British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WW II: Vol 2, Battleships & Aircraft Carriers – a Review

coverI was very much looking forward to my last trip back to Australia. Apart from getting to see mother, I had a review copy of British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WW II: Vol 2, Battleships & Aircraft Carriers (ISBN: 9781848322530) written by Malcolm Wright and published on 23 September 2015 waiting for me. This volume covered Capital Ships, namely Battleships and Aircraft Carriers of the British Commonwealth, something I have had an interest in since reading up on Task Force 57 and so I really could not wait to open the package. Whilst most will recall the British Commonwealth Navies efforts in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, their exploits are less well known in the Indian and Pacific Oceans at the time.

What is also not often realised is that by the end of the Second World War, the United Kingdom had more aircraft carriers under steam than any other navy with the exception if the US Navy. The British Pacific Fleet in 1945 for example consisted of 6 fleet carriers, 4 light carriers, 9 escort carriers and 2 aircraft maintenance carriers, with a total of more than 750 aircraft. It also contained 4 battleships.

HMS Malaya
HMS Malaya

The current volume from Mal covers the Aircraft Carriers and Battleships of the British Commonwealth Fleets, often with their pre-war colours as well as their active service camouflage in the Second World War.

I should state at the beginning that I have known the author, Malcolm Wright, for a number of years and you can see my name on his acknowledgements page, not from any addition to the story of the ships and camouflage he is writing about but more from being his part-time technical geek when things go wrong with the computer when he is working on the drafts.

I mentioned that I could not wait to open the parcel containing the book. Wow! I was impressed with Mal’s first volume but this volume surpasses even the high standard of Volume 1. Perhaps it is because it is a book about the battlewagons and carriers or perhaps it is Mal’s drawing ability and the new tools he is using but this volume now sits on top of my book pile for easy reach when I have an hour spare and a hot cup of lapsang souchong in hand.

The book follows the format of Volume 1, with sections on the Reference Sources Mal has used, Paint Types and Schemes, a glossary of Symbols used with the drawings then the vessels themselves. The 5 chapters covering the ships deal with the World War 1 era battleships and battlecruisers, the modern battleships, the monitors, then aircraft carriers and lastly fleet carriers.

Some of the colour chips
Some of the colour chips

Before starting on the ships, Mal discusses the various paint types and schemes, both the official Admiralty schemes and the unofficial. He also looks at Admiralty special schemes and the Admiralty Standard Scheme. Mal also provides a page covering British and Commonwealth Warship Paints During WWII being a page of paint chips, very useful for ship modellers and wargamers. This is also of interest to those with just an interest in warships to see an example of the colours used on British Commonwealth ships during WWII although as Mal will agree, the colours are at best an approximation of the colours, subject both to the limitations of printing as well as there being no extant example of the colours – see for example the discussion on the Mountbatten Pink colour scheme.

Aircraft gloassary
Aircraft glossary
Gun and equipmwent glassary
Gun and equipmwent glassary

There are two pages of, for want of a better term, a glossary for the drawings. The first covers aircraft symbols used in the book to indicate the aircraft carried by various vessels although the markings and colours may vary. The second page is a glossary of the symbols used for weapons and electronics in the book.

There are multiple views of the different vessels reflecting the changes in camouflage over the years. For examples, HMS Queen Elizabeth is illustrated in 1915 as she appeared when providing bombardment support at Gallipoli, then her 1936 colours, followed by 1941 (port and starboard), 1943 (port and starboard), 1943-44 (port and starboard) and then 1944-5 (port and starboard) – ten illustrations showing the progression of camouflage schemes and colours on this vessel over its service life. This pattern is repeated through the book.

HMS Victorious - 1945
HMS Victorious – 1945

To book not only concentrates on British Commonwealth vessels but also covers those vessels transferred to other navies, for example, the Royal Sovereign, which was transferred to the Soviet Union and was re-christened Archangelsk.

There are top views of some vessels as well. The top views become even more valuable with the aircraft carriers. For example, the illustration of HMS Victorious when she was serving in the British Pacific Fleet.

HMAS Albatross
HMAS Albatross

The book is rounded out with a chapter on the escort carriers, some of the more colourful of the capital ships in the British Commonwealth forces and with a discussion of HMAS/HMS Albatross.

