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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Royal Navy ………… On This Day ………… 21 November ……….

1652  Boats of Leopard, Constant Warwick and Bonaventure cut out the Dutch (ex-British) Phoenix (38) at Leghorn. Adm Cornelius Tromp, son of Marten, nearly captured.

1757  Unicorn captured the French Hermione 180 miles N.W. of Cape Finisterre.

1797  Jason captured the French privateer Marie off Belle Ile.

1828  Board approved introduction of hexagonal machine-made biscuit baked at Clarence Yard.

1852  Capture of Pegu. Ships: Bengal Marine steamers Mahanuddy, Nerbudda, Damooda, and Lord William Bentinck and boats of Fox and Sphinx. Troops: 1st Bengal Fusiliers, 1st Madras Fusilier Regiment, 5th Madras Native Infantry, Bengal Artillery, Madras Sappers and Miners.

1868  Hercules, fifth of the name, completed, First battleship to have cables led on to the upper, instead of into the main deck, and first with three-calibre main armament.

1914  RNAS attacked the Zeppelin sheds at Friedrichshafen with three Avro 504s.

1918  Der Tag – the day the German Navy would defeat the Royal Navy - was the pre-war toast of German officers but in Royal Navy wardrooms and gunrooms it was occasionally drunk informally and in fun before and during the First World War. German High Seas Fleet arrived in the Firth of Forth en route to internment at Scapa Flow under the terms of the Armistice which suspended hostilities from 100 on 11 November. The Grand Fleet (370 warships, including 33 battleships and 90,000 men, with the Sixth Battle Squadron, comprising USN battleships, and some French cruisers) met the German units (9 battleships, 5 battlecruisers, 7 light cruisers and 49 destroyers) 40 miles E. of May Island and escorted them to an anchorage off Inchkeith.

Adm Sir David Beatty, C-in-C Grand Fleet, regarded the operation as a surrender – ‘Didn’t I tell you they would have to come out?’ – and at 1100 the general signal hoist was made in Queen Elizabeth, ‘The German flag will be hauled down at Sunset today, Thursday, and will not be hoisted again without permission. ‘Then, using Nelson’s own signal after the Nile 120 years earlier Beatty told the Fleet, ‘It is my intention to hold a service of thanksgiving at 1800 today for the victory which Almighty God has vouchsafed to his Majesty’s arms, and every ship is recommended to do the same.’

‘Whether Beatty had the right to make such a signal [i.e. referring to a 'haul-down'] has been questioned, but he was not concerned with legal niceties or the continental school of thought at such a moment’, wrote his biographer, Rear-Adm W.S. Chalmers. ‘He would organise the surrender in his own way, and being still at war, he felt that it would be intolerable to have enemy ships flying their national flag in a British harbour. So, at dusk, as the sky reddened ove the Scottish hills, and the buglers of the British Fleet sounded the call of “Sunset”, the ensigns of the Imperial German Navy fluttered slowly down for the last time. And darkness closed like a curtain on the final act of this mighty drama at sea.’

‘The surrender, if one may call it that, was one of the most decisive and dramatic events in the illustrious annals of British sea power’ – A. Marder, From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow, Vol. 5. p. 192.


Internment in the Firth of Forth, 1918. (RNM 1983/1288)

1939  Destroyer Gipsy mined leaving Harwich (51-57N, 01-19E). Beached but broken-backed. CTL. Captain and eight men buried in RN Cemetry near St Mary’s Church, Shotley.

1939  AMC Transylvania intercepted the German Tenerife, which scuttled herself to the west of Iceland.

1939  Light cruiser Belfast severly damaged by German magnetic mine in the Firth of Forth.

1941  Submarine Utmost torpedoed and severely damaged the Italian cruiser Luigi di Savoia Duca Degli Abruzzi in the Mediterranean: CTL. Utmost sunk a year later.

