When discovering R&E file RE/B46/6/7 in the National Archives I had previously never heard of Simpson and Rooke, boatbuilders of Cowes. Subsequent searches have revealed little of interest concerning the company’s history. All that I know of the company is what was included in the R&E file in 1942. Unfortunately, there were no photographs inserted.

The file concerning Simpson and Rooke is minimal, as was the effect on the firm of an otherwise devastating air raid. The report content reflects this and appears to have been of interest to the various Ministries purely on the basis of the nature of the work this small company were engaged in.

Shipbuilding Survey (submitted by R&E Section 4).

Firm – Messrs. Simpson & Rooke, Boatbuilders, East Cowes, Isle of Wight

Products – Landing Craft, Assault

Pre-raid organisation – This firm has a compact unit capable of building the hull of L.C.A.’s and fitting out with the necessary component parts, engines and armour, all of which are Admiralty free issue. There is capacity for 3 boats at a time; each takes 6 weeks on average to build, so total capacity is 26 per annum.

Attacks – Delays were caused on two occasions following raids on the town of Cowes.

  1. 4.42
  2. 4/5.5.42

Effect on yard – The following schedule describes the effective damage caused to this firm.


No damage, slight dislocation. Caused of damage – 1. Suspected UXB in roadway. The works had to close for 4 ½ hours due to presence of an UXB in roadway, between the No.1 and 2 shops.


Superficial damage by blast and debris to roof and windows of No.1 and No.2 shops. Electricity services were interrupted. Single phase restored by lunch time the next day; three phase was off for 48 hrs. Telephone services interrupted for 7 days. The management considered it advisable to close the works the day following the raid as local services, transport, electric light and power were disorganised and a number of local men had their homes damaged. A notice was exhibited stating that work would be resumed the following day. Total employees 26 (6 of whom were boys). Mid-day 6.5.42 – 13 had reported. Mid-afternoon – 18 had reported.

Resulting loss of production and causes – Since there is very little machinery in this works the failure of the electricity supply did not prove serious. Jobs requiring electrically driven tools were either done by hand or dealt with collectively immediately power became available. Small electric hand tools were operated by single phase which was available when the men returned to work on 6.5.42. Telephone services were interrupted for 7 days which caused inconvenience though it is not possible to measure the resulting loss of production.

Through direct damage to buildings and plant – The employees were working under conditions of great discomfort as a result of the damage. The only machine damage was to the base mounting of a drilling machine. The replacement delay was 14 days, but since there was a similar machine in the shop nothing more serious than inconvenience was caused and no production loss resulted.

Schedule of delays – Actually only one L.C.A. was delayed, but in two other cases delay was avoided by concentrating more labour on the vessel concerned.