HMS Kelly

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HMS Kelly
Kelly in speed tests in 1939
Kelly in speed tests in 1939
Ship data
flag United KingdomUnited Kingdom (Naval War Flag) United Kingdom
Ship type Destroyer , flotilla leader
class K class
Shipyard Hawthorn Leslie , Hebburn
Build number 615
Order March 23, 1937
Keel laying August 26, 1937
Launch October 25, 1938
takeover August 23, 1939
Whereabouts Sunk 23 May 1941
Ship dimensions and crew
108.7 m ( Lüa )
103.5 m ( Lpp )
width 10.9 m
Draft Max. 4.22 m
displacement 1773  ts standard;
2,384 ts maximum
crew 218 - 251 men
Machine system
machine 2 Admiralty three-drum boilers ,
Parsons geared turbines
40,000 PSw
36 kn (67 km / h)
propeller 2




HMS Kelly (F00) was the flotilla of destroyers of the K-class of the Royal Navy . The ship built by Hawthorn, Leslie & Co. in Hebburn am Tyne was started as the first of the new destroyer class in 1937 together with the sister ship Jervis , the flotilla commander of the J-class , and was also the first of the K-class on 23 August 1939 the service of the Royal Navy.

The Kelly was a well known ship even before her sinking. Caused by some special events in their operational history as well as their commander, Lord Louis Mountbatten . The son of the former First Sea Lord and member of the royal family was a person of public interest. On May 23, 1941, the Kelly was sunk by machines of the German Air Force together with her sister ship Kashmir during the battle for Crete . For her missions in World War II , the Kelly was awarded the Battle Honors Atlanic 1939 , Norway 1940 , Mediterranean 1941 and Crete 1941 .

Events in their operational history formed the basis of the 1942 film " In Which We Serve " with Noël Coward and John Mills , which told the story of a fictional "HMS Torrin". It was no secret that the Kelly and her prominent commander were the model. Coward wasn't just the lead actor. He also wrote the script and theme music, and co-directed with David Lean . In 1943 he was awarded an honorary oskar .


HMS Kelly was laid as the first ship of the new destroyer class on August 26, 1937 at Hawthorn, Leslie & Co. together with the sister ship Jervis . As the first ship of the Royal Navy to be named Kelly , the newbuilding with hull number 615 was launched in Hebburn on October 25, 1938 . It was named after the Admiral of the Fleet John Kelly (1871-1936). The Kelly was completed at the shipyard as a flotilla leader of the K-class. As with the previously built destroyers of the Tribal class , the flotilla commanders of the new destroyers only differed from the normal destroyers in their superstructures and the room layout, but not in their armament. On August 23, 1939, the Kelly was the first ship of the K-class in the service of the Navy, in which the eight units of the class formed the 5th destroyer flotilla, which was provisionally assigned to the Home Fleet . At the start of the war she was the only completed ship of the class; by the end of 1939 another six ships followed. As the eighth and last ship, the Kimberley was put into service on February 21, 1940.


When the war began, the Kelly handled the test and training program for a newly delivered ship in the English Channel . On September 12, 1939, the Duke of Windsor and his wife Wallis , who had last lived in France, boarded the Kelly to return to Great Britain in Le Havre .

On the evening of September 17, 1939, the news of the sinking of the British aircraft carrier Courageous at 50 ° 10 '  N , 14 ° 45'  W reached Kelly , which was in the sea , and ran immediately to the sinking site. When they arrived, the aircraft carrier had already sunk. Kelly looked for the submarine that might still be at the sinking site and for survivors. She took over survivors of the carrier who had rescued the carrier from the American freighter Collingworth and brought them to Great Britain.

On a routine patrol in the North-West Approaches , the Kelly probably suffered considerable weather damage from too high a speed in heavy seas in early November 1939. She started at Sullom Voe as a port of refuge and then had to call at the shipyard to repair the damage. After completion, the received Kelly on December 14, 1939 a severe mine hit when they with the Mohawk and three tugs before Tynemündung the British tanker Atheltemplar (8939 BRT, 1930) came to the rescue. The tanker ran into a mine laid by German destroyers two days earlier. While Mohawk brought in the damaged tanker with two tugs, the third tug had to haul in the Kelly , severely damaged by another mine of the German destroyers at 55 ° 5 ′  N , 1 ° 2 ′  W , which caused damage to the Kelly due to the mine exploding immediately behind her Had propellers, oars and stern and had to be repaired again at her shipyard for over three months.

Ready for action again on February 28, 1940, the Kelly collided with the Gurkha on March 2 and was again out of action for eight weeks. This time the ship was brought to London via Lerwick and Scapa Flow , where it was repaired and then returned to the fleet on April 27th. The ship moved to Harstad to take part in the evacuation of the "Maurice Force" from Namsos . In thick fog, only Captain Lord Mountbatten with Kelly , Maori , Hasty and the French bison managed to enter the fjord on May 1st . The small destroyer unit had to withdraw due to strong air strikes, especially since the anti-aircraft ship in Namsos, the Sloop Bittern , had been sunk the day before. Maori suffered minor damage from a close-in hit and wounded 23 people, five of whom died.

