Royal Navy On This Day 2 April …..

1595  The ‘Compagnie van Verre’ (Company of Distant Lands), a forerunner to the Dutch East India Company, set up by nine citizens of Amsterdam to break Portugal’s monopoly on the pepper trade, sends an expedition of three heavily-armed ships and a pinnace, under the leadership of Cornelis de Houtman with orders to break into the trade.
On 2nd April 1595 the ships set off from Texel, with 248 officers and men on board. The expedition (which became known as the First Schipvaart) followed the routes described by Jan Huygen van Linschoten after he had made the journey in the pay of the Portuguese.

A Memorable Date observed by Fleet Protection Group, Royal Marines – Comacchio

1801  First Battle of Copenhagen. Vice-Adm Lord Nelson’s attack on the Danish hulks and batteries, Holsteen captured, twelve hulks burned. Ships and vessels: Arrow, Dart, Otter, Alemene, Zephyr, Blanche, Amazon, Defiance, Monarch, Ganges, Elephant, Glatton, Ardent, Edgar, Bellona, Isis, Russell, Polyphemus, Desiree, Harpy, Cruizer, Agamemnon, Jamaica, Discovery, Explosion, Hecla, Sulphur, Terror, Volcano, Zebra. Ships in support: Defence, London, Raisonnable, Ramillies, St George, Saturn, Veteran, Warrior. Troops: Royal Artillery (bomb vessels). No gold medals awarded. The 49th Foot, the Hertfordshire Regiment (now the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment) and one company of the Corps of Riflemen (now the Royal Greenjackets) were awarded a naval crown, superscribed ‘2nd April 1801, Copenhagen’ on their colours. [m, bh]


The Battle of Copenhagen, as painted by Nicholas Pocock. The British line is diagonally across the foreground, the city of Copenhagen in the background and the Danish line between. The ships in the left foreground are British bomb vessels.

In 1800, at Napoleon’s instigation, the Baltic states of Russia, Sweden and Denmark revived their Armed Neutrality to resist the activities of the British fleet, interrupting trade with the continent. After a number of minor incidents the Tsar of Russia confiscated all British ships and properties within his dominions. On 12 March 1801 Adm Sir Hyde Parker with Vice-Adm Nelson as his second in command sailed for Denmark. The Danes continued with acts close to war and Nelson therfore forcefully persuaded Parker that an attack on Copenhagen should be undertaken. Copenhagen was heavily fortified with shore batteries, forts, moored ships and floating batteries. Parker finally agreed to allow Nelson twelve ships for the close attack, while he himself stood away in deep water to the north. During the approach to Copenhagen three of Nelson’s ships were grounded and as a consequence only five frigates were available to take on the mighty Trekroner Fort. At 1330 when the action had been going on for three hours Parker, who could only see the frigates being worsted by the battery, hoisted the signal to discontinue the engagement. The frigates seeing the signal withdrew and Capt Riou of the Amazon was killed exclaiming ‘Whatever will Nelson think of us?’ Nelson in great agitation said ‘Leave off the action! . . . now damn me if I do . . .you know, Foley, I have only one eye, I have a right to be blind sometimes and I really do not see the signal’, placing the telescope to his blind eye.

Shortly afterwards the fire from shore slackened and Nelson offered a truce to the Danes. Denmark eventually agreed to suspend her participation in the confederation.

1825  Capture of Donaby, Burma by Brig-Gen Sir Archibald Cameron and the Irrawaddy Flotilla under Capt Thomas Alexander (Alligator).

1879  Maj-Gen Lord Chelmsford’s column defeated the Zulus at Gingindlovu inevitably referred to as ‘gin, gin, I love you’. Naval Brigade from Boadicea, Shah and Tenedos.


Naval Brigades were a familiar feature of the Victorian Colonial wars. Britain’s possessions were too numerous and too scattered for her to maintain garrisons in each and so, at the first sign of rebellion, Royal Navy ships were diverted to the trouble spots. The mere presence of the White Ensign was often sufficient to stop the fighting but usually parties of seamen and Royal Marines were handed to deal with the trouble or to keep it in check until a proper expedition could be organised. Some Victorian bluejackets saw more action ashore in the brigades than at sea in their ships.

The seamen seemed to be capable of almost any task which was required of them. Eyewitnesses constantly paid tribute to their willingness and adaptability and these qualities soon became legendary. Jack could dig trenches, march across Indian deserts or through African swamps, manhandle guns over very difficult terrain, man rocket batteries, ‘board’ an enemy fort, ferry a full-scale expedition up the cataracts of the Nile and even run an armoured train in Egypt. To the Victorians, he was known simply as ‘The Handyman’.

However, the sailors’ most constant contribution to the wars was their effect on morale. Their cheerfulness was infectious and they amused successive generations of soldiers by their refusal to abandon their nautical habits. In the Crimea, they raised the spirits of the besieging army during the terrible winter of 1854; in Abyssinia, in 1867-8, they organised dances with the Sikhs of the Punjab Volunteers, with whom they were great friends; and in the Punjab in 1848, a Brigadier reported that the sailors ‘. . . looked upon their batteries as ships, their 18 pounders as so many sweethearts and the embrasures as portholes . . .’

The days of Colonial wars have gone, but this gift for amphibious warfare remains as strong a part of the tradition of the Royal Navy as ever.

1889  Cordite patented for British service.

1908  Tiger, destroyer, built by Thomsons of Glasgow as a private venture and bought into RN, sunk in collision with cruiser Berwick off St Catherine’s Point, Isle of Wight.


HMS Berwick, a Monmouth-class Armoured Cruiser. Wikipedia –

Untitled image (1)


Crew of HMS Tiger prior to the sinking in 1908.

