Campaigning Through Time.
Understand, know, challenge: Since 2012, we have been working to debate, nurture interest and archive history as it happens.
 
  Index  •  FAQ  •  Search  

It is currently 28 Jun 2017, 16:50



Welcome
Welcome to Campaigning Through Time, a ‘historum’ for the discussion of military history and the archiving of current events and commemoration. As founders, our goals were to create a community that would last, that would pride itself on purposeful discussion and relaxed moderation, and would ultimately nurture and encourage interest in military history. Working with the University of Kent's Military History Society and their network of students and alumni, we hope to extend military history to all who wish to learn more. All are welcome!

If you are new to our site, have a look at our rules and FAQ, browse our upcoming events, get help with coursework, check out our magazine, peruse our archive, or simply have some fun!

Registration is fast, simple, and absolutely free, so join the discussion today!




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 6 posts ] 
 The South African Navy in the Second World War 
Author Message
 Post subject: The South African Navy in the Second World War
Unread postPosted: 03 Jan 2015, 23:55 
Lieutenant-Colonel
Lieutenant-Colonel
User avatar

Joined: 30 Jan 2012, 19:49
Posts: 1875
Location: United Kingdom
Has thanked: 65 time
Have thanks: 119 time
Report this post
The South African Navy in the Second World War

Image
HMSAS Good Hope - http://www.naval-history.net

By John Ash


The modern day South African Navy (SAN) is the naval element of the South African National Defence Force and it, unsurprisingly, prepares for and conducts naval operations in defence of South Africa. In peacetime, the navy carries out numerous operations to support the nation’s national objectives and the South African Navy supports other local authorities and departments by the mere provision and preservation of its presence. The Navy also protects maritime resources and conducts search and rescue operations. The South African Navy currently operates some 50 vessels, and has some 7700-9000 personnel serving in its ranks or in the reserve. Although not a nation famed for its current or former navy, South Africa can safely and proudly assert its pride regarding the potency and busy historical careers of its ships and sailors, especially during the world wars. Whilst South Africa’s substantial land and air based contributions to the wider Allied effort in the Second World War and others have been noted, highly praised and applauded, a fact noted by notable South African historian Andre Wessels, the comparatively much smaller contribution from a South African Navy which in 1939 barely existed is a tale much less commonly heard – perhaps second only to South Africa’s involvement in the war against Japan in terms of a lack of historical coverage.

Origins and into war:

The South African Navy, which has inherited much of its customs, conventions, and traditions from the British, boldly claims to originate from 1861. Certainly, it can be argued that the earliest beginnings of the South African Navy can be traced back to the Port Elizabeth Naval Volunteer Brigade which was raised in 1861, but it only appears to have lasted for a year. Again, there is an argument suggesting that the navy dates back to the part-time unit named the Natal Naval Volunteers (NNV) which was formed in Durban on the 30th April 1885. These men were tasked with defending Durban from Russia, should she expand her empire as feared. They manned their 6-inch guns throughout the Second Boer War (1899-1902) and the 1906 Zulu Rebellion. The NNV maintained its links to the navy by becoming the Royal Naval Volunteer Base/Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) by merging with the Cape Naval Volunteers (CNV, later SAS Unitie, formed in Cape Town in 1905) in 1910.

However, the South African Navy’s official origins date back to the establishment of the SA Naval Service on the 1st April 1922 following the donation of the HMS Thames, a relatively new Mersey class protected cruiser which in 1903 was refit as a submarine depot ship, from the Jersey-born South African entrepreneur TB Davis. Davis had purchased the ship a little earlier in order to honour his son who had been killed in the First World War and he set up a trust to train South African and British boys so they could serve in ships belonging to Britain or one of her dominions. The donation of the Thames (later renamed the SATS General Botha) directly contributed to the establishment of the South African Navy, as during the First World War, any South African Naval presence came from the 500 or so volunteers who either served who served in the Royal Naval Air Service and aboard British warships. Simonstown was chosen as the permanent base for the South African Navy because of its importance in previous conflicts such as the First World War or the Second Boer War.

