Remembering the WWII seamen who braved Hellfire Corner bringing coal to the south

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Pill box at Rye Harbour, where seamen risked their lives
and the British feared invasion

Boating enthusiasts in the South East of England are constantly reminded about the battles that have taken place or have been expected in this corner of the country. The wartime relics are so many that almost the only time we can’t see them is when they’re obscured by foul weather.

But last night, the evening before Remembrance Sunday, I was pleased to see a repeat of the BBC Coast series programme covering the Channel Islands and Dover.

It was well worth watching as usual, but this particular transmission included an interesting segment about the brave Navy and merchant seaman of the convoys carrying essential supplies such as coal through the Dover Straits during World War II.

As every British schoolchild knows, the sea separating Britain from Continental Europe is just 21 miles wide, and so the convoys could be hit by land-based guns based in occupied France, and were very vulnerable to attack by both fast German E-boats and aircraft while passing along the coasts of Kent and Sussex.

See the programme here on the BBCi player – though I gather readers in the USA aren’t able to see this material.

There’s also an interesting summary of the big guns used by both sides at the Wikipedia.

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How to have fun racing punts and getting wet at Tuebingen, Germany

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Punt racing at Tuebingen Punt racing at Tuebingen

Punt racing, Tuebingen-style

Chris Partridge reports that the folk of Tuebingen race battling punts powered by hand-paddling. And then they drink beer or cod liver oil, depending on whether they’ve won or lost.

This is just the kind of harmless activity healthy young blokes should be allowed to enjoy, and it would be good to see something similar caught on in Manchester, Birmingham or at Camden in North London. Of course, I’m far too old for this sort of thing myself, particularly the cod liver oil part!

More seriously, has anyone else noticed that these boats bear an uncanny resemblance to the kinds of boats many people would expect Phil Bolger or Jim Michalak to design for the purpose? Read what Jim has to say about seas of peas.

Read all about these crazy, happy Germans at Rowing for Pleasure.

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