History of Diving Conference 2013

History of Diving Conference 2013

Organised by the Historical Diving Society for info contact Michael Fardell <secretary@thehds.com>


The 2013 History of Diving Conference will be held at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution Headquarters in Poole on Saturday 23rd November. In the evening, the society’s annual dinner will be held at the same venue.


All are welcome to both events.


This year’s subjects and speakers are:


Paul Watkins: Taming the Beast: Operation Source and the Tirpitz

Paul, a veterinary surgeon has had a life-long interest in naval history, which led him to research the life of Godfrey Place and his X-craft attack on the Tirpitz and the publication of his book,

Midget Submarine Commander, The Life of Godfrey Place VC


In September 1943 6 X-craft entered Kaa Fjord in Norway to attack the Tirpitz.

X7 was commanded by Lieutenant Godfrey Place; aged 22. Place and his crew of three managed to make their way through minefields and antisubmarine nets in order to place 4 tons of explosive under the hull of the Tirpitz. Forced to scuttle X7, only two men escaped, Place and his diver Robert Aitken. The raid was later described as the ‘most audacious and gallant naval attack of the war, in which Place showed courage, endurance and utter contempt for danger in the immediate face of the enemy.’ In February 1944 Godfrey Place was awarded the Victoria Cross.


Gian Carlo Bartoli: Italian Underwater Activities, 1930-2013

Gian started diving at the age of 8. He qualified as a nuclear power plant engineer before taking up work as a sales engineer with a medical supplies company. In 1971 he joined the Galeazzi Company, installing hyperbaric and recompression chambers around the world. When the company was sold in 1970 he and his wife, daughter of Roberto Galeazzi, set up their own company, PRO.TE.C.O.SUB to design and manufacture oceanographic research and other underwater equipment. The company now also makes genuine Galeazzi helmets for the collector’s market.


Gian’s long career in diving and diving-related industries affords him great authority to speak on the Italian commercial, military and sport diving fields of which the country has long been a world leader.


Dr. Thomas Mueller: A History of the Dräger Company

Dr. Mueller was born in 1956 in Stuttgart, Germany. He is a mechanical engineer whose interest in historical diving and helmet diving in particular dates back to childhood. Fascinated by the history of the Dräger company and their diving products, he got his first Dräger diving helmet in the year 2000, together with a full working Dräger DM40 equipment, which he still dives regularly at local and international diving events


The Dräger company was founded in 1889 in Lűbeck by Heinrich Dräger and Carl Gerling. Their first diving equipment, a standard dress with re-breather, was produced in 1912 and they have continued to design and manufacture commercial, military and sport diving equipment ever since.


Dr. John Bevan: Commander Crabb’s Fatal Dive

John trained as a scientist at the Royal Naval Physiological Laboratory, Gosport where, in 1970 he performed a world record-breaking chamber dive to a simulated depth of 1500 feet. He subsequently worked for COMEX as a Technical, Training and Safety Manager on their North Sea operations and later as a consultant. He has published many books and articles on diving history.


The circumstances surrounding the death of Commander Crabb whilst on an undercover surveillance operation on Russian ships visiting Portsmouth have fascinated historians and the public alike ever since. Many official papers relating to the affair are still classified as secret, but enough new information has come to light in the last few years to justify another look into one of the Cold War’s most enduring mysteries.

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