British Royal Navy Corvette of the Flower class, HMS Campanula in Western Approaches Camouflage.
HMS Campanula was a British Royal Navy Corvette of the Flower class. Her Penant desigination was K 18 and she was laid down by Fleming & Ferguson in Paisley, Scotland on 26 October 1939 and launched on 23 May 1940. She was commissioned on 6 September 1940. HMS Campanula (K 18) under the command of Lt. Cdr. R.V.E. Case, DSC, rescued the surviving crew members from the British merchant ship Alva sunk by U-559 on 19 August 1941. The survivors of the Alva were transferred to the British destroyer HMS Velox (D 34) commanded by Lt. Cdr. E.G. Ropner, DSC, and landed at Gibraltar on 25 August 1941.
On 22 August 1941 the master of the 484 ton Empire Oak, Frederick Edward Christian, three crew members and four gunners were picked up by the HMS Campanula and later transferred to the British destroyer HMS Velox and landed at Gibraltar on 25 August. 13 Empire Oak crew members were lost. On 19 August, the Empire Oak had picked up six survivors from Aguila and eleven survivors from Alva. The survivors from Aguila died when this ship was sunk, while the other survivors were also rescued by the Campanula.
On February 7, 1943 while on convoy escort duty with Convoy SC-118 the Campanula picked up survivors of the torpedoed USS Henry R. Mallory. Convoy SC-118 consisted of 61 ships and the escorts were the British escort group B2 under the command of Lt. Cdr Proudfoot, consisting of the 3 British destroyers Vimy, Vanesa and Beverly and the 3 British corvettes Campanula, Mignonette and Abelia, the Free French corvette Lobelia and the American Coast Guard Cutters Bibb and Ingham and the US destroyers Babbitt and Schenk. Also in the convoy is the rescue vessel Toward one of the few ships in the convoy equipped with HF/DF, which was later also sunk by a German u-boat.
A reliable supply of petrol for the advancing Allied forces following the D-Day landings was of the highest priority. Planners knew that the future invasion of Europe would be the largest amphibious landing in history and without adequate and reliable supplies of petrol any advance would at best slow down and at worst grind to a halt. A loss of momentum could jeopardise the whole operation as German forces would have time to regroup and counter-attack. Conventional tankers and 'ship to shore' pipelines were in danger of cluttering up the beaches, obstructing the movement of men, armaments and materials and, in all circumstances, were subject to the vagaries of the weather and sea conditions and they were easy targets for the Luftwaffe. The idea of a pipeline under the ocean, (the English Channel), was an innovative solution.
It was known that oil storage facilities located near the English Channel would be vulnerable to attack by the Luftwaffe. To reduce the risk of losses, a network of pipelines was, during early discussions about PLUTO, already under construction. This was designed to carry fuel from safer storage and port facilities around Bristol and Liverpool to the English Channel. This network would later be linked to the planned pipeline at Skanklin on the Isle of Wight and Dungeness further to the west. The terminals and pumping stations were heavily disguised as bungalows, gravel pits, garages and even an ice cream shop!
The HMS Campanula was involved in the laying of PLUTO in June of 1944. Robert C. Berkeley shared with me his personal story of his time aboard the Campanula and his involvement with PLUTO. This is what he told me:
I was still in my seventeeth year when I joined the Campnula the first week of June 1944. Our Skipper was Lt.Cdr. Alan H. Davies, RNVR. I remember him telling us once "that when the war was over I'm going to drive this tub onto Brighton Beach and walk home." Robert remembers the rough seas and how captain Davies to would get sea sick from the 40 foot swells. Another of our crew was Nicholas Monsarrat, the author of "The Cruel Sea". There is a small exibit devoted to the Campanula at the "Maritime Museum" at the "Albert Dock" in Liverpool, England. I believe there is a reference to Monsarrat there also. Campanula crewman Robert Berkeley stated that the Campanula is named after a very hearty flower and Robert said the the HMS Campanula was also a "very hearty ship". Once while Robert was on board the Campanula's oil boilers were shifted during an explosion of a mine that they were too close to when it exploded. Robert remembers that they had to put in to Falkirk in the Firth of Forth to repair the damaged boilers and damage to the shaft.
In June of 1944 both the "Campanula" and the "Dianthus", together with the sloop "Magpie" acted as escorts to two ocean going Tugs (escapees) from Holland that were renamed the HMRT Bustler and the "Growler" and one other smaller Tug , but I can't remember her name (possibly the HMRT Marauder or HMRT Danube V), towed huge "spools" of two inch pipe from Ryde to Cherbourg, 72 miles give or take a few. I had the Honor to serve on the Campanula during this operation and remained on her untill she was "Scuttled" on a sandbank just outside Falkirk.
Robert C Berkeley, former crewmen of the K18 HMS Campanula.
This is an original painting of the Campanula by former crewmen Robert C. Berkeley.
Robert now lives in Bonita Springs Florida
This is former crewmen Robert C. Berkeley's second original painting of the Campanula.
British Royal Navy Corvette HMS Campanula K-18. Her life ended when she was sold for scrapping to Clayton & Davie, where her final voyage ended when she arrived in Dunstan on 21 August 1947.
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