Monday, May 28, 2018



Near the end of the episode, Father Brown is sitting with Tommy Sinclair on a bench outside of the presbytery, overlooking the Kembleford countryside. It's a memorial bench, for on the back is carved: "1914 Ex. HMS LION".

As most of Team Toobworld (hopefully) knows, I see TV as a great teaching tool.  So I wanted to learn more about this reference.  It had significance to somebody on the production staff for them to make it (unless it already existed at the filming location?)  

When I was in high school, I was fascinated by the political machinations behind the First World War, but most of my general knowledge of the Great War came from the American perspective in our history classes.

I found this entry in the History of War website's Military Encyclopedia:

HMS Lion was the name-ship of the Lion class of battle cruisers and served as Admiral Beatty’s flagship at the three main North Sea naval battles of the First World War. At Dogger Bank her armour was pierced repeatedly by German shells, demonstrating the weakness of the British battle cruisers, while at Jutland she came close to destruction after one of her turrets was hit by a 12in shell. She was commissioned into the 1st Cruiser Squadron in June 1912. In January 1913 that squadron was renamed the 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron, under the command of Rear-Admiral Beatty.

The Lion was once again Beatty’s flagship at the battle of Jutland. She opened fire on the German battlecruisers at 3.45pm on 31 May, at what Beatty believed to be a range of 18,000 yards, but was probably significantly shorter. The German battlecruisers opened fire at the same time, and their somewhat shorter ranged guns had no problem hitting their targets. The Lion was hit by two shells that pierced her hull in the first ten minutes of the fight.

The most dangerous blow came at 4.03pm, when a heavy shell hit “Q” turret, entered the gun-house and exploded over the left gun. The explosion killed most of the gun crew and caused a fire that threatened to spread to the magazine, destroying the ship. The Lion was only saved by Major F. J. W. Harvey, the Marine officer in charge of the turret, who despite being mortally wounded ordered the magazine doors to be shut and the magazine flooded. He was awarded a posthumous V.C. for his actions, which probably saved the Lion from the same fate as the Indefatigable, which exploded at almost the exact same time.

At 4.30 Beatty sighted the German battleships and the run to the north began. During this phase of the battle the Lion was hit again around “Q” turret, and was only saved by the flooded magazine. During the battle the Lion was hit by thirteen 12in shells from the L├╝tzow, suffering 99 dead and 44 wounded.

I believe that the Toobworld2 televersion of at least one of those 99 brave young men who gave their lives at the Battle of Jutland came from the Kembleford area.  And his family donated that bench in his memory to the church where he was baptized, confirmed, perhaps even married.  

It could be that at some point in the series we saw an elderly widow who could have been married to that sailor who gave his life on board the HMS Lion.  Somewhere there must be a registry of the sailors who gave their lives; they should never be forgotten after making such a sacrifice.  And a comparison of their surnames to the list of Kembleford characters might yield a match. That way it could be said no extra fictional character had to replace one of the true heroes among the roll call of the Dead.  This episode could serve as a remembrance of the sacrifice by a real sailor on the HMS Lion.  

This version of 'Father Brown' exists in Toobworld2, the Land O' Remakes (the Kenneth More series of the early 70s belongs in Earth Prime-Time), but I believe that the HMS Lion must exist in all dimensions of the Toobworld Dynamic.

And so Toobworld Central pays tribute this Memorial Day to all of those 99 HMS Lion sailors who gave their lives at the Battle of Jutland.....


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