Chapter 7 Greece - The Battle Of Matapan

 

Scrap Iron Flotilla
Greece -The Battle Of Matapan

 

Left: Admiral Cunningham

LATE in March the tingling thrill of approaching battle was felt throughout the entire Fleet as Admiral Cunningham led them out from Alexandria. This was to be no mere "Mediterranean sweep".

 

On a dozen occasions he had tried to bring the Wops to battle. At Calabria he had almost succeeded, but since then the vaunted Italian Fleet had been harbour-bound. This time, though, prospects were brighter. Reconnaissance planes had reported a large Italian force to the eastward of Cape Passera, Sicily. And the enemy were steering east! East-away from their harbours of Taranto and Messina. East-towards the supply lines from Egypt to Greece. East-towards the slow convoy guarded only by Voyager and Vampire, taking precious cargoes of war to stricken Greece. This time, perhaps, there would be action! Out of the dirty, man-made harbour, past the scudding feluccas and dirty fishing-boats, the Fleet steamed quietly to battle. Inquisitive eyes watching from the shore saw nothing unusual in its departure. The crew were at their stations just as they always were  -smart, efficient, carrying out their duties without fuss or show.

 

 

 

 

Battle Of Matapan Map

 

It was the same on board, too. The same as it had always been. But this time there was a little more eagerness, temples throbbed a little faster.

 

The destroyers were out ahead, Stuart and Vendetta the only Australians among them. Then the cruisers, then the battleships. And then the aircraft carrier Formidable, whose planes were to play so important a part.

 

No untried Fleet this. Havoc was there, still commanded by Captain Watkins who took her into Narvik with Captain Warburton Lee's flotilla. Ajax, proud of her year-old victory over the vaunted Graf Spee, steamed alongside H.M.A.S. Perth. Wars pite, hero of Narvik, Calabria and a thousand bombings, wallowed unconcernedly in the van.

 

The speedier light forces did not stay with the battle fleet. Under Vice-Admiral Henry Pridham Wippell, wearing his flag in Orion, the four cruisers and the aircraft carrier Formidable raced off to seek out the enemy. With their destroyer screen was Vendetta.

 

The Italians, Admiral Cunningham well knew, could make very rapid exits from the battle area! So with the first streaks of dawn on 28 March, torpedo bombers streaked away from Formidable's long flight deck, trails of white smoke weaving strange patterns in the damp morning air.

 

At 7.49 a.m. the Italians were sighted. Quickly the planes sent back reports-one battleship, six cruisers, seven destroyers, thirty-five miles south of Cavdo Island. Quickly the position was plotted. Orion was just to the south-east, a foaming bow-wave surging almost over her fo'c'sle as she led the three other cruisers at full speed towards the enemy. Two more Italian cruisers and two destroyers had joined the force ahead, but these were odds the Englishmen liked.

 

Warspite was ninety-five miles south-east of Orion, and it seemed impossible for her to catch the fleet Italians. They had been designed for speed, and knew how to use it.

 

This time, however, they were not to be so lucky. Orion made contact at 8.2 a.m., and turned away to the south-east, the enemy cruiser squadron following for an hour. Then they turned away, and Orion followed until she was brought under fire from a Littorio class battleship. The British battle fleet was still many miles away, and the Italians were already beginning to move round to the northwest. Formidable again sent up her flock of torpedo bombers and they pounced eagerly on the fleeing ships. Once, twice, three times, aerial torpedoes launched from short ranges tore gaping holes in the battleship's thick armour. A heavy cruiser reeled as she was struck and a destroyer listed heavily, badly damaged.

 

Voyager and Vampire had been ordered to turn back with their valuable convoy, but, as they steamed towards Alexandria at slow speed and plotted the positions of both the Italian and the British fleets, it seemed that nothing could stop the Italians from reaching them first. As they heard that the cruisers had made contact they were cheered considerably-two aged destroyers are hardly a match for a battle fleet!

 

Vendetta, too, watched the action with more than passing interest! Her engines had broken down soon after Orion had made contact with the Italians and the ancient destroyer was creeping away at slow speed, almost in the path of the enemy battle fleet. For almost twenty-four hours she was unable to move, but the Italians had already turned for home, and when faint smudges were sighted on the horizon early on 29 March, it was the British Fleet and not the enemy that steamed towards them.

