Visit to Dartmouth & Britannia Royal Naval College

On 21st June 2022 members spent a most enjoyable and exhausting day visiting Dartmouth and the Britannica Royal Naval College.

We  didn’t arrive by Ferry but by coach,  other holiday-makers travelled by steam train from Paignton and crossed the river Dart by boat:

After lunch in Dartmouth there was a five minute drive by coach to the College where they were greeted by a man carrying a rifle and slightly later by the guide carrying lanyards bearing passes into the area.  Everyone had to provide a proof of identify. The guide talked through how the building is considered to be a ship and when Cadets and staff leave its confines they still call it ‘Going Ashore’.

The first port of call was the ecumenical chapel – non-denominational and used by all faiths.

Another impressive hall is the Cadets Mess which was being prepared for an evening banquet to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Falklands war.

On returning outside we came across the Royal Marine Band rehearsing for that evening’s activities. Of course members sort of lost interest in the guide and greatly enjoyed their own private display:

Back inside to the Quarterdeck which was a casualty of war during the Second World War when in September 1942 it was bombed. The story goes that it was intended by the Germans to bomb this area of the building on the morning of the new term when it would be filled with new Cadets and staff. Fortunately the plan was scuppered by the students being told to turn up for the first week of term a week later than planned. Therefore there was nobody in the hall at the times of the bombing and there was to be just one fatality, a Petty Officer Wren Ellen Whittall, who had the double misfortune of being in the ladies’ toilets when she died. There was significant damage to the main building including to a statue of King George V. When King George VI was asked whether it should be repaired he said to leave it damaged as a memorial to PO Wren Ellen Whittall.

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