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Royal Navy ………… On This Day ………… 30 September ……….

1780  Pearl captured the French Espérance 120 miles S.W. by W. of Bermuda.

1822  Eliza captured the slaver Firme Union off Cuba.

1858  Pearl’s Naval Brigade at Mau, with detachments of the 13th Light Infantry, Bengal Yeomanry, 6th Madras Light Cavalry, 27th Madras Native Infantry, and Sikh Police Force.

1863  Britannia, towed by Geyser and Prospero from Portland, entered River Dart and moored in Mill Creek. For employment as cadets’ training ship. Joined by Hindustan in 1864.

1890  Abolition of the blue shirt, with its attached collor, which made a blue jacket synonymous with a British seaman.

1900  Pigmy, composite screw gunboat, received the surrender of six Chinese forts at Shanhaikwan, northern China.

1903  RN Barracks, Portsmouth, first occupied. Four thousand officers and men left the hulks in Portsmouth Dockyard and marched to the new barracks in Edinburgh Road.

1909  Launch of tenth Neptune at Portsmouth. First HM ship with superimposed turret and first Dreadnought able to fire all main armament in broadside.

1913  Aurora, ninth of the name, the first oil-fired light cruiser laid down at Devonport. Commissioned in RCN, 1 November 1920.

1918  Minesweeper Seagull, ex-torpedo gunboat, sunk in collision in Firth of Clyde.

1931  The first destroyers built in a Royal Dockyard, Comet and Crusader, floated out of No. 13 Dock at Portsmouth, together with the mining tender Nightingale. All three vessels had been laid down on 12 September 1930.

1940  Monitor Erebus, with destroyers Garth and Vesper, bombarded Calai. Operation M.W.

1940  Destroyer Stuart (RAN) and Sunderland L2166 (230 Sqn) sank the Italian S/M Gondar off Alexandria (31-33N, 28-33E), preparing for a chariot raid.

1941  Gurkha and Legion sank the Italian S/M Adua off Alicante (37-10N, 00-56E).

1942  Unsuccessful coastal force action off Terschelling. Four MTBs and an MGB lost. German SS Thule sunk.

1944  Swordfish F/813 (Campania) sank U-921 in Arctic (72-32N, 12-55E). Convoy RA 60.

1944  Terrible, only British carrier built in a Royal Dockyard, launched at Devonport. Commissioned 16 December 1948 at Devonport as HMAS Sydney.


HMS Terrible, ready fo launching at Devonport in 1944 (FAAM)

1950  RM barracks at Chatham closed.

1970  Warrant rank reintroduced with establishment of Fleet Chief Petty Officer. To be addressed as ‘Sir’ by juniors and as ‘Mr’ by commisioned officers.

1983  ‘From FO Medway to AIG 1312. WDI/WAT 290900Z SEP 83: The flags of Flag Officer Medway and Port Admiral Chatham will be struck, finally, at sunset Fri 30 Sep 83.’

‘From CINCFLEET to FO MEDWAY. WDI/WAT 300800Z SEP 83: Personal from CINC. Farewell to a fine Command that has served loyally in the highest traditions of the Service for the last 450 years. The Fleet will miss you.’

Rear-Adm Bill Higgins was the tenth and last FO Medway since the post was created in 1961 on the demise of the old Nore Command.

1985  Salisbury, Type 61 aircraft direction frigate, sunk as target W. of Ireland. Last RN ship to carry Squid A/S mortars.

1990  Frigate Jupiter, with USS Taylor, boarded an apparent blockade runner in Persian Gulf. First of thirty-three boardings and 3,151 challenges in Operation Granby.

1998  Ocean, Capt Robert Turner RN, commissioned.

1998  Dolphin, submarine base at Fort Blockhouse, Gosport, since 1905, paid off.

HMS Dolphin

Royal Navy ………… On This Day ………… 29 September ……….

1653  Commission for sick and wounded formed.

1690  Capture of Cork by the Joint Admirals, Sir Richard Haddock, Henry Killigrew and Sir John Ashby (Kent) and the Duke of Marlborough. Ships: Grafton, Kent, Sovereign, Breda, Charles Galley. The Duke of Grafton, commanding his eponymous ship, killed in action ashore.

