Allied Warships

HMS Kipling (F 91)

Destroyer of the K class


HMS Kipling laying a smoke screen

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassK 
PennantF 91 
Built byYarrow Shipbuilders Ltd. (Scotstoun, Scotland) 
Ordered 
Laid down20 Oct 1937 
Launched19 Jan 1939 
Commissioned12 Dec 1939 
Lost11 May 1942 
Loss position32° 38'N, 26° 20'E
History

HMS Kipling (Cdr. Aubrey St. Clair-Ford, DSO, RN) was bombed on 11 May 1942 shortly after 2000 hours by German Ju 88 aircraft north-west of Mersa Matruth in the eastern Mediterranean in position 32°38'N, 26°20'E. She sank almost immediately. Twenty-four of the crew were killed or missing. Two ratings died later of wounds sustained during the sinking of the ship.  

Commands listed for HMS Kipling (F 91)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. Aubrey St. Clair-Ford, RN15 Nov 193911 May 1942

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Notable events involving Kipling include:


The page for this destroyer was last updated in November 2020.

23 Dec 1939
HMS Kipling (Lt.Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed her builders yard at Scotstoun for Portsmouth. (1)

25 Dec 1939
HMS Kipling (Lt.Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Portsmouth. (1)

1 Jan 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Portsmouth around 0230 hours for Portland for a work-up period. She arrived at Portland around 0800 hours. (2)

11 Jan 1940
HMS H 32 (Lt. R.F. Jenks, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Portland with HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Vanquisher (Lt.Cdr. C.B. Alers-Hankey, RN). (3)

12 Jan 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) conducted torpedo firing exercises / torpedo discharge trials off Portland.

In the evening she assisted in an A/S hunt for a reported enemy submarine in the area during which she dropped two depth charges on a suspected contact. (2)

13 Jan 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) conducted exercises off Portland. (2)

14 Jan 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) conducted exercises off Portland. (2)

15 Jan 1940
HMS H 32 (Lt. R.F. Jenks, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Portland with HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN). (3)

16 Jan 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Westminster (Lt.Cdr. A.A.C. Ouvry, RN) escorted the armed merchant cruiser HMS Carinthia (Capt.(Retd.) J.F.B. Barrett, RN) during her gunnery exercises off Portland.

In the afternoon the destroyers carried out gunnery exercises themselves. (2)

17 Jan 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Portland to return to the Clyde to have some defects made good by her builder. (1)

18 Jan 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived in the Clyde. (1)

4 Feb 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN) departed the Clyde for Scapa Flow escorting the merchant vessels Floristan (5478 GRT, built 1928) and Kyle Fisher (604 GRT, built 1939).

5 Feb 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow. (1)

6 Feb 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Aberdeen. (4)

7 Feb 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN) escorted the transport Cyprian Prince (1988 GRT, built 1937) from Aberdeen to Scapa Flow.

8 Feb 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow.

HMS Kipling departed again later the same day to hunt a reported submarine. She returned to Scapa Flow on the 9th. (4)

9 Feb 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN) departed Scapa Flow. They returned later the same day.

14 Feb 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Scapa Flow to assist in an A/S hunt in Moray Firth.

15 Feb 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) picked up 12 survivors from the Danish merchant ships Sleipner and Rhone that had been torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-14 about 50 miles north of Rattrey Head around midnight during the night of 14/15 February.

18 Feb 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) returned to Scapa Flow having participated in several A/S hunts during the previous days.

20 Feb 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Hawthorn Leslie shipyard at Hebburn for repairs. Her hull needed strengthening, a defect common to the J and K class destroyers.

13 Apr 1940
With her repairs completed, HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), departed the Tyne for Scapa Flow.

14 Apr 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow around 0600 hours.

16 Apr 1940

Operation Duck.


Bombardment of the Sola airfield off Stavanger.

Timespan: 16 to 18 April 1940.

The heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Scapa Flow around 1700/16 for this operation.

Early on the 17th this force contacted the submarine HMS Seal (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Lonsdale, RN) which was to act as a beacon to home in the ships.

Between 0513 and 0602 hours, HMS Suffolk bombarded the airfield. Following this she and the destroyers were ordered to proceeded northwards to intercept a reported group of enemy destroyers, the result was that their air cover that was provided during their retirement did not sight the ships which then came under heavy air attack from the German Luftwaffe for about seven hours from 0825 hours onwards.

The result was that HMS Suffolk was heavily damaged. She suffered 32 dead and 41 wounded. HMS Kipling was also damaged by two near misses.

Air cover finally arrived at 1415 hours but even then the Germans continued to attack.

The battlecruisers HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), HMS Repulse (Capt. E.J. Spooner, DSO, RN), the AA cruiser HMS Cairo and the destroyers HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. E.W.B. Sim, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN), HMS Javelin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN), ORP Blyscawica (Lt.Cdr. S.M. Nahorski, ORP) and ORP Grom (Lt.Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) rushed towards to give support. The destroyer HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicholson, RN) joined later.

HMS Suffolk limped towards Scapa Flow where she arrived with a heavy list at 0545/18. She arrived at Scapa Flow escorted by HMS Renown, HMS Forester, HMS Fury, HMS Hereward, HMS Hyperion, HMS Janus, HMS Juno, HMS Kimberley and HMS Kipling (also damaged). Upon arrival HMS Suffolk was beached to prevent her from sinking.

19 Apr 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Portsmouth. (1)

22 Apr 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Portsmouth. (1)

24 Apr 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) shifted from Portsmouth to Southampton where she was taken in hand for repairs at the Thornycroft shipyard. (1)

20 Jul 1940
With her repairs completed HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Southampton for Immingham. (1)

21 Jul 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Immingham. She was then taken in hand for machinery and hull repairs. (1)

14 Aug 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Immingham at 1050 hours for Scapa Flow.

15 Aug 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow at 0600 hours.

17 Aug 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Scapa Flow to relieve the escort of convoy OA 200, the Canadian destroyer HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lay, RN) which then proceeded to Scapa Flow to discharge all her oil fuel which had been contaminated with seawater. Restigouche arrived at Scapa Flow at 2100/17. After taking on board new oil fuel she departed Scapa Flow again at 0600/18. She rejoined the convoy at 1315/18 after which HMS Kipling returned to Scapa Flow arriving later the same day.

24 Aug 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Scapa Flow at 1230 hours to go to the assistance of the damaged British merchant vessel Beacon Grange (10119 GRT, built 1938) that ha been damaged by bombs from German aircraft in position 58°39'N, 02°27'W the day before. The merchant vessel had been taken in tow by the rescue tug HMRT Buccaneer which was later relieved by her sister ship HMRT Marauder which took the ship to Kirkwall where she was beached.

HMS Kipling returned to Scapa on the 25th.

30 Aug 1940
The light cruisers HMS Birmingham (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN) and HMS Manchester (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN) both shifted from Scapa Flow to Rosyth. On leaving Scapa Flow they were briefly escorted by the destroyers HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN).

Having returned to Scapa Flow from escorting the cruisers for part of their trip to Rosyth, HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), departed Scapa Flow to reinforce the escort of convoy SL 43. (5)

31 Aug 1940
HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) returned to Scapa Flow. On their return trip from their convoy escort duty they had been ordered to search for an open boat reported in position 60°29'N, 01°08'E (east of the Shetland Islands). They located the boat and picked up five Norwegians which were trying to escape from Norway to the U.K. (6)

3 Sep 1940
HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) shifted from Scapa Flow to Port ZA (Loch Alsh). (6)

4 Sep 1940
At 1400 hours the auxiliary minelayers Menestheus (Capt. W.H.D. Friedberger, RN), Port Quebec (Capt.(Retd.) E.C. Watson, RN), Southern Prince (A/Capt. E.M.C. Barraclough, RN) departed Port ZA for minelaying mission SN 5A. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN). (6)

6 Sep 1940
Having completed minelaying mission SN 5A, the auxiliary minelayers Menestheus (Capt. W.H.D. Friedberger, RN), Port Quebec (Capt.(Retd.) E.C. Watson, RN), Southern Prince (A/Capt. E.M.C. Barraclough, RN) and their escort, the AA cruiser HMS Cairo (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) and the destroyers HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), arrived at Port ZA (Loch Alsh) at 0715 hours.

The destroyers then departed for Scapa Flow where they arrived around 1400 hours. (6)

7 Sep 1940
The battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), the heavy cruisers HMS Berwick (Capt. G.L. Warren, RN), HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN) and the destroyers HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Scapa Flow at 1300 hours to patrol to the east of Iceland. (6)

10 Sep 1940
The battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), the heavy cruisers HMS Berwick (Capt. G.L. Warren, RN), HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN) and the destroyers HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) returned to Scapa Flow at 2130 hours. Their patrol to the east of Iceland had been uneventful. (6)

13 Sep 1940
The battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN), battleship HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN) and the light cruisers HMS Bonaventure (Capt. H.J. Egerton, RN) and HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN) shifted from Scapa Flow to Rosyth. They were escorted HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN), HMS Somali (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), and HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St. J.A. Micklethwait, DSO and Bar, RN). At sea they were joined by the light cruiser (AA cruiser) HMS Cairo (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) and destroyers HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN) and HMS Electra (Lt.Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN). (7)

30 Sep 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Rosyth for the Humber at 0045/30. She collided with the merchant vessel Queen Maud (4976 GRT, built 1936) from convoy FN 92 at 0301/30 south-south-west of May Island in position 56°05'N, 02°37'W. Kipling only sustained some slight damage and she continued on to the Humber where she arrived later the same day.

