Allied Warships

HMS Kempenfelt (i) (I 18)

Destroyer of the C class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassC 
PennantI 18 
ModFlotilla leader 
Built byJ.S. White & Co. (Cowes, U.K.) 
Ordered15 Jul 1930 
Laid down18 Oct 1930 
Launched29 Oct 1931 
Commissioned30 May 1932 
End service19 Oct 1939 
History

Transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy at Devonport on 19 October 1939 and renamed HMCS Assiniboine.

 
Career notesTransferred to Canada as HMCS Assiniboine

Commands listed for HMS Kempenfelt (i) (I 18)

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CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Clifford Caslon, RN23 Aug 193920 Sep 1939
2Lt.Cdr. Charles Eric Glasfurd, RN20 Sep 193919 Oct 1939

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Notable events involving Kempenfelt (i) include:


9 Sep 1939
HMS Courageous (Capt. W.T. Makeig-Jones, RN) departed Plymouth for an anti-submarine patrol in the Western Approaches. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Ardent (Lt.Cdr. J.F. Barker, RN), HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, RAN).

10 Sep 1939
HMS Courageous (Capt. W.T. Makeig-Jones, RN) and her escort; the destroyers HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Ardent (Lt.Cdr. J.F. Barker, RN), HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, RAN) arrive at Milford Haven.

Around 1030 hours a Swordfish aircraft from HMS Courageous had attacked a submarine about 280 nautical miles west of Ushant. The German submarine U-34 reported being attacked by a British aricraft at 1117 hours (Berlin time, 1017 hours British time) which dropped one bomb which caused no damage.

A second attack on a submarine was carried out 270 nautical miles west of Ushant at 1250 hours. This attack is not reported by the Germans unless it was on a submarine which did not return from patrol.

11 Sep 1939
HMS Courageous (Capt. W.T. Makeig-Jones, RN) departed Milford Haven for an anti-submarine patrol in the Western Approaches. Again she was escorted by the destroyers HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Ardent (Lt.Cdr. J.F. Barker, RN), HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, RAN).

14 Sep 1939
HMS Courageous (Capt. W.T. Makeig-Jones, RN) and her escort; the destroyers HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Ardent (Lt.Cdr. J.F. Barker, RN), HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, RAN) arrived at Plymouth from an anti-submarine patrol in the Western Approaches.

They had provided cover for the damaged destroyers HMS Vanquisher (Lt.Cdr. K.H. Fraser, RN) and HMS Walker (Cdr. W.J.C. Robertson, RN) which had collided late on the 11th and were both heavily damaged.

17 Sep 1939

The sinking of HMS Courageous.


HMS Courageous sinking as seen from one of the escorting destroyers.

HMS Courageous (Capt. W.T. Makeig-Jones, RN) was on anti-submarine patrol about 350 nautical miles west of Lands End, still escorted by HMS Inglefield (Capt. A.G. Talbot, RN), HMS Ivanhoe (Cdr. B. Jones, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) and HMS Intrepid (Cdr. J.W. Josselyn, RN).

At 1445 hours, the group picked up a distress call from the British merchant Kafiristan that was being attacked by the German submarine U-53 about 350 miles west of Cape Clear. The destroyers HMS Inglefield and HMS Intrepid were detached and the carrier launched four Swordfish aircraft, one of them forced the U-boat to dive without damaging it at 1700 hours.

At about 1800 hours, another U-boat, U-29, spotted the carrier group and began chasing it, but had no chance to get into a favorable attack position until the carrier turned into the wind to recover the four Swordfish returning from the search for U-53. She was now heading on a straight course at 18 knots towards the U-boat which attacked only five minutes after the last aircraft landed. At 1950 hours, U-29 fired a spread of three G7e torpedoes at HMS Courageous and hit her with two of them on the port side abaft the bridge. She almost immediately took a heavy list to port and sank after 17 minutes about 190 miles southwest of Dursey Head, Ireland.

The Commanding Officer, 17 other officers and 501 ratings were lost, including 36 RAF service crewmen. All Swordfish aircraft of 811 and 822 Sqdn FAA were lost with the ship.

While HMS Ivanhoe attacked U-29 with depth charges, HMS Impulsive began to rescue the survivors and was soon joined by the American merchant Collingsworth, the British merchant Dido and the Dutch passenger ship Veendam, which launched 14 lifeboats and also saved the ships log. The rescue work proved difficult due to the heavily oiled sea. Further help arrived when HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. C. Caslon, RN) and HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, RAN) joined HMS Ivanhoe in the submarine hunt together with the by now returned HMS Intrepid, but the U-boat escaped during the night. Also two light cruisers, HMS Caradoc (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN) and HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN) arrived at the scene together with the destroyer HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), but the cruisers were soon ordered away.

The merchant Dido had picked up 23 officers and 195 ratings and was escorted to Liverpool by HMS Intrepid. The survivors rescued by the neutral merchants were transferred to HMS Inglefield and HMS Kelly and arrived at Devonport (Plymouth) on the afternoon of 19 September.

After this loss and the unsuccessful attack of U-39 on HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN) only three days earlier, carriers were withdrawn from such patrols as they were considered to be to valuable.

28 Sep 1939
HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. C.E. Glasfurd, RN) collides with the British merchant Hester (1199 GRT) off Newhaven. Kempenfelt was under repair at Devonport Dockyard until 7 November. In the meantime she was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy.

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


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