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Glasgow Boards/Forums _ At War _ Shipyards At War

Posted by: Rab 15th Dec 2013, 09:16pm

Being born in Glasgow but raised in Renfrew from the age of 5, I have always been fascinated by the shipyards of the Clyde, particularly those in the vicinity of where I lived in Renfrew. I lived close to the river and the 3 yards whose racket I lived with every day were Lobnitz &Co, Simons&Co, and MacLeans. I have been studying the history of Lobnitz shipping particularly for some years and found many interesting stories of their ships and others that were built and launched from these small but important shipyards. I thought these wee stories might interest some - if not, I could talk about farthings instead!

For example!
In the early hours of June 6th 1944, or as we all know it, 'D-Day' commenced with the Allied Forces landing in France.
The Naval fleet was the greatest armada in history and comprised about 5,000 vessels of all kinds from battleships to landing-craft. This massive force formed up along the English Channel from various bases along the coast and were shepherded by the Royal Navy towards the beaches of Normanday. It may come as a surprise to you, that the small ship assigned to lead this great naval force was a minesweeper, HMS PELORUS, which was built by Lobnitz & Co in Renfrew and launched on 19th June 1943.
PELORUS was an Algerine Class minesweeper, but spent most of her time on Atlantic convoy duties. On D-Day, HMS PELORUS was commanded by Commodore George Nelson DSC RN. As the ships headed out towards Normandy from Portsmouth, the Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Ramsey flashed the message 'Good luck. Sweep on relentlessly' to the line of minesweepers led by PELORUS, . HMS PELORUS replied 'Aye Aye sir,with NELSON in the lead'.
Pelorus led the invasion fleet and arrived first, on time, and in exactly the right place.
Great service by the Royal Navy in a Clyde-built ship and everyone in Lobnitz was very proud that day as the above story was printed in all the national papers.

After later service with many years in the South African Navy, she was scuttled on 12 November 1994 to make an artificial reef for leisure diving at Miller's Point near Simonstown, South Africa, another name which has strong links to the Royal Navy. So she lives on, still giving good service.


Posted by: dugald 16th Dec 2013, 01:20am

The noise of the yards with which you were brought up in Renfrew Rab, was not unlike the sound of my Govan. The brief interesting history of the Lobnitz-built HMS Pelorus which you told us about, is not a warship with which I was familiar. Oh yes, I'm familiar with the Lobnitz yard however, although I couldn't name another boat built there.

You know, when one grows up in a small part of a big city like you in Renfrew and me in Govan, one can very easily acquire the idea that the skyline around the area where one lives is permanent. I'm thinking here of living beside say, Fairfields. From the top deck of a tram car one could see big ships right into the basin of this big yard and cease to be awed by their size.

I'm thinking here in particular of the big battleship that 'grew up' in Govan for a long time along with me. I mentioned this ship in one of my earlier posts dealing with the Queen Mary II. She started out as the "Beatty" named after Admiral Beatty, but finished up as the "Howe"named after Admiral Howe. I saw her leave the Fairfield basin one Sunday in 1942. I was one among hundreds of onlookers lining the Clyde on the waste ground between Fairfields and Stephen's yards to view this secret wartime departure of the giant.

As she crawled past the cheering hundreds of people her size, the immense altitude of her superstructure, the gigantic guns of the main armament, just seemed so unreal. She towered away above the height of the Linthouse Buildings. She could hardly squeeze along the Clyde... a fearsome looking weapon if ever I saw one. She was off on her way to war and did eventually see service right through to the end.

In the early post war years there was a whole fleet of major battleships all of the same class as the Howe anchored in Loch Striven. I saw these ships many times, but didn't of course know which had originated in Govan. All I can say for sure is that the Prince of Wales wasn't there, having met her demise at the hands of the Japanese off the coast of Malaysia in1941.

Heady time for naval construction Rab, alas.....

Posted by: Betsy2009 16th Dec 2013, 06:38am

Rab, as you have such knowledge of shipbuilding, I wonder if you know anything about Clyde workers being sent to the US? My grandfather was in New York, The Bronx, for a while and it was something to do with ships during the war. Any ideas? I've often wondered but there's no-one around that I can ask.

