This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: MGH 2740).


START 00:00:00 Scenes filmed on 17 September 1940 on the bridge of HMS Kent in the eastern Mediterranean showing Royal Navy officers wearing tropical uniforms and British steel helmets on duty in bright sunshine; among them is a US Navy officer, Lieutenant-Commander Opie, seen here wearing sun glasses, Kent's skipper, Captain Douglas Young-Jamieson, also wearing sun glasses and a steel helmet marked 'Captain', and Rear Admiral Edward de Faye Renouf, commander of the 3rd Cruiser Squadron. Captain Young-Jamieson, in jovial spirits, tries on a helmet belonging to his gunnery officer (it is marked 'GO'), takes it off and puts his own back on. Three Fairey Fulmar Mk 1 fighter/reconnaissance aircraft from HMS Illlustrious (805 Squadron Fleet Air Arm) fly in a tight 'vic' formation some distance away from HMS Kent. Opie the American is seen taking a walk on the quarterdeck and posing for the camera with an army officer identified by Blundell as Major Duncan of the Cameronians.

00:01:23 Scenes filmed on 18 September 1940 during HMS Kent's voyage back to Alexandria just hours after a torpedo hit near the stern, showing the quarterdeck with cables and other bits of unidentifiable gear as part of the damage control measures to prevent the loss of the heavy cruiser and all the air vents for below decks sealed with tightly-bound kapok coverings as the bodies of the 33 men killed by the torpedo have not yet been removed. A rubberised pipe used to pump water out of flooded compartments trails out of a hatch leading below onto the quarterdeck. A close-up of a tin of pyrene, a chemical used by the Royal Navy as a pesticide, a wooden crate with tins of pesticide and a mobile engine-powered pump and rubberised pipes used to fumigate the ship. A view of two large hydraulic jacks (used according to Blundell to 'put the rudder straight') lying on the decking.

00:02:37 Scenes on the quarterdeck inside the harbour at Alexandria as uniformed members of the local civilian dockyard fire brigade (complete with polished silver helmets) busy themselves with fire hoses whilst several of the ship's officers confer with a British (?) civilian dock official. Major Duncan is also seen on deck. The civilian fire fighters and members of the ship's crew are seen setting up fumigation equipment and pumping pyrene pesticide into a compartment below deck (possibly the steering flat). Views from the bow and the bridge as a tug slowly tows HMS Kent into a floating dock. Over-exposed views of an ambulance launch with Red Cross markings with the bodies of the men removed from the stricken stern compartments of HMS Kent alongside the netlayer HMS Protector, the vessel that towed the crippled cruiser into Alexandria.

00:04:56 Scenes filmed on 21 September 1940 on board HMS Kent showing civilian dock workers using sheerlegs to remove damaged equipment and stores from below and naval ratings using a winch and cable to retrieve an 8-inch projectile from the stern magazine via a hatch on the quarterdeck. Shots of soiled clothes, blankets and uniforms brought up from below on deck, men down below in the steering flat (?) cleaning up debris and stores and other equipment damaged by fire and water awaiting disposal and damaged furniture and other fixtures and fittings being lifted off the ship in a cargo net and dumped into a barge. Views filmed from HMS Kent showing two barges being used to remove fire- and water-damaged equipment, one filled with furniture, stores, clothing etc, the other with dozens of 8-inch shells removed from the stern magazine and neatly arranged in rows.

00:06:52 Scenes filmed on 2 October 1940 inside the floating dock at Alexandria in the course of repairs to HMS Kent showing three Egyptian dock workers posing for the camera and a portable German-built compressor for pneumatic rivetters and manufacturer's plates (Motoren-Werke-Mannheim AG). Shots of HMS Kent's three-bladed starboard inner propellor after its removal from the propeller shaft and the manufacturer's inscription; the only information that can be gleaned from this shot is the propeller's pitch and the date of manufacture (1925). Views of the supporting A-frame bracket for the starboard prop shaft showing where the explosion from the torpedo fractured it and, looking along the line of the ship from near the stern, the hole in the hull below the waterline created by the torpedo strike; both the 8mm film format and shadow makes it difficult to see the full extent of the damage. Shots of long curved replacement steel ship frames (?) lying on the floor of the floating dock.