I highly recommend this book and it is available from:

Pen and Sword Books (the publisher)

Amazon 

The Book Bug

Some Interesting Naval Reading

There was a post to one of the Yahoo groups I subscribe to recently from Jan who noted:

The Naval War College recently posted the latest of their Newport Papers to the Publications page of their website, and I would highly recommend it to all members of this Group site. This publication is titled:

NAVAL WAR COLLEGE NEWPORT PAPERS 40 Commerce Raiding: Historical Case Studies, 1755–2009

Location is:

http://www.usnwc.edu/Publications/Naval-War-College-Press/Newport-Papers.aspx

It weighs in at 356 pages and 3 Megabytes in PDF format.

An excerpt from the Foreword:

"… A consideration of the range of historical case studies in this volume provides an opportunity to reflect on the ways in which old and long-forgotten problems might reemerge to challenge future naval planners and strategists."

And an excerpt from the Introduction:

"… The sixteen case studies in this book reflect the extraordinary diversity of experience of navies attempting to carry out, and also to eliminate, commerce raiding. Because the cases emphasize conflicts in which commerce raiding had major repercussions, they shed light on when, how, and in what manner it is most likely to be effective. The authors have been asked to examine the international context, the belligerents, the dis­tribution of costs and benefits, the logistical requirements, enemy countermeasures, and the operational and strategic effectiveness of these campaigns. …"

This is right up our street!

Enjoy your games,

Jan

Apart from just the mentioned work, the full list of works available from that website includes:

  • Commerce Raiding: Historical Case Studies, 1755-2009, edited by Bruce A. Elleman and S. C. M. Paine (2013)
  • Influence without Boots on the Ground: Seaborne Crisis Response, by Larissa Forster
  • High Seas Buffer: The Taiwan Patrol Force, 1950-1979, by Bruce A. Elleman (2012)
  • Innovation in Carrier Aviation, by Thomas C. Hone, Norman Friedman, and Mark D. Mandeles (2011)
  • Defeating the U-Boat: Inventing Antisubmarine Warfare, by Jan S. Breemer (2010)
  • Piracy and Maritime Crime, edited by Bruce A. Elleman et al. (2010)
  • Somalia… From the Sea, by Gary J. Ohls (2009)
  • U.S. Naval Strategy in the 1980s: Selected Documents, edited by John B. Hattendorf and Peter M. Swartz (2008)
  • Major Naval Operations, by Milan Vego (2008)
  • Perspectives on Maritime Strategy: Essays from the Americas, edited by Paul D. Taylor (2008)
  • U.S. Naval Strategy in the 1970s: Selected Documents, edited by John Hattendorf (2007)
  • Shaping the Security Environment, edited by Derek S. Reveron (2007)
  • Waves of Hope: The U.S. Navy’s Response to the Tsunami in Northern Indonesia, by Bruce A. Elleman (2007)
  • U.S. Naval Strategy in the 1990s: Selected Documents, edited by John Hattendorf (2006)
  • Carnes Lord, ed., Reposturing the Force: U.S. Overseas Presence in the Twenty-first Century (2006)
  • The Regulation of International Coercion: Legal Authorities and Political Constraints, by James P. Terry (2005)
  • Naval Power in the Twenty-first Century: A Naval War College Review Reader, edited by Peter Dombrowski (2005)
  • The Atlantic Crises: Britain, Europe and Parting from the United States, by William Hopkinson (2005)
  • China’s Nuclear Force Modernization, edited by Lyle J. Goldstein, with Andrew S. Erickson (2005)
  • Latin American Security Challenges: A Collaborative Inquiry from North and South, edited by Paul D. Taylor (2004)
  • Global War Game: Second Series, 19841988, by Robert H. Gile (2004)
  • The Evolution of the U.S. Navy’s Maritime Strategy, 19771986, by John Hattendorf (2004)
  • Transformation and the Defense Industry after Next: The Defense Industrial Implications of Network-Centric Warfare, by Peter J. Dombrowski, Eugene Gholz, and Andrew L. Ross (2003)
  • The Limits of Transformation: Officer Attitudes toward the Revolution in Military Affairs, by Thomas G. Mahnken and James R. FitzSimonds (2003)
  • The Third Battle: Innovation in the U.S. Navy’s Silent Cold War Struggle with Soviet Submarines, by Owen R. Cote, Jr. (2003)
  • International Law and Naval War: The Effect of Marine Safety and Pollution Conventions during International Armed Conflict, by Sonja Ann Jozef Boelaert-Suominen (2000)
  • Theater Ballistic Missile Defense from the Sea: Issues for the Maritime Component Commander, by Charles C. Swicker (1998)
  • Sailing New Seas, by J. Paul Reason, with David G. Freymann (1998)
  • What Color Helmet? Reforming Security Council Peacekeeping Mandates, by Myron H. Nordquist (1997)
  • The International Legal Ramifications of United States Counter-Proliferation Strategy: Problems and Prospects, by Frank Gibson Goldman (1997)
  • Chaos Theory: The Essentials for Military Applications, by Glenn R. James (1996)
  • A Doctrine Reader: The Navies of the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Spain, by James J. Tritten and Luigi Donolo (1995)
  • Physics and Metaphysics of Deterrence: The British Approach, by Myron A. Greenberg (1994)
  • Mission in the East: The Building of an Army in a Democracy in the New German States, by Mark E. Victorson (1994)
  • The Burden of Trafalgar: Decisive Battle and Naval Strategic Expectations on the Eve of the First World War, by Jan S. Breemer (1993)
  • Beyond Mahan: A Proposal for a U.S. Naval Strategy in the Twenty-First Century, by Gary W. Anderson (1993)
  • Global War Game: The First Five Years, by Bud Hay and Bob Gile (1993)
  • The “New” Law of the Sea and the Law of Armed Conflict at Sea, by Horace B. Robertson, Jr. (1992)
  • Toward a Pax Universalis: A Historical Critique of the National Military Strategy for the 1990s, by Gary W. Anderson (1992)
  • “Are We Beasts?” Churchill and the Moral Question of World War II “Area Bombing,” by Christopher C. Harmon (1991)