1758  Horatio Nelson born.


Born the son of a Norfolk rector in 1758. Nelson joined the Navy in his twelth year and was posted captain in his twenty-first. He is still regarded by most as Britain’s greatest naval hero. His career at sea distinguished by bold decisions, usually taking offensive action against the enemy and often exposing his ship to heavy enemy fire. He lost the sight of an eye at Corsica and an arm at Tenerife. With Jervis’s fleet at the battle of Cape St Vincentin 1797. It was his audacious manoeuvre against the Spanish line that led to their defeat. Against the French at the battle of the Nile in 1798, his fleet was numerically inferior yet he all but annihilated the enemy squadron. During the attack on the anchored Danish Fleet at Copenhagen, again sailing through dangerous waters, he pounded the enemy into submission. On that occasion when signalled to withdraw, it is said that he raised his telescope to his blind eye with the remark, ‘I really not see the signal.’ He inspired his men and taught his captains well. It was at Trafalgar in 1805, however, when he made his famous signal, ‘England expects that every man will do his duty’, that he sealed his fame. In a brilliant tactical victory he won the battle but lost his life, struck down by a bullet from a sharpshooter in the rigging of the French Redoubtable.

 He typified all that was best in the sea officers of the period, being a great fighting man, much loved by his officers and men. He had a grasp of tactics and strategy which was exceptional even by the standards of his day.


Portrait of Nelson by Charles Lucy. Painted forty-eight years after his death, but attested by survivors who served with him as ‘highly characteristic and true’. (RNM)

1795  Southampton fought the French Vestale off Genoa.

1795  Vanguard captured the French Superbe 50 miles to the eastward of Desirade, Leeward Islands.

1803  Leda destroyed two gunboats of the Boulogne invasion flotilla off Boulogne.

1805  Nelson rejoined the Fleet off Cadiz; his 47th birthday

1808  Marla taken by the French Departement des Landes to the north-east of Antigues Point, Grand-Terre.

1812  British and Russian gunboats occupied Mitau, Riga, and  captured enemy personnel. Crews provided from Aboukir and Ranger.

1849  Boats of Columbine destroyed a pirate junk in Hong Hai Bay.

1917  Sylvia and Tirade sank UC-55 off Shetland.

1918  Destroyers Ouse and Star san UB-115 off Newbiggin Point, Northumberland. The last U-boat to leave Zeebrugge to attack shipping.

1939  Light cruiser Calypso intercepted the German Minden which was scuttled 330 miles N.W. of Cape Wrath.

1939  Caledonia (ex-Majestic), training ship, destroyed by fire at Rosyth.

1941  PQ 1 sailed first convoy to USSR.

1942  Destroyer Nizam (RAN) and SAAF aircraft intercepted the Vichy Admiral Pierre off Lourenco Marques, where she was scuttled next day (26-04S, 34-54E).

1972  Fulmar (RNAS Lossiemouth, transferred from RAF and commissioned 2 July 1946) paid off and returned to RAF.

2000  RFA Wave Knight, first of class of double-hulled fast fleet tankers, launched by Lady Guthrie, wife of Gen Sir Charles Guthrie, CDS, at BAE Systems, Barrow-in-Furness.


RFA Wave Knight, last fleet tanker, launched at BAE Systems, Barrow-in-Furness, by Lady Guthrie, 2000. (RN)

Royal Navy ………… On This Day ………… 28 September ……..

1652  Adm Robert Blake (Resolution) defeated the Dutch fleet under Vice-Adm de With (Prins Willem) off the Kentish Knock. Ships: Andrew, Diamond, Garland, Guinea, Nightingale, Nonsuch, Pelican, Resolution, Ruby, Sovereign, Speaker, Vanguard, Triumph, Foresight, Lion, Advice, President.

1677  Charles and James captured the Algerine Rose in Gibraltar Strait.

1810  Boats of Caledonia, Valiant and Armide cut out three French brigs and captured a shore battery in Basque Roads.

1915  VC: Lt-Cdr Edgar Christopher Cookson (Comet) in an attempt to relieve Kut-al’Amara.When the river was blocked by dhows he took his ship to the centre one and chopped at her cables with an axe until shot dead. Vessels: Comet, Shaiton, Sumana.

1917  Curtis flying boat 8676 sank UC-6 in North Sea.

1939  ‘The Council of The Association of Royal Naval Officers (ARNO) wish especially to remind all married officers serving on the Active List that, in the event of their death while serving, their widows become automatically entitled to honorary membership of the Association, eligible to participate in all it benefits and services.’ AFO 2810/39.

