Saving ship from the Nazis was a frightfully good wheeze, says Prince Philip


Blackleaf
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World War II veteran Prince Philip has spoken publicly for the first time of how he saved a Royal Navy ship from a German bomber in 1943. And the 93-year-old was typically phlegmatic about his exploits.

The Queen's husband told how the destroyer he was serving on during the Allied invasion of Sicily - HMS Wallace - was spotted by a Luftwaffe plane that looked certain to sink it.

The Duke, who was second in command of HMS Wallace, foiled the attack by launching a burning life-raft from the ship. The German pilot attacked the raft, allowing the destroyer to escape.

He celebrated his 93rd birthday on Tuesday with 8,000 guests at a garden party in the gardens of Buckingham Palace. He is the oldest and longest-serving spouse to a British monarch in history.

At noon a 41-gun salute was fired in London’s Hyde Park followed by a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London by the Honourable Artillery Company in tribute to the Duke’s birthday.

The extra guns were used to represent a tribute from the City of London's 7,500 citizens.

The Duke's wife is the only Head of State in the world today to have served in World War II.

Saving ship from the Nazis was a great wheeze, says Philip: Duke talks publicly for the first time about courageous act in 1943 that saved dozens of lives


Duke of Edinburgh recounted Second World War tale in Radio 4 interview
He also spoke about his involvement in the Battle of Cape Matapan
He was mentioned in despatches after battle by the Commander-in-Chief

By Alasdair Glennie (external - login to view)
12 June 2014
Daily Mail


Prince Philip in uniform: The Duke of Edinburgh has spoken publicly for the first time of how he saved a Navy ship from a German bomber in 1943

His comrades saw it as a courageous act that saved dozens of lives.

To Prince Philip, however, it was nothing more than a ‘frightfully good wheeze’.

The Duke of Edinburgh has spoken publicly for the first time of how he saved a Royal Navy ship from a German bomber in 1943. And the 93-year-old was typically phlegmatic about his exploits.

He told how the destroyer he was serving on during the Allied invasion of Sicily was spotted by a Luftwaffe plane that looked certain to sink it.

The Duke, who was second in command of HMS Wallace, foiled the attack by launching a burning life-raft from the ship. The German pilot attacked the raft, allowing the destroyer to escape.

Prince Philip told BBC Radio 4: ‘We did some patrolling along the coast of Sicily and one night for some reason or another some German bomber decided they could see us, and so they thought they would have a go.

‘I thought it was a frightfully good wheeze. I got a Carley float, filled it with rubbish and set fire to it and launched it hoping that the aeroplane would think we were burning. It did. It went and had a go at it. We got away with it.’


A Carley float

In 2003, one of the Duke’s comrades – former yeoman Harry Hargreaves – remembered the same attack, and described the crew’s fear and certainty they would be killed.

He said: ‘Prince Philip saved our lives that night. I suppose there might have been a few survivors, but certainly the ship would have been sunk. He was always very courageous and resourceful and thought very quickly.

‘You would say to yourself “What the hell are we going to do now?” and Philip would come up with something.’

In his interview this week, Prince Philip also spoke about his involvement in the Battle of Cape Matapan, where Royal Navy warships destroyed Italian cruisers off the Greek coast in March 1941.

Then aged 19, he was a humble midshipman in charge of picking out enemy ships in the darkness using the spotlight aboard HMS Valiant.

Describing the moment they crept up on the Italian fleet, he said: ‘I could see them because Greyhound the destroyer switched on her searchlight before we did, and so I could actually see the outline of these ships before somebody said “Open shutters”. Fortunately it was pointing in the right direction at the time.

‘The interesting thing that struck me was that it was so close – you know those big searchlights, colossal great things – it only lit up half one of the Italian cruisers. They said “Train left”.

‘I found the other one and it lit up the middle part of it, whereupon it practically disappeared instantly under a salvo of 15inch shells at point blank range.’


An informal shot of the Duke of Edinburgh whilst in the Navy: The Duke, who was second in command of HMS Wallace, foiled the attack by launching a burning life-raft from the which the German pilot attacked instead


HMS Wallace: 'I got a Carley float, filled it with rubbish and set fire to it and launched it hoping that the aeroplane would think we were burning. It did. It went and had a go at it. We got away with it,' he said

Prince Philip was mentioned in despatches after the battle by the fleet’s Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham. He was later awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour.

The Duke may now be accustomed to all the luxury of life in Buckingham Palace. But his account of his war years reveals he was once used to much more menial tasks.

He recalled: ‘On the way to the invasion of Sicily, we were pulled off the east coast convoys and sent out and went into Malta, and I optimistically thought I could get some spuds for the ship, and I went ashore.

‘People said “Don’t you realise there’s been a siege?” I managed to get a couple of bags of spuds but it was the only fresh stuff we could get. Then we went off.’

After the war Prince Philip was promoted to lieutenant-commander and was given command of frigate HMS Magpie, where he was nicknamed ‘Dukey’ by his men.

He married the then Princess Elizabeth in 1947 and his Navy career came to an end a few years later when she became Queen.

Birthday celebrations: The Duke of Edinburgh was on fine form as he toured a garden party on his 93rd birthday on Tuesday and was joined by the Duchess of Cambridge


Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, talks to one of the 8,000 guests during the garden party for Prince Philip's 93rd birthday on Tuesday




Read more: Duke of Edinburgh says 'saving ship from the Nazis was a great wheeze' | Mail Online
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Last edited by Blackleaf; Jun 12th, 2014 at 09:32 AM..
 
The Old Medic
#2
He was a Royal Prince from Birth, as he was a Prince of both Denmark and of Greece. But, he was not the eldest son, of the eldest son, so he was down the list on the Royal Succession. He served as a very normal officer in the Navy, and from everything I have read, he REALLY loved that life.

He and the Princess Elizabeth lived for 3 years as pretty much as a normal Serving Officer with his spouse. They had one Naval aide (what the Army called a "Batman"), and other than that had no servants. Believe it or not, she even cooked for him for most of that time.

Unfortunately, her father was a VERY heavy chain smoker, who developed lung cancer and died at a very young age for a modern monarch. He was only 56 when he died, and everyone had expected him to live to at least 70 or so. Ironically, he had been told by physicians to smoke, to help overcome his stuttering. Supposedly the hot smoke would relax his throat (which it actually did not do). His speech therapist (the one in the movie "The King's Speech" tried very hard to get him to quit, but that never happened.

That medical advice ended up killing him.

Needless to say, that ended any "domestic life" for the Phillip and Elizabeth.
 

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