There is some very interesting reading in there, especially if you have spare reading time Smile

S.S. Robert J. Walker – the Man and the Ships

Robert_John_Walker_cph.3a01283
Robert J Walker

Somehow or other, Robert J Walker came up the other day. In one of those fortuitous moments of historical coincidence, I quickly checked the name and found some interesting stories.

Robert J Walker was an early economist and the 18th Secretary of the Treasury of the United States during the presidency of James Polk. This was the period 1845-1849.

He was responsible, amongst other things, with organising the financing of the US Mexican War. One example is seen in correspondence with Major General William Orlando Butler,

“February 23, 1848. Sir, Upon the ratification of a treaty of peace by the Republic of Mexico in conformity with the provisions of the act of the congress of the United States of America approved March 3, 1847 stated ‘an act making further appropriation to bring the existing war with Mexico to a speedy and honorable conclusion’ you are authorized to draw on this department for any sum not exceeding three millions of dollars to be paid in pursuance of the promotion of said act.”

Walker supported the Union Cause during the American Civil War and as a result, the county in Texas that was named initially, Walker County, in honour of Robert J Walker was renamed to honour Samuel Walker, a Texas Ranger.

The US Government however did name a Coastal Survey ship to honour him in 1848. The Coastal Survey Ship USCS Robert J Walker.

robert walker
USCS Robert J Walker

The USCS Robert J Walker was built in 1847. She was iron-hulled and was a side-wheel steamer. on June 21, 1860 she collided with a schooner in rough seas of

The Walker, built in 1847 as one of the first US government iron-hulled, side-wheel steamers, sank in rough seas on June 21, 1860, after being hit by a commercial schooner.

The 40-metre vessel sank within 30 minutes, taking 20 sailors down with it of a total crew of 66. The schooner it collided with has been identified as the Fanny.

The captain of the Robert J Walker at the time was one Lieutenant John J. Guthrie and apparently he was the only naval officer on board. He was an experienced officer but was not on the bridge at the time of then collision. The executive officer, Joseph A. Seawell, who had been dismissed from the Navy on the recommendation of the Efficiency Board in 1855 was the officer on watch at the time of the collision.

The Fanny was loaded with coal so was heavy. The collision occurred about 3:00 am off Absecon, New Jersey. The Robert J Walker was underway from Norfolk to New York.

The officers and surviving crew of the Robert J Walker were rescued by Captain L. J. Hudson of the schooner R. G. Porter and taken to May’s Landing on the coast of New Jersey. The steamer sunk in less than half an hour after the collision, which took place about twelve miles from land.

There is a great report on the Story of the Coast Survey Steamer Robert J Walker on the Internet.

