HMS Kale (1904)

HMS Kale was a River class destroyer that served with the Ninth Destroyer Flotilla in 1914-1915 and the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla until she was sunk by a mine on 27 March 1918

The original River class boats carried their forward 6-pdr guns on sponsons on either side of the forecastle, but this made them too low and rather wet in some circumstances. From the 1902/3 batch onwards the forward guns were thus moved to a higher position alongside the 12-pdr gun.

The Kale was one of three River class destroyers ordered from Hawthorn Leslie in the 1903/04 batch. They both had two funnels.

By 1912 Brassey’s Naval Annual listed her as being armed with four 12-pounder guns after her 6-pounders were replaced because they were felt to be ineffective.

Pre-war Career

In June 1905 the Kale put to see for trials off the Tyne, expecting to be back in port within a few hours. Instead she became fog-bound and was stuck off the Tyne for 24 hours. Unfortunately she was only carrying food for 12 hours, and her trial crew had to make do with bread and jam.

HMS Kale from the right
HMS Kale from the right

In 1906-1907 the Kale was one of six River class destroyers in the 1st Destroyer Flotilla, part of the Channel Fleet, at that time the main battleship force of the Royal Navy.

On 6 December 1906 one of her crew, second class petty officer MacAllister, fell overboard at Portland and was believed to be drowned. Early in January 1907 the Kale picked up the body of a drowned sailor, who later turned out to be their own missing man.

In 1907-1909 the Kale was one of fourteen River class destroyers in the 1st or 3rd Destroyer Flotillas of the Channel Fleet, which was now becoming less important. As a result its destroyers only had nucleus crews.

In 1909-11 the Kale was either one of thirteen River Class destroyers in the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore or four in the 4th Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth, both part of the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet. This contained the older battleships and its destroyers were partly manned.

On Wednesday 28 September 1910 the Teviot, Kale and Swale arrived at Hull, for a brief visit, which was expected to last until the following Monday. The arrival of warships was often a cause of great interest, and efforts were made to open them up for public visits.

On Wednesday 11 October 1911 two of her crew - Bertie Page, an officers steward and Thomas Cairns, an able seaman – were charged with stealing a cruet and five bottles from the Norfolk Hotel and Dining Rooms at Harwich. Both men were found guilty, and were fined £1 8s 6d each (paid by an officer from the ship).

In 1911-12 the Kale was part of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, which was made up of twenty-three River class destroyers and was part of the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet. This contained the older battleships and the destroyers were all partly manned.

On Sunday 4 February 1912 a collier dragged her moorings in a snowstorm at Sheerness and drifted into the Kale¸ pulling off her propeller guard.

In 1912-14 the Kale was one of twenty five River class destroyers that formed the 9th Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, one of the new Patrol Flotillas.

In July 1914 she was one of sixteen River class destroyers in the Ninth Flotilla at Chatham.

First World War

In August 1914 she was one of six destroyers from the Ninth Flotilla that were reported to be at sea at the outbreak of war.

In November 1914 she was one of four destroyers in the 2nd Division of the Ninth Flotilla, now operating from the Tyne.

In January 1915 she was part of the Ninth Destroyer Flotilla, a patrol flotilla

This flotilla consisted of the Pathfinder class scout cruiser Patrol and twelve destroyers, and was normally split into four divisions. One would be at Immingham in the Humber, having their boilers cleaned. The other three, each of three destroyers, were based on the Tyne and Tees, with the task of patrolling the area between St Abb’s Head in the north and Flamborough Head in the south. In March this force had to cope with the appearance of German U-boats off the east coast.

In June 1915 she was one of ten River class destroyers in the Ninth Destroyer Flotilla on the Tyne.

By October 1915 she was listed as part of the Seventh Flotilla, based on the Humber.

In January 1916 she was one of eight destroyers from the Seventh Flotilla that were based on the Tyne, north of the Flotilla’s main base on the Humber.

In October 1916 she was one of nineteen destroyers in the Seventh Flotilla, a mix of River class boats and older 30-knotters.

In January 1917 she wasn’t listed in the Pink List.

In June 1917 she was one of twenty three destroyers in a new formation, East Coast Convoys, Humber, that was formed around the Seventh Flotilla to help run the new convoy system.

In January 1918 she was one of twenty seven destroyers in the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla, based on the Humber.

On 27 March 1918 the Exe and the Kale hit mines while operating off the east coast. The Exe was damaged, and lost five men, but the Kale was sunk with the loss of forty men.

Lt Commander Lockey: -September 1910-
Commander Berwick Curtis: 23 August 1912-April 1913-
Ch. Artif. Eng Harry Smith: -January 1914-
Commander Berwick Curtis: June 1914-January 1915-

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed







225.5ft oa
220ft pp


23ft 7in


One 12-pounder gun
Five 6-pounder guns
Two 18in torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

 16 February 1904


8 November 1904


August 1905



British Destroyers From Earliest Days to the Second World War, Norman Friedman. A very detailed look at the design of British destroyers from their earliest roots as torpedo boat destroyers, though the First World War and up to the start of the Second World War, supported by vast numbers of plans and well chosen photographs [read full review]
cover cover cover

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (5 March 2020), HMS Kale (1904) ,

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