Nelson & His World

Discussion on the life and times of Admiral Lord Nelson
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 Post subject: Implacable to the end
PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 5:36 pm 
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This will bring tears to your eyes. Here is film of the sinking of HMS Implacable in 1949. Implacable was the French Duguay Trouin which fought at Trafalgar and was captured in Strachan's action a few days later.

And here is some 1932 film of the Implacable.

For more treasures from Pathe, explore from here: http://www.britishpathe.com/results.php ... MS+Victory

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 Post subject: Re: Implacable to the end
PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:49 pm 
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Could this ship have been saved nowadays?

Caitlin


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 Post subject: Re: Implacable to the end
PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:49 am 
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Ah! The good old Pathé News... and I see you have been revisiting the old filums lately Tony! I remember years ago when, oft on a visit to London, I would have the odd hour and went to the News cinema at Victoria (whatever happened to that?) to watch the Pathé News and cartoons whilst waiting for a train or whatever!

Thanks for posting footage on the scuttling of Implacable, ex, Douguay Trouin. Very sad, but as you see the navy didn't have it all their own way! I'm always very amused by the very 'gung ho', often misleading, reporting of the events of those days and I am sure that rather more men in the navy, were saddened by the event – certainly those who had trained aboard her would have been – and probably didn't feel so much of the 'out with the old in with the new' as the reporter intimated!

Caitlin,

Very likely, more would have been done today to preserve a ship of her kind, the sole remaining example of a 74 gun 'wooden wall' I believe, by some rescue group. This of course would have depended on her condition after a survey and any potential fund raising possibilities. At the time however in 1949, in austerity Britain just after the Second World War, thoughts were rather on rebuilding the country and infrastructure than on preserving old obsolete warships, no matter how historic.

This is not to say of course that there were not many dissenting voices, one of whom was Frank Carr the then Director of the National Maritime Museum. He wrote many letters to the powers that be, the newspapers and spoke often on the 'crime' both before and after the event. I believe he was the founder of the World Ship Trust, which actually has as it's badge the stern view of the Implacable, underneath of which is the motto: 'Never Again'. This of course refers to the ship's fate.

I don't know if you know, but parts of the Implacable were rescued from the ship before she was scuttled. These include the figurehead and the impressive stern, both of which were restored and are now at the NMM. The stern in particular is noteworthy, positioned high on one of the walls of the revamped Neptune Hall. I thought it would have been nice to have reconstructed the cabins behind it, which was I think what Frank Carr envisaged, but unfortunately this was not done. A pity. The figurehead used to be outside, near the cafe, but with the reconstruction for the Sammy Ophir Wing proceeding it was removed. I don't know where it is now, although perhaps it has been resited near to the stern in the Neptune Hall.

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 Post subject: Re: Implacable to the end
PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 9:56 pm 
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Amazing to see it out on the open water! But very sad too. Thanks for the explanation Devenish.

Caitlin


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 Post subject: Re: Implacable to the end
PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 3:53 pm 
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Although, as you say Kester, Frank Carr founded the World Ship Trust using the Implacable as its logo, and the motto ‘Implacable, Never again’, and he said he was in tears at her scuttling, he was not in fact a dissenter in the decision to scuttle her. He was part of the committee which finally reported unanimously "against the proposal for reconditioning and placing the ship in a permanent berth." It was believed that by 1949, her condition had deteriorated too far for her to be saved. The Foreman of Portsmouth Dockyard reported, "I do not consider the vessel to be repairable", describing some of the ship's timbers as "a mass of decayed wood which can be pulled apart by hand." It was reported that the whole structure above the waterline would need rebuilding with new material. The estimated cost was a quarter of a million pounds, excluding any costs of ongoing maintenance. As you say, Kester, in post war Britain, it was inconceivable that the amount required could be raised.

But Frank Carr went on to successfully save the Cutty Sark, and when you consider how much money is now being spent on her, then yes, Caitlin, I’m sure things would have been different now.

It seems to me that it is virtually impossible to exaggerate the importance of the Implacable. She was the only surviving ship from the French fleet at Trafalgar, she was the last seagoing wooden line of battle ship, and as you point out, Kester, the last surviving 74-gun ship. These were the mainstay of the fleet, both in terms of numbers, and in effectiveness. That not a single one has been preserved is a tragedy.

From my own point of view, she would have been particularly important as one of five ships of Dumanoir’s squadron engaged by the Minotaur at Trafalgar.

