over command of HMS Prince of Wales from Captain
Hamilton just before she left Rosyth for Scapa Flow.
A quote from Henry Leach, son of Captain Leach, and a Midshipman at the time of the sinking of Force Z:
He was assigned as a
midshipman to the Colony class cruiser, HMS Mauritius. The famous photo of PoW
docking in Singapore is present in this volume, and though she isn’t pointed out,
Mauritius is visible on the right edge of the photo. Mauritius was undergoing refit in
Singapore when the war in the Pacific began, a refit that was elsewhere. I think he
shows us a side of the Force Z few realized existed.
“And these two ships and a couple of pretty elderly destroyers were to take on the
entire Japanese Navy. I would call it arrogance, and a thoroughly misplaced arrogance.
I know that my father and the captain of the Repulse regarded their mission as one-way.
“I had dinner with my father, in Prince of Wales. I suppose it would have been two
nights before she finally sailed. We hadn’t seen each other for inside a year, so we had
lots to talk about. And he obviously didn’t like the situation. He asked me what I thought
about it. In my youthful arrogance I remember saying, ‘Oh, let ‘em come, let’s have a go
at them.’ And he turned a very sad face to me saying, ‘I don’t really think you have any
idea of the enormity of the odds we’re up against.’ And I hadn’t. Well, we talked about this
and that and he sealed up a letter to my mum saying that I was with him and all that stuff,
and that was that.
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Information provided by
Commonwealth War Graves Commission record:
CATTERALL LEACH DSO, MVO
Captain, Royal Navy
Additional Information: Age 47. Captain of HMS Prince of Wales.
Memorial: Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 44, Column 2.