a continuation of  type from



 FIRST A PICTURE OF A FAMOUS AND WELL KNOWN ROMAN GOD, SOMETIMES POSTED AS THE MESSENGER OF THE GODS. YES IT IS MERCURY. The picture is heavily cropped for a good reason which will soon become obvious!

It was the centre graphic of the front cover of the BULLETIN for the June 1944 issue. The Bulletin produced seven issues stopping in September 1945, roughly a month after the Japanese war which terminated in mid-August. So obviously a document produced in WW2, but not so obviously, for readers in the Royal Navy as a CONFIDENTIAL and accountable [musterable] document. The reason why it didn't start sooner in 1940 is told in this story.

All pictures are thumbnails except where self stated.


As you will read, this bulletin covers all matters concerning  W/T and RADAR, but be assured the majority of the naval departments had their same type of bulletin, but more succinctly, FEEDBACK. There were many complaints from the Fleet which were not being addressed from shore.

The reason why the early to mid-war feedback was not produced was [in our case at least] because ASE [Admiralty Signal Establishment] didn't consider it necessary for those at sea in the fleet, fighting and making the ultimate sacrifice, to know what was going wrong with equipment which regularly broke down or under-performed, prohibiting the efficient execution of many critical operations.

The Fleet believed that above ALL OTHERS those at the front mattered more than any other units acting as combatants engaged in the destruction of the nations enemies: combatants of course include the SOE and the various Allied resistance' and anybody within smelling distance of a German, Italian or Japanese combatant.  Only those, who through their own endeavours, matched the most assiduous of protagonists in that destruction, who were not combatants themselves, deserved to be treated as equals.  Such non-combatants belong to the likes of Bletchley Park personnel for example, and brilliant scientists in all disciplines, too many to name here. ALL OTHERS, despite their harsh war conditions, stress and privations came second in this scaling. However, some Admiralty civilians tended to equate themselves with front line combatants and became TOO SELF-IMPORTANT.

WW2 saw many front-line personnel using equipment which wasn't really up to the mark.  Whilst the short-comings were reported to the authorities back home in Admiralty's prescribed manner, and no doubt these authorities diligently sought to rectify these defects, little or no feedback was received by the front line units, which from hereonin, I will call the FLEET. 

Feedback was something banded around between the Admiralty and the 'egg head' Establishments, with little or no regard for assessing the problem overall and thereafter for making all at sea aware of the problem and the necessary resolution.

This state of affairs came to a head in 1944 at a time when it became obvious there was a 'them' and 'us', and the 'us' were the ones dying in the name of the King and country at the 'coal face'.

The reports about the advances in RADIO and subsequently RADAR, were made by Secret annual and then half-yearly reports with extremely tight and controlled distribution lists. Once dealt with, they were filed for posterity, and, I believe, eventually destroyed as highly sensitive material once the war had been won by the Allies. Certainly the ones I know about and seek, are nowhere to be found at the NA or the war Museums. That that level of secrecy was needed and fully understood by all, including those at sea, plays no part in this story.

In March 1944 after four and a half years of war,  all that changed, and although not clearly stated, the Admiralty's concern needed a voice. They had been continuously debriefed for two years by officers coming ashore from the fleet, many of whom complained that the wardroom's afloat were "blind [and deaf]" to the reactions ashore on receiving their long lists of defects, even to the point of wondering whether the lists were getting to the intended desk[s]. Such was their concern that the Admiralty suggested the ASE {Admiralty Signal Establishment} should issue regular bulletin's to the FLEET to collate the actions taken on reported defects {to those of you in the know, the start of the S.2022 system} and advances made in technology, so that all in the FLEET with responsibilities for Radar or W/T communications, could know of the common problems and how to circumvent them, and of the promised new equipment which was about to enter Service. However, as you will read in one of the bulletins below, what started off for RADAR and W/T officers, soon became almost totally biased towards RADAR, but given the infancy of Radar and its rapidly advancing technology and war-winning potential, that was quite understandable. This obvious bias did evoke a comment from the Commander-in-Chief British Pacific Fleet [BFP] when in his signal to S.S.E.[sic, although that might have been A.S.E.] repeated to the Admiralty on 250627Z August 1945 congratulating ASE on the Bulletin, he says ".........and it is felt there is room for expansion in the W/T section." - See 1945 September edition one - Editorial below, for details.

These were the front covers of each of the bulletins



This section [see EXCUSES below], taken from one of these issues is all that is required for readers of this page to fully get the gist of the problem. It 'flies in the face' of the assumption that the Fleet matters more than anything or anybody else, and there should be no excuses emanating from shore to supplying it with 'tools of war' which are manifestly unfit for purpose WHATEVER THE REASON. The writer starts off by saying that "We" [ASE - in this case] "OCCASIONALLY receive criticism....." when the truth of the matter was a deluge of adverse comments. It is not the type of answer men at sea in war-time want to read, for the author is probably going home every night to see his wife and kids; down to the pub for a pint every now and again; not suffering sea sickness; not tolerating poor quality [though it fills the belly] food; not near to death's door on a continuous basis; not seeing his mates blown to pieces or drowning outside reach of rescue/succour, not north-bound on a journey to hell, the lot of the Russian convoy men, and I could add so many other dreadful things a man at the front suffers which civilians don't suffer, don't understand and lose little sleep over!

