Fleet Air Arm Protecting Convoys

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 22308) Protection for convoys is one of the jobs of the Fleet Air Arm planes of the Royal Air Naval Station, Sierra Leone. Here a Boulton Paul Defiant from the station sweeps over a big convoy which is just leaving Freetown Harbour. The aircraft took off from from HMS SPURWING, Royal Naval Air Station in Sierra Leone, once a stretch of untouchable bush. Part of the wings and struts of the biplane from wh… Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205016128

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 22306) Two of the station’s Boulton Paul Defiant aircraft in flight after taking off from HMS SPURWING, Royal Naval Air Station in Sierra Leone, once a stretch of untouchable bush. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205016127

 

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 7869) A Fairey Fulmar returns to HMS VICTORIOUS after doing patrol during a Home Fleet convoy to Russia. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185619

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 DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 22312) A Fairey Fulmar aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm about to take off from HMS SPURWING, a Royal Naval Air Station in Sierra Leone, on a coastal reconnaissance. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205186969

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 ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 6123) A Fairey Fulmar being flagged off from the flight deck of HMS VICTORIOUS at Scapa Flow. The carrier’s island can be seen in the background. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185487

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 6120) A Fairey Fulmar taking off from the flight deck of HMS VICTORIOUS at Scapa Flow. Two more of the aircraft can be seen at the end of the flight deck. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185486

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.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 6955) A Fairey Fulmar warming up on the flight deck of HMS VICTORIOUS. Note the Donald Duck painted on the nose of the plane. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185544

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 7003) Sub Lieutenant (A) M Bennett, RNVR, in the cockpit of his Fairey Fulmar on board HMS VICTORIOUS. Note the art work on the nose of the aircraft. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185552

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.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 7279) In the hangar deck of HMS VICTORIOUS at Hvalfjord, Iceland a row of Fairey Fulmars is flanked on either side by two rows of Fairey Albacores, all with their wings folded. The photograph was taken around the time of the search for the TIRPITZ. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185573

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.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 5950) The forward part of the flight deck of HMS VICTORIOUS with Fairey Fulmars and Fairey Albacores on board during preparations for Norwegian operations. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185479

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 7540) A bearded Fleet Air Arm gunner, Leading Airman C H Clark, from Tadworth, Surrey, exits his Fairey Albacore aircraft carrying his flying kit, after his aircraft returned from a patrol to HMS VICTORIOUS off the coast of Iceland. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185586

 

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.

Was Brexit Inevitable?

credit: Pixabay

While the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union sent global financial markets into a free fall and will affect trade travel across the continent, the “Brexit” vote was far less a vote against the EU and far more a racially charged vote against immigration.

Anyone can become an American. But, a person of color cannot become English — even if that person swears allegiance to the crown and becomes a British subject. Why is this? Unlike the United States, the British Isles have little experience with a multiracial democracy. English people are white. Since 84 percent of the population of the UK is English, the aforementioned terms are mostly synonymous.

A black or brown person can legally become an English citizen, but that person will never become culturally English, no matter how much money she acquires or how upper class his accent becomes. It is a subtle difference but a critical one. Does this mean that all English people who are white are racists? No, of course not. But, there are cultural lines that are almost impossible to cross.

In 2001, according the United Kingdom’s Office of National Statistics, the population of Great Britain was 92 percent white. In 2011, white people in the UK comprised 87 percent: a drop of 5 percent. While the overall population has been growing, this is because of immigration and not an increase in the family size of the white English population.

While it is hard for us to imagine now, in 1945, when World War II came to an end, the British Empire still ruled almost a quarter of the globe and almost a quarter of the population of the entire world. Without the massive assistance provided by the Empire, including millions of soldiers, the Anglo-American alliance would have had a far more difficult time defeating Nazi Germany.

However, there were actually two empires in one: the self-governing white British Dominions such as Australia, Canada et al; and the non-white British colonies which were governed directly or indirectly by the British Crown. Therefore, the British had vast experience in governing people of color, but little experience in accepting them as equals.

Beginning in the late 1950s, men of color were recruited from former English colonies to come to England to work, due to a labor shortage. For instance, black men from the colony of Jamaica were recruited to drive London’s famous bright-red double decker buses. Other “coloured” subjects of the British Crown, including those from the Indian subcontinent, once ruled in its entirety by the British, could relocate to Great Britain and become citizens or permanent residents.