Kester, you have mentioned the unimaginative display of the stern of the Implacable at the NMM before, and I couldn’t agree more. The mezzanine floor in the Neptune Hall now relegates it to an unnoticed piece of decoration on the back wall. I think an opportunity was wasted with the mezzanine floor. I would have thought the stern could have been positioned on the edge of the floor and the cabins reconstructed behind it. It could have been magnificent! Instead, the Neptune Hall is just a mishmash of bits and pieces.

The Pathe film mentions that it took another 3 hours to sink the Implacable, but didn’t explain why. The Navy botched the scuttling. She was supposed to slip gracefully below the waves as they played the ‘Last Post’, but they used so much explosive that they blew the bottom out of the ship. The iron ballast which should have carried her to the bottom then instead dropped to the bottom itself, leaving her upper structure still floating and the British and French ensigns flying defiantly in the breeze. The Navy then spent three hours bombarding the wreck to break it up, and even then large pieces of wreckage remained a hazard to shipping until they washed ashore.

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 Post subject: Re: Implacable to the end
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 10:24 am 
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Tony,

Thanks for adding the extra info on Frank Carr, of which I was not aware. Since the vote was 'unanimous', I imagine him to have been amongst the last to reluctantly 'cave in'! I wonder if there was pressure from the other members of the committee? As you say, he successfully went on to save the 'Cutty Sark'.

Yes, It is very sad about the present display of the Implacable's stern in the Neptune Hall – and it you are standing on the floor above, the stern is not even at 'waterline height' in relation to that! It is not of course too late to do something about it, even now, to get it back to Frank Carr's vision, but it would have been better to have to done it at the time. What a memorial to Frank Carr that would have been – and still could be! However both the will, and the cash, have to be there to make it a reality - and unfortunately both appear to be lacking amongst the present powers that be at the NMM, concentrating as they are on this Sammy Ophir Wing and the Olympics.

I agree, the Neptune Hall is a mish-mash of ideas that I find don't go well together. It was a brilliant idea to glass over the area, but I get the impression the Museum staff are not quite sure what to do with it! Another bone of mine was Prince Frederick's barge, which I think is also unimaginatively displayed and certainly doesn't make the impact she previously did – surrounded in darkness, but with lighting directed on her. Then there was the old staircase, half of which was removed, along with the bell which was used to ring ship's time, but I digress... :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Implacable to the end
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 6:04 pm 
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More or Frank Carr here: Frank Carr: Ship Saver by Peter Elphick, including towards the end, his part in the decision on the Implacable. I have read elsewhere that James Caird persuaded the NMM trustees that if they supported a scheme for her preservation which ultimately proved unsuccessful, then they would end up carrying the blame.

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 Post subject: Re: Implacable to the end
PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2010 9:58 pm 
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Whilst browsing some unread posts I stumbled upon Tony’s ‘Implacable to the end’ and watched with interest the videos and seeing the name British Pathe reminded me of an instance of a cousin mentioning to me some 50 years ago, that she thought she had seen me on Pathe News at the cinema.
So I punched in ‘Soho Fair 1959’ and . . . oh dear! There I was—a full head shot . . . Yuck! :oops: —a spotty 17-year-old classified as a beatnik!! :oops: :oops:

Thanks Tony for inadvertently reminding me of my misspent youth.

It’s funny how things come back to haunt one, even from the most innocent of routes, namely, N&HW. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Implacable to the end
PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2010 10:15 pm 
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Not the guy in sunglasses in the opening shots then, Ed?

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 Post subject: Re: Implacable to the end
PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2010 10:36 pm 
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Well spotted Tony :lol: :lol: You are about 5 seconds too soon and that's all I am saying!

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 Post subject: Re: Implacable to the end
PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2010 10:48 pm 
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You know you can buy a still from them for £20? - A bargain compared to the Alexander Ball portrait. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Implacable to the end
PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2010 11:26 pm 
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I was hoping you weren't going to spot that!! Shall save my money for some future haircuts as the hair at least still keeps growing. That is enough about me--I hope . . . unless . . . :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Implacable to the end
PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:55 pm 
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I thought Ed might need reminding of his misspent youth again (see above).

But also, here's the YouTube version of the various film clips of Implacable / Duguay Trouin:


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 Post subject: Re: Implacable to the end
PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:17 pm 
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Thanks for that Tony.
I was quite touched by the clip -- not the reminder of the interesting misspent youth 8) -- but of the demise of the Implacable and the soundtrack made it even sadder. :cry:

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 Post subject: Re: Implacable to the end
PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:55 pm 
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That was great - thanks for sharing

Joss


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