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Chatham pauses to remember the men of the Royal Oak

COMMANDER Simon Huntington casts a wreath into now calm waters at Britain’s

greatest natural anchorage (left). Beneath the spot where his

Chatham is paused rests the wreck of HMS Royal Oak.

The battleship was torpedoed by U-boat ace Günther Prien, who slipped through the defences of Scapa Flow in the Orkneys. Prien’s actions in October 1939 saw him fêted by the Nazi propaganda machine – and condemned 833 British sailors, many of them boys, to a watery grave; Royal Oak sank in just 13 minutes. Over that spot 71 years later, the Type 22 frigate took a break from specialist navigator training around the Scottish coast to honour the men of Royal Oak. A service of remembrance was held on the

ship’s flight deck, where operations officer Lt Jamie Leeper described the battleship’s bitter fate for his ship’s company and a bugler sounded the Last Post ahead of a minute’s silence.

frigate HMS Pictures: WO1 R J Hunt, HMS Chatham

wreath (pictured above) crafted on board from a bough of oak which had been presented to the ship by the Men of Kent and Kentish Men when she visited her namesake town in November. “Anchored in the calm of Scapa Flow today, it’s

It fell to Chatham’s CO to lay a wreath – a THE TIME OF YOUR LIVES 1971 PRODUCTION ENGINEER

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● Ta-ta to HMS Tartar 1991LIVES

We fl ick back through the pages of Navy News to see which stories were drawing attention in past decades...

impossible to imagine the horrors of that night when HMS Royal Oak was lost so quickly,” said Cdr Huntington.

“It was a truly moving occasion. It was entirely fitting that we should take the time to honour those who have served before us and paid the ultimate price.”

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January 1971

THE minesweeper HMS Wolverton (appropriately perhaps) was celebrating a seasonal nativity in the seamen’s messdeck. The proud mother was a black mongrel bitch who had wandered on board whilst the ship was in Great Yarmouth. When Wolverton sailed for Scotland the stray had to be sent on shore and handed over to local police in case she was claimed, but when no owner came forward, the soft-hearted sailors clubbed together for her rail fare and OEM1 Jim Woodcock was sent to collect her.

January 1981

A PROUD tradition came to an end when HMS Tartar, the last of the Tribal-class ships, paid off, and with her the Tribal Lantern. The Tribal Lantern was a lamp (not a bulb?

– Ed) first acquired by HMS Ashanti in 1962. It was a prize trophy among the seven Tribal- class frigates and was traditionally presented by the holding POs’ mess to that of another

January 1991

ANOTHER step towards full integration of the WRNS took place when women officers adopted RN rank titles.

The title change followed the decision in 1990 to send women to sea for the first time. The changes meant that Superintendent became Captain, Chief Officer became Commander, First Officer became Lieutenant-Commander, Second Officer Lieutenant, and Third Officer, Sub-Lieutenant.

January 2001

BIRTHDAY celebrations were beginning for the Submarine Service, which was making plans to mark its centenary throughout the coming year. It was announced that Sir John Mills, then

94, was to be made an honorary member of the ship’s company of HMS Tireless to acknowledge his contribution to wartime submarine films

(Above Us the Waves and We Dive at Dawn) and his support of the boat during her extended stay in Gibraltar. Navy News published the first of four supplements about the history of the Silent Service,

Gentleman? entitled No Occupation for a

were retained, although it was planned that the women would switch to gold braid in due course.

The distinctive blue rank markings however

HMS Invincible was the second warship to take a complement of women, as 76 joined her to work in a wide range of duties, including aircraft maintenance, communications, secretarial, medical, stores and accounting.

Tribal-class when two were in port together. It was the receiving mess’s honour to provide ale for the donating mess while the candle in the lantern was alight. The lantern was presented to the curator of the Royal Navy Museum in Portsmouth, where it is on display to this day in the 20th-Century gallery.

Christened ‘Sniff,’ she soon settled into shipboard life, but it wasn’t long before her shape changed and she apparently assumed ‘a smug expression’.

When her five pups were born, it didn’t need much detective work to indicate who was the daddy because of their similarity to Scampi,

Bildeston, which had been lying alongside Wolverton in refit. All the pups were spoken for by members of both ships’ companies.

the coxswain’s dog from HMS

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