HMS Kelly: Commemorating the men who built her and served on her

My last two blogs looked at the First World War experiences of George Cuthbertson, a marine engineer from South Shields and Annie Hamilton, a nurse. This blog looks at the Second World War and in particular the story of a much loved and admired warship HMS Kelly. It remembers the skill of the men who built and repaired the ‘Kelly’ and the great courage of those who served on her and gave their lives in the defence of their country.

HMS Kelly on sea trials, 1939 (TWAM ref. 2931/43)

HMS Kelly was built on the River Tyne at Hebburn by the illustrious shipbuilding and engineering firm Hawthorn Leslie.  During the Second World War the shipyard’s output was remarkable. It included an aircraft carrier, three cruisers, two fast minelayers and 16 flotilla leaders and destroyers, not to mention a whole host of other vessels for the Royal and Merchant Navies.  This was all achieved despite the difficulties caused by the War such as air raids and blackouts. The Shop Stewards Committee wrote:

“We felt that every ship was a vital contribution to victory; that every rivet hammered home was another nail in Hitler’s coffin. More important still, we knew that if we did not produce the ships the alternative was unthinkable disaster” (Our Ships at War by R. & W. Hawthorn Leslie & Co. Ltd).

The keel for HMS Kelly was laid on 26 August 1937 and she took two years to complete. She was a K-Class destroyer, named after the Admiral of the Fleet, Sir John Kelly whose daughter launched her on 25 October 1938. Her Captain was Lord Louis Mountbatten.

Launch party of HMS Kelly, 25 October 1938 (TWAM ref. 2931)

After War was declared on 3 September 1939 HMS Kelly was straight into the thick of the conflict. The following day together with HMS Acheron she helped to sink a u-boat and on 12 September HMS Kelly brought the Duke of Windsor (the former King Edward VIII) back to England from Le Havre.

During her short career the ‘Kelly’ suffered a lot of bad luck. In December 1939 her stern was damaged after she struck a German mine just off the River Tyne. Repairs were not completed until the following February. Much worse was to come. On 9 May 1940, while searching for German minelayers in the North Sea, she was torpedoed with the loss of 27 lives. Many of these men are buried in Hebburn Cemetery.

With great difficulty she was towed back to Hawthorn Leslie’s shipyard by HMS Bulldog. Lord Mountbatten wrote:

“…when this perilous journey began, my Navigator asked me where we should make for – and without a second’s hesitation I replied: Hebburn. I knew the ship’s birthplace was where she should return; and not only was the Kelly given a new lease of life, but my decision was more than justified by the real human sympathy and interest alone which was shown to our wounded and killed” (Our Ships at War by R. & W. Hawthorn Leslie & Co. Ltd).

View of HMS Kelly returning to Hebburn under tow, May 1940 (TWAM ref. 2931)

It’s also worth recording the comments of the Controller of the Navy who wrote:

“Kelly was got into harbour not only by the good seamanship of the officers and men, but also on account of the excellent workmanship which ensured the watertightness of the other compartments. A single defective rivet might have finished her” (Our Ships at War by R. & W. Hawthorn Leslie & Co. Ltd).

View of HMS Kelly in dry dock showing the damage to her hull, 1940 (TWAM ref. 2931/43)

HMS Kelly was assessed and the necessary repairs carried out by the workers at Hawthorn Leslie.  The Archives holds a photograph album kept by the firm, which shows the full extent of the damage. These images are included in a new flickr set.

View of damage to HMS Kelly looking from the Lower Deck through the boiler room, 1940 (TWAM ref. 2931/43)

The repairs were completed and the ‘Kelly’ returned to service in December 1940. By May 1941 she was leading the 5th Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean. Tragically, on 23 May while returning to Alexandria she was bombed and sunk by the Luftwaffe. Survivors were picked up by HMS Kipling but the loss of life was terrible. One hundred and thirty men were killed and they are remembered in memorials at Hebburn Cemetery, together with the 27 crew members who perished in May 1940.

The memorials were erected by the survivors of HMS Kelly and the workers at Hawthorn Leslie. Mountbatten commented on this writing:

“None of us will forget how members of the Yard contributed to the Memorial which was put up in the Hebburn Cemetery, or the kindness and sympathy of those who tended the grave. There is a strong mutual bond between the men who build our ships and the men who sail in them and fight in them; and this has perhaps never been more clearly shown than it was between us in the Kelly and you in the Yard” (Our Ships at War by R. & W. Hawthorn Leslie & Co. Ltd).

Captain the Lord Louis Mountbatten, c1940s (TWAM ref. 2931)

 

Memorials at Hebburn Cemetery to the men who lost their lives on HMS Kelly, c1940s (TWAM ref. 2931/43)

 

85 Responses to HMS Kelly: Commemorating the men who built her and served on her

  1. Ray Rogers says:

    Thank you for posting this very interesting article. My father had two photos of a ship at sea in his papers and I just recently found out that it was of HMS Kelly.
    I don’t know why he had them, as far as I know he was just into his apprenticeship in 1940 at one of the yards, I always thought that it was on the Wallsend side of the river but may not have been.

