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Remembered Today:

Floating Onion


roger
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Has anyone come across this nickname for a type of weapon? A friend saw it in a book about the Royal Navy and asked me and I haven't come across it before..

Sorry I can't put it in the context it was written as I don't have the book and I'm not entirely sure if it's WW1 or 2.

Not much to go on I know but...........

Roger.

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I think I`ve come across a "flaming onion". Some kind of anti-aircraft device like a big flare. Phil B

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Roger,

This rings a faint bell somewhere in the deep, dark recesses ....

I've recently been combing through various sources about the Zeebrugge raid and I think I saw 'floating onions' mentioned somewhere, in reference to marker flare buoys placed by motor launches. If no-one else posts a definitive answer, I'll go back and see if I can find it again.

regards

Mick

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Phil, Mick, thank you for your input so far.

Roger.

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Quote from Barrie Pitt's book "ZEEBRUGGE - Eleven VCs before breakfast", p77: "bombers were over Zeebrugge and Ostend, and the night was shaken with the crump of bombs and lit by the soaring 'flaming onions' of the German anti-aircraft defences."

Cheers: Terry

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Thanks Phil B for that link, which is as much a fascinating insight into the contributors to that US forum as it is an explanation of 'flaming onions'.

Those 'onions' were evidently the bright, round bursts of shells with an incendiary component, fired in rapid succession by a German automatic AA cannon, creating the illusion that they were physically linked together, like a fiery version of a traditional string of French onions. The image in 'floating onions', if I remember it rightly and can find it again, is more of individual onions, complete with their upper leaves/stem, rocking to and fro on the surface of the sea - rather like the floats topped with a staff and a flag that are used by crab and lobster fishermen to mark the location of their pots.

Having said that, I'm sure that someone else who really 'knows his onions' will be along in a moment to set us all straight !

regards

Mick

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Thanks fella's. I check today weather it is floating or flaming onions in the book.

It is one of the things thats crops up while we are at work in the North Sea that gets noted down to be looked up on our return to civilisation.

Roger.

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My apologies, the quote is actually from WW2.

Here is the quote from, I think, Lt Commander R E Courage at Narvik.

Captain D. now ordered Hostile & Hotspur to fire their torpedoes into the harbour as oppertunity arose. Hotspur fired all 8 direct into the harbour. Fire from the enemy was now becoming intense (including floating Onions and tracer bullets).

Roger.

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Roger,

Terry's quote from Pitt is spot on, but it's not the reference I'm thinking about. I think mine is somewhere in Bacon's "Dover Patrol", which contains vast amounts of detail about the weapons and equipment employed in the Dover Straits and off the Belgian coast. I'll keep looking.

Just seen your post about Narvik, in which it seems fairly evident that "floating onions" are a WW2 version of "flaming onions". I'm still pretty sure that I've seen "floating onions" used in WW1, even if it was only one jocular mention, and in reference to something other than automatic cannon fire. If I find it, I'll let you know.

Are you able to access the Forum while you're working offshore ?

regards

Mick

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Mick,

thanks for the interest.

I work on a ship so unfortuneatly we don't have internet access. we have email but it is for official business only :(

As you can imagine I have a lot of posts to read on the forum when I get home for my month off.

Roger.

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Roger,

Military history seems to be popular with people who work a "month on, month off" regime. I know a member of the Forces Postal History Society who works on a similar basis in the oil industry in Kazakhstan.

Less exotically, my great-uncle Jack (see my signature) is commemorated on his parents' grave and the war memorial in Ripon, just down the road from Bedale.

regards

Mick

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Roger,

Still looking for 'floating onions', but while searching for something completely different this afternoon, I came across this:

"On Friday night we had an air-raid - a frequent event here, but my first experience in this line. Unpleasant, but a fine spectacle, considerable damage done near the docks and an unexploded bomb fell in a street near our headquarters.

Two machines (British) brought down in flames. I saw the green balls [1] for the first time. A most fascinating sight to see them floating up in waving chains into the vault of heaven; they reminded me of making daisy chains as a child.

[Footnote 1: Known as "Flying-onions."]"

From an entry entitled “At Zeebrugge – or rather Bruges” from “Diary of a U-boat Commander” , translated/edited by ‘Etienne’ (Project Gutenberg).

I think I feel a book coming on: 'Fruit & Vegetables in the Great War'. Onions, flaming/floating/flying, potato-masher grenades, toffee apples ....

regards

Mick

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Great stuff Mick, thank you.

By the way I was born in Ripon and my grandfather was an apprentice butcher there age 17 in 1901. He served in 22 West Yorks and labour Corps.

Roger.

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I think I feel a book coming on: 'Fruit & Vegetables in the Great War'. Onions, flaming/floating/flying, potato-masher grenades, toffee apples ....

regards

Mick

pickelhaubes, Leake VC, :)

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