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Warship Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019: The Red-Shirted Scourge of the Ottomans

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019: The Red-Shirted Scourge of the Ottomans

Colorized photo by Atsushi Yamashita/Monochrome Specter http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/

Here we see the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina) armored cruiser (incrociatore corazzato), Giuseppe Garibaldi around 1904. She had a curious, if brief career, and could be taken as a bridge between 19th and 20th Century naval warfare, as she tangled with both Civil War-era ironclads and deadly U-boats.

Garibaldi came from a large and interesting class of cruiser designed by Edoardo Masdea, with good speed for the 1900s (19 knots), decent armor (up to 6-inches in sections) and a hybrid armament of one 10-inch gun forward and two 8-inch guns aft, along with a varied mix of casemate guns of all types, a quartet of torpedo tubes, and a ram bow.

They were handsome ships, with orders quickly made within a decade from Argentina, Italy, Spain and Japan (who picked up two from Argentina’s contract). As a twist of fate, the first delivered was to Argentina, who named their new cruiser, ARA Garibaldi, after the famous Italian red-shirt-wearing patriot. This have the twist that, at the same time in the 1900s, Rome and Buenos Aries both operated sisterships with the same name.

The class-leading Argentine ARA Garibaldi, Photographed by A. Noack of Genoa, probably at Naples or Genoa before her departure for Argentina. Note that the ship does not appear to be flying any flags at all. Description: Catalog #: NH 88672 Colourised by Diego Mar

Further, the first Italian-service Garibaldi was sold before entering the fleet to the Spanish, who were eager for new warships to unsuccessfully defend their overseas Empire from Uncle Sam in 1897, thus making our subject Garibaldi the third such ship of the same class to carry the name.

To help visualize the mess, here is the fortune-cookie-sized-overview of name, country, chronological order year, with our feature ship *asterisked to keep her straight:

-ARA Garibaldi ordered from Argentina 1895
-ARA General Belgrano from Argentina 1895
-ARA Pueyrredón from Argentina 1895
-ARA San Martín from Argentina 1895
-Giuseppe Garibaldi for Regia Marina 1895, sold to Spain as Cristóbal Colón 1897 (sunk 1898)
-Pedro de Aragon, ordered for Spain 1897, canceled 1898
-*Giuseppe Garibaldi for Regia Marina 1898
-Varese for Regia Marina 1898
-Francesco Ferruccio for Regia Marina 1899
-ARA Bernardino Rivadavia from Argentina 1901, sold to Japan as Kasuga 1903
-ARA Mariano Moreno from Argentina 1901, sold to Japan as Nisshin 1903

Our vessel was constructed at Gio. Ansaldo & C., Genoa, and commissioned 1 January 1901 and, soon joined by her two twin sisters in Italian service, Varese and Ferruccio, were a common sight in the deep-water ports of the Mediterranean from Alexandria to Gibraltar and back, often serving as division flagships.

Garibaldi in her original scheme, by late 1901 she carried a more muted grey scheme

It was while carrying the flag of RADM (later Grand Admiral/Naval Minister) Thaon di Revel, that Garibaldi joined in the naval bombardment of Ottoman-held Tripoli just four days into the Italo-Turkish War in October 1911. She sent a company-sized landing force ashore, one of the first modern Italian marine ops, to disable the Turkish big guns at Fort Hamidiye. It was part of a much larger assault, one of the most unsung in amphibious warfare history, and would leave the Italians in control of Libya until 1943.

Italian Navy landing companies landing on the beach of Tripoli, October 1911 under the guns of Garibaldi and the rest of the fleet. The naval battalions would be followed by a Bersaglieri regiment, and ultimately the Italians would put a corps-sized force of 30,000 ashore that month. Source Garyounis University, ” The Martyr Omar al-Mukhtar Festival: Catalogue of Exhibition”, Arabic-English version, Benghazi, 1979, P.23. via Wiki Commons

Still under Revel, Garibaldi and her two sisters would go on to give the Turks grief off Tobruk, in Syria, and the Dardanelles, as well as in the Aegean and the Levant. The biggest tangle of these would be in Ottoman-held Beirut. On 24 February 1912, Garibaldi and Ferruccio sailed into the Lebanese harbor and engaged a Turkish torpedo boat Ankara and the old ironclad Avnillah.

Italian cruisers Ferruccio and Garibaldi, bombarding Gunboat Avnillah & Torpedo boat Angora/Ankara in Beirut Harbour, Feb. 24, 1912

Built in England in 1869, the 2,300-ton central battery gunboat had fought in the Russo-Turkish War some 35 years previously and, while her original black powder muzzleloaders had been replaced with modern German Krupp 5.9-inchers, she had been stationary for a decade.

Avnillah, in better days.

In the end, it was no contest and Garibaldi started the engagement with her 10- and 8-inch guns at 6,000 yards then moved in to finish off the old ironclad with a brace of Whitehead torpedoes at close range. Avnillah, rolled over and settled on the harbor floor, ablaze, losing half her crew. Ferruccio, meanwhile, accounted for Ankara. During the fracas, several civilian craft were also damaged while hundreds of the city’s residents were killed or injured. The Italians suffered no injuries and sailed away to leave the locals to pick up the pieces.