2 Oct 1940
After some temporary repairs had been made, HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), departed the Humber for Plymouth. (1)

3 Oct 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Plymouth where she was taken in hand for repairs. (1)

10 Oct 1940

Operation Medium.


Bombardment of Cherbourg.

10 October 1940.

The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) departed Plymouth for a night bombardment of Cherbourg during the night of 10/11 October. She was being escorted by the destroyers HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Javelin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Jupiter (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN).

A cover force was also sailed from Plymouth on the same day. This force was to provide cover to the east of the bombardment force and was made up of the light cruisers HMS Newcastle (Capt. E.A. Aylmer, DSC, RN), HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN), the British destroyers HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN), HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, DSC, RN and the Polish destroyers Garland (Cdr. K. Namiesniowski, ORP) and Burza (Cdr. A. Doroszkowski, ORP).

The light cruiser HMS Cardiff (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN) and HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) departed Portsmouth to provide cover for the operation to the west of the bombardment force.

A flotilla of MA/SB boats was sailed from Plymouth to provide anti E-boat protection. These were HMS MA/SB 40, HMS MA/SB 42, HMS MA/SB 43, HMS MA/SB 44, HMS MA/SB 45, HMS MA/SB 46 and HMS MA/SB 51.

During the bombardment HMS Revenge fired 120 rounds of 15” in eighteen minutes from range between 14000 and 16000 yards. Her escorting destroyers fired 801 rounds of 4.7” during the first four minutes of the bombardment and then formed a screen on the battleship.

Large fires were seen to erupt in the target area. Shore defences opened up as for being under air attack. The ships were fired on only after the bombardment had ceased. No ships were hit though despite the enemy fire being accurate.

The western cover group returned to Plymouth at 0800/11.

The bombardment force and the eastern cover group arrived at Portsmouth around the same time.

11 Oct 1940
HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Jupiter (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Portsmouth around 1830/11 to carry out a high speed sweep along the French coast between Le Havre and Dieppe following which they were to return to Plymouth at 0800/12.

The same day the German torpedo boats Falke, Greif, Kondor, Seeadler and Wolf (5th torpedo boat flotilla) departed Cherbourg, France to conduct a raid off the Isle of Wight.

Shortly before midnight they encountered and sank two British armed trawlers HMS Warwick Deeping (Skr. J.R. Bruce, RNR) and Listrac (Lt. K.P. Kirkup, RNR) south of Bournemouth.

Shortly afterwards but on the 12th the Germans sank the (former French) chasseurs HMS CH 6 (Lt. W.B.G. Galbraith, RN) and HMS CH 7 (S/Lt. G.A. Gabbett-Mulhallen, DSC, RN).

At 0314/12, HMS Jackal had an engagement with two of the enemy torpedo boats. No damage was done to either side.

The Germans returned to Cherbourg in the morning of the 12th.

12 Oct 1940
HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Jupiter (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Plymouth.

17 Oct 1940
After German destroyers proceeding westwards in position 48°24'N, 05°33'W had been reported at 0719 hours, the light cruisers, HMS Newcastle (Capt. E.A. Aylmer, DSC, RN), HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN with Capt.(D.5) Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN on board), HMS Jupiter (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Plymouth at 1100 hours to intercept them.

Contact with the enemy was made at 1610 hours HMS Newcastle reported enganging the enemy at extreme range in position 49°29'N, 06°40'W. The enemy turned back at the British started to chase. Around 1800 hours they were ordered to return to Plymouth as adequate air protection could not be given.

The German destroyers had sortied from Brest to conduct a raid against shipping in the west entrance to the Bristol Channel. The destroyers were the Z 10 / Hans Lody, Z 14/Friedrich Ihn, Z 15 Erich Steinbrinck and Z 20 / Karl Galster. A fifth destroyers, the Z 6/Theodor Riedel had to return to Brest shortly after sailing due to problems with her boilers. (8)

18 Oct 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and Blyskawica (Lt.Cdr. W. Franki) departed Plymouth. Presumably for a night patrol in the western Channel area. (9)

18 Oct 1940
Around 0830 hours HMS Newcastle (Capt. E.A. Aylmer, DSC, RN), HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN with Capt.(D.5) Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN on board), HMS Jupiter (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived back at Plymouth. (8)

19 Oct 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and Blyskawica (Lt.Cdr. W. Franki) returned to Plymouth. (9)

23 Oct 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Plymouth on this day. [No further details available, for the next few days her movements are not clear to us at the moment.] (9)

27 Oct 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Plymouth for the Tyne where she is to undergo repairs at a local shipyard.

29 Oct 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived in the Tyne area. (1)

24 Nov 1940
With her repairs completed, HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), departed the Tyne for Dartmouth. (1)

27 Nov 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Dartmouth for exercises. (1)

29 Nov 1940
At 0402 hours, Capt.(D.5) Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) was informed that gunfire had been reported off Prawle Point.

At 0553 hours, HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), who was operating together with HMS Javelin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN, with Capt.(D.5) Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN on board), reported sighting three unkown ships. One minute later another signal was received from HMS Jackal stating that HMS Javelin had been torpedoed.

At 0609 hours HMS Jackal engaged an enemy destroyer but she soon lost contact.

At 0637 hours HMS Jackal sent a signal asking for tugs and an air escort for her disabled sister-ship HMS Javelin

Three minutes before, at 0634 hours, HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), which was in company with HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. W. Evershed, RN) and HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN), reported that they had a lost touch with the enemy after a short action.

At 0700 hours, HMS Kashmir reported that it was thought one of the enemy destroyers had been damaged.

At 0818 hours, HMS Jackal reported that HMS Javelin was still afloat but that her bow and stern had been blown off, two tugs were requested, one on either end.

At 0834 hours, HMS Kashmir, HMS Jersey and HMS Jupiter were ordered to screen HMS Javelin.

At 0850 hours the tug HMS Caroline Moller departed Falmouth followed at 0855 by HMS Retort which sailed from Plymouth.

Also at 0850 hours three Blenheim aircraft took off as air escort.

At 1010 hours the destroyer HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Dartmouth.

At 1039 hours HMS Jackal left for Plymouth with survivors from ships attacked by the German destroyers. She arrived at Plymouth at 1347 hours.

At 1419 hours HMS Kashmir reported that enemy aircraft had attacked them.

HMS Javelin in tow of two tugs arrived at Plymouth at 0425/30.

HMS Jersey had already arrived at 0150/30 followed by HMS Jupiter at 0239 hours.

HMS Kashmir and HMS Kipling arrived at 1340/30.

The German destroyers encountered were once again the Z 4 / Richard Beitzen, Z 10 / Hans Lody and Z 20 / Karl Galster. Before their encounter with the British destoyers they had sunk the British tug Aid (134 GRT, built 1914, five dead) and damaged the French tug Abeille XIV (126 GRT, built 1927. two dead). A barge that had been under tow by the Aid sank at 1145/29. Z 10 / Hans Lody was hit several times and all German destroyers had some splinter damage. (8)

30 Nov 1940
HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN) departed Plymouth for patrol at 1815 hours. They were also to make rendez-vous with the minelayer HMS Adventure (Capt. N.V. Grace, RN) to escort her on minelaying mission GQ 1. HMS Adventure departed Milford haven around 1100/1. Rendez-vous was made with the destroyers at 1500/1. The destroyer escort parted company at 1800/1 after which HMS Adventure proceeded to the minelaying position. She joined up with her destroyer escort again shortly after 0700/2. The destroyers were detached shortly before noon and shortly afterwards they were ordered to return to Plymouth with despatch. They apparantly arrived at Plymouth in the second half of the afternoon. HMS Adventure returned to Milford Haven around 1900/2.

1 Dec 1940
HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) departed Plymouth at 1055 hours to join HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN) at sea. Apparently she was to relieve HMS Jackal which was to proceed to Immingham with defects.

3 Dec 1940
The minelaying destroyer HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN) departed Dartmouth at 1820 hours to lay minefield GR off the French coast. She was to make rendez-vous with her escorts, the destroyers HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) which had departed Plymouth at 1715 hours.

The operation however had to be abandoned due to defects to the minelaying gear of HMS Icarus. The destroyers then escorted HMS Icarus to Torquay following which they patrolled off the Lizard. They were ordered to return to Plymouth at 1034/4 where they arrived at 1158 hours. (8)

4 Dec 1940
HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) departed Plymouth at 1619 hours for an A/S sweep towards position 49°30'N, 07°00'W in which they were to arrive at 0900/5. (8)

5 Dec 1940
HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) returned to Plymouth at 1345 hours.

8 Dec 1940
At 1255 hours, HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) were ordered to leave Plymouth at 1630 hours to patrol between Eddystone and Wolf Rock. They were ordered to return to Plymouth at 0945/9.

They actually departed Plymouth at 1650/8 and returned at 1035/9.

10 Dec 1940
HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) departed Plymouth at 1650 hours with orders to arrive off the Nab (Portsmouth) at 0830/11.

12 Dec 1940
After a delay of 24 hours due to a reported enemy submarine the British battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN) departed Portsmouth for Rosyth where she was to complete her refit.

She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Cattistock (Lt.Cdr R.A. Ewing, RN), HMS Cleveland (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN), HMS Fernie (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, RN) and HMS Holderness (Lt.Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, DSC, RN).

