Part of the Acorn Archive

Hearts of Oak



Dad’s Diary 1941

Transcribed by Sue Twyman

proud daughter of

Lt Philip Bray R.N. [1912 –1988]

from a diary which he kept.


Dad was serving as

Leading Torpedo Operator

and Specialist in Electrical Gunnery Control

in 1941 on H.M.S. Aurora


He opens with …

Events we have taken part in before this diary:-

May 1941 Sinking of Bismark

June 1941 Sunk an Oiler and two Subs.

June 1941 Picked up 60 survivors (English).

May June 1941 Bombarded enemy ports in Norway.



 Operation Gauntlet

This was the seizure, evacuation and destruction of facilities on Spitzbergen Island. Led by Admiral Sir Phillip Vian, aboard the cruiser HMS Nigeria, the move was conducted by a five-ship British task group. Vian and his warships escorted the passenger liner Empress Canada to the island, where they were to embark and evacuate its entire population

of 3,200 Norwegian and Soviet coal miners and officials.

The last civilians were evacuated by nightfall, and British demolition teams went to work.

Over the next six days, they systematically destroyed all facilities that might be of use to the Germans. The coal mine entrances were blocked, coal stocks set ablaze, and as a final act, the weather, radio and power stations were demolished as the ships withdrew southward


Diary Entries Index

September 1941  October 1941 

November 1941  December 1941

January 1942  February 1942 

March 1942  April 1942

Newspaper Reports


Dad (Philip Bray, crouching) on T.S. Warspite in 1926.

Caption reads,

“Vice Admiral Chatfield. The Countess of Shaftsbury. Prize Giving”

Dad was apparently the ships mascot…probably with the dog.


Dad (Philip Bray) as an able seaman probably around 1934





Raymond Forward

Thanks to Sue Twyman