Allied Warships

HMS Kelly (F 01)

Destroyer of the K class


HMS Kelly on trials

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassK 
PennantF 01 
ModFlotilla leader 
Built byHawthorn Leslie & Co. (Hebburn-on-Tyne, U.K.) 
Ordered 
Laid down26 Aug 1937 
Launched25 Oct 1938 
Commissioned23 Aug 1939 
Lost23 May 1941 
Loss position34° 40'N, 24° 10'E
History

HMS Kelly (Capt. Lord Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, DSO, RN) was bombed and sunk on 23 May 1941 by German Stuka dive bombers south of Crete in position 34º40'N, 24º10'E.

 

Commands listed for HMS Kelly (F 01)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Lord Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, RN27 Jun 193923 May 1941

You can help improve our commands section
Click here to Submit events/comments/updates for this vessel.
Please use this if you spot mistakes or want to improve this ships page.

Notable events involving Kelly include:


23 Aug 1939
At 1529 hours HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) is commissioned and then immediately departed the Tyne for the Chatham Dockyard. (1)

24 Aug 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, RN) arrived at the Chatham Dockyard around 1000 hours to complete outfitting and provisioning. (1)

28 Aug 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) shifted from the Chatham Dockyard to Sheerness. Later the same day she departed Sheerness for Portsmouth. (1)

29 Aug 1939
Shortly after 1400 hours, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), arrived at Portsmouth. (1)

30 Aug 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) departed Portsmouth for Portland. (1)

31 Aug 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) arrived at Portland to commence her working up period. (1)

1 Sep 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) conducted trials and exercises off Portland. (2)

2 Sep 1939
In the evening HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) conducted night exercises off Portland. (2)

4 Sep 1939
HMS H 31 (Lt.Cdr. W.R. Fell, OBE, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Portland with HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Acheron (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN). (3)

6 Sep 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) conducted exercises off Portland. (2)

7 Sep 1939
HMS H 44 (Lt. H.A.V. Haggard, RN) conducted exercises off Portland with HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN). (4)

9 Sep 1939
HMS H 49 (Lt. E.F. Balston, RN) conducted exercises off Portland with HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN). (5)

10 Sep 1939
HMS H 44 (Lt. H.A.V. Haggard, RN) conducted exercises off Portland with HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN). (4)

11 Sep 1939
HMS H 31 (Lt.Cdr. W.R. Fell, OBE, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Portland with HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN). (3)

12 Sep 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) departed Portland shortly before noon for Cherbourg, France where she embarked the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and members of their staff. Course was then set for Portsmouth where she arrived in the evening. (2)

13 Sep 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) shifted from Portsmouth to Plymouth. (2)

16 Sep 1939
The light cruisers HMS Caradoc (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN), HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN) and the destroyer HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) departed Plymouth for a patrol in the Western Approaches. (2)

17 Sep 1939

The sinking of HMS Courageous.


HMS Courageous sinking as seen from one of the escorting destroyers.

HMS Courageous (Capt. W.T. Makeig-Jones, RN) was on anti-submarine patrol about 350 nautical miles west of Lands End, still escorted by HMS Inglefield (Capt. A.G. Talbot, RN), HMS Ivanhoe (Cdr. B. Jones, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) and HMS Intrepid (Cdr. J.W. Josselyn, RN).

At 1445 hours, the group picked up a distress call from the British merchant Kafiristan that was being attacked by the German submarine U-53 about 350 miles west of Cape Clear. The destroyers HMS Inglefield and HMS Intrepid were detached and the carrier launched four Swordfish aircraft, one of them forced the U-boat to dive without damaging it at 1700 hours.

At about 1800 hours, another U-boat, U-29, spotted the carrier group and began chasing it, but had no chance to get into a favorable attack position until the carrier turned into the wind to recover the four Swordfish returning from the search for U-53. She was now heading on a straight course at 18 knots towards the U-boat which attacked only five minutes after the last aircraft landed. At 1950 hours, U-29 fired a spread of three G7e torpedoes at HMS Courageous and hit her with two of them on the port side abaft the bridge. She almost immediately took a heavy list to port and sank after 17 minutes about 190 miles southwest of Dursey Head, Ireland.

The Commanding Officer, 17 other officers and 501 ratings were lost, including 36 RAF service crewmen. All Swordfish aircraft of 811 and 822 Sqdn FAA were lost with the ship.

While HMS Ivanhoe attacked U-29 with depth charges, HMS Impulsive began to rescue the survivors and was soon joined by the American merchant Collingsworth, the British merchant Dido and the Dutch passenger ship Veendam, which launched 14 lifeboats and also saved the ships log. The rescue work proved difficult due to the heavily oiled sea. Further help arrived when HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. C. Caslon, RN) and HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, RAN) joined HMS Ivanhoe in the submarine hunt together with the by now returned HMS Intrepid, but the U-boat escaped during the night. Also two light cruisers, HMS Caradoc (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN) and HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN) arrived at the scene together with the destroyer HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), but the cruisers were soon ordered away.

The merchant Dido had picked up 23 officers and 195 ratings and was escorted to Liverpool by HMS Intrepid. The survivors rescued by the neutral merchants were transferred to HMS Inglefield and HMS Kelly and arrived at Devonport (Plymouth) on the afternoon of 19 September.

After this loss and the unsuccessful attack of U-39 on HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN) only three days earlier, carriers were withdrawn from such patrols as they were considered to be to valuable.

19 Sep 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) returned to Plymouth. (2)

20 Sep 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) escorted the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN) during exercises off Plymouth. Upon completion of these exercises Hermes returned to Plymouth while Kelly proceeded to Portland. (2)

21 Sep 1939

Convoy SL 2.

This convoy departed Freetown on 21 September 1939. It was split into several sections at sea at dusk on 7 October 1939 and the ships then proceeded to several ports of arrival in the U.K.

This convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Apapa (British, 9332 GRT, built 1927), Athelduchess (British (tanker), 8940 GRT, built 1929), Athelprincess (British (tanker), 8882 GRT, built 1929), City of Karachi (British, 7140 GRT, built 1937), Clan Macindoe (British, 4635 GRT, built 1920), Clearton (British, 5219 GRT, built 1919), Forresbank (British, 5155 GRT, built 1925), Grangepark (British, 5132 GRT, built 1919), Leonian (British, 5424 GRT, built 1936), Nurtureton (British, 6272 GRT, built 1929), Port Hardy (British, 8705 GRT, built 1923), Shakespear (British, 5029 GRT, built 1926), Urbino (British, 5198 GRT, built 1918) and Warlaby (British, 4876 GRT, built 1927).

Escort was provided on leaving Freetown by the light cruiser HMS Despatch (Capt. A. Poland, RN) which remained with the convoy until 28 September. On 21 September A/S escort was provided near Freetown by the destroyer HMS Hunter (Lt.Cdr. L. De Villiers, RN).

When approaching the U.K. the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) joined the convoy at dawn on 7 October 1940. They were reinforced by early in the evening by HMS Vanoc (Lt.Cdr. J.G.W. Deneys, RN) and HMS Whirlwind (Lt.Cdr. M.B. Ewart-Wentworth, RN). Shorly afterwards the convoy was split.

22 Sep 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) conducted exercises off Portland. These included night exercises. (2)

23 Sep 1939
HMS H 31 (Lt. P.R. Ward, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Portland with HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN). (3)

25 Sep 1939
The battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. C.H. Knox-Little, RN) and HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Portland during which they were escorted by the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN). (2)

26 Sep 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) shifted from Portland to Plymouth. (2)

3 Oct 1939

Convoy OA 14.

This convoy departed Southend on 3 October 1939. It was dissolved at sea on 6 October 1939.

This convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Baron Ailsa (British, 3656 GRT, built 1936), City of Windsor (British, 7218 GRT, built 1923), Clan Lamont (British, 7250 GRT, built 1939), Corfell (British, 1802 GRT, built 1934) (to Porstmouth only), Flimston (British, 4674 GRT, built 1925), Fulham II (British, 1596 GRT, built 1936), Ousebridge (British, 5601 GRT, built 1920) and Troutpool (British, 4886 GRT, built 1927).

Escort was provided by the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) which sailed from Plymouth early in the day and then joined the convoy off the Downs. The next day the convoy was joined by HMS Montrose (Cdr. C.R.L. Parry, RN) coming from Portsmouth.

7 Oct 1939
At dawn HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) joined convoy SL 2 coming from Freetown. [See the event 'Convoy SL 2' for 21 September 1939 for more info on the composition of this convoy'.]

At dawn the convoy was split and HMS Kelly and HMS Kingston went with a section up the English Channel. (6)

9 Oct 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) arrived at Plymouth from convoy escort duty. (6)

13 Oct 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Plymouth. HMS Kelly and HMS Kingston were to proceed towards the Downs for convoy escort duty. HMS Kandahar soon split off and proceeded to Portland to commence her work-up programme there.

HMS Kelly and HMS Kingston joined a convoy at 0800 hours. They remained with the convoy throughout the day. (6)

14 Oct 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) arrived at Dover. (6)

15 Oct 1939

Convoy OA 20G.

This convoy departed Southend on 15 October 1939. It merged with convoy OG 20 into convoy OB 3 on 17 October 1939 in position 49°40’N, 07°00’W.

This convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; African Prince (British, 4653 GRT, built 1939), Anthippi N. Michalos (Greek, 3436 GRT, built 1905), Athelcrown (British (tanker), 11999 GRT, built 1929), Baron Fairlie (British, 6706 GRT, built 1925), Bendoran (British, 5567 GRT, built 1910), Benledi (British, 5943 GRT, built 1930), British Colonel (British (tanker), 6999 GRT, built 1921), British Confidence (British (tanker), 8494 GRT, built 1936), British Councillor (British (tanker), 7048 GRT, built 1922), British Workman (British (tanker), 6694 GRT, built 1922), Camerata (British, 4875 GRT, built 1931), Corhampton (British, 2495 GRT, built 1933), Leadgate (British, 2125 GRT, built 1925), Medjerda (British, 4380 GRT, built 1924), Telesfora de Larrinaga (British, 5780 GRT, built 1920), Uskside (British, 2706 GRT, built 1937), Wisla (Polish, 3108 GRT, built 1928) and Woodlark (British, 1501 GRT, built 1928).

Escort was provided by the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) which joined the convoy in the Downs at shortly after 1600 hours. They escorted the convoy until 0700/17 when they were relieved by HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Roper, RN) and HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.T. White, RN).

17 Oct 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) arrived at Plymouth from convoy escort duties. (6)

20 Oct 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) departed Plymouth for Loch Ewe. (6)

21 Oct 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) arrived at Loch Ewe for duty with the Home Fleet. (6)

23 Oct 1939
HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of Admiral J.M. Forbes, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. Sir E.N. Syfret, RN), battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. Sir I.G. Glennie, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. A.G. Talbot, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN), HMS Ivanhoe (Cdr. B. Jones, RN), HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) departed Loch Ewe for operations in the Norwegian Sea.

[See the event 'Convoy Narvik 1' for 26 October 1939 for more details.]

26 Oct 1939

Convoy Narvik 1.

This convoy departed Narvik, Norway on 26 October 1939. It arrived at Methil on 31 October 1939.

This convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Albuera (British, 3494 GRT, built 1921), Alex (British, 3892 GRT, built 1914), Carperby (British, 4890 GRT, built 1928), Cree (British, 5596 GRT, built 1920), Creekirk (British, 3793 GRT, built 1912), Imperial Monarch (British, 5835 GRT, built 1926), Leo Dawson (British, 4734 GRT, built 1918), Lindenhall (British, 5248 GRT, built 1937), Polzella (British, 4751 GRT, built 1929), Riley (British, 4993 GRT, built 1936), Santa Clara Valley (British, 4685 GRT, built 1928) and Starcross (British, 4662 GRT, built 1936).

Escort / cover for this convoy was provided by the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of Admiral J.M. Forbes, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. Sir E.N. Syfret, RN), battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. Sir I.G. Glennie, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. A.G. Talbot, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN), HMS Ivanhoe (Cdr. B. Jones, RN), HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN). These ships sailed from Loch Ewe at 1800/23.

On the 25th the destroyer HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) sailed from Scapa Flow to join the force at sea. HMS Kingston had to be detached to Scapa Flow due to defects on the 28th. On the 29th another destroyer joined the force at sea; HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, RN).

Light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. F.C. Bradley, RN) departed Rosyth on 23 October and joined the cover force at sea around 1200/24. HMS Aurora (Capt. G.B. Middleton, RN) sailed from Loch Ewe on 23 October and joined the convoy itself off the Norwegian coast around 0130/26. Destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. R.S.G. Nicholson, DSC, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. W.G. Davis, RN), HMS Tartar (Lt.Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, RN) and HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN) also joined the convoy having sailed from Scapa Flow.

HMS Fame was later detached with two of the merchant vessels as these were to join an Atlantic convoy.

28 Oct 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) were detached from the cover force for convoy 'Narvik 1'. HMS Kelly arrived at Sullom Voe to fuel while HMS Kingston is to proceed to Scapa Flow to effect repairs. (6)

29 Oct 1939
The destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St.J.A. Micklethwait, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. G.K. Whitmy-Smith, RN), HMS Fearless (Cdr. K.L. Harkness, RN) and HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. P.H. Hadow, RN) departed Sullom Voe to search of the coast of Norway for the seized US merchant vessel City of Flint (4963 GRT, built 1920) that was on passage to Germany. HMS Fearless and HMS Foxhound were later detached to join the main cover force.

This vessel had been seized on 9 October by the German pocket battleship Deutschland in the North Atlantic while en-route from New York to the U.K. A german prize crew was to take the ship to Germany as it was carrying contraband. The ship was refused entrance into Norwegian waters and was taken to Murmansk where it arrived on 23 October. The German prize crew was interned by the Soviet authorities the next day. On 27 October, the City of Flint was returned to German control and she left the following day and set course to Germany.

Close cover for this destroyer force was provided by the light cruisers HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) and HMS Newcastle (Capt J. Figgins, RN) which departed Rosyth on 1 November.

A larger cover force for the entire operation as well as convoy ON 1 (Methil-Norway) sailed from Loch Ewe in the morning of November 2nd. It was made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of Admiral J.M. Forbes, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. Sir E.N. Syfret, RN), battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. Sir I.G. Glennie, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. C.S. Daniel, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN), HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. P.H. Hadow, RN), HMS Ivanhoe (Cdr. B. Jones, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, RN).

The captured merchnant ship was however not sighted.

5 Nov 1939
The destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St.J.A. Micklethwait, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. G.K. Whitmy-Smith, RN) all arrived at Scapa Flow from a patrol off the Norwegian coast. All had suffered weather damage. (7)

8 Nov 1939
Having effected some temporary repairs at Scapa Flow, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), departed Scapa Flow together with HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN) to search for a reported submarine in Yell Sound near Sullom Voe.

The submarine was not sighted and both destroyers put into Sullum Voe the following afternoon together with HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) which had been sent out from Scapa Flow on the 9th to also assist in the hunt. (7)

10 Nov 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Sullom Voe together shortly before 0900 hours to conduct another search off Yell Sound for the suspected submarine. They sighted nothing and arrived together at Scapa Flow around 0800/11.

HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN) also departed Sullom Voe but slightly earlier then the other two destroyers. She then patrolled of Fair Island and arrived at Scapa Flow around 1230/11. (8)

11 Nov 1939
In the afternoon HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) together conducted exercises at Scapa Flow. (7)

13 Nov 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) together conducted torpedo exercises at Scapa Flow. (7)

14 Nov 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) together conducted exercises at Scapa Flow. (7)

16 Nov 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) conducted exercises at Scapa Flow. (7)

17 Nov 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) conducted exercises at Scapa Flow. (7)

19 Nov 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Hebburn-on-Tyne. (7)

20 Nov 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) arrived at thevHawthorn Leslie shipyard at Hebburn-on-Tyne for repairs to the weather damage she had sustained in early November. (7)

23 Nov 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) is docked at Hebburn-on-Tyne. (7)

8 Dec 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) is undocked. She then continued her repairs / refit at Hebburn-on-Tyne. (9)

14 Dec 1939
Shortly after 1600 houts, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), is badly damaged by a German mine laid by the German destroyers Z 4 / Richard Beitzen, Z 8 / Bruno Heinemann, Z 14 / Friedrich Ihn, Z 15 / Erich Steinbrinck and Z 19 / Hermann Künne off the Tyne in position 55°05'N, 01°02'W during the night of 12/13 December 1939. Repairs were completed in late February 1940.

