Call for Assistance

From Philip Marsden

Can you help identify this boat:

I found this photo in my Dad’s album.  It is surrounded in the album by others dated 1937, such as the Coronation Fleet Review of 20 May 1937.  I seek help in identifying the boat, the place and date.  I think it’s a Grampus class minelayer.  But why the white or light grey colour?  At this Fleet Review, there were Rorqual, Grampus, Narwhal and Porpoise, plus other classes.  The resolution doesn’t allow me to read the name and I can see no pennant number.  The shoreline isn’t distinct enough to identify, for me at least.  We also have cine film of that review (all targets of course ….), so this could have been taken from the same boat.

On the paint colour, a modeller has posted:

“It would seem that the pre and early war boats wore either dark, medium or light grey, that is, AP507A, B or C on their casing and tower sides, black or a very dark grey on the decks and black on the pressure hull and lower surfaces. This would appear to be mainly for Home Fleet boats and the dark AP507A was used on most. I can’t find any evidence of any colour other than black on the lower hulls.”

7 comments on “Call for Assistance”

  1. CMJTW says:

    There is a very similar photograph of Grampus on the following webpage-

  2. CMJTW says:

    Grampus left Portsmouth on the 9th of June 1937 and arrived in Hong Kong on the 13th of August to join the 4th Submarine Flotilla. The boats on the station were all similarly painted but they had a dark grey segment on the cab part of the bridge.

  3. wraith says:

    Chris Napier may be able to help. His father was CO RORQUAL

  4. rfchannon says:

    From photographs, the 1932 PORPOISES had no sheer, This looks like a 1930 R boat. On the other hand, could it be a British-built foreigner?
    Richard Channon

  5. Mark says:

    Got some input from a group specialising in images of RN subs.
    Consensus is that this is HMS Thames at the 1937 Review, moored off Stokes Bay. The profile is a match for the River Class. Of these 3 boats (all at the review) only Thames had no step in the aft casing. She also had a unique pattern of free flow holes, which can also just be made out in the picture. All of the boats seem to have been painted a very light grey down to the waterline at this review.

  6. Philip says:

    Wow! Thanks so much everyone! I think my Dad was indeed in a boat traversing the fleet and this was taken at that time. I did a little more research after my post and also came up with Thames. My only reservation is that there are no other boats near her. According to the anchorage plan, she was second row out from the shore and had others anchored nearby. Also, the boat seemingly alongside her bow confuses me! I’ll run with Thames. Just one other set of photos in the album to track down – filming in a churchyard west of Penzance!

  7. says:

    Many pre-WW2 boats were painted light grey. In his book, ‘ Carrier Gloriuos’ John Winton records how aircraft from the carrier could easily see the light grey painted submarines during Mediterranean exercises. Incidentally, the book is a good read, especially concerning the exalted submariner D’Oyly-Hughes the Captain when she was lost.

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