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She was carrying a full load of fuel. VP took off at dawn March 25 th. Found ship N. Ship sank at Z. VP continued to search during day with no sign of survivors. April 1. As it was no longer useful in this role the US Navy was allowed to use the Island from to as a submarine base. May 1. The US Navy issued this optimistic image of its Brewster Bermuda or Buccaneer aircraft , despite its later limited success. The ship James E. May 6. Luckily, the ship sank slowly. While 12 people lost their lives, made it to five lifeboats. At dawn on the second day, a liner came towards the lifeboats at high speed and sailed away just as quickly.
It was the Queen Mary, pressed into service as a fast troopship, on her way to New York and unable to stop because of the danger from lurking submarines. As a result, the service stopped until When the USS Owl arrived in Hamilton that morning with rescued passengers from German U-boat torpedoed ships including the Lady Drake mentioned earlier , a reception was held for them. The Mayor of Hamilton, S. Along Front Street were lined ambulances from the U. Mobile Base Hospital. The Director of Health, Dr. Henry Wilkinson, and civilian, army and navy doctors were there. The grim event was not without its light touch.
Among the survivors was a Greek prisoner who was in the brig of the torpedoed ship. He is now comfortable in Hamilton Gaol. May 7. He was posted to the Island to protect the country as well as the shipping supply convoys from enemy submarines lurking in the Atlantic. Within a year of his deployment he married Bermudian Rosemary Champness and went on to start a family and call the Island home. Conscription began in Bermuda for all fit men below a certain age. One result was that it swelled the ranks of the Bermuda Militia Artillery to five offers and other ranks.
Catherine Sophia Perinchief, who owned 8. Later, she made local history as a friend of a German submarine captain captured and interned in Bermuda. The ship Frank B. June 7. Both ships were looking for survivors from the cargo ship Westmoreland, also sunk by the same German U boat. They included 22 members of the crew from the USS Gannet sunk the previous day.
Battery A was stationed at the one-time British Army post of Fort Langton in Devonshire and its main firepower weaponry were four mm howitzers. At that time, this was the only mobile artillery in Bermuda and was vital to the Land Defence. A howitzer could fire a pound projectile up to 12, yards and its high trajectory was its main advantage over coast artillery for local defence.
The unit's men were based there until April, When not engaged in military drills they discovered and unearthed from the moat of the fort three mid to late 19th century inch Rifled Muzzle Loaders British Army guns, which had comprised the seaward emplacements of the Fort in the s. These historic guns were later moved to Fort Hamilton. Dickman, accompanied by two destroyer escorts, also brought the rd Signal Aircraft Warning Company. Battery A was under the command of Captain Frederick W.
Clipper, who a year later married a prominent Bermudian lady. It was a direct hit but the depth charge did not explode in impact. It lodged itself into the teak planking of the submarine's deck. When the submarine submerged to try to escape the charge detonated when it reached its pre-set trigger depth.
None of the 54 crew survived. The submarine, launched from Bremen in October , had gone on only two combat patrols but had sink 17 ships totaling , gross registered tons. One of those ships had been the Darina, sunk about miles east southeast of Bermuda on May 4, July 3. Bermudian West, George Wendell, died in at Timor from war wounds. HMS Bermuda, a Colony class cruiser , displacement 11, tons, overall length ft 6", with twelve six inch guns in four triple turrets.
Late summer. The Riddle's Bay area, which had formerly been used as a golf course and resort area, was rehabilitated and equipped as a recreational area for US naval personnel. Concurrent with the construction program underway at the several areas leased by the Navy, the Army was developing Kindly Field, on Long Bird Island, at the eastern end of Bermuda. At this airfield the Army, pursuant to Joint Board directives, provided all landplane facilities constructed at Bermuda, including those used specifically by naval aircraft. Here, within the base area, the Army contractor, on a reimbursable basis, built facilities for the temporary support of one carrier air group of 90 planes.
These included barracks for men and officers, messing facilities, storage buildings, nose hangars, and radio aids. Inasmuch as Bermuda had no fresh water from ground sources, it was obtained for the air station and the operating base by use of seven evaporating units with a daily capacity of 50, gallons, and a system of rain-water catchment areas, which, including roof areas, totaled 20 acres.
The water thus collected was stored in reservoirs and chlorinated before entering the distribution system. Southlands, located along the south shore line of Hamilton Island, was secured under a short term lease for the development of an anti-aircraft training school. Construction included a night-vision training building, repair shops, magazine loading sheds, magazines, instruction buildings, and barracks, gun platforms and control tower, roads, walks, and services.
This activity was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in January October 1. While in Bermuda and based at the Dockyard, she carried several Supermarine Walrus flying boats, one of which was launched on a training run. But the aircraft crashed into the sea of Daniel's Head and the rear gunner was killed. They were never seen again. November 8. At one point it seemed the French might strike back against the British but they did not. The fortresses had been shelled to render them ineffective to the German forces who were about to enter defeated France.
December 4. They were brought in because construction of the Bermuda bases had slowed, due to difficulties in getting enough civilian construction workers in both the USA and Bermuda. They ensured the completion of all activities at the air operating base, air station, and submarine base in St. George's and their full use. December In the UK, an excess of pilots who had volunteered to serve from throughout the British Commonwealth of Nations meant that the Bermuda Flying School BFS established in was advised that no further pilots were required.
Bertram Work, one of its mainstays, and Major Montgomery-Moore oversaw the conversion of its administration into a recruiting arm for the Royal Canadian Air Force RCAF , sending sixty aircrew candidates to that service before the war's end. Major Montgomery-Moore had been dispatched to Canada to make arrangements for it to send its aircrew candidates, and he was to receive a commendation from the RCAF at the end of the war for his efforts.
It was a German submarine hunter. It attempted a pass over the target area on the Great Sound and unexpectedly dove into the water at a high rate of speed near Grace Island. The entire eight-man crew was killed in the first-ever deadly air crash in Bermuda. The 49th Naval Construction Battalion Seabees , with 27 officers and 1, men, arrived a month before the contract's termination, to augment the 31st Naval Construction Battalion which had arrived two months earlier in Bermuda. Together the battalions completed such unfinished projects as roads, utilities, grading, accessory buildings, and general clean-up.
In addition, they undertook the operation, maintenance, and repair of the entire naval establishment under the cognizance of the US Navy's Public Works Department. Once construction was finished these two units served under the US Navy's Bermuda Public Works Department and took over maintenance, repair, and operational duties for all U. Naval activity in Bermuda. The first officer was killed outright, and the navigator wounded. Stafford succeeded in landing the aeroplane two miles offshore, still under fire. Three, including Stafford, were pulled from the water by French fisherman.
The bodies of two other crewmen washed up two days later, and the third three weeks later. April 8. Construction of the US Bases in Bermuda under the-then-operable contract was terminated and a new contract negotiated with the original contractors to complete several major items of dredging still unfinished.
This second contract remained active until June 28, HMS Queen of Bermuda , after having served in various roles including taking badly wounded Australian soldiers back home, sailed of the Clyde to Glasgow, Scotland, where she was paid off as an Armed Merchant Cruiser, with her engines no longer able to keep up speed in convoy and related duties. She was replaced by newer, faster and smaller warships and once again became a troopship until long after the war ended. HMS Argonaut called into the South Yard for repairs after having her entire stern and part of her bow blown off by an Italian submarine.
Bermuda hosted a day conference on European refugees, one remembered by Jewish chroniclers abroad because at that time there were only a few Jews in Bermuda for avoiding the issue rather than for doing anything to save the lives of Jews and other Holocaust victims. Its abject failure to achieve anything is also believed to be one of the main reasons for the suicide a few weeks later of Szmul Zygielbojm, a member of the Polish government-in-exile, who made it his mission to tell the world about the Holocaust.
Shrouded in secrecy, held significantly at the same time as the heroic Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto -- the meeting brought together small delegations from the United States and Great Britain following persistent reports that Jews were being murdered wholesale by the Nazis. Despite this, there were clear instructions to minimize coverage in the local or international media. The delegates gathered to discuss what could be done, and yet did nothing to deal with the situation. Neither side was willing to allow Jewish refugees to come to their country.