Around 1600/13 the original escort was relieved by the destroyer HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. R.T. Lampard, RN), HMS Pytchley (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC, RN) and HMS Southdown (Cdr. E.R. Condor, DSO, DSC, RN).

At 1630/14 the light cruiser HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, RN) and the AA cruiser HMS Curacoa (Capt. C.C. Hughes-Hallett, RN) joined the escort.

The battleship and her escort arrived at Rosyth around 1330/15.

13 Dec 1940
Having parted company with HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN) around 1600/13, HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) proceeded southwards to conduct an A/S hunt along the north coast of Cornwall and later between the coast of Cornwall and 07°00'W.

14 Dec 1940
At 1900 hours, HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN), were ordered to patrol between The Lizard and Start Point during the night to cover westbound merchant shipping. They were ordered to arrive at Plymouth at 1030/15.

15 Dec 1940
At 1055 hours, HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN), arrived at Plymouth.

16 Dec 1940
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Plymouth at 2050 hours with orders to arrive at Avonmouth at 1200/17.

18 Dec 1940

Convoy WS 5A and the attack by the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper

This convoy departed U.K. ports on 18/19 December 1940. Destination for the majority of the convoy was Suez where the convoy arrived on 16 February 1941.

On 17 December 1940 the transport Rangitiki (16698 GRT, built 1929) departed Avonmouth. She was escorted by HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) towards the rendez-vous position.

On 18 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed Liverpool, they formed WS 5A slow;
Anselm (5954 GRT, built 1935), Atreus (6547 GRT, built 1911), Bhutan (6104 GRT, built 1929), City of Canterbury (8331 GRT, built 1922), City of London (8956 GRT, built 1907), Delane ( GRT, built ), (Belgian) Elizabethville (8351 GRT, built 1922), Menelaus (10307 GRT, built 1923), Orbita (15495 GRT, built 1915), Settler (6202 GRT, built 1939) and Tamaroa (12405 GRT, built 1922). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), sloop HMS Wellington (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, RN) and the corvettes HMS Clematis (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSO, DSC, RD, RNR), HMS Jonquil (Lt.Cdr. R.E.H. Partington, RNR), HMS Cyclamen (Lt. H.N. Lawson, RNR) and HMS Geranium (T/Lt. A. Foxall, RNR).

On 18 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed from the Clyde;
(Dutch) Costa Rica (8055 GRT, built 1910), Ernebank (5388 GRT, built 1937), (Belgian) Leopoldville (11509 GRT, built 1929) and Neuralia (9182 GRT, built 1912). Ernebank was however forced to return around 1800 hours on the 21st escorted by HMS Witch and HMS St. Mary’s. On the 22nd, HMS Wellington, was detached to take over the escort of the Ernebank. They were escorted by the anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Cairo (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) and the destroyers HMS Bath (Cdr.(Retd.) A.V. Hemming, RN), HMS St. Marys (Lt. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN), HMS St. Albans (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) S.G.C. Rawson, RN), HMS Worcester (Lt.Cdr. E.C. Coats, RN).

On 18 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed from Lough Foyle (Belfast); City of Derby (6616 GRT, built 1921) and Stentor (6148 GRT, built 1926). They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Venomous (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, RN).

The slow part of the convoy was met around dawn on the 19th by the light cruiser HMS Bonaventure (Capt. H.G. Egerton, RN) and the destroyers HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN), HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, RN) and HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, RN).

Around 2300/21 all destroyers parted company with the slow part of the convoy.

On 19 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed Liverpool, they formed WS 5A fast;
Clan MacDonald (9653 GRT, built 1939), Essex (13655 GRT, built 1936) and Northern Prince (10917 GRT, built 1929).

On 19 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed from the Clyde;
Adviser (6348 GRT, built 1939), Arabistan (5874 GRT, built 1929), Barrister (6348 GRT, built 1939), Benrinnes (5410 GRT, built 1921), Clan Cumming (7264 GRT, built 1938), Empire Song (9228 GRT, built 1940) and Empire Trooper (14106 GRT, built 1922).

Escort for the fast section of convoy WS 5A joined around dawn on the 20th and was provided by the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN), destroyers HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN) and Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) which came from the Clyde. And also by the destroyers HMS Highlander, HMS Harvester and FS Le Triomphant (Cdr. P.M.J.R. Auboyneau) which came from Londonderry. The first two of these destroyers had fuelled there after escorting the slow part of the convoy for a while. Also the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) (with fighters embarked for Takoradi) and the destroyers HMS Beverley (Cdr.(Retd.) E.F. Fitzgerald, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling joined from Liverpool.

The destroyers of the fast portion of the convoy were detached during the night of 21/22 December 1940.

At dawn on 23 December 1940 the slow and fast part of the convoy made rendez-vous and proceeded in company.

On the 24th, HMS Naiad parted company to return to the U.K. The heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. G.L. Warren, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Dunedin (Capt. R.S. Lovatt, RN) both joined the escort of the convoy.

At dawn on the 25th the convoy was attacked by the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper. She had made contact with the convoy with radar the previous day and had already made a torpedo attack shortly before 0400/25 but no hits had been obtained nor had the attack been noticed by the British.

Then shortly after 0800/25 she made visual contact with the convoy and it came as a surprise to the Germans to sight HMS Berwick.

Around 0830 hours the Germans opened fire on HMS Berwick but due to the bad visibility she soon shifted target to the troopship Empire Trooper which was not in her assigned station. The troopship was slightly damaged as was the merchant vessel Arabistan.

The convoy was ordered to scatter and HMS Berwick and HMS Bonaventure both engaged the German cruiser as did the corvette Cyclamen briefly.

Meanwhile HMS Dunedin laid a smokescreen to cover the ships of the convoy. HMS Furious flew off a few aircraft but these failed to find the German cruiser in the bad visibility.

HMS Berwick was damaged by gunfire from the German cruiser but she forced, together with HMS Bonaventure, the enemy to break off the action around 0915 hours.

In the evening HMS Boneventure was detached to search for the damaged Empire Trooper.

On the 28th the convoy was reassembled at sea (minus Empire Trooper which was ordered to proceed to Gibraltar via the Azores) and continued on to Freetown where it arrived on 6 January 1941. (10)

23 Dec 1940
HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) made rendez-vous with convoy SL 58 (Freetown-U.K.). They remained with the convoy until 0900/23 when they and the heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN) parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Plymouth.

27 Dec 1940
HMS Kent (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Plymouth around noon.

2 Jan 1941
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) sailed from Plymouth at 1106 hours. She returned at 1645 hours.

[We have been unable to find out why she sailed.]

3 Jan 1941
HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Plymouth at 1505 hours to intercept a German tanker proceeding towards a Bay of Biscay port (most likely towards the Gironde). The tanker had been spotted by aircraft at 1115/3 in position 45°40'N, 09°10'W

4 Jan 1941
Around noon HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) abondoned their search for the reported enemy tanker.

5 Jan 1941
HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) returned to Plymouth at 1025 hours.

6 Jan 1941
HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN) departed Plymouth for Greenock around 1730 hours. She was being escorted by 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).

8 Jan 1941
HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN) and her escort; 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) arrived at Greenock around noon.

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.

At 1615/15 HMS Revenge, HMS Kelly and HMS Kipling were joined by HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) which had departed Plymouth at 1030/15.

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

17 Jan 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) departed Portsmouth in the late afternoon of early evening to conduct a patrol in the western Channel as far as the Scilly Isles. They were to return to Plymouth at 1030/18.

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 Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, 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. (11)

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. (1)

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. (12)

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.

14 Feb 1941
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Londonderry.

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). (13)

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. (13)

22 Feb 1941
HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN) departed Plymouth shortly after 1900 hours for a patrol near Brest, France.

Bad weather conditions were experienced and a speed of only 10 knots could not be exceeded. The patrol was cancelled and the destroyers returned to Plymouth. (13)

23 Feb 1941
In the morning 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. (13)

24 Feb 1941
At 1900 hours HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN) departed Plymouth to make rendez-vous on the 27th with the battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN) that is en-route from Gibraltar to Portsmouth.

HMS Kashmir was also to join after oiling, but as she had only returned 10 minutes before HMS Kingston and HMS Jackal sailed this was not completed in time. Kashmir departed Plymouth at 2032 hours to catch up with the other two destroyers.

27 Feb 1941
Shortly after 1100 hours (zone -1), the battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN) and her destroyer escort of HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) and HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN), HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN) and HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) made rendez-vous in approximate position 42°45'N, 16°50'W with three relief destroyers coming from Plymouth. These were HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN). HMS Duncan and HMS Velox were then detached. (14)

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.

6 Mar 1941
HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Plymouth at 1900 hours. Presumably for patrol in the western Channel area.

7 Mar 1941
HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) returned to Plymouth at 0830 hours.

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).

16 Mar 1941
Around noon HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) arrived at Greenock. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Cleveland (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) and HMS Fernie (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Jonas, RN).

21 Mar 1941
HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Greenock in the afternoon. They were to proceed to Plymouth with despatch. It was estimated they would arrive at Plymouth at 1300/22.

22 Mar 1941
HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Plymouth at 1230 hours.

They departed Plymouth again late in the afternoon or early in the evening to patrol between Eddystone and the Scilly Islands.

23 Mar 1941
HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) returned to Plymouth from patrol at 0800 hours.

They departed again at 1630 to escort the fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Pleydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) on minelaying mission GV.

