-H.M.S. Hood Crew Information-
Remembering Hood - Letters from ART (Roger) Batley
by ART Batley (1941)
Updated 13-May-2011

Special thanks to Roger Pyrah for sending these extracts from the personal letters of Lieutenant-Commander Anthony Roger Townend (Roger) Batley. The letters were written to his sister, Mary (Roger Pyrah's mother) in the months/weeks before his death in the sinking of H.M.S. Hood on 24 May 1941. These letters offer a unique insight to life aboard Hood. We'd also like to thank June Brook for sending us a newspaper clipping (including a photo) about Roger Batley.

Chainbar divider
Photo of Lieutenant-Commander Anthony Roger Townend Batley, courtesy of his nephew Roger Pyrah, 2001

17 April 1941
Very many thanks for your two letters dated 2nd April & Easter Eve, which I received yesterday the 16th also for the parcel. . . I got ashore yesterday - the first walk since the 22nd of March and went for a hard walk round one of the islands. The weather is good. Cold at nights, but bright & sunny during the day. The snow still lingers on the mountains. How nice it would be see daffodils - Here there are no flowers - just moors, which must look lovely when the heather is in bloom.

We had Easter Day (13th April 1941) at sea. I made my communion in our tiny chapel, only 6 at the rail at a time at 15 minutes past midnight, as I had kept first watch from 8 - 12. Glad Portia & Julian are well and fit - I must try to write to them by this mail if we don't push off again as soon as we are refuelled. We did that last time. Most disappointing for everyone. Ten days at sea eighteen hours in harbour, no leave, & then more days at sea. It does make a difference if both officers and men can land just one afternoon and play golf or football or just have a good leg stretch.

I may want some more clothes out of store - but nothing else - we are all well provided with woollies, smokes, books and papers. Must rush to reach the mail boat.


25 April 1941
A happy birthday to you - Perhaps next birthday this war will be over and I shall be home - in which case my good wishes wont be written so long ahead, but we shan't get another mail out from here for at least 14 days, and that would be very late. I've no news to give you - I'm very well & very busy and quite happy - so far haven't let the party down by being ill - but then this ship the biggest in the world takes some moving although on one rough day she was rolling rather a lot. I haven't been ashore much, no time, and fishing doesn't start until June 1st. Give my love to everybody and write to me soon.


1st May 1941
Many thanks for your nice newsey letters of 10/4 & 22/4, which I received on the 28th. I am sorry Uncle Roger has gone. But quite agree, suddenly - like he & Charlie is by far the best way to go, & I hope when my time comes that I shall go that way also. . . .I've no idea when this will reach you in about ten days time I should imagine.


12 May 1941
Many thanks for you your nice letter of 2nd which reached me on the 7th on our return here.

I'm very fit and well in spite of the rapid changes of temperature I have experienced of late. I've seen my first iceberg and have nearly been to the area of flyfish. We are having marvellous weather here. One day you must come with Leslie (note- Mary's husband) up here for a holiday - the bird life is wonderful. Heaps of gull of all types - eiderduck, cormorants, and lots of snipe & golden and green plover. Very few grouse - The gulls like their eggs. I raided a gullery on the moors the other afternoon & took about 100 eggs - half of them were set, but the others were very good to be hard boiled and in an omelette. I've had two afternoons fishing since we got in, and had a nice trout out of a big loch and ¾ lb. sea trout of a wee burn which run into the sea in the most delightful cave I've ever seen.

My Vice-Admiral left us on Wednesday to go back to the Admiralty and his successor arrives today. Whether I stay depends on how he likes my face. No more news.


Photo of ART Batley, courtesy of June Brook, February 2011

19 May 1941
Thank you for your splendid long letter of the 12th received on Saturday morning.

Yesterday being Sunday I went to the early Service in the Chapel and after lunch took my rod ashore and managed to get a nice 2lb. sea trout. I also found an old fisherman who had just opened his lobster pots. I bought all he had - 50 - for the mess - big & small - @ 2/- each. As half of them were of the size you'd pay 6/- to 7/6 in local Fisheries it wasn't too bad.

Last night I dined with the new Admiral. I like him. We had gulls eggs - soup - lobster & pheasant.

Life on a big ship is rather like life in a city. We have on board cobblers, & tailors & barbers, and a laundry, bakery, cinema, chapel, dental surgery, sickbay with a good Theatre, and a host of technical shops.

I expect we'll be off again very soon so it will probably be three weeks after this arrives before you see my writing again. Much love to you & God watch over you and yours.

Roger


Sadly, Lt Cdr Batley was not able to write again- he, along with 1,414 other officers and ratings, was lost in the sinking of Hood only 6 days later. Please visit his online memorial.