HMS Kingston (F64)

HMS Kingston was a K-class destroyer of the Royal Navy.

HMS Kingston (F64)
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Kingston
Builder: J. Samuel White and Company, Cowes, Isle of Wight
Laid down: 6 October 1937
Launched: 9 January 1939
Sponsored by: Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames
Commissioned: 14 September 1939
Identification: pennant number: F64
Fate: Declared constructive total loss after naval action and airstrikes, scrapped at Malta
General characteristics (as built)
Class and type: K-class destroyer
Length: 356 ft 6 in (108.66 m) o/a
Beam: 35 ft 9 in (10.90 m)
Draught: 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m) (deep)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 2 × shafts; 2 × geared steam turbines
Speed: 36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph)
Range: 5,500 nmi (10,200 km; 6,300 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 183 (218 for flotilla leaders)
Sensors and
processing systems:

The early years

Kingston was laid down by J. Samuel White and Company at Cowes on the Isle of Wight on 6 October 1937 as part of an order for six similar destroyers. She was launched at East Cowes on 9 January 1939 and named by the Mayoress of Kingston upon Thames.[1] Commissioned on 14 September 1939 with the pennant number F64, she joined the 5th Destroyer Flotilla, Home Fleet, for convoy defence and anti-submarine duties in the North Sea.

In company with the destroyers HMS Kashmir and HMS Icarus, Kingston attacked U-35 with depth charges in the North Sea off Shetland on 29 November 1939, and forced her to scuttle. All the crew of the U-boat were rescued and taken prisoner.[2]

Red Sea operations

In May 1940 she was transferred to the Red Sea. Her pennant number for visual signalling purposes was changed to G64. In June she took part in the sinking of the Italian submarine Torricelli off Perim Island, and later attacked the Italian submarine Perla.

On 17 March 1941 she supported landings at Berbera, British Somaliland. On 5 April Kingston found the Leone-class destroyers Pantera and Tigre aground south of Jeddah whose hulls, having been scuttled by the Italians, were subsequently destroyed by gunfire and air attack.

Force C and the battles of Sirte

In April 1941 Kingston was deployed to Alexandria to join the Eastern Mediterranean Fleet. There, she was involved in the evacuation of Allied troops from mainland Greece to Crete. On 20 May she deployed as part of Force C to the Battle of Crete.

On the night of 21 May 1941 Force C intercepted a convoy of 20 troop carrying caiques escorted by the Italian torpedo boat Lupo heading for Crete. Ten of the caiques were sunk and the landing prevented, but Lupo successfully covered the withdrawal of the remainder of the convoy. Cruiser HMS Orion was damaged in the action.

On 22 May 1941 Force C was sent to the Aegean Sea through the Kasos Strait to intercept a further invasion convoy of 30 caiques, escorted by the Sagittario. One detached caique was sunk and, although the British did not press the attack on the main convoy, the Germans were forced to abort their attempt to reach Crete. Nonetheless, Sagittario covered the convoy's retreat by lying a smoke screen and firing her guns and torpedoes at the British squadron.[3] According to British sources, Kingston suffered no damage from the naval engagement[N 1] but splinter damage was reported from German air attacks.[7][8][6][9][10] Force C was the target of fierce airstrikes which continued when they joined up with Force A1 at the Kithera channel. Kingston and HMS Kandahar were sent to pick up survivors when the destroyer HMS Greyhound was bombed and sunk. Later the same day the cruisers HMS Gloucester and Fiji were also lost to air attacks. On 23 May Kingston and Kandahar returned and rescued 523 survivors.

She returned to Alexandria on 24 May 1941, and was taken in hand for repairs and modifications, among which was the replacement of the aft set of torpedo tubes with a four-inch anti-aircraft gun in recognition of the devastating effect of the air attacks suffered by Force C.

Kingston was engaged in defensive convoy duties to Tobruk and often as part of the escort for Breconshire on runs to Malta. She was also in action against Axis convoys and against the Vichy French in Syria.

On 17 December 1941 she took part in a brief engagement with the Italian Fleet, known as the First Battle of Sirte.

On 22 March 1942 Kingston took part of the escort of convoy MW10 in the Second Battle of Sirte, where, as the destroyers turned to fire their torpedoes on the Italian battle fleet, she was hit by a 15-inch shell fired by the Italian battleship Littorio which passed right through the foremost starboard whaleboat and burst under the anti-aircraft guns mounting, leaving a big hole in the deck; despite this, she launched three torpedoes. Fifteen men of her crew were killed in this incident, which left the destroyer temporarily dead in the water, the whaleboat torn to pieces, her anti-aircraft guns, searchlight tower and torpedo launchers smashed by the explosion, her starboard boiler and port engine out of action.[11][12] According to some authors, like James Sadkovich and Vincent O'Hara, she was instead struck by an 8-inch round from the heavy cruiser Gorizia.[13][14] Maurizio Brescia instead credits the heavy cruiser Trento with the hit.[15] With an engine in flames and a flooded boiler, she managed to recover her speed with the remaining engine, reaching Malta the next day.[11]

Air raids and loss

On 4 April 1942, whilst the destroyer was in dock at Malta repairing the damage from the naval encounter, a bomb fell directly at the entrance of the Corradino tunnel, where part of her crew had taken shelter. Fourteen crewmen were killed by the blast including Commander Philip Somerville DSO., Lieutenant P. Hague, and Yeoman of Signals John Murphy, who was at their side, whilst directing the men into the safety of the Corradino tunnel. All 14 crewmen are buried at either the Mtarfa Military Cemetery or the Capuccini Naval Cemetery. Approximately 35 dock workers were also wounded.[11]

