Ajax Veterans Street Dedication: Hemans Court
- Media Type:
- Street Name: Hemans Court
Name of Veteran: Michael Adrian Hemans Jan. 24,1915-Oct. 14, 2007
Ship Served: HMS Ajax
Date of Service on Ship: Dec. 1937- Apr. 1940
Year of Visit/Dedication: n/a
Veteran or Family Visit: n/a
Veteran of the Battle of the River Plate: Yes
Died at Battle: No
Michael Adrian Hemans was born on January 24, 1915 to Cecil Rupert Hemans and Frances Margaret Willan in Plymouth district, Devon, U.K.
Michael’s career with the Royal Navy began in December 1937 when he joined HMS Ajax as Sub-Lieutenant in charge of the gunroom mess. Commander ‘Toby’ Everett appointed him as his assistant, and Desmond Dreyer, the Gunnery Officer, took him on as Rate Officer in the 6 inch Director Control Tower. In December 1939 he was an active part of the Battle of the River Plate while still onboard the Ajax. HMS Drake, a base in Devonport, was where he trained to become a Gunnery Officer. Then on to HMS Jervis, until 1943, then to HMS Excellent, a shore establishment and gunnery school. Michael was part of Assault group S3 in Normandy, June 1944. He was Gunnery Officer onboard HMS Berwick until the end of the war. Back to Excellent then to HMS Mauritius and HMS Chivalrous.
Michael Hemans became Captain Hemans on June 30 1956 and retired from the Royal Navy on August 21, 1958. During his career he received two Distinguished Service Cross medals; one for the withdrawal of troops from Le Havre and the other for Operation Propellor in September 1941.
The following is an excerpt taken from correspondence between a resident of Ajax and Michael’s son in 1996;
When they arrived on the Station, they spent some time in Bermuda, after which they (went) on their first cruise around South America. During this cruise they called at Montevideo, Buenos Aries and the Falkland Islands and became well acquainted with that area. Exeter was also cruising around South America at the same time, so that the two ships used to call at adjacent ports and meet again at sea for exercises by day and night. They became (a) very closely knit squadron.
On the morning of Friday 13th, December 1939, my father was on watch in the Director Control Tower (DCT). After ‘dawn action stations’, smoke was sighted over the horizon and having trained the DCT on to the bearing given, he saw a tall plume of smoke. Gradually the upperworks and funnel appeared, very distorted by a mirage effect, and he claims to be the first person onboard to report her as a man of war! During the battle my father’s job was to keep estimating and reporting the course and speed of the enemy.
Michael Adrian Hemans died on October 14, 2007 at the age of ninety two.
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- Location of Original:
- Original document and image located in the Ajax Archives.
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