On Friday 21st February 1941 HMS Aristocrat, the former Clyde paddler Talisman, was given a thorough inspection by Captain E C Cordeaux RN, Senior Officer Thames Local Defence Flotilla, at Sheerness.
Out of service with engine problems when war was declared in 1939 the issues were fixed with Talisman taken over by the Admiralty and converted for use as an anti-aircraft ship. Initially posted to Rosyth she was ordered south early in January 1941 to join the flotilla on the Thames based at Sheerness on duty to accompany convoys to and from the North East Spit off Margate and to the Sunk off Harwich on a roster which usually involved five nights at sea and one night moored on a buoy off Queenborough on the Medway.
After the inspection, Captain Cordeaux’s report came to the following conclusions:
Ships Company: Very well turned out.
Main decks, Store Rooms, Galleys, Heads, Wash Places, Upper Deck and Engine Room: All exceptionally well kept. I was unable to find any space or compartment which was not absolutely clean and tidy and I consider that the general state of cleanliness reflects the highest credit on all concerned.
Decks: Well kept.
Armament: In good condition.
Actions Stations: Most satisfactory. The higher number at the guns had a very sound knowledge of their duties and were able to carry on efficiently after the others had been made “casualties”.
Other Stations: Very good. The various organisations had been well thought out and obviously frequently exercised.
Summary: HMS Aristocrat has the advantage of being a modern ship, well fitted out and is also fortunate in having a ship’s company with a high proportion of active service ratings. At the same time her cleanliness and efficiency are of such an unusually high standard that could not have been obtained without a great deal of drill, good organisation and hard work. I consider that the state of this ship reflects great credit on the Commanding Officer and all concerned.
It was a glowing report of the inspection on Friday 21st February 1941 and doubtless pleased HMS Aristocrat’s commanding officer Lt Gelling and his crew.
Kingswear Castle returned to service in 2023 after the first part of a major rebuild which is designed to set her up for the next 25 years running on the River Dart. The Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust is now fund raising for the second phase of the rebuild. You can read more about the rebuilds and how you can help if you can here.
This article was first published on 21st February 2021.