They returned from this mission at 1245/24.

HMS Kipling was then taken in hand for repairs at the Devonport Dockyard. This included a docking. (13)

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), HMS 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.

13 Apr 1941
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Plymouth for Milford Haven.

14 Apr 1941
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Milford Haven.

15 Apr 1941
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Milford Haven to escort a 15 ship coastal convoy from the Bristol Channel to Falmouth. Also part of the escort were the armed yacht HMS Viva II (Cdr.(Retd.) M.A. Blomfield, OBE, RN) and the A/S trawlers HMS Pearl (T/Lt. G. Pemberton, RNR) and HMS Ruby (T/Lt. N.L. Brown, RNVR) (13)

16 Apr 1941
The coastal convoy HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) is escorting together with the armed yacht HMS Viva II (Cdr.(Retd.) M.A. Blomfield, OBE, RN) and the A/S trawlers HMS Pearl (T/Lt. G. Pemberton, RNR) and HMS Ruby (T/Lt. N.L. Brown, RNVR) is attacked north of Lands End in position 50°27'N, 05°38'W by enemy aircraft between 0228 and 0345 hours. The of the merchant vessels were sunk; Amiens (British, 1548 GRT, built 1918), Anglesea Rose (British, 1151 GRT, built 1930) and Bolette (Norwegian, 1167 GRT, built 1920). (13)

16 Apr 1941
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Plymouth after convoy escort duty.

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. (16)

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. (17)

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. (18)

3 May 1941
HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) were on passage from Malta to Gibraltar.

At 0224 hours, while in the Sicilian narrows, HMS Gloucester exploded a mine in her paravane in position 37°19'N, 11°18'E. There was no serious damage and she was able to proceed at 25 knots. During the 3rd of May there were several air attacks. Three main attacks were made by formations of 5, 10 and 5 medium and high level bombers and during the second attack, at 1325 hours HMS Gloucester was hit aft by a bomb which, furtunately, failed to explode inside the ship as it went straight through the ship and then exploded without causing much damage. The speed of the ship was not further effected. (19)

4 May 1941
HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Gibraltar early in the evening. Gloucester was docked immediately to repair her damage as had been arranged. (19)

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. (20)

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. (21)

27 May 1941
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) shifted from Alexandria to Suez for repairs.

15 Jul 1941
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) conducted post repair trials at Lake Timsah near Ismalia. On completion of these trials she proceeded to Port Said. (1)

16 Jul 1941
HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Port Said for Alexandria. (22)

17 Jul 1941
HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Alexandria. (1)

18 Jul 1941
The battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN), HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN) departed Alexandria for exercises. At sea they were joined by the fast minelayers HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Peydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and HMS Latona (Capt. S.L. Bateson, RN) which had already departed Alexandria for exercises the previous day. (22)

19 Jul 1941
Having completed their exercises, the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN), HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), fast minelayer HMS Latona (Capt. S.L. Bateson, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN) returned to Alexandria around noon. (22)

22 Jul 1941
Around 2100 hours, the Mediterranean Fleet, made up of the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), fast minelayers HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Peydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN), HMS Latona (Capt. S.L. Bateson, RN) and the destroyers HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN) departed Alexandria to proceed to a position to the west of Crete.

Earlier that day the light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN), HMNZS Leander (Capt. R.H. Bevan, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) had departed Haifa to rendez-vous with the fleet at 0600/23.

At daylight on 23 July the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (A/Cdr. W. Pope, RN) also joined the fleet.

After dark on 23 July the fleet turned eastwards. HMS Neptune, HMS Abdiel and HMS Kimberley were then detached with orders to proceed to Port Said where they arrived on 24 July.

On the 24th HMNZS Leander was also detached with orders to proceed to Port Said where she arrived on 25 July.

Also on the 24th HMS Latona, HMS Jervis, HMS Jaguar and HMS Kandahar were detached to proceed towards Alexandria for escort duty.

The bulk of the fleet returned to Alexandria on 25 July. (22)

4 Aug 1941
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Pleydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Alexandria for Port Said. They arrived at Port Said on the 5th. (22)

5 Aug 1941
HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) departed Port Said with troops for Farmagusta. (22)

6 Aug 1941
HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Farmagusta. After unloading the troops HMS Neptune, HMS Kandahar and HMS Kimberley departed for Alexandria where they arrived later the same day while HMS Kipling proceeded to Haifa where she also arrived later the same day. (22)

12 Aug 1941
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Pleydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) departed Haifa for Port Said. (22)

13 Aug 1941
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Pleydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Port Said. After embarking troops HMS Neptune, HMS Abdiel and HMS Jackal departed again later the same day for Farmagusta. HMS Kipling apparently remained at Port Said. (22)

15 Aug 1941
HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN) arrived at Suez. She then transited the Suez Canal northbound and departed that evening for Alexandria together with HMS Glengyle (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.H. Petrie, RN) and their escort made up of the destroyers HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) and HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN) arrived at Alexandria. (23)

16 Aug 1941
HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), HMS Glengyle (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.H. Petrie, RN) and their escort made up of the destroyers HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) and HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN) arrived at Alexandria. (22)

17 Aug 1941
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN) departed Alexandria for a troop and supply run to Tobruk. They returned to Alexandria the following day. (22)

20 Aug 1941
The fast minelayer HMS Latona (Capt. S.L. Bateson, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN) and HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN) departed Alexandria with troops and supplies for Tobruk. Cover was provided by the light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN) and HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN).

All ships returned to Alexandria on the 21st. (22)

24 Aug 1941
The fast minelayer HMS Latona (Capt. S.L. Bateson, RN) and the destroyers HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN) departed Alexandria with troops and supplies for Tobruk. Cover was provided by the light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN) and HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN).

All ships returned to Alexandria on the 25th. (22)

27 Aug 1941
The fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Pleydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN) departed Alexandria with troops and supplies for Tobruk. Cover was provided by the light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN) and HMS Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN).

All ships returned to Alexandria on the 28th.

HMS Phoebe had been hit by an aircraft torpedo at 2145/27 in position 32°15'N, 24°53'W. The destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria to escort the damaged ship.

All ships returned to Alexandria on the 28th. (22)

8 Sep 1941
HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) departed Alexandria with troops and supplies for Tobruk. (22)

9 Sep 1941
HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) returned to Alexandria from Tobruk. HMS Decoy and HMS Kipling had been slightly damaged by near misses during air attacks. (22)

12 Sep 1941
The British ferry (to be transferred to Turkey) Murefte (691 GRT, built 1941) was sunk on 10 September north-west of Haifa in position 33°12'N, 34°35'E by the Italian submarine Topazio.

The destroyers HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN) departed Alexandria and the destroyers HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN) departed Haifa to hunt the attacker.

HMS Hasty and HMS Kipling returned to Alexandria on the 13th.

The other destroyers continued the hunt and arrived at Haifa on the 14th. (22)

26 Sep 1941
Around 0900 hours the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) and HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. C.J. Stephenson, RAN) departed Alexandria for a diversion in the Eastern Mediterranean during 'Operation Halberd' in the Western Mediterranean.

They returned to Alexandria in the afternoon of the 27th. (22)

30 Sep 1941
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) departed Alexandria for Port Said to escort two important merchant vessels from Port Said to Alexandria.

They returned to Alexandria with the merchant vessels on 1 October. (22)

5 Oct 1941
A submarine steering towards Alexandria had been reported by aircraft at 1245/4 in position 33°00'N, 25°30'E (north of Bardia).

In the morning of the 5th, the destroyers HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN), departed Alexandria to search the area.

They returned to Alexandria on the 7th having found nothing. (22)

8 Oct 1941
HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) conducted exercises off Alexandria.

10 Oct 1941
Shortly after 0900 hours, the battleships HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN), HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN) and HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN) departed Alexandria for a sweep to the westwards.

The destroyers HMS Jupiter, HMS Kandahar, HMS Griffin, HMS Decoy and the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale, HMS Eridge were detached for a sweep towards Bardia. The destroyers HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) and HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN) had sailed from Alexandria to join the fleet to take their place in the screen.

The fleet back to the east around 1800 hours. They returned to Alexandria in the morning of the 11th.

The destroyers that had been detached returned to Alexandria in the afternoon of the 11th. (22)

12 Oct 1941

Operation 'Cultivate'.

Replacement of Australian troops at Tobruk with 'fresh' troops.

At 0700/12 the fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Peydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) and HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN) departed Alexandria with troops and stores for Tobruk.

A cover force also sailed from Alexandria. It was made up of the battleships HHMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN), HMS Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN), HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN), destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN) and HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN).

The cruisers with three of the destroyers were detached during the night. They rejoined at daylight when the fleet set course to return to Alexandria.

Meanwhile Abdiel with her destroyers had landed the stores and troops at Tobruk and taken on board troops that were being relieved and set course to return to Alexandria.

Early in the afternoon a report was received of Italian cruisers and destroyers and the fleet was turned westwards again. Shortly afterwards the fleet was attacked by three enemy torpedo bombers but no damage was done. During the night the cruisers and three of the destroyers were again detached.

At daylight on the 14th the detached ships again rejoined and course was set to return to Alexandria. The fleet arrived at Alexandria around 1530/14.

