Long time passing- gone to fighting everyone-Part Two

September 14, 2010 at 9:29 pm 7 comments


” Daddy’s on the engine……..”

Ships – my first ship ( transatlantic crossing) was very different – I can imagine- from my father’s first experience. She was a passenger vessel and we had left England for Canada. Being a wee one – mummy and daddy decided to be young and have a bit of a holiday whilst we sailed the ocean that November. They, in their wisdom , put me into the ship’s nursery. I remember being part of a whole group of children entering the nursery doors. I also remember looking around and thinking

This isn’t for me

so in the confusion of the next batch of incoming I slipped out.

I don’t know how long I explored the ship, finally ending up in the bowels to be found by a man with grease and grime on his overalls who sat with me on the stairwell as I chatted about my daddy and how he could make the ship go. I regaled him stories of my hero daddy and with the song
Daddy’s on the engine ( although I found out in later life it was about a train engine but at that time it was definitely the ships I had in mind!

“Daddy’s on the engine,
Don’t be afraid,
Daddy knows what he is doing,”
Said the little maid,
“We’ll soon be out of danger.
Don’t you ever fear;
Ev’ry one is safe because
My Daddy’s the Engineer.”

until some very stern officers followed by two angry but relieved parents escorted me back to the cabin, where I spent a lot of the rest of crossing.

It is difficult to believe that in 1938 a young man of 20 joined the Royal Navy. He met my mother at a dance

We were standing clapping waiting for the band to start up again; a chap , quite well built with terrifically strong looking shoulders and periwinkle blue eyes, with blonde hair, one curl of which had fallen across his forehead, caught my gaze. He came over, whisked and danced me to the other end of the room” My Book by Nana

Her young man passed his exams and he was soon sailing aboard the ‘HMS Southhampton ‘

Her battle honors can be found here

However on October 16th 1939 a 19-year-old young woman working at the Ministry of Information watched as a report came through the tele type

HMS Southampton

her boyfriend’s ship

Damaged during air raid on warships in Forth Estuary.One bomb penetrated three decks. Casualties.

Note as I write this part of the story I have just watched on The military Channel ” The Man who Designed the Spitfire” again little life coincidences. The Spitfire first saw action on that October 16th 1939 protecting the Royal Navy and my Dad.


On 16 October 1939, Junkers Ju-88s of 1/KG 30 led by Hauptmann Helmuth Pohle attacked British warships in the Firth of Forth. Nine of the Ju-88s were intercepted over Rosyth by three Spitfires of 603 Squadron, each of which attacked Pohle’s aircraft which was hit repeatedly and crashed into the sea

His brother who eventually lost both his legs as a Battle of Britain pilot flew spitfires. As a tiny child he would give me pennies to slip into the holes in his “tin legs” to keep me amused at family gatherings. At the end of the evening he would take off the “shoe” and I would be given my store of pennies.

HMS Southhampton had taken under my father’s care of the engines a King and Queen to Canada, searched for German ships, in the first days of the war including the battleship GNEISENAU,

patrolled the North sea, convoy duty to Malta and finally was torpedoed Jan 11th 1941 , too damaged to continue she was sunk by her own off the coast of Malta.
My father had left the ship by that time and was on his next ship

the HMS Vindictive…………

Entry filed under: Brit take, Chris Ritchey, Fathers, history, Lest we forget, men of substance, personal opinion, war and peace. Tags: , , , , , .

Long time passing- gone to fighting everyone Long time passing- gone to fighting everyone- Part Three

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September 2010

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