A look current ships serving with the South African Navy confirms its interests and role and shows that even today the South African Navy remains remarkably familiar to its Second World War ancestor. Apart from 2 Late-war/Cold-War destroyers, there have never been any ‘big’ ships. Instead, the South African Navy has always made the most of small ships in minesweeping and anti-submarine roles. Even today, the cost effective/reducing four Valour-class frigates are stealthy, environmentally friendly, but potent. They are supported by a replenishment ship and a good number of patrol vessels and minesweepers. The South African Navy was and remains primarily focused at combatting the threat posed by mines and submarines, and doing so cheaply, and this is a situation not so different from the one faced throughout the Second World War.

The Seaward Defence Force and the South African Naval Force (SANF)



At the outbreak of the Second World War, the SA Naval Service practically did not exist. Although South Africa ought to have been in the position where she “should have been fully occupied in 'getting on with the war'”, the country failed to prepare at all. To then go through a difficult period of “muddle, misunderstanding and makeshift arrangements” and become a modern and effective navy is quite the feat. The bad state of the South African Navy in 1939 can be blamed directly on the economy. Other than the gifted Thames, the first ships acquired by a newly formed South African Navy back in the interwar period were the HMSAS Protea (a hydrographic survey vessel) and the HMSAS Sonneblom and HMSAS Immortelle (minesweeping trawlers) which had been permanently loaned from the Royal Navy. These vessels formed the centre of the new navy, but cutbacks necessitated by the Great Depression meant the ships had to be returned. The cuts went further, to the point where the entire navy consisted of no ships, and only 3 officers and 3 ratings were kept to continue survey work. The only sizeable naval presence in South Africa came from the small British commanded Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve and 22 Brits tasked with maintaining the RNVR’s training and logistics.

The strategic location of South Africa between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans made its position vital. Once the allies lost bases in the Far East, South Africa became all the more important. The British needed new bases, and South Africa had existing harbour infrastructure and boasted the largest drydock between Singapore and Gibraltar – at Durban, which was capable of taking carriers and battleships. More like that would be built. In addition, a totally new and highly advanced £2,000,000 major naval base at Salisbury Island, also in Durban, was built throughout the duration of the war. According to Wessels, there was a massive increase of sea traffic in and around South African waters:

Quote:
“The number of ocean-going ships…that called at Cape Town rose from 1,784 (1938-39) to 2,559 (1941-42) and 2,593 (1942-43)…at Durban, from 1,534 to 1,835 and 1,930 respectively. The number of naval vessels that visited Cape Town rose from ten (1938-39) to 251(1941-42) and 306 (1942-43), while, in Durban, the numbers rose from sixteen (in 1938) to 192 (in 1941) and 313 (in 1942).”


This would further increase the importance of the South African navy and the efforts of wider allies. Again, according to Wessels, 50,000 ships in 400 convoys visited South Africa carrying around 6,000,000 men during the war and over a fifth of these ships required repairs in South African harbours.

Whilst South Africa’s distance from Europe was at first a saving grace, it could not be relied on and luck proved to be more fortuitous. German forces could and would operate in the area, and after their entry into the war, as would the Japanese. The long-standing presence of a pair of British heavy cruisers in South Africa did little to nullify the threat of ships like the Graf Spee, which freely negotiated the Cape. According to the official histories:

Quote:
“During this period there were one or two British cruisers in Cape waters but a concentration of these would have been necessary before giving battle with any prospect of victory; a handful of Junker aircraft (Ju86), converted for bombing/reconnaissance duties but flown by their commercial pilots, represented the coastal air-strength; and the only land guns then mounted in Southern Africa approaching those of the raider in range and calibre were two long-range 9.2-inch guns at Simon's Town. But the raider does not appear to have even contemplated a brief, bold attack on massed shipping or oil tanks at one of the almost unprotected commercial ports, which would have stood an excellent chance of success and would certainly have had a profound moral effect.”


Once Japan entered the war, there was a real threat to South Africa. The nation could prepare for raids and patch vulnerabilities in defences, but the fact that the Japanese Navy had some 8 carriers, 10 battleships, 40 cruisers and 67 submarines amongst numerous other vessels and stood at the vanguard of a large, rapidly expanding enemy, meant that a full invasion was a possibility. They also were known to use submarines and midget submarines to attack Allied harbours, having done so at Pearl Harbour, Sydney, and the unbearably close Madagascan port of Diego Suarez. South Africa’s small navy would become increasingly important, as although it would be unable to stop a Japanese flotilla of cruisers let alone an entire invasion fleet, its support of Allied navies allowed them to maintain a sizeable presence in South African waters. The South African Navy was fully occupied in patrolling South African waters against enemy submarine attacks and minesweeping and with the threat of Japanese invasion these patrols were stepped up. With Japans entry into the war, the likelihood of enemy activity in local waters and the strategic importance of South Africa and its geographical position became all the more important. South Africa was vulnerable, there were few coastal batteries and until 1942 there were only 8 large calibre AA guns in service – all overseas with South African troops. South Africa had been lucky to avoid a major axis offensive, and for much of the war would be unable to actively support actions in the Far East, but the plucky nation and its tiny navy had to prepare itself for what lay ahead in the Indian Ocean.