    • Alan Hayward says:

      Hi Ray,

      Thank you very much for getting in touch and for your kind words. In due course I’m hoping to add a few more images of the Kelly to our flickr set so do keep watching.

      Best wishes,

      Alan

  2. Robert w Henderson says:

    that is some think to be proud of to known that I come from the very same town that the H M S KELLY was built and my father in law worked on her

    • Alan Hayward says:

      Hi Robert,

      I completely agree. It’s very telling that when she was torpedoed in May 1940 the Captain, Lord Mountbatten, headed straight to Hebburn. Thanks for getting in touch.

      Best wishes,

      Alan

  3. Ian Hunt says:

    Always interesting to read about HMS Kelly. My grandfather John Taylor B.E.M was Forman Loftsman (Shipyard), and was one of the first to survey the mine damage to the ship when she was in dry dock in 1940. At one time there were three generations of Taylors working at Hawthorne Leslie. There is a photo of the elder John Taylor aged 90yrs being presented to their majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1943. When asked why he did not remove his cap he said “I wasn’t going to risk catching my death of cold”. I also have a copy of the Articles of Apprenticeship of the other Taylor, John Maurice dated 2nd July 1943. To add to the family connection with Kelly, my late mother Thelma Taylor worked as a tracer in the drawing office at Hebburn.

  4. Colin Boyd says:

    Nice one Alan – the more shipbuilding blogs the better.
    One small problem however. When ‘Our Ships at War’ was published the true story of u boat losses was not available and people believed the wartime propaganda. The first u boat sunk in WWII was U39 which was sunk off the north west coast of Ireland on 14th September 1939 by HMS Faulknor, HMS Foxhound and HMS Firedrake. The phantom u boat sunk by HMS Kelly did not exist but made for good propaganda. A parallel would be the number of times that the Germans claimed to have sunk HMS Ark Royal.
    Sorry for nitpicking – keep up the good work.

  5. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Colin,

    Lovely to hear from you. You could well be right. There seems to be a consensus that HMS Kelly and HMS Acheron saw off a u-boat attack on 4 September but maybe claims of their success were exaggerated for propaganda purposes. Glad to see you’re reading the blogs.

    All the best,

    Alan

  6. Peter Toms (ex. Ch.M.E.(M) says:

    As an ex Navy man of 25 years, it was really good to come across this blog I have always been interested in the “Kelly”, having been part of boys under training in 1958 at HMS Ganges when Lord Louis came to address us and to tell us we were about to embark on a career in the finest Navy in the world. That was very true and I subsequently enjoyed the next 25 years to prove it. Mountbatten was a very impressive man and reading the various Kelly stories I can understand how he would be so admired and respected by his ships company. I feel however, the great man would be turning in his grave if he could see what today’s politicians are doing to the Navy. It’s a national disgrace and surely one that will come back to haunt them, and the nation one day. Sorry to get political but I can’t let pass that the memories of yesterday’s fine ships and their ships companies is being trashed by politicians not fit to lace their steaming boots!!

    • Alan Hayward says:

      Thank you very much for your kind words. No need to apologise for speaking your mind. It’s great to have your comments – I can tell that they’re really heartfelt.

      Best wishes,

      Alan

  7. kenneth worth says:

    alway’s been interested in the kelly as my mothers 1st husband joe scott from liverpool was killed at the battle of crete leaving my one year old stepbrother. she met my father and married again ( he was torpedoed twice in the atlantic ) and i was born 2 week’s after the war ended.

    • Alan Hayward says:

      Thanks for getting in touch – I really appreciate you taking the trouble. HMS Kelly certainly seems to have touched a lot of lives.

      Best wishes,

      Alan

    • Barb nee Minter says:

      Hi, was very interested to read the above about you mum’s first husband Joe Scott who lost his life when HMS Kelly was torpedoed. My dads brother who was 21 also went down with HMS Kelly and my nan never recovered from his death. Found a photo with the whole crew, but no idea where he is on the photo. Was Able Seaman.

  8. Sandra Thompson says:

    I was very interested to read about HMS Kelly. My mother often recited a poem written by Boy First Class Barnes aged 16, an orphan who was serving in the gun crew and lost his life when the Kelly was sunk off Crete in 1941. I’ve never found the poem anywhere else, and I’ve never seen any reference to Boy First Class Barnes anywhere else either. The poem reads:

    Time brings many changes
    Joys, sorrows, smiles and tears
    But memories grow sweeter
    With the passing of the years
    Those whom we have loved and lost
    Draw near and seem to press
    Round about us in
    our moments of unhappiness
    We miss the loving handclasp
    And the voice we knew so well
    We miss the breathing presence
    More than we can tell
    We miss the dear companionship
    A little more each day
    But God gives us our memories
    That none can take away

    • Alan Hanton says:

      I wonder if the boy Barnes is the same one my Nan and Granded unofficialy adopted during the war in Norwich, he was an orphan, who
      Went down with the ship off Crete while manning the Pom Pom guns.
      He was 16, his name was Harry, I have a photograph of him in his uniform, but no other information about him. My Nan treated him as her own, never got over his death. May they all rest in Peace.