This then leads to the connection between Robert J Walker and Australia. I will admit ahead of time that I did not realise that there were German U-Boats (or at least one u-boat) active off the Australian coast during the Second World War.

There was an American Steamship, the SS Robert J Walker, which was apparently running in ballast towards Australia. U-862, a type IXD2 u-boat was on a second cruise around Australia, having based out of Singapore. U-862 has an interesting history.

U-862 undertook two war patrols under Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Timm (Knights Cross). The first of these was a long cruise, starting at Kiel and from there moving on to Bergen and then Narvik. From Narvik U-862 sailed out into the Atlantic, around Iceland and headed south. On 25 July 1944 in the South Atlantic U-862 sank the US registered steam merchant Robin Goodfellow on-route from Capetown to New York via Brazil with a load of chrome ore. The vessel was lost with all hands.

Turning into the Indian Ocean around the Cape of Good Hope U-862 engaged the British merchant vessels Radbury, Empire Lancer, Nairung and Wayfarer. Most were carrying various ores and coal. All were sunk.

After passing up the channel between Madagascar and the African coast, U-862 was engaged by a Catalina aircraft. The submarine shot the Catalina down and proceeded to sail across the Indian Ocean to Penang then to Batavia.

After refuelling, rearming and restocking food and water in Batavia the U-862 still under Timms, now promoted to Korvettenkapitän , commenced a second patrol. This was south into the Indian Ocean from Batavia then eastwards across the Great Australian Bight, south around Tasmania and from there around the North Island of New Zealand, back to the Australian coast then through Bass Strait, across the Great Australian Bight again and back to Batavia. This was over the period 18 November 1944 to 15 February 1045.

On that patrol U-862 met and sank the Robert J Walker off the coast of New South Wales whilst U-862 was on her way to New Zealand. U-862 also met and sank the Peter Silvester in the Indian Ocean west of of Albany on her return leg to Batavia. Both ships were US registered. Interestingly, as U-862 passed around Tasmania on 9 December 1944 she had a gun duel with the Greek steam merchant Ilissos. U-862 fired three shots that missed, but choppy seas and accurate defensive gunfire from the merchant vessel forced the U-boat to dive and leave the area before firing any more.

After returning to Batavia U-862 then moved onto Singapore on 20 February 1945. on 5 May 1945 U-862 was taken over by Japan at Singapore and became the Japanese submarine I 502 on 15 July 1945. She had no further patrols that I have been able to determine.

At the conclusion of World War 2, I 502 surrendered at Singapore in August 1945. On 15 February 1946 she was towed into the Straits of Malacca, off Singapore, by HM Tug Growler and scuttled there alongside I 501((I 501 was U-181 before being handed over to the Japanese)) by the frigate HMS Loch Lomand((Seven u-boats, namely U-181, U-195, U-219, U-511, U-862, U-IT-24 and U-IT-25 were scuttled in Asia)).

Interestingly the wartime press in Australia all reported the attacks as Japanese submarines. Copies of some of those press reports are shown below.

Canb Times 14 March 1945
from the Canberra Times 14 March 1945

The Argus Melb 14 March 1945
From the Melbourne Argus 14 March 1945
Barrier Miner Broken Hill 13 March 1945
from the Barrier Miner Broken Hill 13 March 1945

Princesa

Capture_of_PrincesaThe other day I mentioned, in passing, that on 8 April 1740 the English captured the Spanish ship of the line, Princesa, during the War of Austrian Succession. The illustration to the right is the capture of the Princesa.

Princesa was built between 1730 and 1731, being nominally rated at 70 guns, but carrying 64. She was sailing from Buenos Aires to Spain in company with another Spanish vessel, departing in March 1740. The English got word about this and despatched three vessels to intercept them. His Majesty’s Ships Kent, Lenox and Orford under the command of Captain Colvill Mayne of the Lenox. On 8 April Mayne’s squadron was patrolling some 300 miles south-west of The Lizard when a ship was sighted to the north.

The English vessels came up to the ship and found the Princesa under the command of Don Parlo Augustino de Gera. A naval chase began. At the start of the chase the Princesa was flying Frecnh colours but these were pulled down and the Spanish colours run up. This was a normal practive in most navies during the 17th, 18th and early parts of then 19th century, wearing false coloues to confuse the enemy or to enable them the sneak up on vessels. Before engaging an opponent, the ships true colours would be run up.

