Devonport Naval Heritage Centre Newsletter August 2015


1st – 1739 – Admiral VERNON ordered his Squadron to “take, sink, burn or destroy” the enemy, a phrase used frequently thereafter.

1798 – Battle of the Nile. Fleet of Rear Admiral Sir H.NELSON (VANGUARD) defeated Fleet of Vice Admiral F.BRUEYS (L’ORIENT) in Aboukir Bay, Egypt, late in the day sailing some English ships into shallow water between the French line of battle & the shore. L’ORIENT blew up, killing many of the crew, including BRUEYS, Commodore CASABLANCA & his son (“the boy stood on the burning deck”).

1825 – FURY, on expedition seeking the North West Passage, North of Canada, to the Pacific Ocean, was beached & abandoned, her crew being saved by HECLA, accompanying her, but her stores being left behind saved the lives of VICTORY’s crew in the expedition of 1833.

1861 – ACHILLES laid down in a Chatham dry dock, the only 4-masted ship in the RN & the first iron ship built in a Naval Dockyard.

1914 – RN mobilisation ordered.

1943 – 42 Cdo RM formed from 1st RM Battalion.

1983 – RN Supply School moved from Chatham, mainly to RALEIGH at Torpoint, but partly to Aldershot.

2nd – 1882 – Occupation of Suez by a Naval Brigade.

1917 – First deck landing, on FURIOUS-Sqdn.Cdr.E.H.DUNNING in a Sopwith Pup.

1940 – George Cross(exExtreme Gallantry Medal) Sub Lt.A.M.HODGE RNVR (EAGLE) aiding casualties during bombing.

3rd – 1835 – Iron containers, previously replacing casks for stowage of water, now issued for stowage of biscuit & meat.

1941 – 1st success by Fighter Catapult Ship aircraft. 804 Sqdn.Hurricane (MAPLIN) shot down a Focke-Wulf in the Atlantic, Convoy SL81.

1943 – GC-Lt H.R.SYME GM & Bar RANVR, for bomb & mine disposal.

4th – 1943 – Supply submarine U489 sunk by Sunderland G/423 RCAF in Atlantic, which was brought down herself, crews of both sub. & aircraft being picked up by RN ships.

5th – 1781 – Fleet of Vice Admiral HYDE-PARKER (FORTITUDE) protecting a convoy of merchant ships, fought the Dutch Fleet of Rear Admiral J.ZOUTMAN (ADMIRAAL DE RUYTER) near the Dogger Bank, the 2 Fleets doggedly cannonading each other side to side, finally breaking off the action, by which time the convoy had escaped.

1858 – First telegraph cable laid across the North Atlantic (AGAMEMNON & USS NIAGARA).

1914 – Destroyers LANCE & LANDRAIL sank German minelayer KONIGIN LUISE in the North Sea, the 1st Naval action of WW1, the 1st casualty being an Accountant Officer. GLOUCESTER detected GOEBEN in Messina, the 1st RN use of wireless interception.

1919 – GC(exAlbert Medal)-Lt.E.G.ABBOTT RN, for saving life after explosion in ex-German BODEN at Invergordon.

1980 – GLASGOW began 3 days hurricane relief at St.Lucia-Hurricane ALLEN.

6th – 1497 – CABOT (MATTHEW) returned to Bristol after 1st discovery voyage, to Newfoundland.

1885 – First night gunnery practice using searchlights (ALEXANDRA).

1914 – Cruiser AMPHION sunk by mine laid by KONIGIN LUISE on 5th.

1915 – Landings began at Suvla, Dardanelles.

1940 – German Type C magnetic mine under examination in VERNON mining shed exploded killing 5.

7th – 1657 – Admiral R.BLAKE died at sea, one hour before return to Plymouth.

1815 – NAPOLEON sailed from Plymouth in NORTHUMBERLAND to exile in St.Helena.

1826 – 3rd Class Engineer T.BROWN became 1st RN Engineer Officer.

1943 – 45 Cdo.RM formed from 5th RM Battalion.

8th – 1758 – Commodore the Hon. R.HOWE (PALLAS) & Lt.General T.BLIGH’s Force destroyed the port of Cherbourg.

1892 – TBD (Torpedo Boat Destroyer) as a new type of vessel.

1914 – Sub.U13 made 1st submerged torpedo attack of WW1, missing MONARCH, off Fair Isle.

1915 – Lt.Cdr.D.NASMITH VC RN (Sub.E11) sank Turkish battleship BARBAROUSSE HAIREDENE near Gallipoli, in the 3rd of his patrols into the Dardanelles. As Admiral DUNBAR-NASMITH he commanded the Western Approaches of the UK & became 2nd Sea Lord.

1917 – VC-Lt.C.G.BONNER RNR & P.O. E.PITCHER (Q ship DUNRAVEN) in a fight with Sub.UC71 off Ushant.