Operation 'Cultivate' continued for a while sending 'fresh' troops to Tobruk. (22)

25 Oct 1941
HMS Proteus (Lt.Cdr. P.S. Francis, RN) conducted exercises off Alexandria with HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN). (24)

2 Nov 1941

Operation Glencoe.

Relief of troops at Farmagusta.

The British troops on Cyprus were to be relieved by fresh British Indian and British troops.

Group A, made up of the minelaying cruiser HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Peydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) departed Alexandria for Farmagusta at 1500 hours. HMS Abdiel had on board about 300 troops as well as 70 tons of stores. The destroyers carried around 250 troops.

Group B, made up of the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria for Farmagusta at 1700 hours. Like the destroyers of Group A these destroyers also carried about 250 troops each.

Group C, departed Alexandria for Farmagusta at 1900 hours, it was made up of the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN). Like all the other destroyers these also carried around 250 troops each.

At 2300/2, HMS Kipling, on of the destroyers in Group C, broke down in position 31°46'N, 30°22'E. Her troops were taken over by HMS Jackal which then took the stricken destroyer in tow towards Alexandria. HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) and HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) departed Alexandria. HMS Jupiter took over the place of HMS Kipling in Force C while HMS Decoy took over the tow from HMS Jackal at daylight on November 3rd.

Group A arrived at Farmagusta at 0730/3, Group B at 1230/3 and Group C at 1630/3.

The ships then disembarked the troops and embarked a similar number of troops that were replaced. The ships then departed for Haifa.

Groups A and B arrived at Haifa durnig the night of 3/4 November 1941 while Group C arrived early in the afternoon of November 4th.

At Haifa they embarked more troops for Cyprus. Group A sailed at 0730/4, Group B at 1230/4 and finally Group C at 1630/4.

All groups arrived at Farmagusta during the night of 4/5 November. After disembarking the troops they sailed for Haifa at invervals of about 4 hours.

Group A arrived at Haifa at 0400/5, Group B at 0830/5 and Group C at 1200/5.

At Haifa they loaded Indian troops and departed for Farmagusta at 0700/5 (Group A), 1200/5 (Group B) and 1630/5 (Group C).

All groups arrived at Famagusta on the 5th and sailed again with further troops that were being relieved, arriving at Haifa at 0300/6 (Group A), 0800/6 (Group B) and 1200/6 (Group C).

After embarking more troops and fuelling the groups departed Haifa again for Farmagusta later on the 6th.

All groups arrived at Farmagusta during the night of 6/7 November 1941 where they disembaked the new troops and tok on board troops that were relieved after which they departed again for Haifa where they arrived on the 7th.

There all groups embarked their final contingents of troops and departed for Farmagusta for the final time. HMS Kingston from Group B was however to depart due to defects and her troops were spread on the other destroyers of her group.

After having disembarked the last of the fresh troops at Farmagusta and embarked the last of the troops that had been relieved Group A arrived at Haifa 0300/8, Group B at 0500/8 and Group C at 1200/8.

At 1400/8, all ships (from all the groups) departed Haifa for Alexandria where they arrived on the 9th after they had carried out an A/S sweep en-route. (22)

13 Nov 1941
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) departed Alexandria to carry stores to Tobruk. The destroyers returned to Alexandria the next day. (22)

16 Nov 1941
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) departed Alexandria to carry stores to Tobruk. The destroyers returned to Alexandria the next day. (22)

18 Nov 1941
The battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN), HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), and HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) departed Alexandria to be at sea to support several operations in the Mediterranean.

The fleet turned back towards Alexandria after dark and arrived back in harbour before noon on the 19th.

On the 18th HMS Naiad and HMS Euryalus split off together with the destroyers HMS Jackal and HMS Kipling for a night bombardment of the Helfaya pass area upon which they also returned to Alexandria. (22)

21 Nov 1941
The battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN), HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), and HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) departed Alexandria again to be at sea to support several operations in the Mediterranean.

At noon, the light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) joined the fleet at sea.

After dark HMS Naiad, HMS Euryalus, HMS Galatea were detached after dark to make false W/T reports further to the west. The fleet then turned back towards Alexandria.

The fleet arrived back at Alexandria at daybreak on the 22nd. The detached cruisers arrived back later the same day. (22)

24 Nov 1941
The battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) and HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) departed Alexandria to support operations by 'Force K' operating from Malta against Italian convoys to and from Libya.

Off the searched channel off Alexandria they were joined by the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN) and HMS Farndale (Cdr. S.H. Carlill, RN). These remained with the fleet until 2245/24 when they were relieved by the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN).

At 1629/25, the fleet was attacked north-north-east of Sidi Barrani, Egypt in position 32°34'N, 26°24'E by the German uboat U-331 and HMS Barham was hit on the port side by three torpedoes. She quickly rolled over and then a magazine exploded. She quickly sank. The destroyers HMS Jervis, HMS Jackal and HMAS Nizam were left behind to pick up survivors while the fleet continued on to the westward.

The fleet returned to Alexandria around 1000/26. The three detached destroyers returned at 1400/26. A total of 449 survivors were picked up from HMS Barham. (22)

30 Nov 1941
The destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) departed Alexandria to intercept Italian convoys between Navarino and Derna. Cover was provided by the light cruisers 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) and the destroyers HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN).

The four destroyers patrolled off Derna during the night of 30 November / 1 December but no enemy ships were encountered.

At 1300/1 in position 32°15'N, 24°41'W, while on their way back to Alexandria carrying out an A/S sweep, the destroyers were attacked by three Italian torpedo bombers. HMS Jackal was hit right aft by a torpedo and damage was severe. She was however able to continue under her own power at 14 knots steering with her engines. The Commanding Officer of HMS Jaguar was killed when a shell from HMS Jervis exploded close to her.

All ships arrived back at Alexandria during the night of 2/3 December. (22)

13 Dec 1941
The light cruisers 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 Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN), HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN) and HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria to intercept Axis convoys to North Africa and their covering Italian warships.

At 1800/13 the destroyers HMAS Napier, HMAS Nizam, HMS Kipling and HMS Havock were detached to search for a reported enemy submarine.

The next day the force was ordered to return to Alexandria as the enemy had been spotted returning to Italy.

While the force was returning to Alexandria HMS Galatea was torpedoed at 2359/14 when about to enter the searched channel. The destroyer screen had just been released when she was torpedoed. She sank shortly afterwards. The destroyers were able to pick up 13 officers and 131 ratings. The destroyers then conducted an A/S hunt and later also the destroyers that had been detached earlier searched the area before entering harbour but the attacker was not detected. (22)

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 18/19 December. HMS Kipling had been damaged by a near miss on the 17th. One rating had been killed during this attack.

HMS Breconshire and her escorts arrived safely at Malta during the night of 17/18 December 1941. (22)

23 Dec 1941

Convoy AT 6.

This convoy departed Alexandria for Tobruk on 23 December 1941.

This convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Alisa (Palestinian, 1072 GRT, built 1901), Varvara (Greek, 1354 GRT, built 1910) and Warszawa (Polish, 2487 GRT, built 1916). The boom defence vessel HMS Burgonet was also part of this convoy.

Escort was provided by escort destroyer HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN) and the corvette HMS Peony (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) M.B. Sherwood, DSO and Bar, RN).

Cover for this convoy was provided by the destroyers HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN) and HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN).

Varvara reported her engine room flooding during the night of 23/24 December and was escorted back to Alexandria by the destroyer HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN). The tug HMS St. Monance came also out from Alexandria to assist.

At 1429/26, the Warszawa was torpedoed by the German submarine U-559 in position 32°11’N, 24°44’E. The ship remained afloat and was first thought to have hit a mine. She was taken in tow by HMS Peony with HMS Avon Vale escorting. The bulk of the passengers and crew meanwhile had been taken off by HMS Burgonet as well as HMS Peony and HMS Avon Vale.

At 1930 hours (2015 hours in British sources) the ship was hit by another torpedo from U-559 which had remained in the area undected. She sank in about 10 minutes in position 32°10’N, 24°32’E. HMS Peony quickly cut the towline and picked up the skeleton crew that had remained on board. In all 23 passengers and crew lost their lives on board Warszawa.

All survivors were landed at Tobruk in the early morning hours of the 27th. (22)

27 Dec 1941

Convoy TA 6.

This convoy departed Tobruk for Alexandria on 27 December 1941. It arrived at Alexandria on 29 December 1941.

This convoy was made up several empty merchant vessels but we currently don't know which merchant vessels were part of this convoy.

Escort was provided by escort destroyer HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN) and the corvette HMS Peony (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) M.B. Sherwood, DSO and Bar, RN).

Cover for this convoy was provided by the destroyers HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN) and HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN).

One of the ships in the convoy was the transport Volo (British, 1587 GRT, built 1938). This ship was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-75 at 0300/28 in position 31°45'N, 26°48'E. 24 of the crew were killed. 14 survivors were picked up.

HMS Kipling sank the attacker a few hours later. (22)

28 Dec 1941
The German U-boat U-75 was sunk in the Mediterranean near Mersa Matruh, in position 31°50'N, 26°40'E, by depth charges from the British destroyer HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN).

She and HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN) were able to pick up two officers and twenty-eight ratings.

The destroyers arrived at Alexandria later the same day.

29 Dec 1941

Convoy AT 10.

This convoy departed Alexandria for Tobruk on 29 December 1941. It arrived at Tobruk on 31 December 1941.

This convoy was made up of several merchant vessels but the identity of these is currently not known to us.