Posted by: Rab 16th Dec 2013, 10:10pm

QUOTE (Betsy2009 @ 16th Dec 2013, 06:55am) *
Rab, as you have such knowledge of shipbuilding, I wonder if you know anything about Clyde workers being sent to the US? My grandfather was in New York, The Bronx, for a while and it was something to do with ships during the war. Any ideas? I've often wondered but there's no-one around that I can ask.

I have never heard of any such programme Betsy. However, it is always possible that some exchange of workers may have taken place. The Americans pioneered welded ships and the Liberty Ships were produced in enormous numbers to ferry supplies across the Atlantic. It may be that some of our men, like your Grandfather, went over to study this method of shipbuilding but I know of nothing specific.

Posted by: Rab 16th Dec 2013, 10:16pm

Another bit of Lobnitz wartime ingenuity was the design and construction of the pierheads of the giant Mulberry Harbour at Omaha Beach after D-Day. Winston Churchill ordered that a method had to be found to construct a temporary harbour to unload the neccessary supplies to feed the invasion of Europe. Lobnitz&Co. got the contract! Unfortunately, this mammoth undertaking which took a year to plan and 22,000 men to build lasted only 3 days after a storm wrecked it subsequent to D-Day! However, it was soon repaired and went on to play a major part in the invasion.

Posted by: dugald 16th Dec 2013, 10:42pm

Rab, there were many British shipyard workers sent to do specific jobs over in the States, and many were from Govan. After the sinking of the Bismark the 16" gun Rodney had fired her heavy guns so much that the vibrations had badly damaged herself with loose plates and the likes (probably more than it did the Bismark... [now just 'probably'] ).

Another example was when the Queen Mary had cut a Royal Navy anti-aircraft ship in two in the Irish Sea (??). The QM's bow, as you can imagine, was badly damaged and she had to go into Boston in the States for repairs. British personnel were involved in this repair but I'd guess only as advisors.

Regarding your interesting comments about the giant Mulberry Harbour, I had a good friend in Govan who worked at Fairfiels as a carpenter, and he was sent down to England to work on the construction of the Mulberry Harbour close to D-Day. Might mention too, that he was taken out of Fairfields and sent down to London at the height of the Blitz to repair houses--- said he spent a whole month doing nothing but putting doors on houses. He was working on the Beatty at the time he was sent down to London.... hmmmmm, makes you wonder.

Posted by: Betsy2009 16th Dec 2013, 10:53pm

Thank you Rab and Dugald.
My grandfather was a riveter so that sounds right.

Posted by: wellfield 17th Dec 2013, 04:14am

........Regarding Brits working in US and Canadian shipyards...during my time working in shipyards in Canada (Vancouver apprenticeship) and the US (50 years in shipbuilding) I'd say at least 20% of the employees were Brits in the 60's 70's and partial 80's but nowadays it would be hard to even find a shipyard over here,the Brits I mention all came here for better wages and working conditions,many of them were or became supervisors.......my brother (Tennscot) owned his own shipyard in Los Angeles (with mostly British employees) and I had a ship repair business,dockside and ocean going between ports........,built tugs/barges and erected container cranes also in Los Angeles harbor,retired 5 years ago.....I loved the stories of the Clyde steamers and remember most of them as a Lad going doon-the-water in the 50's...had the pleasure recently of a trip aboard the 'Waverley' ...I tend to go with (Rab) the story of a small amount of Brits coming over here to learn the technique of welded hulls,reason being,Americans were sent to Japan in the 70' and 80's to learn their new cheaper and faster ways to build ships but it was too late,the US shipyards were doomed when government subsidies halted.....and regarding the well being of our beloved *Queen Mary*(as mentioned by Dugald) I see it every day from where I live in Long Beach.California....I also mentioned before that my wife and I were married aboard the *Queen Mary*...Thanks Rab and others for their Clyde built history stories

Posted by: Jupiter 17th Dec 2013, 04:43am

My late aunt worked in the shipyards during the war and went on to have a good life with her own business.Best of health till her mid 70 when she developed a cough.Sadly she passed away and the cause given was asbestos related. I was given advice by kind people from a group formed for this very thing.I thought of her working away in the yards inhaling poison.Im sure here were/are many similar instances.

Posted by: Jupiter 17th Dec 2013, 06:58am

My late aunt worked in the shipyards during the war and went on to have a good life with her own business.Best of health till her mid 70 when she developed a cough.Sadly she passed away and the cause given was asbestos related. I was given advice by kind people from a group formed for this very thing.I thought of her working away in the yards inhaling poison.Im sure here were/are many similar instances.

Posted by: TeeHeeHee 17th Dec 2013, 08:01am

Hi Dugald, just a wee blast from the past for you wink.gif

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYaWC7-BTNk&hd=1

Posted by: dugald 17th Dec 2013, 11:27am

Thank you Thh! A blast from the past indeed. I even recognised the voice of the narrator. Geez, when one sees all these gigantic capital ships and the money they must have cost... wow. what a waste! Even when the war was winding down John Brown's was still working on Britain's last battleship, the Vanguard--- a beautiful looking ship, but already an anachronism.

Posted by: dugald 17th Dec 2013, 11:40am

Jupitor, your late aunt was just one of many who suffered as she did. Working on the Clyde back in these days caused many deaths from the asbestos that'd had widespread use for insulation. The person I mentioned earlier from Fairfields who worked on Mullbary died from the same lung disease; however, he did live till he was 84. There were four young fellows in my cycling club in Govan who served their apprenticeships together as joiners in Fairfields; all four of them died very young from the same lung disease... brutal. By the way they were not installing asbestos, they were working on the refurbishment of the troopship Empress of Scotland just after the war, and were removing the asbestos.

Posted by: dugald 17th Dec 2013, 12:11pm

Very interesting indeed, Wellfield. If there is one other way I'd dearly have liked to have got married, that would have been on the Queen Mary, and I mean the one on which you got married,not the wee one on the Clyde (although come to think of it, that wouldn't have been bad either). I spent my honeymoon in New York city and while there we visited the Queen Mary which happened to be docked while we were there. The closest I ever got to her was when I managed to stretch out and touch her rusting hull. I'd seen her so often at the Tail o' the Bank, but never this close. The only Cunard thing I came away with was a colour print of the Queen Elizabeth, which has hung in my house ever since.(Oh, I've got one of the "Mary" too, but it lacks the significance of New York).

I don't think British shipyard workers you mention are the ones to which Betsy was referring. The ones you mention were really just emigrants to the States from the UK., whereas she was talking about those sent over from British yards for specific reasons and I'd guess, with respect to British ships. The same thing happened in the British aircraft industry. Got the offer of a job myself in California, but I'd have had to first join their Air Force for four years, and that was not on!

I recall the latter days of the American civilian shipyard industry. I think it was the super liner "United States", (and she really was super!) that made its maiden voyage just about the same time the British Comet jet airliner made its first scheduled jet-aircraft flight across the Atlantic. The Comet signaled the end of the transatlantic luxury liner competition, and also the end of the American civilian shipyard industry. Now their shipbuilding is all military and I'd guess, about as big as its ever been.

Posted by: Rab 17th Dec 2013, 02:22pm

Only three warships of the Royal Navy in WW1 still survive as preserved vessels. If you visit London, you may see a very smart ship moored alongside The Embankment. This is HMS PRESIDENT.



She was built by Lobnitz & Co. of Renfrew in 1918 and launched as HMS SAXIFRAGE, a Flower-Class 'Q-ship'. Q-ships, also known as Q-boats, decoy vessels, special service ships, or mystery ships, were heavily armed merchant ships with concealed weaponry, designed to lure submarines into making surface attacks. This gave Q-ships the chance to open fire and sink them. The basic ethos of every Q-ship was to be a wolf in sheep's clothing.
In 1922 she was moored permanently on the Thames at Blackfriars, and became a Royal Naval Reserve Drill ship for sixty-five years. Her new name, HMS President, was inherited from the first London naval reserve Drill ship: the "Old President" of 1832-1903, whose name celebrated the capture of both the French frigate Président in 1806, and the American 'super-frigate' USS President in 1815. HMS President (1918) remained in Royal Navy service for a total of seventy years, from 1918-88. She was the last Royal Navy warship to wear Victorian battleship livery : black hull, white superstructure and RN buff yellow funnel and masts.
Since 1988 she has had various private owners and is presently a museum.

