- Ray Remembers Epic Battle
His book is an eye-witness account of the sinking of the Bismarck
The book: Bismarck, Dorsetshire and Memories by Ray Lock
by Penny Tsepouras
from North Glen News 1/10/2004
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.
FOR many of us World War II occupies a distant place in history, far removed from our every day lives, yet immortalised for a generation who paid heavily for the price of freedom.
For Durban North’s Ray Lock, the recent publication of his book Bismarck, Dorsetshire and Memories, is a recollection of events documenting his eyewitness account to one of the major historical events in WW II that has rightly found a place in historical archives.
In 1939, at the tender age of 16, Ray, eager not to miss the action of WW II, falsified his age by two years and managed to enlist as a seaman for the Royal Navy. After spending a couple of months undergoing military training at the Natal Command in Durban, Ray was assigned as a crew-member aboard the battleship, the Dorsetshire.
His book is an eyewitness account of the events that led to the sinking of the Dorsetshire on 5 April 1942.
“In the first year aboard the Dorsetshire not much happened. With a crew, slightly in excess of 700, we did endless patrols in the Indian and Atlantic oceans searching for German commerce raiders, who in turn were searching for soft Allied targets.
Action in the Indian Ocean then was comparatively quiet compared with the concentrated Atlantic U-boat activity in the North Atlantic,” said Ray.
“The German battleship, Bismarck, was the most powerful warship ever built She had a crew of approximately 2300 and was commissioned on 24 August 1940 to cause havoc to the convoys plying between the United States and Britain. She could outgun and outrun any ship afloat.”
Ray’s account of the final battle that sunk the Bismarck makes for unwavering reading.
“The battle lasted approximately one and three quarter hours. Out of 2300. crew only 115 survived, of which 95 where picked up by the Dorsetshire. We then sailed northwards and finally docked at Newcastle cheered by the dockyard workers as we berthed.
“While in our Simon’s Town base we heard the news on 7 December 1941 that Japan had attacked the United States fleet at Pearl Harbour.”
The book takes the reader through the eventful Sunday 5 April 1942 when Ray and the crew of the Dorsetshire came under attack from Japanese aircraft.
“Horace Howe, my friend from Queenstown was standing next to me and took a number of
machine gun. hits across his body, he died instantly. I received a bullet wound just above the right knee,” he said.
Ray took another hit and was badly wounded on the left ankle and leg. Shrapnel also pierced his chest.His incredible account of the rescue operation, the long road to recovery and finally been reunited with his father is an incredible journey portraying an inner strength and spirit
Ray’s memories will no doubt leave a strong impression in the mind of the reader and as one often does when meeting an exceptional person, the testament to the human spirit lends inspiration to those who touch upon it.
An incredible chapter of history has certainly been recorded in Bismarck, Dorsetshire and Memories. Ray will be launching his book at Splashes restaurant, Newport Avenue, Glenashley on 6 October at 6.30pm.
Article by Penny Tsepouras
from North Glen News, Durban North, South Africa 1/10/2004
2. RAYMOND LOCK – ABLE SEAMAN RNVR. SA. -67699
by John Bailey
Key words (tags): Ray Lock, John Bailey,Flotsam and Jetsam, books, the Book ‘Bismarck, Dorsetshire and Memories’, autobiography, war stories, memoirs, Royal Navy, military history, naval battles, naval history, South Africans
Sourced from FLOTSAM AND JETSAM Vol. 50 August 2002 No 209
GOLDEN JUBILEE EDITION
(and sent to me some years ago 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.
On a crisp, but sunny autumnal morning earlier this year, I made my way through the narrow but picturesque Harfield Village — one of Cape Town’s popular “Chelsea” areas. Streets bearing the names of English counties abound and instantly become a constant – if not a little nostalgic -reminder as I ambled through Hereford and Leicester, before reaching my ultimate destination in Sussex ….
I welcomed the soft and comfortable sofa that greeted me on my arrival at No 17, but no sooner had I seated myself than a dapper gentleman appeared and whose right hand was quick to come forward in a sincere gesture of greeting …
Raymond Lock – “Ray” to his family and friends — was instantly recognizable from his TV image as being a member of the congregation who had recently attended the sixtieth anniversary service at Simons Town, which recalled the sinking of HMS CORNWALL and HMS DORSETSHIRE on Easter Sunday 1942. It was not long before Ray was recounting his own experiences for me …
Born in the then Southern Rhodesian town of Bulawayo on 7 January 1923, Ray completed his education at the South African College High School in Cape Town. Although not yet seventeen years of age, he “bluffed” his real date of birth, and signed on for the Air Force in November of 1939. A change of heart soon found this intrepid young lad heading for Simon‘s Town, where he duly enlisted for service in the Navy. It was nor long before Ray was posted for duty to Klawer Camp on Red Hill – a naval installation that commanded an excellent view of the naval base in the bay below. However, by the Autumn of 1940, be was at sea, having been seconded to the 8-inch cruiser — HMS DORSETSHIRE —· as an able seaman.
