Tag Archive | RN

RN adding a pair of ‘Littoral Strike Ships’ which sound cooler than what they are

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson this week announced a concept and development phase for two new vessels – called Littoral Strike Ship.

These are defined in a presser as:

Littoral Strike Ship are vessels which can command an assault force from anywhere in the world – carrying everything from helicopters and fast boats to underwater automated vehicles and huge numbers of troops. They are designed to be able to get in close to land – with ‘littoral’ literally meaning the part of the sea which is closest to the shore.

And could look like this converted container ship concept:

Why are they needed?

The RN’s “Gator” assets currently number just a pair of 21,000-ton Albion-class landing platform docks (LPDs)– HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark— as well trio of relatively new 16,160-ton Bay-class dock landing ships (LSD)– the latter used to be four but they sold one, Largs Bay, to Australia in 2011. The Bays are manned by civil mariners of the RFA, which is basically the British version of the MSC. Each of the five aforementioned British LPD/LSDs can comfortably carry about one half of a Commando battalion (of which the RMs have two, 40 Commando and 45 Commando) as well as a smattering of Chinooks, LCUs, and LCVPs.

Only one vessel on the RN’s list in recent years could carry a full Commando unit, HMS Ocean, and she was just sold to Brazil with a lot of life left in her.

So, on the outset, it looks like between the five current ‘phibs available to the RN, they could land the two 700-man Commandos available to them without much of an issue. With that, why the new vessels?

From the press conference:

Under plans being looked at by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, these assault ships would be forward deployed permanently away from the UK.

Said Williamson, “Our vision is for these ships to form part of 2 Littoral Strike Groups complete with escorts, support vessels, and helicopters. One would be based East of Suez in the Indo-Pacific and one based West of Suez in the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Baltic. And, if we ever need them to, our two Littoral Strike Ships, our two aircraft carriers, our two amphibious assault ships Albion and Bulwark, and our three Bay Class landing ships can come together in one amphibious task force. This will give us sovereign, lethal, amphibious force. This will be one of the largest and best such forces anywhere in the world.”

Ahhhh, so basically Littoral Strike Ship = Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) platform but with a British jack.

USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB 3) employs a flight deck for helicopter operations. T-ESB 3 is able to carry four MH-53E helicopters or five Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit Military Vans and still have room to maneuver and store other equipment.

Which makes sense.

HMs derpy (but deadly) sharks

Thousands of Motor Launch (ML), Coastal Motor Boat (CMB), Motor Torpedo Boat (MTB), Motor Anti-submarine Boat (MASB), Motor Gunboat (MGB), Steam Gunboat (SGB), Fast Patrol Boat (FPB) and Fast Training Boat (FTB) craft served in the RN’s often forgotten Coastal Forces during WWII.

Scrapping with the Germans S- and E-boats up and down the English Channel and French coast, as well as birddogging U-boats and supporting both overt and covert landings in occupied Europe, these “splinter boats,” supported by legions of WRENs ashore, had a lot of pluck.

Though these, just two days before D-Day, look a little derpy.

AT A COASTAL FORCES BASE, HMS HORNET, GOSPORT, 4 JUNE 1944. (A 23969) Ships with ‘a bite’. Clever camouflage on the bows of MTB’s at HMS HORNET, Gosport. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205187106

WRENing it up, WWII Coastal Forces style

The Women’s Royal Naval Service was formed in the last couple years of the Great War, and grew to some 5,000 auxiliarists by Armistice Day. Shortly afterward, the group was disbanded until Hitler came a calling.

Standing back up in 1939, the renewed force grew much larger in their Second World War, swelling to some 75,000 at the corps’s peak in late 1944. (Note, this is twice the current strength of the combined active and reserve members of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines)

Besides such misogynistic tasks as administrative, clerical, food service and communication support work, a group of women were known as Quick Ordnance (QO) WRENs. These “QO girls” or “Ordnance Wrens” were gunners mates in all but name, specializing in maintaining small arms up to 3-pounder Hotchkiss mounts and were tasked with cleaning, inspecting and repairing QF 2-pounder (40mm) and QF 1-pounder pom-poms, Lewis and Vickers machine guns, as well as rifles and handguns.

As such, they provided invaluable support to the fleet of thousands of Motor Launch (ML), Coastal Motor Boat (CMB), Motor Torpedo Boat (MTB), Motor Anti-submarine Boat (MASB), Motor Gunboat (MGB), Steam Gunboat (SGB), Fast Patrol Boat (FPB) and Fast Training Boat (FTB) craft of the Coastal Forces.

For the lads behind those guns, battling German U-boats and S-boats up and down the coast and in the Channel, they owed their lived to the Wrens.