On May 2, Mountbatten led the evacuation unit to Namsos with Kelly and the three destroyers of the first attempt, which now includes the heavy cruiser York , the destroyers Afridi (flagship of Captain Vian , who is in charge of the evacuation on site ) and Nubian, as well as the French auxiliary cruiser El Djezair , El Mansour and El Kantara belonged. Kelly took over about 150 French soldiers as the first arriving ship and marched back to the cover group. A total of 5,400 men (1,850 of them French) were evacuated from Namsos on the night of May 3, 1940. Under Vice Admiral JHD Cunningham the cruisers Devonshire and the French Montcalm crossed at sea with the British destroyers Grenade , Griffin and Imperial as cover groups. In addition, there was the flak cruiser Carlisle , which - after being replaced for supply - was intended as anti-aircraft protection in the port of Namsos during the evacuation, but had arrived too late due to the weather conditions and the fog. On the march back, the unit was attacked several times from the air northwest of Trondheim on May 3 and lost the French bison and later Vian's command destroyer Afridi , who had previously been the survivors of the bison , to Stuka attacks by 1./StG 1 ( Captain Hozzel ) had saved. On the further march back across the North Sea, the Kelly secured the French auxiliary cruisers.

The badly damaged Kelly

On the night of May 10, 1940, the cruiser Birmingham with the destroyers Janus , Hyperion , Hereward , Havock and the 5th destroyer flotilla under Mountbatten with Kelly , Kandahar , Kimberley and Hostile ran from Rosyth to advance against German mine ships in the Skagerrak . German speedboats at sea discovered the British association and reported it, so that a German mining association at sea with four mine ships, secured by three destroyers and a torpedo boat, could turn off in time. The 1. Schnellbooflotille then attacked Mountbatten's destroyer. S 31 under Lieutenant Hermann Opdenhoff thereby hit the Kelly with a torpedo amidships on the position of 56 ° 48 '  N , 5 ° 9'  O . A destroyer group with Fury , Foresight , Mohawk , Bulldog and Gallant , who came from Scapa Flow in support of the association, secured the badly damaged Kelly . The damaged ship was brought to Newcastle by the Bulldog . The slow tow was secured by Fury , Gallant and Kandahar . The Birmingham operation was canceled because the Germans had started their campaign in the west . Most of the destroyers were relocated to the southern North Sea because of the attack on the hitherto neutral states of Belgium and the Netherlands . The tug with the Kelly reached Hebburn on May 13 after another attack by German speedboats, one of which collided with the Kelly , and attacks by German planes that scored no further hits. The wounded and most of the crew had been taken on board by the accompanying destroyers. Movable pieces of equipment had also been thrown overboard - if possible - in order to relieve the threatening ship. 27 crew members of the Kelly lost their lives during this mission. Only on December 19, 1940 was the ship ready for use again after the repairs at the shipyard. It had been in use for less than a month in the fourteen months since it went into service.

Your commander Louis Mountbatten, as chief of the "5th Destroyer Flotilla", was in command of other units while the Kelly was being repaired . Since mid-May 1940, the flotilla had included all K- and J-class destroyers who remained at home after Khartoum , Kandahar , Kimberley and Kingston and the first J-class destroyers had been relocated to the Mediterranean due to Italy's expected entry into the war. At the end of May 1940, only the Kelvin , Jackal and Javelin were operational while Kelly , Kipling , Kashmir , Jaguar , Jersey , Jervis and Jupiter were under repair. Most recently, Mountbatten had led the flotilla from the Javelin , which was severely damaged on November 29, 1940 in a battle with German destroyers in the English Channel.

Kelly was again flotilla leader of the "5th Destroyer Flotilla" and runs a training program with the Home Fleet in Scapa Flow with a focus on anti-submarine defense. From March 24 to 27, 1941, the 5th Flotilla with Kelly under Lord Mountbatten and Kipling , Kashmir and Kelvin secured the mine- laying Abdiel and the mine-laying destroyers Intrepid , Impulsive and Icarus of the "20th Destroyer Flotilla ”during the deployment of three mine barriers, which should make it more difficult for the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau to leave their new base in Brest in the North Atlantic. In order to be able to react quickly to a departure of the German ships, associations of the Home Fleet or the Force H were also located in sea areas closer to Brest. From April 5 to 9, the 5th destroyer flotilla operated with Kelly , Kashmir , Kelvin , Jackal and Jersey to reinforce Force H in western Biscay.

