Past Pics

Once upon a time (and I am talking last century here), cameras could not produce colour images, or should I say that photography was a monochrome activity. Like so many others of my generation I have a whole stack of images of family members who are no longer with us, and all of these images are in black and white. I have to admit I have a soft spot for mono images, they can be extremely atmospheric and their quality seemingly does not deteriorate as quickly as a colour print. Ship photographs in black and white are not as rare as you would think, and even in the time when colour photography was normal a lot of professional and press photography was in black and white. Over the years I have picked up some odds and sods and I want to put them up here for posterity. At some point Google will spider this page and they will become a part of the internet and hopefully survive long after I have popped my clogs.

Royal Navy.

I somehow acquired some images of the Royal Navy in Malta, and particularly prominent were 2 images of HMS Courageous.  She was sunk by U29 on 17 February 1939 with the loss of 519 of her crew. Originally built as a the lead ship of  Courageous-class cruisers she participated in the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight in November 1917 and after the war was converted into an aircraft carrier between June 1924 and February 1928. How do I know it is Courageous? It was written on the back of the pic. 

HMS Courageous
HMS Rodney and HMS Courageous
 

The fleet is in. This image shows elements of the Royal Navy supposedly in Grand Harbour, Malta. It may also be back to front. Unfortunately I cannot ID any of the vessels. 

The image below is part of a Christmas card that was amongst the collection. The Spithead Review of 1953 was a large one, and our RFA was in “Line H”. A number of the ships names are familiar to me, but notables are: Amerigo Vespucci, Pretoria Castle, HMS Eagle, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Vanguard, Andes, THV Patricia, HMS Sheffield, HMS Maidstone, RMS Mauretania, etc. There is a nice pdf at http://cloudobservers.co.uk/ that shows the ships names and layout of the fleet. 

Quite by accident I have an old Illustrated London News from 1953 that has a section on the Coronation Review of 1953, and there is an image of part of the fleet with the RMS Mauretania steaming between the columns en route for Southampton.  (Image is 1500 x 675 px)  

Not all of the images that I got were from the Navy, a number featured passenger ships too. It is either the Armadale or Kenilworth Castle. 

This is either Winchester or Carnarvon Castle as built, or possibly Warwick Castle. Unfortunately the image did not have a name written on the back.

Two more unidentified Union-Castle ships in Southampton.

The same collection had the following two images:

3 funnel ship in floating dock. Possibly RMS Majestic in Southampton? Unfortunately the image is damaged and  I will see whether I can restore parts of it.

RMS Aquitania in New York.  Unfortunately I am unable to find a larger version of this image in my files.

Many years ago I was given this image of the Queen Elizabeth in Cape Town during the 2nd World War. I was never able to scan it one piece because it was wider than the scanner was which is why it has a definite “join” in the image. 

I was also given this image that they said was of HMS Vanguard, however Vanguard had a transom stern and she clearly does not, It is actually HMS Howe (you can read the name on the ship if you look close enough).

And another that I was given: MV Diplomat. 

I also managed to scrounge some ship images that were taken in Cape Town, the physical images themselves are roughly 50 x 50 mm and they scanned quite well but within the limits of the originals.  They were also scratched and battered, but are better than nothing. I will try clean them up as best I can. (images open are 800×600)

Pendennis Castle
Windsor Castle
Randfontein
City of Exeter
Maasdam or Ryndam
Hamburg
Angelina Lauro
SA Trader,  Transporter or  Pioneer
SA Shipper, ex Clan Robertson.
Simonskerk
Unidentified (Harrisons Line?)
Unidentified Lykes Lines
Mormacsea
Patris Ex Bloemfontein Castle
Arundel or Windsor Castle
Unknown Mitsui OSK ship
   
   

DRW © 2020. Recreated 30/05/2020. Unfortunately I am unable to credit the images to anybody as I do not know the names of the original photographers, however I would like to thank them for recording this slice of shipping history. Special thanks to Ken Malcom for his ID’s of some of the ships.