Avnillah’s hulk was still visible inside the harbor mole four years later when the Royal Navy raided Beirut during the Great War.

Beirut, Lebanon. A seaplane of the R.N.A.S. Port Said Squadron obtaining hits with two 60-pound bombs during World War I. The wreck in the harbor is the Turkish Ironclad AVN-I ILAH, sunk on February 24, 1912, by the Italian Cruisers GARIBALDI and VARESE. NH 42779

NH 42780

Speaking of WWI, Italy was officially an Austro-German ally on paper as part of the so-called Triple Alliance but entered the conflict tardy and on the other side, which gave both Vienna and Berlin a bit of heartburn. On 23 May 1915, nine months into the war, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary followed by declarations of war on the Turks that August, Bulgaria in October, and Germany in 1916.

Just three weeks into Italy’s war against the Austrians, on 17 July 1915 a group of warships under the command of RADM Trifari, whose flag flew from Garibaldi, sailed from Brindisi on a mission to interdict the railway line between Sarajevo and Herceg Novi by shelling the railroads at Dubrovnik.

While offshore of Croatian coast near Molunat, the task force was discovered in the early morning of 18 July by the Germaniawerft-made U-3-class submarine SM U-4, commanded by Linienschiffleutnant Rudolf von Singule of the K.u.K. Kriegsmarine. Singule, who had previously managed to put a fish into the British RN cruiser HMS Dublin without sinking her, was luckier when he pumped a torpedo into Garibaldi and she sank reportedly in minutes, taking 53 of her crew with her.

Her sinking became memorialized in maritime art of the era.

The Sinking of the Italian Cruiser Giuseppe Garibaldi, Painting, Gouache on Paper; By Charles Malfroy; 1915; Unframed NHHC Accession #: 70-671-D

Austrian propaganda painting of her loss, via Wiki Commons

Garibaldi’s flag was saved, as were 90 percent of her crew, and has for generations been a treasured relic of the Italian navy. Today it is held on public display at the Sacrario delle Bandiere del Vittoriano in Rome.

Via Wiki Commons

Of Singule, the Austrian who slew the mighty Italian flagship, he chalked up 22,000 tons of shipping while in the K.u.K and was recalled to serve in the German Kriegsmarine in WWII in a training role. He was reportedly “killed attempting to protect a woman from drunken Soviet soldiers on a street in Brünn (Brno, Czech Republic) five days before the German surrender,” in 1945.

Today, Garibaldi is at 122m just off the coast of Croatia, making her an advanced but reachable dive.

As for her 10 sisters, the Spanish Pedro de Aragon was never built while Cristóbal Colón was sunk by the Americans in the Spanish-American War. The Americans likewise sunk the Japanese Kasuga in 1945, which had long been turned into a training hulk, while the IJN Nisshin was expended in the 1930s as a test target. Of the Italian sisters, both survived WWI and served as training ships for naval cadets until they were replaced by the purpose-built sail training ships Amerigo Vespucci and Cristoforo Colombo. The original four Argentine sisters endured in one form or another through the 1930s with ARA Pueyrredón even remaining in the fleet till 1954, at which point she was pushing 60.

ARA Pueyrredon in Dublin in 1951. At this point, this pre-SpanAm War era vet was pushing her into her sixth decade at sea.

The name “Garibaldi,” naturally, was reissued to the downright lucky WWII-era Duca degli Abruzzi-class light cruiser Garibaldi (551), and, since 1985, to the 14,000-ton harrier carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi (C-551), both of which also served as fleet flagships.

Italian Navy ITS Giuseppe Garibaldi (C-551) with nine AV-8B Harrier II and one Sea King in the flight deck carrier

Specs:


Displacement: 7,350 tons, full load 8,100 tons
Length: 366 ft
Beam: 59 ft
Draft: 24 ft.
Engine 2 triple vertical expansion steam engines, 24 Niclausse cylindrical boilers, 14,713 ihp (trials), 2 propellers
Speed: 19.7 knots
Range 5,500 miles at 10 knots on 1,200 tons of coal
Crew: 555
Armament:
1×1 254 mm/40 caliber
1×2 203 mm/45 caliber
14 152 mm/40 caliber
10 76 mm/40 caliber
6 Hotchkiss Mk I 47mm/50 caliber 3-pdrs
2 Maxim MG
4 17.7-inch torpedo tubes
Armor, hardened steel, Harvey system:
bridge from 38 to 50 mm.
belt from 50 to 150 mm.
50 mm batteries.
turrets from 100 to 150 mm.
tower from 50 to 150 mm

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Melting pot, 101 years ago today

Official caption: “Foreign-born soldiers made citizens, Washington, D.C. Sept 13, 1918. Group of naturalized soldiers, the following are represented: L-R: Front Row Armenian, Austrian, Russian Pole, Greek, Italian, Danish. Back row: Russian Jew, Turk Portuguese, German, Italian, French.”

Photographed by Pvt. Vincent L. Palumbo NARA 165-WW-74G-027

Warship Wednesday, Sep 11, 2019: The Leader of the Pack

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Sep 11, 2019: The Leader of the Pack

Photographed by LaTour, Philadelphia. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 41956

Here we see the small crew of an early H (Holland) class diesel-electric “submarine torpedo boat” USS H-1 (SS-28), originally known as the first USS Seawolf, at the Naval Submarine Base New London, Groton, Connecticut, circa 1919. Crew complement of these vessels was just two officers and two dozen men.