1918 – 1st magnetic mines laid, off Dunkirk. Zeppelin L70 shot down by RAF over Immingham, her code books recovered by SCOMBER.

1944 – Battleship VALIANT damaged collapsing in Trincomalee floating dock.

1968 – Frigate SCYLLA launched at Devonport, the last ship to be built in an RN Dockyard.

9th – 1573 – DRAKE returned to Plymouth from Nombre Dios, on his first voyage, arriving “at about sermon time, when the news of his return so speedily passed over the Church that few or none remained with the preacher”.

1780 – 55 out of a convoy of 63 merchant ships, escorted by 3 British warships, were captured by a Franco-Spanish Fleet near Madeira.

1810 – CAROLINE, PIEDMONTAISE & BARRACOUTA captured Banda Neira Island, Moluccas, with only 180 of their landing party of 480 able to get ashore, routing 1,500 Dutch. Captain COLE received a gold medal & a knighthood.

1854 – VC-Cdr.J.BYTHESEA RN & Stoker W.JOHNSTONE (ARROGANT)-capturing & bringing back important despatches from 5 soldiers, ashore in the Baltic.

1856 – CAMBRIDGE commissioned as the Plymouth gunnery training ship, until 1907.

1926 – Sub.H29 foundered in 2 minutes alongside at Devonport, more Dockyard than Naval personnel being lost.

1942 – In a night action off Savo Island, Guadalcanal, Japanese forces surprised US & Australian Naval forces, CANBERRA (RAN) being badly damaged & later sunk, with 3 US cruisers. Later the USN named one of their new cruisers CANBERRA in commemoration.

1945 – British Pacific Fleet & US 3rd Fleet bombardment & air strikes on Japan. VC posthumous-Temp.Lt.(A) R.H.GRAY DSC RNVR (FORMIDABLE-1841 N.Air Sqdn.) sinking 2 Japanese frigates.

1952 – 1 MIG jet fighter shot down & 3 damaged over Korea when attacking a Flight of RN Sea Furies, 2 being damaged.

1956 – Wembury Plymouth gunnery range commissioned as CAMBRIDGE, an ex holiday camp.

1967 – First radar fitted ASW helicopter (Westland Wessex HAS3) entered RN service.

1990 – Operations consequent upon Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on 2nd August authorised in Indian Ocean & Persian Gulf.

10th – 1780 – FLORA (36 guns, including the new carronade (“the smasher”) captured the French NYMPHE (32).

1794 – Calvi, Corsica, captured by Forces under Lt.Gen.the Hon.C.STUART & Captain H.NELSON, guns having been landed from the Fleet.

11th – 1673 – In the last battle of the 3rd Dutch War, the Fleet of Prince Rupert (SOVEREIGN) fought the Fleet of Admiral DE RUYTER off the Texel.

1809 – Escort & support of a large British force attempting to seize control of the River Scheldt from the French.

1914 – Seizure off Melbourne of the German steamship HOBART, which was unaware of the War. Codebooks were found & used by the Allies until altered in 1916.

1943 – VC-Flying Offr.L.A.TRIGG RNZAF in Liberator D/200, shot down & killed in sinking Sub.U468.

12th – 1812 – First stone of Plymouth breakwater laid.

1915 – A ship already damaged by Sub.E14 was the 1st to be sunk by aerial torpedo dropped by a Short 184 seaplane off the Dardanelles.

1968 – 3Cdo.BrigadeRM Air Sqdn. Formed.

13th – 1704 – Battle of Velez Malaga, off Spain. The Anglo-Dutch Fleet of Admiral Sir G. ROOKE (ROYAL KATHERINE) fought the Franco-Spanish Fleet of Admiral COMTE DE TOULOUSE, over 7 hours, after which the French avoided all other engagements & made no further attempts to take Gibraltar.

1762 – The capture of Havana, in which the Fleet of Admiral Sir G.POCOCK (NAMUR) was a classic example of inter-Service co-operation, raising a 2 months siege, capturing 9 ships of the line and destroying 5.

1917 – Sub.U84 sank Q ship BERGAMOT in the Atlantic, survivors being careful not to disclose their true identity & reaching Ireland in their boats 2-3 days later (See August 2015 Navy News paper).

14th – 1782 – David TYRIT, a spy in the Navy Office, was executed on Southsea Common.

1900 – Relief of the Peking Legation by Allied Forces, including a British Naval Brigade.

1917 – VC-Skipper T.CRISP DSO RNR (HM Armed Fishing Smack NELSON). Having already been awarded the DSO, for defending his boat with a 3pdr. gun against a surfaced submarine, when doing this against another sub, he was mortally wounded, but sent a carrier pigeon message seeking rescue for his crew before going down with his boat, survivors eventually being rescued.