PrincesaVs3britsÁngelCortelliniSánchez(1858-1912)museonavaldemadridThis practice even occurred in the 20th century with the German commerce raiders in particular.

After chasing for two and half hours, the English ships were able to open fire on the Spanis, exchanging broadsides. The Spanish vessel was disabled then raked until she struck her colours. The English had captured a ship.

The Princesa was taken into the Royal Navy and renamed (quite an original thought here), HMS Princess.

The Princesa’s spirited resistance to the three English ships caused a great deal of comment at the time, especially as the English ships were of equal rating. She was larger than the equivalent English ships and carried larger guns.

Action_off_toulon_4Princess was commissioned under her first commander, Captain Perry Mayne, in July 1741. She was later under the command of Captain Robert Pett, who took her out to the Mediterranean in December 1743. She was part of Admiral Thomas Mathews’ fleet at the Battle of Toulon on 14 February 1744.

The picture to the right is of the action off Toulon in 1744 (the image, in fact all the images here, come from Wikipedia).

The Princesa was a ship with a long and honourable career. She was eventually sold for breaking up on 30 December 1784.

Class 70-gun third rate ship of the line
Tons burthen: 1,709 3/94 BOM
Length: 165 ft 1 in (50.3 m) (overall)
130 ft 3 in (39.7 m) (keel)
Beam: 49 ft 8 in (15.1 m)
Depth of hold: 22 ft 3 in (6.78 m)
Complement: 480
Armament:

Lower deck: 28 x 32pdrs
Upper deck: 28 x 18pdrs
Quarterdeck: 12 x 9pdrs
Forecastle: 2 x 9pdrs

Anniversary of Darwin Bombing

USS-Peary-DD226
USS Peary – built in 1922 and sunk at Darwin in 1942

February 19th, 1942, Darwin itself was bombed by 260 Japanese fighters and bombers twice during the day. The attacks were directed against the port and shipping and 252 Allied service personnel and Darwin citizens were killed during the two raids. Over the coming months raids were also made against Broome, Wyndham, Port Hedland, Derby, Darwin, Katherine, Townsville, Mossman and Horn Island (in the Torres Strait).

There were a total of 97 Japanese air raids against targets in the north of Australia which, along with the attacks on Sydney, mean that three of Australia’s six states were attacked as well as one of the territories.

HMAS Mavie
HMAS Mavie and 19 ton wooden patrol boat built in 1903 – also sunk at Darwin.

The air raids did tie up a great deal of anti-aircraft defenses and managed to interrupt the shipping in the port so from a strategic point of view were probably considered successful by the Japanese High Command.

Interestingly, although a much less strategic target than Pearl Harbour, more bombs were dropped on Darwin in these first two raids and a total of 10 ships out of 45 were sunk. 23 Allied aircraft were destroyed for the loss of seven Japanese aircraft.

The four IJN aircraft carriers (Akagi, Kaga, Hiryū and Sōryū) that participated in the bombing of Darwin were later sunk during the Battle of Midway in June 1942.

Strangely enough there is some debate to the number of ships actually lost with estimates ranging from seven to eleven. Ships lost include, however:

  • USS Peary, a United States Navy destroyer
  • USAT Meigs, a large US Army troop transport ship
  • MV Neptuna (used as a troop transport)
  • SS Zealandia (used as a troop transport)
  • HMAS Mavie, a Royal Australian Navy patrol boat
  • SS Mauna Loa, a 5,436-ton US merchant freighter
  • British Motorist, a UK-registered merchant refuelling oiler
  • Kelat, a 1,849-ton coal storage hulk

Another two ships were beached and subsequently refloated bring the total to 10. 25 ships in total were damaged.

Aircraft lost were mostly US aircraft:

  • 10 x P-40
  • 1 x B-24 bomber
  • 3 x C-45 transport planes
  • 3 x PBY Catalina flying boats, and their moorers outside the harbour
  • 6 x Lockheed Hudsons (RAAF losses)

All-in-all, an effective raid and along with the next 60-odd raids, it was enough to persuade the allies to use Brisbane and Fremantle as naval stations rather than Darwin.

More on HMS Rattlesnake – the figurehead

HMS Rattlesnake Figurehead

After posting the article yesterday on HMS Rattlesnake, HMS Samarang and Port Hamilton I received a comment on my facebook page from Alan (Kaptain Kobold) who is now a Pommie loose in Oz.

