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HMS Glasgow - Side Guns
A picture of HMS Glasgow, a Bristol class light cruiser, showing the five 4in guns along the side of the ship.
Royal Navy: HMS Glasgow
HMS Glasgow, one of eight six-inch cruisers built in response to the Japanese cruisers Mogami and Mikuma, which had twelve six-inch guns fitted as part of their armament, was ordered on December 17th 1934.On 20th June 1936 she was launched and first commissioned on 8th September 1937. Acting in her pre-war role she, together with a sister ship HMS Southampton, escorted the newly crowned King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, aboard the Empress of Australia, across the Atlantic where the Royal Couple toured Canada and America. At the outbreak of World War Two, HMS Glasgow was serving with the Home Fleet and continued to do so until she joined the 3rd Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean in 1940. In 1941 her theatre of operations moved to the Indian Ocean before she returned to home waters at the end of 1942. In 1943 the Cruiser patrolled colder waters in the Arctic, undertaking convoy escort duties to Russia, before seeking out blockade runners, destroying enemy warships and bombarding the coast of Normandy prior to the Invasion of Europe in 1944. Post-war HMS Glasgow fulfilled the role of flagship on a number of occasions and took part in courtesy visits in many parts of the world before she was mothballed at the end of 1956 and finally broken up in 1958. HMS Glasgow was considered by those who sailed aboard her to be a happy ship.
Facts and figures
Unit name: HMS Glasgow
Force: Royal Navy
Entered service: 1936-06-20
Motto: Memor es Tuorum
02 Sep 1939 - 03 Sep 1939: Storm Clouds Gather
On 2nd September 1939 HMS Glasgow, under the command of Captain "Rammer" Pegram sailed from Grimsby to patrol off the Norwegian coast. At 11oo hours on 3rd September a signal was received to say " Great Britain at War with Germany. The crew went to 'action stations' at 1313 hours after "gunfire" was heard but this proved to be a thunderstorm and the crew were stood down! Orders were issued for the Glasgow and her sister ship HMS Southampton and eight destroyers in support to patrol off the coast of Norway to intercept the German fleet, believed to be leaving the Shillig Roads. As the British warships lay in wait near the Fair Isle channel a thick fog descended to enshroud them and thwart their intentions, and they were forced to return to their base at Scapa Flow.
09 Oct 1939 - 09 Oct 1939: HMS Glasgow comes under attack
On 9th October 1939 while serving with the Humber Force HMS Glasgow, in company with the cruisers Southampton and Edinburgh came under an attack, from the air by the Luftwaffe, which commenced just after 0800 hours. That morning the sun was shining brightly, partially obscured by cumulus cloud at 6000 feet. Two planes were spotted and were thought to be friendly but proved to be enemy reconnaissance aircraft. These were engaged by the gunners aboard Glasgow without success and soon other planes joined the pair to mount an air attack on the British warships, dropping bombs, which forced the cruisers to execute evasive manoeuvres, The attack, which lasted until after 1600 hours, was carried out by Junkers 88's and Heinkel 111's which took advantage of the bright sun to confuse the gunners and were able to approach the British warships virtually unseen until a few seconds before they released their bombs. Although it is estimated that during the attack 120 bombs were dropped in salvoes of 3,4 or 5 at a time the ships did not sustain any great damage or casualties. HMS Glasgow engaged 31 enemy aircraft with her four-inch HA armament as they made direct approaches, passing runs or retired from the scene, expending 668 rounds of ammunition in the process. The close presence of the ships, to each other effectively prevented successful retaliatory action being taken. Valuable lessons were learned that day and measures were subsequently introduced to reduce to likely damage to ships from heavy high level bombing attacks.
12 Oct 1939 - 15 Nov 1939: Convoy Duties and Searching for Commerce Raiders
HMS Glasgow sailed from Scapa Flow on 12th October 1939 to exercise with her sister ship HMS Newcastle. At sea both captains received orders to provide protection for unescorted convoys passing through an area south of Iceland and to the west of the Bay of Biscay. Although the ships patrolled independently they rendezvoused daily, while maintaining radio silence. ON 13th October, the same day as news was received that the Royal Oak had been sunk enemy submarine activity was detected and both ships took evasive action. Reports were received, on 14th, that the German commerce raider Deutschland had been active in the North Atlantic and had sunk two allied merchant ships and captured a third. This news stimulated the British Admiralty to take action to curtail the Deutschland's activity and a large force of cruisers and destroyers was dispatched to try to prevent the enemy ship from returning to the safety of a German port. At this time the Glasgow patrolled an area northeast of the Shetland Islands, while other British warships were held in reserve in a state of readiness in the Clyde and at Rosyth. All this frenetic activity was in vain because the Deutschland had returned to Germany a week earlier and was safely tied up in Kiel! The Glasgow was then relieved from her duties to and proceeded at speed to escort a high value convoy KJ3, which included nineteen oil tankers, in-bound from the West Indies. Some difficulty was experienced in finding the convoy, until a signal was received giving the convoy's amended position. Having safely conducted the convoy through the allocated sea area and transferred responsibility to other British warships Glasgow, now low in fuel, was ordered to proceed to Portsmouth where she re-fuelled. Re-fuelled and re-provisioned Glasgow left the Hampshire port for Rosyth, where she arrived on 7th November. Four days later the cruiser returned to the Home Fleet base at Immingham before sailing for Scapa Flow on 15th November 1939 where the crew was put through its paces, preparing them for the rigours of war.
21 Nov 1939 - 22 Nov 1939: Searching for the German S.S. Bremen
In mid-November HMS Glasgow, in company with HM Ships Maori and Zulu, attempted to intercept the German liner S.S. Bremen , as she endeavoured to make her way back to Germany from Murmansk. The designated search area was to the northeast of the Shetland Isles. Although the weather, at the start of the patrol, was kind to the crews of the British warships, during the night of 21st/22nd November 1939 the barometric pressure plummeted and a strong gale developed over the area. As the weather deteriorated the crews aboard the Glasgow and the two destroyers felt so sick they hardly cared whether they lived or died! Although the patrol was maintained and a reported sighting of the enemy was picked up, the search failed to bear fruit and Glasgow returned to Rosyth to re-fuel.
09 Jan 1940 - 19 Jan 1940: Glasgow tackles the U-boats
The beginning of 19940 saw HMS Glasgow involved in activities against enemy U-boats and on 9th January 1940 'Asdic' contacts were picked up and although depth charges were dropped on the 'target' HMS Edinburgh, steaming 5 cables off the Glasgow's port beam, was unable to confirm the contact and the search was abandoned. On 16th January HMS Glasgow sailed from Rosyth for Scapa Flow, from whence she sailed, in station six cables astern of HMS Edinburgh. The latter hoisted a signal "Investigating contact Starboard side" and aboard the Glasgow the crew went to 'Action Stations' as the cruiser also obtained a firm contact on her starboard beam. A pattern of three depth charges was dropped followed six minutes later with a further pattern of three charges. The attack failed to achieve a successful result and on 15th January when Glasgow returned to Rosyth Captain Pegram expressed his concern as to the lack of efficiency of the 'Asdic' set fitted aboard the cruiser and the lack of an adequate number of depth charges, which thereby compromised his ability to press home an attack on a 'target'.
06 Apr 1940 - 22 Apr 1940: Norwegian offensive
Intelligence reports received indicated that an invasion of Norway was imminent and on 7th April 1940 German naval forces were spotted making their way towards the Norwegian coast and British warships sailed from Scapa Flow with the intention of engaging the enemy. The day before, on 6th April, the 8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters had embarked on board HMS Glasgow, to form part of the expeditionary force, due to land at Narvik. Two days later the orders were changed and the troops disembarked, a little bemused, and the Glasgow slipped from the quay at Rosyth to join her sister ships Southampton, Manchester and Sheffield to form part of the battle fleet engaged in the offensive against the German navy. On 9th April the Glasgow went into action against the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau but the enemy were able to effect their escape in the misty conditions which prevailed at the time. During the afternoon that day an air attack was launched against the Glasgow. Bombs were dropped to explode close to the cruiser's sides causing damage above the lower deck level and killing two ratings. Emergency repairs were carried out and the ship returned to harbour. After re-fuelling in Scapa Flow Glasgow left late at night, on 11th April, to patrol the Norwegian coastline with HMS Sheffield. Two days later ,on 13th April, Captain Pegram received orders to make preparations for a landing to be effected at Namsos. The landing involving Royal Marines was successful, with Glasgow's sister ships Manchester and Birmingham providing escort cover for the invasion force. The troops were re-embarked on 17th April and Glasgow returned to Scapa Flow to refuel. Sailing five days later the cruiser left Scapa Flow, with HMS Sheffield, for Rosyth to embark other troops before proceeding to Andalsnes.
27 Apr 1940 - 29 Apr 1940: The evacuation of King Haakon of Norway
In April 1940 as the German invasion of Norway continued, members of the Norwegian Government established themselves at Molde, considered to be a safe haven, as it was close to the British base at Andalsnes. On 27th April Molde was subjected to air attacks which lasted all day. Bombs rained down on the town, setting fire to buildings and forcing the Government members to seek shelter in a refuge a short distance from the harbour jetty. The attacks continued into the following day as the German bomber pilots were able to drop their bombs with impunity, in perfect weather conditions. Molde became untenable as a base and King Haakon of Norway, the Crown Prince Olav and the members of government were invited to leave in a British cruiser to travel to another Norwegian port or England, as his Majesty might decide. On 29th April 1940 HMS Glasgow approached the Norwegian coast, sailed up the fjord and tied up alongside the quay, the eastern end of which was ablaze. The British warship's fire parties quelled the flames in the vicinity of the ship and King Haakon, his son the Crown Prince Olav, members of the Norwegian Government, together with Ministers from the British, Polish, Danish and French legations were embarked on board the Glasgow. 65% of the Norwegian Gold reserves were also taken on board, to prevent it falling into the hands of the enemy, for transportation and safe keeping in Britain. As she slipped her mooring lines the Glasgow came under attack from the air, illuminated by the flames of the burning town. King Haakon was then taken to Tromso, to continue in Government and in support of his people until his position became untenable in an occupied country. He was eventually evacuated to the UK aboard HMS Devonshire on 7th June 1940.
10 May 1940 - 12 May 1940: Icelandic Offensive
In order to prevent a German invasion of Iceland, which would have established a hostile naval and seaplane base perilously close to the north of Scotland, a force of Royal Marine commandos embarked aboard the cruisers HMS Glasgow and HMS Berwick in early May 1940. The two cruisers, in company with the destroyers Fearless and Fortune, made their way, on 8th May, to Iceland to secure Reykjavik and Hvalfjiord. In the early hours of 10th May the first batch of troops transferred from the Glasgow to the Fearless and landed without opposition. The troops captured the German Consulate where an attempt was being made to destroy confidential books and secret papers. Due to prompt action by the invading British troops most of the documents were saved. Colonel Sturges, commanding officer Royal Marines was able to report later that the occupation had been bloodless without a single shot being fired, even by accident. On 11th May 1940, after embarking the German prisoners, left the Icelandic capital bound for Liverpool where, on the following day, she discharged the prisoners, including the German Consular staff, at the Prince's Landing Stage Birkenhead.
10 May 1940 - 10 May 1940: Capture of the Gabbiano
On the 6th June 1940 , in Liverpool, the command of HMS Glasgow was transferred from Captain Pegram to Captain Harold Hickling. Four days later Captain Hickling was instrumental in one of the most bizarre captures of an enemy ship. On 10th May 1940 the Admiralty, aware of the intentions of Benito Mussolini, the fascist Italian leader, issued orders that all Italian shipping in home waters was to be seized. When the orders were issued an Italian vessel the SS Gabbiano, was berthed in a neighbouring dock in the Merseyside port. Being aware of this Captain Hickling sent a boarding party led by Lieutenant Commander Hugonin, to seize the enemy vessel. Taken completely by surprise the Italian captain and crew offered no resistance and, having picked up their belongings were marched ashore into captivity.
11 Nov 1940 - 11 Nov 1940: Destruction of the Italian Navy
During the attack on the Italian Navy at Taranto, on the 11th November 1940, by Swordfish aircraft launched from the aircraft carrier Illustrious HMS Glasgow was amongst the British warships providing escort cover for the carrier. The assault on Taranto effectively marked the demise of the battleship as the mainstay of sea power, after 400 years, as the Italian battleships: Conte di Cavour, Littorio, Caio Duilo and Italia were destroyed as they lay at their moorings.
27 Nov 1940 - 27 Nov 1940: Submarine attack against the 3rd Cruiser Squadron
The 3rd Cruiser Squadron was detached from protecting HMS Illustrious on 27th November 1940 to escort an Allied convoy passing through the Sicilian channel towards Pantellaria. Silhouetted against the light of the moon that night the British cruisers York, Berwick, Gloucester and Glasgow presented a 'heaven sent' target to the commanders of the Italian submarines that lay in wait. The Italian submariners launched an attack against the British warships and aboard Glasgow a number of heavy thuds were heard. These were electric torpedoes striking the hull! Fortunately all the torpedoes had fired prematurely, causing no damage and had they run their full course the 3rd Cruiser Squadron would have ceased to exist.
03 Dec 1940 - 03 Dec 1940: Suda Bay
On 3rd December 1940 HMS Glasgow's luck changed. As she lay at anchor in Suda Bay on the Island of Crete she came under attack from Italian torpedo bombers. From a range of 3000 yards the aircraft launched their weapons and two of the torpedoes struck the cruiser, causing damage to the bow and stern, killing two and injuring seven of the crew. In spite of the damage sustained HMS Glasgow steamed to Alexandria, at a creditable 18 knots, for repairs to be undertaken. However during the passage the starboard inner propeller and shaft fell off! An Italian reconnaissance plane reported that the Glasgow had been sunk, giving rise to ribald comments being made by the ship's company as the loss was reported on the Italian news broadcastcrew.
06 Dec 1941 - 08 Dec 1941: Tragic Sinking of Prabhavati
At 1700 hour on 6th December 1941 HMIS Prabhavati, tug, set sail from the port of Chocin in southwest India with two lighters in tow. Three quarters of an hour later, at 1745, HMS Glasgow left Colombo bound for the Indian Ocean where it had been reported that a Japanese submarine and/or parent ship were operating. A second submarine was also thought to have been operational near Goa. Two days later war was declared against Japan and Glasgow was ordered to commence hostilities against the new enemy. Acting on information received the cruiser proceeded to the Laccadive Islands where a landing party was landed but no evidence was found as to anything untoward. Following the declaration of war intelligence reports received suggested that Japanese submarines were present in the Indian Ocean and Glasgow's orders were altered to take this new information into account and a land and air search was made of the area around the Laccadive group of Islands, where the task was completed by 1830 that same day and the cruiser turned to head northwards. AS she proceeded a signal was received that a submarine had been sighted. Meanwhile aboard the Prabhavati things began to go wrong as the tug and her two lighters parted company. The tug's British captain Lieutenant Stafford hove-to in order to effect repairs but in doing so, by having the two lighters parallel to the tug with the tug between them he presented a silhouette not unlike that of a submarine stopped in the water. That same night the lookouts aboard HMS Glasgow spotted white lights the configuration of which suggeste4d those of a submarine. Glasgow approached the "target" stealthily and when the cruiser became in range her captain gave the order for the ship's searchlight to be turned on to illuminate the "enemy". Fellow officers aboard the British warship "Identified an enemy submarine" and as they did so the light aboard the tug were doused. Orders were given for the Glasgow's guns to open fire and a total of eight salvoes were fired. At that range it was virtually impossible to miss and shell hit the tug and the lighters, which sank with the loss of 21 men. At the Board of Enquiry which followed HMS Glasgow's captain, Captain Hickling, was exonerated of blame. However, he never fully recovered from the experience which adversely affected his health.
13 Jan 1943 - 31 Jan 1943: Journey to Hell
On 13th January 1943, following a partial refit in December 1942, during which steam pipes had been fitted around the gun turrets, the Director towers and through the mess decks, giving the crew the impression that they were not going to the Med, HMS Glasgow sailed from Scapa Flow, in company with HM Ships Bermuda and Kent to escort a convoy heading for Russia. As the ship headed north those aboard the cruiser remember being overcome by the dreadful cold and seasickness which caused great weariness. The severe cold, combined with the spray from the mountainous waves caused ice to form on the ship's superstructure and deck fittings, bringing with it the fear that the ship might turn turtle with the weight of it. The crew was continuously employed in chipping ice to safeguard the safety of the ship. Accounts of the severity of the cold relate to oil being barely liquid in machinery, the mucous in ones nose freezing sold, oilskins freezing solid and of men coming of watch from the searchlight platform being unable to get out of protective clothing unaided.
29 Mar 1943 - 29 Mar 1943: Sinking of Blockade Runner Regensburg
ON 29th March 1943, while patrolling the Denmark Straits, a blip appeared on the radar screens of HMS Glasgow, whereupon the ship's company went to "Action Stations". The cruiser closed on its target which was identified as the German blockade runner Regensburg. The merchantman was ordered to alter course and follow the cruiser but this was ignored and the cruiser's captain gave the order "Open Fire". Aboard the Regensburg her captain ordered the seacocks to be opened and the crew abandoned ship by leaping into the icy water and climbing onto rafts which were buffeted by the waves. Glasgow's crew made a vain attempt to rescue the Germans from the sea but only six survivors were picked up out of a crew of 118, the others drowning or freezing to death in the water or on the rafts. The German captain was responsible for the terrible loss of life which was completely unnecessary. The Regensburg was given its coup de grace by torpedoes which fired to sent her to the bottom. At the completion of her patrol duties HMS Glasgow returned to Scapa Flow on 13th April.
23 Dec 1943 - 28 Dec 1943: Destruction of Brest and Bordeaux Flotillas
On Christmas eve 1943 HMS Glasgow left the sanctuary of Horta to intercept a blockade runner, the Alsterufer. This blockade runner was sighted by a Sunderland Flying-boat aircraft on 27th December and it was eventually sunk by bombs dropped from a Liberator bomber. In the meantime a signal was received aboard Glasgow that enemy warships from the German Bordeaux flotilla were at sea to protect the Alsterufer and that five ships might be encountered. On 28th December 1943 several "targets" were picked up on the cruiser's radar screens and at 1330 hours the enemy were engaged. During the course of the action, in which HMS Edinburgh also participated, three enemy destroyers were sunk with an additional four put out of action. Two crew members from Glasgow's ship's company died in the action and were buried at sea with wreaths made from the Christmas tree which had been intended for use at a children's party at Horta.
23 May 1944 - 06 Jun 1944: Normandy Landings
As ships assembled in Belfast Lough for the impending invasion of Europe they were joined by HMS Glasgow on 23rd May 1944. On 31st May that year the ship was "sealed" with mail neither leaving nor going aboard the cruiser and on 3rd June she sailed, in company with a number of American warships, to pass up and down the north Cornish coast preparing for the task in hand. On 5th June 1944 HMS Glasgow proceeded to her assembly point from whence she took an active role in the bombardment of "Omaha" beach prior to the landing of American infantry forces there the following day D-Day 6th June 1944. Throughout that morning, with the assistance of air spotters Glasgow continued to engage selected targets ashore. During the engagement more than 500 HE 6" shell were fired from the cruiser.
17 Jun 1944 - 27 Jun 1944: Bombardment of Cherbourg
On 17th June 1944, HMS Glasgow returned to take up a position off St Vast in the "Utah" beach area from whence she engaged enemy tanks, flack batteries and trench emplacements. The strategic importance of Cherbourg, as the crux on the Allied offensive, was recognised and it became necessary to remove the enemy presence from the port and surrounding areas. To this end HMS Glasgow, in company with USS Tuscaloosa and other ships, set off, on 27th June, to take part in the assault of the French port. From her designated position the cruiser fired on enemy shore batteries which responded by firing at the Allied ships and at 1251 hours that day HMS Glasgow took a direct hit in the port hanger closely followed by another abreast the Aft Director Control position. The cruiser broke off the engagement to escape further punishment and to assess the damage sustained, before returning to the conflict where she received further "near-misses". On 3rd July 1944 HMS Glasgow entered the Palmer's Yard at Hebburn on the river Tyne where she underwent a complete refit.
Title: In Peace and War The Story of HMS Glasgow 1937-1958
Pub year: 2001
Description: Complete History Of HMS Glasgow from time of her launch in 1936 until she was broken up in 1958.
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Gyroscopic HA director
The NAAGC'21 report noted that the ideal solution for AA fire control would require a gyro-stabilized HA director, which had been devised by Professor Sir James Henderson and was under design by Vickers. It proposed that one was to be built, to be ready for trials by the end of 1921 (likely to be in HMS Dragon in 1922-23). The subsequent history can be inferred from the annual PING report that followed the trial, stating that a second mock-up embodying considerable alterations had been found necessary. Later reports show:
- April 1924: The only additional trials conducted had been on the AV meter.
