See below towards the end of my story,  to a new story communicated to me by a German gentleman called

Gerhard Klußmeier.

 

Let's start with a song written and performed way back in 1960 just as the Rhine Squadron was no more! The artiste was Darren McCall, a U.S. country and western singer; however, this version was recorded by one Bobby Helms in the mid-1990's. Whilst the tune is 'country', the lyrics are terrible and befit the equally terrible title of the piece which is called 'LONELY RIVER RHINE'.  Because it tells of the sad fate of a young German women, a fräulein perhaps hoping for a romance with an occupying U.S. Serviceman and a better life than many were going to have as a result of the defeat, I should have said RHEIN.

 

So speakers on and HERE GOES

 

Now that you are settled and in a happy mood {?} we can begin.



Despite the title above, before this Squadron, one of several Squadrons e.g., Belgian, French and U.S.A.,  was established as part of the post WW2 occupying force on mainland Germany, much had happened involving the Royal Navy working in a tri-service role prior to D-Day, during it and subsequent to it. The navy's traditional role of defending our shores, our trade, our food sources [severely rationed though they were] had, with our sure-footed and brave RAF colleagues, dispatched the Kriegsmarine surface fleet to the bottom of the sea  as a wholly UK affair, and with our RAF and equally brave allied navies, utterly destroyed the Kriegsmarine u-boat service, destroying many at sea in combat, and many more surrendered UBoats into the North Atlantic mainly off MalinHead Northern Ireland. The next phase of the war would bring to the fore our most ubiquitous vessels, namely our amphibious navy, well supported by the army [engineers and army service corps] and our Royal Marines.  Incidentally one or two European countries were bilingual and spoke German as one of their languages - Germans of course; Austrians and some from Switzerland and all of those used the expression Kriegsmarine  for the R.N.R.S., inter alia. It was hardly a compliment and I suspect most unwelcomed and to be avoided when possible because the words means 'War Navy' and specifically the 'Nazi War Navy'.

Before continuing, do you get annoyed when people use wrong and utterly inappropriate statements, often flying in the face of history and established facts.  Many annoy me, but through my researches, I see some on a regular and continuing basis. One in particular is the term or reference to the "British Navy" - Ugh: no such thing! Royal Navy yes, but British Navy absolutely not, that is, unless you are referring to the navy of pre 9th January 1922. What today we call Eire [then Irish Free State], was for three days in history, 6-9th January 1922, the whole island of Ireland, but on the 9th, what we now call Northern Ireland, ceded from the Irish Free State and the two areas of the island effectively became two quite separate States, Eire being no longer part of Great Britain [ergo no longer British] became neutral during WW2, although many of its men fought on our side against the Axis forces. However, during WW1 it was the British Navy, but not so since the 9th January 1922. From this date in 1922 until the 18th April 1949 it was the Irish Free State and remained part of the Commonwealth, but in 1949 it became a Republic and severed all its contacts and associations with Great Britain and Northern Ireland including its Commonwealth membership. Eire, with whom we have a great and lasting friendship, is nevertheless, a foreign country just as much as is any other European country we consider friends. Calling our navy British, is tantamount  to banishing our dear Northern Ireland countrymen.  We have a "Royal Navy" or for the absolute purists, a "United Kingdom Navy."


During 1943 until D-Day in June 1944 our gallant amphibious forces planned and exercised the invasion of northern Europe with our allies, using a vast array of landing crafts, secure in the knowledge that on the day of reckoning, our large big-gunned naval surface units and our RAF fighters would be behind and above them keeping the heads of the Germans down. There were many incidences and accidents leading to death and many injuries, none more than that which occurred to our American friends at Slapton Sands, South Devon. On this occasion, the Americans were doing live firings, launching their landing crafts into the sea to a pre-arranged plan of attack on to and from a beach not dissimilar to the one they would use in Normandy, when they were surprised by marauding German E-Boats [Schnellboot] looking for targets in the English Channel who infiltrated their operations causing many deaths and sinking's. One of the LCT's [landing craft tank] sunk during this raid, was eventually hauled from the seabed and brought ashore years later, where its tank, a Sherman, was placed on the beach as a permanent memorial to those who perished whilst practicing to rid us of this evil foe.  This is a picture of a surrendered German E-Boat sporting a white flag. The harbour is thought to be Harwich [Essex] and that the photographer was standing on the Admiralty Pier at H.M.S. Ganges Shotley Gate [Suffolk].





The story of Normandy and the various beaches used to land our troops is now legend and a permanent memorial to the gallant men who took part. What might not be as well known is the multiplicity of the types of landing craft which took part and what they did after they had discharged their precious loads.  Believe it or not, there were approximately 20+ types of LC [Landing Craft] covering, tanks, hospital, troops, spare parts, oil tankers, communications relay, HGV transportation, repair crews, diving craft, victualling stores, water carriers, fender vessels, ammunition, bombarments, rocket firers  etc etc. You could imagine what they did or perhaps looked like, but what follows requires a picture and a text byte.

HMS Princess Josephine Charlotte
a small Landing Craft Depot Ship
HMS Princess Josephine Charlotte
another view
Liverpool. A giant floating crane called Mammoth with a 200 ton lift, lifts a 145 ton LCT onto the deck of a nearby ship A LCG[L] ...Gun [Large] a 4.7" naval gun mounted. Has its own ammunition LC following on behind. HMS Eastway. A LC[D]....Dock. Similar in all ways to an LPD [HMS Fearless/Intrepid type]. Here packed full of rocket-firing landing crafts. HMS Eastway with lots of small hospital stretcher landing craft on board.
   
HMS EASTWAY with 8 MFV's loaded aft with much more space midships and forward HMS EASTWAY ready to proceed bristling with AA Weapons.  The CO is a lieutenant commander RNVR

One can picture one hell of a struggle to get onto the beaches at Normandy, but the fire power from seaward and from the air onto German positions would have been just as bad for the Hun if not greater than it was for us the allies.

We know that,  because of the sheer numbers of German prisoners taken. Taking prisoners is often a gamble especially when there is only enough to feed one's own, when we believed that a prisoner had rights and should be treated properly and not maltreated as our enemies did us? So at Normandy, we took the prisoners we had rounded-up [some being grateful to get out of the hell-hole], and we loaded them into the landing crafts which had conveyed our men into that hell-hole, taking them straight back to England to be placed in humane prisoner-of-war camps, a 130 mile journey to Portsmouth. The big naval gun bombardments alone would have made mincemeat out of human flesh ashore, and the landing craft [rocket] vessel, there in large numbers, would have created havoc.  The acid-test was that it didn't take us long to establish a bridge-head and the Germans had already started to run for home.  There were many battles fought before the Rhine was reached 457 miles from the Normandy beaches, with thousands of casualties.

Jumping ahead in time a little,  and still very much with landing craft in mind, in 1945, the Italian anti-fascists [the communists] murdered Mussolini and his girl friend [Clara Petacci]  plus their closest  cohorts by shooting them. Eventually, their lifeless bodies where thrown on to the back of a lorry and driven south to Milan. They were heading for a commercial  garage in the main street which had been used by the fascists under Mussolini to murder anti fascists. Here the bodies were thrown off the lorry onto the street and then dragged to the forecourt which was covered by a substantial roof, and from that under-roof, they strung up the corpses upside down, allowing some dignity to Ms Petacci, but tying her skirt so that it wouldn't fall over her upper body.   This attracted large crowds over the next few days, which stoned the dangling corpses and ridiculed the body of Mussolini in a most gross manner. When it was considered timely [the lesson to all fascists truly learned] the corpses [some writers say what was left of Mussolini] were taken down and buried in unmarked graves in the City. Mussolini was found and stolen; recovered shortly afterwards, and then kept by the newly formed Government for ten years to avoid iconisation by neo-fascists seeking to glorify the name and deeds of Mussolini;  finally released to kin folk who took the remains to his home town where he now enjoys eternal rest is a family vault. Just in passing, somewhere in a trunk in my loft is a small attaché case containing my comics from boyhood. One, the Beano, ran a strip-cartoon of Mussolini which was called "Musso the WOP"



However, some time before the execution of Mussolini in 1945, on the 10th September 1943 the Italian navy capitulated, surrendered and came over to the Allies bringing their fleet to Malta. During this period the diehards of Italian fascists had sabotaged many facilities and had rendered their harbours un-navigable.  The only vessel which could cope was the flat bottomed shallow draught vessels, chiefly the large landing craft, and the Allies used them for harbours like Naples and Cititavecchia [the harbour serving the city of Rome]. They took personnel and some materiel goods ashore ready for a build of a new Allied HQ, but also assisted in the clearance of harbour obstacles to open up the harbours to big ships bringing men and equipment to chase the Germans north out of southern Europe back into Germany. Operations were going well [and remained that way] on all fronts, as my web page here shows towards the end of its run WW2 Map and Events.WMV

After the Normandy bridgehead was running smoothly and all prisoners had been cleared of the area, the navy on land, started to follow on behind the advancing allies, having being told that their landing craft would be required to cross the Rhine. After Paris was liberated and the Vichy French put to the sword in the south, all eyes were on the retreating Germans heading home, but staging battles as they went to slow the allies, even destroying huge dam gates to flood the area designed to bog down the allies, but not for long. The direction of attack would be north east to east heading for Holland and Belgium and their respective adjoining borders with Germany. The very first German town attacked was at Aachen just over the nearby borders of Holland and Belgium. The German retreat was robust and all eyes were on the Rhine.  However, Hitler had forbidden his Generals from crossing the Rhine and ordered them to fight on the west bank and to stand its ground. With the exception of the city of Bonn which became the Capital of West Germany throughout the cold-war years, and Colgne which was split by the Rhine, all German territory of any note and worth were built on the east of the river and this included 95% of the Rhur, famous for its heavy industry. To allow the advancing allies to cross the river would have exposed their major cities, infrastructures, administrations and its manufacturing livelihood, so at all costs the German defenders had to fight on the west bank. This was not to be and the German rag-bag army crippled with low morale and the fear of God deep in their bellies or/and souls, were cut to pieces, this despite Goering being ordered to give his Luftwaffe personnel to army command for the defence of Germany.

They crossed  the Rhine against Hitler's orders and continued on east hoping for the sanctuary of Berlin. Clearly what they didn't account for was that the people in the east of the country were in a state of  paranoia, fearing the very worst from  the Red Army meting out retribution for the atrocities committed by German soldiers in Russia. They feared their Armageddon, and by George they got it in spades.

One of the problems of the Rhine [at least in warring terms] is that it has very narrow stretches and extremely wide stretches, so crossing it was a calculated risk.  Was it better to cross a half mile wide section by first heavily defending it from both sides,  or choosing a two mile wide section when the enemy are aware it would not be worth it,  considering it almost impossible and therefore not bothering to defend it?

At a relatively wide part,  the navy brought in their landing crafts and associated heavy machinery and started preparing for a crossing, putting the allies over on the east bank with an open run to Berlin.

As a yard-stick, the City of Duisburg very close to the Rhine, and a city of the Rhur , was, in a more or less straight line running east-west, only 362 miles [584 km] from Berlin.

The Royal Navy amphibious geographical start point was just a few miles from Arnhem in Holland [a battle, lamented by our airborne troops] of six months previously in September 1944 with heavy losses on both sides but we suffered more than did the Germans. At that point on the Rhine come late March 1945, any German with an offensive weapon had long gone and soldiers had changed into civilian attire, making the task of the navy assisting the crossing relatively straight forward. The two areas chosen were at Emmerich [Holland] and Grieth [Germany].

These pictures show some of the operations in that area

ROYAL NAVY'S PART IN RHINE CROSSING. 30 AND 31 MARCH 1945, EMMERICH, NETHERLANDS, AND GRIETH, GERMANY A landing craft tows a bridge section downstream to add to the crossing bridge.

BRITISH NAVAL BASE IN GERMANY. 25 MARCH 1945, REICHSWALD, GERMANY. A ROYAL NAVY "MOLCAB"- MOBILE LANDING CRAFT ADVANCED BASE - IS PLAYING AN IMPORTANT PART IN THE ARMY'S CROSSING OF THE RHINE. CRAFT ARE PATROLLING AND BRIDGE BUILDING ALONG THE RHINE AND HAVE BROUGHT PRISONERS ACROSS TO THE WESTERN BANK. THE FORCE IS UNDER THE COMMAND OF CAPTAIN P G H JAMES, RN, AND ALL PERSONNEL LIVE UNDER CANVAS IN A FOREST. THE BASE IS ADMINISTERED AND RUN BY THE ROYAL MARINES. Note the Jeep which says RNP [Royal Naval Police] and shows an anchor.

