AdviceToWriters – ATW INTERVIEWS – Andrew Ferguson

How did you become a writer?

Royal Navy ………… On This Day ………… 18 September ……

1708  Capture of Minorca. Ships: Centurion, Dunkirk, Milford.

1714  George, Elector of Hanover, landed at Greenwich to become King George I.

1740  Cdre George Anson in Centurion (60), sailed from St Helens with Gloucester (50), Severn (50), Pearl (40), Wager (24) and Tryall, sloop, for the South Seas to ‘annoy and distress the Spaniards, either at sea or on land’.

Great Britain declared war on Spain 19 October 1739 – the War of Jenkins’ Ear. Anson returned four years later with Centurion the sole survivor, having circumnavigated the world.

1804  Centurion (fourth of the name) fought the French Marengo, Atalante and Sémillante in Vizagapatan Roads.


The HMS Centurion attacked at anchor in Vizagapatan Roads (Moluccas) by Adm Linois’s French squadron, which was beaten off in a three-hour fight, 1804. (RNM 1976/244)

1810  Ceylon taken by the French Venus and Victor, Boadicea, with Otter and Staunch, captured Venus and recaptured Ceylon. Troops: 1/69th and 86th Regiments (Ceylon), 89th Regiment (Boadicea), 1/69th Regiments (Otter and Staunch).

1811  Reduction of Java by Rear-Adm the Hon. Robert Stopford (Scipion) and Lt-Gen Sir Samuel Auchmuty. Ships: Akbar, Barracouta, Bucephalus, Caroline, Cornelia, Dasher, Doris, Harpy, Hecate, Hesper, Hussar, Illustrious, Leda, Lion, Minden, Modest, Nisus, Phaeton, Phoebe, President, Procris, Psyche, Samarang, Scipion, Sir Francis Drake. Field Officers’ Army gold medal awarded to Capt Sayer (Leda) who commanded batteries on shore, and Capt Bunce, RM (Illustrious), the Military Gold Medal.

1812  Boats of Bacchante (Capt Hoste) captured a convoy and its escort near Vasto, Adriatic.

1855  VC: Lt George Fiott Day (Recruit). Reconnaissance at Genitchi, Sea of Azov.

1855  Bittern and SS Paoushun destroyed twenty-two pirate junks in Shih pu harbour.

1857  Second party of Shannon’s Naval Brigade (Lt J.W. Vaughan) left the ship for Allahabad, proceeding by river steamer and flat.

1900  War Course for captains and commanders, later the Senior Officers’ War Course (SOWC), established at RN College, Greenwich, Capt H. Moore, Captain of the College, became the first Director.

1917  Q-ship Stonecrop (Glenfoyle) sunk by U-151 in N.W. Approaches.

1941  Unbeaten, Upholder, Upright and Ursula torpedoed three large escorted Italian transports off Tripoli (32-58N, 14-40E), sinking two and damaging a third.

1955  Vidal formally annexed Rockall for Great Britain, landing two RM cliff leaders to affix a plaque to that effect.

1999  Destroyer Glasgow with RM FSRT deployed to join multinational force under Australian command to secure peace and security in East Timor. Sailed 3 October. Operation Langar.


The destroyer HMS Glasgow joined a multinational force under Australian command at Dili following civil unrest in East Timor and contributed to the restoration of security and provision of humanitarian aid, 1999. (RNM)

Royal Navy ………… On This Day ………… 17 September ……

1797  Pelican sank the French privateer Trompeuse 30 miles N.N.E. of Cape St Nicolas Mole, Haiti.

1797  Unite captured the French privateer Brunette to the southwestward of Ile de Ré.

1812  Boats of Eagle captured two gunboats and twenty-one out of a convoy of twenty-three sail off Cape Maistro (Majestro), Adriatic.

1840  Mehemet Ali, Pasha of Egypt, attempted to assert his country’s independence of Turkey, but Palmerston would have none of it, and resorted to force.