This little contemporary cartoon, although not directly related to this story, sees a captain demanding that his young reservist officer hits the target, the enemy. The subby questions the ability of the darts to respond to his aim, and takes the blame for repeatedly not hitting the target.


During the UBoat war [especially] one of the finest 'tools' for finding a UBoat was HF [which is short wave] direction finding [D/F] known as HUFDUF. Submarines had to come to the surface to clear and receive their radio traffic, which as all sparkers known, is not always easy to achieve because of anomalous ether conditions which were not predictable or circumventable or in WW2 even understood?  Quite often, the case was a protracted stay on the surface until the necessary, often crucial, exchanges were concluded and this, with a suitable device in an eavesdropping ship or shore wireless station, rendered that submarine most vulnerable. We, in the Royal Navy had the answer in the champion of all HF D/F sets, a set called the FH4. HF signals have two paths, but the one we are interested in is the 'near to target path' [known as the ground wave] which, depending upon the power of the radio transmitter doesn't travel too far from the emitter before it is attenuated and rendered too weak to use. The FH4 was specifically designed to address this ground wave which gave a good and reliable bearing direct to the submarine. With three ships [or three eavesdroppers] listening and taking D/F bearings, an accurate position of the submarine's position could be achieved. Because at least three bearings were involved it was known as triangulation, resembling a triangle. The FH4 was therefore a 'tool' which all involved with war at sea and in the prosecuting and defeat of the UBoat, either lone boats or wolfpack boats, considered a 'must have weapon'. Positions gained by FH4 triangulation were attacked by escorts, and as often as not when within range, passed to maritime patrol [MP] Aircraft which sank many a UBoat caught napping.

In 1943 when the FH4 was most needed and the UBoats were getting fewer and fewer [a sign of the Allies successes] an ASE Bulletin announced:-

Fortunately for the country and the world at large, the allied navies had more or less defeated the UBoat threat by 1944, but such glitch's were all too common, and for those we have little to thank ASE for! Having more than one manufacturer or supplier of a certain piece of kit cannot be too difficult to organise, and bugger the expense and waste of materials and effort were one manufacturer's product not be required at the end of the day. Better a wasted spare than a failure in a supply line!

Also, and remaining on HF D/F, the FH4, first fitted in March 1942, was, as suggested above, an instant success. It was widely fitted and all comers could be trained to ascertain whether a ship was fitted or not, because its aerial, Type S25B [a angular bird-cage type of frame work] always took over the highest part of the ship usually on top of the fore mast or main mast. However this was not possible in certain types of ships, and at the time, it appeared to many that ASE had not done its home-work properly. In the course of 1942/3 it had to return to the drawing-board to design an entirely new HF D/F.  Here is the reason.


 Data in the Table below is for general viewing only, and not a pre-requisite to following and understanding the story. If you don't want to read it, scroll down to the paragraph starting with the words "And this is an Issue....".

This is a list for you to scroll through to give you an idea of what was covered throughout all the issues:-