The Allies feared that Hitler would land them with millions of Jewish refugees, forcing the diversion of ships away from the war effort to take the fugitives to safety. The only thing they were really willing to do was to help the Jews who had already saved themselves by reaching Spain. The gathering ended without saving a single Jew. Unwilling to give full credence to the reports of Jewish genocide, the delegates were instructed to discuss the problem of European refugees generally.
That little would come from the conference was presaged by a telegram from a British official to the Bermudian hosts: "Our point of view which is being made clear to Americans is that excessive publicity is to be deprecated as calculated to raise exaggerated hopes. Outcome of meeting which must perforce be of a largely exploratory character. A lower ranking delegation was sent by the United States. Scott Lucas D-Ill and Rep. Sol Bloom. As the Bermuda government only hosted the meeting but played no role in its proceedings, its archives do not include reports of what went on inside the meetings.
An article in the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust -- forwarded to Heritage by officials at the U.
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Holocaust Memorial Museum -- said the choice of Bermuda as the venue was calculated. Feingold, author of The Politics of Rescue. Wise, head of the American and World Jewish congresses; and the fact that the State Department limited the number of press correspondents to five, representing the major news agencies, convinced even the most hopeful rescue advocates mostly, but not exclusively, American Jewish groups that the Bermuda Conference would be simply a ploy to deflect an aroused public opinion. Backer tried to get the conference to back aggressive rescue efforts, specifically proposing a campaign to save ", Jews in eastern Europe who faced certain death" as well as pleading "to save thousands of children who could assure a Jewish future.
Instead of sympathy for Jews and other victims, "both delegations manifested the fear that Berlin would 'dump' refugees with the Allies and use them as a weapon to compromise the Allied drive for final victory," according to the encyclopedia article's author. Subsequently "The American Jewish press was virtually unanimous in condemning the conference," he wrote. Public protest, rather than being stilled, reached new heights. Later, the rest of the world reacted with disdain and anger to what had transpired on the Island.
Conference members gathered in Bermuda for the event mentioned above. How it was condemned by a prominent New York newspaper Death in Italy of Bermudian prisoner-of-war Outerbridge, James. Born 5 September Family lived in Flatts, Bermuda. Accepted for Rhodes Scholarship but was interrupted by war. Flying Officer, Royal Air Force. It took off from Luqa at about hours on March 24, but either had an engine failure or was struck by enemy fire. It ditched off the coast of Sicily.
Killed, shot 1 May while attempting to escape from Allied P. He may have been trying to get to San Marino, then a neutral state 20 kilometres away. During his attempt to escape he was seen and intercepted by a guard who shot and killed him. His body was later identified formally in the mortuary chamber of the Axis military hospital of Rimini. His name is engraved on a tombstone in the military cemetery of Ravenna, Italy, see photo below. Less than a month after the Bermuda Conference re Jewish refugees and Holocaust victims had ended, Szmul Zygielbojm, a member of the Polish government-in-exile, who made it his mission to tell the world about the Holocaust, took his own life at his home beside Porchester Square, London.
He was said to be dismayed by the failure of the conference and had learnt that his wife, Manya, and their son, Tuvia, had died inside the Ghetto. Wedding of Captain Frederick W. The introduction to Bermuda of a mosquito larvae-eating minnow in places including the Pembroke Canal. The American yacht Colonel G. Ball, formerly the Sialia, later Egeria, was wrecked on the eastern side of Bermuda. At the time she was wrecked she belonged to the US Army Transportation Corps and used as a harbor boat. She had been caught in a storm and taken way out to sea. They went on to have eight children and remained married until his death on 25 December It is believed that Bermuda is of as great importance in the Atlantic as Pearl Harbor is in the Pacific.
Bermuda issued a St. David's Lighthouse postage stamp. David's Lighthouse 3d postage stamp. Young 38 , straw-haired, a scion of the house of Cecil, which has furnished Britain with some of its most distinguished statesmen and soldiers. His father was the earlier Marquis of Exeter; from him it was expected that some day Lord Burghley would inherit enormous estates in Northamptonshire and Rutlandshire. His wife was a sister of the Duchess of Gloucester. He was a former Conservative Member of Parliament and a former British Olympian who competed in the , and the Olympics where he won a silver medal in the 4x metre relay.
His life story as an athlete was depicted in the epic film, Chariots of Fire , which won four Academy Awards, in which the character Lord Andrew Lindsay was based on the life of this Lord Burghley. The aircraft was from the same company that built the Spitfire.
A new church school, the Bermuda Institute, began, under the vision of the Southampton Seventh-day Adventist church at their Jews Bay location. It then had an enrolment of twenty-six students and one teacher. Many new plant species were introduced to Bermuda. In addition, the new law allowed them to cast ballots and vie for the offices of Mayor, Aldermen and Common Councillors in the municipalities of Hamilton and St. What women had done in Bermuda in contribution to the war effort was the major factor. They assumed a significant share of public responsibility and deserved to be treated as equals at last in voting.
The extension of the franchise to women notwithstanding, the increased number of voters on the electoral role amounted to less than three thousand. The first women to vote did so at a by-election in Paget later that year, on October 4. Gordon was formed. The association fought for trade union rights and was committed to the removal of segregation and the adoption of universal adult suffrage.
February 5. They were flying Wellington bombers. They were accompanied by Mrs. Peggy Wingood, wife of Allan Wingood, and their baby daughter Katherine. Americans took over censorship of mail passing through Bermuda, and most of the censors returned to the United Kingdom. Around 60 chose to remain in Bermuda. During the time here the Bermuda censors helped to catch over 40 German spies operating out of the United States. The Parliamentary Committee on Emigration issued a report noting that due to over-population, Government should look for places where Bermudians could emigrate.
Lord Burghley, British Governor of Bermuda, and Lady Burghley, at the celebration marking the third anniversary of the founding of the U. Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, spoke at the event. Bermuda's House of Parliament enacted the women's right to vote. Bermuda Mystery movie released in USA.
The authorities in Bermuda declared that the man died of natural causes, prompting Connie to travel to New York City in order to dig deeper into the circumstance surrounding his death. Americans took over from British censors then based in Bermuda the censorship of mail passing through Bermuda, and most of the censors returned to the United Kingdom. During their time here the Bermuda censors helped to catch over 40 German spies operating out of the United States.
An Armed Forces Radio Station, which used the call sign WXLQ , transmitting on the kcs medium wave band frequency, went on the air from Kindley, for a two-year stint. At the same time and as a consequence, the Bermuda Government station, which had operated from a studio in the Walker Arcade in Hamilton since the war started in September, , finally went off the air.
The USS Guadalcanal could not attack without damaging itself so Captain Gallery moved the ship quickly out of harm's way. As the sonar crew maintained contact with the submerged U, the USS Chatelain attacked with a salvo of 24 hedgehogs that missed. While the USS Chatelain opened the range to turn and make another attack, two fighter planes from the USS Guadalcanal fired their guns into the water to help mark the location of the submerged U It was the opening saga in a major event that was soon to impact on Bermuda.
She went into service in , with a range of 13, nautical miles. She was captured off western Africa, towed to Bermuda and hidden, with no news of its capture until the end of the war in Europe on May 7, She was one of the U-boats which had departed from a massive concrete submarine pen at an occupied French port.
Commanded by Oberleutnant Harald Lange, she was commissioned in August She was on her 12th patrol, having sunk eight vessels over those voyages. In February , Lange took the boat south to the sea lanes off southwest Africa to prey on supply vessels bound for Europe with supplies such as iron ore. On this day she was intercepted by TF Lange brought the damaged boat to the surface to save his men and thus surrendered, actions for which he was for a time after the war ostracized at Hamburg, although they had taken all standard procedures to scuttle the boat.
Once the Germans had abandoned the U, Task Group Some of the crews rescued the surviving German sailors from the sea. One whaleboat from the USS Pillsbury pulled up alongside the damaged sub. The crew's mission was to board the U-boat, overpower any remaining German sailors and take control of the submarine. It was an incredibly dangerous operation. The U-boat was going in circles, she was flooding with seawater and was most likely rigged with explosive charges intended to prevent her capture. It was the first time since that the US Navy had captured an enemy vessel at sea and was both the first and only submarine captured but not sunk by the US Navy.