The navy's job with army engineers is nearly completed. Landing craft have been moored facing downstream whilst crossing them at 90° and linking to them with sections of bridge, the overall long bridge is completed and the order "Roll 'em" is given, and  it's full steam ahead for the German capital.


Once over the Rhine, many skirmishes were  encountered, some of them fierce battle by an ever increasing foreboding enemy but to no real avail. The nearer to the east they got, the more they heard of dreadful stories of the advances of the Red Army now harassing Berliner's. Very soon the Reich which was to last for a thousand years will be thoroughly destroyed, and the once proud Cities now lay in rubble and the people in total anguish and near suicidal. 

Juxtapose the stories above about amphibious landing craft, with this taken from Hansards, the daily record of what occurs in the House of Commons. It speaks of bad times to come for the Royal Marines and their stock-in-trade assault crafts Navy Estimates 1954-1955 DEBATE IN HOUSE OF COMMONS.htm

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Now my story divides because I wish to concentrate only on the Royal Naval Rhine Squadron, its personnel and its vessels. which once again will have lots of landing craft as assets.
The Flag Officers of Germany post WW2 were:-

Flag Officer, Germany(until 1961):

Admiral Sir Harold M. Burrough: May 1945-March 1946

Vice-Admiral Sir Harold T.C. Walker: March 1946-June 1947

Rear-Admiral Stephen H.T. Arliss: June 1947-August 1949

Rear-Admiral Archibald Day: August 1949-April 1950

Rear-Admiral Lachlan D. Mackintosh: April-November 1950

Rear-Admiral George W.G. Simpson: November 1950-November 1951

Rear-Admiral Robert St. V. Sherbrooke: November 1951-November 1953

Rear-Admiral Robert S. Warne: November 1953-March 1955

Rear-Admiral Keith McN. Campbell-Walter: March 1955-May 1958

Rear-Admiral Michael S. Townsend: May 1958-1961


After the German surrender in WW2 the vast country of Germany was occupied in every main town, city and centres of militarism by soldiers, sailors and airmen from many countries {including the Free French} who had been Allies to the main victors, namely the UK, the USA, and Russia. The cowed country was divided into two quite separate countries, West German [FRG - Federal Republic Germany] with its Capital in Bonn established on the West Bank of the Rhine controlled by the USA, the UK and France each with its own section, and East Germany [GDR - German Democratic Republic]  with its Capital in East Berlin over on the East side of the Rhine and country, ruled by Russia, its secret police the KGB and the German secret police, the Statsi. The Reich Capital had been Berlin itself now deep in the Russian section and it too split into two halves. There can be no better illustration than this very clever video which comes with all credit and full copyright from this brilliant website http://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/berlin-airlift. For ease of handling only, and to save you shifting sites,  I have reprocessed it into a windows media movie, a wmv, which you can view here  BERLIN BLOCKADE - THE WALL AND THE AIR LIFT.wmv

At this point, history [and not merely our own prejudices], records that the Russians hated the Germans so much for the atrocities they had committed on the Eastern Front, that when the Red Army reached Berlin before the Allies, it punished the people, especially females in a most depraved way, taking an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Their hate had driven them to behave like animals and their generals couldn't and didn't try to stop their troops. That hate dictated their modus operandi for the way in which they ruled East Germany especially East Berlin, and it was often the case, that the Allies were wary of them and their aspirations for taking over the whole of the hated nation of Germany. Russia's intentions were obvious [according to newspaper archives] and after just a few years after the carve up of the defeated country they shut down access to the City of Berlin. This action also shut down West Berlin in the hands of the Allies and West Berlin ran the risk of being starved of food and goods because all routes except air routes came through Russian territory. The blockade lasted for a year and was only circumvented by the Allied Air Forces, chiefly the UK Royal Air Force, flying in all that was required. This highly fraught and expensive operation was called "The Berlin Airlift" and left the Russians with egg on their face. It unnerved the Allies, but as you will see in the next paragraph, it took it all in its stride for the Allies were still on a war-footing, and prepared for all eventualities.


It should be remembered that according to Government records, whilst we all celebrate specific dates/days as the end of war in Europe and in the Japanese Theatre, it took a great deal of time, negotiations, Allied agreements, prosecutions for war crimes of Germans and Japanese and a few others acting as executioners, repatriation agreements, resettlement of a vast number of people displaced by the wars and international committees deciding who owned what denying the aggressors their land-grabs etc etc. That led to a statement in both Houses, stating that despite the war-of-arms ending, the war-of-administration would continue until successfully  settled and at that point a date would be set which would recognise THE OFFICIAL ending of the World War 2 date.

That was finally issued as shown in this web page:-
http://www.godfreydykes.info/THE%20END%20OF%20WW2.htm

Now comes a problem in the story, one that confuses and detracts from the history of the occupying forces!

The navy were well represented throughout defeated Germany and had its own space[s] and naval names for its presence. By naval names, I mean names preceded by such acronyms as HMS [His Majesty's Ship] RNAS [Royal Naval Air Station], RNAD [Royal Navy Armament Depot], RNH [Royal Naval Hospital] and on and on it goes.  The Royal Marines are always associated with the Royal Navy when afloat proper or in amphibious roles, and with the army when fighting as infantrymen, and they too have their own space[s] and names. What confuses most people until told otherwise, is that the Marines decided to call
ALL THEIR dispositions names NORMALLY ASSOCIATED with naval ship names but for obvious reasons without a prefix, any prefix or acronym. Here is their list of what they called the geographical location of their operations, some of which were irrevocably linked with and part of the naval scene. 

Note from the list above there are only TWO NAMES TO REMEMBER concerning our story of the RHINE SQUADRON. First off that of the ROYAL ALBERT when in Berlin as a stonewall frigate [not HMS Royal Albert - and it is not listed anywhere as such in Admiralty documents of that period including the finest reference manual of all, the NAVY LIST] which became a HMS Royal Albert in 1950 as a vessel, but never at Krefeld as part of the Rhine Squadron.  It was wrongly listed as a Rhine Squadron ship in the 1953 Fleet review list below. This is the ex German ship which became HMS Royal Albert, here still in German colours i.e., with no ML or 'P' number painted on the bow.


Secondly, the name ROYAL PRINCE except that she was a pukker GROUP of H.M., shore establishments, one of them being the HQ of the RHINE SQUADRON, and as importantly, the draft/appointment ALL NAVAL PERSONNEL received irrespective of where in Germany [a vast country] they were going to serve. Although not shown, attached to HMS ROYAL PRINCE were vessels manned by the navy and by the marines, all of which were prefixed with HMS, but none of them with names, having in lieu a single {P} letter or two letters {ML} and some numerals, eg, HMS ML 6010 or HMS LCT 4045. None of the other ships names affect this story! The story of HMS Royal Prince in Germany, indeed anywhere else for that matter, started on the 8th May 1945 almost immediately after the German surrender at Emden. The first naval personnel were appointed/drafted in Naval Party [NP] 1745. That commission was very short and it was decommissioned on the 21st February 1946. After that the name HMS Royal Prince went to ground until it was re-established 180 MILES south east from Emden at Benkhausen  as The R.N. Parent Ship Germany on the 15th October 1949 nearly four and a half years later on. Her complement, at Benkhausen was small,  with many other HMS ROYAL PRINCE Naval Party's viz NP 1817 and NP1820 being stationed elsewhere chiefly in the north, although the Rhine Squadron, was in Naval Party's 1817 and 1820, with only those destined for the Rhine Squadron being sent to the Krefeld area, and her "start vessels" were the ML's 1958 and 6028. These two vessels were not long in the squadron, the 6028 redeployed elsewhere in Germany and the 1958 sold off to a commercial buyer. That commercial buyer renamed the ex HMS ML 1958 to "DUNKIRK" and this is a picture of her in 1952. She was a Fairmile 'B' Launch with a funnel  and two masts. The shipping company Bolson's bought her and ran her as a ferry between Poole, Swanage, Dorset,  and the Isle of Wight on England's south coast. Note that the ML 1958 is not mentioned in the table below. Look also at this picture EBay sale of photograph of 'DUNKIRK' ex HMS ML 1958.htm

Also at Krefeld was another part of HMS Royal Prince, still at UERDINGEN which was the back-office and barracks which accommodated a good number of naval personnel.  This continued until HMS Royal Prince finally bowed out  for good on the 8th January 1958, although of course her personnel changed regularly as did the coming and going of some of her attached vessels!.

All too often one sees on the internet references to names as though they were warships, and now you know that there were not, you can read the story correctly. If you were drafted to Germany your documents [SC's, pay records, medical documents etc] were retained by HMS ROYAL PRINCE, where a mini-army of writers of both genders, would make sure that you were paid on time with the correct money even if you were hidden away in far away north Germany, and that when your B13 for promotion came through from the UK [in those days from your Depot : Lee-on-the-Solent for Fleet Air Arm, Portsmouth, Devonport or Chatham] your CO, guided by the rules in KR&AI/QR&AI would or would not promote you.  Incidentally, your S264A, your comic cuts, stayed with your DO in the place you were stationed at and employed in.

So let's look at the navy ashore in Germany or in small craft stationed there. My map will save a thousand words but I'll wager that it will surprise some of you.

At this point of the story, I think it better if we cleared-the-air, to describe exactly what HMS ROYAL PRINCE was from 1949 until 1958, that's nine years because she was decommissioned at the very start of 1958 so I will discount that year. Nine years is a long time, and during it there would have been many changes to materiel and personnel. In that time-slot I am going to zoom in to the year 1954 and use that as my datum ignoring all other years and times.

 

IN 1954

 

HMS ROYAL PRINCE was THE

 

Parent Ship [Germany].

 

 

HMS ROYAL PRINCE was the ONE name for EIGHT separate areas of occupied Germany, with their staffs, or in normal naval speak she acted as a TENDER to all the satellite establishments and vessels.

 

 

You may be surprised to see so many outlaying stations of the occupying navy, and to note that everything to do with the navy in Germany per se, started and finished in BENKHAUSEN and not as one might imagine down in Krefeld where the vessels of the Squadron operated from and the main barracks were situated. To assist you in understanding that, every area of the UK has a flag officer and within his area there are several establishments and ships if dockyards are included. Take HMS Mercury for example. The CO of Mercury has many executive powers, but for many of them he needs the approval of FO Portsmouth : in the case of HMS Ganges FO Chatham gave that approval. BAOR 34 needs the approval of FO Germany in BAOR 29 [Benkhausen].  In short, if you needed to write about the navy in Germany and its policies you would write to HMS ROYAL PRINCE at Benkhausen, but if it concerned the Rhine Squadron you would write to BAOR 34.  Each part of HMS Royal Prince, displaced to eight areas of Germany had its own specific job to do, and I would imagine that the job in Berlin was the most demanding for naval personnel stationed there! Note the BAOR numbers, where we see BAOR 1, and with lots missing [because the navy is not in them] right up to BAOR 34, the RN Rhine Squadron itself, and one wonders just how many more above number 34 there might have been? Note in particular that HMS Royal Albert is not a part of the River Rhine Squadron but performed its duties on the River Elbe which runs down to Hamburg from Cuxhaven and is a much smaller river. Note that there are two BAOR 29's [it is not a mistake] but each with its own separate address.