March 1944 - in this Bulletin with a Contents List [one] and Editorial [one] are:
a. R.I.S. [one]
b. Naval Wireless Transmitters [one]
c. Type 274 Radar [one]
d. What set is it? [one]
e. Gunnery Radar [one]
f. Shore W/T Stations & Naval Air Stations. [two]
g. A Relative Bearing Indicator [two
h. Height finding by Radar [two]
i. Handbooks [two]
j. New Radar Handbooks [two]
k. Use of Radar for Navigation [two]
l. Type 970 Radar [two]
m. Radar for Torpedo Control [two]
n. Radar in Submarine [two]
o. Radar Control of SQUID [two]
p.  The re-organisation of training Radio Mechanics [three]
q. What's Gone Wrong ? [three]
r. Test Equipment [three]
s. Ship to Air Communications using VHF [three]
t. Radar fitting and maintenance notes [four]
u. D/F Navigational Aids and 'Y' [four]
v. I.F.F. [four]
w. Navigational Aids [four]
June 1944, and as the last page of this Bulletin say's, D-DAY happened in this month.  In this bulletin with a Contents List [one] are:
a. Target Indicator System [TIS] {Radar Type 293} [one]
b. I.F.F. [two]
c. W/T Transmitters [601 Series introduction] [two]
d. Aerial Rotation Speed [two]
e. Target Position Indicator [TPI] [two]
f. Height Position Indicator [HPI] [two]
g. Tuning HF W/T Transmitters [two]
h. Inspection of Radio Equipment [two]
i. Note of Remote Displays [Radars] [three]
j. Errata to the March Bulletin No 1 [three]
k. Digest of HMS Victorious report on Type 277 [three]
l. Radar fitting and maintenance notes [four]
m. Type 275 - New HA/LA Gunnery Fire Control [five]
n. Repair of Transformers at Sea [five]
o. Radar Type 277T in Action [six]
p. Radar control of SQUID [six]
q. Radar in Submarines [six]
r. W/T Aerial Arrangement in the Fleet [six]
s. Radar Reflector Balloons [six]
t. Power Supplies - Policy [six]
u. Radar Type 281 [six]
w. Stop Press [six]
September 1944. In this Bulletin with a contents list [one] are;
a. Editorial [one]
b. The Passing of the WREN Courier [one]
c. On the Level - RADAR [one]
d. Aerial outfit AUH [one]
e. Errata - for the June Bulletin No 2 [one]
f. Gunnery Notes/Wavemeter G76 [two]
g. Simple laws for curious Sailors ! [two]
h. Radars - Remote Displays [two]
i. Fall of shot [two]
j. Fire [two]
k. Radar for Torpedo Control [two]
l. Improvement of Equipment in Service [two]
m. 'M' Books [two]
n. Future of Radar Officers [two]
o. Radar report from HMS EMERALD [three]
p. Report on Radar Type 277 from HMS CAMPANIA [three]
q. I.F.F. [four]
r. Skiatrons [four]
s. Radar fitting and Maintenance Notes [four]
t. AJ - Report on visit to Normandy to assess interference on Radar Type 281 [five]
u. Type 281 [five]
v. W/T Transmitters of the 600 Series/601 [five]
w. W/T Modernisation [six]
x. W/T Test Equipment Ships and Shore Bases [six]
y. Suppression of interference to W/T [seven]
z. Combined HF, VHF D/F Aerial System [seven]
a1. Sound Recording Equipment  [seven]
a2. Bantam D/F and Communications Receivers [seven]
a3. D/F Assembly FMC [seven]
a4. Type 93 in Aircraft Carrier - Blind approach beacon [seven]
a5. D/F Outfit FV5 [seven]
a6. Radio Equipment in Coastal Craft [seven]
a7. Mobile Stations and Naval Radio Vans [eight]
a8. Stop Press [eight]
December 1944. In this Bulletin with a Contents List [one] are:
a. Editorial [one]
b. Radio Location [one]
c. Fall of Shot sets [one]
d. An object Lesson [one]
e. The new Radar Manual [one]
f.  The R.D.R.  [one]
g. Outfit JJ[1] with Height Plot [one]
h. Outfit RTE [one]
i "AN" Nomenclature [two]
j. Report on Radar Type 276 in HMS Black Swan [two]
k. Use of Radar for Navigation [two]
l. Ranging Outfit RTC [two]
m. The Effect of Propagation conditions on Radar Surface Ranges [two]
n. Radar Reflections from Cloud and Thunderstorms [two]
o. Type 281 BQ Radar [two]
p. Radar Target Indication [three]
q. Look before you Lean ! [three]
r. Embarkation of a pre-fabricated Type 277 Hut [three]
s. Wind finding by Radar [three]
t. Report on I.F.F. [four]
u. What's the Use of I.F.F ? [four]
v. Interrogation for Radar Type 281 [four]
w. Sector Selection [four]
x. Testing Condensers [four]
y. Vertical Coverage Diagrams [four]
z. Gunnery Radar [five]
a1. PPI News [five]
a2. Radar fitting and maintenance Notes [five]
a3. A simple Sync Pulse Generator [six]
a4. Report of defective radio equipment [six]
a5. Spreading the Buzz [six]
a6. Avometer Pattern 47A [six]
a7. Nomenclature for Electronic Valves [seven]
a8. Quartz Crystal Grinding and Servicing Unit [seven]
a9. Rubber Crystals [eight]
a10. Whip aerials [eight]
a11. Gremlin 1 [eight]
a12. W/T Transmitters in the 600 Series [nine]
a13. Type "YE" Beacon - Aircraft Carriers [nine]
a14. Receiver Type B28 - AVC [nine]
a.15. Interference Suppression - Receiver P38 [nine]
a.16. Crystal Control of Receivers [nine]
a.17. Control Circuit Development [nine]
a.18. Stop Press [nine]
 March 1945 - in this Bulletin with a contents list [one] are:
a. Editorial [one]
b. Radar Long Course Exams [one]
c. Historical Note [one]
d. Radio in New Guinea [one]
e. Radio in the Tropics [one]
f. Radar for Combined Operations [one]
g. Make Fast [a poem] [one]
h. Bogey [two]
i. Radar Reports [two]
j. Type 274 In Action [two]
k. Radar Type 268 [two]
l. Teacher Outfit HRB/D [two]
m. Radar fitting and maintenance notes [two]
n. Project Bubbly - Radar [three]
o. P.P.I. News [three]
p. Talk Down - Naval Aircraft [three]
q. Auto - Aligning - Radar [four]
r. Gunnery Radar Notes [four]
s. Care and Use of Crystal Valves [five]
t. A.S.E. Nomenclature - W/T and Radar [five]
u. Navigational Aid - QM [five]
v. Loud Speaker Muting [five]
w. W/T Emergency Equipment [six]
x. W/T Transmitters in the 600 Series [six]
y. Equipment Frequency Charts for W/T and D/F [six]
z. FM versus AM [seven]
a1. W/T Receivers - Interference Suppression [seven]
a2. Television [seven]
a3. New VHF Aerials [seven]
a4. Stop Press [seven]