The men of TF Hohne, Signalman, Third Class. Capture of U US Navy photos. Some of the captured U German Navy crew. US Navy photo. It took him more than a year to escape from France and return home. He authored an account of his adventures published in the Bermuda Historical Quarterly in There, the men trained for action in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. It was there that the contingent suffered its first casualty, Private Winston Baxter, buried at Pompeii. It was built in Bermuda saw Juniperus bermudiana, the Bermuda cedar, start to die at an alarming rate due to two species of insect.
The oyster-shell scale found in the East End and the juniper scale found in Paget had been introduced accidentally in , and cedars were dying throughout the island. The Bermuda Cedar Blight would claim more than three million trees, and by , 99 percent of cedars had been eradicated by the invasive species. Black Bermudians purchased the Brunswick Hotel in Hamilton for blacks. Other blacks began opening restaurants and small guesthouses and driving taxis. Other blacks like the Talbot Brothers and Sidney Bean enjoyed success as entertainers by selling black culture to white visitors.
Bermudian soldier Winston C. Baxter , while on active service, died in Italy and was buried at Pompeii. He had volunteered for and was serving in the Bermuda Militia Infantry. The 1st Battalion Caribbean Regiment, including its Bermuda Contingent , went from Italy for Egypt, guarding German prisoners-of-war, on the then-troopship Queen of Bermuda and another ship the Ormond. They spent 14 months in Egypt. Early October. Major Smith was one of 12 children, five of whom saw active military duties in two world wars.
Meanwhile, his family struggled to make ends meet during the war from their home in the United States and then in Bermuda. He sought shelter in a barn in Holland, which the Germans set fire. His tags and a picture of his girlfriend identified him. Direct taxation for Bermuda was the subject a major debate in the House of Assembly. The establishment of an income tax department was moved by Henry P. Vesey as chairman of the Finance Committee. He pointed out that customs duties were exceedingly high and had a direct impact on the cost of living.
He suggested relief in this area by imposing, in the place of customs duties, a form of income tax to spread the burden of taxation more evenly. The motion was defeated. Also thrown out were land tax and inheritance tax. Both Mr. Vesey and Mr. Eldon H. Trimingham, as Deputy chairman of the Finance Committee, submitted their resignations from the latter, as they had submitted their recommendations on a matter of principle and had the courage to believe it was the right thing to do.
Mr Arthur St. He was presented with his insignia by the then acting Governor the Hon. An American Army Hospital ship got stuck in the reefs off Bermuda. Howard Academy began in Bermuda as a place for secondary education for black children. The Wellington bomber in which he was serving crashed into the village of Norton, near Evesham, Worcestershire, England, shortly after taking off from nearby Honeybourne, bound for Germany.
He was buried in Norton. He received leg injuries when bombs hit a building in which he was he was attending inside. When British troops of the 11th Armored Division, who included a number of Bermudians who had volunteered for overseas service during this Second World War and were serving with the Lincolnshires, entered the fairy tale town of Celle in Lower Saxony, Germany, they found themselves on the threshold of hell.
The troops who liberated Bergen-Belsen that day found themselves face to face with mountainous jackstraw heaps of emaciated corpses, diseased survivors who envied the dead and the ruins of a diabolical philosophy predicated on the perverse notion that mass human sacrifice could renew and purify Germany. There were no gas chambers at Bergen-Belsen or any of the other ghastly apparatus of mechanized slaughter which the Nazis installed at other camps.
Tens of thousands of Jews, Czechs, Poles, anti-Nazi Christian activists and others died there in the two years Bergen-Belsen was in operation as a concentration camp. Among the casualties was Anne Frank, the young Dutch Jewish diarist. She is thought to have died just a few weeks before the British entered Bergen-Belsen. One of the Bermudians who took part in the liberation of Bergen-Belsen reflected on his life-changing experiences at the camp complex in a letter he wrote late in life to his son. Late April. May 2. Unlike all other Bermudians, he served in the US Army.
Pictured below. He was later responsible for the negotiation and design of the first Civil Air Terminal, subsequently becoming the first Director of Civil Aviation. He predeceased her in March She moved to Bermuda as a child with her parents, who took up a posting in Bermuda, and lived at Avocado Lodge, Corkscrew Hill. After Germany surrendered unconditionally, World War 2 in Europe ended, to the joy of Bermudians and those elsewhere in the world.
But it carried on for two more months in the Pacific. The United States Navy stationed in Bermuda celebrated with a march-past and parade in the City of Hamilton, as this photo shows, from news that US Navy aircraft based on aircraft carriers in the Pacific had fire-bombed Japan in a mass attack. In the background of this Queen Street photo is the old Hamilton Hotel. US Navy official photo of that parade After World War 2, the two aircraft Luscombe fleet of the former Bermuda Flying School became the basis for a short-lived flying club, with additional Luscombes being added.
With the war having improved the economy in so many ways, the capital funds of both the Bank of Bermuda Ltd and Bank of N. Reforms were enacted that achieved a doubling of the number of stockholders and with pension and benefit programs instituted for bank staff. Thousands died in the explosions and after from radiation sickness and other injuries.
But the atomic bombs succeeded in their purpose, to force the unconditional surrender two days later of the Japanese and end the war.. Gordon, MCP, President of the Bermuda Workers Association, a Trinidadian doctor of medicine who had studied at Edinburgh University, qualified in Britain and then settled in Bermuda, hand-delivered a petition to the Secretary of State of the British Government for democracy for Bermuda's working class and mostly black population. In his petition he said: "When only 2. Democracy is a mockery as far as Bermuda is concerned. In Bermuda, many members of the House of Assembly were outraged Elbow Beach Cycles was established.
The shop started out renting push bikes, then 50cc motorbikes and then scooters. He was commissioned as a pilot on March 25, and was transferred to the th Fighter Group D at Waycross, Georgia, on April 5, In order to avoid Japanese submarines en route, the ship took 28 days to reach India. However, after the first two weeks, the ship ran out of a variety of foods and had to put into Hobart, Tasmania to take on provisions.
At Bombay, the three squadrons were taken by bus to Karachi where their disassembled P planes had been shipped. Built by North American Aviation now part of Boeing , the P was underpowered until a suggestion by the Royal Air Force that they be powered by the Rolls Royce Merlin engine transformed the P into a major aviation attack weapon.
Members of the unit flew to their base, Dinjan Airfield, located in northeastern India, to the west of the Naga Hills that separated India from Burma. He was stationed at Dinjan for one year. Missions were against enemy aircraft and to destroy ground targets, primarily in Japanese-held Burma. Raymond flew 70 combat missions during the twelve months from the summer of and was awarded the Air Medal 25 combat missions flown and the Distinguished Flying Cross 50 combat missions flown by the United States Army Air Force. In mid, Lieut. Correia received orders to return to the United States.
Eustace Cann moved an amendment to the draft legislation, which, if agreed to by both Houses of the Legislature, would have eliminated the property vote altogether and made universal adult suffrage a reality. Its rejection by the House of Assembly by an overwhelming margin of twenty-five to three revealed that the majority of the members were certainly not ready for any changes to the status quo. During debate on the same Bill, Dr. Cann also moved an amendment which was defeated in the House of Assembly by twenty-six votes to five to eliminate plural voting, a feature of the electoral system which entitled electors to cast ballots in any of the parishes where they owned property satisfying the voting criteria.
This entitlement resulted in elections spanning a period of days to allow multiple landowners the time to cast their ballots at the various polling stations located throughout the island. The legislation, which was returned to the House of Assembly by the Legislative Council on a number of occasions with recommended amendments before finally being passed by both Houses, contained a number of interesting features.
A different set of criteria applied to election candidates. D elegates from the United States and the United Kingdom met at Hamilton, Bermuda, to resolve issues remaining from the Chicago meeting. Senior officials of Britain's Ministry of Aviation and the United States Civil Aviation met to agree on British and American airline routes across the Atlantic and into each country's territories.