WOMEN ON THE HOME FRONT 1939 - 1945 (A 13209) The Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS): Wren Armourers, whose jobs included the overhaul, maintenance and serving of guns, pictured testing a Lewis gun at Lee-on-Solent Naval Air Station. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205193235

(A 13209) The Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS): Wren Armourers, whose jobs included the overhaul, maintenance and serving of guns, pictured testing a Lewis gun at Lee-on-Solent Naval Air Station. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205193235

WOMEN'S ROYAL NAVAL SERVICE. MAINTENANCE WRENS MAINTAIN SMALL ARMS UP TO 3 POUNDER HOTCHKISS FOR ALL TYPES OF SMALL CRAFT - MTB, MGB, ML, MOS AND MASB. THESE GIRLS KNOWN AS QO (QUICK-FIRING ORDNANCE) WRENS BOARD THE BOATS AS SOON AS THEY COME IN AFTER AN OPERATION, TO STRIP AND CLEAN THE LEWIS AND 0.5 VICKERS MACHINE GUNS. (A 12187) A QO Wren removing a 0.5 Vickers machine gun turret for servicing. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205145632

A QO Wren removing a 0.5 Vickers machine gun turret for servicing. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205145632

WOMEN'S ROYAL NAVAL SERVICE. MAINTENANCE WRENS MAINTAIN SMALL ARMS UP TO 3 POUNDER HOTCHKISS FOR ALL TYPES OF SMALL CRAFT - MTB, MGB, ML, MOS AND MASB. THESE GIRLS KNOWN AS QO (QUICK-FIRING ORDNANCE) WRENS BOARD THE BOATS AS SOON AS THEY COME IN AFTER AN OPERATION, TO STRIP AND CLEAN THE LEWIS AND 0.5 VICKERS MACHINE GUNS. (A 12193) A QO Wren stripping and cleaning a Lewis Gun on board a coastal craft. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205145638

A QO Wren stripping and cleaning a Lewis Gun on board a coastal craft. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205145638

WOMEN'S ROYAL NAVAL SERVICE. MAINTENANCE WRENS MAINTAIN SMALL ARMS UP TO 3 POUNDER HOTCHKISS FOR ALL TYPES OF SMALL CRAFT - MTB, MGB, ML, MOS AND MASB. THESE GIRLS KNOWN AS QO (QUICK-FIRING ORDNANCE) WRENS BOARD THE BOATS AS SOON AS THEY COME IN AFTER AN OPERATION, TO STRIP AND CLEAN THE LEWIS AND 0.5 VICKERS MACHINE GUNS. (A 12189) A QO Wren stripping and cleaning Lewis Guns on board a coastal craft. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205145634

(A 12189) A QO Wren stripping and cleaning Lewis Guns on board a coastal craft. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205145634

WOMEN'S ROYAL NAVAL SERVICE. MAINTENANCE WRENS MAINTAIN SMALL ARMS UP TO 3 POUNDER HOTCHKISS FOR ALL TYPES OF SMALL CRAFT - MTB, MGB, ML, MOS AND MASB. THESE GIRLS KNOWN AS QO (QUICK-FIRING ORDNANCE) WRENS BOARD THE BOATS AS SOON AS THEY COME IN AFTER AN OPERATION, TO STRIP AND CLEAN THE LEWIS AND 0.5 VICKERS MACHINE GUNS. (A 12198) Installing the 0.5 Vickers machine gun into the gun turret after servicing it. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205145643

(A 12198) Installing the 0.5 Vickers machine gun into the gun turret after servicing it. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205145643

WRENS working a pom-pom, and not the cheerleading kind

WRENS working a pom-pom, and not the cheer-leading kind

wrens-rn-20mm-motor-launch

The WRENs were disbanded as a special corps when and integrated into the regular Royal Navy in 1993.

Warship Wednesday July 27, 2016: The RNs factory for curiosities in gun-mountings

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.
– Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday July 27, 2016: The RNs factory for curiosities in gun-mountings

Protected cruiser HMS Terrible.

Via IWM

Here we see the Powerful-type first-class protected cruiser HMS Terrible during her brief career, decked in a tropical white scheme that she used around 1900. Although beautiful in her own respect as a late 19th Century brawler, it was the use of her guns ashore that brought her lasting fame.

Built to rule the waves as independent units capable of raiding enemy merchant ships in time of war– while safeguarding HMs own from the enemy’s similar raiders– the Powerfuls were a two-ship class of very large cruisers with lots of coal bunkerage that enabled them to sail 7,000 nm at 14 knots. Should they stumble on an enemy surface raider, their twin 9.2″/40 (23.4 cm) Mark VIII cocoa-powder breechloaders could fire a 382-pound CPC shell out to 12,846 yards, which was pretty good for the era. A large number of QF 6-inch and QF 12-pounder 12 cwt naval gun (3-inch) guns made up secondary and tertiary armament (though at some point a few 6-inchers were traded for 4.7-inchers, but more on this later).

