Able Seaman Charles Kelly (D/SSX 17785) served in the Royal Navy during World War Two. He was born on 21st February 1918 in Killyleagh, Co. Down. Kelly was on the crew of HMS Matabele (G26) when it sank on 17th January 1942.
The 1,870-ton destroyer completed at Scott’s Shipbuilding and Engineering Co in Greenock, Scotland in January 1939. With the outbreak of war, HMS Matabele became involved in intercepting German shipping and U-Boat patrols. The incident in January 1942, saw it sunk by U-454 under the captaincy of Burckhard Hacklaender.
Hacklaender’s U-Boat torpedoed HMS Matabele. At 2221hrs, one missile hit the stern causing magazines to explode. The ship sank within two minutes into freezing water in the Kola Inlet, north of Murmansk, Russia. Only two men from the crew of 238 survived.
Survivors could not free the Carley floats from their frozen lashings. Most leaped overboard although some died when depth charges exploded. The majority died of hypothermia in the water. Minesweeper HMS Harrier’s Captain EP Hinton DSO picked up four men of which two survived.
Charles Kelly’s name is on Panel 65, Column 3 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Plymouth, Devon, United Kingdom. His name also features on the Killyleagh War Memorial, Killyleagh, Co. Down.