It was the first of what became later several subsequent aviation agreements to which Bermuda lent her name. The earlier Chicago meeting which had involved some 52 countries had been unable to reach agreement on any but the most fundamental points at issue in post-war international civil air transport. It had agreed the first two Freedoms of civil air transport. It was clear to aviation planners in both countries that there would be considerable post-war development of civilian air traffic across the Atlantic.
Rapid wartime development of civil aircraft especially landplanes such as the Douglas DC4 and DC6 the Boeing Stratocruiser and Lockheed Constellation meant that future routes between the two countries would use runways, many developed during the war as refueling points for USAAF Boeing Fortresses on delivery runs to operational bases in England and North Africa. The new airliners could carry substantially greater payloads than the flying boats, allowing for both more passengers and greater fuel loads providing longer range.
But no civil transport aircraft at that time could fly the Atlantic without refueling. The British controlled several useful airports necessary for the development of American civil air transport in the s. The most important was Gander in Newfoundland, still a British colony, used until the dawn of the jet age by virtually all transatlantic flights.
Bermuda as well as being a destination in its own right was also useful as a staging point as was Prestwick near Glasgow, in Scotland, which had good weather conditions. A new airport at Heathrow near London was under construction which would be useful as a hub for airline traffic through to Continental Europe and the Middle East. The Bermuda meeting between the two wartime allies was arranged in order to facilitate the development of post-war air traffic across both the Atlantic and Pacific.
The questions are i Whether the influence of a magnet which could be carried by a fish would be effective; and a Whether the scheme is possible from the 'fish' point of view. The latter favoured catching skates and rays, "which are large, hardy, and will survive much handling. The cares of office had not robbed the Admiral of his sense of humour, and in due course the author of this imagina- tive scheme received the following formal reply: 1. As a first step in the development of this idea it is proposed to establish a School for Flat Fish at the R.
College, Dartmouth. Candidates for this course should be entered in the first place as Pro- bationary Flat Fish, and these poor fish would be confirmed in their rank on showing their proficiency by exploding a mine. A very suitable source of candidates to tap would be the Angel Fish of Bermuda, which, though flat, swim in a vertical plane.
With the success of this scheme it may be necessary to control fried-fish shops. It is requested that you will forward, through the usual chan- nels, proposals as to the necessary accommodation, and a suggested syllabus of the Course. The sponsor of this novel plan reluctantly concluded that the Admiralty were unable to recognize a good idea when they saw one, and the skates and rays never contributed to the war effort after all! Within a month, and despite such well-intentioned distractions, the team at Vernon had established the principle of degaussing ves- sels by passing current through cables permanently fixed to their hull.
Devising a practical technique for sweeping the mines presented much greater difficulties. Professor B. Haigh, Professor of Mech- anical Engineering at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, was the first to hit on the idea of two minesweepers towing floating parallel cables through which violent pulses of electricity could be discharged to detonate the mines, but his scheme involved the use of so many thousand horse-power of electricity that special power plants would have been needed.
Menhinick,in Army uniform, is standing immediately behind the Naval officer in the foreground. Charles Frederick Goodeve was a Canadian, now in his middle thirties. He had come to England twelve years earlier on an Empire scholarship, and when war broke out he was Reader in Physical Chemistry at University College, London. He had also made rapid progress as a private consultant in chemical and electrical engineer- ing.
If science absorbed Charles Goodeve's working hours the Navy was his dominant interest outside them. One of five children, he had been brought up in Winnipeg, on the Red River, which flows north to 3OO-mile-long Lake Winnipeg, with its fascinating, picturesque islands and beaches. His father was a Church of England parson, and his parents, always hard up, solved the holiday problem by building a cottage on the lake.
There the children spent months every year, eating the lake fish they caught and the abundant fruit. Charles, an unsociable boy older than his years, would disappear for weeks on end, covering hundreds of miles in boats or canoes with his Husky dog as his only companion. As soon as he could he joined the Canadian Navy's Volunteer Reserve. In those early days he had no interest in the technical side. For him the Navy spelt excitement and adventure, and every year he spent three golden summer months afloat, either in the Patrician, an ancient destroyer, or in a minesweeper, where he soon found himself, to his intense pride, second in command.
At that time two old des- troyers, discarded by the Royal Navy after the First World War, and four minesweepers comprised the entire Canadian Fleet, but its youngest commissioned officer was given a thorough grounding in navigation and seamanship. In spite of these halcyon days as a naval reservist, life was far from easy for young Charles Goodeve.
His father's health broke down, and, with the family hard put to it to make ends meet, he left school early and apprenticed himself to a firm of Chartered Accountants in Winnipeg. His mother was determined that after a while he should return to college; Charles, tasting the first delights of financial inde- pendence, had no intention of surrendering his freedom. But Mrs Goodeve was an astute tactician. As soon as the family's resources permitted she got him fired from the job, and back he went to study electrical engineering. Soon he switched to science. His naval training had increased his self- reliance, and he was beginning to shed the unsociability and intro- spection of his boyhood years.
Already he had an astonishingly clear, analytical mind which quickly rejected the non-essential and gave perspective and ready significance to what remained. At nineteen he was lecturing at the University of Manitoba, mightily relieved that his hair was prematurely grey! At twenty-three he held the degree of Master of Science and the Gold Medal of the Engineering Institute of Canada, awarded for spectacularly successful research work into the cause of a disastrous explosion in the city central-heating system.
In the same year he won a scholarship to University College, Lon- don. There he was destined to spend the next twelve years. Before leaving Canada, however, there was one goal which he desperately wanted to attain. He had been long waiting for a chance to take his final Navigation test, and a few weeks before sailing for England he was ordered to report at Esquimalt. He was to take the ancient Patrician to sea, carry out certain manoeuvres, and anchor her in the Bay. After sleepless nights, going through every detail of procedure and word of command, the great day had come.
The Patrician had been undergoing major repairs to her engines, a not infrequent occurrence, but when Goodeve went on board and asked anxiously whether she would be ready for sea he was told that all was well. You're to take her out of harbour at ," said the captain to the nervous candidate.
At Goodeve gave his first orders. It was the end of the veteran. Patrician's main engine connexions had burst asunder. Young Goodeve climbed sadly down from the bridge. He was never again to have the opportunity of gaining the "N" that he coveted, but England, which offered vastly greater scope to the scientist, widened the experience of the sailor too. Goodeve trans- ferred to the R. By the wardroom talk was of war. Now he sensed a changing atmosphere during his spells afloat, an awareness of the approaching storm which gave a new urgency to the training programme.
Dissatisfied with his old complacency, Goodeve started planning to use his scientific proficiency. He qualified as a Torpedo specialist in the Defiance at Devonport: by the time war broke out he had been right round the Navy, studying tactics, inves- tigating technical problems, and arguing long into the night with any senior officers he could provoke into debate on the part which science would play in the war at sea.
In peace-time the average serv- ing officer tends to look upon change with ill-concealed suspicion, and Goodeve's theories startled the conservatively minded members of many wardrooms. But he made friendships which were to stand him in good stead. Two regular officers in particular, Commander C. Vernon, took the young Canadian under their wing. Curry, sharp-featured and staccato of speech, was an electrical specialist with a supreme contempt for orthodoxy.
He was an all- rounder, intensely keen on technical progress and a fine seaman, who taught Goodeve much about the finer points of sailing a dinghy. Captain Denis Boyd was another whom Goodeve found particularly receptive to new ideas, and it was a happy chance that sent Goodeve to work under him at Vernon when the war was still only a few hours old.
When he arrived at Portsmouth a team which included Dr A. Wood, of the Naval Mine Design Department later to be joined by Dr Edward Bullard 1 was hard at work on magnetic-mine counter-measures. In the early stages Goodeve himself was more closely concerned with a projected screen for countering magnetic torpedoes, but when the snag developed in Haigh's design of the Double L Sweep the plan for towing electrically charged cables astern of a pair of minesweepers he was brought into the discus- sions.
Sifting through the mass of intricate calculations passed to him, and wondering how Haigh's ingenious plan could be made to work, he came across a paper by a young scientist named Tuck. This sug- gested a means of reducing the power needed for the Double L Sweep very substantially. Here was a vital clue. If Tuck's scheme could be modified, applied to Haigh's basic idea, and combined with the electrodes used in the torpedo screen they had the answer to the magnetic mine.