The white population wasn’t diluted very much in the beginning, but it slowly began to shrink as a percentage, more than many British people wanted. In the 1980s, controls on immigration of “coloured” people —defined as any person who wasn’t white, including Asians—were introduced and became more and more strict as time went on. By 2010, these controls reduced the flow of immigrants from the former Empire to fewer than 25,000 people.

However, these strict measures did not reduce the number of immigrants. In fact, the number increased. In 2004 the EU had expanded to include many of the poorer countries of Europe, especially Eastern Europe. And a citizen of any country that is part of the EU can move to any other country in the EU, settle down and work. By 2009, more than 1.5 million people, many from Eastern Europe, legally immigrated to the UK under this policy.

Prior to the Brexit, several key events occurred that pushed British voters over the edge:

1) In a 15-month period beginning in January of 2015, more than one million refugees, largely from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, sought asylum in the EU. While Britain only took a handful of refugees, this ignited a fear that a white, Christian Europe was about to be overrun with black and brown people, most of whom were Muslims.

2) On New Year’s Eve of 2015, during a traditional festival in Cologne, hundreds of German women were sexually assaulted in various ways — including being forcibly grabbed, kissed, groped and fondled. Many of the perpetrators turned out to be North African Muslims. As these men were identified and arrested, police discovered that most of them were refugees who had applied for asylum.

3) In November of 2015, Islamic terrorists murdered 130 French men and women in Paris, leading to further demands by the British public to curb immigration.

4) Great Britain doesn’t have the same historical experience absorbing large numbers of immigrants that the United States does. 47,000 people immigrated to Great Britain in 1997. By 2005 that number had grown to 320,000 immigrants. Over the 13-year period from 1997 to 2010, 3.6 million foreign migrants moved to Great Britain.

5) By 2011, Great Britain’s total population was 63 million. In 2014, 8.3 million, or 13 percent, of the population of Great Britain was foreign-born.

6) Months before Brexit, the UK government announced that between March 2014 and March 2015, net migration to the UK totaled 330,000 people.

In a country with these historic issues integrating migrants, Brexit feels inevitable.

The only surprise is that people are surprised.

Most Important Weather Forecast in History

  “Group Capt. Stagg and his colleagues (were) under almost unimaginable pressure and conflict… with the fate of the war and perhaps the world hanging in the balance.”

 

Group Captain J M Stagg, Chief Meteorological Officer with the Royal Air Force, responsible for forecasting weather conditions for D Day. CH 14235 Part of AIR MINISTRY SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION Royal Air Force official photographer
Group Captain J M Stagg, Chief Meteorological Officer with the Royal Air Force, responsible for forecasting weather conditions for D Day. 
Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum, AIR MINISTRY SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION. Royal Air Force official photographer

Comments Charles McCain: Stagg was the considered the top weather forecaster in Great Britain. He was a civilian but during the war he was given the rank of Group Captain and made Chief Meteorological Officer of the RAF.

 

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Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower aboard the HMS Apollo, a mine layer, on a visit to a beachhead along French coast, June 7, 1944.
(photo courtesy of Eisenhower Foundation)

“OK, let’s go.”

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, giving the final order for D-day, the assault on Nazi-occupied France, June 5, 1944

The greatest invasion force in the history of warfare stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, on D-Day, June 6, 1944. It was the beginning of a campaign of liberation to eliminate Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and its commander, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force, called it “The Great Crusade.”

Eisenhower gave the final order that put the vast operation in motion in the early morning hours of June 5, as meteorologists predicted a temporary break in the stormy weather. Hours later he wrote this note, in case the operation were to fail. In the statement, he praised the men he commanded and accepted total responsibility for the failure the next day could bring. The only apparent hint of nerves on his part is his error in dating the note “July 5” instead of June 5.

(courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Presidential Papers, Principal File: Butcher Diary 1942-1945). Harry Butcher was Eisenhower’s naval aide.

 

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US Army troops heading for the beaches at Normandy 6 June 1944

(photo courtesy of USA Today)

 

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As this Coast Guard LCI noses into a French Invasion beach to debark it’s load of American troops, a Nazi mine explodes close off its port bow. Exposed to enemy fire in the beach dashes, Coast Guard Coxswain and Gun Crew felt the first fury of German shell and machine gun fire, as well as the blasts of hidden mines. From the Records of the U.S. Coast Guard (RG 26).

