NAVY NEWS, JANUARY 2011
Paying homage in Souda Bay
YOUR readers may remember that at the age of 92, I and my ‘carer’, former Royal Marine Cdo David ‘Barney’ Clifton, travelled north of the Arctic Circle to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Second Battle of Narvik and to place poppy wreaths on the cold waters above HMS Hunter and fl owers on the graves of Capt Warburton- Lee and his gallant shipmates. We felt neglected by Whitehall, there was not a White Ensign in sight on the anniversary of the battle in which we lost four destroyers but in two engagements sank all eight of the enemy’s finest ships.
This must not happen next May, when Greece
commemorating the evacuation of the island of Crete. The British Admiralty has to remember that in a very short time 54 of our finest ships were attacked by more than 400 assorted dive and fighter bombers. It was a catastrophe. In all, ten of our finest ships
were sunk, more than 23 were seriously damaged and worse still, there were more than 2,000 deaths in the fleet.
On the plus side, through the gallant efforts of our cruisers, destroyers and capital ships, tens of thousands of Commonwealth troops were taken to the safety of Alexandria.
Andrew Cunningham wept as he watched his battered ships enter the harbour. Next May, as the representative
It is said that
of York RN and RM Associations and another year older (93) I shall place my wreath on the lawns of Souda Bay. It would be a bonus if my lords of Admiralty and those in power could be there to say ‘thank you’ to all those such as the Kelly (whose former captain must have a bit of a push in naval circles...) and see that at least one White Ensign flies over the waters of Souda Bay.
Shipmate Bernard Hallas,
former gun captain of HMS Warspite, Haxby, York
Ivor lesson you won’t forget
MIKE Crowe, of the Royal Naval Electrical Branch Association, appealed to readers in Ask Jack (October) for the name of the Electrical course instructor in Chatham who hated the word bulb – ‘it’s a lamp, a LAMP!’ The story brought a smile
and the memory of hot summer afternoons in 1959 at Devonport gunnery school where I was on a Fire Control course. We were undergoing electrical in
classroom, the sun streaming through the windows. Our instructor was naval pensioner, Torpedoman
(Up to 1945 Torpedomen were the ship’s electricians.) The particular subject was the study of power magslip transmission (a mechanical/ electrical system of receivers and transmitters that moved gunlayers’ pointers for range and deflection).
When it came to some tricky technical points, and there were quite a few,
almost every sentence with “Now, by virtue of the fact...” Often we would ask questions. His reply would more often than not be “By virtue of the fact...”
Ivor would start Ivor Clapworthy. ex-Leading a a hot, stuffy
He must have said this short phrase umpteen times during each period of instruction.
He is remembered for another reason in that Ivor had the patience of a saint, and would go over again and again any point that we found difficult to understand. This part of the course always took place during the afternoons, after tot time and dinner when eyelids would become heavy. At the conclusion of each lesson,
Ivor hoped we learned something that afternoon.
to keep you awake, gentlemen,” which always brought a class full of grins. I have to record that all 16 members of class 102 of FCTwo’s obtained high marks for theory and practice of electronics, down to enthusiasm and the in-depth tuition of Mr Clapworthy. Strangely, no other instructor’s name is recalled from the six- month course,
didn’t have any pet sayings, but all remember Ivor Clapworthy, whom we christened “by virtue of the fact”.
– Eddie Summerfold, Hon Secretary, HMS Opossum Association, Bury, Lancs
Then with a broad smile on face he would say: “Sorry
pole intent Scott’s
THE article Pole Position (August, page 11) about Captain Scott’s famous race to the South Pole with Roald Amundsen is the story I have known since I was a boy. However, I am convinced I read a different version within the last few months. In this version, Capt Scott’s expedition was commissioned by the Royal Geographic Society and long-planned. Its main aim was geological surveying and reaching the Pole was almost incidental. At the same time, Amundsen had been planning to be the first at the North Pole. However,
the (nowadays questionable) achievement of Robert Peary in reaching that pole first, Amundsen announced that he would switch his expedition to the South Pole. This was felt a very ungentlemanly thing to do even amongst his fellow countrymen. As a result, Amundsen, with
on hearing of
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nothing to do other than reach the South Pole(!) created this ‘race’ with Capt Scott whose journey was built around taking measurements and samples on the way, all part of the work schedule agreed with the Royal Geographic Society. If this version is the correct one,
maybe Navy News can refute this ‘losing race’ aspect and enhance Scott’s reputation even more, were that possible!
– David Poole, Westbury-on- Trym, Bristol
Von Spee’s gloomy
ADMIRAL von Spee’s own response to his defeat of Admiral Cradock’s squadron at the Battle of Coronel deserves to be remembered. When the German ships put in
at Valparaíso after the battle, they were fêted by the local German community.
When one non-combatant proposed the toast “Damnation to the British Navy,” von Spee’s reply was that of a naval officer and a German gentleman: “I drink to the memory of an honourable and gallant foe.” Von Spee knew only too well
what the Royal Navy had in store for him. When a lady presented him with a bouquet of flowers, he said: “Thank you. They will do very nicely to mark my grave.” His grave and that of his two sons is the sea off the Falkland Islands.
William Wates, Upper Mall, London
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