HMS Cavalier along with a bronze monument by Kenneth Potts, form a memorial to 142 Royal Navy destroyers sunk during the Second World War, and the over 11,000 men who lost their lives as a result.
She was launched on 7th April 1944 and entered service the following November. She earned a "Battle Honour", as one of three destroyers sent from Scapa Flow to escort an arctic convoy that was attacked by U-boats and enemy aircraft and scattered in a hurricane combining force 12 winds with icing.
HMS Cavalier went to round-up the convoy with the other escorts, and on 1st March thirty-one of the thirty-four merchant ships arrived safely in the Clyde.
After the war she saw service in many parts of the world earning the title The Fastest of the Greyhounds in a 64 mile race against HMS Rapid which she won by 30 yards.
When she was finally ended her service in December 1971, a campaign was immediately started to preserve her as she was the last surviving WWII Destroyer. After many ups and downs, she eventually found her way to Chatham, and now occupies the dry dock were HMS Victory was built.
A maze of a place with no clear signposted route, it was difficult to make much sense of the layout, particularly as the audio guide system was out of order.
The open bridge, now protected by a tarpaulin, was perhaps the most evocative and, for me, surprising. Recalling WWII films such as The Cruel Sea, I suppose I shouldnʼt have come as a shock that it was open to the elements but that, along with the binnacle and speaking tubes, made me realise quite how long ago it was that she first came into service, and how far technology has developed.