Chiddingly 90 year old follows in dad’s wartime footsteps

editorial image

A sprightly 90-year-old from Chiddingly amazed onlookers by climbing up and down ladders like a cadet when she visited HMS Caroline to see where her father fought in the Battle of Jutland.

Jose Loosemore, daughter of LS AP Smith, had to be physically restrained from climbing down the vertical ladders into the ship’s engine rooms.

May 31 will always be an important day for the Royal Navy, but the Battle Of Jutland anniversary took on a special significance in Belfast this year, as relatives of crew members of HMS Caroline visited the ship to see where their loved ones served.

The visits were organised by Friends Of HMS Caroline founder Pete Bleakley and saw Jose take a tour of the ship at her Alexandra Dock berth.

Jose, who was accompanied by her niece Jam Thornton, had been told many stories about life on HMS Caroline by her father Albion Smith.

He served on the bridge during the Battle on Jutland, on May 31 1916.

Caroline shipkeeper Billy Hughes led a tour through the various levels of the Jutland veteran, and former submariner Richard Lovett descended into the tiller flat, to view the emergency steering gear, which saw use for two hours, as HMS Caroline steamed towards her date with destiny 97 years ago.

The tour of the ship was followed by a reception hosted by the RNA Belfast, at their Great Victoria Street premises.

The highlight was a PowerPoint presentation on the Battle Of Jutland by John Allison, son of Capt Surgeon RS Allison, author of the book ‘HMS Caroline’.

Josie said: “It has been absolutely wonderful to finally walk around HMS Caroline.

“My father Albion was hugely proud of his role as steward to Captain Crooke, and he told us many thrilling tales about his time aboard HMS Caroline - which he viewed as a lucky ship. I’d like to say a massive thank you to Pete and the Friends Of HMS Caroline for making a dream come true.”

HMS Caroline was indeed a lucky ship, as both Frederick Fielder’s personal battle account and AP Smith’s diaries reveal that she was straddled by German shells, and had near misses from three German torpedoes.

Pete Bleakley said it was an honour to welcome relatives on board for the anniversary.