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12 NAVY NEWS, APRIL 2007
617
O
ut in Gibraltar HMS
Scimitar and HMS
Sabre vie for the
title of fastest patrol
boat in the Royal Navy as
they carry out their duties
The sharp side
protecting the security of the
British territorial waters sur-
rounding the Rock.
These two ships form the
Gibraltar Patrol Boat Squadron,
but started their lives operating
of the Rock
Dunkirk ........................1940
Atlantic ...................1940-44
in the cooler climes of Northern
Arctic ...........................1942
Ireland as Grey Wolf and Grey
English Channel .....1943-44
Fox, manned by Royal Marines on
Loch Neagh.
Nowadays it’s the waters around
the Rock that the two patrol boats
call home, with a packed schedule
that sees these vessels at sea day
in day out protecting the warships
and submarines that call in at the
busy Mediterranean port.
While their primary role is
to maintain the integrity of the
British Gibraltar territorial waters,
Dunkirk ........................1940
these little ships are also called on
Atlantic ...................1940-43
to support Fleet and NATO assets
Battle Honours
as required – whether boat trans-
fers to a passing RN submarine
or force protection for a visiting Class: Fast Patrol Boat
US cruiser.
Pennant Number: F284 – HMS
The two fast patrol craft – not as
Scimitar, F285 – HMS Sabre
is commonly assumed the Archer-
Builder: Halmatic Ltd,
Portsmouth
es
class P2000s used by university
● Parachutists drop in to the Bay of Gibraltar to be recovered by patrol boats HMS Sabre (left) and HMS Scimitar in Exercise Med Gun
Launched: December 1992 as
RN units around the UK – split
sels scattered across the Bay. and Sabre have appeared twice in minesweeper Speedwell, sank Yard; Scimitar first in December
Grey Fox and Grey Wolf
the commitment in weekly shifts,
Once in the water, the squad- the Royal Navy before the present the German submarine U651 off 1969 followed by Sabre seven
Commissioned: January 31
but the non-duty week will see the
ron’s RIB coswains came to the incarnation. Iceland. months later.
2003
boats busy training with exercises
fore, calmly gathering up the para- The first HMS Scimitar and She was almost part of D-Day, Sabre’s life was spent on patrol
Displacement: 25 tonnes
in gunnery or force protection.
Length: 16 metres
chutists and their parachutes. Sabre, both S-class destroyers, taking part in the D-Day rehearsal along the south coast in training
Beam: 4.5 metres
The start of the year saw
Of course, working with the RN were built up on the Clyde in Operation Tiger – but she was exercises, until a calamitous colli- Draught: 1.2 metres
Scimitar and Sabre, along with the
is nothing new for 148 (Meiktila) 1918; Scimitar by John Brown rammed and holed and returned to sion with a breakwater in Alderney Speed: 30 knots (max), cruising
three Arctic RIBs of the Gibraltar
Commando Battery, the special- shipbuilding in February and Devonport for repairs. Eventually in 1980 brought her bow to an
17 knots
squadron, take part in Exercise
ists in Naval gunfire support with- Sabre by Stephen and Sons ship- she was scrapped in 1947. abrupt end.
Complement: 5
Med Gun, an exercise that prac-
in 3 Commando Brigade. building in September. Sabre too was at Dunkirk, and She went up for disposal in
Propulsion: Two Man 2,480LXE
tises the fine art of parachute
diesel engines
And working with other Forces There were 67 S-class destroy- carried around 5,000 soldiers to 1982 and was sold on to become
insertion.
Sensors: Racal Decca
is definitely nothing new to the ers built during World War 1, and safety in ten return trips to the the Greek merchant vessel El
Bridgemaster 360; I-band
The Gibraltar boats lingered
20 Royal Naval personnel at the only 11 of them survived through dangerous French coast. Condor in 1986. Armament: Two 7.62mm
in the drop zone, controlling the
Gibraltar squadron, for whom it’s to see action in World War 2 – Later that same year Sabre was However Scimitar had a more general purpose machine guns
jumps and recovering the para- not unusual to spend one day with including both HMS Scimitar and beefed up as an escort with depth exotic arena as she was taken
chutists as they leapt from the the Gurkhas and the next with Sabre. charges and torpedoes, and con- out to Hong Kong along with
Facts and figur
low-flying RAF Hercules C130. the TA. Scimitar took part in the evacu- tinued to serve through the war two SRN hovercraft to bolster the 10,000 by the end of 1980 and the
An RAF drop-zone officer on In fact, this unit has to have an ation of Dunkirk in May 1940, but until being sold off for scrap in Royal Marines of No.3 Marine patrol boat’s role declined.