Class leader HMS Powerful was laid down in 1894 at Vickers Limited, Barrow-in-Furness while her sister and the subject of our tale, HMS Terrible, was laid down at the same time at J.& G. Thomson, Clydebank (Glasgow). As such, she was the seventh such RN vessel with that name dating back to 1694.

HMS Powerful Steaming up the English Channel, 1900, Charles Dixon RI

HMS Powerful Steaming up the English Channel, 1900, by maritime painter Charles Dixon RI. Note the black hull, buff stacks/masts, and white superstructure. Both ships of this class carried this scheme through about 1900.

Completed 8 June 1897 at a cost of £740,584, Terrible beat her design top speed of 22 knots on her trials by hitting 22.4 kn over a four-hour period and made  Portsmouth to Gibraltar with an average speed of 18, which was fast for a pre-Dreadnought era cruiser, especially one of some 15,000-tons.

They were stately ships.

The Captain's cabin was ornate

The Captain’s cabin was ornate

HMS Terrible portrait via Royal Grenwich Museum

HMS Terrible portrait via Royal Grenwich Museum

PhotoWW1-05csTerrible1-PS

Note how Terrible differed from the first image in this post as she looked in 1897 in these two images.

HMS_Terrible_QE2_73
Her first use in war came when the Boers kicked it off against the British in South Africa.

In November 1899, HMS Terrible disembarked six naval guns (two 4.7″, 4 12 pounders) at Durban and, accompanied by 280 members of the Naval Brigade, saw them off by train to Ladysmith, just before the Boers closed the ring and began the storied Siege of Ladysmith. The naval guns were to play an important role in disabling the fire from the Boer Long Toms long enough till a relieving column rescued the town some months later.

Her sister HMS Powerful likewise dismounted a contingent and more guns at Simonstown, and under Commander AP Ethelston above became part of a Naval Brigade, with four guns, and several hundred men. They were sent by train to join the army of Lord Methuen, which was following the western Cape Colony railway hoping to rout the Boers blocking its advance to relieve the town of Kimberley, and engaging the Boers at Graspan on 25 November, which left half the force dead or wounded.

HMS TERRIBLE He who sups with me require a devil of a long spoon

HMS TERRIBLE He who sups with me require a devil of a long spoon

Blue_Jackets_HMS_Terrible

Note the straw hats common to RN sailors, coupled with Army style field uniforms

QF_4.7_inch_gun_Colenso Difficulties of trekking with 4'7 Guns

4.7 Naval Gun on Carriage Improvised by Capt. Percy Scott of H.M.S. Terrible. Photo by E. Kennard

4.7 Naval Gun on Carriage Improvised by Capt. Percy Scott of H.M.S. Terrible. Photo by E. Kennard

Trials at Simonstown of 4-7 and 12-pounders on Captain Scott's Improvised Mountings

From “South Africa and the Transvaal War” 1899:

“You may be interested to hear a little about the Navy, who have come to the front as usual and met an emergency. From the first it would seem that what was wanted were long-range guns which could shell the enemy at a distance outside the range of their Mauser rifles, and the captain of the Terrible, therefore, proposed a field-mounting for the Naval long 12-pounder of 12 cwt., which has a much longer range than any artillery gun out here. A pair of waggon wheels were picked up, a balk of timber used as a trail, and in twenty-four hours a 12-pounder was ready for land service. Captain Scott then designed a mounting for a 4.7-inch Naval gun by simply bolting a ship’s mounting down on to four pieces of pile. Experts declared that the 12-pounder would smash up the trail, and that the 4.7-inch would turn a somersault; the designer insisted, however, on a trial. When it took place, nothing of the kind happened, except that at extreme elevation the 12-pounder shell went 9000 yards and the 4.7-inch (lyddite) projectile 12,000 yards. Captain Scott was, therefore, encouraged to go ahead, and four 12-pounders were fitted and sent round to Durban in the Powerful, and also two 4.7-inch guns. People say here that these guns saved the situation at Ladysmith. A Naval friend writing to me from the camp says: ‘The Boers complain that we are not “playing the game”; they only expected to fight rooineks, not sailors who use guns that range seven miles, and they want us to go back to our ships. One of our lyddite shells went over a hill into their camp, killed fourteen men and wounded thirty. Guns of this description are not, according to the Boer idea, at all proper, and[Pg 142] they do not like our way of staggering humanity. Had these guns been landed earlier, how much might have been saved? It is a peculiar sight to see the 4.7-inch fired. Many thought it would turn over, but Captain Percy Scott appears to have well calculated the stresses; there is with a full charge of cordite a slight rise of the fore end, which practically relieves all the fastenings. Hastily put together, and crude as it looks, it really embraces all the points of a scientific mounting, and it wants a great expert to pronounce an opinion on it. The gun is mounted so high that to the uninitiated it looks as if it must turn over on firing, but it does not, and the higher angle of elevation the less strain there is on it. The arrival of our guns practically put the Royal Artillery guns out of use, for they can come into action 2000 yards behind those supplied to the soldiers and then make better practice. Their arrival has, every one admits, quite changed the situation.’

