HMS Vanguard (1944)
Message Board

Feb. 15, 2021

This is to inform you that the editor of the newspaper and magazine on the 1947 Royal Tour, Leading Writer Robert Johnston, also known aboard as "Arjay", passed away aged 93 on Remembrance Day Sunday Nov. 8, 2020 in hospital in Cornwall. He had a long and successful career in journalism, managing editor of the Daily Sketch in the Sixties and later a journalism trainer. His widow Joan, aged 90, lives in St Agnes. They had no children.

Don Johnston

May 29, 2020

My father Jack Harris from Swansea was one of the crew on HMS Vanguard in l947. He has now died but l am trying to get information about his navy career, any help you can give me would be appreciated.

Thank you,
Jennifer Richards

May 12, 2019

My father, Robert R. Harris, was a British Royal Marine on board HMS Vanguard for the 1947 Royal Tour to South Africa. We are originally from Belfast, N. Ireland. He was a bit of an amateur boxer, he boxed on board the Pasadena under the title 'killer Harris'. We lost dad 14 years ago, he had been a POW in Germany during WWII. I don't imagine there's too many around who would remember him now, but we have literally loads of pictures at home, many of people we don't know. I know it's Mother's Day today, but I seem to always have my dad on my mind.

Amelia R. Allen (nee Harris)
eldest daughter of Robert R. Harris
Ontario, Canada

Mar. 11, 2019

My Father, Archibald Randall, was on the HMS Vanguard on its voyage to South Africa. My father died when I was 15 and I have no information at all about this time in his life. Is there any way I can obtain his records for his Navy time? As I am now nearing 70 years of age it has all become rather important. I was estranged from my mother until her death in 2017 so have no one to ask about my father. Any help would be very much appreciated.

Thank you,
Carol Penny (née Randall)

Jan. 20, 2019

My Father Lt (E) J. S. Clark served on HMS Vanguard on the Royal Tour of South Africa before being retired from the Royal Navy due to illness around 1950. He had become a Lt. Commander by the time he was retired. He had a twin brother, Ward, who was a R.N.V.R. when the Swordfish plane he was a crew member of and two other Swordfish planes where shot down over the Channel in April/May 1944 and all 9 crew where killed (3 in each plane.) I would imagine the crew from HMS Vanguard who where on the 1947 Royal tour are now very few, however I would be very grateful for any information about my late father or copies of photographs that someone might have that he might be in, as due to his illness I never really got to know him, or what he was like before his illness, he passed away in 1980.

Thank you,
David Valerio

Oct. 5, 2017

My father, William Leonard Hewett, served as Chief Shipwright on the HMS Vanguard and was on the Royal Tour in 1947. He was awarded the Victorian Medal for his services to the Royal Family after this tour at Buckingham Palace. He passed in 1999 and left me his medals and a detailed book all about "Crossing the Line" with the Royal Family on HMS Vanguard including photographs.

Terry Hewett

July 7, 2017

My grandad was on the HMS Vanguard in 1947 and I wondered if there was any way of getting a copy of the list of people on board the ship during that time. His name is George Hoult. It's his birthday at the end of this month so we are trying to surprise him with bits and pieces from his early career etc.

Emma Hoult

Sept. 22, 2016

I am looking to find a gentleman named John Wright who served on HMS Vanguard in the 1950's. My name is Audrey and was a friend of Johns at the time and am interested in finding him.


Mar. 16, 2016

I have been doing some research into my father's time aboard the above ship during the visit to South Africa after WWII. I am 64 and he died some years ago. I can remember him showing me some photos of him 'crossing the line' and trip to Cape Town etc. It would be good if I could chat to any remaining ex crew members of that ship. As a family we spent nearly every summer holiday in Portsmouth where my father 'caught up' with old pals at some convenient watering hole, we attended navy days one year and had the exclusive ex-crew member and family guided tour right around the Vanguard!

Paul Harris,
Witney, West Oxon, U.K.

Sept. 11, 2015

My father, George Harold Riddington, served on the Vanguard (in signals) during the Royal Visit to South Africa in 1947. The King, Queen and Princesses were on board, and lovely. I was one of two children born to crew-members while the Royal Family were on board, and so our names were engraved on the ship's bell. As engraved, I was Peter Michael Riddington. However, my Mother changed her mind when registering my name, and I am Peter Andrew Riddington (b 16.4.1947). But to the fate of the bell . . . . Dad used to grieve about it; apparently it was stolen and, presumably, melted down for the brass. So, if Dad was right (and I'm sure that he was), a sad end to the trail, I'm afraid.