 

Meanwhile, in Stuart, officers and men heartily cursed their bad luck. Ciphers and signals were eagerly read and news of the battle was flashed from ship to ship. There were cheers when the success of the torpedo bombers was broadcast, but the very success made the tiny destroyer's crew madder.

 

They were stuck back there with the battleships, with only an outside chance of seeing the Italians! Throughout the afternoon the tension grew. Orion was flirting with the battered battleship, enticing her and her flock of attendants towards the 15-inch guns of Wars pite, Valiant and Barham.

 

Two more battleships, three cruisers and four destroyers had been sighted by our planes just off Gavdo Island, and R.A.F. Blenheims had scored hits on three ships in this force. It looked like action if they could only get there in time. Captain Wailer and his officers had only the reports from Orion and Formidable to console them and, plotting positions eagerly, they could see that the two fleets were closing.

 

Then, shortly after dusk, came the blow which almost crushed their hopes of seeing action. A destroyer striking force, under Captains (D) of the 14th and 2nd Flotillas, was detached to destroy the damaged Italian battleship. Stuart was left behind. Officers and men, weary-eyed from long, vain searching of the horizon, watched them go, and saw their last chance of action fading into the dusk. With Havoc, Greyhound and Griffin, they were to screen the battleships.

 

Surely even the damaged Wop battleship, its speed reduced to a bare fifteen knots, would escape them now as the darkness grew. This time, perhaps, there would be action-but not for Stuart. Evening came, crisp and clear. The Mediterranean was strangely calm and the slight swell seemed barely to lap against Stuart's slender bows. The sea was monotonous in its very stillness. Look-outs strained to catch a glimpse of flame on the horizon which would herald their approach to the battle which must surely, by now, he raging. It was tiring work- eyes moving slowly from one end of the horizon to the other looking for the dark shapes of ships looming out of the dark.

 

Down on "A" gun someone began to sing, softly, "We are waiting for ships which never come in." The others laughed. It's easy to laugh when you're tired, tense, expecting battle. Then it was silent again. Nothing but the lapping of the sea and a quiet rippling gurgle as the bows cut through the water. Lapping and gurgling. Gurgling, rippling. The monotony of it beat into the crew, harder to bear than the silence. Wearying, oppressive, unnerving. On deck a lookout lazily wiped his hand over a stanchion, licked the salt from his fingers. Astern, the feathery wake was a brilliant white, studded with a thousand glittering phosphorescent lights. Ahead there was nothing but the calm, shimmering water. Spray flicked back across the foredeck, "slap-slapping" over the guns where men huddled, waiting. .

 

Then at 10.10 p.m. an enemy cruiser was reported hove-to to port of the battle fleet. Stuart altered course. Her crew watched as she swung round, looked questioningly at the bridge, saw that the other ships were altering, too. Quickly the "buzz" went round. From gun to gun, from searchlight to the tubes, from bridge to supply parties in the magazines- it spread within seconds. Action . . . at last!

 

In the shellrooms and magazines supply parties talked with studied unconcern. They would see nothing of the lightning of the battle; they would only hear its thunder. No glamorous job, theirs. Just drag and hoist, drag and hoist, until their bodies were covered with tiny beads of sweat. Drag and hoist, until the sweat became rivulets that splashed on the deck; rivulets that would run until the guns ceased fire.

 

Brave fellows, these, too. Perhaps braver than those above who could see the way the battle went and who could see escape if the ship was mortally hit. But those below would know nothing of the battle but that the guns were hungry for ammunition, and that other guns were firing near by or farther off. Cooks, stewards, engine-room artificers, stokers and seamen - they talked of many things. But, listening for the noise of battle, they heard only the soft gurgling of the sea as it bubbled along the ship's side.

 

It was tense now and the breathless thrill of battle could almost be felt in the crisp night air. The destroyers raced away at full speed, foam cresting their slender bows, while the battleships, sedately rising and falling to the swell, steamed ponderously in their wake. Look-outs, from vantage points all over the ships, peered eagerly through powerful glasses. The horizon, dimly moonlit, was clear and unbroken against the sky. Then, on the wing of the bridge, a young able seaman saw a dark shape looming in the distance.

 

The shape became clearer. Not one ship, but two, three, four! He rubbed his eyes, stared harder. Could this be some trick of the night? No, it was real enough. He shouted, hardly knowing what he said, but on the bridge they heard his report.

