- Weston, Bert E.
- History - general, Letter to the Editor
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Sydney II
- September 1989 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
The list of Great Sea Battles of History published in the December, 1988 issue of the “Review” has omitted what must surely figure as one of England’s most memorable naval engagements.
I refer to the action off the Azores in which Sir Richard Grenville in the “Revenge” fought and severely mauled a Spanish fleet in a night action. We learned at school that:-
“The little “Revenge” ran on right into the heart of the foe With her hundred men on deck and her ninety sick below And the sun went down and the stars came out far over the Summer sea But for never a moment ceased the fight of the one and the fifty-three
Ship after ship the whole night long their tall built galleons came Ship after ship the whole night long drew back with her dead and her shame For some were sunk and many were shattered and so could fight us no more “God of Battles” was there ever a fight like this in the world before?
Inevitably, with his ship a battered wreck and few men left to man the guns Sir Richard had to surrender but called to his gunner:-
“Sink me the ship master gunner, sink her, split her in twain Fall into the hands of God, not into the hands of Spain.” The list of famous naval engagements includes Calabria on July 9th, 1940 but makes no mention of what I regard as one of World War II’s most notable cruiser actions: I refer to the Cape Spada battle in which our Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney on 19 July 1940 fought two of the world’s fastest warships, crippling one which destroyers then sank with torpedoes, and putting the other to flight.
And as a schoolboy during WWI, I seem to recall another action between two armed merchantmen, the British “Alcantara” and the German “Grief” in which both were sunk. Am I right?
Bert E. Weston, Member
[Ed. The article “The Great Sea Battles of History 480 B.C.-1945” was published in December 1973. In December 1988 an updated version was published; there was only one change, an additional inclusion – “Falkland Island, 1982”]