- April 1925: The trials previously undertaken in Dragon were now to be carried out in the battlecruiser Tiger. A 'light type' director was mentioned for the first time other instruments were to be trialed, but the gyro director was not listed.
- April 1926: Light type director made in Excellent, to be ready for trial in Tiger in May 1926.
It is most probably the case that Henderson's director was too late for the 1923 trials and by April 1925 was no longer being considered further. It is likely that this project simply ran out of steam when Professor Henderson's tenure as Admiralty Gyro Adviser was not renewed, and his projects such as the AV meter and the troublesome gunnery gyro were transferred to the Admiralty Research Laboratory (ARL) at Teddington. The next window would have been HMS Tiger in 1926, but the gyroscopic director had been overtaken by Excellent's light type director. The goal of an 'ideal system' based on the gyro director and AV meter was trumped by the Excellent light director and associated predictor elements, which were the effective prototype for what became HACS 1.
The Henderson director would have worked in parallel with both a rangefinder and a fuse predictor. What this director did have was both Line of Sight, and gun (vertical) gyros as part of the structure, with motor follow-ups in elevation, training and cross-level. The layer and trainer manually precessed the gyro cluster so that the director tracked the target. The weak link would have been the simple 'bang-bang' control loops [aka 'On-Off control'], using air-driven 'puffer switches' to drive the DC motors. High-angle work had to accommodate higher and more unpredictable rates than the equivalent low-angle case, and the wartime AA solutions only became effective with AC servos offering fine (proportional) control. Nevertheless, in concept the Henderson director provided the basis of the Gyro Rate Unit Stabilizer which was built some 20 years later.
Angular Velocity (AV) Meter
Henderson's AV meter was initiated in 1919, and first went to sea in early 1923 (ADM 212/62). This used two small gyros, deflected against restraining springs, with sighting prisms for optical tracking (measuring the targets lateral and vertical rates). This was essentially a 'stand-alone' instrument that required a crew of three: a layer, a trainer and a scale reader. The meter trialed in HMS Dragon in 1923 showed early promise however, later trials showed the need for a redesign as Mk 2. This too suffered from Sir James Henderson's departure and the transfer of the project to ARL it was re-tried in HMS Tiger in 1926 and 1927 but was overtaken by HACS 1. However, the AV meter was the basis for the much later Gyro Rate Unit.
HMS Tiger Trials
Great War Lives Lost
The battle of St Eloi continues. British forces retake the village and most the ground lost yesterday.
HMS Amethyst makes a dash into the Dardanelles Straits and is damaged.
Vice Admiral Richard H Peirse is ordered to return Triumph and Swiftsure for the impending attack at the Dardanelles. In the course of the operations a small German commanded, Turkish torpedo boat, Demir Hissar, sneaks out of the Dardanelles, and manages to disable the seaplane carrier Anne Rickmers. Admiral Henry Bradwardine Jackson states of the Smyrna operation that, “The results hardly seem commensurate with the losses and expenditure of ammunition”.
The Kent, Glasgow and Orama depart the Juan Fernandez Islands with the Dresden’s wounded.
Today’s losses include:
- A member of the family that were the inspiration of J M Barrie for Peter Pan and the Lost Boys
- The son of a General
- The son of a Surgeon General
- A man whose father will die on service in 1917
- Multiple sons of clergy
- Multiple families that will lose another son in the Great War
Today’s highlighted casualties are
Second Lieutenant George Llewelyn Davies (King’s Royal Rifle Corps attached Rifle Brigade) is killed in action when he is shot in the head at age 21. Along with his brothers they were the inspiration of J M Barrie’s stories of Neverland and Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. The character of George Darling, Wendy’s father is named after George. Private
- Major Frederick Sutherland Lillie (Irish Regiment) is killed in action at age 42. He is the son of the Reverend John Edward Sutherland Lillie Rector of Wakes Colne and he had served on the North West Frontier of India in 1897-8.
- Captain Robert MacGregor Bowen-Colthurst (Leinster Regiment) is killed in action at age 31. He is the son in law of the Reverend C F C West. During the Easter Rising in Dublin, Ireland his brother, serving as a Captain in the Army, will shoot well know pacifist writer Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, who took no part in the rebellion.
- Captain George Herbert Gresley Perry (West Yorkshire Regiment) dies of wounds at age 21. He is the son of Major General ‘Sir’ H W Perry, KCMG CB CSI.
- Captain Oswald Neville Tebbutt (Cambridgeshire Regiment) is killed at age 25. His brother will be killed in August 1918.
- Captain Theodore Stewart Lukis (London Regiment) dies of wounds received two days earlier at age 29. His father Surgeon General ‘Sir’ Charles Pardy Lukis will die on service in Inida in October 1917.
- Second Lieutenant H A W Beausire (Royal Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 22, one month after the death in action of his younger brother.
- Private Wilfred Hoyle (Honorable Artillery Company) dies on service at home. His brother will be killed in action in three weeks.
March 13, 2015
Sunday 14 March 1915 – We Lost 768
A German offensive at St Eloi begins, which results in the capture of the village and part of the British front line system where the Cambridgeshire Regiment is in action. The Fifth London Territorial Brigade Royal Field Artillery lands in France.
HMS Glasgow and HMS Orama come into Cumberland in the Juan Fernandez Islands from the west, while HMS Kent comes in from the east at Mas a Tierra where Dresden is hiding. They discover the Dresden anchored 500 yards offshore. It has been a frustrating three month search for her, and Captain Luce is not about to concern himself with the niceties of international law, as no Chilean warship is present to enforce the neutrality rules. Admiralty instruction is “destruction not internment”. Luce gives orders to close to eight thousand yards and tells the gunnery officers to make certain that the buildings on shore are out of line of sight before they open fire, which they do at 08:50. The first two salvoes from Glasgow strike Dresden. The Kent opens fire two minutes later and also scores several hits. The Germans fire back, but they are heavily outgunned and in a hopeless position tactically, while at anchor. Within five minutes the Dresden has suffered so much damage that she hoists a white flag to avoid further casualties. Luce gives the order to cease fire. The Germans send a cutter across to the Glasgow under a flag of truce and Luce demands unconditional surrender or a resumption of fire will begin. These talks give the Germans enough time to plant timed explosives in the Dresden’s magazine and get her men ashore. The Chileans now send a boat to the Glasgow to protest the infringement of Chilean neutrality. They complain of damage done to civilian property by the British bombardment. Luce pays the governor 500 pounds in gold as compensation for any damage done ashore. At 10:45 two dull explosions are heard as the charges go off and a split second later a thunderous roar is heard as the Dresden’s magazine explodes. The British ships close to within a mile and watch as first she sinks very slowly, going down by the bows. Then more quickly she lists and sinks. Eight crewmen are killed and sixteen wounded on the Dresden during the brief but fierce bombardment. Because there is no hospital in the Juan Fernandez Islands, Luce offers to take the injured men to Valparaiso in the Orama without requiring them to be interned in either neutral territories or in prisoner of war camps. The offer is gratefully accepted.
Today’s losses include:
- A musician and well-known composer
- Grandson of a veteran of the Charge of the Light Brigade
- A man whose uncle lost his life as a result of South African War service
- A Rear Admiral
- Multiple families that will lose another son in the Great War
- The grandson of a Victoria Cross winner
- Grandson of a General
- Grandson of a Baronet
- The former Secretary to the United States Ambassador to London
- The husband of the granddaughter of former United States Secretary of State Hamilton Fish
- The father of a man killed on service in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1943
- An amateur wrestling champion
- Son of a man who will lose his life on service in September 1917
Today’s highlighted casualties are
Lieutenant William Gray Rawlinson (Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry) is killed in action in Belgium at age 24. He is a musician and well-known composer and reputed to be a fine shot and polo player. He comes from a family with a military history one ancestor having fought at Marston Moor in 1644 his grandfather served throughout the Crimean War and took part in the Charge of the Light Brigade. His uncle died in 1913 as a direct result of having served in the South African War.
- Rear Admiral William John Grogan (Royal Navy) dies as the result of an accident at home.
- Captain and Adjutant Thomas Joseph Fitzherbert-Brockholes (Rifle Brigade) is killed at age 27. His brother will be killed in the Royal Navy in July 1919 and they are grandsons of Major General the Honorable ‘Sir’ Henry Hugh Clifford VC.
- Captain William Ulick Middleton Campbell (Highland Light Infantry) is killed in action at age 29. He is the son of the Honorable William Campbell.
- Captain Cyril Gerald Valerian Wellesley (Lincolnshire Regiment) dies of wounds at age 35. His brother in law died of wounds in August of last year.
- Lieutenant Harry Spencer Hall (Royal Army Medical Corps) dies at home at age 35. His cousin Lieutenant Arthur Douglas Knapp will be killed in May 1917.
- Lieutenant Herbert Wickstead Ethelston (Grenadier Guards) is killed at age 33. He is the grandson of ‘Sir’ Hugh Williams 3 rd
- Second Lieutenant William Lawrence Breese (Royal Horse Guards) is killed at age 32. He is the former Secretary to Ambassador Page in London and is married to the granddaughter of former United States Secretary of State to President Ulysses S Grant, Hamilton Fish. At the outbreak of the Great War he returned to England, and in order to accomplish his desire to serve with the British Forces to become a naturalized citizen.
- Sergeant Henry Martin Oliver (Dorsetshire Regiment) is killed at Ypres at age 27. His brother will be killed in November of this year.
- Corporal Percy Austin (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed at age 32. He is the first of three brothers who will be killed in the Great War.
- Rifleman Harry Elderfield (Rifle Brigade) is killed in action at age 20. His brother was killed last month.
- Private Bertram Carnac Yates (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed at age 26. His brother was killed on HMS Aboukir in September of last year.
- Rifleman Leonard John Ahern (Rifle Brigade) is killed at age 24. His brother was killed last September.
- Private John Henry Wren (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed at age 21. His brother will be killed in July 1916.
- Private Sidney James Stimpson (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed. His brother will be killed in August 1916.
- Private William Sharp (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed. His brother will be killed in August 1916.
- Private James Alexander Golding (Middlesex Regiment) is killed at age 34. His son will be killed serving in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in December 1943.
- Private Edwin Harry Coates (Middlesex Regiment) is killed at age 23. He is an amateur wrestling champion. His father will volunteer shortly after his son’s death and die on service in September 1917.
October 31, 2014
Monday 1 November 1914 – We Lost 2,447
Shortly after noon Cradock’s squadron is whole again, HMS Glasgow having rejoined. The admiral signals for his ships to spread out at 25-mile intervals and sweep north to look for the enemy. Graf von Spee hopes to cut off HMS Glasgow before she can rejoin Cradock, realizing she will have to leave Coronel because of the 24-hour rule. Cradock’s ships hear a great deal of wireless traffic between German supply ships and SMS Leipzig as Graf von Spee has been using Leipzig to transmit and receive all wireless messages between his squadron and its supply ships so as not to give away the presence of the other cruisers. This works as Cradock heads north to trap the Leipzig before she can rejoin Graf von Spee. This action leads to the dramatic situation this afternoon when each admiral believes he is taking his full squadron to cut off a single enemy light cruiser. In reality the two formations are steaming towards each other at a combined speed of almost forty knots. The admirals, friends since their days on the China Station during the Boxer rebellion, are about to meet again. By late afternoon Cradock’s squadron is still fanning out and moving in a northerly direction. They are about thirty miles from Arauco Bay, where the port of Coronel is situated. The flagship is the outermost ship, close to forty miles from HMS Glasgow. At 16:30 the light cruiser’s lookouts sight smoke on the eastern horizon. Captain Luce gives orders to turn to starboard and increase speed. A few minutes later HMS Monmouth and HMS Good Hope turn east in support of HMS Glasgow. Very soon the lookouts are able to recognize the hull and upper works of SMS Leipzig. As HMS Glasgow gets closer the lookouts see more patches of smoke on the horizon. These are soon identified as coming from four funneled cruisers, and HMS Glasgow turns back and signals, ‘Enemy armored cruisers in sight’. The Glasgow’s wireless operators can hear the high pitched scream in their earphones coming from German Telefunken sets trying to jam their transmissions. They are not certain whether the flagship has received their signal. All three British ships head at full speed toward HMS Good Hope to warn Cradock that instead of trapping a single light cruiser, he is running into Graf von Spee’s entire squadron.
SMS Leipzig identifies HMS Glasgow at about the same time and follows her. She soon sees the smoke from the rest of Cradock’s squadron. Leipzig reverses her direction and signals the news to Admiral Graf von Spee. The German admiral realizes that he has found the British squadron, not a single light cruiser. He orders his ships to close up and form a line-heading southwest. Cradock orders his ships to change direction to southeast by east and form a line headed by HMS Good Hope, followed by HMS Monmouth, HMS Glasgow and HMS Otranto. They complete these maneuvers by 17:45. The two squadrons are now approximately 17 miles apart and the Germans soon change course to southwest by west. This brings the battle lines into rapidly converging paths. At this point Cradock still has time to break off contact and move south to join forces with HMS Canopus, which is about three hundred miles away. He realizes that if he does, Graf von Spee will not have enough time to catch him before nightfall. He could then return the next morning, strengthened with HMS Canopus, to attack the German squadron, if he can find it. Even if it slipped by him, the Admiralty has assured him that Admiral Stoddart has a strong force waiting for the Germans in the Atlantic. Cradock has to know that he has little or no chance against Graf von Spee’s superior force, but his orders are, ‘Destroy enemy cruisers’. If he cannot do this, he might at least damage them enough that they will have to seek internment in a Chilean port, or else face the next British squadron at a disadvantage. One or two telling hits on the German large ships might weaken Graf von Spee’s squadron so much that it is no longer a serious threat.
Cradock resolves to attack as soon as possible, while he still has the sun behind him. Sunset is due at about 18:30. As the sun sets lower on the horizon, its rays will be directly in the German gunners eyes. This will make it hard for them to see Cradock’s ships in the distance, while the German ships will be clearly outlined for the British gunners. On the other hand the advantage will swing in favor of the Germans when the sun goes below the horizon. The British ships will be silhouetted against the suns afterglow, while their ships will be difficult to see in the waning daylight. With his superior speed Graf von Spee is able to keep the distance between the two lines at 15,000 yards, well outside of gunnery range. At 18:04 Cradock gives the order to turn 45 degrees to port. He desperately wants to close the range before the sun begins to set, but Graf von Spee orders a similar turn and keeps his distance. At 18:18 Cradock signals HMS Canopus, ‘I am going to attack the enemy’, although the German ships are 3,000 yards beyond his range at the time. Captain Grant signals back that he still has two hundred and fifty miles to go before he can reach Cradock’s position. Graf von Spee now allows the gap between the two lines to close steadily. By 19:00, when the sun has just dipped below the horizon, it is down to 12,300 yards. At 19:04 the German admiral gives the order to open fire. At this range Graf von Spee’s twelve 8.2-inch guns face Cradock’s two 9.2-inch guns. SMS Scharnhorst’s first salvo lands 500 yards short of HMS Good Hope and her second 500 yards beyond, according to an observer on HMS Glasgow. With an awful inevitability the third salvo smashed into Good Hope. One shell strikes her forward 9.2 inch turret, which erupts in flames that shoot higher than 100 feet into the air. At one stroke the gun crew is wiped out before they have fired a single shot. The turret is turned into a useless, twisted mass of steel. Cradock’s heavy guns are now reduced to one.
At almost the same time, SMS Gneisenau opens fire on HMS Monmouth. She obtains a similar straddling pattern with her first three salvos. A shell from the third salvo hits the Monmouth’s forward gun turret and sets it ablaze. Within minutes Good Hope and Monmouth are suffering terrible punishment. The German gunners on each ship manage to fire a broadside of 6 shells every 20 seconds. Cradock’s flagship replies with her lone 9.2-inch gun. HMS Monmouth can use half of her 6-inch guns, which are at the limit of their range. The ships are now heading into the teeth of a Force 6 wind. It is approaching gale conditions, and heavy seas are breaking over their bows and sweeping their forward decks. The British main deck guns cannot be used because of the danger of flooding the casemates. Also their range finders have become so encrusted with salt from the sea spray that they are useless. No hits are registered on the two German cruisers. By this time SMS Leipzig has begun to engage Glasgow, which fires back with her 6-inch guns. SMS Dresden opens fire on HMS Otranto. After one salvo, which falls short, the armed merchant cruiser pulls out of line toward the open sea. She is a large vulnerable target and can only help the Germans find an accurate range on the British line. Captain Edwards signals Cradock, suggesting that he keep the Otranto out of range. The reply is not completed. “There is danger proceed at your utmost speed…” Edwards is not sure what the admiral intends, so he keeps on a course parallel to the squadron, just outside the Dresden’s range.
Ten minutes after Graf von Spee’s order to open fire, the battle of Coronel is as good as over. Cradock keeps closing range until it is down to 5,500 yards. This only makes the firing by SMS Scharnhorst and SMS Gneisenau more devastating, as they are now able to use their 5.9-inch guns also. By 19:30 the Good Hope has been hit between 30 and 40 times. She is heavily damaged in the forward part of the ship, especially the bridge and foretop area where Cradock is directing his squadron. A hail of shells have smashed through her decks and started fires in the interior of the ship. In what may have been a last desperate attempt to inflict some damage on her tormentors, the crippled flagship slides out of line toward the enemy, some of its guns still firing. Graf von Spee, fearing that she is going to fire torpedoes, orders his ships to turn away. According one of HMS Glasgow’s officers, ‘At 19:50, there was a terrible explosion between her main mast and her funnel, the flames reaching a height of over two hundred feet’. The forward magazine must have been ignited by one of the many fires blazing on the ship. HMS Good Hope drifts off into the gloom and smoke and neither side sees her again. No one actually sees her sink, but she could not have stayed afloat for very long in her stricken condition, and must have gone down around 20:00. She takes the admiral with her into the icy depths, drowning all the men and boys who were still alive out of a crew of nine hundred. Because the battle is still raging, no one, British or German, can stop to look for possible survivors.
HMS Monmouth is in almost as much distress, having been hit in excess of thirty times. The ship is ablaze and listing to port, although some of her six-inch guns are still firing sporadically. For another twenty minutes SMS Gneisenau pounds her at short range with both 8.2 and 5.9 inch shells, until she yaws out of line to starboard, away from the German onslaught, sinking by the head. Captain Luce of HMS Glasgow cannot tell in the semi-darkness how bad her condition is and signals to Monmouth at 20:15, ‘Are you all right?’ Captain Brandt replies, ‘I want to get stern to sea. I am making water badly forward’. Through a break in the smoke, Luce sees three ships approaching in the moonlight and signals to Brandt again, ‘Can you steer northwest? The enemy are following us astern.’ There is no reply. When the Glasgow draws nearer, it is obvious that the Monmouth is in desperate straits. The captain of the Glasgow has no choice but to save his ship. The Good Hope and Monmouth are both finished as fighting ships, and the Otranto has fled to the west at 19:45 when her captain sees that the flagship is doomed. The Germans are left with the light cruiser as their only target. She has led a charmed life so far, with only four of her crew wounded, but now every time she fires her guns, the flashes light up the darkness and attract fire from all four German ships. Luce knows that just one 8.2-inch salvo from Scharnhorst or Gneisenau would blow his ship apart, and he gives the order to cease-fire. He has already taken five hits from the Leipzig and the Dresden, which has concentrated on the Glasgow after the Otranto pulled out of line. Although three of the shells fail to explode, one has caused a large hole just above the waterline. Luce can do nothing to help the Monmouth, so he gives the order to head west at full speed. He wants to find the Otranto and heads south to warn the Canopus to turn back. Monmouth’s ordeal is not yet over. SMS Nurnberg finally catches up with the German squadron at 21:00 and comes upon the helpless cruiser, which she identifies by searchlight. The Monmouth is listing so badly that her guns can not be trained on the Nurnberg. The Monmouth’s White Ensign is still flying, so the captain of the Nurnberg gives the order to fire at point blank range, as she gives no sign of surrender. The battered ship finally rolls over on her beam-ends and disappears bow first beneath the waves. No one out of her crew of approximately seven hundred survives. Because of the high seas and the wind blowing at thirty knots, it would be dangerous and probably futile to lower boats to look for survivors in the darkness. The British later agree that the Germans could have done nothing to save any of the Monmouth’s crew who may have still been alive.
In the space of two hours the Royal Navy has suffered the loss of two heavy cruisers and nearly sixteen hundred men and boys. This is the first serious British naval defeat for one hundred years since the budding United States navy defeated a British fleet on Lake Champlain in 1814.
