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NAVY NEWS, DECEMBER 2007 37
Tragic error led to
Battleship’s
bell returns
safer navigation
to help with
celebration
ONE of the icons of the Royal
Navy’s 20th Century history
is this month back near the
waters that once devoured it.
THREE hundred years after
measuring longitude.
The bell of battleship
one of the gravest peacetime
It was half a century before the Admiralty
HMS Prince of Wales has
nights in Royal Navy history,
(reluctantly) accepted John Harrison’s marine
been loaned to the people
chronometer as a tool with which to achieve
sailors returned to the spot which an accurate measurement of longitude –
of Malaysia to celebrate
their 50th anniversary of
changed the art of navigation.
thanks in part to some persuasion by the king
independence – and to
On October 22 1707, Sir
(the Navy never paid the £20,000 reward
commemorate the ties
Cloudesley Shovell drove his flagship
originally offered, however).
between the two countries.
HMS Association and three other
Scilly Islanders have staged a series of talks,
exhibitions and services to commemorate the
Royal Navy divers recovered
vessels on to the Western Rocks in the
disaster – and its subsequent impact upon the
the bell from the wreck of the
Scilly Isles.
world of seafaring.
leviathan five years ago amid
Shovell was one of the most respected
The Association’s wreck was found by a
growing fears of plunder by
and courageous naval leaders of the day but
naval sub aqua team four decades ago, and it
unscrupulous souvenir hunters
he fell victim to bad weather, bad navigation
was over the remains of the man o’war that
and scrap metal merchants.
and bad luck.
HMS Ledbury arrived on October 22 2007
Prince of Wales and the
Around 1,600 men were killed when
for a service of remembrance.
battlecruiser Repulse both fell
HM Ships Association, Eagle, Romney and
The Portsmouth-based minehunter was
victim to Japanese bombers
Firebrand were dashed on the rocks as their
joined by island dignitaries, Chaplain of the
on December 10 1941. They
navigators miscalculated their longitude – and
Fleet the Venerable John Green and the Naval
sank in international waters
hence their position.
Regional Commander for Wales and West
off the coast of the Malay
Shovell’s body was later washed ashore
England, Cdre Jamie Miller.
peninsula, taking 764 men
Out of the tragedy – the worst
Cdre Miller, a survivor of the loss of HMS
down with them.
peacetime disaster in the Royal
Coventry in the Falklands, said it was only
More than six decades
Navy’s history – came the
right that today’s sailors honoured Shovell
on, the bell is acting as a
device which revolutionised
and his fleet.
centrepiece during three weeks
navigation … eventually.
“From the depths of this disaster came a
of independence anniversary
Parliament passed
scientific discovery of epic proportions and
events, touring the country in a
the Longitude Act in
one which changed the way we navigated
series of exhibitions including
1714 offering £20,000
forever – probably saving thousands of lives,”
LIMA 2007 in Langkawi, one
– more than £6m today
he added.
of the world’s largest nautical
– to whoever solved the
Ledbury spent two days off the Scillies,
trade fairs.
problem of accurately
with boats from St Mary’s ferrying
Commemorations reach a
islanders out to tour the Hunt-
peak with a naval review and
class warship.
memorial service over the
The ship has moved on a fair
wreck site on December 10,
bit from Harrison’s chronometer
when divers from the Royal
in terms of navigating.
Malaysian Navy will attach a
Before heading to the Scillies,
plaque to the sea bed alongside
the minehunter became the
the Prince of Wales’ wreck.
latest recipient of the WECDIS
Rear Admiral Alan Massey,
electronic charting system which
Assistant Chief of the Naval
is rapidly becoming standard
Staff, presented the bell to the
across the Fleet.
Malaysian Foreign Minister
It means navigational errors
Syed Hamid bin Syed Jaafar
as well as the heavy time load
Albar during a visit to London.
demanded by working with paper
“The bell returns briefly
charts should become a thing
to Malaysia in a gesture of
of the past, although navigators
friendship and partnership
continue to practise traditional
between the peoples of the UK
skills such as dead reckoning and
and Malaysia to reinforce our
astro-navigation.
awareness of the sacrifices
made by the men of both
navies,” Admiral Massey said.● HMS Ledbury honours the men
who died when Sir Cloudesley After its tour the bell will
Shovell’s fl otilla was wrecked in return to the UK where it is in
1707
Picture: LA(Phot) Chris Wenham,
the care of the Royal Naval
(FRPU Whale Island) Museum.
