Welcome to Historical RFA
This article is the result of an in-depth research programme which has been undertaken concerning Masters in the RFA.
With the start of the RFA the ships deck officers for many years had served their Apprenticeships on sailing ships and Captain John Hurst was one such officer.
John Hurst was born in London on 20 January 1887 and after his usual schooling he entered the training ship HMS Worcester, the Thames Nautical Training College at Greenhithe, as a Cadet serving on board her for just one year. He came ashore on 14 April 1904
In 1918 British Naval Forces were sent to the Baltic to keep the sea lanes open to the newly independent states of Estonia, Latvia and the Free City of Danzig enabling them to secure their freedom. Danzig had been created on 10 January 1920 in accordance with the 1919 Treaty of Versailles.
To support the Royal Navy, Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships were deployed and these included the 2,000 ton Belgol class tanker RFA Prestol.
During World War 2 the Admiralty secured the services of a number of Norwegian tankers to supplement those under RFA command. These tankers were hired from their owners and placed under RFA management. They retained their Norwegian Masters and crews – which were mainly of mixed nationalities.
Captain Augustus Agar VC was in charge of the planning and execution of Operation Lucid in September 1940, an attempt to hit the German wooden invasion barges at Boulogne and Calais, France, with incendiary material and set them alight. The plan had the personal backing of Winston Churchill, it was a desperate time and any measure, however risky, that could frustrate the German invasion plans was welcome.
For RFA Broomdale 1944 was a very bad year with explosions, torpedoes and expressions of displeasure!
On 14 April she had been moored alongside at Bombay when the s.s. Fort Stikine, an ammunition ship, exploded in the harbour and caused death and serious destruction over a wide area. Broomdale suffered damage.
On 1 September 1969 the Libyan Army staged a successful coup against the administration of King Idris – Idris 1 – the King of the sovereign state of the United Kingdom of Libya.
The King was in Turkey for medical treatment when the “Revolutionary Command Council” (RCC), which composed of some twelve young Army Officers under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, took charge of the Country. In early December it was announced in London that Britain had agreed with the RCC to withdraw all British Forces from that country by 31 March 1970.
Most of you, it is believed, will not have realised that two RFA Officers in September 1941 were awarded the Polar Medal in Bronze by His Majesty King George VI for good services between 1925 to 1939 in Antarctica.
During the above period the two officers had been part of various ships companies involved in Antarctic exploration.
The RFA Historical Society is proud to be able to report that the graves of two of our former colleagues, who died in the Service of the RFA, have, with the generous support of the Commodore and on various dates, with the assistance from the crews of RFA Oakleaf (2), RFA Fort Austin and RFA Mounts Bay been restored and maintained so that we who remain can say we look after our own even years after their passing.