In the May of 1941 — and in company with HMS RODNEY, HMS KING GEORGE V and HMS ARK ROYAL — HMS DORSETSHIRE succeeded in routing the German battleship BISMARCK in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is interesting to note that Ray Look was aboard HMS DORSETSHIRE, as the cruiser fired the final torpedoes into the already crippled battleship ….
Japan’s entry into the war in the December of 1941, opened up a new frontier of conflict for the allies and by the end of March of`1942, an attack on the island of Ceylon seemed imminent.
Shortly before midnight on Easter: Saturday — 4 April — HMS DORSETSHIRE, under the command of Captain Augustus Agar VC and HMS CORNWALL, under the command of Captain P C W Mainwaring (or Manwaring??) sailed from the Ceylonese port of Colombo. Their objective was to rendezvous with Admiral·Somervi1le some hundred of miles to the South at 16.00 on the following afternoon, and so be able to present a united front to the enemy.
In his definitive study on the Japanese assault on Ceylon entitled “The Most Dangerous Moment”,
Michael Tomlinson recalls that “shortly after one o’çlock (Sunday 5th April) with all men at action stations, numerous radio contacts were picked up (by HMS CORNWALL and HMS DORSETSHIRE…wireless silence was now broken to notify Admiral Somerville of their position (and) to report the enemy shadowing and possibility of an air attack
(The Japanese) wasted not a moment on sighting the two cruisers…(and) scored hit after hit from the word go….The line of attack seemed to have been carefully worked out in advance…..
Young Ray Lock, one of the Dorsetshire’s crew serving a 4 inch ack-ack gun amidships and fuming at their hopelessly restricted field of fire, found himself flung to the deck ten feet below by a blast from a bomb. Shaken, he got to his feet, intent on getting back to the gun; but was startled to see only two blackened stumps, where the twin gun barrels had been and the rest of the crew dead or badly wounded. Only some time later, noticing a squelching sound in his shoes, did he find them filling with blood and realized that he was seriously wounded in the chest and legs …..0nly eight minutes after the first bomb hit, her bows rose above the sea, where by now most of her company were floundering in the hot oily water, and she was gone….Much the same could be said for HMS CORNWALL….Lieutenant Geoffrey Grove relates:
“When at 1.40 pm the Jap planes struck, the first bomb hit the CORNWALL’s port-side, astern…We had something like fifteen hits in about seven minutes and the poor old girl took up a bigger list than ever and started to settle….once clear of the ship (I) turned around and waited for her to go, which she did quite quietly, bows first. Her stern came up into the air and she slid down, one propeller revolving slowly.”
Ray was quick to recall that having abandoned ship, he found himself swimming in a sea that was both warm and dead calm, excepting for a layer of oil that had already begun to ooze up and out of the sunken cruiser. He was to spend some seven hours in the water, before being dragged into a life-boat to endure a full day and night, before being rescued by HMAS PALADIN and transported to Addu Atoll in the Maldive Islands. Here Ray was transferred to a merchant ship to await the arrival of the hospital ship HMNS VITA, aboard which he returned to South Africa towards the end of April.
In his certificate for “Wounds and Hurts”, Surgeon Captain OD Brownfeld notes that Ray sustained a “gun shot through (the) left ankle with (a) fracture of the neck of the astragalus, as well as a “shrapnel wound to the left of (the) middle of (the) sternum.” However, the doctor makes `no mention of the pieces of shrapnel that have surfaced throughout Ray’s body over the past sixty years!
Glancing suddenly at my watch, I realized how quickly the time had passed… a quick “photo-call” was needed to recall the event and Ray, with bags packed, was soon to return to Durban…. Like so many men and women of his era, his quiet unassuming manner certainly gives one no indication as to the emotional suffering that he surely endured at so young an age; however, his inner bravery and strength was to shine forth during an interview recorded by The Daily News – a Durban tabloid in September of 1987: Of course, in dangerous situations we were scared, but you have to react. The bravest thing we did was signing the recruiting form.”
Go well, Ray
Sourced from FLOTSAM AND JETSAM
GOLDEN JUBILEE EDITION
“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 these words so often 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”.
“The empires of the future are the empires of the mind”
– Winston Churchill (in an address to Harvard University in 1943)
“But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
The various editions of Bismarck, Dorsetshire and Memories ( e-books, paperbacks and picture books *) are available at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=bismarck+dorsetshire+and+memories
- as with practice I’ve been learning a bit more each time (book) about the publishing process
This “non-techno” is just working on updating my dads book and practising with Google Drive
see the pictures didn’t come out on Google Drive from my Word doc. Hopefully will come out in the updated book!