Coronation Spithead Fleet Review 1953

In January 2002 I had a request from Mr Ray Holden to put some pictures he had onto my website. I'm very proud to show these photographs of the Monday, 15th June 1953 Spithead Review of the Fleet. The Review consisted of 197 British warships under the command of Admiral Sir George Creasy, together with 13 commonwealth warships, 16 foreign warships and representative ships of the British Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets. After the review of the ships some 300 FAA aircraft, led by Rear-Admiral Couchman, flew past. The ships were illuminated after nightfall and a firework display was given between 2300 and 2330 hrs. Ray wrote...

"I was in Tobruk when King George VI died which I believe was in 1952 and Queen Elizabeth came to power. I believe that her coronation was the following year and the Spithead review took place for her Coronation, I would say 1953. This year is the fiftieth anniversary of her ascension. You are welcome to the pics for two reasons, First I think that you will do justice to them and secondly because your father was a matelot. I don't know of another site who has these."

The Queen with Duke of Edinburgh on Royal Yacht Surprise. Image from Ray Holden Flypast of Naval Aircraft. Image from Ray Holden Part of Great Armada. Image from Ray Holden Royal Yacht Surprise passes HMS Superb. Image from Ray Holden Royal Greeting To Commander of Russian Cruiser Sverdlov. Image from Ray Holden Patricia Leading Royal Yacht Surprise. Image from Ray Holden The Queen on Royal Yacht Surprise. Image from Ray Holden The Queen passes through The Great Armada. Image from Ray Holden Helicopters hovering over The Fleet. Image from Ray Holden Royal Yacht Surprise passes the bows of HMS Vanguard. Image from Ray Holden Royal Yacht Surprise passes the Swedish cruiser Gota Lejon. Image from Ray Holden

Some notes on Ray Holden's images:

In December 2003, John Carr sent me the following information about Patricia. Trinity House Vessel "Patricia". The ship in question was named as above and that was her correct prefix title - never HMS. Built in 1938 by Smith's Dock at Middleboro, 1116 tons gross the largest TH ship at that time. She was a lighthouse and buoy tender - because of the latter duties she was fitted with a diesel electric propulsion plant. This allowed her to do very precise maneuvering when working. Being the flagship of the fleet she had extra accommodation, fitted for visiting VIPs and for use at ceremonial occasions. She was at the D-Day landings (laying buoys) and scrapped in 1982 and replaced by a third ship of that name which is currently in service. She led the Royal Yacht etc. as they progressed through the lines of warships etc at the 53 Spithead Review. The Royal Yatch at the time was HMS Surprise.

Trinity House, Tower Hill, London EC3N 4DH is the HQ address, but most of their records were deposited at the Guildhall Library, Aldermanbury, London EC3N 4DH some years ago. PATRICIA does not seem to be listed in Lloyds register so I assume TH to be a separate body - i.e. her crew wouldn't have been Merchant Navy men.

I had an email from an ex F.A.A member in January 2004 who says that the ship identified as the Gota Lejon above is actually the Russian cruiser Sverdlov. Looking at photographs of the Gota Lejon and Sverdlov I'm fairly convinced the second ship in the picture really is the Gota Lejon. In 2009, I received an email from Bo Hermanson. He says that "She had beautifully raked funnels, whereas Sverdlov had straight. I sailed in Gota Lejon back in the early 1950's, and was very impressed by her good looks."

In August 2002, Mr. David Killelay very kindly sent me the following photographs. As with Ray Holden's images, I'm very proud to show these photographs of the 1953 Spithead Review of the Fleet.