15th – 1863 – In a Squadron of RN ships bombarding the Kagoshima forts, Japan, 5 had between them 21 Armstrong breech-loading guns which, in firing 365 rounds, had 28 accidents. As a result, for a while, the RN returned to having muzzle-loading guns.

1915 – Armed Smack INVERLYON sank the surfaced Sub.UB4 in the North Sea with the 1st shot from their 3pdr gun.

1938 – Cruiser SHEFFIELD fitted with the 1st RN radar.

1942 – GC-D.W.MASON, Master, US tanker OHIO, one of only 5 merchant ships, out of 15, which reached Malta in a strongly defended convoy, enabling Malta to survive a siege, OHIO’s fuel keeping going the aircraft defending the Island.

1944 – US & French troops began landing in the South of France – Operation Dragoon.

1945 – Japan surrender ends World War 2, but the British Pacific Fleet approaching Tokyo had launched an air strike, in which Sub Lt F.C.HOCKLEY RNVR was shot down, baling out to be taken prisoner & executed, his captors being convicted of a war crime.

16th – 1652 – Captain Sir G.ANSON (RAINBOW) with 40 ships fought Rear Admiral DE RUYTER’s convoy off Plymouth.

1915 – Harrington, near Whitehaven, shelled by a German submarine.

1950-41 – Independent Company RM formed at Bickleigh, Devon, for service in Korea with the US Marine Corps.

17th – 1941 – Fast Minelayer MANXMAN departed England disguised as a French cruiser. After passing Gibraltar she hoisted a French flag, her crew being dressed as French sailors. Overnight 25th she returned to RN flag & uniform, laying mines off Leghorn, Italy, then resuming her disguise until back past Gibraltar, reaching England on 30th August.

18th – 1759 – The Fleet of Admiral the Hon.E.BOSCAWEN (NAMUR) defeated the Fleet of Commodore DE LA CLUE SABRAN, in a spirited action, typical of BOSCAWEN, who used his wig to plug the hole in his boat, when transferring to another ship.

1919 – VC-Cdr.C.C.DOBSON RN(Coastal Motor Boat 31) & Lt.G.C.STEELE (CMB 88) attacking Kronstadt & sinking 3 Russian warships.

19th – 1782 – The 7 ships of Vice Admiral J.BENBOW (BREDA) began a 5 day fight against the 4 ships of Captain Jean DUCASSE (HEUREUX) off Columbia, 3 of BENBOW’s ships breaking off the action on the 2nd day, for which 2 Captains were shot for cowardice, a 3rd dying in disgrace. The battle ended without a winner, but BENBOW had his leg shot off & died 4 months later.

1916 – Cruiser NOTTINGHAM sunk by Sub.U52 off the Faroes, when screening the Grand Fleet, as it went to intercept the German High Seas Fleet, on its main sortie after Jutland. The same day Sub.E23 torpedoed battleship WESTFALEN, which caused the Germans to withdraw.

1942 – The Raid on Dieppe, said to be planned to give Canadian troops, newly arrived in the UK, battle experience, also to gain experience of assault techniques & to try out new equipment, with Commandos & some US Rangers. There were many losses & casualties, but many lessons learnt, used in the D-Day Invasion.

20th – 1896 – First RN wireless transmission, by a device designed by Captain H.B.JACKSON RN, in DEFIANCE, an old wooden ship of the line, now used for torpedo, mining & basic electrical training.

1914 – In the Baltic the Russians captured German cruiser MAGDEBURG, with her code books, which were, like those of HOBART, used until the codes were changed.

21st – 1740 – Admiral VERNON, nicknamed “Old Grog” because of his grogram cloak, ordered the watering of the daily rum issue, 1 pint of water with a half pint of rum, called grog” and later further reduced by a half.

1915 – Crew of sunken RUEL, whilst in their boats, fired upon by sub.U38, the 1st authenticated case of such action.

1917 – First victory by an aircraft flown off a cruiser (YARMOUTH), Sopwith Pup N6430 destroying Zeppelin L23, off Denmark.

1990 – RN ships authorised to enforce UN embargo on shipping trading with Iraq.

22nd – 1918 – Battlecruiser HOOD launched by Lady HOOD, widow of Rear Admiral Sir H. HOOD, killed in Battle of Jutland, one of the 3 Flag Officers killed in action during WW1.

23rd– 1883 – Royal Corps of Naval Constructors established.

24th– 1217 – Battle of Sandwich. HUBERT DE BURGH, Governor of Dover Castle, with 16 Cinque Port ships & 20 others defeated 80 French ships, sent to relieve Louis of France, occupying London & under siege. DE BURGH was made Lord High Admiral.

1939 – Home Fleet & all ships in Home Ports proceed to War Stations.

