Royal Navy On This Day 29 March …..

1681  Adventure and Calabash engaged the Algerine Golden Horse 25 miles S.W. of Cape de Gata, south coast of Spain; she surrendered to Nonsuch. [bh]

1745  Anglesea taken by the French Apollon off Kinsale, having piped the hands to dinner, assuming Apollon to be her consort Augusta. Her Captain was killed in the action and the surviving Second Lieutenant, who surrendered, was court-martialled and shot.

1779  Kite fought a French 20-gun privateer 30 miles S.W. of Needles Point.

1797  Kingfisher captured the French privateer Général 40 miles W.S.W. of Oporto.

1825  One of the last successful Caribbean pirates, Roberto Cofresí, better known as “El Pirata Cofresí,” was defeated in combat and captured by authorities between 2nd-5th March and executed by firing squad on 29th March 29th, along with other members of his crew.
Cofresí’s life story, particularly in its Robin Hood “steal from the rich, give to the poor” aspect, has become legendary in Puerto Rico and throughout the rest of Latin America. It has inspired countless songs, poems, books and films. The entire town of Cofresí, near Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, was named after him.

Wikipedia -Roberto Cofresi –

1843  Two boats of Nimrod with Assyria (Hon. East India Company steamer), in the Indus River during the conquest of Sind.

1883  Completion of Agamemnon (third of the name) and, next day, of the fifth Ajax, last battleships to be armed with rifled, muzzle-loading guns and first to have a specific secondary armament.


Depiction of the launch of HMS Agamemnon from the Illustrated London NewsAgamemnon from the Illustrated London News. Wikipedia –

1912  The ‘Terra Nova’ Expedition – Return from the South Pole.

Lieutenant Henry Robertson “Birdie” Bowers, RIM, died on or around 29th March 1912*, in the company of Robert Scott and “Uncle Bill” Wilson, whilst sheltering from a fierce blizzard, encountered as they returned from the South Pole as part of the British Antarctic Expedition under the command of Captain Robert Falcon Scott, C.V.O., R.N.

On 20th March, Scott, Wilson and Bowers had struggled on to a point just 11 miles south of ‘One Ton Depot’, but were halted by a fierce blizzard. Each day they attempted to advance, but were prevented by the extreme conditions outside their tent.
Now weak, cold and hungry, their food and fuel supplies ran out, leaving them little option other than to await their seemingly inevitable demise.

“As the troubles have thickened about us his dauntless spirit ever shone brighter
and he has remained cheerful, hopeful, and indomitable to the end”
Lieutenant Henry “Birdie” Bowers (29th July 1883 – 29th March 1912*).

* Robert Scott’s last diary entry, dated 29th March 1912, is the presumed date of death.

1912  The ‘Terra Nova’ Expedition – Return from the South Pole.
Dr. Edward Adrian Wilson, FZS, (aka “Uncle Bill”) died on or around 29th March 1912*, in the company of Robert Falcon Scott and “Birdie” Bowers, whilst sheltering from a a fierce blizzard, encountered as they returned from the South Pole as part of the British Antarctic Expedition under the command of Captain Robert Falcon Scott, C.V.O., R.N..

Affectionately nicknamed ‘Uncle Bill’ by the men of the expedition, Wilson was probably Scott’s closest companion.
Scott wrote “Words must always fail me when I talk of Bill Wilson. I believe he really is the finest character I ever met.”
When Scott’s final camp was discovered by a search team in November 1912, Bowers and Wilson were found frozen in their sleeping bags. Scott’s bag was open and his body partially out of his bag – his left arm was extended across Wilson.

“A brave, true man – the best of comrades and staunchest of friends”
Edward A. “Uncle Bill” Wilson (23rd July 1872  – 29th March 1912*).

* Robert Scott’s last diary entry, dated 29th March 1912, is the presumed date of death.

1912  Captain Robert Falcon Scott, C.V.O., R.N., died on or around 29th March 1912*, in the company of “Uncle Bill” Wilson and “Birdie” Bowers, whilst sheltering from a fierce blizzard, encountered as they returned from the South Pole as part of the British Antarctic Expedition.

During his last few days, as supplies ran out, with frozen fingers, little light, and storms still raging outside the tent, Scott wrote the final entry in his diary on 29th March;

“Since the 21st we have had a continuous gale from W.S.W and S.W. We had fuel to make two cups of tea apiece and bare food for two days on the 20th.
Every day we have been ready to start for our depot 11 miles away, but outside the door of the tent it remains a scene of whirling drift. I do not think we can hope for better things now.
We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far.

It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more,  R. Scott – For God’s sake look after our people”


Captain Robert Falcon Scott (6th June 1868 – 29th March 1912*).

* Robert Scott’s last diary entry, dated 29th March 1912, is the presumed date of death.

Wikipedia – Robert Falcon Scott –

1920  Hood commissioned. Until then the heaviest ship in the RN, still the longest RN warship to date and its sixteenth and last battlecruiser.


HMS Hood, 17 March 1924. Wikipedia –

1930  HMS L-1 broke free from her tow as she was being taken from Chatham to Newport to be scrapped. She eventually drifted ashore at Penawell Cove, Cornwall


HMS L-1 lying on the beach At Penawall Cove, Cornwall. Wikipedia –

1941  SS Hylton (5,197t) cargo ship, Vancouver to the Tyne with timber, was sunk by U-48, S of Iceland.



Crew of U-boat U-48. Wikipedia –

1942  German attack on convoy PQ 13. Trinidad and Eclipse sank the German Z-26 off Murmansk (72-15N, 34-22E). Trinidad torpedoed herself but reached Murmansk.

z26-destroyer (1)

German destroyer Z-26 just before the sinking. Wikipedia –


HMS Trinidad (46) – Wikipedia –


HMS Eclipse (H08) – Wikipedia –

1943  Submarine Unrivalled sank the German Uj-2201 and Uj-2204 at Palermo.


HMS Unrivalled entering Grand Harbour, Malta, flying the Jolly Roger flag denoting the sinking of a U boat.

Wikipedia –

1944  Sloop Starling sank U-961 E.S.E. of Faroes (64-31N, 03-19W). Convoy JW 58.


HMS Starling (U66) – Wikipedia

1945  Liberator O/224 sank U-1106 off Shetland (61-46N 02-16W).

1945  RCN frigate Teme, torpedoed by U-246 6 miles N.W. of Land’s End. Towed to Falmouth but, with her stern blown off, she was a CTL. The submarine had a short time to savour its success. Within hours she was located and destroyed by the frigate Duckworth (49-58N, 05-25W).

1967  Le Redoubtable (S611), the first ballistic missile submarine (SNLE) of the French Navy is launched. It will be another four and a half years before she is commissioned (Dec 1971).
In 2002, now decommissioned, she opened as a museum ship at the Cité de la Mer naval museum in Cherbourg, France. She is Believed to be the largest submarine open to the public and the only complete ballistic missile submarine hull open to the public.


1967  It was decided at first light this morning to carry on bombing the Torrey Canyon, aground and broken off the coast of Cornwall. Holiday makers gathered on the cliffs to watch the spectacle as she was attacked by ‘Sea Vixens’ from the RNAS ‘Yeovilton’, ‘Buccaneers’ from the Naval Air Station at Brawdy, and RAF ‘Hunters’ carrying liquified petroleum jelly (not napalm, as HMG denied that the UK forces had stocks of Napalm), to ignite the oil.

Torrey Canyon finally sank after the RAF and the Royal Navy had dropped 62,000lbs of bombs, 5,200 gallons of petrol, 11 rockets and large quantities of a ‘Napalm-like substance’ (not Napalm though!) onto the ship.

This was not to quite the end of the matter, as the government was strongly criticised for its handling of the incident, which was (at that time) the costliest shipping disaster ever.
The environmental disaster had been made far worse by the heavy use of detergent to disperse the slick. A marine environment report concluded that the detergent killed far more marine life than the oil.
The RAF and the Royal Navy received both criticism and ridicule for the fact that a quarter of the bombs they dropped, failed to hit a 975-feet long, stationary target.


de Havilland DH.110 Sea Vixen D.3 taking off from RNAS Yeovilton.

SS Torrey Canyon –

1996  RM School of Music, Deal, closed and band training moved to old RNDQs in Portsmouth Dockyard. RM at Deal since 1869.

20140710-Guildhall Concert-U

2001  Capt Philip Michael Kelly RM qualified as a Sea Harrier pilot, the first RM fixed-wing pilot to qualify for forty years. – On This Day –

Royal Navy On This Day 28 March …..

 845  Arriving in a fleet of 120 ships, Viking invaders (probably) under Ragnar Lodbrok, sacked the city of Paris, and held it to ransom. Charles the Bald, the King of West Francia, agreed to pay the bounty in exchange for sparing the city.
According to Viking stories, Ragnar Lodbrok and his warriors left with no less than 7,000 pounds of silver.
Repeated invasions forced Parisians to build a fortress on the Île de la Cité.

1696  Act for the increase and encouragement of seamen passe.

1760  Penguin taken by the French Malicieuse and Opale near the Isles Cies, at the entrance to Vigo Bay.

1779  Kite fought a French frigate off Portland.

1795  Cerberus and Santa Margarita captured the French Jean-Bart off Brest.

1806  Niobe captured the French Nearque off Lorient.

1814  Phoebe and Cherub captured the American Essex and Essex Junior off Valparaiso. [m, bh]


Illustation of USS Essex (1799).

1860  VC: LS William Odgers (Niger). First to enter the pah and haul down enemy’s colours at Omata, New Zealand. This engagement was the start of the second, six-year, operation against the Maoris. Medal: New Zealand, 1860-6. [m, bh]

1868  ERAs established.

1903  Engineers given military rank, but not status.

1910  Henri Fabre becomes the first person to fly a seaplane, the ‘Fabre Hydravion’, after it took off from the surface of the Etang de Berre and flew for a distance of 1500ft on 28th March 1910 at Martigues, France.
Apart from the achievement of being the first seaplane in history, Fabre had no flying experience before that day. He flew the floatplane successfully three more times that day and within a week he had flown a distance of 3.5 miles.

1916  Battleship Zealandia, first ship to pass through the Lock and to dry dock at Rosyth.

See 17 March 1916.

1940  Transylvania (AMC) intercepted Mimi Horn in Denmark Strait. Mimi Horn later scuttled. She was the fifth and final German blockade runner destroyed in March, trying to return home.