***

“Captain Scott has also rigged up a searchlight on a railway truck with a flasher attachment, the idea being to use it for communication with Kimberley and Ladysmith if these places are surrounded. It has been tested at a distance of forty miles, and proved a great success. I am told, too, that he is now engaged in designing a travelling carriage for a 6-inch gun, and has, indeed, converted the Terrible into a factory for curiosities in gun-mountings.

“Each mounting, by the way, has an inscription upon it, presumably concocted by the ship’s painter. One, a parody upon the Scotch proverb, runs, ‘Those who sup with me will require a devil of a long spoon’; another, ‘For what we are going to receive may the Lord make us truly thankful—Oom Paul’; and a third, ‘Lay me true and load me tight, the Boers will soon be out of sight.’ I saw one of these guns fired with an elevation of 24 degrees and a range of 12,000 yards, and fully expected to see the whole thing capsize, but it hardly moved. After the firing of several rounds I carefully examined the mounting, and noticed that, crude as it might appear, a wonderful amount of practical knowledge was apparent in its construction; the strain was beautifully distributed, every bolt and each balk bearing its proportionate share. It is in every way creditable to the navy that when emergency arises such a thing could be devised and made by the ship’s engineering staff in twenty-four hours.”

Besides her 4.7’s in use, Terrible‘s Marines and Tars manned a series of armored trains that they helped craft.

A British armored train designed and manned by Terrible's crew during the Second Boer War, covered with 6 inch anchor rope, provided by the Royal Navy, to provide it protection. The improvised additional armor was the source of its name, “Hairy Mary.” (Photo from the McGregor Museum)

A British armored train designed and manned by Terrible’s crew during the Second Boer War, covered with 6 inch anchor rope, provided by the Royal Navy, to provide it protection. The improvised additional armor was the source of its name, “Hairy Mary.” (Photo from the McGregor Museum)

Hairy Mary

Royal Navy bluejackets of HMS Terrible pose by an armored train at Durban during the Boer War. Mounted on the flatbed carriage is an improvised signal lamp consisting of a searchlight and shutter mechanism, powered by a dynamo attached to the train. The officer to the right of the image is possibly Capt. Percy Scott RN. The tower of Durban Post Office can be seen in the background. IWM Q 115145

Royal Navy bluejackets of HMS Terrible pose by an armored train at Durban during the Boer War. Mounted on the flatbed carriage is an improvised signal lamp consisting of a searchlight and shutter mechanism, powered by a dynamo attached to the train. The officer to the right of the image is possibly Capt. Percy Scott RN. The tower of Durban Post Office can be seen in the background. IWM Q 115145

Armoured Train manned by Terrible's Marines galleryThey also found time to do a spot of fishing:

Shark caught by Terrible Angler at DurbanThe next year, Terrible sailed for China station where she repeated her efforts ashore though in a smaller scale, during the Boxer Rebellion. On that trip, she carried 300 Tommies of 2 Btln. Royal Welsh Fusiliers and 40 Royal Engineers.

Arriving in Tientsin 21 June 1900, Terrible landed four of her 12 pounders and, with the help of muscle from Col. Bower’s Wei-hai-Wei (1st Chinese) Regiment, engaged in the relief of that city the next month.

1902 Crewmen of HMS Terrible at Hong Kong.

1902 Crewmen of HMS Terrible at Hong Kong. Note the teak decking and that flatcaps have replaced straw hats. The RN was changing…

Returning to the UK, she and her sister were soon obsolete (their 9.2-inch guns were unique) and, after a brief refit, were placed in ordinary in 1904 after less than a decade’s service.

During WWI, she was reactivated and used as a high speed troop transport (sans most of her armament and with reduced crews) in the Med and Northern Africa, bringing as many as 2,000 soldiers at a time to far off ports to support operations in Salonika, Egypt and Palestine.

Great War service had her in a more sedate haze gray

Great War service had her in a more sedate haze gray with only her small casemate guns still mounted.

In 1920, she was disarmed, renamed the ignoble TS Fisgard III (taken from the old central-battery ironclad ex-HMS Hercules), and used as an accommodations and training ship for another decade. She was sold in July 1932 for scrap.

Likewise, Powerful was renamed TS Impregnable in November 1919, and was sold on 31 August 1929 for breaking up.

The teak decking from both of these vessels was extensively salvaged and crafted into everything from ashtrays to inkwells, chairs and desks and are out there, typically with commemorative brass plates in great numbers.

hms terrible teak wood repurpose

Even her bell was sold off.