HMS Kelly had just completed her repairs and had departed the Tyne with HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN) for an A/S hunt. Shortly before noon, two tankers from convoy FN 54 hit mines and were badly damaged in position 55°05'N, 01°07'W. These were the Inverlane (9141 GRT, built 1938) and Atheltemplar (8992 GRT, built 1930). At first it was thought these ships had been torpedoed by an enemy submarine, and the destroyers were sent out at 1400 hours to hunt for the attacker.

At 1530 hours the M/S trawler James Ludford hit mines and sank. It was then clear that the tankers must also have hit mines.

At 1557 hours, the destroyers arrived near the tankers. At 1612 hours HMS Kelly exploded a mine under her stern. Unable to move she was taken in tow by which was later relieved by a tug. THe escort destroyer HMS Woolston (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Phipps, OBE, RN) and the sloops HMS Grimsby (Cdr. K.J. D'Arcy, RN) and HMS Weston (Cdr.(Retd.) A.G. Davidson, RN) arrived to screen the damaged destroyer during the brief tow back to port.

29 Feb 1940
With her repairs completed HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) departed the Tyne for Scapa Flow. (10)

1 Mar 1940
With her repairs completed HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow. She then continued on to Greenock where she arrived the next day. (10)

2 Mar 1940
At 1600 hours the battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. Sir I.G. Glennie, RN, flying the flag of W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN), battleship HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. C.S. Daniel, RN), HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN) and HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) departed the Clyde area to provide cover for convoy operations to and from Norway.

3 Mar 1940
At 1330 hours, the force made up of HMS Hood (Capt. Sir I.G. Glennie, RN, flying the flag of W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN), battleship HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. C.S. Daniel, RN), HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN) and HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) was off North Minch when in position 58°27'N, 05°46'W, HMS Forester obtained an A/S contact and attacked it. Four more attacks were made between 1240 and 1500 hours during which HMS Forester was joined by HMS Fame. HMS Forester remained in the area of the attacks for around a day before rejoining the force.

Shorty after 2130 hours HMS Kelly obtained and attacked an A/S contact in position 61°06'N, 03°58'W. Contact was lost after the attack and HMS Kelly immediately rejoined the force.

Only one German U-boat was in the general area, operating to the north of Scotland, this was U-38 but she was not attacked on this day so all the contact must have been bogus.

7 Mar 1940
Around 1600 hours, HMS Hood (Capt. Sir I.G. Glennie, RN, flying the flag of W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN), battleship HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. C.S. Daniel, RN), HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN) and HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow.

7 Mar 1940

Convoy HN 17.

This convoy was formed off Bergen, Norway on 7 March 1940. The bulk of the convoy arrived at Methil on 10 March 1940.

This convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Albuera (British, 3477 GRT, built 1921), Baron Kelvin (British, 3081 GRT, built 1924), Bonde (Norwegian, 1570 GRT, built 1936), Effie Maersk (Danish, 1308 GRT, built 1925), Einvik (Norwegian, 2000 GRT, built 1918), Ek (Norwegian, 995 GRT, built 1911), Fairwater (British, 4108 GRT, built 1928), Gol (Norwegian, 985 GRT, built 1920), Hafnia (Norwegian, 1315 GRT, built 1920), Havborg (Norwegian, 1234 GRT, built 1924), Jaederen (Norwegian, 902 GRT, built 1918), Janna (Norwegian, 2197 GRT, built 1919), Kirnwood (British, 3829 GRT, built 1928), Lysaker (Norwegian, 910 GRT, built 1919), Margareta (Finnish, 1860 GRT, built 1919), Maurita (Norwegian, 1569 GRT, built 1925), Nesstun (Norwegian, 1271 GRT, built 1917), Notos (Norwegian, 2712 GRT, built 1898), Orland (Norwegian, 1899 GRT, built 1917), Ovington Court (British, 6095 GRT, built 1924), Reias (Norwegian, 1128 GRT, built 1918), Royal (Norwegian, 759 GRT, built 1918), Spica (Norwegian, 500 GRT, built 1915), Stanja (Norwegian, 1845 GRT, built 1915), Star (Norwegian, 1531 GRT, built 1922), Varegg (Norwegian, 943 GRT, built 1910), Vesta (Norwegian, 1310 GRT, built 1930) and Warlaby (British, 4875 GRT, built 1927).

Escort was provided by the destroyers HMS Delight (Cdr. M. Fogg-Elliott, RN), HMS Diana (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) and HMS Gurkha (Cdr. A.W. Buzzard, RN).

On the 9th the convoy split and the west coast section was then escorted by HMS Delight and HMS Diana. They were reinforced by HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN) which came from Scapa Flow. Also HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) joined having sailed late in the afternoon of the 8th.

In the moring of the 9th, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) joined the escort but she collided with HMS Gurkha in bad weather and soon had to be detached to Lerwick for emergency repairs.

At 1412/9, HMS Gurkha obtained an A/S contact and attacked with several pattern of depth charges in position 59.07’N, 00.44’W. HMS Ilex then took over the hunt and HMS Gurkha rejoined the east coast section of the convoy. HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN) joined from Scapa Flow in the early hours of the 10th to replace HMS Ilex which was still hunting Gurkha’s A/S contact. She eventually rejoined the convoy before it arrived at Methil. The A/S contact was later determined to be a wreck.

10 Mar 1940
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow having spent the night of 9/10 March making emergency repairs at Lerwick. At Scapa Flow repairs would be undertaken by the destroyer depot ship HMS Greenwich (Cdr.(Retd.) J.H. Pipe, RN) before Kelly would be able to proceed to London for full repairs.

While on passage from Lerwick to Scapa Flow HMS Kelly attacked an A/S contact in position 59°00'N, 02°18'W. This was later classified as being non-sub. (10)

14 Mar 1940
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Sheerness. (10)

15 Mar 1940
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) arrived at Sheerness. (10)

16 Mar 1940
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) shifted from Sheerness to London where she was taken in hand for repairs by the London Graving Dock Co. at Blackwall. (10)

26 Apr 1940
With her repairs completed, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), shifted from Blackwall, London to Sheerness. (10)

27 Apr 1940
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) departed Sheerness for Scapa Flow where she arrived on the 29th having been delayed by fog. (10)

29 Apr 1940

Operation Klaxon, the evacuation of troops from Namsos.


Timespan: 29 April to 5 May 1940.

At 2000/29 the French armed merchant cruisers El D’Jezair, El Kantara and El Mansour departed Scapa Flow for Namsos, Norway where they were to evacutate troops. They were escorted by the British destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) and the French large destroyer Bison (Capt. J.A.R. Bouan).

A cover force departed Scapa Flow one hour later. It was made up of the British heavy cruisers HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN), HMS York (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), the French light cruiser Montcalm (Capt. J.L. de Corbiere, flying the flag of Commodore (Contre-Admiral) E.L.H. Derrien) and the British destroyers HMS Grenade (Cdr. R.C. Boyle, RN) and HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, RN) and HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN).

These forces were later reinforced by the British destroyers HMS Afridi (Capt. P.L. Vian, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) and the French destroyer Foudroyant Foudroyant (Cdr. P.L.A. Fontaine)

The force lead by Vice-Admiral Cunningham arrived off the Norwegian coast near Namsos on May 1st.

HMS Maori had been sent on ahead and reported fog. HMS Kelly, HMS Grenade, HMS Griffin and Bison were ordered to join her.

When entering the Namsenfjord in fog on 2 May 1940, HMS Maori is bombed and damaged from near misses. She had to retire for temporary repairs but was able to participate in the evacuation during the next night. The evacuation attempt was then postponed to the night of 2/3 May.

On 2 May the force was reinforced by the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN).

In the evening of 2 May the force entered the Fjord to embark troops except HMS Devonshire, Montcalm, HMS Grenade, HMS Griffin, HMS Hasty and HMS Imperial which remained at sea to cover the operation.

A total of 1850 British, 2345 French, some Norwegian troops and 30 German prisoners were evacuated. The evacuation was completed around 0445/3.

Heavy German air attacks developed when the Force was leaving the area. The attacks concentrated on the Devonshire and Montcalm but they were not hit.

The French destroyer Bison was hit at 1010 hours in position 65°42'N, 07°17'E and her forward magazine exploded blowing off the fore part of the ship.The survivors were rescued by HMS Grenade, HMS Imperial and HMS Afridi The wreck was then scuttled by HMS Afridi.

But the attacks continued and at 1400 hours HMS Afridi was hit in position 66°14'N, 05°45'E and sank around 1445 hours. Her survivors were picked up by HMS Griffin and HMS Imperial.

The destroyers with the survivors; HMS Grenade, HMS Griffin and HMS Imperial were detached to land these at Sullom Voe where they arrived around 1700/4. They departed again around 2130/4 for Scapa Flow where they arrived around 0730/5.

Reinforcements had meanwhile been sent out from Scapa Flow these were the light cruiser HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Wright, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN) and HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicholson, RN).

Shortly before midnight during the night of 3/4 May, four more destroyers were sent out, these were; HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.T. White, DSO, RN), HMS Acheron (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. E.W.B. Sim, RN).

All forces arrived at Scapa Flow in the evening of May 4th or the early hours of May 5th. (11)

4 May 1940
At 2130 hours the French armed merchant cruiser El Mansour arrived at Scapa Flow from Namsos escorted by the British destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN).

5 May 1940
Around 1800/5 the French armed merchant cruisers El D’Jezair, El Kantara, El Mansour, the French troopships Djenne, President Doumer, the British troopships Duchess of Atholl and Reina del Pacifico departed Scapa Flow for the Clyde. They made the passage together with the damaged British heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN). They were escorted by the British destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Grenade (Cdr. R.C. Boyle, RN) and HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), the French large destroyers Chevalier Paul (Cdr. M. L. Bonnot), Tartu (Capt. J.M. Chomel) and Milan (Cdr. L.M.E. Plumejeaud).

They arrived in the Clyde the next day.

8 May 1940
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) departed the Clyde for Rosyth.

9 May 1940
A group of German auxiliary minelayers with escorts has been reported to be west of Jutland, Denmark in position 56°39'N, 03°37'E. At 0900 hours the light cruiser HMS Birmingham (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Havock (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Courage, RN) and HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN) departed Rosyth to intercept and attack them. Off Rosyth they were joined by four more destroyers; HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN). HMS Kimberley however was short of fuel and she was soon sent to Rosyth.

At 1200 hours the destroyers HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. E.W.B. Sim, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN) and HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Wisden, RN) were sent from Scapa Flow to proceed to position 57°21'N, 02°33'E to intercept a group of German motor torpedo boats that had been reported and then join the 'Rosyth force'.

When HMS Kandahar obtained an A/S contact she and HMS Kelly were ordered to hunt it down. They were later joined by HMS Bulldog who had lost touch with her group.

At 2230 hours HMS Kelly was torpedoed and badly damaged by the German motor torpedo boat S 31 in position 56°48'N, 05°09'E. She was taken in tow by HMS Bulldog.

Shortly after midnight on the 10th the German motor torpedo boat S 33 collided in thick fog with HMS Bulldog and HMS Kelly. She was not able to inflict damage to the destroyers but she sustained heavy damage herself from the collision.

The destroyers HMS Kandahar, HMS Gallant and HMS Fury were ordered to escort HMS Bulldog and HMS Kelly.

At daylight on the 10th Kelly's wounded were transferred to HMS Kandahar. She had also suffered 27 casualties during the attack.

The light cruisers HMS Manchester (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN) and HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) departed Scapa Flow at 0330/10 to provided cover for the damaged destroyer and her escorts. They joined at 1400/10. By that time also coastal command Hudson aircraft were patrolling overhead.

Shorlty before 0930/10, HMS Birmingham, HMS Hyperion, HMS Hostile, HMS Hereward, HMS Havock, HMS Foresight and HMS Kimberley (this last one had apparently joined by this time having fuelled at Rosyth) were ordered to proceed towards Terschelling. They arrived at Harwich later on the 10th.

HMS Kandahar was detached to refuel and land the wounded at Rosyth before sailing again to rejoin the damaged destroyer.

Shortly after 1600/11, HMS Manchester and HMS Sheffield parted company and proceeded to Rosyth where they arrived in the evening.

At 0500/12 the tugs Watermeyer and Brahman arrived at relieved HMS Bulldog from towing the damaged destroyer about two hours later.

HMS Kelly in tow of the Watermeyer and Brahman and screened by HMS Bulldog, HMS Fury, HMS Gallant and HMS Kandahar arrived at the Tyne at 1730/13.

She was then sent to her builders yard at Hebburn-on-Tyne for major repairs. This was now the third time in a little over 8 months that HMS Kelly was at a dockyard for major repairs.

19 Dec 1940
With her repairs and trials completed, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), departed the Tyne for Scapa Flow.

While undergoing trials at the Tyne she had been slightly damaged. This had delayed her sailing by three days due to repairs that had to be made. (10)

20 Dec 1940
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow to work up. (10)

24 Dec 1940
At 1530 hours a walrus aircraft reported having attacked a surfaced U-boat west of the Shetland Islands in position 60°25'N, 02°34'W. The destroyer HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Blencathra (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, RN) and HMS Tynedale (Lt.Cdr. H.E.F. Tweedie, RN) departed Scapa Flow in the early evening to hunt down the enemy submarine. No submarine could be detected thought, which is not surprising as no German submarine reported the aircraft attack which therefore must have been against a non-sub target.

26 Dec 1940
At 0730 hours HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) returned to Scapa Flow.

7 Jan 1941
Having completed her work-up programme, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), departed Scapa Flow for the Clyde. (10)

8 Jan 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN) arrived at the Clyde. (10)

10 Jan 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) departed Greenock. They escorted the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN) and troopship Duchess of York (20021 GRT, built 1929) in the Clyde area until late afternoon when they separated and proceeded to sea. They were to rendez-vous with several warships that were approaching the U.K. from the west and south.

Rendez-vous was effected around 0800 / 0900 hours on the 12th when the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) and the destroyers HMS Kelly, HMS Kelvin, HMS Kipling all arrived in approximate position 60°50'N, 09°50'W.

HMS Kenya, which had been escorting HMS Argus did not join. She set course for Plymouth where she arrived on the 14th.

HMS Punjabi arrived at Scapa Flow on 14 January 1941. It seems likely she had already been detached before the rendez-vous was effected.

On the 14th HMS Argus, HMS California escorted by HMS Kelvin split off for the Clyde where they arrived later the same day. HMS Kelvin was then ordered to proceed to the Humber to refit for which she departed the next day.

HMS Revenge set course for Portsmouth escorted by HMS Kelly, HMS Kipling.

On the 15th HMS Revenge, HMS Kelly and HMS Kipling were joined by HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN) and HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN). which had departed Plymouth on the 12th.

HMS Revenge and her four escorting destroyers arrived at Portsmouth on the 16th.

HMS Kelly, HMS Kipling, HMS Kashmir and HMS Jackal arrived at Plymouth on the 18th.

22 Jan 1941
During the night of 22/23 January 1941 HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) and HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) conducted a patrol between Land's End and Start End.

They had departed Plymouth at 1630/22 and were ordered to return around 1030/23 but they actually returned shortly before 1300/23.

