- Contributed by
- Vic Chanter
- People in story:
- Vic Chanter
- Location of story:
- North Sea (Norway)
- Background to story:
- Royal Navy
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 07 June 2003
North Sea (Norway)
Sept 3rd 1939
11.15am At sea in North Sea with BBC News Bulletin being broadcast throughout the ship to the crew. I was on watch when the all important news item with the declaration of war came through.
In a short while we intercepted what was now an ‘alien’ supply ship, and I joined the boarding party as the obligatory signalman There was little to report back to the Flagship, so my services were minimal. Our party returned to ship, and after the disembarkation of the merchant ship’s crew, we sunk the ship and resumed our patrol until time to return to base.
Working mostly out of Rosyth we were involved in Northern Patrols, around Orkneys and Shetlands, towards Iceland and in and out of Scapa Flow.
Oct 9th Sunday
Still on HMS Southampton, Flagship, with Rear Admiral aboard. We were on patrol escorting a convoy in the North Sea and bombed for 8 hours with no casualties.
Oct 16th Sunday
In Rosyth alongside. We had a freak bomb attack with a bomb slicing through our flag locker on the Flagdeck and exploding through the side of ship. Among the dead was an underage boy who was on the mess-deck at the time.
Rear Admiral transferred his flag to HMS Edinburgh. I was informed that I was to join the Flag Staff, and we were transferred en bloc to the Edinburgh. The next ten weeks or so we spent working out of Rosyth or Scapa Flow on Northern Patrols and North Sea convoys.
March 3rd 1940
Vice Admiral (now) and Flag Staff were transferred to HMS Galatea.
During a North Sea convoy a film crew came aboard to film action shots for a forthcoming film entitled CONVOY. The shots were to be of action stations with the real thing: guns blazing away, smokescreens and our signal deck alive with action — with us hoisting flags at the speed of light! And then…me. I was to be filmed flashing a signal on a 10" lamp. However, most of the shots were for real. Shots were included of our sister ship, HMS Arethusa, under full steam with Battle Ensign flying at the masthead. Clive Brooke and John Clements were to be the main stars of the film; and, thanks to excellent camera work by Roy Kellino, none of the ship’s company was compromised. (Roy Kellino was the brother of Pamela Kellino, James Mason’s wife at the time).
Saw us escorting troops to Norway.
Alongside a troopship in Rosyth I was hailed by a group of soldiers shouting from its upper deck. I recognised them as old school and childhood pals from Great Bowden in Leicestershire. One, from our old scouting days, was even signalling to me by semaphore.
From Rosyth we escorted troops to Aandalsnes, landing Royal Marines and Royal Navy, following the German invasion of Norway on 9th April. Moored alongside a jetty we landed stores, ammunition, searchlight unit, 420 Royal Marines and 300 RN ratings; the first British force to operate in that part of Norway.
Late in April we sailed up the fjord again to bombard the mountain passes and routes down into the town where the Germans were advancing. We were there also to take off the rearguard of our troops, ensuring their safe withdrawal. Fortunately, the Germans had no main artillery at this point that was capable of causing us any major problems.
Apr 30th/1st May
Evacuation of troops from Aandalsnes was virtually completed.
HMS Glasgow took off the King of Norway from Molde to Tromso, and then HMS Devonshire evacuated him from Norway on June 7th.
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