Built by the Union Iron Works of San Francisco, California as an improvement to the Holland 602 type, Seawolf had a staggering 70~ sisters that were ordered not only by the U.S. Navy (H-1 through H-9) but also by the navies of Imperial Russia and the British Commonwealth. With a submerged displacement of about 450-tons, these were small boats, going just 150.25-feet long overall.

USS H-1 (Submarine # 28) and USS H-2 (Submarine # 29) Fitting out at the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, California, 7 October 1913. NH 66740

With a hybrid powerplant of New London Ship & Engine Co (NELSECO) diesels and Electro Dynamic electric motors, they were fast for their time, able to make 14 knots when surfaced. Likewise, they had a 2,300nm range on their meager 11,800-gal fuel bunker, a 200-foot test depth, and could remain underwater on their two 60-cell Gould batteries traveling 100 nm at 5 knots.

H Boat Cell (H-1 to H-3) at the Gould Storage Battery Company, Buffalo, New York. Each of these early boats carried 120 such cells in two batteries. NH 115013

As for armament, they carried no deck guns due to their limited size but had space reserved to tote eight torpedoes (four in their forward 18-inch tubes and four reloads).

The torpedo room of USS H-5 in 1919. The breeches of the four 18-inch (457 mm) torpedo tubes are at the center. The tubes themselves had rotating exterior bow caps rather than doors. Scanned from Page 304 of Friedman, Norman, U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1995 via Wiki Commons.

The first three vessels were ordered before the Great War and were originally to have kick-ass predator/fish names (as was common for the U.S. Navy at the time, with early boats bestowed such enviable monikers as USS Tarantula and USS Viper) but this changed gears while they were still underway. Therefore, instead of the planned USS Seawolf, Nautilus and Garfish, we simply got USS H-1, H-2 and H-3, a naming convention that would continue through the follow-on K, L, M, N, O, R, and S-class boats until the nine V-class subs under construction in 1931 were renamed for fish, a practice that carried on through the 1970s..

Nonetheless, the three Hs were a relative unknown in the 1914 Jane’s:

USS H-1 (Submarine No. 28) commissioned 1 December 1913, and she and her two sisters were attached to the 2nd Torpedo Flotilla, Pacific Fleet, operating along the West Coast out of San Pedro, ranging from Los Angeles to lower British Columbia.

Old photo found in estate collection of SS-28 and SS-29 (H-1 and H-2 respectively) moored in Coos Bay, Oregon sometime between 1914-17, via Wiki Commons. Note their early canvas topside protection. 

USS H-1 (Submarine # 28) Off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 30 January 1914. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1969. Catalog #: NH 69853

USS H-1 (Submarine # 28) Off Long Beach, California, circa 1914. USS Stewart (Destroyer # 13) is underway in the background. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1972. NH 76006

Considered poor open ocean boats, the H-class were not very successful in U.S. service, with the later flight (H-4 through H-9) only acquired as they had already been built for the Tsar who, after 1917, was no longer signing the checks for Mother Russia. Nonetheless, with Uncle Sam entering the war, they were all pressed into use as training boats.

DANFS:

“H-1 set out from San Pedro on 17 October 1917, and reached New London, Conn., 22 days later via Acapulco, Mexico, Balboa, Panama Canal Zone, Key West, Fla., Charleston, S.C., and Philadelphia, Pa. For the remainder of the war, she operated from there and patrolled Long Island Sound, frequently with officer students from the submarine school on board.”

USS H-1 (Submarine # 28) Off the Naval Submarine Base New London, Groton, Connecticut, circa 1919. Photographed by LaTour, NH 41954

Another view, same time and place NH 41955

When the war ended, H-1 and H-2 set off for their return trip to the West Coast via the Panama Canal– and they almost made it too.

On 12 March 1920, H-1 grounded in a storm off Santa Margarita Island, Baja California. Four men, including her skipper, LCDR. James R. Webb (USNA 1913), perished in the heavy surf during the effort to reach dry land as H-2 narrowly avoided the same fate.

While the repair ship USS Vestal (AR-4) two weeks later pulled the stricken submarine off the rocks, H-1 rapidly sank in 50 feet of water and her hulk was abandoned. The Navy drew a name through her entry on the Navy List on 12 April 1920, and her remains were sold where-is/as-is to scrappers a few months later. However, it doesn’t seem that said salvors were very successful.

The rest of her class in U.S. service were all much luckier, and, decommissioned in 1922, were laid up and sold for junk a decade later.

Meanwhile, the Italians and Russians had their own 19 boats, with the latter losing five in the Baltic in 1918 to avoid having the Germans capture them and continued to operate these American submersibles for years. The Soviets still had five in their Black Sea Fleet when the Germans came back in 1941, losing two during WWII. As a side note, some of the lost Tsarist subs were raised by the Finns who attempted unsuccessfully to get them working while at least one was used by White Russian Gen. Wrangel’s fleet until 1922 when it was handed over to the French for scrapping.

