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Rudyard Kipling and the Royal Navy

Rudyard Kipling 1865-1936

Happy Birthday Rudyard Kipling!

The famous English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist was born in India on 31 December 1865. His birth and connection to India inspired much of his well known work including the Jungle Book, Kim and plenty of short stories too.

But, not many people know that Rudyard Kipling is connected to the Royal Navy.

Rudyard Kipling became acquainted with Admiral SirJohn Fisher when Fisher was Commander in Chief in Portsmouth. Fisher invited Kipling to visit a submarine, though on this occasion it was only in harbour. In 1915, Kipling did go briefly to sea in a submarine.

Kipling spent most of the autumn of 1915 visiting Dover and Harwich, the headquarters of the east coast patrols.

On his return from one visit, he learned that his son in the Irish Guards was wounded and missing in the Battle of Loos, but he resolutely completed “The Fringes of the Fleet”.

The following year he again went to Dover and visited the submarines at Harwich with whom he had established a close link, even writing small items for the HMS Maidstone submarine depot ship magazine.

HMS Kipling

HMS Kipling was named after the author and poet Rudyard Kipling, laid down at Yarrow, Scotstoun on the 20 October 1937 and launched on the 19 January 1939, by Kipling's daughter Elsie Bambridge and commissioned on the 12 December 1939.

On the 11 of October 1940, HMS Kipling, along with six other destroyers escorted the battleship HMS Renown to bombard the French port of Cherbourg.

Later in the war on the 23 of May 1941 HMS Kelly and HMS Kashmir were bombed and sunk by a formation of twenty-four dive-bombers with the loss of 210 lives.

The destroyer HMS Kipling was operating nearby and despite continuous bombing, rescued 279 officers and men including Lord Louis Mountbatten.

Next morning, while still fifty miles away from Alexandria and crowded from stem to stern with rescued men HMS Kipling completely ran out of fuel, but was eventually towed in to port.

On the 28 December 1941 HMS Kipling sank the German submarine U 75. Kipling was attacked by German Ju 88 bombers on the 11 May 1942 and sunk, 221 crew were saved.

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