All crew in the photographed are numbered and named, with their fate during the sinking also given as follows:

1. Thomas King, A.B. (drowned) 2. Frederick Carter, A.B. (drowned) 3. Edward Pipe, Petty Officer. (drowned) 4. Frank Holmes, Stoker. (drowned) 5.Newman, torpedo instructor.  (died on HMS Gladiator on way to Portsmouth). 6. George Claird, Stoker. (drowned) 7. A Cutler, Stoker (saved) 8.Joseph Helps, A.B. (drowned) 9. Thomas Warrall, Stoker. (drowned) 10. John Fondling, Stoker. (saved). 11. A Upton, Petty Officer. (saved) 12. G Stodley, Stoker. (saved) 13. E Belchamber (saved) 14. R Stainer, Stoker. (saved) 15. W Colley, Stoker. (drowned) 16. F Ellis, Stoker. (saved) 17. The ship’s pet monkey. (drowned) 18. John Donald, Chief Engine Room Officer (saved) 19. E Matthews, A.B. (drowned) 20. F Manning, Stoker (drowned)21. L Alford, Stoker (saved) 22. J Roberts, Stoker (saved) 23. W Gettings, A.B. (saved) 24. A Harris, Stoker (saved) 25. W Fenton, A.B. (saved) 26. J French, Petty Officer (drowned) 27. A E Hayles, Stoker (drowned) 28. P Armstrong, Stoker (saved) 29. Engineer Lieutenant Vining (saved) 30. John Colton, A.B. (saved) 31. The ship’s pet dog (drowned).

Wikipedia – HMS Tiger (1900) –

1931  Appointment of first aviation Flag Officer: Rear-Adm R.G.H. Henderson appointed Rear-Admiral Aircraft Carriers.

1942  Accompanied by Task Force 18, aircraft carrier USS Hornet departs from the Naval Air Station at Alameda, with 16 specially modified B-25 bombers lashed to her deck. A few days later, the Hornet would rendezvous with Task Force 16, commanded by Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., the carrier USS Enterprise and her escort of cruisers and destroyers in the mid-Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii, before sailing towards Japan to launch the ‘Doolittle’ air-raids on the Japanese home islands.


View from the island of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8), while en route to the “Doolittle Raid” mission’s launching point. The light cruiser USS Nashville (CL-43) is in the distance.

Wikipedia – Doolittle Raid –

1943  Frigate Black Swan and corvette Stonecrop sank U-124 off Oporto (41-02N, 15-39W). Convoy OS 45.


Wikipedia – HMS Black Swan –


Wikipedia – HMS Stonecrop (K142) –



Wikipedia – U-124 –

1944  Destroyer Keppel sank U-360 in north Norwegian Sea (73-28N, 13-04E). Convoy JW 58.

The_Royal_Navy_during_the_Second_World_War (1)

Wikipedia – HMS Keppel –

Wikipedia – U-360 –

1945  VC: Cpl Thomas Peck Hunter, 43 Cdo, RM. Battle of Comacchio, Italy. 43 Cdo was advancing northwards up the coast road north of Ravenna between Lake Comacchio and the sea, heading towards Porto Garibaldi. Hunter, in charge of a bren-gun section, charged across open ground, firing a bren from the hip, and cleared a German position, allowing his troop to advance. He was killed soon afterwards. His award was gazetted 12 June 1945 and his VC presented to his parents at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, 26 September 1945. The first and only RM VC of the Second World War.

See 1 May 1980, 1 June 1975, 1 October 2000.

Dan Phillips

Wikipedia – Thomas Hunter VC –


Close up view of the plaque present on the monument to Thomas Peck Hunter VC outside Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh.

1957  RN handed over Simonstown Dockyard to South African Navy 143 years after its opening.


A view of Simon’s Town and the naval base. Wikipedia –

1966  At 2900 feet beneath surface of the Mediterranean Sea, off the Spanish coast from the small fishing village of Palomares, Deep Submergence Vehicle (DSV) Alvin relocates the 1.45 megaton hydrogen bomb, that it originally located on 15th March at a depth of 2,550 feet, until it was temporarily lost again after being dropped by the U.S. Navy during the attempt to recovery it.


DSV Alvin.

Wikipedia –


Alvin in 1978, a year after first exploring hydrothermal vents. The rack hanging at the bow holds sample containers.

1966  C.S. Forester died; creator of Horatio Hornblower. His three best novels outside the Hornblower series were Payment Deferred, The General and The Ship, based on the Second Battle of Sirte.


Wikipedia – C.S. Forester –

1969  White Ensign hauled down at St Vincent, Boys’ Training Establishment, Gosport.

See 1 June 1927, 8 December 1968.


Sunday Divisions at HMS St Vincent – Wikipedia –

1979  Vice-Adm William Thomas Pillar appointed Chief of Fleet Support. First engineer officer to hold this appointment on the Admiralty Board. In 1982 he was the first engineer officer to be Commandment of the RCDS and in retirement the first engineer officer to be Lieutenant-Governor and C-in-C Jersey. Born 24 February 1924. Died 18 March 1999. Sultan commissioned a portrait of Adm Sir William Pillar in 1998 and invited contributions to the cost (DCI(RN)174/98). He was described in the DCI as ‘undoubtedly the most successful ME Officer of the modern era’ and ‘the only one to date to reach the rank of Admiral’. Adm Pillar would have readily acknowledged Adm Turner’s earlier claim.

See 21 April 1970, 19 January 2000.


Wikipedia – William Pillar –

The Independant – Obituaries Tuesday 13 April 1999 by A.B. Sainsbury.

NAVAL CAREERS class themselves largely according to whether the individual joined the Navy before, during or after the Second World War.

Lord Lewin fell – just – into the first group, William Pillar firmly into the second; the former had a great influence on the career of the latter. As one of the planners behind AFO 1/56 (the first Admiralty Fleet Order of 1956), Lewin was an architect of the new officer structure which perforce divided them all into “wet” and “dry” lists: would the executive officers exercise command at sea again or, however distinguished or promising, would the rest of their service be ashore? The seaman branch saw several deserving careers curtailed. The old specialist branches – Supply, Engineering, Electrical, for example – saw unexpected career prospects.

Now all shore appointments were open to the right men. The emphasis shifted from the branch to the service as a whole. Sir Peter White, the Chief Naval Supply and Secretariat Officer, was the first specialist to reach the Admiralty Board. Pillar was not far behind him. His career prospered because, like Terry Lewin, he liked his people in the old naval sense, and they returned his confidence; he was one of those Williams who are inevitably Bill, knighted or not. He was a classic example of the naval officer who was almost incidentally an engineer.

