World Ship Society - NAVAL AFFAIRS - Small Craft Group
World Ship Society – Small Craft Group Publications Latest Volumes by Philip Simons
The Houseboats of Sussex, Hampshire and Dorset After the runaway success of “Retired on the River” documenting the houseboats of Shoreham, this is a totally new publication which extends the idea to include all the many houseboat sites of Sussex, Hampshire and Dorset, most long gone. The exercise originally was to research all the ex military vessels in use as houseboats but this changed to all vessels in use as houseboats at the various sites in the three counties. This book, in the usual style of the small craft group publications, is a unique record of a hitherto un-recorded period in the nautical history of the South of England. The book is192 pages, profusely illustrated, and costs Pounds Sterling UK £24, Europe £26, Rest of World £28 including postage.
Retired on the River – The Houseboats of Shoreham (Fourth Edition) This publication has been a great success over three editions and this new fourth edition brings the moorings up to date with the new replacements that have arrived since the third revision. All the current vessels on the Riverbank have been re-photographed and further information on the earlier boats, some long departed has been added to the book. The book is now 116 pages, profusely illustrated, and costs Pounds Sterling £12, Europe £13, Rest of World £15 including postage
HM Customs & Excise Launches – Class Directory (Third Edition) This third edition of HM Customs & Excise Cutters and Launches is a reprint of the earlier book but with the edition of a twelve page addendum including a detailed list of steam launches, updates on the survivors positions, and details of a launch that was missed from the earlier editions. The book is now 116 pages and profusely illustrated with both diagrams and photographs, and costs Pounds Sterling £12, Europe £13, Rest of World £15 including postage
Reinforced Concrete Barges of World War II – A Working Paper (Second Edition) This working paper has now had 22 extra pages added to it, with many more photographs, readers input and updates and a new previously unknown list documenting 300 dry-cargo lighters and 200 tank lighters.
The book is now 88 pages and again profusely illustrated, and costs Pounds Sterling £10, Europe £11, Rest of World £12 including postage
Please note that all other publications by The Small Craft Group are still available including the RAF Marine Craft Class Directories Volumes 1 – 6 and Royal Navy Landing Craft Volume 1 all by Terry Holtham. Also Light Vessels of the United Kingdom and Ireland 1820 – 2006 by Philip Simons (Prices on application)
HISTORY AND WORK OF THE S.C.G
The Small Craft Group was created back in 1994, when it became apparent that military small craft enthusiasts were unaware of the histories and technical data of craft within their field of research. After long and time consuming discussions over the telephone and lengthy exchanges of correspondence, the six founder members, Terry & Tony Holtham, Geoffrey Hudson, Phil Simons, Mike Jennings and Dave Sowdon, decided to co-ordinate their efforts of research to help each other, and formed the Small Craft Group (SCG). Each founder member had certain amounts of unique information that was needed by other members. This was eagerly passed on by means of round robin letters and phone calls, often with startling results for each of the founder members. You can also imagine it threw up a lot of contentious information for each one of them, mainly because the sources of the information were unique, and that it was mostly obtained from official military sources. Therefore due to the impeccable source verification any doubts were soon discarded and progress was then easily maintained. This quickly led to class lists being completed, but some included vessels that were never completed, some vessels only ordered or that were completed commercially. Some vessels of a class were discovered to have been built for all of the three armed forces and others that had been just transferred. Therefore class and type lists became longer and fates needed researching. However it soon became obvious we all had more to offer each other than was originally envisaged by any member. No one had any other ambition except that of ensuring their own research became more complete than they had previously thought.
Once information had been obtained, it led to the sources of information being further investigated by others in order to challenge the outstanding disputed information and to check whether other classes of craft were still hidden in archives and were, for example, only in the projected stages of construction. This also led to other researchers joining the Group and other contacts were made who were willing to support the Group’s Aims. Such researchers were the late Dick Dennison, Roy Wilson, and George Ransome. Photographers were approached not only to help with the supplying of previously taken photographs, but also to take new subjects. Nick hall, James Goss and Leo Van Ginderen helped immensely in this early stage of the SCG. All the efforts of the Group took time to put together, none of us then had access to elaborate computers, which would later do all the editing that was required to produce the accurate reports. These reports soon became more like the articles to be found in other military nautical magazines. Thankfully they were supported by photographs either submitted by members and/or from famous collections from around the world.
