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The Hood and
Smoke on the water
Can we have
the Bismarck
our 23s back?
AS A member of the Channel
MY WIFE and I are taking a year
4 team that found the wreck of
NO SOONER had November’s Navy News second after launch so the smoke has not or conspiracy theories. The photograph on out from our busy business lives
HMS Hood, I must say I am
hit our desks here at the Defence Diving had a chance to blow aft, plus the launcher the cover of Navy News was taken by HMS to travel the world.
baffl ed by the content – and the
School than we, the team responsible for forward does not appear to be facing Manchester’s Flight Observer (Lt Ed Barham) Catching up with October’s
tone – of some of the remarks
supporting Naval Diver training, got into a correctly. from his Lynx helicopter at 150ft. Navy News I read the comments
about Professor Eric Grove’s
debate about the image on the front cover.
Can you shed any light and resolve
“The missile firing took place in the regarding the creaks and groans
concept of a second major
HMS Manchester firing a Seadart
our office debate, so we can get on with
northern Atlantic Ocean, to the west of
in the RN caused by overstretch,
explosion as the great ship sank.
skywards? Please tell us, has this picture
supporting our colleagues?
Benbecula, in typically rough and windy
from the former First Sea Lords
There has to be some
been changed from the original in any way
Many thanks from some sad old duffers
conditions. The considerable wind across
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Julian
explanation as to how and why
– maybe just to add impact to the image?
at the DDS.
the deck, combined with the Sea Dart missile
Oswald and Sir Jock Slater and
the 650 tons of the conning tower We got into the debate over the fact the
– Stephen Legg, Diving Training Support 2
course correction, resulted in the e-flux cloud
former Commander-in-Chief
ended over a kilometre away missile is coming from midships and the
Defence Diving School West,
moving swiftly aft, thus covering the funnel.
Fleet Sir John Treacher.
from the main part of the ship seadart launcher is forward.
Horsea Island
“My sincere apologies to all conspiracy
I was sitting in my hotel room
to which it was attached, quite The ship is making no wash so appears Cdr Paul Beattie, Commanding Officer of theorists.”
here in Valparaiso, I could see the
contrary to expectations if it stationary and though possibly a wind is
HMS Manchester, told us: “Your readers have And just to prove it, here seconds before
main base for the Chilean Navy.
simply detached on sinking; and a blowing which may account for the smoke
obviously been engaged in a very detailed is the Sea Dart racing away from its launcher
Looking more closely I could
further cataclysmic event of some
where it is, that picture must be only a debate. Hopefully I can quell any ‘tampering’ on Manchester’s forecastle.
see not one, not even two, but
kind must be the best possible
three Type 23 frigates, formerly
HM Ships Marlborough, Grafton
That is in fact supported by
and Norfolk.
witness statements, as detailed
I recall these ships being sold
by David Mearns in his and my
and the uproar their sales caused
book Hood and Bismarck.
because of the overstretch, which
The onus is on the two
has since got worse.
correspondents who so adamantly Since I have been here, four
reject this idea to come up with a days thus far, these ships have not
better theory to explain the final left their berth, and I don’t know
position of the conning tower. which is worse: the fact that the
Their outright rejection of it, British government allowed them
without better refutation than to be sold long before the end of
some interesting but hardly their useful life with the Royal
conclusive technical arguments, Navy, or that they are sitting
means that the cul-de-sac alongside in Valparaiso gathering
mentioned in one of the letters dust?
is the place where they – not Perhaps I am being a bit
Professor Grove – currently find unkind to the Chilean Navy,
themselves. who I know are a close ally, but
– Rob White, Expedition with all due respect to them,
Co-ordinator, these ships don’t appear to have
The Battle of Hood and Bismarck, anything like the buzz they would
ITV News, London have if they still flew the White
...I FEAR your correspondents
on the subject of an apparent
I wonder if their sale had a
carrier with Hood and the Prince
buy-back clause?
of Wales have been misled by
the photograph (letters page,
There was no British carrier in
All talk and no action?
– Ian (Jock) Irvin, ex-AB(R)
the Denmark Strait that morning.
THERE SEEMS to be a question membership properly dealt with hold conferences. which must not exceed 15 Anyone for
The nearest was HMS Victorious
running through the Royal Naval without interference from the top? None of this will happen months and on a date and place
operating with King George V in
overnight, nor is it meant to, but it
the Iceland Faroes passage.
Association membership about The legalities obviously have to be decided two years in advance by
might well be thought-provoking a previous conference.
She did put in an attack on
conferences – whether they are dealt with and rightly so, but all too
and beneficial to the efficiency of
Bismarck but unfortunately with
worth the hassle and expense, often debate has been adversely “The Standing Orders
the Association in the long run.
Committee is responsible for
I SEEM to remember the
little result. The carrier Ark Royal
and whether they really achieve influenced by the president and
– S/M Mick Withington,
vetting any motion proposed by
Second Sea Lord some years
of the Gibraltar-based Force H
anything? vice president.