1942  Albacore 1/817 (Victorious) sank U-517 in N. Atlantic (46-16N, 17-09W).

1943  Crane and Fowey sank U-538 in N. Atlantic (45-40N, 19-35W). Convoy SL 139/MKS 30.

1947  P 511 foundered at her moorings in Kames Bay.

1958  The last Naval Discipline Act came into force. Enacted in 1957 it retained the original preamble, only slightly modified to read: ‘Her Majesty’s Navy, whereon, under the good Providence of God, the wealth, safety and strength of the Kingdom so much depent . . . an historical fact of life sometimes overlooked in any prolonged period of peace’. Thereafter, naval law was derived from the Armed Forces Acts, the Army and the Air Force Acts, no longer be a permanent statute, but subject to an annual continuation order and quinquennial review.

1997  Britannia sailed from London on last voyage to Portsmouth. Flew short paying-off pennant (227ft) in river but down-channel changed to her 412ft-long entitlement.

Royal Navy ………… On This Day ………… 20 November ……….

1759  Battle of Quiberon Bay. Adm Sir Edward Hawke (Royal George) defeated Adm le Comte de Conflans (Soleil Royal). Ships: Burford, Chichester, Defiance, Dorsetshire, Duke, Dunkirk, Essex*, Hercules, Hero, Intrepid, Kingston, Magnanime, Mars, Montagu, Namur, Resolution,* Revenge, Royal George, Swiftsure, Temple, Torbay, Union, Warspite. Capt Robert Duff’s squadron: Rochester, Chatham, Coventry, Falkland, Maidstone, Minerva, Portland, Sapphire, Vengeance, Venus.

*Wrecked. Eleven French ships captured or destroyed out of twenty-one.

Sir Edward Hawke chased the French Fleet, under Conflans, in the teeth of a gale into the shoal waters of Quiberon Bay, on a lee shore. Eleven French ships were lost, and others only escaped by throwing their guns and water overboard to lightern themselves and cross the shoals. Only two British vessels were lost. This was a decisive victory, as close blockade of the French was no longer required, and the French had to withdraw their army from Hanover. From this victory, and the taking of Quebec two months before, comes the toast ‘May our Officers have the eye of a Hawke and the Heart of a Wolfe.’

‘Where there is a passage for the enemy there is a passage for me. You have done your duty in showing me the danger: now obey my orders and lay me alongside the Soleil Royal‘ –  Hawke.


Hawke’s great victory. ‘The Battle of Quiberon Bay’, by Harold Wyllie. (RNM 1983/1001)

1779  Hussar (escorting a convoy) captured the Spanish privateer N.S. Del Buen Consejo 100 miles S.W. by W. of Cape Roxent (da Roca).

1806  Boats of Success cut out the French privateer Vengeur at Hidden Port (Puerto Escondido), Cuba.

1807  Anne captured the Spanish privateer Vincejo 90 miles S.W. of Cape Finisterre.

1845  Anglo-French squadron cut the boom and captured the Argentine batteries at Obligado. British ships: Gorgon, Firebrand, Philomel, Comus, Dolphin, Fanny. French ships: San Martin, Fulton, Expeditive, Pandour, Procida. The Argentine Republicano set on fire by her own crew and blew up.

1863  Attack on the Maori position at Rangariri by Cdre Sir William Wiseman (Curacao) and Lt-Gen Duncan Cameron. Gunboats, etc.: Ant, Avon, Chub, Flirt, Midge and Pioneer (Colonial steamer). Landing parties from Curacoa, Eclipse, Harrier, Miranda. Troops: Royal Artillery, 40th and 65th Regiments.

1939  AMC Chitral intercepted the German Bertha Fisser, which scuttled herself off Iceland (64-10N, 15-14W).

1939  Sturgeon sank the German trawler Gauleiter Telschow 30 miles N.W. of Heligoland. First RN submarine success of Second World War.

1942  Corvette Potentilla (Nor) sank U-184 off Newfoundland (24-25N, 45-25W0. Convoy ONS 144.

1943  Nene, and Snowberry and Calgary (both RCN) sank U-536 in N. Atlantic (43-50N, 19-39W). Convoy SL 139/MKS 30.

1944  Minelaying air-strike at Haugesund. Operation Handfast. Ships: Diadem, Premier, Pursuer, Onslaught, Scorpion, Scourge, Zealous. FAA: eight Avenger aircraft of 856 Sqn (Premier): sixteen Wildcat aircraft of 881 Sqn (Pursuer).

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