Assisting the victims of Hurricane Hattie, HMS Londonderry, 1961
There is no peace for the wicked, however, and so it was on the 3rd November that we sailed for British Honduras to assist the victims of Hurricane Hattie. We stopped off at Kingston to load 85 tons of hurricane relief stores, a job we completed in 3 1/2 hrs. We also collected 10 doctors and a Methodist chaplain. At 0700 we arrived at Belize in British Honduras and unloaded about half of our stores there. Seven of the ten doctors and the chaplain also went ashore. For four days we patrolled the coastline, sending food and medical stores ashore at many of the small villages and settlements and rendering medical aid where required. Many people had been killed and thousands had been rendered homeless by the disaster. In some of the bigger towns, like Belize (City) , there was a terrible apathy among the natives who were quite prepared to let somebody come and do the work, not being prepared to help themselves at all. A system of " no work-no food" had to be instituted in some places but in others where effective and energetic leadership boosted local morale tremendously, the situation was well in hand. A lot of technical work was put in by our own technicians at Stann Creek, restoring lighting, and transport to a mobile state. HMS Troubridge did striking work in Belize (City) itself, and the Americans provided a tremendous amount of assistance.
A touching little episode occurred when the Gunnery Officer went ashore at Blair Attol, where two houses there seemed deserted. Three small girls appeared aged about 8, 5 and 1 1/2. They informed the Gunnery Officer that their parents were out looking for pigs, and when they didn't return when recalled by banging an oil drum the Gunnery Officer left some bedding and food. The five year old girl, the perfect hostess, offered " Guns" as a parting gift the last of their American relief - a Mars Bar.
On the 12th November, after having organised transport, lighting, ferry services, food and medical supplies, we sailed back to Bermuda, dropping doctors and refuelling at Jamaica en route. The job had been a real tonic to us, giving us the feeling that we had been able to help somebody and that we had done it well.
Photos by Derek Dawson
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