June 1945 -  in this Bulletin with a contents list [one] are:
a. Editorial [one]
b. Radar Displays [one]
c. The Psychology of good Height Finding [one]
d. The Care and Use of Crystal Valves [one]
e. A Catalogue of Radar Test Equipment [one]
f. Gunnery Notes [one]
g. Jap [Japanese] Jamming [one]
h. Radar Types 274 & 275 Trials [two]
i. Radar Type 293M Trials [two]
j. Radar Type 931 [two]
k. The Radar Training Sight/Outfit RAA [two]
l. Radar Type SGI and Panel L18 [three]
m. Radio Maintenance Rooms [RMR] [three]
n. Errata for Bulletin 5  [three]
o. Report from HMS Shropshire  [Type 281] [three]
p. A letter from HMS Diadem [Type 272] [three]
q. Remove the Crate! [three]
r. Historical Notes [four]
s. The Radar Officers Refit Dream [four]
t. Radar Fitting and Maintenance [four]
u. Automatic aerial training for Type 271/3Q [four]
v. Bending Waveguides [five]
w. Radio Maintenance [five]
x. Radar Servicing Manuals [five]
y. IFF Notes [six]
z. ASE Family Trees [six]
a1. Handbooks [six]
a2. Carbon Pile Regulators [seven]
a3. Microphones [seven]
a4. Consol [seven]
a5. VHF Aerial Outfit Feeders [seven]
a6. HMS Mercury [seven]
a7. Refits - Signal Officers Duty [seven]
a8. The P.W/T.O - Port W/T Officer [seven]
a9. Types 686M and 687 [seven]
a10. W/T Equipment in Submarines [eight]
a11. Fighter Direction Receivers P38 and P104 [eight]
a12. Outfit QH [eight]
a13. W/T AFO's [eight]
a14. Stop Press [eight]


September 1945 - in this Bulletin with a contents list [one] are:
a. Editorial [one]
b. British Bulldog eating the German Naval Ensign [one]
c. Radar Type 960 [one and two]
d. Gunnery Notes [Types 282/3/4/5] [two]                                    
e. The future of the Radar Officer [two]
f. Radar Type 930 [two]
g. USN Fire Control Radar - Adopted by the RN - Type G Series [GA, GB, GC, GS] [two]
h. Radar Type 262 [three]
i. Reports from Abroad [three]
j. Aerial Rotation Speeds -Type 293M [three]
k. Analysis of Waveguide Conditions Type 293 [three]
l. Schelde Radar Navigation Scheme [three]
m. Cosmic Noise [four]
n. Some Notes on Aerials for Centimetric Radars [four]
o. Radar in a Modern Cruiser [1 text page followed by six pages of photographs] [four]
p. Comparison of Weights of Aircraft and Naval Radar Equipment [four]
q. Radar fitting and Maintenance Notes [five]
r. Radar Modifications [five]
s. Soldering without Tears [five]
t. A New Form of Construction for Radio Equipment [six]
u. Installation Specifications and Establishment Lists [six]
v. Standard Frequency Transmissions [six]
w. Training Radar Mechanics W/T [six]
x. HF Communications on Surface Craft [seven]
y. Protecting Device for Wire Aerials [seven]
z. German high speed W/T Equipment - KURIER [seven]
a1. Application of the German KURIER to RN TX's Type 55, TCS, and Reception. [seven]
a2. The Shape of W/T Things to Come [seven]
a3. Any W/T Defects ? [seven]
a4. Outfit QM [seven]
a5. Training of Radar Mechanics W/T [Mercury/Leydene Special] [1945 Special File]


And this is an Issue you can or should read 1945 September edition one.pdf . If you do, note C-in-C BPF signal on page 1. Just a relatively small scroll down.

Now this was the last issue and the print set-up was abandoned along with the graphics etc. ASE remained and eventually became ASWE on top of Portsmouth Hill.

Nineteen months later in April 1947 came the first edition of the Communicator Magazine and there can be no prizes for guessing where their idea came from, and for the same reason, namely to inform communicators of what was happening in their branch.

This was the front cover of that Easter 1947 edition, an edition which came book-bound inside hard covers. I am fortunate in having a full set. View their page here in comparison with the ASE Bulletin of June 1944 the month of 'D Day' and the start of the end of the war in Europe.

The name [signature] on the graphic is new and different from that on the graphic to the right. This magazine ran well into the late 1970's.


killing a uboat




A dramatic close-up of a WW1 TBD [Torpedo Boat Destroyer] spraying oil onto the burners to "MAKE SMOKE", as a defence to confuse the enemy in daylight hours as to where, exactly, the ship was [bearing and distance] relative to a ship intending to engage with gunfire or torpedo.



On the 23rd May 1916 with the majority of the Grand Fleet in northern harbours, two events occurred which were to effect the lot of many of the fleets' lower deck ratings.  These "many ratings" were men whose time in the regular navy had expired and were retained for the duration, and men who had left the navy before WW1 started and had been recalled to duty.

The first event was the concerted effort of many tens of telegraphists who were engaged to listen continuously to the German naval frequencies ostensibly to follow the High Seas Fleet' much talked about foray into the German Sea - at least that is what the Hun called it! On the 23rd, it became manifest that the Germans were just days away from leaving their base in Cuxhaven, spurring Jellicoe to fine-tune and execute his plans, an event which culminated one week later when the Grand Fleet sailed on the 30th May into the North Sea.

On that same day [23rd May] the House of Commons were sitting, when a previously asked question was answered by the Secretary to the War Office, a Mr Forster MP for Sevenoaks Kent concerning the rewards for the soldiers [ergo sailors] mentioned in paragraph one above. He was pleased to announce "generous" bounties which were as follows:-

Bounties will be given to men, the depots of whose units are in the United Kingdom, who having become time-expired since the outbreak of war are now recalled to or retained in the Service on the following general lines:

Men of short service, e.g., Territorials, Special Reserve £15
Men of thirteen years' service or upwards £20
Men of twenty-two years' service or upwards £25

 As the House will see, these are bounties of a very generous kind.

 As regards men retained in the Service, the bounty may be drawn as to one-third in cash, the balance being paid, with interest at 5 per cent., on the man's death or discharge from the Service.

