Thomas Connolly, Royal Navy,               
Carry On, Royal Navy,                              
Aquiety,                                                      
Belvedere,                                                  
Beneficient,                                                
Inver,                                                           
Malrix,                                                         
Arinia,                                                           
Sun IX, Tug.                                                 
Tic 12,                                                           
River Thames                                              
Araby,                                                           
Kinnaird head,                                            
Attendant 88,                                              
Pinewood,                                                     Lion, Royal Navy     
  

Thank you to Keith Brooker for this photograph. It is a Press photograph  found in Canadian and was taken from Southend in 1945 showing the shipwrecks in the Thames Estuary. In the background you can see the “Nore” Sea Fort (now demolished.)

A BAD DAY

in

DECEMBER 1940
The THAMES ESTUARY

17th December 1940


From a single Minelaying raid over the Thames Estuary, by German Aircraft in December 1940, sixteen ships were sunk in sight of Sheerness.

Seven ships were lost in a single day on the 17th December 1940. Many of the mines were fitted with a delay mechanism and more ships were sunk in the week that followed.

Dec 17 1940,                
Dec 17 1940,                     
Dec 17 1940,                      
Dec 17 1940,                    
Dec 17 1940,                     
Dec 17 1940,                  
Dec 17 1940,                  
Dec 19 1940,                      
Dec 21 1940,                     
Dec 21 1940.                     
Dec 21 1940                     
Dec 27 1940,                   
Dec 27 1940,                      
Jan 1 1940,
​Jan 3 1941,                         
Jan 6 1941,                    
   

On the night of 12th Dec 1940   ninety-three Junkers Ju-88’s and Heinkel He 111’s dropped mines in the Thames Estuary off Sheerness.  One hundred and eighty-six mines were dropped a quarter of which fell inside the boom. Again this is why the Wildfire III (Queenborough) Minesweepers were so vital to Britain winning the War. The anti-submarine boom extended across the estuary from just past the east end of the Lees at Minster (Sheppey, Kent.) across to Shoeburyness. You can still see the posts and sunked boats which mark its position at low tide today.

Unbeknown at the time, most of the mines had been fitted with delaying mechanisms.  Seven ships were sunk by the mines in a single day and all shipping came to halt in the Thames, and Medway Estuary.

In the following four days only nineteen mines were swept. Even though many more mines were suspected, Britain’s most vital waterway could not be kept closed.

With great reluctance, but having no other choice, the Estuary was opened again. It was thought that the mines were “Acoustic” mines designed to be exploded by the vibration of a ships propeller and Captains were told only to move their ships on low engine revolutions. Nevertheless, no fewer than seven more ships were lost, with losses continuing into the new year.

SHIP WRECKS IN THE THAMES ESTUARY.

The British Tanker MV Arinia activated a magnetic mine and exploded in a sheet of flame in the Thames Estuary with the loss of sixty of her crew.

FIGHTING BACK.

A mine detonated in the Thames Estuary by two of Queenborough's Motor Minesweepers.


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German Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 88’s

LUFTWAFFE ATTACK ON THAMES ESTUARY,  the night of Tuesday, 17 December 1940

 From the 8th to the 15th December 1940 more than three hundred and fifty German planes from IX Luftkorps flew on mining raids over the Thames Estuary and East Coast shipping lanes. (The 3rd Air Fleet, IX Air Corps, from Eindhoven, 44 Ju 88 A’s, from Schiphol Amsterdam 19 Ju 88 A’s, from Leeuwarden 40 He 111 H’s, and from Soesterberg, 4 He 111 H’s,)

Junkers Ju-88’s and Heinkel He 111’s each carrying two mines, flew over the Thames Estuary and East coast shipping lanes and dropped over 700 mines by parachute of up to 1,000 kilos (2,204 pounds, almost one ton of high explosives) This is why the Wildfire III (Queenborough) Minesweepers were so vital  in helping Britain winning the War.

German Luftwaffe Heinkel He 111’s

17 crew lost
7 crew lost
6 crew lost
4 crew lost
6 crew lost
17 crew lost
8 crew lost
60 crew lost.
3 crew lost
All crew saved
3 crew lost
6 crew lost
6 crew lost

​6 crew lost
All crew lost


 

 

In the same raid the Dutch steamer TWEE GEBROEDERS (19 Dec), British steamer LLANDILO (22 Dec), and Destroyer HMS BERKELEY (20 Dec) were all seriously damaged by mines

The Arinia,a fully ladened British Motor Tanker of 8,024 tons heading to Grain when she activated a mine as she approached the Southend pier. The following explosion was catastrophic and she exploded into a wall of flame from end to end.  Fifty-four crew, five gunners and the pilot, were lost on the tanker. There were only two survivors.

The photograph is ten inches wide and this information appears on the back of it. It seems to be a Press Photograph from the Spe Planet