Former Petty Officer Robert Batt, a veteran of the Battle of the River Plate in 1939, died last month at the age of 94.
Ex POMEM Bob Batt was one of only two remaining River Plate veterans. He joined the Navy during a recruitment drive in Napier before the war. He was three days into service on HMS ACHILLES when war broke out and the ship changed course for the Atlantic to meet up with a British task force, in pursuit of German battleship Admiral Graf Spee. The engagement and resulting loss of the Graf Spee near Uruguay (her captain opted to scuttle his damaged ship rather than re-engage the British fleet and lose thousands of men) made instant heroes of the ACHILLES crew back in New Zealand. Mr Batt later described the Battle of the River Plate as an important battle “because it showed the spirit and capability of New Zealand sailors”.
Image and information courtesy of Navy Today