The Early Days of the Club
Colonel W G Fryer (who later became a Maj Gen) was, in 1945, the Deputy Chief Engineer of 8 Corps. He later recalled how he had started the club. He said, "I found the Olympia Haven full of yachts and the Kieler Yacht Club locked up and empty. So I told the Chief Engineer and the Assistant Quarter Master General (AQMG) of 8 Corps that I was going to requisition some yachts from the harbour and form a yacht club. They both nodded, so I went ahead."
The yachts were requisitioned, the clubhouse of the Kieler Yacht Club opened and, with six other interested officers, the first meeting was held. The British Kiel Yacht Club came into existence on 11th June 1945. Its burgee was designed by Col Fryer, but later in June he was posted to Washington and thus took no further part in the organisation of the Club.
The First Officers of the Club were:
Commodore - Capt K L M Robinson RN
Vice Commodore - Lt Col E McDonald OBE, RE
Rear Commodore - R Adm H T Baillie Grohmann CB,DSO,OBE
Cdr SE Crew-Reid RN
Brig A G Matthew, CBE,DSO
Hon Sailing Secretary - Capt G R D Scott RA
Capt Robinson was the Senior Naval Officer (SNO) Schleswig-Holstein. Lt Col McDonald was the Commander Royal Engineers (CRE) (Works) and was an expert when it came to acquiring supplies needed for the maintenance of the yachts. Brig Matthew was the commander of the Kiel Brigade District.
The club house had been damaged during the bombing of Kiel. However, by the date of the first General Meeting, much work had been done by the Royal Engineers towards restoring the premises and making them habitable. The Club eventually opened socially after having been used as a saluting craft. During the final days of the conflict in 1945 Royal Artillery reconnaissance aircraft and Royal Engineers' ground parties scoured the surrounds of Kiel looking for yachts. The Club flagship, 'Jacunda', was found by Lt Col McDonald and Bruno Splieth tucked away in a backwater of the Eider River where she had been hidden by her German owner. Her spars and sails were in a nearby barn.
The craft selected for retention in the Club ranged from 'Stars', '6 metres', the '50', '100' and '150 square metres' and a number of one-off cruising boats. Two lists of yachts are shown at Annex C - one having been compiled from the recollections of some of the earliest German employees of the Club, whilst the other is taken from a copy of the Club Bye-Laws of 1948.
During the winter all these craft were slipped and laid up under cover in the hangars of the former German Naval Air Station, Holtenau. During the war, Stickenhorn and the barracks at Holtenau had been part of a seaplane base. Although the hangars were damaged, their existence, and that of the jetty and slipway, made it an ideal site for the winter storage and maintenance of yachts -work which was done almost entirely by German staff. In the early days the slip could only take the smaller yachts - the bigger ones had to be lifted out by crane. There was only one cradle and no turntable, so it was a long job to get the whole fleet out of the water.
The importance of an annual regatta corresponding to the internationally known and attended 'Kieler Woche' of the pre-war days was recognised by the Sailing committee and the first post-war Kiel Week was organised and held from 31st August to 4th September 1945. A successful programme included both class and handicap racing. The Week concluded with an impressive firework display from three Landing Craft moored in the harbour facing the club. The performance was made doubly spectacular by the accidental ignition of the complete stock on one of the Landing Craft. However the BKYC's racing programme had started earlier than August. The first edition of the Kiel Journal, published on 7th July 1945, recorded that in the Club's first race, which took place in pouring rain and very little wind", six 'Star' class yachts crossed the Start Line. The race was won by Maj Harvey-Jamieson of 312 Detachment. He went on to win the next Club race, this time for '6 metre' yachts, from Flensburg to Kiel - the Vice Commodore, Lt Col McDonald, coming second by only a boat's length after 10 hours racing!
In 1946 the first Club 'cruising race' was held when a handicap race to Eckernforde was arranged. In 1946 was also memorable for its Kiel Week which was held over the August Bank Holiday. A team from the Royal Copenhagen Yacht Club, together with Dutch and Norwegian sailing guests took part. The monthly magazine of HMS Royal Harold, BUZZ, recorded class racing for '6 metre', 'Star', '50 square metres' and handicap racing for the large cruisers. By then Maj Harvey-Jamieson appears to have been posed away, but the Vice Commodore was still doing well, sailing 'Jacunda' in the large cruiser handicap class.
Kiel week in 1947 took place at the end of July and was notable for an almost complete absence of wind. During this season the Eckernforde cruising race was repeated and the Club was well represented in the Travemunde and Flensburg regattas. As an experiment, an End-of-Season regatta was introduced and it proved to be successful.
The Club was formally registered by the Sailing Committee in the Lloyd's register of Yacht Clubs at the beginning of 1946. The General Committee and the members were conscious of the responsibility that they had assumed in taking over the assets of the Kieler Yacht Club which under that and its earlier title of "Kaiserliche Yacht Club", had been the premiere yacht club in Germany. They faced a hard struggle to keep the requisitioned yachts in good condition and it was only through the efforts of individual members and the dedication of the German staff that this was achieved. The success of their efforts was recognised by the German owners of the requisitioned yachts who not unnaturally, took a keen interest in them and were content that their craft were being looked after very much better than they could in those austere post-war days. Some of the yachts came to the club with paid hands who remained with their respective yachts.
During 1945 two very successful Club cruised-in-company to Denmark were arranged by the Royal Navy in conjunction with the Royal Danish Navy. The ports visited were Faaborg, Svendborg and Marstal. Maj Harvey-Jamieson also conduced two cruises in danish waters with Army crews aboard "Egir", "Victoria" and "Theodoric" in June and in "Jacunda" in August. In 1946 weekend cruises to Denmark became a regular feature and Club members began to realise the possibilities of spending long leave periods afloat, though this was not exploited until 1947 when three cruises were made to Sweden along with numerous trips to and around the Danish islands. Maj J R Blomfield, at that time on the CRE's staff, made the first post-war cruise to Sweden at the end of June in the 100 square metre yacht "Konigin". He and his crew had hoped to reach Stockholm but were plagued by light winds and they had to turn back when they reached Oskarshamn on the mainland opposite the northern end of Oland. In 1948 the Blomfield's took "Asgard" to Oslo and arrived there in time to help celebrate the Norwegian King's Birthday, in company with HMS Devonshire.
From the beginning, the Royal Engineer Yacht Club (Germany) made its base at Kiel and shared all the facilities of the BKYC. At the end of the 1946 season the British Air Forces of Occupation also laid up their cruisers under the Club's care.
Until the end of the 1950 season the BKYC was an officer's club - following the traditions which had prevailed in the Services before the War. The Victory Sailing Club was formed in Kiel in July 1945 to provide sailing for all ranks although, as there was a separate officers-only club in the BKYC, other ranks had some degree of preferential treatment. However BUZZ (the monthly magazine of HMS Royal Harold 1946-47), records that Lt Cdr Taylor sailed for the VSC in an inter-club "Star" class race in 1946. The VSC was based on a Wehrmacht swimming pier directly opposite the present Officer's Mess, off the Hindenburgufer.
The BKYC began to come under increasing financial pressure as it had to operate as a conventional yacht club, dependant upon its members for its income. It had no formal governmental support. One can therefore imagine that the committee greeted with some relief the decision to move the Club to Stickenhorn at the end of the 1951 season and to return the club house of the Kieler Yacht Club to its former owners. At the same time, all the privately owned yachts that had been requisitioned in the post-war period were returned to their owners, in very good condition and with a full inventory. The owners were each paid a charter fee for the period that their boats had been requisitioned.
