She was ordered under the 1916 Emergency Programme from Palmers Engineering and Shipbuilding Company, Hebburn in September 1916. The ship was laid down in January 1917, launched on 10 April 1918 and completed in December 1918 before beginning operational service in 1919.
Whilst serving on the America and West Indies Station in July 1928 she ran aground off Halifax, Nova Scotia on the Thrum Cap Shoal sustaining major damage with her engine room and boiler being breached. She was salvaged and her subsequent refit was completed in 1930. After further service in the Fleet the ship was placed in reserve in August 1936.
Laid-up at Portsmouth she was brought back into service in 1939 following the outbreak of the Second World War when she joined the 9th Cruiser squadron with the South Atlantic Command. In December the squadron was transferred to the China Station and in March 1940 Dauntless operated as a unit of the British Malaya Force in the Indian Ocean. She operated mainly off Batavia keeping watch on German merchant ships in the Dutch East Indies. On 15 June 1941 she collided with HMS Emerald off Malacca and had to put into Singapore for repairs which were eventually completed on 15 August 1941.
In February 1942 Dauntless returned to Britain and underwent a refit at Portsmouth. Following this she was transferred to the Eastern Fleet in Simonstown, South Africa until January 1943. She was then used as a training ship and in February 1945 was again reduced to the reserve. She was sold to be broken up for scrap on 13 February 1946 and in April 1946 was broken up at the yards of T.W. Ward, of Inverkeithing.
She had a displacement of 4,650 tons and was 144m long with a 14m beam and 4.4m draught.
Propulsion consisted of Six Yarrow type water tube boilers and Parsons geared steam turbines, this gave a top speed of 29 knots and an overall range of 2300 nm.
Her complement was 350.
She was armed with six BL 6 inch (152.4mm) L45 Mark XII guns, two QF 3 Inch (76.2mm) Mk II AA Guns, two 40mm 2pdr AA guns and twelve 21 inch (533mm) torpedoes in four triple launchers.
Photographed at Portsmouth Naval Dockyard 28 October 2014.