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

1762  Samuel Hood the younger born.

1806  Rear-Adm Sir Edward Pellew (Culloden) destroyed a Dutch squadron of six ships and twenty merchantmen at Batavia (Djakarta). Ships: Belliqueux, Culloden, Powerful, Russell, Seaflower, Sir Francis Drake, Terpsichore.

1809  La Chiffone and the Hon. East India Company cruisers Fury, Mornington, Nautilus and Ternate destroyed the Joasmi pirate stronghold at Laft.

1811  Eagle captured the French Corcyre off Brindisi, after a ten-hour chase.

1830  Gold-laced trousers restored to flag officers.

1857  Shannon’s Naval Brigade at the defence of Cawnpore.

1913  Emporer of India launched at Vickers. With Iron Duke (Portsmouth 1912). Marlborough (Devonport 1912) and Benbow (Beardmore 1913) the last coal-burning battleships ordered for the Royal Navy. (Erin, Agincourt and Canada, building in Britain for foreign navies and taken over in 1914, were also coal-burning.)

1916  R 9 made first successful flight by an RNAS rigid airship.

1940  Action off Cape Spartivento, Sardinia (36N, 08-30E). Vice-Adm Sir James Somerville (Renown) fought the Italian Fleet. Ships: Ark Royal, Berwick, Coventry, Defender, Despatch, Diamond, Duncan, Encounter, Faulkner, Firedrake, Forester, Fury, Gallant, Gloxinia, Greyhound, Hereward, Hotspur, Hyacinth, Jaguar, Kelvin, Manchester, Newcastle, Peony, Ramillies, Renown, Salvia, Sheffield, Southampton, Vidette, Wishart. FAA Squns: Walrus: 700: Skua: 800: Fulmar: 808: Swordfish: 810, 818, 820 (Ark Royal), RAF: Sunderland flying-boat.

A convoy was passing from Gibraltar to Alexandria. The Italians were determined to stop it, and sailed two battleships, seven 8in cruisers and sixteen destroyers from Naples and Messina. Adm Somerville, in command of Force H covering the convoy, decided that the best defence for the convoy was a deterined attack by his inferior escort. The battlecruiser Renown, one heavy and three light cruisers and one (AA) cruiser together with the aircraft carrier Ark Royal raced to attack the Italian Fleet. In the action which followed, one British cruiser was damaged; the enemy withdrew and the convoy passed safely.

1940  Port Napier destroyed by fire in Loch Alsh (57-17, 05-44W).

1943  Orion, Paladin, Teazer and Troubridge bombarded enemy positions north of Garigliano River.

1978  The last catapault launch in the Royal Navy: F4K Phantom of 892 NAS piloted by Flt Lt Murdo McLeod (pilot) and Lt Denis McCullum (Observer), launched from the waist catapult of Ark Royal at 1515A inbound to RAF St Athan.

The last Buccaneer launch that day was an 809 NAS aircraft, Sqn Ldr Rick Phillips (pilot) and Cdr Ken MacKenzie (Observer). See Navy News, February 2004. p. 14.


The last fixed-wing aircrew to be launched from HMS Ark Royal. Seated in the cockpit are, left to right: Lt Denis McCullum, RN, Deputy Air Engineering Officer of 892 NAS, and Flt Lt Murdo McLeod RAF 74K Phantom pilot. This was Lt McCullum’s first flight in a Phantom. (FAAM)

Royal Navy ………… On This Day ………… 26 November ……….

1703  Great storm destroyed thirteen warships and the Eddystone light. A total of 1,500 seamen drowned. ‘This was such a storm as never was known before’ – Defoe.

1799  Amphion captured the Spanish letter of marque Asturiana 120 miles W.N.W. of Cape Catoche, Gulf of Mexico.

1806  Rear-Adm Sir Edward Pellew’s squadron captured the Dutch Maria Wilhelmina off Banten.

1813  Boats of Swiftsure captured the French privateer Charlemagne 10 miles W.N.W. of Cape Rouse (Rosso), Corsica.

1858  Pearl’s Naval Brigade at Domariaganj (second action).

1899  Naval Brigade formed at Durban from Forte, Terrible, Tartar and Philomel.


HMS Gladiator being salvaged after having been rammed and sunk during a blizzard by the liner SS St Paul off the Isle of Wight in April 1908. (RNM)

1913  Warspite, the most famous battleship of the twentieth century, launched at Devonport Dockyard.

1914  Pre-Dreadnought battleship Bulwark, 5th BS, Channel Fleet, destroyed by ammunition explosion at 0753 while at No. 17 Buoy off Sheerness. Just 12 men saved from 758 ship’s company.