Today’s losses both on land and sea include:
- A Rear Admiral
- Sons of Admirals
- Sons of Generals
- Grandson of a General
- A Naval Chaplain
- Sons of Clergy
- Son of the Artist William Lionel Wyllie
- Son of a Judge of the High Court of Madras
- Son of the 5 th Baron Forester
- The son of the 2 nd Baron Dunleath
- The son of the 1 st Earl of Ancaster
- Grandson of the 4 th Earl of Radnor
- Son-in-law of the 5 th Earl of Strafford
- Godson of the 1 st Lord Iddlesleigh
- Brother of a Baronet
- Multiple sons of Baronets
- Grandson of a Baronet
- Multiple sons-in-law of Baronets
- A Member of the Victorian Order (MVO)
- A man whose son will be killed in the Great War
- A man whose son will be killed in the Second World War
- A man whose father will be killed later in the War
- Multiple men who will have children born after their death
- Twins killed together
- Brothers killed together
- Families that will lose two, three and four sons in this war and in the South African War
- Winner of the 1909 Open Singles Championship at Salisbury Lawn Tennis Club
- Scottish Rugby International
- Member of the Foresters Cricket Club
- Champion Boxer of the 13 th Hussars
- Son of a Writer to the Signet
- Son of the former Editor of the Clevedon Mercury
- Sons of Justices of the Peace
- A Schoolmaster
- An Aide-de-camp to the Viceroy of India from 1910-12
- A Battalion commander
- Great Grandson of a man who died from effects of wounds he received in the Peninsula War
- Son of the Inspector General of Police in Berar
Today’s highlighted casualty is
Private Robert Theodore Morrison Wyllie (London Scottish) is killed on the Western Front at age 26. His brother will be killed in July 1916 and they are sons of William Lionel Wyllie artist in oils and water colors of maritime themes. Wyllie painted HMS Good Hope in 1901 the year it was launched.
HMS Good Hope casualties include:
- Rear Admiral ‘Sir’ Christopher George CradockCB KCVO the 4 th son of the late Christopher Cradock, Esquire.
- Her Captain is Philip Francklin MVO who is the son-in-law of ‘Sir’ Baldwin W Walter the Baronet.
- Commander Arthur Tudor Darley is killed at age 38. His son will be born 15 th His brother will be killed commanding 4 th Hussars in March 1918.
- Lieutenant Commander Percival Van Straubenzeeis killed at age 33. He is the son of Major General T Van Straubenzee.
- Lieutenant Commander Godfrey Berkeley John Benyon is killed in the sinking of the ship at age 31. He leaves a widow with a son and a daughter who will be born on Christmas Day.
- Lieutenant Commander Gerald Bruce Gaskell is killed. His brother will be killed in Africa in August 1917 and they are sons of the Reverend Thomas Kynaston Gaskell rector of Longthorpe.
- Captain Charles Burnett Partridge (Royal Marines Light Infantry) is killed at age 34. His brother will be killed on the Western Front in two days.
- Lieutenant Douglas Courtenay Tudorthe son of Admiral Tudor is killed at age 23.
- Lieutenant John Maurice Haig Fisher is killed at age 22. He is the son of Brigadier General J Fisher CB.
- Sub Lieutenant Francis John Anson Cotterkilled age 20. He is the son of Major General F G Cotter.
- Fleet Surgeon James Joseph Walsh is killed at age 51. His son will be killed next August.
- Paymaster George Bolster Owens is killed at age 29. He has twice been mentioned for exceptional services rendered while Secretary to Rear Admiral Cradock during the disturbances in Mexico.
- Midshipman Geoffrey Marischal Dowdingis killed at age 19. He is the son of the Reverend Charles Dowding Rector of Tichborne.
- Chaplain Arthur Henry John Pittis also killed.
- Petty Officer James Walsh is killed. His brother will be killed in July 1916.
- Petty Officer Edwin Stewart Thomas Parsons is killed at age 28. His brother will die of illness on service in the Royal Navy in 1918.
- Chief Engine Room Artificer Francs Thomas Cox drowns at age 44. His son will be killed in the Second World War.
- Twin brothers Edward and Harry Turner are killed together while serving as Stokers First Class on HMS Good Hope. The 33-year olds have 8 children between them.
- Able Seaman Frank Bateman is killed at age 29. His brother will be killed next March.
- Plumber Henry Russell is killed. His brother will be killed in April 1917.
- Stoker 1 st Class Thomas Booth is killed at age 22. His brother will be lost on HMS Indefatigable at Jutland.
HMS Monmouth casualties include:
- The Captain of HMS Monmouth, Frank Brandt, is killed. He is the son of a Judge of the High Court of Madras and is 42-years old.
- Captain Geoffrey Maurice Ivan Herford(Royal Marine Light Infantry) is killed at age 32. He is the son of the Reverend Percy Michener Herford (Rector of Christ Church, Trinity Road, Leith and Canon of St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh) who will lose another son in May 1915.
- Commander Spencer Dundas Forbes is killed at age 40 sixteen days before his only child a son is born.
- Lieutenant Commander ‘the Honorable’ Peter Robert Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughbyis killed at age 29. He is the son of the 1 st Earl of Ancaster and grandson of Brigadier General ‘Sir’ Walter Ross.
- Lieutenant Wilfred Dixon Stirling is killed. He is the first of three sons of Brigadier General J W Stirling CB CMG DL to be killed in the Great War and dies at age 28.
- Midshipman Christopher Musgraveage 15. He is the son of ‘Sir’ Richard Musgrave, the 12 th
- Midshipman John Richardson Le Geyet Pullenis also lost on HMS Monmouth at age 15. He is the son of the late Paymaster Rear Admiral W Pullen.
- Midshipman George Watson Muirwho is also 15 is also killed. He is the son of Andrew Gray Muir a writer to the Signet.
- Midshipman Gervase Ronald Bruce is lost at age 15. He is the grandson of ‘Sir’ Hervey Juckes Lloyd Bruce 4 th
- Clerk Basil St Merryn Cardewis killed at age 19. He is the son of the Reverend William Berry Cardew Vicar of Perlethorpe.
- Chief Petty Officer Frederick Sercombe is killed at age 51. He is the son of the former Editor of the Clevedon Mercury.
- Stoker 2 nd class John Fairbankis killed at at age 20. His brother will be killed on the Western Front in May 1917.
- Leading Boatman George Neal is killed. Three months later his four year old son will die of illness.
- Sixteen year old signal boy Alfred Stanley Appleby is also killed. His older brother will die on service at home next November.
- Plumber Reginald Arthur Pigott is killed at age 36. His brother will die of illness on service in September 1917.
- Sailmaker Daniel Murphy is killed at age 37. His brother will be killed when submarine H10 is sunk in January 1918.
- Leading Seaman John Cyril Lock is killed at age 24. His brother was killed last September.
- Able Seaman John Walter Beer is killed at age 20. His brother will be killed next March.
- Able Seaman Joseph Davis is killed at age 22. His brother will be killed in May 1915.
- Ordinary Seaman Charles Gaggbloom is lost at age 19. His father will be lost when the Steamship Lodaner is torpedoed in April 1918.
Captain Sidney Drury-Lowe takes HMS Chatham, making skillful use of the tide in the Rufiji River in East Africa moves as close to shore as possible to gain range on SMS Konigsberg. He fires several rounds from Chatham’s 6-inch guns but the shells land well short of the Somali and even farther short of Konigsberg which is anchored about a mile beyond Somali. Drury-Lowe orders some of Chatham’s tanks to be flooded to give the ship a five-degree list, to increase the elevation of the guns, but this still is not enough to reach the German ships. As a result of this action Konigsberg moves another two miles upstream.
Two British destroyers HMS Scorpion (Captain Andrew B Cunningham) and HMS Wolverine (Captain Osmond J Prentice who will be killed on 28 April 1915 in the Dardanelles) attack a Turkish yacht, supposedly acting as a minelayer in Smyrna harbor. She is set afire by her own crew and blows up.
A convoy of 36 ships sets out from Albany on the southwest tip of Australia transporting the New Zealand and Australian Expeditionary Forces. This 8-mile long convoy is protected by the heavy cruiser HMS Minotaur (Captain E B Kiddle) and HMAS Melbourne (Captain Mortimer Silver) and HMAS Sydney a matching pair of light cruisers and the Japanese battle cruiser Ibuki. From Freemantle on the southwest coast of Australia two more transports join the convoy, which heads for Colombo at a speed of 9½ knots.
The British lines are pierced at Neuve Chapelle, which the Germans reoccupy. By the light of a blazing fire at a windmill the Germans again attack Wytschaete Ridge. For more than an hour they are held at bay but around 02:00 they rush again pressing home the attack with bayonets. Sheer weight of numbers forces the London Scottish back over the road and the ridge is captured by the German forces. The London Scottish retire and concentrate at Kemmel.
- Lieutenant John Charles Lancelot Farquharson (London Scottish) is killed at age 33. His brother will die of wounds in March 1918 commanding the 2 nd Royal Marines Battalion.
- Lance Corporal James Roy Hamilton (London Scottish) is killed at age 25. He is the son of James Hamilton JP.
- Brothers and Privates Ashford and Leslie Francis Walford are killed together while serving in the London Scottish. Ashford dies at age 24 while Leslie is 23.
- Private James Ross (London Scottish) is killed in action at age 34. He earned 5 caps as a Scottish Rugby International.
- Private Albert Brian Colin Sarll (London Scottish) is killed at age 23. He is a schoolmaster at Gopsall Street LCC School and a member of Roehampton and Mitcham Football and Cricket Clubs.
A company of the Irish Guards is attacked by German Artillery where it is linked with the French on the fringe of Zillebeke Wood. In the course of the fighting every man, whether officer, orderly, batman or cook, who is able to fight, takes up a rifle and helps hold the line. Of the more than 400 men in the battalion more than 130 are killed, 88 of them when their trench is blown in by shell fire.
- Captain ‘The Honorable’ Andrew Edward Somerset Mulholland(Irish Guards) is killed in this action at age 32. He is the son of the 2 nd Baron Dunleath JP High Sheriff 1884 MP and the son-in-law of 5 th Earl of Strafford and his only daughter will be born in March 1915.
- Second Lieutenant Graham Macdowall Maitland (Irish Guards) is a rower who won the Silver Goblets at Henley Royal Regatta in 1900. He rowed for Cambridge in the Boat Race in 1901. He is killed at age 35. His brother was killed during the relief of Ladysmith in February 1900.
During the night near Le Gheer, Belgium, when his officer, the platoon sergeant and a number of men have been struck down, Drummer Spencer John Bent (East Lancashire Regiment) takes command of the platoon and succeeds in holding the position. For his actions this day and other days prior and later he will be awarded the Victoria Cross.
At Tsing-tau the Bismarck forts are silenced. HMS Triumph assists the Japanese bombardment.
The British ambassador leaves Constantinople.
- Major John Frederick Loder-Symonds (commanding 1 st South Staffordshire Regiment) dies of wounds received nine days prior at age 40. He is the son of Frederick Cleave Loder-Symonds JP and the first of four brothers who will be killed in the Great War. He is the son-in-law of ‘Sir’ William Vavasour the 3 rd
- Major (Brevet Lieutenant Colonel) Robert Page (Lancashire Fusiliers attached #7 General Base Depot) dies on service in France at age 57. He is the son of the Reverend and Mrs. J Page.
- Major (Brigade Major 3 rd Division Royal Artillery) Francis Julian Audley Mackworth(Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 38. He is the son of ‘Sir’ Arthur William Mackworth, the 6 th Baronet who had another son killed at Ladysmith 6 January 1900 in the South Africa War while another will die on service in November 1917.
- Major ‘the Honorable’ Arthur Orlando Wolstan Cecil Weld-ForesterMVO (commanding 1 st Grenadier Guards) dies of wounds at King Edward VII Hospital received 29 October at age 37. He is the son of the 5 th Baron Forester, grandson of ‘Sir’ Willoughby Wolstan Dixie 8 th Baronet and served at the Aide de Camp to Lord Hardinge Viceroy of India from 1910 to 1912.
- Major Charles Napier North (Royal Engineers) is killed by a sniper at age 41. His great grandfather Captain Roger North fought in the Peninsula and died after his retirement from of the effects of wounds he received in that campaign. His daughter will be born next March.
- Captain Hugh Seymour Blane (Lancers) dies of wounds received the previous day at age 29. He is the nephew of the 3 rd Baronet Blane and brother of the 4 th His brother will be killed at Jutland as a Royal Naval Commander on HMS Queen Mary.
- Captain Gerard Gloag Sadler(Dragoon Guards) dies of wounds received the previous day at age 33. He is the son of the late ‘Sir’ Samuel Sadler Kt and served in the South African War.
- Captain Hugh Stafford Northcote Wright (Gurkha Rifles) is killed at age 37. He is the son of Frederick Wright, Inspector General of Police in Berar and god son and name sake of the 1 st Lord Iddlesleigh to whom he was related. He served in the South African War and is a tennis player who won the Open Singles Championship at Salisbury Lawn Tennis Club in 1909.
- Captain Charles Paget O’Brien Butler (Royal Army Medical Corps) dies of wounds at age 33 while attempting to aid wounded. His two brothers are also killed in the service of King and Country the first in South Africa in January 1902 and the other in June 1917.
- Captain Leo de Orellana Tollemache (Lincolnshire Regiment) is killed at age 34. He is the son of the Reverend Ralph William Lyonel Tollmache-Tollemache JP Vicar of South Witham Lincolnshire who will lose another son in February 1917.
- Captain Robert Giffard(Royal Field Artillery and ADC General Lomax) dies of wounds received the previous day by a shell burst at Divisional Headquarters at age 30. He has two brothers who will be killed during the Great War and is a member of the Foresters Cricket Club.
- Lieutenant William Beresford Gosset (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 20. He is the son of the Honorable Beresford Smyly Gosset.
- Lieutenant Anthony Theodore Clephane Wickham(Connaught Rangers) is killed in action at age 27. He is the son of the Reverend James Douglas Clephane Wickham.
- Lieutenant Thomas Edward Lawson-Smith(Hussars) is killed at age 25 ten days after his younger brother has been killed.
- Lieutenant William Hugh Holbech (Scots Guards) is killed at age 32. He is the grandson of ‘Sir’ John Walrond 1 st
- Lieutenant Jacob Edward Pleydell-Bouverie (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) dies of wounds received the previous day at age 27. He is the son of the ‘Honorable’ Duncombe Pleydell-Bouverie, the grandson of the 4 th Earl of Radnor and son-in-law of ‘Sir’ Edward Hulse 5 th
- Lieutenant Arthur Gilliat Smith (Royal Engineers) is killed at age 26. He is related to ‘Sir’ Edmund Bainbridge KCB.
- Lieutenant Maurice Aden Ley (East Kent Regiment attached Lincolnshire Regiment) is killed at age 19. His brother will be killed in March 1918 and they are sons of ‘Sir’ Francis Ley the 1 st
- Second Lieutenant Eric Barnes(Lincolnshire Regiment) is killed in at age 20. His brother will be killed in October 1917.
- Drummer Frederick Whittingham (West Surrey Regiment) dies of wounds at age 23. His brother will be killed in July 1916.
- Private William Murray (Hussars) is killed at age 26. He is the champion boxer of the 13 th
October 30, 2014
Saturday 31 October 1914 – We Lost 1,178
The outcome of the Battle of Ypres now hinges around the village of Gheluvelt. Lying on a forward spur of the low ridge that covers the town of Ypres, Gheluvelt is the last point retained in British hands from which the enemy’s line can be dominated. By noon the West Surrey, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the Welsh and the King’s Royal Rifles have been overwhelmed, while on the right the South Wales Borderers have been rolled back. Gheluvelt has been lost and a serious gap has been made in the British line. So serious is the situation that unless the gap can be closed, a breakthrough can not be avoided. Indeed orders have already been prepared for artillery to move back in preparation for a general retreat. At 13:00 hours the 2 nd Worcestershire Regiment receives an order from Brigadier General Charles Fitzclarence VC to attack and retake Gheluvelt. Captain A. F. Thorne of the Grenadier Guards is to act as a guide. From Polygon Wood, the chateau which dominates the village can not be seen but the nearby church tower rising amidst the smoke is visible. All around are wounded and stragglers coming to the rear and batteries can be seen limbering up and moving back. The Worcestershires alone are moving towards the enemy. The ridge is littered with dead and wounded, and along the crest, German shells are falling fast. Major E B Hankey decides that the only way to cross this dangerous area is at the double. As the leading men reach the ridge, they come in view of the German guns whose high explosive shells are quickly directed on the charging soldiers. Over 100 of the Battalion are killed or wounded but the rest push on and, increasing their speed as they come to the downward slope in sight of Gheluvelt, make the final charge through hedges and on to the Chateau grounds. Here they meet the remnants of the South Wales Borderers who have made a heroic stand. The meeting is unexpected as the Worcestershires believe no British soldiers are left on the grounds. The 2 nd Worcestershires have gone into this action with about 370 men of whom 187 are killed or wounded. Gheluvelt is saved and the line restored. It is rare that the action of one unit can exert such a profound influence as did this famous counter attack.
The town of Messines is held by British infantry with fighting in the streets and the front running north of town roughly parallel to and about 100 yards east of the road and is held by the 4 th and 6 th Dragoon Guards forming the right of the 4 th Cavalry Brigade which holds the line towards Wytschaete. The 57 th Wilde’s Rifles has been sent in to assist the Cavalry yesterday but suffers heavy casualties and is forced to withdraw. The London Scottish is sent in today to fill the dangerous gap and help the Carabiniers to hold the right center of the line. When the 1 st Battalion comes under heavy fire and is pinned down upon reaching the ridge they dig in. They become the 1 st Territorial Battalion to come under fire in the Great War. Fierce exchanges of fire continue all day. At about 21:00 the Germans attempt their first attack on the ridge. The attack is beaten off and the bombardment of the ridge by the Germans begins again and continues until after midnight.
Britain, France and Russia declare war on Turkey.
The final bombardment of Tsing-tau begins as the Japanese commence shelling of the fort and the city.
Captain Sydney Drury-Lowe discovers Konigsberg hiding at Salale (which had been prominently ringed in pencil on the freighter Prasident’s charts) up the Rufiji Delta. Dawn is breaking as HMS Chatham anchors off the delta. An armed raiding party goes ashore in Chatham’s steam cutter. They learn from the natives of Kiomboni village that that the German lookouts have just left to go back to their base for breakfast. The village headman and two other men are taken back to the cutter for questioning. All three confirm that the Konigsberg, the collier Somali and three small vessels are anchored upriver from the Sima Uranga mouth of the Rufiji at Salala, some nine miles inland. The cooperative local headman shows Drury-Lowe the deep-water channels that lead up river from the Kiomboni and Simba Uganda entrances. And as the Chatham follows the coastline northward, her lookouts soon spot Konigsberg’s mastheads standing above the tree line. Chatham fires a few shells in the general direction, but all fall short. Drury-Lowe signals HMS Weymouth and HMS Dartmouth to leave their patrol areas and join him of the Rufiji River. While waiting for them, he shells the German wireless station at Mafia Island hoping to disrupt Konigsberg’s communications.
The steamship Karmala carrying Major General Arthur Edward Aitken’s force docks at Mombasa. Aitken and his staff meet with military authorities ashore to discuss the impending attack on Tanga in German East Africa. Lieutenant Colonel Bertram Robert Graham (Queen Victoria’s Corps of Guides attached and commander of the 3 rd King’s Africa Rifles), offers Aitken some of his British led askaris who are familiar with the area, but Aitken declines the assistance. Additionally, in spite of his ship having engine trouble, the Captain of the battleship HMS Goliath offers to escort the invasion force to Tanga and lend fire support. Again Aitken refuses the offer. A staff officer, Major Frederick Keen tries to persuade Aitken to put his troops ashore for a few days after their miserable voyage and long confinement aboard ship, he is told that he is making an unnecessary fuss. The list of errors in judgment by Aitken is by now very long. Finally, failure to allow his troops time to recondition is probably Aitken’s worst mistake. His plan for the attack on Tanga is simple, but he neglects the details. He ignores local advice and fails to learn all that he can about his enemy and about the terrain where he proposes to land. He also neglects security. Secrecy is almost nonexistent. Crates in Bombay have been marked “Indian Expeditionary Force ‘B’, Mombasa, East Africa.” Newspapers in British East Africa even write of the intended attack.
The cruiser HMS Hermes (Captain Charles Laverock Lambe) is torpedoed and sunk by U27 in the Straits of Dover while engaged in transporting aircraft to France. The first torpedo strikes from a range of about 300 yards and as she is sinking by the stern a second torpedo hits and she quickly sinks. There are twenty-two fatalities while four hundred survivors are picked up.
HMS Otranto rejoins Cradock’s squadron without having been able to obtain any information. HMS Glasgow signals from Coronel that German supply ships have been frequently sailing in and out of that port and that she has intercepted several transmissions between SMS Leipzig and one of her colliers. Cradock orders HMS Glasgow to leave Coronel immediately and meet him the next day fifty miles west of Arauco Bay.
The 129 th Baluchis come under heavy fire at Hollebeke. With the British officer in charge of his detachment having been wounded and another machine gun put out of action by a shell, Sepoy Khudadad Kahn though wounded himself remains working his gun until all other five men of his detachment have been killed. Naik Sair Amir shows conspicuous gallantry in the same action as he continues to fire his machine as the other guns are put out of action. Sepoy Khan will be awarded the Victoria Cross while Naik Amir will be rewarded with the Indian Order of Merit for their actions today.
