Catalogue description Commander W B Luard: Papers

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Details of ADM 334
Reference: ADM 334
Title: Commander W B Luard: Papers

Papers assembled by Commander William Blaine Luard during his period of service as Naval Operations Liaison Officer to Coastal Command at RAF St. Eval during the Second World War. The papers reflect his professional concerns with shipping, air/sea rescue and special operations, most notably his attempts to arrange the defection of French fishing vessles.

Date: 1940-1953

The series is arranged in the later of two systems devised by Luard himself; the system is explained in ADM 334/1

Related material:

See also the registered files of the Air Ministry and Admiralty Coastal Command in:

AIR 15

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

William Blaine Luard, 1897-1979

Physical description: 83 file(s)
Administrative / biographical background:

Invalided from the Royal Navy in 1917 with a full disability pension in the rank of Sub-Lieutenant, Luard became an author of international repute on nautical matters and an inventor of various aids to navigation. He was recalled to active service in 1940 and his duties included liaison with RAF Coastal Command (with whom he flew in a variety of aircraft and clocked up an impressive number of flying hours) in monitoring enemy shipping and fishing vessels. At one stage, he was involved with attempts to arrange the defection of the French fishing fleets to British ports. He was also engaged in using French fishing vessels to return escaping RAF aircrew to England and landing agents and supplies to the French underground.

Due to his close working relationship with the RAF and his maritime expertise, he became involved in developing and improving equipment for Coastal Command, particularly air/sea rescue and life-saving equipment. In conjunction with Group Captain Waite, Commanding Officer at St. Eval, he designed, tested and patented a semi-submersible target resembling a U-boat conning tower and another which resembled a snorting submarine, which were used by both the RAF and foreign air forces. His navigational expertise was used in calculating tidal drift tables for dinghies and he was actively involved in the development of canoes for use in special operations similar to Operation FRANKTON (the "Cockleshell Heroes"). For his work on special duties, he received the OBE and the French Croix de Guerre and Palm.

He became President of the Little Ship Club (the Dunkirk veterans) in 1944 and continued to write nautical books after the war. His experience of continental fishing fleets stood him in good stead as Chairman of the Cornwall Sea Fisheries from 1947 to 1967. He died in 1979.

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