26 NAVY NEWS, MARCH 2011
We’re building a team for Crete
SINCE MY letter on our visit to Narvik (January), where I wrote that to my disgust I and my carer were the only two people to attend the commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the 2nd Battle of Narvik, I have made arrangements for us to attend the 70th anniversary of the catastrophic battle for the evacuation of Crete. This time we have made
arrangements that may provide much better results. I have made contact with
Colonel Tony Morphet, who is doubling his duties with those of the senior RN attaché, and the lovely Vice Consul of Crete, Claire Fragaki, and Capt Paul Porter, former CO of HMS York (her predecessor was sunk in Souda Bay).
So we now have a team that
can, within the capabilities of their various departments, and provided that the weakened strength of our naval forces allows them to do so, give that little extra push that is required. We might also mention that
Prince Philip, nephew of Lord Louis Mountbatten who was at the time Commanding Officer of HMS Kelly, is Captain General of the Royal Marines. With his 90 years and my 92,
we might just pull it off and see a White Ensign fluttering in the bay. Here’s hoping. – Bernard Hallas, HMS
Warspite, Crete, 1941, Haxby, York
...I ECHO the sentiments of Shipmate Bernard Hallas as one,
now in his 92nd year, who was involved in the evacuation of our Commonwealth troops from Sphakia, on the south coast of Crete, on the night of May 31 1941.
As a sub lieutenant (then in Combined Ops) I was enjoying the ‘fleshpots’ of Port Said, awaiting passage to HMS Saunders (later Stag) at Kabrit, on the Little Bitter Lake of the Suez Canal, when I was whisked away for temporary appointment in HMS Glengyle lying off the canal entrance. Just prior to the evacuation I
was transferred to HMS Glenroy and given command of an assault landing craft – capacity 30 pongoes – and told to proceed to the beach to embark our ‘soldiery,’ walking wounded first,
Honour our boys
YOUR READERS may recall my article on the Navy News website (Dittybox) about RN boys aged 16 and 17 who were killed in action during World War 2. I have now completed updating and added the death list details for each boy. The known details to date
show that 534 boys, 16 and 17 years old, who had volunteered to join the RN at 15, had been killed in action. This news was kept from the public.
My next step is to propose that a memorial be dedicated to those boys.
wall or floor tablet or plaque to be placed in a prominent position in Portsmouth Cathedral, unveiled in an RN ceremony. I feel that at my age of nearly
them to any of our ships anchored a few cables offshore. A beachmaster was keeping things well under control and our passengers conducted themselves well. I made several trips, not always to the same ship, and to this day cannot name one! It was truly a black moonless night. There was no enemy action
during the evacuation but we suffered several daylight air attacks en route to Alexandria and this became my first experience of action at sea.
I do hope Mr Hallas’ plea will have a positive response.
– Lt Cdr Robert Read, Liverpool, New York, USA
We plan to run a supplement about Crete in our May edition – Ed
I READ with interest Ken Satterthwaite’s letter (February) about HM SDML 3516. I too served on a motor launch, from 1954 to 1955. The vessel had been ordered to make charts for the newly-formed Mine Watching Association (a sort of Naval Home Guard.) During the year we progressed around the west coast taking in all the main estuaries. We eventually ended
up working the lochs and harbours in Scotland. The weather was bitterly cold with snow and when we reached the Caledonian Canal it was averaging minus 10˚C.
On reaching Loch Ness the skipper decided to liven things up a bit by drawing a Nessie on the echo sounder paper and winding it back into the machine. Halfway through the loch he turned on the echo sounder and this very lifelike picture of
Another fine Ness
at Chatham Dockyard we received a signal that he was to report to the Admiral immediately. We never did find out what happened but we believe he
at Cha received to re
moved, entertained and enlightened us the most
Nessie emerged sitting on the loch bottom.
world, decided to tell Scotland via the lock-keeper at the end of Loch Ness by showing him the echo trace. As we approached the other lochs a small crowd had gathered
The Sparkie, not of the droggie
A £25 Amazon voucher for the letter which
was either promoted or urgently assigned to take charge of a larger survey vessel because of the illness of the captain.
wa or u
the Navy attached to the South Coast Survey Unit, where I was the only serving rating, a luxury having spent the previous 12 months bouncing around the whole of the UK in a 72ft survey vessel.
As for me, I spent my last 12 months in
● RN and RAF Harriers in diamond formation over Eastern England during the jets’ fi nal fl ypast Picture: Cpl Al Crowe, RAF Cottesmore
‘Save the Harrier’
THE implications of the recommendations of the recent Strategic Defence and Security Review are that Her Majesty’s Royal Navy will soon be at its lowest level of capability since the days of Alfred the Great.
wanting to see it. By the time we arrived in Inverness the Scottish press were waiting in force and promptly offered substantial amounts of money for the echo trace.
This means that we shall be unable to protect our trade upon the high seas, our global interests and our offshore territories. Since World War II our ability (and that of the United States) to project military and political power and influence has been centred entirely upon aircraft carrier battle groups. This impressive record has not been lost on other nations who now aspire to a robust aircraft carrier presence and capability within their fleets, especially India and China but also including Spain, Italy and France. The recommended gapping of this capability (Harrier/Ark Royal) within the Royal Navy for at least ten years will essentially destroy 100 years
The skipper decided the whole thing had got out of hand, explained to the press it was a hoax and we sailed for Peterhead. On purchasing the local papers
we found the whole episode had hit the Scottish press with headlines such as Naval Officer Hoaxes Nessie. We now had a very worried skipper and
when we eventually arrived
FURTHER to David Poole’s letter (January), understanding the full story of the ‘race’ between Scott and Amundsen is indeed more complex than has been represented by some recent authors.