British and later American navies would ultimately dominate the seas, at least above the surface, as the Germans and Japanese remained a threat underwater. As South Africa sat on an important supply/communications route between the Axis powers it was imperative that South Africa’s navy be developed into a useful force. In January 1940 the Seaward Defence Force was formed and the new navy was responsible for operating minesweepers, anti-submarine ships, and fulfilling other duties primarily in South African waters for much of the war. By the 15th of that month, the force had some 15 anti-submarine vessels and 39 minesweepers. It was led, until his death in a plane crash in 1941, by the British born South African retiree Rear-Admiral Guy Hallifax. Hallifax had spent nearly 40 years in the Royal Navy, and was called out of retirement and appointed as the Director of the SDF. He established a fleet of minesweepers and anti-submarine vessels in order to protect the coast of South Africa, and he organised naval detachments in the major ports.

After 3 years of war, the SDF merged with the RNVR and consolidated on 1st August 1942 to form South African Naval Forces (SANF), the SANF had gone from a token outfit of 6 individuals to a formation in which 10,300 South Africans (of which some 330 would be killed) would serve. Nearly 300 women also served in the South African Navy, as the SA Woman's Auxiliary Naval Service (SWANS) was established in October 1943. At its peak, SANF operated 87 vessels and whilst at this point, the South Africans never operated ships any larger than frigates, they proved to be a valued and efficient naval arm. Additionally, nearly 3,000 officers and ratings were seconded to the Royal Navy or the Fleet Air Arm and South Africans took part in almost every major naval action of the war including the Arctic Convoys and the Normandy Landings. Whilst no South African Army units participated in the D-Day invasion, the sailors did, and South African sailors also served in the convoys to Russia or in the Royal Marines. South Africans served with distinction in roles and locations as varied as minesweeping off the Faroes to conducting hydrographical surveys in the South China Sea, all while establishing a proud fighting tradition.

South African ships received 26 battle honours and South African sailors were bestowed with 225 awards for gallantry or distinguished service. Over a dozen South African vessels worked to support operations in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and Southern France, and the South African Navy today claims that "the discipline, morale and above all, the marksmanship” of the South African Mediterranean anti-submarine patrols “were unequalled". South African vessels supported the Sicilian and Italian campaigns and also operated in the Aegean during the last years of the war whilst the RFA Salvestor, a British salvage ship crewed entirely by the South African Navy, was the only South African ship to earn a Pacific 1942-45 battle honour by keeping Hong Kong Harbour open in 1945. One of the three Loch Class ships received by SANF, HMSAS Natal, achieved a record by sinking the German U-boat U-714 whilst still on sea trials and only 6 hours after leaving the building yard in March 1945 – and according to official historian, Commander Gordon-Cumming, this was done with a new crew which had only received 3 days shore training, and with a new and unfamiliar ASDIC system. The Loch Class were dedicated anti-submarine frigates, a less than graceful, crude, boxy and simple ship which epitomised wartime production methods. The excellent frigates were highly innovative, designed while considering years of anti-submarine warfare in the Battle of the Atlantic, and were technologically advanced ships for their era – perfect for the South African Navy. South African naval vessels patrolled South Africa’s territorial waters, taking this responsibility over from the British whose Royal Navy had been previously conducting interdiction, minesweeping, and anti-submarine duties. Their converted trawlers and whalers enjoyed excellent stability in all weathers, perhaps even more so than the dedicated military ships which were operated in the same areas in the same conditions, including the Cape, which can be particularly dodgy. SANF successfully undertook the operations outlined by their duties and in addition rescued over 400 survivors from torpedoed ships - Most notably, the HMSAS Africana twice rescued survivors, from the American Anne Hutchinson and the Canadian SS Point Pleasant Park.