The Clubs Yachts
Civilian clubs are made up of likeminded people who band together to enjoy the pursuit of their sport. The members generally own their own yachts and very few clubs have boats that are owned by the club itself. The reverse is true of the BKYC. When it was founded in 1945, there were no private boats in Kiel and the members chartered the requisitioned yachts which the Club administered and maintained. Although of course BKYC members do own yachts, and have done so for many years, the BKYC is still primarily a club that owns its boats collectively and charters them out to its members.
A list of all yachts associated with the Club in 1945 and 1948 together with a list of the fleet as it was in 1986 is shown later, but bare lists do not cover the gaps between, nor do they reveal the difficult decisions that have had to be taken in the search for replacement yachts.
In the years immediately after the war, the BKYC operated with a fleet of yachts based on those originally administered in 1945. In outline, the fleet consisted of the larger 100 square metre yachts used for extended cruises, the shorter 50 square meter yachts for sail training - once that had been established as a Club aim. The Sharpies, which were built for the Club in 1946, came from a stock of oak and teak found in the neighbourhood of Kiel. The boats were built by Ratjhes, a yard which has had a very close association with the Club and the Kiel Training Centre since 1945. These Sharpies stayed with the Club until the mid-50s, and the Stars and 6 metres until the end of that decade. The Sharpie and the Stars were all passed on to the British inland sailing clubs such as Mohnesee and Dummersee but the 6 metre yachts were sold.
When the Club was formed it was devoted to racing. Cruising was a minority occupation. Over the winter of 1950/51, the Victory Sailing Club and the BKYC amalgamated, although the officer/other rank divide still existed. There had been a racing versus cruising controversy for some time and it is likely that the amalgamation would have strengthened the arguments in favour of more cruising. Nevertheless on the racing side the Club was not without some success and the 100 square metre yachts were campaigned in a number of RORC races in the UK and the Baltic- and in Kiel Weeks. The racing enthusiasts had one final fling which resulted in the purchase of the Uomie in 1960.
Uomie had been built by Newmans of Poole in 1952 to a design by Arthur Robb for a Mr Selwyn Slater. She was well ahead of her time. She had an LOA of 38 feet, a hull form reminiscent of the modem dinghy shaped offshore racers and a deep fin keel. She had had a successful ocean racing career including winning the RORC Class II championship 3 years running for which the REYC Cup is presented, a place in the Admirals Cup winning team of 1957 and class wins in the Bermuda Race and the Sydney- Hobart Race. She was then involved in the Channel Hurricane of 1958 which also saw the REYC yacht Right Royal dismasted. She had all her sails blown out and was in danger of grounding on Chesil Beach when a frigate took the crew off. The tide and the wind turned and she drifted into the Channel where she was salvaged by two French fishing trawlers. They took her to port and moored her between them but sadly she was damaged by them rolling against her and many frames were cracked. She was put up for sale and bought by the BKYC and taken to Kiel in 1959 with her hull still in bad condition. Bruno Splieth and Max Wokert helped to sail her round to Abekjing & Rasmussens yard in Bremen where she was completely overhauled during that winter. The broken frames were doubled and some planks replaced. She was then campaigned in the Baltic, with some success, but she was really already an outclassed yacht when the Club bought her. Keeping her in racing trim was taking up more of the Clubs precious funds than was justifiable. In 1974 she was sold to Major Don Campbell who had been Chief Instructor and she moved with him to Dartmouth where she was raced locally with some success and cruised extensively.
The arrival of Capt Stan Townsend in 1956 marked a turning point in the Clubs sailing activies. He set the foundations of the Club as it is now by organising proper training courses for all ranks, using the 30 square metre fleet. These yachts, which had been built in the 1930s, were proving more and more difficult to maintain. The BKYC was run on a shoestring and despite the best efforts of Bruno Splieth and his workshop staff, the 30s all leaked like sieves. Col Jimmy Spicer recalls that it was the normal drill on reaching Faaborg or Sonderborg to put all the old horse-hair mattresses on shore, propped on one edge, so that the water could drain out of them. Don Campbell remembers having to wear waterproofs down below even to cook and sleep! Only one of the boats had a toilet-and none had an engine.
In 1958, Stan Townsend put forward a proposal to modernise the 30 square metre yachts which he demonstrated by having the interior of one of them rebuilt and making some alterations on deck. These ideas were considered by the committee and members but the yachts were really too old and it was principally for this reason that the proposal was not adopted. Over this period, controversy raged in the Committee and throughout the Club. The point at issue was whether the replacement vessel should be a racing yacht or a reasonably comfortable standard cruiser in which anyone could learn to sail and subsequently enjoy cruising in the Baltic. The latter view prevailed and the Committee set about raising money for a new fleet. A Committee meeting, held in September 1963, considered the merits of the Elizabethan 29 but finally chose a boat located by Stan Townsend in Aeroskobing, the Danboat. Money for the first boats, bought in 1964, was raised by a joint Service effort in holding raffles for Mini cars.
In the late 60s, whilst Maj Gen John Woollett was Chief Engineer and Commodore, a great deal of staff work was put into persuading the Treasury to agree that money received from the sale of Windfall yachts, as the former Wehrmacht yachts were known, could be used by the Club to purchase replacements. Until then the income from the sales went to the Treasury and the Club was responsible for purchasing replacements at no cost to the public. There was one further obstacle to be overcome. It came to notice that a lieutenant in the Kriegsmarine had sold the 30 square metre yachts to civilians just prior to the capitulation. However it was ruled that this sale was invalid and that the yachts were the property of the British Government which had the right to dispose of them as it wished.
In 1968 a committee was set up to re-examine the various contenders to replace the training fleet of 30 squares. By this time the Club owned five Danboats but an increase in the size of that fleet was ruled out- mainly on the grounds of a desire to Buy British. Two boats were short-listed - the Halcyon 27 and the Cutlass. The Rear Commodore of the day, Colonel Jimmy Spicer, went to look at the Halycon and to sound out the builder in the hope of getting five or six built at fairly short notice. However the builder was not prepared to divert any boats from his already full overseas order book so, in 1968, the decision was made to buy the Cutlass even though the Halycon had been the preferred choice.
The first batch of Cutlasses was shipped out as indulgence freight during the winter of 1969 on a Landing Ship Logistic (which in those days was operated by the BI Steamship Co). The move was fraught with difficulties. The arrangements at both Woolston and Marchwood were inadequate but Jimmy Spicer and Jock Brazier begged and borrowed enough equipment to load the boats into the ship. It was much the same story at Bremen. This time it was the Commandant, Lt Col Arthur Shadbolt, Bruno Splieth and Max Wokert, the rigger, who joined Jimmy in mad dashes along snow covered autobahns to make and to deliver the missing bits and pieces. Some time later the second batch was shipped to Germany and transported to Kiel, thanks to the RCT, without any of the difficulties that had been experienced earlier. Four of the boats were delivered in kit form and were completed in the Workshop.
The Committee still had other difficult problems to resolve. Firstly there was a need to replace the 50 square metre yachts, as well as other deteriorating Club assets such as the jetty, boatshed, slipway and clubhouse. Secondly there was a need to consider the long-term training fleet requirement. Two sub-committees were set up under Flag Officers to govern the Clubs affairs. One dealt with finance and the other with sailing. Mr Peter Margetts, a senior Property Services Agency (PSA) officer who was also Rear Commodore of the Club, was given the task of overseeing the Clubs interests in the jetty, boatshed and slipway, leaving the problem of the clubhouse to be resolved. There was little prospect of any outside help being available except, perhaps, some welfare grants.
In 1968, as a partial solution to the replacement of the middle fleet vessels, a Rival 32 was bought, but experience showed that it was not well suited to the Clubs needs, The Rival, named Tern, and the old double-ended Aloha, were sold - and at a profit, thanks to the efforts of Bruno Splieth and Arthur Shadbolt. The Committee continued with the search for a suitable replacement. Maj George Ritchie, the General Secretary, and Jimmy Spicer went to look at the Contessa 32 which at the time Jeremy Rogers was just bringing into production. They reported back most enthusiastically to the Committee.