These articles included information from our visits to ports, marinas, estuaries and boat yards, and notes from members locating craft of all shapes and sizes, some of which previously they would have walked by. As a consequence of the introduction of Trip Reports, as they became known, more sighting reports came in and more craft were listed as in need of investigation by our Group of enthusiasts and researchers.
Thus the Trip Reports formed the centre piece of our first journal, - a report on the craft located in and around Bristol Docks. At that time membership was only really offered to new members who were willing to contribute to the journal or were known experts within certain fields of the SCG research. Out on our visits around the UK and abroad, we often came across very interested owners of craft associated with our research. A mutual interest was quickly established with the owners to ensure as much information could be gleaned from them regarding the craft’s identity and its history that was known to them. In return SCG members would trace the service history of the craft and provide the owner in return a Boat Report. Obtaining photographs from the owner(s) was essential. These photographs in turn provided our experts photographic evidence to check on and to compare with their own previous notes on the vessel or craft type. These Boat Reports were then included into the newly produced journal to highlight the Trip Reports. This was especially the case when a new find, called a Survivor, was discovered. You cannot imagine the faces of some owners when they were told the origins of the craft they owned.
The Group was starting to take off, at least forty had joined the cause, and keeping track of them and their finances became a nightmare for the Secretary. It was time then to have our own bank account. The Secretary, Tony Holtham, also assumed the role of Treasurer as co-founder member Terry was away at sea for longer periods. The bank however insisted we had a Constitution, Aims, appointed and elected officers and other such requirements needed of a Society. This led to the Aims being established, which are also covered on the website. A gift of £200 was given to the Small Craft Group from the then Sub Naval Group of the WSS to enable the treasurer the funding to cover the cost of printing the journal. They also funded for two display boards that Tony Holtham has subsequently taken on road shows around the south coast to nautical events promoting the WSS, Warships and obviously the Small Craft Group.
Soon the Group rose to 70 active members, although there were about the same number of interested members who only helped with our research but did not wish to purchase the journal. Some members have exhausted their information and input and have since lapsed; others already mentioned have passed the bar. Like the WSS, the SCG membership mainly consists of senior citizens, as they have served on or with some the craft covered by the Group.
Over the years the journal was printed by the cheapest means by a number of printers in and around Plymouth. At one stage the journal consisted of 60 pages. Unfortunately the production of that amount of research was not sustainable by the Editor, Terry Holtham or his sub-editors, Mike Jennings and Tony Holtham. Additionally Mike had to go abroad and both Tony and Terry were still active members of the armed forces. But it did show to the members of the Group the plethora of information that was out there un-sapped and available for use by our readership.
Phil Simons, over the years, had made lists of Survivors. These survivors were vessels of the three armed forces which were still being utilised as houseboats, pleasure craft, workboats, commercial craft, and all other un-recognisable sorts of use. Seeing their hull forms urged him to try and identify their origins not only for his own interest but also for the owners of the various craft listed. Once his avenues of research had been exhausted he approached others, including the founder members of the SCG, to provide the military history and identification. These lists of survivors are on going, not only are new survivors being found in the UK, but also abroad as more and more members venture abroad on holiday and researchers conducting visits to foreign ports for their own interests.
These reports, whether a trip report, boat report or report on a survivor, once read in the journal, gave our readership the chance to search their own records, photographs and other material, to see if they could add, correct or confirm our investigations and identifications. This new material could not be left aside, once reported. It is one of our Aims to ensure that corrected information is quickly turned around and reported in the next journal. This is mentioned in the “Look Astern” section of each journal. You might correctly think why we did not invite members to discuss such debatable articles. This is mainly due to the fact that most of the articles are unique and have not been covered before in other naval and nautical magazines. It is only by producing these articles, that are read by members and others who get access to the journal, that further information on the subject and photographs become released to the Group for future inclusion in another journal.
