Tuesday, 15 November 2016

In which a memory is stirred

Way, way back in what my grandchildren would probably consider pre-history, I was a collector of cigarette cards. No, belay that. Calling myself a collector might give the wrong impression, implying that I had knowledge of the subject and was specific in my collecting. Truer, perhaps, to say simply that I collected cigarette cards, any and all that came my way. Cigarette manufacturers produced these little inserts in series, usually of 50, on a wide variety of subjects. There were butterflies, army insignia, cricketers and so on.

It was a picture in the newspaper that brought all this to mind - although I am at a complete loss as to just how and why the train of thought moved. The picture was of two men in the march past at the Cenotaph. Bill Speakman VC, a Chelsea Pensioner aged 89, was being pushed in his wheelchair by Lance Sergeant Johnson Beharry VC. Bill Speakman won his Victoria Cross in Korea, Johnson Beharry in Iraq.

Having looked at the picture, my mind followed some circuitous route to remind me of the only two cigarette cards that have truly stuck in my memory. One showed HMS Rawalpindi, the other HMS Jervis Bay. Both were what was laughing called armed merchant vessels having been taken over by the Royal Navy in the Second World War and having a gun or two bolted onto the deck. Both were sunk in action against vastly superior enemy vessels. But that was the extent of my knowledge of these vessels. I decided that it was time I learned more.

I had intended to write about the Jervis Bay myself, but this video does the job so much better than I could ever hope to.

No comments: