Devonport Naval Heritage Centre Newsletter July 2015


1st – 1712-RN Hospital, 1st designed as such, opened at Port Mahon, Minorca.

1880-RN Engineering College founded at Keyham, Plymouth.

1914-RN Air Service formed from Royal Flying Corps Naval Wing.

1926-1st aircraft night deck landing, FURIOUS.

1945-Allied naval & air bombardment of Balikpapan, Borneo, prior to landing by 7th Australian Division.

1946-1st nuclear air burst explosion over an unmanned fleet, Bikini Atoll, Pacific.

1961-Iraq threatened invasion of Kuwait. 42 Cdo RM landed by 845 Naval Air Sqdn. Whirlwind helicopters from BULWARK, 45 Cdo RM flown in from Aden by RAF. WRNS became part of Naval Discipline Act.

2nd – 1667-The Dutch landed at Felixstowe, being repulsed by The Duke of York & Albany’s Maritime Regt.of Foot (later the Marines) at Landguard Fort.

1917-1st regular convoy of merchant ships sailed from Hampton Roads, USA, to the UK

1950-The start of United Nations operations in the Korean War, including RN, RAN, RCN & RNZN ships & aircraft, with Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships.

1969-1st helicopter deck landing RFA ENGADINE.

3rd – 1885-VC-Ord. Seaman J.TREWAVAS (AGAMEMNON, lent BEAGLE) cutting hawsers of floating bridge under heavy fire, Crimea.

1940-French ships in British ports seized, to prevent them sailing & falling under German control. Force H, under Vice Admiral Sir J.SOMERVILLE (HOOD), attacked French warships at Mers-el-Kebir, Oran, after they had refused to co=operate.

1950-1st UN naval air attacks on N.Korea forces.

4th – 1915-VC-Lt.F.D.PARSLOW RNR, in command unarmed ANGLO-CALIFORNIAN, refused to abandon ship when ordered by U38, continuing to signal U-boat’s presence.

1940-VC-A/Ldg.Seaman J.F. MANTLE (FOYLEBANK) defending ship under air attack. Convoy PQ17, bound for Russia, ordered to scatter, after Naval escort withdrawn under threat of attack by TIRPITZ & large force of German ships. Only 11 out of 35 merchant ships reached Russia.

5th – 1807-Abortive attack on Buenos Aires by a British force, which had to surrender, including a landed Naval Brigade, ending in an armistice & withdrawal of all British forces.

6th – 1944-1st use of German one-man submarine.

7th – 1874-Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM) reintroduced.

1950-JAMAICA engaged 3 torpedo boats off the East coast of Korea, sinking one – the only ship against ship surface action of the Korean War.

1988-PHOEBE & BLACKWATER led a Search & Rescue operation at the Piper Alpha oil rig explosion disaster.

8th – 1870-J.REED, Chief Constructor of the Navy, resigned over the fitting of full sailing rig to ships with gun turrets – stability problems.

9th – 1902-A1 launched, the 1st of 13 new design A class RN submarines.

1917-VANGUARD destroyed by internal explosion at Scapa Flow.

10th – 1943-Landings for the invasion of Sicily. Operation Husky.

1987-NORFOLK, the 1st Type 23 class frigate launched.

11th – 1882-VC-Gunner I. HARDING (ALEXANDRIA) picking up a live shell & putting it in a bucket of water, during bombardment of Alexandria, to overthrow Turkish control of Egypt.

1980-INVINCIBLE commissioned, 1st of a class called “through deck cruisers” when no more aircraft carriers were to be built, but actually served as a carrier for the Sea Harrier short take off vertical landing aircraft.

12th – 1771-Lt. James COOK (ENDEAVOUR) returned to Dover, from his 1st voyage of exploration.

1776-Captain James COOK (RESOLUTION} with DISCOVERY, sailed for his 3rd voyage of exploration.

1881-DEVASTATION launched, the 1st RN capital ship without full sailing rig.

13th – 1772-Commander James COOK (RESOLUTION) with ADVENTURE, sailed from Deptford for his 2nd voyage of exploration.

