Thomas Woodrooffe

Last updated

Thomas Borries Ralph Woodrooffe (24 January 1899 – 25 March 1978) [1] was a British naval officer, broadcaster and writer. He was born in Adelaide, Cape Province, South Africa to George Borries Woodrooffe (1868-1923) and Elizabeth McFarlan "Bessie" Jameson (1872?-1941). He joined the Royal Navy in 1917 and served on HMS Resolution during the last year of World War I. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander and left the Navy in 1933. [2]

After his retirement he became a commentator for BBC Radio. He was one of its main commentators during the 1930s, covering amongst many other events the opening ceremony of the 1936 Summer Olympics and Neville Chamberlain's return from Munich in 1938.

HMS Nelson off Spithead for the 1937 Coronation Fleet Review. HMS Nelson off Spithead for the Fleet Review.jpg
HMS Nelson off Spithead for the 1937 Coronation Fleet Review.

In 1937, he commentated on the Coronation Review of the Fleet at Spithead from his old ship the battleship HMS Nelson. He had met some of his former colleagues before the broadcast for a drink, and was inebriated while giving his commentary. He repeatedly said "the fleet's lit up", and at one point he told listeners "I'm sorry, I was telling some people to shut up talking." [3] His incoherence was such that he was taken off air after a few minutes and suspended for a week by BBC Director-General Sir John Reith. The BBC later said that he was "tired and emotional". [4]

A year later his phrase "the fleet's lit up" was used as the title of a musical comedy, and in 1940 Hubert Gregg wrote the song "I'm gonna get lit up when the lights go up in London." [5] Parts of Woodrooffe's commentary were used by the British rock band Public Service Broadcasting in their track Lit Up.[ citation needed ]

Woodrooffe continued to work for the BBC, and in 1938 he was the main commentator at the FA Cup Final between Preston North End and Huddersfield Town, the first to be televised. After 29 minutes of extra time it was still 0-0 and Woodrooffe said "If there's a goal scored now, I'll eat my hat." Seconds later Preston was awarded a penalty from which George Mutch scored. Woodrooffe kept his promise, appearing on the BBC television programme Picture Page the following week and eating a hat shaped cake. [6]

Woodrooffe rejoined the Admiralty in September 1939. In 1940, he served briefly as Commanding Officer of the light cruiser HMS Coventry. He spent the rest of World War II in the Press Division of the Admiralty.

Woodrooffe also wrote books on naval history, including River of Golden Sand (1936), Best Stories of the Navy (1941) and Vantage at Sea: England's Emergence as An Oceanic Power (1958). He married Ida Helen Duncan (1900–1981) in 1927. He died in Kensington at the age of 79.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent</span> British Royal Navy admiral of the fleet (1735–1823)

Admiral of the Fleet John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent was an admiral in the Royal Navy and Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom. Jervis served throughout the latter half of the 18th century and into the 19th, and was an active commander during the Seven Years' War, American War of Independence, French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic Wars. He is best known for his victory at the 1797 Battle of Cape Saint Vincent, from which he earned his titles, and as a patron of Horatio Nelson. Despite having a fierce reputation for discipline his crews had great affection for him, calling him Old Jarvie.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Royal Naval Reserve</span> Volunteer reserve force of the Royal Navy

The Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) is one of the two volunteer reserve forces of the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom. Together with the Royal Marines Reserve, they form the Maritime Reserve. The present RNR was formed by merging the original Royal Naval Reserve, created in 1859, and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR), created in 1903. The Royal Naval Reserve has seen action in World War I, World War II, the Iraq War, and War in Afghanistan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spithead and Nore mutinies</span> Two mutinies by British sailors in 1797

The Spithead and Nore mutinies were two major mutinies by sailors of the Royal Navy in 1797. They were the first in an increasing series of outbreaks of maritime radicalism in the Atlantic World. Despite their temporal proximity, the mutinies differed in character. The Spithead mutiny was a simple, peaceful, successful strike action to address economic grievances, while the Nore mutiny was a more radical action, articulating political ideals as well, which failed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Gambier, 1st Baron Gambier</span>

Admiral of the Fleet James Gambier, 1st Baron Gambier, was a Royal Navy officer. After seeing action at the capture of Charleston during the American Revolutionary War, he saw action again, as captain of the third-rate HMS Defence, at the battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794, during the French Revolutionary Wars, gaining the distinction of commanding the first ship to break through the enemy line.

HMS <i>Bulwark</i> (1899) Pre-dreadnought battleship of the British Royal Navy

HMS Bulwark was one of five London-class pre-dreadnought battleships built for the Royal Navy at the end of the 19th century. The Londons were a sub-class of the Formidable-class pre-dreadnoughts. Completed in 1902 she was initially assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet as its flagship. The ship then served with the Channel and Home Fleets from 1907 to 1910, usually as a flagship. From 1910 to 1914, she was in reserve in the Home Fleet.

