HMS Solebay visit

For the second time in 10 years the Southwold Sailors’ Reading Room played host to men from the HMS Sole Bay Association on 12th May 2013, as they visited the spiritual home of their ship. HMS Sole Bay was a Battle Class Destroyer, launched on the Tyne in 1944 and commissioned by the Royal Navy a year later. HMS Sole Bay saw active service just before the end of WWII, and she served in the Mediterranean and home waters until her de-commissioning in 1962. A model of the Battle Ship is now kept in the Sailors’ Reading Room.

Membership of the Association includes sailors who served aboard the ship and those who helped commission her at the builders yard in 1945. Malcolm Clarke, Chairman of the HMS Sole Bay Association and guests were greeted by The Mayor of Southwold Cllr. Simon Tobin, and Douglas Pope – a former Secretary of the Reading Room – who organised the event. A tour of Adnams Brewery and lunch at The Sole Bay Inn completed their day in Southwold, where offshore in May 1672 the Battle of Solebay raged between an Anglo-French fleet and the Dutch Navy.

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Members of the HMS Sole Bay Association at the Reading Room on 12th May 2013

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Douglas Pope (left) and Malcolm Clarke, Chairman of the HMS Sole Bay Association talking to photographer Stephen Wolfenden

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Mayor Simon Tobin with guests from the HMS Sole Bay Association

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Mayor Simon Tobin with Reading Room Hon. Secretary Anthea Marriner

HMS Sole Bay: This was the seventh ship commissioned by The Royal Navy to be named after the Battle of Solebay fought in 1672. She was built by Hawthorne, Leslie and Co. Ltd on the Tyne, launched in 1944 and commissioned in 1945. She was serving in The Mediterranean when war ended but took part in Operation Deadlight, with orders to destroy the German U-Boat fleet, some 150 strong. She later became leader (Captain) of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla, based in home waters.

HMS Sole Bay was present at the 1953 Fleet Review at Spithead to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II but later that year she was placed in reserve, only to see active service again in 1957 as Captain of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla. After escorting HMY Britannia on several of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh’s state visits she finally was de-commissioned in 1962 and became a training ship. Sole Bay was broken up in 1967 in Troon, and a model of her made by John Winter, can be seen in the Sailors’ Reading Room.

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HMS Sole Bay alongside The Royal Yacht Britannia in Venice, on her last state visit in 1961