Posted by: Rab 17th Dec 2013, 02:33pm

QUOTE (dugald @ 17th Dec 2013, 11:57am) *
Jupitor, your late aunt was just one of many who suffered as she did. Working on the Clyde back in these days caused many deaths from the asbestos that'd had widespread use for insulation. The person I mentioned earlier from Fairfields who worked on Mullbary died from the same lung disease; however, he did live till he was 84. There were four young fellows in my cycling club in Govan who served their apprenticeships together as joiners in Fairfields; all four of them died very young from the same lung disease... brutal. By the way they were not installing asbestos, they were working on the refurbishment of the troopship Empress of Scotland just after the war, and were removing the asbestos.


Simons-Lobnitz as a company was dissolved in the early 60s but cases of asbestos-related diseases ie. mesothelioma etc. were being pursued right into the late 80s by former workers of the company who had worked on mainly pipe-lagging with asbestos.

Posted by: TeeHeeHee 17th Dec 2013, 02:36pm

Hi Dugald, I can certainly sympathise with those poor Folks who seccumbed to that dreaded asbestos. A few years ago while working here in the area for a local agency, I was sent into Basel where I had the Task of removing a lot of steel pipes from a factory chimney stack with the use of a cutting torch. This area was in the process of having it's asbestos linings removed and was designated as the "Black" area. Those of us who worked within this Black area had to wear fully insulated rubber suits with breathing masks. We entered though a series of sealed Units where we stripped off to our undies and continued through to don our gear before passing into the black area; the procedure being reversed on exiting. I had someone Standing by to make sure that I hadn't, without noticing, accidently got a burn hole in my safety suit. Two hours in with 20 minutes out and repeated.
During my time in there I had the uncanny Feeling that this is how it must have looked in Chernobil after that accident back then; the asbestos particles permantly Floating ever so slowly down to the floor while the only Sound to be heard being one's own breathing through the mask was just about the spookiest experience I'd every known.
On top of that I was losing weight through sweating inside that rubber suit.
After two weeks I'd had enough and told the gaffer to get in touch with the ageny for a replacement for me.
"Is it the Money? I'll give you €5 an hour on top of what the agency are paying you if you come onto our firm"
"Make that €50 an hour on top Jimmy ... and you'll still Need a replacement next Monday".
Apart from the extreme weight loss - and I'm 2lb heavier than a balloon at the best of times - just being in that black area was a permanent reminder to me of all the people who ended up as physical wrecks as a result of asbestos.
No thanks! ... and that was a BIG no thanks!

Posted by: Rab 17th Dec 2013, 02:46pm

QUOTE (dugald @ 17th Dec 2013, 12:28pm) *
Very interesting indeed, Wellfield. If there is one other way I'd dearly have liked to have got married, that would have been on the Queen Mary, and I mean the one on which you got married,not the wee one on the Clyde (although come to think of it, that wouldn't have been bad either). I spent my honeymoon in New York city and while there we visited the Queen Mary which happened to be docked while we were there. The closest I ever got to her was when I managed to stretch out and touch her rusting hull. I'd seen her so often at the Tail o' the Bank, but never this close.


Dugald. The 24 lifeboats (to hold 3,600) of the old Queen Mary were built by Hugh MacLean and Sons, at their Govan and Renfrew yards.

** Some 20 years ago when I was still sailing, I ventured up the River Fal in Cornwall and stopped for lunch at a famous restaurant named Smugglers Cottage. This was a WW2 naval base for the American Navy build-up to the Normandy landings and was Gen. Eisenhowers HQ. The entire place is a museum to those days when the whole river was packed with thousands of ships waiting for the 'off'. I was sitting in the hot sunshine enjoying a real Cornish Pasty' at a table converted from an old lifeboat and -yes - it had a wee plate on the edge of the table which read 'Built by Hugh MacLean & Sons, Renfrew' which pleased me. yes.gif I found another MacLean-built boat in my old boatyard in Hayling Island in later years and I wondered how many there are worldwide slowly and inevitably rotting away.

Posted by: dugald 17th Dec 2013, 10:23pm

That's a proper horror story Thh! Ah widnae touch that factory chimney stack wi' a triple length barge pole, let alone an acetylene torch... no, not for a Campbeltown loch filled with Whisky, let alone an additional £50/hour. It must have been tough working while wearing all that protective clothing. Yes, I'm sure too, it would have had a touch of the Chernobil feeling about it, an' a wouldn't work there for a Campbeltown loch filled with Whisky either.