Further missions in the Mediterranean

Kelly off Gibraltar, April 1941

From April 21, 1941, the “5. Destroyer Flotilla ”with Kelly , Kipling , Kelvin , Jackal and Jersey from Plymouth to Gibraltar accompanied by the flak cruiser Dido and the miner Abdiel . There, the Kashmir joined the association as a further unit, which was supposed to strengthen the Mediterranean fleet . The destroyers should be in Malta units of the "14. Destroyer Flotilla ”and form Force K with the cruiser Gloucester, which arrived there from the eastern Mediterranean on April 24th . On April 28, the unit from Gibraltar arrived in Malta and unloaded its cargo for the island base with the destroyer Imperial, which had also arrived from Gibraltar . On the evening of April 28, Abdiel , Dido , Imperial and the empty transporter Breconshire ran to Alexandria together with the destroyers Jervis , Jaguar , Janus , Juno and Nubian of the "14th Destroyer Flotilla", which had previously been used with Force K in Malta out.

After Force K's unsuccessful search for an Italian escort, Kelly , Jackal and Kelvin were able to enter Malta's Grand Harbor on May 2, but the following Jersey triggered a mine that had been dropped by an Italian plane and sank. The sunken destroyer blocked the entrance to the harbor. The commander of Force K decided to evade to Gibraltar with his flagship Gloucester and the destroyers Kashmir and Kipling , who had previously participated in the rescue of the survivors of the Jersey . The wreck of the Jersey broke in the tidal range. In order to keep the Grand Harbor urgently needed for transporters and their rapid unloading usable and to be able to use the Kelly and the two other destroyers trapped there again, the remains of the wreck were quickly reduced in size and further destroyed. The final removal of the wreckage took place after the end of the war.

On May 5 and 6, 1941, Force H and then the Mediterranean Fleet set sail in Gibraltar and Alexandria to secure several convoys in opposite directions, which were of great importance for Malta, the Mediterranean Fleet and the Allied army in North Africa ( Operation Tiger ). The destroyers Kelly , Jackal and Kelvin , who had been included since the 4th, were able to leave La Valletta again on the 8th , and from the 9th they were able to use the cruisers Orion , Ajax , Phoebe , Dido and the Australian Perth for the east Mediterranean part of the convoy coming from Gibraltar passed Malta to the meeting point with the Mediterranean fleet. On the 10th, the 5th flotilla with Kelly , Jackal , Kelvin and the Kashmir and Kipling, who had come east again with the Force H and the convoy, left the convoy security and fired on Benghazi on the night of the 11th, before returning to Malta.

After the air landings of the XI. Air Corps on Crete in the area of Maleme , Heraklion , Chania and Rethymnon and the attacks of the VIII Air Corps on Allied positions on May 20, 1941 ( Operation Merkur ), Kelly with Kashmir and Kipling was relocated to the sea area north of Crete on the 21st to German To prevent reinforcements over sea.

The end of Kelly

On the night of May 23, the three destroyers fired at the Maleme airfield, which was occupied by the Germans. In the early morning of May 23 1941, Kelly and Kashmir on the way back to Egypt to supply south of Crete approximately at the position 34 ° 40 '  N , 24 ° 10'  O by German Ju 87 -Stukas the I./StG.2 attacked and sunk under Captain Hubertus Hitschhold . The Kipling , which had lost contact with the sister ships due to a damaged rudder, was able to recover 159 survivors of the Kashmir and 120 of the Kelly when passing the sinking site . While attempting to take over the remaining crew from the sinking Kelly, the destroyers collided, with one of the Kipling's tanks leaking. During the return march, which was only possible at reduced speed, Kipling was attacked several times from the air, but not hit. Temporarily broken due to lack of fuel, the damaged destroyer reached Alexandria on 25th with 279 rescued of the two sunken sister ships.

With the sinking of the Kelly 99 crew members lost their lives.

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h HMS KELLY (G 01) - K-class Flotilla Leader
  2. HMS Courageous (50) on
  3. Atheltemplar on
  4. HMS Kelly (F 01) on
  5. ^ Rohwer: Sea War , December 14, 1939 North Sea
  6. HMS CARLISLE - World War 1 C-type Light Cruiser
  7. ^ Rohwer: Sea War , 1.– 3.5.1940 Norway
  8. HMS Kelly (F 01) on
  9. Rohwer: naval warfare , 31/05/1940 United Kingdom
  10. ^ Rohwer: Sea War , March 24-27, 1941 Biscay
  11. ^ Rohwer: Sea War , April 5–15, 1941 North Atlantic
  12. ^ Rohwer: Sea War , April 21-28, 1941 Mediterranean
  13. ^ Rohwer: Sea War , 2-4 May 1941 Mediterranean
  14. ^ Rohwer: Sea War , May 5–12, 1941 Mediterranean Sea, Operation Tiger: Combined operation of several British convoys
  15. ^ Rohwer: Sea War. May 20 – June 1, 1941, Mediterranean Sea, Merkur company, German air landing on Crete


  1. Bison , a destroyer of the Guépard class , had already called at Namsos twice when the French troops of the "Maurice Force" landed in April
  2. York and the French El Kantara could not use the existing pier, they took over troops from destroyers or two still operational trawlers
  3. The French auxiliary cruisers were former Mediterranean ferries that had landed the 5th Alpenjäger half-brigage on April 19


Web links

Commons : HMS Kelly  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files