“…we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be…we shall never surrender.”
On the top right you will note the loading limits of the goods wagon for military purposes: 40 men or 8 horses.
*Featured image: A 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun and crew near Douai, November 1939 Courtesy Imperial War Museum
Soldiers from the British Expeditionary Force fire at low flying German aircraft during the Dunkirk evacuation. (PHOTO COURTESY OF AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL) This photo is in the public domain and getty images cannot claim as one of their pictures.
Dunkirk, France. 1940-05-28. Troops of the British Expeditionary Force lined up on the beach awaiting the arrival of the British Evacuation fleet.
Featured Image: As oil storage tanks burn in the distance, a trawler crowded with troops heads from Dunkirk back to England, June 1940. Imperial War Museum
Escorting convoys to Russia was a brutal task given the terrible weather and constant attacks by German aircraft and U-boats out of Norway. Home Fleet provided “distant cover” since fleet carriers like HMS Victorious and battleships such as KGV were too valuable to risk anywhere close to German air attack. Home FLeet distant cover was laid on in the event the Tirpitz came out.
The Royal Navy named all of its bases as if they were ships. Hence, HMS Spurwing was a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm base providing cover for convoys forming up off Freetown, Sierra Leone, a major convoy destination point where escorts changed.
The Royal Navy did most of its accounting by ship so it was easier to keep track of everything if all bases were treated as ships. For instance, unassigned officers were carried on the books of HMS Victory although they were obviously not on the ship itself although it did have accommodation for a small number of officers in transit.
If you wrote someone in the Royal Navy in World War Two, you addressed the letter to that person followed by name of ship followed by GPO, London.
The two photographs above are unusual because they show planes both landing and taking off from the Royal Navy fleet carrier HMS Victorious while the carrier is at anchor in the Royal Navy Home Fleet anchorage of Scapa Flow.
Because of aerodynamic reasons, carriers in World War Two typically had to turn into the wind which gave added lift to planes taking off. As an aircraft carrier neared its anchorage, the planes based on the carrier took off while the carrier was still at sea and could turn into the wind and flew to a Fleet Air Arm base on land.
They usually practiced landing on a carrier deck by landing on runways on land marked with the length of a carrier deck. Aircraft carrier pilots then and to this day often describe landing on a carrier as a “controlled crash.” It isn’t and wasn’t for the faint of heart.
In the last few years, the US Navy has started to fly drones from aircraft carriers which calls in question our naval strategy based around massive aircraft carrier battle groups. This is according to defense writer and expert Thomas Ricks, not me.
RNVR means Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. Officers wore wavy stripes on their coat sleeves instead of regular stripes worn by professional “regular service” officers. Hence known as “wavy navy.” Nonetheless, RNVR officers came to vastly outnumber the regular service officers of whom there were only about 5,000 when the war began.
RNVR officers who were pilots assigned to the Fleet Air Arm wore a small insignia denoting this. The men claimed the small insignia was meant to inform all other RN personnel that they knew absolutely nothing about the navy.
Hvalfjord was a treacherous anchorage because it was exposed to vicious winds. Ships at anchor normally dropped both bow and stern anchors which they usually didn’t do in more protected anchorages as well as keep steam on since they often had to make revolutions for two or three knots simply to stay where they were and not drag their anchors if a storm came up.
Featured image shows: Fairey Albacores, the torpedo carrying plane of the Fleet Air Arm landing on the deck of HMS VICTORIOUS while the ship was en route to Hvalfjord, Iceland from Scapa Flow. The automatic Bat can be seen in the right of the picture, as can the arrestor wires running across the flight deck.
Motor Gun Boats during the Second World War, 1939-1945
Motor Gun Boats during the Second World War, 1939-1945 Steam Gun Boat, MGB S309, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Peter Scott underway at sea. S.309 was also known as ‘Grey Goose’ Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum
USS Nimitz on patrol in the Pacific. Named for our greatest admiral, Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief US Navy Pacific fleet in World War Two. Fleet Admiral Nimitz led US naval forces to victory over Japan. Nimitz class carriers are the largest warships in the world.
The surrender of Japan aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945: Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, representing the United States, signs the instrument of surrender.
An F/A-18E Super Hornet launches from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.
USS Nimitz in the Pacific Ocean.
An F/A-18E Super Hornet launches off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68).
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz pins Navy Cross on Doris Miller, at a ceremony on board the USS Enterprise (CV-6) at Pearl Harbor, May 27, 1942. Miller was the first African-American to be awarded the US Navy Cross, the second highest decoration of the US Navy.
The citation for the medal says Miller was recognized for his “distinguished devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and disregard for his own personal safety during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941.
This was not a warning German pilots liked hearing over the headphones during air battles over England.
Flames roar from the exhaust of a Spitfire as it starts its engine. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images. August 2015. Courtesy of the Guardian.
spitfires to malta
Arrive in Malta at last. If the Spitfire pilots didn’t keep an eagle eye on their fuel mixture and fly in such a way as to conserve fuel they coulnd’t make it to Malta from their flying off point and over the years a number of them crashed into the Med never to be heard from again.
By 1943, almost half the workforce in great Britain was comprised of women. ^
While often deployed on what was known as “women’s work,” the behind the scenes work of the women of Great Britain underpinned the massive war effort of the nation. As Churchill wrote to President Roosevelt in late 1940, “Mr. President, we are fighting for our lives.” As indeed they were.
In fact, they fought to save Western civilization, which they did.
In World War Two, the demand for industrial workers and personnel for auxiliary service in the military became so great that women were subjected to conscription into industry and the forces for the first time in modern Western history.
While women had been drawn into the workforce in World War One, the numbers and percentages were smaller. * In World War Two, the demand for industrial workers and women in auxiliary service for the military became such that women were subjected to conscription into industry and the forces. While not supposed to be in combat situations, many WAAF communications operatives often worked in fighter control stations at different airfields and were subjected to regular bombing and strafing by German planes.
As might be expected, although surprising to many men, women carried on amidst the raids and if several were killed, they helped dig them out of the rubble and went back to their posts.
The work was not glamorous. Women had to go to a shortened version of basic training and spent hours in “square bashing” or learning to march in formation and perform parade ground drills. Pay was low. Hours were long. Barracks were often uncomfortable and usually very cold due to the shortage of coal.
^”Wartime: Britain 1939–1945″ by Juliet Gardiner
*While women had worked in World War One, the percentage of the female population who worked because of the war itself was not nearly what it became in WW Two. Overall, the number of women who went to work in some capacity because of World War One was less than 1.5 million. Higher figures are often quoted but these are the total numbers of women in the workforce. Usually ignored or forgotten, millions of working class women worked because they had to and were working long before the war.