History of Leith, Edinburgh

December 22, 2010

Naval Resource

There was an exciting moment for H.M.S. ” Petunia ” one day in November 1942 when she was missed by four torpedoes from a
U-boat in the South Atlantic. The Italians did the corvette the honour
of claiming that they had sunk a United States battleship at the spot.
During the same voyage H.M.S. ” Petunia ” carried out an attack
on a U-boat. Leading Cook Scott worked up to his waist in water
whilst helping to man the depth-charge thrower. A gale was blowing
and the depth-charge strop parted. The cook knelt on the deck while
other members of the crew heaved charges on to his shoulder. Then
slowly he pulled himself up far enough to tip the charges into the
thrower-stalk, from whence they were fired overboard. Leading Cook
Robert Henry Samuel Scott was later mentioned in despatches for his
service during this momentous voyage.

Some four months later the crew of ” Petunia ” proved the traditional
ability of the Royal Navy to deal with any emergency when they,
rescued 420 survivors—men, women, and children—from a sunken
liner, ” Empress of Canada,” in a tropical sea. Working in the intense
heat of his galley, it was the same Leading Cook who, with such assistance as he could muster, produced in the next twenty-four hours 900 sausage rolls, 600 bread rolls, and stews, soups, and hot vegetables for more than 400 people. But there was one meal still unsatisfied. A tiny baby needed a bottle for its milk ; bottles there were in plenty on board, but no teat, until the resourceful crew made a very efficient one from some soft rubber commandeered from the medical stores.

In January 1946 H.M.S. ” Petunia ” was transferred on loan to the Chinese Navy under the terms of the Anglo-Chinese Lease-Lend
Agreement. The Chinese officers and ratings forming the crew had
trained with the Royal Navy for many months and the Commanding
Officer, Lieut.-Commander Liu Hoh-Tu, who had spent several years
with the Royal Navy, was specially chosen by his Government for the
command.

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