Castor, Pique and the Ottoman Dewan captured Caiffa (Haifa).

1879  Battleship Agamemnon launched at Chatham. She and her Pembroke-built sister ship Ajax were plagued with erratic steering and considered ‘the most unhandy capital ships ever to fly the White Ensign’ – Oscar Parkes.


The battleship HMS Agamemnon and her sister ship Ajax were two of the most unsatisfactory battleships ever built for the Royal Navy. ‘Once they had put to sea defects and deficiencies became only too manifest and thereafter they ranked as the black sheep of the Battle Fleet’ – Oscar Parkes. (RNM)

1914  Hulk of former iron screw ship Invincible, on tow from Plyouth to Scotland, foundered in heavy weather off Portland when workshop plant broke adrift. Twenty-one of sixty-four passage crew lost.

1926  Commodores to wear a crown and two stars on epaulettes and all captains a crown and one star, thus ending the long disticntion between those with less, and those with more, than three years’ seniority in the rank.

1936  Esk rescued eighty-one refugees in final evacuation of Bilbao in Spanish Civil War.

1939  Courageous sunk by U-29 in the S.W. Approaches (50-10N, 14-50W), the first major warship and the first of five fleet carriers lost in the Second World War. Optimistic patrolling without adequate intelligence or escort in waters of known U-boat activity proved as wasteful as it was dangerous. Five hundred and fourteen men lost.

1940  Janus and Juno bombarded Sidi Barrani. Juno and Ladybird bombarded Sollum and escarpment road.

1940  Swordfish of 815 and 819 Sqns (Illustrious) mined Benghazi harbour and bombed the ships inside: the Italian destroyers Aquilone and Borea sunk by mine and bombing respectively.

1942  Waterfly sunk by German aircraft off Dungeness.

1944  Air-strike on Sigli, Sumatra. Operation Light. Ships: Indomitable, Victorious, Howe, Cumberland, Kenya, Racehorse, Raider, Rapid, Redoubt, Relentless, Rocket, Rotheram. FAA Sqns: 815, 817, 1839, 1844 (Indomitable – Barracuda, Hellcat): 822, 1834, 1835 (Victorious – Barracuda, Corsair).

1966  HMCS Okanagan, fifty-eighth submarine and last warship launched at Chatham Dockyard.

1994  UN maritime interdiction operations during reinstatement of President Aristide of Haiti who was restored to power on 13 October. Frigates Lancaster and Broadsword with RFA Oakleaf on station until 30 September. Operation Spartan.

2001  Corporation of London hosted a luncheon at the Mansion House to mark the centenary of the foundation of the RN Submarine Service.

2002  Adm Sir Alan West appointed First Sea Lord.

Recent Heads of the Service:

Adm Sir Nigel Essenhigh                  16 January 2001 – 17 September 2002

Adm Sir Michael Boyce                     8 October 1998 – 16 January 2001 (then CDS)

Adm Sir Jock Slater                          10 July 1995 – 8 October 1998

Adm Sir Benjamin Bathurst              2 March 1992 – 10 July 1995

Adm Sir Julian Oswald                     25 May 1989 – 2 March 1992

Adm Sir William Staveley                 2 August 1985 – 25 May 1989

Adm Sir John Fieldhouse                 1 December 1982 – 2 August 1985 (then CDS)

Adm Sir Henry Leach                       6 July 1979 – 1 December 1982

Adm Sir Terence Lewin                    1 March 1977 – 6 July 1979 (then CDS)

Adm Sir Edward Ashmore                2 March 1974 – 1 March 1977 (then CDS)

Adm Sir Michael Pollock                  13 March 1971 – 2 March 1974

Adm Sir Peter Hill-Norton                3 July 1970 – 13 March 1971 (then CDS)   

Two rare bee species discovered on Cornwall nature reserve – BBC News

Two rare bee species discovered on Cornwall nature reserve

Royal Navy ………….. On This Day ………… 16 September ……

1681  Adventure captured the Algerine Two Lions off Larache, Morocco.

1719  Weymouth and Winchester destroyed two Spanish warships (one the ex-British Greyhound) and a battery at Ribadeo, and captured a merchantman.

