mediterranean royal

This is Timothy the tortoise in the garden of Powderham Castle in 1993. Despite the name, Timothy was actually a lady - and a rather special one. Her little tag reads: ‘My name is Timothy. I am very old – please do not pick me up.’ She was indeed very old, in fact a veteran of the Crimean War where she found herself the mascot of HMS Queen during the first bombardment of Sevastopol in 1854. She had been found aboard a Portuguese privateer the same year by Captain John Courtenay Everard, of the Royal Navy. Later she sailed aboard HMS Princess Charlotte and HMS Nankin, exploring the East Indies and China from 1857-60.

She retired from naval service in 1892 and found herself in the care of the Courtenay family, taken in by the Earl of Devon. From then until her death in April 2004, she lived at Powderham Castle. On her underside was etched the family motto, ‘Where have I fallen? What have I done?’ This little veteran was approximately 165 years old at the time of her death. She was the last survivor of the Crimean War.

HMS Liverpool after crossing the Atlantic, passing through the Panama Canal and heading up to California with a temporary bow to reach the Mare Island Naval Shipyard for repairs. Her bow was badly damaged when an Italian SM.79 Sparviero torpedo bomber found its mark on 14 October 1940 as the ship made for Alexandria, Egypt - 30 killed, 35 more wounded.

Taken under tow from the stern a fuel fire had further compromised the structural integrity of the bow. The subsequent combination of drag and turbulence removed it completely on the first day of a two day reverse journey to Alexandria. Once there she was given a temporary bow fix and sent on her way to California, where she was photographed above and made anew. The ship survived another torpedo hit from the same type of aircraft in June 1942.

The tanker Ohio limps with assistance into Valletta’s Grand Harbour, Malta, drawing Operation Pedestal to a close. With a cargo of some 10,000 tons of fuel her survival was essential to the continuation of the fight from Malta. 

Her back broken and engine room destroyed, she was twice abandoned and re-boarded. Finally, lashed between two Royal Navy destroyers positioned on either side, they provided her the power and buoyancy needed to make the last leg of the journey.