"Royal Navy and Maritime Book Reviews" PROVIDED BY - Rob Jerrard

HMS Dolphin - Gosport Hampshire England, Submarine Base - Some History

HMS Dolphin was built around the site the old fortifications known as Fort Blockhouse, which was first used as a military base in 1431 and taken over by the navy in 1905.

The name Dolphin was taken from the old sail training ship of that name which was berthed alongside the fort from 1906 to 1923 and used as a depot ship for submarines. 1939-45: Fort Blockhouse is home of the 5th Submarine Flotilla, responsible for patrolling the Channel and Bay of Biscay during the second world war.

1941: Up to 200 incendiary bombs fall within the boundaries of the base in a single night.

1961: Honorary freedom of Gosport conferred on the submarine service to mark its long association with the town.

1992: Government announces that the submarine fleet is to leave Dolphin for a new home at the Devonport naval base.

1993: Last submarine leaves Dolphin.

1996: Dolphin will cease to be a naval establishment and will become the new headquarters of the Tri-service Royal Defence Medical College.

1998: Decommissioning ceremony and formal transfer of ownership

My Service in Dolphin
Barge Coxswain Flag Officer Submarines

I was drafted to HMS Dolphin as Ship's Company (as opposed to Submarine Service Rating). After working in the wire splicing shop I was appointed the Admiral's Barge Coxswain. Rear Admiral McGeoch. The Barge was a 35' Fast Motor Boat with twin Foden Engines. There was a crew of 3 including an engineer who was a Canadian Submariner who happened to receive a very large Rum ration. I took over from a PO Coxswain - I was a Leading/Seaman RP2, the only Admiral's Coxswain with that rating as far as I was aware. My boss was a WREN officer. She had previously been the PA. I left 11th January 1966 to join HMS Aisne. There appears to be a 3 month gap from me leaving and Gerry taking over - any takers?


PO Gerry Taylor who supplied these photos writes, "I took over as the Barge Coxswain on the 30th April 1966 and left 2nd August 1967, I seem to remember that his Flag Lieutenant was a Wren Officer when I arrived, cannot remember her name. She was later replaced by Lieutenant Ian Corsie".

Can you supply any photos of Fort Blockhouse, the Admiral's barge of that period, or Rear Admiral McGeoch? (Later Vice-Admiral Sir Ian McGeoch KCB DSO DSC M.Phil SEE his book

·         HMS Splendid


'The finest submarine story to come out of either World War. A quite outstanding first novel.' ALISTAIR MACLEAN

When HM Submarine Scorpion slipped her moorings alongside the Depot Ship one day early in 1945 and set course down the grey, wind-whipped waters of the Holy Loch, she carried a charge of human tension as explosive as her six torpedoes. To her Captain, Lieutenant- Commander Cheney, the patrol on which he was setting out offered one last dramatic chance of reversing a drab future of shore jobs and premature retirement. In spite of a fine record he had missed his promotion: the war could not last much longer: it was now or never.

To his ship's company the patrol was the last straw. Scorpion had been overdue for a refit. Some of the senior ratings had served for five years under conditions of constant strain and vile discomfort. It is through the eyes of one of them, Leading Seaman Titt, that this story unfolds itself.

Conflict between the fanatical ambition of Cheney and the exhausted war-weariness of his men is intensified by a series of accidents and mischances. One of the seamen falls ill : Cheney is convinced he is malingering. The resentment of the sailors becomes more passionate as they find themselves running what they believe to be wanton risks. A few weeks more and the war will be over. Why should they sweat with fear as the dreaded propellers swishswish closer overhead and the hammering explosions shake the boat like a dice-box ?

Men living together at the closest quarters, under intense and prolonged strain, in conditions of miserable discomfort, wet. cold, breathing foul air, reach a state of exasperation with each other. Natural antipathies, irritating mannerisms, disagreements of opinion, act on taut nerves with explosive force.

In a situation already dangerous enough, Titt has the responsibility of preventing quarrels from erupting into violence. Titt exemplifies the most characteristic qualities of the old lower deck-its courage, its tolerance, its coarseness, its scorn for officers, its deep scepticism, its strange credulities, its unquenchable humour. These come across with the same compelling realism as the quivering of the depth gauge needles, the scrape of a mine's mooring wire along the hull or the warm, deep-coloured glow of a tot of grog.

For this book is not only one of the most thrilling submarine stories ever written : it is also an utterly truthful account of life as the lower deck saw it and lived it in the 1939-45 war. Other writers have concerned themselves with the point of view of Captain and officers. In this masterly first novel Charles MacHardy's vivid and various characterisation reveals the world of the messdeck in all its vigour and vitality.

