Who, When, and Where?

The photo below was found scrunched up in the staff rest room at the Museum. Can anyone help answer these questions:

Who are they?
When was this taken?
Where was this taken?

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1 May 18  – Update –  For a complete answer by Philip Marsden click here

23 Comments

TRENCHANTWW2

A WW2 photo I believe as there are RNVR and RNR in addition to RN officers. I do not recognise the boats which could provide a clue perhaps?

Kipper Walker

I don’t think it is an OTC as there are several Lts and one Lt Cdr who is in Battle dress. Perhaps some research is required on the submarines that operated out of Blyth. It has to have been taken 1 Oct – 30 Apr because they are not wearing white cap covers. A possibility is a photo of the Officers in the Squadron there. The youngest there would now be in their mid/late 90s

Jonty Powis

Looking at the mystery picture. The submarines are German Type 21s and the port is in UK judging by lack of bomb damage. The officers appear to be wearing gallantry awards only so it is soon after the end of hostilities. They are an eclectic mix of RN RNR & RNVR with at least one guy in battle dress possibly from an allied navy. I would bet that they are a team of submariners looking after the surrendered boats who will later take them to sea for disposal in deep water.

Rob Stevens

I dont know the details but the person second from the left bottom row looks like Crap Miers. I have copied his son John in for confirmation.

John Miers

I am certain that none of them are my father. There are some oddities.

That fact that at least five of them are sub-lieutenants probably rules out a perisher group. The most senior amongst them is a lieut. commander.
I am not sure that they are all wearing RN cap badges. Some of them could be Dutch or Norwegian or other Europeans.
That is rather reinforced by the type of boats in the background. They do not resemble any RN fins that I can recognize.
I don’t even recognize the base. Could it be Blyth?

Hope that helps.

Jonathan Powis

Looking at this photo on my computer rather than my i-phone. The boats are definitely surrendered Type 21s – NB the twin 20mm AA turret at the rear of the fin a unique identifier. The complete lack of damaged buildings in the back-ground suggests Lisahally but looking on Google maps the sky line has changed too much to be sure. It isn’t Blythe – I am fairly sure.

philipgmarsden

Thank you everyone for your comments! I agree that these are surrendered Type XXIs. I do have a list of names, which I will send to Tom separately for adding to this article. Nice to have though they are, they tell us nothing about where and exactly when this was taken. For me, it could be: Lishally (Londonderry) as Jonathan Powis suggests, Bergen where only three XXIs were surrendered or Horten (also Norway) where four Type XXIs were surrendered. Confusing is the floating dock in the background. I think there are four Type XXIs in the picture, but the nearest isn’t absolutely clear (might just be a XXIII, but note sure). Bergen is the only one with anything on a WW2 floating dock, ie not Horten or Lisahally. Any other thoughts?

Terry Hall

Passed to me from Godfrey (Jeff) Dykes WO RS 1953-83 was: ‘The ‘Grampus Class’ Minelaying boats and the venue at Harwich between the Jetty and the Admiralty Floating Dock (AFD)

philipgmarsden

Terry: thanks for your comment, but not sure I understand it! Do you or Jeff have any photos which might prove this is Harwich?

David Parry

Another name that stands out from the list is that of Lt James Launders. When CO of HMS Venturer he sank U-864 off Norway on 9 February 1945. Launders detected U-864 on Venturer’s asdic while she was snorting, confirmed it was a submarine contact when he saw her periscope, and then tracked her by sonar for an hour before firing a four torpedo salvo at 2000 yards with the torpedoes set at depths between 30 and 36 feet. The U-864 was fitted with a schnorchel (snorkel) but had an engine that was misfiring and making a loud noise (she was heading back into Norway for repairs). Launders had previously sunk U771 on 11 November 1944.
Wingfield was no slouch either, when CO of HMS Taurus he sank the U134on 13 November 1943. He was also CO of HMS Umpire when she was rammed and sunk by a British trawler in the North Sea on 19 July 1941″You bloody bastard, you’ve sunk a British submarine” he is reported to have exclaimed by Edward Young who was fourth hand and also escaped through the conning tower. Young went on to command HMS Storm.

martinmacp

Following on from Philip Marsden’s research on the names I have looked at Mervyn Wingfield’s autobiography which states (page 123 et seq) that “soon after VE Day he was sent to Oslo with the title of Senior Officer Submarines (Norway) to organise the surrender of the 90 odd U-Boats. He goes on to explain that he took a Type XXI to sea and found it “a brute to handle” The chapter also contains some cracking dits about liberating Wehrmacht champagne and a Mercedes open tourer. This would seem to pin down the location? In later life he was of course known as a stalwart member of Liphook Golf Club .

