World War II. Calshot was requisitioned by His Majesty’s Government and served as HMS Calshot from 16th October 1940 until 1st September, 1945.
HMT Queen Elizabeth transported American troops across the Atlantic. The hull painted navy grey and the decks crammed with servicemen during a voyage.
During World War II the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth carried 1,500,000 servicemen. The Queen Mary crossed the Atlantic 86 times. Calshot ferried American servicemen from the liners at anchor to the quayside. Both Queens amazingly survived Nazi attack. The Clyde Admiralty Berthing Officer sent a letter of thanks to Captain Chisman and his crew. He wrote: “It did not take long to find that the Calshot could be depended upon to do anything at any time, and do it efficiently, thereby giving complete satisfaction at all times. My best wishes go with you in your new sphere of activities, knowing well that whatever your particular job may be, the Calshot can be depended upon to give her best”. In May 1944, Calshot returned to the south coast and her home port of Southampton for the D-Day preparations, which were centred on the port. During the nine months prior to D-Day, Red Funnel tugs and tenders were augmented by Ministry of War tugs.
Calshot with the Red Cross ship Atlantis, during World War II.
Tugs were actively involved in maneuvering sections of the Mulberry Harbour.
D-Day 6th June,1944. Operation Neptune was the codename used by the Allies for the initial large scale amphibious assault phase on the enemy held beaches of Normandy. There were five invasion areas known as Gold, Juno, Omaha, Sword and Utah. These landings took place along a 50 mile stretch of the coast. Servicemen landing on the beaches were sitting ducks with no cover from enemy fire. It wasn’t a question of who would get shot, but who wouldn’t get shot. It was absolute carnage with appalling casualties and dead servicemen floating in the water and strewn across the beaches. After overrunning the German beach defences, the Allies rapidly established their superiority and had moved inland by early afternoon. The Allied invasion was the beginning of the end for the German occupation of European countries. HMS Calshot served as a Headquarters ship at the ‘J’ for Juno area of the invasion force. Today, Calshot is a rare survivor of the 6,939 armada of ships that stormed Normandy during the invasion.