No 'Phoney War' for the Royal Navy

huwshpis

War Hero
I shall be at the service at the MN memorial on Tower Hill on Sunday 8 September. One fireman from one of my father’s ships is commemorated there.
 
On This Day in 1939, HMS SOMALI captured the first Royal Navy prize of the Second World War when she took the German freighter Hannah Boge in the Atlantic. She was escorted to the Orkneys and renamed SS Crown Arun. She would take part in several convoys but was sunk by U-boat in 1940 as was SOMALI in 1942.

 
War having been declared, U-boats of the 1st Flotilla commence minelays off England’s East Coast ports. Waters off Orford Ness, Flamborough Head, the Downs & Hartlepool are targeted. Meanwhile, other U-boats are laying mines off the South Coast.

 
Meanwhile a German force comprising cruisers, destroyers, torpedo boats and dedicated minelayers commence laying the Westwall - a defensive mine barrage in the North Sea.

 
On This Day shortly after 11am in 1939, the Admiralty sent the uncoded signal to all warships, establishments, and merchant shipping: TOTAL GERMANY. Repeat. TOTAL GERMANY. Britain was at war.

The Royal Navy – still the world’s largest fleet – counted 200,000 men with 15 battleships/cruisers (mostly WW1 vintage), 7 aircraft carriers, over 60 cruisers, 180+ destroyers and 60 submarines

 
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Germany had only two battle-cruisers, three ‘pocket battleships’, 1 unfinished carrier, 7 cruisers, 22 destroyers and 57 U-boats. They would be able to do nothing but “show that they know how to die gallantly” naval leader Erich Raeder lamented.

The liner Athenia, carrying 1,400 passengers to Canada, was sunk by U-30 on the first day of war. 117 people – including 28 Americans – were killed. The rest were saved by the Royal Navy. The Nazis claimed Churchill sank the liner and forged their records.

 
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In ‘Home’ waters, Coastal minelayer HMS PLOVER lays the first UK minefield of WW2; a defensive field off Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth. She’ll then take passage to Dover for commencement of the Dover Barrage.

 
Halcyons of the 1st MSF are already conducting check-sweeps of the approach/exit channels around the Home Fleet’s operating base at Scapa Flow.

 
The 1st mine casualty of (Great Britain’s) WW2: Neutral Danish trawler Nordstrand is sunk by mine in N.Sea 70nm W of Horn Reef Lighthouse - a casualty of the German defensive minefields.

 
On This Day shortly after 11am in 1939, the Admiralty sent the uncoded signal to all warships, establishments, and merchant shipping: TOTAL GERMANY. Repeat. TOTAL GERMANY. Britain was at war.*

The Royal Navy – still the world’s largest fleet – counted 200,000 men with 15 battleships/cruisers (mostly WW1 vintage), 7 aircraft carriers, over 60 cruisers, 180+ destroyers and 60 submarines

Just to add that on that very same day: 75 years ago when Britain declared war on Germany Winston Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, a position he had held during the Great War.

*10 minutes after the Royal Navy received notification of the commencement of hostilities against Germany, the Admiralty sent a second telegram to the fleet.

The telegram contained only three words, three words that Lord Mountbatten said had
'an electrifying effect throughout the fleet': "WINSTON IS BACK."


PS - BZ to @Naval_Gazer for reviving his original thread.

BTW - Those DT archive links of the originals 75 yrs ago are still active, despite the DT's current paywall..
 
OTD 1939: operations commence off the Humber Estuary: exploratory sweeps are carried out by a force of 8 M/S Trawlers. 22 minesweepers will be lost in and around the Humber during WW2.

 
In ‘Home’ waters, Coastal minelayer HMS PLOVER lays the first UK minefield of WW2; a defensive field off Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth. She’ll then take passage to Dover for commencement of the Dover Barrage.

Had a peirhead jump to her for three months from Lochinvar.....different to say the least....that was mid sixties....
 

janner

MIA
Book Reviewer
I remember Plover being around in the sixties, Pusser certainly got their monies worth out of her.
 
Between 4th & 6th September 1939, Polish submarines ORP Rys (pic), Wilk & Zbik lay a total of 50 mines N. of the Vistula estuary, E of Héla and NE of Heisternest. A German minesweeper is claimed to have been lost whilst sweeping these fields in October.

 

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