Items from The News, Navy News and Warship World are reproduced by kind permission of David Brown, Sarah Fletcher and Steve Bush respectively.  Click on the thumbnails to enlarge them.


30 Jun 14 - Armed Forces Day chez Hoole

 

This weekend, Mrs Webmaster and I hosted Tenno Dogger and Eric Rackham as our contribution towards Armed Forces Day.  Tenno, a Dutch philanthropist now settled in France, is a co-founder of the Deep Respect organisation which serves to keep alive the memories of the Normandy veterans.  He also pursues the award and presentation of the French Legion d'Honneur medal for all entitled Normandy veterans.

 

89-year-old Eric, originally from London, was in the RASC (Royal Army Service Corps) and drove a DUKW amphibious vehicle to ferry personnel and supplies between the D-Day ships off Arromanches and Gold Beach from 7 June to mid-July 1944 when the Mulberry harbour was completed.

 

A DUKW like Eric drove loading supplies from a ship at Mulberry B

off Arromanches (Gold Beach) after D-Day

 

Eric has lived on the Gold Coast in Australia for the past 20 years but is currently visiting his daughter in Normandy.  Thanks to Tenno, he was presented with the Legion d'Honneur on 5 June 2014.  On Friday afternoon, we visited the Royal Armouries Museum at Fort Nelson before enjoying a home-cooked meal courtesy of Mrs Webmaster.

 

Tenno (left) with Eric chez Hoole

 

On Saturday morning, we visited the war graves at St Peter & St Paul Cemetery in Wymering where Tenno and Eric placed a rose on each of 11 servicemen's graves.

 

Tenno and Eric beside some of the 11 war graves in Wymering Cemetery

 

We then attended the Armed Forces Day events at the D-Day Museum in Southsea where, to Eric's delight, we found a DUKW involved in the Normandy landings.

 

Eric with a DUKW like the one he drove between the ships and

 Gold Beach at Arromanches after the D-Day landings

 

Eric was also able to chat to fellow Normandy veterans and the opportunity was taken to record an interview with him for a special DVD being produced for the Normandy Veterans Association (NVA) which is due to disband in August.

 

     

Left: Tenno and Eric chatting with a Normandy veteran from the Honourable Artillery Company

Right: Eric being interviewed for a Normandy Veterans Association DVD

 

On the way back for another home-cooked meal, we stopped for a pint at the Golden Lion in the village of Southwick.  This was used by Eisenhower and Montgomery while esconced at Souhwick House before the Normandy landings.  Coincidentally, the barmaid happened to hail from the Sunshine Coast in Australia, relatively near where Eric now lives.

 

On Sunday morning, we attended a service at Christ Church on Portsdown Hill where many of the SHAEF staff based at Southwick House (the former wardroom of HMS Dryad) attended a pre-D-Day service and stained glass windows testify to the event.  Tenno and Eric then went on to the Armed Forces Day Veterans Tea Party at the RN Museum in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.  Before catching the ferry back to France, they watched the Netherlands beat Mexico in the World Cup on TV in a local pub.

 

I am particularly grateful to Mrs Webmaster for helping to accommodate, feed and entertain Tenno and Eric at such short notice.

 

Postscript: Sadly, Eric died less than three months after the events portrayed above, during the evening of Sunday 21 September 2014, following a two-week sojourn in the hospital at Bayeux.  At least his wartime memories had been captured for posterity.

 


29 Jun 14 - MCDOA member makes history

 

I have received this welcome notification from MCDOA member David 'Topsy' Turner, Commanding Officer of HMNZS Canterbury:

 

"Rob,

 

Perhaps this article, including a video, from the TVNZ One websiite might be of interest to our readers.

 

 

     

 

What's an MCDO doing making history in Pearl Harbour??  Now that's gotta be a first.  We're here for RIMPAC and CANTERBURY is the first NZ ship to be allowed into Pearl Harbour for RIMPAC in 30 years!   Right up there!!

 

Topsy"

 


Recent RN EOD incidents

 

The following recent incidents have involved Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG) and Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) respectively: 

 

Aberdeen Press & Journal 26 June 2014: Bomb squad called over submarine device on beach

 

"A Royal Navy bomb disposal team were called in tonight after a walker spotted a submarine smoke marker – complete with warnings how to disarm it – on a Western Isles beach..."

 

Portsmouth News 26 June 2014: Live grenade discovered in Havant council depot

 

"The Royal Navy bomb disposal team were called to Havant Borough Councils Penner Road depot.."

 

IOW County Press 24 June 2014: Bomb disposal operation in Cowes

 

"ROYAL Navy bomb disposal experts were called to the Isle of Wight last night (Monday) after a shell and rounds from the Second World War were found..."

 


28 Jun 14

 

Jim Nisbet selected for promotion to Captain

 

Martin Mackey has advised me that fellow MCDOA member Jim Nisbet has been selected for promotion to Captain RN.  I am sure everyone in our community will join me in offering him our hearty congratulations.

 


HMS Brocklesby in Douglas IOM for five days

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article announcing the arrival of HMS Brocklesby (MCM2 Crew 1) in Douglas, Isle of Man on Tuesday 1 July for a five-day visit.  She will berth on Victoria Pier and be open to the public from 1000 to 1300 on 2, 3 and 4 July.

 


27 Jun 14

 

Website problem

 

For reasons beyond my control, the website is sometime taking more than 24 hours to reflect updated material and is intermittently jumping back a couple of days so that the latest entries disappear from view.  I am chasing this up with the website host and normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

 


HMS Grimsby personnel to march in Armed Forces Day parade in Cleethorpes during visit to Grimsby

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article announcing that a 10-strong contingent from HMS Grimsby (MCM1 Crew 6) will march through the streets of Cleethorpes with other service colleagues, veterans and cadets for Armed Forces Day celebrations at 1400 tomorrow.  They will be led by the ship's XO, Greg Richards. 

 


26 Jun 14 - Long Service & Good Conduct Medal awards

 

Congratulations to WO1(D) Steve Strange QGM, WO1(D) Martin Slade and PO(D) N. R. Patterson on being gazetted for the award of the Clasp to the LS & GC and to LS(D) John Anderson on being gazetted for the award of the LS & GC.  The relevant Supplement to the London Gazette can be viewed here.

 


25 Jun 14 - News from HMS Cattistock

 

 

I am grateful to Andy Smith, the Commanding Officer of HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew 2), for this update received via the Ton Class Association (TCA) (see entry for 29 Aug 13 in News Archive 43):

 

"I am writing as the Commanding Officer of HMS ATHERSTONE, although I hope you remember me as the Commanding Officer of HMS CATTISTOCK from June - December 3013.  You may recall myself and Crew 2 of the Second Mine Countermeasure Squadron (MCM2 Crew 2) were to deploy to the Persian Gulf on board HMS ATHERSTONE for seven months from December 3013 to July 2013.  Our time on board HMS ATHERSTONE is now drawing to a close and I am pleased to report that it has been very successful.  

 

The reason that I write to you now is that (after a well-earned period of post-deployment leave) MCM2 Crew 2 will be returning to HMS CATTISTOCK and I am keen to renew our affiliation.  We will find ourselves in an unusual position in the UK as HMS CATTISTOCK herself will be in dry dock receiving an extensive refit.  You may have heard about this refit before, but it is designed to improve her efficiency and capabilities and to extend her life by at least another decade.  

 

This refit means that unfortunately we will not be in a position to bring HMS CATTISTOCK herself to visit ports until mid-2015 at the earliest.  However despite a lack of a sea-going ship, MCM2 Crew 2 will not be idle.  The time spent in Portsmouth Naval Base represents a rare period of shore time which will be filled with professional courses, exams and training.  It will also involve supporting the other Crews of the Second Mine Countermeasure Squadron in their duties.  

