Bismarck & Tirpitz


Humour & Propaganda
Funny Stories

What ship is Captained by a Shepard and crewed by his Flock?

...HMS Baa-aarham

On their return to Gibraltar from hunting Bismarck, the ships of Force H were loudly cheered by crowds lining the mole. In the midst of all of this one British army officer yelled, "Does it take all the bloody navy to sink Bismarck?" The reply came from Renown "No, only half. The other half is evacuating you bastards from Crete."
Near the end of Renown's career she was used to train the Chinese crew due to take over HMS Aurora which had been transferred to China. Most of the Renowns were awaiting their discharge papers. The delays caused some frustration and drinking:

One of the lads returned to the ship very drunk and, after being lined before the Officer of the Watch, was duly escorted forward to the sick bay to be examined. The Duty Medical Officer was sent for and concluded by asking, "Would you come to me in this state if you were on Civvy Street?" He got the well-deserved reply "No Sir, I'd send for you."

"Why are warships called "She""?

... "Because it costs so much to keep them in paint and powder."

- RADM Chester Nimitz

During WWI the US Navy made temporary use of women in uniform as clerks, typists, etc, the first time this had happened. They were quickly discharged at war's end. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, who was notoriously strait-laced, gave a farewell address to the last few. Amidst his other remarks was "We loved you while you were in uniform, and we will love you when you are out of it."

Imagine the rows of admirals and captains strangling in their seats, trying to keep a straight face...

During the closing days of W.W. II it had become obvious that the Royal Navy had been eclipsed by the United States Navy.

Admiral Sir James Somerville, who had been head of the British Naval Delegation to Washington, was on his way home when he received this signal from Fleet Admiral Ernest King USN, who was no lover of the RN, "How does it feel to belong to the world's second largest navy?"

To which Somerville replied, "How does it feel to still belong to the second best?"

HMS Victorious 1960s.

Petty officer on the phone to the ships regulating office (ship's police station);

"Regulating Office. Leading Patrolman Anderson Speaking."

"I don't know you. Are you the one who can read or the one who can write?"

HMS Yarmouth 1968;

Leading Patrolman to Leading Electrical Mechanic Vic Dale in the supper queue;

"Is it true that electricians like you are the chuck-outs of the electrical branch?"

"Oh yes. Just as people like you are the chuck-outs of the whole damn navy."

This must have hurt him because he never spoke to me ever again. Tact was never my strong point.

HMS Albion 1965:

An Officer put a young rating's life in danger through incompetence. The lad's Cheif-Petty Officer spoke to the officer in private;

"Sir, if I called you a .... (vulgar expression) you could put me in the rattle couldn't you?"

"Yes." Replies the officer.

"But if I 'thought' you were a .... (same vulgar expression), there wouldn't be anything you could do about it, would there sir)"

"No." Replies the officer turning red.

"Well then, I think you are a ....(vehement vulgar expression)! sir!"

This was amongst the "sailors tales" on the Force Z website:

What the crew of Repulse did whilst saluting the Rodney (which had an Admiral on board)

I must tell you of a tale that later became folklore, concerning a member of Rodney’s crew; as the alleged culprit was never named; these days I have to doubt the truth of the story. It was stated that the said person was discovered one morning on Flotta Island Scapa, by a farmer in a compromising situation with one of his sheep. I couldn’t say who’d first spread this rumour, but it was never to give her ship's company a minute’s peace and this time was going to be no different. As soon as we were ordered to salute; it started. Can you imagine some 1300 matelots saluting the Admiral, whilst at the same time bleating like a flock of lost sheep. The aftermath of this action was a reprimand for the whole ship's company. The skipper wasn’t at all impressed and gave us some stick over it for quite some afterwards. I still think nowadays that he must have found it funny once the dust had settled. This stigma never left the Rodney, but make no mistake there was no ship in the Navy that we had more respect for as a fighting unit. Their gunnery and efficiency were second to none, but I don’t think they ate much lamb onboard.

An allegedly true exchange that did the rounds a few years ago:

Sender: Attention large vessel position ......... course ........ You are on a collision course with me. Alter course to starboard immediately.