24 Jan 1941
During the night of 22/23 January 1941 HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) conducted a patrol between Land's End and Start End.

They had departed Plymouth shortly after 2000/24. They returned to Plymouth at 1110/25.

26 Jan 1941
Around 2300 hours, HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN), HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) departed Plymouth for a sweep towards Ushant. It was feared the German heavy cruisers Admiral Hipper might depart Brest for the Atlantic as she had recently been undocked. (12)

27 Jan 1941
Shortly before noon, HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN), HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), returned to Plymouth. They had sighted nothing.

They were ordered to be able to raise steam in one hour as to be able to depart almost immediately if required. (12)

28 Jan 1941
A convoy of six German merchant vessels of between 500 and 3000 tons was reported off Ushant proceeding north at 8 knots. It was expected they would turn east to proceed up Channel along the French coast.

HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) departed Plymouth at 1924/28 to intercept. They were ordered to return to harbour at 1000/29.

On return to harbour they reported having sighted nothing.

30 Jan 1941
HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN) departed Plymouth for the Clyde around 1000 hours. She was escorted out by the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN). The destroyers turned back around 1345 hours when off Land's End and returned to Plymouth. (12)

31 Jan 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Plymouth at 1912 hours. They made rendez-vous around 1500/1 with the armed merchant cruiser HMS Pretoria Castle (Capt.(Retd.) E.J. Shelly, RN) which came from Belfast and was to proceed to Portsmouth.

2 Feb 1941
HMS Pretoria Castle (Capt.(Retd.) E.J. Shelly, RN), HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Portsmouth.

The destroyers departed Portsmouth later the same day for Plymouth

3 Feb 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Plymouth. (10)

4 Feb 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) shifted from Plymouth to Dartmouth for exercises. (13)

6 Feb 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Dartmouth for a patrol between Start Point and Lizard Head. They were joined by HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) which came from Plymouth.

On completion of the patrol they were to proceed to Plymouth arriving at 1000/7.

8 Feb 1941
At 2135/8, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), departed Plymouth with despatch to join the Home Fleet. They were initially ordered to proceed to Scapa Flow.

HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN) was unable to sail with the other three destroyers. She sailed later, at 0819/9 for Skaale Fiord, Faroes where the other three destroyers meanwhile had also been ordered to proceed to.

10 Feb 1941
Around 1800/10, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), arrived at Skaale Fiord, Faroes where they embarked fuel.

They departed again around 2200 hours to search for a submarine reported by HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN) to the west of the Faroes in position 60°59'N, 12°44'W. HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN) is ordered to also proceed to that position to join them there. Later this was changed to position 59°25'N, 09°07'W where a merchant vessel had reported being chased by a submarine.

In the evening the light cruiser HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN) reported attacking a submarine in position 60°59'N, 12°44'W. HMS Kelly and HMS Jackal, which had not joined the other destroyers yet, were ordered to proceeded to that position.

On the 11th the destroyers were joined by the destroyer HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill Crichton, DSC, RN) and in the evening HMS Jackal was ordered to proceed to Scapa Flow to refuel as she had not done so since leaving Plymouth.

12 Feb 1941
On February 12th, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill Crichton, DSC, RN), were submarine hunting near position 59°23'N, 08°45'W. HMS Boreas developed engine troubles and was detached to Scapa Flow escorted by HMS Kipling. Eventually Kipling had to take Boreas in tow until relieved by a tug.

13 Feb 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) arrived at Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

16 Feb 1941
Around 1800/16, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), departed Londonderry for Plymouth. ETA at Plymouth was 1700/17 but apparently they were delayed (see 18 February 1941).

18 Feb 1941
Shortly after 1000 hours HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Plymouth.

19 Feb 1941
Shortly before 1700 hours the minelaying destroyers HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, DSC, RN) and HMS Intrepid (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN) departed Plymouth for a minelaying mission near Brest, France. They were being escorted by the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN). (14)

20 Feb 1941
HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, DSC, RN) and HMS Intrepid (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN), HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN) returned to Plymouth shortly after 1000 hours. (14)

1 Mar 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) departed Plymouth at 1912 hours. They were to rendez-vous with the battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN) that was en-route from Gibraltar to Portsmouth.

2 Mar 1941
Around 0900 hours, off Bishops Rock, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Cleveland (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) and HMS Tynedale (Lt.Cdr. H.E.F. Tweedie, RN) joined the escort of the battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN). (15)

3 Mar 1941
Around 1000 hours, HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN), and her escorting destroyers, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) and HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN), HMS Cleveland (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) and HMS Tynedale (Lt.Cdr. H.E.F. Tweedie, RN) arrived at Spithead / Portsmouth.

HMS Kelly, HMS Kashmir, HMS Kelvin, HMS Kipling, HMS Jackal and HMS Jupiter departed Portsmouth for exercises off Dartmouth. They were later ordered to patrol between Ushant and Land's End. HMS Jersey was also to have sailed with them but was unable to do so due to a damaged rudder. (15)

4 Mar 1941
The destroyers of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla did not sight the enemy ships that had been reported. They all arrived at Plymouth in the afternoon.

HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN) and HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) arrived at 1320 hours.

HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) arrived at 1516 hours.

HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN) arrived at 1545 hours.

And finally HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at 1625 hours.

5 Mar 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) departed Plymouth at 1940 hours. [We have been unable to find out the purpose of their sailing.]

They returned to Plymouth the next day.

9 Mar 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Plymouth. [No further details currently known to us].

10 Mar 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Dartmouth.

They departed again Dartmouth early in the evening to patrol between Eddystone and the Scilly Isles.

11 Mar 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) are ordered to be in position 48°00'N, 06°30'W (west-south-west of Ushant) by 2200/11 so as to intercept the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper if she should leave Brest the coming night.

If the enemy was not sighted by 0100/12 the destroyers were to proceed to Plymouth.

12 Mar 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Plymouth at 0845 hours.

13 Mar 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) departed Plymouth at 1920 hours for Portsmouth.

14 Mar 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) arrived at Portsmouth in the early morning hours. [Their arrival was reported at 0903/14 by the C. in C. Portsmouth.]

14 Mar 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) departed Portsmouth for the Clyde early in the evening. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Cleveland (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) and HMS Fernie (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Jonas, RN).

15 Mar 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) were detached from the escort of the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN). The destroyers were ordered to patrol between Wolf Rock and Eddystone as of 2100/15 to provide protection for shipping sailing westwards from Plymouth.

16 Mar 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) returned to Plymouth from patrol. They all arrived around noon; HMS Kelly at 1100 hours, HMS Kelvin at 1135 hours and finally HMS Jackal at 1240 hours.

18 Mar 1941
In a signal timed 1958/18 the C.in C. Plymouth mentions the sailing of HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) for a patrol in the western Channel.

19 Mar 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) returned to Plymouth from patrol at 0745 hours.

They departed again later the same day to provide cover for the minelaying destroyers HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, DSC, RN) and HMS Intrepid (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN) that had departed Dartmouth also on this day. These minelaying destroyers were to lay a minefield during the night of 19/20 March off Ile de Batz (Operation G.U.).

20 Mar 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) returned to Plymouth from covering operation G.U. in the early morning.

21 Mar 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) departed Plymouth at 1350 hours to proceed to position 40'N, 15'W (west of Portugal) to make rendez-vous with Force H ( HMS Renown (Capt. R.R. McGrigor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN) ).

At 2049 hours the destroyers were however ordered to try to intercept the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau which had been spotted making for Brest, France after their operations in the Atlantic. (14)

22 Mar 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) are ordered to be clear of the French coast by daylight and if not in contact with the enemy battlecruisers to return to Plymouth.

At 0803 hours, Capt. Mountbatten (Capt. D.5) reported having patrolled off Brest between 0150 and 0600 hours but that nothing had been sighted.

The destroyers arrived at Plymouth at 1150 hours. (14)

24 Mar 1941
With her refit and reconstruction completed HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN) departed Plymouth at 1915 hours for Scapa Flow. She was escorted by HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN).

HMS Kelly and HMS Kashmir parted company at midnight. (16)

25 Mar 1941
At 0722 hours, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), arrived at Plymouth.

27 Mar 1941
The minelaying destroyers HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, DSC, RN) and HMS Intrepid (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN) departed Plymouth at 1736 hours for a minelaying mission off Brest (Operation G.X.). During this mission they were escorted by the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN). (14)

28 Mar 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) returned to Plymouth in the morning on completion last night's mission.

They departed again at 1645 hours to make rendez-vous at 2015 hours off Wolf Rock with the fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Pleydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) which was to lay another minefield off Brest (Operation G.Y.). HMS Abdiel had sailed from Milford Haven. (14)

29 Mar 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) returned to Plymouth in the morning on completion last night's mission.

30 Mar 1941
The minelaying destroyers HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, DSC, RN) and HMS Intrepid (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN) departed Milford Haven at 1404 hours for a minelaying mission off Brest (Operation G.Z.). During this mission they were escorted by the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) which had departed Plymouth at 1730 hours to effect a rendez-vous of Wolf Rock at 2000 hours. (14)

31 Mar 1941
Having completed last night's mission, the minelaying destroyers HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, DSC, RN) and HMS Intrepid (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN), and their escorts, the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN), arrived at Plymouth in the morning.

1 Apr 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) departed Plymouth for Portsmouth.

2 Apr 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) arrived at Portsmouth early in the morning.

2 Apr 1941
Around 1900 hours, HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN) departed Portsmouth for Greenock. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Atherstone (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), HMS Blencathra (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, RN) and HMS Tynedale (Lt.Cdr. H.E.F. Tweedie, RN). HMS Tynedale was an additional escort for the night, she was to part company at dawn the next day. (17)

3 Apr 1941
At 1930 hours, when off the Bristol Channel, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), parted company with HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN). The destroyers then set course for Plymouth while the battleship continued with the other escorts towards the Clyde.

HMS Kelly and HMS Kashmir were ordered to arrive at Plymouth at 0730/4 covering westbound shipping from Falmouth en-route.

4 Apr 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) arrived at Plymouth.

6 Apr 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Plymouth at 0012/6 to make rendez-vous near Wolf Rock with HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) which came from Greenock.

They were to operate against six German destroyers that had been reported passing the Dover Strait westbound and most likely proceeding to Brest.

No contact was made with the German ships and the destroyers returned to Plymouth at 0806 hours.

HMS Kelly, HMS Kelvin, HMS Kipling and HMS Jackal departed again at 1855/6 to patrol to the west of Brest. The Admiralty feared that the movement of the six German destroyers to Brest indicated that the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau might leave Brest soon.

7 Apr 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) arrived at Plymouth at 0855/7.

HMS Kelly, HMS Kelvin, HMS Kipling, HMS Jackal and HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) were ordered to depart Plymouth at 1700/7 to again patrol to the west of Brest during the night.

8 Apr 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN),vHMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) returned to Plymouth at 1128 hours. They had sighted nothing during their patrol west of Brest except for a large number of fishing vessels off Ushant.

9 Apr 1941
At 1641 hours, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN),vHMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) are ordered to depart Plymouth and try to intercept a large German transport ship and three escorts off Les Casquests (west of Alderney Island). If they were not in contact with the enemy by 0300/10 they were to return to Plymouth.

10 Apr 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN),HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) returned to Plymouth having sighted nothing.

21 Apr 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) departed Plymouth for Gibraltar.

24 Apr 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) arrived at Gibraltar.

24 Apr 1941

Operations Dunlop and Salient.


Transfer of fighter aircraft to Malta and reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet.

Timespan: 24 to 28 April 1941.

24 April 1941.

At 2200/25, ‘Force S’, made up of the light cruiser HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN, Senior Officer), fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. Hon. E. Pleydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN), destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar westwards but they soon turned eastwards again to pass Gibraltar eastwards after dark. The ships also had on board stores for Malta. Most of these on HMS Dido and HMS Abdiel.

They were followed one hour later, at 2300/25, by ‘Force H’. They departed Gibraltar and immediately turned eastwards. ‘Force H’ for this occasion was made up of the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. R.R. McGrigor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. L.E.H. Maund, RN), light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Fearless (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN) and HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN).

25 April 1941.

On 26 April 1941 both forces proceeded to the east independently. At 2050 hours ‘Force H’ altered course and increased speed to reach the flying off position for the Hurricanes for Malta. They were to reach approximate position 37°40’N, 06°10’E at dawn the next day.

At 2120 hours a signal was received from Malta reporting that the weather was unsuitable and that the flying off had to be postponed for 24 hours. Speed was then reduced and at 2300 hours ‘Force H’ altered course to the westwards for an area to the south-west of Ibiza.

26 April 1941.

In the morning weather reports came in from Malta which were favourable. ‘Force H’ then altered course to 220° and at 1100 hours course was altered to the north-east. The object was to remain unsighted throughout the day. This was successful due to the poor visibility. Two more favourable weather reports came from Malta throughout the day.

In the evening a signal was received from HMS Dido stating that ‘Force S’ had also postponed their passage to Malta by 24 hours.

At 2100 hours ‘Force H’ was in position 38°35’N, 02°14’E. They then altered course to 106° and increased speed to 24 knots to again reach the flying off position for the Hurricanes at dawn.

27 April 1941.

Two more favourable weather reports were received during the early hours of the night. Weather in ‘Force H’ position was however not so good and at 0445 hours, in position 37°40’N, 05°55’E the destroyers had to be detached as they had difficulty keeping up with the other ships in the rising sea.

Flying off started at 0515 hours and was completed at 0613 hours. A total of 23 Hurricanes were flown off in two batches of eight and one of seven. These were all led by a Fulmar. On completion of flying off the Hurricanes an A/S patrol was launched as well as some Fulmars for fighter protection while the ships retired to the northwest on course 300° at 27 knots.

Though visibility was poor, a lone Heinkel appeared from the clouds over HMS Renown at 0850 hours and fire was opened on it. The enemy aircraft then made off the north-east with some of the Fulmars chasing it. The enemy was able to get back in the clouds before the Fulmars could overtake it. This aircraft reported the position, course and speed of the formation.

At 1000 hours a new section of Fulmars was flown off to relieve the others and at 1036 hours a signal was received from Malta that all the Hurricanes and their escorting Fulmars had landed safely.

At noon the destroyers rejoined and formed an A/S screen. Speed was reduced to 18 knots. ‘Force H’ remained in a position to support ‘Force S’ if needed. Aircraft for A/S and fighter protection were flown off during the day.

By 2000 hours all aircraft had returned to HMS Ark Royal and course was set to return to Gibraltar.

28 April 1941.

At dawn nine Swordfish were flown off for a practice attack on ‘Force H’. However one of the Swordfish hit the bridge of HMS Ark Royal and crashed into the sea. HMS Sheffield was able to pick up two of the three crew members. There was now sign of the air gunner and he was missing, presumed killed in the crash.

More air exercises were carried out during the day.

At 1130 hours, HMS Sheffield was detached to proceed to Gibraltar for a docking.

All ships of ‘Force H’ arrived at Gibraltar later on the day.

The ships of ‘Force S’ arrived safely at Malta on the 28th. (18)

1 May 1941
HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN) and the 5th Destroyer Flotilla; HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, DSO, GCVO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) departed Malta to intercept an important Axis convoy off the Kerkenah Bank. They however could not do so and the convoy arrived safely at Tripoli.

This Axis convoy was made up of the German transports Marburg (7564 GRT, built 1928), Kybfels (7764 GRT, built 1937), Reichenfels (7744 GRT, built 1936) and the Italian transports Birmania (5305 GRT, built 1930) and Rialto (6099 GRT, built 1927). Close escort for this convoy was provided by escorted by the Italian destroyers Fulmine and Euro and the torpedo boats Canopo, Castore, Orsa and Procione.

Distant cover for this convoy was provided by two heavy cruiser from the Italian 3rd Cruiser Division; Trieste and Bolzano, the light cruiser Eugenio di Savoia (from the 7th Cruiser Division) and the destroyers Ascari, Carabiniere and Vincenzo Gioberti.

