Terence Thornton Lewin

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jbryce1437
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Terence Thornton Lewin

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Terence Thornton Lewin (or TTL as he was affectionately known) was born at Dover on 19th November 1920 and went to The Judd School, Tonbridge, before joining the training cruiser Frobisher in January 1939.

He had originally thought of joining the Metropolitan Police, who were setting up an officer-level entry at Hendon College; but for that he would have to wait until he was 20. His father suggested the Services. "Only the Navy appealed," Lewin recalled. "I loved it from the beginning; the Navy was my sort of life."

His first ship as a midshipman was the new cruiser Belfast, but after her back was broken by a magnetic mine in the Firth of Forth in November 1939 he joined the battleship Valiant, serving in the Norwegian campaign in the spring of 1940, and with Force H at Gibraltar, taking part in the attack on the French ships at Mers el Kebir in July.
Valiant then joined the Mediterranean Fleet and, having survived Luftwaffe attacks off Norway, was equally lucky against the Regia Aeronautica. Lewin's action station was "bomb lookout" on the bridge, his job being to keep his binoculars fixed on any approaching Italian aircraft "and sing out as soon as the bombs were away" so that the Captain could order the helm put over one way or the other.

Lewin then joined the destroyer Highlander as a sub-lieutenant, escorting Atlantic convoys in 1941. His next appointment, in January l942, was to the destroyer Ashanti as gunnery and watch-keeping officer, under one of the greatest of destroyer COs, Captain (later Admiral Sir Richard) Onslow.
Ashanti escorted three Russian convoys between March and May 1942, and Lewin was mentioned in despatches. Ashanti also escorted ships of the Home Fleet providing distant cover for the ill-fated convoy PQ.17 in July 1942.
In August, Ashanti took part in Pedestal, one of the most spectacular naval operations of the war, when a convoy of 14 merchant ships, escorted by two battleships, four aircraft carriers, seven cruisers and 32 destroyers, headed eastward through the Straits of Gibraltar for Malta.
Nine merchant ships, the carrier Eagle, two cruisers and a destroyer were sunk. Ashanti was closely involved in the fiercest action, and escorted one of the surviving ships, the badly damaged tanker Ohio, to the entrance of Grand Harbour, Valletta.
Lewin, who had been closed up at his action station in Ashanti's gunnery control tower for 60 hours, with only short breaks, later wrote that it was Pedestal that “set the seal for all time on my already strong admiration for the men of the Merchant Navy”.
In September, Ashanti sailed for Operation EV - the passage of convoy PQ.18 to Russia and the return homeward of convoy QP.14.
Ashanti joined PQ.18 on September 9 as one of 16 destroyers in the convoy's "fighting escort". After a hectic passage in which PQ.18 lost 13 ships, most of them to torpedo-bomber attack, Ashanti transferred to QP.14 on the 17th. On the evening of the 20th, her sister ship Somali was torpedoed and very badly damaged.
All but 80 of Somali's ship's company were transferred to a trawler while Ashanti took Somali in tow. The towing cable soon parted, and all electric power in Somali failed. The tow was taken up again, while Lewin led a party in Ashanti's seaboat who worked for four hours, arms immersed in freezing water, to join two makeshift cables together.
Their first attempt failed and everything had to be hauled in. After another cable was found, Lewin and his party successfully restored electrical power, and rigged a telephone line.
The tow continued until the weather deteriorated early on the 24th, and Somali began to break up. Finally, in the night, after a tow of some 80 hours and 420 miles, Somali broke in two and sank.
Many of Somali's people were swept away or trapped under Ashanti's bilge keel in the appalling weather, but Lewin played a vital part in recovering the 35 who survived, and he was awarded the DSC.
In Ashanti Lewin continued to be in the thick of it - taking part in the landings in North Africa and escorting more convoys to and from Russia in 1942 and 1943. In 1944, as part of the 10th Destroyer Flotilla, Ashanti provided seaward defence to the west of the D-Day landing beaches.
In a night encounter off Ushant early on June 9th, the Flotilla sank one German destroyer and damaged another. Lewin was mentioned in despatches.
On August 5th, the 10th Flotilla and the cruiser Bellona intercepted a German convoy off St Nazaire and sank two minesweepers and two ships from the convoy. Lewin was mentioned in despatches for the third time.