 Men who have left but are now recalled to the Service will have the option of drawing the whole or any part of the bounty in cash on being called up, any balance undrawn being treated as above.

Sadly, as we know, the Grand Fleet lost over six thousand officers and men, and of the men, their bounty would have been paid to their next of kin direct.

Taking the £20 bounty as an example, in todays money that is equivalent to £5630.00 under the average earning conversion rules of comparison. Conversion data used

In late June 1916, married men could be conscripted using age, number of children, health of wife etc as batch  determinators. Before this date, all married men [which included widowers with children] were "attested"! Attestment  meant that you had been interviewed by military recruiters under oath [duly counter-signed by a local magistrate] to state that when/if called up, you would be willing to fight for your King*. On signing the form, you were automatically placed in the reserve. The reason for having such a form/system was that the government had a known and ready reserve and didn't have to 'trawl' for one when more men were needed.

*An example of an attestment form is shown below. Note no mention of King and Country - just King, the Royal Family and the Crown! The idea of 'country' was implicit! In WW2, it was explicit!

Small mercies come to mind, this one knowing that any conscripted men from the original class/batch, who died at Jutland, didn't leave behind fatherless children, although thousands of regular RN personnel did of course. The chances of going into the navy for sea service were slim, the vast majority going into the army or the navy for front-line infantry duties, the [RND] - Royal Naval Division. 


Portsmouth Harbour entrance in 1963, with an Isle of Wight *paddle steamer entering, making its way to its berth at the seaward end of Portsmouth Harbour railway station. *Note the turbulence and start of wake on the port side alongside the bridge superstructure.


The inimitable and incomparable H.I.J.M.S. KONGO! - a warship with a hell of a lot of clout!

A mountain can be defined by any of the following definitions:-

In Japan, they have a 'pile' which they call a mountain - Mount Kongo - which reaches up to 3691 feet. Seemingly, whilst not universally known or acclaimed, to Asians it is not just well known, but unique in that you can get a modern cable car right to the peak. That doesn't impress me because UK's own Mount Snowden is but a few feet smaller in height and they run a rickety old diesel train giving a wonderful panoramic view of north-central Wales and that's as good as Japan any day in my book. For centuries, the Japanese have referred to this Mt as indestructible, and well it might be, just as much as any other terra firma pile of earth not affected by volcano's or structural faults giving rise to major earthquakes is. Being fundamentally a war-like nation, they have associated this indestructibility with military/naval prowess, and for many a long year, named warships after it.

As well as being known to be a warring, aggressive, cruel and barbaric nation, they were also known for their ability to copy other peoples work, and when I was a boy in the 40's, the expressions "made in Japan" and "made in Hong Kong" spelt tat, for at that time, their copying skills were in the embryonic stages: or were they? Incidentally, war made garments in the UK, whilst fit for purpose, just, was tat when compared with pre and post-war quality garments, and labels were sewn-in which carried the one word "Utility". 

Back at the start of the 20th century, Japan went to war with Russia and won hands down. Why?  Well, their navy was trained by the British and configured along the lines of the Royal Navy and many of their finest ships were British designed and built on proven technical standards.

Want to see some of those ships, well at least splendid scaled models made by the builders themselves? There are several around the country all of which I have visited and much enjoyed. However, for warships, there are two which I highly recommend. Lord Armstrong who died in 1900 aged 90, born just five years after Trafalgar, the famous munitions designer and manufacturer of everything from small arms to massive warships, left us his splendid house at his death, packed full of his life's work, including the machinery which gave the house electricity, the first house and factory in the UK to have it. It is called Cragside, in Northumberland, and is managed by the National Trust. If you are interested in naval matters, it should be the top of your bucket list. Then, secondly, a place which most modern-day submariners will know about, is Barrow-in-Furness, specifically the wonderful maritime museum called "The Dock Museum" named after a famous shipbuilding Victorian dock which is still there and which was used to build many a fine ship, mercantile and naval. They have the most wonderful model of the HIJMS Kongo [His Imperial Japanese Majesty's Ship], launched in the same year in which the Titanic was lost, 1912. The model, sadly not good for photography purposes because it sits inside a huge polished mahogany wooden case surrounded by glass, so one gets lots of reflections, is sited a good distance above deck level so observers get a good view of everything. Having read this story and if ever in the north west, it is an excellent way to put a 'picture to a face'. Whilst you are at it, two hours by car due south is Liverpool's Titanic Exhibition, a must for all devotees of the sea!

Bucket List? That reminds me of a little amusing anecdote I heard the other day. After Obama delivered his last 'State of the Union address' in his tenure as President of the USA, he was asked about his plans for retirement and whether or not he had a bucket list. He told the enquirer no, but I have something that rhymes with one. Wasn't he also the guy who, when talking about moral values in the USA on the high rate of divorces and gun-crime, said that marriage appeared to be like a pack of playing cards! At the beginning it is two hearts and a diamond and later on its a club and a spade?

After that Russo-Japanese war [1905] the Japanese approached the British again [we had built many of Japan's warships in the Victorian age and were continuing that association into the Edwardian period] asking them to design from scratch a class of powerful warships [battlecruisers without peers] and thereafter lay one down, build it, test and trial it, provide spares and stores for it, ready in all respects for it to sail to Japan ready for immediate use. This the British agreed to do and the vessel was built at Barrow in Furness by the Vickers Group. The first of the class was to be called Kongo. They took their shinny new ship home, temporarily stopping off at Singapore and on arrival Japan, put it into reserve. It was the finest warship afloat, the envy of the world, and the Japanese set about copying every detail of every rivet, screw, bolt whatever, and from those copies and the Vickers plans of the Kongo, they completed the class by building three more ships.