“To go or not to go?”

 The Most Important Weather Forecast in History:

Gen. Eisenhower’s chief meteorologist, Group Capt. James Martin Stagg, made one of the most important weather forecasts of all time. Defying his colleagues, he advised Ike to postpone the invasion of Normandy by one day from June 5, 1944, to June 6, because of uncertain weather conditions….

Stagg — who was actually a geophysicist by training — and his fellow British and American meteorologists were operating without any of the technology and equipment that today’s forecasters take for granted, such as satellites, weather radar, computer modeling and instant communications.

Predicting the exact timing, track and strength of these storms put Group Capt. Stagg and his colleagues under almost unimaginable pressure and conflict… with the fate of the war and perhaps the world hanging in the balance.

Years later, during their ride to the Capitol for his inauguration, President-elect John F. Kennedy asked President Eisenhower why the Normandy invasion had been so successful.

Ike’s answer: “Because we had better meteorologists than the Germans!”

 

sources: USA Today and The Forecast for D-day: And the Weatherman behind Ike’s Greatest Gamble, by John Ross

 

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D-Day 6 June 1944. A LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase disembarks troops of Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One) wading onto the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach (Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France) on the morning of June 6, 1944. American soldiers encountered the newly formed German 352nd Division when landing. During the initial landing two-thirds of the Company E became casualties.

(Photo by USCG Chief Photographer’s Mate Robert F. Sargent. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration)

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June 6, 1944
A paratrooper loads for take off in England in preparation to leave for invasion

Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration)

Queen Elizabeth II, senior royals mark 75th anniversary Battle of Britain

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Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, fourth left, waves beside from left, Sophie Countess of Wessex, Prince Edward, Prince William and her husband Prince Philip after they watched a Royal Air Force flypast to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain from a balcony at Buckingham Palace, in London, Friday, July 10, 2015. On July 10, 1940, during World War II, the Battle of Britain began as the Luftwaffe started attacking southern England. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

LONDON (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II and other royals have watched from the balcony of Buckingham Palace balcony as vintage aircraft flew overhead to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
Spitfires and Hurricanes from World War II flew along with modern counterparts Friday as six elderly veteran pilots joined the royals for the ceremony.

The 10th of July is widely viewed as the start of the famous air battle because of a series of Luftwaffe attacks on shipping convoys off the British coast on that day in 1940.

The British eventually beat back the German air forces, dealing the Nazis their first significant defeat.
The queen was joined by her husband, Prince Philip, her sons Prince Edward and Prince Andrew, grandson Prince William and other royals on the balcony.

posted by author Charles McCain

https://www.charlesmccain.com

Life on a Sunderland Flying Boat

Responding to an Air Ministry request for a general reconnaissance flying boat, Short mostly copied the design of their famous “Empire”  flying boat. This aircraft, which first flew in 1937, was the flagship of Imperial Airways. By making changes to the original design, the Short Brothers Sunderland flying boat was quickly approved and went operational in 1938. (Hence, ‘short’ is not a description of the plane just the name of the company which built them).

 

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Short Sunderland in World War Two

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No 210 Squadron Sunderland L 5798/DA-A, taxying on the water at Oban, August 1940.
Date between 1939 and 1945.

(Brits write “taxying” while Americans write “taxiing”)

photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.

 

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Looking for U-Boats in World War Two

The pilot of a Short Sunderland of No. 201 Squadron RAF, scans the sea through binoculars while on patrol over the Atlantic from its base at Castle Archdale, County Fermanagh.  (Photo by Flight Officer H Hensser, Royal Air Force official photographer and courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.)

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Sunderland On Take-Off Run

This is A Mark IIIa with Mk III engines and bomb windows, but Mk V radar blisters and nose guns. Photo and caption from Canadian Forces. Now in the public domain.

 

The major difficulty encountered by Short Sunderland pilots on take-off was getting the aircraft to break free from the surface tension or suction of the water. By using a special hull design, Short Brothers maximized the ability of the Sunderland to become airborne. Even with that, it could be difficult in perfectly calm weather to get the plane into the air.