Kipper Walker

In photo annotated is one Lt(E) Japp; he was a Lt Cdr and Deputy Sen Engineer in VANGUARD (53/54) where I was a snotty. I don’t know what happened to him after that.

Barrie Downer

WHO WHEN WHERE

Believe photo taken at Lisahally probably summer/autumn 1945. One of the U-Boats is possibly U-2502 based on the based on view of the Conning Tower/Fin – the slope of the after end of the Conning Tower/Fin is similar to that shown in Rosslers book ‘The U-Boat- evolution & technical history’ on Page 274/275. This view also shows the guns fitter forward and aft ion the Conning Tower/Fin.

From the names provided several of these officers were appointed to (or were serving in) Ferret IV or to Surrendered U-Boats in 1945 as follows:

3rd Hands/Navigators

Ralph Leslie Cheesman to U-3107 as Navigator 10th June 1945

John D’Olier Cornwall Lewis No information found

Robert Stewart Beausire to Ferret IV for Group D Surrendered U-Boats 15th November 1945
Raymond Edward Law to U-3107 as 3rd Hand 10th June 1945

Alsiter Fitzgerald MacAlister – no information yet found but was serving in VORACIOUS on 14th August 1945

Commanding Officers
Alan Flockhart Esson to Ferret IV on 15th September 1945

Hubert Charles Parker to U-3513 as CO – may have been for delivery to USSR

John Peter Angell to Ferret IV for U-1105 as CO 10th June 1945

Mervyn Robert George Wingfield to U-2502 as CO 28 May 1945

John Stewart Launders to Ferret IV for U-3017 as CO 7th August 1945 – also to U-1407 METERORITE as CO 25th September 1945 to 5th November 1948)

Maurice Herbert Atkinson to Ferret IV for U-3017 as CO 28th May 1945 (may also have been appointed to U-1123 (dates not known)

First Lieutenants & Engineers
David Monck Mason Hackett No information found

Allan Francis Jaap to U-1407 METERORITE as EO 15th February 1946)

William Patrick McCloughlin to U-1105 as IL 10th June 1945

Note that Wt Eng Arthur Bertram Uren was lost in HMS STONEHENGE on 20th March 1944 – the photo may be of Warrant Eng W Allin appointed to U-1105 as EO 10th June 1945)

Kenneth Atkinson -No information yet found

Peter Douglas Scott-Maxwell to U-1407 METERORITE as EO 1st August 1945

Sidney Alfred Warner appointed to ALCIDE completing at Barrow 15th July 1945

Edward Quinney Kibblewhite to TACTICIAN as EO 1st July 1945

Cecil Arthur Dawe to Ferret IV for Group D Surrendered U-Boats 15th November 1945

John Herbert Francis Perowne to SCEPTRE on 15th June 1945

philipgmarsden

I never expected all these comments! Fantastic and thank you everyone. This photo is unique, in that someone annotated the reverse with the names in pencil. The group is carefully choreographed with crew roles grouped. Frustratingly, neither the location nor the date were recorded. Given the comments to date, contenders for location now seem to be Bergen and Harwich, or possibly Oslo (see Martin MacP’s comment). Records of the XXIs on the web don’t mention either. The new one for me is Harwich, but I’ve not found any record of a floating dock. Nailing the location will help with the date. Terry Hall’s comment about Harwich is most interesting – Terry: do you have a photo showing the floating dock, etc so we can compare?

rfchannon

I agree the shot shows officers appointed to look after surrendered U-boats before disposal. I am sure it is not Harwich, which fronts onto a wide anchorage. Nor do I think it is Lissahally, as from memory the river would be too narrow and shallow to accommodate a trot of floating docks. I’m interested in the merchant ships to see if they can offer a clue. The date is definitely summer 1945, because they are painted in their line’s funnel livery. The nearer one could be a Liberty ship, from the design of the funnel top, and the further one, same livery, but counter not cruiser stern. Brown’s Flag and Funnels, anyone? My guess is Norway.

