mines

Nov

9

1944

An improvised method of clearing the German ‘Schu’ mine

A mine-detecting part of 3rd Division at work, 25 November 1944. The leading man is wearing special protective clothing and 'skis' to spread his weight on the ground.

During this battle we had to deal with a quarter of a million mines, the worst of these was the Schu mine which was made of wood and could not be detected. These mines were causing a continuous stream of casualties with horrific injuries. The accepted way to find these mines was to crawl along on hands and knees prodding the ground in front with bayonets. Under heavy fire, an unpleasant task, coupled with the loss of those of us, who unfortunately, prodded them in the wrong place and paid with our lives.

Jul

2

1942

Churchill wins Vote of Confidence in the Commons

A South African sapper laying a mine, Egypt, 2 July 1942.

At the same time, in spite of our losses in Asia, in spite of our defeats in Libya, in spite of the increased sinkings off the American coast, I affirm with confidence that the general strength and prospects of the United Nations have greatly improved since the turn of the year, when I last visited the President in the United States.

Oct

5

1940

Yet another Merchant ship sunk

The Dutch merchantman Ottoland had almost completed her journey from New Brinswick, Canada when she hit a mine on 5th October 1940 in the North Sea. She was already sinking when Coastal Command aircraft arrived on the scene and her cargo of timber and pit props had floated off. Minesweepers were directed to rescue the crew, seen in a boat, top right.

During the period [the week up to 10th October], thirteen ships (32,369 tons) have been reported sunk. Of these, four British (18,141 tons), one Dutch (2,202 tons), and two neutral ships (7,465 tons), were sunk by submarine. Four small ships (1,710 tons) were mined, and two British ships (2,851 tons) were sunk by aircraft.

May

5

1940

Royal Navy submarine HMS Seal is captured

HMS Seal showing battle damage

Two ratings just managed to escape from the flooded rear compartments before the watertight doors were sealed. The seriously damaged submarine now lay with her aft end wedged in the mud unable to surface, despite frantic efforts from the crew. After nearly 24 hours submerged the whole crew were seriously affected by lack of oxygen and some were nearly comatose.

Feb

22

1940

German Naval Disaster: Operation Wikinger goes wrong

The German destroyer Maas, sunk on 22nd February 1940

In the following minutes there was confusion in the remaining five destroyers who had apparently not seen the second attack by the aircraft. In the confined area of the swept channel they faced considerable dangers from their own mines as they tried to rescue the crew from the freezing cold waters. The situation was then compounded by the belief that they were under torpedo attack. The Theodor Riedel interpreted hyrophone sounds as a submarine but she was travelling too slowly when she dropped her depth charges and she damaged her own hull and steering. The Max Schulz was then blown up in another large explosion.

Jan

29

1940

British minelaying in the North Sea

British minelaying operations were responsible for sinking a number of U-Boats and German ships, see for example [permalink id=3861 text='Operation Wikinger'] and the fate of [permalink id=3150 text='U-50']. This Movietone Newsreel demonstrates the enormous effort and resources that were needed to lay effective minefields.

Jan

18

1940

Latest analysis of the U-Boat war

The Naval Military and Air Situation up to 12 noon on the 18th January 1940, as reported to the War Cabinet: Naval Situation General Review The period has again been one of relative quiet at sea, there being only minor incidents to report apart from the loss of H.M. Submarines; Seahorse, Starfish and Undine. In […]

Jan

11

1940

British Minelaying, Finnish tactics in the Winter War

‘A striking feature of the fighting has been the success of the Finnish anti-tank defence, despite a shortage of weapons. Various methods, such as the flinging of incendiary bombs, bundles of hand grenades and bottles of petrol at the tanks have been employed. A new and ingenious tank obstacle has been produced by means of pit props, coated with ice and placed on the frozen ground. These props rotate under the tracks of the tank, which can make no headway.’

Dec

22

1939

A cold winter arrives in Europe

The movement of ships in convoys, the laying of huge mine fields by both Britain and Germany, the sinking of ships and the widespread use of explosives to sink mines, and in the use of depth charges to seek to destroy submarines were responsible for ‘mixing up’ the warm and cold water layers of the sea.

Nov

30

1939

HMS Rawalpindi, Magnetic Mines and an unseen ‘raider’

On receipt of the news of the sinking of H.M.S. Rawalpindi the Home Fleet took up positions in the North Sea calculated to intercept the German warships, should they be attempting to return home.