1855-VC-Lt.G. DOWELL RM Artillery (MAGICIENNE), Captain of Mast G.H.INGONVILLE (ARROGANT) in action against a gun battery, Gulf of Finland.

1860-Private DILLINGER RM Light Infantry, hanged at LEVEN’s yardarm for attempted murder, the last hanging at the yardarm.

1900-VC-Midshipman B.J.D. GUY RN (BARFLEUR) rescuing a wounded man under fire at Tientsin, China.

14th – 1900-Capture of Tientsin native city by an RN Naval Brigade (AURORA, BARFLEUR, ORLANDO & TERRIBLE).

1974-Evacuation of British subjects from Kyrenia, Cyprus – Turkish invasion (HERMES, ANDROMEDA & RHYL).

15th – 1815-Napoleon surrendered to Captain MAITLAND (BELLEROPHON), Basque Roads, French West coast.

1855-VC-Boatswain J.SHEPPARD (ST.JEAN D’ACRE) twice attempting to blow up a Russian battleship, using a boat full of explosives.

1915-Destruction of cruiser KONIGSBERG by SEVERN, MERSEY & 7 Sqdn. RNAS, Rufiji River, East Africa. 1st use of Naval aircraft for spotting gunfire results.

16th – 1795-Shutter telegraph started to carry signals from Admiralty in London to Chatham in 15 minutes, given clear weather.

17th – 1944-Fleet Air Arm aircraft attacked TIRPITZ in Altafjord but thwarted by smoke screen.

18th – 1914-Fleet Review at Spithead, an impressive display of the size of the Fleet & showing the most modern ones.

1947-Cruiser AJAX & Destroyers CHIEFTAIN & CHILDERS engaged in trying to prevent ships with Jewish refugees from landing in Palestine, a task much disliked.

19th – 1588-Spanish Armada sighted off the Lizard Head, Cornwall.

1745-Lt.PHILLIPS (PRINCESS ROYAL) executed for surrendering his ship to the French, after his Captain, 1st Lt. & 60 crew had been killed.

1805-Admiral Lord Nelson, in VICTORY, reached Gibraltar, after pursuing the French Fleet to the West Indies & back, his 1st time ashore for nearly 2 years.

1918-7 Sopwith Camel aircraft from FURIOUS destroyed Zeppelins L54 & L60 in their shed at Tondern, Germany.

1938-1st RN all-welded ship SEAGULL built in Devonport Dockyard, commercial yards being unable to do the job.

20th – 1545-MARY ROSE, which had been in Naval service for 45 years, capsized & sank through failures in preparing for action against French ships (gun ports nearest the sea left open?).

1588-The Spanish Armada in the Channel, approached Plymouth, English ships having difficulty sailing out to attack them, due to adverse winds.

21st – 1588-English fleet attack the Armada south of the Eddystone Rocks, forcing them to sail East along the Channel.

1941-Start of a convoy from Gibraltar to Malta, reached successfully, under attack.

22nd – 1588-DRAKE in REVENGE, with ROEBUCK, captured Spanish DEL ROSARIO off Torbay, after she had been damaged in a collision.

1805-Vice Admiral Sir Robert CALDER (PRINCE OF WALES) led 15 other ships in fighting Vice Admiral VILLENEUVE (BUCENTAURE) with 19 French & Spanish ships, off Ferrol, Spain, being chased back from the West Indies by NELSON’s Fleet. Although CALDER’s ships captured 2 of the enemy, he was court martialled for not attempting to do more in this encounter, as he did not renew the attack next day, despite being near the enemy, with the wind in his favour, letting them reach safety in Cadiz.

23rd – 1588-2nd battle with the Armada, off Portland.

24th – 1704-Capture of the Rock of Gibraltar by English & Dutch forces, including a Brigade of Marines.

1797-NELSON (THESEUS), led a landing to capture Santa Cruz, which failed due to Insufficient troops, NELSON having his wounded right arm amputated.

1945-Fleet Air Arm aircraft attacked targets in the Inland Sea, Japan.

