NN083

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83 May 1961 2 Navy News
Narrative Image Comments
Invincible survivor
recalls the old
Agincourt
SIR.—It was with great interest that
I read Neptune's letter in the
January issue of "Navy News“ regard-
ing the old H.M.S. Agincourt and
"Northampton Riggers."

The Minotaur and Agincourt were
together at Portland in 1901. No boys
were drafted to these ships until they
had been rated 1st Class Boys.

The Agincourt, as well as being a
depot ship for boys, was also a depot
for Royal Naval Bandsmen, which was
the forerunner of the present Royal
Marine Band, and when I joined her
as a Signalman (Ship's Company) on
November 23, 1903, one Bandsman was
still in her. I do not remember what
became of him.

There was also a third ship in the
Seagoing Training Servicces (sail)-
H.M.S. Calliope-—generally known as
the "Hurricane Jumper."

In 1904 Agincourt was refitted at
Portsmouth and again in 1905. On the
latter occasion she was preceded by
the Minotaur. On the completion of
her refit the two ships passed each
other under way in Spithead and it was
a sight many people will never forget
seeing--these two old timers passing
each other under their own steam.

When Agincourt returned to Port-
land her sister ship had sailed for
Harwich and Boscawen was being dis-
mantled for breaking up and Agin-
court had to prepare to join the Mino-
taur at Harwich.

The figurehead of Boscawen was
Lord Nelson and our shipwrights cut
it off and let it drop into the water, it
was towed across to Agincourt, hoisted
in and stood on the quarter deck,
where our painter made a wonderful
job of making him look very smart
indeed and I believe it still stands on
the parade ground at Shotley Barracks.

In due course we sailed from Port-
land on a Friday and proceeded to
Harwich, maintaining a speed of about
11 knots, and arrived off the entrance
to Harwich harbour at about noon on
Saturday, expecting to proceed to an
anchorage to await being shifted to
our berth off Shotley pier. However, a
pilot boat met its and insisted we take
on a pilot. Consequently the delay
made us miss the tide and we ran
aground on Beach End Bank and
remained stuck fast for 12 hours, after
which we proceeded to our anchorage
and let go two anchors.

These were the Admiralty pattern
wooden stock type and as our comp-
lement was only eight Able Seaman,
no swivel was put on and in a couple
of days we hail the loveliest foul
hawse that one could imagine and
when eventually we shifted up to Shot-
ley we knocked out the pins at the
fifth shackle and let the cables go to
the bottom, with the anchors, to be
recovered later by a mooring lighter.

I left Agincourt on December 12,
1905. to commission H.M.S King
Alfred as Flagship of the China
Station on January 2, 1906, having
served in the old “Agie" for just over
two years. I did not know that she had
become a coal hulk, although I had
heard it rumoured, until I read your
article in the December issue of "Navy
News."

I served in several other ships and
in 1914 I commissioned H.M.S.
Invincible at Portsmouth and was for-
tunate enough to he one of the six
survivors of that ship
when she was
sunk at the Battle of Jutland on May
31, 1916, with the loss of 1.025 officers
and men. - W.M. PRATT, ex-Chief
Yeoman of Signals. 20 Arthur Street,
Pembroke Dock.
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See also issues:
083
205
207
210

Invincible

Pratt, Walter Maclean
Yeoman of Signals
216963