As for H-1s 40+ British sisters, they were produced at the Canadian Vickers Yards in Montreal, Fore River in Massachusetts, and a host of yards in the UK proper. Three were lost during WWI. A fourth, HMS H-6 (the British coincidentally used the same inspired H-series names as the USN boats) was interned in Holland in 1916 and sold to the Dutch who used her as HNLMS O 8 until WWII when the Germans captured her and later scuttled the well-traveled boat in 1945. Many of the rest of the boats lived on after Versailles as training craft and four were lost in accidents in the 1920s, as is the nature of student drivers. Nine continued to see WWII service with the Royal Navy, where two more were lost in action.

In addition to the British RN H-class units, the Canadians fielded two (CH-14 and CH-15) briefly and six went to Chile as the Guacolda-class, where they continued in service until as late as 1949, the last H-class boats in operation.

From the 1946 Jane’s:

As it stands today, H-1 could be the best remembered and most accessible of this huge class of early submarines. Lost in shallow water off Baja California, and technically not a gravesite as the bluejackets lost in her grounding died on the effort to reach the beach, her bones have often been visited over the past century.

Most recently, in 2016, locals from nearby Puerto Alcatraz rediscovered the wreck, sparking a drive by Mexican authorities of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) to move in and survey the vessel.

Time has not been kind and the stern is reportedly full of sand while most of her pressure hull has collapsed. Still, the offices of INAH, in conjunction with the U.S Navy’s NHHC, are recovering what they can for preservation and documentation.

Since her loss, the Navy has never commissioned another H-1, but there have been three subsequent USS Seawolf (s) since 1939, all hard-serving submarines.

Specs:

H-1 (SS-28) showing Profile Inboard; Profile Outboard, Midship Arrangement & Booklet of General Plans. National Archives Identifier: 55302488

Displacement:
358 long tons (364 t) surfaced
467 long tons (474 t) submerged
Length: 150 ft 4 in
Beam: 15 ft 10 in
Draft: 12 ft 5 in
Installed power:
950 hp (710 kW) (diesel engines)
600 hp (450 kW) (electric motors)
Propulsion:
Diesel/electric
2 × NELSECO diesel engines 950 hp
2 × Electro Dynamic electric motors (450 kW)
2 × 60-cell batteries
2 × shafts
Speed:
14 knots surfaced
10.5 knots submerged
Range:
2,300 nm at 11 knots surfaced
100 nm at 5 knots submerged
Test depth: 200 ft
Complement: 25 officers and men
Armament:
4 × 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes
8 × torpedoes

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Warship Wednesday, Sep 4, 2019: The White Lady

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

*Warship Wednesday, Sep 4, 2019: The White Lady

*While not a warship, we have covered iconic sail training ships several times in the past due to their interesting, often winding history, and their role in making the men of steel that go on to conn and crew a seagoing nation’s battle lines. This has included the four-masted barque, Abraham Rydberg; the German/American Gorch Fock/Eagle, the Christian Radich out of Norway, Soviet Tovarish, and the Danish East Asiatic Company schoolship  and mystery of the sea, København*

Via Gdynia Wsieci MMG-HM-II-502-27

With this week being the 80th anniversary of the invasion of Poland in World War II, it is only fitting that we see here the famed sail training ship Dar Pomorza in about 1930, one of the few flying the Polish flag that escaped destruction during the conflict and went on to serve another four decades.

However, before she was Polish, she flew a different flag.

Built in 1909 by Blohm & Voss (Hull #202) as the full-rigged sail training ship Prinzess Eitel Friedrich, she was originally named for Duchess Sophia Charlotte of Oldenburg. She and her three sisters–Großherzogin Elisabeth, Großherzog Friedrich August, and Schulschiff Deutschland (the latter built in 1927) — were all owned and operated Deutscher Schulschiffverein (DSV), or the German School Ship Association, for the purpose of educating young mariners in association with Norddeutsche Lloyd. These were among the first purpose-built sail training ships. As both the Kaiser and Grand Duke Friedrich August von Oldenburg were patrons, the names of the ships are no-brainers.

Prinzess Eitel-Friedrich launching April 3, 1909, Foto via Schulschiff Deutschland

Capable of carrying 25 sails with a total sail area of some 1,950 sq. meters, the 305-foot-long vessels looked like flying clouds when they were in the wind.

Schulschiff Prinzess Eitel Friedrich, 1915

Prinzess Eitel Friedrich between 1910 and 1914 State Library of Victoria SLV H99.220-2588

Commissioned in 1910, Prinzzess Eitel Friedrich sailed on her maiden voyage to Christiansand and Antwerp. Nonetheless, the Germans only got three years of active service from her before the Great War, primarily short summer cruises for officer candidates in European waters and longer winter cruises to the Caribbean Sea and Latin America while the Baltic was iced in.

During the war, the three existing sisters all managed to come through unscathed while conducting limited training evolutions in the Baltic, but by 1919, two the marine training ships were allocated to the victorious Allies as war reparations– causing Schulschiff Deutschland to be constructed in the 1920s.

Grossherzog Friedrich August went to the British, while Prinzess Eitel Friedrich was allocated to the French where she was used as the sail training ship Colbert at the St-Nazaire seaman’s school (Société Anonyme de Navigation Les Navires Écoles Français).

