Newly qualified Royal Naval submariners have been presented with their ‘Dolphin’ badges by a World War Two veteran ‘hero’..
The sailors of the Plymouth-based submarine HMS Trenchant were honoured to be presented with the customary badge in the form of two dolphins by fellow submariner Lieutenant Commander Robert Read, 92, (retired).
Rob was a former navigator of a previous HMS Trenchant submarine in 1944 and 1945 and presented the badges to the sailors on board the Trafalgar class submarine at HM Naval Base Devonport. He was a returning as a familiar guest, having attended the launch in 1986 and commissioning into the Royal Navy in 1989 of the current HMS Trenchant.
The current HMS Trenchant Executive Officer (second in command) Lieutenant Commander Jeff Fillmore said: “The award of the Dolphins is the culmination of weeks of hard work and learning in order to qualify as a member of an exclusive group within the Armed Forces. It is an exciting day in the career of all submariners when they are finally awarded their Dolphins, so it was with much excitement that the lucky men of HMS Trenchant were able to receive their Dolphins from a man who was a submariner long before they were even born.”
After the traditional award ceremony Rob addressed the crew. He said: “To say I am overwhelmed is quite an understatement. To you chaps I was proud to present your Dolphins.
“I know you will wear them with pride and honour. Now that you are members of the trade you are members of the finest submarine service in the world. I wish you all good luck in the future and I know that you and you shipmates will uphold the good name of trenchant. God forbid if push comes to shove I know that you will add honour and glory such as we acquired in 1944 and 1945. I wish you all the best of luck in the future, gods speed and smooth sailing. As you have your leave with your loved ones enjoy it and be certain to say “I love you” frequently. On a personal note, I stand here, very humbly in awe and admiration. I am proud to be able to say, I salute you Trenchant. Thank you.”
Rob joined the former HMS Trenchant when it was still being built in 1944 and had a hand in the building work. He said: “I had the last few months when she was in building. I was on the bridge one day seeing how things were and one of the dockyard workers was busy with a chisel. So I said ‘Just let me cut the side of the bridge’ He let me do that so I had some part in actually building Trenchant.
He said the modern HMS Turbulent was a lot wider though about the same length as his submarine and also had more ladders to negotiate.
Lt Cdr Jeff Fillmore said: “It is often said that you should be wary of meeting your heroes as they don’t always measure up in real life. Anyone who says that has not met Robert Read. The expectation of meeting a man who battled in a war that encompassed the entire globe, a man who helped sink the Japanese battle cruiser Ashigira preventing 1,000 troops, landing and sunk a German U-Boat supporting the Japanese, fills any submariner with a sense of awe. That sense is surpassed instantly on meeting the man who tells these stories of daring and heroism in such a way that they seem to be a normal order of business. Maybe that is what makes him such a hero and that is why Robert Read and his shipmates are such an inspiration to submariners today.”