- Farnsworth, Lieutenant-Commander (E) R. T. RAN
- Ship histories and stories
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Quentin, HMAS Quickmatch, HMAS Quiberon
- December 1974 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
About a week later, on May 5th, Cowes ‘got it’. The raid started at about 2300 with a string of flares down the river, and bombs and incendiaries rained down until about midnight, by which time the town was well on fire. Jerry came back at about 0400 just as the fires were under control and gave us another hour’s worth. Next morning there was just a shambles.
Nearly all the township had been wrecked, more or less, but by some miracle the shops, and ships fitting out at J. S. White’s, were not seriously damaged. As a result we commissioned about six weeks later than we should have done, which, after all, was not too bad.
I have never been so badly scared in my life as I was that night, and the people of Britain have had my heartiest admiration ever since. If bombs are going to be falling I would much rather be at sea – Yes! even if they are falling around me.
Quickmatch had been launched on 11th April and during the blitz was lying at the fitting-out wharf outside Quiberon, the latter by this time being well on the way to completion. Work was dislocated for about a week, and then things started to happen to ‘our’ ship.
Boilers and turbines began to be wheeled out of the shops, and were lifted on board, bits and pieces of all sorts were dropped and pushed into their appointed places in the gaping and rusty-looking hull, so that I and my staff began to don overalls in earnest, and to go about looking worried. Not that it made much difference but it kept us happy, and we do know quite a few rivets personally now.
Meanwhile, spring had arrived. To my mind, there is no country in the world where spring makes such strong magic, and the Isle of Wight is a deliciously magic place when trees and hedges begin to show that lovely new green, and the sun appears occasionally. Above all, I suddenly found that I had stopped shivering.
At the end of August, our finishing date was given as the 14th of September. ‘Impossible’, we said, and remembering the state the ship was in then, I still don’t know how it was done.
On the morning of Saturday 12th September, I remember walking round the ship with the Captain and First Lieutenant. There was hardly any corticene laid, the mess decks to our eyes had only just begun to get their fittings, and the machinery spaces – I shudder even now!
Monday morning dawned warm and sunny, and we went down to the ship. Well, if I have ever seen a miracle, this was it. Those of you who joined that day will remember how spotless she was, and how well everything was in its place. ‘Jimmy’, I know, would give a great deal to see his mess-decks in that state again!
The ‘final inspection’ party went round, and at about 1100 the White Ensign was broken at the mainmast. Quickmatch was in commission.
So ended a period that I shall always look back on as one of the most interesting and enjoyable of my life. We then started in real earnest to ‘make things go’ on our own, but that is another story, and one that you know all about!