"2lb heavier than a balloon", wow! You must be a fit man young fellow: good diet, clean living, gute Leibesübung, all that goes with it... good for you. Now, I suppose there could be other reasons, but we won't go into that.

Yes Thh, a horror story, but not without something interesting to relate.

Posted by: Guvin Jimm 17th Dec 2013, 10:54pm

QUOTE (dugald @ 16th Dec 2013, 01:37am) *
The noise of the yards with which you were brought up in Renfrew Rab, was not unlike the sound of my Govan. The brief interesting history of the Lobnitz-built HMS Pelorus which you told us about, is not a warship with which I was familiar. Oh yes, I'm familiar with the Lobnitz yard however, although I couldn't name another boat built there.

You know, when one grows up in a small part of a big city like you in Renfrew and me in Govan, one can very easily acquire the idea that the skyline around the area where one lives is permanent. I'm thinking here of living beside say, Fairfields. From the top deck of a tram car one could see big ships right into the basin of this big yard and cease to be awed by their size.

I'm thinking here in particular of the big battleship that 'grew up' in Govan for a long time along with me. I mentioned this ship in one of my earlier posts dealing with the Queen Mary II. She started out as the "Beatty" named after Admiral Beatty, but finished up as the "Howe"named after Admiral Howe. I saw her leave the Fairfield basin one Sunday in 1942. I was one among hundreds of onlookers lining the Clyde on the waste ground between Fairfields and Stephen's yards to view this secret wartime departure of the giant.

As she crawled past the cheering hundreds of people her size, the immense altitude of her superstructure, the gigantic guns of the main armament, just seemed so unreal. She towered away above the height of the Linthouse Buildings. She could hardly squeeze along the Clyde... a fearsome looking weapon if ever I saw one. She was off on her way to war and did eventually see service right through to the end.

In the early post war years there was a whole fleet of major battleships all of the same class as the Howe anchored in Loch Striven. I saw these ships many times, but didn't of course know which had originated in Govan. All I can say for sure is that the Prince of Wales wasn't there, having met her demise at the hands of the Japanese off the coast of Malaysia in1941.

Heady time for naval construction Rab, alas.....

There were many warships built in Fairfields; I cant find a categorical list but there is a Fairfields cultural & historical site that may help. There was one particular warship that may have started of as a cruiser and ended up after 20 years on the stocks as a helcopter transport ship. It was kept there to retain a pool of skilled workers during a period before the modernisation of the British navy in the early 60s. It was refered to as the Govan rent book and althouht I remember it well, having worked there during its' lifetime I cant at this moment remember its' name. I do remember the H.M.S. Venus being brought back for refurbishment in the early 60s and I worked on the H.M.S. Fife the first all welded aluminum superstructure warship. My whole family, three generations worked in Fairfields and we lived 2mins. walk from the back door near the "Wattur"

Posted by: wellfield 18th Dec 2013, 12:39am

Your right on Dugald....the only shipbuilding here is related to the U.S. military....as in regard to you in the US Air Force,just think!!!!...all the gals you want! (triple the wages of the British soldiers,God bless them) the sun-tan...the postings... I myself was drafted into the US Army in the 60's, a 6 year obligation,I was proud to have served my new country (even though I still had my thick Springburn accent)....I liked your saying (touching the hull) ...every ship that is built requires a lot of thought /hard work/sweat/feelings/so the fact of actually touching the hull of the ship is a person paying respect to the workmanship of your fellow countrymen...I.myself feel proud of touching the hulls of *RMS Queen Mary*....*QE2* and the *Cutty Sark*......It's always a pleasure over here to dine aboard vessel converted into a floating restaurants top find out they were Clyde built!! (many of them) and all my deepest respect to all the craftsmen who worked on the river Clyde and their fellow countrymen who carried on the *CLYDE* tradition throughout the maritime world .....great thread!

Posted by: wellfield 18th Dec 2013, 12:53am

Just caught your post 'Rab'......I use to drive past the lifeboats you mentioned in your post,and to include the *Queen Mary* smokestacks daily on my way to work in the local shipyard which were stored on Pacific Ave in San Pedro,California and often wondered the stories behind these lifeboats,were they built in the yard or by an outside contractor,you've answered my question.

