Photo story (Clockwise from top left): (1) Duke of Edinburgh and his grandson Prince Harry paid homage at the graves of unknown British troopers from WWI and WWII and met veterans at Field of Remembrance on 7th November 2013. (2) Prince Philip moved on to W class destroyer HMS Whelp in 1944 (3) Aerial photo of Illustrious class aircraft carrier HMS Victorious on 28th October 1941 (4) A Grumman TBF Avenger MkII torpedo bomber from 849 Naval Air Squadron of the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious, in flight in 1944.
Husband of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip -Duke of Edinburgh was the first lieutenant of illustrious class aircraft carrier HMS Victorious in January 1945 when the carrier’s one aircraft from the 849 Naval Air Squadron, a Grumman Avenger MkII torpedo bomber was gunned down by a Japanese Zero fighter. The Avenger was being flown by Roy Halliday and accompanied by telegraphist air gunner Norman Richardson. They ditched the aircraft and jumped into the Sumatran seas after the aircraft’s wing had been on fire in the dogfight. The two men and another comrade were wearing just inflatable life-jackets and were facing death when the rescue came in the form of HMS Whelp; Philip Mountbatten was the first lieutenant of the destroyer.
Web edition of UK’s renowned news paper The Daily Telegraph reported that Prince Philip met Norman Richardson as the Duke of Edinburgh and his grandson Prince Harry visited Royal British Legion’s memorial garden Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey on 7th November 2013. Prince Philip was elated to see former Petty Officer Norman.
Earlier in August 2013, the veteran Norman told The Guardian the details of the WWII life saving incident. He said that they were lucky to be ditched within 200 to 300 yards from the destroyer but the dingy he had tried to pull out did not inflate. He added that within 20 minutes, the Whelp had swiftly picked them up on board and Prince Philip had been at the rail looking over for the stranded men. Norman further said that the Prince had welcomed them aboard, taken the men down to his cabin, lent towels and arranged some clothes. ‘He had a framed photo of his sweetheart (future Queen) on a table in his cabin’ Norman added.
After leaving Gordonstoun school in 1939, Prince Philip joined the navy. He spent 4 months on battleship HMS Ramillies in the Indian Ocean protecting Australian forces. Prince Philip was transferred to battleship HMS Valiant in the Mediterranean in October 1940. He was appointed to W class destroyer HMS Wallace in June 1942 and took part in invasion of Sicily in July 1943. Philip distracted the night bombers during the invasion that saved his ship. In 1944, Prince Philip moved on to the W class destroyer HMS Whelp as first lieutenant. He along with his ship was present in the Bay of Tokyo when the Japanese surrender was signed.
At the Field of Remembrance ceremony on 7th November 2013, 92 year old Prince Philip chatted to WWII veterans and 90 year old Norman Richardson was one of the first people the Duke spoke to. Norman said that they had even joked about the Prince giving him a set of clothes which had not really belonged to the Prince but the purser’s store.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Harry planted crosses marked with their insignia in a big cross made of poppies outside Westminster Abbey where around 100,000 crosses have been planted in the ground by the friends and families of the fallen heroes.
Video story: Prince Philip and his grandson Prince Harry paid homage at the graves of unknown British troopers from WWI and WWII at the Field of Remembrance in Westminster Abbey on 7th November 2013.
Prince Harry showed a sense of humor like his father; when Harry met Staffordshire Regiment animal mascot, the 4 year old Staffordshire bull terrier, he asked its handler Greg Hedges “Is it going to be like the jokes of Peter Sellers, where you say your dog does not bite, but then it bites me & you say ‘It is not my dog’?”
Prince Harry also chatted with the parents of Lieutenant Aaron Lewis, who was killed in Helmand province, Afghanistan in 2008, while serving with Royal Artillery’s 29th Commando Regiment.
Prince Philip also met 91 year old telegraphist Ronald Harrison, who became the prisoner of war and remained in captivity for 2 years after his motor torpedo boat was sunk near Sicily in WWII. Harrison said “I told Duke we WWII veterans are now a very thin line, and the Duke said, ‘Now all of us are like that’ ”.