Less than a year after she returned from operations in the Gulf and Eastern Mediterranean the Type 45 destroyer will take over from HMS Iron Duke to continue the UK’s commitment to the region building on the UK’s strong ties with its allies.
During her time away Dragon will visit several ports in the South Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as well as visiting a number of West African States to build on UK relationships.
As I left for work this morning it was blustery and chilly but on the plus side the sun was shining. On my journey to work a particularly vibrant rainbow in a strange patch of light caught my eye although sadly I had no time to stop and enjoy it. As I parked my car on arrival at work I noticed another rainbow in front of a rather ominous looking sky. Looking the other way towards my office building the sky was blue with a few light fluffy clouds.
A few minutes into the five minute walk to my office it started to spit with rain. I was wondering if I would make it to the office without getting soaked. The blustery wind meant the use of an umbrella was impossible. Just after the half way point on my walk the winds picked up and so did the rain… The rain then turned to heavy hail and the wind speed picked up even more. A few moments later the wind had picked up such a speed that the hailstones were blowing horizontally.
On the final approach to my office building I had to face into the wind that was increasing in speed. I found it incredibly difficult to walk and had to stop several times partly to avoid being blown off my feet. A few feet away from me a metal fence and signs were blown flat. For a while I turned my back to the wind and took a few paces backwards until I was near enough to the building to be shielded a little from the wind.
As I entered the reception area I was completely out of breath and rather than key in I just plonked my bags on the nearest table to recover. One side of me was soaked and water was streaming down that side of my face, the other side of me was completely dry. My glasses were steamed up and I could just make out two of my colleagues by the reception desk. One of them was most concerned and asked me several times if I was all right. I said I was fine, which I was apart from being a bit winded and half soaked. She organised the other colleague to fetch some tissues so I could dry myself off a bit.
I was conscious of the fact that I was probably looking quite disheveled but when I had caught my breath I entered the office. As I entered one of my colleagues looked up to say hello (as is usual) and gasped loudly ‘Oh Cherie’!! Causing everyone to look round… By the time I got to my desk (which is in the middle of the building) I had caused quite a stir and my immediate team members were chuckling away merrily and I have to admit although I couldn’t see myself I was rather amused too.
As I took my coat off and put my bags under my desk, due to the cold and wet my wedding ring slipped off my finger onto the floor. I picked it up but where was my engagement ring… It wasn’t immediately visible!!! I retraced my steps inside the building (leaving my colleagues searching around my desk area) before returning to empty the contents of my bag. There it was at the bottom which was a relief to me and it saved another of my colleagues who was about to be sent on a mission (not by me) to retrace my steps outside the office.
Entry to work dramas now concluded I quickly made myself more presentable and a colleague provided me with a hot water bottle to dry off the portion of my skirt that was saturated. I would like to say the day got better but unfortunately it was a day of complicated (non routine) work problems to sort out…
The first thing I did when I got home after work was wash my hair and immediately everything felt so much better
HMS M.33 is a 1915 Coastal Bombardment Vessel, one of only two British warships to survive from the First World War.
She saw action in the Mediterranean between 1915 and 1918, supporting troop landings and evacuations at Gallipoli in 1915. Then in 1919, she played a part in the Russian Civil War covering the withdrawal of Allied and White Russian troops. Following her return from Russia, she spent the rest of her active life in Portsmouth Harbour.
Today she is berthed near the new Mary Rose Museum and Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory, in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard. Her location in No. 1 dry dock allows visitors to get a closer look at her exterior from the dockside, although currently she cannot be boarded. Her national and historical significance has been recognised and she features in the National Register of Historic Ships.
HMS M.33 is currently being renovated and it is planned that the work will be completed, allowing full public access, in time for the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign later this year.
The ship behind HMS M.33 is the recently retired HMS Illustrious.
One of the books I am currently reading is ‘The Poppy; A history of conflict, loss, remembrance & redemption’ by Nicholas J. Saunders. The book presents aspects of the beauty, pain, pleasure and tragedy of the poppy throughout history. Nicholas takes us on a journey from Ancient Egypt right through to the current day and the more recent conflict in Afghanistan.
As I was reading the book the following passage stood out and gave me pause for thought:
During the 1960s and 1970s, antelope and water buffalo became opium addicts during the conflicts in Vietnam and Cambodia. In normal times, the animals consume just enough of the opium poppy to numb pain or relieve tiredness, but the intensity of modern warfare, incessant bombing and barrages and machine-gun fire drove them to eat more and more of the world’s most ancient euphoric plant. It had a deadly effect. ‘Water buffalo within earshot of combat zones were… were observed browsing opium poppies, showing signs of addiction and withdrawal’.
I was drawn to read the related end-notes, the source of the information. I found it to be even more curious than the passage that led me there.
Siegal, R.R. 2005: 128. Arguably more inexplicable is a recent case linking animals with opium poppies and crop circles. Tasmania grows the world’s largest crop of legal opiates for the pharmaceutical industry – supplying fifty per sent of the global total for the production of morphine and related opiates. In 2009, Tasmania’s attorney-general Lara Giddings said that, ‘We have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going round in circles… Then they crash. We see crop circles in the poppy industry from wallabies that are high.’ (Associated Press. 2009). Rick Rockliff, the field operations manager for Tasmanian Alkaloids, added that sheep also would graze on poppy stubble and ‘they would follow each other around in large circles’. (Tedmanson 2009). The media fascination with crop circles and opium-snacking wallabies has a personal association also as it was my uncle, David Chorley, who, together with Doug Bower ‘invented’ the crop-circle phenomenon in southern England during the 1970s.
But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flower, it’s bloom is shed;
Or, like the snow-fall in the river,
A moment white, then melts forever.
Wyllie shows the Victory at sunset on the evening of 21 October. She is very badly damaged after the heavy cannonade she endured during the approach to battle.
Nelson’s flag flies half-mast, as a sign of mourning. And the lights of the cabin windows (middle row) are dark. This was the first indication to many in the rest of the fleet that Nelson was dead. “No lights in the Admiral’s cabin!”*
*Information next to the painting
On 7 May 1765 a magnificent new ship of the line was floated out of the Old Single Dock in Chatham’s Royal Dockyard. She was HMS Victory, a first-rate battleship and the largest and most up-to-date ship in King George III’s Royal Navy. In the years to come, over and unusually long service, she would gain renown leading fleets in the American War of Independence, the French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic War. She achieved lasting fame as the flagship of Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson in Britain’s greatest naval victory, the defeat of the French and Spanish at the Battle of Trafalgar.
It is almost impossible today to imagine the physical brutality of fighting at sea in sailing warships. These great wooden battleships, under acres of sail, confronted each other at point blank range, their crews intent on smashing and capturing the other ship. Their heavy guns blasted tons of iron, shattering hulls, splintering masts and yards, overturning gun carriages and filling the air with deafening noise and blinding smoke.
She may seem beautiful to our eyes, but Victory was built principally as a huge and complex machine of war. Every man in her 820 crew played a vital part in operating the ship and ensuring that ultimately she was in the right place and ready to fire her deadly broadside iron shot.*
The Admiral’s Quarters
The Upper Gun Deck
The Sick Berth
*From the Royal Navy HMS Victory guidebook