Her most enduring legacy, and that of her sister Powerful, is the long-running Royal Navy Field Gun competition which has in turn evolved into the Royal Military Tournament race, which celebrates the epic Ladysmith (and later Tientsin) gun train that saw the scratch Naval Brigade manhandle six field guns each weighing nearly half a metric tonne over rough terrain to save their Army brethren.

Although a Majestic-class carrier, HMS Terrible (R93), was to carry on the old cruiser’s memory, that vessel was instead sold to Australia who commissioned her as HMAS Sydney (R17/A214/P214/L134) in 1948. Thus, the Royal Navy has not had a “Terrible” on their active list since 1920 when our old girl took the “Fisgard” moniker.

Speaking of which, TS Fisgard itself remains as the National Sea Cadet Engineering Training Centre aboard RNAS Prestwick.

More information about Terrible, especially her use at Ladysmith, can be found at Anglo-Boer War.com, Roll of Honour and the Royal Museums Greenwich.

Specs:

Ship model HMS Terrible by Oldham Hugh, via IWM

Ship model HMS Terrible by Oldham Hugh, via IWM

Displacement: 14,200 tons deep load
Length:     500 ft. (150 m)
Beam:     71 ft. (22 m)
Draught:     27 ft. (8.2 m)
Propulsion:
Two shafts
4-cylinder VTE steam engines
48 Bellville-type water-tube boilers
25,000 hp
Speed:     22 knots (41 km/h)
Range:     7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h)
Endurance:     3000 tons coal
Complement: 894 (designed). By 1915, ~300.
Armament:     (Largely disarmed 1915)
2 × BL 9.2-inch (233.7 mm) Mk VIII guns
12 × QF 6 in (15.2 cm) guns
16 × 12 pdr 3 in guns
12 × 3 pdr guns
4 torpedo tubes (deactivated 1904)
Armour:
2–6 inches (51–152 mm) deck
6 inches (150 mm) barbettes
6 inches (150 mm) gun shields

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Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of RV Pitchforth

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of RV Pitchforth

Roland Vivian Pitchforth was born in Wakefield, West Yorkshire on 25 April 1895. Studying at the Wakefield School of Art and Leeds College, his formal art education was interrupted by the Great War when Pitchforth volunteered for Wakefield’s own 106th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery.

After seeing the elephant on the Western Front, from which he always carried a hearing loss, he soon became an art instructor himself, teaching at the Clapham School of Art, St Martin’s School of Art and the Royal College of Art in the 1920s and 1930s while producing very British watercolors.

Floods circa 1935 Roland Vivian Pitchforth 1895-1982 Purchased 1938 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N04933

Floods circa 1935 Roland Vivian Pitchforth, From the Tate

View of Harbour - Folkestone circa 1920 Roland Vivian Pitchforth 1895-1982 Bequeathed by the artist 1983 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T03663

View of Harbour – Folkestone circa 1920 Roland Vivian Pitchforth 1895-1982 Bequeathed by the artist 1983. In the Tate collection.

H0267-L00789566

When the Second World War came, the still spry 43-year-old partially deaf art teacher volunteered once more and became an official war artist for the Ministry of Information, and then later for the Admiralty, under the aegis of the War Artists’ Advisory Committee as a temporary captain in the Royal Marines

In the early months of his appointment, he painted coastal boats and seaplanes in action and traveled on convoys to the Azores and Gibraltar, often seeing combat first hand while armed with only a sketchbook.

three Kingfisher seaplanes stand in an aerodrome consisting of corrugated metal hangars painted with camouflage patterns Pitchforth, Roland Vivian

3 Kingfisher seaplanes stand in an aerodrome consisting of corrugated metal hangars painted with camouflage patterns Pitchforth, Roland Vivian

Pitchforth, Roland Vivian Seafox heading down a slipway, surrounded by sailors. Ahead, a second plane is already in the water

Seafox heading down a slipway, surrounded by sailors. Ahead, a second plane is already in the water

Pitchforth, Roland Vivian Protection Pits for Dispersed Aircraft, Lee-on-Solent landbase floatless kingfisher swordfish

Protection Pits for Dispersed Aircraft, Lee-on-Solent, note the landbased float-less Kingfisher in the foreground and the Swordfish in the back

grey-coloured Swordfish sitting on a runway, facing away from the artist Pitchforth, Roland Vivian note the contrasting shadows

Grey-colored Swordfish sitting on a runway, facing away from the artist Pitchforth, Roland Vivian note the contrasting shadows

Hurricane Test Pilots, Henlow

Hurricane Test Pilots, Henlow

Activities begin as soon as the mist blows out to Sea, 1942. In the foreground, a Short Sunderland prepares for take-off on a calm sea. To the right there is a dense wall of pink-colored mist, and further out to sea there are three large ships. This is one of the more artistic war paintings I have seen.