 

"Ships bearing green four-oh."

 

Captain Wailer and his officers had seen the ships. Calmer than the excited seaman, they had already flashed a report back to the flagship. It was to be action right enough!

 

The Italians drew nearer, clear against the horizon. No damaged ships these, hove-to and helpless, but 8-inch cruisers, fast, powerful and in full fighting-trim, attended by light cruisers and destroyers.

 

Greyhound, too, had seen them and opened up with starshell. The pallid, yellow streaks seemed to float into the air and then, just as they burst, there was a rumble of guns from astern. Giant shells screamed over Stuart. The 10,000-ton Italian cruiser flume, struck by a full 15-inch salvo, at three thousand yards range, exploded with a roar. Sheets of yellow and red flame lit up' the horizon. Mangled debris. flung hundreds of feet into the air, rained down on friend and foe alike. The few Italians who survived the dreadful, bursting inferno, flung themselves, screaming, into the water. It was exactly 10.30. With thundering broadsides, and flame, and death, the Battle of Matapan was born.

 

A minute later Stuart opened up, her tiny 4.7's snapping viciously as they poured two salvos into the blazing cruiser, hoping to finish her off. Then an enemy destroyer raced past, wildly firing red and white and green tracer into the air as she dashed out of the glare of the fiercely burning Fiume. Lieutenant-Commander Robison checked Stuart's fire, altered target rapidly, and sent a salvo into the Italian as he fled.

 

Left: Stuart's Guns Opening Up

 

The sky was pocked with slowly burning starshell and split by the knife-like beams of powerful searchlights. Multicoloured tracer streamed into the air and 'guns of every calibre flashed red and yellow flame as they spewed destruction. Two more cruisers were sighted farther south and Stuart and Havoc raced away to meet them, while Griffin and Greyhound, to the north, more than held their own with a number of destroyers.
 

 

Warspite had crippled the 8-inch cruiser Zara with a single salvo and she burned slowly, her guns still firing at the tiny destroyers which raced round her, guns blazing and tubes trained.

 

 

 

 

 

Then Warspite's giant searchlight flashed on, trained directly at Stuart's bridge.
 

Not a man breathed or spoke. They did not hear the crashing of guns as the other ships fought. They did not hear the shells which screeched overhead or plopped in the sea near by. It was all silent, eerie and silent, as they waited. They could almost see Wars pite's mighty guns, which had reduced Fiume and Zara to rubble, measuring them for the kill, wisps of black and yellow smoke trickling from their greedy muzzles.

 

The searchlight went out. The guns crashed again. The battle went on.
 

"Thank God they aren't panicky like the Wops," someone gasped.

 

There were two 10,000-ton cruisers left-Pola, damaged by our torpedo bombers, and Zara, stricken and burning as a result of Wars pite's murderous fire.

 

At 11 o'clock Zara and Pola were together and Stuart, closing the range rapidly, prepared to torpedo the pair. On the bridge, Captain Wailer watched the two cruisers through his glasses. Either one could reduce Stuart to mangled rubble with a single salvo.

 

The Gunner (T), "Shorty" Ley, spun his torpedo disk. Night settings had been fixed and Captain Waller decided that he would fire his full outfit of six torpedoes at the two Italians.

 

Then came the moment the torpedo men had been waiting for.
 

"Turning to fire torpedoes."

 

Stuart began to spin round, foam gushing from beneath her bows and a creamy, swirling wake astern.

 

"Shorty" Ley, his eye fixed to the torpedo sight, shouted:

"Thirty degrees to go, sir." Twenty degrees to go, sir. "Ten degrees to go, sir."

 

"Fire one. Fire two. Fire three."

 

The port look-out could see the torpedoes' feathery wakes, phosphorescent and white against the dark water. On the bridge a dozen pairs of eyes strained as glasses were focused on the Italians. Low down on one of the cruisers there was a flash of fire, then another. Amid the crack of gunfire Captain Waller and his men heard two muffled explosions.

 

Stuart followed up her advantage with rapid salvos, her gun crews sweating as they rammed home shell after shell, her supply parties laughing and cursing alternately as they hoisted ammunition up to the insatiable guns. Each time the "fire" gong rang the 4.7's vomited flame and black and yellow smoke. The burning cruiser returned the fire, then was silent. Stuart poured another salvo into her, then turned away to engage the other cruiser.