Best wishes,
Peter Riddington

Aug. 5, 2015

My father, A. H. Taylor, was a Chief Mechanician on board HMS Vanguard during the Royal visit to South Africa in 1947. He was responsible for the mechanical services to the royal apartments and had numerous conversations with the then Queen Elizabeth. In 1956, my sister was christened on board while Vanguard was in reserve in the upper reaches of Portsmouth harbour. My father told me that she was the last person to have her name engraved on the ship's bell. Does anyone know if the bell survived, and if so, where it is. I would very much like to see it again.

Thank you,
Michael Taylor
Commander RN (Rtd)

Apr. 26, 2015

My grandfather served on the HMS Vanguard and the HMS Alacrity during his 20's. He was born early 30's. His name was Alfred John Gould, but he was known as John Gould. He died young, at the age of 43 from lung cancer, and as a result I never met him. My father was only 18 years old when Grampy John died in the early 70's. My father was born in 1957. Our family know very little about his time in the navy. When my grandmother (John's wife) died last year, we found his navy uniform. It was the first time in 50 years it had been out of the wardrobe.

My father misses him terribly. We have very few photos of Grampy John's time in the navy. It would be amazing if I could find someone who knew him, who could tell me about him, where he travelled to. I don't even know what rank he was or what his service number is. My grandmother very rarely spoke about him. I think I remember her saying that John was stationed down in either Portsmouth or Southampton, I'm not too sure, my memory of that conversation is hazy. My grandfather was from Oxfordshire. He used to write letters to my grandmother regularly while he was away. I have only one possession of his, a walrus. It has real animal hair on it and I've heard he brought it back from Norway, I think. I know this is a long shot, but I also know how much this would mean to my father. I've been trying to put together a portfolio of pictures, information and references for his 60th birthday, which is in two years time. Any help would so very much appreciated.

Very many thanks,
Kelly Gould

Aug. 25, 2014

Message deleted Oct. 29, 2016 at the request of the sender.

Apr. 14, 2014

As a schoolboy in 1958, from Moulton Secondary Modern in Northamptonshire, and part of a party of 35 boys, I had the most amazing experience of staying on board the Battleship H.M.S Vanguard, (mothballed in Portsmouth Harbour) for three nights, sleeping in Hammocks we erected after instruction. Some of us got to fire a Bofors Gun facing out to sea, on the stone frigate H.M.S Collingwood, and was shown around the Torpedo workshops.

It was always my intention to go in the Royal Navy, and was disappointed to realise soon after our visit she was to be scrapped. The excitement of being on board such a large ship has never left me, or my old school mates and the subject came up at a reunion recently. Sadly I never achieved my ambition to join the Navy, other priorities took over. Like lots of others I have Googled the Vanguard's history, and been thankful I had the chance to tread the mighty Quarterdeck etc. The Sailors on board also demonstrated the loading and firing of the 15 inch guns that could throw a shell 22 miles. I hope you don't mind but I thought it might be good to share an experience.

Bernard Bullivant

Nov. 5, 2013

P.O. Dennis (Wiggy) Bennett 79 mess 1st February 1951. Anyone still out there and can remember my Dad.
He join the Royal Navy as a boy seaman 1947. We have various photographs of him HMS Impregnable cricket team, down in the Falklands holding a penguin, to this day my sister is still convinced its a small dog. He also served on HMS Chieftain HMS Veryan Bay.

David Bennett

Sept. 19, 2012

I would be very interested to hear if anyone knew of my Father Derrick Addis Thwaites who was on the HMS Vanguard on the South Africa Tour, as my Father passed away 20 years ago I would love to know anything about him on that tour.

Many thanks,
Arasmine Casserley

Aug. 11, 2012

I am trying to get information about my wife's uncle, David Murray, who was a CPO on HMS VANGUARD about 1946/47 when it took the King to South Africa. His No. was R525048 if it means anything.

David S. Muir

Aug. 7, 2012

I served on the vanguard joined as a boy seaman. I actually fired one of the 15 " guns, it was the port gun of B turret. Was in 59 mess as an OD went on the arctic cruise, participated in operation Mainbrace. Visited Oslow,Rotterdam, Gib, Brest and many more. Lichfield was the skipper. My main memory was the Spithead review, Richard Dimbleby handled the radio broadcast for the radio from the bridge. Fireworks were cancelled on the vanguard as her majesty might not like the smell of cordite. I have many more stories as seen from the eyes of a boy seaman and a junior member of the lower deck. I sincerely hope to receive a reply and will be only too pleased to communicate with any one who is interested.


Reply 1
Nov. 11, 2012

I was centre sight-setter in 'B' turret from February 1952 until September 1953. 79 Mess Quarterdeck Division. The centre sightsetter of 'A' was in 81 mess, the last seamans mess on the starboard side. Your name rings a bell!