1795  Capture of the Cape of Good Hope in the name of the Prince of Orange by Vice-Adm Sir George Elphinstone, later Lord Keith (Monarch) and Gen Alfred Clarke. A Naval Brigade was landed. Ships: America, Jupiter, Monarch, Ruby, Sceptre, Stately, Tremendous, Trident. Frigates, etc,: Crescent, Echo, Hope, Moselle, Rattlesnake, Sphinx. Troops: 78th Regiment and 350 Marines.

1801  Champion recaptured the ex-British Bulldon at Gallipoli, Gulf of Taranto.

1813  Boats of Swallow captured the French Guerriére near Porto d’Anzio.

1914  Dwarf rammed by, but sank, the German Nachtigal in Bimbia River, W. Africa.

1917  Submarine G 9 rammed and sunk by destroyer Pasley off Norway. One survivor.

1918  UB-103 sunk in Dover Barrage.

1918  GC (ex-AM): Sub-Lt D.H. Evans (Glatton) for saving life when ship caught fire and had to be sunk in Dover harbour (torpedoed by destroyer Myngs).

1919  Monitors M 25 and M 27 blown up in Dvina River, northern Russia, to prevent their capture as they could not cross the bar. End of second Archangel River Expiditionary Force.

1939  First part of Channel mine barrage completed, from Goodwin Sands to Dunkirk, in five days by Adventure, Plover and two ferries.

1940  First German parachute mines dropped on London. Seventeen out of at least twenty-five failed to explode or were fused to delay detonation.

1942  Talisman reported sunk, possibly by mine, between Gibraltar and Malta in Sicilian Channel.

1942  Impulsive sank U-457 N.E. of Murmansk. Convoy PQ 18.

Flight Deck Operations

To the naval flyer the perils are not over when he leaves the scene of action. He then has to find the aircraft carrier whence he came, ofen in poor weather conditions and, in wartime, generally without the aid of radion and navigation systems. Having found his ship he then has to land on her. The Salerno landing in the autumn of 1943 are a good example: during nearly 4 days of carrier based flying two enemy aircraft were shot down and four damaged. No Seafire ws lost through enemy action. However, forty-two were lost or were written off through deck-landing accidents, and many others were made unserviceable.


A Seafire missing the deck. The Seafire wsa a high-performance fighter, but not intended for carrier operation. (RNM)

Royal Navy ………… On This Day ………… 15 September ……

1744  Navy Board proposed RN Hospitals at Portsmouth, Plymouth and Chatham, Haslar established by Order in Council.

1782  Vestal and Bonetta captured the French Aigle off the Delaware. American Minister to Holland ditched his papers but a diving sailor caught them: found to contain draft treaty.

1797  Aurora captured the French privateer Espiegle 40 miles to the westward of Cape Roxent (da Roca).

1803  Rear-Adm Sir James Saumarez (Cerberus) with two bombs, bombarded Granville.

1871  Herbert William Richmond born.

1899  Alexandra, Europa and Juno fitted with first operational wireless.

1903  First Term entered RN College, Osborne.

1909  Volunteer Reserve Decoration instituted.

1915  Submarine E 16 sank U-6 4 miles S.W. of Karmo Island, off Stavangar.

1931  Afo promulgated pay cuts which led to mutiny in some ships of the Atlantic Fleet at Invergordon: a brief, sad chapter of misinformation, muddle and misunderstanding.

Extract from Petition of Invergordon Mutineers

‘We the loyal subjects of HM The King do hereby present my Lord’s Commissioners of the Admiralty our representation to implore them to amend the drastic cuts in pay that have been inflicted on the lowest paid men on the lower deck.

