Friday, December 16, 2016

Fullbore Friday

In the cold, grey, open sea there is a monster. It is a monster your whole nation fears. She fears it so much, the entire fleet is looking for it.

You are just a small part of that search and you are no dragon slayer. Your weapon is small, old, outclassed, and leaves you without protection - but it is what it is - and you are what you are.

The monster is out there, the call comes; you go. The odds are long; but they're your odds. It is your roll.

You step forward.
'The ship was pitching 60ft, water was running over the decks and the wind was blowing at 70 or 80mph. 
'And nobody mentions the deck hands who had to bring the planes up from the hangars - they did something special. After they brought them up they had to open the wings which took ten men for each wing. And then they had to wind a handle to get the starters working.
'After take-off we climbed to 6,000ft to get above the really thick cloud and we knew when we were near because all hell broke loose with Bismarck's fire. We got the order to attack and I went down and saw the enormous bloody ship. I thought the Ark Royal was big, but this one, blimey.

The Bismarck was built in August 1940 and was the biggest battleship made by Germany. 
'I must have been under 2,000 yards when I was about to launch the torpedo at the bow, but as I was about to press the button I heard in my ear "not now, not now".

'I turned round and saw the navigator leaning right out of the plane with his backside in the air. 
'Then I realised what he was doing - he was looking at the sea because if I had let the torpedo go and it had hit a wave it could have gone anywhere. I had to put it in a trough.

'Then I heard him say "let it go" and I pressed the button. Then I heard him say "we've got a runner" - and I got out of there. 
'My navigator was a chap called John "Dusty" Miller and I've spent the last 20 years trying to find out what happened to him or where he is.' 
Mr Moffat pulled up before the torpedo hit and didn't see it strike. The following morning he flew to the ship for a second attack but there was no need.

He watched as the Bismarck, which had been under siege from the Royal Navy, rolled over. And he saw hundreds of German sailors leaping into the water as she started to sink. Only 115 of Bismarck's crew of 2,222 survived. 
'I didn't dare look any further, I just got back to the Ark Royal and I thought: "There but for the grace of God go I",' said Mr Moffat, from Dunkeld, Scotland.

He only found out it was his torpedo that crippled the Bismarck when the Fleet Air Arm - the Navy's air force - wrote to him in 2000. He said: 'It gave me a sort of satisfaction.'
The pilot who dropped that torpedo didn't even know it was his torpedo that did the job until 60 years later. Amazing.

Lieutenant Commander John "Jock" Moffat, Royal Navy, passed earlier this month.

Interesting what he did post war;
In total, he served with four squadrons in a Fleet Air Arm career spanning eight years.
After the war he trained as a hotel manager and remained with the profession for decades. He took up flying again in his 60s and flew into his early 90s.
In recent years he campaigned for the 'No' side in the Scottish independence referendum, appearing alongside Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson in 2014 to make the defence case for the Union.
Well done Shipmate. Well done.

Go to the 1:14 mark.

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