HMS Bedouin and a ‘dream’ picture – October 1941

Richard Maddox

IT MAY HAVE BEEN A RARE MISTAKE made by an official Royal Navy photographer on a Royal Navy warship as it prepared for anti-shipping operations off Norway almost 80 years ago.

Two shots combined in a camera on a single negative.

It is October 1941 and in one image a seaman stands at a rail on the destroyer HMS Bedouin and looks towards the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious.

In the second a carrier-based Fairey Fulmar from No. 806 Squadron – a type used as a fleet-defence fighter, reconnaissance and attack aircraft – flies slighty banked across the bottom of the frame from right to left.

And then – through luck or predetermined calculations – they merge to make a dream-like composition.

CLOSE-UP of a Fairey Fulmar aircraft. Image by Lieutenant C J Ware. Image Copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference A 5989. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205140178.

CLOSE-UP of a Fairey Fulmar aircraft. Image by Lieutenant C J Ware. Image Copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference A 5989. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205140178.

The Tribal-class destroyer HMS Bedouin – with its sisters Ashanti, Eskimo, Matabele, Punjabi and Somali – were operating from Hvalfjördur  with the battleship HMS King George V, the carrier HMS Victorious and the cruiser HMS Penelope.

Together the ships were performing Operation EJ (II). (1) (2)

Although Operation EJ (II) was a minor operation lasting from 5 to 9 October 1941, it is interesting – as some of Lieutenant Ware’s photographs on the IWM Collections website show – that American warships from the US Atlantic fleet were in Hvalfjördura together with the British Home fleet vessels.

This was of course two months before America officially entered the Second World War.

According to many of the captions associated with the operation on IWM’s Collections website pages the American vessels were the carrier USS Wasp, together with the New Mexico class-battleships USS Idaho and USS Mississippi, the heavy cruisers USS Wichita, and the New Orleans class vessesls USS Astoria and USS Tuscaloosa, the repair ship USS Vulcan and an unidentified seaplane tender that has been converted from a McDougal class destroyer.

It may be that while the classes of ship have been confirmed there is some degree of misidentification concerning individual vessels.

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?query=HMS%20Bedouin&pageSize=90&style=list&filters%5BwebCategory%5D%5BPhotographs%5D=on&filters%5BperiodString%5D%5BSecond%20World%20War%5D=on&page=0

More information

A little about HMS Bedouin can be found at http://hmscavalier.org.uk/G67/ – retrieved 18 April 2020.

Fairey Fulmar details can be seen at the folllowing:
https://www.armouredcarriers.com/fairey-fulmar-development – retrieved 18 April 2020.
https://www.armouredcarriers.com/fairey-fulmar-models – retrieved 18 April 2020.
https://www.armouredcarriers.com/fairey-fulmar-operational-history – retrieved 18 April 2020.

Sources

(1) https://codenames.info/operation/ej-i/ – retrieved 18 April 2020.

(2) https://codenames.info/operation/ej-ii/ – retrieved 18 April 2020.