 

 

She was sighted four minutes later, about three thousand yards away, listing heavily and apparently stopped, but her 8-inch guns were ready, and greeted Stuart with heavy and accurate fire.

 

Captain Waller altered course slightly to bring all his guns to bear and Stuart's first two salvos caused big explosions. The Italian began to burn fiercely just as a look-out reported a ship close on the port bow.

 

"Hard a'port," shouted Captain Waller and the destroyer Vittorio Alfieri passed a scant one hundred and fifty yards away on the starboard side.
The control officer snapped new orders:

 

"Engage target bearing green six-oh, moving left to right." Guns swung round, trained by eager crews. In split seconds they reported: "Guns-target."

 

The command to fire was drowned by the crack of the 4.7's. One shell struck Alfieri's bridge, shattering the entire superstructure, a second buckled the forward gun into twisted scrap, a third struck aft, piercing her thin armour.

 

The second salvo ripped into her before she had gone one hundred yards, completing the destruction of the lower bridge and steering-gear and again damaging her aft.

 

The third salvo, this time fired only from the after guns, sent another shell smashing through her stern.
Alfieri began to go round in circles out of control. Nearly all the lifeboats had been destroyed by Stuart's two minutes of fire at pistol-shot range. She listed to starboard and began to sink by the stern, racked by explosions and lit up from end to end. Then Havoc poured a salvo into her and Alfieri shuddered and sank.

 

By the weird light of falling starshell, Griffin, who had been engaged with two Italian destroyers, saw Pola barely two hundred yards away. Quickly her guns were brought to bear on what appeared to be an undamaged 8-inch cruiser ready to open fire, Then Pola lurched slightly. The after turret doors swung open with a dull clang and struck hollowly against the side of the turret. The Italian's gun crews had fled. There were a few men still aboard, some of them German control officers and layer ratings. They were at their posts, but there were no Italians to load the guns or to man them.

 

Havoc raced up, her guns trained, her crew flushed by their quick victory over an Italian destroyer. Captain Watkins saw that Pola had been almost deserted, saw that there was no fight left in her, and signalled: "Shall I go aboard or blow off her stern with depth charges? I have no more torpedoes."

 

However, there were other destroyers nearby, eager to finish off the stricken cruiser. Jervis (who had rejoined the battle fleet) and Greyhound took over and Havoc dashed off to engage another destroyer.

 

Pola did not fire a round as Greyhound circled slowly round her with her searchlight trained and guns ready, and Jervis ran her sharp bows alongside.

 

Hundreds of struggling Italians in the water testified to the enemy's panic. A white cloth was draped over the quarterdeck, token of surrender, while the rest of the crew, with the twenty-one officers who had not jumped overboard, crossed a gangplank to the Jervis.

 

Pola's ship's books were burning in a big heap under the after gun turret and her guns were facing fore and aft. The Italian flag still fluttered sadly from the mast, but there was no fight left in the mangled cruiser. Someone on the quarterdeck flashed rapidly with an aldis lamp, probably trying to attract attention to the large white cloth. They had seen Flume disappear in a sheet of flame and mangled debris. Take no risks, was their motto!

 

Jervis sheered off, opened the range a little, and sent a torpedo ripping into Pola's belly. She heeled over and sank by the stern, her guns still fore and aft, her flag forgotten at the masthead, her waist red hot and steaming.

 

Demoralized by Flume's sudden end, she had taken practically no part in the battle. Half her crew jumped over the side before she had fired a round-indeed, before a round had been fired at them. Others followed them, so that, damaged by our torpedo bombers earlier in the day, she had floated helplessly through the amazing night battle, abandoned by three-quarters of her crew and by all but twenty-one of her officers. Pola, one of Mussolini's most powerful cruisers, had been sunk without firing more than a couple of salvos.

 


Italian Ship Sinking at Matapan

 

It was now that Stuart's luck held good. Turning to port, she narrowly missed ramming an enemy cruiser, probably the Giovanni delle Bande Nere, sister ship of the Bartolomeo Colleoni, sunk by H.M.A.S. Sydney. The cruiser, undamaged and ready to open fire, could have blasted Stuart out of the water with a single salvo from her 6-inch guns, but she passed without firing a shot.

 

Throughout the engagement the Italians had fired red, white and green recognition tracer into the air and Stuart had fired this tracer from a Breda captured at Tobruk. The Bande Nere had seen this, and had mistaken Stuart for a friend!

