hell fire corner

BrianP
9th August 2007, 20:19
Did you see the Coast programme on Tuesday 7th. August, it covered the area of coast from the Channel Island, then across to Dover. One of the presenters, Nick Crane, talked about the terrible risks that the Merchant Navy took going into 'Hell fire corner'.
You saw film footage and heard a BBC radio broadcast account of a small convoy under attack from enemy planes, as seen from the clifftop above Dover.
It showed the courage that the Merchant Navy had to endure in order to deliver supplies needed for the war effort, and how transport could only be by sea in order to cope with the amounts being moved and the lack of other forms of transportation around the country.
Does anyone know the names of any of the ships from that footage and or thier fate during the war.
Regards,
BrianP

quietman
9th August 2007, 20:25
I watched it with great interest. I had never heard about it before and it seems these convoys were just as vital as those of the better known russian and atlantic convoys

Peter4447
9th August 2007, 21:53
Can't help with the names I'm afraid but if you can get hold of a copy a book called "The Coal Scuttle Brigade" by (I think) Alexander McKee it is well worth a read. I believe that the film was shot on a day when one of the heaviest attacks took place on a convoy and some of the ships are certainly mentioned by name as this event is described in the book.

Peter4447(Thumb)

Chouan
9th August 2007, 23:47
The Dover Straights convoys were political in nature and were neither necessary nor essential economically. Churchill believed them to be politically essential to show neutrals that we still "controlled" the channel. They were routed, therefore, as a gesture, at the risk that was obvious!

K urgess
10th August 2007, 00:22
I don't think anyone cares whether they were political or not, Chouan.

The comments so far have not mentioned politics only the bravery of the men that did it so why bring politics into it. After all this time the only thing that matters is that the convoys were regular. It was extremely dangerous.
They did it without thought for themselves.

sparkie2182
10th August 2007, 00:25
well said macaroniman

Geoff Garrett
10th August 2007, 06:41
In war, you play every card in your hand and you play it for all it's worth and for the past couple of centuries the Brits have clearly proved themselves masters at it.

allalogie
10th August 2007, 08:50
Assuming this is the same one...according to the following, the film was shot on 14th July 1940.....

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schoolradio/history/worldwar2audioclipslibrary_clip16.shtml

From "The Coal Scuttle Brigade"

" On 14th July another Convoy was attacked in the straits, photographs show the Colliers Betswood and Bovey Tracey, and other ships not identifiable, vanishing in the thunderous uprush of smoke and bombs. One coaster was towed into Dover with her stern blown off, two others and an escort destroyer were damaged"

Chouan
10th August 2007, 09:49
Marconisahib, I suggest that you read the first 2 posts and then read mine again. Then think about what I actually said. Then think about whether your response to my comment was appropriate. Please feel free to identify from my post any part that denigrates what the crews did.

K urgess
10th August 2007, 11:36
Chouan,
Ascribing purely political motivations to the convoys demeans the efforts of those involved and turns them into puppets of the state rather than brave men doing essential war work.

Apart from which, as stated in the program, the land-based transport infrastructure could not support such a movement of goods, bombing the sea doesn't put it out of action for weeks or months.

trotterdotpom
10th August 2007, 12:28
Here was me thinking I was tuning into a ribald yarn about Santos!

Captain James Grant, who I sailed with on 'Duncansby Head' (MacGregors of Leith), was awarded an OBE for his service in the "Coal Scuttle Brigade".

I'd never thought of the operation as a Churchillian publicity stunt, but, thinking about it now, there probably were better ways of getting the coal to Shoreham, etc. That doesn't take anything away from the bravery of the poor sods running that nightmare gauntlet. They were just cannon fodder without knowing it.

John T.

K urgess
10th August 2007, 12:42
John T.
Apparently they were cannon fodder and knew it for the first few months of the war.
Partly a propaganda exercise until it became a necessity as the blitz bit deeper.
Santos is a much safer subject than war.
Did I ever tell you that I spent my 21st birthday in Santos? It was one of the most m..........................!!!![=P]

BrianP
10th August 2007, 13:50
Thank you Allalogie for the information on the BBC site and the ship names, olso thanks to Peter4447, about the book title, I shall make enquiries.
while on the subject of coastal convoys, does anyone know where I can find information of a convoy from Scapa To Rosyth in Feb. 1941.
Regards,
BrianP

johnalderman
10th August 2007, 13:55
It was suggested on the programme that the road and rail network at the time was overloaded and could not be used to transport enough coal for the southern power stations, I suppose they could have gone north about with the colliers but that would have taken much longer and in winter time would have brought other dangers to these small and slow colliers.

trotterdotpom
10th August 2007, 14:44
....
Did I ever tell you that I spent my 21st birthday in Santos? It was one of the most m..........................!!!![=P]

No, but I'm all ears, or eyes in this case.