 

If there are any events coming up in the South Coast area from mid-August onwards (the end of our post-deployment leave) that you would like us to try and support or attend then please write to us to let us know.  Letters addressed to myself at HMS CATTISTOCK, BFPO 251 should always find their way to me.  Affiliations are extremely important to the Royal Navy and I hope this period of time alongside gives us the opportunity to renew ours.  I look forward to hearing from you and I will write again when MCM2 Crew 2 are re-established in Portsmouth.  

 

I hope to be able to invite you and some of your members onboard HMS CATTISTOCK when we move on board her.

 

Yours aye,

 

Andy Smith

Lt Cdr RN"

 


24 Jun 14 - Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the ex-Greenie)

 

The MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio of Barlow, Holloway and Hoole enjoyed a fabulous sail on the Solent today and even deployed the seldom-seen cruising chute for a brief period.

 

 

We were accompanied by Capt Dean Molyneaux OBE RN, a recently retired greenie who is currently undertaking resettlement training as a bartender under Holloway's watchful eye.

 

 

 

Having anchored for lunch off Stokes Bay, populated with a goodly number of bikini-clad young lovelies, Holloway braved the water for a swim.  Sadly, he failed to convince anyone else that the temperature had yet reached tropical levels.

 

 

     

 

As ever, many thanks to MCDOA associate member Doug Barlow, the erstwhile 'Beau (spelled Bo) of Vernon', for allowing us the pleasure of sharing his yacht 'Dougout' for the day.

 

 


23 Jun 14 - HMS Ledbury open to visitors in Hull

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article announcing tomorrow's arrival in Hull of HMS Ledbury (MCM2 Crew 4) for a two-day visit in support of Seafarers Awareness Week.  She will be open to the public on Wednesday from 1000 to 1600.

 


22 Jun 14 - HMS Chiddingfold and HMS Penzance in Gibraltar

 

I am grateful to local photographer Daniel Ferro for this image of Faslane-based HMS Penzance (MCM1 Crew 3) berthing on Portsmouth-based HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 5) in Gibraltar on 13 June during their passage to the Gulf to relieve HMS Ramsey (MCM1 Crew 2 commanded by MCDOA member Ash Spencer) and HMS Quorn (MCM2 Crew 3) respectively (see entry for 10 Jun 14)

 

HMS Chiddingfold and HMS Penzance in Gibraltar

 


20 Jun 14 - HMS Ledbury on ceremonial and training duites

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article describing a heavy programme of duties for HMS Ledbury (MCM2 Crew 4) during the past fortnight including high profile events at Ouistreham and Caen in France to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day closely followed by a capability demonstration at BRNC Dartmouth in Devon.

 

HMS Ledbury alongside Sandquay Jetty at Britannia Royal Naval College

(RN website photo)

 


19 Jun 14 - Wales select MCDOA member for Commonwealth Games

 

MCDOA member Mark Shaw, former OIC of Fleet Diving Unit 2 (FDU2) and Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2), has been selected to represent Wales in Judo at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer.  Mark has been training full time since January (see first entry for 15 Apr 14) and now with only five weeks to go, he is entering the final preparation phase.  He will compete in the +100kg category on Saturday 26 July.

 

Lt Cdr Mark Shaw RN

 

Congratulations to Mark on his selection.  I am sure that everyone in our community will join me in wishing him every success in his forthcoming bouts.

 


16 Jun 14 - SDU1 deals with 'smoke bomb' at Perranporth

 

The West Briton website contains this article, including a video clip, describing last weekend's detonation of a Second World War 'smoke bomb' at Perranporth in Cornwall by Royal Navy bomb disposal experts, presumably members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1).

 

 


14 Jun 14 - Today's Queen's Birthday Honours

 

Congratulations to MCDOA President Paddy McAlpine on his promotion from Officer (OBE) to Commander (CBE) in the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours published today.  Paddy took over as Commmodore Portsmouth Flotilla (COMPORFLOT) in March this year but was previously Commander UK Task Group (COMUKTG) and led the Response Force Task Group (RFTG) during last year's COUGAR 13 deployment in the Mediterranean and east of Suez (see entry for 28 Sep 13 in News Archive 43).

 

Commodore Paul Anthony 'Paddy' McAlpine CBE ADC in the Suez Canal

while flying his broad pendant in HMS Bulwark last year

 

Also, congratulations to PO(D) Andrew 'Tex' Marshall on his appointment as a Member (MBE) in the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire to add to his previous accolades.  Last summer, Tex was awarded the Armourers’ and Brasiers’ Annual Award for Excellence 2013 for his “simply exceptional” work in the role of Coxswain of MCM1 Crew 6 while serving in HMS Ramsey in the Gulf (see first entry for 11 Jun 13 in News Archive 42).

 

Cdre Steve Garrett (COMFASFLOT) presenting award to PO(D) Andrew Charles

 'Tex' Marshall MBE of MCM1 Crew 6 in June last year

 

Last but not least, congratulations to MCDOA past-Chairman and ex-Superintendent of Diving David Hilton on being appointed a Member (MBE) in the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to the Royal Navy.  Since finishing active service in 2001, David has been the Base Services Manager at Portsmouth Naval Base.  When afloat, the MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine Trio' of Barlow, Holloway and Hoole often wave at him in his office in Semaphore Tower and exchange a few words via mobile phone.

 

David Hilton's lofty office

 

In 2012, David was heavily involved in organising the homecoming ceremony for HMS Middleton after her three-year deployment in the Gulf (see first entry for 31 Aug 12 in News Archive 39).

 

Cllr Frank Jonas, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, with Cdr David Hilton MBE

beside No.2 Basin in HM Naval Base Portsmouth in August 2012

 

The complete list of Defence honours and awards can be seen at:

 

 2014 Birthday Honours for Service personnel and Defence civilians

 

Postscript: On 23 June 2014, the Plymouth Herald published this article about PO(D) Andrew 'Tex' Marshall's appointment as an MBE.

 


13 Jun 14 - Invitation to visit DEMSS on 12 July

 

An invitation has been received from the Commanding Officer of the Defence Explosives Ordnance Disposal Munitions and Search Training Regiment (DEMS Trg Regt) to visit his facilties for a familiarisation and lunch (at cost) in the mess at St George's Barracks, Arncott OX25 1AB near Bicester in Oxfordshire on Saturday 12 July.  Exact timings have yet to be confirmed. 

 

The DEMS Trg Regt has replaced the Defence Explosive Ordnance Disposal School (DEODS); the National Search Centre (NSC); the Felix Centre (Kineton); etc., and is now at full operational capacity "...delivering well-trained and highly motivated bomb disposal and search operatives and ammunition technicians".

 

The invitation applies to MCDOA members and RN EOD operators from other associations (e.g. AORNFCD).  An invitation has also been extended to members of the MCDOA's affiliated Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officers' Club (REBDOC) plus members of the Royal Engineers' Association Bomb Disposal Branch (REA BD Branch) and 101 (City of London) Engr Regt (EOD).

 

The organisers are keen to obtain an initial idea of numbers.  If you would like to attend, please email me via my Webmaster address by Friday 20 June.

 


12 Jun 14 - Royal Canadian Navy divers take part in Exercise TRADEWINDS 2014

 

The Ottawa Citizen website contains this article describing last week's involvement of Royal Canadian Navy divers in a six-day maritime exercise called TRADEWINDS 2014 in Antigua in the West Indies.  They were among 100 personnel from the RCN, US military and military units from 11 Caribbean nations.  The Canadians comprised members of Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic based in Halifax, Nova Scotia and participating Caribbean nations comprised Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago.

 

Ldg Sea Zach Verdun RCN (right) of the Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic instructing Jamaican

Defence Force Ldg Sea Richard Nicholson (left) and St. Kitts Coast Guard WO Mervin

Lewis during diving training at Camp Blizzard in Antigua on 2 June

(US Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Rob Simpson)

 

This set me off on a trip down Memory Lane.  In 1975, your humble Vice Chairman & Webmaster was lucky enough to experience a nine-month deployment in the West Indies (much of it with fellow MCDOA member Tim Curd) as HMS Minerva's Diving Officer.  During this period, I dived and sailed off Antigua among many other islands and was seconded to the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard which gave me the opportunity to visit Jacques-Yves Cousteau's famous underwater research vessel RV Calypso, formerly the wartime Royal Navy minesweeper BYMS 2026.