 

At first there was a small build-up of vessels attached to Krefeld for BAOR 34 but because of the dire threat from Russia, manifest in the shut down of Berlin thereby isolating West Berlin totally, resulting in the life line now known as the 'Berlin Air Lift',  more and more resources were sent to bolster the strength and potency of the Squadron and come late 1952, the numbers in the Squadron were, by all other standards, huge, well in excess of thirty vessels and all of the Motor Launch [ML] and Landing Craft [LC] of all types.  In the terrible UK east coast/the low countries of Europe floods of 31st January/1st February 1953 [the year in which I first went to the east coast to join the navy at Shotley near Ipswich], the security of the Rhine, and for that matter Germany, was set aside when the armed forces of all the Allies plus civilian authorities of many countries, gathered together to save lives, in part paid for by world-wide gifts of money, medical provision, accommodation offers, food/water provision, small boat loans/allocations, including that from the Russians in East Berlin, all of which should give you the enormity of the operation which culminated in close on 2600 people committed to their early graves either directly or indirectly because of the devastation caused by sea defences [walls and dykes] being destroyed, plus a stated 31200 animals were drowned. In the first week of February 1953, the Admiralty allocated many of these thirty Rhine Squadron vessels to the cause,  and an armada of them sailed up the Rhine to Rotterdam to be used to rescue the living and to bring out the many dead. That armada consisted of  twenty four vessels, 8 ML's, 3 large LCT'S and 13 smaller landing crafts. Rotterdam is where the Rhine empties into the North Sea, so an easy journey for the Squadron.  The Rhine Squadron did sterling work in Holland and was back in Krefeld by the end of March 1953. As such, these dreadful life-taking floods [307 in the UK and 241 at sea around the UK = 548] the rest in Belgium and Holland, did not upset the next major event which was the June 1953 Coronation of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, and come June 1954, the squadron was more or less back to normal with the state-of-flux well behind it. A second royal occasion was planned for the Squadron just a few weeks later!

 

So now we can build on the map above to put meat onto the bones of this R.N. operation. In order of BAOR's as shown on the above map.

 



BAOR 1
BAD OEYNHAUSEN


BAOR 2
BERLIN


BAOR 3
HAMBURG


BAOR 6
KIEL


BAOR 29
BENKHAUSEN. This was the HQ's or front-office of HMS Royal Prince
but the back-office or barracks were at Krefeld BAOR 34. The senior officer at Krefeld was the CO of HMS Royal Prince and the CO of the Rhine Squadron, a dual appointment. Most of the officers and ratings appointed to/drafted to Germany  were in BAOR 34.



BAOR 29
MINDEN



BAOR 31
ROYAL ALBERT



BAOR 34
KREFELD

 

Running the show overall was one junior rear admiral, one junior captain, one not as junior as the junior captain and one junior commander - by junior I mean just with a couple of years seniority and no rudeness or insubordination is intended. Note that there are many lieutenant commanders. In the case of the Rhine Squadron, two lieutenant commanders run the patrolling side, one the senior officer of ML's and the other the senior officer of landing craft, whilst a Royal Marine Lt Col [equivalent to a Commander RN] acts as the Squadron's overall Chief Staff Officer. Of the twenty nine officers, 10 are R.N., and 19 R.M.  The commanding officer of the Rhine Squadron is a captain RN., and the Elbe Squadron [HMS ROYAL ALBERT]  has a commander RN as its CO.

 

I remind you again at this stage not to put too much importance on those appointed to these jobs in 1954, the date I have chosen between 1949 and 1958. Personnel changed at all levels in all services and in all Allied forces. I am simply giving you a breakdown of what occurred in the centre of that time frame. The same applies of course to materiel, and so the vessels in the Rhine Squadron changed, but not as much as did personnel.

 

The navy list of any period gives a list of what vessels were operational [in commission] and that goes for 1954. From it we can ascertain within reasonable accuracy which ships might have been in German rivers/harbours in 1954, although I am used to Bridge-Cards and this story is crying out for one. For those of you who have never seen one, have a look here Bridge-Card-2-Mar-10.pdf  Note all the ships are shown by name, callsign, type, pennant numbers, the CO's name, rank and seniority.

 

In 1954 the R.N., had thirty ML's in ownership with lots scrapped or sold off after the war. Of this number fifteen  were in reserve in various states available for use on prior warning.  The remaining fifteen are  shown in commission. The vessels in commission were as follows, and in numerical order:-

391# - 414# - 415# - 418# - 437# - 2154# - 2155 - 2196 - 2220 - 2342 - 2571 - 2586 - 2593 - 2901 - 2921**

 

#  All removed in the very late 1953 period/very early 1954 period,

** Went  for disposal January 1953,

 

indicating that only eight ML were operational at this period in 1954 before new vessels were added into Edition 18 of Indicatifs D'Appel.  Since we don't know how many new vessels there were we cannot but guess at the total numbers. Same comment would apply to the landing craft.

 

Of the landing craft listed there are thirteen listed which in 1954 were operational.  Six were of types 'LCA' - One a 'LCE' - One LCT [4] - Four LCT[8] - One LCT[E] - with 28 in various reserve states ready for use if required - a total of 41 landing crafts.

 

 It may be another surprise to hear of the following.

 

The action taken by the Russians in June 1948 to shut down Berlin leading to the Berlin Air Lift was a major wake up call for the Allies. The incident was all over by May 1949 but by late 1949 much had changed to contain the Russian occupying forces, and Eisenhower sent a message to the Kremlin which was unambiguous and meant. The containment of the Russians and the Warsaw Pact Allies was a  big enough problem for the Allied Commanders who had smashed the resistance of Germany and marched into Berlin, but now the Chinese/North Koreans were presenting a major United Nations problem in the War in Korea [1950-53].  Eisenhower changed the command structure around, and the "new broom" reshuffle worked, getting everybody back on their front foot again - from May 1945, the four years that had or were passing, had led to complacency and many had relaxed and taken their eye off the ball. His appointments were said to have raised eyebrows. Eisenhower, Montgomery and other senior influential allied officers had not much time for De Gualle, who sat in London throughout WW2 [or from the fall of France] publically complaining that he and the Free French had not been given the starring role he thought he/they deserved. After the French Navy's performance at Oran, he lost that opportunity.  However, of the Free French Forces which did perform well and had come across to the Allies with good grace and determination to help crush the Nazi Reich, fighting with the British, warming themselves to Churchill,  did deserve a thank you,  albeit a small one especially to the French ships fighting as part of RN fleets.

 

He gave command of the Rhine Squadron's [including that of the R.N.R.S.] to a French sailor, Vice Admiral Robert Jaujard, by appointing him as Flag Officer Central Europe. Here is a picture of him being greeted on arrival at HMS Vulture by C-in-C Plymouth Admiral Sir Rhoderick McGrigor in 1951. HMS Vulture was the RNAS MERRYN near Newquay in Cornwall.

 

 

This is what the 1951 command structure looked like:-

 

It was very different to the order devised from 1945 to 1949 - On the 15th March 1946 Admiral Sir Harold Burrough, British Naval C-in-C Germany had handed over to Vice Admiral Sir Harold 'Hooky' Walker [he lost his left hand in the Zeebrugge Raid in 1918] who became Vice Admiral Commanding British Naval Forces Germany.  Our admiral Sir Patrick Brind [in the new order of command] was appointed as the C-in-C [not Naval C-in-C] with power to act for Eisenhower in his absence and alone, and powers to act on all matters air, sea and land in the North, simply because there were not as many forces in the North as there was in the centre, to which he appointed three separate commanders for Land, Sea and Air, and none of them British! The top job of the senior Admiral/Admiral of The Fleet covering 'NAVY' was left blank because the Chiefs didn't consider a navy, any navy, a direct threat to what was ultimately a land/Air problem of policing.

Be assured that one of the best names possible for an international audience with savvy, for any vessel, is through its radio callsign if the vessel itself is not close and available for scrutiny. From the known callsign all doors are open. Of course it goes without saying that in war time a warship protects itself from callsign identification simply by coding its international registered input, so when transmitting, its name [registered callsign]  is protected.

From detailed research, here are the Royal Naval vessel lists of ML's and Landing Craft, some of which served  in Germany post-war as part of the occupying forces.  They come from Indicatifs D'Appel 17th Edition dated October 1955, so all the ships we want to target which were extant in our period [1954] will be in it. For the time being at least, I'll let you [those of you who were stationed in Krefeld and have written snippets about that experience on the internet]  sort out who was who, and perhaps when you know their true identity, ML 1061 for example [although there isn't one on the list below], you can refer to vessels in future as, say, ML 1061 [aka P 1061 and Queen Salotte (if of course that were true)] then please let us all know!

ML's  c/s ML's  c/s ML's  c/s ML's c/s ML's c/s
                   
106  MVLW 2154 MTFG 2155 MTFJ 2196 GFJG 2217  GFLP 
2220 GFLV 2221 GFMC 2223 MSWD 2250 GRXF 2295 GPXY
2337 GLPV 2338  GCZB 2342  GGBV  2357  GGBZ  2360  GGXM 
   2367   GLFQ   2461  GLPW 2462 GLPX 2489 GGCF 2491 GGCG
2493 GGCL 2554  GPXZ 2561 GPYB 2564 GGXP 2565 GPYC
2568 GLQG 2569 MPYJ 2571 GGXT 2575 GJJR 2576 GGYP
2577 GLQJ 2581 GLQK 2583 GGZQ 2585 GJSY 2586 GJPJ
2592 GJXS 2593 MVSJ 2840 MPYK 2866 GLQL 2882 GLQM
2886 GLQN 2889 MSGD 2901 GGRQ 2921 MVSC 3501 GGBF
3502 GGKT 3503 GGXG 3506 MSYR 3508 MTCF 3509 MTCG
3510 MLBP 3511 MLBS 3512 MLBT 3513 MLBW 3514 MLBY
3515 MLCD 3516 GGMB 6010 GDTF 6011 GGZJ 6012 GGJV
6013 GFWS 6014 GFRK 6015 GPRK 6016 GPRL 6017 GPRM
6018 GPRN 6019 GPRP 6020 GPRQ 6021 GPRR 6022 GPRS
6023 GPRT 6024 GPRW 6025 GPRX 6026 GPRZ 6027 GPSB
6028 GPSC 6031 GPTQ 6033 MRRK 6034 MRXZ 6037 GRFZ
6038 GRGB 6039 GRJB 6043 MRPY 6044 MRQJ 6045 MSDP
6046 MSDB 6047  MSZD  6048  GSJP  6049  GSJQ  6051  MSQB 
                   
Landing Craft c/s Landing Craft c/s Landing Craft c/s  Landing Craft c/s Landing Craft c/s
                   
LCT 407  GFJV LST[3]3031 GKZP LST[3]3033 GKZR LCH243 MJBB LCT[8]4001 GGZY
LCT[8]4002 MJBK LCT[8]4025 MJBQ LCT[8]4039 GGWD LCT[8]4040 MJCF LCT[8]4041 MJCP
LCT[8]4042 GGTL  LCT[8]4043 MJCQ LCT[8]4044 MJCR LCT[8]4045 GFKS LCT[8]4049  MJCS
LCT[8]4050 MJCX LCT[8]4061 MJCZ LCT[8]4062 MJDB  LCT[8]4064 MJDC LCT[8]4073  MJDJ
LCT[8]4074 MJDM LCT[8]4085 MJDN LCT[8]4086 MJDT LCT[8]4097 MJFJ LCT[8]4098 MJFK
LCT[8]4099 MDRL LCT[8]4128 MJFL LCT[8]4148 MJGB LCT[8]4156 MJGC LCT[8]4164 MJGF
LCT[8]4165 MJGG
 

A little later on you will see that all the ML's in the Squadron of late summer 1954,  were from the 6000 series of assigned numbers.

 

The small City of Krefeld, which had been involved in the hurried retreat to cross the Rhine to the east bank,  was chosen as the base for the Royal Navy in 1947- 48, when, and as per the webpage link above,  the Allies were still at war with Germany and Japan, and both countries were subjected to draconian rules and regulations including the movement of many named persons.  The Rhine was vulnerable and a frontier between west and east which at any time Stalin could have attacked. Its position was at Uerdingen am Rhein [Uerdingen on the Rhine] on the outskirts of Krefeld in the West of Germany, quite close to the Dutch border and ten miles north of Dusseldorf. Men of the Rhine Squadron called Krefeld the 'Smoky Town' it being on the edge of the industrial Rhur.

 

These two maps show the geographical position of the RNRS

 

 

    

 

 

 It seemed that the relatively small navy stationed in Germany working with the much larger army and air force groups, met with several changes during the embryonic days of occupation. For example, not only did it have its own British made small warships, it also used German captured small war vessels until it could secure enough from the homeland: it also moved into barracks abandoned by the Kriegsmarine. This name ' Royal Albert' was used  during some periods as  a stone-wall frigate [shore barracks]  as seen here, and from 1950 an ex German craft now used by the British carrying the prefix HMS.  Germany is a massive country when compared with the UK and there were many sensitive areas which required occupational forces. These included Berlin - Brunsbuttel - Cuxhaven - Eckernforde - Emden - Flensburg - Hamburg - Kiel - Krefeld - Lubeck - Minden - Ploen - Tonning - Travemunde and Wilhemshaven  to name the important sites.

