Allied Warships

HMS Kimberley (F 50)

Destroyer of the K class

HMS Kimberley at high speed.
Photo with thanks to Lee Brown.

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantF 50 
Built byThornycroft (Southampton, U.K.) 
Laid downJan 1938 
Launched1 Jun 1939 
Commissioned21 Dec 1939 
End service 

HMS Kimberley completed her war service patrolling the Greek Islands of Kos; Leros; Simi and Rhodes (amongst others) in the Dodecanese. Also patrolled by German motor Torpedo Boats. Stores and fuel were taken on board at the neutral Turkish port of Marmarice. The Germans had some big guns on Rhodes and the Kimberley kept a respectful distance so that all rounds fired at her fell short. On the 8th May 1945, Kimberley stood off shore at Rhodes and the Commandant of the German forces, together with his senior officers, came alongside, were invited aboard and formally surrendered. It was a droll moment, as they arrived alongside in a British Motor Torpedo Boat that had been captured the night before, flying a white flag and the German ensign. After the formalities were completed the Germans returned to Rhodes to disarm the garrison. Kimberley returned the next day and landed an armed party. The German garrison was confined to their quarters and Shore Leave was granted. Later, Kimberley transported the Germans (about 117 in number) to Alexandria, Egypt, before setting sail for home to Dartmouth to be decommissioned.

HMS Kimberley is not listed as an active unit in the October 1945 Navy List

Sold to be broken up for scrap on 30 March 1949.


Hit by U-boat
Damaged on 12 Jan 1942 by U-77 (Schonder).

U-boat AttackSee our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Kimberley

Commands listed for HMS Kimberley (F 50)

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

1Lt.Cdr. Richard George Kirby Knowling, RN20 Nov 19391 May 1940
2Lt.Cdr. John Sherbrook Morris Richardson, RN1 May 1940early 1942

3Lt.Cdr. James Wolferstan Rylands, RN30 Aug 194210 Mar 1945
4Lt.Cdr. Edward Francis Baines, DSO, RN10 Mar 1945mid 1945

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Notable events involving Kimberley include:

10 Jan 1940
HMS H 50 (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.R.G. Harvey, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Portland with HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN) and HMS Conqueror (Capt.(Retd.) E.T.R. Chambers, RN). (1)

20 Feb 1940
At 0755Z/20, HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN), joined HMS Manchester (Capt. H.H. Bousfield, RN) to escort this cruiser while she was on the Northern Patrol. (2)

21 Feb 1940
At 1523Z/21, HMS Manchester (Capt. H.H. Bousfield, RN), together with the destroyer HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN), intercepted the German merchant vessel Wahehe (4687 GRT, built 1922) in position 62°52'N, 15°03'W.

The Wahehe was taken to Kirkwall by HMS Kimberley. She entered service for the MOWT as Empire Citizen.

9 Sep 1940
HMS Rover (Lt.Cdr. H.A.L. Marsham, RN) departed Aden for Port Said.

Before proceeding a dummy attack was carried out on HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) and an A/S exercise was carried out with HMAS Parramatta (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Walker, MVO, RAN). (3)

20 Oct 1940
The Italian destroyer Francesco Nullo was beached after a surface action with HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) in the Red Sea. Kimberley was damaged by an Italian shore battery and had to be towed to Port Sudan. The damaged Italian destroyer was sunk the next day be the RAF.

12 Nov 1940
During this day, in the vicinity of Aden and before entering the Read Sea, convoy WS 3, at that moment made up of the British (troop) transports Dorset (10624 GRT, built 1934), Highland Brigade (14134 GRT, built 1929), Monarch of Bermuda (22424 GRT, built 1931), Orontes (20097 GRT, built 1925), Oropesa (14118 GRT, built 1920), Perthshire (10496 GRT, built 1936), Port Chalmers (8535 GRT, built 1933) under escort by the heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN) and the light HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clarke, RN).

The transport City of Lille (6588 GRT, built 1928) and several more escort vessels, the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), destroyer HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN), sloops HMS Auckland (Cdr. J.G. Hewitt, DSO, RN) and HMAS Parramatta (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Walker, MVO, RAN) joined during the day for the passage through the Red Sea in which the Italian Navy was still active at this time.

The troopships Duchess of York (20021 GRT, built 1929) and Georgic (27759 GRT, built 1932) also re-joined the convoy after a brief visit to Aden. HMS Caledon also briefly left the convoy to oil at Aden before re-joining it.

Around 2130 hours, the convoy entered the Perim Strait. (4)

1 Dec 1941
Acting on an ULTRA intercept, a British force sailed from Malta in the evening of 30 November with the British light cruisers HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN), HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D. McCarthy, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN) and the British destroyers HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN).
At 0330 hrs of 1/12 the British intercept and sink the Italian transport Adriatico (1976 GRT) then proceed towards the Libyan coast.
At a point 60 nautical miles north-north-west of Tripoli, Libya, Penelope, Aurora and Lively intercept a small convoy consisting of the Italian oiler Iridio Mantovani (10540 GRT) escorted by the Italian destroyer Alvise da Mosto (2125 tons) and sink both.