 

Replicas, constructed by HMS Vernon's PCG (Portsmouth Craft Group), of capstans

used for careening warships in Nelson's Dockyard, English Harbour, Antigua

 

Raft Race during Sailing Week in English Harbour, Antigua

 

Hoole (third from left) with members of HMS Minerva's Diving Team

enjoying a banyan and exped dive from a beach in Antigua 

 

Hoole driving the Jamaica Defence Force Coast

Guard cutter HMJS Discovery Bay alongside

 

Our daytime berth at Ocho Rios when deployed

 

Hoole on board Cousteau's RV Calypso off Jamaica

 


11 Jun 14 - Paul Henke's final Tears book now in paperback

 

MCDOA member Paul Henke's wife Dorothy has sent this announcement:

 

We are delighted to let you know that we have taken delivery of Shadow of a Tear... just in time for Father's Day!  The fifth and final book about the Griffiths family will be officially launched at this weekend's Stirling Agricultural Show.

 

 If you wish to order a copy you can:  

 

a) go to www.henke.co.uk and order by Paypal

 

OR

 

b) Print off the order form on the website and send with a cheque payable to Readers Direct

 

OR

 

c) Phone us on 01360 440013 any day between 10:00am and 7:00pm and we will take the order details.

 

Whichever way you decide to order, be sure and let us know how you want Paul to sign the book - to yourself or someone else.   Paul will be putting out a new BLOG tomorrow detailing offers for this weekend.  We are also asking his readers for a bit of help in spreading word of his books to friends and family in Australia and New Zealand.  To subscribe to his blog just click here.  

 

Have a wonderful summer and thanks again for your support.

 

Regards,

 

Dorothy

 

P.S. To see Paul's summer book signing schedule, go to www.henke.co.uk

 


10 Jun 14

 

HMS Penzance and HMS Chiddingfold deploy to the Gulf

 

The Navy News website contains this article, the Royal Navy website this article and the Portsmouth News website this article describing yesterday's departure of Faslane-based HMS Penzance (MCM1 Crew 3) and Portsmouth-based HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 5) for a three-year deployment in the Gulf.  On completion of their 7,500 mile passage, they will relieve HMS Ramsey (MCM1 Crew 2 commanded by MCDOA member Ash Spencer) and HMS Quorn (MCM2 Crew 3) respectively.  Contrary to the Navy News article, MCDOA member Jim Byron DSC has confirmed that HMS Penzance is relieving HMS Ramsey not HMS Shoreham.

 

HMS Penzance's diving team with Princess Michael of Kent, the ship's sponsor

(Navy News photo by LA(Phot) J J Massey)

 

HMS Chiddingfold departing Portsmouth yesterday

(Navy News photo by LA(Phot) Gaz Weatherston)

 

[By Webmaster: ]

 


Sandown class minehunters busy around Falmouth

 

The West Briton website contains this article and the Falmouth Packet website this article describing yesterday's disposal of a Second World War mine off Falmouth in Cornwall by Faslane-based HMS Pembroke (MCM1 Crew 7).  The mine, dredged up by a fisherman, was destroyed with a SeaFox mine mine disposal vehicle.

 

HMS Pembroke's Gemini dinghy

(RN website photo)

 

As this article on the BBC website explains, HMS Pembroke's sister ship HMS Penzance (MCM1 Crew 3) was due to visit Penzance last week but bad weather forced her to berth in Falmouth instead.  As the article above describes, she is currently bound for the Gulf.

 

See 'When things Go With a Bang - A cautionary tale about unexploded underwater ordnance' in the website's Dit Box for a pertinent article.

 

Postscript: On 13 June, the Royal Navy website published this article covering HMS Pembroke's disposal of a Second World War mine off Falmouth.

 


9 Jun 14

 

Civilian divers given permission to investigate cause of loss of WW1 submarine

 

The Navy News website contains this article announcing that divers associated with the international maritime charity Promare and the University of Birmingham have been given special permission to inspect the 100-year-old Royal Navy submarine HMS A7, lost in Whitsand Bay in south-east Cornwall on the eve of the Great War.

 

A-class submarines in port 100 years ago with HMS A7

(pennant number 17) in the rear of the photograph

(Navy News photo)

 

Postscript: On 12 June, the Royal Navy website published this article covering the same story.

 


HMS Blyth with NATO in the Mediterranean

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article describing last month's participation of HMS Blyth (MCM1 Crew 1) in ITA-MINEX 14, a two-week-long Italian-hosted MCM exercise off La Spezia.  Faslane-based HMS Blyth has been deployed with Standing NATO MCM Group 2 (SNMCMG2) in the Mediterranean since April.

 

HMS Blyth's Operations Room

(RN website photo)

 

HMS Blyth recovering an exercise ground mine

(RN website photo)

 


8 Jun 14 - Navy List showing HMS Vernon officers in mid-1944

 

Members might be interested in these pages from the Navy List of July 1944 listing the officers and principal civilian staff borne on the books of HMS Vernon at the time of the D-Day landings.  They illustrate the diversity of locations and activities for which the establishment was responsible.  Click on each page to enlarge it.

 

     

 

     

 

 

Note the inclusion of such luminaries in the pantheon of wartime naval bomb & mine disposal operators as:

 

Lt (T) Peter Scawen Watkinson ROBERTS VC RN (Page 2840)

 

Cdr (T) John Garnault Delahaize OUVRY DSO RN (Page 2841)

 

Temp Lt Cdr Maurice GRIFFITHS GM RNVR (Page 2841) (Author of The Hidden Menace)

 

Temp Lt Cdr George Herbert GOODMAN GC MBE RNVR (Page 2841)

 

Temp Lt Geoffrey Ambrose HODGES GM RNVR (Page 2841) (Also awarded two Mentions in Despatches)

 

Temp Lt Herbert Edgar WADSLEY DSC GM* RNVR (Page 2841)

 

Temp Lt Leon Verdi GOLDSWORTHY GC DSC GM RANVR (Page 2841) (Also awarded a Mention in Despatches)

 

Temp Lt Ernest Edward RUTTLE MBE RANVR (Page 2841)

 

Temp Boatswain (C/M) Charles Reginald LE BARGY DSM GM RN (Page 2842)

 

Temp Elect Lt Ronald Andrew DUNCAN GM RNVR (Page 2842) (Also awarded a Mention in Despatches)

 

See 'WW II Awards for RN Diving and Bomb & Mine Disposal' in the website's Branch History section for further information about these and similarly decorated individuals.

 


7 Jun 14 - Selections for Sea Command

 

I am grateful to MCDOA member John Craig for informing me that fellow members Lt Cdr Tim Davey and Lt Cdr Simon 'Si' Kelly were among the 13 warfare officers on yesterday's signal who have been selected by the SASB (Sea Appointments Selection Board) for destroyer/frigate/MCM squadron command in the rank of Commander.

 

     

Tim Davey and Si Kelly

 

Others selected include former Hunt class CO Eleanor 'Ellie' Stack and former Sandown class Navigator Patricia 'Trish' Kohn.

 

Hearty congratulations to all of you and I hope your eventual appointments are everything you desire.

 


6 Jun 14 - 70th Anniversary of D-Day

 

Observing that today is the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, all members of our community are encouraged to read the following articles in the website's Dit Box and spare some thought to what must have been running through the minds of those involved precisely 70 years ago:

 

Operation Neptune: The Minesweeping Operation 5-6 June 1944

 

Operation Neptune: Frogmen - The First Men Ashore on D-Day

 

Incidentally, I have just ordered a copy of Porky's War: The Story of a Real-Life Freddie the Frogman on D-Day in which Terry Henson tells the often humorous story of how his father found himself in the Royal Navy as a member of the Landing Craft Obstruction Clearance Units (LCOCUs) charged with clearing the way for the troops to land on the Normandy beaches on D-Day.