Some committee members thought that the Nicholson looked to be a more soldier-proof boat but Camper and Nicholsons showed no great interest in an order from the Club. On the other hand the newly-started Jeremy Rogers was keenly interested. The decision was made and the Clubs first Contessa 32 arrived in 1971. The last, Goldeney, was purchased at the 1982 London Boat Show and, at Easter that year, was named by Lady Gow, wife of the CinC BAOR and Admiral of the BKYC. In 1972 the Sailing Sub-Committee proposed that the Danish Bianca 27, rather like an improved Halcyon but with a motor, should, in due course, be the replacement vessel for the Cutlass fleet. For the club that had, to date, only owned engine-less yachts in its training fleet, the proposal caused immense controversy. Apart from the arguments about whether to have an engine was a good thing or not, there was also the more practical matter of whether the BKYC staff could cope with all the extra work the engines would involve. There were to be toilets too! The proposal was not aided by the fact that two of the Cutlasses had been delivered with Vire petrol engines in 1969 and these had not proved successful.
In the meantime, the main issue that was facing the Club was whether it should have a new clubhouse or a new training fleet. It was clear to the Financial Sub-Committee that the Club could not afford to have both. A further problem at the time was that, although there was a firm desire to buy British boats if possible, there simply wasn't a suitable boat on the market at the time. The maintenance costs of the clubhouse were rising faster every year and its long-term prospects were gloomy. The General Committee was split down the middle on the issue. However the case for the clubhouse was strong and getting stronger, whilst the Cutlasses were still in good order and the Contessa 32s were starting to enter Club service. The casting vote of the Commodore, Maj Gen Eric Mackay, carried the day for the replacement of the clubhouse. The proposal for the replacement of the training fleet was shelved and all the Clubs resources were directed towards building a new clubhouse. This was constructed from a pre-fabricated kit by 39 Fd Sqn RE and opened by Maj Gen Mackay on 17th May 1975.
Thanks mainly to Peter Margetts and some well staffed efforts in various HQs, the PSA rebuilt the jetty in 1972 and the slipway in 1976/77. These, and all the other assets of the Kiel Training Centre, have been in the care of the PSA ever since. In 1987 the PSA also took on responsibility for the clubhouse itself and in 1989 it was re-roofed and given a major internal refurbishment.
In the 70s the need for a new training fleet could be delayed, but it would not go away. Despite the failure of the earlier experiment to fit engines in the Cutlasses, diesel engines were successfully fitted in 1978/79. In his Commodores Introduction to the 1979 Winter Newsletter, Maj Gen Barry Pollard noted that the added safety provided by the engines in crowded harbours and in busy shipping lanes was welcomed, quite apart from the fact that the yachts could make some progress in a flat calm. Certainly there was a noticeable reduction in the damage sustained by hulls resulting from bumps against harbour walls!
The Cutlasses were very good as sail training boats and proved to be soldier-proof. However they were not well matched as a racing fleet and winning a race was as much a result of luck in the draw for boats as of the skippers skills. During the period between 1976 and 1978 the replacement yacht was not made difficult by the lack of suitable contenders, but rather by the superfluity of them. Finally in 1978 the Contessa 28 was selected. As usual finance was the major problem but, through the generosity of the trustees of various welfare funds, together with some interest free loans, a fleet of twelve was ordered for delivery during the winter of 1979/80. Once again the RCT came to the Clubs assistance and the new yachts were transported to Holland as indulgence freight. During that winter, Cpl Richard Baily (latter a long-term civilian employee of the KTC) was sent to Marchwood to work with 17 Port Regt RCT to control the UK end. Col David Cooper, who at that time commanded 7 Tk Tptr Regt RCT at Sennelager, arranged several driver training exercises and the fleet was met at Antwerp and transported to Kiel in time for an impressive naming ceremony over the Easter weekend, David Cooper was closely associated with the Club from 1979 to 1986 and was its Rear Commodore from 1980.
The Contessas were as nearly matched as any fleet could be and the skills of the skipper and his crew counted for everything. Some modifications and strengthening in places proved to be necessary but they stood up very well to the rigours of 19 years of hard sailing for seven months of each year with inexperienced crews and rather more groundings than were ever acknowledged.
Finding enough money to pay for the Contessa 28s had been a major problem. The help given to the Club was made dependent on it establishing a sound basis of financial planning so that in future years there would not be a similar crisis. The Commander Finance, HQ BAOR joined the BKYC Committee as Financial Advisor and the Club set about putting its finances in order with considerable success.Â By the time that it became necessary to replace the middle fleet boats (from Contessa 32s to Sigma 33s) in 1987/88 the Club was able to afford them. Perhaps even more surprisingly, when the training fleet of Contessa 28s was replaced by 12 Hallberg-Rassy 29s during the winter of 1989/90, the Club was able to purchase them outright, for cash, without the need to seek specific grants for the purpose other than to ask that such public and non-public grants that had been made for the purchase of the Contessas should not have to be repaid when they are sold.
The change to Hallberg-Rassy 29s followed the usual Club in-depth discussions. The credentials of many yachts were studied by the selection committee under the direction of the Vice Commodore, Gp Capt Mike Lane. The short list of the Etap 29, the Sadler 29, the Westerly Konsort 29 and, as a late entrant to the competition, the Hallberg-Rassy 29. The Etap was dropped quite soon. The Club bought a Sadler 29 in mid-1988 and began to trial it. Shortly afterwards Sadler Yachts went into liquidation and when the firm had been rescued the price of the boat had increased by about 20%. A Westerly 29 was bought in early 1989 and in April that year the Club was lent a HR29 for three weeks by its builders. The three yachts were sailed against each other and closely compared especially during the 1989 Sailing Symposium (the third of such events). In the end, the choice fell unanimously on the HR29 for its sailing characteristics, its construction - and its competitive price (particularly in comparison to the Westerly). Although the Club wanted to Buy British, it was felt that value for money should be the over- riding consideration.
In 1992, with the Sigma 33s and the First 29s fast approaching their sell by date, and because of the anticipated need for the club to reduce the number of sleeping berths available, it was decided that the Club should buy just two Venture Fleet Yachts as replacements. These would provide a stepping stone, demanding more than the Sigmas from skippers graduating from the HR29; they would be capable of extended passages in arduous conditions, and sleep a crew of seven. After studying a very large number of vessels, the selection committee, chaired by the Vice-Commodore Wg Cdr Joe Hellyer, shortlisted the Rival 36 and the Rustler 36. By virtue of its better arrangements for stern-to mooring and mainsheet adjustment, and its lower cost, the Rustler was selected for delivery in April 1993.
Throughout this saga of yacht replacements, three yachts remained in the Club. These were the two 100 square metre yachts Flamingo and Kranich and the smaller 42 foot ketch Rasmus. She used to be called Rasmus III but sometime through the years the III disappeared. The 100s were built in 1935 and 1936 respectively whilst it is thought that Rasmus was built in 1928. There were no papers with her when she came to the Club but she was probably privately owned before the War. These three yachts have had a special place in the affections of the Clubs members and they have given the Club a special flavour. Ownership and the care of these old ladies became very much part of the Clubs credo and everyone took an interest and a pleasure in their welfare. In 1988 Flamingo was badly holed in her starboard quarter when she was hit by a large fishing boat - the fault of our crew. She was beautifully mended by Erich Rathjes yard, which has done so much to keep the boats in good condition over the years. In 1988 Kranich lost her mast after a collision at the end of the STA races when a friendly Dutch skipper brought his large boat up to Kranichs port quarter and caught her backstay. Rathjes were able to make a new wooden mast an ˜Kranich was as good as ever - and two pieces of the old mast were given a supporting role in the Clubhouse.
