March 2016 - NMRN Portsmouth
Steam Pinnace 199 – Newsletter – March 2016
SCOOP - Raising steam another way – Until 199 is
fully operational again, we have been very
fortunate in a kind offer from Peter and Tim Hollins
to use their Steam Cutter 438 so that we can
restore an active role for our volunteers. SC 438 is
the boat that was used by Group 199 in the 2012
Jubilee Pageant on the Thames after 199’s boiler
certificate was invalidated.
SC438 - Feb 2016
SC 438 is a 23-foot ex-Admiralty cutter built in 1897 by
Thames Ironworks & Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. at Blackwall.
She has a coal (best Welsh of course!) fired Gunboat type
fire tube boiler (bottom right) built in 1981 and a
compound. 3" + 5" X 5" engine (overleaf) built in 1898 by
Simpson Strickland & Co. Ltd.
She was appropriated to HMS Espiègle, then hospital
Retirement ceremony for Cdre. Wallace 2011
ship RFA Maine. With the Maine she was used to
support British troops in both the Boer War in
Capetown and the Boxer Rebellion in China.
Shortly before war was declared in 1914 the
Maine was wrecked on Mull on the west coast of
Scotland. S.C. 438 was recovered and sent to
Portsmouth Dockyard. She was decommissioned
in the 1920s and converted to a motor cruiser.
RFA Maine (built 1897)
acquired by Peter and Tim Hollins in 1999. Original
design drawings, specification and steam trial
records were found and the cutter restored by
owners to her original configuration. The engine
Circa 1974 her derelict hull was acquired by Dr Roger
Stevens. The hull was restored and a new steam plant
fitted and re-commissioned circa 1997. She was
was replaced with one identical to the original at The
Maritime Workshop, Gosport. 438 was
recommissioned in Portsmouth Harbour in 2008.
If 438 sounds vaguely familiar, 439 is the Admiralty
cutter Osborne in Boathouse 4 featured last month.
Despite the number sequence, Osborne is recorded
as one year older, possibly because 438 was part of a
multiple batch order.
A programme of commissioning, training and events
will be set up shortly and then circulated to Group
199 volunteers. Initial thinking is to set up two crews. 199 operates with a cox’n, engineer and
bowman/stoker plus room for a few trainees or passengers. Operating check lists are being developed.
199 moves out – 199 was moved out of her berth in Boathouse 4 for a short period to allow some
movements of boats in the workshop area. She is pictured here alongside the old dockyard harbour launch
D49 which used to run MOD staff, including the editor, to and from the dockyard, Clarence Yard and
Haslar. Between the vessels can be seen a convenient fixed line that is used to haul vessels cold to and
from the inside berth. D49 is currently berthed in Boathouse 4 astern of 199.
199 is not allowed to flash up inside Boathouse 4, understandable with all its old, dry timbers, paint etc. It
is regarded as a high risk area for fires without us adding to it! All volunteers are asked to keep this in mind
when working there. In the event of a fire, volunteers are required to exit the building and muster by the
H.L. (D.) Harbour Launch (Diesel) 56140 -D 49 was the last of her type in service with the dockyard. The
origin of this type of boat reaches back to the 1850’s and the first of the dockyard steam craft. At that time,
they were known as Harbour Service Launches designated HSL, however, in 1942 there was confusion in the
designation due to the Royal Air Force High Speed Launches. Admiralty Fleet Order 1518 changed the
designation to H.L.(S) and H.L.(D) as they are known today.
D 49 was obtained by Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust in 1996 from her previous owners - MoD (N)
RMAS Portsmouth. Her intended use is for passenger transport and display. Since being under the
management of the PNBT she has undergone two refits the first in March 1996 and the latest completed in
August 2001 just prior to the International Festival of the Sea. During the Festival she was used to carry
guests around the harbour and the visiting ships. The launch is used by the Trust as a workboat for towing
and general services. She provides the overall trust management with an excellent venue to host guests
during such events as Cowes week.
Admiral Sir William O’Brien, DSC, KCB –It is sad to note that Admiral O’Brien’s obituary has just appeared
in The Times – he died on 19th Feb aged 99. In April 2013 a “William O’Brien” kindly made a donation to
199 through the Just Giving website. He said on the web site: “I may well be the oldest surviving Picket
Boat Midshipman (Revenge & Valiant 1935-36). This is in memory of Surgeon Lt. Cdr. Roger Doherty.”
Some detective work by Andrew Berry and Ivan Steele discovered the identity of the donor. His address
was tracked down and Ivan wrote to him. The admiral was kind enough to respond – his letter was printed
in the April 2014 edition. A copy of this letter and his lengthy obituary is available on request to the editor.
