A Turquoise Christmas

RICHARD MADDOX

 

HM TRAWLER Turquoise T45 – originally named Warwickshire before being requisitioned by the Royal Navy – was built in 1935 by Smith Dock Company at Southbank-on-Tees in the northeast of England. Armed with a deck gun fore and aft, depth-charges and a top speed of 12 knots, the 641-ton Turquoise served as an anti-submarine and escort trawler based at Harwich on the east coast of Britain. (1) (2)

Turquoise’s patrol area extended around the coast of East Anglia from the Humber Estuary in the north to the mouth of the Thames in the south. (3)

The area became known as ‘E-Boat Alley’ because the German Navy’s (Kreigsmarine) fast patrol boats – Shnellboote, known to the British as E-Boats – would regularly leave their coastal bases in Occupied Europe to harass and attack coastal merchant shipping.

By January 1944 the vessel had spent four years protecting the area. (4)

The images above show members of the crew on 21 December 1943 making preperation for Christmas with the vessel’s cook – complete with cigar and a bottle – emerging from below decks carrying a traditional Christmas pudding in its muslin cloth wrapping.

In another image in the same set a Leading Rating climbs aloft to set a Christmas tree at the mast head.

With the Christmas holiday over, the final image shows HMT Turquoise setting out on patrol on 14 January 1944.

The trawler survived the war, returned to civilian working and was scrapped in 1957.

Image information

All the above images were made by Lieutenant J E Russell RN.

Top left image – IWM catalogue reference A 21072. Image copyright © IWM. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205153455 – retrieved 10 November 2019.

Top right image – IWM catalogue reference A 21070. Image copyright © IWM. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205153453 – retrieved 10 November 2019.

Bottom image – IWM catalogue reference A 21378, Image copyright © IWM. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205153707 – retrieved 10 November 2019.

Sources

(1) https://uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/6490.html – retrieved 10 November 2019.

(2) http://www.harwichanddovercourt.co.uk/warships/trawlers/ – retrieved 10 November 2019.

(3) http://www.coastal-forces.org.uk/history.html – retrieved 10 November 2019.

(3) https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205153707 – retrieved 10 November 2019.

 

 

 

 

Pedal power at the Royal Naval Fighter Direction School, HMS Heron, Royal Naval Air Station, Yeovilton, Somerset – 1943

RICHARD MADDOX

IN 1941 LIEUTENANT COMMANDER CHARLES COKE RN finished a tour of duty as Air Signals Officer on the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal – where part of his duties were directing fighters from the carrier to intercept enemy aircraft during the Norwegian Campaign in 1940.

Soon after he was discussing what and where his next job might be and remarked that some kind of formal training could be useful for future Fighter Direction Officers.

His idea struck a note with the Admiralty.

His next posting was to establish a training school and its teaching syllabus at HMS Heron (also known as Royal Naval Air Station, Yeovilton). He devised a three-week training course of theoretical and practical exercises.

However one of the problems that he encountered was a large one. The Fleet Air Arm – the Royal Navy’s air component – didn’t sufficient aircraft available for his training school.

So he devised an ingenious solution.

FIGHTER INTERCEPTOR TRAINERS AT HMS HERON set off on an exercise. The modified tricycles are 'piloted' and under the direction of student Fighter Control Officer who try and get their 'pilot' to intercept an 'enemy', possibly the figure that can be seen in the distance between two aircraft hangars. Image by Lieutenant E A Zimmerman RN. Image copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference A 19101. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205151763 .

FIGHTER INTERCEPTOR TRAINERS AT HMS HERON set off on an exercise. The modified tricycles are ‘piloted’ and under the direction of student Fighter Control Officer who try and get their ‘pilot’ to intercept an ‘enemy’, possibly the figure that can be seen in the distance between two aircraft hangars. Image by Lieutenant E A Zimmerman RN. Image copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference A 19101. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205151763 .

Civilian tricycles of the type used by ice cream vendors were brought to the Air Station and were fitted with a wooden screen, curtain, aircraft compass and radio equipment and a metronome to govern the speed at which the ‘pilot’ of the trike – following instructions from the student Fighter Direction Officers (FDOs) and using their compass – pedalled to intercept the target.

The wooden screen on the front of the tricycle was designed to limit vision so that the ‘enemy’ could only be seen when the target had been successfully acquired after following the directions given and using their navigation skills.

The students were based in the airfield control tower and using a polar grid – a series of concentric circles centred on a common point and with a series of lines passing through it denoting angles – computed the compass direction and speed to bring about a successful intercept. This information was communicated to the ‘pilots’ who pedalled accordingly.

The first course was run in July 1941. (1)

It seemed likely that a various scenarios were practised – although the more often described appears to be for two tricycles – one playing the enemy and the other a Royal Navy aircraft – being used.

