World War Two Key Maritime Choke Points Controlled by Royal Navy

British Empire Controlled Key Maritime Choke Points in World War Two
THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 21902) A depth charge explodes after it had been dropped from HMS CEYLON. The ship had just made a call at Colombo the capital of Ceylon. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205186946

 

Now Sri Lanka, in World War Two this was the British colony of Ceylon which controlled key maritime shipping lanes.

One of the reasons the British Empire had such a hold on the oceans of the world was their control of key choke points for maritime traffic. These included the southern tip of India, that entire country then ruled by the British. Close by, controlling a key passage into the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal was modern day Sri Lanka, then the British colony of Ceylon.

The Royal Navy had numerous ships stationed in several bases on Ceylon although at one point after a series of Japanese attacks the British Eastern Fleet withdrew to Mombassa. The island itself hosted large numbers of British military facilities.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 20199) Marines at drill with three 40 mm Bofors guns at the Royal Marine Group Mobile Naval Base Defence Organisation Instructional Wing, Chatham Camp, Colombo, Ceylon. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205186779

 

SERVING IN THE EAST. MARCH 1945, ON BOARD THE ESCORT CARRIER HMS EMPRESS AND AT A ROYAL NAVAL AIR STATION IN COLOMBO, CEYLON. FLEET AIR ARM PERSONNEL SERVING IN THE EAST. (A 28068) Hellcats of the Royal Navy, fitted with long-range tanks, just about to be catapulted off HMS EMPRESS. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205159472

 

TALLY HO LIMPS HOME. 9 MARCH 1944, COLOMBO, CEYLON. THE RETURN TO PORT OF THE SUBMARINE TALLY HO AFTER A SUCCESSFUL PATROL DURING WHICH SHE SUSTAINED DAMAGE WHEN A JAPANESE TORPEDO BOAT CRASHED INTO HER. (A 22887) General view of the damaged submarine showing how the Japanese torpedo-boats’s propellor sliced it like ‘crackling on pork’. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205155033

 

WOMENS ROYAL NAVAL SERVICE IN CEYLON, 1943 (A 21442) Wren M Cooper, of London, at work plotting out the course of a ship on a chart in a Ceylon plotting room. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205186904

 

THE WOMEN’S ROYAL NAVAL SERVICE DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 21441) Wren Plotters G Finlay, of Kenya (left) and A Colborne, of Liverpool moving ships on the plot in a Naval Operations Room in Ceylon. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205186903

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 21428) The Women’s Royal Naval Service: Wrens coming off watch spend a restful hour in their cajan roofed cabins at the WRNS Quarters in Ceylon. Note the mosquito nets tied up and hanging above each bed. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205186901

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 24959) The Women’s Royal Naval Service: Admiral Sir James Somerville Commander -in-Chief Eastern Fleet inspecting Wrens serving with the Eastern Fleet in Colombo, Ceylon. To celebrate his sixty second birthday he held an inspection of Wrens, with nearly 250 of them were on parade. After the inspection they marched past the saluting base to music from a Royal Marine band. As the Admiral was leaving the Wr… Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205187245

“Slim Jim” Somerville was one of the Royal Navy’s most successful fighting admirals in WOrld War Two. Prior to being sent out to command the Eastern Fleet, at that time a collection of old World War One battleships, Somerville had command the famous “Force H” from Gibraltar.

Curiously, Somevile had been placed on the retired list before the war because of a misdiagnosed medical condition of tuberculosis which he did not have. When recalled to the colours, he remained on the retired list thus receiving both his pension and his active duty pay.

 

COLOMBO’S JUNIOR FLEET CLUB. JANUARY 1944, THE JUNIOR FLEET CLUB, COLOMBO, CEYLON HAS BEEN RUN FOR MORE THAN 2 YEARS FOR THE MEN OF THE ROYAL NAVY UNDER 20, BY MRS G W HUNTER BLAIR, WIDOW OF A CEYLON PLANTER, WHO IS AFFECTIONATELY KNOWN AS GRANNY TO THE CLUB MEMBERS. (A 22274) Rev C L Martineau, RNVR, holds his weekly discussion group at the Junior Fleet Club, of which he is warden. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205154488

Junior ratings wore long black socks with tropical rig. Higher rates, petty officers, and officers wore white socks. The chaplain, although classified as an officer for purposes of pay and food and uniform and quarters, actually did not have a rank. The Royal Navy believed the men would more readily consult the chaplain about their personal issues, one of his main functions, if he wasn’t officially an officer.

NOEL COWARD ENTERTAINS THE MEN OF THE EASTERN FLEET, HMS VICTORIOUS, TRINCOMALEE, CEYLON, 1 AUGUST 1944 (A 25390) Noel Coward standing at the microphone on a flag-bedecked stage on the aircraft lift aboard HMS VICTORIOUS with Norman Hackworth at the piano. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205187321

Published by

Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/