Major General Samuel H Lomax (1 st Division) is mortally wounded (he will die next April) and Major General Charles C Monro (2 nd Division) is badly stunned when a German shell strikes as they are meeting close to the front at Hooge Chateau shortly after midday.
Today’s casualties include:
- The winningest jockey in Ireland in 1907
- The lightweight boxing champion of India
- A member of the Marylebone Cricket Club
- A football player for Linfield Swifts and South End Rangers
- A Show Horse Jumper
- An Assistant Boy Scout Master
- The son of a family that will lose four more sons in the Great War
- The son of multiple families that will lose three sons between this war and the South African War
- Multiple examples of a man who will have a brother killed in the war
- A man whose brother-in-law will be killed
- A man whose brother was killed in the South African War
- Multiple men whose children will be born after their death
- Multiple sons of clergy
- Multiple grandsons of clergy
- Multiple Justices of the Peace
- Multiple sons of Justices of the Peace
- The son-in-law of a Justice of the Peace
- The nephew of a Justice of the Peace
- The son of a General
- The stepson of a General
- Multiple grandsons of Generals
- The nephew of a General
- The son of an Admiral
- The Grandson of an Admiral
- The son of a Victoria Cross winner
- The half brother of a Member of Parliament
- A member of the first class of Military Cross winners
- Multiple battalion commanders
- The son of the 4 th Earl of Erne and father of the 5 th Earl who will be killed in the next war
- The son of the 6 th Baron MacDonald of Armadale and the father of the 7 th Baron
- The son of the 1 st Baron St Levan
- The son of a Countess of the Holy Roman Empire
- The son-in-law of the Duke of Westminster
- The grandson of the 4 th Marquess Townsend
- The great grandson of the 2 nd Earl of Ducie
- The great grandson of the 17 th Baron Dunboyne
- A cousin of a Baronet
Today’s highlighted casualty is
Captain Charles Paget O’Brien-Butler (Royal Army Medical Corps attached Irish Lancers) is killed attempting to reach wounded comrades at age 33. He is an outstanding amateur jockey who while riding for His Majesty the late King Edward VII was the winningest rider in Ireland in 1907 and he finished fifth in the Grand National in 1913. His brother-in-law will be killed in less than two months and his brother will be killed in June 1917 while another brother an Irish International Rugby player died of dysentery during the South African War. Finally he is the great grandson of Edmund Butler the 17 th Baron Dunboyne.
- Colonel Frederick Walter KerrDSO (Gordon Highlanders, staff 1 st Divisional Headquarters) is killed at age 47 when the Divisional Headquarters in Hooge Chateau is hit by shellfire. He is the son of Admiral Lord Frederic Kerr and the grandson of General ‘Sir’ Peregrine Maitland GCB. He served in Chitral 1895, Tirah 1897-8 and the South African War.
- Lieutenant Colonel John Alexander Browning (commanding 2 nd Dragoon Guards) is killed at Messines at age 36.
- Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bernard Morland (commanding 2 nd Welsh Regiment) dies of wounds at age 47. He is a veteran of the South African War.
- Lieutenant Colonel Walter Edwin Venour(Commanding 58 th Vaughan’s Rifles, Indian Army) is killed by a sniper’s bullet to the head at age 50. He is the son of Lieutenant General Edwin Venour and he has previously seen action in Chin-Luchai 1889-90, Miranzai 1891 and the North West Frontier of India 1897-8 being wounded at Tirah.
- Major (Temporary Lieutenant Colonel) Arthur Jex Blake Percival DSO (Northumberland Fusiliers and General Staff) is killed at age 43. He served in the Nile 1898 and the South African War and is the son of the Bishop of Hereford.
- Major (Brevet Lieutenant Colonel) Henry William CrichtonDSO MVO (Royal Horse Guards) is killed at Wytschaete at age 42. He is the Viscount Crichton and son of the 4 th Earl of Erne. He is the son-in-law of the 1 st Duke of Westminster and his widow will become Lady Mary Stanley and his son the 5 th Earl of Erne will be killed in the Second World War. His brother-in-law was killed yesterday.
- Major George Paley (Rifle Brigade) is killed at age 42. He is the grandson of Canon Nepean Chaplain in Ordinary to her late Majesty Queen Victoria and he served in Soudan 1898 and in the South African War.
- Major Neil MacPherson(2 nd in command 2 nd Gurkha Rifles) is killed at age 45. He is the son of the late General ‘Sir’ Herbert Taylor MacPherson VC KCB. He served in the Isazai Expedition in 1892, the NorthWest Frontier of India, Samana and Tirah in 1897-8, the South African Campaign of 1900-02 and the Abor Expedition 1911-12. He is the grandson of Lieutenant General Eckford CB.
- Major Robert MacGregor Stewart Gardner(Gloucestershire Regiment) is killed at age 44 at Gheluvelt. He is a South African War veteran, a nephew of General ‘Sir’ Robert Stewart GCB and his daughter will be born in February 1915.
- Major Edward Egerton Barwell (Wilde’s Rifles) is killed at age 42. He is the son of General Charles Arthur Barwell CB. He served in Waziristan 1894-5, the Northwest Frontier 1897-8 and China in 1900.
- Major Francis Maxwell Chenevix Trench (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 36. His brother was killed in the South African War in April 1902 and they are grandsons of the Most Reverend and Right Honorable Richard Chenevix Trench.
- Major Walter Gabriel Home(Dragoon Guards) dies of wounds at age 41. He is the son of the late Reverend Robert Home and is a South African War veteran.
- Captain and Adjutant William McMillan Black (Vaughan’s Rifles) is killed at age 31. He is the son of the Reverend William McMillan Black.
- Captain William Joseph Wickham(Scots Guards) is killed at age 39. He is the son of Captain Henry Lampugh and ‘the Honorable’ Mrs Teresa Mary Wickham Countess of the Holy Roman Empire and the eldest daughter and co-heiress of the 11 th Lord Arundell. His brother will die of wounds next January.
- Captain John Edmund Simpson(King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) is killed at age 41. He is the son of the late Reverend John Curwen Simpson.
- Captain Leslie Sedgwick Whitchurch (Indian Army Cavalry attached Dragoon Guards) is killed at age 34. He is the son the Reverend Walter Beaumont Gurney Whitchurch Rector of Spixworth Norfolk. He served on the North West Frontier 1902.
- Captain John Spottiswoode (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) is killed at age 40. He is the grandson of the Reverend ‘Sir’ St Vincent Love Hammick and nephew of William Spottiswood (former President of the Royal Society, the London Mathmatical Society and the British Association). He is the son-in-law of Dr. Christian David Gisnburg JP and his second son will be born next year.
- Captain Mervyn Crawshay (Dragoon Guards) a Show Horse Jumper is killed. He has represented the military in tournaments in America in 1913.
- Captain Albert Alexander Stephen DSO (Scots Guards) is killed at age 35. His brother was killed last month and they are grandsons of Admiral ‘Sir’ Cornwallis Ricketts 2 nd
- Captain Geoffrey Wilmot Herringham (Dragoons) is killed at Messines at age 31. He is the son of ‘Sir’ Wilmot Herringham.
- Captain and Adjutant Walter Hughes Ferrar (Welsh Regiment) is killed at Gheluvelt at age 38. He is a veteran of the South African War and son of A M Ferrar DL.
- Captain Frederick William Hunt (Lancers Indian Army) is killed at age 33. He is the son of the Reverend William Cornish Hunt of Odell Rectory Bedfordshire.
- Captain Edward Hugh Bagot Stack (Gurkha Rifles) is killed atage 29. He is the great nephew of the late Right Reverend Charles Maurice Stack Bishop of Cloghern Clones Ireland.
- Captain Graham Percival Shedden (Royal Garrison Artillery) dies of wounds at age 28. He is the son of George Shedden JP.
- Captain Richard Vincent Barker (Welsh Fusiliers) is killed when shot in the chest. He is a South African War veteran and son of the Reverend Frederick Barker Rector of Wimborne St Giles.
- Captain Hugh Clervaux Chaytor (Light Cavalry Indian Army attachded Hussars) is killed at Messines at age 30. He is the cousin of ‘Sir’ Edmund Chaytor Baronet.
- Lieutenant Donald Godrid Campbell Thomson (Bedfordshire Regiment) is killed at age 21. He is the nephew of Captain G C Karran JP and has a brother who will be killed in October 1917.
- Lieutenant Edmund Elgood Punchard(Bedfordshire Regiment) is killed by a shot to the head at age 24. He is the son of the late Reverend Elgood George Punchard, Honorary Canon of Ely, DD and Vicar of Ely St Mary’s. His brother will be killed in March 1917.
- Lieutenant Arthur Knight Nicholson (Hussars) is killed by a sniper at age 21. He is the only son of Herbert Nicholson JP.
- Lieutenant ‘the Honorable’ Godfrey Evan Hugh Bosville MacDonald JP (Scots Guards) dies of wounds at age 35. He is the son of the 6 th Baron MacDonald of Armadale Castle who has lost one son at Krugersdorp South Africa in April 1901 and another son will be killed in October 1918. His son will become the 7 th
- Lieutenant Spencer Julian Wilfred Railston (Lancers, Indian Army attached Dragoon Guards) the one time lightweight boxing champion of India is killed at age 25. He dies attempting to bring in a wounded peasant woman on the field of fire. He is the grandson of the Reverend C E Oakley and great grandson of the 2 nd Earl of Ducie.
- Lieutenant Alan Randall Aufrere Leggett(North Staffordshire Regiment) dies of wounds at age 21. He is the first of three sons of Colonel Leggett to be killed in the Great War. His older brothers will be killed on different days in July 1916. The memory of the three sons is kept alive in the Chancel’s Screen and Memorial Cross in St Martin’s Church, Cheriton.
- Lieutenant Langton Sacheverell Coke(Irish Guards) is killed at age 36. He is the son of the late Colonel W L Coke JP DL.
- Lieutenant Philip Walter Rudolph Doll(Liverpool Regiment) is killed at age 24. He is the son of Charles FitzRoy Doll JP (London and Hertford) and was the winner of Lord Robert’s Gold Cup at Aldershot in 1914 with his guns. He was also a member of the MCC since 1911.
- Lieutenant George Archer-Shee(South Staffordshire Regiment) is killed at age 19 as a result of an order to withdraw not reaching his platoon. As a 13-year old cadet at Royal Navy College at Osborne he was accused of stealing a five shilling postal note from the locker of a fellow cadet in 1908. The college asserted that he signed his name to a postal order and cashed it and despite the young boy’s claims of innocence he was expelled. A trial in 1910 vindicated him completely. He is the half-brother of Major Martin Archer-Shee MP.
- Lieutenant Algernon Lindsay Eric Smith (Life Guards) is killed at age 22. He is among the 1 st group of officers to be awarded the Military Cross.
- Lieutenant and Quartermaster ‘the Honorable’ Edmund WilkinsonDCM (North Lancashire Regiment) is killed at age 43. His daughter will be born next January and he was a South African War veteran.
- Second Lieutenant Reginald William Fletcher(Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 22. He rowed with the Oxford University VIII in 1914. His brother will be killed in March 1915.
- Second Lieutenant ‘the Honorable’ Piers Stewart St Aubyn JP(King’s Royal Rifle Corps) dies of wounds at age 43. He is the son of the 1 st Baron and Lady St Levan and grandson of 4 th Marquess Townsend and a veteran of the South African War. His brother will be killed in December 1915 serving as a King’s Messenger when SS Persia is sunk.
- Second Lieutenant Gerald Gordon Clement Elrington (East Yorkshire Regiment) is killed at Festubert at age 20. He is the stepson of General Miles.
- Second Lieutenant Arnold Septimus Jarvis (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed at age 19. He is the first of five brothers who will be killed in the war.
- Sergeant Edward Charters White (Black Watch) is killed at age 32. He is the Assistant Scout Master of the Baden Powell Scouts at Fort William Calcutta.
- Lance Corporal Thomas Alfred Tompkins (Bedfordshire Regiment) is killed at age 27. His brother Wesley will also lose his life in the Great War.
- Private Leslie Houston (Inniskilling Fusiliers) dies of wounds. He played football for the Linfield Swifts and South-End Rangers.
- Private Robert Clive Forrest (London Scottish) is killed at age 18. He is the only son of Robert Forrest JP DL.
- Gunner Frederick Blackwell (Royal Garrison Artillery) is killed at age 24. His brother will be killed next August.
- Private Thomas Richard Dawes (Dragoon Guards) is killed the day after his brother met the same fate.
- Private Albert Charles Love (Sussex Regiment) is killed at age 23. His brother will be killed in May 1917.
- Private Charles Philip Libretto (West Surrey Regiment) is killed at age 18. His brother will be killed in September 1917.
- Private William Perrin (West Surrey Regiment) is killed. His brother will be killed in June 1917.
- Private W Curtis (West Surrey Regiment) is killed at age 30. His brother will be killed next January.
- Private Basil Thomas Freffry (West Surrey Regiment) is killed at age 21. His brother will be killed in August 1917.
- Henry William and Joseph Batchelor are killed together serving as privates in the Dragoon Guards. Henry is killed at age 28, while Joseph is one year older.
- Private William Ayres (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed at age 28. He has two brothers who will be killed over the next two years.
October 28, 2014
Thursday 29 October 1914 – We Lost 796
At 05:30 the Germans attack in the Ypres sector in an attempt to break through to the Channel Ports, and sever the lines of communication of the British Expeditionary Forces. British artillery is restricted because of shell shortages to nine rounds per gun per day and is unable to take advantage of prior knowledge of the attack plans. The 1 st Coldstream Guards at Gheluvelt are attacked along a front of 800 yards by six German battalions and by the end of the day the 1 st Guards Brigade suffers 1,100 casualties and is reduced in strength to 275 men. The 1 st Coldstream Guards lose all 11 Combatant Officers and is reduced to a party of 60 other ranks under the Quartermaster. The 2 nd and 3 rd Coldstream Guards successfully defend Zonnebeke some three miles to the north. The Germans force their way in between two companies of the 1 st Middlesex Regiment so that one company finds itself with the enemy not only in the front but also directly in the rear within 50 feet. About 40 Germans who have penetrated to a communication trench are all killed or taken prisoner by the battalion’s reserve company. Eventually with the help of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders the trenches are cleared of the enemy.
Lieutenant James Anson Otho Brooke (Gordon Highlanders) will be awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery and great ability near Gheluvelt in leading two attacks on the German trenches under heavy rifle and machine gun fire regaining a lost trench at a very critical moment. His efforts prevented the enemy from breaking through the British line at a time when a general counter attack could not be organized. Having regained the lost trench, he goes back to bring up support and while doing so is killed. He is the son of ‘Sir’ Harry Vesey Brooke JP DL, grandson of ‘Sir’ Arthur Brooke MP 2 nd Baronet and great grandson of General ‘Sir’ George Anson GCB and had been awarded the Sword of Honor at Sandhurst and dies at age 30. He has two brothers who will die during the Great War both dying at home, the first in 1916 the second in 1917. Their brother-in-law will be killed on Christmas Day this year.
Lieutenant Arthur Martin Leake (Royal Army Medical Corps) will be awarded his second Victoria Cross for most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty beginning on this day through 8 November near Zonnebeke in rescuing while exposed to constant fire a large number of the wounded who are lying close to the enemy trenches. He is one of only three men ever to be awarded the Victoria Cross twice.
Second Lieutenant James Leach and Sergeant John Hogan (Manchester Regiment) will each be awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery near Festubert when after their trench has been taken by Germans and after two attempts at recapture fails they voluntarily decide in the afternoon of this day to recover the trench themselves, and, working from traverse to traverse at close quarters with great bravery, they gradually succeed in regaining possession, killing eight of the enemy, wounding two and taking sixteen prisoners.
The 2 nd /8 th Gurkha Rifles arrive at the Western Front and go into the trenches near Festubert.
Beduin tribesmen raid the Egyptian frontier.
Lord Fisher is appointed First Sea Lord.
Admiral Cradock’s squadron reaches Vallenar Roads, just south of Chiloe Island. He sends HMS Glasgow ahead to see if there are any messages for him with the British consulate in Coronel. He also dispatches HMS Otranto to Puerto Montt to try to gather information as to the whereabouts of any German warships.
The hospital ship HMHS Rohilla departs Leith for Dunkirk to board wounded.
Today’s losses include:
- Victoria Cross winner
- Son of the 4 th Duke of Wellington and Grandson of the 1 st Duke (The Iron Duke)
- Battalion commander
- A man whose father died on service in the South African War of typhoid fever
- Sons of Baronets
- Son-in-law of a Baronet
- Grandson of a Baronet
- Grandson of a Member of Parliament
- Nephew of a Member of Parliament
- Families that will lose two and three sons
- Sons of Generals
- Grandson of a General
- Great grandson of a General
- Great nephew of a General
- Son of an Admiral
- Sons of Justices of the Peace
- Son-in-law of a Justice of the Peace
- Children born after their father’s death
- Brother-in-law killed
- A man whose son will be killed in World War II
- A man whose nephew will be killed in World War II
- A man whose nephew will be later in the Great War
- Sons of clergy
- Son-in-law of clergy
- A grandson of a member of the clergy
- An uncle and nephew killed together
- A Somerset cricket batsman
- Grandson son of writer to the Signet
- Son of the 1 st Baron Hamilton of Dalzel
- Son of the Marquis de la Pasture
- Son and heir to the 3 rd Baron Penrhyn
- Son-in-law of the 2 nd Earl of Darley
- Son of the 7 th Viscount Falmouth
- Son-in-law of the 4 th Earl of Leitrim
- Nephew of the Earl of Kintore
Today’s highlighted casualty is
Captain ‘Lord’ Richard Wellesley (Grenadier Guards) the son of the 4 th Duke of Wellington and the son-in-law of ‘Sir’ Maurice Fitzgerald Baronet and the 20 th Knight of Kerry is killed in action at age 35. His daughter will be born on 8 January 1915. He is the grandson of the ‘Iron Duke’ the original Duke of Wellington
She was built at Swan Hunter Shipyard in Wallsend, Tyneside and launched on 14 April 1976 by Lady Kirstie Treacher, wife of Admiral Sir John Treacher. With a displacement of 4,820 tonnes, Glasgow is the sixth and last Batch 1 Type 42 destroyer in the fleet. Named after the Scottish city of Glasgow, she is the eighth ship to bear the name. On 23 September 1976, while being fitted out, a fire on board killed eight men and injured a further six.
The ship was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 25 May 1977.
HMS Blandford (1720) - 20 gun Frigate based on the "1719 Establishment"
The 1719 Establishment was a set of mandatory requirements governing the construction of all Royal Navy warships capable of carrying more than 20 naval long guns. It was designed to bring economies of scale through uniform vessel design, and ensure a degree of certainty about vessel capability once at sea, and was applied to all vessels from the first-rate to the fifth-rate. Once in effect, it superseded the 1706 Establishment, which had specified major dimensions for ships of the second-rate, third-rate and fourth-rate only.
The new Establishment in 1719 was not simply limited to specifying the overall dimensions of each type of warship, but now set out in great detail other factors used in constructing the ship, down to the thickness of timbers ("scantlings") used in construction and planking.
The Establishment adopted in 1719 was subject to substantial revisions in both 1733 and 1741, although on neither occasion was the 1719 Establishment replaced. A new Establishment was finally adopted in 1745.
Before the 1745 centralised all design work in the office of the Surveyor of the Navy, the design of every vessel was the responsibility of the Master Shipwright in the dockyard in which that vessel was built thus ships built to one Establishment has to conform to the dimensions and other measurements specified by that Establishment, but were to varying designs and therefore did not constitute a "class" in the modern use of the term. The exception to this was when ships were built under contract by commercial shipbuilders, for which a common design was prepared by the Surveyor and copies sent to the shipbuilder for execution this only applied to some of the two-decker ships and smaller vessels (all three-deckers were built or rebuilt in the Royal Dockyards), and was almost exclusively a wartime occurrence.
When the 1706 Establishment had been introduced, British naval architecture had entered a period of highly conservative stagnation. The Establishments were intended to create standardisation throughout the fleet, in part to reduce the cost of maintaining Britain's large navy. The side effect was to almost completely eliminate any design innovation until the abolition of the Establishments in the early 1750s.
When King George I ascended the throne in 1714, thus beginning the Hanoverian dynasty in Great Britain, the main institutions of the Royal Navy — the Board of Admiralty and the Navy Board — underwent the typical reorganisations associated with a change of régime. While the Admiralty became a much more political body, the Navy Board became populated by men who had learnt their trade during the formative years of the Establishment system. A very significant factor in the formation of the 1719 Establishment and its subsequent longevity is that the period of 1714—1739 was the most peaceful of the 18th Century.