 

At the tubes Stuart's torpedomen cursed their luck they had no more torpedoes and there was a cruiser just asking for trouble.
"Shorty" Ley, who had wrought havoc with his "fish" a few minutes before, could hardly hold back the tears. It would have needed only one torpedo! He couldn't have missed at five hundred yards.

 

So Stuart drew off to pour salvos into Zara, which replied briefly and then was silent. As more salvos went home, bringing muffled explosions but no answering fire, Stuart left to engage the other ships.

 

To the northward Havoc was spiritedly attacking another destroyer and, as her second salvo struck, the Italian exploded.

 

At 11.18 all ships received a signal from the commander-in-chief, ordering those ships not "actually engaged in sinking the enemy" to retire to the north-east. Those Italians which had kept out of the fight had fled at high speed. The ones who had been caught had been battered and beaten. There was only the "mopping up" to be done.

 

But at 11.30, an hour after the battle opened, Captain WaIler, still looking for battle, sighted a cruiser to the northeast, and immediately opened fire.

 

The Italian returned the fire wildly, and had apparently been badly hit.

 

Stuart's second salvo struck her amidships, starting a fire, and a few more salvos produced no reply.
 

Jervis, who had arrived late and was the only British ship with torpedoes left, blew up Zara, who was still burning fiercely, and the battle drew to a close.

 

Starshell and searchlight failed to pick out any enemy ships still afloat. Everywhere was floating debris and the glaring searchlights lit up the faces of struggling Italians, clinging to lifebelts, improvised rafts and wreckage.

 

Stuart continued her retirement to the north-east and rejoined the battle fleet at 7 a.m. the next day.

 

So, except for the picking up of survivors, ended the Battle of Matapan. Admiral Cunningham's ships had steamed more than seven hundred miles before they brought the Italians to action, and in a little more than an hour had sunk three 8-inch cruisers, badly damaged a 6-inch cruiser, sunk three destroyers and had damaged at least three other ships.

 

By morning British ships had picked up sixty-one officers and eight hundred and forty-nine men. Among the officers was Captain Despisi of the Pola, who asserted that the battleship damaged by Formidable's torpedo bombers was Vittorio Veneto, flagship of the Italian commander-in-chief, and that it had been sunk.

 

Taciturn Admiral Cunningham, asked for his opinion after he had returned to Alexandria, said that Vittorio Veneto had been badly damaged at Taranto, and had probably not gone to sea since. It seemed that the battleship, whatever her name, had fled as quickly as she could, being lost in the night when our ships were busily engaged with the other Italian ships.

 

Among the hundreds of Italians who perished was Admiral Cantoni, commander of the 8-inch cruiser squadron. Among those saved was the strangest collection of seamen our men had ever seen. The Italians were eager to talk and very humble. The Germans were silent, arrogant.

 

HMS Warspite

 

One German officer, fished out of the water as the Nazi dive bombers tried to smash the British ships, stood on the deck of the destroyer Mohawk, raised his arm, cried. "Hell Hitler." Big, brawny Australian seaman McAuliffe caught him by the scruff 0f the neck and the seat of the trousers and threw him back. Then he leant over the side, wagged his finger at the German, and said with quiet determination:

 

"Remember to salute properly when you come over the side of a British ship." Then he threw a rope to the Nazi, and hauled him aboard.

 

The German stood at attention, faced the White Ensign, saluted, and walked sheepishly towards a group of rescued men. He saw that they were Italians, wheeled and stood apart from them.

 

The Italians were a sorry lot. Among those who huddled together in Stuart's forward messdecks were some without clothes, and some with blankets wrapped round them.

 

One, who called himself something which sounded like "Breeches" (but probably wasn't), had just turned eighteen. He was a slim youngster, with big black eyes and dark, curly hair, and he was still scared when he was landed at Athens. He had been conscripted into the navy when he turned eighteen, just eight days before. Kitted up at Taranto, he spent his fourth day at sea as a survivor and prisoner of war!

 

A yeoman of signals from the Pola said that he was asleep in his hammock when he heard a terrific explosion.
"They were running all round me. I went out on deck and I saw one of our cruisers blow up. Every one seemed to be jumping overboard, so I grabbed two lifebelts and jumped, too.