1941  Battle of Cape Matapan (35-25N, 21E). Adm Sir Andrew Cunningham (Warspite) beat the Italian fleet under Adm Angelo Iachino (Vittoria Veneto). Ships: Ajax, Barham, Formidable, Gloucester, Orion, Perth (RAN), Valiant, Warspite. 2nd DF: Hasty, Hereward, Ilex, Vendetta (RAN). 10th DF: Greyhound, Griffin, Havock, Hotspur, Stuart (RAN), Defender. 14th DF: Janus, Jervis, Mohawk, Nubian, Jaguar, Juno. FAA Sqns: Shipborne Swordfish and Walrus: 700. Carrier-borne Fulmar, Albacore and Swordfish: 803, 806, 826, 829, Swordfish from Maleme, Crete: 815, RAF Sqns: 84, 113, 211 and 201 Group (flying-boats). Sunk: Flume, Pola, Zara (cruisers): Vittorio Alfieri, Giosue Carducci (destroyers). [bh]


Vittorio Veneto withdraws from the battle area after being torpedoed by RN aircraft. Wikipedia – Battle of Matapan –

Adm Sir Andrew Cunningham (1883-1963)


Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew Cunningham, 1947. Wikipedia –,_1st_Viscount_Cunningham_of_Hyndhope#Battle_of_Cape_Matapan_.28March_1941.29

1942  VC:Cdr Rupert Edward Dudley Ryder (MGB 314), Lt-Cdr Stephen Halden Beattie (Campbeltown), AB William Alfred Savage (MGB 314), Lt-Col Augustus Charles Newman (Essex Regiment), Sgt Thomas Frank Durrant, RE (ML 306). Savage and Durrant awarded posthumously. Attack on St Nazaire by light forces under Cdr R.E.D. Ryder (MGB 314) and Commandos under Lt-Col A.C. Newman. Destruction of lock gates of the Normandie dock. Operation Chariot. Ships: Atherstone, Campbeltown (blockship: expended), Tynedale, MGB 314 (sunk by own forces), MTB 74 (sunk in action), ML:156 (sunk by own forces), 160, 177 (sunk in action) 192, 262, 267,268 (all sunk in action) 270 (sunk by own forces), 298 (sunk in action), 306 (captured), 307, 341 (broke down: did not take part), 307, 341 (broke down: did not take part), 443, 446 (sunk by own forces), 447 and 457 (both sunk in action), RAF: Aircraft from No. 19 Group. [bh]

St Nazaire had the only dock on the Atlantic seaboard in German hands where the battleship Tirpitz could be docked. It was 1,148ft by 164ft and had been built for the liner Normandie. A surprise attack was mounted to damage this dock in case the Germans should decide to use Tirpitz on commerce raiding as they had with the Bismarck. An ex-USN destroyer, the Campbeltown, was modified to cross shallow sandbanks and to ram the dock caisson. She was escorted by an MGB, and MTB (in case the Campbeltown failed to make the caisson) and sixteen MLs with Commandos. A U-boat was attacked on passage, and the force temporarily altered course to the south-west. The U-boat reported the force, and torpedo boats were sent to investigate: this reduced the opposition met when the force reached St Nazaire that night. The RAF raid to divert the enemy’s attention had only alerted them, and low cloud made their bombing inaccurate. The force, however, crossed 400 miles of open sea, and was 3 miles up the estuary before the alarm was given, and a false identity signal allowed them more time for their last 2 miles before the enemy opened fire. Campbeltown rammed the lock gate at 0134 and the Commandos were landed. At 0250 the force withdrew to seaward and were met by the returning German torpedo boats. Only four MLs reached home safely. The explosives in the Campbeltown went up late, just as a large party of German officers had boarded her. In contrast to Zeebrugge in the First World War, the objectives at St Nazaire were achieved. A working model of the raid can be seen at the Imperial War Museum, London.


HMS Campbeltown being converted for the Saint-Nazaire Raid. There are twin lines of armour plate down each side of the ship and the Oerlikon mountings. Two of her funnels have been removed, with the remaining two cut at an angle.


British Motor Gun Boat No.314.


British Motor Gun Boat No.314.


HMS Campbeltown wedged in the dry-dock gates at Saint-Nazaire,
prior to the detonation of her hidden high-explosive cargo.

1943  Hudsons L/48, V/48 and L/233 attacked U-77 in W. Mediterranean (37-42N, 00-10E). She sank on the 29th.

1944  Submarine Syrtis sunk by mine off Bodo, Norway.

1967  Facing increasing criticism for delays in dealing with the worlds first ‘Supertanker’ disaster, that of the Torrey Canyon lying broken and aground off Cornwall, the British government decide their best option is to destroy the ship and burn off what remains of its leaking cargo.

On 28th March, the Fleet Air Arm sent eight Blackburn Buccaneer from RNAS Lossiemouth to drop forty-two 1,000 lb bombs on the ship. Then, RAF Hawker Hunters from RAF Chivenor dropped cans of aviation fuel to make the oil blaze – a spectacle many flocked to the coast to watch.
However, with the ship refusing to sink, the mission was called off when particularly high spring tides put the fires out.


The column of thick black smoke billowing into the sky from the burning wreck
of Torrey Canyon, could be seen upto 100 miles away, March 1967.

1996  Bell-bottoms with seven horizontal creases, applied with the trousers turned inside out, disappeared. Flared trousers were introduced with up-and-down creases and were retained after uniform review.

2003  RFA Sir Galahad, landing ship, entered the newly captured port of Umm Qasr carrying the first shipload of humanitarian aid into Iraq following US and UK action. Operation Telic. (Source: RFA PRO.)

2003  Production of Daring, the first of the Type 45 air-defence destroyers, formally begun by Lord Bach, Defence Procurement Minister, at BAE Systems, Glasgow. – On This Day –

Royal Navy On This Day 27 March …..

1680  Adventure engaged the Algerine Citron Tree, wrecked later off Arzila, Morocco.

1759  Windsor engaged four French East Indiamen, capturing Duc de Chartres 200 miles W.N.W. of Cape Finisterre.

1759  Southampton and Melampe captured the French Danae off Westkapelle. Harmonie engaged, but escaped.

1794  President Washington signs the Naval Act of 1794, to establish the first permanent naval force of the United States of America with “the acquisition, by purchase or otherwise, of four ships to carry forty-four guns each, and two ships to carry thirty-six guns each.”

1804  Hippomenes, taken from the Dutch the previous year, captured the Bordeaux privateer Egyptienne 180 miles to the eastward of Barbados.

1811  Royal Marines at Anholt beat off a Danish attack on the island, which was commissioned as one of HM ships. Ships: Tartar, Sheldrake, Anholt. Only Sheldrake was awarded the medal. [m]

1812  Rosario and Griffon defeated twelve French brigs of the 14th Division of the Boulogne Flotilla off Dieppe, capturing two and driving two others on shore. [m]

1814  Hebrus captured the French Étoile off the Nez de Jobourg after a 24-hour chase. Hannibal took the Sultane which had parted company from Étoile. Last action against the French for which the gold medal was awarded. [m*, m, bh]

1854  Britain and France declared war on Russia. The start of the Russian ‘Crimean’ War.

See 30 March 1856.

1865  Edgar (91), screw second rate, last line-of-battle ship to sail – literally – from Portsmouth harbour.

1890  (Admiral Sir) Frederick Hew George Dalrymple-Hamilton (KCB) was born. The son of Col Hon. North de Coigny Dalrymple-Hamilton, MVO, of Bargany, Girvan, Ayrshire, and the grandson of the 10th Earl of Stair.
Frederick Dalrymple-Hamilton would go on to join the Royal Navy in 1905 and serve in World War I and World War 2. During WW2, he would be involved with both the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck, and the D-Day landings.


Rear Admiral F H G Dalrymple-Hamilton, CB, Naval Secretary to the First Lord of the Admiralty seated at his desk in his office at the Admiralty. Wikipedia –

1899  Inventor. entrepreneur, and businessman Guglielmo Marconi demonstates the first international radio transmission across the English Channel from Wimereux, France to the South Foreland Lighthouse, England.


Guglielmo Marconi with early apparatus in England, 1896.

Wikipedia – Guglielmo Marconi –

1918  Destroyer Kale sunk by mine in North Sea.

1941  SS Faraday (5,533t) a cable ship was ½ a mile off St Abbs Head when she was attacked by German aircraft, she caught fire and sank twelve hours later. Sixteen of her one hundred and twenty-five crew were killed. Ninety miles of cable have been salvaged from the wreck. She was built in 1923.


Cable Ship Faraday - Wikipedia –

1941  The naval ‘Battle of Cape Matapan’ is fought from 27th – 29th March 1941 off the southwest coast of Greece’s Peloponnesian peninsula, when a force of British Royal Navy ships accompanied by several Royal Australian Navy ships, under command of British Admiral Andrew Cunningham, intercept and sink or severely damage ships of the Italian Regia Marina under Admiral Angelo Iachino. The opening actions of the battle are also known in Italy as the ‘Battle of Gaudo’.


Italian Battleship Vittorio Veneto fires her 15in guns on British cruisers, before being torpedoed by RN aircraft.

Wikipedia – Battle of Cape Matapan –

1942  Destroyers Aldenham, Grove, Leamington and Volunteer sank U-587 S.W. of Ireland (47-21N, 21-39W). Convoy WS 17.

1943  In the Firth of Clyde, between Brodick on the island of Arran, and Ardrossan on the mainland, (5 miles S. of Little Cumbrae Island) escort aircraft carrier HMS Dasher was engaged in deck landing exercises when she was rocked by a tremendous explosion. Further explosions and an intense fire on the hangar deck, resulted in the rapid sinking of the vessel (3 minutes).
Those that could reach an exit had jumped overboard, where they were now at risk from the burning fuel oil & aviation fuel that was floating on the surface of the freezing water, or (ironically) from hypothermia.
No absolute cause for the explosion(s) was determined at the time, which was responsible for the loss of 379 crew from a complement of 528.
Speculation exists that one corpse from the sinking was used during the British deception operation ‘Mincemeat’…



The memorial at Ardrossan seafront.


The newly commissioned HMS Dasher with Fairey ‘Swordfish’ of 837 squadron, in late July 1942.

Wikipedia – – “The man who never was” – Wikipedia –

Operation “Mincemeat” The HMS Dasher connection –

1943  Fortress L/206 sank U-169 in N. Atlantic (60-54N, 15-25W). Her second success in two days.


1943  Laforey and Blyskawica (Polish) carried out a feint landing and bombardment near Cape Serrat.

1945  Frigate Conn sank U-722 off Hebrides (58-34N, 05-46W).

1945  Twenty Avro Lancasters of No. 617 Squadron attacked the Valentin submarine pens, near Bremen, Germany. The huge, nearly-ready structure with a concrete roof up to 23 ft thick in places, was hit by two Grand Slam bombs which penetrated parts of the pen with a 14ft 5 inches thick roof, rendering the shelter unusable. No aircraft were lost.


No. 617 Squadron RAF – Wikipedia –


Valentin after being hit by a Grand Slam bomb – note the figure standing on the pile of rubble.


A Grand Slam bomb being handled at RAF Woodhall Spa. Wikipedia –

2000  RFA Fort George, oiler/replenishment ship, arrived at Mozambique to provide relief to flood victims, using ship’s boats and Sea King helicopters of 820 NAS.

2004  Hull of frigate Scylla, the last warship built in a Royal Dockyard, scuttled in Whitsand Bay, west of Plymouth, to form an artificial reef for recreational diving.

See 8 August 1968.


The moments before HMS Scylla began her new role as ‘Scylla Reef’ off Cornwall, England.

Wikipedia – Sinking and use as dive site –

1942 Russian Convoy PQ 13

A gale scattered this convoy as it was bound for Russia. By 27 March not one merchant ship was in sight of the escort. Enemy aircraft sighted and on 28th sank two merchant ships. Three German destroyers sailed from Kirkenes to attack and early on 29th they caught a Panamanian freighter. From her crew they learned where the rest of the convoy might be, and altered their sweep. Just before 09.00 they came across the cruiser Trinidad and the destroyers Fury and Eclipse. There was a sharp action in low visibility, snow and freezing spray. One German destroyer was sunk, but Trinidad was hit by a torpedo. After she had reached the Kola Inlet on 30th, it was found that it was one of her own torpedoes that had circled back at her. Eclipse was also badly hit, but Fury managed to sink U-585. This was the first Russian convoy to suffer large casualties (five out of nineteen merchantmen).