Peter Game
St. Vincent Blake

July 19, 2012

I thought you and some of your readers might be interested to see this charming leather wallet I recently discovered. It is a very dark blue, extremely soft leather, with the crossed flags being the Union Jack and the South African Naval Ensign (in use from 1946-1951). The wallet measures 8" across when opened, by about 6 1/2" tall, and has several different sized compartments inside, beautifully shaped. I wonder if any of your readers know to whom it was given? I assume it must have been someone on board HMS Vanguard during the Royal tour - perhaps all serving officers were given one as a souvenir? It would be interesting to find out some more about it!

Sarah Down


May 19, 2012

I have found this photograph of HMS Vanguard cruising off the Canary Isles 11/12/1946. The person in the photograph is my farther Thomas William Tempest. I believe his rank was regulating petty officer. Also found a photograph of HMS St. Vincent regulating staff 1948 

Derek Tempest


July 9, 2008

Is this a young Queen Elizabeth on Vanguard? I have found the attached photo (see below) in amongst some of my late father's paperwork and I would very much like to
find out about it. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Sarah Shorter

Reply 1
July 14, 2008

Undoubtedly this is Princess Elizabeth going onboard HMS VANGUARD prior to or during the visit by the Royal family to South Africa. HM King George VI and Queen Elizabeth accompanied by the Princess Elizabeth and Margaret used HMS VANGUARD as a "Royal Yacht" for the state visit to South Africa in 1946. I remember it well. It was part of various visits made by the Royal family to parts of the British Empire in celebration of
victory over the Axis powers.

Robert Edmonds
London, England

Reply 2
Oct. 23, 2008

The photo is of the Coronation Fleet Review 1953, Queen arrives onboard HMS Vanguard to attend the review dinner.

Best wishes,

HM Queen Elizabeth II seen on HMS Vanguard.

Apr. 27, 2008

My father Peter Medhurst was a Stoker on board the HMS Vanguard as well as the Grey Goose, Victory, Alaunia, Mauritius and Bold Pathfinder in the late '40s and early 50's.  He past away August 2007 and would love to hear from anyone who remembers him or was was on these ships at this time.

Adelaide South Australia

Dec. 10, 2007

I am sending this on behalf of a friend who's father served on the HMS Vanguard. His name was Peter Medhurst and he was a CPO Stoker (so I'm led to believe). As his daughter Linda has just lost her father Peter and her mother in a period of 2 months she is very interested to hear from anyone who can remember Peter or has photos of him.

Peter also served on the HMS Gray Goose but we don't know if this was prior to or after serving on the Vanguard. If anyone can assist it would be greatly appreciated as unfortunately a lot of early family photos
were misplaced when Peter and his wife Beryl immigrated to Australia.

Best Regards,
Jock Pflanz
Largs North, South Australia

Oct. 30, 2007

I'm searching for people who knew Cook LSI B. Grimshaw (Brian) he was with the Vanguard from Mar 1957 - Aug 1958. He is about to turn 70 and I want to surprise him with stories, pictures and contacts. Thank you.

Kind Regards,
Samantha Massey

Oct. 18, 2007

My name is Sorella Dyer and I was christened on this ship in October 1956 whilst my father was serving on her. I have been trying to locate the ships bell as I have been told my name alongside a baby boy who was christened at the same time as I was had our names etched in the bell as we were the last to be christened on this ship. Is this true are there any others after us?

A great site. I will be back!!


Jan. 9, 2007

As a mature adult who has over the years collected a vast amount of material on all the world's different class's of Battleship and in particular ships that have been commissioned into the service of the Royal Navy, I do remember in the summer of 196O being at Portsmouth and going round the harbour looking at various
warships, and in particular, albeit at a distance, our last battleship - HMS Vanguard.

I think it is a matter of national shame and disappointment that HMS Vanguard was not preserved as a national monument in a permanent weatherproof dry dock basin in Portsmouth or Plymouth as a tribute to the heavy engineering/gun manufacture/mountings and shipbuilding skills of our great 193O's/196O's privately owned shipyards - Vickers Armstrong, Camell Laird, and John Brown & Co.etc: If not the 'Vanguard' at least one of the four ships of the ' K G V' class. Such a vessel would have been very useful to Sir John Nott during the Falklands War in 1982 as the Vanguard if placed in Reserve and mothballed and possibly could have been re-activated for military service.

Do you know if any of the commercial shipyards or the Imperial War Museum in London have any 16 mm Black & White film of the ships being constructed on the slipways before launching or during final fitting out. Did the Admiralty produce any detailed film of the ships as completed fully manned in the immediate 1945 / 1946' postwar period. The only photos/film that most people have access to now are static black and white photos of the ships in harbour or at sea or while being scrapped at Faslane/Gareloch between 1957 and 196O:

If the Americans can preserve so many of their heavy warships - why can't we ? after all HMS Belfast in the Pool of London is a tidler !!

Any comments would be most welcome.

Best Regards.
Brian Shepheard
Middlesex, England

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Page published Feb. 15, 2007