Please call 023 9273 4448 for details
or email:
subscriptions@navynews.co.uk
Fishery ship takes a battering
MINEHUNTER HMS Quorn the remains of the Mulberry ship for passage to Portsmouth. rough for the troops to even join
has spent the autumn renewing harbour – used to support The seas were thankfully Quorn – though it didn’t, of course,
bonds with the past and present the enormous invasion calmer for an affiliates prevent the ship from sailing.
and forging bonds for the future effort – are still visible. day in the Solent. After what was described as a
– mostly in rotten weather. It allowed today’s Quorn treated the “tough passage” with true RN
AR
Association
N
of
Royal Navy Officers
O
The ship sailed for Le Havre sailors to pay respects mayoral party of understatement, the ship found
ARNO is the Membership Benefits of membership
for a weekend break from fishery to their forebears Melton Mowbray, shelter in the heart of Newcastle. Association and Charitable Trust include;
protection duties, which allowed a – the previous HMS Melton’s youth The visit coincided with the for serving and retired commissioned
*
an Annual Year Book which has many
pilgrimage to the battlefields and Quorn fell victim to mayor (the town has Great North Run – and allowed officers of the RN, RM, QARNNS, the
interesting articles and useful
beaches of Normandy. a German ‘human a youth council), two the ship’s company to cheer on former WRNS and their Reserves.
information
The first port of call was torpedo’ in the QARNNS nurses, navigator Lt Gareth Shrubsole’s
*
a secure on-line membership list
The ARNO Charitable Trust
Pegasus Bridge, where the first Seine Bay. and 16 students from brother Duncan, who completed
*
a special rate for roadside
provides advice and access to breakdown cover
British troops set foot in France in Quorn was Welbeck College, the race to raise cash for Crisis
charitable funds for those members,
*
temporary membership of the Naval
the small hours of June 6 1944. protecting the and council officials and Marie Curie Cancer Care. their wives, widows and dependents Club, Mayfair, London
Among the men landing that Operation Neptune to a display including Then it was back into the who are in need and/or experience * provision for buying and selling
morning was glider pilot Capt re-supply convoys
fire-fighting, a Lynx
unforgiving North Sea, this financial difficulties.
uniform and/or swords
William Barrie DFC, great uncle
when struck on August fly-past and exercises
time to relieve HMS Tyne on
*
an identity card
Membership Association
of Quorn’s gunnery officer Lt
3 1944, sinking in little with HMS Cattistock.
Operation Shark (see page 6) – a
*
entitlement to various trade discounts
subscription: £12 annually or a single
Jonathan Fletcher.
more than a minute, taking all Bad weather is not the preserve
combined exercise with the Dutch
* regional social functions (subsidised)
payment of £180 for Life Membership. and many more benefits and services
The officer found his relative’s
but 36 of her 165-strong ship’s of the Channel. The North Sea
Coast Guard to catch fishermen
name in a book of remembrance
company down with her. can be even rougher – as the
breaking the law.
Contact details; tel: 020 7402 5231 fax: 020 7402 5533
inside a replica Horsa glider at the Today’s Quorn left Le Havre Quorn chaps found the week after By swapping boarding officers
email: osec@arno.org.uk www.arno.org.uk
Pegasus Bridge museum. and ploughed straight into a Force their battering out of Le Havre. – Lt Fletcher joined the Barend Please send me details and membership application form:
The seizure of the bridge was 7 – unpleasant in any warship, but The ship was due to continue Biesheuvel while his counterpart
Name & address__________________________________________________
a precursor to the amphibious especially in a small Hunt class. her work with affiliates by carrying joined Quorn – both ships could
news
landings on the Normandy coast. Unpleasant as it was for her 44 soldiers from the Defence Animal conduct boardings on either side
_______________________________________________________________
navy
And so the ship’s company crew, it was especially unpleasant for Centre in Melton to Newcastle. of the line which divides UK and
__________________________________________________________________
moved on to Arromanches where their families who were joining the But the weather proved too Netherlands fishing limits.
to: Membership Secretary,ARNO, 70 Porchester Terrace, LONDON W2 3TP
037_NN_Dec.indd 1 21/11/07 11:21:24
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