 

 

Postscript 1: My attention has since been drawn to this document on the official Naval History & Heritage Command website about the US equivalents of the British LCOCUs:

 

D-Day, the Normandy Invasion: Combat Demolition Units

 

Postscript 2: Having been disappointed to see no mention of the D-Day Frogmen in any of the media, I wrote a letter which was published in the August 2014 issue of Navy News:

 

 


5 Jun 14

 

News from HMS Shoreham

 

 

I am grateful to Lt Cdr Toby Shaughnessy, the Commanding Officer of HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 4), for this update received via the Ton Class Association (TCA):

 

"As HMS SHOREHAM comes to the end of her second year away from the UK, and MCM1 Crew 4 near the end of our second tour onboard her; I can reflect on another busy period and update you on the valuable contribution SHOREHAM continues to make within the Arabian Gulf.

 

As you would expect SHOREHAM has spent the majority of her time on operations conducting a number of multinational exercises, mine warfare training, and wider regional engagement with our international partners in the region.  Most recently we undertook an exercise in Omani waters, led by the Royal Navy of Oman, which if you subscribe, you will see extensively reported in the Navy News next month.  This large exercise saw UK, US, French and Omani navies coming together to exercise in a wide ranging spectrum of air, surface and sub-surface warfare, giving us in particular a welcome opportunity to flex our muscles and hone our skills in these other critical spheres of our business.

 

Away from the exercises and training, we have enjoyed port visits to Muscat, Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the last few months, the latter two providing the opportunity for some of us to fly families out and spend a few days together, which as you might imagine is always welcome.  Like any complex machine, we have not been immune from engineering challenges in the past months, and my team have been kept very busy ensuring SHOREHAM has always been ready for her tasking.  I enclose some images of our activity over the past months which I hope may be of interest:

 

     

 

     

 

MCM1 Crew 4 is now approaching the final few weeks of our time on board and we fly home at the end of June.  We know SHOREHAM well.  We have spent 14 of the last 24 months deployed in her out here on operations since delivering her to theatre from the UK.  We have a special affinity with her as a consequence and she has been very much our home from home in that time.  It will be for others to complete her duty out here and sail her back to the UK next summer, where I hope you will be provided with an opportunity to visit your ship again.

 

For us, it has been another very successful operational deployment during which we have striven to maintain the good name of HMS SHOREHAM whilst delivering the operational and strategic effects required by the UK, for which the Royal Navy is so well suited.  I will hand the ship over to [MCDOA member] Lt Cdr Simon Kelly and his Crew 5 next month as they take up the reins to continue this work.  I have no doubt Simon will introduce himself shortly thereafter.

 

I have been very privileged to Command HMS SHOREHAM for some 18 months in total, and whilst it has proven impossible for me to meet you in person, I would like to thank you for your ongoing support whilst HMS SHOREHAM is absent from the UK.  She remains very much your Ship and you should feel proud of the work she is doing, and the contribution she is making to operations in the Arabian Gulf.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

T F Shaughnessy

Lieutenant Commander Royal Navy"

 

I am sure we all wish Toby and his ship's company a safe return and a hugely enjoyable post-deployment leave.

 


French wartime agent and combat diver appointed an honorary MBE

 

The website of France's English language newspaper Connexion contains this article announcing that the Queen was due to invest French wartime Strategic Operations Executive (SOE) agent Cdr Robert 'Bob' Maloubier DSO of the French Navy as an Honorary Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE), in recognition of his services to Britain, at a special ceremony today in the British Embassy Paris.  Tomorrow, the Queen will attend the D-Day 70th Anniversary commemorations in Normandy.

 

I had the privilege of meeting Bob Maloubier and hearing him speak about his incredible wartime exploits and post-war underwater achievements at the annual gathering of the Historical Diving Society (HDS ) in the Queen's Hotel, Southsea in 2010 (see entry for 17 Nov 10 in New Archive 32).

 

Bob Maloubier flanked by MCDOA associate member and HDS Chairman Dr John

Bevan and HDS Secretary Reg Vallintine at the annual HDS gathering in 2010

 

Bob, now aged 87, said he was hoping for an opportunity to exchange a few words with the Queen and remind her of a previous meeting when she was wearing her girl guide uniform in the ruins of London in 1943.  An SBS-trained diver and recipient of Britain's Distinguished Service Order (DSO), he was twice parachuted into occupied France, once the day after D-Day, and had a string of narrow escapes from Nazi clutches.  He left the British Army at the end of the war with the rank of Captain but his action-packed career continued long afterwards, both in the French Navy and elsewhere.  He later wrote the first of six books, Agent Secret de Churchill, about his experiences with the SOE, created by Churchill to carry out spying and sabotage missions behind German lines.

 

Commandant Bob Maloubier MBE French Navy

 

This article about Maloubier on the WatchTime.com website is well worth looking at for the photos alone:

 

The Birth of the Modern Dive Watch: A Conversation with Cpt. Robert Maloubier

 

"...In 1952, Maloubier was stationed at Oran on Algeria’s Mediterranean coast.  There, he established the Ecole des Nageurs de Combat, literally the Combat Swimmers School.  The school would produce Les Nageurs de Combat – the Combat Swimmers – the French equivalent of the U.S. Navy Seals.  Maloubier pioneered the group and served as its first commanding officer.  The unit’s missions included intelligence gathering and planting explosives on enemy ships, usually at night.

 

The lives of the men and their success as a unit depended on their equipment.  In 1952, underwater diving was still in its infancy and the gear was primitive.  It fell to Maloubier and his officers to design new and better equipment for the unit.  “We had to start from scratch” as Maloubier put it.

 

Thus began a two year stint during which Maloubier researched, designed and tested new diving equipment.  The goal was silent movement underwater and perfectly coordinated maneuvers among the divers in the sea at night.  There could be no bubbles, no sound, and coordinated action – timing – among the divers had to be perfect.  Nothing could betray the divers’ presence or endanger the mission.

 

“We designed diving suits, and fins that were much larger than those in use at the time.  We designed diving goggles, and of course watches, because we were not satisfied with the watches that existed at that time…. With my second in command (Lieutenant Claude Riffaud) and another officer, we sat down at a table and said ‘OK, we have to devise a watch that can properly be used by us.’  So, one of us took a compass and a ruler and a pen and a piece of paper and we said ‘OK, what do we want?’”

 

The list they drew up and the drawings they made formed the basis for mechanical divers' watches as we know them today.  The list included:

 

a. An oversize, waterproof case.

b. A self-winding movement: “It should be automatic, otherwise when you wind the watch, even if you have a gasket, the watch leaks after a while.”

c. Large, clear, luminous numerals, marks, and hands for easy reading underwater at night.

d. A unidirectional rotating bezel displaying minute markers to let divers calculate the diving time. 

 

Within a few hours over the course of an afternoon, the modern mechanical diver’s watch was born, at least on paper.  It was not simply a waterproof watch, but one designed by combat divers for combat divers.

 

The next step was taking the watch from paper to production. “We looked all over the world for someone to manufacture this watch… There was no French watchmaker that would agree to do so…. We found Blancpain, a small Swiss watchmaker… Blancpain agreed to manufacture the watch. That’s how it all happened.”

 

The rest, as they say, is history.  In the following years, several armed forces and elite units adopted the Fifty Fathoms as their official watch, including the German Bundesmarine, U.S. Navy Seals, and the Spanish and Israeli navies..."

 

YouTube contains this part of a Paris Match video interview in which Bob speaks in French about the exploits leading to his appointment as an MBE:

 

 Bob Maloubier, espion de Churchill

 

I am sure all members of our community would wish to congratulate Bob on his well-deserved appointment.

 

Postscript: Sadly, Bob died on 20 April 2015 at the age of 92.  The Daily Telegraph published this obituary for him.