  9. Alan Hayward says:

    Dear Sandra,

    Thanks for sending your message, which was very touching. Your trouble to include the poem is really appreciated.

    Best wishes,

    Alan

  10. Mark says:

    Incredible that the ship managed to get back to Hebburn in such a terrible state.

  11. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for your comment. You’re quite right – looking at the image of the Kelly returning to Hebburn under tow it’s amazing that she was saved. A real tribute to the courage and ability of all those involved.

    Best wishes,

    Alan

  12. Barbara Stokes says:

    My father, Kenneth Jeffery, who served on both commissions on HMS Kelly has just been recounting his memories of the war to my grandsons who were fascinated to hear of him being torpedoed and then bombed. They also felt the hole in his head caused by his injuries when the ship went down. He was a gunner and will be 93 in May.

    • Barb nee Minter says:

      Hi, was very interested to read the above. My dads brother who was 21 also went down with HMS Kelly and my nan never recovered from his death. Found a photo with the whole crew, but no idea where he is on the photo. Was Able Seaman

      • Helen Johnson says:

        Hi Barb,

        I was wondering if you were able to please email me a copy of the photo of the ships crew? My great uncle Jack Johnson died during the torpedoing in 1940 aged 21 also. He was a 2nd Class Stoker. I’m desperate to find out further information or images of him.

        Thank you so much,

        Helen

  13. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Thanks for getting in touch. It’s great that your father is able to share those memories. One of the many great things about Archives is that they help to keep memories alive. I hope that the flickr set helped your father remember some good times and not just the tragic ones. I’m sure that events on HMS Kelly must have had a profound impact on his and many other lives.

    Please pass on my regards to your father. He and the men that served with him are owed a great debt of gratitute for the sacrifices they made.

    Best wishes,

    Alan

  14. michael cordwell says:

    remember my great uncle Arthur telling me stories about his brothers who served and died on the Kelly.When I was old enough he showed me pics of the entire ships company and a hand written letter written to his mother from Mountbatten.Just been helping my son with his school project,and these pics have brought back some wonderful memories of a great man.

    • Barb nee Minter says:

      Hi, was very interested to read the above. My dads brother who was 21 also went down with HMS Kelly and my nan never recovered from his death. Found a photo with the whole crew, but no idea where he is on the photo. Was Able Seaman

  15. Alan Hayward says:

    Dear Michael,

    Thanks for getting in touch. I’m really pleased that the images on flickr have brought back some happy memories. I hope that your son’s school project goes well.

    Best wishes,

    Alan

  16. Lisa Bailey says:

    Could anyone tell me more about the HMT Evelina which hit a mine just off of Souter lighthouse on the 14th December 1939. As an amateur geneologiest my husbands great uncle was one of the eight crew killed on the sinking.

    • Alan Hayward says:

      Hi Lisa,

      I’m afraid that we don’t appear to have any records of HMT ‘Evelina’ or her loss. She was launched in 1919 as the ‘John Howard’ by the shipyard of Rennie Forrestt at Wivenhoe (near Colchester) and renamed ‘Evelina’ in 1921. She was requisitioned by the Admiralty during the Second World War. It might be worth seeing if anything was mentioned about the sinking of the vessel in the local newspapers so you could try contacting South Tyneside Local Studies Library http://www.southtyneside.info/article/8862/Local-history-zone.

      It might also be worth contacting the National Archives http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/ and the National Maritime Museum http://www.rmg.co.uk/national-maritime-museum/ to see whether they have any records. There’s also information available online on various websites, although I suspect you’ve already explored those.

      I hope this helps a bit.

      Best wishes,

      Alan

  17. Sandra McClelland says:

    Hi Alan In 1958 I was a lady tracer at Hawthorn Leslies St Peters and I can always remember my boss Miss Dickinson who as a young tracer in the drawing office watched the Kelly being towed up the Tyne. She told me that everyone worked day and night to repair her and get her back on duty. I will always remember the emotion and pride she had when describing the efforts of all the workers.HMS Kelly always had a special place in the heart of those workers.

    • Alan Hayward says:

      Hi Sandra,

      Thanks very much for taking the time to get in touch. Your thoughtful comment really confirms the impression I got from other sources – that people in Hebburn (and at Hawthorn Leslie in particular) had a really strong emotional bond to the ship. It’s really inspiring to learn about the dedication and pride that the workers took in building and repairing the Kelly. Many thanks for your message.

      Best wishes,

      Alan

  18. Glen Collins says:

    Great to read all these comments and testimonies and thought I would add a little to it.

    My grandfather James Low Collins was a shipwright at Hawthorn Leslie from about 1927 to the mid-1960s and was part of the team who built HMS Kelly – and repaired her several times.
    When you read the history of Kelly you can see she was an ‘unlucky’ ship with numerous incidents.
    Examples:
    Late 1939 1 month in dry dock following storm damage
    Dec 1939 struck a mine while rescuing Atheltemplar. Work completed 28th Feb 1940.
    2nd Mar 1940 struck HMS Ghurka. 8 weeks in dry dock (on the Thames) and released 27th April.
    9th May 1940 torpedoed during Battle of Norway and towed back to Hebburn and repaired in December 1940.
    Total availability for operational use in 1940 = 23 days

    • Alan Hayward says:

      Hi Glen,

      Thanks for your input. As you say she certainly was unlucky throughout her career. Although the story of HMS Kelly is ultimately very sad, it’s very heart warming to hear of the admiration that she inspired and the dedication of the men who built and served on her.