This is how other publications produced by the Small Craft Group have been developed. An example is the plethora of information and photographs that were gathered regarding craft of the RAF Marine Branch. Four years ago Terry Holtham commenced his in-depth research, having made contact with Ken Hunter at the RAF Museum at Hendon, and assisted by the superb efforts of Donald Smith and started the production of the RAF Marine Craft Directories. It should be noted that the initial research was conducted by the late Dick Dennison who managed to obtain a unique source of information regarding the craft. His time consuming journeys to the RAF Museum & Naval Historical Branch provided the vital impetus Terry needed to continue his research in creating a complete list of craft operated by the RAF. Dick Dennison obtained an old version of microfiche with details of RAF craft which needed an equally old reader to see the data. Again the naval section of the WSS came to our assistance and provided the funds to convert the old microfiche into a more modern readable version. Without this support the research into the individual histories would have taken years to complete, and a much more enormous task to complete.
But the rewards are great. It only shows that if you have the correct information and have the will to produce a publication on a minority subject the flood gates open. Since producing his five publications Terry has received enough further new information and photographs to produce a sixth volume –an addendum for the first five volumes – mostly with amendments and additions contributed by those that have bought the book. Some readers had information which they could not relate to and others had information and more importantly photographs stashed away in attics etc. So far nearly 60 copies of each volume have been sold, - the profits have been returned to the SCG. All production costs were absorbed not into the cost of the publication but by Terry himself, showing that his hobby comes first before thinking of any profit. Our profit is not monetary but is the vast amount of additional information released into the public domain that was previously held in the depths of museums, and members attics, and which, had the books not been printed, would have remained there and most likely been forgotten.
Remember the Group’s Aims are to obtain such information, verify its accuracy, copy it in order to safeguard its existence and reproduce it in a manner such that other members of the SCG and associate experts can benefit from it. Therefore the SCG profits from gaining further information, photographs, technical data and drawings. Once sorted and checked the information is kept in an easily retrievable manner and reproduced in articles for the journal or in other publications in order to extract further information from current and new members. It is therefore important for new members to assist the Secretary by completing the questionnaire in order he can assist them in their research or interests in the hope they will be able to assist the other members of the Group.
Even if you cannot afford the additional membership, there are members of the Small Craft Group who regularly submit information for our journals and publications and in return are correctly given the acknowledgement for doing so. If it were not for these members as well as the full paid up members the existence of the SCG would fold. All 165 members of the SCG that have paid the extra membership have contributed in some way in the formation of the Group and shaping it to what it is today. Equally those researchers, boat owners, enthusiasts and photographers that are not members have equally contributed to the success of the SCG and the journal.
Consequently opinions and material submitted by anyone is treated equally; to ignore it would be our loss. Again all acknowledgement is given and the correct coverage where known. The SCG thanks all such members both fully paid up and those associated with our causes and AIMS. In order to reproduce this information in an excellent format, we have benefited from the fantastic efforts of Eric, who operates a photographic copy service in Ivybridge. His efforts have been displayed in all our publications which have been reproduced by about six printers within about 12 miles of my home. However currently it is the excellent work of Chris Rendle at Southwest Reprographic who prints the publications and journals to such a brilliant standard. His work is unbelievable and I only wish we had known of his existence long beforehand.
Therefore once again it is up to you, after reading this history and summary of how the SCG works, whether you can provide any information, or wish to join the Group, your efforts in supporting the group are rewarded by your work being displayed and credited in the journal – perhaps more often than in any other nautical magazine. I look forward to hearing from you. A Holtham
The following is a summary of the series of compilations in the RAF Marine Craft Directory. Some volumes have already been produced which are still available, while several volumes are still to be completed. However research continues.
RAF MARINE CRAFT DIRECTORY SERIES
CURRENTLY AVAILABLE (Limited numbers only)
(£22 each includes P&P) (£27 Overseas)
CRAFT 120Ft - 62Ft (Includes all HSLs, RTTLs etc)
CRAFT 60Ft - 41.5Ft (Includes all Pinnaces, Refuellers etc)
WWII losses, Post War Accidents, Post War Disposals, RAF Craft Conversions RAF craft in the movies, craft rebuilt or restored, craft at museums.
