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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2002

HMS KELLY (G 01) -  K-class Flotilla Leader
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Kelly (Navy Photos/Mike Pocock, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

K-Class Destroyer ordered from Hawthorn Leslie at Hebburn, Newcastle under the 1937 Programme  in March 1937 and laid down on 26th August 1937 .She was launched on 25th October 1938 as the first RN warship to carry this name which commemorates Admiral Sir John Kelly who died in 1936. Build  was completed on 23rd August 1939 and the ship commissioned under the command of Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten who was the Senior Officer of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla comprised of all destroyers of this Class. Several books have been written about the service of this ship which had much publicity before her loss but had few successes.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s




H e r a l d i c  D a t a

Badge: On a Field per fess wavy  Blue and White, a tower White supported

by two lions gambs Gold in base a bar wavy Blue.



De t a i l s   o f   W a r   S e r v i c e


(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search)



1 9 3 9


August                  Contractors trials.

                23rd        Build completion and took passage to Chatham to embark stores and ammunition.

                                Commissioned for service as Leader of 5th Destroyer Flotilla.

                                Passage to Portland to work-up prior to taking up war station.

                30th        Deployed at Portland for work-up.


September             Work-up at Portland with interruptions.

                4th          During anti-submarine exercises off Portland with HM Destroyer ACHERON came under

                                U-Boat attack which failed.

                12th        Embarked HRH The Duke of Windsor at Le Havre for passage to Portsmouth.

                13th        Sailed from Portsmouth for Plymouth for patrol and convoy defence in Channel and SW


                17th        Survivors from HM Aircraft Carrier COURAGEOUS embarked from a US merchant ship

                                and taken to Devonport.

                                (Note: HMS COURAGEOUS was sunk by U29 SW of Ireland.)

                20th        Deployed as escort for HM Aircraft Carrier HERMES during anti-submarine duties in SW


                                (Note: The policy of using aircraft carriers for this type of duty was later abandoned following

                                the loss on 17th of HMS COURAGEOUS.)

                26th        Completed outstanding work-up requirements at Portland and took passage to resume

                                operational service in SW Approaches based at Plymouth.


October                  Deployment in SW Approaches in continuation.

                                Nominated for transfer to Home Fleet for screening of major warships with ships of Flotilla.

                20th        Took passage to Scapa Flow with call at Loch Ewe.

                (Note: Following loss of HM Battleship ROYAL OAK at Scapa Flow on 14th October

                Fleet units were transferred to Loch Ewe pending improvement of anti-submarine



November              Passage in NW Approaches and sustained weather damage. Called at Sollum Voe

                5th          Arrived at Scapa Flow with structural damage

                                (Note: Home Fleet deployment was restricted by enforced reduction of maximum speed due

                                to damage.)

                20th        Passage to Tyne for damage repair at builders.

                21st         Under repair

                (Note: One source suggests ship had been nominated for the support of RN warships in the

                Baltic for planned Operation CATHERINE) which was never implemented.)



                14th        Sailed from Newcastle to resume Home Fleet Flotilla duties on completion.

                Detonated mine in position 13 miles NW Tyne estuary and sustained further structural

                damage with flooding.

                Steering disabled.

                15th        Taken in hand at builders yard for repair


1 9 4 0


January                  Under repair.


February                Under repair.

                29th        Resumed Home Fleet duties on completion of post repair trials.


March                    Involved in collision with HM Destroyer GURKHA (i) during deployment in NW

                Approaches and sustained structural damage

                Passage from Lerwick to Scapa Flow for survey and temporary repair.

                Permanent repair arranged in London at commercial shipyard.


April                       Passage to Thames from Scapa Flow.

                5th          In London Graving Dock for permanent repair.

                                (Note: Whilst under repair attention was given to rectifying defects causing leaks in systems.

                                common to other ships and deal with other defects to improve availability.)

                26th        On completion took passage to resume Home Fleet duties with Flotilla at Scapa Flow.

                29th        Arrived at Scapa Flow and nominated for support of operations off the coast of Norway.

                30th        Passage to join Flotilla at Harstad.

                                (Note: See NAVAL OPERATIONS OFF NORWAY April-June 1940 (HMSO).)



                1st           Took part in evacuation of allied troops from Namso with HM Cruisers YORK and


                and GRIFFIN.

                First destroyer alongside and embarked 150 French troops.

                2nd         Escorted troopships EL KANTARA and EL MANSOUR from Namsos during return

                passage to UK.

                Deployed in North Sea for patrol and support duties

                7th          Nominated for transfer to Nore Command with ships of Flotilla.

                9th          During North Sea duties with HM Destroyers KIMBERLEY, KANDAHAR and HASTY

                despatched to join HM Cruiser BIRMINGHAM to take part in search for German warships

                operating in southern North Sea. See reference

                Joined screen for HMS BIRMINGHAM and remained when HMS KIMBERLEY was

                detached to refuel.

                Detached with HMS KANDAHAR and HMS BULLDOG to carry out search for U-Boat.

                After unsuccessful search took return passage to rejoin screen and came under torpedo

                attack by E-Boats. Hit forward below bridge structure by torpedo from S21.

                Ship disabled and sustained serious damage both Boiler Rooms flooded.

