On board HMS Medusa, D-Day marine electronics

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

19 Responses

  1. alex says:

    What a great post Ben!

  2. Tom says:

    Ben, you should visit the KNM “Hitra” some time. The last sailing subchaser AFAIK, with much original equipment. Sadly, it’s not longer possible to experience the vertical shaft pancake engines.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think you mean “ravaged” not “ravished”.
    BTW, who paid for your trip to the UK?

  4. ValkyrieYachts says:

    How cool!
    It is amazing the technology then and now. Not too long ago radar for the recreational boater was unheard of, but now is almost expected!
    What a great vessel to be on Ben! Especially given the day.
    All the best to all and may we always remember the price of freedom is not free.

  5. Electronics Diva says:

    Great article Ben! I shows how far we have come and how smart they were back then in paving the way for us. Also thank you to your Dad for his sacrifices to keep us safe and free!

  6. Bob Austin says:

    Thank you for the glimpse of history. I doubt that many of us knew anything about the electronics aboard Medusa. It sounds as if she had some very advanced technology for the time and the critical mission. Thanks to those who served and fought for the freedom of the entire World!

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks for the edit, Anonymous. Raymarine covered the travel expenses for me and about 18 other writers from the U.S. and Europe. It’s common practice and does not mean any writer’s opinion is being purchased.

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Great to hear the interest in HMS Medusa, but sorry to see that she has not yet headed across the Channel. They did go to Southampton today and then back to Portsmouth/Gosport, but maybe they uncovered a mechanical issue. I’ll ask.
    Alan Watson showed me an interesting book called D-Day Operations Manual, “Insights into how science, technology and engineering made the Normandy invasion possible”:

  9. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    HMS Medusa is approaching the Normandy coast at cruising speed of 10 knots, which is about 800 rpm on the Gardiners:

  10. John K says:

    Here’s a great article on the analog fire control computers used on US battleships in WW2:

  11. Richard C says:

    Great Post, Ben. I love the history behind these vessels. Too bad the changing of the guard is taking place and all those heroes of WWII are leaving us. What an amazing generation.

  12. Marc Dacey says:

    A fun post, Ben. My father was in the British Merchant Navy, 1941-52, and I had a somewhat similar visit last year to HMCS Haida, a ship that almost certainly increased his odds of living, and hence my own. I wrote about it here: http://alchemy2009.blogspot.ca/2013/08/my-creator-and-his-destroyer.html

  13. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Yipes, the Murmansk Run. Thanks, Marc.

  14. Marc Dacey says:

    It’s nice to see you recognize the term “Murmansk Run”, Ben. Plenty of American ships did it in convoy with the Brits, usually after changing cargoes in Liverpool.
    It’s also interesting to note that no amount of cutting-edge tech helped those merchant sailors as much as did 24-hours-a-day axe work to break off the frozen spray off the superstructure. More than one laden ship passed its angle of vanishing stability due to ice weight aloft, rolled in seconds and went straight to the bottom. My father remarked that the noise of smashing ice was unrelenting, as it was considered a worse threat than the U-boats. The destroyer escorts, which usually had less freeboard and wetter decks, had it worse, but they also had bigger crews.
    So, having a steel sailboat, we’re bringing an axe! We may not sail north or south of 57 degrees, but it’s good insurance.

  15. Rick Beck says:

    Fascinating post Ben! Thanks so much for the glimpse into the D Day use and electronics of the day.
    I always was interested in early electronics and have gathered a small museum in my shop, though the oldest is circa 1949, a tetrode power amplifier tube that was hand blown and is a perfect example of why screen grids got their name. The grid looks just like a door screen section.
    Rick Beck

  16. Alan Watson says:

    It was the weather that delayed Medusas departure. We left at 0300 into a nasty beam swell and rolled through 80 degress a few times plus intense thunderstorms. We visited Oiustreham and caen where the ship was presented with medal by the mayor, then into the Mulberry harbour at arromanche then to Omaha and Point Du Hoc where the Rangers scaled the cliffs. A short visit to port en Bessin which was memorable for a lone veteran standing to attention and saluting on our departure. A days R&R in Cherbourg and then head for home. We stopped on teh spot where Medusa marked the minefield on D Day and held a short service followed by a red rose for each crew member onto the water. We then found the wreck of an LCT (landing craft tank) from Omaha in 50m of water using the Raymarine CP100. Back in Portsmouth we had steamed 400 miles on 75 year old engines without a hitch…mission accomplished.

  17. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks for the report, Alan, and congratulations. I did follow your voyage via AIS but can only imagine how much the people of Normandy appreciated the sight of HMS Medusa. I dare say you were the talk of Channel shipping as well?
    Meanwhile, I purchased a copy of the Haynes “D-Day Operation Manual” you showed me and am quite entranced. I’m amazed by just the intro shot of the Canadian infantry carrying bicycles as they disembark into the water off Juno Beach from an LCI(L). It’s hard to picture how they carried all their gear, particularly long guns, while biking but no doubt the planners had come up with something.
    Do I recall that Medusa plans to visit Amsterdam next year, to honor the fact that it was the first Allied naval vessel to reach that fair city?

  18. Alan Watson says:

    We certainly had some interest from shipping, fishing boats seemed to head the other way probably because they thought we were fishery protection.. We are at the early stages of planning a visit to amsterdam to conincide with teh 70th of VE day in May next year. Medusa took the surrender at Ijmuiden and was then the first Allied vessel to reach amsterdam. She went gingerly up teh North Sea canal past block ships and booby traps with two crew in the dinghy rowing ahead adn poking anything suspicious with a boathook.

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