Sunday, 20 February 2011

HMS Campbeltown - 'last pipe'



March 28th, 2011, marked the 69th anniversary of the raid on Saint-Nazaire. Sadly, it also saw the last visit of the present HMS Campbeltown to the port so long associated with her name. A Type 22 Frigate of the 'Broadsword' Class, she is shortly to be decommissioned as part of the present government's contentious defence cuts. Launched on October 7th, 1987, and displacing 4,900 tons at full load, she is yet a young ship, and it is enormously sad to see her life cut short as part of a package of measures that can only accelerate our country's military decline.

The above image, taken on Campbeltown's after deck at the stroke of sunset on the evening of Monday 28th, shows the guard firing a salute as the White Ensign was hauled down. She was moored at the Quai du Commerce, with the huge bulk of the U-Boat pens in the background, and became the centre of attention in the port throughout her short stay. Earlier in the day, her crew, and her Commando complement, had together formed up next to the Monument du Commando where wreaths were laid by veterans and invited guests. Commander Keri Harris and his crew could not have been more courteous or hospitable during her stay - all in the very best traditions of the Senior Service.

Sad times for F86 - and  for all those associated, both with the ship, and with the potent memories so closely bound to her name. 

































Sunday, 6 February 2011

'CROSSING THE BAR'

The sad passing of HMS Campbeltown's last surviving crew-member

I received the very sad news this weekend that Frank Edgar Pritchard had passed away, in Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, on January 29th.

Frank, at the time of the raid had been a Leading Stoker, and a mere 22 years old. He survived the assault on the ship, and returned to the UK on board Motor Gunboat 314.

Frank was a primary source for me when writing my first book on the raid. It is fair to say that without his contribution to the text the story of those who struggled, first to keep the old ship's engines running, and then to assist in her scuttling, might have been lost to history. I last met him in Falmouth at the time of the rededication of the Chariot memorial. He is shown below, with his wife Irene, outside the Falmouth Town Hall. (Image copyright Scott VanOsdol)


Details of the funeral are given below. All are welcome.

St James Church, St James Road, Torpoint Cornwall. PL11 2BH  at 14:00Hrs

Then to Glynn Valley Crematorium, Turfdown Road, Bodmin. PL30 4AU at 15:30hrs

Comrades & United Services Club Torpoint Cornwall,  PL11 2LH for
refreshments, all Welcome 17:00 hrs.