Image
HMSAS Natal - http://www.naval-history.net

SANF evaluated

SANF proved to be good sub hunters, and although German and Japanese submarines operated almost continuously within a 1000 miles of South Africa between October 1941 and February 1945, their successes were limited. The official histories note that Axis submarine successes were, 132 merchant ships (some 750,000 tonnes), of which 32 were sunk by the Japanese, and the sinking of only 1 Allied warship, the Dutch submarine depot ship Colombia and the damaging of HMS Hecla and the battleship HMS Ramillies. The histories conclude that these successes were a “poor return if one takes into account the additional time on passage to and from the area and the risk to both submarines and supply-ships when breaking through the steadily tightening cordon of Allied sea and air patrols in the Bay of Biscay.”

The submarine campaign began in October 1941 when a U-boat sank the Hazelside, and intensified when the Japanese first arrived with their submarines in mid-1942. Japanese submarines were responsible for 13.5% of the kills, and the South Africans were only able to sink or lead to the sinking of 3 of the 36 enemy submarines which operated within 1,000 miles of South Africa. Despite this seemingly low figure, the South African Navy’s measures and operations against submarines improved vastly, as although only 3 submarines were sunk many more were attacked, and the Axis were forced to transfer their submarines to operate further east – even more so when the Allies took Madagascar, after which Japanese submarines never again ventured near Africa's coasts. The South Africans were able to keep control of the seas around their country, which was vital. The importance of the route around South Africa between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans was key as it was the only feasible way the Germans and Japanese could hop across the oceans, additionally the route had huge importance to both sides in terms of communications, and lastly and perhaps most importantly, SANF kept South Africa, a country which relied on the sea for at least 95% of its trade, open for business. Whilst the navy is rightfully credited, there is also the valuable contribution from the South African Air Force to consider. At the outbreak of war, the SAAF had to assume responsibility for the protection of South Africans territorial waters and the Cape trade route as there was no real navy, The 29 German made Junkers JU-86Z and Junkers JU-52s operated as air liners by South African Airways were taken over for maritime patrol. By late September 1939 these patrols had begun flying, and the SAAF would soon receive a dedicated, yet aged, patrol aircraft, the Avro Anson, from the British in 1940. According to Andre Wessels, between September 1939 and August 1945 SAAF aircraft flew 15,000 coastal patrol sorties and in conjunction with British and Dutch aircraft stationed in South Africa, intercepted 17 enemy ships, assisted in the rescue of 437, and attacked 26 of the 36 enemy submarines that operated around the South African coast.

Despite being proficient and successful hunters, SANF also bore a number of setbacks, mainly in the early war. The most notable, and almost certainly because the South Africans lacked anything strong enough to tackle them, a number of German surface ships were able to negotiate the Cape in relatively safety – although often the British would hunt them in the following weeks and months. The Admiral Scheer, like her sister the Graf Spee, freely rounded the cape at least twice, and until her encounter with the HMS Devonshire in November 1941 the auxiliary cruiser Atlantis evaded the South Africans on its 100,000 mile, 602 day voyage where she sank or captured 22 ships. Again, the South Africans were unable to sink the Pinguin, the most successful commerce raider of the war, she travelled 59,000 in 357 days sinking or capturing 28 ships until eventually, in May 1941, meeting HMS Cornwall and becoming the first of the Kriegsmarine's Auxiliary Cruisers to be sunk. Another raider, Doggerbank, also slipped though Cape waters unhindered, laying mines off Cape Town in March 1942. In June of that year two Japanese raiders briefly visited South African waters and sank a freighter off of Durban. Yet, realistically, there was little the South African Navy could do to oppose these surface ships and as mentioned Allied navies did operate in South African waters it never became a major issue.

As mentioned, SANF had a considerable operational presence outside of its home waters, and considering the tiny size of South Africa’s Navy, such a consistent and persistent deployment is a relatively large undertaking. The leadership of both Hallifax and his successor, the long-serving British born Commodore James Dalgliesh, (First World War Royal and Merchant Navy veteran, and member of SA Naval Service) allowed the SDF and SANF to operate competently, although the extent of the autonomy and control ceded by the Royal Navy is difficult to gauge. Nevertheless, from 1941, South African anti-submarine trawlers served in the Mediterranean Sea and it was not uncommon for the South Africans to provide escorts for convoys in the Indian Ocean and even in the Far East, where 3 battle honours were earned. Whilst South Africa's "little ships" earned an enviable reputation when on operations in the Mediterranean Sea although despite setbacks and losses, in early 1941, the South Africans deployed four anti- submarine whalers in the Mediterranean, taking the only four sonar sets available to the entire navy. The deployment was not fortuitous, one ship, the HMSAS Southern Floe was lost in February 1941. It is presumed that the ship hit a mine, but in reality no one seems to know for sure. The crew of the Southern Floe were the first South African naval casualties of the war, and according to the official histories, the “loss of the ship, although but a trivial incident… came as a sudden and grievous blow to the flotilla and to the force from which it came... The sense of loss was profound.”

