London Branch February 2017

Written by London Branch | Posted on 7th February 2017


Spring is just around the corner but at the time of writing we are in the tight grip of a spell of cold weather.

On such cold and chilly days, memories of last years hot Summer are difficult to conjure.

An article in this edition recalls an almost forgotten era of the Royal Navy’s Coastal Forces – the Cold War years of the 1950s – and an incident that was just too hot!


While I was away this past six months (you hadn't noticed?), there was some talk that as the regular attendance at our quarterly Belfast meetings was decreasing somewhat, we should think about reducing their frequency.

Although It was decided not to, we all knew that cutting the rate of meetings was inevitable as veterans are becoming historic and most have a difficult journey to the ship.

For the moment, I remain happy with the decision. Every four months I find the discipline of arising two hours earlier, replacing trainers for the day, searching for and polishing my black shoes, donning my white shirt, discarding my jeans and climbing into trousers with a crease in them, shift into my 'uniform' blazer and tie, and combing my strands of hair, makes me feel a lot better, for a change.

I am a mite unsteady afoot and need the arm of an escort, so my daughter, Christine, kindly volunteers. The journey to the ship is always arduous but is forgotten as I board the Belfast, saluting the quarterdeck without a cap on, just for the hell.

Ending of hostilities in Europe

On May 13th 1945, two vessels from the 4th S-Boote flotilla, S204 and S205, undertook for the last time the crossing of the North Sea toward England.

They left their base at Dan Helder at 9 am, on board was Rear Admiral Erich Alfred Breuning, to sign the surrender of all German naval forces based in Holland.

Accompanying him was Korvettenkapitän Kurt Fimmen, S.O. of the 4th flotilla and Kapitänleutnant Bernard Rebensburg – Kapitän zur See Rudolf Petersen's chief of naval operations.

Also at 9am an English contingent left Felixstowe with 10 MTBs and planned to rendezvous with the Germans at the South Fall buoy.

At the meeting, several British officers boarded S205, one of them being Captain Peter Scott who has left his account of the trip back to England .

“…We still had a few dozen miles to cover before arriving at Felixstowe. This was the first time I had ever sailed on an enemy boat and I was immediately impressed by the size of the S-Boote.

The general silhouette was hardly visible above the surface of the water and everything seemed to be designed to offer minimum resistance to the elements and maximum protection for the crew when the boat was travelling at full speed.

In spite of the rolling we soon reached 30 knots. The MTBs couldn't keep up and in spite of the speed, we kept perfectly dry, while my comrades on our boats had to put on their oilskins…”
A surrendered E-boat at Portsmouth on 22 June 1945 tying up alongside a jetty whilst another is about to moor next to her at HMS Hornet, the Light Coastal Forces Base at Gosport, where they are to be taken over by the Royal Navy. German crews are seen on the deck © IWM (A 29322)
German crews leaving the 3 E-boats at Hornet. The crews will be taken back to Germany in due course © IWM (A 29323)
One of the E-boats wearing a white flag at the coastal forces base HMS Beehive, Felixstowe. The two German E-Boats, the first surface craft to surrender, were escorted in by ten British MTBs. On board one of the E-Boats was Rear-Admiral Karl Brüning, who had been in charge of E-Boat operations and who signed the instrument of surrender. Note what appears to be a black panther painted on the side of the E-Boat, the word Long is painted above it © IWM (A 28558)
Armed guard of British sailors boarding one of the two German E-boats that had surrendered earlier at Felixstowe, as she came in flying a white flag, to tie up alongside a British MTB (right) © IWM (A 28671)
Rear-Admiral Karl Brüning saluting Commander D H E McCowen, DSO, DSC, RNVR, Commanding Officer of the Base HMS Beehive © IWM (A 28560)

Postwar Gay-Class Boats

An additional article in this edition of the newsletter, originally published on the website, recalls an almost forgotten era of the Royal Navy’s Coastal Forces – -the Cold War years of the 1950s – and an incident that was just too hot!

Postwar Gay-Class Boats – The End for Petroleum

London Branch Spring 2017 Newsletter

The spring newsletter is available to download and read in full as a pdf.