Minefield. You are in it. We are not.

Important to stay up to date on Notices to Mariners in World War Two so you don’t stray into a minefield

hms_highlanderh44

   Aerial photograph of British destroyer HMS Highlander (H44) underway. Rayner spent a number of months as her CO.

D.A. Rayner was an officer in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve during World War Two. They wore wavy stripes on their uniforms and were called, with condescension, the “the Wavy Navy”. There was also the Royal Naval Reserve consisting of masters and mates of merchant ships. It was said that the RNVR were gentlemen trying to become officers and the RNR were officers trying to become gentlemen.


Royal Navy corvette HMS Primrose

although not designed to operate in the vicious weather of the North Atlantic these ships could be built quickly. Convoy escorts were desperately needed so hundreds were built. 

 

Rayner compiled an outstanding record in World War Two becoming the only RNVR officer to command a Royal Navy escort group in the Atlantic. His memoir, Escort, is rich in stories of his life at sea in the war, each one more amusing than the one before. Escort is one of the best naval memoirs I have ever read. It is beautifully written (the English really know how to write English), funny, very sad at times, and brutally honest. I certainly give it five stars. Escort is truly a must read.

The war has only recently begun and Rayner is commanding an anti-submarine trawler patrolling off the coast of England. He is lost in a dense fog. There was no radar then. Out of the fog looms a Royal Navy destroyer. Rayner orders the signalman to use his Aldis Lamp (Morse Lamp to Americans) and make to the destroyer: “Can you tell me where am I?” Comes the reply: “Regret have not known you long enough to venture an opinion.” Rayner is puzzled till he discovers the signalman had actually made the message: “Can you tell me what I am?”

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Though only 30, Rayner is quickly given command of a corvette, a small escort vessel used in the North Atlantic. Because of the shortage of escort ships, he has been compelled to put to sea before his charts are up to date. As he is putting into port one day, Rayner sees a merchantman sinking off his starboard bow. He asks the escort commander for leave to rescue the crew. Comes the reply, “Proceed, but your attention is called to Notices to Mariners Number______.”

Rayner rescues a boatload of survivors and sees another boatload. Comes a signal from the escort commander, “Your attention is called to Notices to Mariners_____.” This annoys Rayner but given his charts aren’t up to date, he doesn’t want to ask the escort commander what he means so he waits until another corvette steams between him and the escort commander. Rayner makes inquiry of what Notices to Mariners_____means. Comes the reply, “Minefield. You are in it. We are not.”

Voice of German High Command Surrenders Another Beautiful Day Comes To A Close

Dittmar surrenders

Voice of German High Command

Lt. General Kurt Dittmar, the voice of the German High Command, after surrendering to troops of the US 30th Infantry Division. Copyright by Life Magazine.

After Lt. General Kurt Dittmar broadcast his evening German Armed Forces High Command communique, German national radio played “Another Beautiful Day Comes to a Close” as their sign-off song.

The German communique was broadcast at midnight German time. German-speaking stenographers working for various news agencies including UPI and AP took down the communique, translated it into English, and “moved it on the wire.”

The German armed forces communique was usually printed in the morning New York Times and other major newspapers along with the communiques from all the other belligerent powers. If you have a subscription to the Times you can go online to their archives and type in “communique” and a whole lot of them will turn up.

Capture of Lt. Gen. Kurt Dittmar of Magdeburg

from official info of US 30th Infantry Division

“On April 25th, 1945 Lt. Gen. Kurt von Dittmar, German official army news commentator, together with Major Pluskat, Dittmar’s son and two orderlies crossed the Eble River. They crossed at Magdeburg in the zone of the 117th’s Third Battalion [of the 30th Infantry Divison]. Dittmar, the German General Staff radio spokesman, crossed in a boat under a white flag.

He had come, he said, to arrange aid for German wounded on the east bank of the Elbe. It was then discovered he commanded no troops and traveled to the west without the knowledge of the German commander in that sector. Dittmar was then offered to surrender but he refused.

On his way back to recross the river he changed his mind and surrendered along with his son and Major Pluskat, an artillery officer.”

info on the reverse of the photograph above

official history US 30th Infantry Old Hickory Division

 

Here are several communiques from the archives of the New York Times:

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Below is a brief excerpt from my novel, An Honorable German. The phrasing from communiques in the interior monologue of the main character (Max) comes directly from actual German armed forces communiques during WW II. Max is on a train packed with young German soldiers on their way to Russia. In the time line of the novel, it is approximately 23 January 1943 and Max is thinking about the German 6th Army which has been trapped in Stalingrad since November of 1942.

