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Posted By Discussion Topic: Block Ships

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ABC123
Oct-22-2009 @ 8:18 PM                           Permalink
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There has recently been much discussion concerning old photographs with many fascinating examples, however I have never seen photographic evidence of so-called "block ships" - requisitioned boats & yachts that were strategically moored across Broads to prevent enemy seaplanes landing during the '39 - '45 war.

Does anybody know of the existance of any? - I would specifically be interested in any photographs of South Walsham Broad.

JennyMorgan
Oct-22-2009 @ 9:02 PM                           Permalink
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I guess that there was little of interest at the time for photographers in a bunch of moored boats, and probably film for amateurs was hard to come by. Most likely that the areas concerned were prohibited. I do know the man that retrieved my daughters sailing cruiser after the war, from the bottom of Hickling! Suspect that she needed a fair amount of work, not least a hole in her transom that needed filling. Sorry, no pictures.

As an afterthought, my father was one of the few civilians who actually skippered a Broads boat to Dunkirk, and he didn't take his camera! Either because there was no film, or because war was not seen as family album stuff. He also went on the D-Day landing as a seaborn member of the Observer-Corps, still no camera! Judging by the family albums he was a keen amateur, but only for family stuff.

Jenny Morgan,
A vane, a boat, but not a bird.

The Broads, not a National Park, thankfully.

This message was edited by JennyMorgan on Oct-22-09 @ 9:15 PM

JennyMorgan
Oct-22-2009 @ 9:24 PM                           Permalink
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The title of this one suggests that she might have been!
http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://www.salhousevillage.org.uk/DSC00574.JPG&imgrefurl=http://www.salhousevillage.org.uk/photo%2520gallery.htm&usg=__gP6rMsCkYjDP6lYSLo0OWUMkP6M=&h=336&w=448&sz=46&hl=en&start=305&sig2=kmcj74Ij4WsXE88f3UMtAA&tbnid=vQn_CnL5oOORGM:&tbnh=95&tbnw=127&prev=/images%3Fq%3DWartime%2BNorfolk%26gbv%3D2%26ndsp%3D20%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26sa%3DN%26start%3D300&ei=ML_gSqrhGMGa-AaQycGvCw

Just scroll down to about row eleven.

Jenny Morgan,
A vane, a boat, but not a bird.

The Broads, not a National Park, thankfully.

This message was edited by JennyMorgan on Oct-22-09 @ 9:28 PM

w-album
Oct-22-2009 @ 11:36 PM                           Permalink
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The answer is no but I wonder whether any WW2 aerial photos that I believe exist would show which broads were used and which weren't.  

The story I have heard was that the Herbert Woods cruisers were on Hickling but yachts on Wroxham but was that just H Woods or all.  

I would be very interested in seeing any - if they exist
Liz
ps would this have applied to other lakes - eg Lake District/Scottish Lochs?

ABC123
Oct-23-2009 @ 7:50 AM                           Permalink
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JM: thanks for the link - looks very similar to what happened with mine, in as much as when they were sinking I think they were dragged to the edges presumambly in an effort to maintain future navigation (if they were quick enough - in your case clearly they weren't).

I was just interested in seeing how they were laid out, since I had heard the stories so many times before...only at an age when I didn't see fit to ask questions (or more likely at the age now when I forget the answers!!).

Pilchard
Oct-23-2009 @ 10:42 AM                           Permalink
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I've heard of this before but frankly I do'nt believe it.The best/largest flying boat of its day was the US Catalina but even that could only carry a load of lb 4000 and took a huge distance to come to a stand still.
Imagine such a large craft coming to a stand still on a Broad.First thing to do would be to arrange a method of getting troops and equipment ashore while probably under fire.Getting troops out of the aircraft and into boats would have been hazerdous to say the least.                                       A squadron of such air craft would have been detected before it reached Norfolk and so could have received a warm welcome.
A UK invasion would have been safer using gliders,also gliders can carry large amounts of equipment including both wheeled and tracked vehicles.Also troops could hit the ground running without the need of rowing ashore.
Thinking of East Anglia with its huge areas of flat land I can see no reason why an invading force would wish to arrive on water.
The amount of troops that could arrive on water would not constitute a viable invasion force or even a substantial part of one...

johnm
Oct-23-2009 @ 11:20 AM                           Permalink
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Whether it was practical or not, such was the paranoia at the time that the remotest possibility was 'guarded' against. The coastal fringes of the country, particularly the flat bits, were regarded as particulary vulnerable to what would now be termed joint operations raids (ie boat/landing craft in and out, supported by amphibious aircraft/gliders for additional equipment/manpower support). Some very strange operations that would never get the go-ahead today were planned and some were even executed - the 'rescue' of Mussolini by paratroops or the Cockleshell Heroes raid for example.
In the case of the Broads, I suspect that the main concern was not so much airborne invasion as covert insertion of spies and raiding parties. As to whether the areas of water were large enough for flying boat operations, I believe that Hickling was used (or at least prepared for use) by our own magnificent men in their flying machines, so there was certainly enough space.


tounge-in-cheek
BTW it still doesn't matter how many times they go up-tiddly-up-up - they're still gits! Evil Grin
Tinhat

Edit to suggest a search of any history books about anti-invasion plans for relevant photos

John

BITTERN 65

This message was edited by johnm on Oct-23-09 @ 11:23 AM

ABC123
Oct-23-2009 @ 2:16 PM                           Permalink
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I agree, I suspect it was also something positive to do during the "phoney war" to allay the fears lurking the domestic state of mind. It should have been quite obvious after the 20th of May 1941 in Crete, that seaplanes were not needed; on a day when Germany dropped 6,000 paratroopers in a morning...

JennyMorgan
Oct-23-2009 @ 3:02 PM                           Permalink
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Believe it or not, but the Broads was seen as a target. Many small boats were turned into armed patrol boats and there is photographic evidence to support that. Oulton Broad was mined with anti personnel mines slung on wires across the Broad, and a number of these have been retrieved since the war, as I have witnessed. Catalinas have landed on both Oulton Broad and Fritton lake during flying displays since WWII and they certainly stopped well within the boundaries.

Jenny Morgan,
A vane, a boat, but not a bird.

The Broads, not a National Park, thankfully.

ABC123
Oct-23-2009 @ 3:10 PM                           Permalink
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quote:"......
mines slung on wires across the Broad, and a number of these have been retrieved since the war
......."


B**ger me - that sounds as though not all of them were! If I'd known that I wouldn't have capsized and ploughed the bottom with the my mast tip as much as I did when I was a kid!

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