This story of Captain Fogarty Fegan and the crew of the Armed Merchantman Jervis Bay typifies the fighting spirit and courage of our Royal and Merchant navies, without whose sacrifices wartime Britain would have been starved into submission.
On the 28th of November 1940, a convoy of 38 merchant ships, codenamed HX84, left Halifax Nova Scotia, laden with food, fuel and other vital supplies bound for Britain. It was planned for the convoy to meet up with a British escort force half way across the Atlantic, but until then its only protection was the Armed Merchant Cruiser Jervis Bay, a 14,000 ton converted liner armed with seven obsolete 6 inch guns bolted to her unarmoured decks and commanded by Captain Edward Fogarty Fegan RN.
Had Hitler succeeded in his plan to invade Britain the world would now be a very different place. The United States would probably have remained neutral, leaving Germany, Italy and Russia to carve up Europe between them. There was just the small matter of destroying the Royal Air Force...
By July 1940, German forces had occupied France, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands. Hitler’s troops now stood a mere 21 miles from the English coast and had direct access to the Atlantic Ocean for their submarines to prey on British merchant shipping vital to the island’s survival.
In early 1940, Britain badly needed a victory to give heart to the country in the face of the seemingly unstoppable German Blitzkrieg. It came with a series of daring attacks on the Kriegsmarine as they invaded Norway and typifies the British fighting spirit at a time when Europe was a German Empire and we stood alone. As one newspaper headline said at the time, "Let them all come"
On the 1st of March 1940, Hitler ordered the invasion of Norway codenamed “Wesereubung”. The long Norwegian coastline would give his aircraft and warships an ideal base from which to attack northern Britain and the year round ice free port of Narvik would be used to transport Swedish iron ore to Germany.
Seldom in the history of warfare has an enemy so won the admiration of its opponents that it gets invited to join them. The 19th century redcoats recognised a kindred spirit and the bond between the Gurkhas of Nepal and the British army has remained unbroken ever since. Here is one example of the Gurkha fighting spirit.
In 1815, the British East India Company sought to expand its rule and marched into the Kingdom of Gorkha (Nepal). The fierce fighting that followed with neither side gaining the upper hand resulted in a peace treaty being signed plus an agreement allowing Gurkha soldiers to serve in the Company's army. The agreement continued when this army was taken over by the British government.