Welcome to Historical RFA
In June, 1918 the Admiralty made plans for an air ship to be built which would "be required to patrol the North Sea for six days without support, as far as 300 miles from a home base." It was to have a combat ceiling of 22,000ft, and was required to carry enough fuel for 65 hours at full speed of 70.6 mph. It was agreed that the air ship would be classed as "Admiralty A Class" and was to be designated as the R38.
We have all heard of Ballistic Missile Submarines, Guided Missile Destroyers and Frigates, but how many of you have heard of a tanker with a ballistic unguided missile capability, not many I would wager.
In early 1987 RFA Olwen had two very special tubes fitted to her flight deck; each tube was around 30 feet long and 21 inches in diameter and gave the ship the appearance of an old Battleship with the tubes looking like main armament. One of the tubes had been mounted on a base plate that was cut into Olwen’s flight deck and the other was on a portable platform. The tubes were steered on two axes and had to be aligned to the ship’s centre line to operate effectively.
RFA Limol - a tragedy at Gibraltar
On 16 February 1936 at Gibraltar a local resident – Francisco Lopez Ramos – was picking grass in the side road which leads to the Jewish Cemetery when he found the body of a man hanging from a tree. He immediately called the Police and Sergeant Bacarese of the Gibraltar Police Force attended and arranged for the body to be removed to the Colonial Hospital.
The body was searched and papers found in the clothing identified the person as Sidney Hullah, an Able Seaman from RFA Limol, a harbour tanker then currently deployed at Gibraltar
An inquest touching upon the death of Sidney Hullah was held the next day before H M Coroner in Gibraltar Mr P G Russo. The ship’s Master, Captain Sidney Mitchell RFA gave evidence and advised the Court that AB Hullah had joined the ship in September 1935. He had last seen him on the 15 February. He was a quiet man who was popular with the other members of the crew. He was a married man with two children.
Chief Officer Frank C White RFA stated that after being called by the Gibraltar Police he attended the Colonial Hospital where he identified the deceased
Chief Officer Frank C White RFA
The Coroner recorded a verdict of ‘Suicide while of unsound mind’.
Able Seaman Hullah was later buried in the North Front Cemetery, Gibraltar and is recorded in our Roll of Honour for 1936.
Dazzle camouflage, also known as Razzle Dazzle or Dazzle painting, was a camouflage paint scheme used on ships, extensively during World War I and to a lesser extent in World War II. The scheme was credited to artist Norman Wilkinson, it consisted of a complex pattern of geometric shapes in contrasting colours, interrupting and intersecting each other.
The concept of dazzle painting was used as a way to confuse the enemy about the speed and dimensions of a ship.
Wilkinson, then a Lieutenant Commander on Royal Navy patrol duty, implemented the precursor of "dazzle" on RFA Industry; and HMS Alsatian became the first Navy ship in August 1917.
Images of all RFAs which were dazzle painted are hard to find. As and when additional images are obtained they will be displayed below. Drawings and images of models, where found, will also be displayed
RFA Industry (1)
Below are two images of the planned dazzle painting design for RFA Industry showing, it is claimed, the ships port and starboard sides - it will be noted the drawings are both for the starboard side of the vessel. The orginal of these drawings are held in the Imperial War Museum in London.
RFA Maine (3)
H.M. Ambulance Transport Panama by W Jeneway
later to become RFA Maine (3)
Image courtesy of the British Mercantile Marine Memorial Collection
RFA Black Ranger
RFA Black Ranger at Scapa Flow in 1942 when part of the Fleet Refueling Service.
Note the dazzel paint, her guns and the dummy funnel by the foremast
© Imperial War Museum
RFA Pearleaf (1)
Other RFA's are know to have been dazzle painted. If images of these ships in their camouflage are found they will be displayed here.
In Hong Kong’s Marine Court on the 28 October 1921, the Magistrate, Lieutenant Conway Hake RNR gave his judgement in the case in which John Walter Edward Drake, Junior Engineer Officer of RFA Pearleaf was charged at the instance of the Master, Alfred S Leech RFA with absenting himself without leave from his duty in the engine room or stokehold at 1am on 16 October 1921 under the Transport Discipline Regulations
At 03:00hrs 6 June 1956 an RAF Sunderland flying boat with a surgical team lead by Squadron Leader Agnes R D Bartels M.B., B.S., F.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., RAF on board left Singapore in answer to an emergency call for urgent medical assistance from RFA Fort Charlotte.