1916  Second German raid on Lowestoft.

1918  ‘Nothing, nothing in the world, nothing that you may think of or dream of, or anyone else may tell you: no argument however seductive, must lead you to abandon that Naval supremacy on which the life of our country depends’ – Churchill.

1921  Foul-weather funeral rig for all officers to be greatcoat and cocked hat. RNR and RNVR officers changed their indigenous buttons to RN for first time.

1940  Fifteen Swordfish aircraft of 815 and 819 Sqns (Illustrious) bombed Port Laki, Leros.

Royal Navy ………… On This Day ………… 25 November ……….

1793  Penelope (32) and Iphigenia (32) captured the French Inconstante (36) 12 miles to the westward of Leogane, Haiti.

1851  Niger, Bloodhound and boats of Vulcan, Harlequin, Waterwitch and Philomel attacked Lagos consequent on a flag of truce being fired on, but had to withdraw.

1852  First instruction book for Paymasters.

1868  Algerine captured the Amping and Zealandia forts of Taiwan (Formosa).

1899  Battle of Graspan, South Africa. Naval Brigade of Doris, Monarch and Powerful under Capt Prothero.

1910  Australian Naval Defence Act passed by Australian Government, paving the way for creation of Royal Australian Navy.

1914  Submarine D 2 sunk by German patrol craft off Wester Ems.

1940  Three acoustic mines were exploded in Thames: first use of the technique approved on 29 October, no acoustic mine having been discovered meanwhile.

1941  Barham sunk by U-331 off Sidi Barrani (32-34N, 26-24E). She blew up in less than five minutes and, though 82 men were lost, 450 survived the great explosion. First battleship lost in open sea since Britannia sunk 9 November 1918.


HMS Barham sinking after being torpedoed, taken from HMS Valiant, 1941. (RNM)

1942  Utmost sunk. probably by the Italian TB Groppo off Marettimo, west of Sicily (38-31N, 12-01E).

1942  Submarine Unshaken lost her CO, Lt C.E. Oxborrow, her Yeoman of Signals and an AB off the bridge in heavy weather off Gibraltar.

1943  Bazely and Blackwood sank U-600 in N. Atlantic (41-45N, 22-30W): their second sinking in two days.

1944  Ascension and Sunderland G/330 (Nor) sank U-322 in Shetland/Faroes Gap (60-18N, 04-52W).

1960  Royal Marines, except recruits and bandsmen, authorised to wear the green beret of the Commandos.

1975  Third Cod War, caused by Iceland’s unilateral extension of a 200-mile fishing limit. Falmouth first ship on scene.

Royal Navy ………… On This Day ………… 24 November ……….

1804  Venerable lost, leaving Torbay. Wrecked indirectly – because she had to rescue a Royal Marine.

1807  Anne fought ten Spanish gunboats off Tarifa and took three.

1812  Boats of Narcissus captured the American privateer Joseph and Mary 20 miles S.E. of Cape Tiburon, Haiti.

1875  Purchase of controlling interest in Suez Canal by Disraeli.

1885  Irrawaddy flotilla and troops defeated the Burmese at Myingyan, Upper Burma. Boats of Bacchante, Turquoise, Woodlark and Mariner with the Indian Marine Irrawaddy.

1917  Gipsy and five trawlers attacked U-48, which had stranded on the Goodwin Sands, where she blew up (51-17N, 01-31E). Her wreck reappeared in 1921 and on 4 June 1973.

1922  Wearing of wound stripes and war service chevrons discontinued.

1941  Dunedin sunk by U-124 in mid-Atlantic, 900 miles W. of Freetown at a range of 3 miles. When she approached that port, the submarine was engaged at 6 miles by a 5.5in gun landed by Furious.