Pillar was born in 1924 and joined the Navy as a Cadet (E) in 1942. He qualified at the Naval Engineering Colleges at Keyham, Devonport, and Manadon, Plymouth, winning the King’s Sword when he passed out. He did his sea time as a midshipman, and then as a junior engine-room watch-keeper (1946-48) in the old Illustrious, by then the Home Fleet trials and training carrier. Two years back at Manadon (Thunderer) on the staff and two more as Engineer Officer of Alert, the yacht turned despatch vessel of the Commander-in-Chief Far East during the Korean War, prefaced a three-year stint in the Dockyard at Gibraltar.

He was there when AFO 1/56 was published, went back to sea as Engineer in the Battle Class destroyer Corunna and in 1958 was promoted Commander and appointed to Lochinvar, the mine-sweeping base on the Forth. Shore service at Simonstown (1962-64) as Chief Staff Officer (Technical) to Commander-in-Chief South Atlantic was followed by a memorably agreeable flag-showing cruise around South America as Marine Engineer Officer in the cruiser Tiger, his last sea time. His last job as a Commander was a classic promotion appointment – on the staff of the Director of Officers’ Appointments in the MOD.

Sure enough, promotion to Captain came in 1966, and his four appointments in that rank all pointed onwards and upwards. He did the 1967 Senior Officers’ War Course at Greenwich, still safe in naval hands, and was then the Controller’s representative in Scotland and Northern Ireland. In 1970, a year at the Imperial Defence College (IDC) followed and he went on to be Assistant to the Director-General, Ships before returning to Thunderer, this time in command (1973-75).

It was now that his prowess benefited from the 1956 reforms. Promoted Rear-Admiral in 1976, he became Port Admiral, Rosyth, and then Assistant Chief of Fleet Support. In 1979 he was promoted Vice-Admiral and Chief of Naval Support, and appointed Fourth Sea Lord on a strong Board under Sir Henry Leach, with John Fieldhouse as Controller. And in 1980 he was appointed KCB and promoted Admiral on appointment in 1982 as Commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies (formerly the IDC). He retired, now GBE, in 1984.

And then, to crown that career, there were five delightful and splendid if less onerous years as Lieutenant-Governor and Commander-in-Chief, Jersey. He was the first engineer officer to hold that post, just as he had been the first to sit at the Board in 1979 and to superintend the IDC in 1982.

He encouraged generations of his old specialisation to believe and remember that they were essentially naval officers who had specialised, and not the other way round. It sounds so obvious today; 40 years ago it was far from it to many, and heresy to some. He was modest about his success, for he showed no side to anyone he met. As Captain of Thunderer, he knew the name and the face of each of his juniors; there was never a trace of “You, there.”

He was as keen on sailing as any naval officer; Commodore of the Royal Naval Sailing Association from 1980, a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron and an energetic supporter of the training ship Royalist.

His health had failed lately and he had to resort to a wheelchair. But he remained essentially the old Bill Pillar, and delighted in the presentation earlier this year of his portrait by Theo Ramos to the wardroom of HMS Sultan.

William Thomas Pillar, naval officer: born 24 February 1924; KCB 1980; Commandant, Royal College of Defence Studies 1982-83; GBE 1983; Lieutenant- Governor and Commander-in-Chief, Jersey 1985-90; married 1946 Ursula Ransley (three sons, one daughter); died 18 March 1999.

1982  Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands. NP 8901 RM at Port Stanley surrendered on orders of the Governor, having demonstrated a willingness to retaliate. Operation Corporate began under CINCFLEET, Adm Sir John Fieldhouse.


Map outlining the British recapture of the islands – Wikipedia –

2002  Flag Officer Submarines/Chief of Staff (Operations) to CINCFLEET, FOSM/COS(OPS), became Commander Operations and Rear-Admiral Submarines, COM(OPS)/RASM. Rear-Adm Niall Kilgour, appointed last FOSM 18 September 2001, became first holder of new appointment. – On This Day –

Royal Navy On This Day 1 April …..

1520  ‘Magellan’s Voyage around the World (1519-1522): During Easter (1st – 2nd April) at Magellan’s ‘Puerto San Julian’ overwintering settlement, a mutiny broke out involving three of the five ship captains.
Magellan took quick and decisive action, resulting in the recovery of the Victoria and her captain being killed; The mutineers aboard Concepcion surrendered to the well-armed Trinidad and were later executed; and the head of the mutineers on the San Antonio subsequently gave up and was left marooned with a priest named Padre Sanchez de la Reina.
Men that were needed were forgiven. 
Reportedly those killed were drawn, quartered and impaled on the coast. Years later, their bones were found by Sir Francis Drake.


One of several full-size replica’s of the nao (aka a carrack) Victoria.

1694  Paramour pink launched at Deptford: first naval surveying ship designed and built as such. Intended for Halley.

1761  Isis (50) captured the French Oriflamme (40) off Cape Tres Forcas.

1791  George Vancouver sailed from Falmouth in the sloop Discovery, with Chatham, in command of an expedition to survey the north-west coast of North America. Vancouver, who had sailed in Cook’s second and third voyages, sighted Californian coast 18 April 1792. Determined the insularity of Vancouver Island. Returned to the Thames in October 1795.

1836  Voyage of HMS Beagle (1831-36): Beagle arrived at the Keeling Islands. They put in at Port Refuge first and then sailed to Direction Island under very high winds. 
Composed entirely of coral, the Keeling Islands were discovered by Capt. William Keeling in 1608 (they are now called the Cocos Islands). Darwin surmised that they were once part of a large submerged coral reef. Beagle would spend several days here, surveying the islands.

1853  Introduction of Continuous Service for ratings.

1853  First provision for lower-deck pensions, after twenty-two years’ service.

1855  Paymasters recognised as accountant officers for public money and made responsible for it to the Accountant-General and no longer solely responsible to the Controller of Victualling.

