Soon after the Group was formed it was decided to apply for inspection by the Royal Navy to see if Ajax could become one of a select group of only 100 Sea Scout units recognised by the RN. Ajax was successful at the first attempt and has remained an RN Recognised Group since that day. There is a framed picture in the Wardroom of those members who took part in the first Admiralty Inspection in July 1949.
The last RN ship named Ajax was a Leander class anti-submarine frigate that was in service from 1964 to 1985 and was the eighth RN ship to bear that name. Our Cubs and Sea Scouts enjoyed many day trips on that ship and in 1982 a party of our Sea Scouts boarded her in Devonport and went to sea for several days during which they were lucky enough to get first-hand experience of anti-submarine training.
In April 2014 Ajax Sea Scouts were honoured to be invited by the HMS Ajax and River Plate Veterans Association to form a guard of honour and piping party for the Battle of the River Plate Memorial Dedication which took place at the National Memorial Arboretum. This marked the 75th anniversary of the first naval battle of the Second World War. It was fought between the German pocket battleship Graf Spee and the allied cruisers HMS Exeter, HMS Ajax and HMNZS Achilles. It resulted in the sinking of the Graf Spee. Members of the Sea Scout Troop and Explorer Sea Scout Unit were very proud to be participants in this significant ceremonial event. At the time of the battle, Prime Minister Winston Churchill remarked: “This great battle will long be told in song and story”.
We were accorded a similar honour in September 1989 when the ship’s association of HMS Indefatigable invited us to form the guard of honour for the laying up of the ship’s ensign at St Giles-in-the-Fields church, Holborn. One of the Group’s founders, Chiefy Sharman, was the signals officer aboard this WW2 aircraft carrier when it entered Tokyo harbour following the surrender of Japan. There is display commemorating this event in our wardroom.
This is an edited excerpt of George Barber’s “70 Years of Ajax and 65 Years an Ajaccio”, first published in the 2018 Ajax Group Annual Report