A Visitors Book - the story of a chance find
Mike and Jo Smith recently bought the book, together with some other items, at an auction in Diss, Norfolk.
Jo spotted the signature from HMS HOOD and kindly asked
Peter Down, the Hon. Sec. of the Ton Class Association, to view the book.
Having read the contents Peter's reaction was "Off on a Quest ……."
What follows are the fruits of his labour.
Cruise of the Special Service Squadron 1923-24
In 1923–24, HMS HOOD and the Special Service Squadron sailed around the world on The Empire Cruise, making many ports of call in the countries which had fought together during the First World War. The Squadron departed Devonport on 27 November 1923 and headed for Sierra Leone. The fleet would separate at various points of the cruise with the battlecruisers passing through the Panama Canal, while some cruisers carried around Cape Horn.
The fleet sailed from HMNB Devonport on 27 November 1923, and headed for Freetown, Sierra Leone. Whereupon the fleet was greeted by the Governor of Sierra Leone. Food and provisions were taken aboard after the journey of 2805 miles.
The Commander of HMS HOOD visited the Officers Mess of the West African Regiment on 9th December 1923.
The ships then sailed to Cape Town and arrived 22 December, adding a further 3,252 miles to the cruise distance. Some of the sailors and marines performed in a ceremonial march, to great fanfare.
The fleet sailed for a short visit to Mossell Bay, East London and Durban, where the fleet left South Africa on 6 January 1924 for Zanzibar.
A new item of memorabilia has been acquired recording this event to view
West African Regiment - International Encyclopaedia of the First World War and Professor George Njung of the University of Michigan
Ships Histories - Wikipedia and www.Leander-project.homecall.co.uk/Sloops
Author & Compiler of the above item - Peter Down JP FBCS & Hon. Sec. of the Ton Class Association
A note from Peter Down - I was a little concerned that by highlighting one exhibit we might be “undervaluing” some of the others. It is probable that many of the other exhibits would have similarly interesting tales to tell, IF we had the time and trigger to carry out more research.
However I accept that there is an additional dimension in the story of the Visitor’s Book and that is the element of Chance or Good Luck . If Jo had not spotted the HOOD signatures, they might not have bid for the book and a lot of history would have remained in the twilight.
“Histories of the other ships mentioned are available on request”.
If anyone has an interesting tale to tell about an item they have seen on this website or during a visit to the museum please get in contact.