I've got a problem here which is right in your line. Pick up a rail voucher, and I'll meet you off the train which gets into Portsmouth at After four days of trial and error on paper, checking and counter-checking calculations, they thought they had the answer. Now it was a question of giving the apparatus they had designed a practical test. Would the current flowing back through the sea from the Double L Sweep cancel out the current still coming from the cables? That was the first thing Goodeve had to be certain about; Guggenheim, checking his figures for the tenth time, was encourag- ingly confident.
For the trial they needed a calm stretch of water where they could work undisturbed and it had to be sea water. Right on the spot in Portsmouth was the ideal place the Canoe Lake, where small boys sailed their model yachts but security was the snag. The Canoe Lake was in full view of the public, and overlooked by near-by houses.
Any attempt to screen it off would undoubtedly attract atten- tion, and it was important that the sailors helping with the trial should not realize what was happening. So Goodeve thought up an ingenious cover-plan. In the deepest of confidence the sailors and police were told that a new secret device for detecting enemy ships was being tried. A large number of models were launched on to the waters of the lake, some floating proudly as the schoolboys' yachts, and some mounted on pieces of wood.
It was a bitterly cold winter day, and ice had to be swept aside before the trial could start. Of all the gathering on the lakeside only Goodeve and two assis- tants knew what was afoot. They had brought with them a large box. In it was the mechanism of the German magnetic mine which Quvry had brought from its resting-place on the mud-bank at Shoe- buryness.
This could not be placed on the bed of the lake; the water was too shallow. So they decided to reverse the normal procedure, the Double L Sweep wires being strung out along the bottom of the 1 Since Professor of Chemistry at Reading University. The mine itself, hidden in its box, was lifted into one of the rowing-boats, and as the sailors hauled their model ships to and fro the boat carrying the mine and three tense observers moved slowly among them. When they had been afloat, ostensibly engrossed in the move- ments of the models, long enough to allay any interest on the part of the spectators they pulled towards the head of the lake.
Goodeve bent over the instruments connected to the mine mechanism. At a signal from the boat the current began flowing through the sub- merged cables. And as they paddled slowly back down the lake a spasmodic flickering on the dial in front of him announced the firing of the mechanism of the German mine at all corners of the sweep.
In the freezing cold wind, which whipped up small waves on the grey waters of the lake, Goodeve found himself sweating with excitement. It had worked! The magnetic mine on which Hitler had based high hopes of securing Britain's blockade could be destroyed just as certainly as the ordinary moored mine. Making his way through the crowd still staring fascinated at the little wooden models, Goodeve hurried back to Vernon.
On his desk lay an envelope marked "Top Secret," and he extracted a brief, emphatic memorandum with a Whitehall note-heading: You should discontinue any research on the lines you have indi- cated in your latest report. It is clear to me that the method you suggest will prove self-cancelling, and cannot work. The triumph on the Canoe Lake was doubly sweet! Early in the following cheerless February of the "phoney war," when the only bright gleam of achievement to stir a chilled and somewhat apathetic public was provided by Captain Philip Vian and the Altmark rescue, there was a private celebration in the Vernon.
The Double L Sweep had its fust operational success. By then Goodeve had applied his keen mind to another worrying prob- lem with equally happy results. In terms of time, labour, and materials it was a colossal task, for every ship and there were over 10, vessels on Lloyd's Register had to be put through a special test to determine its magnetic field; vast lengths of special copper cable had to be fitted; and men had to be trained to use the new equipment.
In this period degaussing equipment cost an estimated 20,, Between May and June the time of Dunkirk aooo ships were degaussed, and a further were Sviped. There's another meeting to-morrow afternoon, and Admiralty have been getting on to Boyd again. Before he won a Commonwealth Scholarship to Princeton in they had done a good deal of research together on torpedo problems. For one still in his twenties he had an unusual maturity and balance; in addition, Goodeve noted with particular admiration his tenacious unwillingness to accept defeat, either technically or administra- tively.
That meant a lot in the kind of work they were now carrying out. They had formed a good team on the Double L Sweep, and now, to refresh his mind, Goodeve went over the ground already covered in the degaussing calculations, thinking aloud while his deputy traced abstract patterns on the blotter in front of him. Besides, it would cost about half a million. We've got to introduce negative magnetism into the ships without having to build a vast installation.
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Poring over his notes and figures once again, Goodeve felt he was very close to the solution. It seemed like the Double L Sweep stumbling-block all over again. If only he could cut down the current needed for this demagnetizing process the rest was easy. For most of that night he stayed in the office, worrying at the problem like a terrier. By next morning he had produced a formula which satisfied him. It employed in a very simple equipment only one-hundredth of the current used in the huge French coil. If this worked, all that was now necessary to protect ships against the magnetic mine was to 'wipe' their hulls for a few seconds with a copper cable charged with elec- tric current.
This roughly cancelled out the ship's own vertical magnetism, and although the effect was not permanent the vessels a Now Dr F. Goodeve's calculations were rushed to London and fed into the Admiralty machine but for some time there was complete and galling inactivity. After two decades of peace the machine still moved with ponderous and cautious deliberation in matters of research and development. Goodeve had no say in the arrangement of the trials. These were to be 'laid on' by another department, but as he passed through the barrier at Waterloo Station one morning later in the month he ran into the man responsible for rushing the experiments through.
I expect it'll turn up some time, and then we can get on with the job of checking your figures. Goodeve, cursing the wasted days, went to a 'phone- box and rang up Richardson at Portsmouth. When he got back to Vernon that night he found that Richardson, with a borrowed Wool- worth's compass, had carried out a complete series of trials on destroyer plates and merchant-ship steels.
He had even cajoled the Dockyard into hoisting a steel lighter for him to work on, and by hammering the plates and reversing the current supplied by a genera- tor in one of the machine shops he had demonstrated that he could restore the magnetism which the wiping had faithfully cancelled out. From now on it was plain sailing. If there had been delay in testing Goodeve's theory, no time was lost in applying this new and brilliantly simple form of protection to the hundreds of ships unable to use the cumbersome degaussing gear.
It had a tremendous effect on morale.
Aged mariners came up to scientists in the street and shook their hands for saving their lives. Confidence in wiping even became exces- sive and myths arose.
One captain reported, after his ship had been wiped "Why, my dear chap, you could see torpedoes going harm- lessly in all directions! And though on this eve of Dunkirk the men of the coasters 1 J. Growther and R. Whiddington, Science at War H. Out of the ships lost during Operation Dynamo only two of them the armed boarding steamer Monet s Queen and the Fleet Air Arm yacht Grive were claimed by magnetic mines. In the first few weeks of the war he had discovered that without a knowledge of Admiralty procedure any relatively junior R.
His investigations into circling torpedoes and the magnetic mine often took him to London, and when he had ferreted out the techni- cal information he wanted from the files in D. From them he learnt much that was to stand him in good stead the organization for dealing with the dockets bearing suggestions, recommendations, and information which circulated in a constant stream through the "In" and "Out" trays of the various depart- ments; the precise responsibilities of each Staff Division; and just where these sometimes overlapped or failed to meet.
Charles Wright, 2 the Navy's Director of Scientific Research, was a tall, alert man with the wrinkled, weatherbeaten look of the Arctic voyager; he had been physicist to Scott's South Polar expedition before the First World War. Set in their ways, they liked things to be done through the Right Channels, and they had a strong sus- picion that this self-assured young two-and-a-half ringer who drifted into their rooms uninvited, and was always hobnobbing with the civilian officers, would disregard the Right Channels whenever it suited him.
In many departments of the Service ministries there were men whose whole lives had been devoted to the strange, abstract ideal of service to a machine. Loyal, hard-working, and conscientious to a degree, they believed implicitly in the routine laid down for them. All their working lives the machine they served had run at a set tempo, producing after suitable periods of gestation new ships, new aircraft, and new weapons. It all took time, and if people like Goodeve thought they could short-circuit long-established procedure they would have to be shown that the machine did not take kindly to attempts at acceleration.
