Douwe Aukes Minelayer

Cab
5th July 2005, 18:39
Dear All,

First posting here, I've come to have a look a round and see if anyone would be kind enough to help me out on a project.

My father turns 80 next week. He served in the Royal Navy in the second world war, and hasn't really shown much interest in finding out about what happened to the ships he served on until last weekend. He's now curious to find out what happened to one old ship, the Douwe Aukes.

I've tracked down where she was built (1922 in Holland), when she was finally broken up (1962), when she was transferred to the Royal Navy from the Dutch navy (1941, after the Dutch were out of the war), when she was transferred back to the Dutch navy (1945), and how she was used. I've even found some rather nice pictures of her, but unfortunately the best pictrure I can find of her in British service is a little hazy:

http://www.netherlandsnavy.nl/Minelayers/Aukes_T309.jpg

I think it would mean a lot to my dad if I could find a good picture of her, but I've struggled.

Can anyone here give me any advice or point me in any good directions?

Thanks,

Cab.

Steve
5th July 2005, 18:54
Welcome to SN Cab.

Cab
5th July 2005, 18:56
Thanks Steve.

stevecz
5th July 2005, 19:55
Wecome, hope you enjoy the site.

Some details on this site, but you may have already seen them.
http://uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/2830.html (http://uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/2830.html)



The only other place I can think of for photgraphs is the National Maritime Museum (Collections)

http://www.nmm.ac.uk/server/show/nav.005002006 (http://www.nmm.ac.uk/server/show/nav.005002006)

This link leads you to an enquiry e-mail address but I found it better to visit, a great day out.

Cab
5th July 2005, 20:05
Ron, thanks for the welcome :) Just came back from Scotland, where I was licky enough to watch the Queen Mary 2 leaving the Firth of Cromarty. Then we we got to see dolphins off Cromarty point; that was a marvellous day in a great holiday.

The only picture I've seen of her in her Royal Navy days is in the link above. I can touch it up a bit, but it'll not stand being printed out terribly large. I can find some better quality images in her Dutch navy days, pre-war, but I rekon that would mean less to the old man.

Stevecz, yeah, I'd seen that first link, but I haven't yet tried the National Maritime museum yet; thanks for that lead, I'll folllow it up :)

It's just staggering to think that my dad was 19 years old (12 years younger than I am now) when he served on an old Dutch built minelayer, the first ship to dock at Port en Bessin the day that the Royal Marine Commandos took it, the day after D-Day. It's even more amazing to think that it's only now, 60 years later, that he's showing an interest in his old ship.

fred henderson
5th July 2005, 20:17
Another source is the Imperial War Museum. They have a massive collection of WW2 ship photographs. Contact is photos@iwm.org.uk

Fred

stevecz
5th July 2005, 20:19
Cab,
I know what you mean, My uncle, also 80 years, asked me some months ago if I could find his old ships, only one to go. He was torpedoed once, bombed once and hit a mine. He did more sea-time on rescue ships than his own.
The National Maritime Museum is like Aladins Cave for anyone interested in the sea, I could spend weeks in there.
Steve

Cab
5th July 2005, 20:45
Fred, Thanks! I'll send the impeal war museum a line see what they have.

Ron, cheers, I'll get it sent over in the morning from work (the home mac probably wouldn't cope with that!).

ruud
9th February 2006, 00:50
Ahoy Cab,

Found a new piccie of the Douwe Aukes, and a drawing/profile from our member CVB.
Minelayer built in 1922 by Werf Gusto, Schiedam (687tons; 55x8,5m; 13kn; guns 3-7.5cm; 60 mines). Escaped to Britain at the German invasion of the Low Countries May 1940 to return end 1945. Sister: VAN MEERLANT. Similar:
MEDUSA, HYDRA.
Drawing profile © by CVB

Visje
31st December 2006, 16:06
Dear All,

First posting here, I've come to have a look a round and see if anyone would be kind enough to help me out on a project.

My father turns 80 next week. He served in the Royal Navy in the second world war, and hasn't really shown much interest in finding out about what happened to the ships he served on until last weekend. He's now curious to find out what happened to one old ship, the Douwe Aukes.