A further contributory factor was the introduction of a new Establishment of Guns in 1716. Previously, gun establishments had catered for each ship, as there were often differences between ships of the same nominal size that would affect the armament they could carry. The 1716 gun establishment was intended to overturn that situation, so that all ships of a particular type (for example, 70 gun ships) would carry the same armament. The Navy Board highlighted the fact that there were still several ships in service that were physically incapable of carrying the prescribed armament, either due to the number and disposition of gunports, or to sturdiness of build. Essentially, however, the Navy Board resolved to undertake the task of having all ships rebuilt to common designs to facilitate the new gun establishment.
One volume of 1719 Establishment dimensions and scantlings, ADM 170/429
The new Establishment of dimensions, finalised in December 1719, was significantly more detailed than its predecessor. The 1706 Establishment had sought to constrain only the basic dimensions (gundeck length, keel length, breadth, and depth in the hold), whereas the 1719 Establishment detailed everything from the keel length to the thickness of planks on each deck. The new Establishment was also expanded in scope to include first rates, the dimensions for which were to be based upon HMS Royal Sovereign. In the other direction the new Establishment expanded down to include the sixth rates and the smaller (30-gun) fifth rates, so that all ships with 20 guns or more were covered. The dimensions for other ship types were adjusted according to experience with ships built to the 1706 Establishment.
1733 proposals and revisions
Over time, as British shipbuilding remained stagnant, Britain's foreign maritime rivals, most notably France, continued developing their own ships so that eventually the Navy Board was forced to take note. British ships by comparison with their foreign counterparts were usually significantly smaller — a practice that had come about through a combination of various factors differentiating the role of the Royal Navy from that of the continental navies, but a major factor was the need for a sizeable fleet, and the associated requirement to keep costs as low as practicable. However, by 1729 concerns were being expressed that the ships being built to the 1719 Establishment may be too small, and so a new ship, HMS Centurion, and HMS Rippon which was due for rebuilding, were built with slightly altered dimensions.
In 1732 the Admiralty decided to ask the Master Shipwrights in each of the Royal dockyards to report to them on how best they thought the ships could be improved. The responses, when they finally arrived, were conservative, offering only minor adjustments to certain dimensions. There was little agreement between the changes proposed, and no further progress was made until May 1733 when Sir Jacob Ackworth of the Navy Board — the Surveyor of the Navy at the time — proposed to the Admiralty some changes to the dimensions of the 50-gun and 60-gun ships, most notably an increase in breadth. The Admiralty accepted these proposals, and the ones that followed in later months for the other types, and these new dimensions became the effective new Establishment, though they never technically superseded the 1719 dimensions there was no 1733 Establishment. Indications are that the Admiralty desired more far-reaching reforms that what was actually implemented, but due in part to the absence of anyone with practical shipbuilding knowledge on the Board, the Board of Admiralty lacked the ability to realise them.
1741 proposals and revisions
The true state of British ship design became apparent with the start of the War of Jenkins' Ear. The capture of the Spanish 70-gun ship Princessa in April 1740 by three British 70-gun ships (HMS Kent, HMS Lennox and HMS Orford) took six hours of fighting despite one of Princessa's topmasts being missing. Her greater size (much closer to that of a British 90-gun ship than a 70) gave her stability that the British ships lacked, and her build quality allowed her to withstand the pounding from the three British ships for a long time. By way of response to the now apparent individual inferiority of British ships over their opponents, a previously abandoned update to the gun establishment was called upon to increase the firepower of the ships. With heavier guns came the need for larger ships to carry them, and so Sir Jacob made a new set of proposals for increased dimensions—slightly less conservative this time around. Additionally, the new gun establishment made some changes to the types of ships that would be on the navy list in future. The 70-gun ships would become 64-gunners, albeit with heavier guns as compensation, and the 60-gun ships were to become 58-gun ships, again with heavier guns. No first rates were built to the dimensions of the 1741 proposals, but one ship of 74 guns and two of 66 were constructed.
An additional side effect of the war was the collapse of the system of rebuilding. Until the outbreak of the war, it had been the practice to rebuild ships periodically, to maintain the size of the fleet without alarming parliament with requests for new ships. In reality, many of these rebuilds amounted to just that, with little or no timber from the original ship surviving into her rebuilt form. In some cases, ships would be dismantled years before they actually underwent the rebuilding process, but remained on the active list for the entire time. Rebuilding a ship was a lengthy process, more time consuming and more expensive than building a completely new one. The pressures of the war meant that for drydocks to be taken up for long periods of time whilst a ship was surveyed to determine what timber was reusable in the new ship, and what could find a use elsewhere in the dockyard, disassembled and then rebuilt was counter-productive. Ships intended to be sent to the West Indies for service in the war required the use of drydocks to have their hulls appropriately sheathed to combat such problems as shipworm, and other uses of the drydocks for servicing the fleet meant that rebuilds were given a low priority. It was at this time that the British practise of converting old ships to hulks for expanded storage space in harbours began, as instead of wasting effort and dockyard space on breaking up an old vessel that was still perfectly capable of floating, they were converted to serve the dockyards in this new capacity. Few rebuilds were started after 1739, and none at all were begun after 1742, although any that had been started were allowed to complete.
Individual ship types
A different set of Establishment dimensions was defined for each size of ship, other than the smallest (i.e. the unrated) vessels.
First rates of 100 guns
Second rates of 90 guns
Third rates of 80 guns
Third rates of 70 (later 64) guns
Fourth rates of 60 (later 58) guns
Fourth rates of 50 guns
Fifth rates of 40 guns
Fifth rates of 30 guns
Scale: 1:48. A Georgian full hull model of a sixth-rate sloop (circa 1730). The model is decked. The initials ‘GR’ appear on the stern. Twenty ships were made in the style of the 1719 Establishment. They were 106 feet long with a beam of 30 feet. They weighed 428 tons burden and had a complement of 140 men. They carried twenty 6-pound guns. Around 1730 two ships (the ‘Sheerness’ and the ‘Dolphin’) were built to a modified design, being 2½ feet longer than their predecessors. This was an intermediate stage in the development of the 1773 Establishment 20-gun ships, which were of a similar size but with a heavier burden.
Sixth rates of 20 guns
General characteristics for 20-gun sixth rates
- 106 ft 0 in (32.3 m) (gundeck)
- 87 ft 9 in (26.7 m) (keel)
- 20 guns:
- Upper deck: 20 × 6-pounders
Three sixth rates were new built
the Greyhound and Blandford as replacements in 1720 for lost vessels,
and the Rye as replacement in 1727 for a discarded ship
and seventeen others were rebuilt from existing ships to this Establishment specification
the Lyme and Shoreham in 1720,
Scarborough in 1722,
Lowestoffe in 1723,
Garland, Seafordand Rose in 1724,
Deal Castle, Fox, Gibraltar, Bideford, Seahorse, Squirrel, Aldborough, Flamborough and Experiment in 1727,
and Phoenix in 1728.
Two further 20-gun ships were rebuilt at Deptford to a slightly enlarged specification in 1732
the Sheerness and Dolphin - with the beam increased to 30 ft 5in.
- Tons burthen: 430 46⁄94 bm
- Length: 106 ft 0 in (32.3 m) (gundeck)
87 ft 0 in (26.5 m) (keel)
- Beam: 30 ft 6 in (9.3 m)
- Depth in hold: 9 ft 5 in (2.9 m)
- Tons burthen: 498 36⁄94 bm
- Length: 112 ft 0 in (34.1 m) (gundeck)
91 ft 6 in (27.9 m) (keel)
- Beam: 32 ft 0 in (9.8 m)
- Depth in hold: 11 ft 0 in (3.4 m)
Once more an overview of the 20-gun ships based on the 1719 Establishment
1719 Establishment 20-gun sixth rates 1720-1728:
HMS Lyme 1720
HMS Greyhound 1720
HMS Blandford 1720
HMS Shoreham 1720
HMS Scarborough 1722
HMS Garland 1724
HMS Seaford 1724
HMS Lowestoffe 1723
HMS Rose 1724
HMS Deal Castle 1727
HMS Fox 1727
HMS Gibraltar 1727
HMS Bideford 1727
HMS Seahorse 1727
HMS Squirrel 1727
HMS Aldborough 1727
HMS Flamborough 1727
HMS Experiment 1727
HMS Rye 1727
HMS Phoenix 1728
Modified 1719 Establishment 20-gun sixth rates 1729-1732:
HMS Sheerness 1729
HMS Dolphin 1732
Here the overview of all ships with the related measures from the source "Threedecks"
Intended for use as a DP weapon, the Mark XVI was a reasonably good AAA gun although many considered it as being too small for the anti-ship role. This weapon superseded the 4"/45 (10.2 cm) Mark V HA gun on new cruiser construction during the 1930s. In addition, many older cruisers and capital ships had their Mark V guns replaced with these more powerful weapons during refits. A popular weapon, production could not keep up with demand until late in the war, resulting in many ships being armed with older weapons.
HMS Carlisle, a converted AA cruiser armed with these guns, shot down 11 aircraft during the war, the highest score among British cruisers. The Auxiliary AA ship Alynbank, also armed with these guns, shot down six aircraft.
These guns were noteworthy as having "neither long barrel life nor particularly high accuracy" - John Campbell. This was blamed on the use of projectiles with a too-short parallel section which led to poor centering at the muzzle.
The original Mark XVI had an A tube, jacket from muzzle to removable breech ring and used a down-sliding breech block. Guns could be operated in either Quick Firing (QF) or Semi-Automatic (SA) mode. In QF mode, the breech was manually opened after firing by moving a lever which also ejected the spent casing. In SA mode, the breech would open automatically after firing and eject the spent casing. During loading, the breech mechanism would partially close when the cartridge case rim hit the ejectors and then fully close when the loading tray was raised. The Mark XVI* was the most produced version and differed by having the A tube replaced by an autofretted loose barrel with a sealing collar at the front of the jacket. Worn-out Mark XVI guns when repaired were converted to the Mark XVI* standard.
The Mark XVII was designed for some "County" class cruisers with the intention of replacing two of their single 4"/45 (10.2 cm) Mark V mountings with twin mountings without exceeding the Treaty weight limits. This hair-splitting exercise was described as "ridiculous punctiliousness" by John Campbell. Twelve guns were manufactured, all of which were later converted back to the Mark XVI standard. The Mark XVIII was the original designation for an improved version of the Mark XVI but this was redesignated as the Mark XVI* before being accepted into service. The Mark XXI was a lighter version built to revised design rules with an autofretted monobloc barrel and removable breech ring.
Some 2,555 Mark XVI and XVI* guns along with 238 Mark XXI guns were manufactured in Britain. Canada produced 504 Mark XVI* and 135 Mark XXI guns. Australia built a further 45 Mark XVI* guns.
HMS Glasgow - Side Guns - History
Length: 113,4 meters (372 ft)
Beam: Batch 1&2 = 12,5 meters (41 ft) / Batch 3 = 13,1 meters (43 ft)
Draft: 4,5 meters (15 ft)
Displacement: 2960 tons / later 3300 tons (full load)
Speed: 27 knots (50 km/h)
Range: 4000 NM (7400 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)
2 x Babcock & Wilcox oil-fired boilers
2 x geared steam turbines (30000 hp)
2 shafts / 2 propellers
initial - Mark 6 gun / SEACAT:
1 x Mark 6 - 4.5 inch (114 mm) twin gun
1 x GWS-22 Seacat SAM missile launching system
2 x 20mm single guns
2 x Mark 10 - LIMBO anti-submarine mortars
IKARA / SEACAT:
1 x Ikara anti-submarine missile launcher
2 x GWS-22 Seacat SAM missile launching systems
2 x 40mm single guns
2 x STWS-1 324mm (12.75 in) triple torpedo tubes for Mk-46 and Stingray ASW torpedoes
1 x Mark 10 - LIMBO anti-submarine mortar
EXOCET / SEACAT:
4 x MM.38 Exocet anti-ship missile launcher
3 x GWS-22 Seacat SAM missile launching systems
2 x 40mm single guns
2 x STWS-1 324mm (12.75 in) triple torpedo tubes for Mk-46 and Stingray ASW torpedoes
EXOCET / SEAWOLF:
4 x MM.38 Exocet anti-ship missile launcher
1 x GWS-25 sextuple Seawolf SAM missile launching systems
2 x 20mm single AA guns
2 x STWS-1 324mm (12.75 in) triple torpedo tubes for Mk-46 and Stingray ASW torpedoes
Aviation: flight deck and hangar for 1 helicopter ( initial & Batch 1 = Westland Wasp / Batch 2 & 3 = Westland Lynx HAS Mk.2)
On 7 March 1960, the Civil Lord of the Admiralty C. Ian Orr-Ewing stated that the "Type 12 Whitby-class anti-submarine frigates are proving particularly successful . and we have decided to exploit their good qualities in an improved and more versatile ship. This improved Type 12 will be known as the Leander class. The hull and steam turbine machinery will be substantially the same as for the Whitbys. The main new features planned are a long-range air warning radar, the Seacat anti-aircraft guided missile, improved anti-submarine detection equipment and a light-weight helicopter armed with homing torpedoes. We shall also introduce air conditioning and better living conditions." The 1963 edition of Jane's Fighting Ships described it as a "mainly anti-submarine but flexible and all purpose type".
"The Leander class have the same hull and substantially the same steam turbine machinery as the Whitby class, but are a revised and advanced design and will fulfil a composite anti-submarine, anti-aircraft and air direction role. The 40mm guns will eventually be replaced by Seacat ship-to-air launchers. The ships are equipped with VDS (Variable Depth Sonar), formerly known as dipping asdic."
The Y160 boiler variant used on the Batch 3 Leanders (such as Jupiter) also incorporated steam atomisation equipment on the fuel supply so the diesel fuel entering the boilers via the three main burners was atomised into a fine spray for better flame efficiency. Some ships with Y100 Boilers were also converted to steam atomisation, HMS Cleopatra being one of them. The superheat temperature of the Y160 was controlled manually by the boiler room petty officer of the watch between 750–850 °F (399–454 °C) and the steam supplied to the main turbines was at a pressure of 550 psi (3,800 kPa). The Leander-class frigates did have Babcock & Wilcox boilers but of a more conventional two-drum design, one water drum and one steam drum, much like a Yarrow boiler without the second water drum. The water drum was offset to one side and below the furnace and steam drum. The two boilers fitted were 'handed' with the water drum inboard on both. Many Leanders had six burner furnaces (known as Five and a Half Boilers) and the output was varied by altering the number of burners in use.
Midlife major refits:
The entire class was given a standard weapons fit when built, with a 4.5in gun mount, Seacat missile system and Limbo ASW mortar. However, advances in weapons systems led to a number of different conversions being undertaken on various members of the class. This saw the class grouped into four broad batches:
- IKARA installation of the Ikara ASW missile system in place of the 4.5in gun mount.
- EXOCET/SEACAT installation of Exocet anti-ship missile system in place of 4.5in gun mount, plus additional Seacat surface-to-air missile systems.
- EXOCET/SEAWOLF installation of Exocet anti-ship missile system in place of 4.5in gun mount replacement of Seacat with single Seawolf surface-to-air missile system.
Gun - retained 4.5in gun mount and Seacat missile system.
Eight of the first ten Leanders were given the so-called "Batch 1" or "Ikara" conversion, which saw the Ikara anti-submarine warfare missile installed in place of the 4.5in gun, plus an additional Seacat system.
EXOCET / SEACAT conversion:
Two of the Leanders with Y-100 machinery, and five out of the six with Y-136 machinery, were given the so-called "Batch 2" or "Exocet" conversion. This conversion gave them Exocet anti-shipping missiles in place of the 4.5in gun mount, 2 additional Seacat systems, and the ability to operate the Lynx helicopter.
Navigational training ship conversion:
Juno, commissioned 18 July 1967 was converted to serve as a navigational training ship. Work at Rosyth began in January 1982 and completed in February 1985.
EXOCET / SEAWOLF conversion:
The Seawolf conversion gave the broad-beamed Leanders Exocet anti-shipping missiles in place of the 4.5in mounting, a Seawolf missile system in place of Seacat, Sonar 2016, and the ability to operate the Lynx helicopter. Only five of the broad-beamed Leanders were converted to carry Seawolf due to costs (£70 million for each refit) and, as a lesser consideration, to retain some ships capable of naval gunfire support.
Towed array conversions:
In 1981 the Admiralty said that they intended to devote "substantial resources to improving the effectiveness of the sensors and anti-submarine weapons . This includes the new passive towed array system that we hope to introduce into service next year."
The former destroyer Matapan and the frigate Lowestoft were used for testing prototypes in 1978-81. It was planned to install them on Rothesay conversions, but this was not possible due to industrial strikes. Scheduling then made it easier to fit them on board four of the Batch II Leanders. "Compensation for the additional 70 tons of top weight included lowering the Exocet launchers. This interesting quartet was to have been followed by five Batch III Leanders, but the latter fell foul of the Nott cancellations. A fifth Leander, the Ikara-carrying HMS Arethusa, was fitted with a towed array in 1985, the year the towed-array trials ship Lowestoft was withdrawn from service."
Admiral Sir Julian Oswald said to the Defence Committee in 1989, "in order to capitalise on the really very exciting and important development of towed arrays, we had to get them to sea as soon as we could. The only sensible, cost-effective option open to us was to take some relatively older ships - the Leanders - and convert them quickly to the towed array. We have done that with great success, and the peacetime patrols have achieved some remarkable results, but there has been a price to pay because of the age of those ships."
In general, "as a ship gets older it tends to get noisier - the hull and also the propulsion system". At the same Defence Committee meeting, Oswald spoke "to counter the presumption that older ships get noisier. That is not necessarily true and it is not true, in my experience, in the case of the Leanders because understanding of ship generated noise is improving all the time and our techniques for countering it are improving - our noise monitoring and so on - so, despite the fact that these ships are getting older, they are in many cases managing to improve their performance with regard to ship noise." Captain Geoffrey Biggs said "the Leanders are remarkably quiet in operation and our experience has been that they have made excellent towed-array platforms despite the rather short notice of actually getting the towed-array programme together to start with. They actually perform very well."
Five ships were converted to use Waverley Type 2031(I) towed array (passive search very low frequency) - Phoebe, Cleopatra, Argonaut, Sirius, Arethusa.