The wooden boats are expensive and manpower intensive to maintain and in 1989 consideration was first given by the Committee to the idea that one of the three, probably Kranich, should be sold and an attempt made to replace her with a modern GRP boat of 50-55ft which could take more crew members over longer distances, cost less to maintain and be seen to be an investment for the future. It was realised that sponsorship would be essential to raise the sort of money required. The 50th anniversary of the Club, in 1995, might provide the occasion to go for it.
The Changing Face of the BKYC
The Club as formed in May 1945 was based on the pre-war concept of most yacht clubs. That is that it was a club for officers and their families who were principally interested in racing - but where there was no place for other ranks. The Victory Sailing Club was formed to cater for the sailing interests of all ranks although the non commissioned ranks predominated. The BKYCs membership was drawn from those serving in the general area of Kiel and it was unusual in the early days to find members who came from further afield than Hamburg.
The move to Stickenhorn at the end of the 1950 season brought with it a significant change to the membership structure in that, with the demise of the Victory Sailing Club, the BKYC became an all ranks club. It is easy now to wonder at this overt rank divide but the situation merely reflected the views of the day. (Even now the Royal Engineer YC is only open to non-commissioned ranks by invitation and the Royal Artillery YC did not open its membership to all ranks until 1969). At the BKYC it was not until the arrival of Stan Townsend in 1956 that the Club became genuinely one for all ranks. When he became the Sailing Secretary the clubhouse was still divided into officers and other ranks ends. He took down the partition and established a bar and restaurant much as it is now. He also changed the Club in another very significant way as he set about organising formal courses of instruction, using the fleet of 30 square metre yachts.
Although the Club had been started to cater for the local sailing interests, the membership progressively came to be drawn from across the whole of the British Forces in Germany. In 1963 it was clear that a committee based principally on the northernmost elements of BAOR, albeit the Commodore was the Chief Engineer (and thus was based in HQ BAOR), was not sufficiently representative of the membership. At the Committee meeting held in September 1963 the Commodore, Maj Gen Shepheard, proposed the formation of a General Committee in almost exactly the same form as exists today.
Years later, the members of the BKYC can see a club which meets the needs of today and yet which is in all major respects unchanged from that which Maj Gen Shepheard and Maj Stan Townsend created. The Clubs membership is drawn from all ranks of the British Forces and sponsored British civilians, together with a small number from NATO forces. The family member is an important contributor to the atmosphere of the Club which helps to maintain the balance between cruising, racing and adventurous training exercises. The yachts are launched in mid-March and fully utilised until they are slipped in mid October. The years programme is made up with training courses and what used to be called Regattas but which now, rather more prosaically, are known as Sail Training Weeks - a result of somewhat ill-informed interest being taken in the nature of the regattas by financiers in 1989.
The training courses have long reflected the standards laid down by the RYA but it was in the winter of 1985/86 that the syllabus for the basic course was brought exactly into line with the RYA Competent Crew syllabus. Since the 1986 season the Kiel Training Centre has been awarding that certificate to those who successfully pass the basic courses. Unfortunately it has never been possible for the Centre to test candidates for RYA skipper grade certificates in the Baltic as the waters are non-tidal. However skippers can be awarded certificates that reflect all that the RYA requires - except tidal experience. These are BKYC certificates which, in order to recognise the RYA influence and syllabus, were changed from the time-honoured skipper nomenclatures of Skipper 35 and Skipper 70 to Baltic Coastal Skipper and Baltic Offshore Skipper respectively. Additionally the award of Baltic Yachtmaste is given to those skippers who have demonstrated their capabilities in the 100 square metre yachts. Nevertheless the Centre normally runs four examinations in the North Sea each year, based on Cuxhaven to enable candidates to be tested for full RYA skipper certificates.
RAF(G) and most Corps, regiments and formations in BAOR, organise annual Sail Training Weeks. The Weeks last some 5 or 6 days and usually comprise three short and three long races between the yachts of the training fleet. These are not meant to be gentle sunshine cruises - and nor are they. The yachts of the BKYC sail in all weathers and there are probably many participants who, after years of coming to Kiel, are still waiting for a gentle cruising match in light airs and sunshine. Kiel is not for nothing known as the Breezy City and thus oilskins and safety harnesses are very much the rig for many STWs. The BKYC itself organises two events that have retained the title Regatta- one at Whitsun and the other over the August Bank Holiday. In 1980 the latter regatta was renamed the Splieth Regatta in honour of Bruno and to mark the Clubs appreciation of his years of hard work on its behalf The Whitsun Regatta is a serious affair with fiercely competitive racing between members and their carefully selected crews. On the other hand, the atmosphere at the Splieth is very different. There are still serious races but the emphasis is more on participation by families and so many crews include wives and children. A programme of sailing and dinghy rowing races is arranged for the children and having fun is very much the order of the 4 days.
Perhaps the most important and significant change to have occurred over the years since the Club was founded is the present acceptance of the importance of adventurous training as an integral part of military training. This has brought a crucial injection of public money to support participants and to help maintain the yachts. Public funds first became available to the Club in the late 60s and more recently a formula was agreed under which, in general terms, any yacht that spends at least 75% of its available time on the water being used for adventurous training qualifies for mooring, storage and maintenance at public expense. Without this close link with officially sponsored adventurous training, there is little doubt that the BKYC would have died through lack of funds. The new arrangement means that the Crown, in the shape of the Kiel Training Centre, has the use of the Clubs yachts to provide facilities for adventurous training without having to find the capital sums required to replace them. The task of providing a suitable fleet remains in the hands of the BKYC General Committee and the necessary funds come from membership fees, charters, various grants and, of course, the public purse. It is a typical British compromise arrangement that is understood fully by very few but which works well and to the advantage of all concerned.
The Military Links
The British Kiel Yacht Club could never have continued beyond a few years without the active support of the military authorities. In the early years the support came because there were enough enthusiasts to ensure that, by one means or another, the facilities offered at Kiel, which they thought were too special to be discarded, should be retained for the benefit of the members of BAOR. In those days there was no question of the Club being used for anything other than purely recreational purposes. Later the benefits of offshore sailing as an adventurous training activity became apparent and the Club's facilities were recognised as being of military use - and funding from the public purse became available. The continued existence of the Club has, however been tenuous, and owes much to the ingenuity and persuasiveness of many of its members and friends over the years.
In its early days the Club's policy was largely supervised by Mr Ken Witmarsh. He remained in Kiel from 1946, initially as a member of the Control Commission and latterly as Services Liaison Officer (SLO) Kiel, until his death in office in 1966 and he was the Club Treasurer and Rear Commodore for much of that time. However the daily affairs of the Club were in the hands of the military. Initially a member of the CRE 8 Corps' staff held the post of General Secretary. In 1947 the newly created DCRE took over and the post of General Secretary was held, exofficio, by DCREs until that appointment was disbanded in 1959 (when the RE Works organisation handed over its duties to the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works (or Public Blunders and Wonders!)( MPBW) - later to become the Property Services Agency (PSA)).
However, in 1956, Stand Townsend had arrived in Kiel where he was to hold the post of independent Garrison Engineer (GE) until 1960. He became the Captain of Boats and the Sailing Secretary of the Club and thereby became the most influential figure "in situ". In 1960 the Advanced Watermanship Training Centre (AWTC) was formed at Kiel (as part of the establishment of the RE Bridging Camp, Hameln) and Capt Townsend was appointed as its OC. Thus for the first time the link between the Club and the military was formalised.
On 17th January 1964 the Station Staff office at Kiel was disbanded and the remnants of its staff were absorbed into the establishment of the AWTC. The SSO Kiel of the day, Maj Ellis, remained in post until, later that year, Maj A B Shadbolt MC RE was appointed as Commandant of the AWTC and OC Troops Schleswig-Holstein - with Capt Townsend as his QM. the newly formed RE Diving Unit was added to the AWTC - and the military presence settled down.