Another convoy was reported to the northward but a heavy head sea made it's interception impossible.

This convoy was probably the one made up of the German transport Tilly M. Russ (1600 GRT, built 1926), Brook (1225 GRT, built 1927), and the Italian Bainsizza (7933 GRT, built 1930), San Andrea (?) and tug Max Behrendt escorted by the torpedo-boats Generale Carlo Montanari, Clio, Centauro and Polluce and the armed merchant cruiser Ramb III, they were on passage Trapani to Tripoli. (19)

2 May 1941
HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN) and the 5th Destroyer Flotilla; HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, DSO, GCVO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) returned to Malta having failed to intercept two Axis convoys to Tripoli.

HMS Kelly, HMS Kelvin and HMS Jackal had entered the harbour. HMS Jersey was the next destroyer to enter but hit a mine and sank. HMS Gloucester, HMS Kashmir and HMS Kipling therefore were unable to enter the harbour and had to proceed to Gibraltar instead. (20)

5 May 1941

Operation Tiger, supply convoy from Gibraltar to Alexandria and reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet and Operation MD 4, supply convoy from Alexandria to Malta and taking up the reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet.


Timespan: 5 to 12 May 1941.

5 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

Part of Convoy WS 8A was approaching Gibraltar from the west. This part of convoy WS 8A was to proceed to Malta during operation ‘Tiger’.

It was made up of five transports; Clan Campbell (7255 GRT, built 1937), Clan Chattan (7262 GRT, built 1937), Clan Lamont (7250 GRT, built 1939), Empire Song (9228 GRT, built 1940) and New Zealand Star (10740 GRT, built 1935). During the passage from the U.K. it had been escorted by the battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), light cruiser HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN), HMS Havelock (Cdr. E.H. Thomas, DSC, RN) and HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN) (with the additional local escorts when still close to the U.K.)

Around 0700/5, HMS Repulse, HMS Harvester, HMS Havelock and HMS Hesperus were relieved from the escort by the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Fearless (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) , HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN) , HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN) and HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN). The Repulse and the three H-class destroyers then proceeded to Gibraltar to refuel where they arrived shortly before 1800 hours. It had originally been intended to include Repulse in the upcoming operation but she was left at Gibraltar due to her inadequate anti-aircraft armament.

HMS Naiad had already arrived at Gibraltar around 0900/4, having been relieved shortly after noon on the 2nd of May by HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN). Around the same time HMS Naiad arrived at Gibraltar the cruiser HMS Fiji (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, RN) arrived, she had been part of the escort of convoy SL 72.

Shortly before 1000/5, the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. R.R. McGrigor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. L.E.H. Maund, RN), light cruisers HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN), HMS Fiji and the destroyers HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN). Kashmir and Kipling had departed a little earlier and carried out an A/S sweep in Gibraltar Bay first.

For the upcoming operation two groups were formed; The cover force which was formed on Renown was group I, the close escort, which was to remain with the transports was group II. When they arrived near the convoy at 1800/5 the group I was formed and was made up of Renown, Queen Elizabeth, Ark Royal, Sheffield, Fiji, Kashmir and Kipling. Group II remained with the convoy and was (for the moment) made up of Fearless, Foresight, Fortune, Velox and Wrestler. Group II and the convoy proceeded towards the Straits of Gibraltar at 13 knots while Group I proceeded to the south until 2130 hours when course was changed to 074°. At 1930 hours, Group I, had been joined by HMS Naiad. This cruiser had sailed from Gibraltar at 1300 hours.

Eastern Mediterranean.

Convoy MW 7B departed Alexandria for Malta this day. It was made up of the Norwegian tankers Hoegh Hood (9351 GRT, built 1936) and Svenor (7616 GRT, built 1931). These tankers were able to proceed at 10 knots. Escort was provided by the AA-cruisers HMS Carlisle (Capt. T.C. Hampton, RN), HMS Coventry (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN), destroyers HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN), HMS HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.A. Marshall-A’Deane, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN). Also part of the escort of this convoy was the corvette HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR) which was to serve as minesweeper at Malta and the whaler HMS Swona which was to be outfitted as minesweeper (LL-sweep) at the Malta Dockyard.

6 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

The convoy with Group II passed through the Straits of Gibraltar between 0130 and 0330 hours followed by Group I between 0300 and 0430 hours. Although the moon did not set until 0314 hours the sky was completely overcast and visibility was low.

At 0330 hours, HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Harvester, HMS Havelock and HMS Hesperus departed Gibraltar followed at 0420 hours by HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN) which had completed her repairs and undocking shortly before.

By 0550 hours, Group I was about 32 miles to the east of Gibraltar with the convoy and Group II 10 miles to the north. At this time Faulknor, Forester and Fury joined Group I. At 0615 hours Queen Elizabeth with Kashmir and Kelvin was detached to join Group II, followed thirty minutes later by Naiad.

At 0625 hours, Gloucester joined Group I and speed was then increased to 24 knots to draw well ahead of the convoy. During the day Group I steered 060°. Group II was steering parallel to the Spanish coast at 13 knots. Velox and Wrestler were detached from Group II to arrive at Gibraltar after dark to avoid being sighted returning from the East.

At 1740 hours Renown, in position 37°05’N, 00°21’W sighted a French merchant ship most likely en-route to Oran. On sighting the British ships she immediately steered clear to the westward. Shorty afterwards Group I reduced speed to 17 knots as to not get too far ahead of Group II and the convoy.

By midnight Group I was about 150 nautical miles east-north-east of Group II.

Eastern Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean Fleet departed Alexandria in the forenoon, it was made up of the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham, GCB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.la T. Bisset, RN), light cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN), HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN), destroyers (D.14) HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. St. J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), (D.7) HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, DSC, RN) and HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN). The fast minesweeper HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Pleydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the naval transport HMS Breconshire (9776 GRT, built 1939) also sailed with the Fleet. HMS Abdiel was to lay a minefield off Lampedusa. HMS Breconshire had on board oil and petrol for Malta as well as oil to supply this to destroyers at sea. Abdiel took station in the destroyer screen while Breconshire took station in the battleship line. After sailing the fleet proceeded to the northwest. No aircraft were flown off by HMS Formidable due to a dust storm and very limited visibility.

After the Fleet sailed, convoy MW 7A departed Alexandria. It was made up of four transport vessels; Amerika (10218 GRT, built 1930), Settler (6202 GRT, built 1939), Talabot (6798 GRT, built 1936) and Thermopylae (6655 GRT, built 1930). These were able to proceed at 14 knots. Escort was provided by the light cruisers HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), AA-cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and the destroyers (D.2) HMS Ilex (Capt. H.St.L. Nicholson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. C.S.B. Swinley, DSC, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt. W.J. Munn, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN).

One of the destroyers from the escort of convoy MW 7B, HMS Defender, that had sailed on the 5th had to return to Alexandria due to condenser problems.

7 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

At 0400 hours, Group II, which was approximately 30 nautical miles east of Cape Palos, altered course to the south for about two hours before turning eastwards for the run to Malta.

Group I meanwhile had altered course to the northward at 0130 hours to pass between Ibiza and Majorca in order to carry out a diversion to the north of the Baleares during the day should this appear desirable.

By 0715 hours there was no indication that Group I had been sighted, and as visibility varied from poor to moderate, course was altered to pass again between Ibiza and Majorca to reach a position well ahead of Group II so as to divert any attention of any enemy aircraft from Group II and the convoy.

At 1000 hours, when 33 nautical miles south-west of Malta, Group I encountered a small Spanish fishing vessel which was seen to proceed towards Palma de Majorca.

At noon, Group I altered course to 140°. At 1630 hours course was altered to 100° to keep about 40 nautical miles to the eastward of Group II. Group I streamed paravanes at 1800 hours.

At 1945 hours, two Sunderland flying boats flying east passed north of the force and did not identify themselves till challenged. At the same time smoke was sighted astern and shortly afterwards a fighter aircraft reported that it was the convoy at a distance of 26 nautical miles.

At 2100 hours, Group I altered course to the north-east until dark in order to mislead any hostile aircraft. The sky had been overcast all day but towards the evening the visibility improved considerably and the convoy was clearly visible to the southwestward making a great deal of smoke.

At 2225 hours, RD/F in Fiji detected a group of aircraft bearing 170°, range 30 miles. The bearing changed to 154° and the range opened to 40 miles until the echo faded at 2230 hours. Group I altered course to 080° at 2300 hours.

Eastern Mediterranean.

All forces continued on their way during the day without incident. Destroyers were being fuelled from Breconshire one at a time.

The submarine HMS Triumph reported three transports proceeding towards Benghazi. Accordingly HMS Ajax, HMS Havock, HMS Hotspur and HMS Imperial were detached to attack Benghazi during the night of 7/8 May.

The Vice-Admiral Malta reported that the harbour had been mined and that the destroyers based at Malta were therefore unable to leave the harbour and participate in the convoy operations.

8 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

Soon after midnight Group I had to alter course to avoid being sighted by a lighted merchant ship steering a course of 110°.

At 0535 hours, HMS Ark Royal launched three reconnaissance A.S.V. aircraft in position 38°06’N, 06°26’E to search to the eastward south of Sardinia. At 0700 hours a fourth aircraft was flown off to search to the west of Sardinia. These aircraft returned at 0800 hours and had nothing to report. They had covered 140 miles to the eastward and 50 miles to the westward. Group I then proceeded to join the convoy. The first fighter patrol was flown off by Ark Royal at 0830 hours.

By 1000 hours, Group I had joined the convoy, which was proceeding on a course of 085° at 14 knots. This was the Clan Campbell’s best speed. Renown and Ark Royal took station on the starboard side of the convoy in order to facilitate flying operations and at the same time provide AA protection for the convoy. Queen Elizabeth took station astern of Ark Royal to provide AA protection for this vulnerable ship. Gloucester and Fiji formed on the transport ships.

At 1115 hours an enemy signal was intercepted that our forces had been sighted at 0800 hours. Naiad detected an enemy aircraft approaching at 1133 hours and three minutes later a large float-plane emerged from the clouds ahead of the convoy. Naiad opened fire and the aircraft retreated into the clouds. Fighters were sent in pursuit but failed to intercept. At noon a full and accurate report was made by this float-plane on the composition of our forces.

The sky cleared to some extent at noon, it had been overcast all morning. Visibility continued to improve all day although considerable cloud prevailed until the evening.

At 1345 hours, eight aircraft were seen approaching very low, fine on the starboard bow. These were engaged as they approached, but the AA fire appeared to be not very well directed. Torpedoes were dropped from outside the destroyer screen, which was roughly 3000 yards ahead of the convoy and extended to starboard to cover Renown, Ark Royal and Queen Elizabeth. The four Fulmar fighters on patrol at this time were engaging CR. 42 fighters that had accompanied these torpedo aircraft.

Torpedoes were evidently aimed at Renown and Ark Royal but by very skilful handling by the Commanding Officers of these two ships all tracks were combed or avoided. Two torpedoes passed close to Renown. A third which was being successfully combed made a sudden alteration of 60° towards Renown and a hit forward seemed inevitable when the torpedo reached the end of it’s run and sank. Two torpedoes passed to port and two to starboard of Ark Royal.

Of the eight aircraft which attacked one was brought down during the approach, probably by AA fire from the destroyers. Two others were seen to fall from the sky during their retirement. The destroyers were disappointingly slow in opening fire on the approaching torpedo-bombers and a full barrage never developed. During the action between the Fulmar’s and the CR. 42’s one Fulmar was brought down and the crew of two was lost.

At 1400 hours a few bomb splashes were observed on the horizon to the northwestward.

At 1525 hours, two sections of Fulmar’s attacked and shot down in flames an S.79 shadower. On returning from this attack one Fulmar had to make a forced landing on the water about 9 nautical miles from the fleet. HMS Foresight closed the position and was able to pick up the crew of two. At this time the fleet was about 28 nautical miles north of Galita Island.

At 1600 hours, as the wind had backed from south of east to north of east. The starboard column; Renown, Ark Royal and Queen Elizabeth, was moved over to the port quarter of the convoy and the destroyer screen was readjusted accordingly. This allowed freedom of manoeuvre for flying operations and enabled the column to increase speed and snake the line whenever a bombing attack developed, in order to hamper the bombers and at the same time remain in a position to afford full AA support of the convoy.

The first high level bombing attack of the day developed at 1622 hours when three S.79’s approached from astern at about 5000 feet, i.e. just under the cloud level. One, diverted by AA fire, jettisoned his bombs and subsequently crashed astern of the Fleet. The other two dropped twelve bombs close ahead of Ark Royal and escaped into the clouds. It is probable that both of these were hit by the concentrated AA fire with which they were met. About 10 minutes later a single aircraft approached from astern and encountering heavy AA fire turned across the stern of the Fleet, dropping its bombs well clear.

At 1710 hours, another S.79 shadower was shot down in flames on the port quarter of the Fleet by a Fulmar fighter. Twenty minutes later five S.79’s attacked the fleet from south to north. Two broke formation under gunfire and the remainder delivered a poor attack, bombs falling near the destroyer screen. A similar attack by three S.79’s took place at 1800 hours, when bombs were again dropped near the destroyer screen.

The provision a adequate fighter protection for the Fleet was a difficult problem with the small numbers of fighters available. Aircraft returned to the carrier at various times with damage and failure of undercarriage, and every opportunity was taken, whenever the RD/F screen cleared to land on, refuel and rearm the Fulmars, sometimes singly and sometimes two or three at a time. There were occasions when no more then two fighters were in the air, but whenever an attack appeared to be impending every fighter that could be made serviceable was sent up.

At 1910 hours enemy aircraft were detected at a range of 70 miles approaching from Sicily. At this time only seven Fulmars remained serviceable of which only three were in the air. The other four were immediately flown off. The total number of hostile aircraft is uncertain, but the Fulmars sighted three separate formations of sixteen Ju.87’s, twelve Ju.87’s and six Me.110’s. One formation was seen from Renown for a short time at 1933 hours in a patch of clear sky. RD/F indicated several formations circling to the northwest of the Fleet for nearly one hour and several bomb splashes were seen well away to the northward and northwestward. During this period Fulmars intercepted the enemy and, although greatly outnumbered, fought several vigorous and gallant actions, resulting in the certain destruction of one Ju.87 and damage to several others, including at least one Me.110. These attacks disorganised the enemy and forced them to the northward with the result that they probably missed sighting the Fleet. They then entered thick cloud and it is possible that the groups became separated and all cohesion in the attack disappeared. Whatever the reason RD/F showed these groups retiring to the northward and no attack on the Fleet developed.

The Fleet reached the entrance to the Skerki Channel at 2015 hours. ‘Force B’ then turned westwards. It was made up of Renown/i>, Ark Royal, Sheffield, Harvester, Havelock and Hesperus. Queen Elizabeth was ordered to join ‘Force F’.

The turn to the west was just being completed when ‘Force B’ was attacked at 2030 hours by three torpedo-bombers which came from right ahead. The destroyers were still manoeuvering to take up their screening positions and did not sight the enemy aircraft in time to put up a barrage of AA fire. This attack was pressed home by the enemy with great determination. All three aircraft were heavily engaged and two were seen to be hit. Renown combed the torpedo tracks, two passing close down the port side and one down the starboard side.

During this attack No. P (port) 3, 4.5” gun turret in Renown malfunctioned and fired two round into the back of No. P 2 gun turret. This resulted in five ratings killed, five seriously wounded of which one later died and one officer and twenty-five ratings wounded.

Speed was increased to 24 knots at 2038 hours and a westerly course was maintained throughout the night.

As a result of the day’s air attacks, seven enemy aircraft were destroyed, two probably destroyed and at least three, probably more, damaged. Of the seven destroyed AA fire accounted for four and feighters for three. No hits, either by bomb or torpedo were obtained on our ships, nor were there any casualties besides than caused by the accident in Renown. Two Fulmars were lost, the crew of one of them was saved.