By 1926, the French sold her to British gentleman race car driver and yachtsman Baron (Maurice) de Forest who very soon after looked to rid himself of the giant three-master as it did not fit his needs.

Enter Poland

When Poland re-emerged in November 1918 after more than a century of partition by the recently deceased Austrian, German, and Russian Empires, she needed a Navy to defend her thin share of the Baltic. Having to cough up one from scratch, most of her professional officers came from the fleets of the former occupiers– the Polish Navy’s 1939 commander, Counter-Admiral Józef Unrug, was a German U-boat commander during the Great War while the Navy’s chief of staff, Vice-Admiral Jerzy Świrski, was a destroyer commander in the Tsar’s Black Sea Fleet.

Besides a few inherited former German torpedo boats and slow Russian gunboats bought from Finland, the new Navy was able to score the elderly French cruiser D’Entrecasteaux (8,100-tons) for her value in scrap in 1927, renaming her ORP Bałtyk, which became the new force’s flagship. To help train mids for the new navy, the three-masted gaff schooner ORP Iskra was acquired.

With the new Polish state maritime school in Tczew needing a training ship at the same time to replace the circa 1867-built three-master Lwow (former Chinsura), funds were raised through public donations to purchase the laid-up Colbert/ex-Prinzess Eitel Friedrich, which was idle in Western Europe. In July 1929, she was purchased by the purpose formed Pomorski Komitet Floty Narodowej (Pomeranian National Fleet Committee) for £7000 and by the next year was in Polish hands. On her arrival, the Tczew school closed and moved to Gdynia, where it is today known as the Gdynia Maritime University.

Originally to be named Pomorze (Pomerania), she was instead given the name Dar Pomorza (Gift of Pomerania), to honor the society formed to purchase her. She arrived at Gdynia on 19 June 1930 after tow by two Dutch tugs from France to Denmark and a four-month refit at Nakskov, Lolland (the same yard that later built the full-rigged ship Danmark for the Danish Maritime Authority). There, she received a surplus MAN diesel engine that had formerly powered a German U-boat to serve as her “iron topsail.”

The impressive sight of Dar Pomorza, with her white eagle crest and proud Polish ensign, was massive to the country’s spirit.

Via Gdynia Maritime University (UMG)

Via Gdynia Maritime University (UMG)

Via Gdynia Maritime University (UMG)

Via Gdynia Maritime University (UMG)

Known affectionately as the “Białej Damie” (White Lady) or the “Białej Fregata” (White Frigate), Dar Pomorza was the grande dame of the burgeoning new Polish maritime fleets and traveled extensively around the globe until 1939.

Polish Training Ship DAR POMURYA or DAR POMORZA in St. Thomas Harbor, January 6, 1936, NH 111890

This included an epic 352-day circumnavigation of the globe under famed Capt. Konstanty Maciejewicz-Matyjewicz, a former Tsarist submarine commander, in 1934-35 that logged over 21,000 miles, crossed the equator three times and sliced through every meridian. It was the first such event by a Polish-flagged ship.

Dar Pomorza in Tahiti 1935

Then came WWII.

September 1, 1939, German Battleship SMS Schleswig-Holstein, ostensibly on a goodwill mission in Danzig, firing on the Polish ammunition depot at Westerplatte. Colorized by Mikołaj Kaczmarek

Dar Pomorza was one of the few Polish ships to escape initial destruction in September 1939.

The butcher’s list in that month included:

-Bałtyk, abandoned and captured by the Germans
-The destroyer-sized minelayer ORP Gryf, lost on the third day of the war as was the French-built destroyer ORP Wicher
-All six Jaskółka-class minesweepers, each sunk or captured
-The old Russian gunboats ORP Generał Haller and ORP Komendant Pilsudski, sunk
-The former German torpedo boat ORP Mazur, sent to the bottom
-The entire Pinsk riverine flotilla of more than a dozen monitors and gunboats, scuttled or likewise captured

Dar Pomorza, along with other key maritime assets, were saved by design.

Adm. Unrug (who spent the rest of the war in German POW camps) crafted his “Peking Plan” that sent the new destroyers ORP Burza, ORP Błyskawica, and ORP Grom to British waters in late August 1939, where they formed a new Free Polish Navy under the escaped Chief of Staff VADM Świrski after Warsaw fell.

Likewise, the wily former Great War U-boat skipper sent his five submarines abroad after their initial war patrol under his Worek Plan with orders to sail to England if possible, and otherwise to be interned in a neutral Swedish port. ORP Wilk made it to England as did ORP Orzeł (after a narrow escape from Estonia) while ORP Sęp, ORP Ryś, and ORP Żbik sailed for Sweden. The training ship ORP Iskra, on a Med cruise, sailed for Casablanca and spent the war as an MTB tender in Gibraltar.

Under the command of Capt. Konstanty “Cat” Kowalski, Dar Pomorza sortied from her Polish homeport in late August 1939 and made Stockholm, where the ship was interned. Not to be kept from the war, Cat left the White Lady with seven volunteers commanded by the ship’s radioman and subsequently bugged out for England with the rest of her crew and 149 cadets, destined for Polish-flagged freighters and Free Polish naval ships. Once there, he reformed the Polish merchant school in Southampton where its trained replacement sailors for the Gdynia-America Shipping Lines who sailed with Allied cargoes under the Polish flag during the conflict.