The AWTC was responsible for the administration of the military and civilian staff who worked on the sailing side, but at this time the Commandant had very little influence on the day-to-day operation of the club or the sailing activities at Kiel. The establishment proposals that had created the new unit had been justified on the apparent closeness of its various parts. However an RE Works Study Team that visited Kiel in 1969 found a strangely "fractionated organisation", the REDU and the BKYC each of which provided manpower to assist with the running of the unit but which answered up separate chains of command to different senior officers. The Work Study Team recommended that the establishment be rationalised to enable the Commandant to take more control over the sail training activities and thus loosen the bonds between the BKYC and the AWTC. The training formally became a recognised mode of military training and offshore sailing was included in the list of approved pursuits. In July that year a BAOR Working Party on Kiel made recommendations about how the unit should be controlled, organised and staffed, and set out the principles to be followed in the management of adventurous offshore sail training in BAOR.
As the Chief Engineer (CE) BAOR was both the Commodore of the BKYC and the unit's establishment sponsor, it is perhaps not surprising that the recommendations were accepted and acted upon. In 1972 the Kiel Training Centre was created, comprising an HQ and Admin Wing with Adventurous Training and Diving Wings. At last, sailing at Kiel had the full formal support of the establishment. However it continued to come under occasional review.
The activities at Kiel have always provided financiers with an apparently easy target for reform - if not for the axe! Fortunately the target has never turned out to be as easy to hit as it had seemed at first! Maj Gen Woollet recalls that during 1957/58 the CinC BAOR, Gen Sir Dudley Ward, was reputed to have told the Command Secretary that he was not prepared to discuss the run-down of the Club. Various expedients have been used to justify a military presence at Kiel such as linking the unit to the RE Bridging Camp Staff and as using it as a transit camp for troops going to Norway on training. Maj Gen Dobson recalls that his period as CE BAOR and Club Commodore, from 1964 to 1967, were largely concerned not only with what to do about the ageing "30 squares" but also how to keep a base at Kiel at all! His successor, Maj Gen Woollet, was once asked by the Commandant Secretary for papers so that 6 his staff could assist in formalising the establishment. About two weeks later the Command Secretary called on the General and said that his chaps had been quite unable to disentangle the organisation at Kiel, to which Gen Woollett was able to reply that they were never meant to! In 1979 the existence of the Club and the public funding that it enjoyed again came under the spotlight. The outcome of discussions between Maj Gen John Groom and the Command Secretary on this occasion was formulation of the present set of rules for the provision of public funds to support adventurous sail training - the '75% Rule'.
The Club owes a great debt to the CinCs BAOR, RAF(G) and to the CinC AFNORTH who all gave it their wholehearted support at that time and indeed still show a keen interest in its affairs.
In the early 80s the corner-stone of the justification for retaining a unit in Kiel at all was the Diving Wing. This was strengthened by making the RE Workshop an outpost of the Army Support Unit at Willich with, since 1980, a seconded RE WO2 to take over the workshop from Bruno Splieth pending his retirement in 1982. In 1984, an establishment re-write formalised the position of the RE Workshop and it was given wider responsibilities. Today the Commandant answers up several chains of command. For the administration and the discipline of the troops at Kiel, and as SSO Schleswig-Holstein, he reports to HQ Verden Garrison. For the adventurous sail training done by the ATW he reports to HQ BAOR - G3(Trg), whilst for the tasking and technical competence of the RE Diving Wing he reports to HQ RE at 1 (BR) Corps and the RE Diving Establishment as Portsmouth respectively. The OC ATW is responsible for providing the training authorised by HQ BAOR and for the tasking of the BKYC fleet(and all that that implies). The OC REDW runs potential Diver Aptitude Courses and provides a facility for the diving teams from each of the BAOR based RE regiments to check and improve their underwater skills by spending periods of about a week at a time at Kiel under the Wing's overall supervision. The Wing also checks on the teams and their equipment at their regimental bases. The KTC's RE Workshop provides the support necessary to keep the BKYC fleet in good maintenance and repair. The main workload for the Workshop is in the winter months when the fleet is packed gunwale to gunwale in the boatshed. In the summer months there is plenty of on-going maintenance to be done but there is also time to carry out longer term projects and some repairs to dinghies for the BAOR based clubs.
A common misconception about life at Kiel is what whilst it is obviously very busy in the summer months, the winter provides a prolonged period of relaxation. In fact of course the work, though varied in content and occupying the energies of varying numbers of incremental staff, keeps the permanent staff busy all year round.
Although the Royal Engineers have been closely linked with the BKYC throughout its existence, it would be wrong to think that they have been its sole supporters. All Arms and Services have combined to keep the Club in being and the RASC, the later its successors, the RCT, deserve special mention for their involvement, especially in the 1950s. The practical and moral support given by the RAF from the very beginning was invaluable. They were even able to keep an officer at Kiel for a couple of years - he lived throughout in a caravan parked by the boatshed!
Many of the Windfall boats which came to the Club were ex-Luftwaffe and had been allocated to the RAF. They are particularly remembered for the enthusiasm with which they supported raffles (with Mini cars as prizes) that were arranged to raise funds towards the cost of buying the 'Danboats' that replaced the original '30 square metre' yachts in the 60s. They helped again when the Contessa 28' fleet purchased by giving the Club an interest free loan.
The Royal Engineers and the BKYC have, of course, not been the only inhabitants at Holtenau and the Stickenhorn creek. The ex-Naval base of Kiel would not have been complete without the presence of some elements of the Royal Navy. In the immediate post-war years HMS Royal Harold was located in Tirpitzhafen, but this was disestablished in 1947. HMS Royal Charlotte, an RN intelligence unit, occupied a number of sites within Brompton Barracks. The officers shared the Army's Mess and the ratings lived across the square from the Royal Engineers who, even in those days, lived in Block 100. The BKYC also had close links with a separate RN unit which operated up to three fast patrol boats. These were moored at the end of the club jetty - which was also their refuelling berth. The CO of this unit was Commander Ramsey RN. He was also the Naval Liaison Officer (NLO) and had his offices where the RE Diving Wing is now located. He had lost a leg during the war, at Anzio, and it is recalled how tired he would look when returning to base, having driven his patrol boats at speed in the Baltic. The boats were manned by mixed RN and German civilian crews who were located in what is now the Adventurous Training Wing offices, then known affectionately as the 'Wigwam'.
The Federal German Navy was formed in 1955. One day Rear Admiral Campbell Walker, the Flag Officer Germany asked for the BKYC clubhouse and bar to be opened at midday - but he gave no reason for his request. At midday precisely in came the German patrol boat crew members, but now they were dressed in the uniforms of the new Navy and they were ready to take over the operation of the patrol boats on their own. Amongst the new officers present that day were several who have since risen to very senior ranks in the Federal German Navy, including its CinC Fleet. That afternoon, it is recounted, the newly uniformed crews took the patrol boats that were now theirs out for a high speed run around the bay. On their way back, inside 'Freddy' Light, they put into effect a manoeuvre that they had learnt from Commander Ramsey. This involved three boats dashing along in line abreast until the two outside boats would drop back a little and change sides. Very spectacular! On this occasion having done it once they tried it again, but this time the two boats collided and locked together - to finish the trip to base at rather slower speed! No-one was hurt.
In 1958 a NATO naval HQ, known as NAVNORCENT (later to be renamed NAVBALTAP), was established in Kiel under the command of Rear Admiral Campbell Walter. He lived in Gut Stift, the fine looking house in Altenholz-Stift that had been the RE/RA Officers' Mess (and which is now an Annex of the Kiel University Museum). His staff shared with the resident Army Officers and soldiers the quarters that had been built in Memeler Strasse and Buschblick - and many of these are still in use by the Kiel Training Centre today. In 1976 the HQ moved to Karup in Denmark where it remains today.