What's more, the British exported the very latest in technologies in things like wireless telegraphy and rigged the ship as though she were to be a part of the British fleet: Japan demanded and got far more wireless telegraphy equipment than ever did our comparably sized ships [Hood] for example. This picture shows the aerial rig of the Kongo as fitted and exported, never before seen, and greatly marveled at.


and Kongo as a jpeg later on in WW2, sporting her radar aerial.

The ideal for efficient communications at this time [known as the Marconi aerial] was to feed the transmitter output into a long vertical wire aerial and then to connect this vertical output into a horizontal wire aerial high up in the ship, strung between masts, usually between the fore and main mast. If that distance was inadequate, as in Kongo's case, the horizontal legs, known as the main roof, could bend towards the bow or stern, with the loose ends tethered by wire ropes, isolated from the main roof via glass or ceramic insulators, the wires being terminated at the bow and the stern free of harm to personnel and to the radio sets.

Unlike almost every USN battleship; all German Kreigsmarine surface units, all British capital ships including the luckless Hood after a long life of fun, flag-showing but virtually no war duty, the KONGO and her sisters, saw much raw action, forever being modified after a battle to take into account lessons learned, and when not that, put into dry dock to be rebuilt into something the class was never intended to be. When Kongo was modified/rebuilt, so too were her three sisters. It begs the question as to why the Hood was not continuously modified between 1919 and 1939 rather than just showing it to the world on jollies? It is recognised that the I.J.N. [Imperial Japanese Navy] operated rather like the USN and the RN [plus allies] in that these navies were deployed to fight other warships, and not as the Germans and Italians did, almost entirely pre-occupied [surface raiders and submarines] in sinking 'trade, passenger liners, hospital ships] indeed anything that couldn't fight back. When they were forced into fighting warships, they invariably lost as history has shown!

Kongo started life as a fast battlecruiser, loaded with gunnery [and later radar] in every conceivable part of the ship. The Japanese wanted more from the hull, and after ignoring all warship restrictive treaties [Washington and London] changed the class into first-off a battleship, then a fast-battleship able to match and escort fast carrier groups, armed with over 100 different firing weapons including her eight 14" guns built into four turrets. This was achieved by changing all the boilers and all the engines at more than one event; adopting state-of-the-art oil technology; changing gun calibres [some of 50 calibre, which means that the gun barrel length was 50 times longer than the bore of the gun], gun sets often HA for LA and vice versa [HA = High Angle for AA shooting and LA = Low Angle for surface shooting] 4" for 6", 3" for high rate large calibre AA machine guns etc. Between all these dockings, up-lifts and modernisation's which included thousands of tons of  extra armour plating and many more tons updating her torpedo blisters, she was in the thick of it, fighting the undoubted might of the USN and faring very well too. When coming out of a major rebuild to the whole of her bridge superstructure [designed to take the new directors for each and every one of the 100 gunnery pieces], and fitted with a concrete assembly aft protecting her 'A' frames, shafts and propellers, she immediately sailed to take part in the biggest naval battle of all times, then as now, namely the battle of Leyte Gulf which was a disaster for the IJN and an utter all out victory for the USN. However Kongo survived. In her time she sank many ships, chiefly American, bombarded many shores including the total destruction of a major US airfield, and through thick and thin, fought her way, literally, right through until November 1944 - remember too that she had seen service in WW1 whilst on our side, albeit not too demanding! It was ill-opportune that in that month, she, with others, the massive 9 x 18" gun battleship Yamoto* [the largest battleship every built] and the lesser Nagato included, were returning home to Sasebo via the Formosa Straits [Taiwan] when they were intercepted by an American submarine called the USS Sealion. Sealion using her radar out to a massive range of 18nm, set up a resolution to fire on the main capital ships, a once in a lifetime chance of fame, fired nine torpedoes, six from forward tubes and three from after tubes at the group. Two 'fish' struck the Kongo and one sank an escorting destroyer despatched in a major explosion with the loss of all hands. Kongo, with a crew of nearly 1600 men eventually sank taking 1200 of them to a watery grave.

*Yamoto's sister the Musashi was sunk by an estimated 19 torpedoes and 17 direct bomb hits [punishment unprecedented] from American carrier-based aircraft on 24 October 1944 during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Over half of her crew of nigh on 3000 was rescued.

Whatever we might say [or think] about this disgusting Japanese enemy, Kongo fought as a true warrior in a British built ship, and caused great losses to the allies, prolonging the war, until she was trapped herself. We cannot, and should not forget, that the sea wars in Europe and the Atlantic were fought to protect merchant ships thereby protecting our food and materiel supplies, and to deliver war supplies to allies [Russia], whereas in the Pacific they were fought navy against navy, carrier groups against carrier groups for territorial gain, armies transported and protected by the navy as they island-hopped getting nearer and nearer to the Japanese mainland. An American friend of mine, a wise researcher and somebody whose wisdom I respect and admire, once said that Britain's Pearl Harbour was the surprise attack and sinking of the Royal Oak at Scapa Flow. WW2 had already started so it didn't drag us into a war as did the attack on Pearl Harbour, but it did act as a wake-up call, a kick-down for us to fight that war with all our might and passion and commitment.  If that were the case of the  Royal Oak being our Pearl Harbour, then it puts the agony of Pearl Harbour proper into true perspective.     