RAF MARINE CRAFT Survivors
Note:- All are fully illustrated, all B&W, and are locally printed to order, wire spiral bound.
Each volume is approx 200 pages. (Note CRASH BOATS pt 2 is 250 pages)
ALL PRODUCED THROUGH WSS SMALL CRAFT GROUP
CRASH BOATS - Part 1
INTRODUCTION A HOBBY TURNED OBSESSION
In this book we hope to give a general coverage of these wonderful small craft from their conception to retirement from service. The information has been gathered from books, internet, builders, designers, historians, copies of surviving files, museums, armed forces of many nations, ex-boat crews and owners. What started as a general interest in the 63ft Aircraft Rescue Boat, gradually grew until we realised that you couldn’t cover the subject without also referring to their larger sister the 85ft Patrol Rescue Boat – also designed by Dair Long, and what could have been the future – the private design by Huron-Eddy 95ft Experimental Rescue Boat of which only two prototypes were built, but shows surprising resemblence to its predecessors.
It is by no way a complete guide to these vessels, but we have gathered as much information together as possible over the last few years – much has either been destroyed (individual boat records, Army and USAF records, also some company records) or lost over the years. There are many dead ends to the trail – I’m sure the information is out there in the Museums and Archives, but there seems to be a lack of knowledge as to what collections are held, and an automated reply to what-ever the question may be that sends you round and round in circles.
Thank goodness we found many good sources of first hand knowledge, Jean E. Buhler of the original design team at Miami Shipbuilding Corp who has advised me on many areas, and demands that if I write anything it be accurate, and not here-say. Other surviving builders, crews, and several museums who went out of their way to find some excellent pieces of information, records and photographs contributed. Plus of course many hours on the internet proved very useful with some of the surviving craft. Where possible I’ve contacted the owners of the surviving vessels to gather any information that they can supply regarding their vessel and it’s past.
I was once told by “some-one in-the-know” that I was wasting my time, and that it had all been done before – well my answer to this person now is this – some areas of it have been covered, but the fact that much of the information I have gathered, although not complete – shows that only the surface has been skimmed. I have now been doing this project for six years, a lot of ink and paper has flown out from here, with about 50% dead-ends, however the many good replies from the rest show me that there’s still a fair bit of “meat” still to be gathered before we can claim to have covered the subject thoroughly.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any relevant information to add, and photographs of these wonderful craft – as this is an on-going project. Special thanks must go to a whole host of people and organisations, all listed in the Acknowledgments Page, as they have been patient and extremely helpful. Special thanks must go to Phil Simons firstly for getting me interested in small craft, & for his help with survivor information – without his help this project would never have been started. Also of course Terry, who has helped put together this from our joint notes, and who’s guidance and drawing skills have made this book possible.
Having caught the “bug” from David and the desire to include the “Miamis” as one of the monograph appendices to the RAF Marine Craft Directory, I set about helping with the research and covering areas that David had not covered in detail. We swapped notes and to a certain degree some photos, and from them I soon realised that a few profile drawings would be required to cover the different “types”. My knowledge of the craft expanded exponentially and with guidance from David the few drawings soon reached the sixty or so in number and make up my real contribution to the project. All the profiles are drawn to the same scale of approx 1:132
In compiling the notes and references, I soon realised that the original intention to cover the 63ft, 85ft and 95ft all in ONE volume was not achievable and thus this is only the first part of two on the 63ft type alone. Some of the photographs are not necessarily of the best quality for reproduction, but the sources are many, and some important “finds” were from veterans who did not have the benefit of digital cameras whilst in the South Pacific during WWII.
The order of the chapters does follow the building of the various types and purely by coincidence and the fact that the printer limits us to around 200 pages for the binding and reasonable cost of the finished product, the Part One covers the WWII built boats. Thus Part Two will cover the post-war developments and the details of the numerous craft that did survive after the war to be used in various roles, and thus in the text there are several notes like “see future chapter”. A loose sheet with proposed contents for Part Two is included with this book to allow the reader advance notification of our intentions.
