Set up in August 1905, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary unofficial motto: Ready for Anything was originally a logistic support organisation, Admiralty-owned but run on civilian lines, comprising a miscellaneous and very unglamorous collection of colliers, store ships and harbour craft. This book charts its rise in fleet strength, capability and importance, through two world wars and a technical revolution, until the time when naval operations became simply impossible without it. Its earliest tasks were mainly freighting supplying the Royal Navy s worldwide network of bases but in wartime fleets were required to spend much longer at sea and the RFA had to develop techniques of underway replenishment. This did not come to full fruition until the British Pacific Fleet operated alongside the Americans in 1944-45, but by then the RFA had already pioneered many of the procedures involved. This book combines a history of the service, including many little-known wartime operations, with data on the ships, and a portrait of life in the service gleaned from personal accounts and recollections. Half way between a civilian and a military service, the RFA has never received the attention it deserves, but this book throws a long-overdue spotlight on its achievements.
READY FOR ANYTHING The Royal Fleet Auxiliary 1905-1950
The book describes the origins and creation of the service, through the Great War, the interwar years, the Second World War (seven chapters), and the years up to 1950. In the two chapters devoted to the First World War there are passing references to the primary functions undertaken by these auxiliaries, namely the fuel and store freighting tasks, while a further short section describes the over complex management structure under which the vessels were operated. There is also a lengthy digest of four years of war on all fronts, together with a detour to examine the development of refuelling at sea methods in the US Navy.