Posted by: Dave Grieve 18th Dec 2013, 07:56am

Interesting topic, another website I look into every day is clydesite.co.uk this give a list of every ship built on the Clyde with their histories as far as can be certain

Posted by: dugald 18th Dec 2013, 03:47pm

"I wondered how many there are worldwide slowly and inevitably rotting away. "

I'm sure they're scattered all over the world Rab, although I've never had the pleasure of coming across one myself. The closest I've come to a similar experience was coming off a troopship at Port Said and waiting to board a train and noticing that the train engine had been built at the St Rollox Works in Glasgow... but, must admit I'd much sooner have eaten Cornish past on an old Govan lifeboat made into a table.

I remember the yard of the MacLean Boat Builders in Govan. It wasn't actually on the banks of the Clyde like all the other yards. It was located quite some distance from the river in fact, right where the Vogue Cinema was eventually built. The outstanding memory I have of the yard is the demolishing of the very high chimney stack. I think every school kid in Govan watched this great spectacle, quite a sight. This would have been sometime before the war, not sure when.

I might mention I too would have enjoyed your experience venturing up the River Fal in Cornwall and stopping for lunch at Eisenhower's old HQ. The closest I ever came to that was crossing over from the Gare Loch to Coulport shortly after the Yankee Navy had evacuated their large naval base stretching up to the top of the hill. It was deserted; looked like they had just packed up and left.... that's probably exactly what they did!

Posted by: Rab 18th Dec 2013, 08:33pm

**I remember the yard of the MacLean Boat Builders in Govan. It wasn't actually on the banks of the Clyde like all the other yards. It was located quite some distance from the river in fact,

Renfrew was similar Dugald. Their small yard was adjacent to the Clyde Navigation Trust place right next to Renfrew Ferry.
MacLeans foundry though was a wee bit away at the bottom of Campbell Street, only yards from my tenement hame. As a wee boy I would stand at the huge sliding doors of the foundry, deafened by the enormous forge-hammers bashing lumps of white-hot metal into cranks or shafts of some kind, making clouds of sparks fly. The noise,smell and experience was frightening and awesome at the same time and us weans loved it. Pollution and health and safety didn't seem to mean much in those days some 70 years ago. By the way, MacLeans yard was unique on the Clyde as they used a 'patent-slip' where vessels were launched on a kind of giant trolley which was recovered after launch and used for another build. I believe this made a quicker turn-round between builds yes.gif

Posted by: Rab 18th Dec 2013, 08:46pm

All you 'Queen Mary' lovers out there might be interested to know that Lobnitz & Co of Renfrew launched what was probably the first 'Queen Mary' named ship on the Clyde.
SS QUEEN MARY
Yard No 775 was launched: Thursday, 30/10/1913 and was a bucket dredger, a Lobnitz speciality.
She was built to order for the Government of Bermuda. She was sold in 1919 to the Government of Nigeria. She was scrapped in 1955 so more than paid for her cost.

Posted by: Rab 18th Dec 2013, 09:13pm

Another famous ship built at Renfrew was by Simons & Co - HMS RECLAIM. Deep Diving Vessel. Launched in 1948, she took part in the discovery of the Submarine HMS AFFRAY one of the worst submarine disasters in peacetime with the loss of 75 lives.
Reclaim was originally intended to be a King Salvor Class Ocean Salvage Vessel named Salverdent. However she was completed as a deep diving and submarine rescue vessel. Reclaim was the Royal Navy's only vessel capable of deep diving. For the detection of wrecks she carried underwater television, sonar and echosounding equipment and she was also fitted for submarine rescue work.Upon completion Reclaim was employed as a diving tender attached to HMS Vernon, Portsmouth.
On June 14th 1951 Reclaim discovered the wreck of the submarine Affray, lost since April 17th, using her new underwater television equipment. Over a three month period Reclaim's divers investigated the site and on July 1st, Affray's schnorkel mast was recovered from the seabed. This had snapped at the base due to a structural weakness and provided important evidence regarding the cause of the tragedy. However further attempts to study the Affray and determine the cause of her loss were abandoned when a radioactive isotope being used to take X-ray photographs of the hull was dropped and diving declared unsafe.

Incidentally, one of Reclaim's divers working on the Affray was Lt.Cdr. Lionel 'Buster' Crabbe, who in 1956 disappeared in Portsmouth Harbour whilst examining the hull of a Russian cruiser making a courtesy visit. His headless, handless body was found 14 months later off Pilsey Island in Chichester Harbour.