Meanwhile the convoy continued eastwards escorted now by HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Naiad, HMS Gloucester, HMS Fiji, HMS Faulknor, HMS Fearless, HMS Foresight, HMS Forester, HMS Fortune, HMS Fury, HMS Kashmir and HMS Kipling.

Eastern Mediterranean.

Visibility was still poor with patches of heavy rain. This helped the Fleet and convoy from being detected by the enemy and attacked by aircraft. On the other hand it resulted in the loss of two Albacore aircraft. One Fulmar was lost in combat with enemy aircraft.

HMS Ajax, HMS Havock, HMS Hotspur and HMS Imperial rejoined the Fleet at 1700 hours. Their attack on Benghazi had been successful although there was little shipping in the harbour two transports were intercepted after the bombardment. The largest blew up, and the other was ran aground and was left on fire after several explosions. These were the Italian Tenace (1142 GRT, built 1881) and Capitano A. Cecchi (2321 GRT, built 1933).

The Fleet remained with convoy MW 7A during the day and at dark moved to the southward. HMS Dido, HMS Phoebe, HMS Calcutta, HMS Carlisle and HMS Coventry were detached from their convoy’s to join the Tiger convoy coming from Gibraltar.

Both MW convoy’s made direct for Malta escorted by HMS Hotspur, HMS Havock and HMS Imperial. All other destroyers had been oiled from Breconshire during the past two days.

9 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

Further torpedo-bomber attacks were expected and a screen made up of Sheffield and the three destroyers was stationed ahead, astern and on either beam of Renown and Ark Royal at 5000 yards. The night was however uneventful and at 0800 hours speed was reduced to 20 knots and screening diagram no.4 was resumed by the escorts.

A shadower was detected, bearing 115°, range 12 nautical miles at 1027 hours. Two fighters were flown off but failed to intercept the enemy. An enemy sighting report was intercepted in Renown.

At 1100 hours a merchant vessel was sighted in position 37°54’N, 03°30’E about 8 nautical miles to the northward. At the same time Ark Royal reported that a periscope had been sighted about 4000 yards away. No further action was taken as detaching a single destroyer to search for the submarine was thought to be of little use and it was not thought wise to detach more then one destroyer as there were only three present.

At 1300 hours course was altered to 145° and speed reduced to 16 knots to conserve fuel in the destroyers.

At 1700 hours five search aircraft were flown off from position 37°27’N, 01°29’E to search between bearings 045° and 340° from Oran and south of parallel 38°45’N. Nothingwas sighted except for a merchant vessel. A Fulmar was also flown off to carry out a reconnaissance of Oran. This aircraft took photographs and reported the battlecruiser Dunkerque in her usual position at Mers-el-Kebir surrounded by nets, with lighters alongside and a pontoon gangway to the shore. One large and two small destroyers were sighted inside Oran harbour and probably six or seven submarines.

The six destroyers from the 8th Destroyer Flotilla which had taken part in getting the ‘Tiger’ convoy to as far as Malta sailed from there at 2000B/9 for their return passage to Gibraltar. HMS Foresight however had to return to Malta with an engine problem.

At 2200 hours ‘Force B’ altered course to the eastward as to be in a position to support the destroyers during their passage west at daylight the next day when they were passing south of Sardinia.

The Tiger convoy and it’s escort.

Shortly after midnight the transport Empire Song was mined and damaged. Initially she was able to remain with the convoy but around 0140 hours she was slowly sinking having also been on fire. The destroyers HMS Foresight and HMS Fortune were detached to stand by her. In the end Empire Song blew up during which Foresight was damaged.

The transport New Zealand Star was also damaged but she was able to remain with the convoy as her speed was not affected.

The convoy was attacked by torpedo-bombers early in the night but no damage was done by them. One torpedo passed very close to HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Around 0700 hours the Tiger convoy was joined by HMS Dido and HMS Phoebe. An hour later HMS Calcutta, HMS Carlisle and HMS Coventry also joined.

At 1515 hours the Tiger convoy made rendez-vous with the Mediterreanean Fleet about 50 nautical miles south of Malta.

Eastern Mediterranean.

Convoy’s MW 7A and MW 7B both arrived safely at Malta. Both were swept in by HMS Gloxinia who succeeded in exploding a number of mines. The 5th Destroyer Flotilla was then also able to leave the harbour and they joined the Mediterranean Fleet; these were HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) , HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN)

Also Breconshire arrived at Malta where she fuelled HMS Hotspur, HMS Havock and HMS Imperial.

As said above, at 1515 hours the Tiger convoy made rendez-vous with the Mediterreanean Fleet about 50 nautical miles south of Malta. HMS Queen Elizabeth then joined the battleship column. The Fleet then turned eastward but remained near the convoy for the remainder of the day. During the night he Fleet covered the convoy from a position to the north-eastward of it.

10 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

At 0700 hours, when in position 37°35’N, 03°02’E, course was altered to the westward at 15 knots. This being the most comfortable speed for the destroyers in the rising westerly gale.

At 1000 hours, the Capt. (D) 8th Destroyer Flotilla, reported he was in position 37°18’N, 08°45’E steering 275° at 28 knots. He also reported hat his ships were being shadowed by enemy aircraft. The enemy aircraft report was intercepted at 1025 hours. Course was then altered by ‘Force B’ to the eastward to reduce the distance between the two forces.

At 1100 hours, the Capt. (D) 8th Destroyer Flotilla, reported he was in position 37°22’N, 07°54’E, still steering 275° at 28 knots. The destroyers were still being shadowed.

At noon ‘Force B’ altered course to the westward. The wind was by then force 8 with a rising sea. Ten minutes later the enemy aircraft was again heard to report the position of the 8th Destroyer Flotilla and it’s course and speed.

At 1300 hours, the Capt. (D) 8th Destroyer Flotilla, reported he was in position 37°25’N, 07°01’E, steering 270° at 28 knots and that his ships were still being shadowed. At this time ‘Force B’ was 134 nautical miles to the westward and they could only maintain 13 knots in the sea without suffering damage. In view of the weather conditions and the fact that HMS Ark Royal had now only four serviceable fighters available it was not possible to afford the 8th Destroyer Flotilla any fighter protection without hazarding Ark Royal unduly. It was hoped that if an attack would develop the destroyers were able to avoid damage by high speed manoeuvring.

At 1430 hours a signal was received that the 8th Destroyer Flotilla was being bombed in position 37°25’N, 06°18’E and that HMS Fortune had been hit and her speed had been reduced to 8 knots. ‘Force B’ immediately altered course to the eastward and ran before the sea at 24 knots the maximum safe speed for the destroyers in the prevailing weather conditions.

An unidentified aircraft that had been detected by RD/F overtook the force at 1530 hours and was fired at by HMS Sheffield. The aircraft retired to the northward before resuming it’s easterly course. A reconnaissance of three aircraft was flown off at 1600 hours to cover the area to the northward and eastward of the 8th Destroyer Flotilla to maximum depth, in case enemy surface units were out in pursuit. These aircraft reported having sighted nothing on their return.

At 1750 hours a signal was received that the 8th Destroyer Flotilla had been subjected to another bombing attack but that no damage had been done. ‘Force B’ continued eastwards to provide close support in case of more air attacks.

At 1820 hours rendes-vous was made with the 8th Destroyer Flotilla and all ships proceeded westwards steering 280° at 12 knots. This was the best course and speed HMS Fortune could maintain. By this time this destroyer was down by the stern with seas breaking continually over her quarterdeck.

Five search aircraft were flown off by Ark Royal to search to maximum depth between 025° and 090°. Nothing was sighted except for one enemy aircraft. By 2030 hours all aircraft had returned.

As a speed of 12 knots subjected Fortune’s bulkhead to undue strain, HMS Fury was ordered to escort Fortune and proceed at 8 knots for the night. The remainder of the force zig-zagged, clear of these two destroyers, at higher speed.

It became also clear that Fortune had not received a direct hit but that five near misses had bent one shaft and caused flooding in several compartments aft, and minor flooding in the engine room.

Eastern Mediterranean.

The Battlefleet remained near the convoy for the entire day. Visibility improved throughout the day although conditions were still difficult for the enemy to attack from the air. One Ju.88 aircraft was shot down and another one was damaged. One Fulmar was lost when taking off from Formidable.

No enemy air attacks developed until dark when a number of aircraft, probably torpedo bombers, endeavoured to attack the convoy and battlefleet. A very heavy blind barrage of AA fire however kept them off and no torpedoes were seen.

At 1700 hours, Capt. D.5 in HMS Kelly was detached with the ships of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla (besides Kelly these were Kashmir, Kelvin, Kipling and Jackal) to bombard Benghazi before returning to Malta. The bombardment was carried out successfully. Following the bombardment they were dive bombed by German aircraft and all but Kipling were near missed. The Flotilla reached Malta p.m. on the 11th.

11 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

At 0532 hours, Vice-Admiral Sommerville sent a signal to the Vice-Admiral commanding the North Atlantic station at Gibraltar reporting the position, course and speed of his forces. He also requested a tug to be sent for the assistance of HMS Fortune.

The wind eased considerably during the morning and at daylight Fortune and Fury were sighted about 4 nautical miles in advance of the Fleet and making good about 10 knots.

A reconnaissance of six aircraft were flown off at 0700 hours. These searched for a depth of about 140 miles between 030° and 085°. Visibility was reported as being 10 to 20 miles. Also a search was conducted for a depth of about 100 miles between 085° and 110° with a visibility of 3 to 5 miles. Only a few French merchant vessels were sighted.

Nothing happened during the day.

At 1700 hours a reconnaissance was flown of from position 36°54’N, 01°11’E to a depth of 180 nautical miles between north and east and to a depth of 90 nautical miles between north and 290°. The visibility was reported as being 10 to 15 nautical miles. Nothing was sighted.

The Fleet turned to the eastward for an hour before dark to take up a position well astern of Fortune and Fury during the night.

Eastern Mediterranean.

The Tiger convoy and the Fleet continued eastwards. Enemy aircraft were in the vicinity all day but no attacks developed. One Ju.88 was shot down and another one was damaged, one Fulmar was lost. At dark the cruisers were detached to proceed to Alexandria and the Fleet went on ahead of the convoy.

12 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

Just before daylight contact was made by the Fleet with Fortune and Fury. At dawn the tug HMS St. Day and four ML’s arrived from Gibraltar.

HMS Sheffield, HMS Harvester, HMS Hesperus and the four ML’s then remained with HMS Fortune and HMS Fury. Fortune was now able to make 12 knots.

HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal, screened by HMS Faulknor, HMS Fearless, HMS Forester, HMS Foresight and HMS Havelock, then proceeded ahead to conduct flying exercises east of Gibraltar before entering harbour.

A reconnaissance was flown off at 0800 hours to search to the east but nothing was sighted. On their return these aircraft made a practice attack on Renown and Ark Royal. More exercises were carried out during the day.

The Fleet arrived at Gibraltar at 1800 hours. Renown berthed in no.1 dock to enable her damaged 4.5” gun turret to be hoised out.

HMS Sheffield entered harbour at 2030 hours followed shortly afterwards by the damaged Fortune and her escorts.

Eastern Mediterranean.

The bulk of the Fleet arrived at Alexandria around 1000 hours. The convoy arrived later, around 1300 hours. Some ships had been detached from the fleet to arrive early, fuel and then depart again for escort duties. (21)

12 May 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) returned to Malta in the morning.

On the return trip from their bombardment of Benghazi they have been dive bombed the previous day. All destroyers had been near missed except for HMS Kipling.

20 May 1941

Battle for Crete.


Timespan: 20 May to 1 June 1941.

Opening of the German airborn attack on Crete, 20 May 1941.

At 0915 hours, 20 May 1941, just three weeks after the British withdrawal from Greece, the German attack on Crete commenced. This took the form of intense bombing of Maleme airfield and Suda Bay areas, closely followed by the landing of troops by parachute, gliders and troop carrying aircraft. The enemy’s main objective appeared to be Maleme airfield but in the afternoon similar attacks developed at Heraklion and Retimo.

Fierce hand to hand fighting took place throughout the day on the Maleme airfield. At nightfall the situation appeared to be in hand, though about 1200 of the 3000 enemy who had landed by air appeared to be unaccounted for.

The naval situation at dawn, 20 May 1940.

The position of British (Allied) naval forces at sea at daylight on the 20th of May was as follows;

Force A 1 was about 100 nautical miles to the west of Crete. It was made up of the following warships; battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN), destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. C.S.B. Swinley, DSC, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt. W.J. Munn, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, DSC, RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) and HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN).

Force B was enroute from Alexandria to join force A 1 and consisted of the light cruisers HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN also in command of this force as senior Captain) and HMS Fiji (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, RN).

Force C was to the south of the Kaso Strait and was made up of the light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN), HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN), destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Juno (St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN).

Force D had reached the Antikithera Channel during the night and was now steering to join Force A 1. Force D was made up of the light cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of the Rear-Admiral (D) [D = Destroyers] I.G. Glennie, RN) and HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN).

The Commander-in-Chief’s intentions, 20-21 May 1941.

On learning that the attack on Crete had started, the Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean at once ordered the forces at sea to move up towards the island but to keep out of sight of land. In the course of the forenoon he signalled his intentions for the night.

Force B was ordered to pass close to Cape Matapan at 0400/21 and then rendezvous with Force A 1 about 50 miles west of Crete at 0700/21.

Force D, augmented by HMS Ajax and the destroyers HMS Isis HMS Imperial, HMS ar and HMS Kimberley was to pass through the Antikithera Channel to sweep the area Cape Malea (36°26’N, 23°12’E), Hydra (37°21’N, 23°35’E), Phalconera (36°50’N, 23°54’E) and to be off Canea at 0700/21.

Force C was to pass through the Kaso Strait and sweep round Stampalia (75 miles north of Kaso) arriving off Heraklion at 0700/21.

Later in the day air reconnaissance reported caiques in the Aegean, and these two sweeps were cancelled as it was feared that they might miss south-bound convoys in the darkness. Instead forces C and D were ordered to establish patrols to the east and west of Longtitude 25°E respectively. A new force of destroyers (Force E) made up of HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Ilex (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN) was to bombard the Italian airfield at Scarpanto (50 miles to the east of Crete), withdrawing to the southward before daylight.

Night operations, 20-21 May 1941.

Scarpanto airfield was bombarded at 0245/21. The result could not be observed, but intelligence reports later indicated that two Do.17 aircraft were damaged. After examining Pegadia Bay (six miles to the northward of the airfield on the east coast of Scarpanto), and finding it empty, Force E retired to the southward.

The other operations ordered by the Commander-in-Chief were duly carried out but no convoys were sighted. Force C was attacked by torpedo-carrying aircraft with approaching the Kaso Strait at 2040/20. All torpedoes could be avoided. An hour later six MAS boats were encountered. Juno, Kandahar and Naiad engaged them and they retired after four of them had been damaged.

Naval situation at dawn, 21 May 1941.

At daylight, 21 May, Force A 1 (Warspite, Valiant, HMAS Napier, HMS Hereward, HMS Hero, HMS Hotspur, HMS Griffin and HMS Decoy) was 60 miles west of the Antikithera Channel, steering to the south-east to meet Force D (HMS Orion, HMS Ajax, HMS Dido, HMS Isis, HMS Imperial, HMS Janus and HMS Kimberley), which sighted nothing during the night and was now to the northward of Canea Bay and withdrawing towards the Antikithera Channel.

Force B (HMS Gloucester and HMS Fiji) was closing Force A 1 after an uneventful sweep between Cape Matapan and Cape Elophonesi (the south-west point of Crete).

The minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Peydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) was returning to Alexandria after laying mines off Cephalonia.