1941  Hyacinth sank the Italian S/M Fisalia off Jaffa in E. Mediterranean.

1941  Hermione and destroyers bombarded Pantelleria. Diversion to Operation Halberd.


HMS Nelson, down by the bows after being hit by a torpedo during Operation Halberd in 1941.(RNM)

Operation Halberd

On 24 September 1941 a convoy of nine 15-knot ships carrying 2,600 troops sailed for Malta escorted by the battleships Nelson, Rodney and Prince of Wales, the carrier Ark Royal, five cruisers and eight destroyers. On 27th, air attacks developed and the Nelson was hit by a torpedo, but later attacks failed to penetrate the destroyer screen. By 1900 on the 27th, the convoy reached the ‘Narrows’ and the cruisers and destroyers went ahead with the convoy. They turned north to avoid mines, but were unable to throw off the aircraft because of a bright moon. One transport was hit and had to be sunk after the troops had been transferred. At 1130 on the 28th, the cruisers entered Malta, and at 1330 the convoy arrived. Meanwhile, the Fleet in the eastern Mediterranean and submarines had been causing diversions, and three empty merchantmen were sailed to Gibraltar. An Italian submarine, the Adna, was sunk by escorting destroyers on the passage back.

This was the third convoy to Malta from the est in 1941; thirty-nine merchant ships had been convoyed, and only one lost.

1969  First RM deployment to Northern Ireland. 41 Commando RM on Spearhead duties.

1986  Tiger arrived in Spain for breaking up. The last Royal Navy cruiser and the end of the 6in gun in the Fleet.


HMS Tiger (1945), after conversion to a ASW helicopter-carrying command cruiser. (RNM)

1999  Dr Andrew Lambert (Hon. Sec. of the Navy Records Society) appointed Laughton Professor of Naval History at King’s College, London. The first full-time teaching chair in the subject of naval historhy at a British university. (The wo distinguished naval historians at Cambridge, John Holland Rose, Vere Harmsworth Professor of Navl History 1919-33, and Adm Sir Herbert Richmond, Master of Downing College and former Professor of Imperial and Naval History, were in neither full-time nor teaching appointments.) His Inaugural Lecture given 14 November 2002.

2002  Capt B.F.P. ‘Peter’ Samborne died. First captain of Britain’s first nuclear submarine, Dreadnought. His First Lieutenant was John Fieldhouse. His son commanded Swiftsure 1987-9.

Royal Navy ………… On This Day ………… 27 September ……….

1598  Robert Blake baptised.

1778  Experiment and Unicorn fought the American Raleigh in Penobscot Bay, Maine, and took her next day after she had been run ashore.

1806  Présidente (40) struck to Rear-Adm Louis in the Bay, having been halted by Despatch (18).

1814  Carnation took and burned the American privateer General Armstrong, attacked the previous day.

1858  VC: A/Second Master George Bell Chicken. No. 3 Detachment IN, while serving as a volunteer with Indian Cavalry against the Indian mutineers at Suhejni.

1873  Ernle Chatfield born. Beatty’s flag captain in Lion at Jutland and First Sea Lord January 1933 to November 1938.

1914  Allied Forces captured Duala, Cameroons. Ships: Challenger, Dwarf, Niger Flotilla: Ivy, Porpoise, Remus.

1940  GC (ex-AM): Second Hand J.H. Mitchell, RNR, for saving life at sea.

1941  Trident sank the German Uj-1201 in Soroysund, Norway.

1941  Springbank sunk by U-201 in N. Atlantic (49-50N, 21-40W). Convoy HG 73.

1941  Upright sank the Italian TB Albatros off Cape Rasocolmo, northern Sicily. Albatros had sunk Phoenix the year before.

1941  Dryad move from Portsmouth Dockyard to Southwick House completed. ‘Officers about to join should apply to the Commanding Officer for details of the bus routine.’ AFO 4109/41.

1943  Intrepid sunk by German aircraft in Leros harbour (37-07N, 26-51E). (Attacked on 26th, capsized on 27th).

1943  Jungingen (ex-M-584, ex-M-134) sunk by MTBs 202, 204 and 231 3 miles off Berck-sur-Mer (50-27N, 01-27E).

1944  Rockingham mined (56-29N, 00-57W) 30 miles off Arbroath. Taken in tow but sank.

1945  Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew Cunningham installed as a Knight of the Thistle at St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh. In presence of the King and Queen and all the knights he handed over Warspite’s White Ensign to the cathedral, while Capt Ford of the Queen Mary presented her Red Ensign: ‘These were the first flags of the sea to take their places among the tattered old Colours of the famous Scottish regiments’ – ABC.