In 1945, Lewin went to HMS Excellent, the gunnery school at Whale Island, Portsmouth, and qualified top "G" of his course, winning the Egerton Prize and being selected for the Advanced "Dagger" Gunnery course at Greenwich.
Terry Lewin was by now widely recognised in the Navy as a potential high-flier, and his postwar career followed the classical trajectory up towards the highest ranks in the Service, with "promotion" jobs at sea alternating with appointments in the Admiralty.

After returning to HMS Excellent for two years on the staff, Lewin went out to the Mediterranean in 1949 to join the destroyer Chequers.
Promoted Commander in 1953, Lewin was appointed Planning Officer on the staff of the Second Sea Lord, where he was influential in putting into effect the conclusions of the Mansergh Committee, which led to the establishment of a General List that included all executive, engineer, electrical and supply officers.
Unlike some executive "deck" officers, Lewin was convinced of the need for change, and as a result had to endure in-trays full of closely reasoned hate mail, accusing him of "betraying his salt".

His first command, in 1955, was the Battle Class destroyer Corunna. He went on in 1957 to be Executive Officer of the Royal Yacht Britannia. Its busy programme included Prince Philip's visit to the Naval College, Dartmouth, in 1958.
Lewin had actually declined the appointment, but Flag Officer Royal Yachts told him: "I fully understand your feelings, but you have been selected." The first time Lewin received the Queen on board, she said: "So you are the chap who did not want to come to my yacht."
Lewin said: "The extraordinarily high standards kept by Britannia's ship's company were a revelation. The crew taught me a standard of service I have tried to apply for the rest of my life." He was appointed LVO in 1958.

Promoted Captain in 1958, he was Assistant Director of Tactical and Weapons Policy. His next sea appointment, in 1961, was in command of the frigates Urchin and Tenby as Captain (F) 17th Frigate Squadron (the Dartmouth Training Squadron).
In 1963, Lewin returned to Whitehall as Director of Tactical and Weapons Policy, and then, in 1966, went to sea again in command of the carrier Hermes for one of the happiest commissions in the ship's history.
Hermes helped to calm an explosive political situation in Aden in 1966 and in August 1967 her helicopters mounted a dawn raid on Communist agitators in Hong Kong, lowering police and troops on to two 27-storey buildings.

Promoted Rear Admiral, Lewin was Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Policy) from 1968 until 1969, when he took up his final command afloat as Flag Officer Second-in-Command, Far East Fleet.

Lewin was a notable authority on Captain Cook. It therefore gave him particular pleasure to arrive, flying his flag in the cruiser London, at Gisborne, New Zealand, for the celebrations in October 1969 marking the 200th anniversary of the landing by Cook in Endeavour at Poverty Bay.
Lewin went on to hold in succession the most senior posts in the Navy: Vice-Chief of the Naval Staff in 1971, C-in-C Fleet, Allied C-in-C Channel and C-in-C Eastern Atlantic Area, in l973, C-in-C Naval Home Command in 1975, Chief of the Naval Staff and First Sea Lord in 1977.
Promoted to Admiral of the Fleet, he was Chief of the Defence Staff from 1979 until 1982. There he instigated a change in responsibilities whereby the CDS became the principal military adviser to the Government and not just the chairman of an inter-service committee.
He was appointed KCB in 1973, and GCB in 1976. He was Flag ADC to the Queen from 1975 to 1977, and First and Principal ADC from 1977 to 1979.
Despite his brilliant naval career, Lewin had a self-deprecating sense of humour. He once described his time as First Sea Lord as "the dullest I ever had in the Navy".
Lewin had a deep and scholarly knowledge of naval history. His lectures and the numerous forewords he wrote for books were always informed by some apposite reference to a past naval occasion.
Yet, though he often drew on the Navy's romantic past, Lewin was well aware of the brutal operational necessity which lay beneath. Of Mers el Kebir in 1940, when more than a thousand French sailors were killed by British gunfire, he said, years later, "senior officers agonised about the decision to open fire, but for the junior officers and ratings it was just a job that had to be done as effectively as possible before going onto the next one".
He was a natural athlete, selected to represent the Navy at rugby and athletics, and always kept himself very fit. He romped home to win the Veterans' Hundred Yard Dash on Hermes's sports day in Singapore in l967.
The news that the Navy was to leave the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, caused Lord Lewin great concern, and he was a sharp critic of the Government's policy.

