THE only surviving relic from one of the Tyne’s most celebrated warships is to return home.
After The Journal revealed that the bell from the Second World War destroyer HMS Kelly was due to be auctioned in London, Tyne Wear Archives & Museums stepped in with a bid.Related content
Their efforts at the Bonham’s sale were successful and the bell was bought for £6,500.
It will now take pride of place in the Tales of South Tyneside gallery, which was added to South Shields Museum & Art Gallery in a major revamp of the building from 2002-04.
One of the themes of the gallery is the impact of the war on South Tyneside.
The arrival of the bell will also mark the 150th anniversary on April 10 of the opening of the building.
“It is fantastic and the coincidence could not be better,” said museum manager Alisdair Wilson.
HMS Kelly was built by Hawthorn Leslie at Hebburn in South Tyneside and was commissioned as the Second World War started. Commanded by Lord Louis Mountbatten, she was the inspiration for the 1942 Noel Coward film In Which We Serve.
After being repaired twice after striking a mine and later colliding with another warship, she joined the Norwegian campaign in 1940, only to be torpedoed by a German E-boat and later damaged further by another E-Boat – which collided at high speed with the destroyer Bulldog and cannoned off her on to Kelly, killing 27 crew and injuring 21.
Severely damaged and barely afloat, she was taken under tow and for four days she was attacked by E-boats and bombers as she battled back to the Tyne.
The bell was removed during extensive repairs on the Tyne and the fallen crewmen were buried in the town cemetery in Hebburn, which has a Kelly pub, Kelly Road and Mountbatten Avenue.
HMS Kelly was sunk by Stuka dive bombers off Crete in 1941.
Mr Wilson said: “HMS Kelly remains an iconic name on South Tyneside, not only as a memorial to those who perished during her war service but also as a testimony to the workmanship and integrity of Hebburn-built ships.
“The bell from the Kelly has huge resonance for Hebburn and South Tyneside.”
In the same sale, the bell from the light cruiser HMS Newfoundland, built on the Tyne by Swan Hunter in 1942, fetched £2,640.