A Blackburn Shark floatplane flying over the cruiser HMS Aurora and units of the Home Fleet in the 1930s. (RNM)

Royal Navy ………… On This Day ………… 26 September ……

1580  Return of Francis Drake (Golden Hind, ex-Pelican) from circumnavigating the world: ‘Is the Queen alive?’

1748  Cuthbert Collingwood born.

1801  Sylph fought a French frigate 120 miles N. of Cape Penas.

1805  Calcutta, escorting a convoy of six sail, taken by the French Magnanime of the Rochefort Squadron 180 miles W.N.W. of Ushant. Five of the convoy escaped.

1814  Boats of Plantagenet and Rota attempted to cut out the American privateer General Armstrong in Fayal Roads, Azores.

1827  King George IV granted to the Royal Marines the globe for their badge and his cypher for their colours.

1840  Royal Marines and Turkish troops, under Cdre Charles Napier, stormed Sidon.

1904  Chamois foundered in Gulf of Patras, pierced by her own screw.

1917  PC 61 rammed and sank UC-33 in S.W. Approaches (51-55N, 06-14W).

1939  First German aircraft destroyed in Second World War shot down by Lt B.S. McEwan in a Skua of 803 Sqn. FAA.

1940  Rendering Mines Safe (RMS) section of DTM established. The only operational unit based at the Admiralty, renamed the Land Incidents Section on 6 August 1941.

1940  Prince Robert (RCN) captured the German Weser off Manzanillo, Mexico.

1942  Veteran sunk by U-404 in N. Atlantic (54-51N, 23-04W), with all hands and some eighty MN survivors. Convoy RB 1.

1943  Trooper sailed from Beirut on a Dodecanese patrol from which she never returned.

1943  Vasilissa Olga (Greek) sunk by German aircraft in Leros harbour.

1944  Fortress P/220 sank U871 in N. Atlantic.

1958  First and second classes of commodore unified and replaced by single rank of commodore, although still unestablished, i.e. temporary, for those holding designated appointments until made substantive.

1958  Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) appointed to take charge of sea training, including the working-up of cruisers, destroyers and frigates in home waters. Also in command of Portland Naval Base. First FOST was Rear-Adm W.G. Crawford. AFO 2282/58.


HMS Scott (1996), multi-purpose surveying ship. (MOD)

Royal Navy ………… On This Day ………… 25 September ……

1493  Papul Bull divided global spheres of influence between Spain and Portugal Conditioned British and Spanish privateering activities.

1761  Dr Cuthbert of the Royal College of Surgeons appointed to analyse water at Weovil or Weevil Yard. Ships’ cisterns were lead-lined to protect the wood, which was unfortunate for those who drank the contents.

1806  Centaur ( Cdre Samuel Hood, who lost his right arm). Mars and Monarch captured the French Armide, Gloire, Infatigabel and Minerve off Chassiron lighthouse, Rochefort.

1840  Abortive attack by Benbow, Carysfort and Zebra on Tortosa, Syria.

1925  Submarine X 1, 2,780 tons and four 5.2in guns, commissioned. The largest submarine in world and largest in RN until Dreadnought commissioned 17 April 1963.

X1 1923

HM Submarine X 1 (1923). (RNM)

1939  First war use of air-warning radar at sea (Rodney and Sheffield during Luftwaffe attack.

1940  Herewood, Hyperion, Juno and Mohawk bombarded an MT concentration west of Sidi Barrani.

1942  Voyager (RAN) beached in Betano Bay, Timor (09-11S, 125-43W) after air attack. Blown up by own crew.

1945  -1407, Type XVIIB submarine, scuttled at Cuxhaven 5 May 1945, raised and commissioned into RN. Named Meteorite June 1947 and served until 1949.

Royal Navy ………… On This Day ………… 24 September ……

1568  John Hawkins and Francis Drake at San Juan d’Ulloa: a sharp battle. Ships: Angel, Jesus of Lubeck, Judith, Minion, Swallow.

1758  Southampton captured the French privateer Caumartin 150 miles to the south-west of Cape Clear.

1797  Phaeton and Unite captured the French privateer Indien and her prize (Egmont) near the Plateau de Rochebonne.

1809  Boats of Blonde, Fawn and Scorpion destroyed a French vessel at Basse Terre, Guadaloupe.

1840  Castor and Pique captured Tyre.

1850  Rum ratio halved by withdrawal of evening issue.

1911  Mayfly – an unfortunate name for the RN’s effort to emulate the Zeppelin – wrecked outside her shed. She never flew and her accident had a profound effect on the development of British rigid airships.

1915  Baralong sank U-41 90 miles W. of Ushant, the Q-ship’s second success in five weeks.

1916  Destruction of Zeppelin L-32 yielded new German naval signal book.

1922  Speedy lost in collision with tug in Sea of Marmara.

1940  Vichy French air attacks on Gibraltar nights 24 and 25 September in reprisal for Allied raid on Dakar. Few casualties, minor damage to dockyard, and trawler Sella Sirius sunk.

