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Past meets future as new HMS Glasgow hosts WW2 veteran ack-ack Archie

Past meets future as new HMS Glasgow hosts WW2 veteran ack-ack Archie
21 September 2023
The past met the future as WW2 veteran Archie Hazledine shared his experiences in HMS Glasgow with crew of the namesake new frigate.

The 98-year-old Royal Marine gunner from Oxford was treated to a VIP tour of the BAE yard in Scotstoun, where the ninth ship named after Scotland’s great industrial city is being fitted out.

Archibald ‘Archie’ Hazledine served in HMS Glasgow No.7, a Town-class cruiser (and sister of HMS Belfast, the museum ship on the Thames), in the closing months of World War 2.

He specialised as an ack-ack (anti-aircraft) gunner, a role he’d performed defending airfields during D-Day.

Glasgow took part in the Normandy operation, but Archie was only assigned to her after the invasion, when she was refitted to prepare her for the war in the Far East – not least to bolster defences against Japanese Kamikaze suicide attacks.

The revamped cruiser was sent via Gibraltar, Malta and the Suez Canal to the Far-East to participate in the final invasion of the Japanese home islands.
As it was, Japan sued for peace after the two atomic bombs were dropped, and formally surrendered before Glasgow arrived in Singapore.

Instead, the ship was redeployed to the Indian Ocean but damaged her rudder in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and had to go to Simonstown for dry dock repairs. Archie spent a very enjoyable few months in South Africa (where he happily remembers the absence of rationing) before being demobbed and sent home on a troopship.
Post-war, Archie returned to Oxford and became a teacher.

Logistics specialist Chief Petty Officer James Oakley and Petty Officer Kieran ‘Woody’ Woodward, Glasgow’s chief boatswain’s mate, hosted Archie throughout and ran through the wide range of capabilities that the new class of frigate will offer the Royal Navy when it enters service. 

The wartime cruiser relied on men like Archie and his marksmanship and reactions with the Oerlikon, pumping out up to 300 20mm rounds a minute.
Today’s Glasgow will call upon Sea Ceptor anti-air missiles and 30mm automatic guns to deal with any aerial threat.

“It was an absolute pleasure hosting an old HMS Glasgow shipmate” said Woody. “Archie was really interested in the flight deck – much larger than a typical frigate’s – and he was fascinated to learn that it is capable of landing the RAF’s heavy lift Chinook helicopter.

“He also showed a keen interest in the mission bay and asked lots of really good questions about how it will be used and the flexibility that it brings.” 
Before he was called up, Archie was an air-raid warden in Oxford and recalls the night of the Coventry blitz – November 14 1940 – when he was on fire watch on the Oxford Castle mound, hearing the German bombers fly over and the glow of fires on the horizon the night Coventry burned.

“It was fantastic hearing about Archie’s experiences during the war,” James said.  It was a pity that the visit had to end actually – we would have been very happy to exchange stories with him all day!” 

The new HMS Glasgow is the first of eight Type 26 anti-submarine frigates being built by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy, replacing the existing Duke-class ships from later this decade into the mid-2030s.

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