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(WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song

Barry Finn 01 Dec 07 - 05:15 PM
Les from Hull 01 Dec 07 - 06:18 PM
Barry Finn 01 Dec 07 - 08:05 PM
Charley Noble 01 Dec 07 - 08:22 PM
Micca 01 Dec 07 - 08:43 PM
Peace 01 Dec 07 - 08:56 PM
Barry Finn 01 Dec 07 - 09:14 PM
Peace 01 Dec 07 - 09:22 PM
Les from Hull 11 Jan 08 - 07:34 AM
Les from Hull 11 Jan 08 - 07:58 AM
Charley Noble 11 Jan 08 - 08:05 AM
Les from Hull 14 Jan 08 - 10:05 AM
Charley Noble 01 Nov 09 - 07:56 PM
Ross Campbell 01 Nov 09 - 10:54 PM
GUEST 02 Nov 09 - 04:15 AM
bubblyrat 02 Nov 09 - 04:41 AM
Charley Noble 02 Nov 09 - 07:50 AM
Keith A of Hertford 02 Nov 09 - 09:37 AM
Les from Hull 02 Nov 09 - 11:15 AM
GUEST,Stallion (where'd me cookie go) 02 Nov 09 - 12:16 PM
Teribus 03 Nov 09 - 01:43 AM
stallion 03 Nov 09 - 06:43 AM
Les from Hull 03 Nov 09 - 06:52 AM
Charley Noble 03 Nov 09 - 08:51 AM
Teribus 03 Nov 09 - 09:48 AM
stallion 03 Nov 09 - 12:54 PM
Charley Noble 03 Nov 09 - 04:14 PM
Teribus 03 Nov 09 - 05:22 PM
Dead Horse 03 Nov 09 - 06:07 PM
Charley Noble 03 Nov 09 - 07:43 PM
Teribus 04 Nov 09 - 01:36 AM
Charley Noble 04 Nov 09 - 09:24 AM
Teribus 04 Nov 09 - 10:34 AM
Charley Noble 04 Nov 09 - 02:00 PM
stallion 04 Nov 09 - 02:11 PM
Richard Atkins 04 Nov 09 - 07:36 PM
Keith A of Hertford 05 Nov 09 - 03:15 AM
stallion 05 Nov 09 - 03:35 AM
bubblyrat 05 Nov 09 - 04:30 AM
Charley Noble 05 Nov 09 - 08:40 AM
Sailor Ron 05 Nov 09 - 09:43 AM
Keith A of Hertford 05 Nov 09 - 10:01 AM
Sailor Ron 05 Nov 09 - 11:21 AM
Charley Noble 05 Nov 09 - 12:25 PM
Les from Hull 06 Nov 09 - 02:29 PM
Les from Hull 06 Nov 09 - 02:35 PM
Charley Noble 06 Nov 09 - 02:52 PM
stallion 06 Nov 09 - 07:33 PM
Charley Noble 06 Nov 09 - 08:27 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Nov 09 - 05:38 PM
Les from Hull 08 Nov 09 - 11:51 AM
Charley Noble 08 Nov 09 - 12:09 PM
GUEST,Andy Saunders 01 Feb 10 - 12:48 AM
Charley Noble 01 Feb 10 - 07:39 AM
Santa 01 Feb 10 - 02:12 PM
Ross Campbell 02 Feb 10 - 09:08 AM
Teribus 02 Feb 10 - 09:54 AM
Charley Noble 02 Feb 10 - 10:37 AM
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Subject: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Barry Finn
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 05:15 PM

We have a song that 's about a Convoy that was sunk in WWII. There were twenty nine sips that attempted to sail the English Channel on August 7 1940. There were twenty Coastal Colliers and nine ships of the line. The name of the Convoy was CW9. The Admiralty wanted to test their theory that the Channel was safe, and refused to believe intelligence that told of sophisticated German radar and so they sent them across to certain doom from E-Boats and Stukas based in France. All but four of the Colliers were lost. We would like to find out the names of the ships in the Convoy both Merchant and Royal Navy. Does any one A) Know about the incdent, and B) How we could best go about such a task?

Neil on Barry's computer


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Les from Hull
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 06:18 PM

Some information here CW9

It was quite a disaster, but not as bad as you have it, as some ships turned back. You need a copy of 'British Vessels Lost At Sea 1939-1945' published by PSL. If I find my copy I'll look up the details.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Barry Finn
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 08:05 PM

That would be great.Thank you very much for your response. A friend wrote the poem several years ago, and I found it and put it to music, but I prefer to know more about the historical facts of songs that I sing.Through a site that I found on BBC the numbers were as I stated, that is the four Colliers being the only ones left intact. If it was different I would like to know so that I have the truth. The names of the ships are important because the song is a memorial to them and the bravery of the crews by which they were manned.
                  Thanks again,
                   Neil Downey on Barry's computer


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 08:22 PM

Good luck on the search, Neil.