 

"I heard someone cry, 'Mamma mia, I cannot swim,' but he was also jumping overboard."
 

Polo, according to prisoners, had been hit amidships by an aerial torpedo. Many of her stokers had been burned by steam and the engineer officer, who joined the ship the day she sailed, was overcome by smoke and fumes. He, too, jumped overboard when the battle began.

 

Stuart and Griffin left at 9 a.m. to go to Athens for fuel, and landed their prisoners there.

 

Behind them, the Fleet was still picking up survivors, but this work was destined to cease soon afterwards. German dive bombers came over and Admiral Cunningham ordered his ships to leave the Italians.

 

A signal was sent to the chief of the Italian naval staff giving the position and suggesting that a hospital ship should be sent. The Italian replied promptly:

 

"Thank you for your communication. The hospital ship Gradisca left Taranto last night at five o'clock."

 

So old-world chivalry brightened the fiercest and bloodiest sea battle of the war. So the victor offered assistance to the vanquished and the enemy offered his thanks.

 

Admiral Cunningham's action, of course, brought criticism from those who were demanding "total war" against the Axis. But as the monthly journal The Navy had declared only a few months before:

 

"His Majesty's ships in action do not make war with kid gloves. . . . It is not kid-glove fighting to refrain from massacring the helpless. . . . Nothing is going to stop British seamen from succouring other seamen in danger of drowning, even if they are enemies who have just been defeated."

 

There was nothing resembling "kid-glove" fighting ahout Matapan. The enemy had been brought into action, and had been thoroughly beaten-to aid the survivors was but humane.

 

Stuart, flying a victory ensign at the mainmast, passed Voyager and Vampire later in the day. The two destroyers, still guarding their slow convoy, flashed messages of congratulation.

 

Flushed with victory, his ship's company proud, tired and happy, Captain Wailer signalled: "Here the conquering heroes come," as he passed. There were cheers from the convoy and then Stuart and Griffin sped away.

 

That was Stuart's part in the great sea battle that is called "Matapan".

 

Curiously enough news of the fight, flashed all over the world, referred to it as the "lonian Sea Battle". Admiral Cunningham, in every signal, had referred to it as "Matapan", and so the Admiralty, days later, announced that the battle was officially to be known as the "Battle of Cape Matapan".

 

Voyager and Vampire arrived at Piraeus unmolested except for a fruitless torpedo bombing attack. The two destroyers were ordered to remain there until the sea was clear of Italian warships. They barely had time to fuel before they sailed again! The Italians hadn't waited long at sea.

 

Stuart, after landing her prisoners at Piraeus, sailed with a large convoy from the Greek port on 29 March in company with Griffin, Hereward and the light cruiser Bonaventure. The night was cloudy and dark. The shapes of the convoyed ships could barely be distinguished and look-outs were keeping a close watch when there was a heavy explosion astern. Then there was another crash and flame leapt into the air. Bonaventure had been torpedoed.
Stuart wheeled, dashed back to take off survivors, but Bonaventure sank almost immediately. Barely fifty yards astern in Stuart's foaming wake there was another explosion. But the submarine had missed that time!

 

Hereward, dashing in now, and Stuart, who had detected the U-boat, dropped a pattern of depth charges. Seconds later another pattern was dropped and the submarine broke surface astern, lurched for a moment in Stuart's wake, then slipped below again. Herewcird, racing in at top speed, almost rammed the U-boat, then dropped a pattern of charges. Wreckage began to float to the surface as Stuart began her third attack. Bonaventure had been quickly avenged.

 

On the last Sunday in March victory services were held throughout the fleet.

 

Husky young seamen, still flushed by their victory, sang hymns and prayed for "those in peril on the sea".

 

"Praying for the Wops," Stuart's men declared. "They are the only ones in peril, though they are not often on the sea."

 

This is not the full story of Matapan. It does not pretend to do more than sketch Orion's matchless "flirting" with the enemy, the amazing success of Formidable's swarm of planes, or the part played by the other British ships. There is no time here to tell of the hundreds of ragged, frightened survivors who were washed up on Greek Islands days later, clinging to jagged pieces of what had once been ships.

 

This is the story of a twenty-three year old midget who, in the space of an hour, engaged three cruisers, sank a destroyer, and played more than her part in the destruction of two others.

 

Someone else will tell the full tale about Matapan. This is Stuart's story.

 


HMAS STUART