Alan used to work at QinetiQ in Farnborough, England. QinetiQ has the figurehead from Rattlesnake in the walkway leading to the canteen in the office.

There are some other photos of the figurehead at Kaptain Kobold’s photo stream on flickr.

Also in the photo stream is a close-up of the rattlesnake on the figurehead.

HMS Rattlesnake FigureheadIn some respects, it is a pity I model ships for wargaming in 1/1200th scale and smaller generally as the scale makes it too small to worry about some of the wonderful detail on old wooden ships. The figurehead was important to vessels built in the 16th to 19th centuries. The practice may have been inherited from the Vikings in earlier centuries with their carved dragon’s heads at the front of their longships although it has also been suggested that as with the stern ornamentation on these old wooden vessels, the purpose of the figurehead may have been to indicate the name of the ship in a non-literate society.

Kaboutermannekes (or water fairies) were believed by some some European sailors (principally German, Belgian and Dutch) to live in the figurehead of a ship. The spirits were supposed to guard the ship from harm. However, if the ship sank, the Kaboutermannekes guided the sailors’ souls to the Land of the Dead. To sink without a Kaboutermanneke condemned the sailor’s soul to haunt the sea forever, so Dutch sailors believed. This is similar to early Viking beliefs.

When the world moved forward to steel ram ships there was really no place for figureheads anymore. However, the practice seems to have been maintained in a different form in modern navies with a ships badge now being a unique identifier of a vessel.

HMAS BombardAs an example, the badge to the left is from one of the Attack class patrol boats of the Royal Australian Navy. It is the badge of HMAS Bombard, one of the patrol boats stationed at HMAS Waterhen in Sydney. A number of the crew were friends of mine at the time so I knew this vessel quite well. She had a number of claims to fame. One was was her circumnavigation of Australia, celebrated with a somewhat ribald t-shirt, and completed on 7 September 1974 under commander, Lieut R. Cook, RAN. This was the first circumnavigation of Australia by a patrol boat.

She was also used in the production of the 1979 ABC series, Patrol Boat ((the IMDB entry for Patrol Boat appears fairly mixed up between the various series as there is no mention of either Andrew McFarlane or Robert Coleby who played the two central characters of the first series)) where her pennant number, 99, was replaced with 83 for filming as she replaced HMAS Advance. After suffering an engine room fire near Point Perpendicular, an RAN Grumman Tracker from HMAS Albatross overflew the Bombard looking for her but saw pennant 83 on the bow so kept looking. I really should write up a short history of the Bombard, an interesting little boat.

I will finish with another view of the figurehead from the Rattlesnake.

HMS Rattlesnake Figurehead

And stop humming that tune about ships named Venus! 😆

HMS Rattlesnake

HMS_Rattlesnake_(1822)HMS Rattlesnake was a 28-gun  corvette of the Royal Navy launched in 1822. She made a historic voyage of discovery to the Cape York and Torres Strait areas of northern Australia.

This is not the reason I am mentioning HMS Rattlesnake. Nor am I mentioning it because of it’s obvious North American name. The corvette was built after the Napoleonic Wars but managed to find employment through the middle of the 19th century as a survey vessel and the rescuer of young ladies in distress ((Rattlesnake was the ship that rescued Barbara Crawford Thompson, who had been shipwrecked on Prince of Wales Island, North Queensland, aged 13 years in November 1844 and who spent the next five years living with the local Kaurareg people, despite their reputation for being cannibals. The true and certified version of her life story can be found in the book “Wildflower” The Barbara Crawford Thompson Story by Queensland historian Raymond J Warren))

The reason I am mentioning Rattlesnake is that one of her sister-ships, HMS Samarang, surveyed Port Hamilton in 1845 by Sir Edward Belcher in the Samarang. Post Hamilton was named after the then secretary of the Admiralty, Captain W. A. B. Hamilton. I intend to post something about Port Hamilton in Korea in the future and the Samarang will be mentioned but I did not have a picture of her, hence the entry for the Rattlesnake.

Both vessels were members of the Atholl-class of corvettes and were armed with:

Upper deck: 20 x 32-pdr (25cwt) carronades
Quarterdeck: 6 x 18-pdr carronades
Forecastle: 2 x 9-pdr guns

Vinh Long

vinh long 100 Jim at the War Times Journal has released some more models of ships from around the end of the 19th Century. This latest release includes:

  • Collingwood
  • Monmouth
  • Drake
  • Highflyer
  • Dupleix
  • Vinh Long
  • Wittelsbach
  • Braunschweig
  • Cormoran
  • Arcona
  • Umbria
  • Etna

Along with two shore batteries.

