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Maritime Monday for July 2, 2012: Byng!
“We shave and cut hair”
This Week’s Nautical Comic: Submarine Attack 019 Charlton Comics December, 1959
Submarine commander Ken White is forced to suddenly submerge, leaving his captain and another crew member to die outside the sub during WW II. Subsequent years of meaningless navy ground assignments and the animosity of a former sailor, leave White (now a captain) feeling guilty and empty. His life spirals downward and his wife is about to leave him. Suddenly, he is forced into a dangerous rescue situation at the start of the Korean War… reassigned to the same submarine where all of his problems began.
HMS Barham was a Queen Elizabeth-class battleship of the Royal Navy named after Admiral Charles Middleton, 1st Baron Barham, built at the John Brown shipyards in Clydebank, Scotland, Laid down on 24 February 1913and launched in 1914. She was sunk off the coast of Egypt during World War II after being torpedoed by German submarine U-331.
HMS Barham set on FlickrHMS Barham (04) explodes as her 15 inch magazine ignites; 25 November 1941
At 4.25pm, while steaming to cover an attack on Italian convoys with the battleships Queen Elizabeth and Valiant and an escort of eight destroyers, Barham was hit by three torpedoes from the German submarine U-331, commanded by Lieutenant Hans-Dietrich von Tiesenhausen.
The torpedoes were fired from a range of only 750 yards providing no time for evasive action, and struck so closely together as to throw up a single massive water column. As she rolled over to port, her magazines exploded and the ship quickly sank with the loss of 862 crewmen.
In an effort to conceal the sinking from the Germans, and to protect British morale, the Admiralty censored all news of Barham’s destruction. The explosion was caught on camera by Gaumont News cameraman John Turner, who was on the deck of the nearby Valiant.
Film of the sinking has been reused many times as stock footage in documentaries. It has also been used fictionally in such films as Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (where it is described as an American destroyer), Task Force (as a Japanese carrier), The Guns of Navarone and The Battle of Okinawa (where it stands in for the Yamato). It has also been featured in the music video for the Red Hot Chili Peppers cover “Higher Ground”.
Since the sinking of the battleship HMS Royal Oak in October 1939, also by a daring U-boat commander, the Admiralty established the policy of immediately announcing all major warship losses. When the German battleship Bismarck blew up HMS Hood in the Denmark Strait in May 1941 the government somberly broadcast the loss of the famous battlecruiser on the same day it was sunk.
But when the British realized the Germans remained unaware of Barham’s destruction, they quickly reversed this policy…
During World War II, Helen was in great demand from anxious relatives, especially those who had lost close family on active war service. In November 1941, Duncan held a séance in Portsmouth at which she indicated knowledge that HMS Barham had been sunk. Because this fact was revealed, in strict confidence, only to the relatives of casualties, and not announced to the public until late January 1942, the Navy started to take an interest in her activities. Two lieutenants were among her audience at a séance on 14 January 1944 and this was followed up on 19 January, when police arrested her.
The prosecution may be explained by the mood of suspicion prevailing at the time: the authorities were afraid that she could continue to reveal classified information, whatever her source was. Duncan was imprisoned for nine months. –more on wikipedia
The Barham Conspiracy from the December 2004 issue of World War II magazineBallast Trust – RMS Medina built by Caird and Company, in Greenock, Scotland, in 1911. During construction it was decided that the Medina would carry King George V and Queen Mary to India for the Delhi Durbar. (1600 x 1037)
Built for the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. She was a Royal Mail Ship intended for use on the London to Australia route. She was torpedoed off Start point, Devon on 1 February 1917 by the German submarine UB-31. The wreck today: Medina is upright with a 15 degree list to port. She is reasonably intact despite salvage of copper and passengers’ baggage from forward holds. Her stern is most damaged and she is sinking into the mud of the seabed. Her bulkheads are collapsing and her compartments are folding down.
RMS Medina (1911) on wikipedia
oil painting of the P&O liner SS Medina (1911) held in the collection of the P&O Group 2,876 × 2,243 pixels
postcards of Medina (1911) on simplonpc.co.uk
In common with virtually all other piers in the south and east of the country, Bournemouth Pier was substantially demolished by an army demolition team in the spring of 1940 as a precaution against German invasion. The pier was repaired and re-opened in August 1946. –more on wikipedia
A city with a history of devastating fires and a design that invites disaster, San Francisco runs a tight ship when it comes to emergency services, and the fireboats are a historical and quite literal example…
2 January 1944: They are wearing merchant seaman rescue kit and are walking down a gang-plank on their way to internment.