Only three British built battleships were sunk by submarine action in WW2. The Barham and Royal Oak by German submarines and the Kongo by an American submarine.


Oh dear!

Despite years of being told that our Type 45's are world beaters, which went to sea without their main radar/weapon system fitted [PAAMS] so in effect, until fitted [if they are?] were/are white elephants. Because of cost over-runs, we have but six out of the twelve asked for by the MOD [Navy], which in itself is lamentable, rendering the totality of the 'weapon' on a world-wide basis, that much less relevant or potent, even impotent?

Written by me seven years ago

Now we are told that the whole class, starting in 2019 is to undergo major remedial work to put right a nagging propulsion problem which has seemingly dogged the operational use of these ships for some considerable time. It is going to add many millions to the MOD [N] already stressed budget, perhaps many hundreds of millions, to add new equipment which will, hopefully, circumvent the inadequacies of the currently fitted diesel electric producing plant. Not only will that deplete MOD[N] funds unexpectedly at a time when the Chancellor is disinclined to be generous to government departmental budgets, it will also grossly affect the operational deployments pencilled-in to both short and long casts, already near to the point where the hapless planners are ready to 'tear their hair out'.

However, given that BAE and Rolls Royce were deeply involved in the 45-build, as they are in the Queen Elizabeth class, could it be possible that in the future we learn that a similar problem has befallen the new carriers? After all, it is probable that the same R&D staff, drawing-office staff, planners, suppliers, builders whatever have unwittingly, using logic instead of lateral thinking, factored into these two ships the same future problem. Manifestly, by admitting that "extra" equipment is required in the 45's, there is not a "machinery defect", simply not enough generating plant!  Back in the days of the pre 45-concept, they were confident that they had the correct solution for the propulsion diesel-electric plant needs, might they be just as confident that they have the carriers requirements measured, allowing for a major drain on the system when most needed, catering of course for under-performing diesels on-line, integral to the production of electrical power?

At the time of the pre Queen Elizabeth concept class, the choice of propulsion [diesel electric power on shaftless pods each with a steerable propeller, exactly the same as the propulsion plant in the Cunard liner QM2 and others since], was questioned, especially in view that all other aircraft carriers around the world in all modern navies was, for good reason, nuclear powered. What did the Brits know that the rest of the world didn't, and why did we opt for diesel electric?  OPEC and its members, some of who are clearly not friendly with the UK but need to sell their oil [currently at rock-bottom prices] have it in their power to disrupt the world, not by price-hikes, but by production reductions and sales to preferential customers only. As you may know, MOD[N] buys oil on the open market and merchant navy tankers [currently, on long term contract to MOD[N], currently the Felixstowe based company of Maersk Line, collect it on our behalf from point-of-sale-ports world-wide, and distributes in to naval depots from where our RFA's bunker, thereafter to rendezvous with a warship at sea for its bunker.


There has always been sibling rivalry in the R.N., and cousin rivalry on a tri-Service basis. In the R.N., it has taken place branch-wise e.g., seamen against stokers in part of ship fall-outs, or between the main Service branches e.g., submariner [fish heads] against general service [skimmers]. In the tri-service environment, between navy and air force for example. Fortunately, all those differences and misunderstandings have been resolved, and adequate harmonious associations have been formed and maintained. Rarely however, have those fall-outs occurred in times of war, but the following story certainly did but not for personal reasons.

Most will know the WW1 story about the reformation of the Royal Flying Corps [RFC] into the Royal Air Force and the Royal Naval Air Service which of course became the Fleet Air Arm.  All gallant officers and brave pilots, but equally, all highly jealous of their air branch which resulted in a difficult reformation.

What might not be as well known is the WW2 story of the air force versus the navy.

At the beginning of the war the air force had worked themselves to the bone in every area of the Service, from procurement, to recruiting and training, to materiel enhancements, squadronisation, and readiness, so much so, that comes as early as 1940, they acquitted themselves with sheer brilliance, bravery and unimaginable gutsy fortitude during the Battle of Britain in which they all but destroyed the Nazi Luftwaffe.

This was achieved in no small part by a well established radar early warning system used in conjunction with a proven and reliable communications system, on which ground controllers could talk to the deployed pilots.

As the radar chain was being established and built, so too was the designed and build of a new type of radio set which operated in the VHF band as opposed to the 1939 HF band system which was often unusable due to interference from excessive radio users and natural phenomena. Not unnaturally at that time, everything to do with aero planes, including radio sets, was for air force eyes only, and all the parameters built into the sets was to its design.
They chose a frequency band of 100 to 124 Mc/s [MHz today] which would give them lots of channels within that range to use for an ever increasing air force. An aerial system was designed for ground work using two separate aerials one for transmit and one for receive, widely dispersed, both feeding their inputs and outputs into the control tower, which suited the vast expanse of the aerodrome, and a single aerial for the aero plane buzzing around in the skies above the UK. The RAF commissioned two types of radio, a low-powered set for an aircraft [governed by size] and a high-powered set for ground control [with no limitations on size]. Thus, after the great success of the Battle of Britain, the RAF temporarily sat back on their laurels, almost content with everything: at this point the war had yet a further five years to run to May 1945.