Polish merchant ships carried more than 5 million tons of cargo during the war and were part of every campaign in the ETO from Dunkirk to the liberation of Denmark. Meanwhile, former cadets from Iskra and Dar Pomorza filtered out not only through the Polish vessels but also the Royal Navy proper—four such students went down with HMS Hood in 1941.

Once the war was over, Dar Pomorza sailed for home in October 1945, arriving there with a scratch crew.

As for Cat, eschewing a return to Soviet-occupied Poland, he elected to emigrate to the U.S. and became a merchant mariner there. He was not alone. VADM Świrski, the former Tsarist officer who led the Free Polish Navy, did not return to Poland and remained in London exile until his death. Unrug, the fleet’s 1939 boss, likewise settled in France after his liberation from Oflag VII-A Murnau by the U.S. 12th Armored Division in 1945.

Other flag officers were not so lucky. Polish RADM Xawery Czernicki, another former Tsarist naval captain and engineer who had supervised the construction of the Gdynia naval base, was captured by the Soviets in 1939 and was among the 22,000 slaughtered Polish officers in the so-called Katyn Massacre in early 1940.

Post War

Regardless of the country’s location behind the Iron Curtain, Dar Pomorza remained Poland’s ambassador, taking part in regular merchant training cruises around Europe beginning again in 1946. Notably, Capt. Konstanty Matyjewicz-Maciejewicz, her former skipper during her round-the-world cruise, was head of the merchant marine academy at the time, having survived the war under occupation despite some rough handling from the Gestapo.

In 1972’s Operation Sail, the Cutty Sark Tall Ships’ Races, she was the first Eastern Bloc windjammer to participate in an international sail event and she became a regular at such outings over the next decade.

The Olympische Segelwettbewerbe, coinciding with the 1972 Munich Olympics, showing Dar Pomorza, the USCGC Eagle and the German Bundesmarine’s Gorch Fock August 5, 1972. Via Stadtarchiv Kiel

A night scene from the same event, showing not only Dar Pomorza, Gorch Fock and Eagle but also the Columbian square-rigger Gloria and Danish Danmark Via Stadtarchiv Kiel 53.812

Dar Pomorza, Amsterdam 1975, via Dutch National Archives

This included being one of the top 16 tall ships to sail into the New York City leg of OpSail 1976 to celebrate the Bicentennial.

Square rigger Dar Pomorza during the Parade of Sail on 4 July 1976 (US Bicentennial) via Wiki Commons

Square rigger Dar Pomorza during the Parade of Sail on 4 July 1976 (US Bicentennial) via Wiki Commons

In 1980, she won the Cutty Sark Trophy in OpSail80

While not an active warship per se, she was carried in Poland’s entry in Jane’s for decades.

Finally, on 4 July 1982, Dar Pomorza was retired from active service. In her 52 years of service to Poland, she covered more than 500,000 miles under sail on 102 training cruises and educated 13,384 students.

She has been maintained as a floating exhibit and national treasure by the National Maritime Museum in Gdansk since 1983, typically visited by more than 100,000 every year.

She is extensively remembered in maritime art and postcards.

…And has repeatedly been represented on Polish postage stamps and coins throughout the Republic’s 20th Century history.

A lucky ship, having survived both world wars as well as the Cold War, all three of Dar Pomorza‘s German-built sisters are intact as well. The former Grossherzog Friedrich August was handed over to the Norwegians as a war trophy in 1945 and is currently the privately-owned training vessel Statsraad Lehmkuhl. Schulschiff Deutschland, commissioned in 1927, is a museum ship in Bremen. Finally, the former Großherzogin Elisabeth, handed over to France as a war reparation in 1946, has been the French-flagged tall ship Duchesse Anne ever since.

Dar Pomorza, pushing 110-years young, is permanently moored at the Pomeranian Quay next to Kosciuszko Square in Gdynia.

Specs:
Displacement: 1561 tons gross, 2,500 full
Length with bowsprit: 305 feet
Length, between perpendiculars: 240 feet
Beam: 39ft
Draft: 17ft
Rig: 25 sails, 2,100 sq. m, full-rigged including royals, topgallant, double topsail
Auxiliary engine: 430 HP MAN, 6-cyl diesel, installed 1929
Speed under sail: max 17 kts.
Complement: 190: 8 officers, 32 petty officers/primary crew, 150~ cadets
1934-35 Circumnavigation: 104: Commandant, 10 officers including doctor and chaplain, 4 instructors, 20 crew members, 11 2nd year students, and 58 1st year candidates

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

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The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

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Warship Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019: Last gasp of the Mainz

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019: Last gasp of the Mainz

Halftone print from Det stora världskriget vol. II, p. 339. Printed in Stockholm 1915. Originally published in The Illustrated London News

On this special installment of WW, we see the German Kolberg-class light cruiser (kleiner kreuzer), SMS Mainz, sinking at the Battle of Heligoland Bight on August 28, 1914, 105 years ago today. The ship on the left is the British RN destroyer HMS Lurcher taking off German survivors. The whaleboats are from the destroyer HMS Liverpool. Commissioned in 1909, Mainz had a short career that ended with a last stand against overwhelming odds.