1857  Boats of Auckland (IN) captured a mandarin junk and stormed a battery in Tung Chung Bay, near Hong Kong.

1857  Occupation of Ahwaz, Persia, by an Indian Navy flotilla and detachments of the 64th Regiment and 78th Highlanders. Vessels (IN): Assyria, Comet, Planet. Gunboats Nos 5, 6 and 9, and boats of Assaye, Falkland and Ferooz.

1859  Capt Mansfield Cumming, RN, born, founder and first director in 1909 of the Secret Service Bureau, later MI6 and the Secret Intelligence Service. His code name C and use of green ink adopted by all later Directors of the Secret Intelligence Service.


Sir George Mansfield Smith-Cumming, KCMG CB (1 April 1859 – 14 June 1923) was the first director of what would become the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). – Wikipedia – Mansfield Smith-Cumming –

1883  Naval Nursing Service formed. Became QARNNS in 1902.

         See 6 March 1902.

1892  RN Artillery Volunteers disbanded: 69 officers and 1,849 men.

1916  East coast of England attacked by German airships, L-15, first Zeppelin brought down by shore gunfire, landed in the Thames estuary and surrendered to Olivine.

1918  Destroyer Falcon lost in collision with trawler John Fitzgerald in North Sea.

1918  Transfer of 2,500 aircraft and 55,000 personnel from RN Air Service on its amalgamation with the Royal Flying Corps to form the Royal Air Force. The RAF controlled naval aviation for the next twenty-one years.


The RAF Ensign is flown from the flagstaff on every RAF station during daylight hours. 

1921  RNVR reconstituted.

1923  Naval responsibility for HM Coastguard, accepted in 1856, transferred to Board of Trade.

1924  Shipborne element of RAF recognised as Fleet Air Arm.

1931  Glorious, aircraft carrier, collided in fog with the French liner Florida off Gibraltar. The Florida, which lost twenty-four passengers and crew, was towed stern-first to Malaga by the destroyers Verity and Wryneck, escorted by Glorious which had taken off survivors.

         See 8 June 1940.

1941  Swordfish of 824 Sqn disembarked from Eagle, wrecked the Italian destroyer Leone off Massawa.

1941  The ‘Blockade Runner Badge’ was instituted on 1st April 1941. The WW2I German military decoration was awarded for service on warships or merchant vessels (also allied) that attempted or managed to break the Allied sea blockade of Germany. It was first awarded on 1st July of the same year. A smaller half-size version was awarded for use by civilians and members of the merchant marine.

 apr01_German_Blockade_Runner_Badge_from_1941 (3)

German Blockade Runner Badge from 1941.

1942  Submarines Pandora and P 36 sunk by German aircraft at Malta. Pandora was beached in Kalkara Creek and her wreck was sold in 1957. That June shipbreakers found the remains of two of her men. The submarine’s former CO, Capt R.L. Alexander (by then Captain(D) 1st Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean Fleet), was present when their remains were committed to the sea 4 miles off Grand Harbour from the submarine Tudor on 1 July. P 36 was raised in 1958 and sunk in deep water.


Wikipedia – HMS Pandora

Wikipedia – HMS P36 –

1942  Submarine Urge sank the Italian cruiser Giovanni delle Bande Nere in the Mediterranean, 11 miles S.E. of Stromboli.


Wikipedia – Italian cruiser Giovanni delle Bande Nere –



Wikipedia – HMS Urge –

1944  Destroyer Beagle and Avenger H/846 (Tracker) sank U-355 off northern Norway. Convoy JW 58.

Wikipedia – U-355 –

1945  Aircraft carrier Indefatigable (Task Force 57) damaged by Japanese Kamikaze air strikes on Myako and Ishigaki islands. Operations continued on the 2nd and 6th.

Untitled image

Wikipedia – HMS Indefatigable (R10) –

1956  Rating of ‘Boy’ in the RN abolished. Replaced by Junior Seaman. AFO 963/56.

         See 1 April 1999.

1958  Ceres, RN Supply and Secretariat School, Wetherby, Yorkshire, moved to Pembroke, RN Barracks, Chatham.

See 14 March 1958, 14 April 1958.

1961  Rear-Adm Isaac William Trant Beloe appointed first Flag Officer Medway and Admiral Superintendent of Chatham Dockyard the day after the demise of The Nore Command. Wikipedia –

1964  Stores Accountant rating introduced and Catering Branch reorganised.

1964  Unified Ministry of Defence established. Defence (Transfer of Functions) Act 1964.

1966  Director of Victualling assumed tri-service responsibility for procurement, storage and distribution of foodstuffs.

1968  Cooks (O) and (S) amalgamated into one category.

1970  Badge pay abolished.

1971  Goldcrest, RNAS Brawdy, Pembrokeshire, paid off. Transferred to RAF.

1974  Aircrewman Branch of Fleet Air Arm formed at RNAS Portland.

1976  Senior Naval Officer West Indies (SNOWI) hauled down his broad pennant and was succeeded by RNO Bermuda.

1989  Admiralty Board decided that WRNS personnel should in future be trained to carry personal weapons for defensive purposes. To become effective for all new entrants to the WRNS from 1 April 1989. DCI(RN) 369/88.

1990  Hydrographic Office became a Defence Support Agency within the MOD. The Hydrographer of the Navy became the Chief Executive of the Hydrographic Agency. DCI(RN) 89/90.

1992  Communications Centre Whitehall (CCW) commissioned as St Vincent; OC CCW became CO St Vincent. Paid off 31 March 1998.

      Name transferred from Furze House, Queen’s Gate Terrace, London, bought in 1954 as WRNS accommodation, commissioned as St Vincent on 15 September 1983 and paid off 31 March 1992. DCI(RN)105/92.

1992  WRNS officers and ratings adopted gold lace and gold and red badges respectively.

1994  Whale Island recommissioned as Excellent. Commissioning ceremony held on 18 March 1994. DCI(RN) 21/94.

1994  Closure of HQ Commando Forces RM and HQ Training and Reserve Forces RM. Department of CGRM in London moved to Nelson (Gunwharf) in Portsmouth, formerly Vernon.