At the eastern end of Crete Force C (HMS Naiad, HMAS Perth, HMS Kandahar, HMS Kingston, HMS Juno and HMS Nubian) was joined at 0600 hours by the AA cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN). This force was now retiring from the Aegean through the Kaso Strait.

Force E (HMS Jervis, HMS Ilex and HMAS Nizam) was to the southward of Scarpanto and operating under the orders of Rear-Admiral King (Force C) as was the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. T.C. Hampton, RN) which was on passage from Alexandria.

Operations during 21 May 1941. Loss of HMS Juno.

During 21 May, Force A 1, B and D remained to the south-west of Kithera. Every opportunity, between air attacks, being taken to refuel destroyers from the battleships. Force C cruiser to the southward of the Kaso Strait where HMS Carlisle joined him in the afternoon. Force E was recalled to Alexandria.

Throughout the day various forces were subjected to heavy air attacks. Force C in particular suffered attacks from daylight onwards, and after withdrawing through the Kaso Strait, was bombed continuously from 0950 to 1350 hours.

At 1249 hours, HMS Juno was hit and sank in two minutes. Six officers and ninety-one ratings were rescued by Kandahar, Kingston and Nubian. During the attacks one enemy aircraft was shot down and two, maybe more, were damaged.

To the west of Crete Force D was located at daylight and heavily bombed while withdrawing towards Force A 1. HMS Orion and HMS Ajax both suffered damage from near misses.

Force A 1 was attacked once during the forenoon and for two and a half hours during the afternoon. This later bombing was shared by Forces B and D which were then in company. Two enemy aircraft were probably shot down.

No seaborne landing has as yet taken place but during the afternoon air reconnaissance reported groups of small craft, escorted by destroyers, moving towards Crete from Milos (80 miles north of Retimo). Forces B, C and D were therefore ordered into the Aegean to prevent landings during the night. If there were no developments Forces C and D, in the eastern and western areas respectively, were to commence working northwards on a wide zigzag at 0530/22, to locate convoys.

Force A followed Force D well into the Antikithera Channel as AA support, turning to the westward at sunset to patrol for the night in the supporting area. As the two forces parted company a sharp attack by four Ju.88’s was made on Force D which shot down three of them.

Force D breaks up a troop convoy, night of 21/22 May 1941.

At 2330/21 when some 18 miles north of Canea, Rear-Admiral Glennie with Force D which now consisted of HMS Dido, HMS Orion, HMS Ajax, HMS Janus, HMS Kimberley, HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) and HMS Hereward, encountered an enemy convoy composed mainly of caiques escorted by a torpedo boat. The caiques which were crowded with German troops were engaged for two and a half hours. In all, at least a dozen caiques, two or three steamers and a steam yacht were sunk or left burning. It was estimated that about 4000 German troops were accounted for [an over-estimate, the real number was about 800 of which some were rescued later]. In addition the Italian torpedo-boat Lupo, after firing torpedoes at the cruisers, was damaged by a broadside from HMS Ajax.

After taking a further sweep to the east and north, Rear-Admiral Glennie decided that, in view of serious shortage of AA ammunition (AA ammunition remaining; Orion 38%, Ajax 42%, Dido 30%) and the scale of air attack to be anticipated the next day, he was not justified in keeping his force in the Aegean to carry out the intended sweep to the northward at daylight. He accordingly turned to the westward at 0330/22. His ships which had become considerably scattered during the action were given a rendezvous some 30 miles west of Crete. This decision, together with the result of his attack on the convoy, he reported to the Commander-in-Chief who ordered Force D to return to Alexandria with all dispatch.

Meanwhile Force B (Gloucester, Fiji, HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.A. Marshall-A’Deane, DSO, DSC, RN) and Griffin) had been ordered by the Commander-in-Chief to leave their patrol off Cape Matapan and to proceed with dispatch to Heraklion where part of the town and harbour were reported to be in enemy hands. These orders reached Capt. Rowley in the Gloucester too late to be carried out, but the force entered the Aegean and at daylight was about 25 miles north of Canea. Nothing was sighted, and they retired to the westward towards Force A 1. Force B was attacked almost continuously by dive bombers for an hour and a half from 0630/22 onwards but escaped with slight damage only to each cruiser. They joined Force A 1 at 0830/22.

Naval situation at dawn, 22 May 1941.

At daylight on 22 May 1941, the position of the naval forces at sea was as follows. Rear-Admiral Rawlings with Force A 1 (HMS Warspite, HMS Valiant. HMAS Napier, HMS Imperial, HMS Isis, HMS Hero, HMS Hotspur and HMS Decoy) was about 45 miles south-west of Kithera, steering to the north-westward and shortly to be joined by the forces D and B from the Aegean.

The 5th Destroyer Flottilla had meanwhile sailed from Malta the previous evening and was on passage to join Rear-Admiral Rawlings around 1000/22. This Flotilla was made up of five destroyers; HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN).

HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN), HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN) and HMAS Voyager (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN) from the 10th Destroyer Flotilla as well as HMS Jervis, HMS Ilex and HMAS Nizam from the 14th Destroyer Flotilla were on passage from Alexandria to join Rear-Admiral Rawlings (Force A 1) and Rear-Admiral King (Force C) respectively.

Force C (HMS Naiad, HMAS Perth, HMS Calcutta, HMS Carlisle, HMS Kandahar, HMS Kingston and HMS Nubian) was off Heraklion about to sweep to the north-westward in search of enemy troop convoys.

The 22nd of May was to prove an expensive day for the British naval forces costing them two cruisers and a destroyer sunk, and leading directly to the situation which occasioned the loss of a further two destroyers the next morning. Also two battleships and two cruisers were damaged.

On the other hand the enemy was prevented from making a seaborne landing, and that so effectively as to deter him from any further attempts to do so, until the fall of Crete had been decided by his airborne troops.

Force C’s encounter with an enemy troop convoy, AM 22nd May.

Rear-Admiral King’s Force C had spent the night of 21/22 May patrolling of Heraklion. Nothing was sighted and at dawn the force formed up to carry out the sweep to the northward as ordered by the Commander-in-Chief. Air attacks on Force C commenced at 0700/22 and were continued without intermission. At 0830 hours a single caique carrying German troops was sighted. This caique was sunk by HMAS Perth, and as she was being heavily attacks by enemy aircraft, HMS Naiad turned back to support her. A small merchant vessel, reported by HMS Calcutta at 0909 hours was dealt with by the destroyers.

At 1000/22 Force C was 25 miles south of Milo (90 miles north of Retimo), HMAS Perth had rejoined the rest of the force but HMS Naiad was being heavily attacked and was still some way astern. Ten minutes later an enemy torpedo-boat (the Italian Saggitario) with four or five small sailing vessels was sighted to the northward. The destroyers gave chase, while the Perth and Naiad engaged the torpedo boat, causing her to retire behind smoke. HMS Kingston then engaged another destroyer, who was laying a smoke screen, at 7000 yards range, claiming two hits. She also reported a large number of caiques behind the smoke.

Force C was running short of AA ammunition. Air attacks were incessant and the force had to be kept together for mutual support. Its speed was limited as HMS Carlisle was unable to do more than 21 knots.

For these reasons, Rear-Admiral King considered that he would jeopadise his whole force if he proceeded any further to the northward. He therefore decided to withdraw to the westward and ordered his destroyers to abandon the chase. A signal from the Commander-in-Chief (timed 0941 hour), which showed that this convoy was of considerable size, was not seen by him until 1100 hours. The brief action did, however, cause the enemy to turn back, and the troops, if they ever reached Crete at all, were not in time to influence the battle.

During its withdrawal to the westward, Force C, was continuously bombed for three and a half hours. HMS Naiad due to avoiding action had been unable to overtake the remainder of the force had two 5.25” turrets out of action. Several compartments were flooded by near misses, and at 1125 hours, her speed being reduced to 16-19 knots, the remainder of the force was ordered back to her support. Over a period of two hours, 181 bombs had been counted as being aimed at HMS Naiad.

HMS Carlisle was hit, and although not seriously damaged her Commanding Officer was killed. Torpedo bombers attacked the force at 1258 and 1315 hours but all torpedoes were avoided. At 1321 hours Force C sighted Force A 1 coming up the Kithera Channel from the westward.

The junction of Force A 1 with Force C, 22 May 1941.

On learning that Rear-Admiral King would be withdrawing through the Kithera Channel, Rear-Admiral Rawlings had decided that he would meet him in that neighbourhood. Accordingly, after being joined by Forces B and D he spent the forenoon patrolling between 20 and 30 miles west of the channel. The ammunition situation was causing anxiety, and rigid economy was ordered.

At 1225 hours, Rear-Admiral Rawlings heard from Rear-Admiral King that HMS Naiad was badly damaged and in need of support. He immediately decided to enter the Aegean and steered for the Kithera Channel at 23 knots. AA shell bursts from Force C were sighted at 1312 hours and a few minutes afterwards a large caique was seen between Pori and Antikithera Islands, to the south of the channel. HMS Greyhound was ordered to sink it.

At 1332 hours, just as forces A 1/B/D and C were meeting HMS Warspite was attacked by three Me 109’s equipped with bombs. A bomb hit and wrecked the starboard 4” and 6” batteries and damaged number three boiler room fan intakes, thereby reducing the ship’s speed. Both forces then withdrew to the south-westward, air attacks continuing intermittently for most of the afternoon.

The loss of HMS Greyhound, HMS Gloucester, HMS Fiji, 22 May 1941.

HMS Greyhound meanwhile, after sinking the caique, was returning to her place in Force A 1’s screen when at 1351 hours she was struck by two bombs and sank stern first 15 minutes later. HMS Kandahar and HMS Kingston were detached from Force C to pick up survivors and shortly after 1400 hours, Rear-Admiral King (who was the senior officer of all the forces present) ordered HMS Gloucester and HMS Fiji to give them AA support and to stand by the sinking Greyhound. These rescuing ships, and the men swimming in the water were subjected to almost continuous bombing and machine gun attacks. HMS Kingston was damaged by three near misses.

At 1413 hours, Rear-Admiral King asked Rear-Admiral Rawlings for close support as Force C by that time had practically no AA ammunition left. Force A 1 closed at the Warspite’s best speed (18 knots), and Rear-Admiral Rawlings, who was feeling uneasy about the orders given to Gloucester and Fiji informed Rear-Admiral King about the depleted state of their AA ammunition stocks of which the latter was not aware. At 1457 hours, Rear-Admiral King therefore ordered the rescuing ships to withdraw at their discretion, leaving boats and rafts if air attack prevented the rescue of survivors from Greyhound.

At 1530 hours, HMS Gloucester and HMS Fiji were coming up astern of HMS Warspite at high speed, engaging enemy aircraft. At 1550 hours, HMS Gloucester was hit by several bombs and came to a full stop. She was badly on fire and her upper deck was a shambles. In view of the intensity of the air attacks the Captain of HMS Fiji reluctantly decided that he could offer no assistance to her. All available boats and floats were dropped and the Fiji proceeded to the southward with Kandahar and Kingston still being hotly attacked by enemy aircraft.

At 1710 hours, HMS Fiji reported that she was in position 24 miles, 305°, Cape Elophonesi (the south-west point of Crete), steering 175° at 27 knots, a position 30 miles due east of Forces A 1 and C which were steering 215°.

At 1845 hours, after having survived about 20 bombing attacks by aircraft formations during the last four hours she fell victim to a single Me. 109. The machine flew out of the clouds in a shallow dive and dropped its bomb very close to the port side amidships. The ship took up a heavy list, but was able to steam at 17 knots until half an hour later when another single machine dropped three bombs which hit above ‘A’ boiler room. The list increased and at 2015 hours she rolled right over and sank in position 34°45’N, 23°12’E. She had expended all her 4” ammunition except for six star shell.

HMS Kandahar and HMS Kingston dropped boats and floats and then withdrew to the southward to avoid almost certain damage from air attacks if they had stayed in the area. They returned after dark and were able to rescue 523 officers and men. It was during this rescue work that Cdr. W.R. Marshall-A’Deane the Commanding Officer of HMS Greyhound, who had been picked up by HMS Kandahar earlier in the day when his own ship was sunk, jumped overboard to help a men in distress. He was lost out of sight in the darkness and was never seen again.

HMS Kandahar and HMS Kingston had been subjected to 22 air attacks between 1445 and 1920 hours and were now running short of fuel. At 2245 hours they left the scene of the loss of HMS Fiji and shaped course to rendezvous with Rear-Admiral King’s forces to the southward of Crete.

Night operations, 22-23 May 1941

Meanwhile, Rear-Admiral King, with Forces C and A 1 had been steering to the south-westward. Spasmodic air attacks continued till dusk. At 1645 hours HMS Valiant was hit by two medium bombs but no serious damage was done to her. Course was altered to the southward at 1800 hours and to the eastward at 2100 hours

Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten with his five destroyers; HMS Kelly, HMS Kashmir, HMS Kelvin, HMS Kipling and HMS Jackal had been delayed on his passage from Malta by a promising A/S hunt and only effected his junction with Force A 1 at 1600/22. At 2030 hours Kelly, Kashmir and Kipling were detached to search for survivors from Fiji and half an hour later Kelvin and Jackal were also detached to try to search for survivors from Gloucester. Subsequently these searches for survivors were cancelled and the destroyers were ordered to patrol inside Kisamo and Canea Bays.

On arrival at the Antikithera Channel HMS Kipling developed a steering defect and was detached to join Force A 1. Later on as the defect was remedied, her Commanding Officer decided to remain to the south-west of Crete where he anticipated he was able to make rendezvous with the other destroyer on their return. To this fortunate decision Capt. D.5 and over 250 of his officers and men in all probability were to owe their lives.

Continuing into Canea Bay Kelly and Kashmir fell in with a troop carrying caique, which they damaged badly with gunfire. They then carried out a short bombardment at Maleme and, whilst withdrawing, they engaged and set on fire another caique.

The Naval Officer in Command Suda had meanwhile reported some lights in Canea Bay. These lights the Kelvin and Jackal, who were operating in Kissamo Bay, were ordered to investigate, and finding them to be shore lights, proceeded independently for Alexandria informing the Commander-in-Chief of this intention at 0300/23.

Towards the eastern end of Crete, Force E, consisting of HMS Jervis, HMAS Nizam, HMS Ilex and HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN) maintained a patrol off Heraklion without incident. They set course to return to Alexandria in the morning. On the way there were bombed for five hours, Ilex and Havock being damaged by near misses.

During the night HMS Decoy and HMS Hero embarked the Greek King, members of the government and other prominent Greeks at Agriarumeli on the south coast of Crete after which the two destroyers sailed to join Rear-Admiral King forces to the southward.

In the meantime Forces C and A 1 were some 75 miles to the southward of Crete steering 110°. At 0100/23 ‘Force C’ parted company and proceeded for Alexandria. Some hours previously Rear-Admiral Rawlings had signalled to the Commander-in-Chief that a rallying point further to the east would be better than one to the southwest of Kithera. If this was approved it was suggested that the 5th Destroyer Flotilla should make it’s withdrawal from Canea Bay to the eastward and that the Commander-in-Chief should issue orders accordingly, to all forces. Force A 1 therefore continued steering 110° until 0400/23, when, no reply having been received from the Commander-in-Chief, course was altered to the south-westward. Rear-Admiral Rawlings was about to signal a rendezvous to the southwest of Cape Elophonesi when a message was received ordering the withdrawal of all force to Alexandria. He accordingly set course for Alexandria at 15 knots, informing scattered units of his position, course and speed at 0530/23.

The Commander-in-Chief orders withdrawal to Alexandria, 23 May 1941.

At 2230/22, the Commander-in-Chief had received a ‘Most Immediate’ message from Rear-Admiral Rawlings reporting the loss of HMS Gloucester and HMS Fiji, and giving details of the ammunition situation. Owning to an error at Alexandria this signal made it appear that the battleships of Force A 1 had no pompon ammunition left. Therefore at 0408/23 orders were given to all forces to retire to the eastward.

