View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Monday, 23 November 2009

23 November 1939

Today is the day in 1939 that HMS Rawalpindi was sunk by Nazi German battle cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. The brief battle has gone down in naval history as an incredible display of bravery on the part of the Rawalpindi's crew. After trying to hide themselves from the Germans in the North Atlantic fog south of Iceland, they were ordered to surrender by the Scharnhorst. In response, the captain of the Rawalpindi said: never. And he fired a shell at the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau to underline his point. Bear in mind that the Rawalpindi was a converted passenger liner, kitted out with a gun and some armour plating. The Scharnhorst had to reply in kind, and sank the Rawalpindi. The bravery was noted by the German admiralty (sic!). All but 37 of the Rawalpindi's crew were lost in the sinking. Their sacrifice was not in vain; before battle commenced, the Rawalpindi had been able to signal the position of the German battlecruisers to back to base on the Clyde, and an armada of British warships was heading north to intercept. More on this story here.

Monday 23 November

Sunny intervals and drizzly showers is the theme this morning. Not much in terms of wind. That may change later today or tomorrow, but as the low pressure centre once more takes up residence over Lewis, we won't get the (severe) gales forecast for further south. As I said in last night's post, we have been very lucky so far.

Down in Cumbria, Cockermouth has been reopened to residents and business owners. They were allowed to return to the centre of the town from 10 am this morning to inspect their properties and initiate repairs etc. These could take months to complete, with the drying out process taking up to 6 months alone. The Calva Bridge at Workington still stands, but has a 30 cm dip in the central arch, meaning it is going to collapse, either of its own accord or in a demolition. People are advised not to travel using their sat-navs, as they are not programmed to take account of closed bridges and roads. Get the maps out, is the advice. Something I heartily concur with at any time.