The cameo below is written and published under the guise of the British Army of the Rhine [BAOR 1] and is not a naval source. I rather think that some of the story and dates are wide of the mark!
Augusta - 1945-1946
 
Augusta was the Administrating Unit for RN Minesweeping activities in German Home waters from 1945 to 1946. Exact Location is not known at present.
 
Royal Albert before 1950.
 
Nordseebad Cuxhaven Grimmershörn Kaserne - 1941
 
Royal Albert was based here during the years 1946 to 1952.  The shore establishment was carrying out miscellaneous duties and was based in the former German Kriegsmarine base Cuxhaven. Also based there from 1946 to 1948 under the Allies, the 2nd Division of the German Minesweeping Administration, Cuxhaven. This unit was responsible for the clearing of mine fields off the German coast in the North Se that Germany had laid..
Mr John O'Meara
 
It is suggested that prior to 1946, Royal Albert may have been based, for relatively short periods of time, in Hamburg (September 1945) and Minden (Summer 1945). Confirmation of dates, and locations, in Hamburg and Minden are awaited.
 
Royal Charlotte - Autumn 1945-??
 
Royal Charlotte, a Naval Intelligence Unit, is also reported to have been based here for a time from the Autumn of 1945, after moving from Kiel.
 

Control Commission Germany Minesweeping Unit - 1948-1951

 

This establishment was in Cuxhaven between 1948 and 1951.


It is known that the principal Naval HQ in Germany at the end of World War 2 was Headquarters Allied Command Naval Expeditionary Force Europe (ANCXF) in May 1945 but was subsequently renamed to reflect its British role but this again altered over the years. Similarly the exact location is believed to have changed. Minden, Hamburg, Kiel and Koln (linked to JHQ Rheindahlen) are known to be places but exact dates are unclear

To say the least, there are many vague and varying snippets written to the internet about the Rhine Squadron indeed about HMS Royal Prince,  and even now I am not clear in my mind as to who was who and what was what! What is known for certain,  is that on a section of the Rhine was a harbour and shore-side buildings suitable for a "naval establishment"/"barracks". Just like many UK Bases which have shore offices/messing/accommodation and navigable water [sea or sea access] berths for several vessels attached - HMS Dolphin and her submarines; HMS Lochinvar and her minesweepers; HMS Vernon and her minesweepers, HMS Hornet and her MTB'S [Motor Torpedo Boats] etc, this harbour had the HQ buidings/establishment name of "R.N. Rhine Squadron"  and her vessels were patrol craft, landing craft, all with their own separate names, naval or otherwise,  like for example HMML, HM LCT so and so in their own right.  We know from anecdotal evidence that the harbour sometimes froze over and had to be cleared by German ice-breakers.  In the picture below you will see a prominent mast mounted ashore with a White Ensign flying at the gaff which is an integral part of shore-sides operation. You will also see a quite large [long] vessel laying alongside the establishments jetty wall, and it is flying her Union Jack from the Jack-Staff forward which is fluttering in the breeze - you can't see her White Ensign flying aft which is masked from view. It appears to have a very long and generous cabin space built throughout the length of the vessel on the upper deck, with a white funnel roughly half way down its length, and if you look closely, you will see a mast. Offset at the base of the mast is a square white area, a further cabin perhaps or a building on the shore, and immediately behind the mast there appears to be a church steeple.  We cannot see the white ensign flying aft, but be assured, it will be there. It is understood that this was a Rhine barge now without its engines, parked-up as offices and accommodation used in the early days of the Squadron.  The operational vessels of the Squadron are using it as a fender and a walk-over to reach the shore offices and barracks above. Clearly in all things the shore-sides operation acted as a Tender to these small craft, and one of the jobs it had was to collect operational data from each vessel attached, collate it, and incorporate it into The Rhine Squadron's log submitted to HMS Royal Prince at Benkhausen [BAOR 29] who in turn submitted Germany's three monthly log to the Admiralty:  Admiralty in turn eventually [after several years] offloaded all its logs to the National Archives at Kew for national preservation. All seagoing vessels and specially selected shore establishments/authorities,  kept [and keep] logs of all happenings in the vessel, speed, course, wheel orders, flags flown and dipped, ports visited, visitors, operations etc, and each log covered a three months period. At the end of that period, a new log was started [unless the vessel was in dockyard hands being refitted or repaired].  There are many completed logs in the National Archives.  This is a typical page from the National Archives giving a record of just a few of ROYAL PRINCES' returned logs showing the dates covered http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/results/r/3?_q=royal%20navy%20-%20ship%20logs . HMS ROYAL PRINCE,  was the Tender of the Headquarters of the Royal Naval Rhine Squadron [RNRS] which remained operational until January 1958 under R.N. supervision, when it was paid off and decommissioned, although it remained at Uerdingen until 1960, and no doubt Its duties on the Rhine were passed over to the newly created Bundeswehr {Federal Defence Forces}. Additional buildings were created piecemeal on the dockside throughout the tenure of the British,  of  this mighty river, augmenting the German barge which  was used for the Commanding Officer' office and also the duty watch/duty crew accommodation ready for immediate call out if trouble arose. By all accounts it was quite palatial and cosy!

This picture shows the Rhine barge berthed alongside the Uerdingen shore facilities with patrol boats berthed outboard of her, with the White Ensign flying proudly from a mast rigged ashore. The Union Jack of the barge  is in full view on the extreme right hand side.

 

 

From the barge there were steps leading up to the upper level of the establishment/barrack which can clearly be seen in this picture, and which will appears again much later on when the subject-matter will be described.

 

 

 

This is what the Uerdingen harbour looked like

 

 

Note the entrance showing the shingle bank topped with grass! Rhine on the left - waterway leading to harbour on right with small road bridge. Harbour control prominent on top of the headland above the secured barges and the terra firma end of the shingle bank.

 

One of the complications [to us] of the navy's presence on German territory from mid 1945 onwards, was the diversity of locations and the names chosen, and indeed altered, from time to time. Remember those logs just mentioned? The National Archives has about 1800 such logs from ships/shore establishment having the word 'ROYAL' in their titles in the period 1945 to 1960.The first log from the HMS ROYAL PRINCE was submitted in 1949. No other vessel or organisation in and from the R.N. Rhine Squadron submitted log reports to the Admiralty. The only other ship/unit stationed in Germany to submit a log was HMS Royal Charlotte, again, a conundrum! HMS Royal Charlotte [we like to think named after Princess Charlotte daughter of King George IV,  and had she not died in child birth, we would all be talking about the Charlotans, for she would have been our queen in lieu of Victoria - sadly no such luck for the name Charlotte was said to be after the Consort to King George III back in Nelson's day! - mind you, she too, as was King George III, was good and ultra-loyal, nationally and as a  family person]. This name was evidently used twice, once up north in Kiel and once for a vessel moving here, there and thither.  First came two secret shore wireless stations operating in West Germany on SIGINT [Signal Intelligence], one at Cuxhaven in early 1950's called HMS Royal Albert and the other at Kiel in the late 1950's called HMS Royal Charlotte.  At another period, two of the captured German patrol craft,  given ML [Motor Launch] numbers as names originally, to which later names as well were added, viz ML 6024 and 6028 used between 1949 and 1958, were each and in turn, given the name HMS Royal Charlotte. HMS Royal Charlotte did submit logs but not from the Krefeld/Rhine region.  HMS Royal Albert also submitted logs to the Admiralty through HMS Royal Prince at Benkhausen BAOR 29. Confusing? - you bet!

 

 It really beggars belief that such a relatively small outfit of R.N.'ers based in Germany for a lengthy period 1945-1960 {?}, should have such a ragged and piecemeal recollection of what it all meant. Story after story contradicts and adds to the confusion and complication. Moreover, the Admiralty had little to turn-over to the National Archives for safe and posterity keeping on general matters. Much was written on operational matters. It makes one wonder whether the whole operation was necessary, it manifestly not leaving us with a meaningful and coherent record to study.

 

HOWEVER

 

I have managed to get an Admiralty file now lodged with the National Archives at Kew just outside London which is ADM 1/25565.

 

This tells the story of the Squadrons annual autumn cruise, in the year of 1954, down south to virtually as near as possible to the source of the River Rhine, namely to the Swiss Rhine Port of Basel inter alia.

 

Click on this link to read the story line R.N.R.S. AUTUMN CRUISE 1954

 

All these vessels, even if not on routine operations, did long trips up and down the Rhine for pleasure/PR/Flag-showing trips, and surely had a requirement to communicate back to HMS ROYAL PRINCE its position, its operating environment, its LOGREQ [logistic requirements - fuel up takes, spare parts for defects], chandlers up-takes for fresh victuals etc etc or even emergency medical required whilst under way?  All of them would have been fitted with W/T equipment and carried a competent operator, back then, in the skills of Morse code, and that facility of course would need to be replicated back at base at Uerdingen. Indicatifs D'Appel from 1950 to 1960 inter alia, shows all the squadrons W/T callsigns including that of HMS ROYAL PRINCE, but also a vessel called H.M.M.L PRINCE CHARLES ML6021 whose callsign is listed as GPRR. All other vessels said to be in Germany, are listed as their proper names HMS [HMML]  etc, so there are no ships beginning with the words PRINCE, PRINCESS or Royal except for those just mentioned. All ML and LCT callsigns are listed in the Table above.

For good and obvious reasons all vessels of all nations notwithstanding, must fit W/T equipments in vessels over a specified tonnage, which is surprisingly small in GRT [Gross Registered Tonnage] or Displacement for a vessel of war, and must carry the requisite competent staff to man and keep watch using these equipments. Running concurrent with this submission to the IMO [International Maritime Organisation - based in London on the Albert Embankment near to Lambeth Palace Bridge, that they have abided by the international law of the sea, they must register the name of the vessel which is published for all the world to see, and forbids deviations, abbreviations or alterations. Additional to this is the necessary FLAG to chose and thereafter the compulsory requirement of insurance with a competent body, almost invariably Lloyds of London. Talking about insurance, this page is centred on 1954 and have you any idea of how many millions of GBP was spent on insurance claims for UK ships alone in that year? Here is a list of those vessel in distress, not to mention the loss of life UK VESSELS IN TROUBLE IN 1954 REQUIRING COSTLY INSURANCE CLAIMS.htm   All these details are internationally available and at all times unequivocal: in short, what is in the register must also be painted on the vessels exterior in full view of all. If the navy registers a vessel as "ML 2013" [with crossed swords behind it indicating 'warship'] and internationally it is listed as such, it cannot subsequently call it "P 2013" which for all intents and purposes is a new vessel, demanding a new W/T callsign and a new registration. Giving a vessel an additional parochial name is not disallowed as long as it is used for parochial purposes only and not for its binding commitment as an internationally recognised vessel. Calling ML 2013 Leeds United [what a good team?] is all well and good for intra-Royal Navy use, but it would not be fitting for a Dutch warship, say, to call it such officially, i.e., internationally. Its name is "ML 2013" period, and to the big wide world only "ML 2013". 

From this parochial potmess of vessels names additional to their proper names, I am not too sure whether I should be thinking in terms of "Dad's Army" or "Further up the Creek"! Why did the power's in charge at HMS Royal Prince [BAOR 29]  decide to add names to their crafts which detracted from normal naval precedents? The HMS prefix was used officially only for the base establishment, and the ROYAL ALBERT after  1950, ROYAL CHARLOTTE, and others are not to be found in naval annuals as bonafide UK warships. This differs totally from other examples where, say, HMS Dolphin is bonafide, and each of its attached boats [submarines] has a pennant number, just like ML2013 in our example above, but in this case, say 'S 04' [my old Dolphin submarine GRAMPUS] and a proper name, which is also prefixed with HMS or as some would prefer HM S/M.

 

In 1955 ten years after the captured  German patrol boats were added [and registered as British vessels locally]  to the R.N's total [patrol boats] making 90 in all, it would be nice and surely a simple task to earmark the vessels stationed at Krefeld. Likewise, there is a total of 31 landing craft here, but not all would have served in the Rhine Squadron : just how many did I wonder?