The Trinidad sailed for UK on 13 May, and suffered heavy air attack. Late on 14th she was hit by a bomb and was flooded by near misses blowing off repair patches. Despite a 14 degree list she continued at 20 knots and manoeuvred to avoid torpedoes. At 01.20 the next morning she was abandoned, and sunk by Matchless (73-37N, 23-27E).

Wikipedia Convoy PQ 13 – – On This Day –

Royal Navy On This Day 26 March …..

1806  Frigate Pique (36), on passage from San Domingo to Curaçao, captured the French Phaeton (16) and Voltigeur (16). they had been attacked two days earlier by brig-sloop Reindeer (18). Both prizes commissioned into RN, Phaeton as Mignonne, later Musette, and Voltigeur as Pelican. [M].

1814  Around 10:00hrs, HMS Hannibal, Hebrus and Sparrow encountered two French frigates, La Sultane and the L’etoile, as they were returning from a cruise of commerce raiding around the Cape Verde Islands.

HMS Hannibal, a 74-gun third rate ship of the line, set off after La Sultane, and sent Hebrus and Sparrow after L’etoile.
Hannibal met with some ineffectual resistance before capturing 44-gun La Sultane at 15:15hrs 30 miles S.S.E. of Lizard Head on the same day, whilst Hebrus captured L’etoile, on the morning of the 27th, after “an arduous chase of one hundred and twenty miles, and a well fought action of two hours and a quarter, in eight fathoms water, under Cape La Hogue.”

L’etoile, a 44-gun Pallas-class frigate was recommissioned in the Royal Navy as HMS Topaze.

In 1847 the Admiralty awarded the Naval General Service Medal with clasp “Hebrus Wh. L’etoile” to the 40 still surviving claimants from the action.


Capture of the Étoile by HMS Hebrus off Cape La Hogue, Nicholas Pocock

Wikipedia – Étoile –

Copy of a letter to the Admiralty-Office, printed in the London Gazette, 29th March 1814, The capture of La Sultane

Copy of a letter to the Admiralty-Office, printed in the London Gazette, 2nd April 1814, The capture of L’etoile

1839  At a public meeting in the Henley-on-Thames town hall on 26th March 1839, Captain Edmund Gardiner proposed…

“that from the lively interest which had been manifested at the various boat races which have taken place on the Henley reach during the last few years, and the great influx of visitors on such occasions, this meeting is of the opinion that the establishing of an annual regatta, under judicious and respectable management, would not only be productive of the most beneficial results to the town of Henley, but from its peculiar attractions would also be a source of amusement and gratification to the neighbourhood, and the public in general.”

The first Henley Regatta took place just over 11 weeks later, on (the afternoon of) 14th June 1839. It has been held annually ever since, except during the two World Wars.

The regatta became known as Henley Royal Regatta since 1851, when Prince Albert became the first royal patron.



Henley Royal Regatta, on the River Thames, England, c.1890’s. Wikipedia – Henley Royal Regatta –

1846  Joseph Francis receives U.S. patent no. 3,974 which covers his development of using steam-powered hydraulic presses to stamp large sheets of iron into corrugated shapes to make lifeboat hulls.


Joseph Francis, inventor of the Francis lifeboat and lifecar. Wikipedia – Joseph Francis –


An original patent-model for one of Joseph Francis corrugated lifeboats.

1857  Capture of Khorramshahr, Persia. Ships and vessels: Ferooz, Semiramis, Ajdaha, Assaye, Victoria, Falkland, Berenice, Clive, Comet (all Indian Navy). With the exception of a few Bombay Artillery, ‘the gentlemen in blue had it all to themselves, and left us naught to do’ – Brig-Gen Henry Havelock in private letter.

1875  William Wordsworth Fisher, C-in-C Mediterranean 1933-6, born.

See 24 June 1937.


Wikipedia – William Wordsworth Fisher –

1898  Capture of Shendi, River Nile. Gunboats: Fetch, Nasr, Zafir.

1913  First proposal for Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships (DEMS) made by Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty. Wikipedia – DEMS –


Under the ‘Red Duster’ they sustain our Island Fortress. Nearly one third of the world’s merchant ships fly the red ensign.


The gun crew of a defensively equipped merchant ship during a drill at Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1942. A merchant seaman is passing a shell to the Royal Navy gunners.

1917  Destroyer Myrmidon lost in collision with SS Hamborn in English Channel (51-48N, 02-52W).

1937  Credited with saving the town during the depression, ‘Spinach growers’ of Crystal City, Texas, erect a statue of ‘Popeye’ the sailor in front of City Hall, in honour of E. C. Segar, creator of the “Popeye” comic strip.


‘Popeye’ the sailor statue, in front of City Hall, Crystal City, Texas. U.S.A.

Wikipedia – Popeye the Sailor Man –

1941  Heavy cruiser York hit by Italian MTM explosive motor boats in Suda Bay, Crete. Beached by destroyer Hasty and then bombed by German aircraft.

1942  Destroyer Jaguar sunk by U-652 N. of Sollum while escorting the Slavol, oiler, to Tobruk. Slavol sunk later by U-205.

1942  Destroyer Legion and submarine P 39 sunk by German aircraft at Malta. Light cruiser Penelope damaged.

1945  Frigate Duckworth sank U-399 off Land’s End (49-56N, 05-22W).

1945  Puffin, patrol vessel, damaged by ramming a midget submarine and detonating its warhead off the Scheldt.

1945  Aircraft of Task Force 57, under Vice-Adm Sir Bernard Rawlings (King George V), attacked the airfields on Myako and Ishigaki Islands (Sakishima group). Operation Iceberg. Carriers: Illustrious*, Indefatigable~, Indomitable^, Victorious#. Ships: Howe, King George V, Argonaut, Black Prince, Euryalus, Gambia, Swiftsure. FAA Sqns: Avenger 820~, 849#, 854*, 857^, Corsair 1830*, 1833*, 1834#, 1836#, Firefly 1770~. Hellcat 1839^, 1844^. Seafire 887~, 894~. [bh]

Operation Iceberg – British Pacific Fleet

In March 1945 the British Pacific Fleet was employed on attacks on Sakishima Gunto, an operation which did much to restore the position of the Royal Navy in the Pacific. The carrier force flew 5,335 sorties, dropping almost 1,000 tons of bombs and firing 1,000 rockets. Half a million rounds of ammunition were fired and fifty-seven enemy aircraft were destroyed in combat. The same number were destroyed on the ground.

1955  A 2cwt solid-silver ship’s bell, bought from the ship’s fund of the carrier Ark Royal (III), sunk in November 1941, handed over to the Captain of the new Ark Royal (IV) at Portsmouth. Then to Ark Royal (V). The Canteen Committee of the third Ark Royal decided specifically to commission a new bell for the next ship of the name. It was cast during the war and held in the custody of the RN Barracks, Lee-on-Solent. AFO 376/55.


Flickr – HMS Ark Royal (91) Ship’s bell c/o Moshi Anahory.

1964  Last meeting of the Board of Admiralty which went out of commission on 31 March when Her Majesty assumed the office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom and the Board became the Admiralty Board of the new, central Defence Council.

See 19 March 1964.

1976  Queen Elizabeth II sends the first royal email, from the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment. Although details are limited about what Queen Elizabeth actually typed (or had her people type for her) on the first royal email, it did announce that the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment in Malvern was on the Arpanet system, and that the message was made from the base. Wikipedia –

National Archives – Administrative & Biographical background:-

The Experimental Section Royal Engineers, formed by the War Office in 1917 to develop searchlights, became in 1918 the Searchlight Experimental Establishment and then in 1924 the Air Defence Experimental Establishment. Its interests were extended to cover acoustical devices and gun sound ranging and, from 1936, radar. It was situated at Biggin Hill until it moved to Christchurch in 1939.

In 1939 the Ministry of Supply took over the Air Defence Experimental Establishment. This became the Air Defence Research and Development Establishment in 1941 and the Radar Research and Development Establishment in 1944. In 1942 it moved from Christchurch to Malvern.

The Air Ministry set up a radar research station in Orfordness in 1935 which was transferred to Bawdsey Manor in 1936, becoming Bawdsey Research Station. At the outbreak of war in 1939 it moved to Dundee and became known as the Air Ministry Research Establishment. In May 1940 it was moved to Worth Matravers and in the same month was passed to the control of the Ministry of Aircraft Production. In October 1940 it was renamed the Telecommunications Research Establishment, moved to Malvern in May 1942. In 1946 it was passed to the Ministry of Supply

In 1953 the Telecommunications Research Establishment and Radar Research and Development Establishment were merged and the two establishments became the Radar Research Establishment, subsequently renamed the Royal Radar Establishment in 1957.

In 1959 control of the establishment passed to the Ministry of Aviation. When the Ministry of Aviation was abolished in February 1967 responsibility for the establishment was passed to the Ministry of Technology, in 1970 it was passed to the Ministry of Aviation Supply and in 1971 to the Ministry of Defence. In 1976 the Signals Research and Development Establishment was moved from Christchurch to Malvern and the Services Electronics Research Laboratory at Baldock also moved to Malvern; these two establishments were merged with Royal Radar Establishment to form the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment. RRE’s guided weapons responsibilities passed to the Roayl Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough.

2004  Mersey, offshore patrol vessel, commissioned in Canada Dock, Liverpool.

See 14 June 2003.

Wikipedia –

Liverpool Echo – 24 March 2004: HMS Mersey sails in to seal community links –

2010  The Republic of Korea Ship (ROKS) Cheonan, a corvette carrying 104 personnel, sank off the country’s west coast near Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 seamen.
A South Korean-led official investigation carried out by a team of international experts from South Korea, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Sweden presented a summary of its investigation on 20th May 2010, concluding that the warship had been sunk by a North Korean torpedo fired by a  Yeono class miniature submarine.


South Korean and U.S. Navy admirals inspecting the wreckage of the Cheonan at Pyeongtaek. Wikipedia – ROKS Cheonan (PCC-772) –



Wikipedia – Yono-class submarine –

Interesting Blog viewpoint – Geoffrey Forden Arms Control Wonk – – On This Day –

Royal Navy On This Day 25 March …..

 421  Venice is founded at the stroke of Midday – While there are no historical records that deal directly with the founding of Venice, the traditionally accepted time and date is identified with the dedication of the first church, that of San Giacomo at the islet of Rialto (Rivoalto, “High Shore”), which is said to have been at the stroke of noon on 25th March 421.


A typical view of modern-day Venice (Grand Canal). Wikipedia – Venice –

1584  Sir Walter Raleigh is granted a Royal patent to explore and colonise Virginia in North America.

1634  On this day settlers from The Ark and The Dove first stepped foot onto Maryland soil, at St. Clement’s Island in the Potomac River. The settlers were about 150 in number, hailing from Cowes on the Isle of Wight in England. The colony was granted to Cæcilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore two years prior by Charles I of England. In thanksgiving for the safe landing, Jesuit Father Andrew White celebrated mass for the colonists, perhaps for the first time ever in this part of the world. The landing coincided with the Feast of the Annunciation, a holy day honouring Mary, and the start of the new year in England’s legal calendar (prior to 1752).


