In the Commonwealth War Graves section of Hebburn Cemetery is a common grave for 7 men from HMS Kelly. The communal grave also contains memorials to those from HMS Kelly lost in action who lie at rest in the sea.
|Hebburn Cemetery CWGC plot and HMS Kelly Memorial|
|Hebburn Cemetery HMS Kelly Memorial|
HMS Kelly was a K-class destroyer built by Hawthorn Leslie and Co. Ltd at Hebburn on the River Tyne. The vessels keel was laid 26th August 1937, being named after the Admiral of the Fleet at that time, Sir John Kelly.
|HMS Kelly K Class Destroyer|
|HMS Kelly launch party 25th October 1938|
|HMS Kelly launch Hawthorn Leslie Hebburn|
Taking command of HMS Kelly on 23rd June 1939 was Lord Louis Mountbatten. Recently promoted to Captain, Mountbatten would command the 5th Destroyer Flotilla from the Kelly.
|Lord Louis Mountbatten on Bridge of HMS Kelly|
HMS Kelly was commissioned on 23rd August 1939, ten days before the outbreak of World War Two, proceeding from the Tyne to Chatham.
|HMS Kelly leaving Hebburn 29th August 1939|
|HMS Kelly Sea Trials 1939|
On 3 September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany following the German invasion of Poland. On 12 September HMS Kelly headed to Le Havre to bring to bring the Duke of Windsor (the former King Edward VIII), who had been living in Paris, back to England.
|Duke of Windsor on board HMS Kelly|
HMS Kelly would serve in Home Waters conducting patrols and escorting ships to Norway. The ship would return to the Tyne in November, arriving on the 21st, to have storm damage repaired at the Hebburn Hawthorn Leslie shipyard.
On the 14th December with repairs complete, HMS Kelly left the Tyne and was sent to the assistance of two tankers who had struck mines, SS Inverlane and SS Atheltemplar. The same day, at 16:12 HMS Kelly struck a mine in her stern and was towed back to the Tyne, returning to the Hebburn Hawthorn Leslie shipyard where she had just left, for repairs. The ship spent nearly 3 months in dry dock, returning to service 29th February 1940. Her return was again short, two days later she collided with another destroyer, HMS Gurkha, necessitating another 3 weeks in dry dock on the Thames. HMS Kelly returned to active duty on 27th April proceeding to Scapa Flow.
On the 29th April HMS Kelly was assigned to the evacuation of troops from Norway. The Kelly was first alongside the dock at Namos embarking 150 French troops. The overall operation resulted in 1,850 British, 2,345 French, and some Norwegian troops being evacuated, as well as 30 German prisoners.
|Naval Operations Norway April 1940|
On 9th May 1940, the Fifth Flotilla headed by HMS Kelly were tasked with intercepting German minelayers and their escorts conducting operations in the North Sea. At 22:30 on the night of 9th May, the Kelly was torpedoed and badly damaged by the German motor torpedo boat S31.
|HMS Kelly torpedo damage|
By jettisoning as much topside ammunition as possible the vessel remained afloat. In the dark, HMS Bulldog managed to get a tow rope attached to the Kelly and she was taken in tow. Shortly after midnight the two ships came under attack by motor torpedo boat S33 which crashed into the vessels, S33 succumbing to the damage caused during the collision. In the morning the wounded on board Kelly were transferred to HMS Kandahar. Bodies were recovered and buried at sea, the initial loss being 20 men. Other ships were despatched to form an escort for the stricken Kelly and coastal command alerted to provide air cover. Continuing under tow from HMS Bulldog, the Kelly with a skeleton crew on board limped toward the Tyne.
|HMS Kelly under tow by HMS Bulldog|
The Luftwaffe attempted to bomb the stricken ship, but were driven off by the combined firepower of the escorting ships. The German bombers would return over the next two days.
Off the Tyne, the tow was transferred to two tugs and on the afternoon of 13th May after 92 hours on tow and barely afloat, HMS Kelly reached the safety of Tynemouth. Once again the HMS Kelly returned to Hawthorn Leslie Hebburn Shipyard to be repaired.
|HMS Kelly arriving Tynemouth|
|HMS Kelly arrival on the River Tyne|
|HMS Kelly damage Hawthorn Leslie shipyard|
|HMS Kelly damage Hawthorn Leslie shipyard|
|HMS Kelly 1941|
Devonport inspection by Prince George, the Duke of Kent
On 21st April HMS Kelly departed Plymouth for Gibraltar, from where she form part of naval forces escorting ships to Malta.
|HMS Kelly Malta 1941|
German Paratroopers began an airborne invasion of Crete on 20th May 1941, capturing Meleme airfield which allowed re-enforcement of the initial assault troops. German forces began to overwhelm the defenders and Allied troops withdrew to the southern coast for evacuation.
|HMS Kelly Memorial to those lost 9th May 1940 |
and those killing when the ship was sunk 23rd May 1941
|Lord Louis Mountbatten|
Lord Mountbatten would continue with his naval career, his appointments including Chief of Combined Operations and Supreme Allied Commander South Eastern Theatre. After the war he would become Viceroy of India overseeing independence and partition of India and Pakistan. His final naval position was First Sea Lord, after which he became Chief of the Defence Staff, retiring in 1964.