Portrait of Admiral John Byng by Thomas Hudson, 1749 (full size)
We have lately been told Of two admirals bold, Who engag’d in a terrible Fight: They met after Noon, Which I think was too soon, As they both ran away before Night. Byng is best known for the loss of Minorca in 1756 at the beginning of the Seven Years’ War. In practice, his ships badly needed repair and he was relieved of his command before he could see to his ships or secure the extra forces he required. He was court-martialled and found guilty of failing to “do his utmost” to prevent Minorca falling to the French following the Battle of Minorca. The Prime Minister, William Pitt the Elder, was aware that the Admiralty was at least partly to blame for the loss at Minorca due to the poor manning and repair of the fleet. Following the court martial and pronouncement of sentence, Admiral Byng had been detained aboard HMS Monarch in the Solent, and on 14 March 1757, he was taken to the quarterdeck for execution. In the presence of all hands and men from other ships of the fleet in boats surrounding Monarch, the admiral knelt on a cushion and signified his readiness by dropping his handkerchief, whereupon a platoon of marines shot John Byng dead.The Shooting of Admiral Byng (2,400 × 1,527) Byng was brought aboard Monarch, which by then was anchored at Portsmouth under Captain John Montagu. Montagu recorded in the ship’s log for 14 March 1757:
These 24 hours very squally, with showers of wind and rain; Admiral Byng’s Co. as before; at 7 A.M. his Coffin came on board; at 10 A.M. all the Ships’ Boats, manned and armed, came to attend his Execution; hard gales, lowered down the lower yards: at noon all hands were called up to attend his execution; he was shot on the larboard side of the Quarter Deck by six Marines, attended by Lieut. Clark, the Marshal, and Mr. Muckings; these gentlemen went ashore after the execution was over…
HMS Monarch (1747) on wikipedia
In 2007, some of Byng’s descendants petitioned the government for a posthumous pardon; the Ministry of Defence refused. Members of his family and a group at Southill in Bedfordshire where the Byng family lived continue to seek a pardon. Byng’s execution has been called “the worst legalistic crime in the nation’s annals”. Nevertheless, it may have influenced the behaviour of later naval officers by helping to inculcate “a culture of aggressive determination which set British officers apart from their foreign contemporaries, and which in time gave them a steadily mounting psychological ascendancy” Such policy considerations were no comfort to the family of their victim. Admiral Byng’s epitaph at the family vault in All Saints Church, in Southill, Bedfordshire, expresses their view and that of much of the country: To the perpetual Disgrace of PUBLICK JUSTICE The Honble. JOHN BYNG Esqr., Admiral of the Blue, Fell a MARTYR to POLITICAL PERSECUTION March 14th in the year 1757 when BRAVERY and LOYALTY were Insufficient Securities For the Life and Honour of a NAVAL OFFICER Byng was the last of his rank to be executed in this fashion, and 22 years after the event the Articles of War were amended to allow “such other punishment as the nature and degree of the offence shall be found to deserve” as an alternative to capital punishment. Byng’s execution was satirized by Voltaire in his novel Candide. In Portsmouth, Candide witnesses the execution of an officer by firing squad; and is told that “in this country, it is good to kill an admiral from time to time, in order to encourage the others”
Painting of HMS Monarch (1868) by William Frederick Mitchell orginaly published in the Royal Navy in a series of illustrations (4,950 × 3,394)
HMS Monarch (1868) was the first sea-going warship to carry her guns in turrets, and the first British warship to carry guns of 12-inch (300 mm) calibre. She was designed by Sir Edward Reed, at a time when the basic configuration of battleship design was undergoing major change simultaneously in many aspects. Sail was gradually giving way to steam, wooden hulls had just been superseded by iron, smoothbore artillery firing round-shot had been overtaken by rifled shell-firing cannon, increasingly heavier armour was being mounted, and there was mounting agitation in naval design circles to abandon broadside armament in favour of that mounted in turrets. In this melting-pot, any battleship design was fated to be a compromise, and the design of Monarch proved to be so…George Peabody, founder of the Peabody Institute, died in London on November 4, 1869 and, at the request of the Dean of Westminster and with the approval of the Queen, was given a temporary burial in Westminster Abbey. His will provided that he be buried in the town of his birth, Danvers, Massachusetts, and Prime Minster Gladstone arranged for his remains to be returned to America on the Monarch, the newest and largest ship in Her Majesty’s Navy. Peabody is the acknowledged father of modern philanthropy, having established the practice later followed by Johns Hopkins, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and Bill Gates. In the United States, his philanthropy largely took the form of educational initiatives. In Britain, it took the form of providing housing for the poor. George Peabody is known to have provided benefactions of well over $8 million, most of them in his own lifetime. The town of South Danvers, Massachusetts, changed its name in 1868 to The City of Peabody, Massachusetts, in honor of its favorite son. A statue sculpted by William Wetmore Story stands next to the Royal Exchange in the City of London, unveiled in 1869 shortly before Peabody’s death. A replica, erected in 1890, stands next to the Peabody Institute, in Mount Vernon Park, part of the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland.