‘It is evidentto all concerned that this cut is the forerunner of tragedy, misery and immorality amongst the families of the lower deck and unless we can be guaranteed a written agreement from Admiralty confirmed by Parliament stating that our pay will be revised we are still to remain as one unit, refusing to serve under the new rates of pay.

1940  Dundee sunk by U-48 in N. Atlantic 956-45N, 14-14W). Convoy SC 3.

1942  Whitley Q/58 sank U-261 S. of Faroes.

1943  Valiant and Warspite bombarded enemy positions near Salerno, restoring the Allied situation on shore.

Operation Avalanche – Salerno

The Naval Commander’s report on the landings at Salerno stated that ‘the margin of success in the landings was carried by the naval guns’, and the Germans attributed their failure to break through to the beaches to the devastating effect of the naval gunfire. The battleships Valiant and Warspite were involved in the bombardment. Of sixty-two rounds of 15in shells, thirty-five fell on target, and another eight were within 100yd. Warspite was hit by a radio-controlled bomb on 16th, which exploded in No. 4 Boiler Room and damaged her bottom. A second bomb landed close alongside and blew a hole in the waterline. The ship had lost all power in five minutes, and was flooding steadily. She was towed to Malta, and then went to Gibraltar where large cofferdams were built on her bottom. She was able to take part in the bombardment during the Normandy landings.

Invasion of Inchon, 1950

The US 10th Corps with over 70,000 men was landed at Inchon from 550 landing craft with the aim of recapturing Scoul and cutting the enemy forces’ supply routes. The landings were a totally American affair, but the British cruisers Jamaica and Kenya operated with the Gun Fire Support Group, carrying out offshore patrols and maintaining the blockade. During these operations Jamaica became the first United Nations ship to shoot down an enemy aircraft, on 17 September. During the operations she fired 1,290 rounds of 6in and 393 of 4in, while Kenya fired 1,242 rounds of 6in and 205 of 4in shells.

1966  Resolution launched, tenth of the name and the first RN Polaris ballistic missile submarine.


1983  Furze House, Queen’s Gate Terrace, London, bought in 1954 as WRNS accommodation, commissioned as St Vincent.

Paid off 31 March 1992. Name transferred to Communications Centre Whitehall (CCW) which commissioned as St Vincent 1 April 1992. DCI(RN)105/92.

1995  Thunderer, RN Engineering College, Manadon, paid off. Training transferred to Southampton University.

1998  Frigate Cumberland with RM FSRT and RM Boat Group stood by off Albania to evacuate British nationals. Relieved by London 22 Seotenber. Operation Swanston.

Royal Navy ……….. On This Day ………… 14 September ……

1650  Adm Robert Blake (George) captured seven ships of the Portuguese Brazil fleet, while blockading Prince Rupert in Lisbon.

1779  Pearl captured the Spanish Santa Monica 18 miles S. by E. of Corvo Island, Azores.

1801  Combined attack on the French siege batteries at Port Ferrajo, Elba. Ships: Renown, Vincejo.

1805  Vice-Adm Viscount Nelson sailed from Portsmouth for the last time, having by his own reckoning been absent from Victory for only twenty-five days ‘from dinner to dinner’ since 18 March 1803. ‘I had their cheers before: now I have their hearts.’

1807  Blonde captured the French privateer Hirondelle 400 miles to the eastward of Barbados.

1814  Unsuccessful bombardment of Fort McHenry by squadron under Rear-Adm Cochrane (Surprise) led to the composition of ‘The Star-spangled Banner’, the American national anthem, on the deck of a British warship (Minden). The tune is that of an old English drinking song. ‘Anocreon in Heaven’.

1909  Destroyer Viking launched at Palmers, Jarrow. The only six-funnelled ship the RN has had.

1914  AMC Carmania sank the German Cap Trafalgar off Trinidad Island. South Atlantic. War Medal: clasp ‘Cap Trafalgar, 14 Sep. 1914′ approved but not issued.