00:08:44 Shots showing cement bags stacked in piles and sand and drums of water and dockworkers mixing up cement, sand, water and aggregrate to make a temporary filling for the hole in the hull. Views of a small hole made in the teak decking on the quarterdeck by the explosion below the waterline. Shots showing damaged steel plates, girders and other metal components on the quarterdeck awaiting disposal, dockyard workers using sheerlegs to haul up another buckled steel plate from below and drop it over the side and an untidy pile of steel wreckage on the floor of the floating dock. A close-up of a bird's egg alongside a two shilling (?) coin with the head of King George V for scale. A view of the wooden scaffolding put up by dockyard workers repairing the torpedo damage. From on top of the dock, a view of the repaired starboard inner propeller shaft as water is gradually let into the floating dock.

00:11:47 Shots showing a wooden crate containing three 4-inch projectiles, naval ratings removing 4-inch shells one by one from another crate and a box of 4-inch fuse cones. A naval rating is seen removing the metal foil wrapping from a 4-inch fuse cone; the safety plug on a 4-inch shell is loosed with the help of a specially-designed key, removed and replaced with a fuse cone.

00:12:57 Scenes filmed on 16 October 1940 showing four destroyers belonging to the 14th Destroyer Flotilla sporting a three-tone disruptive camouflage scheme returning to their moorings in the inner harbour at Alexandria; the lead vessel is a V and W Class destroyer, HMS Vampire (pennant number 'D68'), the second is the D Class destroyer HMS Dainty (pennant number 'H53'). The V and W Class destroyer moors alongside an RFA oiler (either Mixol or Thermol) and, in the distance, the battleship HMS Malaya steams into the outer harbour. The Tribal Class destroyer HMS Nubian (pennant number 'F36') and (possibly) another D Class destroyer steam past the camera; visible in the background are several cruisers and battleships interned by the British for the previous two months since the surrender of France. A slightly out-of-focus shot of the forward part of the fleet carrier HMS Illustrious in the foreground and in the background the light cruiser HMS Liverpool being towed into Alexandria harbour after being torpedoed by an Italian torpedo-bomber. Views filmed the next day (17 October) from starboard and port showing the forward part of HMS Liverpool - the entire bow forward of A turret has disappeared, leaving a mass of tangled steel and A turret itself, still pointing to port, has been completely wrecked but the light cruiser's system of internal subdivision appears to be working well. Views of the starboard side of the interned French battleship Lorraine, showing large deck awnings on its quarterdeck and foc'sle, and the port side of the battleship HMS Valiant at anchor. Shots showing a Short Sunderland Mk I flying boat belonging to 230 Squadron RAF (N9029 'V for Victor' piloted by Flight Lieutenant Alan Lywood) taxiing through Alexandria harbour and powering up to take off some distance from one of the interned French heavy cruisers.

00:15:44 Scenes filmed on 26 October 1940 as HMS Kent leaves Alexandria harbour and begins her long voyage back to Great Britain for permanent repairs; among the ships visible in the background are several interned French cruisers and the battleship HMS Valiant. Shots of an owl sitting on the gunwale on the starboard side of the quarterdeck. Views filmed between 28 October and 1 November 1940 showing several troopships on the starboard beam sailing through the Red Sea with Convoy SW.20 from Port Suez to Mombasa - recognisable among the ships seen here is the two funnelled Cunard White Star passenger liner MV Britannic, and the sleek, modern Union Castle Line RMS Athlone Castle. Shots showing HMS Kent's starboard eight-barrelled 2-pounder Mk VI pom-pom in action during short-range anti-aircraft gun firing practice.

