HMY BRITANNIA - The Queen welcomed back by the Home Fleet, May 1954 (set of three watercolours)

Francis Russell Flint (1915-1977). Francis Russell Flint (1915-1977). Monochrome ink and watercolour. All three signed by Francis Russell Flint.

1954 - THE HOME FLEET WELCOMES BACK THE QUEEN

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A set of three (only one illustrated): the others show (1) Seahawks and RAF Shackletons of Coastal Command overflying HMY BRITANNIA with HMS GLASGOW close to port and HMS SAINTES crossing astern; and (2) Gay Class coastal forces roaring in whilst HMS VANGUARD is in station astern of HMY.   All three are signed, some are inscribed on both front and/or back.

HM Yacht BRITANNIA (V Adm E M C Abel Smith CB CVO, Flag Officer Royal Yachts) wearing the Royal Standard & with Passage Escort from Gibraltar provided by HMS DUCHESS (Capt D G Goodwin) flying the flag of R Adm J W Cuthbert CB CBE, Flag Officer Flotillas (Home), HMS GLASGOW (Capt B W Bryant DSO** DSC), HMS SAINTES (Capt D P Dreyer DSC (Capt D3) & HMS BARFLEUR (Cdr W F Skelton), arrived off the Western Approaches and on 14th May 1954 was joined from ahead by the Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet, Adm Sir Michael Denny KCB CBE DSO with his flag in the battleship HMS VANGUARD (Capt R A Ewing DSC). This was the final leg of the Queen's Commonwealth Tour & the C-in-C had sailed with some 20 of his ships to escort Her Majesty up Channel.

At the stroke of 0900 the Home Fleet executed a series of fast, slick manoeuvres to bring into station the ships of the new Royal Escort, HMS APOLLO (Capt C P Coke DSO), HMS DECOY (Capt R H Maurice DSO DSC ), HMS DIANA (Capt C R L Argles ) & ships of the 4th Destroyer, 6th Frigate & 2nd Training Squadrons. As a 21 gun Royal salute rolled out, VANGUARD & APOLLO closing fast from ahead turned tightly to starboard & took up station astern of BRITANNIA relieving the Passage Escorts who, increasing speed to 25 knots & hauling out to starboard, raced past VANGUARD & then, cheering ship as they took their leave of the Queen, disappeared in an extravagant flurry of bow waves, white water & tumbling washes. With HMS OBDURATE (Cdr J M A Wilson) & HMS BROCKLESBY (Lt Cdr J F Duckworth) now stationed on either beam of the Royal Yacht & VANGUARD and APOLLO astern, the remaining dozen or so ships took up station in two columns astern for the passage up Channel. At 1100 the carrier HMS TRIUMPH (Capt R H Wright DSC **) flying the flag of Commander-in-Chief Plymouth, Adm Sir Alexander Madden KCB CBE & with a hundred cadets from BRNC Dartmouth, made rendezvous from ahead manning & cheering ship as she passed the Royal Yacht. By now the fleet was south of Dartmouth & despite the lingering mist the College's picket boats & yachts, joined by an armada of pleasure craft, came out to pay their respects to Her Majesty. Shortly afterwards six aircraft of Coastal Command flew across the fleet, dipping in salute as they passed, & as the Royal Squadron moved up Channel ships of the Home Fleet Training Squadron (R Adm W L G Adams OBE) flying his flag in the carrier HMS IMPLACABLE (Capt H N S Brown OBE), & with HMS INDEFATIGABLE (Capt R L Fisher DSO OBE DSC) in company, went down the formation with flight decks manned & cheering ship. Then during the first dog watch, Flag Officer Submarines, R Adm G B H Fawkes CB CVO CBE in HMS ALLIANCE led HMS ARTFUL (Lt Cdr J T Michelmore), HMS ANCHORITE (Lt Cdr G Bourne), HMS ACHERON (Lt Cdr B W M Clarke), HMS TRESPASSER (Lt Cdr L D Temple-Richards), HMS SUBTLE (Lt P C Bennett), HMS SCORCHER (Lt B C G Hutchings) & HMS SOLENT (Lt H G Gethin-Jones) past The Queen. Fallen in on their narrow casings & with gun platforms and conning towers crammed to capacity the submariners cheered ship as they passed the Queen.

At 1700 precisely the destroyers & frigates of the Royal Squadron turned inwards together & formed line astern of VANGUARD & APOLLO, the poor visibility making manoeuvring at speed a constant worry, especially for the Master of the Fleet on the flagship's bridge who in particular was concerned lest one of the hundreds of small craft who had come out to join in the spectacle was run down by a speeding warship racing to take up station! With upper decks manned escorts then hauled out & increasing speed to 25 knots creamed past BRITANNIA cheering ship for Her Majesty as they roared down her starboard side: HMS AGINCOURT (Capt R G Mills DSO DSC **)(Capt D4), HMS AISNE (Cdr J R G Trechman), HMS BARROSA, (Cdr T W Best), HMS CORUNNA (Cdr A P Culmer); HMS TYRIAN (Capt F H E Hopkins DSO DSC)( Capt D2), & HMS TENACIOUS (Cdr R G Gatehouse DSC**); HMS VENUS (Capt C C Martell DSC) (Capt F6), HMS VIGILANT (Cdr C E Emerson), HMS VIRAGO (Lt Cdr A G Maclean) & HMS VERULAM (Cdr E M Usherwood); OBDURATE, BROCKLESBY & APOLLO – all made a brave sight as they too sped past The Queen in a welter of spray, bow waves high, sterns tucked down low, their guard rails manned by lines of men with caps held aloft as they roared out three cheers for their Sovereign. Then it was the Commander-in-Chief's turn to take his leave of The Queen: with guard and band paraded and upper deck lined the great battleship, dwarfing BRITANNIA, steamed majestically past to give three cheers for Her Majesty. Some 60 years later it is remembered by VANGUARDs what an excitement it had been to see a shyly waving Prince Charles & Princess Anne together with their parents, on the Yacht's saluting platform. Drawing swiftly ahead then heeling impressively as she hauled round to starboard, VANGUARD then opened out to allow the new Royal Escort under the Commander-in-Chief Portsmouth, to take station on HMY for her passage through the Dover Strait and up the Thames estuary to the Pool of London.