      Best wishes,

      Alan

  19. Liz says:

    My grandfather was one of the men who helped the undertakers to remove the bodies off the Kelly as it had to be done in a rush there was not enough people so he helped. As the last man was taken off my grandfather took it upon himself to take a momento and this was one of the black “shadow” aeroplanes from the ship ooooppppssss :) my dad still has this today and hopefully he will pass it onto me ! He gave me a book a few weeks ago to read called Kelly by Kenneth Poolman. My dad is very proud that he served his time at hebburn and was a merchant sailor himself. I will pass on comments I have read.
    Thank you

    Liz (S.wales) uk

  20. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Liz,

    Thank you very much for sharing details of your grandfather’s link to the Kelly. It’s a real privilege to learn of how she touched so many lives.

    Best wishes,

    Alan

  21. Marilyn hall says:

    My father served on hms Kipling and was involved in the rescue of crew members of the hms Kelly when it was attacked. his name was James WIlliam Jewell, he was a telegraphist on the Kipling. He met my mother Agnes May Hall, while docked in Hebburn, she was from Hebburn. Their romance blossomed and they married. His love of being in the Royal Navy was evident all of his life and every armistice day we would visit Hebburn cemetary to honour the men killed on the Kelly, although I was a small child I remember it well and how sad it made my dad. I have lots of photos of my dad on board ship and a photo of prisoners in Tobruk. I was born in Southsea Portsmouth and moved back to Hebburn with my parents where I lived for twenty one years. My dad worked in Reyrolles until he sadly passed away in 1971, he now is buried in Hebburn cemetary. I write to you because I have lots of memories of my dad telling me about his time on hms Kipling and the rescue of Lord Mountbatten. My dad along with all of the men on both the Kelly and the Kipling, where very brave men indeed. Kind regards. Marilyn Hall.

  22. Marilyn hall says:

    My father served on hms Kipling and was involved in the rescue of crew members of the hms Kelly when it was attacked. his name was James WIlliam Jewell, he was a telegraphist on the Kipling. He met my mother Agnes May Hall, while docked in Hebburn, she was from Hebburn. Their romance blossomed and they married. His love of being in the Royal Navy was evident all of his life and every armistice day we would visit Hebburn cemetary to honour the men killed on the Kelly, although I was a small child I remember it well and how sad it made my dad. I have lots of photos of my dad on board ship and a photo of prisoners in Tobruk. I was born in Southsea Portsmouth and moved back to Hebburn with my parents where I lived for twenty one years. My dad worked in Reyrolles until he sadly passed away in 1971, he now is buried in Hebburn cemetary. I write to you because I have lots of memories of my dad telling me about his time on hms Kipling and the rescue of Lord Mountbatten. My dad along with all of the men on both the Kelly and the Kipling, where very brave men indeed. Kind regards. Marilyn Hall.

  23. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Marilyn,

    Thank you very much for taking the trouble to share details of your father’s experiences and memories. I found it really interesting. As you say, he and the men who served on the Kelly and the Kipling were very brave – they must have witnessed and endured some terrible times.

    It’s great that your father continued to honour the men killed on the Kelly by attending the Remembrance Sunday commemorations at Hebburn Cemetery. It remains an important annual event. The responses I’ve had to my blog have really shown me how important the memories of the Kelly are not just to people in Hebburn but throughout the world. She touched so many lives.

    It was also really nice to learn how your parents met. Thanks ever so much for your message. Best wishes,

    Alan

  24. Marianna Lorenc says:

    Hello all,
    My name is Marianna. I am working as a historical researcher in the Republic of Ireland. In my work I focus on the aristocratic family from Co. Waterford, named Beresford. There was one of the Beresfords, Lord Hugh Tristram de la Poer Beresford, who served on HMS Kelly as a Commander-Lieutenant. He died with the ship, 23rd May 1943 during the Battle of Crete. He is buried at the El Alamein Military Cemetery.
    I am looking for ANY information connected to Lord Hugh: documents, photographs, crew members list, letters, anecdotes, memoirs/memories connected to him – if somebody has anything connected to Lord Hugh or knows anybody (father? grandfather? uncle?) who REMEMBERS him, please, please contact me at: clogheen21@gmail.com
    I am looking forward to your emails!
    I am so happy to have found this article. Thank you for publishing.
    Regards,
    Marianna

  25. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Marianna,

    Many thanks for your comment. I’m afraid that we haven’t got any relevant material here but the National Archives has a useful guide to records http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-person/commissionedofficerroyalnavy.htm. I hope you get plenty of responses.

    Best wishes,

    Alan

    • Marianna Lorenc says:

      Thank you Alan!

      I have only commenced my research, but already find very fascinating.

      Apart from finding and copying documents on Lord Hugh Beresford and HMS Kelly, I would love to meet somebody who still remembers Lord Hugh himself…

      I do too hope there are people out there who will be willing to talk to me about Lord Hugh.

