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On 21 April 1951 the Naval Armaments Vessel Bedenham sailed from Bull Point Naval Armaments Depot, Plymouth loaded with approximately 790 tons of depth charges, ammunition and other ordnance for Gibraltar and Malta.
The Portsdown Underground Fuel Bunker was built during the late 1930s and early 1940s, by Sir Robert McAlpine's construction company, as a bombproof Royal Navy fuel oil reservoir to serve the fleet at the Portsmouth Naval Base. The oil was needed as a guaranteed supply for Royal Navy warships in case oil deliveries to western British seaports were blockaded by the German Navy (a typical underhand Nazi trick). Three were built in the UK the others being at Inchindown some 4 miles to the north of the then naval base at Invergordon and Lyness at the Scapa Flow Naval Base, but the one under Portsdown is one of the largest and best preserved remaining examples. I contacted McAlpines but no records of the construction of the Fuel Bunker exist anymore. In fact very little information exists anywhere. It is my belief that the Portsdown Fuel Bunker had a special purpose and was not just constructed to supply the Royal Navy with fuel during wartime. I think a secondary aim was to ensure an absolutely uninterruptible supply of fuel oil for the D-day invasion fleet of 6 June 1944 and I have shown some evidence of this later on. Other invasion support services like communications and logistics certainly took a very robust approach to their roles, as failure of the landings was unthinkable, but one thing was certain: lack of marine fuel was never going to be a problem.
On 11 January 1952 RFA War Hindoo was along side in Singapore Naval Base with HMS Comus berthed outboard of her. The Royal Naval ships crew had to cross the deck of the RFA to gain access to their ship. On one particular evening some of the RN crew were coming back to their ship (no doubt after a few wets) and were not particularly quiet while crossing over the deck of the War Hindoo.
When the Armistice to end World War 1 was signed on the 11 November 1918, a group of RFA vessels were operating with the British Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow, amongst these was the ‘Belgol’ class oiler RFA Fortol which had only been completed at the shipyard of Archibald McMillan and Son, Dumbarton in May 1917.
For the Master of RFA Wave Governor, Captain Walter L. Holtam RFA, the voyage out to Brazil in November 1957 in ballast was reaching its end.
The ship was off Curacao when he received a report that six of the Lascar crew had thrown themselves over the side and were swimming ashore.