Have a good run to NYC Sunday. Hope you don't get caught in the snow storm.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Micca
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 08:43 PM

Barry, CW9 was on the 8 of August 1940 you are a day early for more info see Here and some of the Ships and casualties are listed
here, scroll down to August 8


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Peace
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 08:56 PM

Codename: Peewit.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Barry Finn
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 09:14 PM

Thank you for responding.I was aware of this site already but I appreciate your help.
               Neil on Barry's computer
PS If you are in New York for our gig tomorrow you'll hear the song.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Peace
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 09:22 PM

I wish I could be, Neil. In the parlance, break a leg.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Les from Hull
Date: 11 Jan 08 - 07:34 AM

From 'Naval Warfare in the English Channel 1939-1945' by Peter C Smith (Pen and Sword Maritime 2007)

The Convoys Recommence: The Battle for CW9
Under the new operating regime, the first coastal convoy to move through the Straits was CE8, which sailed from Dartmouth on 2 August; it was joined by two more ships off Weymouth and sailed on to St Helen's, Isle of Wight on the next leg at 1800 the same day. The new tactic of creeping from harbour to harbour and laying up by day had appeared to work. CE8 got through with no losses and no opposition. It looked good for the return convoy, CW9, which assembled off Southend on 6 August. At the time it was not known that the Germans had carefully plotted the progress of the eastbound convoy for the whole of its tedious passage and drew up their plans accordingly. Night was really no protection from the all-seeing eye of Freya. CW9, consisting of twenty-five ships, passed through the Straits of Dover in the late afternoon of 7 August. By midnight it was off the southern coast of the Isle of Wight.

Also off this part of the coast, hidden in the darkness, waiting patiently just off the main swept channel for the easy, slow targets they knew to be chugging steadily toward them, were the E-boats. The German 1st Flotilla, under Birnbacher, had only four ships operational that night, S-20, S-21, S-25 and S-27, but foreknowledge was everything. When the quartet struck, it was deadly. Torpedoes slammed in the Fife Coast (367 tons), Holme Force (1,216 tons), Polly M (380 tons), sending the first pair to the seabed. These were joined there by the Ouse (1,004 tons), which, in swinging wildly to avoid a torpedo track, collided with the Rye (1,048 tons).
Confusion was total, the merchant navy skippers were highly disorientat¬ed and the convoy's pattern quickly disintegrated into a seething, scattering mass of individual small craft trying to save themselves from the unseen assailants. The E-boats took full advantage of the confusion, of course, until Bulldog and Fernie (Lieutenant Commander R. M. P. Jonas) were hurried out from Portsmouth to restore the situation. They quickly drove off the E-boats, but there was no time to reimpose much discipline among the coasters before dawn broke and left them vulnerable to the German dive bombers, waiting bombed-up and ready.

Several mass Ju87 attacks were mounted against the 'convoy' during the following daylight hours, and, despite a few interceptions by the RAF, who claimed to have shot down thirty-one aircraft for the loss of twenty of their own, the scattered coasters inevitably took further losses. The Coquetdale (1,597 tons), and Empire Crusader (1,042 tons) were sunk outright; Balmaba (1,428 tons), John M (500 tons) and Scheldt (497 tons) were damaged. Five of the survivors crept into Portland Harbour, seeking refuge, some badly damaged like the John M, others relatively unscathed. Several foreign ships in the convoy were also damaged, the Dutch Veenenburgh slightly, but others such as Omlandia, Surte and the Norwegian Tres, had to be towed in, the Tres sinking in St Helen's Bay later as a result of her wounds. All-in-all CW9 was not the successful debut for which the Royal Navy had hoped to reintroduce the convoys.

Nonetheless, these convoys did continue and, never again did they suffer such losses. It was not, however, the new tactics that saved the day, nor the RAF's exaggerated claims, nor the introduction of the new destroyers. The coaster sailed through the Straits only because the dive bombers had been assigned new and different targets, naval bases, radar stations and front-line airfields, rather than ships. In other words, the battle had moved on to the second stage, which called for the elimination of the defences. Ships continued to be attacked and sunk, but only in isolated episodes which were mainly incidental to the principal task of the enemy aircraft. Unbeknown to the brave and stoical merchant seamen who commanded the little ships, their worst ordeal was over, at least from the air.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Les from Hull
Date: 11 Jan 08 - 07:58 AM

Both the BBC site and the book I've quoted mention a Freya radar, which was an air search radar, not a sea ranging radar. There were Wurzburg ground ranging radars to control the big guns that the Germans were installing to fire into the Channel.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 11 Jan 08 - 08:05 AM

Interesting detail.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Les from Hull
Date: 14 Jan 08 - 10:05 AM

The convoy CW8 (25/26 July) had 21 ships, and lost 5 to the Luftwaffe on 25 July and another 3 to the E boats S19, S20 and S27 off Brighton during the night.

In spite of what is quoted above the Polly M was probably just damaged by gunfire. It's difficult to imagine that a 380 ton ship would survive a torpedo hit. Another source - 'German Coastal Forces of World War Two', MJ Whitely, Arms and Armour Press - says that this ship and the John M (500 tons) were damaged by gunfire.

The German boats had one, possibly two 20mm cannon and possibly 2 machine guns, so the ships they damaged probably weren't in danger of sinking.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Nov 09 - 07:56 PM

refresh!

It would be nice to have the lyrics here as sung by Barry and Neil.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 01 Nov 09 - 10:54 PM

Here you are, Charley - from the Merchant Navy thread:-

"Buzz Smith, a friend of my singing partner Neil Downey (of Finn & Haddie) wrote this song about 20yrs ago without ever putting a tune to it, so it just laid around. Neil just recently found it after all those yrs & now we've just started singing it to Neil's tune.
There was a thread some where about this convoy of WWII coal colliers called CW-9 but I can't seem to unearth it.