martinmacp

Further to my post of 19 March I see from the U-Boat.net website that 12 Type XXI U-boats surrendered – 1 in Kiel and the other 11 all in Norway. 6 in Horten, Karljohansvern at the southern-western end of Oslo Fiord, 1 in Kristiansand, 3 in Bergen and 1 in Stavangar. A second read of Mervyn Wingfield’s autobiography states (pages 122 et seq) that “I proudly sailed from Oslo at the head of my flotilla of some 25 U boats. We joined up with the other U-Boats from Bergen and Kristiansand and made an impressive entry to Scapa Flow. We laid up most of the boats at Cairnryan and the rest at Lisahally” He goes on to describe the allocation of 10 boats each to Russia, America and UK. I would put good money on this photograph having been taken in Horten, Norway soon after VE Day (mid May 45?).

rfchannon

No FLAGS AND FUNNELS, but the OBSERVER’S BOOK OF SHIPS 1958 edition. Looking at the nearest funnel more closely, it is clear that the pale stripes are not actually white. The reference shows the funnel colours of the Wilhelm Wilhelmsen line of Oslo were black and pale blue. Game, set and match? Norway it is.

Michael Tibbs

I can’t throw any light on this , but it has started me off on some other things.

In this list of chaps who looked after the U boats on the Foyle at Lisahalley, the name of John Perowne cropped up. Somebody who knew him e-mailed an Admiral of that name and asked if he was connected. The answer was that John was his Dad. Unfortunately I lost the correspondence and cannot find it.

There was an RN Sub Lieutenant in Blyth when I was there, but he answered to ‘Jo’. I am sure this was the same bloke that I knew. There were three training classes going at once – Lieutenants, RN Sub Lieutenants and RNVR Sub Lieutenants. It was not unusual for chaps to be known by their nick names. Later on mine was Wewak and lot of people knew me as that without any idea of my real name.

Jo and my paths crossed many times. He was in an S boat in the Far East, as was his friend, Phil Durham. We used to meet up at the submarine reunions at Blockhouse. Jo looked after Phil who had contracted polio and farmed at Invergordon. Jo left the navy early as his father was not well and he went to run the family farm in Niton in the IOW.

On one reunion, Jo was being pestered by the Commander SM who tried to persuade Jo to come back and join the Israeli navy. Two S Boats had been handed over to Israel They needed dockyard attention and should have been handed over when this was finished. However, the FCO insisted they should be handed over before going to the dockyard with the result that they were alongside Blockhouse under Israel ensigns but no crews. Their British Captains and crew did not want to take them to the dockyard, having lost them and under another flag. Jo resisted the Commander SM, saying he could not help, having taken over the farm. How the impasse was solved, I know not.

It so happened that when I was No 1. of Varne, we spent some time at Derry. Both my old Captain, Rufus Mackenzie, and Chief, Tono Kidd were at Lisahally looking after the captured U boats. I always wished I had gone over one of them but this was not encouraged. Under the Potsdam treaty they were to be sunk with all their equipment – so why do I possess wonderful pair of U boat night glasses!?

We spent most of our holidays in the IOW, I tried to contact Jo but could not find him. He said he had put the farm, down to potatoes so he could go shooting.

Good luck

Michael Hunt

Springer, CO Lieut Richard Compton-Hall, EO Lieut John Pratt OKA John Winton and me as 4th hand was handed over to the Israeli Navy in a brief ceremony alongside at Dolphin in July (?) 58. The White Ensign was hauled down and the IN Ensign replaced it until sunset. I was DO that night, so I suppose that I can be considered one of the founder members of the IN Submarine Service. Following day we sailed on passage to Birkenhead, with no ensign flying for the whole trip. The future CO, Lt Cdr Yosale Dror was on board for the passage. An interesting man, paratrooper, commando, and from some of the dits he spun during the passage, probably a member of the embroyo Israeli SF.

philipgmarsden

Thank you everyone for your terrific posts. This has been an intriguing journey which has consumed me since February! After finding the photo in the first place, another chance encounter in the Guide’s Rest Room with Warships Journal 190 of the World Ship Society brought me into contact with world leaders in German U-Boat history who kindly provided me with precious details.
So ….. Solved!
I will pass the full ‘solution’ to Tom for posting.

Rob Forsyth

Philip – I highly commend your persistence. Having spent years researching a Roll of Honour for my village I know that the answer to an unsolved Q is to ask as many people as possible and never give up! Its a brilliant result.

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