Other Books

WE COME UNSEEN (Jim Ring) Subtitled The story of Britainıs Cold War Submariners the author tells the full story from the first acquisition of a submarine nuclear power plant from the US and culminating in the submarine operations of the Reagan-Thatcher Star Wars era that finally crushed Soviet hopes of victory at sea.

HMS DOLPHIN - GOSPORTıS SUBMARINE BASE (Keith Hall) The author charts the history of the base at Fort Blockhouse and the Dolphin fleet. A narrative complemented by over 200 photographs.

GERMAN U-BOAT CREWS 1914-45 (Williamson) An elite part of the German Navy, the U-Boat crews were seen as heroes by the public and armed services alike. This volume includes colour illustrations of all uniforms, together with emblems and flags.

KRIEGSMARINE The Illustrated history of the German Navy in WWII. Includes 250 photographs plus supporting text and extensive captions on every aspect of the German Navy before and during WWII. With over 200 previously unpublished photographs.

KILO (Patrick Robinson) Hardback A novel of modern day submarine warfare. Russia has sold the Kilo to China. Can the USA sit back and let it happen? Kilo Class is a white knuckle novel of action and suspense that could become reality tomorrow.

U-BOATS DESTROYED (Paul Kemp) This paperback edition provides the reader with extensive detail of the U-Boat sinkings in both World Wars and is a fascinating guide to both naval students and historians alike.

Battle beneath the waves (Robert Stern) This hardback edition of the U-boat war provides a full history of U-boat development, including strategy, tactics and armaments, fully documented from German sources.

Books published by Warships


Forward to the book by Rear Admiral RP Stevens CB - Flag Officer Submarines

The commissioning of Holland 1 on October 2 1901 set in train a series of events which has had an impact on so many lives. That day also saw the beginning of an illustrious record which we are now commemorating in the centenary year of the Royal Navy Submarine Service.

The past century has seen the British submarine metamorphose from the 'Cinderella' of the fleet to a prized power projection asset that is fully integrated into our battlegroup structures.

The rich tapestry of the histories of the people who have carried out that transformation, their bravery, dedication and sacrifice, has been recorded many times elsewhere. It is fitting that this publication

should complement those accounts with its depiction of the cornucopia of hardware British submariners have had at their disposal over the past century.

It is also fitting that it pays attention to the genesis of the sub­mersible in use from the days of sail until Holland I made its cautious entry onto the stage of maritime operations. On the pages which follow we go from early experimentation to the technical complexity, immense capability and huge potential of our modern flotilla. In illustrating the kind of submarines the Royal Navy has deployed, and continue! to deploy, all over the world, a momentous portrait is created.

This is the story of a duel at sea in 1943; of a long-drawn, bitter fight between a solitary British destroyer and a single U-Boat that it intercepts in the remote expanses of the Atlantic; of two captains, who, struggling for supremacy, read each other's thoughts in a contest in which the loser will pay with his life-and the lives of his crew. In this first novel the story moves from crisis to crisis as each vessel brings into action the weapons at its disposal. They are very evenly matched. The reader is " present " aboard the destroyer when the U-Boat's torpedoes are released; and aboard the U-Boat when the answering depth charges explode. He gets to know the officers on both sides, and especially the captains of the two ships, Commander John Murrell and Korvettenkapitan Peter von Stolberg. He learns of the attack on morale that can be waged by psychological means; and why, just because war is war, the struggle must be carried on to the bitter end.

Factual, authentic, exciting, this novel gives a dramatic account of men in extreme danger, fighting for victory and their lives.


Born in 1908, Commander Rayner joined the RNVR as a Midshipman in 1925 and by 1939 had reached the rank of Lieutenant ­ Commander. At the beginning of the war he commanded trawlers that patrolled waters round the main fleet base of Scapa Flow. In 1943 he was given command of the destroyer Shikari and thus became the first RNVR Officer in the history of the Navy to be appointed to command a destroyer. He survived the sinking of H.M.S. Warwick in 1943. He was decorated twice and mentioned in Dispatches. His first book Escort, an autobiography, was published. The Enemy Below was his first novel.

The Royal Navy Submarine Museum Gosport Hampshire
The Royal Navy Submarine Museum is a registered charity that supports submarine veterans and their dependants. We do welcome donations to costs and help us continue our work. We are currently trying to raise £6 million for a project to restore our main exhibit HMS Alliance. Should you wish to make a donation please forward any cheque made payable to: The Royal Navy Submarine Museum HMS Alliance Appeal"our address is: Haslar Jetty Road, Gosport Hampshire PO12 2AS.

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