A TALE OF TWO SHIPS
Sourced from THE LINK
(and sent to me by my dear dad, which I‘m sharing on the www to help preserve his memory, and most importantly, to share his unique eye-witness account of epic battles from WW II through the amazing power of the net. Thanks for your great and loyal friendship to Ray, Tris and Lynn)… one which my father and Shirley greatly valued.
Key words (tags):
books, the Book ‘Bismarck, Dorsetshire and Memories’, Ray Lock, autobiography, war stories, memoirs, military history, naval, Rotary (North Durban)ROTARY CLUB OF NORTH DURBAN Our mission: Create awareness
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Issue no 27
4th Jan 2001
TRIS TILLARD often provides us with speakers of heroic achievements in community life but on 21 December he brought us real life War Hero RAY LOCK for a fascinating personal. view of momentous valour at. sea during World War II, Many can only read about these events in
historical records and books, but we were privileged to stand beside RAY as he shared so vividly his experiences.
His tale touched two ships : HMS Dorsetshire of the Royal Navy and the Bismark, the pride of the German Navy. The Dorsetshire was a Cruiser of 10000 tonnes with a crew of 700, and the Bismarck was a Battleship of 50000 tonnes with a crew of 2300, and it completely outgunned the Dorsetshire.
Ray volunteered in Cape Town for service in the Royal Navy when WWII broke out. He was assigned to the Dorsetshire which was the flagship of the South Atlantic Station based in Simonstown. In May 1941, the Dorsetshire was escorting a convoy off West Africa heading north. The captain learnt that the Bismark had eluded the planes and ships shadowing it, to warn of its movements in attacking and disrupting convoys which were the lifelines of embattled and isolated Britain at that stage of the War.
The Bismarck had slipped out undetected from a fjiord in Norway and sailed south. When it was detected` by planes, all ships were ordered to intercept it. The nearest ships were battle-cruisers
Hood and Prince of Wales. A series of blunders by these two placed them in a disadvantageous position which resulted in the Hood being sunk and the Prince of Wales retreating badly damaged. The
Dorsetshire knew that it was no match for the Bismarck and that it could not protect the convoy; so it ordered the convoy to scatter and it steamed off to take on the Bismarck.
On Monday 26 May, the British ships closed in on the Bismarck, which unknown to the British had sustained damage to its steering, and a fierce battle ensued. The Bismarck’s guns were finally silenced, but it would not sink. The Dorsetshire was sent in to launch torpedoes from either side and
these resulted in the sinking of the Bismarck. This proved to be a tremendous morale booster for Britain and Occupied Europe.
The Dorsetshire was then assigned to the Eastern Fleet after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour and its entry into WWII. The Japanese swept through SE Asia and the British colonies fell before them. The Dorsetshire and the Cornwall were sent to try to slow down the Japanese Fleet. On Easter Sunday morning 5 April 1942, 70 Japanese aircraft flew low out of the sun and scored direct hits on the
Dorsetshire and the Cornwall, sinking them both in 7 minutes from the start of the attack. Ray was wounded in the attack and took to the sea without being able to don a lifebelt. This proved fortunate as the Japanese returned to machinegun the survivors in the water and those with lifebelts could not dive under water. Ray was in the water for 31 hours before they were rescued and taken to Simonstown Hospital for treatment. He is now one of the very few survivors and eyewitnesses of these major naval battles.
“Man is mind
and evermore he takes the tool of thought
and, shaping what he wills,
brings forth a thousand joys,
a thousand ills.
He thinks in secret
and it comes to pass –
Environment is but his looking glass.”
Thanks so much for sharing with me, dad. Your spirit (“driven”) lives on, as I “work” * on sharing your unique story.
* It’s not really “work”, but a “labour of love”.
For further info on my dad’s book, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or click on
www.lulu.com/craiglock“The world’s smallest and most exclusive bookstore”
“The empires of the future are the empires of the mind”
– Winston Churchill (in an adress to Harvard University in 1943)