There is another doubt in my mind and that is that HMS ROYAL PRINCE [BAOR 29] was given the International radio callsign of  GDRD, and shore stations do not have such a facility although a very few shore authorities did have four letter callsigns all beginning with a letter other than a 'G' or a 'M' [HZKC was Admiralty's callsign for example]. It is highly probable that Benkhausen [BAOR29] gave that callsign for the use of Uerdingen [BAOR 34]. They would have used it as the controlling station on a radio frequency circuit used for ML's and LCT's to communicate with base from areas up and down the Rhine - traditionally high medium frequency M/F or low high frequency {short wave} H/F.  Uerdingen is shown as having an R.N., Captain in command and a R.M. Major as his No2,  and was responsible for the safe and secure passage of all waterborne traffic along the River Rhine between the Dutch border and the French Zone south of Bonn. The unit was also required to maintain military expertise in the planning and execution of major river crossings in the event of any projected attack by Soviet or Warsaw Pact Forces.  Armed fast patrol boats and a number of Landing Craft crewed by both Royal Navy and Royal Marine personnel were assigned. The Marines, initially known as the Royal Marines Demolition Unit [RMDU] was changed to the SRW# [Small-Raids Wing] and then finally to the Special Boat Section [SBS].  They were responsible for personnel [and personal] close protection, and demolition if necessary of the key strategic bridges over the River Rhine in the event of any attack by Soviet Forces based in East Germany.  At this point it should be noted that many Allies had a Rhine Squadron Base and the closest to the RNRS Base were the Belgians, the French and more than one USA squadron - we, the RN, were not the only river policemen!  More on this point later.

# See John Parker's Book "SBS" eISBN 978 1 4722 0265 9 Chapter 9.

The main communication fit on these boats were the Marconi TW12 Transmitter, the Marconi Receiver 394 and the 86M VHF Transceiver [American equipment] and each craft was complemented to have one operator who also did the necessary visual  signalling.  The W/T sets looked like this:-

 

 
Type TW12 Transmitter front panel Type 394 Receiver front panel Type 86M

 

 

The hailing system would be a loud-hailer or a megaphone for voice-hailing, and a flashing light for Morse-hailing, an expression used by the USN.

 

The boats, and there were several of them, were timber-built and called RML'S [rescue motor launches] courtesy of the Luftwaffe, and had a petrol engine, so, volatile [wood and petrol!!] - known as Flugbetriebsboot's. The Landing Crafts were British vessels as were the early squadron patrol boats made in 1942 just seven years prior to the establishment of the RHINE SQUADRON.  The British launches looked like this.

 

  MOTOR LAUNCHES FOR THE NAVY WERE BUILT IN THE MIDDLE EAST. AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER 1942, CAIRO, ISMAILIA, ISMAILIA CANAL, SUEZ CANAL, PORT SAID. A SERIES SHOWING HOW FAIRMILE MOTOR LAUNCHES WERE BUILT FOR THE ROYAL NAVY BY THE ANGLO-AMERICAN NILE TRANSPORT CO IN THEIR SHUBRA YARD, CAIRO. FOLLOWING THE LAUNCH AND COMMISSIONING, THE BOATS WERE TAKEN IN TOW FROM CAIRO TO PORT SAID BY WAY OF THE ISMAILIA CANAL, A JOURNEY OF THREE DAYS. AT THE END OF THE ISMAILIA CANAL THE BOATS ENTERED LAKE TIMSAH AND PROCEEDED VIA THE SUEZ CANAL TO PORT SAID FOR FITTING OUT.

In the final days of War in 1945, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz assumed the office of President (Reichspräsident) of Germany. Adolf Hitler himself had named him his successor before committing suicide in Berlin. Dönitz moved to the Naval Academy at Mürwik, situated in Germany's most northerly city of Flensburg. He established on the edge of it, in the Flensburg sport school the Flensburg government with which he intended to continue running the Reich. Soon after the final surrender to the Allies, they were unseated and arrested by British troops. This made Flensburg, the capital of Germany for nearly 20 days. Today, the collection of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London includes old ship models, old paintings and flags taken from the Naval Academy Mürwik by British troops after the War. Moored by the Naval Academy for the use of the trainee naval officers were several small patrol craft.  These were taken as British booty and turned over to the Royal Navy. They were called "Schnelles Stationsboot" = Fast Station Boats" called the FL.A 403 c/s DVFC, 404 c/s DVFD became RN 97 and 405 c/s DVFE. Their parameters were:-  A IV (Roland-thrown) size: 33,2 length (m): 22,70 width (m): 4.20 depth (m): speed (knots): 30,5 drive: 2x Daimler Benz 12 cylinders diesel motors, 2 x 3 screws:  range (nm): 490 nm @ 29 knots with 4,4 tons of oil - crew: 9 men - armament: 1x heavy machine gun, 1x light machine gun and 6 depth charges. All 1941 builds. This is a German picture of FL.A 404

The following German craft also fell into the hands of the British victors, all Flugbetriebsboot's =Flying Operation Boats and all called FL.B's followed by their specific number.  The parameters of these boats were,  Name: B II/sea-devil II - size: 25 tons - length (m): 19,00 width (m): 3.95 depth (m): 1.20 - speed (knots): 12,4 -  drive: 2x MWM 6 cylinders, 4 beat diesels - 2 x 3 screws -  range (nm): 200 nm @ 12 knots -  1,83 tons oil - crew: 7 men -  armament: 1x machine gun 1x 2 cm AA Flak, 6 depth charges. These were the captured vessels:-

201 c/s DVBB became RN 251 - 207 c/s DVBH became RN 240  - 210 c/s DVBK became RN 172 - 211 c/s DVBL taken in the 20-day capital of the 3rd Reich = Murvik - 302 c/s DVBQ taken in Murvik - 306 taken by the British in May '45 and handed over to the USN in June '45 - 407 c/s DCVF captured at Murvik -  420 c/s DVDC under British HIVES May 45 [Hives are a military network for sharing information] It is almost certain that we captured this vessel - 421 c/s DVDD May '45 under British Hives this is a picture of 421 - 504 c/s DVCX Escaped from the wrath of the Danes under British protection and surrendered to the Royal Navy -  505 c/s DVCY surrendered to the British which became  RN-64 [Hope] - 508 c/s DVDY captured by the British and became RN 12 - 517 c/s DVDT taken by the British becoming  RN 69 [HANNA] - 518 c/s DVDU taken by the British as RN 139 [HONOUR] - 526 c/s DVIX captured by the British which became RW 529, then transferred to the USN becoming  Patrol XXIV - 527 c/s DVIY taken by the British becoming RN 141 [HILDEGARDE] - It is possible that 531 and the RAF exercising in the Norwegian mountains under the name of Robin Hood, were instrumental in the surrender of this craft, but the German story does seem a little improbable, although by May 1945 they may have had enough! - 536 c/s DVJH,  captured by the British which became RW 536 - 537 c/s DVJI captured by the British becoming RN 150 in May 1946, and then transferred to the USN in June 1946 as Patrol XXIII -  542 c/s DVJN captured by the British becoming RN 153 [Helen] - 545 c/s DVJQ taken by the British becoming RN 46 [HERMIONE] - 547 c/s DVJS taken by the British becoming RP11, then to the USN becoming Patrol XX - 549 c/s DVJU Taken by the British becoming RW 549 but later given over to the Russians and used in East Germany [DDR] as 841 - 553 c/s DVJY taken by the British becoming RN7 [Halcyon] - 586 c/s not known, taken by the British to become RW 586 and Station Yacht at Williamshaven - 602 c/s DVNB taken by the British becoming RW602 and RP15, thence USN as Patrol XXII and USN 52.

In addition to many scores of Flugbetriebsboot's built, they built a whole range of small unarmed personnel boats nearly always, despite the size, crewed by one man, this time FL.C's.

They ranged from 2.5 tons to speeds of 7 knots to 10 tons with speeds of 6 knots. Their range was limited, the best being 170 nm at 14 knots in their largest small boats but they only built a few of these compared to many many more smaller vessels. Although there were various classes, essentially the classes started with FL.C and wandered down the alphabet to type FL.S, each time tweaking the parameters, sometimes displacement, sometimes speed, sometimes carrying capacity, but all small and marginal differences: nothing substantial. All, notwithstanding, were produced and employed in rescue work for Lutwaffe downed aircraft crews. Only one of these FL.C to FL.S classes of vessels was taken as a capture, and that to the Russians. 

Amongst pages upon pages of listed German small vessels in the categories immediately above, apart from those listed for British capture, of the many other numbers listed, only a tiny amount went to other allies directly, i.e., not via the British. The USA took five vessels, the USSR two vessels, Norway three, Denmark one.  In my research, I have used a useful, nay a wonderful German web site http://historisches-marinearchiv.de/projekte/luftwaffenfahrzeuge/luftwaffen_fahrzeuge_schiffe/uebersicht.php?kategorie=Flugbetriebsboot&site=1&var1=wert1&var2=wert2  an historic gem for which I thank the owner and author. I have translated German to English and thereafter I have trawled the site to isolate the information which might help the UK researcher.

The launches and the landing craft  were named conventionally e.g. HMS ML  [or HMML]  1162/HMS LCT4164. Many years before the war started in 1939, the Germans had set up their SEENOTDIENST [Air Sea Rescue] organisation [the Brits and the Americans copied later#] which utilised fixed wing aircraft [the Dornier and the Heinkel] fitted with floats plus fast patrol boats [or launches]. Their base was in the north, on the Island of Sylt part of the Schleswig-Holstein territory, due north of Cuxhaven, there, ready to pick-up ditched pilots from the icy North Sea, the same sea that in WW1 they had called the German Sea.

The LCT's, manned by the Royal Marines, were of the LCT Type 4 Class. At the outbreak of WW2, all the navy had which could carry a tank were LCM's [Landing Craft Mechanised], a floating twin-screwed powered pontoon with bullet-proof bulkheads. It was replaced by  LCT[1] designed to carry three of our heaviest tanks [40 tons] through open sea areas and to defend itself. Modifications to design and operation produced the LCT[4]. The '4' was a larger craft but more flimsy than the '1' to '3' types and the increase of beam, designed to improve deadweight, caused loss of speed so all armaments and amour was scarified. In 1943 they were strengthened and armed. The final models were the LCT [8's] designed specifically for the Far East. LCT 1's numbered  from 1-99; LCT 2's 100-299; LCT 3's 300-499 first series and then 7001-7150 second series; LCT 4's 500-1364 with a crew of 12.; LCT 5's too many series to list here; LCT 6's just two No's 2627 and 2628; LCT 7's just one; and LTCT 8's 4001-4200 with a crew of 22. The Rhine Squadron was represented at the 1953 Coronation Fleet Review at Spit Head as this heavily cropped page article shows: they have added the LCT's type ['4' with a crew of 12] but missed its number, anywhere from 500 to 1364. Rather confusingly, when researching into the 1953 Spithead Review paper work, we see that the LCT [4] was named as '403' and said to be a "major" LCT.  Both vessels were stationed in 'Line A' for Her Majesty's review, quite close to 'Spitsand Fort'.  These conflicting data-entries do not surprise me though.  I own the full hardback Op Ord for the Silver Jubilee Spithead review of 1977, and again, on the day, a truly wonderful event, but one wonders how and why given the amount of amendments to it, some made a day or so before the execution of the event.  Given that I joined the navy in the same year that the Queen was crowned and the HMY Britannia was first commissioned, it is little wonder that the anniversary affected my life also, both career-wise and age-wise.  If you have never taken part in, or in any other way witnessed one, it can be a close-on never-to-be forgotten-experience, or, and more common, a distant-view of the ceremony [and H.M.] and utterly boring. I would go further and say, that it must always be boring for H.M. especially when the number of ships exceed 300 as in this case. Fortunately, the admirals are kind to H.M., and give her a short cut, which is a wide berth for all but the biggest of warships, almost writing the small ones out of the review - reviews...what review?, many have asked over the years. Once again, a picture is worth a thousand words, and I have penned another for your delectation.  The picture was very large and in reducing it for my animation, I have lost the resolution. That is not important and you don't need to know the name of the ships, just the detail mentioned below. If you disagree and want to see the names go to this webpage  Bits and Pieces Volume II execute the instructions in Article 17, open the 1953 Spithead review file, and once opened click on Pictures 26 [for left of the review picture and then on Picture 27 for the right hand side: once open I recommend that you use your mag app for clarity.  Now look at this, and give the red-dots a chance to populate my animation:-

 

 

This is a large sea area called Spithead off Portsmouth UK. The distance between ships and between rows of ships is a wide navigable space, so you get some idea of just how far H.M. is, or can be, from the outlaying ships. The harbour entrance is top right where it says Portsmouth. Seaward to the English Channel and thus the North Sea or the Irish Sea/North Atlantic is out mid right. The land mass at the bottom is the Isle of Wight. The Royal Yacht leaves Portsmouth harbour and follows the red-dot line which I have added and animated. Finally it stops with the large red splodge after just one circuit, not far off the flagship HMS Vanguard, a 43,000 ton battleship, which the Royal Yacht is near to or passes twice. Note it misses most of the vessels except for those in the middle of the sea-way. On leaving the harbour to start the 'review' the Royal Yacht is preceded by a vessel and other vessels follow. All this group follows the red-dot line. Following that group are a number of ocean liners carrying Government Minister and guests, and they break off at the first junction to follow the green line. Believe me, the sailors have no interest in seeing politicians so the green route was irksome and a non-starter for many in the captive audience. Eventually that green line rejoins the red-dot line and all these reviewing ships stop behind the Royal Yacht's red slodge, to await and thereafter, to view the 300 aircraft flypast. I have shown the position of the most important warship, the Vanguard, and also the positions of the two warships present from the BAOR in Germany. Clearly there was no way that the Queen could see them nor them her, and neither cold the ocean liners carrying the politicians.