The armed merchant cruiser HMS Carmania in action with the German armed liner Cap Trafalgar of Trinidad Island in 1914. (RNM)

1914  Submarine AE 1, with mixed British and Australian crew, lost on patrol in St George’s Strait in Bismarck Archipelago N.E. of New Guinea. The first British or Dominion submarine loss in the First World War. Cause not known. AE 1 and AE 2 had left Portsmouth on 2 March 1914 and arrived at Sydney 24 May after voyage of 14,000 miles.

1917  GC (ex-AM): OS G.E.P. Abbott and R.J. Knowlton, RNR, for rescuing pilot in seaplane crashed up a 360ft mast on Hornsea Island. Third recipient. OS Gold, died before 1971.

1918  Argus commissioned: first flush-deck carrier.

1939  Submarine Sturgeon attacked and sister ship Swordfish, unsuccessfully.

1939  ‘So long as hostilities last, the use of the Blue Ensign, whether plain or defaced, and the defaced Red Ensign by erchant and other private vessels, is to be discontinued, … This prohibition does not apply to Dominion vessels, to vessels in the service of public departments and boards, or to stationary training ships holding an Admiralty warrant.’ AFO 2602/39.

1939  ‘The following Dresses are to be landed at the first opportunity by all fficers employed afloat: No. 1 Full Dress, No. 2 Ball Dress, No. 2a Ball Dress without Epaulettes, No. 3 Frock Coat with Epaulettes Dress, No. 4 Frock Coats Dress, No. 6 Mess Dress, No. 8 White Full Dress, No. 9 White Dress, No. 11 White Mess Dress.’ AFO 2605/39.

1942  Sikh hit by sore battery off Tobruk and sank in tow of Zulu. Coventry damaged by German air attack east of Tobruk, set on fire and scuttled by Zulu hit by Italian air attack and sank in tow of Hursley 932-00N, 28-56E). Three MTBs also sunk by aircraft. Operation Agreement.

1942  Ottawa (RCN) (ex-Crusader) sunk by U-91 in Gulf of St Lawrence. Convoy ON 127.

Convoy ON 127, 10-14 September 1942

This convoy consisted of thirty-two merchant ships. It was attacked by a wolf pack of thirteen U0boats, each of which was able to make an attack - the first time in the battle of Atlantic that this had happened. Twelve freighters and one destrohed were sunk. Only one U-boat was damaged.

1942  Dido, Javelin, Jervis, Pakenham and Paladin bombarded the Daba area, Egypt.

1942  Onslow and a Swordfish from Avenger sank U-589 off Bear Island. Convoy PQ 18.

1942  Sunderland R/202 sank the Italian S/M Alabastro off Algiers.

1987  Abdiel with four minehunters arrived Oman to start a five-month clearance of mines laid in Iran-Iraq war.

1993  Vanguard, the first of the RN’s Trident submarines, accepted at sea from Vickers Shipbuilding.

Royal Navy ……. On This Day ……….13 September …..

1747  Dover captured the French Renommée off Ushant.

1759  Capture of Quebec by Maj-Gen James Wolfe and Vice-Adm Charles Saunders (Neptune).

Ships: Alcide, Bedford, Captain, Centurion, Devonshire, Diana, Dublin, Echo, Eurus, Fowey, Head, Hind, Hunter, Lizard, Lowestoffe, Medway, Neptune, Nightingale, Northumberland, Orford, Pembroke, Porcupine, Prince Frederick, Prince of Orange, Princess Amelia, Richmond, Royal William, Scarborough, Scorpion, Sea Horse, Shrewsbury, Somerset, Squirrel, Stirling Castle, Sutherland, Terrible, Trent, Trident, Vanguard, Zephyr. Bombs: Baltimore, Pelican, Racehorse. Fireships: Boscawen, Cormorant, Halifax, Strombolo, Vesuvius. Cutter: Rodney. Storeship: Crown.