HMS Monarch 1868 on battleships-cruisers.co.uk
Firing Rockets on board H.M.S. Monarch The Illustrated London News, No.2255—Vol. LXXXI, Saturday, July 22, 1882, p.77
A pre-decimal currency postage stamp featuring the cruiser HMS Achilles, part of the Royal New Zealand Navy and one of the three British commanded ships involved in the Battle of the River Plate of WW2 –transpress nz
lightship ambrose on Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook
This lightship was stationed in the Ambrose Channel since 1906, guiding vessel traffic through the main shipping channel just below the Verazzano Narrows bridge, into New York and New Jersey Harbor until 1967. She was given to South Street Seaport Museum by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1968. A light tower replaced it, was hit by ships a few times too many, and, now, the channel is marked by lighted buoys…
HMS Conqueror was an ironclad battleship of the Victorian Royal Navy, whose main armament was an armoured ram. At the time of her design it was thought that ramming attacks were the most effective offensive manoevre against armoured warship, as the armour of the period was, for a short time, able to defend against the majority of contemporary guns extant. This belief was reinforced by the action at the battle of Lissa, when the Austrian battleship Ferdinand Max rammed and sank the Italian Re D’Italia. She was commissioned on 5 July 1887 for the Jubilee Review. She went into reserve at Devonport, becoming tender to the gunnery school Cambridge in 1889. She took part in manoevres on six occasions, and was not otherwise ever out of sight of land. She paid off in July 1902, and remained swinging at anchor at Rothesay until being sold in 1907.World’s Shortest War
The Anglo-Zanzibar War was fought between the United Kingdom and the Zanzibar Sultanate on 27 August 1896. The conflict lasted 38 minutes. The immediate cause of the war was the death of the pro-British Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini on 25 August 1896 and the subsequent succession of Sultan Khalid bin Barghash. The British authorities preferred a different sultan who was more favourable to British interests. In accordance with a treaty signed in 1886, a condition for accession to the sultanate was that the candidate obtain the permission of the British consul, and Khalid had not fulfilled this requirement. The British considered this a casus belli and sent three cruisers, two gunships, 150 marines and sailors, and 900 sympathetic locals in to straighten things out. A bombardment which was opened at 09:02 set the palace on fire and disabled the defending artillery. A small naval action took place with the British sinking a Zanzibari royal yacht. The sultan’s forces sustained roughly 500 casualties, yet only one British sailor was injured.
Her first station was the North America and West Indies Station based in Halifax where, in 1891, she was commanded by HRH Prince George, later to become King George V of the United Kingdom. She was also on active service during the Second Boer War between October 1899 and June 1902. From 1906 Thrush worked for HM Coastguard before becoming a cable ship in 1915. She then became a salvage ship in 1916 before being wrecked off Glenarm in Northern Ireland on 11 April 1917.
HMS St George and HMS PhilomelHMS St George (1892) launched on June 23, 1892; served in the First World War. She was designated as a depot ship in 1909, and sold for breaking up at Plymouth on July 1, 1920. HMS Philomel (1890) a Pearl-class cruiser. She was the sixth ship of that name and served with the Royal Navy from her commissioning in 1890 until 1914, when she was transferred to the New Zealand Navy with whom she served until 1947. She was scuttled in 1949. The masts of the sunken Glasgow can be seen in this panorama of Zanzibar Town harbour taken in 1902
“The conflict begins” Portrait of Schleswig-Holstein firing the opening shots of the Second World War on the Westerplatte, Gdansk, Poland on September 1, 1939
SMS Schleswig-Holstein, one of the five Deutschland-class battleships, was the last pre-dreadnought battleship built by the German Kaiserliche Marine (maritimequest) The ship was laid down in the Germaniawerft dockyard in Kiel in August 1905 and commissioned into the fleet nearly three years later in July 1908. The ships of her class were already outdated by the time they entered service, being inferior in size, armor, firepower and speed to the new post-Dreadnought battleships. The ship fought in both World Wars. During WW I, she saw front-line service in the II Battle Squadron of the High Seas Fleet, which culminated in the Battle of Jutland on 31 May – 1 June 1916. After the battle, Schleswig-Holstein was relegated to guard duties in the mouth of the Elbe River before being decommissioned in late 1917. As one of the few battleships permitted for Germany by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, Schleswig-Holstein was again pressed into fleet service in the 1920s. In the early 1930s, the old battleship was converted into a training ship for naval cadets. In the early morning hours of September 1939, 04:45 local time, launched an attack against Poland. The Schleswig-Holstein, then on a “courtesy visit” to the Free City of Danzig, opened fire on the Polish garrison without warning. Schleswig-Holstein had just fired the first shots of World War II. A force of German marines was landed to take the fortress. The Poles managed to hold off the Germans for seven days, but were forced to surrender on 8 September at 10:30.more on wikipedia
Three hours.That is how long it took a band of defiant Colonists to hack 340 canvas-covered wooden crates of English-owned tea into pieces and throw them into Boston Harbor. A few short months later, a fledgling nation would be embroiled in an all-out war against a superpower. But to reconstruct a permanent, floating museum dedicated to the Boston Tea Party, one of America’s foundational moments that has shaped our national identity? “Twelve years,” said Shawn P. Ford, executive director of the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, sitting in the facility’s pristine sunlit tea room Sunday morning.
Monkey Fist is a smack-talking, potty mouthed, Yankee hating, Red Sox fan in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to compiling Maritime Monday, she blogs about nautical art, history, and marine science on Adventures of the Blackgang. (twitter) Submit story ideas, news links, photographs, or items of interest to her at MM@gcaptain.com. She can also out-belch any man.