I've tracked down where she was built (1922 in Holland), when she was finally broken up (1962), when she was transferred to the Royal Navy from the Dutch navy (1941, after the Dutch were out of the war), when she was transferred back to the Dutch navy (1945), and how she was used. I've even found some rather nice pictures of her, but unfortunately the best pictrure I can find of her in British service is a little hazy:

http://www.netherlandsnavy.nl/Minelayers/Aukes_T309.jpg

I think it would mean a lot to my dad if I could find a good picture of her, but I've struggled.

Can anyone here give me any advice or point me in any good directions?

Thanks,

Cab.


Hi Cab,

I'm the webmater of www.netherlandsnavy.nl
The source for the photo Aukes_T309.jpg is the Imperial War Museum. It was printed in the series by H. Lenton's "Navies of the Second World War: Royal Netherlands Navy" on page 70.

Would love to hear more about your father's service on board her. Very little is known about her activities in the Royal Navy after her transfer.

Kind regards,
Visje

R58484956
31st December 2006, 16:13
Welcome Visje to the site of SN enjoy what it has to offer and a happy new year to you.

Steve Woodward
2nd January 2007, 15:10
Hi Visje,
I have very little information on your fathers ship but this website has some onboard pictures
http://www.dutchfleet.net/viewtopic.php?t=3760&start=16&sid=005b7f93a91fd6eb1eefda59ba381d55

Rgds and good luck witht he hunt

Visje
7th January 2007, 10:53
Hi Steve,

I was replying to Cab's request, my father did not serve on board Douwe Aukes.

Cheers,
Jan



Hi Visje,
I have very little information on your fathers ship but this website has some onboard pictures
http://www.dutchfleet.net/viewtopic.php?t=3760&start=16&sid=005b7f93a91fd6eb1eefda59ba381d55

Rgds and good luck witht he hunt

mattarosa
8th January 2007, 06:53
I have a little information about the Douwe Aukes which I got from one or two seamen who served on her during the war. I am just on my way to work, but will try and dig the info out and post it this evening.

According to my notes, I have a photograph of the ship from the Institute for Maritime History in the Hague. I don't know what it is like because my books are still packed following my recent move, and I haven't scanned the picture onto my computer. Suggest you contact them direct as the picture will be copyright to them anyway.

Hilary

mattarosa
8th January 2007, 20:55
As promised, I am going to post some notes that I made from letters received some years ago from seamen who served about Douwe Aukes in WW2 in response to questions I asked them. At the time, I was doing some research for a friend whose father served on the Douwe Aukes in 1941. I hope these notes will be of interest/help.


"I served on the Douwe Aukes from 1942 till 1944 …regarding the D.A. I just do not know where to start, as there is so much I remember about it. … I was a time serving seaman having signed on for twelve years continuous service from June 1938...There were only three of us seamen onboard, the rest being H.O.'s (Hostilities Only), RNR, RNVR and RNPS. I think we were put on the D.A. to impart our experience and knowledge to the youngsters. So we were quite a mixed bunch, the officers were ex-Merchant Navy RNR and RNVR. I remember one of our officers being Ian Hunter ex-film star and ex-father in law to Amanda Barrie, Coronation Street star.
Life on the D.A. was quite spartan and totally alien to me, being used to all the comforts of my previous ships, battleships, cruisers and destroyers. The D.A. had no material comforts, having no fridge and what with being a coal burner this meant coaling ship every 3 to 4 days, everything used to be covered in coal dust, food etc. Our ablutions were performed in a bucket and one always seemed to have ingrained dust in the eyes like panda's eyes.
Every 2 to 3 weeks we had to go in dock for a boiler clean which meant no heat onboard for a couple of days, not very pleasant in the middle of winter as you can imagine.
... Now you asked for information on the D.A.'s activities. First of all she was based at Sheerness, Wildfire being the name of the base where our pay records etc were kept. We were attached to the Thames Local Defence Flotilla, the other ships about 8 in all were ex-Thames and Clyde paddle steamers, some names I remember ROYAL EAGLE, GOLDEN EAGLE, JEANNIE DEANS, SANDOWN and WAVERLEY. Before the forts were laid in the Thames Estuary, we sailed before dusk and anchored up the coast as far north as Harwich and as far south as Margate. We were supposed to be anti-aircraft ships to deter German aircraft laying mines in the estuary. Other duties included Channel Convoys and escorting the Trinity House boat Patricia as she attended to the navigational aids in the estuary.
Many thanks for your picture you sent [probably the Janes 1933 photo]. Of course, since this there had been many alterations, different armament etc, but basically the outline is the same. We had quite a reputation as the ugliest ship in the Flotilla, and was held to ridicule for many reasons. Her funnel used to glow red hot, in fact we used to bake potatoes on the side, when she was going full speed flames used to shoot out, this made her very unpopular with other craft we were operating with, as you can imagine, being a target for E-boats, aircraft and the guns on the coast at Calais.
...I was really surprised she had such a long lifetime, when I left her I thought she was ready for the scrapheap."

