Welcome to Historical RFA
- While undocking at Liverpool in 1921 RFA SCOTOL had four collisions with other ships in the same basin. If you are going to have a collision or two or three or … make it worth while!
- The Master of RFA SPRUCOL docked the ship at Grangemouth, Scotland in 1920 and sold the ships ropes – which weighed 2 tons 9¾ cwt – he was sentenced to 4 months imprisonment at Falkirk Sheriff’s Court
- In 1952, while RFA WAVE CHIEF was at anchor during the Korean campaign, the “MAN OVERBOARD” signal was sounded. The Captain’s pet parrot had flown overboard. A lifeboat was hastily lowered and after much trouble with the starting of its engine, the soggy bird was rescued – much to the dismay of those who objected to its early morning squawking!
- RFA TIDESPRING (1) had anchored in Mevagissey Bay near Plymouth overnight and when the anchor was raised the following morning, a fisherman’s lobster basket containing a couple of lobsters had caught on one of the flukes. The basket was retrieved aboard, the lobsters were taken out and replaced with a bottle of Hankey Bannister whiskey on which the Captain had written “Thanks for the lobsters with the compliments of the RFA” and lowered back into the water which must have been a pleasant surprise for the fisherman concerned.
- RFA TIDESPRING (1) was being inspected by an Admiral down in the Falkland Islands shortly after the 1982 conflict and he asked the Quartermaster on duty at the gangway “What would you do if you spotted a swimmer in the water approaching the ship?” The Quartermaster replied “I’d offer him a cup of tea as it is a long way to swim from Argentina”. The Admiral apparently was not in the slightest bit amused!
- In the early 80’s when monies were being raised for the SIR GALAHAD Lifeboat Fund, a number of innovative ideas transpired, some of which raised a large amount of money in their own right. One intrepid AB raised a small fortune by competing in a Ship’s Marathon doing laps around the Upper Deck of a particular ship dressed in nothing but his DMS Boots and a policeman’s helmet, both items of apparel protecting his feet and head from the scorching sun but unfortunately these did not help much with other parts of his anatomy which caused him to walk around somewhat gingerly for a few days afterwards!. On reaching Plymouth he was even interviewed on the local TV news which no doubt helped to cheer the locals up a bit.
- RFA BLACK RANGER was exercising with the submarine HMS THULE when the latter accidentally tried to surface underneath the oiler and a funny signal was sent by the submarine which read “Only Thules rush in where Rangers fear to tread”
- RFA OLYNTHUS (1) was supporting HMS EXETER, HMS AJAX and HMAS ACHILLES just prior to the Battle of the River Plate and a signal was reportedly sent to her saying “If the GRAF SPEE” comes your way – let her through”
The De Havilland Comet aircraft was introduced into commercial service on the 2 May 1952 when the first of the nine Mk 1 Comets operated by B.O.A.C. (what later became the long haul division of British Airways) flew from London to Johannesburg – the aircraft was G-ALYP or ‘Yoke Peter’.
Of the nine BOAC Mk 1 Comets five crashed although not all with fatal consequences – the first, G-ALYZ only last 26 days in service when it came down, on take off, from Ciampino Airport, Rome on 26 October 1952. This was adjudged to be through a design fault in the aircraft.
In August 1914, while underage, David Hood joined the Army and underwent training at Plymouth, Devon. By March 1915 Private David Hood joined his battalion – the 2nd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders – who were serving on the Western Front and were attached to the 19th Brigade, 6th Division. The Battalion had gone to war in France and Flanders, landing at Boulogne on 14 August 1914 and as such these original troops were ‘Old Contemptibles’.
RFA WAVE VICTOR’S CLOSE CALL WITH A HEAVYWEIGHT - HMS VANGUARD
In September 1953, RFA WAVE VICTOR commanded by Captain Frank C. Holt was tasked with replenishing NATO warships during “EXERCISE MARINER,” the largest NATO exercise ever held. It was a massive 19 day air-sea training operation in the North Atlantic near Iceland – in not so clement weather! In fact, storm force (force 9) winds prevailed. Ships involved included Britain’s last battleship HMS VANGUARD and the aircraft carrier HMS EAGLE. The US battleship IOWA was also in attendance. According to the press, the exercise involved nine Atlantic Treaty nations. Nearly 300 ships, over 1,000 aircraft and 500,000 servicemen took part in the exercise which ranged over five million square miles from Iceland to North America.
Requisitioned Auxiliaries of World War 1
Regular visitors to the site will have noticed that not only do the RFA Historical Society research and publish vast amounts of material concerning the ships and the people of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in order to preserve the facts for posterity but also that there are regular updates to the Requisitioned Ships’ Section.
On the outbreak of WW1 thousands of commercial ships were requisitioned for tasks which were sometimes extraordinarily different to the tasks these same ships had performed in peacetime.
Very large numbers of ship were needed to not only transport vital supplies of food, coal, oil, ammunition and other goods but also to serve in other roles to protect, interrogate or investigate ships which may or may not have been what they appeared to be. Thus something in the region of 3,000 ships were requisitioned for service as Collier Transports alone, nearly 300 ships as Oiler Transports, then many others to serve in such diverse roles as Store Carriers, Armed Merchant Cruisers, Armed Boarding Steamers, Auxiliary Minesweepers and other lesser but still important roles, which resulted in thousands of tons of shipping being lost but more tragically, thousands of lives of Merchant Seafarers too.