Reply: Negative. I will continue on my course and you must change your course

S: I say again, you must change your course.

R: Negative. I will not change my course.

S: I cannot change my course. You must change your course.

R: This is the 100.000 ton US aircraft carrier Enterprise. I will not change my course for you or anyone else.

S: This is a lighthouse. Your call.

During an exercise in the English Channel a young midshipman aboard a frigate was given the task of plotting the course and speed of an unknown sighting.

The midshipman proudly presented his captain with the course and speed of the Nab Tower, a huge structure sighted off the Isle of Wight. He even identified it as the frigate Lincoln and said also that she was turning onto a new course. He could tell this because the target was heeling.

When the Nab tower was positioned and sunk onto the seabed, one side of the base found an un-plotted rock giving the tower a 9 degree list.

During the same exercise a drogue was towed across the exercise area and our ship had the priviledge of firing at it.

Fifty live 4,5 inch AA shells fired from our twin mounting went howling off in the direction of the elusive target.

The only problem was that the elevating mechanism of the turret failed and whilst the turret was following the director correctly the guns were not elevating. The result was a barrage of shells fanning across the exercise area threatening to take out most of the fleet in one go, including the flagship.

From the book "Make a Signal" by Jack Broome:

Ship: "SOS SOS We are Sinking SOS SOS"

Reply: "Do not sink in the swept channel"

From the book "Make a Signal" by Jack Broome:

Submarine, part of escort to PQ17, to Escort Commander Broome: "In case of attack by heavy surface vessels I will attempt to stay on the surface"

Broome:"So will I"

Has anyone else seen the SNFL (pronounced Sniffle) codes?

Once upon a time, when I was a Midshipman on exchange with the Bundesmarine, I found a copy of the SNFL code book. Supposedly comprising the signals needed for the Standing Naval Force Atlantic, it was in fact a list of delightful, occasionally insulting, and usually appropriate signals. Samples include

"Please close the formation so that we may identify you" (to a wayward escort)

"Hoist emergency Bud" (Okay, it was in German, and "Bud" was 4%)

"Swords and medals on arrival"

"Jesus wept"

There was a special "SNFL" flag for flag hoists, while voice signals were prefaced by "Sniffle".

This was amongst the "sailors tales" on the Force Z website:

I had a great time in Durban; the strongest recollection I still hold is of an illicit run ashore, discipline was quite relaxed, therefore I was able to swing the lead to some extent and grab a quick pint. It was a relatively easy task to accomplish, all l did was pick up a big can of paint and walk across the upper deck with it held firmly in my arms. As any ex-matelot will tell you, acting in this way was always a guarantee of escaping from the watchful eyes of officers, as you looked busy.

I strolled across the deck and down the gangplank, I’d already been told that inside of a large building close to the quay was an unguarded doorway, which led straight into the rear entrance of a pub, in a couple of minutes l was at the door. Leaving my cargo inside the building, and venturing into the pub I realised my luck was certainly in, as the Landlord was scouser. He came across and bought me a drink, being understandably pleased to meet someone from his hometown. I’d been in there about 20 minutes or so when a group of Dutch merchant sailors came across, they never spoke, although one of them (the biggest) was continually glancing in my direction.

Eventually, they were alongside me, and the big guy, appeared to be a bit of a handful, as he was shadow boxing, whilst the other looked on. Suddenly he turned his attention towards me. I could tell he hadn’t done this to buy me a pint and sure enough, within seconds his right hand began probing in my direction. It was obvious he was giving an account to his mates of a previous bout; the only problem was he wanted to make me his stooge. Thankfully, I had my back against a large stone column, in an instant his right hand flashed across my face, I dropped to the floor, just before he made contact with my chin. This was followed by an almighty scream, as his fist connected with the column, I picked myself up and cleared off before he gathered himself, mind you I was in fits of laughter.