1994  RNXS disbanded.

         See 6 December 1952, 18 January 1963, 17 June 1993.

1994  FOSNI became FOSNNI (Flag Officer Scotland, Northern England and Norther Ireland).

1996  Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) established at Warrior, Northwood, under a three-star Chief of Joint Operations, to plan and mount joint, and potentially joint, overseas military operations.

         See 31 March 1999.

1997  Reserve Forces Act defined employers’ responsibilities to employees mobilised for service.

1998  The Revd Dr Charles Edward Stewart, Church of Scotland minister, appointed the first non-Anglican Chaplain of the Fleet.

         See 23 October 1876, 11 August 1902, 17 November 1943.

         Dr Stewart was appointed Director General Naval Chaplaincy Service on 18 March 1997. However, he could not become Chaplain of the Fleet until The Queen had given permission through an Order in Council. The Order (the Naval Chaplaincy Order 1997), signed on 17 December 1997, stated, ‘The powers of the Defence Council to appoint, with the approval of Her Majesty, a person to hold the position of Chaplain of the Fleet shall include a power to appoint a Minister of Priest of a religious body not in conformity with the Church of England.’ Dr Stewart was consequently appointed Chaplain of the Fleet in April 1998. The Order also approved, in continuance, that the Principal Anglican Chaplain (Naval) shall be granted the ecclesiastical dignity of archdeacon under the Archbishop of Canterbury, whether or not he also holds the position of Chaplain of the Fleet.

1999  Reserve Decoration (RD) replaced by the Queen’s Volunteer Reserve Medal (QVRM) and the Volunteer Reserve Service Medal (VRSM), both open to all ranks and ratings. QVRM by citation and with post-nominals; VRSM after ten years’ service without post-nominals.

1999  Rates of Junior Seaman and Ordinary Seamen, and their RM and QARNNS equivalents, abolished.

         See 1 April 1956.

2000  Joint appointment of Air Officer Commanding 3 Group RAF and Flag Officer Maritime Aviation established at RAF High Wycombe. Rear-Adm Ian Henderson first and penultimate incumbent. Flag Officer Naval Aviation abolished. RN Sea Harriers joined RAF GR7 aircraft to form Joint Force Harrier (JFH). Three squadrons based at Yeovilton.

See 2 April 1931.

2000  QARNNS intergrated into RN.

2000  A rare ‘Abwehr’ Enigma machine, designated G312, as used by the Germans to encode messages during World War II was stolen from the Bletchley Park Museum in Buckinghamshire, south-east England. 
The machine’s whereabouts remained a mystery until in September 2000, police began receiving letters from a man saying he was acting on behalf of someone who had bought it. The letter writer demanded £25,000 for its safe return. 
Two weeks later, BBC television presenter Jeremy Paxman opened a parcel at his office at Television Centre, London. It contained the missing Enigma machine. 
The machine was missing three of its four encryption rotor wheels, but they were later also returned safely.

2001  An aerial collision between a United States Navy EP-3E ARIES II, a signals reconnaissance version of the P-3C, and a People’s Liberation Army Navy J-8IIM fighter results in an international incident between the United States and China. The J-8IIM crashed and its pilot was killed. The EP-3 came close to becoming uncontrollable, at one point sustaining a near inverted roll, but was able to make an emergency landing on Hainan. The crew and plane were subsequently detained by Chinese authorities, accused of “killing the Chinese pilot”.

apr01_EP_3_E_VQ_1_2001 (1)

A Lockheed EP-3 Orion of fleet reconnaissance squadron VQ-1 World Watchers. 

2002  CGRM, FOMA, FOSM, COMRFA and FOSF became part of new Fleet HQ in Portsmouth under Fleet First programme. CGRM became COMUKAMPHIBFOR, retaining CGRM title and responsibilities.

2003  RN Supply School (RNSS) renamed RN Logistics and Supply School (RNLSS) ‘in order to provide consistency with the title of the seagoing Logistics and Supply Officer and to better reflect acknowledgment that the primary function of the Supply Branch is logistic support’. DCI(RN) 53/03.

         See 1 February 2004.

2004  RN Warrant Officers to be termed WO1. Made necessary by introduction of substantive rate of WO2 for RN artificers and technicians which replaced the existing non-substantive rate of Charge Chief Petty Officer (CCPO). Change from CCPO to WO2 ‘recognises and addresses long-standing concerns about the status, recognition and rewards associated with the CCPO rate’. DCI(RN) 146/03. – On This Day –

Royal Navy On This Day 31 March …..

1520  Magellan’s Voyage around the World (1519-1522): Having sailed down the east coast of South America from Rio de Janeiro, Magellan’s fleet of five ships arrive at Puerto San Julian, where they anchored and prepared to establish a settlement for overwintering.


This portrait (from the Marasca Collection, Biblioteca Bertoliana of Vicenza) is traditionally believed to represent Antonio Pigafetta. The ancient drawing was based on a statue in the Civic Museum of Vicenza, originally coming from St. Michael church (where the Pigafettas had a family tomb). It really represents another Pigafetta, Gio. Alberto of Gerolamo (died 1562, 29 years old). Wikipedia –

1774  The Boston Port Act (or Trade Act), being an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain, became law on 31st March 1774, and was to take effect from 1st June. It was a response to the Massachusetts colony’s protests of British taxes, most notably the incident that become known as the Boston Tea Party of 1773.
The act closed the port of Boston through a blockade by the Royal Navy. This was an attempt to coerce the repayment of customs and restitution to the East India Company for their lost revenue, and to re-exert British control of the colonies.

Long Title: “An act to discontinue, in such manner, and for such time as are therein mentioned, the landing and discharging, lading or shipping, of goods, wares, and merchandise, at the town, and within the harbour, of Boston, in the province of Massachusetts Bay, in North America.”


The Royal Arms of Great Britain from 1714 to 1801, with crest, supporters and motto. Wikipedia –

1804  Apollo (38), with convoy of forty, went ashore in gale off Cape Mondago, Portugal with most of her charges.

1804  Boats of Beaver and Scorpion cut out the Dutch Athalante in Vlie Road, Netherlands. [m, bh]

1813  Boats of Redwing, Undaunted and Volontaire captured eleven and destroyed three sail of a French convoy at Morgiou, between Marseilles and Toulon, and also destroyed two batteries.