CW-9 (words, Buzz Smith, tune Neil Downey)

On the 7th of August a convoy set out
As evening fell over the Thames
Through Dover Straits was their perilous route
CW-9 was their name
Twenty Coast Colliers, nine ships of the line
Were sent to that hell on the sea
With a cargo that could've been carried by rail
Just to prove that the channel was free

Chorus:
The Admiralty said "it's a matter of pride
We don't give a damn for your coal"
Then sent them all off for a bloody good ride
Where the E-Boats & Stukas patrolled

As the cloudy dawn broke the 1st E-Boats appeared
To strike with torpedo & shell
And when back to France the Bosch bastards had steered
Six ships had been blown all to hell
Three of them crippled, their hulls badly holed
Three more to the bottom had dived
And still trapped below with their cargo of coal
All the brave men who needlessly died

Chorus

In the gloomy mid-morning the Stukas rained down
With Messerschmitts guarding their tail
But Spitfires & Hurricanes gave them no ground
Through lead rained around them like hail
Jerry kept coming until at mid-day
They broke through the cover at last
And in ten minutes flat to the Convoy's dismay
Eleven of the Colliers were smashed

Chorus

It was evening before the sad slaughter was o'er
For Jerry kept at them all day
And many brave sailors lay dead in their gore
Or drowned in a watery grave
When into Swanage they limped with the tide
Four Colliers were all that remained
The rest were the victims of the Admiralty's pride
Shot to hell or lying under the Main

Chorus

They bombed them, they strafed they, they blew them aside
While the blood & the coal mixed with brine
T'was a hell of a price for the Admiralty's pride
That was paid by CW-9


I guess that this song would fit in either a merchant navy or a navy catagory.

Wonderful thread

Barry"

I am so glad I made the trip to Scarborough for the Seafest earlier this year. After a great day hearing a whole bunch of excellent singers, including Barry & Ken, Debra Cowan, Hughie Jones, Dick Miles and many more, I managed to collar Barry Finn on the pier just before we headed home. He had earlier promised to sing me the CW-9 song that he had contributed to the Merchant Navy thread just a few weeks before. The pier stage was still in full swing, so we had to go the other side of the buildings and in among the empty fish boxes to get a quiet(ish) spot. My digital camera got its first outing in video mode (I hadn't thought to bring anything else) and recorded a great song. Ken Schatz came in on the choruses, and was obviously well acquainted with the song. Barry ran out of words before the end, struggled to find the line, and finished up with "You'll have to get the rest off the Internet!" Which is a very useful place, not only for finding song-lyrics, but also for finding friends you didn't know you had.

I was going to ask Barry if it would be OK to upload the clip to YouTube but, alas, left it too late.

Charley, thanks for reviving this thread, I don't remember picking up on it before.

Ross


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Nov 09 - 04:15 AM

Ross, I was there at Scarborough, I think Barry would insist it be put on U tube he was surprised and appalled how little the UK public knew of the incident, he sang it to us (2BS&S) a couple of times but we never got it down,I suppose we thought we had a bit more time, he wanted to share it with us and I think everyone, so I think it is what he would have wanted, what does Charley think? After all Charley did all the studio recordings with him. What do you think Charley?
pete


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: bubblyrat
Date: 02 Nov 09 - 04:41 AM

It seems that at least one collier managed to exact some revenge later in the war,its gunner, a man called Harry ( 'Arry) apparently shooting down several attacking German aircraft with a (Hotchkiss or Lewis probably )light machine-gun.When asked to account for his remarkable success,the Captain of said vessel is reputed to have said something along the lines of " I says 'Shoot the bugger down,'Arry !'----and 'Arry gets on the gun an''e shoots the bugger down ! "....As Les From Hull said, Brave and Stoical !
    Freya -B ,at least,was certainly an air defence radar,as were the Giant Wurzburgs. My father spent a year trying to jam them both,with a mixture of "Window" (strips of foil) and active ECM devices ( "Jostle" ,etc) in his B 17 "Flying Fortress" from RAF Oulton, Norfolk ( No 214 (FMS) (BS) Squadron RAF).The squadron was remarkably successful in its endeavours,despite the efforts ( also successful, sadly ) of at least one RAF Lancaster gunner,and ,even worse,an American AA gunner !! Such is war.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Nov 09 - 07:50 AM

Pete and Ron-

Thanks for posting the lyrics and for adding to the story.

With regard to posting the video to YouTube, I would suggest contacting Justine and her family. But don't lose it, whatever you do! I'll PM details on how to contact Justine.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 02 Nov 09 - 09:37 AM

British Paratroops, actually captured the secret components of a Wurzberg radar in 1942.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Biting


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Les from Hull
Date: 02 Nov 09 - 11:15 AM

So the lyrics of the song fit the known facts rather badly!


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: GUEST,Stallion (where'd me cookie go)
Date: 02 Nov 09 - 12:16 PM

A "romantic view" perhaps, sometimes a story needs a little over egging to get the message across and the feeling of horror and revulsion, like someone said "only four ships got sunk".....only! I think the point of the poem was to point out the crass stupidity of it and the writer may have been expressing what they felt and regarded a comment "only four ships sunk" maybe wasn't enough to catch peoples attention............don't you love it! Where shall i start!


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Teribus
Date: 03 Nov 09 - 01:43 AM

I agree with you Les, seems as though the Admiralty and the RAF did everything they could to protect the convoy.

So so much for:

"The Admiralty said "it's a matter of pride
We don't give a damn for your coal"

I take it that the coal was needed down there in Dorset and it couldn't be sent by road or rail. In 1940 I do not believe thet that number of ships would just be "thrown away" as seems to be the inference with this song.

"The rest were the victims of the Admiralty's pride
Shot to hell or lying under the Main"

"T'was a hell of a price for the Admiralty's pride
That was paid by CW-9"

Are both examples of emotional twaddle.

My Uncles were Chief Engineers in the Merchant Navy during the war and they sailed in Atlantic; Arctic; Mediterranean; East Coast & Channel convoys during their time. In 1940 the Channel convoys were the worst particularly in daylight one of my uncles used to tell me about standing watches while under attack from aircraft listening to the cannon shells and machine gun bullets thumping into the deck plates.