HMS <i>Royal George</i> (1756) 100-gun first-rate Royal Navy ship of the line (1756)

HMS Royal George was a ship of the line of the Royal Navy. A first-rate with 100 guns on three decks, she was the largest warship in the world at the time of her launch on 18 February 1756. Construction at Woolwich Dockyard had taken ten years.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roger Keyes, 1st Baron Keyes</span> 19th/20th century British Royal Navy Officer

Admiral of the Fleet Roger John Brownlow Keyes, 1st Baron Keyes, was a British naval officer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sir Charles Pole, 1st Baronet</span>

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Charles Morice Pole, 1st Baronet GCB was a Royal Navy officer, colonial governor and banker. As a junior officer he saw action at the siege of Pondicherry in India during the American Revolutionary War. After taking command of the fifth-rate HMS Success he captured and then destroyed the Spanish frigate Santa Catalina in the Strait of Gibraltar in the action of 16 March 1782 later in that War.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fleet review</span> Event where a gathering of ships are paraded and reviewed by a reigning head of state

A fleet review or naval review is an event where a gathering of ships from a particular navy is paraded and reviewed by an incumbent head of state and/or other official civilian and military dignitaries. A number of national navies continue to hold fleet reviews. Fleet reviews may also include participants and warships from multiple navies.

HMS <i>Widemouth Bay</i> (K615) British anti-aircraft frigate

HMS Widemouth Bay was a Bay-class anti-aircraft frigate of the Royal Navy, named for Widemouth Bay in Cornwall.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1938 FA Cup final</span> Football match

The 1938 FA Cup final was contested by Preston North End and Huddersfield Town at Wembley Stadium. Preston, losing finalists the previous year, won by a single goal. This was their second win in the competition.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alan West, Baron West of Spithead</span> Retired Royal Navy admiral (born 1948)

Alan William John West, Baron West of Spithead, is a retired admiral of the Royal Navy and formerly, from June 2007 to May 2010, a Labour Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the British Home Office with responsibility for security and a security advisor to Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Prior to his ministerial appointment, he was First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff from 2002 to 2006.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Peircy Brett</span> Royal Navy admiral (1709–1781)

Admiral Sir Peircy Brett was a Royal Navy officer. As a junior officer he served on George Anson's voyage around the world and commanded the landing party which sacked and burned the town of Paita in November 1741. During the Jacobite rising Brett saw action on 9 July 1745, when as captain of the fourth-rate HMS Lion he exchanged fire with the French ships Elizabeth and the Du Teillay: the Du Teillay at the time was carrying Charles Edward Stuart to Scotland with supplies and funds to support his cause. Brett also commanded the third-rate HMS Yarmouth at the First Battle of Cape Finisterre in May 1747 during the War of the Austrian Succession. He commanded HMS Cambridge on the North America and West Indies Station during the Seven Years' War and later became Senior Naval Lord. He was also a Member of Parliament, representing the constituency of Queenborough from 1754 until 1774.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stanley McArdle</span> Royal Navy admiral (1922–2007)

Rear-Admiral Stanley Lawrence McArdle, was a senior officer in the Royal Navy, and a recipient of the George Medal for his efforts in the rescue of survivors from the ferry MV Princess Victoria in 1953.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Colpoys</span>

Admiral Sir John Colpoys, was an officer of the British Royal Navy who served in three wars but is most notable for being one of the catalysts of the Spithead Mutiny in 1797 after ordering his marines to fire on a deputation of mutinous sailors. Although this event resulted in his removal from active duty, Colpoys was a capable administrator who remained heavily involved in staff duties ashore during the Napoleonic Wars and was later a Lord of the Admiralty, Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath and Governor of Greenwich Naval Hospital.

The 1937–38 FA Cup was the 63rd staging of the world's oldest football cup competition, the Football Association Challenge Cup, commonly known as the FA Cup. Preston North End won the competition for the second time, beating Huddersfield Town 1–0 after extra time in the final at Wembley.

Rear-Admiral James Walker CB, CvTE was an officer of the Royal Navy. He served during the American War of Independence, and the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, rising to the rank of Rear-Admiral.

Admiral Sir Lionel George Preston, was a senior Royal Navy officer who served as Fourth Sea Lord from 1930 to 1932.

<i>The Fleets Lit Up</i> Musical comedy from 1938

The Fleet's Lit Up is a musical comedy first staged in London in 1938 with music and lyrics by Vivian Ellis and a book by Guy Bolton, Fred Thompson and Bert Lee. It ran for 191 performances at the London Hippodrome from August 1938 to February 1939. The original cast included Stanley Lupino, Frances Day and Adele Dixon. It was produced and directed by George Black. The title refers to the phrase used constantly by BBC commentator Thomas Woodrooffe during a drunken broadcast for the 1937 Spithead Review.

This is a list of events from British radio in 1937.

References

  1. The Life Summary of Thomas Borries Ralph, FamilySearch.
  2. Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945 on unithistories.com. Scroll down to his entry.
  3. "Get on, Clip in, Fall off: The Fleet's Lit up".
  4. Murray, Scott (16 June 2009). "Joy of Six: Broadcasting under the influence | Scott Murray". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077.
  5. Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Catch Phrases, American and British, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day, Rowman & Littlefield, 1992, pag. 89-90
  6. "He Ate His Hat!". The Times . No. 47, 987. 6 May 1938. p. 14.