00:16:57 Scenes filmed on 7 November showing baobab trees along the shoreline at the entrance to Kilindini harbour at Mombasa; a car using the coast road keeps pace with HMS Kent for some of the time. A Hawker Hurricane fighter makes a low pass over Kilindini anchorage alongside HMS Kent (filmed at high speed). Shots filmed on 15 November off the coast of South Africa showing RN ratings and Royal Marines stripped to the waist on parade on deck and doing PT exercises on the quarterdeck in tropical waters under the orders of PT instructor Petty Officer Wilson standing on Y turret. A southern royal albatross with dark wing tips in flight alongside HMS Kent's port side, filmed on 17 November 1940 near the Cape of Good Hope. A view of African paddlers and rowers hard at work on board a large canoe with a lateen rig at Freetown, Sierra Leone, filmed around 4 December 1940. Views filmed on 27 December 1940 on the approaches to Devonport as HMS Kent sails past an unidentified L and M Class destroyer and the Eddystone lighthouse; the small stub-like structure on the left is the remains of a lighthouse known as 'Smeaton's Tower' that was taken out of service in 1887.


Silent 8mm black and white footage shot by Lieutenant-Commander George C Blundell on board the heavy cruiser HMS Kent after she was torpedoed by an Italian aircraft off the coast of North Africa in September 1940 and during her return to Great Britain for permanent repairs.


Summary: with the rank of Lieutenant-Commander, George Blundell (1904-1997) served on board HMS Kent as a torpedo and electrical specialist from December 1937 to January 1941. As HMS Kent was not armed with torpedoes, Blundell was put in charge of the depth charge party and the ship's anchors as well as serving as the China Station's fleet torpedo officer until the end of 1939. HMS Kent was a County Class cruiser, launched in March 1926 and commissioned in June 1928. Her first ten years of service were spent in the Far East with the 5th Cruiser Squadron, returning to the UK for part-reconstruction in 1938. In early 1939 she returned to the Far East and remained in tropical waters until August 1940, when she joined the Mediterranean Fleet in Alexandria. On 15 September 1940, HMS Kent left Alexandria in company with HMS Valiant, the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious and seven destroyers. On the night of 16/17 September, aircraft from HMS Illustrious attacked Italian shipping in Benghazi. Afterwards, HMS Kent and two destroyers were detached to bombard Bardia. At around 2am on 18 September 1940, she was hit in the stern by a torpedo from an Italian torpedo-bomber. After her return to the UK late in December 1940 for permanent repairs, she spent more than one year at Devonport being refitted and was then assigned to the Home Fleet. In January 1945, after three years of duty in northern waters, she was paid off into reserve and scrapped in 1948. Her commanding officer from 12 September 1939 to January 1941 was Captain Douglas Young-Jamieson. HMS Liverpool was attacked by Italian torpedo-bombers off the island of Leros in the Aegean on 14 October, setting her aviation fuel tank alight. An explosion in the forward magazine effectively blew HMS Liverpool's bow off, killing 29 of her crew. After temporary repairs in Alexandria, she was rebuilt in the Mare Island naval yard in the bay of San Francisco even though the United States was not at war with either Italy or Germany at the time.

Remarks: extremely rare coverage of the effects of battle damage on medium-size warships as well as an unintended tribute to the bravery and skill of Italian torpedo-bomber crews. A comment also on the lack of effective anti-aircraft guns on Royal Navy warships at this stage in the Second World War. The damage sustained by HMS Liverpool is quite spectacular - her damage control organisation must have been very efficient to keep her afloat. Compare this scene with the shots in MGH 2737 showing the light cruiser in the floating dock in Singapore. Good shots of all the other warships and troopships named in the full summary, except for HMS Illustrious. For the naval enthusiast, the three-tone disruptive camouflage pattern on the four destroyers of the 14th Destroyer Flotilla is especially noteworthy. Competent camerawork throughout this footage, although at times it is not clear from the filming during HMS Kent's emergency repairs at Alexandria what exactly is going on.




Technical Data

Running Time:
18 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
217 ft (ca)

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Blundell, G C (Captain)