Goodeve declined to be shown. The contacts he was making en- abled him to speed the progress of various projects he was still super- vising at H. Vernon, and he could therefore afford to ignore any hostility he encountered from the minority. It was, after all, a relatively small minority.
Many of the Admiralty civilian staff were pleasantly surprised to find a naval officer genuinely interested in their work and problems, and Goodeve's easy informality made him a welcome visitor. One morning towards the end of May he had a 'phone call from a man he knew in the Admiralty. Haring- ton's put in for you! Just thought I'd warn you.
He knew Harington well, and he knew just what the job meant. For the rest of the war he would be shackled to an endless, mono- tonous round of inspecting electrical gear and putting up with Har- ington's constant browbeating. Harington had a genius for upsetting people, and rumour related that one of his distracted subordinates had thrown a steel filing-cabinet at him!
Goodeve's one hope was Wake-Walker, the pivot round whom all the anti-magnetic-mine measures had centred. It was to Dover that Goodeve went that night. James Somerville was one of the great characters of the Navy. Just prior to the war he had been Commander-in-Chief , East Indies, and he was already a Vice-Admiral when he was 'invalided' with suspected lung trouble. Whatever the doctors thought, Somerville himself was belligerently certain there was nothing wrong with him, and he supported his views with such power of invective that a later Medical Board quakingly pronounced him fit for limited employ- ment.
When he came rampaging back into the Service the Admiralty were looking for a strong personality to speed up the introduction of the greatest brainchild of the military scientists prior to the atomic bomb the detection and location of aircraft by radar. Somerville, a radio signals specialist, filled the bill, and he was given the impos- ing c cover' title of Inspector of Anti-aircraft Weapons and Devices IA. Goodeve met him in Ramsey's house above the fortress at Dover, and took to him immediately.
Behind his bluff manner was a shrewd, wide-ranging mind, and as they snatched a hasty meal they mulled over ideas for anti-aircraft measures, passive defence, and rocket warfare. The mounting German air offensive against Allied shipping and the desperate shortage of close-range weapons to combat it was a theme to which Somerville returned again and again.
He was convinced that the danger was not fully appreciated; dive-bombing attacks on coastal traffic and long-range assaults by heavy bombers on the Atlantic convoys could strangle Britain's war supplies. Back in the Dynamo operations room they talked with many interruptions right through the night, Somerville plying the scientist with ques- tions.
It was after daybreak when Goodeve walked down the hill to catch the finst train for London. In his pocket was a request to the Admiralty scribbled in Somerville's strangely boyish handwriting on a sheet torn from a signal pad. It asked for Goodeve's immediate attachment to I. Goodeve suddenly thought of Harington, and felt again in his pocket to make sure that his new passport to freedom was still there.
Then he fell asleep in the crowded carriage, and the train jolted on towards London with hundreds of other men who 1 Later Admiral of the Fleet Sir James Somerville, G. Oblivious of this shaping of their destinies, the members of Good- eve's team-to-be were scattered far and wide in this first week of June NevU Shute Norway, an engineer who wrote increasingly success- ful novels in his spare time, had been connected with flying all his life. He had helped to build the airship R.
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When the Germans overran the Low Countries Nor- way threw down his slide-rule. What was the point of experimental work now? England would only be saved by people going off to fight not by able-bodied men sitting in offices and designing equip- ment for use a year or more hence. Norway was forty too old to fly on operations, but he had sailed a boat ever since he was a boy and was well versed in celestial navigation.
So he wrote to the Admiralty, offering his services to the R. In the same week the R. Donald Currie had been through Osborne and Dartmouth, but left the Royal Navy after the First World War be- cause, as he would often remark to his friends when pulled up for some minor infraction as a lieutenant R. When the war came it took some time to persuade their Lordships that active employment should immediately be found for an artist from Devon, and even a strong recommendation from Admiral of the Fleet Lord Cork and Orrery, who remembered the untidy but resourceful 'snotty' serving under him in H.
Repulse in , produced no tangible result. Then Currie heard the call for yachtsmen, and found himself on the parade ground at H. King Alfred, the vast municipal swimming-bath on the front at Hove where embryo R. Like Norway, he was happy at the thought of getting to sea at last. The 'victim' here caricatured is Admiral Sir Frederick Dreyer, one of the Navy's most famous gunnery officers. And only a few weeks before the war he had set up a world motor-cycle speed record. Since this achievement involved propelling himself down the Royston Newmarket road at well over a hundred miles an hour he felt that the Navy were taking an unduly cautious attitude.
The Army, to his even greater annoy- ance, agreed with the Navy, and said he would not make a safe dis-. C, and put him in command of four 4-inch naval guns, for which they were providing the transport. In this month of June Alec Menhinick was reasonably content, for, although he was undeniably a 'pongo,' he found himself unexpectedly attached with his four guns, twenty- six soldiers, and a daily rum ration, to a naval establishment, H.
His immediate task was to await the invasion, and then repel it with his four ancient pieces of ordnance, but he felt that if he remained attached to Excellent for long enough there was a sport- ing chance that the Army would forget all about him. Some of the others destined to find their way early on into the strange, secret world of Charles Goodeve were already on the re- served list, like Tolman, a cheerful roly-poly young schoolmaster teaching science at WaUasey, and Coulson, a physicist whose re- searches for the Shirley Institute had led to a directorship of a Cheshire textile firm in his early twenties.
Others, like Lane, a dark, restless, intense man who was one of the L. Brinsmead, in peace-time a furniture manufacturer, was already off the beaches with his own 4O-foot motor-cruiser. And ashore at Dunkirk, whers he had been sent to fly kites in an effort to deter the strafing German fighters, was a retired Commander R.
For when Goodeve got his new appointment Dove was already serving under Admiral Somerville in the room in the Admiralty Arch which was soon to be the birthplace of some of the strangest activities in the whole war. His mandate covered the whole field from the devising of new weapons and protection of ships to the training of crews.
IBs department, only now taking shape, came under the Third Sea Lord, Vice-Admiral Bruce Fraser, 1 whose kingdom ranged over all matters of research and production, the supply of everything from ships and guns to ammunition and torpedoes, and the running of the great naval dockyards. Somerville's little department had as its immediate parent the Admiralty Signal Division D. All the smaller bodies in the Admiralty were placed under the broad supervision of one or other of the permanent Staff Divisions, but Goodeve soon found that D.
So far, few of D. Goodeve was in no doubt about his own immediate task. The Navy was desperately short of close-range weapons, and in this high summer of many merchant ships faced the long hours of day- light with a single machine-gun as their sole armament. One report to reach the Admiralty told of the crew of a coaster, the ammuni- tion of their only Lewis gun exhausted, hurling lumps of coal at an attacking aircraft in impotent defiance.
The ships had no means of detecting an approaching 'plane, and attacks were often over in a flash, the German fighter-bombers swooping out of low cloud to spray the unprotected bridges with cannon-fire. Soon it would be the same far out into the Atlantic, for the enemy were adapting their heavy Focke-Wulf long-range bombers for shipping attacks. As a first step Goodeve realized that a close study of enemy tactics must be made. And orthodox ideas of naval weapons were of little use; there was no time and not enough raw material to produce elaborately finished breech mechanisms, gun-mountings, and barrels, quite apart from the ammunition problem.
If the lifeline was to be held, and the morale of the merchant seamen kept high, the ships must be quickly fitted with new devices altogether for striking at their attackers. At Somerville's request Richardson had been released from Ver- non to join the new department, and Goodeve asked the Drafting Commander at H. King Alfred to find him some one with technical knowledge of aircraft. This produced Nevil Shute Norway, still in civilian clothes and in a state of almost apoplectic indigna- tion.
Before he had even been in the training-ship long enough to order his uniform he had been pulled out of the ranks and asked several awkward questions about his activities in peace-time. Less than a fortnight after the slide-rule had been cast aside for active service at sea its dejected owner was being told to retrieve it and go to work on some abstruse calculations of the angle of attack of enemy dive-bombers. It was some time before Norway recovered his usual sangfroid.
So he was roped in too. Somerville's department proved, on closer inspection, to house a surprising number of people, all crammed into one large room over the Admiralty Arch. There was the Admiral's personal assistant, a retired R. Commander named Millar a tallish, greying man with a pleasant but quietly authoritative manner and the entire Kite Balloon Section of the Navy, under Commander P. Penney, R.
