British Imperturbability

“Sound of aircraft on the port beam!” shouted a lookout aboard HMS Wolverine whilst it was coming into Devonport Harbor in 1940 after a day of engine trials. Commander Gretton, one of the best convoy escort commanders in Western Approaches and then captain of HMS Wolverine writes:

…so I made yet another contribution to the list of famous last words and shouted, ‘friendly fighters.’ As the words left my mouth flashes of flame appeared from the wings of both planes, and machine gun bullets whizzed about the ship in the most alarming manner.

Another classic comment from Gretton’s memoirs:

“Oh, well done, sir,” was the comment Gretton expected from his First Lieutenant (referred to as ‘Number One’ in the Royal Navy) when Gretton rammed and sank the Italian submarine Dagabur in August 1942. Number One felt the collision and came running to the bridge. His initial comment to Gretton, “Oh, Lord, what have we hit now?”

Vice Admiral Sir Peter Gretton, KCB, OBE DSO DSC RN, retired from the Royal Navy in 1963 due to ill-health. He later wrote several books and died, age 80, 1n 1992. His son, Michael, also served in the Royal Navy and also retired as a Vice-Admiral.

[Source: Convoy Escort Commander by Vice-Admiral Sir Peter Gretton.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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