Biggest ship killers on the coastal convoy routes were mines not E-boats; submarines or bombers.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: stallion
Date: 03 Nov 09 - 06:43 AM

What i would like to know, and haven't the time to research, as how it was reported at the time. In WWII in britain there was a huge propaganda / cover up exercise going on, whatever the rights and wrongs. i am sure the navy/defence did what they could but they would also "factor in" losses, military planners have to. My father told a tale of troops following a "creeping barrage" in WWII in Italy one gun was firing short, he was in a forward observation post directing the fire and requested to stop the gun that was firing low, reply was can't stop barrage for one gun. So whilst to the vast majority of the troops the guns were a blessing, the ones under the flight path of the ones firing short were getting hell from their own side. The point is one can snugly and smugly look at the stats and claim, that in the scale a world events, it was nothing ( reminds me of that song "...and they say it wasn't such a big disaster, it only made the papers for a day....")but for someone who was up close and personal it was all of that and more. So if the poem/song is about the recolections and memories of someone, it is their point of view and has a right to be heard and listened to as such. I accept there is another point of view and welcome the stats but not, perhaps the, opinions that it wasn't such a big disaster it didn't make the papers for a day!


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Les from Hull
Date: 03 Nov 09 - 06:52 AM

I am also curious as to why nine ships of the line were there as well. This term was only used for wooden sailing battleships. I'm pretty sure the RN wasn't still using them as convoy escorts.

I'm sure that it is possible to write a good song without employing bad history. History nerds (like me) will just get put off. Don't get me going about 'the band played Waltzing Matilda'!

Coal was an important cargo. There were many coal-burning ships serving the country - in fact they were still being built.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 03 Nov 09 - 08:51 AM

Les-

"From 'Naval Warfare in the English Channel 1939-1945' by Peter C Smith (Pen and Sword Maritime 2007)"

Are you saying that the information that you posted when Barry and Neil were asking for clarification was incorrect? I'm having difficulty keeping score here.

I agree with you that referring to the naval escort as "ships of the line" is an anachronism for the World War 2 period. It's also not clear how much of an escort sailed with the convoy, or whether it was sent out later in response to the E-boat attack.

However, the sentiments of the surviving merchant sailors as characterized in this song don't appear to be off-base to me. There were subjected to repeated attacks and endured considerable loss of life in terms of ships and crew. The Germans evidently did catch them flat-footed and those who sent them out should, in my opinion, bear some responsibility for being outsmarted.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Teribus
Date: 03 Nov 09 - 09:48 AM

Escorts would appear to have been:

Bulldog - Destroyer
Fernie - Destroyer
Wilna - Anti-Submarine Yacht - damaged
Rion - Anti-Submarine Yacht - damaged
Cape Palliser - Anti-Submarine Trawler - damaged
Kingston Chrysoberyl - Anti-Submarine Trawler - damaged
Kingston Olivine - Anti-Submarine Trawler - damaged
Stella Capella - Anti-Submarine Trawler - damaged

The vessels they were escorting:

Holme Force - Sunk
Fife Coast - Sunk
John M - damaged
Molly M - damaged
Ouse - Sunk
Rye - damaged
Coquetdale - Sunk
Empire Crusader - Sunk
Ajax - Sunk
Veenenburgh - damaged
Omlandia - damaged
Surte - damaged
Scheldt - damaged
Balmaha - damaged
Tres - Sunk

"However, the sentiments of the surviving merchant sailors as characterized in this song don't appear to be off-base to me. There (They?) were subjected to repeated attacks and endured considerable loss of life in terms of ships and crew."

Actually lost of life according to links supplied was very light compared to the number of ships sunk and damaged. The important piece of information was that unknown to the British at the time the eastward bound convoy CE8 had been tracked for the entire length of its passage and it was upon that information that the Germans planned their attacks on CW9. The convoys that had previously been run all got through unscathed. On that premise there was nothing to indicate that CW9 would be any different. Which makes the following judgement a complete and utter crock:

"The Germans evidently did catch them flat-footed and those who sent them out should, in my opinion, bear some responsibility for being outsmarted."

Once contact had been made both Royal and Merchant sailors faced repeated attack, therefore I do not know why Charlie makes the distinction - the merchant ships were armed Charlie and apart from the two Destroyers the escorts could in no way be described as "ships-of-the-line" steam yachts and trawlers. Truth was they were all under the hammer together and shouldered the task as well as they were able - But one thing Charlie while quite prepared to apportion blame did not do - he did not give the Admiralty credit for not letting happen again to any channel convoy.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: stallion
Date: 03 Nov 09 - 12:54 PM

This is wicked, a good old Mudcat row! What I really like is that opinions expressed on the subject of convoy CW9 are probably highly subjective and may say more about the perspective of the person posting than the incident. Well folks when I did history at university my tutors labelled me, from my interpretation of the "facts" (thank you Gradgrind), a "Neo-marxist". One cannot write truly objective Spock (the startrekkie)like history because society wouldn't allow it and certainly some opinions, based on quantitative facts, may attract a jail sentence. Indeed society would find them abhorrent. So, of the CW9 song, taken as a segment of someone's life in the thick of it, should no more be dismissed than the alternative view, quite rightly expressed here, should not be dismissed. Don't rubbish the song because you hold a different view, write your own or find one to support your view, hell fire we sing "Over the Hills and far away" next to "Johnny I hardly Knew yer" it shows the contrast. At this years Mystic Ron was tempted to balance an anti war song with "Mars forever more", he didn't (there were to many of them!)
Peter


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 03 Nov 09 - 04:14 PM

Teribus-

Thanks for clarifying the score. And you usually do a good job of sifting through historic records. And I've also agreed up above that describing the naval escort as "ships of the line" is romantic nonsense, but thanks for providing more detail about the naval units.

