Tag Archives: HMS Whelp (R37)

Vale, Cape Matapan Vet, Prince Philip

A child whose lineage included the Danish, Russian and Greek royal families, Prince Philip of Greece was raised in France, exiled from his country of birth, speaking English, practicing Greek Orthodoxy, and identifying as Danish. When WWII came by, the young prince without a country entered the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, and spent the war with the Royal Navy, serving as Philip Mountbatten. After a stint as a midshipman on convoy duty on the battleship HMS Ramillies, he was transferred to the Queen Elizabeth-class battleship HMS Valiant in the very active Mediterranean with the rank of a humble sub-lieutenant.

Fighting in the battle for (withdrawal from) Crete and the battle of Cape Matapan, he later shipped to the destroyer HMS Wallace for more convoy duty and the Husky landings on Sicily, where the then-lieutenant was XO. Then came service as XO on the new W-class tin can HMS Whelp (R37), from whose deck he watched the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay. Notably, Whelp was the first Allied ship to enter Sagami Bay on 27 August, leading the way for the battleships HMS Duke of York, USS Iowa, and USS Missouri.

In his own words, Philip on WWII.

Even after his marriage to Princess Elizabeth, he continued to serve, graduating from the Naval Staff College at Greenwich, serving as the first lieutenant of the destroyer HMS Chequers, and, as an LCDR, commanding the frigate HMS Magpie.

Although he left active duty in 1951, he continued in royal duties until 2017 which included having a wardroom stocked with honorary Colonel-in-Chief uniforms for various Commonwealth regiments which he visited and inspected regularly, as well as a number of similar general and admiral appointments. A cargo cult in the Pacific even worshipped him as a god, apparently.

An unreformed sonofabitch who was not a fan of political correctness (To a British trekker in Papua New Guinea, 1998: “You managed not to get eaten then?”), gun control (“If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat, which he could do very easily, I mean are you going to ban cricket bats?”), international niceties (greeting German chancellor Helmut Kohl as “Reichskanzler”) or the Bolsheviks ( “I would very much like to go to Russia – although the bastards murdered half my family”), his one-liners and “gaffes” which probably weren’t are legend.

RIP HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.