Historic ship link to Teignmouth
On 10th April 2015 Andrew Thompson gave a talk at the Teign Corinthian Yacht Club about his four month circumnavigation of the United Kingdom in 2014. Andrew described his various trials and tribulations and illustrated the voyage with photographs showing items of interest. Amongst these pictures was one taken by him in Ouistreham in Normandy of the Norwegian Royal Yacht ‘Norge’ – a ship with an historic link with the port of Teignmouth.
On the 1st September 1939 this same boat, then known as the ‘Philante’ was acting as committee boat for the Teignmouth Regatta. This was the day that Germany invaded Poland. Britain declared War two days later. The Philante was taken into the Royal Navy as HMS Philante and distinguished herself in 1945 by receiving the surrender of 31 U-boats at Loch Erribol in North West Scotland. She was later purchased by the Norwegians and was renamed the Norge. She has remained as their Royal Yacht ever since, and has been safe in their hands.
She was built for the British Aviation Legend, Sir Tommy Sopwith in 1937, and incorporated the latest technology of the time featuring a level accommodation deck. The name Philante was a combination of the names of his wife and son. He was at the time a director and founder of the Hawker Siddeley Aircraft Company. This company built the Hawker Hurricane fighter, partly responsible for victory in the Battle of Britain, which led to the ultimate defeat of the Nazis.
Tommy Sopwith was a man of outstanding personal qualities and judgement and authorised the production of the Hurricane well before there was a government contract to do so. His foresight ensured that there were sufficient Hurricanes available to the RAF in Britain’s finest hour.
Tommy Sopwith was competing in the Teignmouth Regatta in his 12 metre yacht Tomahawk. He would have learned of the crisis whilst there. He returned to his post and continued to make an extraordinary contribution to the survival of his country. Recently photographs have come to light showing Tomahawk crossing the finishing line with Philante and the Parson and the Clerk in the background.