British Fleet heads for Turkey

Today my Dad remembers the British Fleet travelling to show the flag in Turkey.

Every year circumstances permitting the Ocean took part in the Autumn Cruise a Fleet visit to some port of the Mediterranean showing the flag. Word went round that this year the Autumn Cruise would be to Istanbul in Turkey. There was some interest in the ship because this would be the first visit of a British Fleet since before the war.

It was intended to be an impressive visit to Turkey as Turkey had been a neutral during the war but being a buffer between British forces in the Middle East and the German forces in the Balkans, there was always the uncertainty which way Turkey would jump in pressured. In 1947 the German threat was gone but Communist Russia was only up the road.

So in early October the British Fleet was formed in Aegean. Two carriers (Flag Officer in the Triumph!) Liverpool and three more heavy cruisers and six destroyers. Liverpool as flagship leading the way with the other cruisers. Two carriers following and the destroyers bringing up the rear.

We entered the Dardanelles scene of the carnage of Gallipoli in the First World War. The peninsular on our left and Asia on our right. The channel gradually narrowed and the fleet continued in line ahead travelling slowly. You could somehow feel the atmosphere a sort of foreboding that you were being watched. I suppose we were although there was no sign of life on either side.

Halfway along the channel the channel narrowed even more. We were coming to two small villages Camak to the right and Hilikbahir to the left. The Ocean’s crew were ironically aware that it is this part of the Dardanelles that a battleship being the previous HMS Ocean has been sunk by the Turks in 1915. The Dardanelles is some 50 miles long until it opens into the Sea of Maenara.

I for one felt happier when we reached this point. We had about the same distance to go until we reached Istanbul. Leaving the Sea of Bosphorus which flows from the Black Sea past Istanbul. It was evening as we arrived and we anchored in line ahead the flow of water causing us to be facing up the channel. After leaving the warm Mediterranean that morning with prevailing wind now blowing down the Bosphorus it was quite cold.

As I recall we were here for three days giving ships the opportunity of inviting dignitaries from the city to pay us a visit and at the same time it gave the opportunity for the three watches of the ship to have time ashore.

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