1823  Boats of Thracian and Tyne cut out the pirate Zaragozana in Puerto de Mata, Cuba.

1838  The Great Western sailed for Avonmouth (Bristol) to start her maiden voyage to New York. Before reaching Avonmouth, a fire broke out in the engine room. During the confusion Brunel fell 20 feet, and was injured. The fire was extinguished, and the damages to the ship were minimal, but Brunel had to be put ashore at Canvey Island. As a result of the accident, more than 50 passengers canceled their bookings for the Bristol-New York voyage and when Great Western finally departed Avonmouth, only 7 passengers were aboard.


SS Great Western – Wikipedia –

1885  Following trials started in Medway in 1880, the RN had acquired 565 Nordenfelt guns, firing 1in shot, plus 350 Gardner and 142 Gatling guns, developed mainly for rapid fire against small and fast-moving targets such as the evolving torpedo boats.

1909  The Port of London Authority (PLA) is founded, when it becomes necessary to bring order to the chaos and congestion that prevailed on the Thames as rival wharfs, docks and river users battled for business in the late 1800’s.


Former Port of London Authority Building, Trinity Square Gardens,Tower Hill. Wikipedia –

1909  At Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, the first keel plate is laid for a ship with the designated yard number ‘401’. The plate is, 52″ wide, 1.5 inches thick, and weighs over 3 tons. The ship won’t be given a name until the hull is completed and launched. Then she will be called Titanic.

1914  The Southern Cross, a steam-powered sealing vessel that operated primarily in Norway, Newfoundland and Labrador, was lost in stormy seas off the Newfoundland coast sometime between 31st March and 3rd April, as she was returning from the same seal hunt that had already cost the lives of 78 crewman from the SS Newfoundland (on 30th March).
Believed to have gone down in the vicinity of Cape Pine, the disappearance of the Southern Cross remains largely unexplained as all 174 men aboard were lost and no record of the voyage survived.
The combined tragedies of the ‘Newfoundland’ and the ‘Southern Cross’ came to be known as the “1914 Newfoundland Sealing Disaster”.


SS Southern Cross, Derwent River, 1898. Wikipedia –

1941  Light cruiser Bonaventure sunk by the Italian S/M Ambra 90 miles S. of Crete. Convoy GA 8.

1941  Submarine Rorqual sank the Italian submarine Ambra 90 miles S. of Stromboli; 33-20N, 26-35E.

1942  Allied shipping losses in March reached 0.5million tons, mostly from U-boat attack.

1943  Royal Naval College Dartmouth vacated by RN for use by US Navy for Operation Overlord planning from 1 January 1944.

See 16 April 1953.

1951  RNR, RNVR and other reserves granted straight stripes with, for a short time, distinguishing buttons (previously withdrawn in 1922).

1960  HM Dockyard, Sheerness, closed and posgt of Captain-in-Charge and Captain Superintendent Sheerness terminated. Sheerness telephone exchange closed at 2359. AFO 696/60.

See 23 and 30 March 1960.

1961  The Nore Command closed. The eighty-third C-in-C The Nore, Adm Sir Robin Durnford-Slater (‘Commander-in-Chief of Her Majesty’s Ships and Naval Vessels in the Rivers Thames and Medway and at the buoy at The Nore’) hauled down his flag. Command established in 1752.

See 9 July 1958, 24 March 1961.

1964  Her Majesty assumed the title of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom, when the Board of Admiralty became the Admiralty Board of the new Defence Council.

See 8 March 1689.

1968  ‘Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’, the 1960’s American science fiction television series based on the 1961 film of the same name, ended it’s first full run. Comprised of 110 episodes across 4 seasons, the first two seasons took place in the then future of the 1970’s, and the final two seasons took place in the 1980’s. ‘Voyage’ was the decade’s longest-running American science fiction television series with continuing characters.


The TV-series version of S.S.R.N. ‘Seaview’ had 4 forward windows – The movie version had eight forward windows.

Wikipedia –

1969  First operational Phantom squadron, 892 NAS, commanded by Lt-Cdr Brian Davies, commissioned at Yeovilton.

See 14 June 1970.


892 NAS – Wikipedia –

1979  Final withdrawal of RN from Malta completed by midnight. FO Malta sailed in London a.m. 1 April.

1980  First Sea Harrier squadron – NAS 800 – commissioned.



Sea Harrier FRS.1 from 800 NAS takes off from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1984. Wikipedia – 800 NAS –

1984  Chatham Dockyard closed, ending 437 years of Royal Navy presence in Chatham. Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust assumed resposibility for 80 acres of the Georgian dockyard on 1 April and opened to the public in April 1985.

Memories of Chatham Dockyard – BBC News –


The Main Gate and Guardhouse. Wikipedia –

1986  Vernon paid off. Became Nelson (Vernon Site) then Nelson (Gunwharf) in 1987. RN retained use of site until 31 March 1991.

See 26 April 1876, 1 October 1923.


HMS Vernon Main Gate decorated for the Silver Jubilee in 1977. Wikipedia –

1992  Kit Upkeep Allowance (KUA) abolished, after seventy-five years.

1992  The USS Missouri, the last active United States Navy battleship, is decommissioned in Long Beach, California. ‘Missouri’ remained part of the reserve fleet at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington, until January 1995, when she was struck from the Naval Vessel Register.

1994  The 10th MCM Squadron, manned by the RNR, disbanded. Formed in the early 1960s under ACR as parent organisation for all RNR MCMVs. In the 1970s 10th MCM brought into line with other MCMV squadrons with RN Commander. With the passing of the operational need for deep armed team sweeping the concept of the seagoing RNR changed from manning their own ships to one of personnel integrating in RN ships. Arun, Spey and Itchen transferred to the Northern Ireland Squadron; Orwell replaced Wilton as the Dartmouth Navigation Training Ship; Carron, Dovey, Helford, Humber and Waveney transferred to Defence Sales on 12 November 1993. DCI(RN) 5/94.