HMS Dunedin was a Danae-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was launched from the yards of Armstrong Whitworth,Newcastle-on-Tyne on 19 November 1918 and commissioned on 13 September 1919. She has been the only ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name Dunedin. (Wikipedia)

1943  Ilex, Paladin and Mendip bombarded enemy on the Garigliano River.

1944  Shawinigan (RCN) sunk with all hands in the Cabot Strait (47-34N, 59-11W) by homing torpedo from U-1228.

1983  First OASIS accepted afloat, in Exeter. Luddites have construed the acronym to represent Only Adds Stress In Ships and Submarines.

Royal Navy ………… On This Day ………… 23 November ……….

1757  Hussar and Dolphin sank the French Alycon 220 miles N.N.W. of Cape Finisterre.

1757  Chichester captured the French Abenakise 100 miles S.W. of Ushant.

1799  Courier captured the French privateer Guerriére 20 miles S.E. of Lowestoft.

1799  Solebay captured the French Egyptien, Eole, Levrier and Vengeur 10 miles W.N.W. of Cape Tiburon, Haiti.

1805  First RN ship named Nelson ordered, less than three weeks after news of Trafalgar and Nelson’s death reached the Admiralty. First rate, 120, Laid down at Woolwich 1809. Launched 1814.

1810  Bomb and mortar vessels of Rear-Adm Sir Richard Keats’ squadron attacked the French gunboats in Puerto de Santa maria, near Cadiz.

1865  Grasshopper captured two pirate lorchas and destroyed a third at Port Matheson.

1896  Lofts for the training of carrier pigeons established at Sheerness, Portsmouth and Devonport.

1899  Capt Prothero’s Naval Brigade at the battle of Belmont.

1914  Russell and Exmouth bombarded Zeebrugge.

1914  U-18 rammed by Dorothy Gray and Garry, trying to enter Scapa Flow, then by Kaphiada before drifting on to the Skerries (58-41N, 02-55W).

1917  Dame Katherine Furse appointed first Director of the omen’s Royal Naval Service.


Dame Katherine Furse (1875-1952). (RNM)

1918  First ships of German High Seas Fleet arrived at Scapa for internment.

1939  AMC Rawalpindi sunk by the Scharnhorst in Iceland-Faroes gap (63-40N, 11-31W).

Rawalpindi (Capt E.C. Kennedy) was on the Northern Patrol when she sigted the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst at dusk. The enemy was attempting to break out into the Atlantic to attack merchant ships with her sister, Gneisenau, Rawalpindi reported the enemy and despite the disparity in armament, managed to hit Scharnhorst in the uarter of an hour before she herself was sunk. The cruiser Newcastle, which was the next ship in the patrol line, closed and sighted the battlecruiser’s lights and she picked up eleven survivors. However, she lost touch in the dark and rain squalls. The battlecruisers decided to return to base without attacking shipping, as their position was known.

This gallant action should not overshadow the great quantity of determined, too-oftern-unrecognised work by the fifty-five other passenger liners taken up and converted in 1939-40.. The ships kept the seas in all weathers and their crews knew the odds. Fifteen had been sunk by the end of 1941 and the survivors were withdrawn, initially from the Atlantic, as soon as possible.

1939  Calypso captured the German Konsul Hendrik Fisser north of the Faroes (63-00N, 07-00W).

1939  First German magnetic mine. Type A, located at Shoeburyness. Rendered safe by Lt-Cdr J.G.D. Ouvry and CPO C.E. Baldwin, assisted by Lt-Cdr R.C. Lewis and AB A.L. Vearncombe. The mine was dissected the next day at Vernon by Dr A.B. Wood.

1943  Bazely, Blackwood and Drury sank U-648 in Atlantic (42-40N, 20-37W). Convoy OS 59/MKS 33.

1963  Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on 22 November, the following message was sent to the Secretary of the Navy, United States:

‘The Board of Admiralty and the whole Royal Navy are deeply shocked and grieved by the tragic death of your great President. Please accept our deep condolences and convey to Mrs Kennedy our heartfelt sympathy in her distress’ – Jellicoe. First Lord of the Admiralty.