Pilots would often rock their planes back and forth to break the surface tension. Taking off was never easy and sometimes the plane had to go quite a distance before it broke free from the hold of the water and became airborne. Once in the air, depending on weather and speed, the Sunderland could stay aloft for as long as fourteen hours. It carried a crew of 11. A set of bunks, kerosene stove and flush toilet were provided for the crew.

 

A_Short_Sunderland_Mk_I_flying_boat_of_No._210_Squadron_RAF_based_at_Oban_in_Scotland,_patrols_over_a_Canadian_troop_convoy_on_its_way_to_Greenock,_31_July_1940._CH832

Sunderland L2163/DA-G, one of a pair from No 210 Squadron, patrolling over convoy TC6 carrying Canadian troops to Britain, 31 July 1940. The convoy had left Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 23 July and was due to arrive at Greenock on 1 August. (Photo by Mr. S A Devon, RAF Official Photographer. Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

 Convoys carrying troops received the highest level of protection which could be mustered. This included air cover although aircraft could not stay over the convoy the entire time because the distance was too great until the arrival of Very Long Range Liberators in late 1943. Every troop convoy had both significant numbers of Royal Navy escorts and a Royal Navy battleship with its escorting destroyers.

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Royal Air Force Coastal Command
A peaceful scene at Castle Archdale in Northern Ireland on 20 May 1943, as a seaplane tender passes a Sunderland of No 201 Squadron. The censor has removed all trace of the aircraft’s fuselage-mounted ASV aerials.
photo by RAF official photographer Mr. H. Hensser
photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.

Posted by Charles McCain on http://charlesmccain.com/blog/

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Royal Air Force Coastal Command, 1939-1945. Sergeant Patrick McCombie, a flight engineer of the Royal Australian Air Force, in his bunk on board a Short Sunderland of No. 10 Squadron RAAF at Mount Batten, Plymouth, Devon. Date between 1939 and 1945.

Note the cigarette in the photo above. It not only took bravery to simply be a member of the aircrew of one of these Sunderland Flying Boats since they were relatively slow and easy to shoot down. But it took as much bravery to smoke a cigarette in an airplane filled with high octane aviation fuel which was not stored nearly as safely as aviation fuel is in modern aircraft.

Because a Sunderland Flying Patrol Bomber could stay in the air for as long as 14 hours, bunks, a small kitchen, and a flush toilet were supplied for the aircrew which usually totaled 11 men. Two men were always on board when the float plane was anchored and if there was any hint of bad weather then a pilot had to stay aboard as well to taxi the plane and turn it into the wind.

Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum

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Royal Air Force Coastal Command Sunderland

August 1940The Frazer-Nash FN13 rear turret of a Sunderland of No 210 Squadron at Oban, August 1940. The Sunderland was the first RAF flying boat to be fitted with power-operated gun turrets.
This is photograph CH 854 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums now in the public domain.

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Royal Air Force Coastal Command Sunderland

Close-up of the nose of a Sunderland of No 210 Squadron at Oban, August 1940. A mooring compartment was situated in the nose of the Sunderland, containing anchor, winch, boat-hook and ladder. The front turret was designed to slide back, enabling the crew to secure the aircraft to a buoy, as demonstrated here. The circle painted on the fuselage just below the cockpit is a gas-detection patch.
Date between 1939 and 1945

(photo by Devon S A (Mr), Royal Air Force official photographer, courtesy Imperial War Museum.)

 

you can read more details about the Sunderland in this:

excellent article on Short Sunderland from Uboat Net

Cameras reveal the secret lives of Chernobyl’s wildlife

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wildlife captured by automatic cameras in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Top pic is a wild boar and bottom pic is a lynx.

From the BBC

“Automatic cameras in the Ukrainian side of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone have provided an insight into the previously unseen secret lives of wildlife that have made the contaminated landscape their home.

Throughout 2015, the cameras will be positioned at 84 locations, allowing a team of scientists to record the type of animals passing through the area and where they make their home.”

This research is being carried out by a consortium of universities in the UK. The purpose of the reseach gives the organization its acronym of TREE: TRansfer – Exposure – Effects (TREE)
“Integrating the science needed to underpin radioactivity assessments
for humans and wildlife.” Their website is here:

www.ceh.ac.uk/tree

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-32452085

 

 

 

Titanic’s Sister Ship Arrives New York City Without Sinking

 

RMS Olympic

 

White Star liner RMS Olympic arrives in New York for the first time 21 June 1911.  