WRNS (members of the Women’s Royal Naval Service) were also trained and there appears to have been much competition between the men and women ‘pilots’.  (2)

A SUCCESSFUL INTERCEPT with in this case a WRNS officer representing an enemy aircraft. Image by Lieutenant E A Zimmerman RN. Image Copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference A 19102. https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205151764

A SUCCESSFUL INTERCEPT with in this case a WRNS officer representing an enemy aircraft. Image by Lieutenant E A Zimmerman RN. Image Copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference A 19102. https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205151764

Sources

(1) https://ethw.org/The_Beginnings_of_Naval_Fighter_Direction_-_Chapter_5_of_Radar_and_the_Fighter_Directors – retrieved 26 August 2019

 (2) https://issuu.com/navynews/docs/199708/17 – retrieved 26 August 2019

 

Royal Navy submarine P36 – sunk in April 1942 and raised in the summer of 1958

Richard Maddox

BRITISH ‘U’ CLASS SUBMARINE P36 was laid down in July 1940 at the Vickers shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness on Britain’s northwest coast and commissioned into the Royal Navy in September 1941.

After working up at HMS Dolphin at Gosport, Hampshire England and Holy Loch in Scotland and a patrol off southwest Ireland the boat left Portsmouth, England for the Mediterranean where it was to become part of the ‘Fighting Tenth’ – the 10th Flotilla – based at Malta.

During the voyage P36 landed two agents on the Mediterranean coast of France, near Monte Carlo. (1) (2)

On 22 March 1942 P36 took part in an attack on an Italian Littorio class battleship and its accompaning cruisers and destroyers.

The Italian ships made a counter-attack which lasted for six hours and P36 received some damage. (3) (4)

The boat returned to Malta without further incident.

A number of boats moored at HMS Talbot submarine depot, Malta in January 1943. Image Copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference A 14389. Original source http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205147558.

A number of boats moored at HMS Talbot submarine depot, Malta in January 1943. Image Copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference A 14389. Original source http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205147558.

In Malta P36 was moored alongside the Lazaretto on Manoel Island in Marsamxett Harbour.

The former hospital and quarentine facility – which dates from the 17 century – was taken over by the British Admiralty in 1939 for use as a submarine depot and named HMS Talbot. (5)

While at HMS Talbot on 1 April 1942 it was attacked and sunk in an air raid – luckily without any casualties – and remained submerged for sixteen years.

THE RAISING OF 'U' class HM Submarine P36 in Marsamxett Harbour, Malta, showing the stern and a propeller coming clear of the water and damage to the sail or conning tower area. Image Copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference A 34076. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205164291.

THE RAISING OF ‘U’ class HM Submarine P36 in Marsamxett Harbour, Malta, showing the stern and a propeller coming clear of the water and damage to the sail or conning tower area. Image Copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference A 34076. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205164291.

Fifteen years later P36 did claim a casualty when in October 1957 Jack Cresdee, a diver on salvage vessel HMS Sea Salvor was killed carrying out a survey of the wreck. (6) (7)

The salvage operation was carried out using two specialist lifting craft, LC23 and LC24.

ANOTHER VIEW of P36s stern section as the vessel comes to the surface in the summer of 1958 after sixteen years on the seabed. Specialist vessels lift the submarine near the former HMS Talbot in Marsamxett Harbour, Malta. Image copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference A 34075. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205164290.

ANOTHER VIEW of P36s stern section as the vessel comes to the surface in the summer of 1958 after sixteen years on the seabed. Specialist vessels lift the submarine near the former HMS Talbot in Marsamxett Harbour, Malta. Image copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference A 34075. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205164290.

Over a period of weeks and nineteen seperate lifts during July and August the boat was raised, coming to the surface on 7 August 1958. Two weeks later the boat was towed to waters north of the island and sunk for the final time. (8)

Peter Farquar Flett, Senior Marine Salvage Officer, Mediterranean and Malta had overall responsibility for the salvage operation. Before the war he was a police officer with the London Metropolitan Police service.

He served in the Royal Naval Reserve during the Second World War, rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and a leading salvage expert. (9)

In 1957 had was honoured with the Order of the British Empire (OBE), Civil Division in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for, the award being published in the London Gazette Supplement dated 13 June 1957. (10)

Peter Flett died in 1992. (11) 

Sources

(1) https://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chrono-12SS-09U-HMS_P36.htm – retrieved 17 June 2019

(2) https://www.uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/3546.html – retrieved 17 June 2019

(3) https://www.alamy.com/aug-08-1958-hm-submarined-p-36-salvaged-from-lazarette-creek-malta-image69353210.html – retrieved 17 June 2019

(4) https://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chrono-12SS-09U-HMS_P36.htm – retrieved 17 June 2019

(5) http://www.midimalta.com/en/the-lazaretto – retrieved 17 June 2019

(6) https://www.militaryimages.net/media/d819-cresdee-jack-john-richard.130569/ – retrieved 17 June 2019

(7) http://www.historicalrfa.org/rfa-sea-salvor-ships-details – retrieved 17 June 2019

(8) http://u-boat.com.mt/the-loss-and-aftermath-of-h-m-submarine-p36/ – retrieved 17 June 2019

(9) https://www.buckieheritage.org/pdf/1992.pdf – retrieved 17 June 2019

(10) https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/41089/supplement/3380/data.pdf – retrieved 17 June 2019

(11) https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/N13700278 – retrieved 17 June 2019