The Greek battleship Kilkis – Sunk by Stuka bombers on April 23, 1941

Kiklis sunk

Battleship Kilkis was a 13,000 ton Mississippi-class battleship originally built by the US Navy in 1904–1908.

As Mississippi she was purchased by the Greek Navy in 1914, and renamed her Kilkis, along with her sister Idaho, renamed Lemnos. Kilkis was named for the Battle of Kilkis-Lahanas, a crucial engagement of the Second Balkan War. Armed with a main battery of four 12 inch guns, Kilkis and her sister were the most powerful vessels in the Greek fleet.

Kilkis and Lemnos quickly left the United States after their transfer in July, due to the rising tensions in Europe following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria the previous month. After arriving in Greece, Kilkis became the flagship of the Greek fleet.

At the outbreak of World War I in July 1914, Greece’s pro-German monarch, Constantine I, decided to remain neutral. The Entente powers landed troops in Salonika in 1915, which was a source of tension between France and Greece. Ultimately, the French seized the Greek Navy on 19 October 1916.

Kilkis was reduced to a skeleton crew and had the breech blocks for her guns removed to render them inoperable. All ammunition and torpedoes were also removed. When a pro-Entente government replaced Constantine and declared war on the Central Powers, the Kilkis did not see active service with Greece’s new allies. She was used solely for harbor defense until the end of the war.

After the end of the first world war, Kilkis saw service during the Greco-Turkish War, where she supported landings to seize Ottoman territory. On 5 May 1919, Kilkis and a pair of destroyers escorted a convoy of six troop transports to Smyrna, where the soldiers were disembarked. In July 1920, Kilkis and a pair of destroyers escorted a convoy carrying 7,000 infantrymen, 1,000 artillerists, and 4,000

Kilkis underwent repairs and upgrades in 1926–1928 but was already obsolete due to low speed and low freeboard. On 29 November 1929, the Greek navy announced that Kilkis would be withdrawn from service and broken up for scrap. Consequently, in 1930, the armored cruiser Georgios Averof replaced her as the fleet flagship. Nevertheless, Kilkis remained in service with the fleet until 1932 when it was withdrawn from the active fleet and used as a training ship.

She was used as a floating battery in 1940–1941, based in Salamis but spare guns from Kilkis and Lemnos were employed as coastal batteries throughout Greece. The ship was attacked in Salamis Naval Base by Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers on 23 April 1941, during the German invasion of Greece.

The Stuka dive bombers hit Kilkis
The Stuka dive bombers hit Kilkis

The moment of sinkingThe moment of sinking


Kilkis attempted to get underway to evade the attacks, but she was hit by several bombs and sank in the harbor. Her wreck was refloated and broken up for scrap in the 1950s.

Kilkis, sunk by German dive-bombers. Lemnos can be seen sunk in the background.
Kilkis, sunk by German dive-bombers. Lemnos can be seen sunk in the background.

By Pierre Kosmidis /

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