A re-creation of The Dove, built in 1978.

1655  Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is discovered by the Dutch mathematician, astronomer, physicist and horologist, Christiaan Huygens.
Huygens was inspired by Galileo’s discovery of Jupiter’s four largest moons in 1610 and his improvements in telescope technology. Christiaan, with the help of his brother Constantijn Huygens, Jr., began building telescopes around 1650. Christiaan Huygens discovered this first observed moon orbiting Saturn with the first telescope they built.


Christiaan Huygens by Bernard Vaillant,Museum Hofwijck, Voorburg. Wikipedia –

1675  Mary first Royal Yacht, wrecked off Skerries.


The arrival of King Charles II of England in Rotterdam, 24 May 1660 by Lieve Verschuier.
Charles sailed from Breda to Delft in May 1660 in a yacht owned by the Dutch East India Company. Charles received a replica as he was impressed. Wikipedia – HMY Mary –

1797  Suffisante captured the French privateer Bonaparte 30 miles S.S.W. of Start Point.


The British brig-sloop Suffisante closing the French brig-corvette Revanche after a chase, 27th May 1796. Artist Derek George Montague Gardner (British, 1914-2007).

1800  Cruizer captured the French privateer Flibustler to the eastward of Smith’s Knoll, North Sea.

1802  Peace of Amiens ended Revolutionary War with France. Hostilities resumed when Britain declared war on France 18 May 1803 and continued until 30 June 1814 and ended with the Treaty of Paris. The Hundred Days followed.

See 2 January 1793, 18 May 1803.


Colour caricature, dated 6th October 1807, depicting John Bull, pictured left, playing a pipe as leaders from France, Britain and Russia, including Nelson and Napoleon, dance around a statue of peace. John Bull says ‘But I say my lads, who is to pay the piper?’ – Trustees of the NMRN

1804  Penguin destroyed the French privateer Renommée at Senegal. Driven ashore on the 17th.

1804  Magnificent (74) wrecked on the Pierres Noires near Brest.

1806  Reindeer fought the French Phaeton and Voltigeur to the south-east of San Domingo.

1855  Boats of Hornet, Spartan, Sybille and Winchester destroyed nine pirate junks in Port Shelter, near Hong Kong.

1872  Battleship Thunderer launched at Pembroke Dockyard. She and her Portsmouth-built sister ship Devastation were the first seagoing mastless turret-ships. A boiler explosion during trials in Stoke’s Bay in 1876 killed forty-five men and a gun explosion off Ismed in the Sea of Marmara in 1879 killed eleven turret crew. Despite her troubles Thunderer proved a good seaboat and a good gun platform. Adm Colomb called her ‘that steady old rock which nothing disturbs’.

See 12 July 1871, 14 July 1876, 2 January 1879.

HMS_Thunderer_(1872) (1)

HMS Thunderer (1872) – Wikipedia –


HMS Devastation (1871) – Wikipedia –

Wikipedia – Devastation-class ironclad –

1894  RNLI receives the largest legacy it had ever received, a total of £50,000 from James Stevens of Birmingham. An incredible 20 boats were built from this legacy, all named after the donor.

See 25 March 1901 (below).


The James Stevens lifeboats were a series of twenty lifeboats which were purchased by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) using a £50,000 legacy received in 1894 from the estate of Mr James Stevens, of The Reform Club, Birmingham, UK, an Edgbaston property developer, which was provided for this purpose. This donation provided more boats than any other donation received by the RNLI. (Mrs Sue Denny, Spokeswoman for The RNLI).

Two of the lifeboats, No. 10 and No. 14, are still seaworthy.


RNLB James Stevens No. 14. Wikipedia – James Stevens lifeboats –

The Days of Oars and Sails – James Stevens No.1 RNLB - Port St Mary Lifeboat Station 1896-1917. –

1901  Two of the James Stevens lifeboats called out for emergencies. At Wexford the James Stevens No.15 (40ft Watson) stood by the local schooner Perseverance, stranded on Raven Point, until she floated free and reached the harbour safely.

At Southend-on-Sea, James Stevens No.9 (38ft Norfolk and Suffolk) stood by the barque Grethe, also aground on the Nore Sand.

Two James Stevens lifeboats have been restored, these being No.10 and No.14. James Stevens No.10 is a self-righting pulling and sailing lifeboat and still operates out of her home station of St. Ives. James Stevens No.14 is a 43ft Norfolk and Suffolk Motor, the oldest motor lifeboat still in existence. She also operates out of her home station of Walton-on-the-Naze.

1915  The Dutch Medea sunk by U-28 after visit and search. First neutral ship to be so sunk.

1916  Light cruiser Cleopatra rammed and sank the German G-194, 5 miles W. of Horns Reef lightvessel.

1916  Destroyer Medusa foundered after collision with Destroyer Laverock off Danish Coast.

1943  Fortress L/206 sank U-469 south of Iceland. Convoy RU 67.


Wikipedia – U-469 –

1944  Mosquito L/248 sank U-976 off Bordeaux.


Mosquito FB Mark XVIII, NT225 O, of No. 248 Squadron RAF Special Detachment based at RAF Portreath, Cornwall, banking away from the camera while in flight, showing the 57mm Molins gun mounted underneath the nose.

Wikipedia – No. 248 Squadron RAF –


1945  First deck landing of a twin-engined aircraft – a de Havilland Mosquito on Indefatigable by Lt-Cdr E.M. Brown. – On This Day –

Royal Navy On This Day 24 March …..

1387  The tenth Earl of Arundel captured nearly the whole of a Franco-Burgundian merchant fleet.


Arms of Richard Fitzalan (1306-1376)


The 14th-century memorial effigy in Chichester Cathedral which inspired Larkin’s poem “An Arundel Tomb” (Note: The effigies in Chichester Cathedral are attributed to Richard FitzAlan and Eleanor of Lancaster. FitzAlan and Eleanor were actually buried in Lewes Priory. Although Larkin called the effigies a “tomb”, they are actually a “memorial”. See Talk, Distinction needs to be made: Not a “tomb” but a “memorial”.) The plaque in the cathedral reads as follows: An Arundel Tomb The figures represent Richard Fitzalan III, 13th Earl of Arundel (ca 1307-1376) and his second wife Eleanor, who by his will of 1375 were to be buried together “without pomp” in the chapter house of Lewes Priory. The armour and dress suggest a date near 1375; the knight’s attitude is typical of that time, but the lady’s crossed legs, giving the effect of a turn towards her husband, are rare. The joined hands have been thought due to “restoration” by Edward Richardson (1812-69), but recent research has shown the feature to be original. If so, the monument must be one of the earliest showing the concession to affection where the husband was a knight rather than a civilian.

1693 & 1776  John Harrison, a self-educated English carpenter and later a clockmaker was born and died on the same day of the month, albeit 83 years apart.


P.L. Tassaert’s half-tone print of Thomas King’s original 1767 portrait of John Harrison, located at the Science and Society Picture Library, London. – ‘John Harrison, a genius who solved the greatest scientific problem of his time’

He was born in Foulby, near Wakefield in West Yorkshire, the first of five children in his family. His father worked as a carpenter at the nearby Nostell Priory estate. John Harrison following his father’s trade as a carpenter, building and repairing clocks in his spare time. He built his first longcase clock in 1713, at the age of 20. The mechanism was made entirely of wood, which was a natural choice of material for a joiner.
His longcase clocks performed exceptionally well, and elements from them would appear in his a description and drawings for a proposed marine clock to compete for the Longitude Prize.

ModernReplicaModelofJohn Harrisons1stMarineTimekeeper

Modern Replica Model of “John Harrisons” First Marine Timekeeper. (Image from Tennants Auctioneers).

He eventually invented the marine chronometer, a long-sought device in solving the problem of establishing the East-West position or longitude of a ship at sea, thus revolutionising and extending the possibility of safe long distance sea travel in the Age of Sail. The problem was considered so intractable that the British Parliament offered a prize of £20,000 (reasonably comparable to £2.87 million in modern currency) for the solution.
John Harrison, not only solved the problem of longitude, he showed everyone that it could be done by using a watch to calculate longitude. This was to be Harrison’s masterpiece, an instrument of beauty, resembling an oversized pocket watch from the period. Unfortunately, the Board of Longitude seemed somewhat reluctant to accept the instrument’s capabilities or relinquish the prize.

H4_low_250 (1)

Harrison’s “Sea Watch” No.1 (H4), with winding crank. Wikipedia –

Despite the opposition and gross unfairness, Harrison was finally awarded the prestigious and valuable ‘longitude prize’ when King George III intervened in an effort to rectify the injustice suffered at the hands of the Board of Longitude.

John Harrison died on his eighty-third birthday in Red Lion Square, and is buried in the graveyard of St John’s Church, Hampstead along with his second wife Elizabeth and their son William. His tomb was restored in 1879 by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers even though Harrison had never been a member of the Company.

         See 24 March 2006 (below).

1740  Bombardment and capture of Chagres by Vice-Adm Edward Vernon (Strafford). Ships: Alderney, Falmouth, Norwich, Princess Louisa, Strafford, Goodley and Pompey tenders (Greenwich and Windsor). Bombs: Cumberland, Terrible. Fireships: Eleanor, Success.

Admiral Edward Vernon (1684-1757)

Having joined the Navy in 1701 Vernon received a special award of 200 guineas from the Queen in 1704 for conspicuous gallantry at Gibraltar. He became a Member of Parliament and an opponent of Walpole. He had a fiery temper and was tempted by Walpole to make a statement that he could take Portobello in Panama with six ships of the line. This unfortunate challenge was taken up by the Government and he was given his six ships, although hopelessly ill-equipped and ill-manned. By brilliant planning he captured Portobello losing only seven men doing it. The Government reinforced him and sent him to attack Spanish strongholds in the West Indies. These expeditions were not a success. Vernon’s nickname was ‘Old Grogram’ because of the material of which his boat cloak was made. He insisted on the rum ration being diluted and henceforth watered-down rum was known as ‘grog’. (See 21 August.)

Edward_Vernon_by_Thomas_Gainsborough (1)

Admiral Edward “Old Grogram” Vernon. Portrait by Thomas Gainsborough. Wikipedia –

1804  Wolverine taken by the French privateer Blonde 600 miles N. by E. of the Azores. Of the Wolverine‘s convoy, two were taken and six escaped.

1811  Berwick chased Amazone into bay near Barfleur light, where she was burned by her captor.

1878  Returning to England after a 3-month tour of the West Indies and Bermuda, HMS Eurydice, a 26-gun Royal Navy (training) corvette, was caught in a heavy snowstorm off Ventnor, Isle of Wight, capsized and sank. Only two of the ship’s 319 crew and trainees survived, most of those who were not carried down with the ship died of exposure in the freezing waters. One of the witnesses to the disaster was a young Winston Churchill, who was living at Ventnor with his family at the time.
The phantom Eurydice has been sighted frequently by sailors over the years since her sinking. Most notably, on October 17th, 1998, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, reportedly saw the three-masted ship off the Isle of Wight while filming for the television series “Crown and Country”, and the film crew claimed to have captured its image on film. There is also a story from Commander F. Lipscomb of a royal naval submarine which took evasive action to avoid the ship only for it to disappear.