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In the early months of the war a project was afoot to send a large naval force into the Baltic, and as some protection against air attack it was decided to fly a mass of balloons above the fleet. Dove, who was initially a member of Penney's team and had recently been conducting some intriguing experiments at Helston with the only really large kite in the country, which had belonged to Colonel Cody, the original Buffalo Bill, well remembers the sudden invasion of their office by Somerville's new protg6s.
Good- eve, whom we all regarded as an extremely suspicious character, promptly appropriated this, and before long Richardson, Norway, Terrell, and Harwood were all sitting round it, their papers over- flowing on to the floor and quite often on to the adjacent desk of the long-suffering Commander Penney. Science had played all too little a part in the life of the Navy before the war, and research and development took such a back place that there was a year's wait in the queue for sea trials of new equipment.
The scientist dealing with Service ministries in peace-time had a hard row to hoe, and Goodeve recalled an experience of his own just before the war. A new kind of torpedo, designed to explode imme- diately beneath its target instead of striking the ship, was about to undergo trials, and an indicator was needed to show the precise posi- tion of the missile at the moment of functioning.
Recalling the peculiarity of a gas called phosphine, which ex- plodes on contact with the air, Goodeve devised a means of employ- ing this to advantage. He planned to fit a container filled with phos- phine to the head of the torpedo; when the detonator fired the pocket of gas was released, and, rushing to the surface, it would then flare up in a puff of red flame and smoke. Finding a solution to a problem like this and gaining any support for it were two entirely different matters, however, and to attract attention to this particular proposal Goodeve eventually decided on a ruse.
He made a deliberate mistake in the plans he submitted to the Admiralty, his drawings showing the phosphine cylinder fitted the wrong way up inside die torpedo. At this angle the gas would only have dribbled out, and there would have been a fatally long delay before it reached the surface of the sea. Although it was peace-time and there was no special urgency about the matter Goodeve was promptly summoned to the Admi- ralty. Not long afterwards he went to H. Vernon 9 where his indica- tor was being tried out, and, to his surprise, he learnt that on the staff there was a man who only a short time earlier had put up a very good suggestion for just such an indicator as the Admiralty were now demanding.
It had consisted of a number of small red rubber balls, inserted in the head of the torpedo. When these shot to the surface they marked the position far longer than Goodeve's puff of phosphine, and Goodeve saw at once that the device was simpler, safer, and cheaper than his own. To his astonishment, he heard that it had been re- jected on the grounds that there was c no staff requirement' for an idea of that kind. Happily, belated justice was done.
The scheme was resurrected and eventually put into operation but not before Goodeve and others had wasted a great deal of time on evolving what would have been an inferior substitute. There was, too, the strange case of the French inventor. In the early thirties a series of submarine disasters shocked the nation, and an Admiralty committee was formed to investigate possible safety measures. The French Navy had already adopted the use of sodium peroxide to provide an emergency air supply, and the origina- tor of this system, a certain M.
Descartes, offered it to the Admi- ralty. Sodium peroxide performs three functions which can be of vital importance in a submarine. It takes up carbon dioxide, which the lungs give out. It absorbs water vapour, which also comes from the lungs. And in doing both these things it gives off oxygen, thus restor- ing the air. The Admiralty committee were not noticeably impressed. After much deliberation they sent the papers to the experimental establish- ment at Porton.
There the proposal was closely examined. Back to the committee went a report praising the system highly, and recom- mending its adoption. No further action was taken for a year, and then, when the committee did bestir themselves, they merely passed the whole matter to the Admiralty Chemist for a further investiga- tion of a minor technical point. The Admiralty Chemist also re- ported in glowing terms, but another year passed by. The proposal was sent to the Submarine experts, who were invited to have a fur- ther look at it.
Again opinion was favourable, but the committee, still loath to take any decisive step, were now fighting a stubborn rear- guard action. They forwarded the details of M. Descartes' system to the Director of Naval Intelligence. Descartes had submitted another invention to the Admiralty, entirely unconnected with the proposal under review. And it had proved unsuccessful. This irrelevant disclosure so alarmed the committee that they dropped the sodium-peroxide idea like a hot brick.
The war came, and in the fullness of time it was found that Germany's U-boats were equipped with just the sort of installation which the Admiralty had turned down. Low clouds were moving across a grey dark sky. It was not yet daylight, the damp cold air foreboded the presence of the oncoming English winter. A stiff wind was blowing. Whatever our destination, it was to be a rough uncomfortable journey. Our landing craft, with their flat bottomed hulls, were made for landing on beaches in shallow water, and certainly not for long sea journeys!
We left Poole harbour and were soon rolling and pitching in the heavy seas. We would soon know where we were heading. At this point it was due east, soon to pass the Isle of Wight off our starboard side. I couldn't believe it! We were we returning to France! But after a short time we changed direction and headed north in the English Channel, our ship heaving and creaking in the heavy swell, our decks awash, and huge seas breaking over our bow. During weather like this, all crew members wore their regular oilskins and a safety belt with an attached buckle to be hooked to a cable that circled the ship.
This saved them from being washed overboard by large swells that swept over the decks. To go from my cabin to the engine room or any other destination on the ship usually involved getting drenched. Very uncomfortable for the seamen, whose duties confined them to the upper decks, but the engine room crew were able to take off their wet clothes, dry out by the heat of the engines, and usually kept a spare pair of overalls in a locker, down below. I stopped at the wheelhouse, The coxswain was steering.
The steering gear was unlike the wheel usually associated with most ships. On this landing craft the rudder was controlled electrically. A small handle, not unlike a trolley or tram handle, would turn the rudder from side to side. The coxswain sat on a high fixed stool, with a seat belt, a necessity in high seas.
In front of him a dimly illuminated compass swung with the movement of the craft requiring full attention to keep the ship on course. In front and above was an illuminated dial showing the amount of turn in degrees to port or starboard. There were four portholes, covered at night. It was definitely not a place to be in if you were inclined to be claustrophobic.
In this small space, the movement of the craft, the eerie glow from the compass, the odour of diesel fuel from the engines, could turn the strongest stomachs. Above the wheelhouse was the bridge, completely open to the elements, where they would convey orders to the coxswain through a speaking tube, and with double telegraphs for orders to the engine room. The Coxswain told me that he had received an order changing directions from the northerly direction, and that we were now heading northeast by east.
He said "it looks like we are heading for Belgium". I returned to the engine room, where in a small space we had eight hp Gray Marine diesel engines, four to each propeller. Lubricating oil had to be fed to the engines constantly, a tricky job in this weather, using a funnel and gallon cans of lubricating oil.
In addition to the eight main engines, there were two generators which supplied the electricity to everything,. A rheostat on the electrical board was constantly adjusted to keep the current at volts for the lights, heating, navigation, toilets, bathroom, bilge pumps, and steering. The generators were vital to us, a problem with the generators and we would all be "dead ducks".
Operating noise from the main engines and the generators was intense. The engine room was below sea level, no portholes. At the engine controls, the engine noise was so deafening, we wore earplugs. The telephone inter-communicating system was useless so I had devised a communication system with the bridge, using a very loud buzzer and a red light - a series of flashes on the red light signified a number of orders from the bridge.
For instance, one buzz - raise speed by 25 revolutions, two buzzes - lower speed by 25 revolutions. This worked very efficiently. The engine operator sat at a console with seat belts, with the telegraph system just about at eye level, the throttles on the console, with the red light just above the throttles. A constant sickening smell of diesel oil, made a four hour watch just miserable. Orders came to slow speed.
I climbed above to get a look out and spotted land, we slowly made our way into Ostend Harbour. The retreating Germans had sunk many ships in the harbour to prevent large ships entering with supplies for the Allies. We were able to squeeze around the wrecks and finally tie up at a dock. Everything was now still. We were able to walk about without being thrown from side to side. We tied up and shut down main engines. No one had the faintest idea what we were doing in Ostend!