The Seven Years War was started as a result of the French settlers in Canada fortifying a number of posts against the advance of English settlers. The French city of Quebec was the key to the conquest of Upper Canada. The city stood far up the St Lawrence River and the tortuous channel was believed to be impassable by anything larger than a frigate. The French therefore believed that Quebec was safe from attack by sea.

However, a British fleet under Vice-Adm Sir Charles Saunders, aided by the brilliant pilotage of James Cook, Master of Pembroke and later Captain, sailed up the St Lawrence River with an army embarked. During the attack on the city the fleet dominated the river, preventing supplies from reaching the defence, and landed the 17,000 men at the assault position below the plains of Abraham. Seamen of the fleet also landed guns and hauled them up the Heights of Abraham.

‘A Military, Naval, Littoral War, when wisely prepared and discreetly conducted, is a terrible Sort of War. Happy for that People who are Sovereigns enough of the Sea to put it in Execution! For it comes like Thunder and Lightning to some unprepared Part of the World’ – Molyneux, Conjunct Operations.

1782  Repulse of the Spanish attack on Gibraltar, all ten Spanish battering ships being destroyed. Seamen from Brilliant reinforced the garrison.

1786  Marine Society commissioned the first designed pre-sea-training ship.

1799  Arrow and Wolverine captured the Batavian Republic Draak and Gier in Vliestroom.

1800  Capitulation of Curacao.

1805  Nelson and Sir Arthur Wellesley (later Duke of Wellington) met in the waiting room of Lord Castlereagh, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies: their only recorded meeting and a fascinating encounter.

1807  Saumarez attacked landing craft at Granville, Normandy.

1810  Africaine taken by the French Iphigénie and Astrée off Réunion. Recaptured by Boadicea, Otter and Staunch. Troops: detachments of 86th Regiment in Africaine, 1/69th in Otter and Staunch, 89th in Boadicea.

1855  Institution of Conspicuous Gallantry Medal. Eleven awarded. Active service in Baltic and Crimea revealed that there was no naval equivalent to the Army’s Distinguished Conduct Medal, the first award to distinguish conduct from mere service. Hence the CGM was instituted by Order in Council. Eleven awards were made to ten individuals, including Trevawas. After the institution of the VC no more awards were made until 7 July 1874 and there were only 234 by the end of 1946.

1858  Pearl’s Naval Brigade at Domariaganj.

1882  Battle of Tel-el-Kebir, Sudan. Two battalions of Royal Marines were present.


Gattling-gun crew and shore party in HMS Superb at Tel-el-Kebir, 1882. The sailors are armed with Martini-Henry rifles and cutlass bayonets. (RNM)

1914  E 9, Lt-Cdr Max Horton, sank German cruiser Hela S.W. of Heligoland. DSO. First RN Submarine commander to sink an enemy warship. Returned to Harwich flying Jolly Roger and so established traditional signal for a successful patrol.

1942  11th RM battalion raided Tobruk.

1943  Lord Gort presented, on behalf of the King, the George Cross to Sir George Borg, Chief Justice of Malta, who received it on behalf of the Maltese people.

1947  Minesweeper HMAS Warrnambool mined and sunk off Cockburn Reef, Queensland.

1958  MVs Melika and Fernand Gilbert salvaged, after collision and fire in Gulf of Oman, by carrier Bulwark and frigates Puma, Loch Killisport, St Bride’s Bay and RFA Wave Knight.

1985  Orpheus made last submarine visit to Manchester. There was a firm liaison with Exide, which made submarine batteries.

1988  Active and RFA Oakleaf provided hurricane relief at Jamaica.

Royal Navy ………… On This Day …….. 12 September ….

1747  Amazon (26) fought the French Renommée (32) 120 miles S.S.W. of Ushant.

1782  Warwick captured the French Sophie off the Delaware.

1808  Laurel taken by the French Canonniére off Port Louis, Mauritius.

1840  Abortive attack by Carysfort, Cyclops and Dido on Jebeil Castle, Syria.

1846  Work began on Keyham Steam yard.

1857  Naval Brigades of Pearl and Shannon landed at Calcutta. Second contingent left the ship 12 October 1857. During operations against mutineers by both contingents up to December 1858 only one man killed in action. Eighteen died of fever, drowning or sunstroke.