Returning to the building, I looked everywhere for my can of paint; I couldn’t find it, obviously some rotten beggar had stolen it. I couldn’t return empty handed so after a frantic search I found an empty drum, I threw it on my shoulder and strolled up the gangplank; not a word was said. I remember stowing it in an empty corner of the quarterdeck and going back to my mess. It was still there when we sailed a couple of days later.

Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany was on holiday in the village of Balestrand, visiting a friend, when World War I broke out. Norwegian authorities gave the Kaiser an ultimatum to leave Norwegian territory by 6 pm that very day. Not being a man to have his pleasures cut short, Kaiser Wilhelm took his jolly good time drinking his tea and savouring impressions of the surrounding landscape – before heading full steam out the fjord aboard his yacht, minutes before the deadline expired!
The drogue passed high over head. The director was tracking it, the guns were following correctly and the ships company of the British frigate waited expectantly for the twin 4,5 inch guns to open up.

The blast from the first rounds struck the spectators in the face, and an incessant Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang, made their ears ring as the guns hammered away. Dozens of shells went screeching up toward the target.

On the bridge, officers and lookouts with binoculars watched for the first blossoms of exploding shells.

"The first ones should be up there by now. They'll go off any minute." Said the gunnery officer optimistically and sure enough the first tell-tail

puffs of white revealed the exploding shells.

Time passed and the guns obediently ceased firing at the gunnery officer's order;

"Check fire! Check fire! Check! Check! Check!

"Hmm." Said the captain, scratching his chin thoughtfully and turning his gaze toward the nearby shore. "Didnt see many going off Guns. Sure everything is alright?"

A rather preoccupied looking Gunnery Officer acknowledged his captain's query and hurried off to the turret to investigate. A short while later Guns returned to the bridge and told his captain that he had located the trouble.

Apparently an inexperienced rating had forgotten to fuse the shells before placing them on the loading tray. This meant that they would not burst on reaching the correct height. The only thing which would initiate their fuses would be contact with a solid object.

"Oh well. Glad that is all sorted out then." Said the captain tolerantly but looking as though he had been stabbed in the kidneys.

Whilst this investigation was going on and several miles inland, a farmer watched aghast as a number of explosive shells tore into the fields and hills around his farm.

This tale was passed on to me, so it might be one of those good old apocryphal stories, but even so it isn't bad.

Anyone who has been to sea in an anti-submarine frigate wil tell you what a lot of fun they can be.

Our postwar frigates carried the Limbo, 12 inch triple barrelled depth-charge mortar, which could hurl a 450 pound charge a thousand yards. The mortar pointed forward and the heavy bombs were fired right over the mast to land far ahead of the ship.

The bombs were rammed into the muzzel and a charge was fitted into the breech. There were 2 types of charge, heavy and light. The lighter charge was used for practice firings with an aluminium bombs which weighed about fifty pounds and would float.

On at least one occasion a heavy charge was used with the light bomb which required about five days steaming to get the bomb back if it was ever seen again.

As intelligent readers you have probably guessed where this tale is leading and yes, I am reliably informed that a light charge was used with heavy bombs.

The crew of a British A/S frigate watched fascinated as the first of three ugly black bombs wheezed out of the barrel and wobbled into the air, just clearing the mast before falling into the sea just ahead of the ship. The first bomb was closely followed by the other two, all three exploding at fifty feet. The ship was lucky to reach port.

From Adm Joe Kelly: On leaving harbour band will assemble on quarterdeck to play a popular tune. “Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly” is not repeat not considered a popular tune.
Unknown, to destroyer Captain: Standing orders stipulate overalls to be worn by ratings for dirty work. In such category I do not include inspections by me.
When a destroyer depth charge crew is at battle stations, loaded and ready to go - they cannot fire until told to do so.

The way this was done was to sound a klaxon.

Now the lever to sound this klaxon was located on the bridge.

I heard a case of a destroyer crawling along, crew at battle stations and a bridge crew member accidentally knocking the lever.

The result being that the klaxon sounded at the stern of the boat and the crew launched the depth charges.

Now that doesnt seem like to much of a calamity.........except that when dropping depth charges, a destroyer needs to be sailing at a decent speed so as not to be to close to the charges when they detonate.

