Queen Elizabeth’s veterans Pride in Britain’s new carrier

Wear your Queen Elizabeth cap tallies with pride – because we were not allowed to in the war.

That is the message from veterans of the previous ship to bear the name of Britain’s new aircraft carrier, formally named by the Queen in Scotland tomorrow.

Nearly 70 years after the last HMS Queen Elizabeth – a super-dreadnought – was decommissioned, the dwindling band of men who served in her have spoke of their pride in a ship which was once the nation’s flagship, as the new carrier will be.

One veteran – Lt Cdr David Waymouth – is due to attend the naming ceremony, while former boy seamen Len Chivers, now 89 and living in Portsmouth, and Victor Merry have been talking about the proud feeling serving in the battleship filled them with.

This new ship will do a job which is very important for Britain.

Mr Merry

Mr Chivers joined the Queen Elizabeth in Rosyth in 1941 – the ship was moved there from her home base of Portsmouth to escape the Blitz.

“It was a marvellous draft [job],” he said. “And it should be the same with today’s ship.

“Of course they will be able to wear Queen Elizabeth on their cap tallies – we were not allowed to, just ‘HMS’.”

Mr Merry and Lt Cdr Waymouth are delighted that the name of the great ship is being resurrected after seven decades.

“The Queen Elizabeth has such a history of being effective in war,” said Mr Waymouth, a midshipman – very junior officer – when he served aboard her.

“This new ship will do a job which is very important for Britain. We need to be able to control the sea lanes.”

Mr Merry added: “Everywhere she goes she will draw the crowds. If people see the might of the thing, see aircraft flying from her when she goes on her first deployment, they will say: ‘That’s money well spent.’”

Today’s aircraft carrier keeps the original battleship’s crest – a red and silver Tudor rose (the ship is named after Elizabeth I) – and the motto – semper eadem (always the same).

At her launch in Portsmouth on October 21 1912 – Trafalgar Day – Queen Elizabeth was the fastest and most powerful warship.

She was dubbed a ‘super-dreadnought’, such was she a leap forward from revolutionary battleship HMS Dreadnought built in the same yard just six years earlier – she was nearly twice as powerful thanks to eight 15in main guns, which would be the mainstay of the firepower of the surface fleet for the next 35 years.Queen Elizabeth served with distinction in both World Wars, seeing extensive action in the Mediterranean – notably the Gallipoli campaign in the Great War, and off Crete a generation later.

She was also the flagship of the Fleet when the German Navy surrendered in November 1918 – the greatest triumph in the history of the Royal Navy, a day known as Der Tag.

She spent her final active years – after being repaired in the USA following severe damage caused by Italian human torpedoes in Alexandria in 1941 – in the Far East with the East Indies Fleet.

She arrived back in the UK on the day of the Japanese surrender in 1945, paid off and finally sold for scrap in 1948.