* * * * * * * *

"HMS Douwe Aukes ex Royal Dutch Navy minelayer used by Her Majesty's Royal Navy as anti-aircraft ship.

She sailed from the Solent June 5th 1944 arrived Arromanches June 6th 1944.
Despatched to Port-en-Bessin June 7th 1944. On board soldiers with collapsible boats discharged before entering port. We entered port after escorting warship with heavy guns had sunk two German gunboats anchored in harbour. 47th Marine Commandos had already taken the port and German garrison with heavy casualties.
HMS Douwe Aukes entered port and tied up alongside wall at 1800 hours June 7th. Some French men were loitering around, would not help with the stores to be unloaded.
Point to be noted – HMS Douwe Aukes was the first ship to enter a French port during the Normandy landings.
We stayed in port for some days and were eventually allowed ashore for 2 hours leave, and given invasion money to spend.
When the ship eventually left the port we were given the job of anti-aircraft ship on Mulberry Harbour and saw one of the first V1 buzz bombs head toward England, but exploded some way out to sea.
At no time did we see HMS Golden Eagle at Port-en-Bessin, although she was in our flotilla.
We weathered the terrible storm some days after D-Day and lost two anchors when another craft struck us when she lost her anchors, all we could do was to steam slow ahead into the sea to stop us ending up on the beach. There was already a destroyer beached HMS Fury.
We eventually left the scene and returned to the Solent, and we anchored off Cowes.

Some facts about the ship
HMS Douwe Aukes was a coal burning ship, which made it a filthy ship when she was being coaled. It took some hours to scrub down and get rid of the dust.
Seamen were used to shovel the coal into the bunkers, and stokers would trim the coal in the bunkers to make the ship stable, and also to get as much coal in as possible.
Sometimes the funnel would get very hot, but I never saw it glow red.
Yes, we did dhobi our clothes in buckets and used a steam jet from the engine room to boil the water. We used Pussers soap shredded to wash the clothes, no soap powder in those days.
Whilst on board I was in the Watchkeepers Mess, this consisted of 4 signalmen, 4 quartermasters, 4 telegraphists and 4 radar ratings. This mess was situated below the waterline so we lived in artificial light all of the time.
...The complement of the ship was approximately 100 plus 6 Petty Officers, 7 Officers."


Hilary

Visje
14th January 2007, 11:23
Hilary,

Many thanks for the interesting stories about Douwe Aukes. The history of the ship in Royal Navy service is unknown here in the Netherlands. It fills in a blank and answers a few questions I have.

Kind regards,
Visje

mattarosa
14th January 2007, 22:00
Hilary,

Many thanks for the interesting stories about Douwe Aukes. The history of the ship in Royal Navy service is unknown here in the Netherlands. It fills in a blank and answers a few questions I have.

Kind regards,
Visje

Hello Visje

It is good to be able to share these stories with people who are interested. With the war being more than 60 years ago now, soon these stories will be gone unless we record them. I have received your message and have replied.

Hilary

cjp08
12th October 2008, 01:07
Hello,
I am searching for photos of this vessel as well and have not had much luck.
If I find some I will certainly post them.
I was wondering if your father knew my grandfather , J Ruitenschild who commanded this ship? Any info would be great and I thank you.
CJP

Matelot92
29th October 2010, 16:58
I'm a member of the Grimsby Family History group and at the minute we are photographing all the headstone in the Grimsby Cemetery. One I came across the other day made me curious. The headstone read " R. M. Wilson seaman LT/JX281178 HMS Douwe Aukes 4th April 1942 aged 20 "
As an ex RN matelot I was curious about the ship with it's "foreign" name and came across this web site.
Thought I would pass this tit-bit on as someone might like to know about it.
Dave M