The Leander design or derivatives of it were built for other navies:
Royal New Zealand Navy as the Leander class
Chilean Navy: Condell class
Royal Australian Navy: River class
Indian Navy: Nilgiri class
Royal Netherlands Navy: Van Speijk class
F 104 HMS Dido
Builder: Yarrow & Co. Ltd., Glasgow
Laid down: December 2, 1959
Launched: December 22, 1961
Commissioned: September 18, 1963
Ikara conversion: July 1975 - October 1978
Fate: sold to New Zealand 1983 / renamed HMNZS Southland
F 127 HMS Penelope
Builder: Vickers-Armstrongs Shipbuilders Ltd., Newcastle
Laid down: March 14, 1961
Launched: August 17, 1962
Commissioned: October 31, 1963
Exocet conversion: November 1981 - January 1982
Fate: sold to Ecuador 1991 / renamed BAE Presidente Eloy Alfaro (FM 01)
F 114 HMS Ajax
Builder: Cammell Laird & Co. Shipbuilders Ltd., Birkenhead
Laid down: October 19, 1959
Launched: August 16, 1962
Commissioned: December 10, 1963
Ikara conversion: October 1970 - February 1974
Decommissioned: May 31, 1985
Fate: sold for scrap / scrapped at Millom, Cumbria 1988
F 10 HMS Aurora
Builder: John Brown & Co. Ltd., Clydebank
Laid down: June 1, 1961
Launched: November 28, 1962
Commissioned: April 9, 1964
Ikara conversion: December 1974 - February 1976
Decommissioned: April 28, 1987
Fate: sold for scrap / scrapped at Millom, Cumbria 1990
F 18 HMS Galatea
Builder: Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd., Wallsend-on-Tyne
Laid down: December 29, 1961
Launched: May 23, 1963
Commissioned: April 25, 1964
Ikara conversion: October 1971 - September 1974
Decommissioned: January 31, 1987
Fate: sunk as a target - July 21, 1988
F 15 HMS Euryalus
Builder: Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd., Greenock, Scotland
Laid down: November 2, 1961
Launched: June 6, 1963
Commissioned: September 16, 1964
Ikara conversion: May 1973 - March 1976
Decommissioned: March 31, 1989
Fate: sold for scrap 1990
F 39 HMS Naiad
Builder: Yarrow & Co. Ltd., Glasgow
Laid down: October 30, 1962
Launched: November 4, 1963
Commissioned: March 15, 1965
Ikara conversion: January 1973 - June 1975
Decommissioned: April 1987
Fate: sunk as a target 1990
F 38 HMS Arethusa
Builder: JS White & Co. Ltd., Cowes, Isle of Wight
Laid down: September 7, 1962
Launched: November 5, 1963
Commissioned: November 24, 1965
Ikara conversion: September 1973 - April 1977
Towed array conversion: May 1985 - February 1986
Decommissioned: April 4, 1989
Fate: sunk as a target 1991
F 28 HMS Cleopatra
Builder: HM Dockyard, Devonport
Laid down: June 19, 1963
Launched: March 25, 1964
Commissioned: January 4, 1966
Exocet conversion: July 1973 - December 1975
Towed array conversion: January 1982 - April 1983
Decommissioned: January 31, 1992
Fate: sold for scrap 1993
F 42 HMS Phoebe
Builder: Alexander Stephen & Sons Ltd., Linthouse, Glasgow
Laid down: June 3, 1963
Launched: July 8, 1964
Commissioned: April 15, 1966
Exocet conversion: August 1974 - April 1977
Towed array conversion: February 1981 - July 1982
Decommissioned: February 14, 1991
Fate: sold for scrap 1992
F 45 HMS Minerva
Builder: Vickers Ltd., Shipbuilding Group, Newcastle
Laid down: July 26, 1963
Launched: December 19, 1964
Commissioned: May 14, 1966
Exocet conversion: December 1975 - April 1979
Decommissioned: March 1992
Fate: sold for scrap July 1993
F 40 HMS Sirius
Builder: HM Dockyard, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Laid down: August 9, 1963
Launched: September 22, 1964
Commissioned: June 15, 1966
Exocet conversion: March 1975 - February 1978
Towed array conversion: April 1985 - December 1985
Decommissioned: February 27, 1993
Fate: sunk as a target 1998
F 52 HMS Juno
Builder: JI Thornycroft Ltd., Southampton
Laid down: July 16, 1964
Launched: November 24, 1965
Commissioned: July 18, 1967
Navigational training ship conversion: January 1982 - February 1985
Decommissioned: November 4, 1992
Fate: sold for scrap 1994
F 56 HMS Argonaut
Builder: Hawthorn Leslie, Hebburn, Tyne and Wear
Laid down: November 27, 1964
Launched: February 8, 1966
Commissioned: August 17, 1967
Exocet conversion: February 1976 - March 1980
Towed array conversion: August 1982 - November 1983
Decommissioned: March 31, 1993
Fate: scrapped in 1995
F 47 HMS Danae
Builder: HM Dockyard, Devonport
Laid down: December 16, 1964
Launched: October 31, 1965
Commissioned: October 10, 1967
Exocet conversion: August 1977 - April 1981
Fate: sold to Ecuador / renamed BAE Moran Valverde (FM 02)
F 75 HMS Charybdis
Builder: Harland & Wolff Ltd., Belfast
Laid down: January 27, 1967
Launched: February 28, 1968
Commissioned: June 2, 1969
Exocet/Seawolf conversion: June 1979 - July 1982
Decommissioned: September 30, 1991
Fate: sunk as a target - June 11, 1993
F 58 HMS Hermione
Builder: Yarrow & Co. Ltd., Glasgow
Laid down: December 6, 1965
Launched: April 26, 1967
Commissioned: July 11, 1969
Exocet/Seawolf conversion: January 1980 - December 1983
Decommissioned: June 30, 1992
Fate: sold for scrap 1997 / scrapped in India
F 60 HMS Jupiter
Builder: Yarrow & Co. Ltd., Glasgow
Laid down: October 3, 1966
Launched: September 4, 1967
Commissioned: August 9, 1969
Exocet/Seawolf conversion: January 1980 - October 1983
Decommissioned: April 22, 1992
Fate: sold for scrap 1997 / scrapped in India
F 69 HMS Bacchante
Builder: Vickers Ltd., Shipbuilding Group, Newcastle
Laid down: October 27, 1966
Launched: February 29, 1968
Commissioned: October 17, 1969
Fate: sold to New Zealand / renamed HMNZS Wellington (F 69)
F 57 HMS Andromeda
Builder: HM Dockyard, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Laid down: May 25, 1966
Launched: May 24, 1967
Commissioned: December 2, 1968
Exocet/Seawolf conversion: January 1978 - February 1981
Decommissioned: June 1993
Fate: sold to India 1995 / renamed INS Krishna (F 46)
F 71 HMS Scylla
Builder: HM Dockyard, Devonport
Laid down: May 17, 1967
Launched: August 8, 1968
Commissioned: February 12, 1970
Exocet/Seawolf conversion: November 1980 - December 1984
Decommissioned: December 1993
Fate: sunk off Cornwall as an artificial reef on March 27, 2004
F 12 HMS Achilles
Builder: Yarrow & Co. Ltd., Glasgow
Laid down: December 1, 1967
Launched: November 21, 1968
Commissioned: July 9, 1970
Decommissioned: January 1990
Fate: sold to Chile / renamed CS Ministro Zenteno (PFG 08)
F 16 HMS Diomede
Builder: Yarrow & Co. Ltd., Glasgow
Laid down: January 30, 1968
Launched: April 15, 1969
Commissioned: April 2, 1971
Decommissioned: May 31, 1988
Fate: sold to Pakistan 1988 / renamed PNS Shamsher (F 263)
F 70 HMS Apollo
Builder: Yarrow & Co. Ltd., Glasgow
Laid down: May 1, 1969
Launched: October 15, 1970
Commissioned: May 28, 1972
Decommissioned: August 31, 1988
Fate: sold to Pakistan 1988 / renamed PNS Zulfiquar (F 262)
HMS Euryalus (F 15)
HMS Euryalus (F 15)
HMS Euryalus (F 15)
HMS Naiad (F 39)
HMS Naiad (F 39)
HMS Cleopatra (F 28)
HMS Phoebe (F 42)
HMS Phoebe (F 42)
HMS Argonaut (F 56)
HMS Argonaut (F 56)
HMS Andromeda (F 57)
HMS Andromeda (F 57)
HMS Andromeda (F 57)
HMS Bacchante (F 69)
HMS Scylla (F 71)
HMS Scylla (F 71)
HMS Apollo (F 70)
HMS Ariadne (F 72)
HMS Ariadne (F 72)
Leander class Frigate / Batch 3 (Seawolf conversion)
Leander class Frigate / Batch 3 (Seawolf conversion)
HMS Glasgow - Side Guns - History
(Click on Ketty Brøvig in the box above to go to that ship on the Ships starting with K page).
Her voyages prior to capture are listed on this original document received from the National Archives of Norway.
Captain: Erling Møller
Departed Bahrein on Jan. 21-1941 for Lourenco Marques with estimated arrival about Febr. 8. Captured by Atlantis, disguised as the Norwegian Tamesis west of the Seychelles, position 04 30S 50 50E on Febr. 2-1941. Ketty Brøvig was shelled, and some of her crew injured she had no armament on board. Captain Møller , 1st Mate Martin Ramsland , 3rd Mate Olaf Knudsen and 4th Engineer Gudmund Listeid * were taken on board the Atlantis, while 2nd Mate Jens Egelund Aarnes , Chief Engineer Abraham Abrahamsen , 2nd Engineer Alfred Larsen , 3rd Engineer Daniel Nedrebø , Steward Jon Tønnesen and 32 Chinese crew had to stay** on board Ketty Brøvig, along with a German prize crew. With her cargo of 6370 tons fuel oil and 4125 tons diesel oil, she subsequently served as a fuel depot for the German ships in the Indian Ocean. On Febr. 12 some of the prisoners were transferred from Atlantis to the supply ship Tannenfels, which took them to France, arriving April 20. They were subsequently sent home to Norway. The others stayed on Ketty Brøvig, which continued serving as fuel depot for other German ships in the Indian Ocean.
It appears the Norwegian chief engineer, or possibly the captain, had a narrow escape at some point in Febr.-'41, when one of the Chinese crew members, Ching You went after him with a meat cleaver, in response to being reprimanded for dumping garbage out his porthole.
* The chief engineer stated at the subsequent maritime hearings that 3rd Engineer Nedrebø and 4th Engineer Listeid were both injured in the initial attack, as they were on deck at the time the former in the shoulder, the latter in the leg (knee cap shot away) and forearm. The doctor from Atlantis, when visiting Ketty Brøvig later on to see to a sick man, had told the chief engineer (who had remained on Ketty Brøvig) that Listeid would probably get a stiff knee from his injuries. However, he's listed in "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig" (Maritime Hearings from WW II) as having died shortly after the attack. "Nortraships flåte" says 1 of the officers died on board the Tannenfels. Statements at the hearings indicate that Captain Møller , 1st mate Ramsland and 3rd Mate Knudsen were transferred from Atlantis to another raider (this must have been Tannenfels?) and sent to a German controlled port, then to Germany where they were briefly interned before being sent home to Norway. There's no mention of the wounded 4th engineer in connection with this information. The memorial for seamen in Stavern, Norway (link at the end of this text) commemorates a Pumpman Gudmund Harlof Sakariassen - he may of course, have died in a separate incident - however, the Norwegian text states that 1 Norwegian died en route to France aboard Tannenfels.
** According to statements at the hearings, only the chief engineer and the 2nd mate were initially kept on board Ketty Brøvig, but the 2nd engineer and the steward came back to the Norwegian ship that same evening. 3rd Engineer Nedrebø came back 10 days later after having been treated for his wound aboard Atlantis.
On Febr. 14 the pocket battleship Admiral Scheer was replenished from Ketty Brøvig about 100 n. miles from the northernmost point of Madagaskar, and by this action the Norwegian vessel enabled Admiral Scheer to stay at sea, far away from the German bases, and attack shipping north of the Mosambique channel. On Febr. 26 Admiral Scheer was again supplied by Ketty Brøvig, before withdrawing to the Atlantic Ocean. British Naval forces had now been alerted and initiated a search across the oceans. The Australian cruiser Canberra met up with the cruiser Leander from New Zealand near the Seychelles on March 3 and they headed east together. The next day, March 4 they encountered Ketty Brøvig with the German supply ship Coburg alongside (escaped from Eritrea). The remaining Norwegians from Ketty Brøvig had just been transferred to this ship, in order to go to France. The Germans attempted to scuttle the ships (04 50S 56E) after all on board had been ordered to the lifeboats.
According to "Nortraships flåte" Coburg was shelled and set on fire, while an aircraft from Canberra dropped 4 bombs close to Ketty Brøvig. The pilot observed that people were about to go in the lifeboats, and that Ketty Brøvig was about to sink, so he went down on the water, swam over to the ship for a quick survey, gathering up all the documents he could find. He then swam back to the aircraft and signalled to Canberra that Ketty Brøvig could possibly be saved if attempts were made immediately. Leander then came to the scene to keep an eye on Coburg, while Canberra sent people over to Ketty Brøvig, but found she could not be salvaged afterall so the attempt was abandoned. She was then shelled in order to make her sink more quickly. 10 minutes after Coburg had gone down, Ketty Brøvig also sank.
From a visitor to my website I've received an excerpt from a book entitled "HMAS Canberra" by Alan Payne, which gives an account of the above incident as seen from Canberra's point of view, and might further clarify the situation. This book says that Canberra and Leander had in fact parted company in the afternoon of March 4, and that it was Canberra's aircraft that spotted Coburg and Ketty Brøvig that day. The report from the aircraft stated: " Two unknown types of ships bearing 117 degrees 45 miles from position". The enemy was reported as an armed raider in company of a tanker. Canberra subsequently sighted the 2 ships, steering westwards. Captain Farncomb's report is included in this book, saying: "Sighting must have been mutual for at 16:54 the tanker altered to the southward. The tanker was ordered by V/S to steam North and the other ship first to stop, and to steer South. These signals were ignored, at 17:05 I ordered a warning salvo to be fired ahead of the Merchant ship. This warning was also ignored and I therefore decided to engage the enemy and opened fire at 17:06, 1/2 at about 21,100 yards. At this stage I was still under the impression that the enemy was an armed raider, as reported by the aircraft, and though she did not immediately reply to my fire, I considered that this was due to the fact that we were outside of his maximum range. I also thought it possible that he would withold his fire in the hope that Canberra would close and present a favourable torpedo target. HMAS Canberra was therefore manoeuvered to keep the range over 19,000 yards."
The captain's report goes on to say that the enemy ship was seen to be burning abaft the bridge a few minutes later, and that the returning aircraft reported that the fire was initially due to scuttling action, and started at the time of Canberra's warning salvo. Captain Farncomb says: "At 17:20 an explosion was observed on board the tanker well aft. It was subsequently established that this was scuttling action and that HMAS Canberra's aircraft had dropped warning bombs in the tanker's wake."
The report also mentions Lieutenant C. V. S. Malleson R.N., the observer on the aircraft, who was the one who swam over to Ketty Brøvig after the Walrus had landed near her. Malleson later reported: "I regret that the sensible course of action of using the rubber dinghy did not occur to me, and for my own peace of mind I did not see the several sharks that were cruising round until I was safely back in the aircraft". This book excerpt repeats what is found in "Nortraships flåte" with regard to his boarding Ketty Brøvig and his suggestion of placing a salvage party on board, adding from the captain's statements: "Malleson had done it again very much to Leading Telegraphist E. M. Hutchinson's concern, who recorded: 'She was obviously sinking, so Malleson instructed me to cover the boats with our bow Lewis gun while he stripped to his underwear and swam over to Ketty Brøvig. The plane and the boats were brought alongside Canberra who interned the German element under guard'. The Chinese crew of 33, free again were naturally highly delighted." Captain Farncomb says the "German element" consisted of 17 officers and ratings.
According to this account Leander did not appear on the scene until 18:38 and was requested to stand by Coburg while Canberra sent the salvage party on board Ketty Brøvig, but before Leander could reach the German ship it sank at 18:50 and the crew was picked up by the New Zealand cruiser. Ketty Brøvig, meanwhile, took longer to sink so Captain Farncomb ordered her sunk by gunfire at close range. However, it appears he was less than happy about the results, saying: "The 'shoot' of the 4th March was an excellent rehearsal for the real thing, with the added advantage that the enemy was unable to profit by our errors." Canberra had fired 215 rounds of 8-inch ammunition "an extraordinary expedition considering both enemy ships promptly took scuttling action. As there can be little doubt that Canberra's fire control was reasonably accurate, the only explanation would appear to be that delayed action shells were used in error". More mistakes were to follow the next day when Canberra's aircraft reported an enemy pocket battle ship (believed to be Admiral Scheer), and course was altered to head for this enemy with the intent of attacking with torpedoes at nightfall. At the same time, all British warships (including Leander) in that area of the Indian Ocean altered course in the direction of the reported position. But in the end, the "enemy" sighted turned out to be Leander, which had parted company with Canberra that morning.
The 2 cruisers sailed together again during the night of March 6th/7th and arrived Port Louis, Mauritius on the morning of the 8th, where the Norwegian, Chinese and German survivors were handed over to the military authorities. With the Dutch M/S Tegelberg the 3 engineers were sent to Cape Town on March 28, with arrival Apr. 4. The maritime hearings were held there on Apr. 17-1941, with Chief Engineer Abrahamsen , 2nd Engineer Larsen , and 3rd Engineer Nedrebø appearing. 2nd Mate Aarnes and Steward Tønnesen travelled to Durban from Mauritius.
Ketty Brøvig as she's sinking - sent to me by David Martin.
The Royal Canadian Navy and Overseas Operations (1939-1945)
The Royal Canadian Navy’s greatest contribution in the Second World War was the role it played in the Battle of the Atlantic, the grim and unrelenting struggle against the German U-boats, which is the subject of the next chapter. What is often over-looked, however, is that the RCN also manned a variety of warships, from light cruisers to landing craft, which carried out many different tasks in European and Pacific waters. The RCN’s participation in surface warfare in these theatres was primarily driven by the ambition of Naval Service Headquarters in Ottawa to build up a “balanced fleet” or “blue water navy” that would be the foundation of a post-war service so strong that never again would it face possible dissolution as it had in the 1920s.
When war broke out in September 1939, NSHQ viewed the most dangerous threat as being large surface raiders, not submarines, and to counter this threat it wished to obtain powerful fleet destroyers of the Tribal class. In the winter of 1939-40 an arrangement was made with the Admiralty in London for Canada to produce escort vessels for the Royal Navy in return for British construction of four Tribal-class vessels in the United Kingdom. Until these ships were completed, NSHQ arranged for the conversion of three large passenger ships—Prince David, Prince Henry, and Prince Robert—as auxiliary cruisers, and while the seven destroyers of the pre-war fleet were employed on convoy duty in the Atlantic the “Prince” ships mainly operated on the Pacific coast. When the fall of France in June 1940 brought the U-boats to the Atlantic littoral, the RCN became increasingly involved with the North Atlantic but NSHQ never entirely relinquished its ambition to man larger warships.
As the first of the Tribals would not commission until late 1942, this ambition could not be realized in the short term. During the early part the war, however, many Canadian naval officers and seamen gained valuable experience by serving with the Royal Navy. The full story of their activities has never been properly told, but it should be emphasized that Canadian sailors served at sea in every theatre of war in appointments ranging from the conventional to the extreme.
Donald Connolly, Finale, picturing the action in Onagawa Bay, Japan, 9 August 1945, from which Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray, VC, DSC, was posthumously awarded the RCN’s only Victoria Cross.
To provide just a few examples, Midshipman L.B Jenson, RCN, was in the battlecruiser HMS Renown when it engaged the German capital ships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau off Norway in April 1940. Lieutenant R.W. Timbrell, RCN, received a Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for his service at Dunkirk in June 1940 while Sub-Lieutenant G.H. Hayes, RCNVR, survived being sunk in the same evacuation. Sub-Lieutenant G. Strathey, RCNVR, was a radar officer on the cruiser HMS Ajax when it sank three Italian destroyers in the Mediterranean in October 1940. Lieutenant S.E. Paddon, RCNVR, was a radar officer in the battleship HMS Prince of Wales when it fought the Bismarck in the spring of 1941 and survived his ship’s sinking off Malaya seven months later. Five Canadian officers were lost in the cruiser HMS Bonaventure when it was sunk off Crete in March 1941 and Lieutenant C. Bonnell, DSC, RCNVR, died in a Chariot “human torpedo” during a raid on Sardinia in December 1941. Surgeon-Lieutenant W.J. Winthrope, RCNVR, was killed in the daring commando attack on Saint-Nazaire in March 1942. Lieutenant J.H. O’Brien, RCN, witnessed the massive Allied amphibious landings in Sicily and Italy in 1943. Sixty Canadian ratings were serving in HMS Belfast when it participated in the sinking of the Scharnhorst in the Barents Sea in December 1943. Lieutenant R.H. Lane, RCNVR, served in the British heavy cruiser HMS Glasgow, Lieutenant-Commander F.H. Sherwood, RCNVR, was captain of the submarine HMS Spiteful operating in the Indian Ocean in 1945, while Captain H.T.W. Grant, RCN, commanded the cruiser HMS Enterprise in 1943-44. Lieutenant F.R. Paxton, RCNVR, was radar officer in the destroyer HMS Venus in May 1945 when it detected the Japanese heavy cruiser Haguro at the extreme range of 55 kilometres, a contact that ended with the enemy’s destruction. Perhaps one of the most unusual wartime jobs was that of Lieutenant-Commander B.S. Wright, RCNVR, as commander of a special operations detachment in central Burma in 1945 whose job was to swim across the Irawaddy River at night to raid the enemy.
Two branches of the Royal Navy in which Canadians formed a substantial presence were coastal forces and naval aviation—largely because NSHQ permitted Britain to recruit in Canada for these specialties. By 1943 more than 100 RCN officers were serving in coastal forces, commanding small but heavily-armed fast attack craft in the Channel and the Mediterranean. Their exploits were remarkable. Lieutenant-Commander T.G. Fuller, RCNVR, was awarded the DSO and two bars for operating against enemy warships in the Adriatic, while Lieutenant R. Campbell, RCNVR, participated in commando raids on Rommel’s troops in North Africa. Four young RCNVR officers, Lieutenants J. Davies, W. Johnston, R. MacMillan, and J.M. Ruttan, became responsible for mine clearance in Tobruk during the siege of 1941-42, while Lieutenant-Commanders G. Stead and N.J. Alexander, RCNVR, each commanded British coastal forces flotillas in the Mediterranean. One of the most outstanding feats accomplished by a Canadian was the action fought in May 1943 between MGB 657, commanded by Lieutenant-Commander J.D. Maitland, RCNVR, and a surfaced German U-boat—not only did Maitland beat off the enemy’s attack but so distracted the submarine’s bridge crew that it accidentally rammed another U-boat, sinking both vessels. Lieutenant A.G. Law, RCNVR, took part in an attack on the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau when they made the “Channel Dash” in February 1942. As Law attempted to avoid the attentions of German E-boats and destroyers that were determined to sink his fragile motor torpedo boat (MTB) before he got within torpedo range, his coxswain drew his attention to the sky: “Sir, aircraft with two wings—they must be British!” 1 And they were, for overhead were five Swordfish torpedo planes flying in to make their own effort against the enemy battle cruisers. All five were shot down (and the German battlecruisers made it through).