15 Dec 1941

Operation MF 1 and the resulting first Battle of Sirte.

Operation MF 1, passage of the British supply ship HMS Breconshire to Malta.

At 2200 hours on 15 December 1941 the British supply ship HMS Breconshire (9776 GRT, built 1939) departed Alexandria being escorted by HMS Naiad (Capt. M.A.H. Kelsey, DSC, RN flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Carlisle (Capt. D.M.L. Neame, DSO, RN), HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Sommerville, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN) and HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN). This last destroyer was also to proceed to Malta for repairs to her bow that had been damaged in a collision at Alexandria. HMS Breconshire was carrying oil fuel for Malta.

At 1100/16 the Allied destroyers HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, DSC, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) departed Malta. They joined up with the convoy at daylight on the 17th. During the day the convoy was attacked by enemy high level and torpedo bombers

These were followed at 1800/16 by ‘Force K’; HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) and HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN).

At dark on the 16th HMS Carlisle, HMS Havock and HMS Kingston were detached to make a W/T diversion to the eastward at midnight of the night of 16/17 and then to proceed to Alexandria. They were later joined by HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN).

Enemy heavy forces were reported at sea at 2230/16 by the submarines HMS Unbeaten (Lt. Cdr. E.A. Woodward, RN) and HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) in the Gulf of Taranto area. Neither submarine was able to attack. The Italians were at sea to cover an imported Axis convoy to North Africa.

From Taranto had departed the transports Monginevro (5324 GRT, built 1940), Napoli (6142 GRT, built 1941) and Vettor Pisani (6339 GRT, built 1939). They had a close escort of the destroyers Ugolino Vivaldi, Antonio Da Noli, Nicoloso da Recco, Lanzerotto Malocello, Emanuelle Pessagno, Nicolò Zeno. From Naples the German transport Ankara (4768 GRT, built 1937) departed on the same day. She had a close escort made up of the destroyer Saetta and the torpedo-boat Pegaso.

Cover was provided by two groups of warships. One group was made up of the battleship Caio Dulio, the light cruisers Emanuele Filiberto Duca D’Aosta, Muzio Attendolo, Raimondo Montecuccoli and the destroyers Aviere, Ascari and Camicia Nera. The other, and larger group, was made up of the battleships Littorio, Andrea Doria, Guilio Cesare, heavy cruisers Gorizia, Trento and the destroyers Granatiere, Bersagliere, Fuciliere, Alpino, Corazziere, Carabiniere, Antoniotto Usodimare, Maestrale, Alfredo Oriani and Vincenzo Gioberti.

The enemy heavy forces were reported by reconnaissance aircraft at 0825/17 and again at 1525/17 when they were with their convoy and only about 60 nautical miles from the Allied convoy. Very few Allied aircraft were available for reconnaissance and shadowing was therefore not carried out at all. At 1745/17 the Allied convoy unexpectedly ran into the larger of the Italian cover forces. The Italian battleships opened fire but drew off to the northward when the Allied convoy escorts closed to attack. Contact was lost in the dark. When both forces made contact HMS Breconshire was detached with HMS Havock and HMS Decoy as escorts. They later made rendez-vous with ‘Force K’.

To reinforce the convoy HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O’Coner, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, DSC, RN) were sailed from Malta.

The original convoy escorts meanwhile retired to the eastward and then proceeded to the north of Benghazi to try to intercept the enemy convoy but as it was bound for Tripoli they made no contact. They therefore retired eastwards and arrived at Alexandria during the night of 18/10 December.

HMS Breconshire and her escorts arrived safely at Malta during the night of 17/18 December 1941. (5)

23 Dec 1941
HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) departed Alexandria for an A/S sweep.

25 Dec 1941
HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) returned to Alexandria upon completion of the A/S sweep.

12 Jan 1942
At 01.57 hours on 12 January 1942 German U-boat U-77 sighted two destroyers off Tobruk and fired at 02.38 hours a spread of four torpedoes of which one hit the stern of HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN). The explosion blew her stern off and immediately stopped the vessel, which was missed by a coup de gr?ce at 02.45 hours. The destroyer was towed to Alexandria by the British escort destroyer HMS Heythrop (Lt.Cdr R.S. Stafford, RN) and after temporary repairs towed in February 1942 to Bombay, India, where she was repaired and returned to service in January 1944.

16 Oct 1944
HMS Vox (Lt. J.M. Michell, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Malta, first with aircraft and later with HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.W. Rylands, RN). (6)

Media links

British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman

The Kellys

Langtree, Christopher

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


  1. ADM 173/16327
  2. ADM 53/112661
  3. ADM 173/16502
  4. ADM 53/112041
  5. ADM 199/415
  6. ADM 173/19451

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

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