 


4 Jun 14 - Falklands Memorial Service in Portsmouth on 22 June

 

From honorary MWA member John 'Hydra Joe' Erskine:

 

"The Annual RBL Portsmouth South, Falklands Memorial service will be held at the Falklands Memorial at the Square Tower, Old Portsmouth on Sunday 22nd June.  Short 100 yards march with service and short march back with salute.  Muster at 1030 at the Square Tower.  All Standards welcome.

 

All invited back to the RBL Club at Fratton Bridge afterwards."

 

See The Forgotten Few of the Falklands in the website's Dit Box for details of the contribution made by members of the RN minewarfare and diving community.

 


3 Jun 14

 

EOD operations

 

The following articles about EOD operations involving units from Southern Diving Group (SDG) have been published on the BBC website during the past few hours:

 

Shoebury East Beach to be surveyed by Royal Navy bomb team

 

 

Suspected WW2 device found in Axminster

 

 


HDS Diving Museum update

 

 

MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan, Chairman of the Historical Diving Society (HDS), has provided this update about the Diving Museum in No.2 Battery at Stokes Bay and the WWII bunker in Gosport that houses the Society's library and museum reserve collection:

 

"VISITORS

 

We had a good weekend with great weather. Saturday 24 and Sunday 46.  

 

NEW GUIDE

 

Keith Balston, a retired life support engineer came on Sunday and said he would be interested in helping out.  So we look forward to seeing more of him in the future.  

 

BUILDING ENGINEER

 

We were also visited by Colin Ford. a building engineer who has considerable experience in the maintenance of Victorian forts.  He has taken a close look at No. 2 Battery and will return to do a further survey for us.

 

BUNKER

 

The Bunker was burgled a week or so ago.  The door frame was destroyed.  Fortunately they only seem to have taken some tools and left everything else untouched.  Nigel has arranged temporary security of the door.  Needless to say we have to improve the door strength.  I am also making arrangements for a Burglar Alarm to be fitted.

 

CONGRATULATIONS

 

Congratulations go to our Vice Chairman Mike O'Meara who has worked hard to successfully enter the Diving Museum into the Accreditation Scheme.  We are now officially recognised as "working towards Accreditation" by the Arts Council.  This is a major step forward for us and will eventually place us on a par with national museums.  There is now much more to be done over the next year or so to upgrade the management and operation of the Museum to allow us to become fully Accredited.  Well done Mike!

 

JohnB"

 

The HDS Museum is open at weekends until the end of the summer season.  It relies on a handful of volunteer guides, at least two but ideally three of whom need to be on site when it is open for business at weekends during the summer.  If you live locally and can spare the odd few hours, please contact John Bevan via this email address or call him on 078 0278 5050.  You will then be given access to the online roster to fill in your own dates as and when you are available.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved in this or any other way.

 


2 Jun 14

 

HMS Bangor out of refit

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article describing May's emergence of Faslane-based HMS Bangor (MCM1 Crew 8) from her five-month refit at Rosyth.  The ship has now been granted an official motto (Tenax Propositi - Tenacious of Purpose) to go with her badge.

 

HMS Bangor's Commanding Officer, Lt Cdr Mike Carter Quinn RN, with

the ship's badge

(RN website photo)

 


TV programme for our friends Down Under

 

I have been sent this notification of a forthcoming Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) TV series which I had a small hand in researching:

 

Australia’s Secret Heroes

 A powerful first-hand account of the Z Special Unit

Sunday 15 June 2014 at 8.30pm

 

Australia’s Secret Heroes tells the extraordinary story of Z Special Unit, a remarkable group of men who were plucked from the Australian military in World War II, trained in explosives, camouflage, silent killing and how to resist torture and then sent on incredibly perilous undercover operations in Asia.

 

At the time of the White Australia policy, the unit actively recruited soldiers of Asian heritage, so they could blend in and help train native guerrilla resistance movements.  For years, the Z Special operatives were sworn to secrecy.  But now the veterans, some speaking publicly for the first time, relive their incredible wartime exploits.

 

 

In a unique “living history” approach, Australia’s Secret Heroes takes six descendants of the Z Special operatives and places them on training missions to give them a taste of what their forefathers went through.

 

 

Over the course of the series, the modern-day “recruits” undergo various training exercises, witness water-boarding, torture techniques and hear first-hand about some of the most ingenious and dangerous covert operations ever undertaken in international war history.  In a gripping and emotional journey, a Z Special veteran tells his own harrowing story of how under torture he gave up information leading to the capture of one of the descendant’s forefathers.

 

 

The series also details accounts of what happened in the men’s last days before being executed and illustrates the use of bespoke equipment used by Z Special, including the specially recreated Sleeping Beauty which was a James Bond like one-man motorised submersible canoe. 

 

 

Perhaps one of the most terrifying tales of the series is revealed when descendants travel to Borneo to hear first-hand accounts about the involvement of one of their forefathers in head hunting.

 

In a landmark series for SBS, Australia’s Secret Heroes features an impressive reflection from the veterans and the modern-day recruits, with the veteran’s own opinions on war and its effect on them, and the recruit’s sentiments on their insightful experiences during the series that provided them with a stronger attachment to their relatives.

 

The original press release is available here in PDF format: Australia’s Secret Heroes.  This video promo is available to watch until 1200 on 16 June: Australia's Secret Heroes — promo

 

For more about the 'Sleeping Beauty' Motor Submersible Canoe (MSC) developed by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) (including the post-war involvement of RN CDs), see the entry for 30 Mar 09 in News Archive 25.

 


MCMV News

 

I am grateful to MCDOA member Simon Pressdee, the incoming Commanding Officer of HMS Atherstone (MCM2 Crew 6), for this update received via the Ton Class Association (TCA):

 

 

"I would like to introduce myself as the incoming Commanding Officer of HMS Atherstone.  My Crew and I will take over from Crew 2 in late June this year and remain in the Arabian Gulf until January 2015.  During this time I hope to get to know you and maintain the links between the Ship and the town.  Whilst it is unlikely that you will be able to visit the Ship during my time onboard, I will keep you informed of our activities here in preparation for HMS Atherstone's return to the UK next year.

 

My Crew has spent the last 15 months in HMS Atherstone's sister ship, HMS Ledbury which is also based in Portsmouth.  During this time, we deployed to the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Baltic Sea with other NATO ships as well as a short visit to Swansea, all interspersed with training in UK waters near Portsmouth and the Western Isles of Scotland.

 

I look forward to learning more about the links between HMS Atherstone and her namesake town.  We are always keen to hear from our affiliates so please feel free to contact me or my Affiliations Officer, Lt Matt Irwin, with any questions you may have or news from the local area.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Simon Pressdee"

 


 

I am grateful to William King, the incoming Commanding Officer of HMS Grimsby (MCM1 Crew 6), for this update received via the Ton Class Association (TCA):

 

 

"It is with great pleasure that I write to introduce myself as the Commanding Officer of HMS GRIMSBY and First Mine Counter Measures Squadron Crew 6, having taken over from [MCDOA member] Simon Kelly who I understand wrote to you on his departure.  I am incredibly proud and honoured to take Command of HMS GRIMSBY and I am please to say that Crew 6 will have the ship for the next 12 months which will give me and the team chance to host you onboard over the tenure of my Command.

 

HMS GRIMSBY has a busy year ahead as she will conduct a short maintenance period alongside in Faslane, before returning to sea in July to conduct further training on the west coast of Scotland.  Our main operational task starts in September when we deploy to the Mediterranean for four months as part of a Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Task Group.

 

As is the form these days on minor war vessels, the regular changes of crews can make it challenging to maintain that 'special' relationship with our affiliates; however my predecessor has told me of the very strong links that have been built with yourselves and of the support you have shown, hence I am very keen to build on this in the year ahead.  I am hopeful that in the New Year after we return from our NATO Deployment, you will have the opportunity to come on board 'Your Ship' and to meet some of our exceptional young sailors.  In the meantime, I look forward to meeting you in due course, and please drop me a line if I or any of my team can be of any support over the summer whilst we are still in home waters.

