After relating his memories of his time as the first Radar Officer on the Prince of Wales and, along with the Hood, the encounter with the Bismarck, Rear Admiral Stuart Paddon continues with memories of the occasion when the Prince of Wales transported Winston Churchill to Placentia Harbour in Newfoundland, then still a British colony, for a secret meeting with the American President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
To Newfoundland with Churchill
The next event worth mentioning was that we were very surprised to receive Mr. Winston Churchill, whom we transported to Placentia Harbour in Newfoundland, where he met Roosevelt for what is now called the Atlantic Charter meeting. We were a private ship, no flag officer carried; however we had a tremendous amount of brass present on this occasion: all the Chiefs of Staff and a myriad of staff officers who were in Churchill’s entourage.
Off to Meet the Bismark
Time's Up - The Hunt is On
Our workups and test exercises on the Prince of Wales were fairly extensive but we had had only one main armament shoot, when about May 22nd, HMS Hood and ourselves had to proceed to sea to intercept the Bismarck, being shadowed with radar by HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk, two county class cruisers. Our Captain came on the PA system and told the ship’s company that he anticipated intercepting the Bismarck at roughly six a.m. on the 24th of May, some thirty hours away.
The Captain was Correct
At exactly six a.m. on the 24th of May we encountered the Bismarck at 26,000 yards, roughly thirteen nautical miles, twenty degrees to starboard. The Flag Office was in Hood and we proceeded in line-ahead with Hood leading. The Hood was a battle cruiser, without the armour plating which the Prince of Wales enjoyed. We were doing roughly thirty knotts and opened fire at 26,000 yards.
A Canadian in the Royal Navy
When the war was declared in 1939, I was in Noranda, Quebec, in a gold and copper mine. I came back from there in September to complete my final year in Physics at the University of Western Ontario. We had just started the University year when we were approached by the head of the Physics department to see if we were agreeable to having our syllabus altered to give emphasis to electronics. If you recall in those days electronics, certainly at Western, was a post-grad course, not an undergrad course. We agreed.
RAF Scoops Electronic Talent RN Looks to Canada
This request had really originated with the Royal Navy, who had been unable to find any electronic talent at home because, I gather, all of it had been bought up by the RAF. The RN appealed to the Royal Canadian Navy, who in turn approached the National Research Council. Things proceeded as one might expect, until somewhere about February 1940. I then met the first naval officer I had ever seen, one Lieutenant-Commander Finch-Noyes. He made it known to us that in a relatively short time we would be proceeding to service with the Royal Navy in certain not very clear duties. There appeared to be a great deal of secrecy involved. We attested the 24th of April and I became an acting Sub-Lieutenant, in the RCNVR [Royal Canadian Navy Voluntary Reserve].
The Elgin Military Museum has a vast collection of letters, articles, poems and pictures of veterans and others who served their community over a period of two hundred years.. This blog is our way of sharing them with you.