Lieutenant RE Washbourn

Lieutenant RE Washbourn

Lieutenant R.E. Washbourn, who was wounded when shell splinters tore into HMS Achilles' director control tower, takes the chance to eat some breakfast following the main engagement.

Washbourn later gave a dramatic account of the blow suffered by Achilles:

I was only conscious of a hellish noise and a thump on the head which half stunned me. I ordered automatically: 'A.C.P. [After Control Position] take over.' Six heavy splinters had entered the D.C.T. [Director Control Tower]. The right-hand side of the upper compartment was a shambles. Both W/T ratings were down with multiple injuries ... A.B. Sherley had dropped off his platform, bleeding copiously from a gash in his face and wounds in both thighs. Sergeant Trimble, RM, the spotting observer, was also severely wounded ... A.B. Shaw slumped forward on to his instrument, dead, with multiple wounds in his chest ... The rate officer, Mr. Watts, quickly passed me a yard or so of bandage, enabling me to effect running repairs to my slight scalp wounds which were bleeding fairly freely. I then redirected my attention to the business in hand, while Mr Watts clambered round behind me to do what he could for the wounded. Word was passed that the D.C.T. was all right again. A.B. Sherley was removed by a medical party during the action. Considerable difficulty was experienced, the right-hand door of the D.C.T. being jammed by splinter damage. When the medical party arrived to remove the dead, I learned for the first time that both Telegraphist Stennett and Ordinary Telegraphist Milburn had been killed outright. I discovered at the same time that Sergeant Trimble had uncomplainingly and most courageously remained at his post throughout the hour of action that followed the hits on the D.C.T., although seriously wounded. Mr Watts carried out his duties most ably throughout ... He calmly tended the wounded ... until his rate-keeping was again required.

Boy Dorset behaved with exemplary coolness, despite the carnage around him. He passed information to the guns and repeated their reports clearly for my information. He was heard at one time most vigorously denying the report of his untimely demise that somehow had spread round the ship. 'I'm not dead. It's me on the end of this phone,' he said. The director layer, Petty Officer Meyrick, and the trainer, Petty Officer Headon, are also to be commended for keeping up an accurate output for a prolonged action of over 200 broadsides ... The rangetakers, Chief Petty Officer Boniface and A.B. Gould, maintained a good range plot throughout the action, disregarding the body of a telegraphist who fell through the door on top of them ...

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