 

Yours Aye,

 

William King"

 


1 Jun 14 - Project Vernon at HMS Collingwood's Open Day

 

For the second year running, a team of volunteers manned a Project Vernon stand at HMS Collingwood's Open Day yesterday.  The team included MCDOA members David Sandiford, Martyn Holloway and Yours Truly (Rob Hoole) with MWA President Dixie Dean MBE and AORNFCD member Tony Devitt.  Apart from the big draw of the Brickwood's Field Gun Competition, attractions included many naval units, service charities and commercial organisations.  The Defence Diving School (DDS) and the Fleet Diving Squadron (FDS) were there in strength as was the Historical Diving Society (HDS).  This all provided a measure of synergy for our campaign.

 

The team arrived before 0800 to set up shop and was soon visited by Dave Stanbury, the MCDOA's newly installed Membership Secretary.  As DO2 at DDS, Dave was in charge of the RN CD presence. 

 

The Project Vernon Stand being set up

 

     

Left: Dave Stanbury with Tony Devitt and Dave Sandiford

Right: Prospective donors being canvassed

 

Historic Wasp and Gazelle helicopters, a new Merlin and the cockpit of a Sea Harrier featured in the static display opposite our stand.

 

     

Westland Wasp and Aérospatiale Gazelle

 

     

AgustaWestland Merlin and British Aerospace Sea Harrier cockpit

 

Although the day started gloomy, it soon brightened up.  The combined FDS/DDS and HDS display proved popular with plenty of people getting their head wet in modern BA and not getting their head wet in standard gear.

 

Above and below: The diving tank shared by RN CDs and the HDS

 

     

 

Part of the HDS display

 

BFBS was also on the scene with a live broadcast and Gary Wallace-Potter of the HDS was keen to show the presenters around.

 

Gary Wallace-Potter with BFBS team

 

A Miltary Wives Choir put in several appearances, as did HMS Collingwood's Volunteer Band, Samba bands and even characters from Star Wars.

 

Miltary Wives Choir

 

       

Star Wars characters

 

The Project Vernon stand sold a good quantity of merchandise and many took the opportunity to photograph their children as 'Deeps' the Diver with the resulting benefits to our coffers.

 

Dave Sandiford clinching the sale of a Project Vernon tee-shirt

 

     

Left: Chatting up the punters

Right: A cheque gratefully received

 

Hot work for some!

 

A huge vote of thanks to David Sandiford and Dixie Dean for organising such a profitable (and enjoyable) day.

 


30 May 14

 

SDU1 removes possible ordnance from Slapton Sands

 

The Plymouth Herald website contains this article describing Wednesday's removal of a possible item of ordnance from the beach at Slapton Sands in Devon, presumably by members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1).

 


One to listen out for

 

Richard 'Soapy' Watson, our intrepid Honorary Secretary, has asked for this to be promulgated:

 

Britain at Sea

 

 The History of the Royal Navy with Admiral Lord West in 15 Episodes

BBC Radio 4 - 13:45 Monday 02 June

Episode 1 – New Century

 

 

Admiral Lord West tells the story of the Royal Navy during the twentieth century, when through political, social, technological and economic turmoil, the Navy's fortunes mirrored those of Britain.  Lord West begins this first episode of this 15-part series on the beaches of northern France, introducing the series through the greatest amphibious assault in history - D-Day, a turning point in naval warfare.  From there, he goes back in history to discuss 'navalism' at the start of the twentieth century.

 

The Navy in the decade before the First World War was vast, a truly globalised organisation, defending British interests around the world. At home it was the bulwark against invasion and had such a powerful hold on the British imagination that images of sailors - of Jack Tar - sold everything from cigarettes to postcards.

 

The 15 episodes will be broadcast at 13:45 on weekdays for 3 weeks 

 

Apart from having been sunk in the Falklands while in Command of HMS Ardent in 1982, former Commander-in-Chief Fleet (2000-2) and First Sea Lord (2002-6) Lord West of Spithead served in the Ton class minesweepers HMS Burnaston as a midshipman (1967) and HMS Laleston as a lieutenant (1971-2) before commanding HMS Yarnton in Hong Kong (1974-5).  As Naval Secretary (1994-6), he was Guest of Honour at the MCDOA's Annual Dinner in 1995 and he remains a keen fan of the RN Minewarfare & Clearance Diving community.

 

Lord West of Spithead flanked by MCDOA members Rob Hoole

and Doug Barlow in October 2006

 

MCDOA members Doug Barlow and Soapy

Watson with Lord West in November 2009

 


29 May 14

 

Royal Navy Diving Heritage: An appeal for descendants of the 'Tin Openers'

 

From the Royal Navy's Facebook page:

 

"Icon Films are making a film for the BBC1 programme 'The One Show' about WWI U-boat wrecks and the men who dived them for the Royal Navy.  They are filming on the 9th and 10th June and are looking for descendants of any of the following divers who played a big role in the war effort:

 

Warrant Shipwright Ernest Charles ‘Dusty’ Miller MBE

Cdr Guybon Chesney Castell Damant OBE RN

Ldg Seaman Ernie Blackford

Able Seaman Tom Clear

 

If you think you can help, please email tilly.marshall@iconfilms.co.uk or telephone +44 (0)1179 102 056.

 

They look forward to hearing from you,

 

Many thanks"

 

For further information about this subject, see: 

This is from the website of the The Friends of East Cowes Cemetery, formed in 2004:

 

Capt Guybon Damant CBE RN

 

Guybon Chesney Castell Damant was born in Cowes in 1881.  He joined the Royal Navy in 1895 and was a lieutenant by 1903.  In 1905 he was training as a Gunnery Officer at HMS Excellent in Portsmouth and not liking it much.  Part of his training involved diving and all officers were expected to do at least one dive.  Most disliked this but Damant enjoyed it; he had an interest in natural history and saw it as an opportunity to see what life existed at the bottom of the sea.

 

Around this time, the Royal Navy was looking at improving its diving techniques as there had been many accidents and failures of salvage operations most notably the loss of the submarine HMS A1.  They realised that submarines were becoming an important weapon and that deep sea diving would aid their development.

 

Early Experiments

 

Professor John Scott Haldane had devised a theory that would reduce the amount of decompression sickness on deep dives by working out how much pressure the human body could stand at various depths and the reduction of pressure on their way back to the surface.  He also crucially calculated the nitrogen intake and the time taken at pressures to safely dissipate it from the body.  By rising from the depths in stages the dangerous 'bends' could be avoided, something divers still do today.  John Scott Haldane looked to HMS Excellent to find recruits for his diving experiments.  Damant volunteered himself and went with Haldane and his team in HMS Spanker1 to Loch Striven on the West coast of Scotland.  On board was a decompression chamber built under the instructions of Damant in case of accidents.

 

The Diving Record

 

Over a number of dives, Haldane's theories were put to the test with no ill effects, gradually increasing the depths from 138 feet on August 21st to 180 feet on the 27th.  This dive took over an hour with 12 minutes on the bottom ascending in six stages over 40 minutes.  The next day Catto2, another diver went down.  He got caught up in his air and communication hoses and could not free himself for over half an hour.  Haldane and Damant gradually brought him back to the surface and, although exhausted, he was in perfect health.  Haldane had proved that working for long periods at depth was now relatively safe and proposed that they try a dive over 200 feet reached by Greek and Swedish divers a year before.  On 31st August 1906 Damant descended to the floor of the loch at 210 feet (64 metres), noting in his diary later, 'Quite pitch dark, hands too cold to feel much but could not detect any solid on bottom, nothing but mud'.  He had broken the record.

 

The First World War

 

Now a Lt Cdr and Inspector of Diving, Damant's job was to retrieve important documents from sunken German U-boats.  This was a grisly task as he had to push his way past drowned men to get to the control rooms.  Code books, cipher equipment and charts were recovered in this way. 

 

1. HMS Spanker was a Sharpshooter class torpedo gunboat launched in 1889 and converted into a minesweeper after serving as a deep diving trials tender from 1906 to 1909.

