October 1940

HMS Rodney is ready, but more Merchant ship losses

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.



September 1940

George Beardmore finds a land-mine

On leaving, Jean asked the gatekeeper: ‘Is that tub-shaped thing with the parachute attached part of the show?’ To which he replied: ‘What tub-shaped thing? I don’t know anything about a tub-shaped thing. I’ve been on fire-watch all night.’ Ten minutes later the fun began. The police arrived at the double and turned the whole street out of doors, advising them to leave doors and windows wide open and then to make themselves scarce while the bomb was de-fused.



September 1940

The menace of the parachute mine

The silence which had followed the “All Clear” five or ten minutes earlier turned into a horrifying medley of terror and confusion. My mother managed to claw her way through the earth and debris which effectively blocked our only exit to the shelter, and called out that next-door’s house was down – OUR house was down – they’re ALL down !



November 1944

An improvised method of clearing the German ‘Schu’ mine

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.



July 1942

Churchill wins Vote of Confidence in the Commons

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.



May 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.



February 1940

German Naval Disaster: Operation Wikinger goes wrong

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.



January 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.



January 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 […]



January 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.’