HMS Eurydice off the coast, with her crew making sail.

1896  Russian physicist Alexander Popov makes the first radio signal transmission in history at a meeting of the Society at St Petersburg University. Popov demonstrated how his work could be used in general for sending and receiving information by radio by transmitting the words “Heinrich Hertz” in Morse code between buildings on the university campus.


Alexander Stepanovich Popov – Wikipedia –

1905  Jules Gabriel Verne, aged 77, the French author who pioneered the science fiction genre, died at his home, 44 Boulevard Longueville (now Boulevard Jules-Verne), Amiens, France, while ill with diabetes.

He was born on 8th February 1828 on Île Feydeau, a small island within the town of Nantes, in No. 4 Rue Olivier-de-Clisson, the house of his maternal grandmother Sophie Marie Adelaïde-Julienne Allotte de la Fuÿe. His parents were Pierre Verne, an attorney originally from Provins, and Sophie Allote de la Fuÿe, a Nantes woman from a local family of navigators and shipowners, of distant Scottish descent.

He became known for his novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), From the Earth to the Moon (1865), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873), which (as with many of his other works) included elements of technology that were fantastic for the day but later became commonplace.

It is interesting to note that many of Verne’s predictions were realised by a list of men and women who cited him as the inspiration for their own achievements.
Amongst the many are: Wernher von Braun, Guglielmo Marconi, Pioneering submarine designer Simon Lake; Arctic Explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton; Marine biologist Jacques Cousteau; Polar explorer Richard E. Byrd; Édouard-Alfred Martel; Norbert CasteretYuri Gagarin; aviation pioneers Alberto Santos-Dumont; and Igor Sikorsky often quoted Verne and cited his Robur the Conqueror as the inspiration for his invention of the first successful helicopter.
The rocketry innovators Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Robert Goddard, and Hermann Oberth are all known to have taken their inspiration from Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, and Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders, the astronauts on the Apollo 8 mission, were similarly inspired, with Borman commenting “In a very real sense, Jules Verne is one of the pioneers of the space age.” The list goes on…and on…

Jules Verne was buried at Amiens. The house where he lived is now a museum. His work continues to inspire.


Restored photograph of Jules Verne by Félix Nadar circa 1878. Wikipedia –


1916  Submarine E 24 mined in Heligoland Bight.


HMS E20 E-class similar to E24.

On the morning of 21st March 1916 E24 sailed from Harwich for mine-laying operations at Heligoland Bight. The submarine failed to return from this operation and was believed to have struck a mine.

In 1973 her hull was mistakenly salvaged, inspection of the hull indicated that the submarine had indeed hit a mine.

Barrow Submariners Assoc. –

Wikipedia – HMS E24 –

1942  Destroyer Southwold was attempting to pass a line to Breconshire off Zanter Point, Malta when she activated a British land mine and there was an explosion in which an officer and four ratings were killed . She sustained major structural damage and the engine room flooded while electrical supplies failed. She was towed by the tug Ancient but the hull split and she began to sink. The survivors were rescued by HMS Dulverton.

The wreck of Southwold lies in two sections about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of Marsaskala Bay, Malta. The bow is the largest piece, about 40 metres (130 ft) in length, and it lies on its starboard side at a depth of 70 metres (230 ft). The stern, which is located about 300 metres (980 ft) away from the bow, is about 28 metres (92 ft) long and it lies upright in 72 metres (236 ft) of water.


HMS Southwold (L10) – Wikipedia –


The tug Ancient which towed the damaged Southwold just before her hull split.

1942  Minesweeper Sharpshooter rammed and sank U-655 off N. Cape in the Barents Sea, (73.00N, 21.00E – approximate position). Convoy QP 9.

HMS Sharpshooter

HMS Southwold (J68) – Wikipedia – Halcyon-class minesweeper –


WW2 Type VIIC U-boat (similar to U655) – Wikipedia – German Type VIIC U-boat –

1948  Royal Marine Act aurthorised formation of Royal Marine Forces Volunteer Reserve.

See 1 November 1958, 1 October 1966.

1961  Closure of The Nore Command on 31 March marked by parade of 2,000 serving and retired personnel through Chatham. Queen’s Colour of The Nore Command laid up in St George’s Church, RN Barracks, Chatham. Royal Netherlands Navy sent destroyer Limburg in Commemoration of the Dutch attack on the dockyard in 1667.


The flagship HMS Royal Sovereign saluting at the Nore. Wikipedia – Commander-in-Chief, The Nore –,_The_Nore

The Nore Command.
The title originates from the name of a large sandbank in the Thames Estuary at the mouth of the River Medway and has been associated with the navy for centuries. At the beginning of the war the command covered from Rye in Sussex to Yarmouth in Norfolk. When the ACHQ’s were formed the northern boundary was moved north to Flamborough Head in Yorkshire taking over the Humber Sub Command from FO Rosyth on 13th December 1939 in order to conform with the area of No 16 Group RAF. Meanwhile in the south further changes were underway.

The C-in-C, Nore was normally a full Admiral’s appointment, except in 1943 when Sir John Tovey, on being relieved as C-in-C, Home Fleet, was posted to the Nore on promotion to Admiral of the Fleet.

Rear Admiral Bertram Ramsay had resigned his appointment in 1934 and had been placed on half pay. He was promoted to Vice Admiral on seniority and was placed on the retired list in 1938. He was recalled as a retired officer and appointed to the staff of C in C, Nore and tasked with turning the commercial port of Dover into a naval base and headquarters. He established the HQ in the casemates of Dover castle alongside that of the army GOC Fixed Defences, Dover. Now Vice Admiral, Dover, Ramsay was responsible for the transportation, support and protection of the lines of communication of the BEF in France as well as the defence of the Straits of Dover. The events leading up to the fall of France and the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) evacuation at Dunkirk had caused the Dover Sub Command to be removed from the control of C in C, Nore and placed directly under Admiralty control. The Sub Command was not restored to Nore until 1946. The southern boundary of Nore Command was now a line due east of the North Foreland in Kent.

The Nore Command at Chatham had five major sub-commands each under the command of a Flag Officer (normally a Rear or Vice Admiral). These sub-commands were Chatham, London (less the Admiralty) Sheerness, Harwich and Humber. They were further subdivided into Bases under Naval Officers in Charge (NOIC) and Residential Naval Officers (RNO) Such bases included Gravesend, Southend, Queenborough, Brightlingsea, Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Felixstowe, Burnham-on-Crouch, Boston, Grimsby and Immingham.

Their prime responsibilities were the protection of East Coast convoys from air and sea attack, and the maintenance of the east coast barrier minefield. This involved the sweeping of enemy mines, standing anti U-Boat and E-Boat patrols, naval attacks on enemy shipping and Air/Sea Rescue. The assets for these tasks were in the main small ships, apart from the light cruisers of the 20th Cruiser Squadron during 1940, the force consisted of small Destroyers, Sloops, Trawlers and Motor Boats with MTB’s and MGB’s for offence. At its peak Nore Command had over 50,000 personnel with some 900 vessels operating from 35 different bases and all controlled through the sub commands from the ACHQ.

1989  The tanker Exxon Valdez, en route from Valdez, Alaska to Los Angeles, California, ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The vessel was traveling outside normal shipping lanes in an attempt to avoid ice. Within six hours of the grounding, the Exxon Valdez spilled approximately 10.9 million gallons of its 53 million gallon cargo of Prudhoe Bay crude oil. Eight of the eleven tanks on board were damaged. The oil would eventually impact over 1,100 miles of non-continuous coastline in Alaska.


Tugboats pull the crippled tanker Exxon Valdez towards Naked Island in Prince William Sound, Alaska, 1989.

1999  UK maritime forces deployed to Adriatic to join NATO operations to deter Serbian ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Mainly an air bombing campaign which started 24 March and ended 10 June. Operation Allied Force (UK Operation Kingower). Splendid fired Britain’s first operational Tomahawk missile against Serb targets in Kosovo 24 March. Aircraft from Invincible joined Allied air operations. Frigate Somerset, relieved by frigate Grafton 23 April, operated with French Foch CAG under French operational control (French Operation Trident). Invincible Group arrived from the Gulf ex-Operation Bolton 12 April and left 21 May. Ships: Invincible, Newcastle, Iron Duke, Somerset, Norfolk, Grafton, Coventry, Splendid, Turbulent, RFA: Fort Austin, Bayleaf, Argus. FAA Sqns: 800, 814, 849 A Flight.

See 18 November 1998, 18 March 2002.

2006  A memorial tablet to John Harrison was unveiled in Westminster Abbey on 24th March 2006, finally recognising him as a worthy companion to his friend George Graham and Thomas Tompion, “The Father of English Watchmaking”, who are both buried in the Abbey. The memorial shows a meridian line (line of constant longitude) in two metals to highlight Harrison’s most widespread invention, the bimetallic strip thermometer. The strip is engraved with its own longitude of 0 degrees, 7 minutes and 35 seconds West.


John Harrison’s Memorial in Westminster Abbey. Wikipedia – Memorials –

Royal Museum Greenwich – John Harrison –

The Royal Society – John Harrison - – On This Day –

Royal Navy On This Day 22 March …..

1500  Pedro Alvares Cabral’s 13-ship fleet, which sailed from Lisbon, Portugal, on 9th March to establish trade links with India and purchase valuable spices, reaches Cape Verde, a Portuguese colony situated on the West African coast. As the fleet sailed on towards the equator, it would be heading out into the Atlantic to pick up the trade winds.

Cabral_voyage_1500.svg (1)

Route taken by Cabral from Portugal to India in 1500 (in red), and the return route (in blue).

Wikipedia – Pedro Álvares Cabral –

1778  Whilst searching for the Northwest passage, and in need of a suitable harbour to make repairs, Captain James Cook sights and names Cape Flattery (in present day Washington State), and unknowingly sails past the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Cape Flattery is the oldest non-Indian place name still appearing on Washington state maps. Captain Cook wrote in his journal:
“… there appeared to be a small opening which flattered us with the hopes of finding an harbour… 

…On this account I called the point of land to the north of it Cape Flattery.
Resolution and Discovery.
Wikipedia – Third voyage of James Cook –

1794  Capture of Fort Bourbon and the whole of Martinique by Gen Sir Charles Grey and Vice-Adm Sir John Jervis (Boyne). The Naval Brigade manned several of the breaching batteries on shore [bh]

See 17 March 1794.

1797  Boats of Hermione cut out three French privateers and their twelve prizes from a bay at the west end of Puerto Rico.

1808  Nassau and Stately captured the Danish Prinds Christian Frederik after two hours. She went ashore immediately afterwards on Sjaellands Odde, Kattegat, and was burned next day. [m]

1813  Captain (74), which had been Lord Nelson’s ship when he took the San Josef and which had recently been hulked at Plymouth, caught fire and was totally destroyed. The San Josef, which was lying alongside, was with difficulty preserved.