Lieutenant-Commander G.C. Edwards, RCNVR, flew one of the antiquated aircraft that made this attack but survived to eventually command a squadron of Swordfish in the Fleet Air Arm. Edwards not only survived crashing a “Stringbag” (as these biplanes were termed) in the Mediterranean, he was one of the few pilots to survive a ditching in the frigid Arctic Ocean when his carrier escorted a Murmansk convoy. Lieutenant-Commander D.R.B. Cosh, RCNVR, commanded a squadron of the more modern Wildcat fighters in the escort carrier HMS Pursuer that participated in a strike against the German battleship Tirpitz in April 1944. Lieutenant-Commander R.E. Jess, RCNVR, commanded a Fleet Air Arm squadron of Avengers operating with the British Pacific Fleet against Japanese targets in 1945. There were a number of Canadian naval fighter pilots in the Pacific. Lieutenants D.J. Sheppard, RCNVR, and W.H.I. Atkinson both scored five kills in this theatre, and three of Atkinson’s victories were difficult night interceptions. Lieutenant D.M. Mcleod, RCNVR, survived miraculously almost unscratched when the engine of his Corsair failed on take-off, with the result that it cartwheeled several times—nose over wing over tail—on the water. Lieutenant A. Sutton, RCNVR, was posted missing in his Corsair during a raid on Sumatra in 1945. Lieutenant R.H. Gray, RCNVR, also flew Corsairs and his courageous attack on a Japanese destroyer in August 1945 brought a posthumous award of the only Victoria Cross earned by the RCN during the war. One of Gray’s squadron mates, Lieutenant G. Anderson, RCNVR, was killed in the same attack when his badly-damaged Corsair crashed while landing on their carrier, HMS Formidable. Anderson was the last member of the Canadian Navy to die in the Second World War.
The RCN also made a substantial contribution to the Combined Operations service, the organization created to carry out raids on occupied Europe and develop the specialized techniques required to conduct the large amphibious landings that marked the latter years of the war. In early 1942, 50 officers and 300 ratings proceeded to Britain to form two flotillas of landing craft. On 19 August 1942, 15 officers and 55 ratings from this group were with British landing craft flotillas that participated in Operation Jubilee, the ill-fated raid on Dieppe that cost the Canadian army nearly 3,000 casualties, or about 65 percent of the troops that took part. In a letter home written shortly afterward, Sub-Lieutenant D. Ramsay, RCNVR, provided a dramatic kaleidoscope of the images he had witnessed that terrible day, including:
a German armed trawler blown clear out of the water by one of our destroyers a five-inch shell right through from one side to the other on the boat next to me without exploding the boat officer, Skipper Jones, RNR (ex-Trawlerman as you can guess) screaming invectives at the Jerry and coming out once in a while with the famous Jonesian saying, “get stuffed” a large houseful of Jerry machine gunners pasting hell out of anybody who dared come near the beach a Ju 88 whose wing was cut in half by AB [Able-Bodied Seaman] Mitchinson of Ontario in the boat astern a plane swooping down low behind a destroyer and letting go a 2000 lb. bomb, which ricocheted over the mast and burst about 10 yards on the starboard bow peeking over the cox’ns box and looking into the smoking cannon of an Me 109. I’m here to state that that was close. 2
Organized as four distinctly RCN flotillas, Canadian Combined Operations personnel then took part in Operations Torch (the landing in North Africa in November 1942), Husky (the Sicily landing in July 1943) and Baytown (the Italy landing that September). The achievements of the Canadian flotillas were almost unknown in Canada, much to the chagrin of NSHQ, which became determined that the same case would not apply with the RCN’s Tribal-class destroyers when they entered service.
The war the navy expected: recruits at HMCS York, February 1942, doing close order drills in front of a full-size mock-up of a King George V-class battleship.
The first of these warships, HMCS Iroquois, was commissioned in November 1942 and was followed, over an eight-month period, by HMC Ships Athabaskan, Haida, and Huron. Armed with six 4.7-inch guns, two four-inch high-angle guns, four 21-inch torpedo tubes, and a variety of smaller anti-aircraft weapons, these big, graceful and powerful destroyers were intended not only to be the RCN’s striking force overseas, but also the nucleus of a post-war fleet. As it was, NSHQ narrowly stickhandled around a proposal by Prime Minister Wiliam Lyon McKenzie King that the Tribals be either employed on the North Atlantic convoys or for the defence of the Pacific Coast. “The Tribal is essentially a fighting Destroyer,” advised Commander H.G. DeWolf, Director of Plans, and would be wasted in any task other than that for which it had been designed. It was his opinion that the best course was to put the Tribals “under British operational control” where they could “contribute to the general cause.” 3 Fortunately, this logic won the day and the four ships spent their wartime career with the RN’s Home Fleet where they carved out an impressive fighting record.
After working up and overcoming technical and personnel problems, Athabaskan and Iroquois saw their first action in the Bay of Biscay. The “Biscay Offensive” of the summer of 1943 was intended to catch and destroy U-boats transiting from their French bases to the North Atlantic but it enjoyed mixed success, particularly as Allied warships were within range of German shore-based aircraft. On 27 August, Athabaskan was operating in company with the destroyer HMS Grenville and the sloop HMS Egret when it was attacked by a new weapon—a radio-controlled “glider bomb,” actually a missile launched and guided by aircraft. As Athabaskan’s commanding officer, Lieutenant-Commander G.R. Miles, RCN, reported, 19 Dornier 217 bombers approached and,
the three leading aircraft dropped their rocket bombs almost simultaneously two were failures and the third, never deviating from its course for an instant, came straight for Athabaskan’s bridge. It was a magnificent shot and no dodging it. Striking the port side at the junction of B gun deck and the wheelhouse, it passed through the chief petty officers’ mess and out the starboard side where it exploded when twenty to thirty feet clear of the ship. 4
Another bomber targeted Egret, which was hit and sunk. Suffering heavy damage but mercifully few casualties, Athabaskan was able to limp back to Plymouth to spend a lengthy period in drydock before being again fit for service.
The powerful Tribal-class destroyers Haida and Athabaskan steam in formation in the English Channel, spring 1944.
In November 1943 the three operational Tribals were ordered north to Scapa Flow, the barren and isolated Home Fleet base in the Orkneys, to work the “Murmansk Run,” escorting and screening convoys from Britain to Russia. From their inception in August 1941 to the end of the war, these convoys were the most dangerous operations carried out by the Allied navies, and losses in both merchant and warships were heavy as they took place within easy range of German bases in Norway. The Arctic convoys faced not only U-boats and aircraft, but also major fleet units—including the battleship Tirpitz, sister ship to the Bismarck—as well as terrible weather, rough seas, and extreme cold. Although the Murmansk Run was vital to the Russian war effort, it was not a popular service and Lieutenant P.D. Budge, RCN, of Huron explains why:
It seemed that gales were forever sweeping over the dark, clouded sea. The dim red ball of the sun barely reaching the horizon as the ship pitched and tossed, the musty smell of damp clothes in which we lived, the bitter cold, the long, frequent watches that seemed to last forever. This on a diet of stale bread, powdered eggs and red lead [stewed tomatoes] and bacon. The relief to get below for some sleep into that blessed haven—the comforting embrace of a well-slung hammock. There was no respite on watch for gun, torpedo or depth-charge crews as every fifteen minutes would come the cry “For exercise all guns train and elevate through full limits”—this to keep them free of ice.….The watch below would be called on deck to clear the ship of ice—the only time the engine room staff were envied. Each trip out and back seemed to last an eternity with nothing to look forward to at either end except that perhaps mail would be awaiting us at Scapa Flow. 5
In late December 1943, Haida, Huron, and Iroquois formed part of the covering force for Convoy JW 55B, which was attacked by the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst. The Canadian vessels were not directly involved in the action but were long-distance witnesses by radio of the destruction of the Scharnhorst on Boxing Day 1943.When they anchored in the approaches to Murmansk two days later, their ships’ companies held a belated Christmas celebration, and in Haida one of its officers remembered, “the whole mess deck was draped with signal flags a bottle of beer at each man’s plate the candles throwing a pleasant light and practically everyone drunk.” 6
As the Tribals began operations during 1943, NSHQ made impressive strides toward achieving its plan of creating a balanced fleet that would survive inevitable post-war defence cutbacks. The RCN’s progress toward this bright, shining goal was accelerated by four factors. First, 1943 saw the climax of the Battle of the Atlantic and Allied dominance over the U-boats, allowing the RCN for the first time since 1940 to “draw breath” and contemplate the future. Second, recruiting for the Canadian Navy had reached the stage where there was a surplus of personnel, many waiting to man new escort vessel construction not yet completed. Third, in contrast, the RN was experiencing a severe personnel shortage and had more ships than it could man. Fourth, and most important, the time was approaching when the Western allies would have to undertake a major cross-Channel invasion, an operation that would require not just hundreds but thousands of ships and smaller craft.
These factors became apparent at the Quadrant conference attended by the leaders of Britain, the United States, and Canada at Quebec City in September 1943. In meetings with Admiral Dudley Pound, the First Sea Lord of the RN, and Vice-Admiral Louis Mountbatten, the head of combined operations, Vice-Admiral Percy Nelles, the Canadian chief of the naval staff, confessed his concern that the Canadian Navy “did not finish the war as a small ship navy entirely.” 7 Far from that, he informed his British counterparts, his intention was to create a post-war fleet of five cruisers, two light fleet aircraft carriers, and three flotillas of fleet destroyers. Nelles asked for British assistance in achieving this ambitious objective and he got it. With the help of Britain’s Winston Churchill in some very adroit manoeuvring around Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King, who was ever suspicious of defence expenditures, Nelles came away with happy results. It was agreed that the RCN would take over and man two escort carriers, two light cruisers, two fleet destroyers, three flotillas of LCI (Landing Craft, Infantry), and also contribute a beach commando—an amphibious traffic control unit—for the forthcoming invasion.
HMCS Prince Robert, one of three Canadian National Steamship liners converted into armed merchant cruisers by the RCN as a stopgap in 1940, is pictured here, in a British drydock in January 1944, after later conversion as an anti-aircraft cruiser.
Other initiatives undertaken in 1943 and early 1944 increased the RCN’s presence in European waters. The three Prince ships, no longer required as auxiliary cruisers, were taken in hand throughout the year and rebuilt: Prince David and Prince Henry were converted into landing ships, each of which would carry a landing craft flotilla, while Prince Robert was rebuilt as an anti-aircraft defence ship. The strong Canadian presence in Coastal Forces led to a British proposal that the RCN man two MTB flotillas for the invasion and the first personnel were on their way overseas by October 1943. In early 1944, a British request for minesweepers was met by the dispatch of 16 Bangor-class vessels. In all, the Canadian contribution to Operation Neptune, the naval component of the planned Normandy landing, would be 126 vessels of all types and no less than 10,000 officers and seamen. Apart from the boost this would give the Allied cause, NSHQ firmly believed that participation in the most crucial operation of the war would enhance the RCN’s prestige and increase its profile among the Canadian people. Neptune would be the culmination of the wartime growth of Canada’s navy and it would involve the cream of that service.
In January 1944, much to the satisfaction of their ships’ companies, the four RCN Tribals were transferred from Scapa to Plymouth. Here they formed, along with RN Tribals, the 10th Destroyer Flotilla, which had the task of carrying out “Tunnel” operations to reduce the strength of major German surface units in the Channel. Commencing in late February, the 10th Flotilla patrolled at night, searching for enemy destroyers and torpedo boats (actually small destroyers) based in Le Havre and Cherbourg. This work continued through March and into April, without any contact, causing the crews to term the Tunnel patrols as “FAFC,” an acronym that can be rendered most tactfully as “Fooling Around the French Coast.” Things changed on the night of th 25 - 26 of April 1944 when Athabaskan, Haida, and Huron, along with British vessels, encountered three large German torpedo boats, T-24, T-27, and T-29, and began a gun and torpedo battle that evolved into a long chase as the enemy tried to escape. T-27 and T-24 got away—although the former was badly damaged by accurate Canadian gunnery—but T-29 was not as fortunate. The Canadian destroyers circled it at close range hitting it with every weapon they could bring to bear until it was scuttled by its crew, becoming the largest warship to be sunk by the RCN up to that time in the war.
Two nights later, guided by radar, Athabaskan and Haida again caught up with T-24 and T-27 and damaged the latter vessel so severely that its commanding officer ran it aground. Unfortunately, Athabaskan was hit by a torpedo fired by one of the German vessels causing a magazine to explode, igniting fuel oil that set it on fire and quickly sank it. The disaster unfolded very fast. Leading Seaman B.R. Burrows, manning the destroyer’s gunnery radar, ran out on the starboard side of the stricken vessel and later recalled:
I just got blown over the side. Instinct told me, “Get the hell out of here, fast!” so I swam as fast as I could. Diesel fuel is very volatile and I got showered with diesel fumes [oil]—they burnt me from stem to stern. I didn’t know it at the time—it hit me so fast that I just kept on swimming. Also, although I didn’t know it at the time, I was swimming through Bunker C fuel, the black sticky stuff used in the ship’s boilers to drive the main engines. I got covered in it. 8
Most of the Athabaskan’s crew were able to get off the destroyer before it went down, but the explosions had destroyed almost all its boats and floats. DeWolf in Haida, seeing his comrades’ plight, brought his ship near the men swimming in the water and proceeded to pick up survivors, thus placing his own destroyer in peril. Seeing this, Lieutenant- Commander Stubbs, the captain of Athabaskan, in the water with his men, shouted “get away, Haida, get clear!” 9 and DeWolf regretfully had to leave the scene after picking up only 42 men, although he left his own boats and floats for their succour. Of Athabaskan’s ship’s company of 261 officers and men, 128 did not survive its sinking, among them Lieutenant-Commander Stubbs. The loss of Athabaskan was not in vain—by the end of April 1944, as the Allies began the final preparations for the invasion, German destroyer strength in the Channel had been reduced to just five vessels.
By this time, the various Canadian naval units that would participate in Operation Neptune had begun to assemble in southern British ports. The 16 Bangor-class minesweepers arrived in April to commence training in sweeping, a new activity for their ships’ companies. They did not impress their British instructors, who commented on the Canadians’ nonchalant attitude that minesweeping was “child’s play.” That attitude was quickly knocked out of them during six weeks of intense work-ups lasting until late May when they were judged by the RN as being “efficient, keen and competent.” 10 Eight of the Bangors formed the 31st RCN Minesweeping Flotilla under Commander A.G. Storrs, RCN, the remainder being divided up among British flotillas.
Crew of the V-class destroyer Algonquin sponging out their 4.7-inch (12-centimetre) gun after bombarding German shore defences in the Normandy beachhead.
The two Canadian MTB flotillas, and the landing ship and landing craft flotillas, had fewer problems as they possessed a nucleus of veteran officers and warrant officers who knew their business. Prince David, Prince Henry, and the 260th, 262nd, and 264th LCI(L) Flotillas participated in the major amphibious exercises held in April and May, although to its dismay Beach Commando W learned that it would not be part of the assault forces but would come ashore at a much later date. The 29th RCN MTB Flotilla under Lieutenant- Commander A.G. Law, RCNVR, manning 20-metre“Short” boats armed with a two-pounder (40 mm) gun and 18-inch torpedoes, and the 65th RCN MTB Flotilla under Lieutenant- Commander J.R.H. Kirkpatrick, RCNVR, manning the larger and more heavily-armed Fairmile D Type “Dog Boat” craft worked up at Holyhead throughout April and May. Law was horrified when the 29th Flotilla’s torpedo tubes were removed and replaced with small depth charges. “Mere words,” he later commented, “cannot explain the effect on the Flotilla’s morale: the bottom dropped out of everything, and our faces were long as we watched our main armament and striking power being taken away.” 11 Law lobbied hard to get the torpedoes back but it would take two months before they returned.
In late May, two of the fleet destroyers acquired from the RN after the Quadrant discussions of the previous September, HMCS Algonquin and HMCS Sioux, arrived in Portsmouth. Although given Tribal names, the newcomers were from the more modern “V” class and, although somewhat smaller and less heavily armed (only four 4.7-inch guns as opposed to six 4.7-inch and two four-inFch guns in the Tribals), they were sturdy ships with longer range. After commissioning and work ups both destroyers had been sent to Scapa Flow in April where they served as screening vessels in two carrier air strikes against the Tirpitz. They acquitted themselves well but the ships’ companies were happy to be ordered south to provide shore bombardment for the Normandy landing. They did not have long to wait. At 1500 hours on 5 June 1944, Lieutenant-Commander D.W. Piers, RCN, Algonquin’s commanding officer, assembled his officers and men on the destroyer’s quarter-deck to inform them that the invasion would take place on the following day and that Algonquin had “been chosen to be in the spearhead.” As Leading Seaman K. Garrett remembered,
Everyone there gave a low moan about being in the spearhead of the invasion, but Debbie [Piers] had more to say, which stunned everyone there. He mentioned that also we had been chosen to be the point on the end of the spear. I said to my fellow shipmates, “A spear sometimes gets blunted.” Then the Captain had more to say. He said, “If our ship gets hit near the shore, we will run the ship right upon the shore and keep firing our guns, until the last shell is gone.”
I was scared no longer. With a spirit like this, we couldn’t lose. I felt right then and there, “We will succeed.” 12
Three hours later, HMCS Algonquin sailed for France.
The armada assembled for Operation Neptune consisted of 6,900 vessels, ranging from battleships to merchant ships, including 63 Canadian warships, and no fewer than 4,100 landing ships or craft, of which 46 were manned by the RCN. The first Canadian sailors to see action in the operation were the 16 Bangor-class minesweepers, which had the crucial task of clearing corridors through the German defensive mine belt so that landing craft could reach the beaches. The 31st Flotilla commenced its work in the early evening of June 5, sweeping and marking a channel to the American landing site dubbed “Omaha Beach,” and completed it by dawn on June 6. As the sweepers turned out to sea, they could see hundreds of landing craft approaching the coast under the cover of a heavy shore bombardment carried out by battleships, cruisers, and destroyers to neutralize the German shore defences. Algonquin and Sioux participated in this bombardment. Their initial task was to fire at shore batteries located on the eastern side of Juno Beach and both destroyers commenced shooting shortly after 0700. Sioux engaged a shore battery for 40 minutes before ceasing fire as the first landing craft approached the beach. Lieutenant L.B. Jenson, RCN, the executive officer of Algonquin, recalled that the destroyer hoisted its White Ensign before opening fire at a shore battery near the village of Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer. Forty-five minutes later, when Algonquin checked fire, the “sea was getting a little choppy and the hundreds of landing craft going in looked rather uncomfortable.”
no shells or bombs had come our way and we had the privilege of a grandstand view of British and Canadian forces in this incomparable assault. Fires were burning on shore and some landing craft also appeared to be on fire, while soldiers were clambering out of other landing craft and moving ashore without noticeable opposition. 13
The two destroyers stood off the coast until the assault troops had secured the beaches, after which they provided fire support on call from forward observation officers who landed with the infantry. At 1051 Algonquin destroyed two German self-propelled guns with its third salvo.
The Canadian LCI flotillas and the two LCA (Landing Craft, Assault) flotillas carried by Prince David and Prince Henry had a less happy time. The 529th Flotilla from Prince David transported troops of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division into Juno Beach, but a 10-minute delay in landing meant that a rising tide covered many of the beach obstacles and seven of the eight LCAs in this flotilla were lost either from mines or German fire. The 528th Flotilla operating from Prince Henry suffered not only from shore fire but also explosive charges attached to obstacles and lost one LCA when the craft hit a mine. The 260th LCI Flotilla encountered similar perils when its seven craft landed later in the morning, as well as a German aircraft, which dive-bombed LSI 285 without effect. All of this flotilla’s craft managed to get off the beach, but the 262nd LCI Flotilla was forced to leave five of its 12 craft on the beach after they suffered mine damage. The 10 LCIs of the 264th Flotilla transported British troops to Gold Beach and, as the captain of each craft was anxious to win the £10 in the flotilla pool for the LCI that touched on shore first, they “jammed” their craft “full- ahead” with the result that some hit the beach at such speed that they could not get off again. 14 Otherwise this flotilla had a rather quiet time.
Neptune was a complete success and when darkness came on 6 June 1944 just over 150,000 Allied troops were in France—at a cost of 9,000 casualties, of which 1,081 were from the Canadian Army and Navy. Having got the initial wave ashore, the Allied navies’ task was to guard their vulnerable seaborne lines of communication. Toward this end, the 29th MTB Flotilla was the first Canadian naval unit to see action. On the night of June 6, Lieutenant-Commander Law and four of his boats engaged German fast attack craft attempting to lay mines on the eastern flank of the beachhead. A swift and hard-fought little action followed in which the 29th Flotilla, along with British MTBs, sank one of the German craft and damaged others. On the following two nights, Law’s boats encountered and engaged several small German destroyers prowling around the beachhead. Although seriously over- matched and cursing the fact that their torpedoes had been removed, the Canadian MTBs engaged the enemy vessels with their two-pounder guns and managed to scare them off before they did any serious damage.