1994  Centurion, Naval Drafting HQ at Gosport, paid off. Became Centurion Building, tender to Sultan.

See 16 October 1970.

1995  The end of the title Flag Officer Royal Yachts. Rear-Adm R.N. Woodard, FORY, succeeded by Cdre A,J,C, Morrow who was the only officer to hold the title Commodore Royal Yachts (CORY) before HMY Britannia paid off. DCI(RN) 83/95.

See 11 December 1997.

1995  Malabar, HM Naval Base on Ireland Island, Bermuda, paid off.

1995  Portland Naval Base closed.

1995  The RN Hospital, Plymouth, closed on 31 March 1995 after 233 years’ continuous service. DCI(RN) 242/94.

See 13 March 1762.

1996  Cochrane at Rosyth paid off.

1999  Warrior, shore headquarters successively of the C-in-C Home Fleet. C-in-C Western Fleet and C-in-C Fleet at Northwood since 1963, paid off and continued as Joint Services Unit Northwood. Remained under CINCFLEET command until 1 April 2002 when, most Fleet HQ divisions having transferred to Whale Island, command was transferred to the Chief of Joint Operations at Permanent Joint Headquarters, Northwood.

See 30 April 1963, 1 April 1996.

1999  Osprey, which closed to flying on 12 February 1999, paid off and became a tender to Heron. FOST had moved to Drake, Devonport, on 21 July 1995.

1999  SD Officers List abolished. All officers, ex-lower deck and direct entry, entered on common list. – On This Day –

Royal Navy On This Day 30 March …..

1798  Cambrian captured the French privateer Pont-de-Lodi 400 miles S.W. of the Scilly Isles.

1800  Foudroyant, Lion, Penelope and Vincejo captured the french Guillaume Tell. Action began by Penelope and Vincejo just outside Valetta harbour, Malta, and ended 20 miles S.W. of Cape Passero, Sicily. Only Penelope and Vincejo were awarded the medal. [m, bh]

1811  Arrow engaged the battery at St Nicholas, to the northward of Ile de Ré, and captured the French chassemarées Frederick and Paix Desirée. [m]

1837  Original Royal Navy College, Portsmouth, closed.

1856  Treaty of Paris signed; end of the Russian ‘Crimean’ War.

See 27 March 1854, 23 April 1856.

1899  English passenger ferry Stella a passenger ferry in service with the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) was travelling to the Channel Islands with 147 passengers and 43 crew on board.
Many of the passengers were travelling to the Channel Islands for an Easter holiday or returning home there during the Easter break. ‘

Stella departed from Southampton at 11:25hrs for St Peter Port, Guernsey. After passing The Needles, she proceeded at full speed across the Channel until some fog banks were encountered and speed was reduced twice while passing through these.
Approaching the Channel Islands, another fog bank was encountered, but speed was not reduced. Shortly before 16:00hrs, the fog signal from the Casquets Lighthouse was heard and the Casquets came into view directly ahead. Captain Reeks ordered the engines full astern and attempted to turn away from the rocks, but Stella scraped along two rocks, and her bottom was ripped open by a submerged granite reef.

Stella sank in eight minutes. Four lifeboats were successfully launched, while a fifth capsized. The Women and children first protocol was observed, although one stewardess, Mary Ann Rogers, gave up her lifejacket and refused a place in a lifeboat. The capsized lifeboat was later righted by a freak wave and 12 people managed to climb into it. Four of these died of exposure during the night. The eight remaining survivors were rescued by the French Naval tug Marsouin.

One lifeboat, with 38 survivors on board, had a cutter in tow with 29 survivors on board. These two boats were sighted at 07:00hrs on 31st March by the LSWR steamship Vera. They were picked up and landed at St Helier, Jersey. The other cutter, with 24 survivors on board, had a dinghy in tow with 13 survivors on board. They were picked up by the Great Western Railway (GWR) steamship Lynx, sailing from Weymouth to St Peter Port. In all 86 passengers died, along with 19 crew.


Robert John Wolfenden’s painting of the S.S. Stella at full speed. She was steaming at nearly 18kts when she struck the Casquets.


Wikipedia – Les Casquets –


The Mary Ann Rogers memorial in Southampton. Wikipedia –

SS_Stella – S.S. Stella Disaster –

The Guernsey Donkey – The SS Stella –

1912  Capt Scott and the remainder of his party died in the Antarctic. ‘It seems a pity but I do not think I can write more.’ ‘For God’s sake, look after our people.’

See 17 February 1912, 17 March 1912, 29 March 1912.

1914  During a seal hunt in Newfoundland, the SS Newfoundland had become jammed in the ice. However, when the captain of the Newfoundland saw signals from the SS Stephano indicating that there were seals several miles away, he sent his crew in that direction to begin killing seals, under command of his first mate.

That afternoon a storm began, and both ship’s captains thought that their respective crews were safely aboard the other man’s vessel – unfortunately this was not the case. It could not be confirmed due to the fateful decision made before the fleet sailed to the hunting grounds, to remove the wireless set and operator from the SS Newfoundland, in order to cut costs

Consequently, Newfoundland‘s captain, believing that the men were aboard Stephano, did not blow the ship’s whistle to signal his location which would have allowed his men to find the ship in the darkness and rain. The sealers endured two nights without shelter on the ice, first in a freezing rain storm and then in a snow storm, with predictable consequences.

When the dead and survivors alike were picked up approximately 48 hours later by another ship in the fleet, the SS Bellaventure, under Captain R. Isaac. Of the 132 men that set out aboard the SS Newfoundland, 78 died, and many more were seriously injured.


A superb scale model of the SS Newfoundland. See the ‘Age of Sail’ website for more images.

Wikipedia – S.S. Newfoundland –

1918  Off the south-coast of Ireland 12 miles S.S.E. off Helvick Head, the SS Lough Fisher was attacked by the German submarine SM U-101. The submarine opened fire with her deck gun, sinking 418-ton coaster with thirteen crew (possibly 14).



Wikipedia – German Submarine SM U-101 –

u101b u101

Conning tower emblems SM U-101.