The United Baltic Corporation (UBC) has always been a good friend to the Club. The UBC was formed in 1919 to trade in the Baltic and in 1946 the British forces asked them to open an agency service on the Kiel Canal so that commercial traffic could again use the route.
The company's first post-war managing director was Mr Reginald Madge who, together with his family had been evacuated from the Baltic states via Russia with the assistance of Sir Stafford Cripps. He was posted to Kiel under the aegis of the Control Commission Germany and he wore the Commission's blue battledress and lived in the Officers' Mess. He became a Club and a Committee member and he is recalled as being something of an eccentric; he used to charter one of the Club's last '6 metre' yachts - and he always sailed it alone. He was not a young man but he was very independent. He would wear an old 'Anthony Eden' type Homburg hat and he frequently used it at sea in hot weather. Each evening he would come from his office and sail off alone. No-one would so much as dare to cast off or receive his lines. However the Committee were always concerned for his safety and for the good name of the club and so, one evening when the wind had dropped and he had not returned, Colonel Jimmy Spicer set off in the Club motorboat and found him becalmed about a mile off Bulk Lighthouse. The cockpit was plugged and full of sea water. Mr Madge was enjoying a bath! He refused to accept a tow and told his would-be rescuer that when he had sailed these waters a little longer he would know that an evening breeze of sufficient strength to take him home would soon blow up, and would he please take the motorboat away and stop interfering with his peaceful evening!
As many of the visitors to Kiel will know, this is by no means always the case - the wind frequently dies in the evening. Cdr Dennis White, who was with NAVBALTAP, often used to go out for an evening sail in his dinghy. One evening, it is recalled, he was seen swimming round the end of the Stickenhorn mole at a fast crawl with the dinghy painter between his teeth. When asked what was happening, he took the rope from his mouth and announced that whilst this might seem a peculiar thing for a senior naval officer to be doing, he and his wife Anne were giving a dinner party that evening and that she would probably kill him if he was late!
Mr Madge retired in 1969 to be followed in turn by Mr Terry Wiggins. He was a keen potterer in yachts and he kept his own small yacht at the Club. In 1981 Mr Ian Gibson took over and in 1989 he was appointed as Honorary British Consul in Kiel.
Over the years, the UBC has helped to ship many Club purchases out from the UK, including masts and sails. The companys launch Baltic Swift (Mr Gibsons pride and joy!) has several times given the Club active assistance but never so crucially as in 1989 when Capt Roger Justice, then the Chief Instructor of the Sail Training Wing, borrowed her for a dash to Aero to recover Petrel, one of the Clubs Contessa 28s, which had been put firmly aground and had a large hole in her side. Having been patched and refloated Petrel was lashed alongside Baltic Swift and brought safely back to Kiel for a full repair.
The true value of adventurous training can be summarised by quoting a remark of Col Jimmy Spicer; If any CO wants to know who his RSM will be in 10 years time, let him pick 8 likely lads, put them in a 100 square metre yacht with the Captain of Boats for a week and he will know within the week, no, within 3 days, who it is going to be.
Kiel and the Club Today
Today Kiel is a relatively prosperous city with a population of about a quarter of a million. It is the seat of the Landtag and it remains the economic centre of Schleswig-Holstein, and economy linked both to the sea and to its agricultural hinterland.
Kiel is not major seaport and nor does it have the rail links really to aspire to be one. It is well served by an autobahn network that came to Kiel from Hamburg in time for the 1972 Olympic Games (when the new Canal Bridge at Holtenau was built). In 1989 another autobahn link to Rendsburg and the Flensburg to Hamburg autobahn was completed. These are due to be linked together in the early 1990s. The port is today used by grain ships and by the ferries that run regularly to and from Oslo, Gotheburg and the Danish island of Langeland. A major activity is also the increasingly significant imports of paper through the Nord Hafen (on the Kiel Canal).
The shipyards of HDW (Howaldt-Deutsche-Werft), whose enormous gantries dominate the southeast part of the harbour at Garden and those of smaller firms at Friedrichsort offer important employment opportunities. Certainly the fortunes of the city are still as closely linked to the ship building industry as they have been for years. Another big employer is the firm of Krupp-Mak, also at Friedrichsort, which is concerned with the defence and transport industries - it builds the famous 'Leopard' tanks and much railway stock.
The naval base of Tirpitzhafen in the suburb of Wik is the home for all classes of ships of the Federal German Navy (FGN) from fast patrol boats through U-boats, minehunters and frigates to destroyers. This large base, with its moles built out into the fjord, is also the venue for the numerous ships from many nations that come to Kiel during the course of NATO exercises or on courtesy visits (especially during the annual Kiel Week in June).
Near to the Tirpitzhafen, the adjacent to the Kiel Training Centre Officers' Mess on the Hindenburgufer, is the HQ of the German Territorial Command (GTC) Schleswig-Holstein(S-H) in what, during the war, had been a Luftwaffe HQ. Interestingly this particular 'Land' command, which is responsible for the infrastructure support for AFNORTH operations in S-H is, for political reasons, always commanded by an Admiral.
For many Germans Kiel is known as the home of the FGN's sail training barque, the 'Gorch Fock'. She is named after a German maritime poet who was killed at the Battle of Jutland in 1916 (and who is still held in the same sort of affection by the Germans as Rupert Brook is to many Britons). She was built in 1958, has a displacement of 1700 tonnes, and spends her time voyaging with crews of young NCOs and midshipmen undergoing seamanship training. The German nation has a soft spot for the 'Gorch Fock' and many people take a deep interest in her activities.
The Kiel Canal (or, more properly, the Nord-Ostsee Kanal) is still an important link for the Baltic maritime trade as it saves hundreds of sea miles for ships heading for Sweden and the East European ports that border the Baltic. Some 50,000 ships pass through it annually (not including pleasure craft) and although this figure is well below its best years, today's ships tend to be larger, and thus the figure still indicates the canal's significance.
Despite the severe destruction in Kiel at the end of the war, the University faculties were re-opened on 27th November 1945. Kiel University is well known for its Oceanography Department, the Institute of World Economic Affairs and its Medical School. In German terms its student population of about 18,000 does not make it a particularly large University but it has one of the highest proportions of foreigners among its student body.
The Schloss, which was destroyed by fire during the air raids of April 1945, has been replaced by a modern building with restaurants and a concert hall. It also contains the Provincial Archive Library.
The city of Kiel, once described by Colonel Fryer (the Club's founder) when he was there in May 1945, as the 'lifeless city', has re-established itself - adding new to old. It now has partnership agreements with several European cities, but perhaps none is so poignant as the one it has with Coventry, a city that also suffered terrible devastation during the bombing raids of the war. Both cities are modern and progressive and increasingly able to look to the future.
The Kiel Training Centre and the BKYC's links with the City are, by the nature of his work, not very strong. The activities of the Club have, perhaps fortunately, a low public profile and it is probable that most people in and around the city are unaware of its existence. Those that know of it are certainly likely to be unsure about what it does. The Club is readily and unselfishly accepted by those who do know it and amongst these must be counted the officers and men of the German Naval Air Arm - and in particular those members of the Marinefliegergeschwader 5 (MFG 5), the KTC's host unit in Kiel. The Kiel Training Centre, in one guise or another, has been in their barracks (Marinefliegerhorst) since 1950 and the relationship between the two organisations could not be more congenial.
The Club's jetty at Stickenhorn is certainly one of the best, if not THE best, marina in the Kieler Forde and it is visited every year by many yachts owned and sailed by people from many countries who not only pay for their overnight stay but respond to the friendly welcome that they receive at the Club by telling (often over a small sundowner!) fascinating stories of their voyages in distant places.
