Crest of the V&W Destroyer AssociationCrest of the V&W Destroyer AssociationPRINCE PHILIP
A sad farewell to the Patron of our Association

Prince Philip served in HMS Wallace, a V & W Class Leader, from 28 January 1942 unil 3 January 1944. He agreed to be our Patron when the V & W Destroyer Association was established in 1993. We were all very sad that he should die on the 9 April 2021 two months before his hundredth birthday,  but "he will not be forgotten" by the men who served in V & W Class destroyers. Over the years Prince Philip met many of the veteran members of the V & W Destroyer Association.

Viv Fairweather, the widow of Clifford 'Stormy' Fairweather, the founder of the Association, and John Ellson, whose father was a stoker in HMS Vimy, sent me these photographs taken in the gardens of Buckingham Palace in 1995 on the 75th anniversary of the
Not Forgotten Association. Eight V&W destroyers were represented and fifteen members and their wives were in attendance.

Not Forgotten Association 75th Anniversary
The Queen with Prince Philip by her side on the steps of Buckingham Palace descend to meet their guests
Photographed by John Ellson

Stormy and Prince Philip at the 75th Anniversary of the Not Forgotten Association in 1995
Clifford 'Stormy' Fairweather (on left) and Prince Philip
Veterans of the V & W Association at a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in 1995
Prince Philip with his back to the camera talking to veterans who served in V & W Class destroyers
Alan Flisher (HMS Westcott) is wearing a red rose and holding two walking sticks and John Ellson, a Leading Stoker in HMS Vimy, is on the  right

Not Forgotten Association, 745 th Anniversary, 1995
The Queen at the 75th Anniversary of the Not Forgotten Association, 1995
Prince Philip and the Queen photographed by John Ellson

John Ellson Snr with Clifford "Stormy" Fairweather at Not Forgotten Association 75th Anniversary, 1995
John Ellson, a stoker in HMS Vimy (on left) with Clifford  "Stormy" Fairweather, the founder of the V & W Destroyer Association and his wife, Viv Fairweather.
The photograph was taken by John Ellson's son, John Ellson

Prince Philip  joined HMS Wallace as a Sub Lt on 28 January 1942, received his second stripe as lieutenant in July and was was appointed First Lt in October 1942. He served in Wallace until 3 January 1944. Wallace escorted over two hundred convoys most of which were up and down 'E-boat Alley' off the East Coast from Rosyth to Sheerness and visa-versa. During the scraps with the E-boats she severely damaged a number of them.

One of the best stories about Prince Philip when he was the First Lieutenant in HMS Wallace escorting east coast convoys from Rosyth on the Firth of Forth to Southend on the Thames estuary was told by  Sub Lt Derrek Tolfree of HMS Westminster in a recorded  interview  for the IWM:

"On East Coast Convoys Westminster was the Second Leader and Wallace the Leader with Prince Philip as her First Lieutenant. The convoys terminated at the end of Southend pier and Wallace signaled "what are those funny balls at the back of your bridge?"nand received the reply that they are a Type 994 radar aerial. Prince Philip wanted to know why as Flotilla Leader Wallace did not have this advanced equipment. The truth was they were the balls hanging outside a pawn brokers shop in Newcastle taken as a souvenir on a trip ashore. Westminster kept this joke going for ages, and even requested the "regilding of the Type 994 aerials".

During July to August 1943 she escorted convoys en route the invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky), and provided AA defence of the beach heads, during which she was damaged in air attacks. Harry Hargreaves was an 85 year old veteran of HMS Wallace when he wrote and published  It Wasn't All Mayhem: The Musings Of A Matelot (2005) which described how quick thinking by her First Lieutenant foiled a Luftwaffe bomber which looked certain to destroy their ship during the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943. Prince Philip, distinguished himself by coming up with a plan to divert the attention of German bombers by setting adrift a burning Carley float.
  You can also read how Lt HRH Prince Philip saved his ship on the BBC Peoples War website.

This is an archived extract from the  Naval Career of the The Duke of Edinburgh on the Official Website of the British Monarchy:

"After further courses, he was appointed as First Lieutenant of the new Fleet Destroyer HMS WHELP, which was then being built on the Tyne. After commissioning, WHELP first joined the 27th Destroyer Flotilla and sailed for the Indian Ocean to join the British Pacific Fleet.
WHELP was present in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese signed the surrender. After the Japanese surrender, Prince Philip served continuously onboard WHELP throughout the following months. WHELP returned home in January 1946. After instructing in the Petty Officers' School and attending the Naval Staff College at Greenwich, he was appointed First Lieutenant of HMS CHEQUERS in 1949. CHEQUERS was Leader of the First Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean Fleet. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander in 1950 and then appointed in command of the Frigate HMS MAGPIE. In 1952 he was promoted to Commander, but his naval career came to an end on the death of his father-in-law, King George VI."

Click on the links to find out more about HMS Wallace and the naval career of Prince Philip.

Five weeks ago I sent this message from the veterans of the V & W Destroyer Association to
Prince Philip in King Edward VII Hospital:

The veteran members of the V & W DESTROYER ASSOCIATION asked me to send you their best wishes for your rapid recovery.

They are all about your age but are in good health and have told their stories on the website I set up five years ago with your support.

Sadly, Lt Cdr John Manners is no longer with us but I thought you might like to see the attached photographs of HMS WALLACE which he took from the bridge of HMS VICEROY in 1944.

He was a very talented photographer with a Leica camera and a County Class cricketer who played for Hampshire while serving in the Royal Yacht VICTORIA AND ALBERT in 1936.

I spoke to the following veterans who served in V & W Class destroyers:

Edwin Cross, RDF Operator, HMS WESTCOTT
Lt Stuart Farquharson-Roberts, HMS WESTCOTT
Capt Dennis Foster, HMS WANDERER
Ken Foster, Telegraphist in HMS VICEROY
AB Albert Foulser, HMS WALKER
Lt James Glossop, HMS WALKER
Frank Witton, Stoker, HMS WOOLSTON
AB Barry Wright, HMS VESPER

And they asked me to send you their best wishes for your speedy recovery.

We were all relieved when he left hospital and saddened that he should die a month before his birthday on 19 June 2021.

Captain Dennis Foster recalled his own personal memories of Prince Philip for the on-line condolence website and would like to share them with you:

"I was at Dartmouth College with Philip, but two years junior to him. Whatever Philip did, he did well.  I remember the visit of your family to the college, which I believe was so significant in both your lives, and I took part in the ‘march past’, saluting your father as our King.  During World War II I, like Philip, served for a while on Destroyers, and his bravery and talent as an officer was well known.

Our paths crossed a few times.  Two light-hearted memories from 1944-5: on the way out to the Far East we were both in W Destroyers, and both visited the Country Club in Alexandria.  During a game of leap-frog at the swimming pool, I stood up at the wrong moment, unaware that Philip was coming up behind me to jump, and we both flew off the diving board into the water. Fortunately, neither of us was hurt. Later, in Sydney harbour, our ships (mine was HMS Wessex) were tied up alongside each other.  A flotilla party was organised on board Philip’s ship, with him in charge of the refreshments, and I was detailed to help from the Wessex.  When everyone had gone, we were left to clear up and found that two jugs of wine needed finishing off. 

Prince Philip was excellent company and full of fun, and a highly respected officer and man. You will know this better than anyone, and my and my family’s thoughts and prayers (like those of so many millions all around the world) are with you in your loss."
Captain Dennis W. Foster, RN (retired)

Bill Forster
Web Editor
11 April 2021

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