HMS Ajax & River Plate Veterans Association

 

Archive

Archive material and information has been taken from various sources and their accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

Much of the archive material was researched & written by Miss Connie West and within the papers the following tribute is to be found:

 

“AJAX IN COMMAND”

 

In appreciation and history of the author of this record of HM Ships named "AJAX" and of Captains who commanded them and given to us by Admiral Sir Desmond Dreyer. GCB. CBE. DSC., one time Gunnery Officer of HMS. "AJAX" during 1938 to 1940 and at the Battle of the River Plate.

 

IN APPRECIATION OF MISS CONNIE WEST.

 

This fine record of all of H.M. Ships named "AJAX" with drawings and short histories and biographies with portraits or photographs of their Captains was collected over period of 15 years by a very remarkable lady, Miss Connie West.

 

I have not been able to obtain information about Miss West's background but I know that she had two brothers who, in their youth, were both members of the 1st. Surbiton Park (SPARKS) Scout Group which no longer exists but from which the present Ajax Sea Scouts were originally formed. In her youth, Miss West herself was a Brownie, a Girl Guide and later a Ranger Guide.

 

When she grew up she joined the Civil Service as a trainee draughtswoman with the Ministry of Works and continued with them until when war broke out in 1939 she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service and served with an A.A. Battery, stationed for some time near Matlock.

 

After demobilisation she returned to the Ministry of Works as a draughtswoman, her main work being concerned with the building and refurbishment of Crown Post Offices.

 

She also became Cub Scout Leader of the 1st Surbiton Park Group on the understanding that when Ajax Sea Scouts were able to form a Cub Pack she would transfer to them and this was in fact what occurred and she remained with them until she died in November 1983.

 

I do not have any definite indication for her reason in investigating all of H.M. Ships called "AJAX" but it seems probable that it arises from her involvement with the Ajax Sea Scouts and Cubs in whom she took such a great interest.

 

I got to know Connie West during the last six months of her life and I found her to be a lovely person full of enthusiasm for her Cubs and equally enthusiastic in her researches which fortunately she had almost completed before she died. She wrote in one of her letters to me;" For the last 15 years or so I have been tracing the histories of all the H.M.S. Ajax's. I find it a fascinating hobby. The main idea is to find out where each ship was on each day of their existence by collecting every account of actions, etc. that I can find, and by going through the logs of the PRO I have reached the year 1806 of the log books, just before the second ship was accidentally burnt. Apart from that, I have lots of information about the other six, especially the cruiser."

 

She also got to know many of the Captains of the most recent "AJAX", a frigate and they were all most helpful in supplying information about their ship and themselves.

 

We know that in accordance with her will, her copy of the record and her research papers were offered to the M0D (Navy) Library. A number of other copies were given by Connie West to people who had helped her with her researches

 

Admiral Sir Desmond Dreyer. GCB. CBE. DSC.

Ajax Sea Scouts

Date of photograph unknown