Scott defined the aims of his 1910-13 expedition in his initial public appeal: “The main objective of this expedition is to reach the South Pole, and to secure for the British Empire the honour of this achievement.” There were other significant
objectives, however; both scientific and geographical. Science was considered by chief
scientist Wilson as the main work of the expedition: “No one can say that it will have only been a Pole- hunt ... We want the scientific work to make the bagging of the Pole merely an item in the results.” The expedition,
– Alan Sargent, Peacehaven, East Sussex
and meteorological investigations on an unprecedented scale. The diaries of the expedition scientists record Scott as having a considerable interest in their
research, and a strong commitment to enable it to take place. The Library and Archives of the Scott Polar Research Institute hold much of the primary material for anyone wanting evidence of Scott’s intentions. The Institute was founded in 1920 as the national memorial to Scott and his four companions who died on their return journey from the Pole. Today it is an internationally-
89 years I will be unable to carry this idea forward and would like it to be taken up by those who are experts in this field. I would like to see an
This may be in the form of a
of Fleet Air Arm expertise and experience. Once lost, it will not be easily regained, if at all – and it arguably places our future economic prosperity in jeopardy. I urge your readers therefore to write to their MPs concerning this issue and to give their support to the ‘Save the Harrier’ Petition at: www.ipetitions.com/petition/primeminister
. For background reading on this important issue they could do worse than read the papers on the Phoenix Think Tank website, thephoenixthinktank.wordpress.com
, and my own associated comments at www. sharkeysworld.com
. We must all do our best to eradicate the ‘sea blindness’ that appears to have overtaken our politicians and decision-makers.
– Cdr N D MacCartan-Ward, (‘Sharkey’ Ward)
Scott’s scientific support Crown jewel
known research centre concerned with both the Arctic and Antarctic, with its home in the University of Cambridge – a fitting legacy to Captain Scott’s own interest in, and support of, polar science. For a balanced view of Scott and
included a number of scientists, fulfilled a detailed programme of geological,
the British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-13, a good place to start is David Crane’s biography, Scott of the Antarctic (HarperCollins, 2005) available from the Polar Museum shop www.spri.ca
– Professor Julian Dowdeswell
Research Institute, University of Cambridge
Director, Scott Polar
and was built for an awful lot of money at the time – £343,005! She had a top speed of 36
inscription on this memorial, with part of Binyon’s poem For the Fallen including the lines They shall grow not old as we who are left grow old. And I would like to see a book of remembrance for relatives and the public. I would thank anyone who can
help bring this to a successful conclusion.
– James Reed, Hedge End, Southampton
I FIRST joined the United States Navy League when based in Washington DC in 1983 working as Chairman of Marconi USA. Now spending time in St Augustine in retirement I have rejoined and the local Navy League Council takes a keen interest in visiting Royal Navy ships when berthed in Mayport nearby.
HMS Ark Royal have visited. The Navy League members,
both former serving officers and civilian/industry, take real pleasure in entertaining visiting RN crew. Any RN ship which deploys in
A letter by Hugh Axton on this subject that was too long to go in the paper has been published on the Navy News website at navynews.co.uk
Most recently HMS Ocean and
the Caribbean or to exercises on the US east coast is well-advised to contrive a few days in Mayport before facing the rigours of an Atlantic crossing for home. Golf, fishing, or a Jaguars game can soon be arranged. I now act as RN liaison, so keep us posted. – Ian Sutherland, St Augustine Navy League Council, Florida
THE PICTURE of HMS Diamond, (February) built for a mind-boggling £1bn, sent me back in time to when I served on the 1,850-ton Tribal-class destroyer HMS Punjabi. She was commissioned in 1939
knots, but since most of the time we were operating in rough seas I doubt we ever tested that statistic. She had a war-time crew of 250 and I doubt if Diamond’s complement, given the myriad electronic systems on board, comes close to that number. The people of Aberdeen must
be rightly proud of their adopted ship. She’s a beauty! – Ken Tipper, Ocala, Florida
I AM a 72-year-old ex-Chatham matelot and together with hundreds of others clapped and cheered as the guard of HMS Chatham with bayonets fi xed marched through Chatham led, of course, by the Royal Marines Band. Leaving the town centre they marched along Dock Road to the waiting dignitaries. Then I heard the order that brought a lump to my throat – ‘Unfix bayonets!’ And so, the ‘At ’em Chathams’ lost Chatham and Chatham lost another piece of Royal Navy history.
A sad but proud day. – R Bettey, Rochester, Kent
THE PICTURE of HMS Cornwall (page 5) rescuing fi ve Yemeni fi shermen from Somali pirates is a cheering reminder of what the RN does best – cool-headed, resolute teamwork. Photographs and film footage of these rescues published in the media show the dramatic closing stages of a successful operation – but not what led up to it. Behind every such mission are weeks and months of sustained and repetitive hard work, of unceasing vigilance and endless patrols. Nor is it a unilateral effort. Piracy, one of the great and
growing scourges of the modern age, can only be deterred by international teams of coalition partners working together with a common purpose, sharing relevant intelligence, and bound by international law. Combined Task Force 151, of which Cornwall is currently
a part, is one of three multi-national operations countering piracy in the region. There are more than a dozen warships from several nations operating in the Gulf of Aden at any one time. Their shared aim is to suppress piracy in order to protect global maritime security and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all nations. Piracy threatens the trade and prosperity of richer nations, but the very lives of those who live closer to its shadow. One can only imagine the feelings of the five Yemeni fishermen who had been held hostage for more than three months, as they saw salvation appear in the form of Cornwall and her Lynx.
The views expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect the views of the MOD
March 2011 no.680: 57th year Leviathan Block, HMS Nelson, Portsmouth PO1 3HH
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