Born in 1916 and educated at the Royal Naval College Dartmouth, Admiral O'Brien was commissioned into
the Royal Navy in 1930. He served in World War II during which he took part in the naval escort of the
fateful PQ-17 convoy. In the early 1960s he served as Director of Naval Plans at the Ministry of
Defence under Lord Louis Mountbatten. He was then appointed Naval Secretary in 1964. He was appointed
Flag Officer Aircraft Carriers in 1966, Commander-in-Chief, Far East Fleet in 1967 and Commander-in-Chief
of the Western Fleet in 1970. He retired in 1971. In retirement he became Chairman of the King George's
Fund for Sailors. In 1975 he was Chairman of the Royal Navy Club of 1765 & 1785 (United 1889). He
became Chairman of the Kennet and Avon Canal and after its re-opening by HM Queen Elizabeth in 1990,
he retired from this post. He also held the posts of Rear-Admiral and then Vice-Admiral of the United
Roger Doherty was an active member of the 199 Group circa 2000-03 and also a member of the Council of
Friends of the then RN Museum. Peter Hollins noted that had he not succumbed to cancer, he would have
probably been elected chairman of the Council. Sadly, despite his medical qualifications, he was an
inveterate smoker. He was a superb raconteur with his Irish accent and a most popular speaker at the
group’s annual dinner.
An interesting sketch by Tom Bennett, a Boathouse 4 volunteer, of 199 - borrowed from Boathouse 4’s
Facebook site. The boathouse detail is amazing. https://www.facebook.com/Boathouse4/
Maritime Volunteer Service visit – Four members of the Gosport and Fareham MVS lead by Stuart
Harrison came over to Boathouse 4 on
Sat 20 Feb for an induction briefing with
a view to volunteering for Group 199.
They travelled from Fareham Creek to
the Boathouse 4 pontoon in their
Cheverton training boat (right). This
boat has history – it was the first boat
off the production line. MVS G&F also
have a RIB.
Also in Boathouse 4 that day was a
group of volunteers over from the
Classic Boat Museum at East Cowes.
Some may recall it previously located in
a hangar on the quay at Newport. Boathouse 4 had an Open Day for their whole workshop floor area and
offered tours around the boats being restored. Some of these may feature as a future article. Your editor
was able to meet up with the group and give them a short talk on 199. The museum manager asked to be
added to our newsletter distribution. http://www.classicboatmuseum.org/
Unsolicited letters from Friends of 199.
Wow. What a great boat you have. Well done to everybody. She became an art piece. A maritime art
masterpiece. I wish she continues her life under such glare and glory.
I also wish the same for Maid of Honor. I am sure when she is completed they will be very good couple.
Thanks so much and all the best to SP 199 team.
Adm. Cem Gurdeniz
Editor’s note – Admiral Gurdeniz is a retired Turkish naval officer involved in restoring the Maid of Honor for
future display at the Rahmi M. Koç Museum. She was featured in a newsletter article in July last year and is
a 1924, 55-foot motor pinnace from the Samuel White Shipyard, Cowes. http://www.hnsa.org/hnsaships/maid-of-honour-1905/ This reference adds some details but introduces a different name spelling and
Thanks Martin, (for the last newsletter),
You are your team are doing great stuff! Just had my first visit to Boathouse 4 - very impressive. I spotted a
Fast Motor Boat there from ARK ROYAL (the old one). Can I claim to have been her cox’n as a Sub
Lieutenant. I went rushing about Oslo harbour in about 1966. ...Great fun - even better fun if I could do the
same today!! How I loved boat handling at BRNC and thereafter. Hey Ho.
Editor’s note - Mike Critchley was until recently the owner of The Maritime Bookshop in Liskeard. He has
retired, sold up and moved back to his home town of Gosport. We might even tempt him along to 199 even
if she doesn’t “rush about” as well as an FMB? I even rushed about Tripoli harbour in 1963-64 and then
went aground as cox’n of C-in-C Meds’ green FMB that he carried on board HMS Surprise. His Flag
Lieutenant had directed me, contrary to my instructions and my polite protest, to an alternative landing.
The Admiral then very fairly invited “Flags” to jump overboard and push off!
Hello Martin, This is
again Bernd from
Germany. I made some
good progress on my
199 model. Actually I
am working on the
cabin. The photos you
sent are an invaluable
help in detailing. But
there is one question
left: on all photos I
have I could not find
out whether the door
of the cabin has a glass
window or not. To my
Close up from Bernd’s model
should have but I
cannot verify that. So I would like to ask you for a short advice.