Royal Yacht Surprise passing through the fleet. Image from David Killelay Royal Yacht Surprise passing through the fleet. Image from David Killelay HMS Vanguard. Image from David Killelay HMS Implacable. Image from David Killelay HMS Eagle. Image from David Killelay An American Warship. Image from David Killelay

These are public domain and creative commons images of the review:

HMS Gambia. 1953 HMS Gambia arriving at Spithead on June 8, 1953 for the Coronation Naval Review. She is wearing the flag of Rear Admiral C F W Norris, DSO, Flag Officer Flotillas, Mediterranean. Imperial War Museum A32571 HMS Vanguard receiving a final 'brush and polish' at Weymouth on June 2, 1953, before taking part in the coronation review at Spithead on June 15 by her majesty the queen. Imperial War Museums A32566 HMS Vanguard receiving a final 'brush and polish' at Weymouth on June 2, 1953, before taking part in the coronation review at Spithead on June 15 by her majesty the queen. Imperial War Museums A32566 HMS Superb gets a final coat of paint for the Coronation Naval Review. Imperial War Museums A32579 Test Rocket fireworks being fired on board HMS Indomitable in preparation for the fireworks display to be witnessed by HM The Queen following her Review of the Fleet on 15 June 1953. Imperial War Museums A32577 PO Leslie Hirst of Scarborough, Yorkshire with AB's Fred Bidgood of Nuneaton, and Ronald White of Hornecastle, Lincolnshire, preparing rockets on HMS Sheffield for the Review fireworks display. HMS Superb is in the background. Imperial War Museums A32582 Preparing electrical circuits for Review firework display is Electrical Artificer 5th class J E Owen, of Portsmouth on HMS Superb. Imperial War Museums A32578 Shipwright Frank Knight of Ewell, Surrey, and OD Alex Wood of Edinburgh, building a platform on HMS Sheffield on June 11, 1953, to enable visiting Sea Cadets to see the Queen on Review Day. Imperial War Museums A32580 AB David Mann of Newcastle, and Boy Michael Tilley of Portsmouth, touching up the Capstan under the supervision of PO Desmond Sparrow of Coventry on HMS Sheffield on June 11, 1953. Imperial War Museums A32581 AB Thomas Amsden of Southampton putting final polish on his Bofors Gun mounting before visitors come on board HMS Sheffield on June 11, 1953. Imperial War Museums A32583 The assembled fleet A part of the great assembly of warships taking form at Spithead on June 9, 1953, in preparation for the Coronation Naval Review. Image from Imperial War Museums A32574 HMS Surprise was one of the first ships to arrive at Spithead on June 8, 1953, for the Coronation Naval Review. She was the despatch vessel from which HM The Queen reviewed the Fleet and is wearing the Flag of Vice Admiral E M C Abel-Smith, CB, CVO, Flag Officer Royal Yachts. Image from Imperial War Museums A32570 The Italian Training Ship Amerigo Vespucci, at Spithead on June 8, 1953, for the Coronation Naval Review. She was the only sailing ship in the review. Image from Imperial War Museums A32573 HMS Glasgow, Flagship of the C in C Mediterranean, Admiral Mountbatten; HMS Gambia (middle distance) and HMS Manxman arriving at Spithead on June 8, 1953, for the Coronation Naval Review. Image from Imperial War Museums A32569 The Swedish cruiser HMS Göta Lejon during Coronation Review at Spithead, 1953. In the background, a Soviet cruiser of Sverdlov class. Image from Wikimedia Commons HMS Manxman arriving at Spithead on June 8, 1953, for the Coronation Naval Review. Image from Imperial War Museums A32572

There are more images of the 1953 Spithead Review on the HMS Vanguard site. I've found some film of the Review on YouTube and created a playlist of them.

HMS Gambia Commissioning Book 1955-1956An interesting story about how this copy of the 1953 Coronation Review of the Fleet Program (PDF, 3Mb) came to be on this page. The copyright notice in the program says "The Contents of this Publication are Coypright and all rights are reserved. No extracts or reproductions from this Publication can be made in any form without the permission of the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth and the Publishers."