Part of the long list of ships and vessels [approx 300 in total]  which attended the 1953 Coronation Fleet Review at Spithead, Solent, Portsmouth for the crowning of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

 

This is a picture of HMS ROYAL ALBERT but as a German war vessel in WW2. Note above the text said that she had come from the RHINE Squadron. In fact she came from the ELBE Squadron

 

 

 

  # the British equivalent was the RML made by Fairmile Marine which was also powered by a petrol engine and made of timber. This is a picture of one

and in 1952, we still had six of these boats running - see this page 1952 RN SHIPS LETTERS RS which covers ships with a lead letter of 'R' and 'S' - also on this page, note the callsign of the Royal Prince.

By 1956 things had changed and the German boats had been replaced with British TRV's [Torpedo Recovery Vessels]. The major and minor landing craft, plus the TRV's were manned almost entirely by Royal Marines including Royal Marine Signallers supported by a small base staff of naval communicators totalling  40 communicators overall, RN + RM. Although the RNRS [BAOR 34] was a base in an industrial area, the Squadron had two cruises each year, one up river to the pleasant scenery of the castles and vineyards of Southern Germany and one down river into the lovely country of Holland and onto the open sea. The Rhine Squadron came under the wing of Commander Allied Naval Forces Central Europe at Fontainebleau and involved the Squadron in lots of NATO exercises. Uerdingen, the shore base, had excellent Married Quarters and good base facilities.  The shore accommodation for unmarried or unaccompanied personnel was roomy and well laid out providing lots of sporting facilities and just as important, THE best NAAFI in Europe having its own cinema, theatre, skittle alley, rifle range, bars and club facilities:  well that's what the Krefeld guys would tell you, but I doubt their claim - it is also claimed for the NAAFI in Naples, a former Italian Royal Palace! All in all, Uerdingen was a cushy draft for all!

In the Navy/War Office 'vote year' of 1955/56, the sub committee on Vote A recommended [recommendation No 18] that the Royal Navy Rhine Squadron should be withdrawn it having served its purpose - Ref M260/3/55. That recommendation came to fruition in 1958 on the 8th January under Memorandum Number 58 of 1958 which ordered the withdrawal. Ref DEFE 5/82/58 with War Office Notes under reference MO1/P [58] 283.

Now I promised to add yet another type of vessel attached to the squadron which I am certain will greatly surprise you. First off though, in 1941 the Admiralty 'took from trade' = took over a merchant vessel for war duties from a Belgium Company running ferries across the southern areas of the North Sea.  They renamed and commissioned it HMS Prince Charles. In 1945 they gave it back and the vessel reverted to its former name and reassumed its duties as a ferry. In 1945 also, General Montgomery captured areas of north Germany and during this period captured Hermann Göring's [head of the Lufwaffe] private yacht and handed it over to the navy as booty. It retained its name [more on that in the 1954 autumn cruise link above] and was employed on Allied duties] but at the end of the 1940's it was moved south and inland into the River Rhine where it became a part of the RN Rhine Squadron.  In 1948 Her Majesty The Queen gave birth to her first child, HRH Prince Charles, and in 1950, the private yacht of the  founder of the Gestapo, was commissioned into the RN as a temporary expedient and renamed H.M.M.L. 6021 Prince Charles, whereupon, it became the flagship of the senior officer of the Squadron.

On the 8th May 1954, the C.O., of the Rhine Squadron/HMS Royal Prince changed from the officer shown in the Table above 'RN Operations - BAOR's as shown on the map of Germany - BAOR 34' viz Captain R.Casement to Captain Norman Limbury Auchinleck Jewell MBE, DSC, MID, LM, LegH, CdeG RN, a very famous officer, and an officer I met twice whilst socialising in the 1960's. I have added a little potted history about his well known escapades shown in this file. Click HERE  It is of note that in 1954 the F.O. Germany, Rear Admiral R.S. Warne CB CBE was also a submariner. See below.

 

 


'Bill' Jewell, as a lieutenant and CO of HM Submarine Seraph in 1943



WW2 picture of Captain R. S. Warne
This table becomes useful and fully relevant when below you will be invited to view a picture of H.R.H. Princess Margaret visiting the Rhine Squadron Base at Uerdingen BAOR 34.

 

I have several articles concerning the Rhine Squadron which make very interesting reading. Virtually all of them come from the Admiralty accredited correspondent to The Times newspaper. In addition to what I have already shown you, here are just a couple of more  bits.

 The reason for forming the RN Rhine Squadron was that the Russians had started to engage in threatening postures manifest in both political and military manoeuvres.  There was great concern in the top office of the Allied leaders, and Eishenhower was being pushed by Montgomery for a more structured defence of a 500 mile long front running across northern Europe. At the 1951 general election which saw Churchill in opposition and Atlee as the Prime Minister, it appeared to Churchill that the government were not doing enough to signal robust intentions to Stalin, and were not pulling the UK's weight as regards NATO's actions and concerns. Atlee of course saw this as a storm in a teacup, and did very little except to play with the rules and regulation on armed forces pay and pensions for those serving long engagements, whilst refusing to reduce the national service period of service. The sheer costs of supporting and maintaining the BAOR [Army, Navy and Air Force] was considered unsustainable, and many thought that it hindered the reconstruction of the UK's war damage and our ability to pay our way post war. It was pointed out that the cost was not a simple 'bank account' but a complex international movement of money and resources based around what we owed [chiefly our debt to the USA for lease-lend-purchase [mitigated in our favour] and what we were owed [chiefly war reparations from the Axis countries [mitigated in our favour], but notwithstanding that, peace at any price was the common goal, and peace was infinitely cheaper than war. In truth the cost of occupation was minimal when compared with the cost of the Cold War which lasted for forty four long years from 1947 until 1991 and kept our defence budget artificially high, arguably at the cost of other more desirable budgets. It was Russia's continuing presence in East Germany which kept British Forces, now under the NATO Flag, in West Germany after the occupation ended in May 1955.

 

Some interesting facts of the Rhine when the RN Rhine Squadron was in commission.

 

Whilst in English we speak and write of the RHINE, the Germans do not, and by modern standards it might have been a little more friendly had we used, at least on paper, their word which is RHEIN. The French call it the RHINE or the RHIN [sic] and the Dutch the RIJN. In 1939 with Germany already in pugilistic mode, they decided to measure the length of the Rhein whilst of course plotting  positive navigational routes along this massive and often confusing river, given the amounts of large secondary rivers, delta's. and estuaries running from it.  Upon occupying their land in 1945, those maps would have had to be used by the Allies to ensure accurate and timely navigation along its length. For reasons not explained, the Germans chose as one of their measurement criteria the Rkm = Rheinkilometer whilst deciding where to start their measurement from.

 

  The Rhine starts its run from 11,000 feet up in the northern section of the Alps in Switzerland [3353m above sea level], where a glacier feeds a stream which becomes a rushing watercourse down into a large inland lake named after its nearby town of Constance. In turn, Lake Constance [fresh water] feeds a tiny River Rhine which at its widest, many miles downstream becomes 1,300 feet across: this was north of Krefeld/Uerdingen [but not a million miles distant] from  where the Royal Navy's Rhine Squadron was based. Passing from the Alps-feed into the Lake and from the Lake into the town of Constance, it passed under a splendid bridge called, unsurprisingly, the Central Bridge, on its long journey to the North Sea. The Germans used this bridge as the start of the Rhine calling it point Zero [0]. This stretch was called the Upper Rhine. The river passes through six countries namely Switzerland, Principality of Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands where towards the end it becomes brackish.

 

 

 

Everything to Lakeward of this bridge was considered beautiful but of little commercial value [it has the famous Rhine Falls in this secton], and the stretch from the Bridge to the first major town, Basel [still in Switzerland] functional but not a great revenue earner in terms of productive river traffic,  although the Swiss river authorities have long wanted to develop this stretch barred from doing so by the German river authorities! From Basel onwards, a good sized port, the shipping to and from it would serve the power-house of Germany, and so it became vitally important. That Rkm [and the resultant measurements] were acknowledged internationally as official, and in that stretch of water the first measurement became 0 + 167 = 167 =  Basel. The next section became 167 + 362 =  529 = Bingen and so it went on passing from upper Rhine, to middle Rhine, to lower Rhine, to Nether Rhine and finally to the Netherlands Delta before emptying into the North Sea at Rotterdam.  The total length of the Rhine in km's was 766 miles  = 1232km. However, the Rkm measurement, still official today in the second decade of the 21st century, is 1032 Rkm =  a distance from the Central Bridge in Constance to the Hook of Holland.   [The confusion of having statue miles, nautical miles, knots, meters and Rkm all in the one river required a constant watch on the interpretation of navigation data at that time always in printed book form. Of significance to this story, Uerdingen was at position Rkm = 765. As such, it was virtually three quarters down stream from the Central Bridge and a quarter distance from the Hook of Holland going up stream: to three decimal places it was 74.128% the distance of the Rhine from its official start position. It had a water frontage measuring 3.7 km.

 

The Rhine was not only a thoroughfare for trade but it also afforded a visual guide as to the where the borders of various European countries were! For the most part the river had an imaginary line running down the centre of it, so that when going up-stream the ship was travelling in the western or southern bordering country either in France, or Switzerland , and when down-stream, in German or Austrian space. On some stretches of river, some very large, the Rhine ran through a single country away from bordering neighbours: Germany and Switzerland were examples. In the case of Germany, when that occurred, the imaginary centre line divided West Germany states  one from the other and typical of these were south west states of  'Baden Wurttemberg'  and 'Rhineland Palatinate'.

 

The Rhine, pre and post WW2 and throughout the occupying years and the subsequent  years of the cold war, was utterly polluted, one of the worst in Germany and near winner of the trophy of European polluters. I haven't seen a British or a naval comment on this matter but it wouldn't have been wise to fall overboard into the Rhine. It is recorded as being anything from bright yellow, to various shades or red and devoid of any fish or marine life. It was still a worry to the West German Government in early 2000, and this BBC report from the year 2001 points to the problem, and in balance,  to the cure, or hoped for cure!

 

The polluted River Rhine in 2001.htm

 

I mentioned earlier about the possible confusion with regards to the Rhine, and this picture below might help you to understand the difference between our major rivers and those of Europe. This is a section of the Rhine which the Royal Navy's Rhine Squadron would have navigated enroute to Basel for its autumn 1954 cruise. The Rhine is the waterway in the foreground and that in the background is a Rhine Canal.  The geographical location is at Breisach.

 

 

The next  jpeg summarises the Rhine for subject purposes.

 

The bridge mentioned in this picture below was damaged at the end of WW2 but rebuilt and is a road route connecting Duisburg with Krefeld.  Naturally it had a name change obliterating that evil man's name! As a bridge over the Rhine it had to be destroyed or defended to frustrate the Allies advance from west to east: neither occurred. Since the German army were preoccupied with escaping deep into the Fatherland to defend Berlin, the task fell to others to defend it with predictable consequences! This bridge over the Rhine at Uerdingen did play a part in the final weeks of the war in 1945. The winter that year had been particularly severe and the Rhine had been frozen around the bridge. As the German army was near to the end of their resources in the spring of 45, young defenders of the German cause [Hitler Youth in effect although perhaps not by name or uniform, but Germans who certainly had imbibed the Nazi culture when manifestly, all was lost !]  took it upon themselves to defend Krefeld and Uerdingen and after the end of the war was declared and the various surrenders had been signed these defenders decided to blow up the bridge. The attempt was not completely successful and only part of the bridge fell into the river. Of course the bridge was out of commission until the rebuild several years later and the American Army was considerably hampered in their advance across the Rhine. The next bridge northwards was at Nimwegen and southwards was in Cologne so the diversions were really an obstacle and it was all a waste of time and effort on the part od the defenders. The rebuilt bridge is said to be  a fine looking construction, although it needs to be replaced to accommodate modern traffic conditions of the back-end of the first decade of the 21st century. 