Activities begin as soon as the mist blows out to Sea, 1942. In the foreground, a Short Sunderland prepares for take-off on a calm sea. To the right there is a dense wall of pink-colored mist, and further out to sea there are three large ships. This is one of the more artistic war paintings I have seen.

HMS Brecon escorting an Aircraft carrier from Algiers. Brecon (L76) was a 1,900-ton Hunt-class destroyer of the Royal Navy that was present at almost every major amphibious landing in the Med and took part in the sinking of the German submarines U-450 and U-407.

HMS Brecon escorting an Aircraft carrier from Algiers. Brecon (L76) was a 1,900-ton Hunt-class destroyer of the Royal Navy that was present at almost every major amphibious landing in the Med and took part in the sinking of the German submarines U-450 and U-407.

A Parachute-landing 1940

A Parachute-landing 1940

Motor Gun-boats going on Operations 1943 note the calm turquoise sea

Motor Gun-boats going on Operations 1943 note the calm turquoise sea

Night Exercises in Plymouth Sound

Night Exercises in Plymouth Sound

Motor Gun-boats in a Night Action

Motor Gun-boats in a Night Action

HM Submarine Torbay in Dry Dock at Plymouth, 1942. A T-class sub, Torbay, (N79) had the misfortune of being involved in two incidents regarded by many as war crimes when her skipper was accused of ordering his crew to fire on Axis troops as they swam in the water during Med ops.

HM Submarine Torbay in Dry Dock at Plymouth, 1942. A T-class sub, Torbay, (N79) had the misfortune of being involved in two incidents regarded by many as war crimes when her skipper was accused of ordering his crew to fire on Axis troops as they swam in the water during Med ops.

HMS Eskimo and other Destroyers Fitting Out at Durban. Note how the bollard frames the work and if you didn’t know better, would think is the subject. Eskimo (F75) was a Tribal-class destroyer that was a bruiser. She fought in Norway (losing her bow at Narvik), the Mediterranean (being blown apart by German dive-bombers), the English Channel and in Burma. She chalked up U-971.

HMS Eskimo and other Destroyers Fitting Out at Durban. Note how the bollard frames the work and if you didn’t know better, would think is the subject. Eskimo (F75) was a Tribal-class destroyer that was a bruiser. She fought in Norway (losing her bow at Narvik), the Mediterranean (being blown apart by German dive-bombers), the English Channel and in Burma. She chalked up U-971.

He also covered the war effort at home and the Blitz firsthand when he wasn’t white-knuckling destroyers at sea.

The bomb damaged House of Commons in Westminster after an air raid, 1941

The bomb damaged House of Commons in Westminster after an air raid, 1941

View inside a bombed telephone exchange, filled with piles of wires and rubble 1941

View inside a bombed telephone exchange, filled with piles of wires and rubble 1941

Post office building 1941

Post office building 1941

The City Temple Church, London, EC4

The City Temple Church, London, EC4

Snack Time in a Factory 1941

Snack Time in a Factory 1941

Towards the end of the war, Pitchforth spent most of 1944 in the Med and was sent out to the Far East, witnessing the end-game of the Burma campaign.

Convoy leaving Gibraltar 1944

Convoy leaving Gibraltar 1944

Loading an English Carrier and the French Cruiser ‘Gloire’ at Algiers. This watercolor is particularly interesting for its depiction of ‘dazzle’ painting, a technique designed to disguise the hulls of ships and render them less visible as targets. On 18 September 1940, the ‘Gloire’ was intercepted by the British and brought to port in Casablanca where she was neutralized.

Loading an English Carrier and the French Cruiser ‘Gloire’ at Algiers. This watercolor is particularly interesting for its depiction of ‘dazzle’ painting, a technique designed to disguise the hulls of ships and render them less visible as targets. On 18 September 1940, Gloire’was intercepted by the British and brought to port in Casablanca where she was neutralized and worked with the Allies the rest of the war. Notably, she remained in service into 1958, spending most of her post-WWII life in Indochine waters.

He made numerous watercolors of Colombo Harbor in Ceylon before joining the combined amphibious and airborne attack on Rangoon with the commandos during which he improvised a scheme for painting camouflage on the amphibious landing craft to minimize the threat of airborne attack.

First British Troops in Rangoon 1945. Note the landing craft

First British Troops in Rangoon 1945. Note the landing craft

Picking up a severe lung infection in Burma, he was invalided out in South Africa and remained there until able to travel again in 1948, returning to London.

Cruiser HMS Enterprise at Simonstown, South Africa: Christmas 1945. Enterprise (D52) was an obsolete 7500-ton WWI-era Emerald-class light cruiser brought out of retirement during WWII and used for escort duties and naval gunfire support, firing over 9,000 rounds on D-Day alone. Ironically, the old behemoth sank a German torpedo boat with a torpedo, which is something I didn't know was even possible. When Pitchforth ran across her, she was in the last days of her service, helping return British troops from Asia and Africa before being broken up. Pitchford was in South Africa at this time recovering from his own war aliments. In many ways, when he painted this work, Pitchforth and Enterprise were the same.