We will continue to disagree, evidently, on how to characterize what happened and whose responsibility that was.

But with regard to CW-8, as Les described above, the previous convoy did not come through unscathed:

"The convoy CW8 (25/26 July) had 21 ships, and lost 5 to the Luftwaffe on 25 July and another 3 to the E boats S19, S20 and S27 off Brighton during the night."

A loss of 8 ships appears to me a substantial loss and why wouldn't someone in authority mull that over before sending out another convoy on a similar run? Or were Les's "facts" incorrect?

Hey, Les, why don't you shed some more light on this, as a "history nerd"?

I still think the sentiment expressed in this song is right on target, even if it's 69 years after the event described.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Teribus
Date: 03 Nov 09 - 05:22 PM

CW-8 would be a Channel convoy Westbound

My post refers to CE-8 which would be a Channel convoy Eastbound

I believe that Les's mention of CW-8 is a typo as two of the ships he goes on to mention were the "John M" & the "Molly M" both detailed as having been damaged on CW-9

Another quote from one of Les's earlier posts (11 Jan 08 - 07:34 AM):

"Under the new operating regime, the first coastal convoy to move through the Straits was CE8, which sailed from Dartmouth on 2 August; it was joined by two more ships off Weymouth and sailed on to St Helen's, Isle of Wight on the next leg at 1800 the same day. The new tactic of creeping from harbour to harbour and laying up by day had appeared to work. CE8 got through with no losses and no opposition. It looked good for the return convoy, CW9, which assembled off Southend on 6 August. At the time it was not known that the Germans had carefully plotted the progress of the eastbound convoy for the whole of its tedious passage and drew up their plans accordingly."

Eastbound and Westbound convoys would not be given the same numerical designator - would only serve to confuse things.

RAF had problems guarding Channel convoys as the Luftwaffe could pounce on them before the RAF fighters could get off the ground, climb to altitude and attack them.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Dead Horse
Date: 03 Nov 09 - 06:07 PM

Wasnt the armed yacht Wilna the subject of a tv programme about wrecks in the Thames?
The name certainly rings a bell.
This particular wreck had to be surveyed as part of channel widening to keep up with the big container vessels using the river.
The Wilna, if it was her, was a luxury yacht that was comandeered by the admiralty for war service, being crewed by reservist sailors.
She was lost to a mine off Southend I believe.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 03 Nov 09 - 07:43 PM

Teribus-

That makes sense to me. History is difficult enough to figure out without typos.

Of course I was on Earth at the time but only looking a the photos in Life Magazine.

So how would you characterize how the sailors in the CW-9 convoy would have felt (those who survived) after their experience? Or wouldn't you care to speculate?

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Teribus
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 01:36 AM

"So how would you characterize how the sailors in the CW-9 convoy would have felt (those who survived) after their experience? Or wouldn't you care to speculate?"

I can only go by what my relatives, who went through similar experiences told me, which was simply this - There was a job to do and you did it. For most who sailed in CW-9 I would imagine that they felt relieved to have come through it.

As to the song, if you are going to write a song about an event that has happened and about which all facts are known, then you at least owe it to those who died to get those facts right. In this case that has patently not been done and the whole thing is a complete fiction and a distortion of what actually happened.

1. Realistically or practically the cargo of twenty ships could not have been sent by rail.

2. In 1940, considering the situation overall and the limited resources available, there is no way on Gods earth that the British Authorities would have deliberately risked 28 ships just to prove that "the Channel was free" the contention is ludicrous

3. While the Admiralty was responsible for organising and escorting convoys they did not direct where they were sent - that would have been the responsibility of the Ministry of Supply.

4. Losses on CW-9 from the crews of all those ships amounted to 20 men (5 from "Holme Force"; 5 from "Fife Coast"; 5 from "Empire Crusader"; 4 from the "Ajax" and 1 from HMS Rion)

5. E-boats particularly in Channel waters tended to attack at night under cover of darkness.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 09:24 AM

Actually the numbers of ships that made it through, those too damaged to continue, and those which were sunk do not add up in the various reports I've had access to. I suppose this is not too surprising.

For example, Terribus identifies 7 merchant ships that were sunk and 8 others that were damaged, which adds up to 15. The BBC source (http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/pda/A894332?s_id=4) summarized 8 merchant ships sunk, 6 so badly damaged they returned (or were towed) to whatever port they could, and another 4 merchant ships that made the complete voyage (leaving 2 merchant ships unaccounted for out of the entire convoy of 20); 4 of the 9 naval escorting force were also forced to return to port for major repairs.

The BBC source above concludes:

"The worst disaster of the war within Island waters was the fate of Convoy CW9".

I suppose one can view this "incident" as "There was a job to do and you did it." and the loss of life (ignoring the wounded) only amounted to "20 men." There was indeed a larger war and larger battles. But the reason this convoy deserves closer attention is that it failed in its mission of delivering coal, and it failed badly. The fact that the experience was not repeated in subsequent convoys, I would assume had something to do with the British learning from this "disaster," rather than minimizing it. Minimizing such "disasters" in my opinion does not credit either the sailors who died or those who survived.