Four 4,200-ton Kolbergs were commissioned on the lead up to the Great War: Kolberg, Mainz, Cöln, and Augsburg. Just 4,300 tons, they would be considered frigate-size these days. Not particularly fast, they could make 25 knots. Not particularly well-armed, they mounted a dozen 4.1-inch SK L/45 single mounts as well as a couple 17.7-inch torpedo tubes, in all, really just large destroyers.

Still, they had fine lines.

SMS Mainz photographed by Arthur Renard of Kiel, in a photograph received by U.S. Naval intelligence on 19 October 1910. NH 4682

SMS Mainz, Imperial Navy, Sognefjord Norway 1914. Norwegian national archives

Resting in the Ems and Jade rivers, respectively, on the morning of 28 August 1914, Mainz and Cöln (the latter with II Scouting Group commander RADM Leberecht Maass aboard), Hipper ordered both ships to raise steam and sail to aide a force of German coastal torpedo boats and minesweepers operating near the North Sea’s Heligoland Bight that had been jumped by a superior RN force at around 0930.

Said raiding force turned out to be two British light cruisers, Arethusa and Fearless, and two flotillas containing 31 destroyers under Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt, with cover from the massive new battlecruisers New Zealand and Invincible of Cruiser Force K under RADM Moore. Admiral Beatty’s First Battlecruiser Squadron of Lion, Queen Mary, and Princess Royal was also just over the horizon.

It was a bloody day for the High Seas Fleet among the fog and smoke.

Battlecruiser HMS Lion, Heligoland Bight, 28th August 1914, engaging the German light cruiser Cöln with her 13.5-inch guns. No contest. A painting by Montague Dawson.

Although Maass was able to piece together not only the Mainz and Coln but also the light cruisers Frauenlob, Stettin, Ariadne, and Strassburg, they were vastly outmatched by the British capital ships. Worse, half of these were destroyed piecemeal.

Very shortly after arriving on the scene, the German cruisers got plastered by the British heavy guns and attempted to withdraw. In the process, Frauenlob, Strassburg, and Stettin were heavily damaged but made a getaway.

Ariadne returned fire as best she could, but to no effect and was left dead in the water to capsize by 16:25.

Coln was similarly lost, with Maass aboard, at about 14:25, rolling over and sinking with only one crewmember, a stoker, pulled from the water three days later.

As for Mainz, who had arrived on the scene alone at about 12:30– before the other cruisers– over a 45-minute period she engaged three British cruisers and at least six destroyers. The German scored hits on the RN Laforey (or L-class) destroyers Laurel, Liberty, and Laertes with Laurel hurt so bad she had to withdraw, and Laertes disabled by 4-inch shells to her engine room.

However, the odds were clearly against Mainz and, after taking a torpedo from the destroyer Lydiard and just generally receiving a shellacking from the British guns at point-blank range, her skipper ordered the crippled vessel abandoned just before she rolled over at 14:10.

The images of her sinking were the first sinking German ship published in British papers and circled the globe, complete with Mainz shown aflame and dead in the water with just one of her stacks still standing.

Sinking of Mainz postcard

The engagement soon became iconic in period maritime art published not only in London but also Berlin.

British destroyers engaging SMS Mainz during the Battle of Heligoland Bight on 28th August 1914 in the First World War painting by Lionel Wyllie

German light cruiser SMS Mainz sinking at the Battle of Heligoland Bight on 28th August 1914 in the First World War painting by Willie Stower

RMG PW1231: ‘L-class destroyers and the battlecruisers ‘Lion’, ‘Queen Mary’, and ‘Princess Royal’, with the ‘Mainz’, at the Battle of the Heligoland Bight, 28 August 1914′ by William Lionel Wyllie circa 1915

RMG PV3448: ‘Rescuing the crew of the German light cruiser ‘Mainz’ at the Battle of the Heligoland Bight, 28August 1914′ by William Lionel Wyllie circa 1914-1915

“A sketch from an officer present at the battle depicting the destroyer flotilla destroying a German cruiser” {Mainz} Illustrated London News 5 September 1914

The British rescued 348 survivors from the stricken ship, including the son of Tirpitz himself. She took 89 members of her crew, including her skipper, down to the cold embrace of the sea.

Other than the cruiser HMS Arethusa, which had been damaged in a 6-inch gun duel between that ship and the German cruisers SMS Frauenlob and Stettin, it was the stricken Mainz that caused the most injury to the Royal Navy on that fateful day.

HMS Lapwing of 1st Flotilla attempting to take HMS Laertes of 3rd Flotilla in tow during the Battle of Heligoland Bight on 28th August 1914 in the First World War. “Deeds That Thrill the Empire: True Stories of the Most Glorious Acts of Heroism of the Empire’s Soldiers and Sailors during the Great War.” V. Ludgate Hill, London: The Standard Art Book Co Ltd. 1920. p. 737. Wiki Commons

HMS LIBERTY damage received in the Battle of Heligoland Bight, 28 August 1914. NH 59814

HMS LAERTES Damage received in the Battle of Heligoland Bight, 28 August 1914. Note 4″ gun, burst when a shell exploded prematurely. NH 59813

HMS LAUREL Damage received in the Battle of Heligoland Bight, 28 August 1914. Note 4″ gun. NH 59810

Another shot of Laurel NH 59811

However, while the three L-class destroyers would eventually return to service, the German navy has never carried the name “Mainz” on its rolls again.