1944 – RN aircraft from FORMIDABLE, FURIOUS & INDEFATIGABLE attacked TIRPITZ in Altenfjord, to synchronise with passage of Convoy JW59 to Russia. Hits were made, none serious.

1946 – GC(exAM)-Lt.E.W.K.WALTON, saving life during Antarctic survey.

25th– 1914 – RM units landed at Ostend, withdrawn 6 days later.

1942 – German minelayer ULM sunk by MARNE, MARTIN & ONSLAUGHT, near Bear Island, with 60 survivors rescued, one of very few occasions when Ultra code intercept intelligence was sent to RN ships not privy to Ultra decoded material.

26th– 1780 – Admiral Lord Hawke wrote to Admiral Sir F.GEARY, brought from retirement to command the Channel Fleet “if you should be so lucky as to get sight of the enemy, get as close to him as possible. Don’t let them shuffle with you by engaging at a distance but get within musket shot if you can….”; although ill GEARY (VICTORY) with his Fleet patrolled off Brest, the only action being the capture of a convoy, before he had to return to port & retire due to illness.

27th – 1816 – Bombardment of Algiers by the Fleet of Admiral Lord EXMOUTH (QUEEN CHARLOTTE} & the Dutch Sqdn.of Vice Admiral Baron T. VAN CAPELLEN (MELAMPUS), to enforce the abolition of the enslavement of Christians, when diplomacy had failed.

1919 – GC(exAM) Cdr.H.BUCKLE RN, saving life at Invergordon.

1941 – RAF Hudson S/269 caught & damaged Sub.U570 on the surface off Ireland, the crew abandoning boat, which was boarded & towed into port. The crew claimed to have destroyed all coding books & machines, but this might have been a cover story to allow the Allies continued decryption of German naval coded signals, using material recovered from the U-boat.

1943 – EGRET sunk & ATHABASKAN (RCN) damaged off Vigo by 1st deployment of glider bomb.

1944 – Minesweepers SALAMANDER wrecked, BRITOMART & HUSSAR sunk in mistaken “friendly fire” attack by RAF aircraft, off France.

28th – 1595 – DRAKE & HAWKINS left Plymouth on what turned out to be their last voyage, neither returning.

1914 – Battle of Heligoland Bight. Close blockade of Germany becoming obsolete, due to mines, submarines & torpedoes, a light cruiser force from Harwich made a sweep into the Bight, tempting German forces out, unaware of the oncoming Battle Cruisers of Admiral BEATTY (LION). 3 German cruisers & 1 destroyer were sunk.

1940 – 1st German acoustic mine believed dropped in Thames estuary.

29th – 1350 – Ships of King Edward III (THOMAS) defeated DON CARLOS DE LA CERDA’s Fleet off Winchelsea, the 1st use of cannon in a sea battle.

1782 – ROYAL GEORGE (100 guns) capsized & sank at Spithead, Admiral KEMPENFELT & most of her crew being drowned.

1939 – Mobilisation of the RN Fleet ordered.

31st – 1591 – REVENGE (Sir Richard GRENVILLE) having stayed in Flores to pick up sick men whilst other English ships left, to avoid a superior force of Spanish ships, then fought 53 of them, over 15 hours, repulsing boarders 15 times, sinking 4, until overcome, with GRENVILLE, mortally wounded, saying “sink me the ship Master Gunner, sink her, split her in two”.

1855 – VC-Boatswain J.KELLAWAY (WRANGLER) with several other sailors destroying Russian stores & fleeing an ambush, he returned to help a fallen comrade, both being taken prisoner.


In 1942 Force K (Cruisers AURORA & PENELOPE, with Destroyers LANCE & LIVELY were tasked to attack convoys taking supplies to ROMMEL’s Army in North Africa. In one attack AURORA engaged 17 targets in 45 minutes. After the operation PENELOPE signalled AURORA “Congratulations on your magnificent Borealis”.

The Italian air force attacked Force K during its return to Malta & reported significant damage to the Force. Vice Admiral signalled to Force K “It is with great regret that I learn from the Italian press that 1 of our cruisers received 2 hits & a destroyer 1 hit, during torpedo bombing. I can only think, in view of lack of damage I saw today, that the Dockyard is more efficient than I thought or your camouflage is excellent”.


This print of a map, found in the Heritage Centre archives, shows the land around the Hamoaze in the early 1800s, with the original Dockyard & the coastline between it & Keyham Lake, around which a dam was erected, in which to drain the water, excavate the mud & build the Keyham Steam Yard in the 1840s.

On the Cornwall shore, at Millbrook, south of Torpoint, there is the King’s Brewery which was built in 1733 to take over from other breweries in Plymouth Town , making beer for Naval ships. This brewery was only accessible by ships at high tide & was closed when the Royal William Victualling Yard, including a Brewhouse, was built in the 1830s.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.