      Thank you again for this wonderful article and responding to my post.

      Best,

      Marianna

  26. Andrea Fielding says:

    Hi my grandfather served on the. H.M.S Kelly I’m 48 years old he died when I was 6 my mum has his photo albums of his time on the Kelly .

    • Scott harrison says:

      My dads uncle died on the hms kelly after being torpedoed in crete . Im desperate to find photos of him and the crew . His name is joseph harrison … can you help please

    • Marianna Lorenc says:

      Dear Andrea,
      As you may gathered, I am conducting a research on Lt. Cmdr. Lord Hugh Tristram de la Poer Beresford RN (1908-41), who was a Lt. Cmdr on Kelly, during her last voyage.

      You mentioned that your grandfather served there too and that you had his photo albums. It would be lovely to be able to see them. Do you think we could meet some time in the future?

      I am based in Ireland, but travel to England on the research purpose every now and so often.

      Please, do kindly let me know if you would be willing to share your knowledge and show me your grandfather’s photo albums, at your convenience.

      Yours sincerely,
      Marianna Lorenc MA

  27. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Andrea,

    Thanks for getting in touch. Your grandfather’s photograph albums sound fascinating.

    I suspect that your mother would want to keep the albums in the family (they must have great sentimental value). However, if she ever wanted to donate them to a record office then we’d be delighted to hear from her.

    Best wishes,

    Alan

  28. Peter says:

    Hi all, a small story that may be of interest, yesterday morning April 29th, while walking on the beach at low tide in whitby, I found a life belt with the words HMS KELLY written on it, I had never come across the name before so I tried searching the ships name via google on my mobile phone, but I was unable to recieve a signal due to the location” ( bottom of the cliffs) so i took a photo of it for the purpose of researching it later and decided to leave it were it had been washed up, last night I put the name in google search, and I came across some very interesting and informative information about the history of hms Kelly during her short carrier , wow! The thought occurred to me that this lifebelt must have drifted for many thousands of miles , and for what must be 73 or 74 yrs since it’s sinking (May 1940/41 ?) I can’t be precise as dates differ, however the fact it has travelled all this way and over all these years almost to its own birth port (Hebburn) just up the coast from whitby is amazing” and it’s timing could not have been more appropriate since next month will be the anniversary of its sinking, anyway after finding out just what an interesting article I had found and left on the beach, I decided that I would go back down when the tide was out this morning and hopefully if it were still there and had not been reclaimed by the sea I would retrieve it” to conclude, I went down as the the tide was still receeding this morning and I found it just where I left it! To all of you whom have a family connection or interest in the HMS KELLY i hope you have enjoyed reading my email” my kind regards to you all, peter.

    • Alan Hayward says:

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for your comment – it’s really appreciated.

      I’ve spoken to a colleague who has more expertise in these matters and he’s fairly sceptical that your lifebelt would be an original item from HMS Kelly. He feels it’s unlikely that it would survive for so long in the water and also suggests that a WW2 Royal Navy lifebelt wouldn’t have included the vessel’s name. He wonders whether it might be a commemorative lifebelt thrown into the sea at a later date.

      I hope this response isn’t too disappointing!

      Best wishes,

      Alan

  29. Peter says:

    Hi all, a small story that may be of interest, yesterday morning April 29th, while walking on the beach at low tide in whitby, I found a life belt with the words HMS KELLY written on it, I had never come across the name before so I tried searching the ships name via google on my mobile phone, but I was unable to recieve a signal due to the location” ( bottom of the cliffs) so i took a photo of it for the purpose of researching it later and decided to leave it were it had been washed up, last night I put the name in google search, and I came across some very interesting and informative information about the history of hms Kelly during her short career , wow! The thought occurred to me that this lifebelt must have drifted for many thousands of miles , and for what must be 73 or 74 yrs since it’s sinking (May 1940/41 ?) I can’t be precise as dates differ, however the fact it has travelled all this way and over all these years almost to its own birth port (Hebburn) just up the coast from whitby is amazing” and it’s timing could not have been more appropriate since next month will be the anniversary of its sinking, anyway after finding out just what an interesting article I had found and left on the beach, I decided that I would go back down when the tide was out this morning and hopefully if it were still there and had not been reclaimed by the sea I would retrieve it” to conclude, I went down as the the tide was still receeding this morning and I found it just where I left it! To all of you whom have a family connection or interest in the HMS KELLY i hope you have enjoyed reading my email” my kind regards to you all, peter.

  30. Brian O' Neil says:

    I am trying to find out more information about my uncle John O’ Neil he served on HMS Kelly as radio operator in 1940 . Can anyone help ?

  31. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Brian,

    Many thanks for getting in touch. I’m afraid that the Archives only holds records relating to the construction and repair of the Kelly so sadly we can’t help. However, another reader might have some useful information. I’m sure they’ll get in touch if they do.

    If you haven’t already tried contacting the Ministry of Defence then there’s some useful information on how to do so on the Veterans UK website http://www.veterans-uk.info/service_records/service_records.html. I really hope you find what you’re looking for.

