keeping the English Channel open to trade. Fleet X began off the north coast of Ireland, and had the task of stopping trade in the Channel. The Wizard was part of a force of destroyers from Portsmouth that joined Fleet B. This was the first time both sides in the annual exercises had been given an equal force of destroyers. The exercises ended with a victory for Fleet X. The destroyer forces didn’t live up to expectations, either in torpedo attack or as scouts.

The Wizard underwent a refit in 1903-4.

HMS Wizard after c.1908
HMS Wizard after c.1908

In September 1904 the Wizard visited the east coast, and was reported at Blyth and Flamborough Head on 9 September, heading south.

In 1905-1906 the Wizard was part of the 1st Division of the Channel Fleet.

In August 1905 she was part of the fleet that gathered at Portsmouth to greet a French fleet that was visiting British waters.

In 1906-1909 the Wizard served with the Nore Flotilla

The Wizard underwent a second refit in which her three funnels were replaced with two by trunking the front two funnels together. This took place in some time between 1907 and 1910.

In the spring of 1907 the Wizard visited the east coast, and was at Grimsby on 30 May.

In 1909-1911 the Wizard was part of the 4th Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth.

When the 6th Destroyer Flotilla was formed in 1911, she moved to that force, and was based at Chatham.

From 1912 she was part of the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla.

By March 1913 she was no longer in front line service, and was serving as a tender to the gunnery training establishment HMS Excellent at Portsmouth, with a nucleus crew and her chief gunner John W. Renshaw in command.

The Wizard wasn’t listed in the July 1914 Pink List, the Admiralty’s list of warship locations, nor in the November 1914 list.

First World War

The Wizard wasn’t listed in the November 1914 Pink List, so hadn’t immediately been rushed back into action. However she didn’t have to wait much longer, and by June 1915 she was one of seventeen destroyers in the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla, a mix of older 30 knotters and River class ships.

In January 1916 she was one of eighteen destroyers in the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla, but was undergoing repairs and the date of her return to service was uncertain.

From 6 April 1916 she was commanded by Lt. William A. Thompson.

In January 1917 she was one of eight destroyers in the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla. The Supplements to the Navy List show her serving with the Flotilla in March 1917, but not in April 1917. By June 1917 she wasn’t listed in the Pink List and she didn’t reappear for the rest of the war, so she appears to have been paid off in March-April 1917, as more modern destroyers became available.

By January 1920 she was listed as an obsolete vessel to be sold.

The Wizard was sold to Ward at Rainham to be scrapped on 10 February 1920.

6 April 1916-February 1919-: Lt William A. Thompson

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Pendant Number

1914-April 1917: H.3C
January 1918: H.7A

Top Speed

27 knots (contract)


J.S. White Boilers
2 screws


78 tons of coal
1,490 mile s at 11 nots


205.5ft oa
200ft pp




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

Crew Complement

45 (Brassey)

Laid down

3 April 1894


26 February 1895


July 1899

Sold for Break Up

May 1920

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 (17 December 2018), HMS Wizard (1895) ,

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