This RAF system was to have wide repercussions for the navy, which did not use the VHF band for any reason at this point.

In late 1940/1941, ['41 was the worst year in all the war for losses in the R.N., involving many ships and thousand of men laying on the bottom of the sea] in home waters only, it became necessary to fit convoy escorts with RAF small VHF fighter sets to enable them to communicate with, and pass information to aircraft employed on convoy escort and protection whilst in range of the UK mainland aerodromes. These became known as the Type 86M.

Not long afterwards [1941 onwards] it became necessary to fit escort ships in foreign parts with the same RAF small fighter VHF sets, particularly in the Mediterranean where long range fighters were commonly used for fleet protection, and use was made of the larger RAF ground VHF sets in cruisers and above. These large sets became known as Type T1131 - R1132.

At this point is was realised that there was a problem working two or more aircraft simultaneously from one ship.

 The RAF ground equipment [TX = T1131 and the RX = R1132] was designed for widely separated transmitting and receiving stations. It was early apparent that the receiver's selectivity had to be grossly improved, with much added screening between ships aerial, otherwise it would be near impossible to operate with reasonable frequency spacing between channels.

In 1942, all battleships, aircraft carrier and cruisers were fitted with one high powered ground set and one low powered aircraft set, and all destroyers with 50% of corvettes fitted with one low-powered aircraft set. A large portion of the fleet was fitted out very rapidly for the forthcoming North African operations and in the circumstances no attention was paid to the aerial design and fitting.

At about this time also, there were two further developments which would muddy the waters.

Firstly, the Fleet Air Arm decided that they too should adopt VHF for their communications, choosing the frequency band 126 = 150 Mc/s, but almost as soon as the decision had been made, the British made small low-powered aircraft set ran out, stock exhausted by the naval fit-out. This meant an urgent request to the USA for US built sets for the British fleet, with all the attendant difficulties of supply, spares and handbooks.

Because of these difficulties, Britain was forced into R&D for new ship equipment to cover the combined frequency range of the RAF and the FAA VHF systems, and to investigate methods of provision of the smallest possible channel separation to enable five or more to be worked simultaneously in an aircraft carrier. The first of these was overcome by the taking up a dormant RAF development and putting it to production with certain changes to meet ship needs, which became known at the Type 87M [I had both the 86M and 87M in my first couple of ships].

Intensive research was carried out in the frequency separation problem and also on the question of aerial siting, including full scale trials in the carriers Activity and Indomitable. 

The major problem was the siting of aerials in such a confined space as a carriers Island and also with channel upon channel interference. A device called an aerial resonator was found to cure many problems, and thereafter for all sets on the UHF band they were used [691,692,693,1202 etc] where the resonators could tune an aerial to be ultra efficient at a specific frequency. In 1943, when these trials, observations, resolutions had been assessed as far as was possible giving the demands of the war against the needs for experimentations, the thought of having one aerial for transmission and a separate one for reception [as in the case of the shore aerodrome above] was being mooted.

Much that the operators of wireless equipment produced an excellent service, equipment limitations, ad hoc design features and in-situ modifications did little to ensure good reliable communications on voice circuits to and from aircraft.

It's a miracle that we came through it all as victor's, weathering the storm better than the enemy who must have experienced the same as we did or maybe even worse.

We learned much from the war, coming through it as a team, albeit at times fractious with one another. Above all else we learned the importance of tri-Service cooperation and that it was always possible to be tasked to fight as a team and not always as a lone separate force.

I was once near Hythe on Southampton Water, and witnessed the army, the Royal Army Service Corps throwing a large craft full of all their fighting bits and pieces around in the water, and I remember thinking could one of our able or leading seamen do the same and as competently? 

Puts it all into perspective.

Come approximately 1965 [I had had the 86M in my submarine on the Canadian station S/M6 in 1962/4], we got rid of VHF completely, changing over to UHF for aircraft work, intership working, satellite working for submarines. The fleet was then fitted with commercial VHF 100-162 MHz Type 689 for communicating with merchant ships, merchant ports and all international distress working, and also with Stornophone VHF hand portables UK/PRC001-004 for ship management [berthing, anchoring etc], NBCD, occasionally sea boat, and second in command's personal walkie-talkie toy!     



Windy Corner was a sea area at Jutland. It was named such by Royal Naval sailors.

This story was written within one week of the Battle by a senior bridge watch-keeper officer on board the light cruiser Galatea. It was widely published even before some of the ships of the Grand Fleet got back to their depot ports, in journals like "The Warrant Officers Journal", and the "Illustrated London News". The report was demanded by the Chief of Staff to V.Adm Beatty commander of the Battlecruiser Fleet in the Lion. Galatea belonged to the 1st Light cruiser squadron [Commodore Alexander Sinclair], attached to Beatty's Battlecruiser Fleet, one of 13 light cruisers. The Battlecruiser Fleet operated independently as an advanced guard. Eleven years later in 1927 when the report had been 'long been used' and subsequently filed, it was published in several other lesser naval magazine including in the HMS Ganges magazine.

Whilst there is no mention at any point about the use of visual signalling of any sort [flags, flashing lamps, semaphone] although there is one mention of a failed signal been passed by searchlight, there is a mention of a successful wireless telegraphy signal which conveyed crucial tactical intelligence.


This picture is self evident. HMS Ganges [a boys' training establishment at Shotley, near Ipswich] - note the elephant on the wreath!

See you all in Snippet 9