1941  SS Coultarn (3,759t) cargo ship, Hull to Texas sunk by U-69, SW of Iceland.

metzler1 – Kapitänleutnant Jost Metzler – – wikipedia –


Conning tower emblems U-69. Consisting of the word Horrido (Tally-Ho) and the three two-flag signal groups for the letters L M A, a reference to Gotz von Berlichingen’s famous scatological retort. The second came about when the 7th flotilla adopted Gunther Prien’s bull emblem as its flotilla insignia.


Wikipedia – U-69 –

1941  SS Jim (833t) bound for Dieppe was sunk, possibly, by a German midget submarine off Aldeburgh.

1943  Light cruiser Glasgow intercepted the German blockade runner Regensburg, from Rangoon. German vessel scuttled in N. Atlantic.

1944  Destroyer Laforey torpedoed and sunk by U-223 at the end of a five-hour hunt off Palermo. Last RN vessel to be sunk by S/M in Mediterranean. Tumult, Blencathra and Hambledon sank U-223 (38-45N, 14-18E).


HMS Laforey secured to a buoy – wikipedia –


Conning tower emblem U-223. Wikipedia – –

1945  Frigates Conn, Rupert and Deane sank U-965 off Point of Stoer, Hebrides (58-19N, 05-31W).

1945  Three days after the RAF had severely damaged the U-Boat Pens at Valentin with ‘Grand Slam’ bombs, the U.S. Eighth Air Force attacked Valentin with ‘Disney’ bombs – These were large (4,500 lb) bombs with hard steel casings, and rocket-assistance to increase their penetrating power.
Sixty were launched but only one hit the target, causing little damage. However, considerable damage was done to installations surrounding the bunker.


A Disney Bomb just after release. wikipedia –

1957  Lyness Oil Depot closed. The last RN establishment HMS Prosperine, Hoy, Scapa Flow.


WRNS on parade at HMS Prosperine (HMS Proper Swine). Three of the sixteen storage tanks which held fuel oil for the British fleet can be seen in the background. The tanks were surrounded by a brick skin to protect them from blast. – Service life on Hoy –

1959  HM Dockyard Malta passed into civilian hands.

See 1 January 1985. wikipedia –

Visnews filmed Malta March 29 as the Royal Navy ended its 150-year link with the Malta Dockyard.
At his palace in Valletta the Governor Sir Robert Laycock received a dockyard key from Rear Admiral Copeman, Fourth Sea Lord. He then formally handed it over to Group Captain G.B.Bailey, chairman of Messrs. Bailey (Malta), a civilian firm of ship repairers and marine engineers.
Bailey’s will pay GBP30,000 a year to the Admiralty as rent and half of this is to go to the Malta Government.
The firm will employ the 6,000 workers discharged by the Admiralty which is continuing to use Malta as a naval base, employing about another 5,000 at present.
The General Worker’s Union has called for a one-hour strike on March 30 in protest against the Transfer. Union leaders – they represent half the dockyard workers – boycotted the ceremony in the Governor’s palace.


News article from “TheTablet” Page 5, 18th February 1961;

The dockyard is the focus of the island’s industrial life, and it was a great shock to the Maltese when Messrs. C. H. Bailey (Malta) Ltd. took over the major “portion of the yard from the Admiralty in March, 1959. But, at the same time, HMG promised £29m. in aid during the next five years, am. of which was earmarked for the conversion of the dockyard. Unfortunately, though Messrs. Bailey signed the financial agreement in September, they found it necessary to produce a revised plan in January, for development costing an additional £2m. to £3m., and based mainly on the necessity of providing for a dock to take tankers of up to 85,000 tons. This led to a long series of financial arguments with the British Government which, it is hoped, has been ended with the appointment of two Government directors to the Board of Messrs. Bailey in December, 1960. It is understood that the strengthened Board is backing the revised plan, and it is expected that an announcement will soon be made and that the enlarging of the docks will start by the summer. If it were not for these unfortunate incidents, the conversion of the dockyard would have started in August, 1959 ; and the prolonged delay has not only caused grave anxiety in the island but has strengthened Mr. Mintoff’s hand, as he had always been opposed to the take-over by Messrs. Bailey.

Maltese suspicion about the purpose of Messrs. Bailey, and indeed, of the British Government, were strengthened by the action of Baileys last autumn in turning away commercial shipping. Up to that time well over a hundred ships had been refitted, but, due to a dispute with the Admiralty about the level of overhead charges, Baileys decided that they could not accept further commercial work until this matter had been settled. Agreement with regard to work already completed was reached last December, and it is understood that commercial shipping will now be accepted pending a final agreement for the future.

However, a good start has been made in improving Malta’s own capital and social resources and in attracting new industry, and some £101m. has been given in capital aid for both these purposes. Not only is the new civil harbour nearly finished, but thirty schools have been built, water supplies, electricity and roads have been improved, and the Elm. devoted to industrial and tourist development has already attracted nearly £21m. in private investment. Twelve new factories and four new hotels should be under construction or completed by the end of the present year.

In other words, Malta’s new industries will begin to pay dividends by 1962. But this could be six months too late. Any major unemployment this summer would unite the people behind Mr. Mintoff. The civil harbour will be completed by the summer, as will a large NATO oil fuel tank contract, and redundancy is threatened both in Government service and in the dockyard. If the revised dockyard conversion programme is approved at once and new naval work is made available to tide over the summer months, the economic future should be reasonably bright by the end of the year, when it is expected that the islanders will elect their Government under a new constitution.

1960  Boom and Salvage Depot, Sheerness, closed, ‘after which date any correspondence or signals concerning Boom and Salvage matters should be addressed to the Commander-in-Chief The Nore’. AFO 696/60.

See 23 and 31 March 1960.

1971  First Fleet Chief Petty Officers appointed by warrant.

2001  Cambridge, RN Gunnery Range at Wembury near Plymouth, paid off. Range commissioned 9 August 1956, a century to the day after the Cambridge, third rate, first employed as a gunnery ship at Devonport.

cam7 – On This Day –

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 –

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