One of the things I did when preparing to fight the Navy SEALs for our ‘Remembrance Day Rumble’ to raise money for charity was do a bit of reading up on US naval history.

I’m a land combat man myself and I’ll admit I don’t know much about life on the ocean waves  – but I was deeply impressed by the many stories of real guts sacrifice over the ages – not least in the brutal and bloody war against the Japanese in the Pacific.

One particular incident really stuck in my mind: It was the story of Task Force Taffy Three at the Battle off Samar during the wider Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippine Sea on October 25th 1944.

Image courtesy of wikipedia
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Despite being described as one of the greatest mismatches in naval history, the ships of the Task Force – largely destroyers and destroyer escorts – launched an all out assault on a Japanese force of battleships and cruisers, backed up with air support.

The went at them at fill tilt – and despite suffering appalling casualties – helped to inflict the final defeat on the Japanese navy as the fleet remained in port for the rest of the war.

One historian wrote “In no engagement of its entire history has the United States Navy shown more gallantry, guts and gumption than in those two hours between 0730 and 0930 off Samar.”

The battle was on my mind this morning while I listened to the latest government report into the state of our once proud Royal Navy.

After years of cutbacks and neglect, the state of the RN is little short of a national scandal. The parliamentary inquiry says that we now have “a pathetically low” number of ships – the worst in the history of the service.