Another setback for SANF was the loss of the minesweeping whaler, HMSAS Parktown, which was sunk off Tobruk by a mixture of gunboat, tank and small-arms fire in November 1942. Although not the last South African ship to be lost, she certainly went down in a blaze of glory. Parktown had spent the last 10 days keeping the port clear of magnetic mines to assist evacuation and/or resupply and she was the last ship to leave the beleaguered port before Tobruk fell - towing a tugboat full of wounded soldiers. Accounts differ, but between 4 and 6 Italian MAS gunboats attacked the Parktown, which was armed only with 1 20mm Oerlikon and 1 quadruple Vickers 50.calibre AA gun, and the Italians only stopped when either a South African fighter intervened or when a German fighter attacked the Italians to stop them firing on survivors.

Conclusions

Image
Members of the South African Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve serving on HMS Nelson - Wikipedia

In conclusion, despite having to deal with a sizable quantity of setbacks (considering the size of the South African Navy and the fact that it had no major surface vessels) the South Africans identified that they had an important role to fulfil and this was accomplished. Thousands of South African naval personnel served in the Royal Navy and on capital ships, and South African sailors helped to address a shortage of Royal Navy personnel, especially in the Far East. According to a coastal forces heritage trust, South Africa’s use of small torpedo boats (some locally built) and other coastal craft was a major contribution to the war. In addition, South Africa was able to operate its navy outside of its own waters. This article primarily analysed South Africa’s involvement in support of the Mediterranean Campaign, an area of operation which was hotly contested and full of much larger capital ships and where ships were near permanently in range of land based aircraft. Regardless, South African ships played a valuable role, and Andre Wessels’ article for the South African Military History Society makes the point, barely touched in this article, that several ships served in the Far East and it was ensured that they would participate in supporting an invasion of Japan if required. All of South Africa’s frigates were to serve in the Far East and were modified to better suit the theatre. Only the frigate Natal would get there before the war was over, but she spent a long time clearing up after the war, and assisted in the occupations of Malaya, Singapore, and Sumatra. Ultimately, although hundreds of thousands of South African people would volunteer for war service, only 0.12% of enlisted South Africans would ultimately service in the Far East, and with the exception of the 2000 Navy personnel, none would fight.

As mentioned, the sub hunters are also worth noting, although the number of kills awarded to them low, the proficiency of the submarine hunters and convoy escorts was of untold value. However, an article in the South African Military History Society’s journal claims that too few submarines were sunk to use a kill ratio to judge the effectiveness of the force. The article, by W Bizley, discusses the sinking of U-197 by British aircraft stating that it was achieved by South African surveillance. The same article concludes, as does Wessels, that allied efforts forced U-boats into less propitious theatres. Therefore it cannot be denied that the South Africans, admittedly in conjunction with their own air force and other allies, were successful in their exploits to prevent enemy submarines from controlling South African waters and as mentioned earlier in this article, the Axis powers put a lot of effort into operating submarines in South African waters and achieved very little success. The Japanese, despite being the most successful, gave up completely.

Additional Reading

The website below lists every South African naval casualty between 1939 and 1947 and lists the ships they were on at the time. Edited by Gordon Smith and compiled by Don Kindell, the list aims to honour the many South African sailors who perished in a war there the countries naval exploits are frequently overshadowed by the Royal Navy and even by other dominions.