Kingston was attacked by German aircraft on 5 April and was further damaged by a near miss. On 8 April she was hit by a bomb, forward. This penetrated the decks and passed out of the ships bottom without exploding. But now the destroyer needed to go into dry dock for underwater repairs. On 9 April she was placed in No. 4 dock, but remained afloat. By 11 April she was still afloat in the dock. – perhaps plates bent outwards by the passage of the bomb through the bottom made it impossible to dock-down and these plates were being burnt away by divers. At about 17.30 on 11 April 1942 she was hit on the port side amidships in the area of the bulkhead between the engine-room and the gearing-room by Junkers Ju 87 aircraft from Sturzkampfgeschwader 3. She rolled over on her port side and sank in the dock. The ship was declared a constructive total loss. On 21 January 1943 the No. 4 dock was dried-out. The damaged midships part of the destroyer was scrapped, thus separating the destroyer in two sections. Dummy bulkheads were fitted to make the two sections float-able while an amount of the superstructure was burnt away. The two sections of Kingston were floated out of the dock on 5 April 1943 and in June were scuttled as a blockship between the Selmun headland and Selmunett Island (St Paul's Island) in northern Malta in the preparations for making a safe anchorage before the invasion of Sicily. In the early 1950s the two sections of the Kingston were scrapped, where sunk, by Italian shipbreakers.[11]


  1. Italian claims that RIN Sagittario damaged HMS Kingston[4][5] are not support by official Admiralty damage reports.[6]


  1. "Launch of the Kingston – Destroyer ordered in 1937". News. The Times (48199). London. 10 January 1939. col D, p. 7.
  2. Naval Events, November 1939
  3. MacDonald, C.A. (1993). The Lost Battle--Crete, 1941. Free Press. p. 243. ISBN 0029196256.
  4. Green, Jack & Massignani, Alessandro (1998). The Naval War in the Mediterranean, 1940–1943, Chatam Publishing, London, p. 170. ISBN 1-885119-61-5
  5. Roberti, Vero (1977). Uno contro sei: Il contributo della Marina italiana alla conquista di Creta (in Italian). Mursia. p. 123.
  6. Director of Naval Construction
  7. Admiralty Historical Section, pp.11–12
  8. Brown, pp.106–107
  9. Pack, pp.34–38
  10. Roskill, p.442
  11. "HMS Kingston". Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  12. Langtree, Christopher (2002). The Kelly's: British J, K, and N Class Destroyers of World War II. Naval Institute Press. p. 140. ISBN 1557504229.
  13. Sadkovich, James (1994). The Italian Navy in World War II, Greenwood Press, Westport, p. 245. ISBN 0-313-28797-X
  14. O'Hara, Vincent P. (2009). Struggle for the Middle Sea. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, p. 168. ISBN 978-1-59114-648-3
  15. Brescia, Maurizio (2012). Mussolini's Navy: A Reference Guide to the Regia Marina 1930–1945. Barnsley: Seaforth, p. 74 ISBN 1-84832-115-5.


  • Admiralty Historical Section, Naval Staff History (1960). Naval Operations in the Battle of Crete (BR 1732 (2) Battle Summary No. 4). Britain: Admiralty.
  • Brown, David (2002). The Royal Navy and the Mediterranean: November 1940 – December 1941. Whitehall Histories. II. London: Whitehall History in association with Frank Cass. ISBN 0-7146-5205-9.
  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8.
  • Director of Naval Construction (1952). H.M. Ships Damaged or Sunk by Enemy Action, 1939–1945 (PDF). Britain: Admiralty.
  • English, John (2001). Afridi to Nizam: British Fleet Destroyers 1937–43. Gravesend, Kent: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-64-9.
  • Friedman, Norman (2006). British Destroyers & Frigates: The Second World War and After. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-86176-137-6.
  • Haarr, Geirr H. (2010). The Battle for Norway: April–June 1940. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-051-1.
  • Haarr, Geirr H. (2009). The German Invasion of Norway, April 1940. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-310-9.
  • Langtree, Charles (2002). The Kelly's: British J, K, and N Class Destroyers of World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-422-9.
  • Lenton, H. T. (1998). British & Empire Warships of the Second World War. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-048-7.
  • March, Edgar J. (1966). British Destroyers: A History of Development, 1892–1953; Drawn by Admiralty Permission From Official Records & Returns, Ships' Covers & Building Plans. London: Seeley Service. OCLC 164893555.
  • Pack, S.W.C. (1973). The Battle for Crete. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-810-7.
  • Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945: The Naval History of World War Two (Third Revised ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2.
  • Roskill, S. W. (1957) [1954]. Butler, J. R. M (ed.). War at Sea. History of the Second World War United Kingdom Military Series. I (4th impr. ed.). London: HMSO. OCLC 881709135. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  • Shores, Christopher; Cull, Brian; Malizia, Nicola (1987). Air War For Yugoslavia, Greece, and Crete 1940–41. London: Grub Street. ISBN 0-948817-07-0.
  • Whitley, M. J. (1988). Destroyers of World War 2. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-326-1.

Research Material

  • Imperial War Museum archives collection "George Sear"
  • Imperial War Museum archives collection "John Murphy"

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