Wednesday, January 14, 2009

With a nod to the HMS

What can I say, it's question day, and again, a question that people are only asking me through OTHER venues and not through the Blog! Come on guys! Participate! WOO!

The subtitle to this blog..."Ventis Secundis - Qui Tangit Frangatur" comes from a little World War II naval history. And there's a nest of irony here so follow along.

"Ventis Secundis" means "With Favorable Winds", and was the motto of the HMS Hood, A Battle Cruiser with the Royal Navy from 1920 until 1941. During her 21 year life the Hood came to epitomize the Royal Navy, what with her clean stately lines and high draught, she seemed to hunker down in the water when at rest, and under steam proved to be one of the 'wettest' ships in the royal navy, a characteristic which provided for some dramatic photos of her at sea. Here's the irony...She lasted only 21 years of service, and was built at a time, following the lessons of the Battle of Jutland (armor that deck!), when all 'modern' Battleships and Cruisers were designed to include heavy armor on their topsides. Hood was conceived prior to Jutland, and her design was altered while under construction to include heavy topside armor and decking, which resulted in a ship much heavier than her original design, hence her tendency to ride low in the water and throw spray while underway. In 1941, while on patrol with HMS Prince of Whales in the North Atlantic, HMS Hood was sunk by the German Battleship Bismarck after being struck in her aft ammunition magazine by a shell penetrating through her 'reinforced' deck. The Pride of the British Navy stood face to face with the German flagship for all of 40 minutes before being split in two by the fate full shell. Of the over 1400 men assigned to Hood, only three survived.
Below, Hood does what she did best, cruising low and mean, and throwing spray over her bow while underway.

Connection to me and cycling? Overly pride full yet ill-equipped for assigned duty. 40 minutes and we're both spent. Irony - "With Favorable Winds"...seemingly indicating that HMS Hood was designed to appreciate a calm day rather than the choppy froth of the North Atlantic where she would meet her doom. Everyone knows I'll take a nice tailwind any day. Plus, I'm heavier than my original design...and my beard gets kinda frothy when I ride.

"Qui Tangit Frangatur" is Latin for "Whoever Touches Me Is Broken", the motto for the also ill fated British warship, the Battleship HMS Repulse. Launched in 1916, Repulse was one of two Renown Class Battleships built for the British Navy during World War I. Along with her classmate, HMS Renown, she had the distinction of being one of the most ill conceived and unreliable Battleships in the Royal Navy, earning the nickname HMS Repair, (while the Renown earned the equally dubious nickname Refit). Designed well before the Battle of Jutland, and featuring none of the reinforcements that the Jutland confrontation revealed as necessary, she was a bit of a white elephant even before she hit the water. While she served out WWI with little engagement, her function in WWII was much more broad. Repulse was involved in many operations in the Atlantic, most of which proved to be benign. However that would all change when in late 1941 Repulse was reassigned to Indian Ocean duty. December 8th, 1941, one day after Pearl harbor, she was relocated to the Pacific theater and assigned to the Force Z battle group, where she teamed up with the Fast Attack Battleship, HMS Prince of Whales. Just two days later, on December 10th after being struck by no less than 5 Japanese torpedoes, she capsized and was lost. 327 men lost their lives with HMS Repulse.
Below, steaming fat and happy, Repulse belches diesel smoke into the sky while on maneuvers.

Connection. If anything touching me is broken, it usually IS me - myself, unless of course I've got that Hood tailwind. Even then I'm usually in need of refit and repair rather than deserving of renown. Irony...both Hood and Repulse were lost while on maneuvers with Prince of Whales, even though their final action saw them on opposite sides of the globe. I should screen all my riding buddies for lineage back to that ship and avoid those fellas at all costs! Unfortunately for Prince of Whales, she only saw commissioned duty for eleven months before being lost in the same engagement as Repulse.
So, in summary, With Favorable Winds, Whoever Touches Me Is Broken.

With all due respect to the men who lost their lives serving on these storied war ships, it is under the protection of the security that their sacrifice provided me that I am able to make light of their fate full occurrences. Like many events of history that seem today to be so bisected from modern times. WWII Naval warship service, unrelated to modern functions such as aircraft assignment or sub duty, seems to be so much more romance than reality. Some sacrifices are meant to be remembered, however, and even in light hearted reference such as in a minuscule cycling blog as this, it is with best intentions that these two ships are referenced here.

Here Hood seems to lead Repulse (and HMS Nelson) in a little drafting echelon. That's the History degree in me talking through the cyclist.


Steve said...

How bizarre that they were both lost with the Prince of Wales! That's a very strange coincidence. I think there was some kind of Hope Diamond-like curse going on there.

Avid Reader said...

thanks for posting this interesting read.

and I have something for you (which is why I stopped by) I associate you with bicycling.

The Wheels of Chance by HG Wells ( a draper goes on a bicycling holiday - a comic novel written during the golden age of the bicycle) anyway if you haven't read it you can read it free online at project gutenberg

I'm currently reading another comic novel by Wells (where the main character--a poor orphan and a drapery assistant-- gets run down by a bicyclist and through this accident discovers people have been searching for him as he's inherited a fortune.-- Wells must have liked bikes. (and hated drapers shops)

dennis said...

Dennis agrees with Steve. a curse.

Utahdog! said...

Thanks for the book tip, Avid Reader...I'll check it out!