Welcome to Historical RFA
The Portsdown Underground Fuel Bunker was built during the late 1930s and early 1940s, by Sir Robert McAlpine's construction company, as a bombproof Royal Navy fuel oil reservoir to serve the fleet at the Portsmouth Naval Base. The oil was needed as a guaranteed supply for Royal Navy warships in case oil deliveries to western British seaports were blockaded by the German Navy (a typical underhand Nazi trick). Three were built in the UK the others being at Inchindown some 4 miles to the north of the then naval base at Invergordon and Lyness at the Scapa Flow Naval Base, but the one under Portsdown is one of the largest and best preserved remaining examples. I contacted McAlpines but no records of the construction of the Fuel Bunker exist anymore. In fact very little information exists anywhere. It is my belief that the Portsdown Fuel Bunker had a special purpose and was not just constructed to supply the Royal Navy with fuel during wartime. I think a secondary aim was to ensure an absolutely uninterruptible supply of fuel oil for the D-day invasion fleet of 6 June 1944 and I have shown some evidence of this later on. Other invasion support services like communications and logistics certainly took a very robust approach to their roles, as failure of the landings was unthinkable, but one thing was certain: lack of marine fuel was never going to be a problem.
This article is the result of the third in-depth research programme which has been undertaken into Senior Officers of the RFA
Captain Grahame Deuchar DSC RFA
Grahame Deuchar was born in Balham, South London in December 1884 and after his usual schooling, went to sea, as an Apprentice in the 1,380 ton three masted Barque “Indian Empire” between 24 June 1901 and 26 March 1905
Barque Indian Empire
After a short period of leave he signed on the 1,086 ton steam ship Combermere on 17 June 1905 as an Able Seaman and remained onboard until 28 December 1906.
SS Louise Moller Sweeps Past
Nationalist Warship claiming to be the RFA Black Ranger
as a RN Frigate Stands By
On 28 October 1949 the British tanker Louise Moller (previously RFA Rapidol) swept past in defiance of a Nationalist gunboat in the Yangtse Estuary in international waters to run through the Shanghai sea blockade successfully and delivered half a million gallons of diesel oil for Caltex.