1914  Berwick captured the German fleet auxiliary Spreewald at a rendezvous with two neutrals. Taken into service as Lucia and as a useful depot ship.

1914  U-13 sunk in North Sea.

12 September 1916 – (Mis)information

The Naval Intelligence Department under Adm Hall was considered one of the most effective instruments in winning the First World War. Its activities extended well beyond the strict bounds of naval intelligence. As an example, the Daily Mail of 12 September 1916 reported large troop concentrations at Harwich and Dover in such a way that German agents in Holland were convinced that vital news had leaked to the Daily Mail before being cleared by the censor. As a result the Germans moved a large detachment of their forces to the Belgian coast, thereby relieving the main battlefield. The origin of the report was Room 40 at the Admiralty.

1917  Submarine D 7 torpedoed (stern tube) and sank U-45 in N.W. Approaches.

1941  Swordfish aircraft of 830 Sqn FAA (Malta) and Blenheims of 105 Sqn RAF attacked an escorted Tripoli convoy south of Lampione. Several ships sunk or damaged.

1942  Faulkner sank U-88 off Bear Island. Convoy PQ 18.

Convoy PQ 18 to Russia

This comprised forty merchant ships and six minesweepers and auxiliaries, together with a substantial escort comprising:

seventeen ships as close escort (including two submarines).

an escort carrier, cruiser and eighteen destroyers – with the convoy.

two battleships, four cruisers and five destroyers – in two covering forces.

The operation was controlled by the Commander-in-Chief in the battleship King George V. The route chosen for the convoy was long, as the ice had moved north, and all warships other than the close escort were to escort the next return convoy from Russia (QP 14) before returning to harbour. The main body sailed from Loch Ewe on 2 September, with a Western Approaches escort which was relieved by the close escort on 7th in the Denmark Strait. On 9th, the cruiser Scylla and nine destroyers joined, and by 13th the escort was at full strength with all the ships having fuelled from oilers lying at Spitzbergen.

On 12th the destroyer Faulknor sank U-88, and on 13th there were other U-boat attacks. Two ships were lost to U-boats, and then eight more were lost during a massed air attack by forty torpedo bombers. Five aircraft were shot down that day and twenty-two the next day, when there was a series of attacks during which one merchant ship was lost. The destroyer Onslow and a Swordfish from the carrier Avenger sank U-589. On 15th the aircraft again attacked in large numbers and twelve U-boats were in contact with the convoy, but the escort held them off. On 16th the destroyer Impulsive sank U-457, and that afternoon all but the close escort left PQ 18 and joined QP 14. Eleven merchant ships had been lost, but the Germans had lost forty-nine aircraft and three U-boats. Thirty-six ships reached Russia safely.

The Germans attributed their failure to achieve better results to the steadfastness of the convoy in maintaining formation despite the intensity of the attacks.


Chipping ice from the forecastle of HMS Scylla (1940), on escort duty in northern waters. (RNM)

1942  Laconta, troop transport, carrying 2,732 souls, including 1,800 Italian POWs and many women and children, torpedoed and sunk by U-156 N.E. of Ascension.. Korvettenkapitan Hartenstein broadcast location of survivors but rescue operation finally aborted when US Liberator attacked. Donitz issued punitive Laconia Order forbidding future humanitarian attempts.

1943  Italian submarine Topazio sunk S.E. of Sardinia by RAF aircraft, having failed to identify herself.

1944  Furious and Trumpeter, escorted by Devonshire and six destroyers of 26th DF, laid mines in Aramsund Channel: one German escort vessel sunk. Operation Begonia. FAA Sqns: 801,808, 827, 830 (Furious – Seafire, Barracuda); 846, 852 (Trumpeter – Avenger). The last Home Fleet operation in which Furious took part before reducing to reserve.