board a patrol boat guided the open attitude to all, working with was seriously damaged by bomb- 1945. Raiding Squadron in slowing the After ending up on the disposal
timing of the jumps to ensure the local customs and excise, civil ing days into the operation. The two names next cropped flow of illegal immigrants into the list with her sister ships in the
that the Army men of 148 Battery police and search and rescue as Later in the war she, along up on the Scimitar-class fast British Crown colony. early 1980s, Scimitar too began
Royal Artillery arrived safely in the call-out comes in. with destroyer HMS Malcolm, patrol boats of 102 tons, built in With Scimitar’s aid the number a new life with the Greeks as the
the sea, rather than the many ves- The names of both Scimitar corvettes Arabis and Violet, and Vosper Thornycroft’s Porchester of arrests dropped to less than Aquilon.
HEROES OF THE ROYAL NAVY No.36
Thomas Peck Hunter RM VC
Thomas Peck Hunter is and fled across the
notable on two counts river to join their allies
– the youngest Royal on the northern bank,
Marine to win the Victoria or surrendered to the
Cross at the age of 21, Celtic warrior who had
and surprisingly the only arrived blazing in their
one to be awarded the midst.
Victoria Cross in World As the Troop arrived
War 2. among the now desert-
But the Temporary ed buildings, Hunter
Corporal’s deeds were set himself to fire at
definitely an act of the machine-gunners
extreme heroism against arrayed against him on
insurmountable odds. the other side of the
On April 2 1945 Tom river, calling for more
Hunter of C Troop, 43 magazines to sustain
Commando, stared the relentless fire that
across the Reno River he hailed upon the
by Lake Commachio, enemy shore.
but first his Troop had to But Hunter could not
get past a small group long escape his ene-
of houses bristling with my’s weapons.
enemy guns. He was shot in
The shattered land- the head – a spray
scape of demol- of machine-gun fire
ished buildings Picture courtesy of the Royal Marines Museum abruptly and resolutely
behind him was about ending his heroic stand
to present to the lurking German forc- against the Germans.
es the stark profiles of his Troop, who were But the time that he had won with his sacri-
following behind Hunter’s own Bren gun fice was the time needed for his Troop to gain
section. shelter, the time needed for the British slaughter
The young Royal Marine knew that the to be prevented.
enemy’s machine-guns would cut down the The London Gazette of June 8 1945 reported
men like a scythe through wheat. the award of the Victoria Cross and stated:
There was no time to delay, no time to plan “There can be no doubt that Corporal Hunter
– but time to save lives. offered himself as a target in order to save his
With no words, Hunter grabbed the Bren gun Troop, and only the speed of his movement
and charged forward across the deserted land prevented him being hit earlier.
towards the enemy protected behind the walls “Throughout the operation his magnificent
and doors of the riverside houses. courage, leadership and cheerfulness had been
In a decision of clear, brilliant courage – an inspiration to his comrades.”
a scene that a thousand Hollywood movies His parents received the award from George
must not be allowed to cheapen of its bravery VI at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, the city of
– the lone figure ran headlong into the enemy their home and Tom’s childhood – although Tom
machine guns while mortars flew overhead with was born in Aldershot, Hampshire, because his
his Bren gun slung against his hip and firing father, Ramsey, was an Army man with the 2nd
non-stop. Royal Scots (1st Foot).
The Germans were seemingly hypnotised by At the outbreak of war, Tom signed up with
this lone figure who had charged forward, dodg- the Home Guard. Then in 1942 aged 19 he was
ing and weaving, to take the river crossing. called up and joined the Royal Marines, and
The Germans’ Spandaus were trained upon completed Commando training in 1943, becom-
this elusive individual rather than the following ing part of 43 Commando.
Troop, who seized the advantage that Hunter’s Two years later he was dead, and he lies
bravery had offered and rushed forward. buried at the Argenta Gap War Cemetery in Italy
As Hunter charged among the houses, the – the only Royal Marine to be awarded a Victoria
stunned gunners either abandoned their posts Cross in World War 2.
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