WW2 Royal Navy Officer's Equipment. Battle of Cape Matapan MID
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About this item
A collection of WW2 Royal Naval items belonging to Lt. Commander A.B.M (Alan Bernard Murray) Fairbairn who served as Torpedo Officer on the Battleship HMS Valiant during the Battle of Cape Matapan, for which he received a mention in despatches in February 1942.
Contained within a small bag made of white canvas and named twice to him, the collection comprises:
His white “Dunlop” inflatable Lifebelt in very good condition but inflation not tested, a Flash Hood in very good condition, a pair of half arm length 1941 dated Leather and cotton Mittens with their neck strap, perhaps unworn but with some staining to the cotton upper and a pair of half arm length white cotton gloves in very good condition.
The Battle of Cape Matapan was a naval battle between the Allies, represented by the navies of the United Kingdom and Australia, and the Royal Italian navy, from 27 to 29 March 1941. Cape Matapan is on the south-western coast of the Peloponnesian Peninsula of Greece.
After the interception and decryption of Italian signals by the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, ships of the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy, under the command of Royal Navy Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham, intercepted and sank or severely damaged several ships of the Italian Regia Marina under Squadron-Vice-Admiral Angelo Iachino. The opening actions of the battle are also known in Italy as the Battle of Gaudo.
Much use was made of radar during a night attack on the Italian Fleet and another young officer aboard Valiant, Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, later of course Prince Philip, was mentioned in despatches for directing searchlights to illuminate the enemy.
Damage inflicted on the Italian Fleet was so significant, it was the last major battle in which the Royal Italian navy participated.