A "Best Guess" of Royal Navy Destroyers Assigned to Home Defence and Patrols in August, 1914

Contribued by Doug Thompson (doug_thompson@adg.ardemgaz.com), with his own comments interspersed throughout.

Failure to pin down which ships were in the 7th, 8th and 9th flotillas of the Royal Navy in August, 1914 has vexed me for years. I hope portions of this "best guess," will either be confirmed or denied by someone.

This much is known: the ships in the 1st through 6th flotillas are well documented. From there, Jack Arrowsmith's fine work on destroyer pendant numbers shows that most - but not all - destroyers in the same flotilla share the same letter at the beginning of their pendant number in 1914. Also, the pendant numbers were usually in sequence among destroyers in the same flotilla.

Jack never claimed that pendant numbers were a reliable guide to which destroyer served in which flotilla. My use of his pendant numbers as a clue amounts to using good, reliable research (Jack's) to make a wild guess (mine).

So, this list was compiled by grouping destroyers by pendant number and trying to find a close "fit" with the known strength of the respective flotillas. Ships of the same type who were built by the same contractor at the same time were also lumped together.

Any bits of solid evidence were used. Some destroyers in specified patrol flotillas did respond to the German battlecruiser raids on the English coast, for instance. Those are found in James Goldrick's "The Kings Ships were at Sea."

I'm sure the British deployment in 1914 was more logical than it seems to a frustrated researcher working from general reference books. The British probably grouped their destroyers in accordance with the ship's overall condition and actual speed at the time instead of by class, designed speed and other such arbitrary factors. Anyway: forward, into the dark.

7th DF
"A" Class - Opossum, Ranger, Sunfish
"B" Class - Thrasher, Success, Arab, Quail, Panther, Orwell, Lively, Griffon, Earnest, Seal, Express, Wolf
"C" Class - Bittern, Roebuck, Thorn, Bullfinch, Leopard, Sylvia, Dove, Vigilant, Albatros, Violet, Avon, Vixen
"D" Class - Mallard

8th DF
"A" Class - Conflict, Surly
"B" Class - Spiteful, Peterel, Kangaroo
"C" Class - Fairy, Cheerful, Velox, Star, Bat, Flying Fish, Osprey
"D" Class - Desperate, Stag

9th DF, "Rivers" Class
Teviot, Garry, Derwent, Eden, Waveney, Boyne, Doon, Kale, Foyle, Itchen, Arun, Liffey, Moy, Ouse, Ness, Nith, Stour, Test

"Rivers" Class assigned to the Channel Fleet
Erne, Ettrick, Exe, Cherwell, Dee, Wear, Swale, Rother

Local Defense Flotillas

The Nore
"A" Class - Lightning, Porcupine, Fervent, Zephyr
"C" Class - Recruit, Vulture, Brazen, Electra, Kestrel
"D" Class - Coquette, Cygnet, Cynthia

The "Oily Wads" - Experimental (in 1906) coastal destroyers that use oil fuel. One of Fisher's ideas. There are 36 of them. About 24 were used at the Firth of Forth and the rest split between local defense flotillas at Newcastle, Sheerness and Portsmouth. This is confirmed by Conway's. TB 98-117 (Old torpedo boats based principally at Portsmouth. Confirmed: Conway's)

Last Updated: 26 July, 1999.

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