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The Invergordon Archive

H.M.S. Newcastle
The Invergordon Archive
H.M.S. Newcastle

HMS Newcastle "Southampton" class cruiser, a frequent visitor to Invergordon during WW-II. One of several in this class, she had a speed of 32 knots. This was my father's ship, he was Leading Telegraphist Harold Albert (Alec) O'Neill, who joined the navy as an HMS Ganges "Boy", served during and became victim to the war. He met and married my mother in Invergordon.

(The date of this picture is not known - Site Admin.)
Picture added on 24 February 2007
Nice photo, this is HMS Newcastle in "as completed" condition, 1937.
The first two Southampton class cruisers, as far as I can gather, commissioned for the first time on 5th March 1937 (HMS Newcastle, ex-Minotaur), built by Vickers-Armstrong on the Tyne) and 6th March 1937 (HMS Southampton, ex-Polyphemus), built by John Brown, Clydebank - which gave both of them just about enough time to get to Spithead for the Coronation Review (20th May 1937), where they made their public debut.
I think this is one of a number of shots taken from different angles at the time of her completion, 1937.
Newcastle had a huge career spanning much of the globe in WWII, starting with the Home Fleet, moving into the Mediterranean in late 1940, and then spending a considerable period of time in the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean engaged mainly in ocean escort and patrol duties, before joining the Eastern Fleet and playing a leading role in supporting the campaign in Burma through February 1945.
Newcastle finally arrived at Sydney in April 1945 to join the British Pacific Fleet, one day after the US landings on Okinawa.
However, at this time the British Pacific Fleet was thousands of miles to the north, fending off the kamikaze while attacking the airfields on the Sakashimas, south-west of Okinawa, in an operation designed to divert Japanese attention away from Okinawa, and to prevent them flying reinforcements into Okinawa from Formosa via the five local airfields.
Without any Fleet to join in the locality, as an alternative Newcastle was allocated a troopship to escort, carrying an NZ Division out of Wellington to Italy, then proceeding alone to the UK, where she arrived just as the Pacific War ended. After refitting at Rosyth, Newcastle spent a considerable period back in the Far East on repatriation duties, before returning to home waters followed by another spell in the Mediterranean.
By 1953, freshly modernised, Newcastle again moved to the Far East, this time to play her part in the Korean War.
She spent much of the remainder of her career operating out of Singapore, finally returning to the UK for the last time in 1958, where she was broken up.
Added by Jon Summers (London) on 06 July 2007
We have a picture of the above H.M.S. Newcastle dated 1938 found in my grandfather Morris Chamber's scrapbook. It has Lieut Commander G.H. Chambers. R.N. written on it - he was my grandfather's uncle who died in 1933. Can you confirm?
Added by Morris's daughter Mary Lavinia Chambers on 13 February 2008
My brother was on HMS Newcastle as his first ship in 1939. I have since met many who have served on her. One who was a com op told me that Newcastle was the first ship ever to use radar controlled gunfire over the horizon at the Italian fleet - I think he said it was in 1941. HMS Sheffield was the first ship ever to be fitted with radar in 1937, albeit very primitive.
Added by John Richardson on 31 May 2008
As Private Richard Schofield, Duke of Wellingtons regiment, BRITCOM sub area north Seoul, at Christmas 1953, I was invited on board HMS Newcastle at Inchon, Korea, for Christmas dinner along with my twin brother Private Edward Schofield, and all the other boys from our barrack room. We all had a great time with very tasty food and rum was in plentiful supply. The sailors did a great job looking after our needs. We disembarked from the Newcastle on landing craft back to Inchon. I think we were all a little more than tipsy. (A very happy memory.)
Added by Richard Schofield on 16 July 2008
I have a medal of HMS Newcastle inter part winners 1938. It belong to my step
grandad Lewis Knapp. I belive he was a gunner on Newcastle, but not certain. Any information would be helpful.
Added by Sean Heneke on 12 October 2008
We have always referred to the Newcastle as a family ship because my father (Chief Stoker), served on her in 1944/5, my eldest brother (L/Stoker) in 1948/50, my next brother down (AB) in 1952/4 and my turn came from 54/5. It appears we were the very first ship to recommission by air. The fact is that this was a record, for four of one family to serve on the same ship, albeit, not at the same time. We are the King family, Dad, Leonard eventually reached Lt.Cdr. My eldest brother, Peter POSM, then Brian AB then me, Jeff AB. We were all in uniform together and the day we all marched across the Parade Ground together at RNB Portsmouth must have been the proudest day of my dad's life. To turn the ship around took about 14 days for us to take her back to the Far East and that was the first time I saw either of my brothers for 3 yrs because when I was home they were away and vice versa.
Brother Brian and I were both members of the Newcastle Association but my membership lapsed after Brian died.
If anyone can dispel my thoughts that this is a record, I will be glad to hear from them through my email address. CHEERS! Up the Magpies RA RA RA!!
Added by Jeff King on 08 February 2009
I was on the Newcastle 1957/58. It was the happiest ship I ever served on. Captain Gordon Lennox was a real gentleman and made it the best ship anyone could ever want.
Added by Simon Murdoch (ex Able Seaman) on 04 July 2009
I just reviewed this picture. I wasn't sure that I should post the picture, but, after reading the comments and seeing the many memories it has brought to some, I am glad that I did.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 12 April 2010
What a grand sight she was and still is in my album. The Born Too Soon Syndrome catches up quickly these days. I have just spent 45 mins or more showing my pride in being an ex-Newcastle Rating only to find I did all that in 2009 (see above). I still haven't been challenged on the Family Ship comment about 4 from one family having served at different times on her.
Jeff King
Added by Jeff King (ex-AB) on 12 April 2010
I went to the National Arboretum at Alrewas last Saturday and had a good look round the Royal Navy area where I saw several Memorials to the ships I was on and one of those was HMS Newcastle. It was great to see that she is mentioned and those who have Crossed the Line will be Remembered through the name of the ship. I have pictures of the Memorial if anyone would like them.
Added by Jeff King on 31 August 2010
My Father Richard Henry Martin from Abermorddu nr Wrexham in North Wales served on HMS Newcastle during the 2nd World War
Added by Colin Martin on 07 May 2013
My Dad served on HMS.Newcastle. He was on the Malta convoy when Newcastle was hit by a torpedo.

Added by Mrs H. Dickerson on 15 January 2017
I was a Royal Marine bugler on the Newcastle from 1955 to 1957. I remember it as being a very happy ship. We had a good captain but a terrific commander, he was a real gentleman.
Added by Dave Harrop RM8844 on 20 March 2017
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The Navy

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