Posted by: Rab 19th Dec 2013, 10:15pm

According to some statistics I found - during the entire course of WW2 all Clyde shipyards turned out 60 new vessels each week on average. Astounding!.

Posted by: Rab 19th Dec 2013, 10:19pm

According to some statistics I found - during the entire course of WW2, Clyde shipyards turned out 994 vessels for the Navy and 503 merchant vessels. 60 new vessels each week on average. Astounding!.

Posted by: DannyH 20th Dec 2013, 12:24am

Hello Dugald

I was interested to read your story regarding HMS Howe, and thought you might be interested to in the following wee story.

After the war, a Sea Cadet unit was formed, and named 'The Howe'. Their football team reached the UK national Sea Cadet finals and played at Wembley. I don't know how they fared.

Their 'coach' was Bobby Mee a former sailor on the Howe. He later ran an amateur team in the Scottish Amateur League. It was named the Howe. I played for them in the late 1950's. Bobby worked in G&J Weir of Cathcart, later to be known as Weir Pumps, as did I and most of the players in the team at that time.

Regards

Danny Harris

Posted by: dugald 21st Dec 2013, 12:03am

Interesting reminder of the Affray tragedy Rab. I recall it quite well, especially the loss of Lt.Cdr. Lionel 'Buster' Crabbe. Poor 'Buster' I think, got himself caught by the Soviet navy. Oh I suppose it could simply have been an accident, like having got caught up in the propellors of the Soviet ship he was likely having a look at... but I don't think so, and I don't think the rest of the world did either. We won't ever find out for sure until the "who cares" time arrives. It was a bit of an embarrassment for the British government too. If I remember correctly though, Kruschöv didn't dwell on it too much, when he could easily have gloated about it. Crabbe was one of our really topnotch undercover types and I'm sure very much missed. A tough business to be in.

Posted by: dugald 21st Dec 2013, 12:19am

An interesting wee story Danny. Although I don't recall the successes of the football teams, I recall quite clearly the period during the war, probably about 1942/43, when a number of Navy Cadet "ships", all named after King George V class battleships, started in the West of Scotland. There was also one called the "Anson" started in the school up beside the Westway Cinema at the top of Berryknowes Road. I tried to join it, but when I arrived at the school to join there was a queue a mile long waiting to join.... my pal, who had jumped the gun (some pal!), managed to get in and I finished up wearing a kilt in the 6th Btn HLI in Bridgton!

Quite an achievement for the postwar "Howe" to make the football final at Wembly. I never heard of the "Howe" in Scotland , but I'm sure there would have been one around Govan where she was built. Maybe they should have called the team the "Weir Pumps" team.
Interesting stuff Danny.

Posted by: dugald 21st Dec 2013, 12:33am

Yes Rab, it really is astounding when one realises just how many ships were built on the Clyde during the war: 994 for the Royal Navy and 503 for the Merchant Navy (nearly 1500 vessels !!!).Wow! It really is unbelievable!

I would think the R.N. total would include the construction of landing craft. During the days just prior to D-Day I think every piece of land on the banks of the Clyde around Glasgow that weren't already in use were used to build landing craft. Across the Clyde from Harland's in Govan for example, actually in Partick, the waste ground there started building barges and landing craft. I don't know where the got the men and women to build them. It seemed there were finished barges and landing craft sailing down the Clyde every day.

Posted by: Rab 21st Dec 2013, 07:04pm

Another Renfrew-built naval ship of interest was HMS SALVIA, a Flower Class Corvette escort ship. She was built at Wm. Simons yard and launched in 1941. On 24th December that year she was under the command of Lt Cdr John Miller DSO DSC RNR and escorting a convoy in the Med. near Tobruk. One of the convoy was a British ship the SS SHUNTIEN which was carrying 70 crew members, 18 gunners and 850-1100 prisoners of war. At around 1900hrs the Shuntien was torpedoed by U559 and quickly sank. HMS Salvia at great risk, stopped to rescue survivors but was then torpedoed by U568, soon sinking with the loss of all her officers and crew and those rescued from the Shuntien. Nothing was ever seen again of the Shuntien or Salvia.
This disaster has echoes of the Arandora Star in similar circumstances.