CRASH BOATS - Part 2
Welcome to CRASH BOATS Part 2 – covering the post-war built boats, and the diverse military and civilian roles that they fulfilled. Keeping track of surviving craft is very difficult at the best of times, but with U.S. registered craft it can be a nightmare, as vessels can be registered either with the State Motor Licensing Dept or with the U.S. Coast Guard Register. Usually, but not always, State Registration numbers change when a vessel is sold, those on the USCG Register retain the same number and just the name details change. However, to make things more confusing a vessel may move from one register to the other register several times in its lifetime, and sometimes seem to have disappeared – usually when on State Registry. Creating a list of craft built and survivors has taken some time – adding sightings, registrations, those from the Internet, my own list and in 2003, that of Captain George Schneider’s (who provided me with a copy of his list) which were all cross-referenced together. Every few months it was necessary to check the registry for any changes etc then trying to contact owners willing to divulge information about their craft.
Again, Terry Holtham has proved a great help with this project. His excellent drawings (some which proved a real challenge) of both military and civilian craft and conversions nicely illustrate the diversity of designs based on one hull type. His own input from his collection and research information have brought some really rare pictures to light (like the SEPTAR target AVR), and filled gaps in my own. Without his guidance I would have been totally lost where to start with this publication. We’ve had responses to Part 1 giving new information on some craft and correcting mistakes on others – for this we are grateful and encourage such input.
We have plans to take this one step further and follow up this book with one including the larger 85ft Design-379 WW2 Patrol Rescue Boat and the two 94ft Experimental AVRs built post-war – the last of their kind. Anyone with information or photographs to add to this project please feel free to contact us – as we said, this is a base point from which we can work from.
CRASH BOATS Part 1 covered essentially the origin, development and operation of the vast number of 63ft Aircraft Rescue Boats built during the WWII period and concluded with the US Army TC-Design 416 version. CRASH BOATS Part 2 is the continuation of the development of the highly successful 63ft ARB hull, and commences with a full section on the construction and layout of the “Standard” version – namely the Model 314 which was the most common of all the types built. The construction/layout section, along with the sections on Armaments, Engines and Radar at the end of Part 2, is intended to compliment the sections in Part 1 where reference is made to the more technical aspects of the craft.
The remainder of Part 2 covers, in approximately equal depth, the craft that were built post-WW2 and the many craft that were converted for other roles, both during WW2 and after hostilities ended, as well as the survivors. Thus nearly half of Part 2 is devoted to the various “types” of survivors i.e. those that did survive the scrap to be used for a number of different uses. The hard work of Dave Linley in tracking down nearly 190 surviving craft, some of which survive to this day, is exemplary. It is very interesting, but also frustrating, to note that whereas the service details, numbers and other information on craft serving in WWII is relatively easy to track down, the records of more recent buildings in the post—war period are somewhat more difficult to come by. Perhaps it is the effect of the post-war military secret society brought about by the cold war! Thus the details of Mk3 and especially the Mk4 versions are like gold dust.
Part 2 has been very interesting to compile as there are a vast number of different boats described amongst the conversions and survivors. Details of some are probably “published” herein for the first time, and thanks to a short list of individuals (see acknowledgements) the details of a few “bizarre” looking versions have come to light. Thus in the various chapters the compilers have “featured” a few craft that adequately portray the overall array of craft that were still operating or surviving through the 1950s – 1970s. These include the craft used in the movie McHales Navy, EMPTY VESSEL - a ferry now used for art students in the Bronx, ASR-313 a Mk3 version that was restored by Sea Scouts, ALLEN GARDINER which is one of the oldest craft built - now in South Africa as a restaurant, the AIR FAITH in Australia used for charter cruises including Hen Nights, the P-619 which is a fully restored almost as original US Army version, and of course FILIA – the only privately owned craft that served in the US Navy known to survive outside of USA, and which started the whole CRASH BOATS project off.
The coverage would not be complete without a feature on the only craft that is STILL in service with the US Navy to this day (see front cover photograph) – although of the post-war version, she is rather unique as the CINCPACFLT Barge at Hawaii – some 40 plus years after entering service.