The lyrics could use some more work in terms of historical accuracy, but we also should credit the singers, Barry Finn and Neil Downey, for attempting to clarify the historical context of the 20-year old poem that one of their friends had composed.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Teribus
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 10:34 AM

"I suppose one can view this "incident" as "There was a job to do and you did it." and the loss of life (ignoring the wounded) only amounted to "20 men." There was indeed a larger war and larger battles. But the reason this convoy deserves closer attention is that it failed in its mission of delivering coal, and it failed badly. The fact that the experience was not repeated in subsequent convoys, I would assume had something to do with the British learning from this "disaster," rather than minimizing it. Minimizing such "disasters" in my opinion does not credit either the sailors who died or those who survived."

I believe Charlie you asked me a direct question:

"So how would you characterize how the sailors in the CW-9 convoy would have felt (those who survived) after their experience?"

Speculation is pointless unless you actually had some form of reference. My only reference was what my uncles (All Chief or Extra Chief Engineers in the Merchant Navy), who had undergone similar experiences during the course of the Second World War, told me - which was - "There was a job to do and you did it."

One of my uncles missed the distinction of being torpedoed three times in 24 hours by a matter of a few hours (Atlantic Convoy) When I in turned joined the Royal Navy he gave me a brown paper parcel containing a Royal Navy Submarine sweater, given to him by one of the crew of the Royal Navy Destroyer who picked him up after the third ship he had been on got hit and he'd spent two days in an open boat in the North Atlantic.

Another who could remember the Channel convoys and engine room crew fainting as the machine gun bullets and cannon shells from straffing fighters could be heard hitting the deck and superstructure.

Another who had to add a "live" torpedo to his machinery space rounds check-list after it penetrated the hull and burst into the engine room and failed to explode.

But general concensus amongst them all was that nothing but nothing matched the hardships and danger of the Arctic convoys to the Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel.

"But the reason this convoy deserves closer attention is that it failed in its mission of delivering coal, and it failed badly."

Did it fail badly? All the coal carried by the ships that were damaged was delivered, only that in the ships that were sunk was lost. One of the hardest fought convoy operations of the Second World War must have been Operation Pedestal - ask the people of Malta whether it was a success or not - to the Navy it must have seemed a massacre - to the people of Malta it represented an extremely hard bought success, enough got through to keep them alive and to keep the island fighting.

Please do not put words in my mouth Charlie at no time at all have I tried to minimise this action, nowhere have I downgraded it from a battle to an "incident", that is your word. I did comment on the light casualty list considering the hammering the vessels in the convoy took, both vessels sunk and damaged, over a protracted period of time but at no time at all did I express that fact in the terms - "only 20 men died" - those are again your words not mine. Yet you are trying to imply, infer, that I have minimised the events surrounding Convoy CW-9 - I most certainly have not.

Did the Admiralty deliberately risk the lives of the crews, the ships and their cargoes - absolutely not, they had no way of knowing that the Freya radar station could track those ships, they had no way of knowing that those ships had in fact been detected (at this point in the war no warships carried radar, most certainly not armed yachts and anti-submarine trawlers). The first anybody knew was when the E-Boats attacked out of the darkness. From that point onwards the position and progress of the convoy was known and the enemy ranged whatever forces they had available against it - nothing could have altered that.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 02:00 PM

Teribus-

Thanks for clarifying your sentiments.

Most likely I was over reacting to what you posted.

There still is disagreement about the facts of this battle and who, if anyone, was responsible for the disaster but I doubt if those questions will be resolved unless others join in.

Come on in while the water's warm!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: stallion
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 02:11 PM

Helmets on incoming rounds!!!!!


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Richard Atkins
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 07:36 PM

Off the thread sorry Neil.
My Mothers brother Ted was chief Engineer in the engine room on Atlantic crossings torpedoed twice.
On the first abandon ship he went down to rescue his mate Sparky who was trapped under a girder, chest deep water made it lighter and they were both out before it went down.
On the second it was an oil tankard listing badly after torpedoes and again the abandon thip went out and he went down and filled opposing tanks with water to right it, and it came hone,
No medals of course but the guy below deck saved a life and a ship !


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 03:15 AM

And when a Merchant Seaman abandoned ship, his pay stopped!


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: stallion
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 03:35 AM

I find this thread fairly typical of many a Mudcat thread. Lots of songs are historically inaccurate since "to the victor go the spoils" which includes the writing of the history, and, sorry to bang on about this, there is the old addage when does a freedom fighter become a terrorist? (after 911?), it really is about the value systems of the society to which one has the greatest empathy. This of course can be dressed up as historical fact but again, to some, stats are lies or even damned lies! What stats don't show, and can't show, is just how individuals at the time actually felt, those moved to articulate it through writing probably had a vested interest and so the fairly recent oral histories set out on tape would appear to be a great tool, that is, until I heard 2 hours of my father on tape, it was like little Dorrit, the conversations he had with me over the years got blacker and darker as he slipped into altzhiemers, by way, I suppose, of a confession, he said " I have done some awful things, all for nothing".
He never clarrified his meaning of nothing and i was so shocked I never thought to ask, you will not read about any of these things because the victors didn't record any of it and anyway they were very small incidents on the scale of world events but he carried them with him all his life, it became obvious that his his oral history were things that he thought the audience and posterity wanted hear, stoicism, understated heroism, "I was only doing my job", but I knew, because he told me, that for the most part of WWII in action he was terrified and had done things he was thoroughly ashamed of, especially being reduced to having the morals of an animal following the pack leader.( I once told him that someone had shot at me and I had shat myself, he said that there was no shame in that he shat himself everytime he went in action.)
So, when someone writes something, which on the face of it is historically inaccurate, try to get into the skin of the writer and understand the sentiment and you will sing a good song. Credit for the historical research but it is too clinical without feeling for the subject and may say more about your politics and value systems than the actual event.
peter


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: bubblyrat
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 04:30 AM

In terms of loss of life alone,I would have said that the debacle off Start Point in Devon,where E-boats got in amongst landing-craft and other vessels "rehearsing" the D-Day landings,was the worst maritime disaster in inshore or "Home" waters during WW2. But then I don't recall ever hearing a song about that,either,although I cannot say that there isn't one.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 08:40 AM

Peter-

In this thread no one so far has credited the Germans for using their skills and resources for winning this round; describing the running battle as a blunder by the Admiralty (or whoever was in charge) does avoid going there.