Since the said destroyer was only crawling along...........the hull recieved a spot of damage!!!!!

I wonder how the skipper explained that one?

A RCN (Royal Canadian Navy) destroyer that had been out doing a fair amount of sea duty before christmas, so the crew figured that they would get the Christmas in port.

At the time the port was run by a joint RN, USN command, they were at port that was starting to collect invasion craft.

So as the story goes the RCN destroyer is in port Christmas eve when they are planning there christmas party, then came the bad news, they were being sent back out on patrol. The story goes that the Canadians and there antics were not appreciated at this port and the commanders did not want there plans distrubed so safest way to about things was to order the Canadians back out to sea.

Problem had allready started, when the crew was getting ship ready for the party they were allowed to get into the rum and other beverages.

After some time there was only one officer who could still stay on the bridge, being good saliors they raised steam and got ready to ship out despite the fact that the crew was mostly drunk as sunks now!

Then to make things worse as they were casting off the lines, they were not slipped at the right time, the officer on the bridge had the engines running while still tied up.

This caused the destroyer to swing out to the side instead of heading off straight ahead and this was were the problem started. There were three LCI's (Landing Craft Infantry) tied to each other behind them.

The Destroyer actually swung out and hit each of the ships and crumpled there bows. With no crews, as they were all off to there own Christmas leaves, the LCI's all were sunk, or at least till they settled on the bottom by the dock.

From the book HMS Dreadnought 1906-1920 by John Wingate

Early one forenoon during the last of the summers before WWI, a signal for the Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Fleet arrived aboard HMS Dreadnought, who lay anchored in Weymouth Bay. Signed "Hardinge", the Under Secretary of State for Foreing Affairs, the signal warned the Admiral of the inminent arrival of the Emperor of Abyssinia and his Suite to inspect the flagship.

The Fleet had three hours in which to prepare for the royal visitors; the civic dignitories in Weymouth were immediately warned and the Fleet was dressed overall.

The royal train arrived on time at Weymouth station, where the Emperor of Abyssinia and his dark-skinned entourage were greeted by chering crowds. Protocol was rigidly observed and, after being welcomed by a senior naval officer, the party moved off along the red carpet to the waiting cars which transported the royal visitors to the picket boat waiting on the pier.

Aboard the Dreadnought, pride of the British Fleet, the Royal Marine Band crashed into a foreign national anthem as the Emperor clambered up the gangway to the quarterdeck where the Admiral and the Dreadnought's Captain waited in full dress to welcome the Emperor, his suite and the seedy English interpreter in morning dress who accompanied the party.

After inspecting the Royal Marine Guard of Honour, the Captain took the Emperor round the ship. After a thorough inspection, including witnessing the training of the turrets and the elevation and depression of the 12-inch guns, the Emperor was ushered ashored again with all due pomp and ceremony.

The royal train departed back to London and the Emperor and his Suite were never seen again.

This hoax, carried out by a group of Cambridge students led by an undergraduate named Horace Cole, caused much mirth throughout the nation, but sadly discomfited the Navy.

Cartoon Propagander
British Ministry of Information poster. German propagander accusing Churchill of sinking Athenia.
Arms for Britain. Food shortages rationing.
From Capt. J.Broome's revised instruction manual. Depicts the sinking of the American destroyer Reuben James.
Taken from German magazine "Simplicissimus" showing Britains isolation and the threat from U-Boats and the Luftwaffe. Depicts German mining activities.
Cartoon depicting CAM ship. British Ministry of information poster.
How the U-Boats affected U.S. food supply. The Dove Appears this American cartoon summed up the sceptical reception of Hitlers peace offensive on 6th Oct. 1939.
American shipbuilding winning the U-Boat War. Roosevelt accused of dragging U.S. closer to war.
From Capt. J.Broome's revised instruction manual.
From Capt. J.Broome's revised instruction manual.
From Capt. J. Broome's revised instruction manual.
Woolton pie.
Alfonso Arenas, Vic Dale, Don Eyres, Gary, Jerry, Julian Machin, Grant Michaud, Monty Mills
A big thank you to you all