Congratulations to the awards! The crew made an outstanding job in rebuilding the pinnace.
Editor’s note – another one of our international readers. We have been helping Bernd with details for his
model. We have a library of close up pictures of 199 fittings suitable for modellers.
Steam Pinnace model restoration – the widow
of the late Brian Freegard has very kindly
donated his fine model of Steam Pinnace 198
(the number used for 199 when she was first
acquired for restoration) to the National
Museum of the Royal Navy. It came with a box
of bits that also included its detailed model
steam plant. Ivan and your editor met up at the
museum for the presentation of the model to
Collections Officer Stephen Courtney along with
brothers Terry and Peter Brown, experienced members of Eastleigh and District Model Boat Club. After a
careful examination of the model and accompanying items, they have undertaken to restore the model to
working order. http://www.edmbc.net/
A note from Mike Waddleton - a former 199 volunteer who moved to the Isle of Wight
I regret to inform you that DLS Vere is no longer as she was taken out to the last cinder-including all the
bronze work by the fire in Samuel J Whites Estate in Cowes last week (see photos below and note in last
month’s newsletter). I was in the process of negotiating for the Dunkirk Little Ships Restoration Trust
(DLSRT) to take her over from her owner. She was watertight and had been re-ribbed and had all the
fixtures and fittings left which I only checked two weeks ago.
There was also another 1930’s steam boat, a river launch in
pristine condition taken out and you were I believe aware.
Fusil (an old steam pinnace houseboat lifted out of the
Chichester canal) eventually went for scrap.
Please also be aware that I am now, for my sins, a director
Above: Mike’s photo of the aftermath
Right: photo from the web of the fire in progress from The
Telegraph online. More info including some video at:
Kariat - Also destroyed in the fire was Kariat owned by John Power who kindly supported 199’s refit with a
generous donation. Peter Hollins writes: “Kariat was a beautifully restored 35ft yacht tender of 1897 which
had cost its restorer over £50 k. We had started the work at The Maritime Workshop but most of the job
was done by a Windermere boat builder. She was
then sold to an enthusiast who lived on Strangford
Lough before returning to the Solent area and the
stewardship of John Power. Her loss is a real
tragedy. Apart from the boiler, the machinery was
original, with its separate cylinder compound
engine by Lifu built in 1896. The boiler was a replica
built by McEwen in 1985 which John had recently
Details and full history at: http://www.steamboatassociation.org.uk/page-1117882
Book List - Part 70
Grasping Gallipoli P. Chasseaud & P. Doyle; Spellmount Publishers Ltd 264 pages;
ISBN-10: 1862272832 ISBN-13: 978-1862272835. The Gallipoli campaign was a storied
failure for the Allies in World War 1. The overall impression from most histories of the entire
war is that the Allied effort was inadequate. The Turks were fighting on their homeland, and
had much easier logistics. While the immediate tactical reality was that the Turks held the
high ground above the beaches. What this book attempts is to suggest that victory was still
possible. It goes over hitherto much neglected military intelligence available to the Allies.
Royal Flying Corps 1914-1918 by Peter G. Cooksley; The History Press 2014; 224 pages
ISBN-10: 0750960051 ISBN-13: 978-0750960052. During the First World War Britain’s
Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) fought alongside one
another in the greatest conflict mankind had ever experienced. This period was also one of
dramatic technological advances, in which both air arms made significant contributions to
the development of air interception and strategic bombing. The RFC and RNAS were the
precursors of arguably the finest, most efficient, and certainly the oldest, independent air
arm in the world – the Royal Air Force.
The Hunters and the Hunted: The Elimination of German Surface Warships Around
the World 1914-15 Bryan Perrett; Pen & Sword Military 2012; 256 pages; ISBN10: 184884638X ISBN-13: 978-1848846388. At the start of WWI, the Imperial German navy
had a large number of surface warships deployed around the world, posing a considerable
threat the British Merchant shipping. This book covers the major actions and includes the
escape of GOEBEN and BRESLAU to Turkey; the cruise of the EMDEN, sinking two
warships and 21 merchant ships before being cornered and sunk by HMAS Sydney off the
Cocos Islands; the sinking of the SCHANHORST & GNEISIENAU at the Battle of the
Falklands and much more.
