Sunday 22 June 2014

HMS Nelson, waiting.

Through out December Nelson makes trip out to present a force of opposition to the Axis Naval power and occasional use her guns in support of the advance along the coast of North Africa into Tunisia.

26-Dec-42       Dad arrives in Gibraltar again for a late Christmas and New Year.
2-Jan-43          Nelson gets back to the war leaving Gibraltar to cover a troop convoy that was bound for Algiers.
3-Jan-43          Arrive Algiers.
4-Jan-43          Depart Algiers.
5-Jan-43          Dock back in Gibraltar.
8-Jan-43          In company with Rodney, carrier Formidable and twelve destroyers they moved to Mers-El-Kebir to offer close support to the continuing military operations on the coast of North Africa.
22-Jan-43        Whilst in Mers-El-Kebir with destroyer Eskimo alongside Eskimo had a fire in her boiler room. It was soon extinguished but caused electrical damage.
23-Jan-43        Vice Admiral Syfret was taken ill and was found to have appendicitis. The Doctor aboard performed an operation aboard. He tells the story that whilst waiting for him to come out of the anesthetic he tried on his Admirals cap. True to his grumpy nature he came out of his sleep and his first words were ‘take that off’. Despite not wanting to leave he was transferred to the hospital ship Oxfordshire and the link between Dad and Vice Admiral Syfret was broken.

Throughout February Nelson took part in sorties around the Western Mediterranean to protect large troop and supply convoys from the Italian Fleet. In fact the Italian fleet never took to sea as they were short of fuel and their morale was low and the Germans, thinking them useless, would not give them air cover.

1-Mar-43         Whilst the vessel was in Gibraltar Vice Admiral Algernon U. Willis hoists his pennant as Officer in charge of Force H.
7-Mar-43         Force H and Nelson held at Gibraltar to assist in cover of a possible breakout of the Scharnhorst from the Baltic. In the end she went north to Norway.
14-Mar-43       Scharnhorst is trapped in a Norwegian Fjord and so Force H is released to give further support of the ground war in North Africa.

April was spent in the Western Mediterranean support the ground forces and protecting convoys.

Dad HMS Nelson April 1943.

Dad Far Left) with some of the others on the Admirals Staff. Nelson 1942.

4-May-43        Nelson was in Algiers and was inspected by General Eisenhower and Admiral Cunningham. This was just a few days before the final victory in North Africa when Tunisia fell on 12th May. Following the inspection HMS Nelson returned to Gibraltar.

Rear Admiral A.U. Willis (Commander Force H), General D.D. Eisenhower (Commander in Chief Operation Torch), Admiral A. Cunningham (Naval Commander Operation Torch).
Aboard HMS Nelson at anchor off Algiers 4th May 1943.

Concert Party aboard HMS Nelson in Gibraltar on 24th May 1943. Vivien Leigh was the main attraction.

24-May-43      A concert party was held aboard the Nelson and the ‘star turn’ was Vivien Leigh.
26-May-43      HMS Howe takes over as Flag ship of Force H and Nelson leaves Gibraltar with 3 destroyers.
30-May-43      Arrived in Devonport and dry docked for intensive work on improving her AA armaments by the addition of more pom poms Oerlikon and Bofors guns and fitting a new radar system.
7-Jun-43          Work was carried out very speedily and the vessel sailed in company with destroyers Meteor, Matchless and Panther for Scapa Flow.

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