Ask a question to a Prince Of Wales survivor

Discussion in 'History' started by flymo, Sep 22, 2010.

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  1. The wife's great uncle is coming back home for a visit next month and I wondered if anyone had any questions for him.

    He is one of the last dozen or so survivors of the Prince of Wales that had the little hickup with the Japanese airforce a "couple" of fortnights ago.
  2. Re: Ask a question

    Wow! Give him my best regards and respect.

    I'd be interested to know how much the ship's company were aware of what Force Z was supposed to do when they were sent against the Japanese, and what were his impressions of the effectiveness of the Prince Of Wales and Repulse against Japanese air power?
  3. Re: Ask a question

    If anyone is interested, this runs (at points) parrallel to the Force Z debacle. Too Short to Cry by Tim Vigors. His squadron, flying Buffaloes was sent to help Force Z but didnt arrive in time
  4. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    We payed our respects to those lost on the PoW whilst in the area in the '60's is this tradition still carried on?
  5. My kind regards to him . Have known another of the P of Wales survivors
    for quite some time now Len Stevenson --ERA he lives in Dundee .
    Still looking quite fit after all the hardships of his younger days !

  6. I think I've mentioned on here before, the postie on the Aurora, who was still an AB in 1967 was a survivor from the Repulse, that went down with the POW.
    Able Seaman Hewlitt or Hewit don't know the spelling, we just called him scouse. Probably like him your uncle got ashore and fought his way down to Singers only to be taken prisoner when it fell.
    Anyhow give him our regards and condolences, my old man was a guest of the Imperial Japanese Bastards for a few years, and he was affected by it for the rest of his life, and that was not that long thanks to them.
  7. My mothers cousin was lost on Repulse.Surgeon Lt Willie Cavanagh.
  8. Yeah we did, we had the nephew of Admiral Philips who flew his fag in POW and our own survivor lay a wreath there in 68.
    You feel right spooky when your over the wrecks and know whats below.
  9. AFAIK yes, when there's a ship there. I think the last one to do so was Kent back in 2008, unless one of the Taurus ships was in the area last year.

    Half a world away, Portland laid a wreath, on the site of the of Good Hope/Monmouth wreck, on her way to Chile a few days ago.
  10. See First RN Diving Surveys of HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales for accounts of the initial dives in 1965 and 1966, respectively, when the first white ensign was secured to the propeller shaft of POW. During the intervening years, RN divers have renewed this ensign whenever possible but they have always avoided penetrating the wrecks. As war graves, they are registered "Protected Places" under the UK's Protection of Military Remains Act 1986. Sub-section 2(2) of the Act makes penetrating or interfering with protected wrecks illegal but, sadly, only where UK citizens are concerned. Note that in this context, "remains" refers to the remnants of a wreck, either ship or aircraft:

    Unfortunately, both wrecks are in international waters where our law only applies to UK citizens. They are now within the depth capability of modern day 'technical divers' and, despite their protected status as war graves under UK law, certain divers led by Andrew Georgitsis, an American, used force to penetrate the wrecks in 2004 supposedly for 'research purposes' but actually for kudos and commercial gain, e.g. the sale on eBay and Flikr of photos, videos, mousemats, mugs and fridge magnets showing internal views. One notorious example included the obviously posed display of human remains.

    After a protracted campaign, all items were withdrawn from sale but the same individual contributed to the publication of the following article showing the remains of a crew member inside the wreck: Diving into British Naval History: HMS Repulse. Note the misleading statement about legality and dismissive description of the Force Z Survivors' Association:

    I don't know about you but I share the Force Z Survivors' Association's revulsion about the penetration of these registered war graves by ghoulish unprincipled divers who take and display photos of human skulls and other skeletal remains.
  11. In 1961 at Heron, I served under a Chief Officers' Cook who was a survivor from HMS Prince of Wales. He didn't talk about it much, but once showed us his lower leg, which still bore the scars of his escape from the ship.

  12. My Uncle was on the Prince of Wales my mother told me often. He never spoke about war or anything like that just used to go out on the River Mersey on his boat alone. Sadly he departed a long long time ago.
  13. Can you recall his name? I know it's a long shot but you never know.

    I always pooh poohed people who said "oh, you may know "fredsmith", he's in the Navy" until I met one chap in a pub in Weston Super Mare who uttered that line to me. Turned out to be my ex chief Golly! Since then, I always said "you never know". Especially as the mob has shrunk.

    IIRC the Navy was re-designated as a Flotilla instead of a Fleet sometime in the late 80's early 90s to much gnashing of teeth. Is it still thus or has the Navy been rebranded .... again...
  14. My Grans Brother was on the POW. Never knew him sadly died when I was a baby. PO J Crowley. Tiff or Stoker I think.
  15. My Great Uncle In-Law hasn't been able to get over this month due to him and his wife being a bit fragile (!), however I've just given him a call for a sitrep.

    First things first, he says thank you very much for those who sent their regards and respect, at the end of our little chat he said that "I'd made his day" - somehow, I don't think that it was just me ...

    They weren't too aware of what was going on. However, they completely had under estimated the strength of the Japanese air power. As the Japs had had time to setup land based airfields, he said that they "came from every bloody direction) ..... gulp .....
    And for Churchill to send them out there without any carrier support ..... he also said that has much changed since, regarding carriers and aircraft? This was a not so subtle dig to the issues around the QE and the new POW in build.

    He wasn't aware of the Force Z survivors association, but is a member of the POW survivors association. I've just had a look at the Force Z website and they incorporate the Repluse's and POWs groups. So it looks as though is is a member but doesn't know it :)

    He hasn't heard of Len Stevenson and doesn't think that he attends the meetings. I believe that these are now held centrally in Scarborough to make it fair for those travelling from both ends of the country. Eric (Great uncle in law) is down in Poole.

    What surprised\made me smile was the fact that as these boy seamen ('cos that's what they were and all that's left) cross the bar, their children and grand children still maintain the survivors groups. It has become a complete family affair.
    Eric mentioned a book that one of his grand children is reading about the incident. When I get to speak to him again, I'll get it's name and post accordingly. He seemed very upbeat about it so I believe that it is an accurate account.

    From a bloke looking back some 69 years, all I am left to say is, those poor bastards.
  16. We paid our respects in Sheffield in 1991, when passing the points of sinking. We presented the Survivors Group with a framed chart and photo and they kindly contributed a "Splice the Mainbrace " on our return to Guzz.

  17. My Great Uncle in law has become fit enough for a 3 day visit from Thursday this week. Probably his last ....

    Any ???s for the Old Salt?
  18. Magda

    Magda War Hero Book Reviewer

    Am currently reading an excellent book called "Alarm Starboard!" by Geoffrey Brooke; he was a Lt. on board the Prince of Wales when it was sunk, he tells a terrifying but courageous story. It was touch and go as to whether they were going to make it even after they had been picked up as the Japanese bombers came back but didn't attack.

    Huge amounts of respect for all who served on the Prince of Wales and the Repulse.

    As to questions, anything he can tell us of his experiences would be gratefully read by this Newbie =-)
  19. An interesting point RR as I believe a lot of the survivors of them feel just the same way, a good friend of my dad's, who was in one of the Suffolk Regiments, spent most of the War as a POW and though a very quiet unassuming man whenever Japan or Japaneese was mentioned you could see the utter hatred in his eyes from what they had done to him and his mates. He was a member of the Burma Road association and took quite a few trips out there to pay his respects to his lost comrades and a truly wonderful turn out from them for his own funeral.....RIP Abe Savage.

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