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Phil the Greek and the Battle of Cape Matapan


Book Reviewer
According to the Daily Telegraph, Phil the Greek has finally got around to describing his part in the battle of Cape Matapan in 1941. This was where Admiral Cunningham blew three Italian heavy cruisers out of the water in a short range night action. Prince Philip, then a midshipman, was in charge of the battleship Valiant's searchlights.

Duke of Edinburgh opens up about Battle of Matapan - Telegraph

“I seem to remember that I reported that I had a target in sight, and was ordered to 'open shutter'. The beam lit up a stationary cruiser, but we were so close by then that the beam only lit up half the ship.

“At this point all hell broke loose, as all our eight 15-inch guns, plus those of the flagship and Barham's started firing at the stationary cruiser, which disappeared in an explosion and a cloud of smoke.

“I was then ordered to 'train left' and lit up another Italian cruiser, which was given the same treatment.”

As well as the two cruisers identified by the Duke, a third Italian cruiser and two destroyers were sunk by the British fleet, with the loss of 2,300 sailors. It was Italy’s worst defeat at sea.

The Duke added: “The next morning the battle fleet returned to the scene of the battle, while attempts were made to pick up survivors. This was rudely interrupted by an attack by German bombers…

“The return to Alexandria was uneventful, and the peace and quiet was much appreciated.”
Its only taken him about 70 years to do it - which is maybe taking modesty a bit far....


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