1985  Cdr John Simon Kerans, DSO, late of the frigate Amethyst, died aged 70. Born 30 June 1915.

Royal Navy ……….. On This Day …………. 11 September ……

1781   Iris and Richmond taken by the French squadron under Cdre Comte Barras in Chesapeake Bay.

1793  Nelson (Agamemnon) first met Lady Hamilton, at Naples.

1795  Alexander Dalrymple appointed first (and only civilian) Hydrographer of the Navy – at a salary of £500.

1809  Diana captured the Dutch Zeffer off Menado, Celebes.

1814  Second battle of Lake Champlain. The British Lake Squadron in Plattsburg Bay, causing Prevost to desist from advancing on New York. Ships: Confiance, Linnet, Chub, Finch and ten gunboats. American: Saratoga, Eagle, Preble, Ticonderoga and ten gunboats.

1886  Rattlesnake, first Torpedo Gunboat, launched.

1896  Zafir burst her boiler on the White Nile much to the chagrin of Kitchener, before Dongola. Repaired and in action again on 23rd.

1919  Hermes, first ship to be designed, ordered and built as an aircraft carrier, launched at Armstrongs on the Tyne. Completed at Devonport. Sunk by Japanese naval aircraft off Ceylon 9 April 1942.

1921  Admiral of the Fleet the Marquess of Milford Haven, until 1917 entitled HSH Prince Louis of Battenberg, died.

Dover Barrage, 1939

The minelayers Adventure and Plover, augmented by requisitioned train ferries Shepperton and Hampton, laid over 6,000 mines in the Dover Area between 11 September and 23 October. This barrage prevented U-boats from passing through the straits. Only one succeeded, on the night 11/12 September before the barrage was really started. In October, two others blew up on mines and a third ran aground on the Goodwins.


HMS Adventurer, cruiser minelayer (1924). (RNM W&L SF1)

1941  Leamington and Veteran sank U-207 in N. Atlantic (63-59N, 34-48W). Convoy SC 42.

1942  Charlottetown (RCN) sunk by U-517 in the Gulf of St Lawrence (49-12N, 66-48W). Convoy QS 33.

1943  Haarlem. Hyacinth, Wollongong (RAN) and Wellingtons J/179 and P/179 damaged U-617 in the Straits of Gibraltar. U-boat beached next day in 35-38N, 03-29W in Spanish Morocco.

1943  X 24 laid two charges under the floating dock at Laksvaag, Bergen. Dock broken in two. Operation Heckle.

Midget Submarine Attack – Bergen

X 24 had been towed by the submarine Sceptre to Bergen and carried out an attack on shipping there on 14 April. She had planned to damage the 8,000-ton floating dock, but had been deflected on her approach. She managed to blow up the 7,800-ton ship Bahrenfels and put the coaling wharf out of action for the remainder of the war. In addition to one of two ships moored alongside. The other was sunk.

On 11 September, she again entered Bergen harbour. She used the mast of the Bahrenfels as a marker, the only part of the ship still showing above water, and placed charges under the floating dock. She then made her way down the fjord and made contact with Sceptre that evening. Four of the six sections of the floating dock were damaged beyond repair, the other two sections were damaged, and so were two ships secured alongside the dock at the time of the attack.

These attacks were carried out very skilfully and caused considerable damage. They brought about delays in the harbour’s routine and immobilised troops in security operations.

1994  Brazen, Type 22 frigate, grounded on Chilean coast for four days. CO, NO and OOW court-martialled 17 February 1995. First court martial of a female OOW. Her plea of Guilty to a charge of negligence was not accepted by the Court; no further evidence was offered by the Crown and she was acquitted.

1998  Rear-Adm Nigel Essenhigh, ACDS(Programmes), promoted admiral and appointed CINCFLEET/CINCEASTLANT/COMNAVNORWEST in succession to Adm Sir Michael Boyce.



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