Sunk in relatively shallow water, her wreck is often visited– and plundered– by skin divers, a crime under the jurisdiction of German police.

Mainz’s telegraph, via Der Spiegel

Specs:

Mainz & Kolberg class via Janes 1914 ed.

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

The Charge of the Light Brigade, Audregnies installment

On this day some 105 years ago, British Army Cpt. Francis Octavius Grenfell– aged 33 and a noted polo player– led the 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers into combat against the Germans at Audregnies, a small village west of Mons in Northern France. The Germans were advancing on the far west flank of the British Expeditionary Force during the Battle of Mons and threatened to encircle the Old Contemptibles of the 5th Division. Grenfell and his lancers were busy that day, both charging the on-coming Germans and later pulling back some abandoned British field guns, keeping them from being captured.

Richard Caton Woodville later immortalized the action at Audregnies in the below painting, from the National Army Museum collection.

NAM. 1978-09-22-1

NAM. 1978-09-22-1

As noted by the NAM:

Although not the first action of World War One (1914-1918) for which the Victoria Cross was awarded, Grenfell was the first to be gazetted, that is, officially listed in ‘The London Gazette’ as a recipient. The citation was for ‘gallantry in action against unbroken infantry at Audregnies and for gallant conduct in assisting to save the guns of the 119th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, near Doubon the same day’.

Notably, the 9th later took part in the final “lance-on-lance” action by British horse-soldiers when, on 7 September 1914 at Montcel à Frétoy, Lt. Col. David Campbell led a charge of two troops against a squadron of lance-armed Prussian Guards Dragoons.

After service in the Great War and as a tank unit in WWII, the 9th was amalgamated with the 12th Royal Lancers to form the 9th/12th Royal Lancers in 1960. They were later further amalgamated with the Queen’s Royal Lancers in 2015 to form the Royal Lancers, which today is an armored recon battalion equipped with Scimitar vehicles. They are the only “lancers” still in the British Army although they officially retired the weapons for field use in 1928.

However, they still use the famous skull and crossbones badge that is one of the most recognizable in the British Army with the motto: ‘Death or Glory’.

As for the heroic Capt. Grenfell, he later fell in action near Ypres in 1915, as did his twin brother, Riversdale.

Buried in the Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery in Belgium, his VC is in the regimental museum of the 9th/12th Royal Lancers in Derby.

Salute to Springfield Sporters…

When it comes to military surplus gun dealers in the U.S., there have been some icons that have sadly come and gone. It all started with Bannerman’s in New York, which hit its stride by first cleaning out the Army and Navy’s post-Civil War relics for their weight as scrap metal in the 1880s then landing all of the captured Spanish arms from Cuba and Puerto Rico in 1898.

They lingered into the 1940s…

From there you had companies such as Klein’s in Chicago, Interarms in Alexandria, Navy Arms, Strebco, Seaport Traders, Winfield Arms (in Los Angeles of all places!) and Golden State Arms in Pasenda that sold WWI & WWII milsurp for pennies on the dollar.

All gone.

SAMCO turned off the lights in 2013, leaving a legacy of old guns and exotic ammo to linger on. Recently, SOG in Ohio went belly up after more than 30 years. 

There is another confirmed kill this week as Springfield Sporters on Springfield Road in Penn Run, PA, announced they will not be reopening their doors.

Founded by William H. Rodgers in 1961, they stocked just about every sort of military surplus rifle and obsolete parts you could image, specializing in such oddballs as Greek Mannlicher Schoenauers, Mauser Vergueiros, Japanese M38s and M99s, and others. Relying on walk-in and mail-order sales, they were on the ropes by about 2003 and briefly closed down.

The next year, Russell J. Rodgers, William’s son, was able to reboot the business and started a website, continuing the good fight for another 15 years. If you wanted parts of a Ruby pistol, a bolt for a Ross rifle, or anything Kropatschek, they had you covered.

In 2010, which was not that long ago, they acquired an amazing 19,000 drill rifles (mostly #1 Enfields) that they listed for $30 a pop.

In 2013, they started opening their 40,000 square ft. showroom for the summer only (May to October), and it looked like something out of Indian Jones.

I picked up several bayonets from them, including some very nice German-made Brazilian Mauser bayos (for $30 each!) among other interesting items. 

Mauser 08 Brazil long rifle bayonets for just $30. Mein Gott!

However, in 2016 they close the showroom but kept up the website. Then, last year, that too went dark as they closed up shop due to medical issues and by December they posted, “Thank you for visiting! May reopen next summer, maybe sooner. Will be another state, not PA,” and went radio silent, other than to later post that the whole joint was for sale for $2.2M with numerous conditions.

This week, Century Arms in Vermont formally announced they have acquired Springfield Sporters.

“Springfield Sporters and Century Arms have a lot of history together, as both were founded in 1961, over 58 years ago,” said Century VP William Sucher. “Although early on we originally competed with each other, over the years Springfield Sporters developed into one of Century’s best customers. We will strive to continue the Rodgers family legacy by offering the same authentic surplus products and the amazing customer service Springfield Sporters has become known for.”

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