Part of the Acorn Archive

Hearts of Oak



Visitors to Mountís Bay




Visit of the

Combined Western Union Fleet

to Mountís Bay

30th June to 4th July


The Times 11th June 1949

Western Union Naval Exercises

The Admiralty has issued some details of the naval exercises which are to be acrried out at the end of the month by ships from the British, French, Netherlands and Belgian Navies, under the supreme command of Admiral Sir Rhoderick McGrigor, Commander in Chief of the Home Fleet. More than 100 men of war in all will take part, ranging from a battleship and several carriers to motor torpedo boats.

The British, French and Dutch ships, other than minesweepers, will assemble in Mount's Bay, off penzance, on Thursday, June 30, for the exchange of official visits and harbour drills. On Monday, July 4, they will sail for exercises in the Bay of Biscay, while minesweeping exercises, in which Belgian ships will also be participate, will take place in the Channel. Both ships and minesweepers, at the conclusion of their respective exercises, will assemble in Weymouth Bay on Thursday, July 7.

The French senior officer will be Vice Admiral R G Lambert, flying his flag in the cruiser MONTCALM, and there will be two other French Admirals; the Dutch senior officer will be Rear Admiral J J L Willinge, with his flag on the cruiser TROMP. Besides the Commander in Chief, with his flag in the fleet carrier IMPLACABLE, the British Rear Admirals Mansergh, commanding the 3rd Aircraft Carrier Squadron, Slayter, commanding the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, and Anstice, commanding Training battleships, will be afloat.


The Times 1st July 1949

Western Union Naval Exercises

A Western Union fleet comprising about 50 ships of the British, French and Netherlands Navies arrived in Mount's Bay, Cornwall, yesterday to take part in exercises in the Bay of Biscay, known as operation Verity, which will begin on Monday and will last four days. Aircraft of the three Powers, with some Belgian machines, will also take part in the exercises.

Admiral Sir Rhoderick McGrigor, Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, flying his flag in the fleet aircraft carrier IMPLACABLE, will be in command of the exercises. The IMPLACABLE arrived in the Bay yesterday morning ahead of the main fleet. Other British ships taking part are the battleship ANSON and the fleet aircraft carrier VICTORIOUS, with three cruisers and two destroyer flotillas. In the evening the French contingent, headed by the cruiser MONTCALM, entered Mount's bay and steamed to their anchorages.


The Bay and the Fleet

( with THV Satellite in harbour )

another view at the bottom of this page


From the Souvenir Programme [ Price Sixpence ]

(there were two colours of covers, pink and blue).

The Borough of Penzance is justly proud of her maritime connections. from time immemorial her sons have earned their livelihood as fishermen in the beautiful waters of Mountís Bay, the Channel, the North Sea and the Irish Sea. In two World Wars her men fought with the Allied Fleets in every major naval operation Ė many did not return to these shores. Many have traded in the four corners of the World in Britainís Merchant Navy.


Penzance, as a borough came into existence through the very real existence of pirates. So frequently, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, did Penzance and the rich farming district suffer from pirate raids, in which men, maids and livestock were carried off and houses burned, that the inhabitants built a pier and a fort from which an effective resistance could be made. In recognition of their efforts, James I granted Penzance a Charter in 1614.


To the men of the British, French and Netherlands navies, the people of Penzance extend a most hearty welcome and express the hope that they will carry away with them very happy memories. The warmth of Cornish hospitality is well known. Jack, and the thousands of visitors from all parts of the west of England who will come to see the fleet, can rest assured that the warmth of that hospitality will be fully extended to them during their stay in Penzance and district.


The Events included the firing of salutes from the ships, tea dances (at the Winter gardens, now gone), soccer matches at Mennaye Fields, cricket matches at St Clare, open air dancing on the Promenade, dances at the Winter Gardens, regatta events, swimming and water polo at the Bathing Pool, even a dance at Newlyn fish market; Naval band concerts at Morrab Gardens (Combined bands of HMS ANSON and HMS THESEUS) and orchestral and choral concert at St Johnís Hall.


Some of the ships were open to public view (flying the Flag Oboe). Licensed boatmen operated from the harbour taking services to and from the ships. My father had taken us to one of the boats for a visit to some of the ships.

LADY OF THE ISLES operated four daily 2 hour cruises around the fleet from the Lighthouse Pier. Aerial flights were operated from St Just Aerodrome.


The fleet was arranged in a lozenge formation across the bay, drawing a line from St Clementís Isle to Cudden Point was the outermost ship of the formation

( which was maintenance ship VULKAAN. The ship closest to the shore at Easten Green was destroyerCROSSBOW. Closest to Newlyn was destroyer SOLEBAY and escort vessel QUEEN WILHELMINA. Off St Clementís Isle were oiler BLACK RANGER and store carrier FORT BEAULARNOIS.


