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Memorial testifi es to
destroyer death toll
T WAS not just the chilly wind
old destroyer by LS(MW) Thomas Kay perform on the waterfront, close to HMS
blowing through the Medway
and AB(Sea) Mark Priestman of HMS Ledbury, and the sailors cheered ship as
towns which caused people to
Ledbury, which was on the Medway to he departed.
support the event – the ship bears the name The ship remained at Chatham to
dab at their eyes. of a famous wartime Hunt-class destroyer welcome visitors on board over the next
In the season of remembrance, which survived both the ill-fated PQ17 and three days, during which time hundreds of
another memorial was brought into
the battered Pedestal convoys. people clambered aboard.
being, and for many at Chatham’s
One of the veterans
Historic Dockyard, this was personal.
who met the Duke at the
Personal to all those men with chestfuls
museum was Leslie Smale,
of medals who can still remember their
who had not only served
long-dead oppos as if it were yesterday.
in HMS Cavalier, but had
Personal to all the relatives who were
also been on board one of
there to ensure their brave kin were not
the ships named on the
And personal to the guest of honour, the
“I was on board HMS
Duke of Edinburgh, who unveiled the new
Hardy in 1940 at Narvik
Destroyer Memorial Monument.
when she was sunk,” said
For Prince Philip served in destroyers
Mr Smale (87), who lives
during the war, and he remarked on the
in Devon.
fact that it is the big ships which attract all
“I was on the bridge
the attention.
when the ship was
“I suspect that it is only among
struck, and I could see
mariners that the value of the smaller
the German destroyers
ships is properly appreciated,” he told the
through a gaping
assembled veterans.
hole in the side of the
“Nelson, when he was Commander-in-
Chief in the Mediterranean, never seemed
“I thought ‘If this is
to worry very much whether he had enough
my day then it is my day,’
lines of battleships, but he never ceased to
and then we took a little
complain about the lack of frigates.”
swim in the Arctic Circle
Prince Philip said that destroyers “were
– but it wasn’t too far to
involved in every major naval action during
shore as the ship had been
the war – as well as in many minor, but
equally hazardous operations.”
Mr Smale lost 18
He added that many of the 11,000
colleagues during the
men who died in action in the 142 lost
attack, but went on to
destroyers were “my contemporaries and
serve in other destroyers,
including convoy runs
The siting of the memorial at Chatham
down the E-boat Alley of
was “particularly appropriate”, being the
the East Coast.
home port of many of the RN’s smaller
“I think this memorial is
ships over the dockyard’s 400-year history.
very good – outstanding,”
And Cavalier was also a natural location,
he said.
being a typical Fleet destroyer of World
After lunch Prince
War 2.
Philip watched the
“She forms a very important part of
Royal Marines Band
this memorial, and I would like to take
this opportunity to congratulate all the
volunteers and donors who have restored
her so successfully and with such loving
care,” continued the Prince, adding that it
● From top of page: The Duke of Edinburgh inspects the Royal Guard
was a “great honour” for him to unveil the
before the ceremony; HMS Ledbury on the Medway; Sea Cadets
Adam Montgomery and Gayle Chilmead help unveil Kenneth Potts’
The event started with the arrival of the
monument, an integral part of the National Destroyer Memorial; the
Royal Marines Band from Dartmouth, and
Duke of Edinburgh on the bridge of HMS Cavalier with Michael Keir,
an impressive drill demonstration by a full
director of the HMS Cavalier Trust and chairman of the Friends of
96-strong RN Royal guard of sailors, well-
HMS Cavalier Trust
rehearsed from the Cenotaph ceremony.
Pictures: Barry Duffield, except HMS Ledbury, taken by Cdr David Waters (NROEE)
Prince Philip, escorted by the Vice Lord
Lieutenant of Kent, Viscount De L’Isle,
and the chairman of the Chatham Historic
Dockyard Trust, Admiral Sir Ian Garnett,
Fastest in the Fleet
unveiled the new monument – a striking
HMS CAVALIER is the last Cavalier Trust bought her,
bronze bas-relief created by sculptor
surviving Royal Navy destroyer to and after going on display at
Kenneth Potts, depicting a destroyer
have served in World War 2. Southampton and Brighton, then
rescuing men from a sunken ship.
She was built at the Cowes yard making a brief visit to Tyneside,
Assisting the Duke were Sea Cadets
POC Adam Montgomery (Sheppey unit)
of Samuel White in 1944, and saw she is now permanently on display
and LC Gayle Chilmead (Medway Towns
service in the Arctic and Western in Chatham Historic Dockyard,
unit), while the VIP also had time to chat
Approaches before transferring to alongside the 19th Century anti-
to the seven standard bearers.
the British Pacific Fleet for the slavery sloop HMS Gannet and
Chaplain of the Fleet the Venerable John
closing stages of the war. O-class submarine HMS Ocelot,
Green then dedicated HMS Cavalier as the
More than ten years after the which dates from the 1960s, which
National Destroyer Memorial, and after
fighting ended she was refitted are also open to the public.
a brief tour of the warship the Duke
and modernised, continuing to The ‘greyhound of the seas’
of Edinburgh went on to the dockyard’s
earn her keep in both the Far East – Cavalier once claimed the title
museum to meet some of the 900 veterans and home waters until she was of the fastest ship in the Fleet
and relatives who attended the ceremony. paid off in 1972. – is now the official National
The royal visitor was piped aboard the Five years later the HMS Destroyer Memorial 1939-45.
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