Do you remember

CTF 345 ?

and with it CTF 311 ?

Hush hush cushy jobs in the leafy depths of Middlesex' Northwood.

Whilst I remember the titles, I never served there [HMS Warrior] but I was on the receiving end serving at sea !

Recently [January 2009] whilst searching for other material, I came across some old papers about the Suez War of 1956. There I found a couple of things of interest, which, many moons ago I would have known about, but today, I had forgotten.

In a minute we will be meeting another CTF 345 but this one packed a punch and not just a promise of a punch, and was to say the least, a little LARGER !

For example, the whole Suez operation was called OPERATION MUSKETEER but its original title was OPERATION TERRAPIN.

Under the umbrella of OPERATION MUSKETEER came no fewer than thirteen [13] associated OPERATIONS which were as follows:-

OPERATION ORDER NAME UNITS/FUNCTIONS AFFECTED
ALACRITY Move of RAF Squadrons to Middle East August 1956
ALBERT Provision of facilities at RAF Luqa
ANTIQUARY Maintenance of Suez Canal facilities in an emergency
CORDAGE Part of MUSKETEER IV [projected attacks on Israeli airfield]
FAIRLOVE Bombing of Egyptian airfields. October/November 1956
GOLDFLAKE Reinforcement of MEAF, August 1956
HARRIDAN Evacuation of allied forces from Port Said, December 1956
LOBSTER Withdrawal of Anglo-French forces from Port Said, December 1956
MUSKETEER Anglo-French operation to occupy Suez Canal 1956
OMLETTE Plan for occupation of Port Said at short notice, November 1956
POKER Move by 2 [B] Corps to Malta and Libya, August 1956
TELESCOPE Airbourne landing at Port Said, 5 November 1956
TERRAPIN Original name for MUSKETEER
TOREADOR Naval operations in the Red Sea by Task Force 324
PRESSURE COOKER Unloading of MUSKETEER shipping, 1956

Amongst these titles were others, which, since I have the space, I will list here

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION

AFHQ

Allied Forces Headquarters

AFSC Anglo-French Salvage Company
AKROTIRI RAF station in Cyprus
AMX French light tank
CCFO Commandant en Chef des Forces francaises d'Orient
DZ Dropping zone
EAF Egyptian Air Force
Exercise BOATHOOK Exercise used to disguise departure from Malta
Exercise SLPPERY ANN Unloading of MUSKETEER shipping 1956
HAL FAR RAF station in Malta
HMS ALBION Aircraft carrier
HMS BULWARK Aircraft carrier
HMS EAGLE Aircraft carrier
HMS OCEAN Aircraft carrier
HMS THESEUS Aircraft carrier
LAFAYETTE French aircraft carrier
ARROMONACHES French aircraft carrier
HMS BRINTON Coastal minesweeper - 104 flotilla
IAF Israeli Air Force
JEHU Joint Experimental Helicopter Unit
LCT Landing craft Tank
LST Land ship Tank
LUQA RAF station in Malta
LVT Landing Vehicle Tracked [BUFFALO]
LZ Landing zone
MEAF Middle East Air Force
NICOSIA RAF station in Cyprus
POWIB Prisoner of War Information Bureau
RPC French Parachute Unit
SCOA Suez Canal Operators Agency
SCUA Suez Canal Users Association
TASK FORCE 324 Naval forces led by HMS Newfoundland in the RED SEA
TASK FORCE 345 Naval component of Suez Invasion Force
TI Target Indicator
TYMBOU Airfield used by the French in Cyprus
UKST United Kingdom Salvage Team
UKSU United Kingdom Salvage Unit
UNEF United Nations Emergency Force

Note the TF345 in the table above, and in a moment we will talk about the CTF 345 circa 1956.

Other noteworthy things were:-

Suez was the last British Army parachute drop in action;
the last time reservists were called-up en masse;
the last time discharge by purchase was stopped for the duration;
demob of National Servicemen was stopped for the duration;
the first major requisition of merchant shipping for the duration.

Now back to those Task Forces.

For those of you not au fait with Task Force breakdowns, here is an easy to follow and quick breakdown of the system.

The naval units [and in this case a large number in total] are assigned to parts of Task Force 345 as follows:-

TF 345 - the whole force
TG 345.1 [.2, .3 ETC] - groups acting within the force
TU 345.1.1 [.2.1, .3.1 ETC] - units acting within the force
TE 345.1.1.1 [.2.1.1, .3.1.1. ETC] - elements acting within the force.