    Best wishes,

    Alan

  32. Graham Marsh says:

    Can anyone give me any information about my uncle George Ransom who was a Chief Petty Officer coxswain on HMS Kelly and was killed when she was sunk off Crete. I would like to know if he was on the bridge at the time.

  33. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Graham,

    Thank you very much for your comment. I’m afraid that we don’t have anything here at Tyne & Wear Archives but maybe a reader of the blog will have some information.

    The National Archives hold a lot of records relating to the Royal Navy and their website has some useful research guides http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/atoz/r.htm#. Sadly those records are unlikely to answer your main question about your uncle.

    Best wishes,

    Alan

  34. ray joblng says:

    for the last few years i have been in charge of st patricks club in thornaby when i took over the place was on its knees anythng of value had been removed/stolen ??? etc having removed bell out harms way but more to stop a gormless barmaid ringing it ahead of time. a good member mel the bell we call him did say it was aproper ships bell one of the members had given the club many years ago as i wll be leaving my role i was going to pass it on to the new guy in charge i have just checked the bell it reads hms kelly in small indented print could this be the ships bell many members would love hear that it hasent gone

  35. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Ray,

    Many thanks for getting in touch. I believe that the original ship’s bell of HMS Kelly is in South Shields Museum. It was acquired in 2010 and there’s an article about it here http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/north-east-news/tyne-wear-archives–museums-4463140.

    My first thought is that yours might be a commemorative bell but I’ll forward your message to a couple of colleagues who may be able to give you a more authoritative answer.

    Best wishes,

    Alan

  36. Jim Malia says:

    Thank you, Alan. I found your article very interesting and informative but also I must admit, a bit confusing. I’ve read various accounts of the short career of HMS Kelly and find inconsistencies abound. I wonder if you would be kind enough to check the facts laid out in the following which I wrote some years ago.
    My father didn’t build the Kelly all by himself. He had help but such was his pride in the work that I had the impression as a youngster that my father did indeed build the Kelly. He was a plater.

    “My father built the Kelly
    (so you’d think, so you’d think)
    And he built the ship in such a way
    that it would never sink, never sink.
    For welded longitudinals and water-tight compartments
    were planned to keep the craft afloat in battle and in storm
    Though torpedoed, mined or shot at
    In the worst of winter’s weather
    the ship, they said, would battle through.
    And it did. And it did.

    The Captain was informed that a tanker was seen burning
    off the mouth of the Tyne on a raw December day
    And he sent his craft at thirty knots
    speeding down the crowded river
    straight for the stricken tanker
    And her doom. And her doom.

    For the Kelly stuck a mine and was torn from stern to fo’c’sle
    and she listed deep to starboard
    and her decks were all awash.
    But her bulkheads and her welded lengths
    as her planners had intended
    took the strain and held on tight
    and kept the craft afloat.

    As she limped her way back up the Tyne
    to the Hebburn yard that built her
    with her crew all at attention
    Captain silent on the bridge
    the many men that knew her
    stood in silence as she passed them
    for they knew that within Kelly
    many of her crew lay dead.

    They were buried all together
    on a bright December morning
    And gently they were lowered
    by their comrades in the earth
    And a bugle sounded sadly
    as their Captain Lord Mountbatten
    raised his arm in sad salute
    to the men that he had lost.

  37. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for sharing those verses. They’re very moving.

    The images that I came across of HMS Kelly in the Hawthorn Leslie collection relate to torpedo damage caused in May 1940. I mentioned the mine damage in December 1939 in the blog but the photographs don’t relate to that incident.

    The limited information I have doesn’t suggest that any lives were lost as a result of the mine damage in December 1939. Sadly 27 crew members lost their lives in May 1940 and were buried at Hebburn. I wonder whether the two incidents have been merged slightly in your verses, which perhaps explains some of the confusion. I hope this helps.

    Best wishes,

    Alan

  38. Mrs Vanessa Green says:

    Hi Alan! Can you please email me as we might be able to help each other out regarding the ship yards!?

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

    From Vanessa Green!

    My mobile is:- 07779082234

  39. Christian Rogers says:

    Hi Alan I’m planning my first visit to see the H.M.S Kelly memorial at Hebburn Cemetery. My Grandad was a Stoker on the Kelly. I was wondering if you could recommend any other places of interest while we are visiting Regards Christian Rogers

  40. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Christian,

    Thanks for getting in touch. The North East is a very beautiful part of the country with plenty of great places to visit. You should be able to get a few ideas from the following website http://www.visitnortheastengland.com/.

    As regards HMS Kelly it would be a good idea to visit South Shields Museum and Art Gallery, where you’ll find the Kelly’s bell on display http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/south-shields.html. Of course, you’re also very welcome to visit the Archives to have a look at the photographs we hold relating to HMS Kelly (most of which are on Flickr). You can find details of our location and opening times on our website http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/tyne-and-wear-archives/visiting-us.html.

    Good luck planning your trip. I hope you enjoy your visit.

    Best wishes,

    Alan

  41. David Griffiths says:

    Hi Alan,

    Do you know if there is a 75th anniversary remembrance service planned for the 27 crew members killed on 9th May 1940? My great uncle was one of the 27 & I would like to be there.