2. Lt Cdr Andrew Yule Catto OBE RN, a former Warrant Officer Gunner, became Inspector of Diving for the Grand Fleet during the First World War.

 

Postscript: On 6 June 2014, I was contacted by Tilly Marshall of Icon Films with a request to use some of the material on this website.  I have consented provided that our Association is acknowledged.  Watch this space. 

 


The loneliness of the long distance MCDOA runner

 

On 26 April, MCDOA member Keith Mabbott (COMUKMARFOR) of Cheshire Hash House Harriers competed in the ninth Hoka Highland Fling Ultra-Marathon.  This is a footrace over 53 miles of the West Highland Way from the northern suburbs of Glasgow, over Conic Hill, and along the eastern shore of Loch Lomond to Tyndrum in the Highlands.  He completed the route, which includes 2,200 metres of climbing, in 9 hours 53 minutes and finished in 92nd place out of 614 starters, an improvement of 2 hours 15 minutes from last year.

 

 

On 16 and 17 May, Keith competed in the Double Cateran 110 Ultra-Marathon 2014 in Glenshee.  It was the inaugural running of what was billed as Scotland’s toughest ever footrace.  The race started from Spittal of Glenshee on the Friday evening, taking in an anti-clockwise loop of the Cateran Trail overnight, then reversing the direction for the second loop whilst being pursued by the 55 mile ‘fun run’.  Covering mixed terrain and with 15,000 feet of climbing, the race lived up to its billing.  Keith finished the race in second place in 25 hours and 6 minutes, 2 hours 31 minutes behind the winner, Mike Raffan of Aberdeen.

 

     

 

Keith said:

 

“It is without doubt the hardest physical challenge of my life so far.  As well as the obvious pain involved in running a long way, there are the mental games going on in your head, especially overnight.  It’s hurting and you need to avoid telling yourself that you still have 80 miles to run. Then there is the problem of getting enough fuel into your body.  At half way I was vomiting and struggling to take on solids.  Your body doesn’t want food but you know that without it you simply won’t finish.  In some ways it’s an eating competition with a bit of running thrown in!”  

 

Keith is now looking forward to a period of recovery before plotting an attempt on next year's 95 mile West Highland Way Race.  I am sure all members of our community will join me in wishing him every success in this daunting endeavour.

 


Long Service & Good Conduct Medal awards

 

Congratulations to CPO(D) Sean Meleady on being gazetted for the award of the Clasp to the LS & GC.  Also, congratulations to PO(D) S R Rice, LS(D) J Pearson and LS(MW) T Smith on being gazetted for the award of the LS & GC.  The relevant Supplement to the London Gazette can be viewed here.

 


28 May 14 - HMS Atherstone 'rows' from Bahrain to Abu Dhabi

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article describing how the ship's company of HMS Atherstone (MCM2 Crew 2) has used a rowing machine to 'travel' the 360 km distance between Bahrain and Abu Dhabi and raised £360 for the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC).  The distance was completed within 24 hours at an average speed of 15.3 kph, thus beating the ship's own time between the two Gulf ports.

 

CPO ET(ME) Troy Hyndmarsh, organiser of the event

(RN Website photo)

 


27 May 14

 

RN Minewarfare Heritage: The Grounding of HMS Wave

 

 

The BBC News website contains this article, the Portsmouth News website this article and The Cornishman this article describing last Friday's unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the grounding of the Algerine class minesweeper HMS Wave after her anchor cable fractured in a storm at St Ives in Cornwall during the morning of 30 Sep 1952.

 

HMS Wave veteran Ron Shepherd beside the plaque he unveiled

at Westcotts Quay, St Ives on 23 May 2014

 

Pathé News produced this film covering the ship's grounding, evacuation and subsequent salvage.  She was winched off the rocks and eventually returned to service. 

 

HMS Wave aground at St Ives

 

These events are described in a book entitled Part Of The Shore: The Saving Of HMS Wave written by local eye-witness Paul Moran and published by St Ives Printing & Publishing Company at £14.99.

 


Gentlemen Who Lunch

 

The weather was too gloomy for sailing today so the MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio of Barlow, Holloway and Hoole settled for lunch at one of their favourite haunts, the Blue Bell in Emsworth.  We were joined by Margaret, an old family friend of Holloway who once lived in Salisbury but is now an expat living in Calgary, home of the famous Stampede.

 

 

Margaret with Hoole, Barlow and Holloway

 


26 May 14 - HDS Diving Museum update

 

 

MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan, Chairman of the Historical Diving Society (HDS), has provided this update about the Diving Museum in No.2 Battery at Stokes Bay and the WWII bunker in Gosport that houses the Society's library and museum reserve collection:

 

"VISITORS

 

We did well over this Bank Holiday weekend with 42 on Saturday, 24 on Sunday and 46 on Monday.  Guides John Millerchip, former FCPO(D) John Dadd and ex-CPO(D) Dusty Miller manned the buttresses.  

 

FILMING

 

Gosport Graphics had a filming session at the Museum on Monday morning.  The footage will go towards a promotional film for Gosport.

 

External displays at HDS Museum

 

COPP MEMORIAL

 

Jim Thomson and JB attended the Ceremony at the COPP Memorial on Hayling Island on Wednesday, 21 May.

 

John Bevan with ex-CD Jim 'Tommo' Thomson

at the COPP memorial on Hayling Island

 

The COPPs were the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties who cleared the obstructions for the D-Day landings and provided pilotage services on D-Day.

 

[By Webmaster: It was actually members of the Landing Craft Obstruction Clearance Units (LCOCUs) who cleared the obstructions on D-Day although the COPPs did survey the beaches and their defences prior to D-Day.]

 

NEXT WEEKEND (31st and 1st)

 

This coincides with HMS Collingwood Open Day (31st) so we will need extra Guides whilst some of us are helping out at Collingwood.  

 

ANN BEVAN will be back in UK on 2 June, so look busy.  

 

JohnB"

 

The HDS Museum is open at weekends until the end of the summer season.  It relies on a handful of volunteer guides, at least two but ideally three of whom need to be on site when it is open for business at weekends during the summer.  If you live locally and can spare the odd few hours, please contact John Bevan via this email address or call him on 078 0278 5050.  You will then be given access to the online roster to fill in your own dates as and when you are available.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved in this or any other way.

 


24 May 14 - Falklands conflict Army bomb disposal hero is honoured with a new plaque

 

The Scottish Herald website contains this article describing yesterday's unveiling of a new plaque in memory of Staff Sergeant James Prescott of the Royal Engineers.  The original plaque had been stolen by metal thieves.  Jim Prescott was killed precisely 32 years previously while attempting to disarm an Argentinean 1,000 lb bomb on board HMS Antelope in San Carlos Bay during the Falklands conflict and was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM) posthumously.  The previous day, he and WO (now Capt) John Phillips DSC RE had successfully disarmed a similar bomb on board HMS Argonaut (see entry for 26 Apr 14).

 

Staff Sgt Prescott's daughters Angela and Carol standing alongside

the new plaque at Prescott Bridge, Balfron near Glasgow

 

For further information about minewarfare, diving and EOD events during the Falklands conflict, read The Forgotten Few of the Falklands in the website's Dit Box.

 


23 May 14 - News from HMS Grimsby

 

I am grateful to MCDOA member Simon Kelly, the Commanding Officer of HMS Grimsby (MCM1 Crew 5), for this update received via the Ton Class Association (TCA):

 

 

"Sadly I have come to the end of my time as the Commanding Officer of HMS Grimsby, but I would like to personally thank you on behalf of my Crew for your support during our visit to Grimsby in January this year.  The Grimsby visit was one of the most enjoyable I have had in the Navy to date and one that will be difficult to surpass.  My Crew still recount stories of the visit to newer members of the team and hold fond memories of our stay.