Photo courtesy US Library of Congress

Most British passenger liners were built with a subsidy from the Royal Mail to fulfill a secondary but very important role of carrying mail to the USA, Canada and the far flung British Empire.  Hence, RMS stands for “Royal Mail Steamer.”

(After the First World War, most small airlines in the US were subsidized by the US Post Office and that was the beginning of air mail)

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White Star line RMS Olympic and her sister ship RMS Titanic probably taken circa 1911.

(Photo credit Titanic Wiki)

The RMS Titanic was her sister ship and built after RMS Olympic. The third ship in the series, originally to be named, Gigantic, had her named changed to Britannic prior to being built. I think this was a good idea, certainly from a PR point of view.

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Above is HMHS Britannic in her hospital livery. According to author Sean Munger: “photographs of the Britannic are pretty rare. Here is one, taken about 1915, of the ship decked out in her hospital colors. The funnels would have been painted tan.”

photo courtesy of Sean Munger

Mr. Munger is an authority on these ships and his website can he found here:

http://seanmunger.com/

Unfortunately, the name change didn’t bring luck. Just after completion, Britannic was requisitioned by the British Government on the outbreak of World War One to serve as a hospital ship and given the prefix “HMHS (His Majesty’s Hospital Ship) Britannic”  She hit a mine in the Aegean on 21 November 1916 and sank.

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HMHS Britannic on the bottom of the Aegean Sea. The ship is a war grave since 30 0f the 1,066 passengers and patients aboard perished leaving 1,036 survivors.

(Photo credit Titanic Wiki)

The following info comes from  Titanic Wiki whose website is here: http://titanic.wikia.com/wiki/HMHS_Britannic :

The ship sank in water only 119 meters deep (390 feet),….the ship was almost 900 feet in length……So it is no surprise that–

“…..Britannic’s bow hit the bottom whilst her stern is was above the surface. The last few men who were below decks by now, had left the ship. Fifth Officer Fielding estimated the stern rose  some 150 feet into the air. With all her funnels detached, Britannic finally completed her starboard roll, causing heavy damage to the forward bow area. Britannic slipped beneath the surface almost an hour after she hit the mine.”

[I have changed the tense in the original quote above from present to past]

Since the ship was in the service of the British Government at the time it sank it remains the property of the British government and can’t be dived on without the permission of the British Government. In my mind, far too many warships are explored by divers who do not respect them as war graves and who often seize such equipment as engine telegraphs and other items which can easily be pried off and stolen. There are many details of this in the book Shadow Divers.

As you will recall, RMS Titanic had her unfortunate encounter with an iceberg in 1912 and sank.21 November 1916, and sank 55 minutes later, killing 30 people.

Fortunately, RMS Olympic enjoyed a long and safe life as a passenger steamer and temporary hospital ship and sailed from 1911 to 1935 without a mishap.

As much as we associate Atlantic liners of the era with the wealthy, the shipping firms actually made their money carrying immigrants to the US and Canada. When that stopped so did cash flow. In January of 1934, both the White Star Line and the Cunard Line were about to go under financially. The British government promised to lend them money to build several new ships if they would merge which the two companies did with “almost indecent haste.”

The new ships became the famous Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth which played a major part in World War Two transporting troops. Each ship could carry an entire US Army division of more than 15,000 men. Most US troops sent to Europe were transported on one of these ships. Indeed, so many American military personnel were transported to Europe by the Queens, that the US Government paid the entire operating costs of the ships.

Both liners retained their original Cunard Line officers and crew but their designations changed from RMS--Royal Mail Steamer–to HMT–His Majesty’s Transport–since the two ships were officially taken over my the British Ministry of War Transport.

A very large number of changes were made including a permanent ship’s police force mainly comprising US MPs who were assisted in maintaining order by the MPs assigned to each unit. There was little trouble form the soldiers, most of whom were seasick and were bunked in with their non-commissioned officers who had strict orders to keep everyone in their quarters.

In reasonable weather, the passage took less than four days since both the Queens steamed at maximum speed which was roughly 32 knots…………

You couldn’t walk around the ship as you pleased, not even the Army officers could do that.

Source: Warrior Queens: the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth in World War Two by Daniel Allen Butler.