1940  TS Cornwall, ex-Wellesley (74), third rate, sunk by dive-bombers in River Thames. Last wooden battleship to be sunk by enemy action and the first by air attack.

1942  Somali sank while in tow of Ashanti off Jan Mayen Island. (69-11N, 15-32W) after being torpedoed by U-703 on the 20th.

1943  MMS 70 sunk by mine off Gallipoli, Gulf of Taranto.

1944  Liberator A/224 sank U-855 off Bergen (61-00N, 04-07E).


The iron-hulled troopship Jumna (1866) alongside in Portsmouth, with HMS Victory (1755) and HMS Duke of Wellington (1852) in the background. (RNM)

Royal Navy ………… On This Day ………… 23 September ……

1779  Serapis (Capt Richard Pearson) and Countess of Scarborough escorting a Baltic convoy, taken by the American Bonhomme Richard (Capt John Paul Jones) off Flamborough Head. The convoy escaped and the American ship sank on the 25th. Capt Pearson knighted.


Silver cup presented to Capt Pearson by the Royal Exchange Assurance Company (insurers of the convoy) in gratitude for his ensuring its escape. 1779 (RNM 1979/33)

1796  Pelican fought the French Medée 25 miles N.W. by W. of Deseads (Desirade).

1797  Espiegle captured the Dutch D’Ondeilbaarleid off Vlieland.

1819  Lt. W. Rodger’s device to hoist empty casks by an umbrella-like arrangement inside the cask instead of external slinging hooks tested: less successful than his syphoned water supply.

1846  Completion at Blackwall of Ajax (third of the name). Laid down in 1809 to replace the second, lost off Troy in 1807. She was converted during construction and undocked as the RN’s first screw battleship.

1940  Ladybird bombarded Sidi Barrani.

1940  Abortive attack on Dakar. Operation Menace. Ceased at midnight 25th/26th. Ships: Barham (Vice-adm J.H.D. Cunningham), Resolution,* Renown (Vice-Adm Sir James Sommerville). Ark Royal, Australia (RAN), Cornwall, Cumberland, Delhi, Devonshire, Dragon, Echo, Eclipse, Encounter, Escapade, Faulknor, Foresight, Forester, Fortune, Fury, Greyhound, Griffin, Hotspur, Inglefield, Velox, Vidette, Wishart, Bridgwater, Milford, Quannet, Free French force, under Gen Charles de Gaulle: Président Houdice, Savorgnan de Brazza, Commandant-Dubox, Comandant-Domine, Vichy-French ships sunk: Ajax, L’Audacieux (badly damaged), Persée. FAA Sqns: Skua: 800, 803: Swordfish: 810, 814,^ 818, 820, 101 and 102 RM brigades. *Torpedoed on 25th. ^Lent from Hermes.

1940  King George VI announced the institution of the George Cross and the George Medal, authorised by a Royal Warrant next day, amended by a second on 21 January 1941, and substantially by others.

This was a partial recognition of the anomally created in 1939, when His Majesty was unfortunately advised that individuals involved at Shoeburyness on 24 November 1939 did not qualify for the VC because what they indisputably did had not been done in the presence of the enemy. There are not a few who think that the advice was less than realistic and that if the enemy deliberately plants a bomb which does not explode, he leaves something of his presence for the men who have to deal with it; hence the ‘whites of their eyes’ notion is obsolete.

Be that as it may, the King made a notable gesture in visiting Vernon on 19 December to present the deserving with all that could be awarded to them, instead of simply holding an investiture at Buckingham Palace. Lt-Cdr John Ouvry returned this gesture when he declined the unique offter to exchange his DSO for a GC.

1941  GC: Henry Herbert Reed, Gunner, DEMS, in SS Cormount.

1943  Eclipse damaged TA-10 (ex-French La Pomone) 10 miles south of Rhodes. Scuttled on 26th.

1944  Trenchant sank U-859 off Penang (05-46N, 100-40E).

1977  Frigate complex at Devonport Dockyard, originally known as Leander Frigate Complex, developed over No. 2 Basin and enclosing Nos 5, 6 and 7 Docks, opened by Dr David Owen. Galatea docked as demonstration of facility.

1993  UN maritime interdiction operation (until 9 December) during unrest in Haiti following removal of President Aristide in October 1991. Frigate Active and RFA Oakleaf, Operation Snowdon.

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