25th – 1588-3rd battle with the Armada, off the Isle of Wight, preventing them attacking Portsmouth.

1666-The Fleet of Prince Rupert & the Duke of Albermarle (ROYAL CHARLES), defeated Dutch Admiral De RUYTER (ZEVEN PROVINCIEN) & his Fleet of 118 ships off Orfordness.

1938-George Cross(GC,ex GCM)-Chief ERA F.C.ANDERSON for gallantry in support of the Excise Service, Shanghai.

1944-RN ships & aircraft attack Sabang, Sumatra.

26th – 1815-Napoleon arrived in Plymouth Sound, onboard BELLEROPHON.

1914-British Fleet, assembling for a Royal Review, ordered to disperse, the 1st step towards mobilisation for war,the order soon being countermanded.

1929-GC ex EGM- Midshipman A.J.COBHAM RN & AB G.P. NIVEN, GC ex Albert Medal-Lt.Cdr. A.H.MAXWELL-HYSLOP RN & Marine A.STREAMS, for gallantry in DEVONSHIRE’s turret explosion, 18 being killed.

27th – 1778-Fleet of Admiral the Hon.A.KEPPEL (VICTORY) fought the Fleet of Vice Admiral COMTE D’ORVILLIERS (BRETAGNE) near Ushant, the only significant battle between British & French Fleets in the Americvan War.

1914-German High Seas Fleet recalled to war bases, from a visit to Norway.

1953-Conclusion of UN operations in Korea. Armistice signed.

28th – 1588-Successful fireships attack on the Armada in Calais Roads,

1914-British Fleet ordered to their war bases. 1st successful aerial torpedo drop by an RN aircraft.

1945-Fleet Air Arm aircraft attacked targets in Japan’s Inland Sea.

29th – 1588-The final battle with the Armada, off Gravelines, led by DRAKE in REVENGE.

1945-Battleship KING GEORGE V bombarded Honshu, Japan, the last time a British battleship fired her guns against enemy targets.

30th – 1588-The Armada retreated into the North Sea, surviving ships returning to Spain North & West of the British Isles.

1768-Lt J.COOK (ENDEAVOUR) sailed from Deptford on his 1st voyage of exploration.

1775-Cdr J.COOK (RESOLUTION) returned to Spithead from his 2nd voyage of exploration in the Pacific.

1918-VC-Lt H.AUTEN RNR (STOCK FORCE) for action with UB.80 off Bolt Head.

1937-Approval for the Fleet Air Arm to come under Admiralty control.

1949-AMETHYST having been damaged & driven aground in the River Yangtse in April, started to escape 150 miles down the river, at times under fire from Communist Chinese shore batteries, rejoining the Fleet off the Chinese Coast 31st July.

1970-The last issue of the Tot (of Rum) to the Navy.

31st – 1653-The Fleet of Admiral G.MONCK (RESOLUTION) defeated the Fleet of Admiral G.TROMP, who was killed, in the last battle of the 1st Dutch war.

1943-The 1st month in WW2 when Allied ship construction exceeded losses.

1945-VC-Lt I.E.FRASER RNR & LdgSeaman J.J.MAGENNIS (Mini-sub XE3) attacking & damaging Japanese cruiser TAKAO in Johore Strait, Singapore. XE1 also attacked TAKAO whilst 2 other X craft cut seabed cables between Hong Kong, Saigon & Singapore.


By this apparatus, a message could be sent between the Admiralty in London & Chatham Dockyard in 1795, being relayed from each hilltop in between, taking only 15 minutes in clear weather. Black squares (lanterns at night) were placed in a sequence of different positions on a wooden frame; as soon as the next signal station along saw this, they would start repeating the message on their frame. The chain of signal stations was extended to Plymouth in 1806, a mast commemorating the station’s site now standing at Mount Wise. In 1812, a message was being sent from Plymouth, when the fog came down, before the signal could be completed; all the Admiralty could receive was “Wellington defeated”, causing great alarm, until the fog cleared & “ Napoleon“ was received.

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