Cruiser HMS Enterprise at Simonstown, South Africa: Christmas 1945. Enterprise (D52) was an obsolete 7500-ton WWI-era Emerald-class light cruiser that carried Ethiopian King Haile Selassie into exile in 1937. Brought out of retirement during WWII she was used for escort duties and naval gunfire support, firing over 9,000 rounds on D-Day alone. Ironically, the old behemoth even sank a German torpedo boat with a torpedo, which is the ultimate in irony. When Pitchforth ran across her, she was in the last days of her service, helping return British troops from Asia and Africa before being broken up. Pitchford was in South Africa at this time recovering from his own war aliments. In many ways when he painted this work, Pitchforth and Enterprise were the same.

Now in his 50s and a veteran of both World Wars, Pitchforth returned to teaching for another 20 years, and was made a Senior at the Royal Academy and a member of the Royal Watercolour Society.

He passed in 1982 at age 87.

The Imperial War Museum has 90~ pieces of his art online, many in high rez, while other works are in the MoD collection the GAC, indexed through Art UK and at the Tate in Liverpool.

An extensive bio is here.

Thank you for your work, sir.

Warship Wednesday March 30, 2016: Of Mines and Khartoum

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, March 30, 2016: Of Mines and Khartoum

IWM Q 38999

IWM Q 38999

Here we see the Royal Navy Devonshire-class armored cruiser HMS Hampshire during her brief life. Although a warship in the RN during the toughest period of the Great War at sea, Hampshire is remembered more for whom she carried rather than where she fought.

The Devonshires were a six-pack of mixed armament (4×7.5-inch; 6×6-inch) cruisers that were popular around the 1900s. These 11,000-ton ships were designed to act independent of the main battle fleet and could cruise worldwide and protect sea-lanes from enemy surface raiders, or in turn become a surface raider themselves.

The concept was invalidated in the Russo-Japanese War when Russian armored cruisers failed to make much impact on the extensive Japanese maru fleet, while they were sent to the bottom wholesale in warship v. warship ops. In turn, the armored cruiser concept was replaced by the more traditional all-big-gun fast heavy cruiser, and their flawed cousin the battlecruiser, both of which reigned for some time through WWII.

Still, the Devonshires, though obsolete almost as soon as they were commissioned, gave yeoman service while they were around.

The subject of our tale, Hampshire, was laid down at Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd in Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, 1 September 1902. She was the fourth such warship to carry that name on the fleet list, dating back to a 46-gun ship built in 1653 for Cromwell’s Commonwealth.

Ironically, Hampshire was completed 15 July 1905, just six weeks after the Battle of Tsushima that largely invalidated her existence. Her cost, £833,817.

Page 102 001

After cutting her teeth with the 1st Cruiser Squadron of the Channel Fleet for a few years as a shiny new warship for HM, Hampshire had her hull scraped and boilers reworked before being transferred to Hong Kong to sit the China Station in 1912.

1912

1912, note the awnings for service in the tropics.
See https://deceptico.deviantart.com/art/H-M-S-Hampshire-1912-372335568

There, she waved the flag while keeping an eye on the German armored cruisers of Adm. Maximilian von Spee’s East Asia Squadron, preparing for Der Tag.

IWM Q 38999

IWM Q 38999

When the balloon went up, Hampshire sortied for the German colony of Yap to destroy the wireless station there, on the way sinking the German collier SS Elspeth just seven days after the England joined the war. The lack of coal for Spee’s ships would be an albatross that ultimately ended his squadron. (Note: Hampshire’s sister, HMS Carnarvon, was present at the Battle of the Falklands and got licks in on both Spee’s SMS Gneisenau and Scharnhorst).

While in the Pacific, Hampshire just barely missed an opportunity to sink the much smaller cruiser SMS Emden (4200-tons; 10x105mm guns), however, she did carry that stricken raider’s skipper, Kvtkpn. Karl von Müller, to POW camp in England, while escorting an ANZAC troop convoy through the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea to Egypt.

At Malta

At Malta

Arriving back in home waters in January 1915, Hampshire landed Müller, who was sent on to captivity at the University of Nottingham, then joined the Grand Fleet.

Fighting at Jutland with the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, her 7.5-inchers tried but failed to hit any German ships during that epic surface battle. Likewise, Hampshire herself came away unscathed.

Hms_Hampshire1_krp_net

In July, she was chosen to carry Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, PC, “Baron Kitchener of Khartoum” to Imperial Russia via the White Sea. Kitchener and his staff were to help revitalize the Tsar’s war machine; after all, he was literally the face of the mighty BEF, which had swollen from a small volunteer force of just six infantry divisions to a modern army capable of holding the Kaiser in place on the Western Front.