The post of Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth was abolished in 2012, and the duties and repsonsibilites pased to the First Sea Lord. The publishers were Gale and Polden Ltd. of Portsmouth. They went out of business in 1981 after being bought by Robert Maxwell. Maxwell died in 1991 and his publishing empire collapsed in 1992, but just to be on the safe side I contacted the Admiralty about posting this PDF.

They replied saying "As the publication was originally written and published under the Authority of the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth we would consider this as being protected by Crown Copyright as it was produced by Admiralty personnel as part of their official duties. This publication would no longer be protected by Crown Copyright as this lasts for 50 years from the date the material was first published so you are free to use a PDF copy of this programme on your website.

The programme is a very interesting historical document containing a wealth of information about an impressive Admiralty Fleet and also through the advertising it contains."

So here, for the first time on any website that I know of is the 1953 Coronation Review of the Fleet Program (PDF, 3Mb)

Other Royal Reviews

All were held at Spithead unless otherwise indicated.

June 1346 - King Edward III - Before sailing for war with France
1415 - King Henry V - Before sailing for war with France
May 1662 - King Charles II
February 1693 - King William III & Queen Mary II - After "La Hogue" and "Barfleur"
March 1700 - King William III - Visit of Peter the Great, Czar of Muscovy
23rd to 27th June 1774 - King George III - First modern Review (The HMS Vanguard site says 1773, I've no definate proof which date is correct)
May 1778 - King William III - Before France joined American War of Independence
1781 - King William III
June 1794 - King George Ill King George Ill & Queen Charlotte - After "Glorious First of July"
25th June 1814 - Prince Regent - Treaty of Paris.
September 1820 - King George IV - First Coronation Review
March 1842 - Queen Victoria - Grand Naval Review
May 1844 - Queen Victoria - Visit of King of Saxony
October 1844 - Queen Victoria - Visit of King of France
19th June 1845 - Queen Victoria - Experimental Squadron
11th August 1853 - Queen Victoria - First Review of steamships
March 1854 - Queen Victoria - Baltic Fleet before war
23rd April 1856 - Queen Victoria - End of Crimea War
August 1865 - Queen Victoria - Visit of French fleet
17th July 1867 - Queen Victoria - Visit of Sultan of Turkey
23rd June 1873 - Duke of Edinburgh - Visit of Shah of Persia
August 1878 - Queen Victoria - Review of the Reserve Squadron
25th July 1887 - Queen Victoria - Golden Jubilee
5th - 6th August 1889 - Prince of Wales - Visit of German Emperor
August 1891 - Queen Victoria - Visit of French fleet
August 1896 - Queen Victoria - Visit of MPs and Li Hung Chang
26th June 1897 - Prince of Wales - Diamond Jubilee
August 1899 - Queen Victoria - Visit of German Squadron
16th August 1902 - King Edward VII - Coronation
7th to 9th August 1905 - King Edward VII - Entente Cordiale (Britain & France)
August 1907 - King Edward VII - Home Fleet
17th - 24th July 1909 - Thames - Inspection by Lord Mayor of London - Home and Atlantic Fleets
31st July 1909 - King Edward VII
24th June 1911 - King George V - Coronation
7th - 11th May 1912 - Weymouth - King George V - Review for Houses of Parliament
9th July 1912 - Visit of House of Parliament
20th July 1914 - King George V - Mobilization
21th - 22nd July 1919 - Southend - MP's visit. Peace celebrations
26th July 1924 - King George V
16th July 1935 - King George V - Silver Jubilee
20th May 1937 - King George VI - Coronation
May 1944 - King George VI - Inspection of D-Day anchorage
15th June 1953 - Queen Elizabeth II - Coronation
May 1969 - Queen Elizabeth II - 20th Anniversary of NATO
June 1977 - Queen Elizabeth II - Silver Jubilee
28th June 2005 - Queen Elizabeth II - 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar

Sources

Coronation Review of the Fleet
HMS Vanguard
Royal Navy - Past Reviews
Royal Navy - Trafalgar 200