John T.

Billy1963
10th August 2007, 19:28
From my old website pages:

Coal Scuttle Brigade.

After the fall of France in 1940, the war was literally on Britain's doorstep. As the Convoy's in the North Atlantic continued to be decimated, now came the turn for the Coastal Convoy's to suffer horrendous losses. The power stations in London relied on 30.000 tons of coal per week as well as coal for homes and the railways. This was the job of the collier fleet, affectionately known as the "Coal Scuttle Brigade." The two main routes ran from the East coast down from Scotland and the coal ports of the North East to the London Docks. These ships had to pass through what became known as "E-boat Alley" where German E-boats would dash out of the occupied French ports at some sixty knots to attack the slow eight knot colliers. The West coast Convoys would traverse from the Welsh coal ports around Lands End, through the English Channel into the Dover Straits and along to the Thames Estuary. These ships would come under attack in what was known as "Hell Fire Corner" as fifteen guns from four German shore batteries would open up on them from Cape Gris Nez. It would take an average of five hours for the ships to pass this area and if lucky enough to get through then had to navigate the thirty mile long stretch of Goodwin Sands which was over flown by German Ju-87 dive bombers, E-boats as well as being continuosly mined. As well as all these continuous attacks the Masters of these ships had the job of navigating the shallow narrow stretches of water with its many shoals and sandbars, made more difficult by the colder North Sea mixing with the warmer water from the Gulf Stream causing fog. Over five hundred of these Convoy's took place during the war, with the average of one sailing every three days.

Steve Woodward
10th August 2007, 20:49
All wars are political, running those convoys was a morale booster for the British public we had contolled our seas, and destiny, and to hand our coastal waters over to the control of an enemy would have been a grave blow to that morale.
My father, who at the time was on a salvage tug (Empire Teak) and would not talk much of events once described seeing a torpedo miss their tug and hit a small coaster inshore of them, there was nothing for them to put a line on and no survivors, as a young man my father found these times very disturbing but they did what they had to do. This event happened on an East Coast convoy - E-boat alley they called it.
I think he would have enjoyed this site had it been arround

Chouan
11th August 2007, 00:04
Chouan,
Ascribing purely political motivations to the convoys demeans the efforts of those involved and turns them into puppets of the state rather than brave men doing essential war work.

Apart from which, as stated in the program, the land-based transport infrastructure could not support such a movement of goods, bombing the sea doesn't put it out of action for weeks or months.

1) Can you please explain the first comment. The seamen on those ships WERE the puppets of the state. Did that make them less important? I don't think so.

2) Just because "Coast" says so does not make it true. Yes, the rail network was hard stretched, but the channel Convoys, like the East Coast Convoys and the Russian Convoys were ALL political, and not essential in the sence of economic or actual military necessity. Ships did not need to carry coal through the channel to serve the power stations, the railways could have carried the coal, or the national grid could have supplied the necessary power, if pressed. The convoys were run for international prestige reasons. The East Coast Convoys were the same. The Russian Convoys were to show support to the Russians. The kit could easily have been transported via the Gulf, as most of it was, but the Russian Convoys showed our commitment to Stalin.

K urgess
11th August 2007, 00:47
You seem to want an argument and I don't want one.
Enough said on the subject already.

sparkie2182
11th August 2007, 01:16
"does anyone know the names of any the ships in that footage or their fate during the war?"

simple question........not answered.......by anyone....."expert" or layman

quite right marconiman.......enuff said

Bernard McIver
11th August 2007, 02:13
"The kit could easily have been transported via the Gulf, as most of it was, but the Russian Convoys showed our commitment to Stalin"
Figures I have from the U.S. State Department on War Aid, show that 23.8% of aid was shipped through the Persian Gulf, and 22.7% through North Russia, even though supplies were suspended for a total of nine months on this route.

Gareth Jones
11th August 2007, 14:34
A point worth mentioning is that the German fighter aircraft of the day had limited range and couldnt stay long over the UK mainland - Goering was most keen to engage the RAF over the English Channel where this disadvantage might be nullified, Hence the excessive attacks on the colliers to try and tempt the RAF out to sea. There seems little doubt that had the RAF responded in the way Goering wanted, we would have lost the Battle of Britain due to depletion of our fighter aircraft over the channel.

Chouan
13th August 2007, 09:30
You seem to want an argument and I don't want one.
Enough said on the subject already.

