Allied Warships

HMS Keith (D 06)

Destroyer of the B class

HMS Keith before World War Two

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantD 06 
ModFlotilla leader 
Built byVickers Armstrong (Barrow-in-Furness, U.K.) 
Ordered22 Mar 1929 
Laid down1 Oct 1929 
Launched10 Jul 1930 
Commissioned20 Mar 1931 
Lost1 Jun 1940 
Loss position51° 04'N, 2° 08'E

On 1 June 1940 HMS Keith (Capt. Edward Lyon Berthon, RN, also Commanding officer of the 19th Destroyer Flotilla) was sunk by German Stuka dive bombers off Dunkirk, France while she was participating in the evacuaton of the British Expeditionary Force from France.
The wreck lies in 23 meters of water in position 51º04'43"N, 02º08'46"E.


Commands listed for HMS Keith (D 06)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1Capt. Alfred Jerome Lucian Phillips, RN31 Jul 19396 Sep 1939
2Cdr. (retired) Henry Thurston Wake Pawsey, OBE, RN6 Sep 193915 Feb 1940
3Capt. David James Robert Simson, RN15 Feb 194023 May 1940 (+)
4Capt. Edward Lyon Berthon, DSC, RN27 May 19401 Jun 1940

You can help improve our commands section
Click here to Submit events/comments/updates for this vessel.
Please use this if you spot mistakes or want to improve this ships page.

Notable events involving Keith include:

7 Oct 1939
Around 1000A/7, the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN) departed Plymouth for the Brest area to make rendezvous with French warships and then on to Dakar. On departure from Plymouth HMS Hermes was escorted by the destroyers HMS Keith (Cdr.(Retd.) H.T.W. Pawsey, OBE, RN) and HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN).

Around 1915A/7, HMS Hermes anchored off Brest. The destroyers then returned to Plymouth.

Around 2115A/7, HMS Hermes got underway again to proceed to the Dakar area in company with French warships. These were the battlecruiser Strasbourg (Capt. J.F.E. Bouxin) and the destroyers Le Fantasque (Capt. P.A.B. Still), Le Terrible (Cdr. A.E.R. Bonneau) and L’Audacieux (Cdr. L.M. Clatin). This force was known as 'Force N'.

Around 1430A/10, the heavy cruisers Algerie (Capt. L.H.M. Nouvel de la Fleche) and Dupleix (Capt. L.L.M. Hameury) and the destroyers Maille Breze (Cdr. H.M.E.A. Glotin) and Vauquelin (Cdr. R. Jaujard) joined.

The Force arrived at Dakar on 14 October 1939. (1)

9 Oct 1939
Around 2100 hours the British destroyers HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, RN with Capt. G.E. Creasy, MVO, RN aboard), HMS Gipsy (Lt.Cdr. N.J. Crossley, RN), HMS Keith (Cdr. H.T.W. Pawsey, OBE, RN), HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. G.B. Kingdon, RN) and the Polish destroyer Grom (Lt.Cdr. A. Hulewicz, ORP) were ordered to leave Harwich and establish a patrol in the North Sea. Shortly before that, a German He 59 seaplane dropped two magnetic mines nearby, but there was no time for searching. HMS Gipsy hit one of those mines which tore her into two pieces. Most of the survivors were picked up by HMS Griffin and HMS Keith. (2)

2 Nov 1939
A submarine was reported near Margate Buoy and the destroyers HMS Keith (Cdr.(Retd.) H.T.W. Pawsey, OBE, RN), HMS Blanche (Lt.Cdr. R.N. Aubrey, RN) and HMS Gurkha (Cdr. F.R. Parham, RN) were ordered to hunt this submarine. No contact was obtained though.

12 Feb 1940
The aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), which was on passage from Freetown to the U.K. was joined around 0925Z/12 by the destroyer HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.T. White, RN).

Around 1045A/12 the destroyers HMS Keith (Cdr.(Retd.) H.T.W. Pawsey, OBE, RN), HMS Veteran (Cdr. J.E. Broome, RN) and HMS Wakeful (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, RN) also joined.

HMS Ark Royal had been ordered to search the area for German merchant vessels which are thought to be present in the area having left Vigo, Spain to return to Germany. (3)

15 Feb 1940
HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Keith (Cdr.(Retd.) H.T.W. Pawsey, OBE, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.T. White, RN), HMS Veteran (Cdr. J.E. Broome, RN) and HMS Wakeful (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, RN) arrived at Portsmouth. (4)

10 May 1940
Around 1415A/10, the light cruisers HMS Galatea (Capt. B.B. Schofield, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral G.F.B. Edward-Collins, CB, KCVO, RN), HMS Arethusa (Capt. Q.D. Graham, RN) and the destroyers HMS Keith (Capt. D.J.R. Simson, RN) and HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN) departed Sheerness for operations off the Dutch coast.

During the night of 10/11 May 1940, HMS Galatea embarked a few Dutch army officers. She was also supposed to evacuate members of the Dutch Royal family but they had delayed their departure.

HMS Arethusa and HMS Boreas escorted the Dutch merchant vessel Iris (905 GRT, built 1920) to Southend. The Iris had on board some of the gold reserve from the Dutch National Bank. Following this escort duty, HMS Arethusa and HMS Boreas, arrived at Sheerness around 0630A/3.

HMS Keith escorted the Dutch merchant vessel Titus (1712 GRT, built 1930). The uncompleted Dutch light cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Lt.Cdr. A. van Foreest, RNN) is also with them. HMS Keith arrived at Sheerness either late on the 11th or early on the 12th. (5)

Media links

British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


  1. ADM 53/109170 + ADM 53/109430 + ADM 53/110977
  2. Personal communication
  3. ADM 53/111429
  4. ADM 53/111430
  5. ADM 53/111411 + ADM 53/112281 + ADM 199/379

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

Return to the Allied Warships section

As an Amazon Associate earns a commission from qualifying purchases.