 

 

  and

 

Just a few shots of  Uerdingen and nearby territory probably built and well established before WW2 started.pdf

Two romantic views of the Uerdingen bridge formerly called the Adolf Hitler Bridge. The bridge was opened in 1936 by Rudolph Hess,  eerily just three years before the Nazi Party called down Armageddon upon countless millions of innocent people. .

 

Now it ain't natural to know where our navy boys and girls were stationed in and after WW2, without knowing at least a little bit about the area where we were based. Uerdingen, the Rhine Squadron's base and nearby Krefeld were very historic places and fortunately much of that history in the form of buildings and its recorded history, is still available to us. I found this site, which tells the story in three short parts, a good insight into the city of old https://krefeld.city-map.de/03084501/uerdingen---walkabout-through-the-historical-city-district---part-1.  But, we should also know a bit about Uerdingen, until 1929 an independent city joined in that year with Krefeld,  and how it faired in the war years.

 

1. It was/is an industrial area on the side of a great communication medium, the River Rhine, so quite naturally it took a great hammering from bombs dropped from our Royal Air Force. This action destroyed much of Krefeld and a goodly section of Uerdingen.
2. Many of it inhabitants were coopted or joined voluntarily the armed forces of the Third Reich and were rank Nazi sympathisers.
3. Following the edicts issued from Berlin, virtually all of the young people of the area joined either the 'Hitler Youth Movement' or the 'German Girls League'. Failure to do so resulted in parents being punished and instant job losses, and the young people being denied jobs, of any description, when of age and the opportunity of  further education, so automatically debarred from university entrance. Not being a member branded one persona non grata and an overt anti Nazi person. Many members of the civilian population were pro the Nazi doctrinaire and willing to harass the Allies as they chased their fleeing soldiers across the length and breadth of Germany.
4. It is stated in the Krefeld/Uerdingen archive files that Uerdingen was the name of a ship serving in the Kriegsmarine, stationed in Gdynia acting as a submarine tender. I have searched high and low for such a vessel but can find no mention nor an associated wireless telegraphy callsign either as an old ship perhaps from WW1 or a converted merchant ship. The story remains on record nevertheless.
5. The whole area/population was predominently Roman Catholic. However, there were many Jews and well over a thousand were deported to the east and shot as they disembarked from a railway carriage/ride of two days without water or toilet facilities in Riga. Both synagogues and Catholic Churches were attacked/destroyed. By 2008 a new synagogue with a library and a Jewish learning centre had been rebuilt, and the Jewish community was once more buoyant. Today, Germany has the largest European Jewish community. The first elected President of a united Germany many years after the end of the war in 1990, Roman Herzog, was the man who got the Germans thinking as rational human beings again, getting them to be good and friendly neighbours.
   

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=qwX8ppYA4MsC&pg=PA101&lpg=PA101&dq=third+reich+at+uerdingen&source=bl&ots=9519_2tdOB&sig=5keFQxfv_PFy7th3I-Z4-0hGMcE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwidqc2q75HSAhXiAcAKHU3iArcQ6AEIMzAE#v=onepage&q=third%20reich%20at%20uerdingen&f=false

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Now a BIG surprise. A couple of weeks back in June 2018 I was contacted quite out of the blue by a man called JOHN DAY. He had been [60+ -odd years ago] a British National Service man serving in the Royal Marines in the period 1955 [when aged 18] until 1957. Earlier in 2018 he had given a lecture to some gathered colleagues in the town of Chesterfield, Derbyshire on his experiences all those years ago as a Royal Marine, as often as not simply called 'a Royal' or a 'bootneck'. He asked me if I was interested in his project which had been delivered in Chesterfield via the medium of a computer driven DVD with a full narration: some parts of it are not relevant to this page!. We exchanged emails and finally John sent me his DVD for my viewing and assessment. The DVD data, a mixture of audio, still photography and video clips added up to 1.54 GB, much too large for this webpage, but with subtle compression, substitution, i.e. displaying the relevance of some data snippet as text snippets thereby saving many MB.  John and I have agreed that his story, even reduced to just higher that 40MB, is still relevant, for working from his joining the Marines, and moving through some aspects of his basic training, then onto more profound and arduous training, to specialist boat training, and finally to his service in Germany as part of the ROYAL NAVAL RHINE SQUADRON, has been told, much as he wanted it to be,  in the public domain.

 

However using my words based on research, whilst the posting [army talk]/drafting navy & marines talk] appears to be a doddle, the marines who helped form the ships company of the squadron, were not any odd national service recruit, for physically, they were trained to handle themselves in battle conditions and to be fully prepared once in German to make sure that they could combat any German disobedience or trouble makers, and moreover, would but up a good show against any Warsaw Troops ordered across the Rhine to add more territory to what they gained in the East from  the utterly defeated Third Reich.

 

So here we go. Whenever you hear a voice, it will be of John's and all data shown, albeit repackaged in some cases, is of John's doing. This site and page is playing host to him and it is a pleasure to do so.

 

For those not au fait with our splendid Royal Marine Corps, first off a very brief history.

 

A Marine serving with the Duke of York and Albany's Marine Regiment of Foot dating from 1664.

 

An Introduction and very brief history of the Marines, subsequently the Royal Marines and a warning/request  on copyright issues
The History of the Royal Marines.pdf

 

 

In both of the stories 3 and 4 below, John has obviously and thankfully shown us training video's of today and to good effect. Without them, there would be nothing to show of his day, for either [and the more likely case, it wasn't filmed in 1955, or it has long ago died a death!]. However, at no point must we think that the men back then and further still pre- WW2 and WW2 training proper, had life easier than our boys do today or vice versa, for the Marines, indeed all infantry men, have always trained hard and realistically, and when it mattered, they have delivered the goods for King/Queen and country. The culture shock for any army trainee, again, especially in infantry regiments, would have been a cultured shock for most of us. To their eternal credit, whether regulars or National Service, they were put through the mill, and the records show that several hundreds of our National Service boys lost their lives in action, some on battlefields long ago forgotten like for example fighting the murderous and evil Mau Mau etc, but I can, with certainty, point to scores of areas where they served and did bloody well.

 

As I write, I am going to say "a new book just out" but by the time you have read this it could even be out of print, awaiting its next run. We should and do admire them for their guts and no longer harbour any thoughts about them being 'passenger' wherever deployed. May I recommend you read this book.  It is truly an eye opener, even for me who served for just over 30 years, so I know what being a serviceman is all about and understand their corner

 

 To order National Service: Conscription In Britain, 1945-1963 by Richard Vinen (Allen Lane £25) call Express Bookshop on 01872 562310. Or send a cheque/postal order payable to Express Bookshop to National Service Offer, PO Box 200, Falmouth TR11 4WJ or visit www.expressbookshop.com. UK delivery is free.

 

Please remember that these snippets below I have taken from a  DVD which was very professionally made with fade in' and out's, with nice touches on how to present a subject based on all the smart and desirable things found in software like Power Point for example. To save space and to keep John's story [for my purposes around the 40MB mark and relevant] I have done away with all the trimmings. I know how to do it well, but trimmings are data hungry!

 

SPEAKERS ARE NOW REQUIRED

 

JOHN JOINS THE ROYAL MARINES.mp4

 

JUST A FEW DAYS IN THE LIFE OF A ROYAL BOOTNECK.mp4

 

TYPICAL RM ADVANCED BASIC TRAINING.mp4

 

John Day's Assault Craft Training Poole.mp4

 

Some of the data John has recorded may differ from what I have stated, but please remember that I had the advantage of a long and detailed research period while John, certainly in some cases, is on recall of over 60 years ago, and to that end he has done very well.

 

John Day in the RNRS with an added view of what else he had to do.wmv

namely that he then underwent a tough Marine style skiing course. We have only enough room to show the flier! He mentions that after his service time he kept up his skiing skills.  He also mentions that these years saw in him with a fitness level never imagined and overtly proven, and yet now, he finds a round of golf knackering.  John must be around my age, in his 80's, and I calculate 81?

 

Thanks a million for your input. Always nice to learn from a man on the spot rather than from books [yes, even research!] or worse still the many 'romantics' we seem to gather more and more of!

 

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Now the promised correspondence data from Gerhard Klußmeier

PAGE UPDATED @ 1200 GMT Saturday 11th March  2017 from data supplied by a German gentleman called Gerhard Klußmeier.  Gerhard, ten months younger than me, was born in Hamburg  on the 14th May 1939 and is a Journalist by occupation. He very kindly sent me a picture of a vessel [see below for description] and subsequent to that, a hitherto confidential paper on the use/disposal of the vessel used on the River Rhine in the post WW2 period by the occupying Royal Navy. I had absolutely no idea that this vessel was in the hands of the British, and was shocked to read that it had  "joined the R.N." named H.M.M.L. Prince Charles ML6021.  It well fits the description of being an interesting and valuable historic document. I am most grateful to Gerhard. The paper is typed in English and has reference script added by hand in the German language. Look below for more detail.

In the meantime, Gerhard's reason for contacting me is that he is seeking details of the vessel called HMML"PRINCE CHARLES" ML6021 which, [although he states is not a British war vessel post WW2 and had no name other than PRINCE CHARLES which is an error on his part and possibly on the part of his countrymen] was very much so from 1950 until it was sold on into  the civilian world of commerce. It is perfectly understandable that those who are not au fait with naval matters might think the same as Gerhard.   It was called a warship [HMML - ML6021], crewed by Royal Sailors and funded by the British Admiralty in London. The erstwhile confidential paper outlines the answers he seeks, and to that end, he is eager for anybody to contact him direct on the following email address  mailto:g.klussmeier@tice.de?subject=Her Majesty's Motor Launch ML6021 "PRINCE CHARLES"   Gerhard shows a Wikipedia URL site,  which tells us that he is an author of books and an authority  on Jazz and other music.

This is the picture of the vessel under scrutiny.

 

and a little later on, the same vessel

 

The top picture shows the CARIN II a motor yacht. It was the property of Herman Göring, the boss of the Luftwaffe, and the bottom a UK warship flying a White Ensign.

The story line is that a medium sized, private motor yacht, M.V. Carin II [named after Göring's first wife Carin, a Swede who died in 1931], known to have belonged to Göring [who committed suicide mid-October 1946 whilst awaiting his hanging for gross war crimes], just before the vessel was moved by the Allies in November 1946] from Emden, a sea port in Northern Germany close to the three naval bases of Wilhelmshaven, Bremerhaven and Cuxhaven. It didn't move far, to Wilhelmshaven, where it was renamed simply as the ROYAL ALBERT with no prefix. Just over three years later it was relocated inland to be based on the River Rhine with the Royal Navy's Rhine Squadron. Men of the Rhine Squadron manned and used this vessel as an integral part of the squadron; it became the flagship of the R.N.R.S. the lead ship under the direct command of Captain "Bill Jewell" RN.  Almost coincident with its arrival in 1950 it was renamed H.M.M.L [Her Majesty's Motor Launch 6021 - ergo H.M.S. [Her Majesty's Ship] PRINCE CHARLES after HRH Prince Charles [b.1948], heir to the UK throne. Göring owned two yachts with this name, hence the II in this title. He remarried in 1935 a German actress called Emmy, who was eventually known as the First Lady of the 3rd Reich.  She lived until June 1973. They had one daughter Edda, who quite recently caused a great deal of bad feeling in Germany because she tried to get back her fathers wealth and belongings [ill-gotten gains]  confiscated by the West German Government after the war. They refused to play ball and not one DM [or should that be Euro?] was returned to his audacious and outrageous daughter. During the war the Nazi élite had used the yacht for partying, and I'll wager that many a gut-wrenching decision for mankind was taken aboard that vessel! After being released from British use in the late 1950's, it was repeatedly sold and renamed in the processes, but there came a time when it was given back to Göring second wife Emmy. She got rid of it as soon as possible and it continued its re-selling and re-naming around the bazaars.