OTD: The Sinking of the Titanic

On this day in 1912 the world experienced a shipping disaster that would reverberate though history and leave us with a legacy that continues over 100 years after it occurred.  The sinking of the Titanic is not just about a ship sinking on it’s maiden voyage, but also about the arrogance of man, the structures of class and influence of money, the unwritten rules governing trans-Atlantic travel, the heroism of those who stayed at their posts and the folly of man. Strangely enough at this point in our history some of those structures are still visible as we face a global pandemic. 

The story of the disaster is well known and I won’t repeat it, suffice to say there is a lot written about the sinking, and a lot of hot air written about it too. The concept of fake news has been with us a long time, and a quick glimpse of those early newspaper headlines will quickly reveal that sucking a story out of your thumb is one way to get your foot in the door and get yourself published. 

Unfortunately the sinking did not only affect those on board but also their families. The families of the luckless crew being particularly hard hit, the many graves in Southampton are testament to how the sinking affected the city and it’s people. 

Since the Titanic went down in 1912 mankind has become an expert at killing members of its race, 1500 people lost in one disaster may have seemed like a lot, but it was just a portent to what would happen in 1914 – 1918, and while there were lessons to be learnt about that conflict we promptly did it again in 1939 – 1945. Whenever I gave a talk about the Titanic I would count how many people were present at the function and use that to illustrate how many were in a lifeboat on the Atlantic in the morning of 15 April. 1500 seems like a lot, but in reality it is only a lot when you are amongst those who have lost a family member or a father/mother/son/daughter. 

The Titanic is not only about a ship, it is about people and how they reacted under those unique circumstances, we can look at them and agree that so many met their deaths with courage and fortitude. “Women and children first” may no longer apply in our modern world; we would probably be afraid to even think about something like that because we may offend the PC mob. Yet when the water is lapping at your feet we are theoretically all equal.

The Titanic is a crumbling heap of rust in the darkness of the North Atlantic, let us leave her in peace and let us remember the ship and it’s people on this day. 

DRW © 2020 Created 15/04/2020

OTD: Argentina Invades The Falkland Islands

On this day: 2 April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. In response to the invasion the British government dispatched a naval task force to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force before making an amphibious assault on the islands. The conflict lasted 74 days and ended with an Argentine surrender on 14 June, returning the islands to British control. In total, 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel, and three Falkland Islanders died during the hostilities. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falklands_War.

Unfortunately the sovereignty of the islands was never really sorted out and Argentina still maintains that they belong to Argentina, even going so far as referring to them as “Islas Malvinas“.

There were many memorable events during the conflict, and some that stand out are:  The sinking of the Belgrano, The Black Buck raids, Canberra and QE2 called up into service as troopships, the sinking of HMS Sheffield, HMS Ardent, HMS Antelope, HMS Coventry, RFA Sir Galahad, SS Atlantic Conveyor, The bravery of the ground forces and the success of the Hawker Harrier, the unpreparedness of the Falkands against invasion, and so many more. It makes for fascinating reading although very little appears to have been written from the Argentinean point of view.

There are many memorials to the Falkands war in the United Kingdom. Worth mentioning are:

National Memorial Arboretum:

The South Atlantic Campaign 1982.

Portsmouth:

Southampton:

Trinity Gardens, London:

There are quite a few resources on YouTube that deal with the Falklands too, and of course that memorable footage of the Canberra berthing in Southampton after the war. (Image opens in YouTube video).

The Canberra had a wonderful image in her one stair tower of her arrival home but sadly a good photo of the image was almost impossible to get.

The Falklands conflict happened the year after my national service and today the veterans of that war are also wearing their medals and realising that their experiences back then are forgotten so many years down the line, and some will ask themselves what was it all in aid of? The same is possibly true for those Argentinean conscripts that were sent to the Falklands on what was really a very poorly planned and futile exercise. It is the same question that we ask ourselves too.  General Leopoldo Galtieri did not expect the reaction that came from the United Kingdom, and neither did the rest of the world. Nobody thought that a naval task force would be up to the task, but they were very wrong. The Falklands conflict is just another war in a succession of small wars through the centuries, but sadly the lessons that were learnt have all been forgotten. 

DRW © 2020.  Created 02/04/2020.