Escort was provided by escort destroyer HMS Farndale (Cdr. S.H. Carlill, RN) and the auxiliary A/S whaler HMSAS Southern Isle (Lt. A.S. Bowyer, SASDF).

Cover for this convoy was provided by the destroyers HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN) and HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN). (22)

2 Jan 1942
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN) and HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN) arrived at Alexandria. (1)

5 Jan 1942

Operation MF 2.

Passage of the transport Glengyle from Alexandria to Malta and the passage of the transport Breconshire from Malta to Alexandria.

At 2230/5 HMS Glengyle (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.H. Petrie, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria for Malta. She was escorted by Force B which was made up by the light cruisers 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) and the destroyers HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN), HMS Kingston (Cdr. P. Sommerville, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN) and HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN).

The transport HMS Breconshire (9776 GRT, built 1939), escorted by Force C, made up of the destroyers HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) and HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN) departed Malta at 1830/6.

At 1300/7 in position 33°50’N, 19°20’E both forces made rendez-vous and the transport Breconsihire and the destroyer Havock joined Force B to proceed to Alexandria and transport Glengyle and the destroyer Sikh joined Force C to proceed to Malta.

Force C arrived at Malta at 0800/8. Force B arrived at Alexandria during the night of 8/9 January 1942. (25)

16 Jan 1942

Operation MF 3.

Two convoy’s (MW 8A and MW 8B) departed Alexandria on 16 January 1942 for Malta where they arrived on 19 January 1942.

Convoy MW 8A was made up of the transports Ajax (7540 GRT, built 1931) and Thermopylae (Norwegian, 6655 GRT, built 1930). Escort was provided by the light (AA) cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. D.M.L. Neame, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt. N.H.G. Austen, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN). This convoy departed Alexandria at 0830/16.

Convoy MW 8B was made up of the transports City of Calcutta (8063 GRT, built 1940) and Clan Ferguson (7347 GRT, built 1938). Escort was provided by the destroyers HMS Maori (Cdr R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, DSC, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN). This convoy, which had a higher speed, 14 instead of 12 knots, then convoy MW 8A, departed Alexandria at 1530/16.

Both convoys were to converge later but they were delayed by heavy weather.

Cover for the convoy was provided by ‘Force B’ made up of the light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. G. Grantham, DSO, 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 Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Cdr. P. Sommerville, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN) and HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN). This force was due to sail at 2359/16. However when they left the harbour Alexandria was struck suddenly by very bad weather resulting in HMS Kingston and HMS Foxhound colliding with each other causing serious damage to both ships and they were unable to proceed. HMS Hotspur then fouled a propeller and was also unable to proceed. HMS Dido was delayed for a few hours and sailed only at 0545/17 while the remaining ships had departed at 0240/17.

HMS Gurkha, escorting convoy MW 8B, was torpedoed at 0740/17 by the German U-boat U-133 in position 31°50'N, 26°15'E. She was towed clear of the burning oil by HrMs Isaac Sweers which managed to rescue 240 survivors. Only 9 of the crew of the Gurkha lost their lives. While rescueing the crew of the Gurkha, HMS Maori screened them and hunted the attacker but she was unable to obtain contact. HMS Gurkha sank at 0917/17. HrMs Isaac Sweers and HMS Maori then rejoined convoy MW 8B at 1125 hours. HrMs Isaac Sweers was detached at 1540/17 to land the survivors at Tobruk where she arrived at 1745/17 and already left again at 1830/17. She rejoined the convoy the following day at 0200/18.

’Force K’, made up of the light cruiser HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN) and the destroyers HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, DSC, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSO, DSC, RN), left Malta at 1900/17 to make rendez-vous with the convoy on the morning of the 18th.

Both convoy and ’Force B’ eventually joined up at 1100/18. ‘Force K’ made contact at 1315/18 and the convoy then proceeded westwards. There were a number of attacks by single German Ju-88 aircraft during the day but without damage to any of the ships.

Before ‘Force K ‘had joined the transport Thermopylae was detached at 1130/18 due to engine defects and was ordered to proceed to Benghazi escorted by HMS Carlisle, HMS Arrow and HMS Havock. She was later able to make 13 knots and was then ordered to return to Alexandria.

At 1930 hours on the 18th, air reconnaissance had not sighted any enemy warships so HMS Naiad, HMS Euryalus, HMS Dido, HMS Griffin, Kelvin, HMS Kipling, HMS Hero, HMS Hasty, HrMs Isaac Sweers and HMS Jaguar set course to return to Alexandria. HMS Maori joined ‘Force K’ vice HMS Jaguar and HMS Legion also proceeded to Malta as she was to dock there. At daylight on the 19th HMS Hero and HMS Hasty were detached to join the ships escorting the Thermopylae.

However at 0945/19 the Thermopylae was hit by two bombs in the engine room during a bombing attack by a single German JU-88 pressed right home. The ship caught fire and could not be saved. She was eventually scuttled at 1153/19 in position 33°02'N, 24°16'E by a torpedo from HMS Havock.

The remaining ships of the convoy arrived safely at Malta at 1530/19. Heavy enemy air attacks having been held off by effective fighter protection.

’Force B’ had also been attacked on the way back to Alexandria by single German JU-88’s. The only damage done was to HMS Naiad by a near-miss. In the afternoon of the 19th, HMS Kelvin was detached and ordered to proceed to Tobruk to pick up the survivors from HMS Gurkha and take them to Alexandria.

The first ships to return to Alexandria were the ones from ‘Force B’. They arrived around 0830/20. HMS Carlisle, HMS Arrow, HMS Havock, HMS Hasty and HMS Hero arrived shortly afterwards as did HMS Kelvin later on the day with the survivors of HMS Gurkha. (25)

24 Jan 1942

Operation MF 4.

The passage of HMS Breconshire from Alexandria to Malta from 24 to 27 January and the passage of convoy ME 9 from Malta to Alexandria from 25 to 28 January 1942.

In the morning on of 24 January 1942, HMS Breconshire (9776 GRT, built 1939) departed Alexandria with stores for Malta. Escort was provided by ‘Force B’ which was made up of the light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. G. Grantham, DSO, 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 Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), HMS Carlisle (Capt. D.M.L. Neame, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A,M. McKillop, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt. N.H.G. Austen, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN), HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN) and HMS Kingston (Cdr. P. Sommerville, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN). HMS Kingston was to proceed to Malta for docking and repairs.

In the morning of 25 January 1942, convoy ME 9 departed Malta for Alexandria. This convoy was made up of the transports HMS Glengyle (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.H. Petrie, DSO and Bar, RN) (9919 GRT, built 1939) and Rowallan Castle (7801 GRT, built 1939). Escort was provided by ‘Force K’ which was made up of the light cruiser HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN) and the destroyers HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, DSC, RN) and HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN).

On the 25th HMS Breconshire and ‘Force B’ were shadowed by enemy aircraft. They were attacked by eight German JU-88 bombers between 1445 and 1520 hours. No ships were seriously damaged. HrMs Isaac Sweers sustained six near misses causing the Asdic and Gyro compass to be out of action for a few hours. Two JU-88’s are thought to have been shot down during the attacks. The enemy aircraft are thought to have been damaged.

At noon on the 26h both forces made rendez-vous. ‘Force B’ then turned back with the ships of convoy ME 9 while ‘Force K’ took over HMS Breconshire. Also HMS Lance joined ‘Force B’ vice HMS Kingston.

’Force K’ was bombed during the afternoon and both ‘Force B’ and ‘Force K’ were attacked during the afternoon by enemy torpedo bombers. No ships were damaged although HrMs Isaac Sweers was missed by a few hundred yards by a torpedo down the starboard side.

’Force K’ and HMS Breconshire arrived at Malta around 1000 hours.

’Force B’ and convoy ME 9 arrived at Alexandria around 1100 hours. (25)

9 Feb 1942
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSO, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria to go to the aid of the escort destroyer HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) which had been bombed and damaged while escorting convoy AT 27 from Alexandria to Tobruk. Both the damaged ship engine rooms were flooded and she had been taken in tow by the corvette HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR). The tug HMS St. Issey departed Mersa Matruh to take over the tow.

HMS Kipling and HMS Jaguar joined the stricken ship at daylight February 10th. All ships arrived at Alexandria on the 11th. (25)

12 Feb 1942

Operation MF 5.

Passage convoy MW 9A and MW 9B from Alexandria to Malta and passage of convoy ME 10 from Malta to Alexandria / Port Said.

Timespan: 12 to 16 February 1942.

Convoy MW 9A made up of the transports Clan Campbell (British, 7255 GRT, built 1937) and Clan Chattan (British, 7262 GRT, built 1937) departed Alexandria at 1600/12. Close escort was provided by the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. D.M.L. Neame, DSO, RN), destroyer HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, DSC, RN) and HMS Heythrop (Lt.Cdr R.S. Stafford, RN).

Convoy MW 9B made up of the transport Rowallan Castle (British, 7801 GRT, built 1939) and Clan Chattan (British, 7262 GRT, built 1937) departed Alexandria at 1700/12. Close escort was provided by the escort destroyers HMS Beaufort (Lt.Cdr. S.O’G Roche, RN), HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN), HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, RN) and HMS Southwold (Cdr. C.T. Jellicoe, DSC, RN).

A cover force (Force B) for these convoys departed Alexandria at 0200/13 and was made up of the light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. G. Grantham, DSO, 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 Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, DSO, RN), HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt. N.H.G. Austen, RN), HMS Havock (Lt.Cdr. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN) and HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN).