As in Part 1, the profiles in Part 2 are all to the same scale and approximately 1:132.
Reinforced Concrete Barges of World War II - A Working Paper
As I have travelled around looking for surviving Coastal Forces Craft and Military Small Craft of all services I became aware of the large number of concrete barges lying on riverbanks and in boatyards all over the country. I knew very little about these vessels but each and everyone I found was put into the small craft register and documented. When in the early 90's the last ones in service with the Admiralty in Plymouth came up for disposal, one found its way to Shoreham and I became friends with the owner Mike Wooldridge, who contacted the designers and builders and they made available photographs, some details and a cine-film. With my survivors details, Mike's research, and what can be gleaned from other sources we have put together this paper with the hope that it may generate more information from anyone who may read it.
The paper includes build details, variant details, known survivors, many photographs, and an article on the Purton Hulks on the R Severn, Riverbank, alongside the Sharpness—Gloucester Canal. Paul Barnett who has taken it upon himself to secure the future of the many historic hulks here, including concrete barges, wanted a paper on the concrete vessels that he could submit along with his other researches to English Heritage in his endeavours to have the area declared a site of historic interest.
This is certainly a work that is more obscure than others I have submitted to the Small Craft Group but I hope it will prove of interest. If anyone out there has more concrete figures, (sorry for that) for the numbers built of each type and disposal details, survivors that I haven't mentioned, and anything else you can think of, please send to me on my email address at the back of the book.
"Reinforced Concrete Barges of World War II — A Working Paper" is published by the Small Craft Group and is available from Tony Holtham, 5 Rogate Drive, Thornbury, Plymouth PL6 8SY, United Kingdom. Price is £8.00 including postage. Please make cheques payable to the "Small Craft Group".
Light Ships of the United Kingdom and Ireland 1820-2006: An illustrated Fleet List
complied by Philip Simons, Published 2006
"Light Ships of the United Kingdom and Ireland 1820-2006: An illustrated Fleet List" is another publication on behalf of the World Ship Society Small Craft Group. In producing this monogram, no attempt has been made to make this a complete history of all aspects of manned light vessels in the United Kingdom and Ireland, as this has been done before, notably in a recent book, "Guiding Lights", by Dr Anthony Lane.
This volume is in the form of a fleet list of all manned light vessels that have been operated by — Trinity House — The Commissioners of Irish Lights — The Northern Lighthouse Board — The Humber Conservancy Board — The Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, in the period from the early nineteenth Century to 2006. It is laid out in sections, one for each authority, comprising all the vessels that have been operated by that authority, a list of the stations operated by each authority, a list of all the surviving vessels and their current status, and representative photographs and drawings. I have given basic details for each of the vessels, but have taken the decision not to include details on the optics, or fog apparatus as I could not find enough accurate detail on this for each authority.
Although the first recorded light vessel was placed at the Nore in 1732 with others following at Dudgeon in 1736, Owers in 1748, Newarp in 1790, Goodwin in 1795, Sunk in 1802, with an Irish light vessel being positioned in Dublin Bay in 1735. I have started the listings at 1806 for Irish Lights, 1823 for Trinity HOuse, 1820 for the River Humber and 1813 for the Rivery Mersey.
The vessels this monogram covers are amongst the most easily recognisable type in the world and unlike the light vessels in other countries have always been dumb vessels, towed to their allotted stations by buoy tenders, and seviced and maintained by these same tenders. In later times the helicopter took over most of the work of servicing these installations. From the earliest times until 1989 there were manned light vessels and although automation had been with us since the first decade of the twentieth century it wasn't until the 1980's that it became the new way. Although the Small Craft Group is mainly interested in the military small craft of the United Kingdom it feels it important to record for future generations the myriad of other interesting small craft in "service" with United Kingdom Civil bodies, before it is too late.
"Light Ships of the United Kingdom" is published by the W.S.S. Small Craft Group. Copies available from Tony Holtham, 5 Rogate Drive, Estover, Plymouth, Devon, PL6 8SY, United Kingdom. Price is £14 sterling including postage UK, and £16 for overseas postage surface mail. (current as of November 2008)