A SNIPPET

A BIZARRE ROYAL NAVAL STORY!

First take a look at my little map on which I have added the approximate distance from Colombo Sri Lanka [middle of west coast] to Rangoon via the Andaman Islands and Andaman Sea. Just approximately, if a ship is doing 18 knots [and taking no account of winds or tides] it would take 79 hours to cover 1430 nautical miles = 3 days. Now 79 hours divided by 3 = in round figures, just over 26 - remember that figure of 26!

Way back in 1950, the British cruiser HMS Kenya was given a peculiar task. The task revolved around a thank you, a give-back, a quid pro quo, to Ceylon [as Sri Lanka was called in this period] for many years as a British base for the East Indies Fleet, but more especially for its use during WW2 for the East Indies and the BPF [British Pacific Fleet] when fighting the Japanese.

The Ceylonese city of Kandy is more or less in the centre of the Island and in that city, in the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, were housed sacred Buddha relics which Ceylon wanted to loan to Burma. The relics were so sacred that a move other than by the securest way possible, was unthinkable and that was on a warship.

When approached, the navy offered the security of this cruiser, with its assured and precise navigation, and just to make sure, it was escorted by the Indian Navy frigate INS Tir. Just weeks before, this ship was called RIN Tir [Royal Indian Navy] which acquired that name in 1934 and ceased using it in January 1950 when India got its full independence. The 'convoy' arrived in Rangoon safely on the 9th February and the precious cargo was duly delivered.  The British were well rewarded for their effort, spiritually if not materially.

However, not only were the precious relics loaded onto the quarterdeck and thence put below into the Admirals quarters aft, but also came no fewer than 50 dancers and 100 monks to guard and ward-off any evil spirit which might be about. The dancers performed physical barriers to these perceived demons, and the monks performed spiritual barriers.  Their prayers and their formal services was conducted every three hours throughout the voyage, which was 26 times in all. This they did crushed into the stern quarters designed to accommodate a junior admiral giving him a sleeping cabin, a day cabin with dining facilities, his bathroom and office facilities shared by his Secretary and by his SOO [Staff Officer Operations].

It must have been a truly bizarre sight for the crew of the ship and a unique task for the Commanding Officer.

See also this page  http://www.godfreydykes.info/JUST_A_BIT_ABOUT_RN_COMMUNICATORS_AND_THEIR_THINGS.htm
and Story Line 57