At 1730/13, the transport Clan Campbell was damaged by bombing in position 32.22’N, 24.22’E and detached to Tobruk escorted by HMS Avon Vale and HMS Eridge. The escort destroyer were ordered to rejoin the convoy as soon as possible.

Convoy MB 9B was attacked from the air but no damage was sustained.

The cover force (Force B) was also attacked by enemy bombers at dusk but no damage was sustained by any of the ships.

After dark on 13 February, convoy ME 10, made up of the transports Ajax (British, 7540 GRT, built 1931), HMS Breconshire (British, GRT, built ), City of Calcutta (British, 8063 GRT, built 1940) and Clan Ferguson (British, 7347 GRT, built 1938) departed Malta for Alexandria / Port Said. Close cover was provided by Force K made up of the light cruiser HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN) and the destroyers HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, DSC, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, DSC, RN), HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN) and HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN).

At 0700/14, convoy MW 9A, convoy MW 9B and Force B joined. They were shadowed throughout the day. High level and dive bombing attacks started at 1345 and continued until 1600 hours. The transport Clan Chatten was hit and badly damaged in position 35°01’N, 20°11’E. She was later scuttled by our own forces after all crew and passengers had been taken off.

Force K and convoy ME 10 was met at 1440/14 hours. HMS Lance then joined Force K while HMS Fortune and HMS Decoy from Force K joined Force B. Force K then turned back to Malta escorting Rowallan Castle.

Both forces continued to be attacked by enemy aircraft and at 1515/14 Rowallan Castle was near missed in position 35°34’N, 19°40’E. Her engines were disabled and she was taken in tow by HMS Zulu but she could not make sufficient speed to reach Malta safely and the transport had to be sunk which was done at 1956/14.

HMS Penelope, HMS Lance and HMS Lively were ordered to continue to Malta where they arrived on the 15th, while HMS Sikh, HMS Zulu and HMS Legion were ordered to join Force B.

Meanwhile two ships of the close escort of convoy ME 10, HMS Carlisle and HMS Eridge had sustained some minor damage in enemy air attacks in the afternoon of the 14th.

Force B and convoy ME 10 were bombed throughout the day on the 15th by single aircraft but no damage was done to any of the ships.

During the day, HMS Beaufort, HMS Dulverton, HMS Hurworth and HMS Southwold were detached to Tobruk. They left there at 1830/15 escorting the damaged transport Clan Campbell back to Alexandria.

Light cruisers HMS Naiad, HMS Dido, HMS Euryalus, destroyers HMS Sikh, HMS Zulu, HMS Legion, HMS Hasty, HMS Havock, Griffin, HMS Arrow and the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale, HMS Eridge and HMS Heythrop arrived at Alexandria at 0130/16 with the transport HMS Breconshire.

The transports Ajax, City of Calcutta and Clan Ferguson continued on to Port Said escorted by the destroyers HMS Jervis, HMS Jaguar, HMS Kelvin, HMS Kipling and HMS Fortune. They arrived at Port Said P.M. on the 16th. HMS Kelvin, HMS Jaguar and HMS Fortune then immediately proceeded to Alexandria, while HMS Jervis and HMS Kipling remained at Port Said.

The damaged transport Clan Campbell and the escort destroyers HMS Beaufort, HMS Dulverton, HMS Hurworth and HMS Southwold arrived at Alexandria P.M. on the 16th coming from Tobruk. (25)

17 Feb 1942
The troop transport Princess Marguerite (Canadian, 5875 GRT, built 1925) departed Port Said for Farmagusta, Cyprus with relief troops. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN). (25)

18 Feb 1942
Troop transport Princess Marguerite (Canadian, 5875 GRT, built 1925) and her escorting destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN) arrived at Farmagusta. (25)

19 Feb 1942
Troop transport Princess Marguerite (Canadian, 5875 GRT, built 1925) and her escorting destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN) departed Farmagusta for Alexandria. (25)

20 Feb 1942
Troop transport Princess Marguerite (Canadian, 5875 GRT, built 1925) and her escorting destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN) arrived at Alexandria. (25)

27 Feb 1942
The fleet tanker RFA Derwentdale (8398 GRT, built 1941) that was outfitted to carry landing craft departed Alexandria for the Far East. She was to join the Eastern Fleet as she was urgently required there. She was escorted from Alexandria to Port Said by the destroyers HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN) and HMS Havock (Lt.Cdr. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN). (25)

28 Feb 1942
The fleet tanker RFA Derwentdale (8398 GRT, built 1941) and her escorting destroyers HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN) and HMS Havock (Lt.Cdr. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN) arrived at Port Said. The destroyers returned to Alexandria later the same day. (25)

10 Mar 1942
Reports had been received about Axis convoy movements in the Central Mediterranean. Then a report was received that an Italian cruiser had been disabled in an air attack and in response Allied warships sailed from Alexandria to intercept. Also they could then bring out a light cruiser and a destroyer which had completed repairs at Malta.

The force that sailed from Alexandria departed at 0400/10 and was made up of the light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. G. Grantham, DSO, 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 Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN) and the destroyers HMS Sikh (Capt. St.J.A. Micklethwait, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt. N.H.G. Austen, RN), HMS Havock (Lt.Cdr. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN) and HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, DSO, RN).

During the night of 9/10 March the light cruiser HMS Cleopatra (Capt. M.S. Slattery, RN) and the destroyer HMS Kingston (Cdr. P. Sommerville, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) sailed from Malta to the westward to attack another enemy convoy. The convoy was however not sighted following which they returned to Malta. They sailed again at 2000/10 to join the force coming from Alexandria.

Both forces met at 0800/11 and in the absence of further reports on the damaged Italian cruiser they set course for Alexandria at high speed. Throughout the day the force was attacked by about 80 enemy aircraft but no ship sustained any damage.

Then at 2005/11, HMS Naiad was hit amidships by a torpedo from the German submarine U-565. The cruiser immediately took up a heavy list and sank after 20 minutes. Survivors were picked up by HMS Jervis, HMS Kipling and HMS Lively. HMS Zulu attacked the U-boat but without result.

At 0800/12, HMS Dido (now flying the flag of Rear-Admiral Vian), HMS Euryalus, HMS Cleopatra, HMS Sikh, HMS Hasty, HMS Havock, HMS Hero, HMS Kelvin and HMS Kingston arrived at Alexandria shortly afterwards followed by HMS Kipling and HMS Lively.

HMS Zulu and HMS Jervis continued to hunt the U-boat until daylight on the 12th. They arrived at Alexandria at 1400/12. (25)

13 Mar 1942
As it became apparent that enemy submarines were operating in the Levent the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Cdr. P. Sommerville, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria for A/S sweeps of Levant ports by day and along the shipping routes at night. Also A/S aircaft were sent to Haifa to assist the destroyers. (25)

17 Mar 1942
HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Cdr. P. Sommerville, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN) arrived at Beirut at daybreak. They had fist operated in the Haifa and later in the Beirut area but no enemy submarines had been detected.

They departed again later the same day for Alexandria. (25)

18 Mar 1942
HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Cdr. P. Sommerville, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN) returned to Alexandria. (25)

20 Mar 1942

Operation MG 1 and the resulting second Battle of Sirte.

Operation MG 1, passage of convoy MW 10 to Malta.

At 0700/20 convoy MW 10 departed Alexandria for Malta. This convoy was made up of the transports HMS Breconshire (9776 GRT, built 1939), Clan Campbell (British, 7255 GRT, built 1937), Pampas (British, 5415 GRT, built 1941) and Talabot (British, 6798 GRT, built 1936). Close escort was provided by the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. D.M.L. Neame, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Sikh (Capt. St.J.A. Micklethwait, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. N.H.G. Austen, RN), HMS Havock (Lt.Cdr. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN).

Cover for this convoy was provided by Force B, made up of the light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. G. Grantham, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. A.L. Poland, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Cdr. P. Sommerville, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN). This cover force departed Alexandria at 1800/20.

At daylight on 21 March the convoy escort was reinfored by the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN), HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, DSC, RN), HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, RN) and HMS Southwold (Cdr. C.T. Jellicoe, DSC, RN). These escort destroyers had departed Alexandria already on the 19th to proceed to Tobruk while conducting an A/S sweep and fuel there before joining the convoy. A sixth escort destroyer joined later as she had been delayed at Tobruk with a fouled propeller. This was HMS Beaufort (Lt.Cdr. S.O’G Roche, RN) and she sailed from Tobruk at 0945/21. Another escort destroyer, HMS Heythrop (Lt.Cdr R.S. Stafford, RN), was torpedoed at 1100/20 in position 32°22'N, 25°28'E by the German submarine U-652 while the escort destroyers were conducting their A/S sweep. The stricken ship was taken in tow towards Tobruk by HMS Eridge but she sank at 1600/20 in position 32°13'N, 25°33'E.

Shortly after the escort destroyers had joined the convoy escort, Force B made contact with the convoy. The fleet destroyers that had been escorting the convoy the joined that force.

After dark on March 21st, the light cruiser HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN) and the destroyer HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, DSC, RN) departed Malta and joined Force B in the morning of March 22nd.

At 0130/22, the submarine HMS P 36 (Lt. H.N. Edmonds, DSC, RN) reported enemy heavy ships leaving Taranto.