HMS Captain (1787) – Wikipedia –

1885  Action at Tofrek (McNeill’s Zareba), Sudan, Naval Brigade from Carysfort, Condor, Coquette, Dolphin and Sphinx. Egyptian Medal: clasp ‘Tofrek’.

A zareba was an improvised but major entrenchment, fortified by thorn bushes. Gen Sir John McNeill, VC. constructed one as an intermediate supply post in the desert outside Suakin. The work was unfinished, and the troops were eating a meal when they were suddenly attacked by 5,000 tribesmen. The British squares were at first overrun by stampeding animals and tribesmen, but in twenty minutes had re-formed and killed 1,000 tribesmen and 900 camels.



Egypt Medal & Ribbon – Wikipedia –

1899  Miniatures replaced medals for officers in ball dress.

1911  Royal Fleet Auxiliary established by Order in Council, but RFA to celebrate its centenary on 3 August 2005.

See 3 August 1905.


Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) – Wikipedia –

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service (RFA) is a civilian manned fleet comprising nineteen ships owned by the Ministry of Defence. The flotilla is managed by the Commodore RFA who is directly responsible to the Commander-in-Chief Fleet. The primary role of the RFA is to supply the Royal Navy at sea with the food, fuel, stores and ammunition that it requires to maintain operations away from its home ports. This role is carried out by tankers and stores ships able to supply replenishment at sea (RAS) to up to three warships at a time. In addition, the RFA provides seaborne aviation, training and forward repair facilities for the Royal Navy, and secure logistical support and amphibious operations capability for the Royal Marines and British Army. The grey-painted ships of the RFA carry military pennant numbers and wear the RFA ensign (a blue ensign defaced by a vertical gold anchor in the fly). The Service is the largest employer of British-registered seamen (about 2,300), who follow career paths and training patterns broadly similar to those of the merchant navy. Additionally, they receive specialist training to meet the requirements of military operations. RFA ships have become an integral part of naval task forces and increasingly they are able to act as independent military units, operating anti-submarine or commando helicopter squadrons, and in counter-drugs and humanitarian-relief roles. During its long and distinguished history the RFA has earned many battle honours. More recently, the Service played a decisive role in the Falklands War of 1982 and in operations against Iraq in 2003, and has been deployed in many NATO and United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world.

1915  Following conversion from a tramp steamer, HMS Manica, is commissioned, becoming the first kite balloon ship of the Royal Naval Air Service.
Six days after commissioning, Manica left  the UK for the eastern Mediterranean, arriving off Lemnos on 14th April. From the 19th April, her balloon spotters would be put into action directing shells onto various Turkish positions, reporting naval movements and supporting ANZAC operations.

HU066626DrachenBalloonSSManicaGallipoli1915 (1)

Manica prepares to launch a kite balloon off Gallipoli, 1915. Wikipedia –

1916  Farnborough (Q 5) sank U-68 off coast of Kerry (51-54N, 10-53W).


HMS Farnborough (Q 5) – Wikipedia –


German SM U-68 – Wikipedia –

1918  Sloop Gaillardia sunk while escorting minelayers in Northern Barrage, off Orkney.


HMS Gaillardia – Wikipedia –

1923  Almost twenty-two years after she went into service, USS Iowa, America’s first seagoing battleship, was decommissioned at the end of March 1919. The thoroughly-obsolete Iowa was renamed ‘Coast Battleship No. 4′ a month later in order to free her name for use on a new South Dakota class battleship.

As ‘Coast Battleship No. 4′ she was converted in to the Navy’s pioneer radio-controlled target ship. At the Philadelphia Navy Yard, workers removed the ship’s guns, fitted her after boilers to burn oil fuel, sealed compartments, and installed water pumps to slow the sinking process to enable a longer target session when she was struck by gunfire or aircraft bombs. Radio control gear, developed by the well known radio engineer, John Hays Hammond, Jr. was also installed.


John Hays Hammond, Jr. May 22, 1922. – Wikipedia –,_Jr.

The R/C gear installed aboard the former USS Iowa,
as seen in a 1921 edition of Popular Mechanics.

She ran trials off Chesapeake Bay in 1920 with the battleship Ohio serving as control ship. Once underway, the crew left in small boats and she was fully controlled by radio signals. She returned to active service in April 1922 to Hampton Roads, Virginia to take part in gunfire exercises with the minelayer Shawmut as control ship.

In 1923 she went through the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean to take part in combined fleet manoeuvres. A party of high-ranking navy officials as well as members of Congress and newspaper correspondents sailed to Panama aboard USS Henderson to watch the experimental firing.


‘Coast Battleship No. 4′ was first bombarded by the five-inch secondary batteries of U.S.S. ‘Mississippi’, at ranges of some 8000 yards. Two further exercises, at longer range, placed her on the receiving end of more than three hundred fourteen-inch shells.


After being hit by nearly three-dozen of these three-quarter ton projectiles, ex-USS Iowa sank in the Gulf of Panama.


Wikipedia – USS Iowa (BB-4) –

Photo #1 – Leaving the Pedro Miguel Lock and entering Miraflores Lake, while transiting the Panama Canal, 10 February 1923.
She was in the Panama area to serve as a radio-controlled target during Fleet gunnery exercises.
Note the lock caisson at right.

Photo #2 – Maneuvering under fire by battleship guns, while in use as a radio-controlled target during Fleet gunnery practice off Panama, circa 22 March 1923. The ship was sunk as a result of damage received in this exercise.

Photo #3 – Under fire by battleship guns, while in use as a radio-controlled target during Fleet gunnery practice off Panama, 22 March 1923. Note projectiles hitting the water on either side of the target, and the ship’s collapsed forward smokestack.The ship was sunk as a result of damage received in this exercise.

1942  Second Battle of Sirte (34-10N, 18-10E) – Wikipedia – Rear-Adm Philip Vian (Cleopatra) repulsed an attack by a superior Italian force on convoy MW 10. Ships: Breconshire, Carlisle, Cleopatra, Dido, Euryalus, Legion, Penelope, 5th DF: Avon Vale, Beaufort, Dulverton, Eridge, Hurworth, Southwold. 14th DF: Jervis, Kelvin, Kingston, Kipling. 22nd DF: Hasty, Havock, Hero, Lively, Sikh, Zulu. It was Euryalus (fifth of the name) who made ‘Enemy in sight’, as her predecessor had done before Trafalgar, 137 years before. [bh]


Sir Philip Louis Vian – Wikipedia –


HMS Cleopatra throws out smoke to shield the convoy as HMS Euryalus 
elevates her forward 5.25 inch guns to shell the Italian Fleet.

A convoy sailed for Malta from Alexandria, with a heavy escort of four cruisers and ten destroyers, which was joined later by another cruiser and seven destroyers. Italian naval forces sailed from Taranto and Messina to intercept the convoy, which was also subject to heavy air attacks. On 22 March at 14.27 part of the enemy force was sighted. The four British light cruisers, together with the fleet destroyers, turned towards the enemy, leaving the convoy, which was under air attack in the keeping of an AA cruiser and the smaller destroyers. The British force were to windward and used smoke to cover the convoy and their approach to the Italian force, which included heavy cruisers. The enemy were driven off, but returned at 16.40 having been reinforced by more ships, including a battleship. Once again, the light cruisers and fleet destroyers closed, and attacked with torpedoes and gunfire, using smoke and the weather gauge to close to effective range. Three British destroyers (Havock, Kingston and Lively) were hit by 15in shells but the enemy were held at bay and finally driven off. This was a brilliant victory by Adm Vian, in command of the 15th Cruiser Squadron, which was marred only by the loss of half the convoy to air attack the next day as they neared Malta.

1942  GC: Lt Dennis Arthur Copperwheat, Penelope, for ammunition disposal in Valetta Harbour.

1943  River gunboat Aphis bombarded Gabes in support of the 8th Army.

1943  Whitley OUT/10 sank U-665 W. of St Nazaire.


Armstrong Whitworth Whitley – Wikipedia –


U-665 on the surface and conning tower emblem. Wikipedia –

1945  Liberator M/120 sank U-296 in N.W. Approaches.

B-24-Liberator-RAF-Bomberuboat leigh light page

Consolidated B-24 Liberator – Wikipedia –


Leigh Light -Wikipedia –


U-296 Conning tower emblem. Wikipedia – U-296 –

1946  Corvette Dawson (RCN) foundered off Hamilton, Ontario.

1950  Hansard, Column 1973 No. 148: ‘The Royal Marine establishment being closed down at Chatham will be replaced by a naval establishment, HMS Serious, the training establishment of the Supply and Secretariat Branch. . . . ‘

See 14 March 1958.

1960  Arthur Leonard Schawlow and Charles Hard Townes receive the first patent for a laser. The patent is much disputed by Gordon Gould who also claims to have invented the LASER, an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.

1993  Bristol, Type 82 destroyer, relieved Kent, County-class destroyer, at Portsmouth as the RN Cadet Forces Accommodation and Training Ship. DCI(RN) 64/93.

See 30 June 1969.

2003  The RMS Mülheim, a German cargo ship that was built in Romania, on a voyage from Cork, Ireland to Lübeck, Germany, transporting 2,200 tonnes of scrap car plastic.
The ship ran aground at approximately 05:00 GMT in Gamper Bay, between Land’s End and Sennen Cove, during which time there was “moderate visibility and fog patches”.

Investigators heard that the chief officer, who had been on watch at the time, had caught his trousers in the lever of his chair, causing him to fall and rendering him unconscious. By the time he regained consciousness, RMS Mülheim was already bearing down on the shoreline.

Although the Sennen Lifeboat and Land’s End Coastguard Cliff Team were able to reach the wreck quickly, the six man Polish crew were airlifted to safety by a search and rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose, and were treated for shock at the Sennen Cove Lifeboat Station. The vessel was declared a constructive total loss on 24th March 2003.


RMS Mülheim wrecked near Lands End, Cornwall.

2003  Two Sea King Mk VII of 849 Sqn A Flight flying from Ark Royal on vital ground surveillance missions to support Royal Marines ashore on the Al Faw peninsula collided over the northern Arabian Gulf. Two pilots and five observers killed. Posthumous MiD to observer, Lt Tony King. Operation Telic. – – On This Day –

Royal Navy On This Day 21 March …..

1705  The Battle of Cabrita Point, sometimes referred to as the Battle of Marbella, was a naval battle that took place while a combined Spanish-French force besieged Gibraltar on 21st March (10th March O.S.), during the War of Spanish Succession.
The battle was a decisive victory for Sir John Leake commanding an allied fleet of 35 ships (English, Dutch and Portuguese), which effectively ended the Franco-Spanish siege of Gibraltar. Wikipedia – Battle of Cabrita Point –


England’s Glory – The Raising of the Siege of Gibraltar.


The London Gazette, dated 14–17 May 1705 detailing the return of Leake from Gibraltar after the battle.

1793  John Western, Third Lieutenant of Syren (32), fifth rate, killed in boat action against the French on the Dutch coast: first naval officer killed in action in French Revolutionary War.

32-gun-frigate (1)

The Capture of HMS Syren (1782) – Wikipedia –

1800  Peterel (16), commanded by Jane Austen’s brother Francis, captured the French Ligurienne (16) and two vessels of her convoy close off Cape Couronne, near Marseilles. [m. bh]

1807  Capture of Aboukir Castle and then of Alexandria, Egypt by forces under Gen Frazer. Ships under Capt Sir Sidney Smith: Tigre, Apollo, Wizard.