The Vinh-Long particularly interested me as I recalled reading somewhere about the USS Bainbridge (DD-246) having rescued a large number of passengers and crew from the vessel in the 1920s and the skipper of the Bainbridge being decorated for his efforts. A little research was therefore in order.

Off to the US Naval History and Heritage website – one of my favourite sites, especially for US Navy vessels history.

vinh long 105 The Vinh-Long was a 5500-ton screw steamship and was built in 1881. I was one of several military transports needed to support France’s colonial empire. During the First World War the Vinh-Long server as a hospital ship. After the November 1918 Armistice she returned to her previous role as a troops transport.

On 16 November 1922, while carrying 495 persons, including civilians as well as military and naval personnel, the Vinh-Long caught fire in the Sea of Marmora, Turkey. She was carrying armaments in her magazines and as the fire spread, eventually it reached her after magazines causing explosions. This caused the fire to intensify and spread throughout the rest of the ship.

Even though the blaze as intense and there were known risks of further explosions (the forward magazines for example. The USS Bainbrdge (DD-246) pulled alongside the bow of the Vinh-Long and managed to save 482 of the passengers and crew. Thirteen people, among them two women and four children, lost their lives in the fire and subsequent efforts to abandon ship, some having life boats fall on them when they were in the water. One other man died of exposure on board the Bainbridge.

vinh long 106 The Bainbridge was approached eventually by HMS Sepoy but by that time the Bainbridge was underway to Istanbul with the survivors so needed no further assistance.

The rescue of Vinh-Long‘s passengers and crew was widely celebrated at the time. The Bainbridge‘s officers and crew were officially commended for their performance and the captain of the Bainbridge, Lieutenant Commander Edwards, was subsequently honoured with the United States’ Medal of Honor along with the French Legion of Honor and the British Distinguished Service Order.

Following on from here are pictures of Lt Commander Edwards receiving his medal from the US President, Calvin Collidge and then the last three photos are of Edwards’ actually report of the incident.

I can see I will need to prepare and order for Jim shortly.

vinh long 110

vinh long 200

vinh long 201

vinh long 202

On Matters Military and More Toys

imageA parcel arrived on the desk this morning. I love it when that happens. This one was from the nice folks at On Matters Military. I had ordered a copy of the DBMM version 2.0 rules (yes, I am still thinking of playing at Cancon in January 2011) as well as the DBMM Book 1 lists (they are army lists covering the period 3000 BCE to 500 BCE). Also enclosed was a copy of Robert Malcomson’s Warships of the Great Lakes, 1754-1834 (ISBN 0-7858-1798-0). Whilst this was published in 2004, I really don’t have much information on those particular maritime (is that the right word still for freshwater engagements?) events or the vessels that fought them.

I have some smaller sailing vessels at home that are suited for the Great Lakes warfare – at least that is what it says on the box. I am now looking forward to reading more about these vessels and I am hoping this book will give me a good introduction at least. A quick look through the book suggests that there will be more than enough detail for me. The book covers the French, English and American navies on the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain with the vessels ranging in size from a gunboat to something that was close to a First Rate. There are many contemporary illustrations throughout the book as well.

I must also commend the service of On Matters Military. The items were ordered on the 9th of October, paid for through PayPal, invoiced on the 11th, posted on the 13th and arrived on my desk on 22 October – so just under a fortnight from order to delivery. The books were very well wrapped and protected as well.

The matchstick armada: Modeller spends 62 years building incredible fleet of 400 ships | Mail Online

The matchstick armada: Modeller spends 62 years building incredible fleet of 400 ships | Mail Online.

The matchstick flight deck and aircraft aboard USS Nimitz
Matchstick aircraft in 1/300 scale on the flight deck of the matchstick USS Nimitz

Given my love of things nautical is it any wonder that I hold this bloke with a level of esteem bordering on rapture? The picture showing here are of aircraft he modelled for the flight deck of a model of the USS Nimitz. The amazing thing is that these were made with matches and matchboxes. The only thing missing is Kirk Douglas on the bridge.

This chap has built over 430 models – all over them out of matches and matchboxes and all of them at 1/300th scale. All I can say is amazing!