Prince Philip: Scarborough man recalls serving under Duke of Edinburgh in Royal Navy

A Scarborough man has shared his memories of serving under Prince Philip in the Royal Navy.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 10:21 am
Updated Friday, 16th April 2021, 10:34 am

Trevor Reynolds was a teenager when he was appointed as a messenger for the Duke of Edinburgh, who was commander of the frigate HMS Magpie in 1950.

The then 16-year-old’s role meant waiting on the ship’s bridge in case Prince Philip requested anything from his cabin.

“He was full of fun and wanted to have a go at everything,” said Mr Reynolds, now 88.

Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, prior to his marriage to Princess Elizabeth, saluting as he resumes his attendance at the Royal Naval Officers School at Kingsmoor, Hawthorn, England, July 31st 1947. (Photo: Keystone/Getty)

“The Queen, who was then a princess, was on board for about a month. Princess Margaret visited too. It was a royal cruise really.

“There were two other lads from Scarborough there as well.

“I saw him from a distance. He never really seemed to want anything.

“I was sad to hear that he had passed away.”

HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, died last Friday. (Photo: Danny Lawson/Getty)

Mr Reynolds came to HMS Magpie after serving in Korea. He served in the navy for 10 years.

Prince Philip’s navy career included active service during the Second World War and he was mentioned in dispatches for his courage under fire during a battle with the Italian fleet in 1941.

His first posting came when he was 19, as a midshipman aboard the battleship HMS Ramillies, in Colombo. The next six months were spent in the Indian Ocean.

After service aboard the cruisers Kent and Shropshire, he was transferred to the battleship Valiant, in Alexandria.

In March 1941, he was searchlight control officer when the Valiant engaged Italian warships in a night action off Cape Matapan.

Prince Philip survived unscathed amid his shattered lights as enemy cannon shell ripped into his position.

He then returned to Britain for a series of courses that led to his promotion to Sub-Lieutenant, which took him to the destroyer HMS Wallace, based at Rosyth, which sailed escort duties on convoys off the east coast.

He was promoted to Lieutenant on July 16, 1942, and then to First Lieutenant the following October, becoming Wallace’s second-in-command and, at just 21, the youngest executive officer in the Navy.

In July 1943, Wallace sailed for Italy and played a vital role in the Allied landings in Sicily. Later that year, Philip was appointed First Lieutenant aboard the destroyer Whelp, and sailed for the Indian Ocean to join the British Pacific Fleet.

Whelp was part of the Allied fleet in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrender was signed in 1945.

By then, Philip was courting the future Queen, and he was brought back to Britain, where he became a staff instructor at the Petty Officer’s School.

After completing further courses at the Naval Staff College, at Greenwich, Philip was appointed First Lieutenant of HMS Chequers, in 1949. Chequers was leader of the First Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean Fleet.

He was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander in July 1950, and given his first command two months later of HMS Magpie - a frigate serving with the Mediterranean Fleet.

His naval career effectively came to an end in February 1952, when Princess Elizabeth became Queen.