ROYAL NAVAL RESERVE
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LOSS OF THE RUTLANDSHIRE
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Along with the 21st A/S Striking Force, the 23rd Anti-submarine (A/S) trawler group arrived in the Namsen Fjord on the 16th April 1940, to support the main troop landings at Namsos.
Early on the morning of Thursday, 18th April 1940, the Rutlandshire was boarded by the Norwegian pilot, Yngvar Ottesen. She subsequently sailed from Namsos and during the course of the 18th April patrolled Folla and the entrance to the Namsen Fjord, returning to Nord Statland, a point approximately half way into the Namsen Fjord, later in the day. During the evening of the 18th/19th April 1940, the Rutlandshire provided anti-aircraft protection to a convoy making its way up the Namsen Fjord, again returning to Nord Statland during the course of the 19th April.
On Friday, 19th April 1940 at 1905hrs, convoy F.P.1, comprising the British cruiser HMS Cairo ("C" class light cruiser), (the French cruiser Emile Bertin had retired westward towards Scapa at 22kts accompnied by one of the destroyers having been damaged during an earlier attack), 2 of the 3 French destroyers Tartu, Chevalier Paul and Maille Breze with transports Ville d'Oran, El Kantara, El Djazair and El Mansour entered the Namsen Fjord. Only 2 transports were initially expected at Namsos, however Rear Admiral Derrien appeared to have been particularly anxious that all four should be taken in despite difficulties associated with berthing and unloading. From the HMS Nubian (Tribal class flotilla destroyer) report dated 23rd April 1940 it appears that the transports were disembarking stores and troops, no doubt to support the 146th Infantries advance south towards Steinkjer.
Following several attacks by German aircraft both at the entrance to and in transit along the fjord, convoy F.P.1 proceeded into Namsos and commenced berthing at 2100hrs with the outer transports casting off at 0230hrs, 20th April 1940. By 0300hrs all transports were under way and following HMS Cairo. At this point in the Cairo report the first mention of the 21st A/S Striking Force (comprising Daneman, Lady Elsa, Man O'War and Wellard) and 23rd A/S (comprising Melbourne, Indian Star, Berkshire and Rutlandshire) trawler groups was made; their orders being to sweep ahead of the convoy on leaving. This operation was carried out until the convoy was clear of the Namsen Fjord by 0410hrs. Only the Rutlandshire returned to Namsos on the morning of the 20th April 1940.
The Commanding Officer of HMS Cairo, Captain P.V. McLaughlin,
subsequently commented in his report that upon receiving the "Nubians" report at
0416hrs on the 21st April 1940, "…….that in view of the attack
which was carried out the following day (20th April), it is
unfortunate that "Cairo" was not able to remain to afford A.A. protection and
take some toll of the attackers before ammunition was expended". With what I
know now, I believe that it's fair to say that my grandfather and no doubt the
residents of Namsos would also have
preferred that "Cairo" had remained in the fjord to bring her formidable array
of A.A. weaponry to bear on the attacking aircraft..
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