Lewin was on an official visit to New Zealand in 1982 when in late March the first intelligence was received that Argentina intended some offensive action against the Falklands; the Argentine fleet was at sea, moving into a position where an invasion of the islands was possible.
Lewin telephoned London each day to keep in touch and to ask if he should return. But he was told that John (later Sir John) Nott, the Defence Secretary, thought it would only cause alarm if the Chief of the Defence Staff publicly cut short an official visit.
Thus by the time Lewin arrived home on April 5th, the Argentinians had invaded the Falklands, on the night of April 1-2, and although the Navy had no contingency plans for such a deployment, the decision had already been taken to send a task force to the South Atlantic.
The office of Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) rotated in turn between the three services. It was therefore fortunate that for Operation Corporate, the codename for the recovery of the Falklands, an enterprise in which the Navy played such a major part, the CDS was a naval officer.
Lewin became arguably the most influential member of Margaret Thatcher's War Cabinet and rapidly established a rapport with the Prime Minister.
With his clarity of thought, his political awareness, his unsurpassed knowledge of the Navy's men and ships, his realistic appreciation of what was and was not possible and, above all, his refusal to allow himself to be rattled when things began to go wrong, Lewin provided an invaluable link between the politicians at Westminster and the C-in-C Fleet, Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse, at his headquarters at Northwood, north-west London.
When it was suggested, by Mr Nott and others, that it might not be necessary actually to invade the Falklands, and that a sea blockade might suffice, Lewin disagreed. In his opinion, a blockade could never be wholly effective. Furthermore, it would subject the blockading ships to the worst of the South Atlantic winter and, most important, would not achieve the main object - the repossession of the Falklands.
However, Lewin concurred with Operation Paraquat, the recovery of South Georgia, although he knew it was purely politically motivated. But it fell to him to break the news to the Prime Minister that two helicopters carrying the SAS had crashed on Fortuna Glacier and that the very first venture in the South Atlantic appeared to have ended in disaster.
It was, Lewin said, for him the worst moment of the war. But, only an hour later, there was almost miraculous good news. In a brilliant feat of flying, the stranded SAS were rescued by helicopter.
Lewin advised on the Rules of Engagement, which laid down the circumstances under which the ships of the task force could open fire. He also encouraged the War Cabinet to support Rear Admiral "Sandy" Woodward, the carrier battle group commander, when he requested a change in the Rules, leading to the sinking of the cruiser General Belgrano by the submarine Conqueror.
Lewin later held that the fact that the Belgrano had reversed course before she was sunk was irrelevant. In any case, he said, even if the War Cabinet had wished to revoke their decision to extend the Rules of Engagement, there was little chance that the message would have reached Conqueror in time.
The loss of the destroyer Sheffield after an Exocet missile strike caused a severe wobble in morale at Westminster. Lewin had already warned the War Cabinet that there were bound to be casualties and, at Mrs Thatcher's command, he appeared on television to convey the same message to the nation in robustly reassuring terms.
There was much criticism at the time, and subsequently, of the Navy's handling of the media during "Corporate", and much bitterness in the Navy. One admiral even went so far as to suggest that all reporters should be banned from future operations.
Lewin took a much more sophisticated, even street-wise, view. "Television is a fact of modern life," he said. "It is a fact you have to take into account in all future operations. There will be many occasions when you have no control over television, so that will be a major influence on how you handle the thing."
Lewin expressed himself "quite satisfied with the behaviour of the media", but he had no compunction about misleading the media when it would help to deceive the enemy. "How else are you going to do it if not through the media?" he asked. "I do not see it as deceiving the press or the public; I see it as deceiving the enemy. What I am trying to do is to win. Anything I can do to help me to win is fair as far as I am concerned."
Like Waterloo, "Corporate" was "a damned close-run thing", but when it was over Lewin summed it up: "For an evil military dictatorship to get away with unprovoked aggression at this part of the 20th century would have made the world a much more dangerous place to live in.
"It would have undermined Western deterrence vis a vis the Soviet Union and it is even conceivable that perestroika would never have happened if we had not demonstrated this intention not to allow a military dictatorship to get away with it."