An interesting footnote to this sad loss was that the U559 was captured by the Royal Navy later the following year in the Atlantic and whilst being searched, an Enigma coding device was found, the first to come into British hands. This enabled British code-breakers to gather intelligence which led to the destruction of many 'wolf-pack' U-boats over the later war years, thereby saving the lives of many convoy personnel.

May 27, 1942-The U568 (mentioned above) came under depth charge attack from British destroyers Hero, Hurworth, Eridge after being attacked unsuccessfully by British aircraft.
May 28, 1942-The U568 is sunk after 16 hours of depth charge attacks, all 47 crew survived.

Posted by: Rab 21st Dec 2013, 07:19pm

The tug 'WILLIAM C. DALDY' was built in 1935 by Lobnitz & Co in Renfrew for the Aukland Harbour Board in New Zealand. It took 12 weeks to steam to her home port from Renfrew in 1936. The WCD is still afloat as a preserved pleasure craft and is a fitting memorial to Lobnitz-built craft.
She berthed HMS Achilles on its return to Aukland after taking part in the battle of the River Plate and the end of the Graf Spee.
There are some excellent photos in this link showing her on the Lobnitz ways during and after her construction which may be of interest to some. (Try and ignore the newspaper report of her 'arriving in Aukland from England!)

http://daldy.com/category/history/construction/

Posted by: Rab 21st Dec 2013, 07:46pm

This website is my favourite in showing Clyde shipyards throughout their history and the photos are outstanding in quality. Dugald will, I am sure, enjoy the views of his old Govan.

http://www.glasgowhistory.com/sailing-down-the-clyde-%E2%80%9Cdoon-the-watter%E2%80%9D.html

Posted by: DannyH 21st Dec 2013, 11:59pm

QUOTE (dugald @ 21st Dec 2013, 12:36am) *
An interesting wee story Danny. Although I don't recall the successes of the football teams, I recall quite clearly the period during the war, probably about 1942/43, when a number of Navy Cadet "ships", all named after King George V class battleships, started in the West of Scotland. There was also one called the "Anson" started in the school up beside the Westway Cinema at the top of Berryknowes Road. I tried to join it, but when I arrived at the school to join there was a queue a mile long waiting to join.... my pal, who had jumped the gun (some pal!), managed to get in and I finished up wearing a kilt in the 6th Btn HLI in Bridgton!

Quite an achievement for the postwar "Howe" to make the football final at Wembly. I never heard of the "Howe" in Scotland , but I'm sure there would have been one around Govan where she was built. Maybe they should have called the team the "Weir Pumps" team.
Interesting stuff Danny.


Hello again Dugald

Thank you for the reply. This is completely off the topic, but they couldn't name the team "Weir Pumps", for two reasons. Weir Pumps didn't exist in those days. The company was still known as G&J Weir. The second reason is that Weir's football team played in the 1st Division of the Scottish Amateur League. They won the Scottish Amateur Cup around about 1953/54 at Hampden Park.

Best regards to All

Danny Harris

Posted by: dugald 22nd Dec 2013, 02:04pm

http://www.glasgowhistory.com/sailing-down...r%E2%80%9D.html

Rab, I watched your 'Glasgow History site--- in a word, Fantastic! Some great pictures there, most of which I readily identified. The only other thing I want to say about it, is that it's one heck of a user of time: once I started on it I couldn't stop. Mind you, there are a lot worse ways to spend a Saturday evening, great entertainment Rab!

Posted by: Billy Boil 23rd Dec 2013, 09:44am

QUOTE (Rab @ 17th Dec 2013, 02:50pm) *
Simons-Lobnitz as a company was dissolved in the early 60s but cases of asbestos-related diseases ie. mesothelioma etc. were being pursued right into the late 80s by former workers of the company who had worked on mainly pipe-lagging with asbestos.

My auntie Agnes worked there right up to closing down. She died of a malignant cancer but she also smoked heavilly. She was a French polisher and there were issues of the harmfull effects of spraying polish. Workers health was never a concern in the yards. When a workmate of ours died in the joiners shop in Fairfield from infected rats piss (in his billy can) it was ruled misadventure and somehow there was no blame attached to the filthy conditions that were allowed to exist. To remedy the situation they had a labourer hose down the area and made me "whitewash" the rotten woodwork.

Posted by: wellfield 26th Dec 2013, 06:19am

Great site Rab!!!!!!!