Frazer in Rosetta 1807 – Wikipedia –

1813  Boats of Brevdrugeren and Blazer cut out the Danish Liebe and Jonge Troutman in the Elbe River. [m]

1846  Crossed sword and baton introduced to epaulettes of Flag Officers. Lieutenants to wear two plain epaulettes and mates one. Crown added to cap badge.

1855  Bittern destroyed eight pirate junks at Brig Island, near Swalow.

1862  The Royal Marines divided into two separate corps. Royal Marine Artillery (RMA) and Royal Marine Light Infantry (RMLI), until 1923: the Blue and the Red Marines.

1890  Formation of RM Depot Band.


Royal Marines Band Service – Wikipedia –

1901  Duncan launched at Thames Iron Works. Name-ship of the last class of battleships to be painted black, white and buff.


HMS Duncan under construction at Thames Ironworks Shipbuilding Co. – Wikipedia –


HMS Duncan full dress-ship in 1908.

1918  Destroyer action between Allied ships and eighteen German destroyers off Dunkirk. Ships: Botha, Matchless, Morris, Myngs, North Star, Swift, CMB 20A: General Craufurd, M 25, Terror, French: Bouclier, Capitaine-Mehl, Magon, Oriflamme, Germans sunk: A-7 and A-19.

1944  Revd H.C.W. Mauger, RNVR, of 42 RM Commando, killed in action in Arakan. Sixteenth and last chaplain to be killed on active service in the Second World War.

1945  As part of convoy BTC-103, liberty ship SS James Eagan Layne was carrying 4,500 tons of U.S. Army Engineers’ equipment from Barry, Wales, to Ghent, in Belgium. She also carried motorboats and lumber as deck cargo.
Sailing 12 miles off Plymouth, she was sighted by German submarine U-399 and torpedoed on the starboard side between holds 4 & 5. Although badly damaged, she was taken in tow by tugs Flaunt (W152) and HMS Atlas (W41), and was beached in Whitsand Bay Cornwall. Subsequently she settled on the bottom and was declared a total loss. There were no casualties amongst her crew of 69.


Launching Liberty Ship James Eagan Layne. Wikipedia –

1980  Brecon, first of Hunt-class MCMVs, commissioned.

1984  Soviet ‘Victor’-class nuclear attack submarine K-314 was involved in a collision when she surfaced immediately in front of the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) in the Sea of Japan.
Neither ship was significantly damaged, although the Soviet submarine could not get underway to proceed home for repairs under her own power. The U.S. Navy stayed on scene for two weeks before the Soviets could send out a sea-going tug to bring her home.


Soviet Victor-class submarine K-314 – Wikipedia –


USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) – Wikipedia –

Kitty Hawk went to the U.S. Naval Base at Subic Bay in the Philippines for repairs, where a piece of one of K-314’s propellers was found embedded in Kitty Hawk‘s bow, as were some chunks of the Soviet anechoic coating, from scraping along the side of the submarine. The result was something of an “accidental” intelligence coup for the U.S. Navy.

2006  At around 12:35 UTC, as MV Hyundai Fortune sailed west through the Gulf of Aden, near Yemen, en route to Europe via the Suez Canal, an explosion occurred below deck, aft of the accommodation, causing a large number of containers to fall into the ocean and a fire that spread through the stern of the ship.


Container-ship Hyundai Fortune ablaze in the Gulf of Aden, March 2006. Wikipedia –


HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën. Wikipedia –

As efforts to contain the fire failed, all 27 crew members abandoned ship and were rescued by the Dutch frigate HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën.

The fire burned for several days, with around one third of the containers being damaged and/or lost overboard. The listing ship was then towed to Salalah, Oman where 2,249 salvageable containers were offloaded for transhipment to Europe.
After unloading, temporary repairs and renaming, the ship was towed to China where she was rebuilt and refurbished.
The cause of the fire was believed to have been a container loaded with petroleum-based cleaning fluids stowed near the engine room. The shipper failed to indicate the hazardous nature of this shipment to avoid the special handling fees associated with transporting hazardous materials.
The damage and losses were estimated to be $800 million (USD). – On This Day –

Royal Navy On This Day 20 March …..

A Memorable Date observed by 40 Commando HM and UK Landing Force Command Group – Al Faw

1602  The Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC) is established on 20th March 1602.


Logo of the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC in Dutch, literally “United East Indian Company”).

The chartered company was founded by traders and burghers from port towns such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Middelburg, and was established when the States-General of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia.
Considered to have been the first multinational corporation in the world and it was the first company to issue stock, iIt had the States-General’s authority in the trade zone between South Africa and Japan to conduct trade, erect fortifications, appoint governors, keep a standing army, and conclude treaties in its name.

1612  Sir Walter Raleigh is freed from the Tower of London after 13 years of imprisonment for allegedly being involved in the main plot against King James I, who was “not favourably disposed toward him”.


Sir Walter Raleigh by William Segar. Wikipedia –

1707  Resolution attacked by six French ships and run ashore near Genoa. Burned by her own people on the following day to avoid capture.

1780  Lion (Capt the Hon. William Cornwallis), Bristol, Janus, and Kingston and Gayton privateers fought the French Annibal (Cdre La Motte-Picquet), three others of the line and a frigate 25 miles to the northward of Monte Cristi, Haiti.

1794  Landing party from Zebra captured Fort Louis, Martinique. Bienvenue retaken. Cdr Faulkner, who had taken the prize, was made post on the quarterdeck of Boyne and appointed to command the Bienvenue, which Jervis renamed ‘Like yourself, sir – Undaunted.’ [m]

1796  Pomone, Anson, Artois and Galatea captured the French Etoile and four vessels of a convoy off Pointe du Raz, Brittany.

1801  The Caribbean island of St. Bartholomew capitulates to the British under Admiral Sir John Thomas Duckworth.

1805  Renard destroyed the French privateer Général Ernouf 100 miles N.E. of Cape Haitien. Enemy blew up. Her captain had asked Capt Coughlan if he would strike, to which he replied ‘Yes, and damned hard too’. which he did, defeating his enemy in thirty-five minutes.

1824  This day in 1824, the Committee of Management was advised by Dr. Manners Sutton, Archbishop of Canterbury, that His Majesty King George IV had most graciously commanded, ‘That the Institution be hereafter authorised to take the name of the Royal National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck’, forming the world’s first dedicated rescue service.


On the 5th October 1854 the title was changed to the ‘Royal National Life-Boat Institution – founded in 1824 for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck’. The change was partly due to avoid confusion with the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society who also operated some lifeboats.

Although generally written as ‘Lifeboat’, the title of the RNLI retains the hyphen ‘Life-Boat’.

1832  Navigating, Medical and other non-executive officers adopted the uniform jacket of the Executive branch, distinguished by the pattern of their button.

1852  Pursers designated Paymasters of the Navy by Order in Council.

1858  Introduction of experimental cork beds, in place of coir or hair. An unsuccessful experiment.

1912  Three days after Captain Oates sacrificed himself to save his colleagues, the three remaining members of the ‘Terra Nova’ Antarctic Expedition, Scott, Wilson & Bowers, are halted by a fierce blizzard, just 11 miles south of their next supply point – One Ton Depot.

1912  The battlecruiser HMS Queen Mary is launched at Palmer’s Shipbuilding, Jarrow-on-Tyne, England. The sole member of her class, Queen Mary was the last battlecruiser built by the Royal Navy before World War I, and shared many features with the Lion-class battlecruisers, including her eight 13.5-inch (343 mm) guns.  She was completed in 1913 and participated in the Battle of Heligoland Bight as part of the Grand Fleet in 1914.


HMS Queen Mary is launched at Palmer’s Shipbuilding, Jarrow-on-Tyne, England. Wikipedia –

1912  Launched on 27th October 1908, SS Koombana was an opulent late Edwardian-era passenger, cargo and mail carrying steamship was built in Glasgow, Scotland, by shipbuilders Alex. Stephen & Sons.
Owned and operated by the Adelaide Steamship Company, Koombana was the first passenger and cargo vessel to be built exclusively for service on the Western Australian coast to develop trade with the north west of the State.
On the morning of Wednesday, 20th March 1912, Koombana left Port Hedland for Broome with a fresh north easterly blowing, followed by the SS ‘Bullarra’. Before departing, her master, Captain Allen, had reported a falling barometer and suggested that the voyage may take longer than normal.
Several hours later, both vessels were caught in a tropical storm. Bullarra returned to Port Hedland (via Cossack) minus her smokestack, reporting that the eye of the cyclone had passed directly over. ‘was never seen again.lost with approximately 76 passengers and 74 crew.
Other than a small quantity of wreckage, no trace was ever found of Koombana, which was presumed sunk at an unknown location north of Port Hedland, Western Australia, with the loss of approximately 76 passengers and 74 crew.


SS Koombana c.1910 – Wikipedia –

1918  Destroyer Loyal depth-charged UC-48 which surrendered for internment in Ferrol.


British Laforey class destroyer HMS Loyal c1914 – Wikipedia –

1922  The Admiralty ordered that first rate Victory should be preserved in No. 2 Dock, Portsmouth Dockyard.

See 16 December 1921.

1922  The United States Navy’s first aircraft carrier USS Langley (CV-1) is commissioned on this day in 1922. She is also the U.S. Navy’s first electrically propelled ship.

Originally built as a collier, she was named USS Jupiter (AC-3) and commissioned in April 1913.
Her conversion to an aircraft carrier “for the purpose of conducting experiments in the new idea of seaborne aviation” was authorised on 11th July 1919.
‘Jupiter’ was converted at the Navy Yard, Norfolk, Virginia, and on 11th April 1920 she was renamed ‘Langley’, in honour of Samuel Pierpont Langley, an American astronomer, physicist, aeronautics pioneer and aircraft engineer, and she was given hull classification CV-1.
She was recommissioned on 20th March 1922 with Commander Kenneth Whiting in command and (apparently) fulfilled her new role admirably for several years.
However, by 1936 her career as a carrier had ended and she was converted again. This time into a seaplane tender, with the hull classification AV-3.
USS Langley (AV-3) fought in World War II, but on 27th February 1942, she was attacked by Japanese dive bombers and so badly damaged that she had to be scuttled by her escorts.


USS Jupiter (AC-1), 1911-1920.

mar20_USS_Langley_CV_1_1924 (1)

USS Langley (CV-1), 1922-1936. – Wikipedia –


USS Langley (AV-3), 1937-1942.

Potentially, USS Jupiter/USS Langley could make an interesting model, with a single hull sharing three different topsides…

1941  Battleship Malaya torpedoed by U-106 in mid-Atlantic. Convoy SL 68.


HMS Malaya – Wikipedia –


A Type IXB submarine, believed to be U-106, under attack by a Sunderland flying boat. Wikipedia – U-106 –

1941  Helvellyn, auxiliary AA ship, sunk by German aircraft in Thames.

1942  Destroyer Heythrop sunk by sister ship Eridge, having been torpedoed by U-652 E. of Tobruk.


U-652 – Wikipedia –

1943  Fortress B/206 sank U-384 in N. Atlantic 954-18N, 26-15W). Convoys HX 229 and SC 122. Wikipedia –

1944  Submarine Graph (ex-U-570) wrecked on the west coast of Islay. Salvaged but scrapped 1947.


HMS Graph (Ex-U-570) – Wikipedia –

1944  Submarine Stonehenge reported lost. Assumed sunk by unknown cause in Malacca Strait.



HMS Stonehenge (P232) Wikipedia –

1945  Sloop Lapwing torpedoed and sunk by U-968 in Kola Inlet (69-26N, 33-43E). Last of eleven sloops lost in the Second World War.