                27 of ship's company lost their lives.

                10th        Under tow by HM Destroyer BULLDOG and under further E-Boat attacks during which

                ship was rammed by an enemy ship causing further damage.

                12th        Tow transferred to two commercial tugs from Tyne.

                13th        Arrived in Tyne and taken in hand for repair at build yard.


June                        Under repair

to                            (Note: Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes was changed to G01 following

November              review of all these identities in May 1940)



                19th        On completion of post repair trials took passage to Scapa Flow to resume Fleet duties

                                with Flotilla.

                20th        Deployed work-up with ships of Home Fleet including anti-submarine patrols.

                23rd        Deployed off Faeroes for anti-submarine patrol            

                26th        Faeroes search in continuation.

                                Returned to Scapa Flow on release from search.

                                (Note: During 1940 the ship had been available for operational use on 23 days.)


1 9 4 1


January                  Nominated for service in Channel based at Plymouth with Flotilla.

                7th          Took passage for patrol in NW Approaches.

                10th        Sailed from Clyde with HM Destroyers JERSEY, KIPLING and KASHMIR for

                                Channel deployment.

                18th        Deployed at Plymouth.      

                (Note: German destroyers based at Brest were known to be operating against ship

                traffic in SW Approaches and 5th Flotilla carried out interception patrol

                operations against these ships.)



                20th        Deployed with HM Destroyers KASHMIR, KIPLING and JACKAL as escort for

                HM Destroyers INTREPID, IMPULSIVE and ICARUS during minelaying off Brest

                (Operation GS – For details see Naval Staff History (Mining).)



                19th        Deployed with HM Destroyers KASHMIR, KIPLING and JACKAL as escort for same

                                ships as GS and Motor Launches from Dartmouth during minelay off Ile de Bas.

                28th        Escorted HM Destroyers INTREPID, ICARUS and IMPULSIVE with HM Destroyers

                                KELVIN, KASHMIR and JACKAL during minelay off Brest (Operation GX)

                29th        Escorted HM Fast Minelaying Cruiser ABDIEL with HM Destroyers KASHMIR,

                                KELVIN and JACKAL during minelay off Brest (Operation GY)


April                       Plymouth deployment in continuation.

                20th        Nominated for transfer to Mediterranean with Flotilla

                21st         Took passage to Gibraltar from Plymouth.

                24th        Joined HM Cruisers ABDIEL, DIDO, HM Destroyers JACKAL, JERSEY, KASHMIR,

                KELVIN and KIPLING at Gibraltar to form Force S and took passage to Malta as part

                of escort for reinforcement ships 0for Mediterranean Fleet (Operation SALIENT)

                (Note: Cover for the transit of this convoy and also for concurrent Operation DUNLOP

                to launch aircraft from HM Aircraft Carrier ARK ROYAL for use in Malta was

                provided by ships of Force H based at Gibraltar.)

                28th        Arrived in Malta with ships of Force S and deployed with Flotilla as Force K for attacks

                on shipping to North Africa for support of enemy military operations.

                For details of naval operations in the Mediterranean see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE

                CLOSELY by C Barnett, THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D MacIntyre,


                by J Greene and A Massignani.



                1st           Deployed with Flotilla for interception patrol.

                2nd         After entry into Grand Harbour leading HM Destroyers JERSEY, JACKAL and KELVIN,

                                HMS JERSEY detonated a mine laid earlier by aircraft and sank.

                8th          Sailed with the three other ships of the Flotilla after obstruction by wreck of HMS JERSEY

                had been cleared. Took passage with these ships to join HM Cruisers AJAX, DIDO. ORION

                and PERTH (RAN) of the Mediterranean Fleet and proceeded westward together to join escort

                for military convoy carrying tanks and essential stores to Egypt and Greece

                (Operation TIGER - See references.

                9th          Joined TIGER convoy.

                10th        Detached from TIGER convoy screen with HM Destroyers JACKAL, KASHMIR,

                KELVIN and KIPLING to carry out bombardment at Benghazi before return to Malta

                resume Force strike duties as Force K.

                11th        Arrived at Malta with HM Destroyers JACKAL, KASHMIR, KELVIN and KIPLING.

                21st         Despatched with HM Destroyers KASHMIR and KIPLING to assist in defence of Crete

                against invasion by German forces and took passage from Malta to join Mediterranean

                Fleet ships already deployed off the island.

                (Note: HMS KELVIN had previously sailed to join 7th Destroyer Flotilla.)

                22nd       Deployed with HMS KASHMIR and HMS KIPLING to carry out patrol north of Crete to

                intercept invasion craft.

                Carried out bombardment of Maleme airfield

                23rd        Under heavy and sustained air attacks by German aircraft during which ship was hit

                and sank within two minutes in position 34.40N 24.10E south of Gavo, Crete.

                (Note: HMS KASHMIR was also sunk in these attacks.

                HMS KIPLING which had become detached earlier rescued survivors from both

                ships including 159 from this destroyer.

                For details see THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D MacIntyre,

                CRETE by SW Pack and Naval Staff History.






by Don Kindell


These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above






Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived








OA 014





OA 020G





ON 018/1





HN 017








(Note on Convoys)


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