Quote:
World War 2 at Sea
SOUTH AFRICAN NAVAL FORCE
Ship Histories, Convoy Escort Movements, Casualty Lists 1939-1947
http://www.naval-history.net/xDKCas2540-SANF.htm


Bibliography

Commander H. R. Gordon-Cumming, Official History of the South African Naval Forces during the Second World War (1939 – 1945), Naval Heritage Trust South Africa, Simon's Town, 2008

The South African Military History Society, Military History Journal, Vol 10 No 3 - June 1996. South Africa and the War against Japan 1941-1945, Andre Wessels - http://samilitaryhistory.org/vol103aw.html

The South African Military History Society, Military History Journal, Vol 11 No 5 - June 2000. The first two years of war: The development of the Union Defence Forces (UDF) September 1939 to September 1941, Andre Wessels - http://www.samilitaryhistory.org/vol115aw.html

The South African Military History Society, Military History Journal Vol 11 No 2 - December 1998, THE SINKING OF U-197- A flashpoint in German and South African surveillance politics, 1942-3, by W H Bizley - http://samilitaryhistory.org/vol112wb.html

Coastal Forces Heritage Trust, Coastal Forces of World War II - http://www.coastal-forces.org.uk/history.html

SA Navy, Department: Defence, Republic of South Africa, History of the SA Navy - http://www.navy.mil.za/aboutus/history/

South African History Online, World War II: The evacuation of Allied forces from Dunkirk ends as German forces capture the beach port - http://www.sahistory.org.za/dated-event ... beach-port

_________________
Historian, Journalist, Feature Writer, and Editor.
Society Chairman/Advisor 2013-2016, Society President 2012-2013, Society Vice President 2010-2012, Administrator 2011-
Darkhorse has been thanked by:


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The South African Navy in the Second World War
Unread postPosted: 04 Jan 2015, 00:10 
Captain
Captain
User avatar

Joined: 27 Sep 2012, 19:59
Posts: 892
Has thanked: 145 time
Have thanks: 37 time
Report this post
interesting, I didn't realise how independent dominion navies actually were

_________________
UKC Military History Society President, 2013-2015
Image


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The South African Navy in the Second World War
Unread postPosted: 12 Jan 2015, 13:56 
Lieutenant-Colonel
Lieutenant-Colonel
User avatar

Joined: 27 Jun 2012, 11:56
Posts: 1688
Location: London, UK.
Has thanked: 42 time
Have thanks: 46 time
Report this post
Why do you think the South Africans weren't given a handful of larger ships? A light cruiser, an escort carrier or a couple of destroyers for example.

_________________
Image


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The South African Navy in the Second World War
Unread postPosted: 12 Jan 2015, 23:08 
Lieutenant-Colonel
Lieutenant-Colonel
User avatar

Joined: 30 Jan 2012, 19:49
Posts: 1875
Location: United Kingdom
Has thanked: 65 time
Have thanks: 119 time
Report this post
My gut instinct was to suggest that the South African Navy did not have the manpower to crew larger ships nor the funds to loan/buy them.

However, thousands of South Africans crewed Royal Navy ships and large vessels at that therefore there was a pool of thousands of trained and enlisted men used to serving aboard larger warships. Again, while I do not know for certain, I'd imagine a few of these men were officers who ended fairly high up the chain of command, and therefore perhaps would have had the expertise to command larger ships.

The only area where the South Africans may have been behind on is in regard to naval aviation. My friend Biggles would have to confirm as I could be wrong, but I do not think that the South Africans received a fighter/bomber capable of operating from an escort carrier and whilst I'd imagine some South African pilots flew in the British Fleet Air Arm such men would be few and far between. Even if they were gifted say, 50 Hellcats, Avengers, and Dauntless aircraft or similar from the British or Americans to rotate around 1 or 2 escort carriers, they'd still have to get the spares, a land base, qualified ground teams who were familiar with the aircraft, and the right pilots and at sea crews to operate them at sea. A mammoth undertaking.

Secondly, what is a little more war debt amongst friends? I'd imagine the British wouldn't have missed half a dozen destroyers, a couple of escort carriers, and a light cruiser when those ships are considered in relation to the total of war debt - and Canada, Australia and New Zealand received several vessels off of the British. Whether they were paid for/part paid for by those countries is another matter, and South Africa itself may not have been able to afford such ships.

So I'm afraid I don't know for sure, but I can only suggest that South Africa could not afford the expected cost burden of such ships (whether full or part payment) or simply had no desire to operate such large vessels.

They did however, have the facilities to maintain and crews to operate such ships.