Quick cheap and easy attempt at a get out I think.
You have already started the argument by accusing me of demeaning the acheivement of the Merchant seamen who took part in those convoys.
You can easily end the argument by acknowledging that I meant no such thing, which anybody who reads my posts would easily see, and by apopologizing for the accusation.
Why you could imagine that I would wish to demean or denigrate the Merchant Navy is beyond me.
All I have stated is that the channel convoys were not economically essential. They were not, no matter what the people on "Coast" might say. The convoys were run on the insistence of Churchill as a political statement. This does not mean that the crews were any less brave, or any less commited, just because the purpose of their convoy was political rather than commercial.

K urgess
13th August 2007, 11:40
Just keep on thinking the glass is half empty, Chouan.(Thumb)
I'll carry on thinking the glass is half full.
We would just waste endless hours and typing energy trying to convert the other to his point of view.
You think the convoys were run because Churchill wanted them, I think the convoys were running and Churchill took advantage of the fact.
We would never agree and I would never be swerved to the "historical accuracy" outlook.
Saw too many of this sort of argument at sea and then the answer was to leave the discussion and go to bed. So that's basically what I'm doing.
Goodnight and thanks for the beer.

Kris

Chouan
13th August 2007, 11:55
Marconisahib, you've missed the point again. Deliberately or not I'm not sure.
You accused me of demeaning the Merchant Navy, I quote you directly:
"Ascribing purely political motivations to the convoys demeans the efforts of those involved and turns them into puppets of the state rather than brave men doing essential war work."
I did not demean them. Whether the work they did was poltically or economically motivated is irrelevant. I want you to withdraw the accusation and apologise for it. It is as simple as that. You can muddy the issue as much as you like to wriggle out of your accusation, but you made it. I resent it. It was unfair and insulting.

Billy1963
13th August 2007, 20:37
From what I have read "The South coast was dependent on sea-borne coal" and "The colliers were bombed not because of they were colliers; not because the German thought them particularly valuable or important; they were attacked and sunk as a tactical move in the air battle between Fighter Command & the Luftwaffe"

Earlier in July 1940 a memo written by Winston Churchill to the Vice-Chief of Naval Staff with his growing concern of the lack of support & protection against coastal convoys.

"Could you let me know on one sheet of paper what arrangements you are making about Channel Convoys now that the Germans are all along the French coast? The attacks on convoys yesterday (4th July 1940) both from the air and E-boats, were very serious, and I should like to be assured this morning that the situation is in hand and that the Air is contributing effectively"

The very same day of receiving this memo the Admiralty suspended all normal Channel traffic, with the exception of small coasting vessels, mainly colliers which were deemed a necessity. Even these were suspended after the 25th July 1940 ("Black Thursday") Within a few weeks the collier convoys were re-started with rapidly improvised protection.

Convoy CW-8 was made up of 21 coasters, attacked off Dover by Ju-87's, Ju-88's and E-boats on the 25/26th July 1940.

Ships lost & damaged

CORHAVEN 991grt (W. Cory & Son)
LEO 1,140grt (Ellerman Wilson Line) 7 dead.
POLGRANGE 804grt (pollexfen & Co.) 4 dead
HENRY MOON 1,091grt Brighton Corp.) 1 dead
PORTSLADE 1,09grt (Stephenson Clark)
HODDER 1,016grt (Lancashire & Yorkshire Rlwy Co.)
GRONLAND 1,264grt (A.N.Petersen)
NEWMINSTER 967grt (Tyne Tees Shipping Co.) 1 dead
SUMMITY 554grt (F.T.Everard & Sons)
TAMWORTH 1,332 grt (R.S.Dalgliesh)
BROADHURST 1,013grt (Stephenson Clark) 4 dead
LONDON TRADER 646grt (Free Trade Wharf Co.) 1 dead
LULONGA 821grt (F.T.Armitage) 1 dead

sparkie2182
13th August 2007, 22:40
a fine and dignified response to the members question, billy.

very well done................

Peter4447
13th August 2007, 23:51
I believe that the Summity was carrying a cargo of cement in which a bomb exploded covering her in it, although she did survive.

Peter4447

Billy1963
19th August 2007, 12:54
Summity suffered a direct hit from a Stuka dive bomber, and was beached off Dover Harbour. She was re-floated in August 1940 and taken to London for repair.

Santos
19th August 2007, 19:34
Here was me thinking I was tuning into a ribald yarn about Santos!

John T.


I'll have you know I was very good when I was at sea, well I think I was anyway, no ribald or anything like that (Smoke)

Another good thread spoilt by politics being brought into it.

Chris

R651400
19th August 2007, 20:03
Another good thread spoilt by politics being brought into it.


.....and perhaps a smattering of pedantry.
I cannot see where a coalition government can be involved in politics of any form unless it was against and the eventual defeat of the common enemy ie Nazi Germany, or for that matter any wartime allied citizen eg MN seamen be referred to as a "puppet of the state" when carrying out their national duty ie defeat of the said common enemy.