This first picture is of the vessel in Göring's use and ownership. Note the ceremonial mast [not a mast onto which sails could be rigged] and the rather 'fussy' deck space aft of the superstructure on top of which is the lifeboat covered over with a white weatherproof awning. The long white structure mounted immediately above the guardrail on the starboard side is the gang-plank. On top of the deck-area as far aft as one can go, appears to be  a second lifeboat, this time an inflatable craft.

The vessel now named H.M.M.L 6021. PRINCE CHARLES shown in the second picture which incidentally shows the vessel leading the Rhine Squadron vessels [eight of them in line astern] in the Rhine,  was taken during a cruise to Basel, Switzerland's only port and docks in July 1954 during the Squadrons autumn cruise. Note how tidy and ship-shape she appears to be with the cluttered spaces aft now cleared and freed-up for the group of passengers [VIP's working, living in or appointed to Basel] standing admiring the view. Note that the lifeboat on top of the superstructure is sitting on its keel on shaped-supports and the reason for this is to give the mast a better support now that it has been unclipped from its housing and is laying on top of the boat. Note the white ensign fluttering aft.  However, it would seem that some members of the royal family would use this motor yacht [cruiser] for R&R, and some will tell you that Lord Montgomery seized the vessel and gave it to the royal family as a pleasure craft. This is yet again one of the many tall-tales told about the war, and was never, and could never have been the case. According to some, members of the family travelled incognito to the Rhine, not necessarily to HMS Royal Prince, to board the H.M.M.L. 6021 PRINCE CHARLES and took private trips up and down the river.  An anecdote posted to the internet, tells of an occasion when the H.M.M.L. 6021 PRINCE CHARLES, in company with vessels from HMS Royal Prince, used the radio to summon more gin [for Princess Margaret] whereupon a bottle was found and duly delivered. This part-myth can only apply to Princess Margaret travelling officially in Germany to visit various armed forces camps [including the R.N.R.S.] and there is little doubt that the Princess would take a gin and tonic [or two] enroute Dusseldorf to Uerdingen, but I feel sure that Captain "Bill" Jewell' optics would have been well plenished at all times but especially when entertaining the sister of the Queen!  I am aware that incognito is taken as being mega-private, but having trawled the press [a very obvious place to look despite this] I can only find one occasion when HRH Princess Margaret visited and had a ride in the vessel, and that was an official visit hosted by the Captain of HMS Royal Prince and the Flag Officer Germany which was in early  July 1954. During this same visit she was also able to fulfill a social engagement in Switzerland. My observations on life are enough to tell me that if the press got even the faintest of sniffs that the royal family were swanning around in a Nazi chief's former private cruiser, they would be  there like a pack of dogs! Very different to them photo-calling royals on Europe's ski-slopes - that's innocuous stuff. Moreover, even though they well might have deserved it, we were there on the Rhine to protect German's [from the big bear] and early though it might have been, to start the process of building bridges, allowing our royals to use the craft as a gin-palace speeding up and down the Rhine in a former Nazi leaders boat was surely rubbing salt into the wounds - once more.  Since there is nothing in the public domain to clarify the issue, what and who are we to believe on this subject matter? If you look closely enough, you will see a rating standing on the starboard side aft of the bridge door in his white cap and white front [summer time dress of the day] and on the other side of the door, a man in fore and aft rig, so could be either an officer or a rating. Princess Margaret visited European countries many times in the 1950's, with Germany and British bases the country most frequently visited.

 

For all the uncertainties about the use of the H.M.M.L.6021 PRINCE CHARLES, we are, courtesy of Gerhard, able to see a reasonable coherent story about the disposal of the ex H.M.M.L. 6021 PRINCE CHARLES now decommissioned, which I am told, this time by Gerhard, that Prince Charles himself visited the vessel but we don't know when and how many times. I can't use hearsay or 'engineered' statements without proof! This is a charming picture of H.R.H. Princess Margaret.

 

H.R.H. Princess Margaret visits Krefeld and the RHINE SQUADRON July 1954.wmv - in this picture H.R.H, is accompanied by Captain "Bill" Jewell MBE DSC MID, LM, LegH, CdeG RN, and in the rear attended by Rear Admiral R.S. Warne CB CBE -  F.O. Germany. My understanding is that she has just arrived in H.M.M.L. 6021 Prince Charles from Dusseldorf, and is shaking the hands of wives [possibly] of the staff at Uerdingen.

 

Princess Margaret was a regular visitor to Germany in the second half of the 1950's and 1960's, visiting British troops stationed there as an occupying force/NATO guardian post 5th May 1955. However, In the summer of 1954 she paid her very first trip which was a full three day visit covering both local [German and Swiss Dignitaries] in addition to British and Commonwealth troops stationed in the country. She arrived on Tuesday 13th July 1954 in a Viking aircraft of the Queens Flight at Wahnerheide airfield in modest sunshine and dry weather. In those days Germany didn't warrant a full Ambassador#, so she was met by the British High Commissioner Sir Frederick Hoyer Millar plus three British C-in-C's, General Sir Richard Gale, Air Marshal  Sir Harry Broadhurst and Rear Admiral R.S. Warne. The American and French High Commissioners were also present, as well as Commonwealth Ambassadors and Ministers from Bonn. After all the formalities, she drove in the British High Commissioners car to Bonn and was cheered by children on holiday lining the streets enroute. Once in Bonn she was received in the Villa Hammerschmidt by the President Professor Heuss who was her host for luncheon. At the dining table were Dr Adenauer, the British High Commissioner and his lady, plus Commonwealth Ambassadors. The Princess gave a short and extremely warm speech about the crucial importance of being friends again, and the President responded by saying that her visit on behalf of the Queen, was an impressive rapprochement. He was deeply pleased that the British and German Governments had been able to cooperate in spite of the many obstacles yet to be resolved.

 

# In 1954 [more or less at the time of Princess Margaret's visit] the FRG [Federal Republic of Germany which we knew as West Germany before the reunification of east and west in 1990 ] joined NATO. On the 5th May 1955 the Western Allies stood down their ten year occupation and the FRG gained its full sovereignty as a nation. From that date forward the British High Commission became the British Embassy with an Ambassador appointed. The hitherto High Commissioner Sir Frederick Hoyer Millar stayed on in continuation as the newly created Ambassador.

 

After the civil ceremonies she was due to fly to Iserlohn [up north east near Dortmund]  by whirlwind helicopter but the weather closed-in so she took to the road. There she visited one of the regiments she was Colonel-in-Chief of. At the end of each of the first two days [13th/14th] she was accommodated in the C-in-C BAOR's house of General Sir Richard Gale. On day two it was the turn of the RAF at the end of which there was a fabulous ball for 600 or so guests from the British and Commonwealth armed forces plus those from the High Commission. The final day was a 'navy day', and H.R.H., started by cruising down the Rhine in the motor launch H.M.M.L. 6021 Prince Charles belonging to the Royal Navy Rhine Squadron, to the Squadron's base at Uerdingen [Krefeld] where she took luncheon in the wardroom mess before leaving by air for London. That homeward bound flight was delayed by bad weather,  arriving  in London airport thirty five minutes late.  The distance between Dusseldorf and Uerdingen is approximately twelve miles.

 

Gerhard mentioned that the PRINCE CHARLES was used by the Royal Family as a leisure boat, but apart from the entry above with Princess Margaret, I can find nothing to substantiate that claim - I am more than willing to be proved wrong as long as the evidence is credible and official. I have used a datum point of 1950 [when the motor yacht was renamed to Prince Charles] to 1960, after the Royal Navy had abandoned its Rhine Squadron and Base at Krefeld. I have not considered any period either side of these years. It is known that H.R.H. Prince Philip visited Germany to see his relatives as private visits, and on two occasions he took his son Prince Charles and one one Princess Anne with him. Notwithstanding that they were private visits, he would have flown there in an aircraft of the Queens Flight leading to a press comment if only under the COURT column, and on arrival there would be perhaps just a few lines in the German press about his visit, possibly including photographs; there is absolutely no mention of either the Queen or Prince Philip ever having visited Germany together as a couple, until after the FGR became West Germany.  These private visits whose dates are not known, would of course be before 1960, my datum shut-off date. It seems odd that there is no mention which I can find [and I know of many avenues]! As for senior royals, until H.M. undertook a State visit to West Germany in 1965 [her very first visit to Germany when she was aged 39] at a time when no major Royal had visited Germany since 1913 when H.M. King George V attended the wedding of the Kaisers daughter in Berlin. The Queen has visited the territory several times since, some State occasions others Official Visits, two more occasions to West Germany 1978 and 1987, four occasions to Germany since reunification in 1990, 1992, 2004 and 2015. In view of the Duke of Windsor's dreadful performance of recognising the Third Reich after his abdication, I would have thought that enjoying one's self in a boat formally used as a Nazi gin-palace would, for most Royals, be abhorrent and distasteful, and as such, an opportunity shunned out of hand. Nor can I believe the story-line that Montgomery offered or gave Goering's old motor yacht to our Royal Family. Neither would he have made such a grossly perverse offer and the King, at best for macabre intrigue, might have wanted to view the craft, but to own or use it, would never have entered his head.   With the possible idea of gloating over top-brass Nazi booty, I find the navy's use of this vessel at odds with RN traditions, save that by floating around in it in German territory/waters it was a marker to the locals that they were well and truly beaten; it could of course be a financial expedient saving the Admiralty coughing up the cost of a fitting naval flagship for the RNRS.  With more measured thought, one can see that our job, or part of it, was to build bridges and not to rub salt in their wounds.  So why? - why did we use it? You would be surprised I am sure, when I tell you that looking for an archival entry/event called Prince Charles, reveals not what one wants, but scores of British surnames called PRINCE associated with even more scores of Christian names like CHARLES, EDWARD, ALBERT, GEORGE etc., and just in case you find that an enigma, in the British armed forces, when asked our name, we always retort by saying SURNAME followed by CHRISTIAN name, and not the reverse way used by civilians.  We have lots upon lots of sailors called Prince Charles, but no vessels!

 

This lovely picture shows H.R.H.  Princess Margaret having disembarked from H.M.M.L. 6021 Prince Charles to the shore HQ of H.M.S. Royal Prince at Uerdingen escorted by a much decorated ex submarine captain of some fame and now captain of the Rhine Squadron Captain "Bill" Jewell R.N., one of the youngest ever captains.   H.R.H. had travelled down the Rhine from Dusseldorf. Later she dined in the wardroom. They are seen climbing the steps leading from the old [engineless] Rhine barge at river level, up the higher level concourse on which was built the HMS Royal Prince shore establishment. Referring to the map above showing the Uerdingen Harbour and its access to and from the River Rhine, you can get some idea of the width of the harbour by viewing the distant wall in the background, remembering that this picture is taken on this side of the tiny harbour. 

 

 

 

Another extremely useful document is this paper supplied by Gerhard. It is written in English at the end of February 1959,  with comments in German. Oberwinter is approx 66 miles south as the crow flies of Uerdingen [upstream in the Rhine].

 

 

As second correspondence on the same subject was this also from the hand of Gerhard:-

 

Gerhard and I have agreed that HIS Prince Charles [and THE WARSHIP proper H.M.M.L 6021 Prince Charles] was disposed of as follows after the two British letters above:-

 

1.

1960 - on the 29th June the Yacht returned to Goering's  second wife Emmy Goering a former actress and in 1935 considered by the Nazi Party as being the First Lady of the Reich

2. 1960 - October 20 Emmy Goering sold the Yacht to Günter Knauth, printing house owner in Bonn 
3 1961 - Günter Knauth renamed it to Theresia, the name of his Wife
4 1973 - January 28 Knauth sold the "Theresia" to Hamburg Reporter Gerd Heidemann.   Heidemann renamed it to "Carin II"
5

1976 - April 20 -  it was sold to Veljko George Jaksic in Maly Le Roi France

6

1978 - 1984 - Probate court case on ownership?

7

1985 - Sold into the USA

8

1986 - Sold into Caribbean transfers.

 

That leads me into reiterating Gerhard's wish that one or more of the readers of this page might have, or could find the information he seeks for his project, which is to received any information you might have which is not readily available on the internet, but primarily photographs and of  a goodly resolution of say 300dpi.

 

Well that is my story.

 

Goodbye.