The Flag Officers of the Kieler Yacht Club well remember the early days of their Club after the War when their club house was used by the BKYC. They tell, with affection, stories of the British occupation - of how the Kaisersaal was used by the officers to play indoor football (they covered the pictures [beautiful and large oil paintings] carefully with canvas first) and the only real damage was done when a couple of officers, slightly worse for drink, one night shot at the Kaiser's portrait with their pistols. The damage was slight and is not visible today! The KYC acknowledges that the BKYC did much in those early days that enabled it to start up again in 1946 as the premiere yacht club of Germany (although it was not fully able to return to its premises on Hindenburgufer until 1952). Many of the yachts requisitioned (and thus saved from deterioration - and later paid for by the Army) were owned by KYC members. The fair dealing of the British Services and the Club in those days is remembered today. The ties between the clubs are, in practical terms, inevitably, mainly at Commandant/Captain of Boats to President/Commodore level, but that does not mean that the KYC is not uninterested in the BKYC's activities. Indeed the BKYC is quite frequently paid friendly visits by the Flag Officers of the KYC.
The unit's Officers' Mess has occupied its idyllic position at Parkstrasse, off the Hindenburgufer, since 1947. Until then, following the war, the building had been part of the offices of the JSLO organisation and at that time the Officers' Mess was one shared between the Gunners and the Sappers in 'Gut Stift', the large building that now stands near to the KTC officers' quarters at Memeler Strasse. However as the JSLO organisation became smaller (and the number of officers to be housed reduced), half of the present building was turned over for use as a Mess. The next change occurred at the time of the 1972 Olympic Games - which were to be visited by that well known yachting Prime Minister, Edward Heath.
In preparation for his visit, the whole building was converted into a Mess. Somehow inevitably, in the event, Mr Heath did not actually stay in the Mess but it is said that he did hold a meeting in one of the upstairs bedrooms! It has been Kiel Training Centre Officers' Mess ever since. Many important members of the Land and the city know it if only because they are invited to it at least once a year - for a reception to honour the Queen's Official Birthday. It is well known to many NATO officers who transit through Kiel en route between HQ SHAPE and HQ AFNORTH or HQ BALTAP. It hosts many senior diplomatic and military guests, including CinC - indeed as Kiel is geographically in CinC NORTH's area rather than of CinC BAOR, CinC NORTH (who is based in Oslo) often calls the Mess his 'Southern Residence'. It is his practice to base himself there for the duration of Kiel Week each year so that he can visit his German units in the area and fulfill his other military and social obligations. In practical terms, the Mess is probably thought of by those people in Kiel who know of it as being the place 'where the Brits live'!
This story of the BKYC's early years therefore ends with a thriving, energetic British Yacht Club, that has changed its guise several times since its founding in 1945 but which has stayed true to its role of offering offshore sailing to members of the British Forces in Germany, living in harmony with the German Navy and the people of Kiel, a city that has itself changed immensely since the war but which has come to terms with its situation and has made the most of it. Long may they all continue to thrive! However, enormous political changes in Europe are happening that must affect the military balance - and the future of the Club. Only time will tell!
Herr Bruno Splieth MBE
Bruno Splieth was born in Folkemit in West Prussia on 29th January 1917. His father was owner and master of the Arrest, a coastal freight ship. Thus, from the day that he was born, the sea was in the young Brunos veins. During his early years and school days, talk of the sea and experience on it was an everyday occurrence.
He left school in 1931 and became an apprentice on his fathers ship. He attended the Seafaring School in 1938. Following this he was appointed first mate, and later skipper, of a coastal freighter. He was then aged 22.
In October 1939 he joined the German Navy and, except for a period of two months in France in 1940 waiting to take part in Operation Sealion, he spent the next 3 years at Pillau with the task of training sailors. He returned to the Seafaring School in 1943 where he qualified as a Navy navigator. Initially he was selected for submarine crew training but his broken nose, a legacy of boxing competitions in his youth, debarred him on medical grounds. Instead, he was given command of a minesweeper and he remained her Captain during the remaining 18 months of the War.
For the last four months of the war he made regular voyages to rescue refugees from ports which were behind the lines of the advancing Russian troops. In March 1945 he rescued three girls from the port of Gotenhofen (now called Gdynia and twinned with Kiel), one of whom, Tamara, later became his wife.
In May 1945 he sailed his ship into Kiel and moored alongside the Scheermole where he and his crew became prisoners-of war. It came to the notice of the British authorities, from his pay book, that he was something of a sailor and so his resettlement was not long in being arranged. He was discharged from the Navy in September 1945 and immediately employed by the BKYC at that time based on the Kieler Yacht Club premises.
Bruno remained with the Club until his retirement, employed variously as Sailing Master, Yacht Master, Harbour Master and Shipwright but for many years towards the end of his service, just as Bruno.
It is as a racing sailor in his own right that has made Bruno so well known throughout the world of sailing. His talent first became apparent during his Navy service when, without any previous racing experience, he took the place of a sick team member in a Navy regatta and won the race with ease. He soon became a regular member of the Navy team. His first National Championship was in 1943 in the Olympic Jolly boat class.
After the War his first victory on the international scene came in 1950 in his Starboat (Beatrix XIII) during a match between Germany and Sweden. He became German champion eight times, North European champion three times and the winner of the Gold Cup in the Folkboat World Championships. He attended the Olympic Games three times as a participant - at Helsinki in 1952, at Rome in 1960 and at Tokyo in 1964 and as the National Coach in 1972 and 1976. From 1969 to 1972 he was a member of the Olympic Sailing Committee and from 1969 to 1980 was a member of the Olympic Committee of the German Sailing Union. He has received many honours in recognition of his services to German sailing. Amongst these were, in 1960, the Honorary Plaque of the Sport Union of Schleswig-Holstein; in 1965, the Golden Honorary Ring from the Sports Press and, in 1977, the Golden Honorary Medal from the German Sailing Union.
To the members of the BKYC of course Bruno will be remembered differently. He was the rock on which the Club was built and on which it survived through all its difficult years. He gave to the Club the benefit of all his vast experience as a Master Mariner, as a Shipwright, in which profession he became qualified in 1958, and of course as a sailor of exceptional ability. He was never shy about passing his knowledge onto others. He set very high standards of seamanship and he passed on his love of the sea and ships, and of sailing, to the countless thousands of British Servicemen who have sailed from the BKYCs jetty. In doing so he made an incalculable contribution to the quality of their lives. In recognition of all that he achieved for the Club and to sailing in the Services he was, in 1970, made a Member of the Order of the British Empire - an honour of which he was intensely proud. He kept a portrait of the Queen in a prominent place in his office and often referred to her as My Queen.
When he retired in 1982, Bruno was made an Honorary Member of the Royal Engineer YC, the Royal Artillery YC and the Royal Signals YC. He was also made the first Honorary Rear Commodore for life of the BKYC. Because he loved to do so he continued to work regular hours for the Kieler Yacht Club in their boat yard at Strande where he could always be contacted when the BKYC management were in urgent need of advice on sailing and local matters. His advice was always sound and based on experience and instinctive knowledge and saved the Club from many costly mistakes. He and Tamara attended functions in the Officers Mess which Bruno particularly loved to join in. He would love to reminisce about his time working for the Club and his sailing exploits. What came through always was his deep love of sailing, his iron will and his singleminded sense of purpose. You get nothing for nothing, he would say. Bruno was a regular visitor to the KTC and the boatshed, and he particularly approved of the Clubs choice of the Hallberg Rassy 29s for is training fleet. Proper boats, he called them! In March 1990, whilst on his annual holiday in Salzburg with Tamara, Bruno, aged 73, suffered a severe stroke. He was flown back to Kiel and after lying in a coma for 4 months, he died on 20th July 1990. Staff from the KTC shared with young members of the Kieler Yacht Club the honour of escorting his coffin during the funeral service. We are delighted that Tamara Splieth continues to maintain her connections with the Club and particularly with the Splieth Regatta.