Kitchener poster LORD KITCHENER SAYS

Lord Kitchener on board HMS Iron Duke at Scapa Flow, about one hour before he sailed on Hampshire

Lord Kitchener aboard HMS Iron Duke at Scapa Flow, about one hour before he sailed on Hampshire. This is believed to be the last image of the legendary soldier.

Leaving Scapa Flow for Archangelsk, Hampshire and her two destroyer escorts ran afoul of a minefield laid by U-75 in May.

There, on 5 June off the mainland of Orkney between Brough of Birsay and Marwick Head, Hampshire struck a single mine and was holed, sinking rapidly in just 15 minutes by the bow, taking 737 members of her crew and passengers to the bottom with her. Only 12 crewmen survived and made it to shore.

Able Seaman (Signalman) William George Waterman Tyneside Z/4464. Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, one of the 737 men lost on HMS Hampshire. IWM image

Able Seaman (Signalman) William George Waterman Tyneside Z/4464. Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, one of the 737 men lost on HMS Hampshire. IWM image

One other purported survivor, Boer spy Frederick “Fritz” Joubert Duquesne, known to history as “The man who killed Kitchener” claimed to have guided a German U-boat to sink the HMS Hampshire via torpedo from shore, though nothing supports that claim.

Duquesne

Duquesne

Attaching himself to Kitchener’s staff, he claimed to have escaped Hampshire alone to be picked up by a waiting U-boat. But anyway…

The news of Kitchener’s loss, coming after the carnage of the Somme, was a blow to the Allied war effort.

_71879567_low_res_10527504_mary_evans

The Wreck of the Hampshire by Geoffrey Stephen Allfree, IWM ART 5252

The Wreck of the Hampshire by Geoffrey Stephen Allfree, IWM ART 5252

Further, without a shot in the arm, the Tsar’s army largely walked away from the war the next year, though not even the hero of Khartoum would likely have changed that.

Remnants of Hampshire are considered relics in the IWM collection.

Fragment of boat belonging to HMS HAMPSHIRE in IWM collection

Fragment of boat belonging to HMS HAMPSHIRE in IWM collection

Royal Navy cap tally found among the effects of Midshipman E E Fellowes. Image via IWM

Royal Navy cap tally found among the effects of Midshipman E E Fellowes. Image via IWM

Fragment of a pinnace, or ship's boat, from the wreckage of the armoured cruiser HMS Hampshire, washed up in Hoy Sound, June 1916. Image via IWM

Fragment of a pinnace, or ship’s boat, from the wreckage of the armored cruiser HMS Hampshire, washed up in Hoy Sound, June 1916. Image via IWM

Located in 180 feet of water, a small gun, some other minor wreckage, and one of her props were illegally salvaged in 1983 but have been recovered and preserved in museums.

HMS Hampshire gun at Marwick Head

HMS Hampshire gun at Marwick Head

hampshire prop

As for her sisters, the five other Devonshires were luckier, with the exception of HMS Argyll, which wrecked on the Bell Rock, 28 October 1915. The four surviving ships were paid off soon after the war and sold for scrap.

Hampshire‘s name, though currently not in use, was bestowed to a County-class guided missile destroyer (D06) in 1963 and scrapped in 1979 after just 16 years service as part of the Labour Government’s severe defense cuts pre-Thatcher.

A memorial, planned by the Orkney Heritage Society is trying to raise £200,000 to more extensively commemorate the ship.

Image via Orkney Heritage Society

Image via Orkney Heritage Society

Some 737 names will be inscribed in panels on the wall, which will arc around the tower, with a separate panel for the staff of Lord Kitchener – and another one bearing the names of nine men killed on the drifter Laurel Crown, which was blown up in June 1916 while trying to clear the minefield.

Specs:

BR hampshire 1
Displacement: 10,850 long tons (11,020 t) (normal)
Length: 473 ft. 6 in (144.3 m) (o/a)
Beam: 68 ft. 6 in (20.9 m)
Draught: 24 ft. (7.3 m)
Installed power:
21,000 ihp (16,000 kW)
17 Yarrow boilers; 6 cylindrical boilers
Propulsion:
2 × Shafts
2 × 4-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines
Speed: 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph)
Complement: 610
Armament:
4 × single BL 7.5-inch (191 mm) Mk I guns
6 × single BL 6-inch (152 mm) Mk VII guns
2 × single 12-pounder (3-inch, 76 mm) 8 cwt guns
18 × single QF 3-pounder (47 mm) Hotchkiss guns
2 × single 18-inch (45 cm) torpedo tubes
Armour:
Belt: 2–6 in (51–152 mm)
Decks: .75–2 in (19–51 mm)
Barbettes: 6 in (152 mm)
Turrets: 5 in (130 mm)
Conning tower: 12 in (305 mm)
Bulkheads: 5 in (127 mm)

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