The 29th Motor Torpedo Boat flotilla races across the Channel.
The Kriegsmarine, however, was just getting started. On the night of the 8 - 9 of June, a powerful German surface force consisting of three destroyers (Zh-1, Z-24, Z-32) and a torpedo boat (T-24) attempted to attack shipping in the western side of the beachhead. Fortunately, the German movement was betrayed by signals intelligence, which permitted the 10th Destroyer Flotilla of eight vessels, including the Haida and Huron, to make an interception. Contact was made in the early hours of June 9 and a ferocious night-time engagement with guns and torpedoes ensued. Dodging a German torpedo attack, Haida, Huron, and their British consorts opened fire with their main armament, inflicting serious damage on the enemy. In just over an hour, ZH-1 was sunk and the three surviving German warships broke off contact and made for Brest, unwittingly steaming through a minefield, which hampered pursuit. Regaining contact with Z-32, Haida and Huron fired at the hapless destroyer, which had become separated from the other two enemy ships, with accurate radar-controlled gun fire until its captain deliberately ran it aground. This highly successful action, which saw the Canadian Tribals achieve the destruction of their third large German warship in two months, completely fulfilled NSHQ’s hopes that RCN surface warships would garner positive publicity.
Throughout the summer of 1944, Canadian ships continued to watch the seaward flank, as the Allied armies gradually expanded their bridgehead. The two MTB flotillas saw the most consistent action. Lieutenant-Commander Kirkpatrick’s 65th Flotilla arrived in Normandy on 11 June to operate on the western side of the beachhead, and for the next two weeks the flotilla’s Fairmile “Dog boats” fought a number of actions against German coastal convoys, sinking several small escort vessels. Perhaps the high point came on the night of the 3 - 4 of July when Kirkpatrick took his command into the port of Saint-Malo and shot up two German patrol boats before withdrawing unscathed under heavy fire. Thereafter things settled down on the western flank and the 65th Flotilla enjoyed a relatively quiet summer until it was withdrawn to Britain in early September.
Matters were more hectic on the eastern side. The 29th Flotilla rejoiced when it was re-armed with torpedoes in mid-June as they now had an effective weapon against the German “Night Train” operations that saw enemy surface ships, including destroyers, torpedo boats, E-boats, and small minesweepers attempting to break into the beachhead area. During the latter part of June and well into July, the 29th Flotilla fought several nighttime actions including a particularly dangerous one against nine German E-boats attempting to sortie from Le Havre on the night of the 4 - 5 July that encountered three of Law’s MTBs off Cap D’Antifer. As he remembered:
Simpson, the radar operator, soon picked up echoes at 2,000 yards dead ahead, and Footsie signalled the frigate that we had picked up the enemy. Sure enough, nine E-Boats, hugging the coast, were moving toward our position, and I grimly imagined their surprise when they found the opposition so well established in their hideaway.
459 moved off, steadily increasing speed, followed closely astern by Bobby and Bish. The enemy were now 1,500 yards from us, and both sides were closing dead ahead. It was exactly at midnight when our three boats opened fire at 1,400 yards, and at 1,200 yards all guns were blazing away at the leading E-Boat. We then switched targets to the third E-Boat in line, and under our concentrated volley it burst into flames and was left in a sinking condition. His comrades quickly made smoke, obscuring our view, but we could still see the glow of the fire through the haze, and I very much doubt if the craft could have made Le Havre. 15
Darkness hours were often livened by attacks from the Luftwaffe, which rarely managed to hit anything but interfered with everyone’s sleep. Some of these aircraft, however, dropped “Oyster” pressure mines, which were virtually unsweepable. HMCS Algonquin, which, along with Sioux, had continued to engage shore targets at the request of the army in the weeks following D-Day, had a close call on June 24 when it came to anchor off the beachhead. Lieutenant L.B. Jenson, RCN, officer of the watch, spotted a floating mine and was granted permission to sink it with gunfire. As he recalled:
I decided to do it personally, using my Sten gun. Looking back, we were a bit too close and this was an unusually stupid thing to do. I did not stop to reflect that mines can blow up and shower you with shrapnel. God was with me. The mine with all its horns intact quietly sank.
[The British destroyer, HMS] Swift snootily signalled us, “While you play around, may I anchor in your billet and you anchor in mine?” I signalled, “Yes, please,” and she steamed ahead to what had been our spot. I watched in my binoculars as she let go her anchor and was immediately enveloped in a cloud of white spray. There was a second explosion, her back was broken and she started to sink. 16
Fifty-seven British sailors died in this incident, but that did not stop the hard-bitten “Algonquins” from sending boats over to the wreck to salvage useful items of equipment, including a quantity of rum stored in the petty officers’ mess. Shortly thereafter, their bombardment tasks completed, the two “V”-class destroyers withdrew to Britain.
The cross-Channel invasion having been accomplished, the RCN’s participation in combined operations began to wind down. The three LCI flotillas were paid off in July just as Beach Commando W landed in Normandy where it remained for two months handling waterborne and vehicle traffic on Juno Beach before it too was paid off. Prince David and Prince Henry, with their attached LCA flotillas, left Normandy in late July and headed for the Mediterranean where they formed part of the Allied naval force assembled for Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France. This was successfully carried out on August 16 and the two ships were then employed in the eastern Mediterranean, ferrying troops and supplies to Allied forces operating in Yugoslavia and Greece until the end of the year.
The Canadian Tribals with the 10th Flotilla continued to be active in the Normandy area throughout the summer. On the 27 - 28 of June, Huron sank a heavily-armed German minesweeper and several patrol boats with gunfire before leaving for Canada for a refit. In the late summer Iroquois and Haida began to carry out offensive sweeps in the Bay of Biscay to clear out German coastal traffic. On the night of the 5 - 6 of August, the two destroyers engaged an enemy convoy of eight ships south of Saint-Nazaire, sinking two escorting minesweepers before starting to shell the remaining vessels. Haida had just started on this work when a round prematurely detonated in a gun of its “Y” turret, killing and wounding several members of the gun crew. Able Seaman M.R. Kerwin, though blinded and dazed by the explosion and wounded by splinters, went into the blazing turret and succeeded in dragging a gun crew member to safety, which brought him the award of a Conspicuous Gallantry Medal. This accident forced Haida to withdraw for repairs leaving Iroquois as Canada’s representative in the Biscay.
In the early hours of August 16, Iroquois, in company with the cruiser HMS Mauritius and the destroyer HMS Ursa, encountered a large convoy near the mouth of the Gironde River. The enemy escort, consisting of the old adversary, T-24, an aircraft tender, and several minesweepers, put up a stiff fight. After dodging torpedoes launched by T-24, Iroquois responded with a torpedo attack of its own, but Force 27 had to withdraw to seaward after coming under fire from heavy German coast batteries. It later returned, and Ursa and Iroquois between them sank or drove aground three minesweepers and two other vessels. The enigmatic T-24 escaped but was later sunk by British and Canadian aircraft. The commanding officers of both Mauritius and Ursa had high praise for Iroquois’ gunnery, the captain of Ursa reporting that the action reflected the greatest credit on its commanding officer, Commander James Hibbard, RCN. Iroquois remained with Force 27 until early September when it was withdrawn, as by this time German naval forces in France had nearly ceased to exist, either sunk at sea or destroyed in port by air bombardment.
The 16 Canadian minesweepers continued with their undramatic but important work in the Channel. It was not until early 1945 that they were returned to escort duties, but the end of the war saw them return to minesweeping when an international effort was made to clear European waters of the deadly items. The Canadian Bangors only ceased this task in September 1945, but mine clearance continued for many years after the shooting had ended.
After the Allied armies broke out of Normandy in mid-August to liberate Paris and the Low Countries, Canadian naval units continued to protect their seaward flank. Throughout the autumn, the 29th and 65th MTB Flotillas, based in southeast England, interdicted E-boat raids and harassed German coastal traffic. For the Canadian MTBs, the high point of this period was the amphibious landing on Walcheren Island in the Scheldt Estuary, which was carried out in early November. Shortly thereafter Lieutenant-Commander Law’s 29th Flotilla had the misfortune to run into the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” a force of four German flak trawlers armed with deadly 88 mm guns that enjoyed legendary status in Coastal Forces. As Law recalled,
Although I had not come in contact with these uncouth gentlemen since 1943 when I had been working off the Dutch coast, I knew that these bullies were far from gentle….We spent the remainder of the night playing a game with each other which consisted mainly of batting shells back and forth. No one was getting hurt, but it was a frighteningly dangerous game. As soon as we had manoeuvred into a possible torpedo position and were ready to pull the lever, what would happen?
The Four Horsemen would alter course toward us, and just to keep the game lively they would slam out a few more 88 mms…. .The game went on and at the end of the period there was still no score. 17
In December, the 29th Flotilla was glad when it was transferred to the liberated port of Ostend as it meant less transit time in the Channel. On Valentine’s Day 1945, however, Law’s command met an untimely end when an accident in the crowded harbour led to the destruction by fire of 12 MTBs and the deaths of 64 officers and sailors, including 29 Canadians. As only four, very worn, Canadian MTBs survived the disaster, it was decided to disband the 29th Flotilla. It was replaced at Ostend by the 65th Flotilla, which served there until the end of the war.
The two Canadian “V”-class destroyers, meanwhile, returned to northern waters. To reduce the German naval threat to the Murmansk convoys, a series of operations were undertaken to sink the remaining German capital ships based in Norway. Algonquin and Sioux joined a Home Fleet destroyer flotilla based at unlovable Scapa Flow and participated in Operation Mascot on July 17, screening carriers that flew off aircraft in an unsuccessful attempt to sink the dreaded Tirpitz. Subsequent strikes on the German battleship proved no more profitable, and it remained a threat until November when Royal Air Force (RAF) Lancaster bombers destroyed it with 5,450 kilogram “
The safe return to Scapa Flow of the Canadian-operated aircraft carrier HMS Nabob, after being torpedoed by a U-boat on 22 August 1944, was an amazing feat of seamanship.
Before that, in August, Algonquin and Sioux were joined by HMS Nabob, the Canadian- manned escort carrier. Carrying 13 Grumman Avenger torpedo-bombers and eight Wildcat fighters, Nabob saw its first action in Operation Offspring, an aerial minelaying operation in Norwegian coastal waters on August 9 and performed well. Then came Operation Good- wood, a planned air attack on the Tirpitz carried out by the fleet carriers, HM Ships Formidable, Furious, and Indefatigable, combined with a minelaying strike by Nabob and another escort carrier in the waters of the Altenfjord, the German battleship’s lair. Bad weather hampered Goodwood and most of the air strikes and minelaying attacks were cancelled. Unfortunately for Nabob, late in the afternoon of August 22 it was hit by torpedo fired by a U-boat that blasted a hole that measured 10 by 15 metres in its starboard side. As his ship began to settle by the stern, the commanding officer, Captain H.N. Lay, RCN, commenced damage control efforts and evacuated all non-essential personnel to waiting destroyers, including Algonquin. Within four hours, however, the flooding was brought under control and Nabob was able to raise steam and get under way, although down by the stern. Over the next five days, the wounded carrier slowly limped the 1,600 kilometres to safety at Scapa, even flying two Avengers off its sloping flight deck to harass a U-boat that was trailing it. For Nabob’s largely Canadian crew it was an impressive piece of seamanship, but the vessel’s fighting days were over—its company was paid off and the carrier was cannibalized for spare parts.
In September and October, Algonquin and Sioux resumed escort duty on the Murmansk Run. It was, as one officer recalled, a return to the “most hazardous and horrible place for naval operations” to take place, which had to be carried out in the face of not only pack ice, ferocious storms, “perpetual night in winter, perpetual day in summer,” but also German submarines and aircraft. 18 In November, Algonquin got some relief from this onerous duty when it participated in Operation Counterblast, an attempt to interrupt enemy coastal traffic, transporting vital iron ore from Norway to Germany. In company with British cruisers and destroyers, Algonquin intercepted a large convoy off Stavanger on the 12th of November and, as its commanding officer, Lieutenant-Commander D.W. Piers, RCN, reported:
Many targets were plainly visible and quickly engaged. ALGONQUIN opened fire on an escort vessel at an initial range of 5400 [yards or 4937 metres] at 2314 and obtained a hit with the first salvo. This target was also being engaged by other ships ahead it burst into flames within a minute. Fire was shifted at 2317 to a merchant ship at an initial range of 8000 yards [7315 metres]. Using No. 2 gun (B) for starshell illumination and the remainder of the armament firing S.A.P [Semi-Armour-Piercing round] this second target was also reduced to flames by the first few salvoes. 19
The result of Counterblast was that two of four German merchant ships and five of the six escorts were sunk. Unfortunately, however, similar operations carried out over the winter garnered minimal results.
When Algonquin left for refit in Canada in January 1945, Sioux continued serving on with the Murmansk Run. If anything, things got worse when the Luftwaffe deployed a large force of torpedo bombers to northern Norway—air attacks now became frequent and, inevitably, losses became heavier. On February 10, Sioux was with Convoy JW-64 outward bound to Murmansk when it came under heavy air attack. As its commanding officer, Lieutenant-Commander E. Boak, RCN, reported, the Luftwaffe pressed its attacks home:
a JU 188 appeared from a bearing of Green 90 …, about 50 feet off the water and 3000 yards [2743 metres] away, flying directly towards the ship. At about 1500 yards [1371 metres] the plane dropped a torpedo and banked away to starboard, flying-up between HMCS SIOUX and HMS LARK. [My] Ship went “Full ahead together, hard-a-port,” and steadied up on a course 060, Starboard [20 mm] Oerlikons opened up on the plane just before the torpedo was dropped and followed him out of range, and also one round from “B” gun was fired at him but was short. Enemy’s port engine was seen to be smoking heavily before he disappeared into a snow flurry. 20
The return convoy, RA-64, encountered terrible weather. One of Sioux’s officers recalled that “abused engines broke down, cargoes shifted, decks split, steering gear went wonky, ice- chipped propellers thrashed,” while the seas “continued at awful heights, spindrift streaming from boiling crests.” 21 The weather did not stop the Germans: not only was RA-64 attacked by torpedo bombers but also by a large force of U-boats that managed to sink two of the escorts while losing one of their own. On the 19th of February, the Luftwaffe appeared overhead and, at one point:
One of the planes closed to torpedo [merchant ship] number 103. Fire was opened and aircraft released torpedo which eventually exploded at end of run between 9th and 10th columns [of merchant ships].The plane went down the port side being heavily engaged with close range weapons. At the same time a plane coming in from the starboard quarter was also engaged and driven away. 22
Throughout these two convoys, Sioux was almost in constant action and the efforts of its commanding officer and ship’s company were marked by the award of a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) to Lieutenant-Commander Boak. Shortly thereafter it departed for Canada for a well-deserved and needed refit.
Sioux was replaced by Haida, Huron, and Iroquois, returning from their own refits, as well as the second Canadian-manned escort carrier, HMS Puncher. This ship enjoyed better luck than Nabob and participated in four operations in February, March, and April against Norwegian targets, flying off its Wildcat fighters to provide air cover for shipping strikes and minelaying operations, before withdrawing for boiler cleaning. During these last few months of the war—although Iroquois participated in one coastal convoy attack, sinking a tanker—the major activity for the Tribals was the seemingly interminable Arctic convoys and perhaps no sailors in the RCN were happier when the surrender of Germany in May 1945 brought an end to the war in Europe and relieved them of this burdensome task.
One enemy remained. From 1943 onward, when it became clear that the Battle of the Atlantic and the war in Europe were moving toward a favourable conclusion, NSHQ had turned its attention to planning for the Pacific. The intent was to demonstrate that the RCN was more than an ASW escort force and affirm the objective NSHQ had doggedly pursued since 1939—to make a major contribution in terms of surface ships to act as the foundation for the balanced blue water post-war fleet. The Navy’s ambitious plans were thwarted only in part by Mackenzie King, who not only kept a careful eye on costs but was ever suspicious of getting Canada entangled in British colonial problems. After much discussion and a considerable amount of political manoeuvring between the government, NSHQ and the RN, it was ultimately agreed that the RCN would man two light fleet carriers with four Canadian air squadrons on board, two light cruisers, four Tribal-class destroyers, two “V”-class destroyers, eight new Crescent-class destroyers, the anti-aircraft ship Prince Robert, and no less than 44 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) vessels. In terms of personnel, this commitment would total about 37,000 officers and seamen, serving both afloat and ashore—nearly half the RCN’s strength in late 1944.
The RCN took greatest pride in the two light cruisers provided to Canada by Britain as a free gift. Armed with nine six-inch guns, eight four-inch high angle guns and many smaller 20 and 40 mm guns, these ships were intended to bolster the anti-aircraft defences of the British Pacific Fleet in which they would serve. HMCS Uganda, the first cruiser to enter service, was commissioned in Charleston, South Carolina, on Trafalgar Day (21 October) 1944. An impressive array of American, British, and Canadian dignitaries and senior officers attended the ceremony and the British ambassador reported that Canadian naval officers were “all labouring happily under a feeling of excitement and anticipation caused by the acquisition of what they called in their official leaflet ‘the first Canadian cruiser….’ It was as though,” he continued, “the Canadian Navy was reaching manhood and that, through its Navy, Canada herself was stepping forward and upward.” 23 In early February 1945, following work ups, Uganda sailed for the Pacific, while the second cruiser, HMCS Ontario, commissioned in April and immediately sailed to join it.
In May Uganda participated in the shore bombardment of the Sakashima Islands, part of the invasion of Okinawa, but its normal role with the British Pacific Fleet was to act as an anti- aircraft guard, a duty it performed in June and July during a number of airstrikes on the Japanese home islands. In July, however, Uganda’s war and NSHQ’s plans for a major Pacific force came to a somewhat ignominious end, because of the federal government’s policy that only volunteers would serve in the Pacific and that all service personnel who volunteered would receive 30 days clear leave in Canada before being sent to that theatre. This meant that, if Uganda’s ship’s company did not volunteer en masse, the ship would have to return to Canada to re-commission with an all-volunteer crew. On 28 July 1945 the vote was held in Uganda and 80 percent of its officers and seamen opted not to volunteer. This being the case, Uganda departed for Esquimalt and arrived there shortly before the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought an end to the Pacific conflict. Consequently, no Canadian warship was present in Tokyo Bay when representatives of the Japanese government unconditionally surrendered to the allied powers on board the American battleship USS Missouri.
The Canadian Navy’s role in surface warfare during the Second World War has been overshadowed by its major contribution to victory in the Battle of the Atlantic. During the long years of that seemingly interminable struggle, however, the RCN achieved an outstanding record of success in conventional naval operations in Europe and the Pacific, operations that would prove a very useful foundation for the post-war service.
1 C.A. Law, White Plumes Astern (Halifax: Nimbus Publishing Ltd., 1989), 11.
2 Quoted in W.A.B. Douglas, Roger Sarty, Michael Whitby, A Blue Water Navy (St. Catharines, ON: Vanwell Publishing, 2007), 111.
3 LAC, RG 24,Vol. 6797, Captain H.G. De Wolfe, “Employment of Tribal Destroyers,” 7 December 1942.
4 United Kingdom National Archives [UKNA], ADM 199/1406, Report of Proceedings, HMCS Athabaskan, 30 August 1943.
5 DHH, BIOG file, Address by Rear-Admiral P.D. Budge, 19 September 1981.
6 R.D. Butcher, I Remember Haida (Hantsport, NS: Lancelot Press, 1985), 36-37.
7 UKNA, ADM 205/31, Minutes of Meeting, Quebec, 11 August 1943.
8 P.R. Burrows, “Prisoners of War,” Salty Dips, Vol. 3 (Ottawa: Naval Officers’ Association of Canada, 1988), 171.
9 Len Burrow and Emile Beaudoin, Unlucky Lady: The Life and Death of HMCS Athabaskan (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1982), 125.
10 DHH, Commander, Fleet Minesweeping Office, Devonport, to Captain, Minesweeping Command, 22 April 1944.
11 Law, White Plumes Astern, 37.
12 Quoted in L.B. Jenson, Tin Hats, Oilskins and Seaboots (Toronto: Robin Brass Studio, 2000), 222.
14 J.M. Ruttan,“Race to Shore,” Salty Dips, Vol. 1 (Ottawa, 1985), 193.
19 LAC, RG 24, DDE 224, Report of Proceedings, HMCS Algonquin, 13 November 1944.
20 LAC, RG 24, DDE 225, Narrative of Air Attack, HMCS Sioux, 10 February 1945.
21 Hal Lawrence, A Bloody War (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1979), 168-69.
22 LAC, RG 24, DDE 225, Report of Air Attack, HMCS Sioux, 20 February 1945.
23 UKNA, ADM 1/18371, Sir Gerald Campbell to Director of Operations, 30 October 1944.