But I think the song does a credible job of describing how the merchant sailors may have felt, and I don't think Teribus and I will ever agree on that.

Bubblyrat-

Dare you to compose a song about that disaster! We're supposed to only commemorate our great victories in song.

As I recall no one here in the States ever composed a song about the Battle of the Penobscot during our Revolutionary War. We had mobilized a fleet of over 50 warships and transports to take out a British fort that was being constructed in the town of Castine here in Maine. Some of the Rebel commanders were very well known or came from the best of families, such as Paul Revere in charge of artillery and Commodore Saltonstall in command of the fleet. The British commander acknowledged later that he would have surrendered after token resistance if anyone had had the courtesy to ask him; he was hopelessly outnumbered. But the Americans stumbled about for over a month, giving the British enough time to send in a squadron of warships which chased the entire Rebel fleet up the river where they were either sunk, burned or captured. Paul Revere managed to escape capture and was able to ride back to Boston with the news that, oddly enough, no one wanted to hear!

Well, back to my morning coffee,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 09:43 AM

Charley, funnily enough, with ref: your comments above. We i.e the Brits. do not seem to have writen anything about 'our', admittadly few, victories 'gainst you damn colonials! I can only think of 'Shannon & the Chesepeake', ner a song about burning Washington etc
However getting back to this thread, I do think that if anyone is writing about an historical event they should get the facts right, before they write it, even if they are making pure comments on the cause of,lets say a disater. The song PQ17 I feel is a good example. If writen immediatly after an event before all the facts were known, then inacuracies can well be overlooked.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 10:01 AM

We have had discussions of PQ17 but not, I think, the song.
Can you provide Ron?


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 11:21 AM

Keith, many years ago [late 60s] when I was in the MN I heard a song about PQ17, sung, as I recall by a Chief Engineer, who as a junior engineer, had served during the war, though I don't know if he actually sailed on the Murmansk run. He sang 'The Jervis Bay' and one about PQ17. I wrote both of them down, unfortunatly my note book, 'long with my watch & tobacco pouch , were stollen later in Lourenco Marques. All I can remember was the tune was "The church is one foundation" and one couplete......
                Convoy is to scatter, in fear we heard the shout
                Convoy is to scatter the Tirpiz she is out
Ocer the years I've racked my brain trying, without success to remember any other bits.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 12:25 PM

Ron-

Damn them thieves! The watch and tobacco pouch I can understand but they might have left the notebook.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Les from Hull
Date: 06 Nov 09 - 02:29 PM

Teribus - there was a convoy CW8, sailed on 25 July and lost 8 ships. Convoys were numbered consecutively.

One of the escorts, the requisitioned yacht Rion, still exists. clicky

Them there trawlers were 'from Hull' as well.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Les from Hull
Date: 06 Nov 09 - 02:35 PM

Now called 'Grace'


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Nov 09 - 02:52 PM

Thanks for confirming your post, Les.

So the fact that the British lost eight ships from a convoy in the same general area does make me wonder what those in authority were thinking to send out CW-9.

Maybe "The Admiralty" is not the appropriate authority to castigate in this song; can anyone suggest a more appropriate term (which scans)?

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: stallion
Date: 06 Nov 09 - 07:33 PM

I think this needs a resolution cos Barry would have wanted it, like a song that scans, a song that echos the sentiment and a song that was as accurate as it could be, so guys why not work together to resolve this one, start posting amendments!


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Nov 09 - 08:27 PM

Pete-

That's a good suggestion and I've actually begun that process (with the exception of what to use in place of the "Admiralty"):


Words by Buzz Smith, circa 1989
Tune by Neil Downey, 2008
New words after Mudcat discussion, 2009

CW-9-cn


On the 7th of August a convoy set out
As evening fell over the Thames
Through Dover Straits was their perilous route
CW-9 was their name;
Twenty Coast Colliers, nine ships in escort
Were sent to that hell on the sea
With a cargo that could've been carried by rail
Just to prove that the channel was free.

Chorus:

The Admiralty said "it's a matter of pride
We don't give a damn for your coal"
Then sent them all off for a bloody good ride
Where the E-Boats and Stukas patrolled.


From the shadows of night the first E-Boats appeared
To strike with torpedo and shell
And when back to France the Bosch bastards steered
Six ships had been blown all to hell;
Three of them crippled, their hulls badly holed,
Three more to the bottom had dived,
And still trapped below with their cargoes of coal
All the brave men who had died. (CHO)

In the gloomy mid-morning the Stukas dived down
With Messerschmitts guarding their tails
But Spitfires and Hurricanes gave them no ground
Through lead rained around them like hail;
But Jerry kept coming until at mid-day
They broke through the cover at last
And in ten minutes flat to the Convoy's dismay
Eleven of the Colliers were smashed. (CHO)

It was evening before the sad slaughter was o'er
For Jerry kept at them all day
And many brave sailors lay dead in their gore
Or drowned in a watery grave;
When into Swanage they limped with the tide
Four colliers were all that remained
The rest were the victims of the Admiralty's pride
Shot to hell or lying under the Main. (CHO)

They bombed them, they strafed they, they blew them aside
While the blood and the coal mixed with brine
T'was a hell of a price for the Admiralty's pride
That was paid by CW-9.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Nov 09 - 05:38 PM

Hey, it's a great song and a great thread. I would say that the vast majority of songs are historically inaccurate. Many deliberately so (propaganda). There's only a few of you left to give a shit anyway. If it's such a big deal that a song like this should be historically accurate then perhaps the singers could explain in their intros what the inaccuracies are. It's still a great song. A good story teller frequently uses exaggeration and poetic licence.