“How would it end? Not well. Most alarming, a few days after Christmas, in his evening radio address, General Dittmar, the voice of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, had begun to speak of “heroic resistance” by Six Armee’s brave troops–never an encouraging sign. Everyone in Germany had learned to decipher the High Command’s euphemisms: “grim and sanguinary fighting increasing in violence” meant the line had collapsed and troops were being pushed back under murderous fire with terrible casualties; “bitter and prolonged fighting” meant you were hopelessly surrounded; “heroic resistance” meant you were already dead.”

RAF Spitfires Fighting Italians

RAF Spitfires flying over mountainous country south of Rome

SUPERMARINE SPITFIRES OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN ITALY, JANUARY 1944 (TR 1532) Two Spitfires IX’s of No 241 Squadron, Royal Air Force, MA425/RZ-R' and MH635/RZ-U’ piloted by Flying Officers H Cogman and J V Macdonald respectively flying over mountainous country south of Rome. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205188815

 

SUPERMARINE SPITFIRES OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN ITALY, JANUARY 1944 (TR 1534) Two Spitfire IX’s of No 241 Squadron, Royal Air Force, MA425/RZ-R' and MH635/RZ-U’ piloted by Flying Officers H Cogman and J V Macdonald respectively, flying over mountainous country south of Rome. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205188817

 

RAF Spitfires flying over Mount Vesuvius

 

SUPERMARINE SPITFIRES OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN ITALY, JANUARY 1944 (TR 1536) Two Spitfire IX’s of No 241 Squadron, Royal Air Force, MA425/RZ-R' and MH635/RZ-U’ piloted by Flying Officers H Cogman and J V Macdonald respectively, flying over Mount Vesuvius. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210937

SUPERMARINE SPITFIRES OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN ITALY, JANUARY 1944 (TR 1532) Two Spitfire IX’s of No 241 Squadron, Royal Air Force, MA425/`RZ-R’ and MH635/`RZ-U’ piloted by Flying Officers H Cogman and J V Macdonald respectively flying over mountainous country south of Rome. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205188815

 

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Royal Air Force Supermarine Spitfire pilot of No 241 Squadron, Flying Officer W R B McMurray looking at a map in Italy. (Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum

 

 

 

 

HMS London Fights Nazis at Sea

County class cruiser HMS London at sea in World War Two
BRITISH AND US PLANES AND WARSHIPS COVER RUSSIAN CONVOY. MAY 1942, ON BOARD HMS VICTORIOUS AT SEA AND AT HVALFJORD, ICELAND. (A 9294) USS WICHITA followed by HMS LONDON in formation while covering a convoy to Northern Russia. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205143154
BRITISH AND US PLANES AND WARSHIPS COVER RUSSIAN CONVOY. MAY 1942, ON BOARD HMS VICTORIOUS AT SEA AND AT HVALFJORD, ICELAND. (A 9290) The cruiser HMS LONDON in the Battle Squadron covering the convoy. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205143150
BRITISH AND US PLANES AND WARSHIPS COVER RUSSIAN CONVOY. MAY 1942, ON BOARD HMS VICTORIOUS AT SEA AND AT HVALFJORD, ICELAND. (A 9291) A Fairey Fulmar on the flight deck of HMS VICTORIOUS with the cruiser HMS LONDON in the background. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205143151
BRITISH AND US WARSHIPS CONVOY SUPPLIES TO RUSSIA. MAY 1942, ON BOARD THE DESTROYER HMS WHEATLAND IN NORTHERN WATERS AND AT HVALFJORD, ICELAND. (A 8959) A look-out aboard HMS WHEATLAND examines HMS LONDON as she closes up. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205142867

 

HMS LONDON (FL 2968) Under tow on the Tyne. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205120265

 

 

 

THE CRUISER HMS LONDON PASSES THROUGH SUEZ CANAL ON HER WAY HOME. SEPTEMBER 1949, THE CRUISER HMS LONDON, DAMAGED WHILE ATTEMPTING TO ASSIST HMS AMETHYST IN THE YANGTSE RIVER ON HER WAY HOME. (A 31560) British London class cruiser HMS LONDON passing through. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205162546

#countyclass cruiser #HMSLondon passing thru #suezcanal 1949 in waning days of empire. Men being inspected are #royalmarine contingent #IWM