STAFF AT HMS Collingwood were truly delighted to host the family of a gifted model-maker to their site recently, whilst also learning more about one of their treasured exhibits.
Mrs Margaret Le Santo approached HMS Collingwood trying to track down a model yacht that had been made for the Base back in 1971 by her late husband and the establishment was proud to confirm that the yacht, in its display case, occupies a prime position in Marlborough Building. Thousands of trainees have walked past and admired the yacht over the years and so it was a treat to be able to host the family of its builder and find out more about him and the model.
Douglas Le Santo joined the Royal Navy as an Artificer Apprentice back in May 1948, before finally qualifying as a Shipwright Artificer serving on HMS Caledonia. Later as a Petty Officer, he supported both the Indian police on their patrols around Calcutta and Mumbai and the Royal Lancers in Malaysia. His skills were put to an unusual test when, serving on HMS Lynx, he was tasked with creating a crib to carry the baby of the South Georgia lighthouse keeper’s wife who had gone into labour, requiring HMS Lynx to transfer her to Port Stanley for the birth. Pauline Lynx Biggs was subsequently carried in the crib that Douglas fashioned from the wood and canes he found aboard the ship, a crib that she reportedly still treasures in her Falkland Island home.
Douglas’ last posting was to HMS Collingwood in May 1968 where he was asked to create a 1-inch to 1-foot faithful replica of the Base’s racing yacht, Electron. The model was then exhibited at the prestigious 1971 London Boat Show. Since that time, the beautiful model has been housed in a specially made display case and, when Marlborough Building was completed in 1986, it found its current home where Douglas’ workmanship can both fascinate and inspire the sailors of today.
PICTURED BY KEITH WOODLAND (CROWN COPYRIGHT): Margaret Le Santo stands in front of her late husband’s yacht, which is displayed at HMS Collingwood. With her are their children left to right: William Le Santo, Thomas Le Santo and Jacqueline Byatt.