Friday, 26 August 2022

The Dedalo

 Spanish seaplane tender Dedalo

Built by Swan-Hunter, Newcastle and launched on April 19th 1901, then owned and operated by Deutsche Dampfs Ges "Hansa" out of Bremen. She was interned in Spain in 1914 early in WW1 and then later in October 1918 she was seized by Spain along with five other interned German vessels as reparations for Spanish losses during Germany`s unrestricted U-boat campaign during WW1. She gained the new temporary name "Espana No6"  

In 1921 with the war in Morocco becoming more and more serious the Spanish Navy aquired her, its naval air arm had been interested in a seaplane tender for some time and Espana No6 was just size of vessel they were looking for. She was renamed Dedalo (Spanish for Daedalus) and spent five months in Barcelona being converted at the cost of 8-million Pesetas. It had a frankly ugly silhouette, with a rare "anti-spark" funnel. She displaced almost 10,000 tons and had a 60-meter-long flight deck aft of the bridge with an elevator to lower the hydros to the hangar. The forward part was intended for ballooning, with a mooring pole for a small semi-rigid airship and shelter for another inside the forward hold. She also had, on the port bow, moorings for two captive balloons. Aft, on the aforementioned flight deck, they could stow, lashed to the deck against strong winds and high seas, up to a dozen seaplanes - Macchi-18s and Savoia S-16s plus some Supermarine Scarabs and inside the hangar, with the wings folded, there was space for another twelve or thirteen aircraft of the same types. The total capacity  of the DEDALO was twenty-five seaplanes, two airships (of Italian design) and two captive balloons.

Based in CartagenaD├ędalo participated in the Rif War, her seaplanes and armed airships used to attack Riffi positions in support of ground operations; the two tethered balloons were used as observation platforms for artillery and also communications. She even was used as offshore naval support using her 105mm deck guns. Under the command of Wenceslao Benitez Inglott, took part in the largest, most successful amphibious landing before WW2 - Alchuemas Bay on September 8th 1925.

Savoia S-16

Supermarine Scarab

Macchi M-18

After the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic in April 1931 she joined the Spanish Republican Navy. 
In 1934 she was selected to test a revolutionary new rotary winged aircraft invented by Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva the autogyro.  
It was in Valencia , March 7, 1934, where de la Cierva carried out landing tests with his brand new C-30 registered G-ACIO. The aircraft landed on the Dedalo with precision, within the marked area, and half an hour later took off again after a short takeoff run (24m). 

Even though the experiment was a complete success and many ships already in service would be easily convertable to recieve autogyros the Spanish Navy did not pursue this inovative technology.

Dedalo was decommisioned from service in 1934, she was bombed by rebel aircraft at Cartagena in April 1936 which left her abandoned there until March 1940 when she was towed to Valencia to be scrapped.


Monday, 22 August 2022

Belgian Trip Pt4

 Menin Gate

After the Museum aan de IJzer we reboarded the coach and headed for Ypres and the Menin Gate. For me this was the highlight of the whole trip, I`ve always wanted to visit and pay my respects there. Even though it was quite warm (mid 20s) I wore my suit with a white shirt and black tie, my wife also wore black which caused some sonfusion among the choir as they thought we were joining in (with our voices - no chance).

Now I`d seen pictures and read about it, but to see all those names - WOW.

The names of 54,395 men from Britian and the Commonwealth who died in the salient but whos bodies were never identified or found are incribed on the walls. It should be noted (with some shock) that these are only those who died before 15 August 1917! Another memorial at Tyne Cot (which we didn`t visit has another 34,984 names!! Neither memorial has any names of soldiers from New Zealand or Newfoundland as these are honoured with their own memorials or of course all those many thousands who have graves among the numerous military cemetories in the area!

The place had a overwhelming effect on me, just reading all those names - from all corners of Britain of course but Australians, South Africans, Indians, Canadians and soldiers from the West Indies too, just name after name....... Certinly puts our little probelms in perspective and make playing soldiers seem very silly.

Towards 8pm we gathered under the main arch, the choir on one side, we stood opposite. I have to admit I was overcome with the occasion (the heat and wearing a suit may have played a part), but my head began to go, I was sweating profusely at one point I thought I was going to faint! I literally had to clench my toes and dig me finger nails into my palms to regain control along with deep breathing exercises I used in scuba training. 

 A crowd gathered and waited in the heat, I was impressed when the ushers went into the crowd and moved a lad in a wheel chair and moved him to where he could see. At eight sharpe the bugles were blown and one member of the choir party (ex-forces) in his full dress uniform laid a wreath, the choir sang a couple of verses of Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer (which I always call - Cwm Rhondda) and Calon Lan (in Welsh of course)

This is a youtube link to the choir`s performance 
(you`ll have to cut/paste it into your browser)


Sunday, 21 August 2022

Belgium Trip Pt3

 Museum Aan De Ijzer

Tuesday 16th the choir was going to take part in the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate, they were kind enough to allow Debbie and I to hitch a ride on the coach. Part of the day was a stop and visit to this museum. 

The Museum aan de IJzer (Museum on the Yser) is located at the European Peace Site on the river Yser, which includes the Pax Gate, Yser Crypt and Yser Tower. The Yser Tower is home to the interactive museum of war and peace, on 22 floors. The roof terrace at a height of 84 metres (which makes it the highest memorial in Europe) offers a unique view of the entire front region. The tower is a symbol to the futility of war and to peace.

The tower is just an astounding sight

You first thing I noticed were large wire baskets containing hundreds of shell casings which had been placed around the entrance gates

Then you have the Pax Gate with the Yser Crypt beyond

The original tower was began in 1928 as memorial to Flemish soldiers who died during the Great War, but this soon became a symbolic location for the Flemish nationalist movement. The association of the Flemish movement with colaboration with the Germans durign WW2 led to two former memebrs of the Belgian resistance blowing the tower up in 1946! The remains of the tower were remodelled into the peace gate. 

The grounds have several pieces of art sculpture created from battlefield debris

The main tower is 22 floors high topped by a viewing balconey, the balcony has a 360 degree painting set above it pictured as the view would look at the height of WW1 - just amazing!! As was the view from the rooftop
The towers various levels focuses on the Belgium-German part of WW1as well as Flemish emancipation. As you descend, you pass through a dated timeline of the war along with news, propaganda, symbolism and history. There are many short films being shown of actual wartime news or cartoon representations. Whilst there was a fair bit in English most of the descriptions and all newspaper/notices, etc were in Flemish or Dutch. 
Frankly it is impossible to describe everything in any detail that would do it justice so here are some photos I took, mostly uniforms and kit:

The choir