Monday, 26 May 2014
Sunday, 25 May 2014
From Smudge's Story: "At about 7.00 a.m. we went to ‘action stations’. Seawards there had been spotted three German battle cruisers. But then what could we have done against such odds? Their twelve inch guns against our twelve pounders. But as they neared the coast we were ordered by the commander in chief to retire from any action, no doubt our battle fleet were closing in on them, but we were between them and land. The Germans went full speed and opened fire on the towns of Scarborough , Hartlepool and Whitby but they did not stay for long. They were scared, I suppose, of what would happen once we knew of their presence. One of my division’s destroyers was sprayed with shrapnel resulting in a couple of lads killed and several other casualties. So, we were ordered to our base, while the big chase went on."
Read more: http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/features/history/articles/8908064.First_World_War_bombardment_of_Scarborough/
Wednesday, 14 May 2014
|HMS Derwent firing a torpedo|
"After inspection, I was taken forward to the crew's quarters in the narrow sleek bow and descended to the mess-deck, which accommodated about thirty men, the majority of whom were ‘old salts’. I was informed, by my mess caterer that I must pull my weight, or else." From Smudge's Story p. 51.
At this time 100 years ago in 1914 Fred was in the North Sea aboard either Derwent or her sister ship, HMS Kale. Luckily for Fred, and for us, he left the ship before 1917...
"On 2 May 1917 HMS Derwent struck a contact mine laid by German submarine UC-26 off Le Havre, France. She sank two cables north of the Whistle Buoy with the loss of 58 officers and men." :UBoat.net
Ordered: 1901 – 1902
Laid down: 12 June 1902
Launched: 14 February 1903
Commissioned: June 1904
Fate: Mined, 2 May 1917
Class & type: Hawthorn Leslie Type River Class destroyer
Displacement: 550 t
625 t full load
Length: 226 ft 6 in
Beam: 23 ft 9 in
Draught: 7 ft 9 in
Installed power: 7,000 shp
4 × Yarrow type water tube boilers
2 × vertical triple-expansion steam engines driving 2 shafts
Speed: 25.5 kn
Range: 140 tons coal
1,870 nmi at 11 kn
Complement: 70 officers and men
1 × QF 12-pounder 12 cwt Mark I, mounting P Mark I
3 × QF 12-pounder 8 cwt, mounting G Mark I (added in 1906)
5 × QF 6-pdr naval gun (removed in 1906)
2 × single tubes for 18-inch torpedoes
Thursday, 8 May 2014
California sailed on her last voyage from New York on 29 January 1917 with 184 crew and 31 passengers. On the morning of 7 February when homeward-bound and approaching Ireland under full steam, she was attacked by U-85 in a surprise attack.
The German submarine, under the command of Kapitanleutenant Willy Petz, fired two torpedoes at California; one struck the ship squarely on the port quarter near the Number 4 hatch. Five people were killed instantly in the explosion; thirty-six people drowned either as the ship went down or when one filled lifeboat was swamped in the wake of the burning vessel, which plowed ahead losing little headway as she went down. She sank in nine minutes, 38 miles (61 km) W by S of Fastnet Rock, Ireland with a loss of 41 lives.
Though Captain John L Henderson stayed on the bridge through the entire incident, and subsequently went down with the ship, incredibly he made his way to the surface and was rescued.
Fred's ship, HMS Jessamine, was nearby and went to the rescue. Although, not a good swimmer, Fred jumped into the sea and rescued a woman desperately clinging onto two children.
According to the Royal Navy, on 12 March 1917 the Q-ship HMS Privet avenged the sinking of California. Posing as an unarmed merchant vessel, the crew of Privet lured U-85 to the surface after sustaining heavy damage in an unprovoked attack by the submarine. As Privet’s highly trained crew feigned abandoning ship, they uncovered the ship’s hidden guns and opened fire on the submarine at close range. U-85 was sunk by gunfire, and Kapitanleutenant Petz and his crew of 37 men were killed.
Thursday, 20 March 2014
As the night neared its end and dawn broke, two of us volunteered to brew some tea, as a refresher. It took two men. With the daylight, we left our mess, went on deck, and dodged the seas that were coming inboard. Some of the waves seemed thirty feet above our bows as Jessie plunged and lifted her nose high and then, with an almighty “swish”, the sea would surge along her main deck. Out of breath, we arrived in the galley and brewed up. Then, lashing the teapot lid on tight, we now had to return to the lads, whilst hoping the salt water did not get in and mix with the tea. We arrived back at the hatchway, soaked but safe. While I held the teapot, the second man held me as we descended the companion ladder, which was quite a feat. We hung the teapot from a swinging hook and poured our tea into basins. You need an acquired skill to drink from a basin in these conditions without upsetting it down your chest. But the tea helped to relieve our tension. I was on watch at eight bells, or 8.00 a.m., so I had some biscuits and corned beef, and went on duty.