In the forenoon light enemy air attacks commenced on the convoy. These developed into heavy air attacks in the afternoon. A total of about 150 enemy aircraft were counted attacking. They concentrated mainly on the convoy but no ships were hit.

At 1430/22 Force B sighted four enemy cruisers to the north-east in position 33°53'N, 17°47'E. These were then driven off.

At 1640/22 Force B sighted a Littorio class battleship, two heavy cruisers and some destroyers to the northward. A delaying action was then fought by the cruisers and destroyers of Force B making full use of smoke while the convoy continued on to the westward. Destroyers pressed home a torpedo attack to 6000 yards and reported a hit on the battleship (this was not the case). The battleship was also hit by gunfire and was seen to be on fire aft. One enemy cruiser was seriously damaged and the other was also hit. HMS Cleopatra was hit on the bridge but only sustained minor damage. HMS Kingston was hit in an engine room and HMS Havock in a boiler room. Both destroyers had their speed reduced to 15 knots. HMS Lively was hit forward but was not seriously damaged.

At 1900/22 (dusk) the enemy, who had never got within range of the convoy, withdrew to the northward while the convoy was dispersed to Malta with the escorts proceeding with the individual ships. HMS Penelope, HMS Havock, HMS Kingston and HMS Legion were also detached to Malta. Force B set course to Alexandria.

The Italian ships encountered were the following; battleship Vittorio Veneto, heavy cruisers Bolzano, Trento, light cruiser Giovanni Delle Bande Nere and the destroyers Alpino, Bersagliere, Fuciliere, Lanciere, Ascari, Aviere, Geniere, Grecale, Alfredo Oriani and Scirocco.

From daylight on March 23rd the ships of the convoy were again subjected to heavy air attacks as they were approaching Malta. At 1040/23 Clan Campbell was bombed and sunk in position 35°33'N, 14°35'E. HMS Eridge rescued 113 men. Breconshire was hit in the engine room at 1030/23 wen about eight miles from Grand Harbour. She was disabled and attempts by HMS Penelope to take her in tow failed. She drifted towards the shore and came to anchor. Owning to the gale and heavy swell attempts to tow her had to be abandoned.

Pampas and Talabot arrived in harbour safely. HMS Legion was hit but reached Marsaxlokk Harbour and anchored in shallow water.

HMS Carlisle and the Hunt class escort destroyers remained at Malta to provide AA protection for Breconshire. HMS Avon Vale was damaged when she collided with Breconshire and by a near miss. She was unseaworthy. The damaged HMS Kingston and HMS Havock were able to reach Malta safely.

Force B, on their passage east, were delayed by heavy weather. Some of the destroyers sustaining weather damage. The force was bombed during the day but no ship sustained any damage due to the bombing.

An aircraft search for the Italian fleet failed to find any enemy ships.

Shortly after noon on the 24th HMS Cleopatra, HMS Dido, HMS Euryalus, HMS Sikh, HMS Zulu, HMS Hasty, HMS Hero, HMS Jervis, HMS Kelvin and HMS Kipling entered harbour at Alexandria. All ships had sustained some form of weather damage. HMS Lively arrived later due to flooding forward. HMS Zulu and HMS Lively were out of action for some weeks.

Meanwhile at Malta weather was still unsuitable to tow Breconshire into the harbour. HMS Southwold was mined while operating near her. She sank while under tow to the harbour. Breconshire was finally towed into the harbour in the morning of the 25th. (25)

29 Mar 1942
Troop transports Princess Marguerite (Canadian, 5875 GRT, built 1925) and Antwerp (British, 2957 GRT, built 1920) departed Alexandria for Farmagusta. They had on board Indian troops which were to relieve other Indian troops on Cyprus. The troopships were escorted by the destroyers HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN). (25)

30 Mar 1942
Troop transports Princess Marguerite (Canadian, 5875 GRT, built 1925) and Antwerp (British, 2957 GRT, built 1920). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN) arrived at Farmagusta. The troopships departed again later the same day for Alexandria escorted by HMS Kipling. HMS Kelvin departed Farmagusta for Beirut. (25)

31 Mar 1942
Troop transports Princess Marguerite (Canadian, 5875 GRT, built 1925) and Antwerp (British, 2957 GRT, built 1920) and their escort, HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN), arrived at Alexandria. (25)

3 Apr 1942
HMS Valiant (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria at 1600 hours for Port Said. She was being escorted by the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. A.L. Poland, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. N.H.G. Austen, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN) and HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, RN). (25)

4 Apr 1942
HMS Valiant (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN) and her escort; the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. A.L. Poland, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. N.H.G. Austen, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN) and HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, RN) arrived at Port Said. HMS Jervis and HMS Kipling immediately returned to Alexandria where they arrived later the same day. (25)

5 Apr 1942
Troop transports Princess Kathleen (Canadian, 5875 GRT, built 1925) and Malines (British, 2969 GRT, built 1921) departed Alexandria with troops for Farmagusta, Cyprus. They were escorted by HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN). (25)

6 Apr 1942
Troop transports Princess Kathleen (Canadian, 5875 GRT, built 1925), Malines (British, 2969 GRT, built 1921) and their escort, HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN), arrived at Farmagusta. After disembaring their troops and embaring troops that were being relieved they departed for Haifa later the same day escorted by HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, DSO, RN). HMS Kipling remained at Farmagusta. (25)

8 Apr 1942
Troop transports Princess Kathleen (Canadian, 5875 GRT, built 1925), Malines (British, 2969 GRT, built 1921) departed Farmagusta for Alexandria. They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN). (25)

9 Apr 1942
Troop transports Princess Kathleen (Canadian, 5875 GRT, built 1925), Malines (British, 2969 GRT, built 1921) and their escort; the destroyer HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN), arrived at Alexandria. (25)

15 Apr 1942

Operation 'Lighter'.

Raid on enemy wireless station on Koufonisi Island (south of Crete).

Timespan: 15 April 1942 to 16 April 1942.

The destroyers HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN) embarked two platoons of 11th Royal Marines Battalion and then departed Alexandria for a raid against an enemy wireless station on Koufonisi Island to the south of Crete.

The Royal Marines were landed during the night of 15/16 April and later re-embarked without a loss. They were successful in destroyer the wireless station which was the main objective of the raid.

The enemy retreated inland and no prisoners could be taken. Documents and gear have been captured but unfortunately these were lost overboard during the re-embarkation.

Kelvin and Kipling returned to Alexandria at 1630/16. (25)

24 Apr 1942
HMS Sikh (Capt. St.J.A. Micklethwait, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria to provide cover for a convoy sailing from Port Said to the Levent ports.

The convoy arrived at Beirut and Tripoli (Syria) on the 27th following which HMS Sikh and HMS Kipling proceeded to Haifa. (25)

28 Apr 1942
HMS Sikh (Capt. St.J.A. Micklethwait, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, DSO, RN) departed Haifa to hunt an enemy submarine reported at 1500/22 [this seems to be an error to me, as this report was six days old by the time the destroyers sailed but this is what is stated in ADM 199/650] in position 33°42'N, 33°34'E.

At daylight on the 29th both destroyers joined a convoy to Port Said. (25)

30 Apr 1942
HMS Sikh (Capt. St.J.A. Micklethwait, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, DSO, RN) arrived at Port Said with the convoy they were escorting.

They departed again later the same day escorting the AA cruiser HMS Coventry (Capt. R.J.R. Dendy, RN) to Alexandria. (25)

1 May 1942
HMS Coventry (Capt. R.J.R. Dendy, RN), HMS Sikh (Capt. St.J.A. Micklethwait, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, DSO, RN) arrived at Alexandria from Port Said. (25)

10 May 1942
An enemy convoy with destroyer escort only was reported leaving Taranto for Benghazi. In response the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. A.L. Poland, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.T. Jellicoe, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, DSO, RN) and HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSO, DSC, RN) were sailed at 2000/10 from Alexandria in an attempt to intercept the convoy when it approached Benghazi at dawn on the 12th if they could remain undetected.

The destroyer force was detected by enemy aircraft and turned back at 1445/11 in accordance with the orders. Enemy air attacks developed at 1600 hours and continued until after 2000 hours. At 1645 hours HMS Lively was hit forward and sank at once in position 33°24'N, 25°38'E.

At 2007 hours, both HMS Jackal and HMS Kipling were hit in position 32°38'N, 26°20'E. HMS Kipling quickly sank and HMS Jackal was taken in tow by HMS Jervis. HMS Jackal was heavily on fire and she had to be scuttled at 0455/12 in position 32°33'N, 26°25'E. HMS Jervis returned to Alexandria carrying 630 officers and men from the three sunk ships. (25)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


The Kellys

Langtree, Christopher


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 199/2558
  2. ADM 53/112552
  3. ADM 173/16283
  4. ADM 187/6
  5. ADM 53/112667
  6. ADM 199/376
  7. ADM 199/379
  8. ADM 199/372
  9. ADM 187/10
  10. ADM 199/1136
  11. ADM 53/114488
  12. ADM 187/11
  13. ADM 199/655
  14. ADM 53/114985
  15. ADM 53/114986
  16. ADM 199/656
  17. ADM 199/413
  18. ADM 199/413 + ADM 199/414
  19. ADM 199/414
  20. ADM 199/414 + ADM 199/656
  21. ADM 199/414 + 234/320
  22. ADM 199/415
  23. ADM 199/2547
  24. ADM 173/16922
  25. ADM 199/650

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


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