In actual fact, the battleships had plenty of ammunition. Had the Commander-in-Chief been aware of this, they would not have been ordered to Alexandria, and would have been available as a support and rallying point for the 5th Destroyer Flotilla in the morning of the 23rd.

Naval situation at dawn, 23 May 1941.

Dawn on 23 May 1941 found the naval forces in the waters around Crete considerably scattered. To the eastward Capt. Mack with Force E was north of Crete, returning to Alexandria through the Kaso Strait.

Rear-Admiral Glennie in HMS Dido was just arriving at Alexandria with HMS Orion and HMS Ajax some distance astern of him.

The transport HMS Glenroy (Capt.(Retd.) J.F. Paget, RN), with reinforcements on board and escorted by HMS Coventry (A/Capt. W.P. Carne, RN), HMS Auckland (A/Capt. E.G. Hewitt, RN) and HMS Flamingo (Cdr. R.J.O. Otway-Ruthven, RN) had left Alexandria the previous afternoon and was 130 miles out making for Tymbaki.on the south coast of Crete.

Forces A 1 and C were about 25 miles apart to the south of Crete and were returning to Alexandria. The destroyers HMS Kandahar and HMS Kingston, with survivors from HMS Fiji on board were about to join Force C. The destroyers HMS Decoy and HMS Hero, with the King of Greece on board, were to the northward of Force A 1 which they joined at 0745/23.

Further to the west, a bit to the south of Gavdos Island, was Capt. Waller in HMAS Stuart, HMAS Vendetta and HMAS Voyager, who had been ordered by Rear-Admiral Rawlings to search for survivors from HMS Fiji. Also in that area were the destroyers HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) which had left Alexandria the day before with munitions for the army.

HMS Kelvin and HMS Jackal were to the south-west of Crete and returning to Alexandria. HMS Kipling was also in that vicinity and was hoping to join HMS Kelly and HMS Kashmir, who had cleared Canea Bay and were retiring close to the west coast of Crete.

Loss off HMS Kelly and HMS Kashmir, 23 May 1941.

Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten had been withdrawing at full speed since dawn. At 0755 hours, after surviving two air attacks without suffering damage, he was about 13 nautical miles to the southward of Gavdos Island when his ships were attacked by a force of 24 Ju.87 dive bombers. The Kashmir was hit and sunk in 2 minutes. A large bomb struck the Kelly while she was doing 30 knots under full starboard rudder. She turned turtle to port with considerable way on, and after floating upside down for about half an hour, finally sank. In accordance with earlier practice the dive bombers then machine-gunned the survivors in the water, killing and wounding several.

The attack was witnessed by HMS Kipling, who was some 7 to 8 miles to the southward. She immediately closed and succeeded in picking up 281 officers and men from the water including the Commanding Officers of both destroyers. She left the scene of the sinking for Alexandria at 1100/23. She was considerably hampered in this rescue work by six high level bombing attacks and it was subsequently estimated that between 0820 and 1300 hours no less then 40 aircraft attacked her, dropping 83 bombs, though she emerged from the ordeal unscathed.

Return of the British naval forces to Alexandria, 23 May 1941.

In the meantime Force C had been joined by HMS Kandahar and HMS Kingston with survivors from HMS Fiji on board at 0630/23. Both destroyers were very low on fuel. Force A 1 was only 25 miles to the north-west. Force C then closed Force A 1 and both destroyers were able to fuel from the battleships. Shortly after 0800 hours, a signal was received from HMS Kipling reporting the loss of HMS Kelly and HMS Kashmir. Rear-Admiral King reluctantly decided that he could sent no help from Forces A 1 and C.

HMS Decoy and HMS Hero, with the Greek Royal party on board, had joined Force A 1 about the same time, and in course of the forenoon all the scattered destroyer joined up except for HMS Kipling. Later in the day HMS Jaguar and HMS Defender were detached to land ammunition at Suda Bay. The remained of the force proceeded to Alexandria where they arrived in the early hours of the 24th.

The fighting in Crete, 21 -24 May 1941.

On shore, meanwhile, the situation deteriorated. During the 21st although Maleme airfield remained no-man’s land under fire from Italian guns manned by New Zealand gunners, enemy troop carriers landed there regardless of losses. Parachute reinforcements also arrived, and the Germans concentrated between Aliakanou and Canea, and immediately west of Meleme. The savage air bombardment of the British positions continued.

Early on the 22nd, a British counter attack reached Maleme airfield, but heavy dive bombing, and machine gun fire from air and ground rendered further progress impossible. Fighting continued throughout the day, but enemy troop carriers with reinforcements were arriving at a rate of more than 20 each hour, and the withdrawal of British troops to a new line further east was commenced.

The steady flow of German reinforcements, and very heavy air attacks on the British troops continued throughout the 23rd. On this day, the five Motor Torpedo Boats of the 10th M.T.B. Flotilla in Suda Bay (MTB 67, MTB 213, MTB 214, MTB 216 and MTB 217) were all sunk by air attacks. During their operations off the Cretan coast and in harbour they accounted for two aircraft shot down for sure and another two probably shot down.

By the 24th the AA defences of Suda had been seriously reduced and losses to small craft in port were heavy. Severe bombing of Canea compelled the withdrawal of the Army Headquarters to the Naval Headquarters at Suda.

At Heraklion, in the meantime, the Germans had been unable to make much headway. Successful counter attacks were carried out by British troops, in conjunction with Greek and Cretan forces on the 21st, and the situation remained will in hand the next day. 20 to 30 German troop carrying aircraft were destroyed by AA fire. On the 23rd an ultimatum from the Germans calling for the surrender of Heraklion was rejected by the British and Greek commanders, though by this time the Greeks were running short of ammunition.

Reinforcements and supplies to the Army in Crete.

Throughout the Battle of Crete, frequent attempts were made to throw reinforcements and supplies into the island, with varying success.

All disembarkation had to planned to take place at night, owning to the German command of the air. Attempts were made to use HMS Glenroy and merchant vessels for this purpose, but it was found in practice that only warships were able to get through.

On the night of the 23rd – 24th of May, HMS Jaguar and HMS Defender landed stores and ammunition at Suda between midnight and 0200 hours. They returned to Alexandria with officers and men not required in Crete as well as some wounded.

HMS Glenroy embarked 900 men from the Queens Royal Regiment, H.Q. staff of the 16th Infantry Brigade and 18 vehicles at Alexandria. She then sailed for Tymbaki on the afternoon of the 22nd escorted by HMS Coventry, HMS Auckland and HMS Flamingo. These ships were recalled at 1127/23 due to the heavy air attacks sustained by the Fleet.

The following day, HMS Isis, HMS Hero and HMAS Nizam sailed from Alexandria with the Headquarters and two battalions of special service troops, known as ‘Layforce’. These were to be landed on the south-west coast of Crete at Selinos Kastelli. The weather conditions however did not permitted a landing and it had to be cancelled.

During the night of 24 – 25 May, the fast minelayer HMS Abdiel landed about 200 personnel of ‘Layforce’ and about 80 tons of stores at Suda. She returned with about 50 wounded and 4 Greek Cabinet Ministers. A dive bombing attack by 4 Ju.88’s at 1300/25 was successfully avoided.

On arrival at Alexandria in the evening of the 25th, HMS Abdiel embarked Brigadier Laycock with 400 men and 100 tons of stores. She left again early on the 26th accompanied by HMS Hero and HMAS Nizam. These ships landed about 750 troops and stores at Suda during the night of 26 – 27 May. These were the last reinforcements landed in Crete.

About 930 men no longer required there were then embarked and taken back to Alexandria in HMS Abdiel. Air attacks commenced at daylight, just north-west of the Kaso Strait, and continued intermittently till 1130/27. No damage was sustained except by HMS Hero whose speed was reduced to 28 knots by a near miss at 0700 hours.

Meanwhile the Glenroy with a battalion of the Queen’s Regiment on board, had sailed from Alexandria for Tymbaki during the evening of the 25th. She was being escorted by HMS Coventry, HMAS Stuart and HMS Jaguar. The force was subjected to bombing attacks by enemy reconnaissance aircraft during the forenoon. At 1820/26 there were heavy dive bombing attacks. Glenroy was slightly damaged sustained some casualties owing to near misses and machine gun attacks. Three of her landing craft were holed and a large dump of cased petrol on the upper deck caught fire, which necessitated steering down wind until the fire was put out. With 800 troops on board and with a large cargo of petrol it was a nasty situation. By 1950 hours the fire was under control and course was resumed to the northward. A final attack by torpedo bombers at 2050 hours caused no further damage. The torpedoes were being successfully evaded. The Glenroy was now about three hours behind schedule and wither landing craft capacity down by about a third and the weather forecast in mind it was decided to cancel the operation and the force was ordered to return to Alexandria.

One other attempt was made to transport some supplies to Crete. Convoy AN 31 of three Greek merchant ships escorted by HMS Auckland left Alexandria at 0500/26. One of the merchant vessels soon had to turn back due to engine trouble. The convoy escort was later reinforced by HMS Calcutta and HMS Defender. Early the next forenoon it was realised that under the existing conditions they would not have a chance of reaching the island and they too were recalled. Shortly after turning back the convoy was attacked by about 9 Ju.88’s but no damage was sustained. One of the attacking aircraft was seen to be hit by AA fire.

Naval situation at dawn, 24 May 1941.

At daylight on the 24th, the only naval forces at sea were HMS Jaguar and HMS Defender, which were about to pass through the Kaso Strait on passage from Suda Bay to Alexandria and HMS Abdiel which had left Alexandria during the night and was on passage to Suda Bay with more stores for the Army.

HMS Kipling with the survivors from HMS Kelly and HMS Kashmir on board was about 70 miles from Alexandria, practically out of fuel. HMS Protector (Cdr. R.J. Gardner, RN) had been sent out to meet her.

It was on this day that the Commander-in-Chief, well aware under which strain his ships were working, signalled to his Fleet. ‘The Army is just holding its own against constant reinforcement of airborne enemy troops. We must NOT let them down. At whatever cost to ourselves, we must land reinforcements for them and keep the enemy from using the sea. There are indications that the enemy resources are stretched to the limit. We can and must outlast them. STICK IT OUT.’

The Commander-in-Chief’s appreciation, 24 May 1941.

Four days had now elapsed since the opening of the attack on Crete and in reply to a request from the Chiefs-of-Staff for an appreciation, the Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean, informed them that the scale of air attack now made it no longer possible for the Navy to operate in the Aegean or vicinity of Crete by day. The Navy could not guarantee to prevent seaborne landings without suffering losses which, added to those already sustained, would very seriously prejudice our command of the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Chiefs-of-Staff replied that the Fleet and Royal Air Force were to accept whatever risk was entailed in preventing any considerable enemy reinforcement from reaching Crete. If enemy convoys were reported north of Crete, the Fleet would have to operate in that area by day, although considerable losses might be expected. Experience would show for how long this situation could be maintained.

To this the Commander-in-Chief replied on the 26th that the determining factor in operating in the Aegean was not the fear of sustaining losses but the need to avoid crippling the Fleet. He added that the enemy, so far, had apparently not succeeded in landing any appreciable reinforcements by sea.

As how long the situation could be maintained, he pointed out that in three days two cruisers and four destroyers had been sunk, one battleship had been put out of action for several months, and two cruisers and four destroyers had been considerably damaged. He also referred to the strain both to personnel and machinery in the light craft, who had been operating to the limits of their endurance since February.

Captain McCarthy’s Force , 24-26 May 1941.

There had been indications that a landing might take place in the east of Crete at Sitia on the night of 24-25 May. To deal with this threat a Force consisting of the cruisers HMS Ajax (Senior Officer), HMS Dido, destroyers HMS Hotspur, HMS Imperial and HMS Kimberley left Alexandria at 0800/24 and passing through the Kaso Strait swept the north coast of Crete during the night. Nothing was sighted and the Force withdrew to the southward of Kaso before daylight. Here they remained during the 25th, repeating the sweep north of Crete the next night. Again nothing was sighted.

F.A.A. attack on Scarpanto airfield, 26 May 1941.

It was known that Scarpanto airfield was being extensively used by the enemy in his operations against Crete, and it was therefore decided to attack it with Fleet Air Arm aircraft from HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.la T. Bisset, RN, flying the flag of A/Rear-Admiral D.W. Boyd, CBE, DSC, RN), who had now built up her fighter strength to 12 Fulmars.

Vice-Admiral Pridham-Whippel left Alexandria on the 25th with Force A which was made up of the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable and the destroyers HMS Jervis, HMS Janus, HMS Kandahar, HMS Nubian, HMS Hasty, HMS Hereward, HMAS Voyager and HMAS Vendetta.

At 0330/26 this Force was about 100 miles to the south-south-west of Scarpanto. Four Albacores and later five Fulmars were flown off from HMS Formidable to attack the airfield. The Albacores achieved complete surprise. They destroyed two enemy aircraft and damaged several others while the Fulmars damaged a number of Cr.42’s and Ju.87’s. All aircraft had returned to Formidable by 0700 hours. By now the Force headed by HMS Ajax had also joined coming from the Kaso Strait. ‘Force A’ now set course to the southward.

Operations of ‘Force A’, HMS Formidable and HMS Nubian damaged, 26 May 1941.

During the forenoon of the 26th May, enemy aircraft were continually being detected. The eight remaining serviceable aircraft, four of which were fighters, made 24 flights, during which there were 20 combats. Two enemy aircraft were shot down and two more were probably destroyed. One Fulmar was lost.

At 1320 hours, when about 150 miles south of the Kaso Strait ‘Force A’ was attacked by about 20 dive bombers which approached from the African coast. HMS Formidable was hit twice, her starboard side was blown out between numbers 17 and 24 bulkheads and ‘X’ turret and cable and accelerator gear were put out of action.

During the same attack, HMS Nubian, was hit right aft and had her stern blown off. She was still able to steam 20 knots. She was then detached to Alexandria with HMS Jackal where she arrived under her own steam that night.

Force A than shaped course to the eastward and after dark HMS Formidable escorted by HMS Hereward, HMAS Vendetta and HMAS Voyager parted company and set course for Alexandria. The remainder of the Force operated to the north-eastward of Alexandria during the night.

Naval situation at dawn, 27 May 1941.

At daylight, 27 May 1941, ‘Force A’, now consisted of the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Barham and escorted by the destroyers HMS Jervis, HMS Janus, HMS Kandahar, HMS Kelvin, HMAS Napier and HMS Hasty were about 250 nautical miles south-east of Kaso, steering to the north-westward. In the Kaso Strait HMS Abdiel, HMS Hero and HMAS Nizam were returning from Suda Bay.

Some 90 nautical miles to the north-west of Force A, HMS Glenroy and her escorting destroyers; HMAS Stuart and HMS Jaguar were steering for Alexandria after their abortive attempt to land troops and supplies at Tymbaki. About half way between these two forces was convoy AN 31 heading for Crete. This convoy was recalled soon afterwards.

Operations of ‘Force A’, HMS Barham damaged, 27 May 1941.

Vice-Admiral Pridham-Whippel with Force A had been steering since daylight for the Kaso Strait to cover the withdrawal of HMS Abdiel, HMS Hero and HMAS Nizam. At 0859 hours, 15 Ju.88’s and He.111’s attacked from the direction of the sun. HMS Barham was hit on ‘Y’ turret and two of her bulges were flooded by near misses. A fire was started, which necessitated steering down wind to the south until it was extinguished two hours later. Two enemy aircraft were shot down and one was seen to be damaged.

At 1230 hours, on receipt of instructions from the Commander-in-Chief, Force A shaped course for Alexandria, arriving there at 1900 hours that evening.

The collapse in the Suda-Maleme area, 26 May 1941.

