Allied Warships

HMS Khartoum (F 45)

Destroyer of the K class

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantF 45 
Built bySwan Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd. (Wallsend-on-Tyne, U.K.): Wallsend 
Laid down27 Oct 1937 
Launched6 Feb 1939 
Commissioned6 Nov 1939 
Lost23 Jun 1940 
Loss position12° 38'N, 43° 24'E

On 23 June 1940 HMS Khartoum (Cdr. Donald Thorn Dowler, RN) was heavily damaged by fire and beached in the Red Sea off Perim in position 12º38'N, 43º24'E.

It is often stated that Khartoum was damaged by gunfire from the Italian submarine Toricelli but this was not the case. The fire aboard Khartoum broke out 5 and a half hours after the sinking of the Toricelli. Toricelli was sunk at 0624 local time by RN destroyers HMS Kingston, HMS Kandahar and Khartoum as well as the sloop HMS Shoreham. The fire aboard Khartoum started at 1150. A torpedo air flask exploded propelling the warhead through the deck house of number 3 4.7" mount. A ruptured oil tank for the mount started the fire which led eventually to the loss of the ship. Her loss seems more due to inexperienced damage control. The Admiralty inquest ruled out damage from enemy action and sabotage but captured members of the Toricelli's crew were housed aboard. (Primary source are Admiralty records used in the book, "The Kelly's" by Christopher Langtree on page 106.)  

Commands listed for HMS Khartoum (F 45)

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1Cdr. Donald Thorn Dowler, RN15 Sep 193923 Jun 1940

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Notable events involving Khartoum include:

6 Jan 1940
HMS Triton (Lt.Cdr. E.F. Pizey, RN) departed from Rosyth for convoy escort duty. She is part of the escort for convoy ON-7 to Norway. Other ships of the escort are HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St.J.A. Micklethwait, DSO, RN), HMS Tartar (Lt.Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, DSC, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN). (HMS Eskimo developed engine problems and was replaced by HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), Encounter herself was relieved the next day by HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN).

Before joining the convoy Triton conducts exercises in the Firth of Forth with HMS Auckland (Capt.(Retd.) K.A. Beattie, RN) and HMS Londonderry (Cdr. Sir T.L. Beevor, RN). (1)

9 Jan 1940
Convoy ON-7 arrived in Norwegian waters. After a few hours HMS Triton (Lt.Cdr. E.F. Pizey, RN) departed from again now part of the escort force of convoy HN-7. The other ships of the escort were HMS Tartar (Lt.Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, DSC, RN) (later relieved by HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN)), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN). HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC, RN) later joined at sea. (1)

10 May 1940
HMS Manchester (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN) and HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) departed Scapa Flow to provide cover for the damaged destroyer HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) that had been torpedoed by the German E-Boat S-31 in the North Sea. HMS Kelly was being towed by destroyer HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Wisden, RN). Destroyers HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. E.W.B. Sim, RN) and HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) were escorting the tow. HMS Manchester and HMS Sheffield joined around 1540 hours (zone -1). Around 1530/11, HMS Manchester and HMS Sheffield parted company and set course for Rosyth where they arrived around 0015/12. In the early moring of the 11th two tugs had taken over the tow of HMS Kelly from HMS Bulldog. HMS Kelly finally arrived at the Tyne at 1730/13. (2)

23 Jun 1940
The Italian submarine Torricelli was forced to the surface and sunk off Perim in gun-battle by the British destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and the British sloop HMS Shoreham (Lt.Cdr. F.D. Miller, RN).

Shoreham was damaged by gunfire during this action. Repairs were made at Aden.

Media links

British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman

The Kellys

Langtree, Christopher

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


  1. ADM 173/16642
  2. ADM 53/112664 + ADM 199/361

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

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