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Saturday, 27 June 2020

Being a guest blogger

I was recently asked to write a blog post for Antoine Vanner's DAWLISH CHRONICLES blog.

To date, Antoine has written eight books and six short stories about Nicholas Dawlish, a naval officer in the Royal Navy during the latter part of the Victorian era and up until the end of the First World War. The story of Nicholas's wife Florence is also told in the books, and she is the main protagonist of one of them, BRITANNIA'S AMAZON.

I have been reading Antoine's books and stories since the first one was published, and we keep in touch via irregular emails and comments on each other's blogs. It was a great honour to be asked to write a blog post for the DAWLISH CHRONICLES blog, and I chose as my topic MAKING THE BEST OF WHAT YOU HAVE: THE KRIEGSMARINE AND SOME OF THE WARSHIPS IT CAPTURED.

This looked at the problem faced by the Kriegsmarine in the aftermath of the successful invasion and capture of Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. Within a matter of a few months, the coastline controlled by Germany now stretched from the North Cape to the Bay of Biscay ... but the Kriegsmarine was no larger and the demands upon it had grown exponentially. As a result, it had to improvise warships from suitable merchant vessels and take over ships from the navies of the conquered nations.

Amongst the latter were four Flower-class corvettes that were being built in France for use by the French Navy. (Two more were planned – Tromblon* and Javeline – but these were never completed.) These were the Arquebuse, Hallebarde, Sabre, and Poignard. The first three completed by the Germans and commissioned as patrol boats PA 1# to PA 3, but the Poignard (which was to become PA 4) was destroyed by bombing before she could be commissioned, and her hull was used as a blockship at Nantes or Le Havre in 1945. The other three were either sunk or badly damaged and abandoned in 1944.

These ships were similar in outline to their Royal Navy sisters, but were far more heavily armed as they were expected to work in European coastal waters. They carried:
  • 1 × 10.5cm (4.1-inch) SK C/32 gun (1 x 1)
  • 4 × 3.7cm SK C/30 AA anti-aircraft guns (2 x 2)
  • 10 × 2cm C/30 AA anti-aircraft guns (2 x 4 & 2 x 1)
  • 2 × Mk.II depth charge throwers
  • 2 × depth charge rails with 40 depth charges
  • They were also fitted with minesweeping gear
The silhouette of a French-built Flower-class corvette in German Service as a Patrouillenboot Ausland or captured patrol boat. The heavier armament is very noticeable, and must have affected their stability and seaworthiness.

* A tromblon is a blunderbuss.
# PA stood for Patrouillenboot Ausland or captured patrol boat.

4 comments:

  1. Fascinating stuff Bob. Not an aspect of the War at sea that gets any coverage in non-specialist media. I suppose it underlines how powerful the RN was, and how effective the land-based bombing and fleet-borne attacks were at helping maintain the blockade that the Germans converted so many to flakshiffe.

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    1. Nundanket,

      The topic of flagships has always interested me, and there were even some small ones deployed on the Wannsee in Berlin.

      The Germans put lots of captured vessels up to and including destroyers back into service, especially after Italy changed sides.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. Plenty of scope for inshore work, then! One tends too often perhaps to think of naval operations as mainly involving fleet actions and convoys, but I think inshore operations with fairly small craft are probably the most varied and interesting.

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    Replies
    1. Archduke Piccolo,

      Interestingly, if one looks at the major naval battles that have taken place, there are very few that were located much more the one hundred miles from the coast, and many more were much closer than that to land.

      During the First and Second World Wars, coastal operations were a vital part of the war effort, but did not attract the same level of interest as those involving the main fleets.

      For wargamers, this is a great source of inspiration for scenarios that involve small (and some not so small) vessels that are quick and easy to model.

      All the best,

      Bob

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