    Regards
    Dave Griffiths

    • Alan Hayward says:

      Hi Dave,

      I’m very sorry about the delay in responding to your message. I usually get a system generated message when someone comments on one of my blogs but this hasn’t happened recently.

      It might be worth contacting the Hebburn and Sunderland Sea Cadets to see whether they can advise you of any remembrance services. They maintain a strong link to HMS Kelly. You can find contact details on their website http://www.sea-cadets.org/hebburnsunderland/address.aspx.

      I hope this helps.

      Best wishes,

      Alan

  42. Johanne Herman says:

    Hi Alan.

    My grandad, Sam Wilderspin, was involved with the rescue of Kelly and its return to Hebburn. I remember him being very proud of his involvement and remained very fond of Earl Mountbatten. He passed away in 1986 and I wish I’d asked him more about it. Do you have any information on his involvement by any chance? I seem to recall he was involved in manning a pump of some sort. My mum (his daughter) knew a lot more but, unfortunately, has dementia now. She did attend some gathering in Hebburn a number of years ago in connection with the Kelly and enjoyed hearing the tales very much.

    Thanks very much!
    Johanne

    • Alan Hayward says:

      Hi Johanne,

      Many thanks for your message about your grandfather, Sam Wilderspin.

      I’m afraid that our records only really cover the construction and repair of HMS Kelly and don’t give any details of her rescue. It’s a real shame! You could try searching Royal Navy records at the National Archives to see whether there’s something in there. There’s a useful research guide on their website, which might give you some pointers http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/research-guides/royal-navy-operations-1939-1945.htm.

      I hope this helps. Best wishes,

      Alan

  43. Johanne Herman says:

    I’ll do that. Thanks Alan!

    Johanne

  44. Peter johnson says:

    Hello Alan, my uncle Jack Johnson was killed on the Kelly and is buried in Hepburn
    Unfortunately we have very few pics of him and I wonder if anyone would have the pic of the original crew compliment. Many thanks.

  45. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Peter,

    Many thanks for getting in touch. The only image of any crew members that I know we have is a shot of the HMS Kelly bowls team, which played the shipbuilders team https://www.flickr.com/photos/twm_news/10037121903/in/album-72157635252478073/. The chance of your uncle being on there is quite slim.

    If you haven’t already tried contacting the National Maritime Museum then that would be a good idea. You can find further information about their historic photographs at http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections.html#!csearch;collectionReference=subject-90518;authority=subject-90518.

    Best of luck with your search.

    Alan

  46. Andy Stuart says:

    I have been interested in the HMS Kelly for quite some time and have found all of the comments most interesting especially those who say that have photo’s of the Kelly. I am currently building from scratch a 1:48 scale model of the HMS Kelly and I am trying to be as accurate as possible but I get conflicting information for example some say she had two depth charge rails on her stern and others say she had one, only today I have read on line that she had ten torpedo tubes but I believed she only had five. Photographs that may have been taken on board the HMS Kelly would be absolutely fantastic to see as this would help me make the most accurate model of her. If anybody has any photos they would like to share it would be most appreciated
    Regards Andy

  47. Ted Watt says:

    Hi Alan,
    Am researching Alexander Watt’s naval records. My late father was not a crew member of HMS Kelly but was rescued by her from the sinking of HMS Courageous in September 1939. Reading the history of HMS Kelly brings home the incredible courage and fortitude of all those involved in the conflict. As a youngster in the 1950s/60s I remember listening to a radio play or documentary about HMS Kelly. Do you know if a copy of the broadcast still exists. The music which provided background for the broadcast was the song “Has anyone here seen Kelly?”.

    • Alan Hayward says:

      Hi Ted,

      Thanks for getting in touch and sorry for the delay in responding. Your message has just been brought to my attention.

      I’m afraid that we don’t have a copy of the broadcast but if you haven’t already done so it might be worth checking to see whether it survives in the BBC Sound Archive. You can find further information at http://www.bl.uk/collection-guides/radio-broadcast-recordings. I hope this helps.

      Best wishes,

      Alan

  48. Sarah Brown says:

    Lovely to read that people are still talking about HMS Kelly. I first heard about her a few years ago when doing a little family tree research. It’s not something I’m into in a big way but dip in now and then. A distant previously unknown relative made contact with me and as a result I discovered that my great uncle perished at sea in The Battle of Crete. I believe he was a gunner… He was Able Seaman William Philipson. He hailed from Sparty Lea and some of his youth and childhood is talked about in a book I discovered called “A Ha’penny over the High Level” by Thomas Knowles Bell who moved to Allendale as a youngster and made friends with Uncle Bill. They went to join the Navy together but Bell failed his medical and Uncle Bill signed up and ended up on HMS Kelly. I am hoping to visit a few places later in the year such as the memorial at Hebburn and the war memorial in Allenheads where William, or Bill, Philipson is remembered. I also just read in the Shields Gazette an article from January saying that one of the last survivors died and was pictured at Bispham in Blackpool..5 miles up the road from where I live… It’s a small world…
    Now then I must go and find those photos on Flickr that are referred to in a post.
    Best wishes all.