To the crew? We were warned that the Germans had mined all the roads and pathways leading down to the harbour before they left. The Sappers had cleared a path from the docks into the main street and this was the only safe throughway, "keep to that path or perish" was our final warning! Top two pictures are LCH tied up at dock in Ostend.
LCH is alongside, she was sunk at Walcheren gs? Interesting to note, the headquarters ships had the radar. Bottom left, another view of the sterns with Ostend in the background, the other interesting fact, I stood on the dock taking these pictures with a Kodak folding camera, and nobody questioned me! I do remember I had one roll of film, which was impossible to get during the war. I don't remember where I got the film!! The swept path was about four feet wide, marked on both sides with small signs depicting skull and crossbones.
It led into a devastated ghostly city, that had once been a thriving tourist resort. On both sides of the main street, buildings had been levelled. Small dark shops with empty and broken windows, some boarded up, were desolate. As I walked down the main street I felt sad for the people that had lived and traded here and had now lost all their possessions.
The street was deserted, it was a ghost town. I heard sounds of piano music and singing coming from a bar in a side street. Men in uniform were drinking local wine, no beer was available, the bars had been ransacked by the retreating Germans. There were one or two cafe's where they were serving chips french fries , no other food being available, and a couple of my shipmates were enjoying the food in the company of two ladies, who appeared to have seen better times, sitting on their laps.
In the center of town I spotted a large store. I walked I in to investigate and saw a large number of glass showcases completely empty. However by one of the cases a young woman was busy doing something. I could not imagine why she was there with no merchandise to sell. I asked if she spoke English, to which she answered "yes".
She thought for a moment, then went over to a large walk-in safe. Using the combination she opened the door and I looked into a completely empty vault except for a solitary, very small bottle which she brought over for me to see. It was Chanel 21, I was happy to purchase such a valuable item from the safe. It did indeed cost me a week? I placed the bottle in my money belt government issue to all sailors , thanked the girl and left the store.
The sailors in the bars were really getting raucous, the cheap wine they were drinking was taking effect. I was a little concerned as they had to walk back to the ship along that four foot pathway. I returned to the ship and reported my concerns to the first lieutenant, who immediately stationed a couple of men along the swept pathway to ensure the safety of the men. All made it back safely, there were no casualties! It was the 31st of October. I sat at the table in our cabin, eating breakfast. The radio was on the Armed Forces programme. How nice it would be to be back in Blighty! We still had no idea where we were going, or what we were about to do.
Most of the day was spent in routine engine maintenance, cleaning, etc. The Skipper called for main engines at hours. We started them at for a warm up period. I entered his order in the log. At we received the first telegraph order, We were on our way! Just after midnight, November 1st , we had left Ostend harbour and a few miles out at sea, rendezvoused with the remainder of the Support squadron.
At hours all commissioned and non-commissioned officers, seven in all, were instructed to report for a briefing in the ward room. We were all invited to sit around the table. Around the wardroom bulkheads were air photographic maps of an island coastline. Commander Sellars entered the room and told us to remain seated. He stood at the end of the room and said "Gentlemen, this is Walcheren island". We all looked very surprised as this was the first time we had ever heard of the place!
Commander Sellars continued to explain. Like most Dutch islands that are lower than sea level, it is dyked. It is preventing our ships, by its heavy shelling, from entering the Scheldt with supplies that could be unloaded at Antwerp. The air force has attempted to damage the dykes and flood the island, with the possibility that the flooding has put some of the heavy fortified gun positions out of action. However our sources tell us that these heavy fortified gun positions are still operational. The guns are in six and eight foot reinforced concrete emplacements and are untouched by the bombing, and they are extremely accurate.
Our orders are to get onto the beaches, and land our Royal Marine Commandos who will systematically silence each gun position. The guns on the island are various types. There are 3in anti-aircraft guns, 5. The beaches are heavily mined with booby traps on underwater stakes, barbed wire completely surrounds the beaches, which are strewn with thousands of mines. He pointed to a foot broken area of the dykes and said " this is where we will land our Marines, a place called Westkapelle.
The island must be taken. It is imperative that our supply ships get up the Scheldt to Antwerp. General Patton is currently relying on supplies to get to him by land all the way from Normandy. The German army have retreated to the other side of the Scheldt and are attempting to reinforce. The overthrow of this bastion will give us victory and considerably shorten this war.
While looking for some information on WWII landing craft today, I came across this very interesting article. This has special interest for me, as I live on the island and my grandfather's house, when I was a child, was at the foot of the Westkapelle sea dyke, just a few hundred metres from where the RAF had breached it in In fact, the first photographs of the missile to make their way to British intelligence were taken in secret by a villager there when the convoy took a wrong turn and a vehicle carrying a missile stopped in front of her house.
The landing by the SSEF is supposed to coincide with a thousand bomber raid prior to our landing on the beach, but I have been notified that the weather is getting worse in England, and due to very foggy conditions, the Royal Air Force will not be able to participate. It is too late to change our plans at this point.
We are going in. It won? We will use anything at our disposal, even if it means going in with small arms. Be prepared for a heavy bombardment by our monitors, which will start some time before we hit the beaches. I wish you all the best of luck, gentlemen. Landing craft hit. LCH heading in to help. We headed north, and at hours course was altered to degrees. The seas were very heavy, under a grey miserable sky. At hours "action stations" was called and all hands took their positions. At hours the coastline was clearly visible and at hrs the tower on Westkapelle, on Walcheren was clearly seen.
At hrs, course was altered to degrees, the ships company continued closed-up on "action stations". At the first fire came from the Westkapelle batteries. They had spotted us! The Naval bombardment started with three large ships of the Royal Navy?
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The latter had one gun turret inoperable from damage sustained at Normandy gs? In our group of 27 landing craft were three LCRs. These were tank landing craft that had been adapted as rocket ships. The upper deck had chutes for rockets, all fired by twelve volt batteries. The bridge was protected by a large steel flameshield. All the crew were positioned behind the shield. These rockets when fired were able to clear a beach of any living person for a quarter of a mile, as the rockets would come down straight, like mortars. Slit trenches would be of no use. The deck of the LCR would glow red after ignition.
The three LCRs were coming up behind the main group of landing craft heading for the beach. A shell hit one of the LCRs directly on the starboard side, the craft listed badly and pre-ignition set off rockets that landed amongst the support squadron. I have never heard explosions like that in all my years of war! They appeared to go on for several minutes, but in reality it was probably 45 seconds.
We had no ear protection, my stomach turned over, my ears rang with the clamour. I could do nothing but clap my hands to my ears and put my head down. From up above I could hear screaming. Leaving one of my hands at the controls, I climbed the stairs from the engine room to find out what had happened, a necessary option as no one bothers with the engine room staff. We are down in that hole like troglodytes. Bombardment and shelling, LCH on far right of the picture.
I saw landing craft burning and sinking all around. The sea was on fire. Men were in the water, some motionless, some attempting to swim. Our ship was picking men out of the water, The welldeck was full of injured sailors. Five of our craft were sunk by this "friendly fire". Thirty sailors were injured. Shortly after this the southern group also came under heavy and accurate fire south of the 'kidney' shoal, but though severely hit pressed home their attack with unrelenting vigour. At L. R fired her ranging rocket salvos which fell short.
Then she was hit twice on her starboard side forward. By a stroke of ill fortune this caused her to swing towards the north and accidentally let go some of her rockets which fell close to L. Unhappily rockets fired by L. R and L. R also fell near three of the supporting craft and on the port beam of the L.
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The L. Casualties in two of the three supporting craft were thirty slightly wounded but the other, though completely blotted out by the smoke of the exploding rockets, fortunately suffered none. R quickly resumed her firing course and with L. R pressed on her attack with the utmost determination although heavily hit. We took the wounded and dead personnel to the hospital ship and returned to assault zone. Landing craft were heading into the beaches with the sea in turmoil from the incessant shelling.
Small landing craft were running parallel with the shoreline firing their 20mm guns directly at the slits in the gun emplacements. The ammunition being used was anti-personnel which shattered into myriad's of shrapnel pieces inside the gun positions. LCH on left. The enemy fire was fierce, and was systematically hitting the small craft approaching the beach. One LCG, hit and on fire was abandoned on the beach, other craft were burning, sinking and exploding.