Amusing story about the HMS Revenge

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Steve Leach, Jun 30, 2011.

  1. Steve Leach

    Steve Leach Strategy junkie

    I'm busy researching my Grandfather's part in the war and learned that he served aboard the Battleship HMS Revenge among others.

    I came across this amusing story that I thought I would share. Sorry if already posted - I did a search, but nothing came up. :)

    On 5 October 1939, the very day she was attached to the North Atlantic Escort Force, she departed home shores to head for Canada, carrying valuable gold bullion. During one stop in Halifax on 12 May 1940, she accidentally rammed and sank the Canadian Battle-class trawler HMCS Ypres although without loss of life. For the duration of the war that she served, whenever Revenge came to Halifax, the crews of other gate ships would make elaborate and exaggerated "Abandon Ship" manoeuvres in mockery of the old vessel.
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  2. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Steve - I wonder if the Revenge crew accepted it in good humour?
  3. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    "As a precaution, Britain's gold reserves were taken out of the
    country. The first shipment was taken by the cruiser H.M.S. Emerald to
    Canada to be housed in the vaults at Montreal. Many other ships, both
    fast merchantmen and British warships followed with their consignment
    of 'fish'' as the precious cargo was called. In all, some seven
    billion dollars of 'fish' had been carried across to Canada, and not
    one ship was attacked or even shadowed in this biggest financial
    transaction in world history."
    "Revenge was one of the ships carrying Britain's gold reserves to
    Halifax from Greenock. Security was tight. The boxes contained either
    four gold bars or bags of coins. Guess how Jack found that out. The
    gold arrived in Greenock harbour in railway box wagons. Marines were
    the guards. One officer checked the boxes, which were numbered out of
    the wagon. An officer checked them going into a boat. An officer
    checked them going on board Revenge, another checked them being
    lowered to the bomb room and another checked them arriving in the bomb
    room. The procedure was reversed in Halifax.

    "On December 12, 1945, the British Parliament voted for the repeal of
    the Emergency Powers Act on February 24, 1946. The Bank of England
    soon began to receive requests for the release of gold under the
    sundry persons account in Ottawa."

    "On June 7, 1955, the last sundry persons deposit was claimed and
    settled. When the Bank of Canada informed the Bank of England of this
    transaction, London replied that "the repayments under the Foreign
    Owned Gold Scheme are now complete."

    You Brits are very fortunate that we Canucks are an honest lot! We actually returned it. ;)
    Imagine if it had been stored in Moscow!
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  4. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    I'm busy researching my Grandfather's part in the war and learned that he served aboard the Battleship HMS Revenge among others.

    I came across this amusing story that I thought I would share. Sorry if already posted - I did a search, but nothing came up. :)

    The folks in Halifax are a little sensitive about collisions in their harbour:

    The Halifax Explosion occurred on Thursday, December 6, 1917, when the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, was devastated by the huge detonation of the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship, fully loaded with wartime explosives, which accidentally collided with the Norwegian SS Imo in "The Narrows" section of the Halifax Harbour. About 2,000 people were killed by debris, fires, or collapsed buildings and it is estimated that over 9,000 people were injured.[2] The Halifax Explosion remains the world's largest man-made accidental explosion.[3]
  5. Steve Leach

    Steve Leach Strategy junkie

    Interesting background Canuck.

    Wonderful people the Canadians. :) They should have deducted the cost of one battleclass trawler + interest.

    Mike - I imagine there would have been a few two-fingered salutes between the crews. :)
    canuck likes this.
  6. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Operation Fish 'Gold',1940
    The World War II evacuation of British wealth from the UK to Canada. It was the biggest known movement of wealth in history.

    Hiding British Gold, Operation Fish

    As storm clouds gathering in 1939 and the threat of a war in Europe, the Bank of England decided to increase its gold reserves held at the bank of Canada in Ottawa. During the summer of 1939 and early 1940 half a dozen ships (HMS Emerald, Southampton, Glasgow) moved hundreds of tons of gold to Canada for safe storage.

    A shipment of fish that arrived in Halifax harbour on July 1, 1940 was classified top-secret. What could be so special about a load of fish? "Fish" was actually the code name for a cargo consisting of Britain's gold reserves and priceless securities.

    During the Second World War, Britain's wealth was secretly packed in crates and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean. Given the number of German U-boats ready to sink whatever crossed their paths, doing so was a huge gamble. The valuables were sent in several shipments and each reached its destination safely. The gold ingots and coins were kept for the duration of the war in the Bank of Canada's vaults on Wellington Street in Ottawa. The securities were locked in an underground vault three stories beneath the Sun Life Assurance Company building in Montreal and guarded by Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers around the clock. The 5,000 Sun Life employees never knew what was stored away beneath them.

    In Ottawa, 1,500 tons of gold were housed in a vault below the Bank of Canada on Wellington Street in Ottawa. The gold filled the 6,000 square foot vault below the bank. The Canadians hired a few hundred retired bankers to count and organize the gold and securities. By the end of Operation Fish, the Bank of Canada was the home to more gold than anywhere in the world outside of Fort Knox in the United States.

    Although hundreds of people were involved in the operation, not a single piece of the cargo went missing. And although no one was required to give an oath of secrecy, no information was ever leaked.

    [​IMG]British cruiser HMS Bonaventure, one of the RN escorts in the Operation Fish gold transfer from Britain to Canada in 1940.In a series of trips,HMS Emerald with escorts of RN destroyers sailed to Canada in 1940.In one convoy on 5 July 1940 five ships loaded with $1.7 billion (US$ 29.70 billion in 2018), the largest movement of wealth in history
    [​IMG]Post card,Sun Life Building in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in pre WW2
    [​IMG]Royal Canadian Mounted Police guarding the gold train in Canada
    [​IMG]Royal Navy's HMS Emerald's crew unloading the gold on the Halifax dock in Canada.The gold train was waiting to take the gold directly to the vaults of the Sun Life Building in Montreal.
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  7. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    Built a model of HMS Revenge when I was little.

    Unfortunately she later met the fate of most of our boyhood models.
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  8. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Fire crackers, BB gun, pellet gun or arson with accelerants?
  9. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    I think that was the one we beached on a sandbank in a neighborhood brook while it was on fire from airplane cement and then finished off with BB gun fire. I'm remembering now that the black smoke from the plastic made it look like the Graf Spee going down in the River Plate.
    canuck likes this.
  10. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    Such a great and funny story,

  11. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    I preferred a Bow and Arrow when I 'sank' mine in a nearby stream.......happy days.
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  12. Qu1ckn1ck

    Qu1ckn1ck Member

  13. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member


    So awesome. Wonder why we didn't think of that. How about a flaming arrow?
  14. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    Tried that but the magical mixture of saltpetre, ground up zinc battery carbon rods and some flowers of sulphur - I'm sure you can guess what I was trying to make - didn't work too well. Probably didn't get the mix quite right....but I did end up setting dad's shed on fire. He wasn't too pleased for some reason......
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  15. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    My model of the Bismarck met a brave end in a farm pond: damaged by air-rifle fire, listing and burning (airguns and lighter fluid, those twin essentials of boyhood back in the day), she floated out into the middle and eventually broke up under a hail of stones - wish we'd thought of fire arrows. At which point her mighty foes were chased off by a considerably mightier farmer!

    Another naval oddity: my uncle Des was a WT operator on the KGV in the Pacific and claimed to have been surprised by the signal notifying the fleet of the surrender of Japan, which he received while on duty. It was sent in code.
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