HMS Acorn or HMS Marne

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Additional Research Required

Original research conducted by Gerry Costello
A number of Royal Navy service records for ratings administered by the Depot ship HMS Blake show two destroyer names across the dates of the Battle of Jutland. Further research has been conducted relating to the history and programmes of the relevant destroyers in order to seek to understand whether each man was serving in a Jutland ship. This note analyses each combination, and attempts to draw conclusions which can be used to support assignment of each man to a particular crew list.

In general what seems to have happened is that the older Acorn-class destroyers were progressively replaced by the new M-class destroyers as they emerged from build. The Acorns had formed the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla (DF), while the new Ms became the 11th DF but both flotillas used HMS Blake as depot ship. Once the Acorns had reached Devonport, they stayed there for a variable time before deploying to the Mediterranean, typically joining the 5th DF based on HMS Blenheim, although some are indicated as joining ‘the Adriatic squadron’. Records indicate that the 2nd and 11th flotillas were with the Grand Fleet, so presumably HMS Blake was based at Scapa Flow. In each case, sailors’ records show continuity of the depot ship, so it is deduced from this that men changed from old to new destroyers at Scapa, and spent little or no time at Devonport.


HMS Acorn was part of the 2nd DF from the reorganisation of flotillas in April 1912 until late in 1915. In Sep 1915, Acorn shifted from Blake to Vivid (Devonport) as her depot ship, and in Jan 1916, Acorn transferred to the 5th DF in the Mediterranean.

HMS Marne was completed in September 1915 and was commanded by L/C George B Hartford. Hartford had commanded Acorn from Nov 14 to Aug 15 and then swapped commands with L/C Alfred Geoffrey Peace, remaining in command of Marne at Jutland and until Apr 1919. Marne joined the 11th DF on its formation in Sep 1915, sharing the depot ship Blake with the 2nd DF.

It would seem likely that many of the crew of Acorn would have transferred to Marne with their CO in around Aug/Sep 1915. Therefore any ratings whose record shows Blake (Acorn/Marne) spanning the date of Jutland can reasonably be assumed to have been serving in the latter ship.

AB James Collington (226291) has separate line entries for his time in Acorn and in Marne and the transfer date on his record is 1 Oct 1915.