While these operation had been in progress at sea, the battle on shore had continued with unabated bitterness. Sunday, May 25th, the sixth day of the enemy attack was critical for the Australian and New Zealand troops in the Maleme area. After continuous bombing of their positions all day, a strong enemy attack took Galatos. British light tanks and New Zealand troops retook it at the point of the bayonet. This was described by General Fryberg as ‘one of the great efforts in the defence of Crete’. The position could not be held, however, and with Maleme no longer under fire, enemy troop carriers poured in reinforcements. Late that night the new line formed in the Maleme-Canea sector was broken by the Germans, after several attacks had been repulsed.

The next day (May 26th) further attacks compelled the tired New Zealand and Australian troops to withdraw still further towards Suda. They had fought for six days without respite; more then 20 fiece bayonet counter attacks had been carried out, and throughout the whole period they had been subjected to air attacks on unprecedented scale. That night the line collapsed and the retreat commenced.

So suddenly did the collapse come at the last, that there had been no time to organise the retirement and though the infantry which withdrew from the front line did so in good order, the movements of the rest of the force were uncontrolled, and much congestion on the route resulted.

The withdrawal, which was directed towards Sphakia continued during the 27th. By this time a rearguard had been organised which was able to cover the retirement of the bulk of the remainder to Sphakia.

Meanwhile in the Heraklion sector the British troops were holding out. On the 26th, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, and two of the ‘I’ tanks landed at Tymbaki on the 19th, succeeded in breaking through from the south and joining them. With the Suda-Maleme area in the hands of the enemy, however, the position of the troops at Heraklion was clearly untenable and it appeared to be only a matter of time before the enemy would launch a major attack on them.

The work of the Royal Air Force.

Throughout the battle, the Royal Air Force, working from Egypt, did all that was possible to afford relief to our troop in Crete; but the distance was too great to maintain a scale of attack on the Germans that could affect the issue.

Enemy positions and aircraft were attacked at Maleme by Blenheims and Marylands (of the S.A.A.F.) at intervals on the 23rd, 25th, 26th and 27th of May. In these raids at least 40 enemy aircraft of various types were destroyed and many others damaged. Nine Ju.52’s carrying troops were destroyed by Hurricanes on the 23rd and 26th. Wellingtons bombed Maleme on the nights of the 23rd, 25th, 26th, 27th and 29th. They also attacked Scarpanto on the nights of the 25th, 27th, 28th and 29th and Heraklion on the 30th at 31st of May and 1st of June.

All these attacks caused fires and explosions but the extent of the damage is not known. During the battle the R.A.F. lost 38 aircraft, 33 of them in the air.

The decision to evacuate Crete, 27 May 1941.

Messages received from the G.O.C. Troops in Crete and the N.O.I.C. Suda Bay made it clear that our line defending Suda had collapsed with great suddenness.

In a message times 0824/27, General Wavell informed the Prime Minister that he feared we must recognise that Crete was no longer tenable, and that, so far as possible, the troops must be withdrawn. In reply to this message, the Chiefs-of-Staff ordered Crete to be evacuated forthwith.

Evacuation from Sphakia, 1st night, 28-29 May 1941.

At 0600/28, less then 24 hours after the decision to evacuate Crete had been taken, Force B, consisting of the light cruisers HMS Orion, HMS Ajax, HMS Dido and the destroyers HMS Decoy, HMS Hereward, HMS Hotspur, HMS Imperial, HMS Jackal and HMS Kimberley departed Alexandria to evacuate the Heraklion garrison. Rear-Admiral Rawlings, flying his flag in Orion was given charge of this operation.

Two hours later, Force C, under Capt. Arliss, left Alexandria for Sphakia. It was made up of HMAS Napier, HMAS Nizam, HMS Kandahar and HMS Kelvin. Force C had an uneventful passage and commenced embarkation at 0030/29. The operation was completed by 0300/29 by which time the four destroyers had taken on board nearly 700 troops and had landed badly needed rations for 15000.

On the return passage, the force was attacked by four Ju.88’s at about 0900 hours, HMAS Nizam suffered minor damage from a near miss. Fighter protection had been arranged from 0545 hours and at 0940 hours a crashed enemy aircraft was sighted, probably shot down by our fighters. Force C arrived at Alexandria at 1700/29 without much enemy interference.

Evacuation of the Heraklion garrison, 1st night, 28-29 May 1941.

Rear-Admiral Rawlings, meanwhile, had been having a much more different experience. At 1700/28 Force B was about 90 miles from Scarpanto and from then until dark was subjected to a series of air attacks. High level, dive bombing and torpedo.

At 1920 hours, HMS Imperial was near missed but appeared to be undamaged and 50 minutes later a near miss caused slight damage and some casualties in HMS Ajax which was then detached to Alexandria.

On arrival of the force at Heraklion at 2330/28 the destroyers immediately entered harbour, embarked troops from the jetties and ferried them to the cruisers outside. By 0245/29 the ferrying was complete and a quarter of an hour later HMS Kimberley and HMS Imperial had embarked the rearguard.

At 032 hours the force proceeded to sea at 29 knots with the whole of the Heraklion garrison on board, some 4000 troops. All went well until 0345 hours when HMS Imperial’s steering gear failed and she nearly collided with HMS Orion and HMS Dido. Her rudder was jammed and repairs could not be made. Delaying the force would mean more air attacks and it was vital to be as far away as possible from the enemy airfields before daylight. It was therefore decided to take off the troops from HMS Imperial and then sink her. At 0445 hours this was successfully done by HMS Hotspur which had now 900 troops on board. By now Force B was about 1,5 hours late and it was only at sunrise that they arrived off the Kaso Strait. The German air force was already waiting.

Air attacks commenced at 0600 hours and continued at intervals to 1500 hours when the force was within 100 miles from Alexandria.

At 0625 hours, HMS Hereward was hit by a bomb which forced her to reduce speed and fall away from her position in the screen. The force was then in the middle of the Kaso Strait and once more Rear-Admiral Rawlings had to decide whether to endanger his whole force and the troops on board for the sake of a single ship, or to leave her for a certain destruction. HMS Hereward was last seen making slowly towards Crete which was only five miles distant with her guns engaging enemy aircraft.

Twenty minutes later HMS Decoy suffered damage to her machinery as the result of a near miss and the speed of the force had to be reduced to 25 knots. A further reduction to 21 knots was needed after HMS Orion had been near-missed at 0730 hours.

With 4000 troops on board, the speed reduced to 21 knots, and no fighter support, things were beginning to look ugly. The Commander-in-Chief realised from Rear-Admiral Rawlings signals that our fighters had not appeared and every endeavour was made to rectify this but the fighters only appeared at noon.

By this time Force B had suffered badly. Shortly after 0730 hours Capt. Back, the Flag captain of HMS Orion was wounded and died two hours later. His place was taken by Cdr. Wynne.

At 0815 hours, HMS Dido was hit on ‘B’ turret and the Orion on ‘A’ turret at 0900 hours, both by bombs from Ju.87 dive bombers. In each case the turrets were put out of action.

At 1045 hours, HMS Orion was again attacked by Ju.87’s and a bomb passed through her bridge, putting the lower conning tower out of action. Force B was then 100 miles south of Kaso and this was the last attack made by dive bombers.

The Orion had nearly 1100 troops on board and the casualties on the crowded mess decks were very heavy. It is believed that a total of 260 were killed and 280 were wounded. In addition three of the engineer officers were killed. All normal communication between the bridge and the engine room was destroyed, the steering gear was put out of action, and three boiler rooms were damaged. Also there were fires in the foremost 6” and 4” magazines.

Fortunately there was a lull in the air attacks until 1300/29 when a high level bombing attack developed, followed by another one at 1330 hours and a final one at 1500 hours.

Force B arrived at Alexandria at 2000/29. HMS Orion only having 10 tons of fuel and two rounds of 6” HE remaining.

Feasibility of further evacuation considered, 29-30 May 1941.

This disastrous commencement of the evacuation placed the Commander-in-Chief in a most unpleasant predicament. Of the 4000 troops embarked in Force B, no less then 800 had been killed or captured (those on the Hereward) after leaving Crete. If this was to be the scale of the casualties, it appeared that quite apart from prospective naval losses of ships and men, who could be ill spared, our efforts to rescue the army from capture might only lead to destruction of a large portion of the troops.

Particular anxiety was feld for the transport HMS Glengyle (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.H. Petrie, RN) which was already at sea and was due to embark 3000 troops the next night (29-30 May).

It was only after long and anxious consideration, and consultation with the Admiralty, as well as with the military authorities, that the decision to continue the evacuation could be taken.

Once taken this decision was amply justified. The remainder of the evacuation proceeded almost without casualties to personnel. Fighter protection became steadily more effective, and the enemy less enterprising. His failure to interfere with the nightly embarkations at Sphakia was most surprising.

The original intention to send ships to Plaka Bay to take off the Retimo garrison was abandoned, as it was not known whether the troops had received the message ordering them to retire there. Moreover it was doubtful that they would be able to reach the coast, since they had no supplies. 1200 rations were dropped by air at Plaka, in case any should get there, but it was decided to send ships to Sphakia only.

From messages received from Crete during the night of 28-29 May, it was thought that the next night was going to be the last night of the evacuation but in the course of the day it became clear that the situation was not so desperate as it had appeared and the Commander-in-Chief decided to send four destroyers to embark men on the night of 30-31 May.

Evacuation from Sphakia, 2nd night, 29-30 May 1941.

Meanwhile Rear-Admiral King, wearing his flag in HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN) had left Alexandria in the evening of the 28th with the light cruiser HMAS Perth, AA cruisers HMS Calcutta, HMS Coventry, transport HMS Glengyle, destroyers HMS Jervis, HMS Janus and HMS Hasty (Force D). Detination was Sphakia and their passage was uneventful except for one attack by one Ju.88 which dropped a stick of bombs near HMAS Perth but no damage was caused.

The cruisers and the Glengyle anchored off Sphakia at 2330/29 and the destroyers closed in one at a time to embark their quota. The troops were ferried from the beach in the landing craft from Glengyle assisted by two assault craft carried in HMAS Perth. The beach was too small for ships boats to be used in addition.

By 0320/30 a total of 6000 men had been embarked and Force D sailed for Alexandria, leaving three motor landing craft behind for use on subsequent nights. During the passage there were three air attacks on the force which had been joined by the destroyers HMAS Stuart, HMS Defender and HMS Jaguar at 0645 hours.

In the fist of these attacks, at 0930 hours, HMAS Perth was hit and her foremost boiler room was put out of action. The second and third attacks achieved no result although bombs fell close to HMAS Perth and HMS Jaguar. Fighter cover was able to drive off quite a number of enemy aircraft.

Evacuation from Sphakia, 3rd night, 30-31 May 1941.

At 0915/30, Force C, consisting of the destroyers HMAS Napier, HMAS Nizam, HMS Kandahar and HMS Kelvin again left Alexandria for Sphakia. After a few hours Kandahar developed a mechanical defect and had to return to Alexandria.

At 1530 hours, three Ju.88’s carried out an unseen dive from astern. Bombs were dropped and HMS Kelvin was near missed. The result was that her speed had to be reduced to 20 knots and she too was detached to Alexandria.

Captain Arliss now continued on with only the two Australian destroyers and arrived at Sphakia at 0030/31. By 0300 hours, each destroyer had embarked over 700 troops, using the three motor landing craft that had been left behind the previous night, supplemented by the ships boats.

On the return passage to Alexandria the two Australian destroyers were attacked by 12 Ju.88’s between 0815 and 0915 hours. Both destroyers were damaged by near misses and HMAS Napier had her speed reduced to 23 knots. One Ju.88 was shot down while three others were seen to be hit.

Fighter cover was able to shoot down three Ju.88’s and one Cant 1007 during the day. The remainder of the passage was without incident and HMAS Napier and HMAS Nizam arrived at Alexandria in the evening with a total of 1510 troop on board.

The final evacuation, Sphakia, 31 May – 1 June 1941.

A final evacuation of about 3000 men was required, which was more then previously was estimated. It was therefore decided to sent over one more Force to evacuate these men during the night of 31 May – 1 June.

So at 0600/31, Vice Admiral King departed Alexandria with the light cruiser HMS Phoebe (Flag), fast minelayer HMS Abdiel, destroyers HMS Hotspur, HMS Jackal and HMS Kimberley to carry out this final evacuation (Force D).

That forenoon the Commander-in-Chief received a signal from Capt. Arliss, who was then on his way back from Sphakia, which indicated that there was then some 6500 men to come off Crete. Vice-Admiral King was then authorized to increase the total number he was allowed to embark to 3500 men. This was later changed to ‘fill up to maximum capacity’.

In the evening of the 31st the force was attacked three times by enemy aircraft. None of the bombs fell very close and one Ju.88 was believed to be damaged by AA fire. Many bombs were seen to be jettisoned on the horizon indicating several successful combats by our fighters.

Force D arrived at 2320/31. Three fully loaded landing craft, the ones left behind, immediately went alongside. The embarkation went so quickly that for a time the beach was empty of troops. This was unfortunate as it led to a last minute rush, which could not be dealt with in the time available and some troops had to be left behind. Some medical stores were landed and finally the three motor landing craft were destroyed or sunk.

The force departed at 0300/1 having embarked nearly 4000 troops and arrived at Alexandria at 1700 hours that day. The return passage was uneventful.

The loss off HMS Calcutta.

Yet one more loss was suffered by the Fleet. In order to provide additional protection for Force D the AA cruisers HMS Calcutta and HMS Coventry were sailed from Alexandria early on the 1st of June. When only about 100 nautical miles out, they were attacked by two Ju.88’s, who dived from the direction of the sun. HMS Coventry was narrowly missed by the first but two bombs from the second hit HMS Calcutta and she sank within a few minutes at 0920/1. HMS Coventry then picked up 23 officers and 232 ratings. She then immediately returned to Alexandria.

Conclusion.

Throughout the operations the Mediterranean Fleet had played a worthy part. Whilst the land fighting was in progress, sea-borne invasion had been prevented and reinforcements and stores for the Army had been maintained. When the evacuation was ordered, some 16500 British and Imperial troops were brought safely to Egypt and provisions and stores were landed for those who had to be left behind.

The Fleet had to pay a heavy price for its achievement. Losses and damage were sustained which would normally only occur during a major fleet action, in which the enemy fleet might be expected to suffer greater damage then our own. On this occasion, the enemy fleet was conspicuous by its absence, though it had many favourable opportunities for intervening, and the battle was fought out between ships and aircraft.

All forms of air attack were experienced by our ships but it were the dive bombing attacks that caused most of the losses and damage. Torpedo attacks for instance resulted in no ships being hit at all. When ships were inside the Aegean during 21/22 May air attacks were almost continuous. Aircraft appeared to land on nearby airfield, load up with new bombs, refuel and take off again.

During the evacuation the Royal Air Force gave what little protection was possible to the fleet and the presence of even a few fighter aircraft on the enemy was noticeable. It was regrettable that none had been made available to protect the Fleet during the earlier stages of the battle for Crete.

Warm thanks were expressed to the Navy by the Commanders-in-Chief of the Army and Air Force for their efforts during the Battle for Crete. (22)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


The Kellys

Langtree, Christopher


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 53/109433
  2. ADM 53/109434
  3. ADM 173/15687
  4. ADM 53/109434 + ADM 173/15739
  5. ADM 53/109434 + ADM 173/15745
  6. ADM 53/109435
  7. ADM 53/109436
  8. ADM 53/109436 + ADM 53/109225
  9. ADM 53/109437
  10. ADM 199/2558
  11. ADM 199/361
  12. ADM 53/114488
  13. ADM 187/11
  14. ADM 199/655
  15. ADM 53/114986
  16. ADM 53/114251 + ADM 199/655
  17. ADM 53/114987
  18. ADM 199/656
  19. ADM 199/413
  20. ADM 199/413 + ADM 199/414
  21. ADM 199/414 + ADM 199/656
  22. ADM 199/414 + 234/320

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


Return to the Allied Warships section



As an Amazon Associate uboat.net earns a commission from qualifying purchases.