Minster, Isle of Sheppey, Kent.
any branch. National Council
ago saying that he would like
was, of course, later to inflict the
Do we come away refreshed and It seems to me, and probably
all retired personnel to carry on
crippling blow that led to the loss
better informed than we were when others too, that the top table have
Paddy McLurg, General Secretary
members sit apart from the
wearing their uniforms for special
of the German battleship to the
we went into the conference hall? their own agenda. Perhaps the time
of the RNA, told Navy News: “The
delegates and although they
guns of KGV and Rodney and
Is there a sense of achievement has come to hold a conference requirement for a conference is may be permitted to speak, they
Did anything come of this and
the torpedoes of Dorsetshire.
that we have contributed towards about conferences, how we, the laid down in the Royal Charter are not permitted to vote so
is it allowed today?
By May 1941 both Courageous
the betterment of our association? membership, wish to have business which requires the association to actually have no influence over
– David Hirons, Former
and Glorious had sadly been
Are motions put before the conducted and where we want to hold one annually, but at intervals Conference decisions.”
long since sunk and Furious was
engaged on operations ferrying
Hurricanes to Malta. I think the
carrier-like shape is a shell splash.
– Professor Eric Grove,
The bitter fate of Java Sea PoWs
University of Salford
IN NOVEMBER Navy News with clothes from our lockers.
carried a story of the four survivors On no account were we to give
of the Java Sea battle from HMS them rum, but Jack being the lad
Exeter. he is, one or two tots appeared but
Many of the survivors when the it was only wiped across their lips.
ship went down were picked up by We eventually arrived into
the Japanese and became prisoners Fremantle, and what a welcome
I READ with interest about the of war, and after the war it was we received, with brass bands
Iron Duke rededicating the grave HMS Maidstone that picked those playing, thousands on the dockside
of Dennis Spicer (November). poor souls up. cheering and waving banners,
I was on HMS Delight at the We were a submarine depot we hardly saw the ship for the
time and the loss of Dennis made ship to the S-type submarines, and bunting.
a big impression on the crew. on this particular day were on our Quite a few went straight into
Dennis was a qualified diver. way from Hong Kong to the port hospital, the rest of them sailed
He was ashore the afternoon he of Fremantle in Australia, when home aboard Maidstone.
died, on an organised expedition we received orders to turn about Although my demob number
with the rest of the ship’s dive and pick up these survivors. was up I found myself with others
team. As I was in the torpedo party I drafted on to HMS Adamant, depot
He was the second crew was the crane driver that helped ship to the T-class submarines,
member to be killed that these men aboard, and what a and back to Hong Kong, which we
commission. shocking condition they were in, had previously recaptured – but
Able Seaman Fowler had some baring their wounds, scars that’s another story.
been killed in Cyprus during and suffering from beri-beri, they – S F Tiffin, Kingston-upon-
operations, that loss was also were in an absolutely terrible state, Thames, Surrey
deeply felt as his brother was also so we got them aboard, about
serving onboard Delight. 450-500 of them, laid them out ● Former PoWs and survivors of
– Terry Gosling, ex ACCD2 on the upper deck, gave them fags, the Java Sea arrive in Fremantle
Alford, Aberdeenshire and fitted them as best we could on HMS Maidstone
PIRACY is an odious business but makes for a riveting story – And although this European flotilla may be new, such patrols
look at the international media coverage of HMS Cumberland and are not. To date, these ‘routine’ patrols performed by the Royal
Leviathan Block, HMS Nelson, Portsmouth PO1 3HH
her dealings with pirates off the coast of Somalia last autumn. Navy and Royal Marines have lacked the media appeal and
So the announcement that the European Union has assembled drama of thwarting brigands.
January 2009 no.654: 55th year
its first naval task force, with the job of combating piracy off the So the current Fleet Street frenzy surrounding all things
Horn of Africa, has probably been reported and read with more piratical not only highlights the problem, but also the solution.
Editorial Business
interest than many stories emanating from Brussels (except, It demonstrates to the British taxpayer – at a time when the
Editor: Business manager:
perhaps, those concerning regulations about vegetable sizes budget is being squeezed ever tighter – why we still need a
Sarah Fletcher Lisa Taw 023 9229 1525
and shapes). Royal Navy.
Deputy Editor: Mike Gray Subscriptions 023 9273 4448
Assistant Editors:
It is good for the Royal Navy that a British officer, Rear Admiral Of course, Navy News readers require no such confirmation
Richard Hargreaves Accounts 023 9272 0686
Philip Jones, is commanding the task force, and good that one that the the RN is needed.
Helen Craven Advertising 023 9272 5062 or
of our ships will be providing a high-profile, visible deterrent in Hopefully the wider public will now recognise the Royal
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the Gulf of Aden. Navy’s worth too.
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