Over the years, Lewin became, unobtrusively and without any wish to push himself forward, an authoritative spokesman for the Navy in general, constantly consulted by the media. He contributed to television programmes on the Falklands conflict. He wrote persuasively to the newspapers on a variety of subjects, from the need to replace Polaris with Trident, to the future of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. He also argued that the CDS should retain five-star rank.

He was created a life peer as Baron Lewin, of Greenwich, in 1982, and was appointed a Knight of the Garter in 1983, the first officer to receive the Order for purely naval services since "Black Dick" Howe in 1797.
Lord Lewin was very generous with his time, which he gave to a wide variety of societies and organisations. He was chairman of the Trustees of the National Maritime Museum from 1987 to 1995 and president of the Society for Nautical Research, and of the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners' Royal Benevolent Society.

As President of the George Cross Island Association, he personally raised much of the money needed to erect the Malta Siege Bell monument overlooking Grand Harbour, and he presided over its dedication by the Queen in 1992.
He was also Life Colonel Commandant, Royal Marines, and Elder Brother of Trinity House, a Freeman of the Skinners' and the Shipwrights' Companies, and joint patron, with Sir Ludovic Kennedy, of the Russian Convoy Club.

He married, in 1944, Jane Branch-Evans; they had two sons and a daughter.

Terry Lewin was always very modest of his Naval achievements, “it’s what you were supposed to do with all that training”, but he was most proud of the 30% pay rise he secured for the Armed Services over the period when he had influence over such matters. He was much influenced by Cook not because of his navigational and exploring skills but by his revolutionary and humanitarian treatment of the men under his command.

After a short battle with stomach cancer, Admiral of the Fleet Lord Terence Thornton Lewin of Greenwich KG GCB LVO DSC died at his Woodbridge, Suffolk home on 23rd January 1999 aged 78.

This Forum is dedicated in his memory.
HMS Raleigh 1963 , HMS Collingwood 1963 & 67 , HMS Ark Royal 1964-7, HMS Undaunted 1968-71, HMS Victory (Fleet Maintenance Group) 1971-72, HMS Exmouth 1972-74
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ivorthediver
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Re: Terence Thornton Lewin

Unread post by ivorthediver »

Unfortunately I never had the good fortune to meet Tims Father ,but followed his progress from afar , and can think of no finer Naval 'Hero' to put forward as an inspiration for this new Forum .

I have had the good fortune to know his Son Tim for about ten years now , and can only say that as a blue print his Son closely follows his fathers format in many ways , not the least of which is remembering those whom he met on his way through life and the kindness displayed by him to others he came in contact with
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Re: Terence Thornton Lewin

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above mentioned is the siege of Malta stone referred to by Jim , and Karens Father [ Chalky White ] was also instrumental along with Terence Thornton Lewin in the organisation and and representation of the Stone in the UK , and I enclose a picture of this memorial as a reference .Image
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timlewin
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Re: Terence Thornton Lewin

Unread post by timlewin »

