University of Oxford
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A Souvenir From Hitler's Private Yacht

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 18:14 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

My Grandfather was a Captain in the British Merchant Navy during WW2. During the evacuation from France in 1940 he claimed he was the last merchant ship to leave the port. He had orders to wait for members of the Calais 'administration'. He once told my mother that the Royal Navy Captain who was escorting his ship out of the port, wished him well and said they could not wait any longer; he would have to survive on his own without protection. However, the RN Captain said he owned a bar in the town, and he now gave it to my grandfather (he claimed it was the Prince of Wales, but this has never been verified). In 1941, his ship, the SS Blacktoft, was attacked by German aircraft on the east coast of England. He received the OBE for his bravery during this action. By 1945, he seemed to be on secret special wartime service for the US Government (I had to go into a special room at the National Archives to read of his wartime service. In this room, I was supervised.)

In May 1945, he appeared in Trondheim in Norway. The Royal Navy had captured the German State Yacht, the Aviso Grille. This was the yacht that Hitler planned to sail up the Thames to Windsor, where he was to set up his HQ, upon a successful invasion of Britain in 1940. The RN captain invited my grandfather aboard the 'Aviso Grille' where he was invited to take a souvenir for posterity. He chose the ship's barograph from the bridge and began to use it for himself on his many subsequent journeys across the world. I learned all about this by finding a newspaper cutting hidden away following his death in 1984, at the age of 90. The cutting was from the New Zealand newspaper, the Taranaki Herald in 1961 relating the story of how he acquired the barograph. At home he rarely talked about his exploits in the War. So, 40 years on from his death, we have a piece of Hitler's yacht sitting in a cupboard; a unique and valuable piece of history that would otherwise remain unheard of and therefore unknown.


Item list and details

1. Orders from May 1940 to evacuate French officers from Calais 2. Extract from Taranaki Herald newspaper in 1961 relating Capt Fisher's Wartime experiences 3. Congratulatory letter from the Admiralty for gaining the OBE 4. Barograph from the Aviso Grille 5. Close up of swastika from top of barograph

Person the story/items relate to

Captain Ernest Fisher OBE

Person who shared the story/items

Mr Stuart McLeod

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

He was my Grandfather

Type of submission

Shared online via the Their Finest Hour project website.

Record ID