_________________
Historian, Journalist, Feature Writer, and Editor.
Society Chairman/Advisor 2013-2016, Society President 2012-2013, Society Vice President 2010-2012, Administrator 2011-


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The South African Navy in the Second World War
Unread postPosted: 12 Jan 2015, 23:37 
Private

Joined: 22 Jun 2014, 21:34
Posts: 7
Has thanked: 0 time
Have thanks: 3 time
Report this post
John,
Thank you for an interesting and enlightening article, I had no idea what the South African Navy was doing during the Second World War, and had always regarded the theatre of something of a backwater, which leads into my first point.
I would disagree that the reason the RN did not supply their South African counterpart was due to lack of funds, I am sure a lend lease could have been arranged (if not in place for other equipment, haven't checked) and would suggest that your instinct that they suffered from a lack of manpower was closer to the mark. As I have said, South Africa was a sort of backwater, a staging port for advances to the Far East and for troops heading for British East Africa, so why would it need larger ships for defence when all it was doing was ASW? I direct you to the school of thought of the 'Jeaune Ecole' (and depending on my French that could be the young or yellow school) that suggested that smaller vessels such as torpedo boats were perfectly capable of defending a country.
You do correctly in my opinion point out that South African sailors saw service in other theatres diluted among British and commonwealth units along with soldiers and airmen(and every so often turning up as German spies drinking Carlsberg in Alexandria with John Mills).
On the note of airmen, at your request I glanced into what the SAAF was doing at the time, I can tell you that they did pilot training there (further reinforcing the idea of a backwater) in lend lease T-6s. Their other main role seemed to be ASW with Avro Ansons, second line castoffs from Coastal Command that were also used for pilot, gunner and navigator training, so anti submarine work may have just been a way to keep pilots busy/ train them for the North Atlantic. The American USAAF kept pilots busy that way on the Californian coast. However it is likely from your interpretation of the sinking of submarines in the area that they were at least armed, more so than the Americans. As an aside their first ASW aircraft were Ju-52s and Ju-86s borrowed from South African airlines! Irony!

Biggles
mattcurry has been thanked by:


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The South African Navy in the Second World War
Unread postPosted: 13 Jan 2015, 00:12 
Lieutenant-Colonel
Lieutenant-Colonel
User avatar

Joined: 30 Jan 2012, 19:49
Posts: 1875
Location: United Kingdom
Has thanked: 65 time
Have thanks: 119 time
Report this post
All fair points Biggles, although I'd suggest that South Africa as a backwater is still vitally important. Other backwaters such as Canada or Australia were defended by their huge distance and lack of traffic/feasible strategic value to the Axis powers later in the war. Canada, considering its location as 'America's hat' was fairly well protected with little effort. South Africa however, is the £20 note Britain has dropped 50 yards away. Perhaps not as important as a warm winter garment from Canada, but the £20 is a large contribution to covering Britain's weekly shop, Britain dropped it right in the middle of the High Street and all the other nations want that note, and are closer to getting it...

The almost Mahan school of coastal defence practised by the South Africans, as we can see appeared to be effective. However, I would not want to see the result of a few armed whalers going up against a commerce raider, a Japanese cruiser or even the Graf Spee. Whilst nothing the South African's feasibly could have operated would be seriously relied on for attacking pocket battleships, a trio of older destroyers with their 4 to 6 4.7in guns and torpedoes certainly have good odds when facing a commerce raider. In fact, Q-ships could have been part of the solution. And I suppose larger enemy ships could have been shadowed more efficiently, allowing the closest Allied large naval assets to hunt down the target almost immediately.

It is also worth remembering that destroyers would have definitely suited the South Africans when operating outside of their own waters or the Med. Certainly, there was no need to spend money on dedicated ASW corvettes when converted whalers would do in home waters, but the acquisition of the 3 Loch Class frigates certainly points to a heavier involvement in the Pacific Ocean.

Thanks for addressing the SAAF question, seems even the smallest escort carriers would have been out of the picture then as the SAAF had neither the aircraft nor the crews to operate from one. That said, as a centre for pilot training...

_________________
Historian, Journalist, Feature Writer, and Editor.
Society Chairman/Advisor 2013-2016, Society President 2012-2013, Society Vice President 2010-2012, Administrator 2011-


Offline
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 6 posts ] 


 Who is online 

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Donate Now
Donate Now


Hosted by © 2017 FreeForums.org | Create a free forum | Powered by phpBB
About FreeForums | Legal | Advertise Here | Investors | Contact FreeForums.org

 
Index  |  FAQ  |  Search

phpBB skin developed by: John Olson
 

suspicion-preferred