HMS Lapwing (U62)


Conning tower emblems U-968

1945  Frigate New Glasgow (RCN) rammed and sank U-1003 in N.W. Approaches.

1945  Liberator B/86 sank U-905 N. of Scotland.

1953  First naval helicopter lift of troops into combat (RN Sikorskys in Malaya).

1954  890 NAS reformed at RNAS Yeovilton, with de Havilland Sea Venom, first turbo-jet, all-weather FAA fighter.

1980  After the anchor chain of the Radio Caroline ship, Mi Amigo, broke in a Force 10 storm during the evening of 19th March, she drifted for 10 nautical miles before running aground on the Long Sand Bank. The final broadcast was at 23:58hrs, and then the Sheerness Lifeboat attended and took off the crew. Mi Amigo sank on 20th March, leaving only the 127ft tall mast above the water.
The ‘Mi Amigo’ was originally built in 1921 as a three-masted cargo schooner ‘Margarethe’ for German owners. A sale in 1927 saw her renamed Olga and she was lengthened in 1936. During the Second World War, she was requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine and served as an auxiliary ship between 1941 and 1943. In 1953, the ship was again lengthened to 133 feet 9 inches. In 1959, she was sold for conversion to a floating radio station and was renamed Bon Jour. Subsequently, she was renamed ‘Magda Maria’ in 1961 and Mi Amigo in 1962. She served, intermittently, as a radio ship, until 1980, when she sank in a gale.
For anyone interested in the ship’s layout, a Side Elevation & Deck Plans of the ship as she was around 1973, plus reference images and other information can be found at Norman Barrington’s website: http://normanb.o


North Sea pirate station Mi Amigo during the 70s, photo taken during a visit to the ship by fans. Wikipedia –

2003  British military action launched against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. Operation Telic/Iraqi Freedom. The largest deployment of British armed forces since the Gulf War of 1990 and the biggest allied amphibious operation since Suez in 1956. On 20 March, RN SSNs fired Tomahawk cruise missiles against targets in Iraq; 40 Cdo RM carried out helicopter assault on Al Faw from Ark Royal, Ocean and Kuwait. Conspicuous Gallantry Cross: L/Cpl Justin Thomas, 40 Cdo.

Ships: Ark Royal, Ocean, Chatham, Marlborough, Richmond, Edinburgh, Liverpool, York, Turbulent, Splendid, Bangor, Blyth, Sandown, Brocklesby, Grimsby, Ramsey, Shoreham, Ledbury, Roebuck. FAA Sqns: 814, 815, 820, 845, 847, 849, RFA: Sir Galahad, Bayleaf, Orangeleaf, Brambleleaf, Grey Rover, Diligence, Argus, Sea Crusader, Fort Rosalie, Fort Austin, Fort Victoria, RNR: personnel from Cambria, Calliope, Caroline, Dalriada, Eaglet, Flying Fox, Forward, King Alfred, President, Scotia, Sherwood, Vivid and the RNR branch at Heron, RM and Commando Forces: HQ 3 Cdo Bde, 40 Cdo, 42 Cdo, UK Landing Force Command Support Gp, 29 Cdo Regt RA, 539 Assault Sqn RM, 4 and 9 Assault Sqns RM, 59 Ind Cdo Sqn RE, 131 Ind Cdo Sqn RE(V); elements of 45 Cdo, HQ Commander UK Amphibious Forces, UK Amphibious Forces, 20 Cdo Bty RA, Fleet Protection Gp RM. Fleet Diving Units 2 and 3, Fleet Support Units 1 and 2, RM Band Service, RMR: City of London, Scotland, Bristol, Merseyside, Tyne, Attachments: C Sqn The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, C Sqn The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, 18 Sqn RAF. – On This Day –

Royal Navy On This Day 19 March …..

1726  Richard Howe, victor of the Glorious First of June, born.

Admiral_of_the_Fleet_Howe_1726-99_1st_Earl (1)

Richard Howe, painted by John Singleton Copley. 1794. Wikipedia –,_1st_Earl_Howe

1759  Aeolus and Isis fought the French BlondeAeolus captured the French Mignonne off Yeu Island, France.

1779  Arethusa wrecked on Ile Moléne, near Ushant, after engaging the French Aigrette.

1796  Admiral Sir Hugh Palliser, 1st Baronet (26th February 1723 – 19th March 1796 (9th March O.S.)), the only son of Hugh Palliser and Mary Robinson, was born at Kirk Deighton, in the North Riding of Yorkshire. He entered the navy in 1735 as a midshipman on HMS Aldborough (commanded by his uncle Nicholas Robinson). Palliser would be an officer by the time of, and during the Seven Years’ War and the American Revolutionary War. During the latter he came into a famous dispute with Augustus Keppel over the Battle of Ushant which led to Palliser being court-martialled, although he was subsequently acquitted.
Admiral Palliser died on 19 March 1796 in at his estate in Chalfont St Giles Buckinghamshire, England.


Portrait of Captain Hugh Palliser (1723-1796) – before 1775. Wikipedia –

1813  Boats of Apollo and Cerberus destroyed four vessels, a battery and a tower 3 miles N.W. of Porto di Monopoli.

1847  Admiralty order that Wednesday 24 March be observed as a Day of Public Fasting and Humiliation, Divine Service to be specially performed in recognition of Irish Famine Reaction of ship’s companies and their pursers not recorded.

1857  Boats and landing party of Hornet destroyed seventeen pirate junks at St John Island S.W. of Macao.

1863  The Georgiana, a steamer belonging to the Confederate States Navy during the American Civil War was reputed to be the “most powerful” cruiser in the Confederate fleet, although she never had the opportunity to prove herself in battle.
On her maiden voyage from Scotland where she was built, and loaded with a cargo of munitions, medicines and merchandise (then valued at over $1,000,000), she encountered Union Navy ships engaged in a blockade of Charleston, South Carolina. After sustaining damage from the Union vessels, and with no hope for escape, Georgiana was scuttled by her captain approximately three-quarters of a mile from shore, enabling all hands to escape.

1872  Collective responsibility restored to Board of Admiralty by Order in Council.

The Admiralty Act of 1832, passed to amend the laws relating to the civil departments of the Admiralty, had vested in the Board the whole powers of the Navy Board. H.C. Childers, when First Lord in 1869, had procured an Order in Council which specified and restricted the duties of each Lord, thus destroying their collective responsibility.

1930  German-built ocean liner SS Europa (later Liberté), one of the two most advanced, high speed steam turbine ocean vessels of the day, made her maiden voyage to New York – taking the westbound Blue Riband from her sister ship, the SS Bremen, with the average speed of 27.91 knots and a crossing time of 4 days, 17 hours and 6 minutes.
During the voyage many of her passengers were disturbed from the soot coming out of Europa’s low funnels. The problem was corrected by raising the funnels by 15 feet, though decreasing her low profile. After they were raised, there were no more complaints.
Europa and Bremen, were a part of the international competition for the Blue Riband – which Bremen reclaimed from Europa in June 1933.


SS Europa – Sometime before her maiden voyage. Wikipedia –

1943  Destroyer Derwent torpedoed in Tripoli harbour by air-dropped circling torpedo. Beached, salvaged and towed to Plymouth but never repaired.


HMS Derwent (L83) – Wikipedia –

Wikipedia – Motobomba –

1945  The Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Franklin had manoeuvered to within 50 miles of the Japanese mainland when she came under surprise-attack from a single Japanese aircraft, which dropped out from the cloud-cover and made a low level run on the ship, releasing two semi-armour-piercing bombs.
One bomb struck the flight deck centerline, penetrating to the hangar deck, effecting destruction and igniting fires through the second and third decks, and knocking out the Combat Information Center. The second hit aft, tearing through two decks.

At the time she was struck, Franklin had 31 armed and fueled aircraft on her flight deck, and 22 planes, of which 16 were fueled and five were armed, in the hangar deck. The explosion on the hangar deck ignited the fuel tanks on the aircraft, and exploding gasoline vapour devastated the deck. Only two crewmen survived the fire on the hangar deck. The explosions also jumbled aircraft together on the flight deck above, causing further fires and explosions, including the detonation of 12 “Tiny Tim” air-to-surface rockets.

Franklin lay dead in the water, took a 13° starboard list, lost all radio communications, and broiled under the heat from enveloping fires. Many of the crew were blown overboard, driven off by fire, killed or wounded, but the hundreds of officers and enlisted who voluntarily remained saved their ship, which became the most heavily damaged United States carrier to survive the war.
Over 800 crew-members were killed, and an estimated 400+ were injured as a result of the attack.


1945  Destroyers Rapid, Saumarez (D 26) and Volage bombarded Port Blair, Andaman Islands.

1949  Admiral of the Fleet Sir James Somerville died.


Admiral Sir James Somerville c. 1943. Wikipedia –

1964  The Commissioners for executing the Office of Lord High Admiral held a dinner in the Painted Hall at Greenwich, attended by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. The following message was received: ‘I much regret that I cannot be with you at Greenwich this evening. I have twice had the high honour of serving as First Lord, and with many memories of my tenure I send you all my greetings tonight as the Board of Admiralty commemorates and celebrates the many centuries of its duties to Sovereign and Nation. Although the Lords Commissioners may disappear administratively in twelve days time, I know that the spirit of their great service, though under a different title, will continue to inspire the Navy in its proud and patriotic traditions’ – Winston Churchill.

The following reply was sent by the First Lord on behalf of the Board of Admiralty: ‘The Commissioners for executing the Office of Lord High Admiral, assembled with their guests at Greenwich, are proud to receive this warm message of faith and encouragement from the Former Naval Person and thank him for the inspiration that he has given them and which will always be part of the Navy’s heritage. They wish him many more years to enjoy the harvest of his great endeavours and assure him that they share his confidence in the continuing ability of the Royal Navy to serve their Sovereign and the Nation’ – Jellicoe. AFO 644/64.

1965  The wreck of the SS Georgiana, (by now) valued at over $50,000,000 is discovered by then teenage diver and pioneer underwater archaeologist E. Lee Spence, exactly 102 years after its destruction. (See ‘1863’ above).

1969  The frigate Minerva landed her twenty Royal Marines and the frigate Rothesay men of 2 Para on the island of Anguilla to restore order following its breakaway from the federation with St Kitts-Nevis. They were greeted by bemused islanders and Operation Sheepskin was ridiculed in the international press for its perceived overkill. The troops were soon relieved by British policemen.

1982  Illegal Argentine landing and hoisting of national flag on South Georgia. Endurance sent from Falkland Islands to remove it.

1998  First female commanding officers of HM ships appointed. Lt Melanie Robinson, Express (Cardiff URNU), and Lt Suzanne Moore, Dasher (Bristol URNU).

Neg: FX98-0415-5 – On This Day –

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