when my father became ill and died in January 1999 I had previously had no experience with memorials, veterans affairs and so on other than to hear his stories about their activities. When the cancer struck, and was confirmed as having no possibility for eradication, in other words terminal, he began the process of handing over what he considered his key responsibilities. My niece wrote a mass of letters for him to his mass of worldwide correspondents. His request to me was to take over a project he was in touch with about to commemorate US volunteers to the RN, and to see it through, and to look after the various convoy clubs he fostered, particularly the Arctic/Russian Convoy Clubs, and the George Cross Island (Malta) Association. The project then looking into the US Volunteers was being driven by the redoubtable Chalky "Ronald" White and a trainee solicitor called Charlotte Hammond. Both of them worked at the Magistrates Court in Worthing. Charlotte later qualified but tragically fell victim to cancer and died not long after we completed the project.
Chalky was to become a good friend and staunch ally in all my later efforts to maintain the memories of the RN and those who served.
In the floor of the Painted Hall at Greenwich ORNC there is a stone placed with the agreement of WSC commemorating the arrival of three citizens of the USA who joined the RN, this predates the US declaration of War so the three citizens remained anonymous to avoid the penalties of fighting for a foreign power. Chalky, karen and an superb USN historian, Eric Berryman, were working to establish who these men might have been. It transpired that there were not three but actually twenty-two although to begin with we believed there were only twenty-one which will be explained as this story unfolds. Eric later published the full story in a book called "Passport not Required" which is available on Amazon.
I followed up on my father's request to see this through and contacted Chalky. When it became clear that his little team had identified the twenty-one heroes the plan was to approach the Trustees of what by then had become the management structure of the Old Royal Naval College and apply to find a way of commemorating these men by name, no longer anonymous. This is where I joined the team, what to do next.

more to follow, but to keep the interest for you here is a link to a film made to capture the culmination of this project almost a year later, a few weeks after the catastrophe of 9-11 in New York.
https://vimeo.com/154581956
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Re: Terence Thornton Lewin

Unread post by timlewin »

some pictures to go with the story....
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Karen
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Re: Terence Thornton Lewin

Unread post by Karen »

Thank you so much Tim for that wonderful story, brought tears to my eyes seeing my marvellous Dad, I think you meant to put Charlotte Hammond not myself Karen White ...
Hope to catch up with you very soon...
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timlewin
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Re: Terence Thornton Lewin

Unread post by timlewin »

thanks Karen, indeed I did mean that but was clearly thinking of you and Ivor when I wrote it. Too early in the morning. I will write more to complete the story of this and Chalky's and my other adventures with memorials. Very sad to look back and think Charlotte, Chalky and Winston are all now gone. But, at least we did the memorials so there is plenty of "hard" evidence to mark the road they walked....
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Re: Terence Thornton Lewin

Unread post by ivorthediver »

In deed there is Tim , but we will drink your continued good health with a suitable White Burgundy , to reflect on our last meeting and look forward to the next with anticipation .

Warm regards from us both .
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Re: Terence Thornton Lewin

Unread post by jbryce1437 »

timlewin wrote: Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:08 am thanks Karen, indeed I did mean that but was clearly thinking of you and Ivor when I wrote it. Too early in the morning. I will write more to complete the story of this and Chalky's and my other adventures with memorials. Very sad to look back and think Charlotte, Chalky and Winston are all now gone. But, at least we did the memorials so there is plenty of "hard" evidence to mark the road they walked....
Hello Tim, I substituted the name Charlotte Hammond into your original post to avoid any ongoing confusion.

Jim
HMS Raleigh 1963 , HMS Collingwood 1963 & 67 , HMS Ark Royal 1964-7, HMS Undaunted 1968-71, HMS Victory (Fleet Maintenance Group) 1971-72, HMS Exmouth 1972-74
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Then 28 years in the Fire Brigade
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ivorthediver
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Re: Terence Thornton Lewin

Unread post by ivorthediver »

I remember with great affection Tim when the book was lunched at the" War Rooms" in London and meeting many of the people concerned and our copy of their book "No Passport Required " very emotional and yet pleasing .

Met the First SEA LORD Alan WEST [ forgive me if I have his rank wrong} prior to his retirement, and an American Naval Attaché who was at the meeting to represent the USN , a very charming ambassador of the USN...both of which we spoke to at length and wish I could have spent longer with them , but there were better and more deserving people to talk to at the time , but treated very well

I can't remember where you were but I recall train cancelations were the cause .........and you were not best pleased ....but hey thats life it seems , a very privileged and enjoyable day was had if a little sad at "Chalky" not being around after all the work he had done behind the scenes ,but Karen was both sad.... but very proud of her dear departed Dad......if a tad tearful .
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