HMS Forward (1904)

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Career Royal Navy Ensign
Class and type: Forward-class scout cruiser
Name: HMS Forward
Builder: Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Govan
Laid down: October 1903
Launched: 27 August 1904
Commissioned: September 1905
Fate: Sold 27 July 1921 for scrapping
General characteristics
Displacement: 2,860 tons
Length: 365 ft (111 m) (p/p), 379 ft (116 m) (o/a)
Beam: 39 ft 3 in (11.96 m)
Draught: 14 ft 3 in (4.34 m)
Propulsion: Two 4 cylinder triple expansion oil fired steam engines driving twin screws
16,500 ihp
Speed: 25 knots
Range: Carried 150 tons coal (500 tons max)
Complement: 298
Armament: As built
  • Ten x 12pdr quick firing guns
  • Eight x 3pdr quick firing guns
  • Two x 18 in torpedo tubes
As modified 1911/12
Armour: conning tower: 3 inch
deck: 1⅛ inch - ⅝ inch
belt: 2 inch

HMS Forward was one of two Forward-class scout cruiser which served with the Royal Navy. She was built in the yards of Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Govan. She was laid down in October 1903, launched on 27 August 1904 and completed in September 1905. She was initially given a main armament of ten 12 pounder guns but in 1911/12 these were replaced with nine more potent 4 inch guns.


HMS Forward joined the Channel Fleet in 1907, became leader of the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla in 1909, joined the 4th Flotilla in October 1909, the 3rd Flotilla at the Nore in 1910, becoming its leader in June 1913. At the start of the war she was part of the 9th Destroyer Flotilla, on the Shetland Patrol.

In 1914 she was transferred to the 7th Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber. On 15 December 1914 she was at Hartlepool, along with HMS Patrol and the 3rd division of the 9th Flotilla, while the 4th division was patrolling off Whitby. On the morning of 16 December Hartlepool was the subject of a German raid, led by the battlecruisers Seydlitz and Moltke and the cruiser Blücher. Hartlepool was a tidal harbour, and at low tide it was difficult for the cruisers to get out to sea. That morning the destroyers HMS Doon, HMS Waveney, HMS Moy and HMS Test had been sent out at 5.30 am, and had reported that the conditions made it risky for the cruisers to come out.

At 8 am, the German ships appeared off Hartlepool and opened fire on the town. Their initial targets were the two gun emplacements that protected the harbour, but they soon opened fire on the docks and harbour entrance. While Patrol was able to get out to sea (where she was hit and badly damaged), Forward was delayed by the German barrage. When she did finally get out of Hartlepool, the German battlecruisers had already turned east to make their escape. Forward was ordered to keep in touch with them, but they soon escaped into the mist.

After the raid Forward was sent to the 7th Destroyer Flotilla in the Humber. In May 1915 she was one of five of the seven surviving scout cruisers to make up the 6th Light Cruiser Squadron, whose duties were to guard the east coast against Zeppelin raids. This squadron was soon broken up as newer ships became available, and Forward was sent to the Mediterranean. From June 1916 to the end of the war she served in the Aegean, before being sold off on 27 July 1921.