The following reply was received:

‘Your kind expression of sympathy adn condolence for the tragic death of President Kennedy has been conveyed to Mrs Kennedy and is deeply appreciated by the United States Navy, which mourns the loss of a great Commander-in-Chief and National Leader’ – Paul Nitze, Secretary of the Navy. AFO 2370/63.

1979  Laymoor paid off. Last RN ship propelled by steam reciprocating engine.

HMS Laymoor P190 underway

HMS Laymoor, Built by Simons Lobnitz Limited Renfrew, Yard No 810, launched 6 August 1959. First of a new class of Boom Defence Vessels. Sunk as a gunnery target in the Mediterranean in 1984.

Royal Navy ………… On This Day ………… 22 November ……….

1718  Lt Robert Maynard (Ranger and Jane) killed the pirate Edward Teach (‘Blackbeard‘) and captured all his crew in Ocracoke Inlet, Pamlico Sound.

1739  Vice-Adm Edward Vernon (Burford) captured Porto Bello. Ships: Burford, Hampton Court, Norwich, Princess Louisa, Strafford, Worcester.

1812  Southampton captured the American Vixen off the Bahamas.

1847  Boats of President and Eurydice, with Portuguese boats, destroyed an Arab slaver’s stockade up the river from Porto de Angoche. The Portuguese Juan De Castro captureed an American gun-running brig.

1857  VC: Mid Arthur Mayo, Indian Navy (received award while an undergraduate at Oxford). No. 4 Detachment, Indian Navy, defeated and dispersed a superior force of sepoy mutineers at Dacca.

1880  Charles Forbes born. First XO of new battleship Queen Elizabeth 1914. Commanded Home Fleet at outbreak of the Second World War. Flew Union Flag at sea as an admiral of the fleet from May until October 1940, when relieved by Tovey.

1882  Collingwood launched at Pembroke Dockyard. The first battleship to achieve 16 knots under steam.


HMS Collingwood (1882), An Admiral-class barbette ship mounting for 12in guns. (RNM)

1914  British forces captured Basra, Mesopotamia. Ships and vessels: Espiegle, Ocean, Odin, Lawrence (RIN), Comet, Lewis Pelly (RIN), Sirdar-I-Naphte.

1915  Battle of Ctesiphon, Mesopotamia. River gunboat and vessels: Firefly, Comet, Messoudieh, Shaitan, Shushan, Sumana.

1916  E 30 lost in North Sea.

1918  G 11 wrecked off Howick, Northumberland. The first of fourteen RN submarines to be lost between the two world wars.

1939  Laurentic intercepted the German Antiochia which scuttled herself in Atlantic (52-12N, 15-08W).

1941  Devonshire sank the German disguised raider Atlantis (Schiff 16) in S. Atlantic (04-15S, 18-34W).

Devonshire sighted the German raider Atlantis (armed as a light cruiser) in the South Atlantic. Atlantis had sunk or captured 145,697 tons of Allied shipping, and was disguised as a merchantman. Devonshire stood off until it was confirmed that Atlantis could not be the vessel she purported to be, and then sank her. Atlantis’ survivors were rescued by U-boat and transferred to a supply ship, which was sunk just over a week later by Devonshire’s sister ship Dorsetshire. Again the survivors were rescued by U-boats and made an epic journey of 5,000 miles to Biscay ports.

1943  Hebe sunk by mine laid off Bari (41-08N, 16-52E), by U-453.

1943  First and unsuccessful raid by Welmans 44, 45, 47 and 48 at Bergen. These were the third and smallest types of British midget craft, built at Welwyn Garden City to the design of Col Welman of the Interservice Research Board.

1944  Stratagem sunk by Japanese destroyer in Malacca Strait.

1944  Adm Sir Bruce Fraser assumed command of the embryonic British Pacific Fleet assembling at Ceylon.

1997  HMY Britannia entered Portsmouth for the last time, escorted by Southampton with CINCFLEET embarked and berthed at South Railway Jetty. Commodore Royal Yachts, Cdre A.J.C. Morrow, rang down ‘Finished with main engines’ at 1135. End of 44-year career, having steamed 1,087,623 miles.


The Royal Yacht Britannia flying her paying off pennant, approaches the entrance to Portsmouth harbour for the last time on 22 November 1997. (MOD)

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