Lt Col S G Townsend MBE RE
The name of Stan Townsend stands beside that of Bruno Splieth as a cornerstone of the BKYC. He was born on 25th April 1913 and entered the Army through boy service when he was 15. During his three years of junior service he qualified as a draughtsman and after six years of adult service at Chatham and in Singapore he was promoted Sergeant. The war years were spent at Chatham and also in Madrid where he was on the staff of the Military Attache and where he became not only fluent in Spanish but a lover of that country. From 1949 to 1952 he returned to the Far East, this time as the Chief Draughtsman in the GHQ Drawing Office. He was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire during this tour. He then returned to Chatham and on 21st September 1955 he was commissioned. His first appointment as an officer was as Garrison Engineer (GE) on the staff of Commander Royal Engineers (CRE) Hamburg and it was there that his long association with the BKYC began.
Stan Townsend had first developed as a dinghy sailor during his first tour in Singapore. During his second tour there he had earned high praise as the driving force behind the all ranks sailing club (as well as the FARELF Camera Club). So he was already a keen sailor when he arrived at Hamburg and he immediately joined the BKYC. In 1956 he was transferred to 404 DCRE at Kiel under the command of Maj (later Maj Gen) GW Moods, primarily as a GE, but also to act as the Captain of Boats and Sailing Secretary of the BKYC. (He was also a noted rugby referee and in 1957 he officiated at a match between East Berlin and Kiel).
His GE duties took him all over Schleswig-Holstein and up into Denmark. He is remembered by at least one member of the staff of the former King Alfreds School at Plon (about 20 miles to the South East of Kiel) arriving there on his motorbike to go about his business. His talent for languages developed as he quickly mastered firsty German and then, as he spent more time in Denmark, Danish as well.
As a bachelor, Stan Townsend was able to devote most of his spare time to the Club for which he worked for so long. He spent some time using his skills as a draughtsman and as a sailor to produce a handbook of chartlets of most of the harbours used by the BKYC fleet. Later he developed this into a book, The Baltic Pilot, which was for many years the definitive work in English on the Baltic waters. During his close association with Kiel he rose in rank and finished in the post of Chief Instructor of the Advanced Watermanship Training Centre as a Lieutenant Colonel. He was finally posted away from Kiel on 27th March 1968 (after 12 years) and a month later he retired from the Army. However this was not to be the end of his association with Kiel or the Army. In 1967, before his retirement, he had acquired the 54ft yacht Ragna R. She had been built in Sweden in 1938 and he bought her, in the UK, with the express intention of running training cruises for young men. He based her at Thuro in Denmark and she became a regular visitor to the BKYC at Stickenhorn as she changed her crews of young soldiers and apprentice tradesmen.
After leaving Kiel, Stan had made his home at Chepstow where he worked as a part time instructor in the drawing office of the Army Apprentice College. There he joined many of the College activities, especially the annual Gilbert and Sullivan productions. He also ran the Photography Club. He loyally supported the Beachley Old Boys Association and was eventually rewarded by being appointed as a Vice-President, an honour normally only accorded to former Commandants,
In 1981 Stan Townsend suffered his first heart attack and so, for that and subsequent seasons, the Royal Engineers attached a young soldier to work with him, both to help with the annual fitting out of Ragna R and as a back-up in case he became ill at sea. In 1984 he was taken ill again and, realising that his carefree cruising days were nearly over, he began discussions with the REYC with a view to making Ragna R available to the Club on a permanent basis. He died on 27th January 1985, but his memory is kept alive in both the Royal Engineer and the British Kiel Yacht Clubs through Ragna R which as a final gesture of generosity and a wish to give young men the opportunity to enjoy the sea as he had done, he bequeathed to the REYC.
The following list of yachts was compiled by Bruno Splieth in conjunction with Manne Fromm and Max Wokert, former employees of the BKYC. It purports to list the yachts held by the BKYC in 1945 but as it was compiled in 1980 it may well include some yachts which, whilst they were moored at the Olympic Hafen and/or were stored at Stickenhorn, did not actually belong to the BKYC
300 square metre
Alk (Schooner), Nordwind, Skagerrak
180 square metre
Asgard, Ettsi, Jungflieger
150 square metre
Aegir, Doris, Jacunda, Margaretha, Seebar
125 square metre
Kaptein, Harn, Lively
100 square metre
Flamingo, Hutschi, Konigin, Kranich, Marabu, Storch (Avalanche)
80 square metre
Victoria, Wappen von Hamburg
60 square metre
Coronel, Joste, Rasmus III
50 square metre
Anneliese, Ase, Kuckuck, Seefalke, Seefeder, Seemow (Torch), Theodoric
40 square metre
Scylla, Seeadler, York
Gustel VII, Pideler Lung, Sleipnir II, Sleipnir IV, Wulf, Isebrand
Aquilar, Bellona, Capella, Castor, First Star, Gemma, Perseus, Scheat, Spica, Wega
Alcha, Friedrich-Karl, Gertie, Joy, Modellimar, Orla, Vinga
The following list is taken from a copy of the BKYC Sailing Byelaws for 1948 and is therefore thought to be accurate:
Jacunda III, Aux Bermudan Cutter 28 tons 151 sq metre
Aegir X, Aux Bermudan Cutter 28 tons 150 sq metre
Lively, Aux Berniudan Cutter 28 tons 150 sq metre
Flamingo, Bermudan Sloop 22 tons 100 sq metre
Anneliese IV, Bermudan Sloop 8 tons 50 sq metre
Kuckuck, Berinudan Sloop 8 tons 50 sq metre
Seeforelle, Bermudan Sloop 8 tons 50 sq metre
Joste, Aux Bermudan Sloop 8 tons 50 sq metre
Seeadler, Aux Bermudan Sloop 7 tons 45 sq metre
Aloha, Aux Gaff Sloop 7 tons 28 sq metre
Joy II, Bermudan Sloop 4.5 tons 28 sq metre
5 x 6 metre, 11 x Stars, 11 x Sharpies
The 30 square metres did not come to Kiel until the winter of 1950/51. Prior to that date they had been used by the other Service Yacht Clubs in the Baltic, all of which closed that winter. The boats were called:
Allemane, Filibustier, Freibeuter, Friese, Geuse, Heiko, Korsar, Likedeeler, Meerkonig, Pelikan, Pirat, Vandale, Vitalienbruder
The various main yacht types that have been owned by the club over the years have been described in the text of this short history. However lesser yachts have not been included. These are listed below, as are the names given to all the boats for the sake of recording them. They are in no particular order:
Goosander, Goldeneye, Kukri, Mallard, Merganser, Sandpiper
Sword, Foil, Claymore, Javelin, Dagger, Kris, Dirk, Rapier, Spear, Sabre, Scimitar
Contessa 32 (from 1977 to 1988)
Osprey, Shandor, Heron, Pelican, Swan, Fulmar, Goldeneye
Cormorant, Kingfisher, Sandpiper, Shearwater, Kittiwake
Sir William Scotter
Bruno (known as Billy)
Sea Falcon (Sabre 27), Cuckoo (Sabre 27)
Avocette (First 29), Mouette (First 29)
Puffin (Sadler 29), Pelican (Westerly 29)
The main training fleet yachts wef 1980 were the 12 Contessa 28s. When these were sold and replaced for the 1990 season, the new fleet of Hallberg-Rassy 29s took over the Contessas names, which were, and are:
Pochard, Pintail, Teal, Widgeon, Petrel, Grebe, Tern, Skua, Curlew, Gannet, Mallard, Stork