    • Alan Hayward says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Sorry for the delay in acknowledging your comment – it’s only just been brought to my attention.

      I’m really glad that you enjoyed reading the blog and all the comments and I hope you managed to make the visit to the North East. Good luck with your family research.

      Best wishes,

      Alan

  49. Dominic English says:

    Hi.
    Been reading through these very interesting posts relating to HMS Kelly. My Grandfather, whom unfortunately I never knew, worked at Hawthorn Leslie’s, and on the building of Her. My Dad, who passed away in 1994, always said that he referred to Kelly as ‘his ship’ because of his pride at being involved. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about my Grandfather except that he worked at Hawthorn Leslie and met Lord Mountbatten whom he held in very high esteem. Wondering where I can find out more about his role at the shipyard etc. His name was Patrick English. Many thanks in anticipation.
    Dom

  50. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Dom,

    Thanks for your comment. We have a lot of documents in our Hawthorn Leslie collection but sadly these don’t include many items relating to the workers. Most of the records concern the ships and engines manufactured by the firm. A quick check through our lists suggests that it’s unlikely that the collection will include any direct reference to your grandfather. If anything should turn up, though, I’ll be sure to get in touch.

    It’s great to know of your grandfather’s pride at his involvement in building the Kelly – it was a feeling that seems to have been shared by many of those involved. She was a much loved ship.

    Best wishes,

    Alan

    • Dominic English says:

      Many thanks for your reply Alan. I remember as a kid, my dad showing me a photo of his dad shaking hands with Mountbatten at Hawthorn Leslie’s. Sadly my dad passed away in ’94 and neither my mum or I have any idea where that photo is. Just remember he was a smallish man, and was wearing, in that photo, in a light-coloured long overcoat. Is there anywhere I can look for photos from the yard on line? Think I’d recognise the pic if I saw it again despite it being almost 40 yrs since seeing it.
      Again, thank you for your reply. Much appreciated.

  51. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Dominic,

    I’m not sure whether you’ll be able to find the image online. If it was taken for one of the newspapers then you could try searching on a website such as http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/. It’s a bit of a long shot, though. If anything turns up in our Hawthorn Leslie collection I’ll get back in touch.

    Best wishes,

    Alan

  52. Stephen Carter says:

    My father was on the Kelly with Mountbatten in Narvik and was in the water,we have tried to get hold of his war records but until recently we did not know he was signed up under the name of Moat my nans maiden name as he was previously in the Hussars and lied about his age at Shornecliff so his mother had to buy him out.After the war I was born and my father was suffering epiletic fits and post war syndrome and spent the rest of his life in a mental home I still remember the shrapnel in his head and his memories of Mountbatten the Kelly and HMs Eskimo.

    • Alan Hayward says:

      Hi Stephen,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      I’m sorry to hear how your father suffered as a result of his war service – that must have been very hard for the whole family. Good luck with your search for his war records. I suspect that you already know where to apply for the information but if not, there’s useful information on the following website https://www.gov.uk/get-copy-military-service-records.

      Best wishes,

      Alan

  53. derek malcolm duffin says:

    i have a model of hms kelly scale 1/48 scratch built on fiberglass hull full r/c i still have the mouldtools for above have been trying to find a home for her . i am an 81year old pensioner living in spain tried offering to musem in gibb but lack of reponse. i also have model of hms gloworm same scale if any body interested please call me via email

  54. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Derek,

    Many thanks for getting in touch. I’ll forward that to a colleague at South Shields Museum. They might be interested in your model of the Kelly.

    Best wishes,

    Alan

  55. Derek Aston says:

    Dear Alan my grandfather served abord the Kelly when it was sunk and I believe there is a chapter in a book somewhere that mentions him. His name was Leslie Stewert (nickname Sam) he was operating pompom guns. Can you help?

  56. Karen Kelly-Markwick says:

    We are looking for information on Albert Edward Markwick who served with Louis Mountbatten on HMS kelly

  57. Iain.D.Smith says:

    Looking at some of the archive photos I see my father with the Hawthorn Leslie bowls team when they played crew of H.M.S. Kelly whilst she was building. My father was ship manager for the Kelly and Lord Louis asked him would he like a souvenir, he sent him a framed photo and letter promising “That the ship will remain”a picture” of which you may well be proud.” My father retired in Sept.1959. He used to attend the Kelly reunions most years. We had a sword belonging to Lord Louis which we gave to the HMS Kelly sea scouts. His name was Peter Ross Smith.

  58. Marianna says:

    Dear Alan,
    I am looking for the description/identification of the HMS Kelly crew members in the photograph taken at Malta in May 1941. Would you have any information?

    I am particularly looking for Lt. Cmdr. Lord Hugh Tristram de la Poer Beresford (about whom we corresponded some years ago) and his cabin-mate Surgeon Vincent Sheridan. The copy of the photograph I have got is so blurry that it is impossible to identify anyone. Perhaps you could suggest a good one?

    I would be very grateful for any clues.
    All good wishes,
    Marianna

  59. Peter Johnson says:

    Hi my name is Peter Johnson my uncle jack was killed on HMS Kelly in 1940 would appreciate any info or pics contact number is 07762582879

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