VCs of the First World War-The Naval VCs Stephen Snelling; History Press 2013; 320
pages ISBN-10: 0752487337 ISBN-13: 978-0752487335. The Naval VCs is a complete
record of almost fifty men who won the Victoria Cross while serving in the Royal Navy
during the First World War. They include the conflict’s youngest and oldest winners in
operations ranging from the Atlantic to the coast of Africa and from the Straits of Otranto to
the rivers of Mesopotamia. These awards were won aboard all manner of fighting ships,
from disguised schooner to light cruiser, from motor launch to submarine and from river
steamer to battle cruiser. This book charts the lives and careers of the VC recipients and
presents graphic accounts of their award-winning actions based on original material, much of it from
The Battle of the Falklands, 1914, A Falklands Perspective Graham Pascoe; Peter
Pepper 2014; B00U61EQCG; Pascoe’s narrative begins with the placid background of
Stanley before the outbreak of war and a complacent New Year’s editorial in the
monthly Falkland Islands Magazine (FIM). Pascoe recalls the routine visit of
HMS Glasgow to Stanley early in 1912 – a round of matches – football and shooting –
concerts and services in the Cathedral. Glasgow was an extremely happy ship and, more
unusually, with a very temperate crew. Against this, Pascoe discovers an ominous article in
the FIM dated March 1914 and asking “…what of the Falklands should war break out?” As
indeed, five months later, it did.
The Unseen Lusitania Eric Sauder; History Press 015/ 160 pages;
ISBN9780752497051’ Lost to a German torpedo on 7 May 1915, Cunard's RMS
Lusitania captured the world's imagination when she entered service in 1907. Not only
was she the largest ship in the world, but she was also revolutionary in design as well as
being a record breaker. Lusitania is now sadly remembered for her tragic destruction,
sinking in eighteen minutes with the loss of around 1,200 souls. Through never-beforeseen material, historian Eric Sauder brings illustrations from Eric's extensive private collection, this
absorbing read will transport the reader back 100 years to a time when opulent RMS Lusitania to life once
again. Filled with vivid, unseen photographs and Ships of State were the only way to cross the Atlantic.
Lusitania: Triumph, Tragedy, and the End of the Edwardian Age Greg King & Penny
Wilson; St. Martin's Press 2015; 400 pages;ISBN-10: 1250052548 ISBN-13: 9781250052544. This is an excellent account of the voyage, the sinking and its aftermath and is a
well written and well researched book. It looks particularly at the passengers and their
experiences and, inevitably, by far the majority of the book is devoted to the first class
passengers (presumably because they were the ones for whom there exists the most
contemporary evidence). Also, however, the author links the death of the Lusitania to the end
of the Edwardian age – the end of the carefree existence enjoyed by the great and the good of
Europe and North America during the first decade of the twentieth century.
Wilful Murder Diana Preston; Doubleday 2015. 544 pages. ISBN-10: 0857522930
ISBN-13: 978-0857522931. On May 7th, 1915 a passenger ship crossing the Atlantic sank with
the loss of 1200 lives. On board were some world-famous figures, including multimillionaire
Alfred Vanderbilt. But this wasn't the Titanic and there was no iceberg.
The liner was the Lusitania and it was torpedoed by a German U-boat. Wilful Murder is the
hugely compelling story of the sinking of the Lusitania. The first book to look at the events in
their full historical context, it is also the first to place the human dimension at its heart.
Into The Danger Zone T. Fitch & M. Poirie; History Press 014; 432 Pages;
ISBN9780752497112. As the First World War loomed, the transatlantic passenger trade was
at its peak and, as the enormity of the conflict grew, many liners were conscripted into
military service. In an attempted counter-blockade of the UK, German U-boats began
sinking Allied merchant vessels, in some cases sparking international outrage. Eventually it
was the declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917 that drew the previously
neutral United States into the conflict.
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania Erik Larson; Doubleday 2015; 448
pages; ISBN-10: 0857521810 ISBN-13: 978-0857521811. On 1st May 1915, the luxury
ocean liner Lusitania sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool. Her passengers were
anxious. Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone and its submarines
were bringing terror to the Atlantic.
But the Lusitania’s captain, William Thomas Turner, had faith in the gentlemanly terms of
warfare that had, for a century, kept civilian ships safe from attack. He also knew that his
ship was the fastest then in service and could outrun any threat. Germany was, however,
intent on changing the rules, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was
happy to oblige
Man of War: Officer, Adventurer, Agent Duff Hart-Davis; Arrow 2013; Pages433p;
ISBN9780099568667. Captain Alan Hillgarth was just 15 years old when he found himself
aboard the HMS Bacchante as the First World War broke out. Within months he'd fought at
Gallipoli, bayoneted an attacking Turkish soldier, and been shot in the head and leg.
Note: Books listed to date 969 in 70 editions.