Each one has a COMMANDER, so
CTF 345 commands the total force
CTG 345.1 [for example] commands task group 1
CTU 345.1.1 [for example] commands task unit 1 in group 1
CTE 345.1.1.1 [for example] commands task element 1 in group 1

That can be repeated as
CTG 345.2 [for example] commands task group 2
CTU 345.2.1 [for example] commands task unit 1 in group 2

  CTF 345  
  TF 345  
CTG 345.1 CTG 345.2 CTG 345.3
TG 345.1 TG 345.2 TG 345.3
CTU 345.1.1 CTU 345.2.1 CTU 345.3.1
TU 345.1.1 TU 345.2.1. TU 345.3.1
CTE 345.3.1.1. CTE 345.2.1.1 CTE 345.3.1.1
TE 3.4.5.3.1.1 TE 34R5.2.1.1 TE 345.3.1.1.

  The Commander Task Force was  Vice Admiral Sir Robin Durnford-Slater and this is a picture of him at that time. He joined the Royal Navy in 1923 and left in 1961 as a full admiral {1958} having been the last C-in-C Nore. He was knighted as a KCB. He died in 1984.

During the Suez War, Task Force 345 had one French battleship the Jean Bart, seven aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, frigates, minelayers, minesweepers, assault ships and craft, depot ships, survey ships, heavy repair ships, hospital ships, submarines, tugs, supply ships, salvage ships, all [British and French] controlled from the Flag ship HMS Tyne by CTF 345 Vice Admiral Durnford-Slater. Then comes a Task Group and for ease of understanding I am going to assign the Aircraft Carrier EAGLE as Group 1; the two French Carriers as Group 2; the Carriers BULWARK and ALBION as Group 3; the Carriers OCEAN and THESEUS as Group 4; the heavy Cruisers Group 5; etc and the senior officer in each ship [or the senior officer if more than one ship] becomes the CTG - so CTG 345.1 might be an admiral embarked [flying his flag] in EAGLE. HMS EAGLE needs destroyers/frigates to help protect her, so we will give her four ships A.B.C and D. Now EAGLE [herself with her captain] plus A,B,C and D make up TG 345.1. CTG 345.1 [The Captain of HMS Eagle] now decides that he wants ship A to take a surface attack role, ship B to take on anti submarine watch, ship C to act as plane-guard/Chaser [just in case any of EAGLES aircraft crash land into the sea] and ship D to be a dogs body with a roving portfolio. He could therefore use the Task Force breakdown and appoint ship A as CTU 345.1.1, ship B as CTU 345.1.2, ship C as CTU 345.1.3.  Ship D in this case could be assigned to either Task Unit of ships [A,B or C] as a TU, so, if he joined with ship A in a shooting match with an enemy ship, ships A and D would form TU 345.1.1 and the captain of ship A would be the commander, the CTU.  If later on, extra ships were assigned to EAGLE, they could be assigned to the existing TU's or be formed up into TE's to perform specific tasks.  In the latter case, they would be TE 345.1.1.1 [.1.1.2 etc] the senior officer of the ship assuming the role of CTE 345.1.1.1.  It doesn't take too much imagination to see how each and every ship has a role to play and fits into a know breakdown pattern.

Before moving to the list of ships involved at Suez, look above to the role of HMS NEWFOUNDLAND stationed south of the Suez Canal in the Red Sea.  She was part of Task Force 324 covered [from the table above] by Operation TOREADOR.  Task Force 324 had but one ship, the NEWFOUNDLAND but the Commander, CTF 324 was also CTF 345 [two hats] in HMS TYNE north of the Suez Canal namely Vice Admiral Durnford-Slater.  Instructions for the NEWFOUNDLAND, which actually sank an Egyptian frigate, was addressed from CTF 324 to TF 324.  However NEWFOUNDLAND couldn't send signals from TF 324, so, as well as being TF324, she was also CTG 324.1.  Having TF 324 in being, allowed for any 'joiners' from East of Suez Stations coming to assist the NEWFOUNDLAND, but in the event she coped well enough on her own.

Now for the list of RN ships.

Alamein
Albion
Aldington
Anzio
Armada
Barnstone
Barossa
Bastion
Bulwark
Cavendish
Ceylon
Chevron
Comet
Contest
Corunna
Counterguard
Crane
Dalrymple
Daring
Darlaston
Decoy
Defender
Diamond
Dufton
Eagle
Essington
Forth
Hickleton
Jamaica
Kildarton
Leverton
Lofoten
Manxman
Mediator
Meon
ML2583
Modeste
Newfoundland
Ocean
Parapet
Penston
Portcullis
Puncher
Rampart
Ranpura
Redoubt
Reggio
Rodington
Salerno
Sallyport
Samsonia
Sefton
Shavington
St Kitts
Striker
Suvia
Theseus
Torquay
Trenchant
Tudor
Tyne
Ulysses
Undine
Upton
Urania
Ursa
Wakeful
Whirlwind
Woodbridge Haven

If I have missed out any ships name please tell me and I will do a re-check of the files.