Stir stir!


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Les from Hull
Date: 08 Nov 09 - 11:51 AM

I think that the explanations might take longer than the song, Steve.

From the composition of the escort it seems that the major threat to the convoy was expected to come from U-boats. The anti-aircraft and anti-surface force capabilities were quite limited.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 08 Nov 09 - 12:09 PM

Les-

I really think you've made a good faith effort to clarify what happened to CW-9, and I will convey that information to Neil Downey who initiated this thread seeking such clarification. Given that no one has recorded this ballad, there would seem ample time to make wording changes that more accurately describe what happened. However, I'm not suggesting that portions of the song that deal with "judgment" would be modified; that's up to Neil and his friend Buzz who originally composed the song.

With regard to judgment, I'm still puzzling over why CW-9 was sent out given the disastrous experience of CW-8 which you summarized above:

"The convoy CW-8 (25/26 July) had 21 ships, and lost 5 to the Luftwaffe on 25 July and another 3 to the E boats S19, S20 and S27 off Brighton during the night"

Furthermore there didn't seem to be any modification of tactics on the part of the British from CW-8 to CW-9, only on the part of the Germans to mount a more effective attack.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: GUEST,Andy Saunders
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 12:48 AM

I was astonished to come across this thread!

I have been involved with the BBC who, in the summer, are showing three documentaries (BBC1) on the Battle of Britain. One will feature Convoy CW9 "PEEWIT" and we dived on one of her wrecks for the film. Currently, I am completing a book "Convoy Peewit" which covers the story - you will find it by searching on Amazon.

I would love to use the words of your song, Charley, in my book. Perhaps you would contact me?

Andy Saunders    (sndz338@aol.com)


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 07:39 AM

Andy-

It's not my song but the one my good friend Neil Downey worked up from one originally composed by his friend Buzz. I will forward your inquiry to Neil with your contact info.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Santa
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 02:12 PM

I think we tend to forget nowadays just how much the country relied upon coal. Not just to keep the home fires burning, but to run the factories and power stations and the furnaces. A ship can and did carry much more than a train: the railways were already working at full stretch, as books on the wartime activities will tell you.

What makes me feel uncomfortable about this song is that it totally ignores the real need to get that coal through. It sets up an establishment straw man to be sneered at and hated. It is not entertainment but propaganda, relying on omission and untruth (or at least exaggeration) to make a political point. I don't think it's a true offering of respect to the sailors at all.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 09:08 AM

Andy
I have emailed with details of a recording I have of Barry Finn and Dan Schatz singing the CW-9 song at Scarborough Seafest last year.
Ross


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Teribus
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 09:54 AM

From 'Naval Warfare in the English Channel 1939-1945' by Peter C Smith (Pen and Sword Maritime 2007)

The Battle for CW9:

CE8 got through with no losses and no opposition. It looked good for the return convoy, CW9, which assembled off Southend on 6 August. At the time it was not known that the Germans had carefully plotted the progress of the eastbound convoy for the whole of its tedious passage and drew up their plans accordingly. Night was really no protection from the all-seeing eye of Freya.

The first intelligence that the British got relating to the Freya radar system was brought to the UK by a young Danish Naval Flight Lieutenant Thomas Sneum, who, at great risk to his life, photographed radar installations on the Danish island of Fanø in 1941 and then escaped to Britain in a derelict de Havilland Hornet that he and a friend secretly repaired. The escapade was used by the author Ken Follet in his book Hornet Flight.

Not knowing about Freya would mean that on two occasions the British could only assume that the Germans had got lucky. After CW-9 I believe that channel convoys were stopped. To attempt to lay blame for what happened on the Admiralty and infer that it was done purely as a matter of pride to portray a non-existent callousness is grossly unfair and insulting, especially as both the song and the music were written in retrospect by people who were never there. Songs written at the time by people who were there are one thing, but if you are writing about an event retrospectively and you have all the information at your finger tips, you have a duty to at least get it right. If you cannot do that then you shouldn't bother as you are only doing a disservice to the subject, the memory of the people concerned and to history.

Both Allied and Axis sides went to great lengths to mask the technological and scientific break-throughs that gave them any sort of "edge". One well known example being the RAF's early airborne interception radar sets: The success of night fighter pilots was reportedly put down to diet and the old-wives tales about carrots being good for night vision - most successful of those pilots with 20 victories credited to him was John Cunningham,nick-named "Cats Eyes" Cunningham, who survivied the war and became de Havillands Chief Test pilot.


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Subject: RE: (WWII) CW-9 names of ships for a song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 10:37 AM

Terribus-

I'm still puzzling over CE8's experience which you describe today as having gotten "trough with no losses and no opposition."

Les described CW8 convoy (the other convoy leg) as follows:

"The convoy CW-8 (25/26 July) had 21 ships, and lost 5 to the Luftwaffe on 25 July and another 3 to the E boats S19, S20 and S27 off Brighton during the night"

You appear to be ignoring the CW8 experience or at best selecting facts which reinforce your personal point of view, or Les is incorrect in what he posted. Would you care to respond?

Charley Noble


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