Fleet List





Light Fleet Carrier : THESEUS

Battleship : ANSON


Submarine Depot Ship : MAIDSTONE






Destroyer : LE LORRAIN


Light Fleet Carrier : ARROMANCHES



Submarine Depot Ship : GUSTAVE ZEDE




Cruiser : TROMP


Destroyer : PIET HEIN

Radar Training Ship : SOEMBA

Maintenance Ship : VULKAAN




Brief details given Ö.


IMPLACABLE (Aircraft Carrier); Completed August 1944;

23,000 tons (32,000 tons full); Complement 2,000;

766.1 ft x 95.8 ft x 29.3 ft draft; 32 knots


VICTORIOUS (Aircraft Carrier); Completed May 1941; 23,000 tons;

Complement, 1,600; 753 ft x 95 ft x 24 ft draft; 31 knots


THESEUS (Light Fleet Carrier); Completed January 1946; 13,350 tons; Complement 850 (peace) excluding Air Squadron personnel;

695 ft x 112.5 ft (across flight deck) x 21.3 ft draft; 25 knots


ANSON (battleship); 35,000 tons (average about 44,650 tons full);

Complement, 1,558 (peace); 1,900 (war); 745 ft x 103 ft x 27.9 ft draft;

Completed June 1942; Speed on trials exceeded 28 knots easily;

Inclusive cost of armament has been officially stated as £2,900,000


SUPERB (cruiser); Completed July 1945; 8,000 tons;

Complement 790 (peace), 1,000 (war); 555 ft x 64 ft x 21 ft draft; 31.5 knots


DIADEM (cruiser); Completed January 1944;

5,700-5,770 tons (7,400 tons full); Complement 535-551;

512 ft x 50.5 ft x 18.6 ft; 32 knots


CLEOPATRA (cruiser); Completed November 1941; 5,772 tons;

Complement 530-556; 512 ft x 50.5 ft x 17.8 ft; 32 knots


MAIDSTONE (submarine depot ship); Completed May 1938;

9,000 tons; 574 ft; 17 knots; Complement 502


BLACK RANGER (oiler); 3,417 tons gross; 355 ft; 12 knots


AGINCOURT, JUTLAND, BAHOSA, AlSNE (Battle class destroyers)

2,400 tons; 379 ft x 40 ft x 13 ft; 34 knots; Complement, 268 (peace) 337 (war)


SOLEBAY, CADIZ, SLUYS, GAUBARD, ST. K1TTS (Battle class destroyers)

2,315 tons; 379 ft x 40.5 ft x 12.8 ft; 34 knots;

Complement 235 (peace), 337 (war)


BATTLEAXE, SCORPION, CROSSBOW (Weapon class destroyers)

1,980 tons; 365 ft x 38 ft x 12.5 ft; 34 knots; complement 234


CONTEST (C class destroyer); 1,710 tons



ARROMANCHES (Light Fleet Carrier) - Formerly HMS COLOSSUS

Completed November 1944 ( on the Tyne ); 13,190 tons; 18,040 tons full;

complement 1,350; 694.5 ft x 80.2 ft x 23 ft draft; 25 knots

This ship has been lent to the French Navy for five years from August 1946, with the option to purchase this year or 1951, in order that training in naval flying may be conducted on up-to-date lines.



Completed December 1938; 7,600 tons; 10,850 full;

Complement 674 (peace), 764 (war); 580 ft x 57 ft; 31 knots


GUSTAVE ZEDE (submarine depot ship); Ex-German SAAR;

2,710 tons; 308 ft x 44 ft x14ft; acquired from U.S. Navy October 1947


LE TR10MPHANT, LE FANTASQUE (light Cruisers)

2,569 tons; 3,230 tons full; 434 ft 39 ft x 14 ft; 37 knots; complement 220


LE LORRAIN (destroyer); 1,300 tons; 1,780 full;

319 ftx 30 ft x 8 ft; 32 knots; complement 158


HOVA, TUNISIEN, MAROCAIN, ALGERIEN (Senegalais class frigates)

1,300 tons; 1,750 tons full; 300 ft x 36.9ft x 10 ft; 19 knots; complement 185


LíESCARMOUCHE, CROIX DE LORRAINE ("Adventure" class frigates)

1,400 tons full; 305 ft x 36 ft x 12 ft; 19 knots; complement, 140



TROMP (cruiser); Completed August 1938; Complete refit 1946;

4,200 tons; 4,900 full; 433 ft x 40.8 ft x 15 ft draft; 30 knots


VULKAAN (maintenance ship); 9,173 tons, 10,270 full;

441 ft x 57 ft x 21 ft; 11 knots


SOEMBA (Radar training ship)

1,683 tons; 248 ft x 37 ft x 11 ft; 15 knots


PIET HEIN (destroyer); 1,796 tons, over 2,500 tons full;

362 ft x 35 ft x 10 ft; 34 knots; complement 232


QUEENWILHELMINA (patrol vessel); 280 tons; 173 ft x 23 x 6 ft

20 Knots; complement, 55



Raymond Forward