 

We have spent the past three months since our visit to Grimsby preparing ourselves for our Arabian Gulf deployment.  This training process has seen us at sea for the majority of that time, but it has proven worthwhile with HMS Grimsby and her Crew receiving praise from the Navy for our efforts during our pre-deployment assessments.  This period provided me with even more reason for celebration when I discovered I had been promoted to Commander.

 

Although I move on from my Crew immediately after the deployment, I suspect that my link with the Mine Counter Measures community will not end here, so I will continue to keep in touch.  The last few weeks has seen us preparing the Ship for the oncoming Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander William King and his crew, Mine Counter Measures 1 Crew 6 (MCM1 Crew 6).  I am sure he will enjoy commanding HMS Grimsby as much as I have.

 

Although it is with a heavy heart that I bid farewell to HMS Grimsby and her town namesake, I am also looking forward to the exciting experiences and challenges that our deployment will undoubtedly provide.  Now that the Ship has been handed over, my Crew and I will be taking a few weeks well-deserved leave before flying out to Bahrain, at the end of June, to join our new Ship HMS Shoreham for seven months.

 

Once again it has been a pleasure and I look forward to hearing from you again in the future.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Simon P Kelly

Lt Cdr RN"

 

We wish Si and his crew a safe and successful Gulf deployment in HMS Shoreham.  Coincidentally, the Royal Navy website has today published the following article describing the importance of the RN deployments in the Gulf as part of Operation KIPION:

 

Royal Navy's enduring presence in the Middle East

 


22 May 14 - MCDOA Committee Meeting

 

Cdr Chris Baldwin chaired his final MCDOA Committee meeting at Fleet Diving Headquarters yesterday and was ceremonially ushered off Horsea Island this morning.  Cdr Mark Atkinson, Chris's relief as Superintendent of Diving as of today, has kindly agreed to serve as Acting Chairman of the MCDOA pending formal elections at our AGM In November.  Lt Dave Stanbury RN has agreed to serve as Acting Membership Secretary pending the elections in November.  Lt Cdr Peter Davis remains our Honorary Treasurer but was unable to attend the meeting.

 

Clockwise from near left: MCDOA Committee members Richard 'Soapy' Watson,

Martyn Holloway, Dave Stanbury, Chris Baldwin, Mark Atkinson,

Graham 'Tug' Wilson and Yours Truly (Rob Hoole)

 

Among the highlights of yesterday's meeting: 

I am sure all members will join me in expressing our sincere thanks to Chris Baldwin for his sterling services on behalf of the MCDOA during the past three years he has been its Chairman.

 


21 May 14

 

RNR Diver replaces white ensign on wreck of HMS Repulse

 

I am grateful to Lt Adam Bolton RNR of the Royal Naval Reserves Diving Branch for allowing me to publish these photos of the white ensign he placed on the wreck of the battlecruiser HMS Repulse during a recent tech diving exped on the Force Z wrecks of HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales.  Adam, attached to HMS Vivid in Plymouth, says that HMS Repulse lies in 57 metres of water and he secured the ensign to the propeller shaft at a depth of around 45 metres.

 

 

Adam Bolton with white ensign on one of the propeller shafts of HMS Repulse

(Photos by Adam's friend, an ex-Pongo called Mike Robinson)

 

 

More photos on Flickr here.

 

HMS Prince of Wales lies in 67 metres of water and both ships were sunk by Japanese aircraft in the South China Sea on 10 December 1941.  Totally bereft of air cover, they were saturated by Japanese aircraft specialised in attacking ships (they'd taken a leaf out of the Royal Navy's book) and were each hit by four of the 49 torpedoes launched, i.e. they managed to evade 41 of the torpedoes aimed at them.

 

Interestingly, the first 25 attacking Japanese aircraft dropped 17 x 500 kg bombs and 16 x 250 kg bombs on the battleships but only achieved a single hit with a 250 kg bomb which started a small fire on the hangar deck of HMS Repulse.  Several high level bombers also straddled the battleships during the later torpedo attacks but, again, only achieved one hit.  This bomb fell amongst the wounded gathered in POW's hangar causing extensive casualties but neither of the two bombs that actually struck the battleships penetrated their armour.  Earlier, nine aircraft had mistaken one of the three escorting destroyers for a battleship.  They each dropped a 500 kg armour-piercing bomb but all nine missed their target.  The destroyers went unscathed and rescued the survivors from the battleships but a supporting aircraft carrier might have made all the difference, especially as the land-based Japanese bombers had no fighter escort owing to the distances involved.

 

For contemporary RN Diving Magazine accounts of the first diving surveys of these wrecks, conducted by members of the Far East Fleet Clearance Diving Team in 1965 and 1966 respectively, see First diving surveys of the wrecks of HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales in the website's Dit Box.

 

Also see the photos in MCDOA member Mike Gillam's history of the Far East Fleet Clearance Diving Team in the website's Dit Box.

 

Postscript: On 23 May, the Royal Navy website published this article covering the same story.

 


HDS Diving Museum update

 

 

MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan, Chairman of the Historical Diving Society (HDS), has provided this update about the Diving Museum in No.2 Battery at Stokes Bay and the WWII bunker in Gosport that houses the Society's library and museum reserve collection:

 

"WEATHER

 

 The weather over the weekend was great!

 

 

VISITORS

 

Saturday was special.  Our normal day pulled in a comfortable 31 visitors which included a group of 17 "Hampshire Walkers". 

 

The evening was our contribution to Museums at Night with our 'Divers at War' special opening.  The Museum was busy with 73 visitors for this stunning event.  Commendations for efforts above and beyond the call of duty go to Margaret and Martin Marks, John Dadd and Jim Thomson, Barry Stayte and Kevin Casey for oscar-winning performances.  Margaret's film of the ghosts of John Deane, William Walker and Buster Crabb, all of whom give a brief commentary of their careers, is a magnificent production and must be seen.  John Dadd and Jim Thomson scared the pants off the crowds with their enactment of defuzing a bomb culminating a a bursting balloon to reinforce the effect!  Barry Stayte did an oscar-winning creepy performance as a century artillery man.  All in all a successful spooky event!  

 

VIP visitors included the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress and ex-Mayor and Mayoress.  Special guest was Rene Goot of the DUIKMUSEUM in the Netherlands who came all the way over specially to visit our 'Divers at War' event!  Check out the Mayor’s blog for 17 May here.  We also had a whole page dedicated to our 'Divers at War' event in the Gosport issue of The News on 20 May!

 

Sunday was quiet, with 16 visitors.  We needed the rest.  In addition, our Guides included Terry Nash, John Millerchip, John Towse and Dusty Miller. 

 

DONATIONS

 

Previously I should have included our grateful thanks to Brian Cutler who donated a set of superb photos from the early offshore North Sea diving days.

 

We were treated to a surprise donation on Saturday when Bob Oliver, son of Frank Oliver (of Kingston BSAC) called in to donate his father's U/W camera housing which he built himself in 1954!  It is a quite remarkably well engineered and constructed unit:

 

 

 

Thanks also go to Paul (Yorky) Tudor, ex CD1, who called in the Diving Museum over the weekend and generously donated a genuine poster advertising the film '20,000 Leagues under the Sea' to our archives.

 

 

 JohnB"

 

The HDS Museum is open at weekends until the end of the summer season.  It relies on a handful of volunteer guides, at least two but ideally three of whom need to be on site when it is open for business at weekends during the summer.  If you live locally and can spare the odd few hours, please contact John Bevan via this email address or call him on 078 0278 5050.  You will then be given access to the online roster to fill in your own dates as and when you are available.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved in this or any other way.  

 


20 May 14

 

News from HMS Ledbury

 

 

I am grateful to MCDOA member Simon Pressdee, Commanding Officer of HMS Ledbury (MCM2 Crew 6), for this update:

 

"Dear Rob,

 

After a very rewarding period on board HMS LEDBURY, Crew 6 will move on as part of routine rotation of crews later this month.  My Crew and I will take over HMS ATHERSTONE in the Arabian Gulf for seven months before returning to HMS BROCKLESBY in the UK early next year.

 

Crew 6 has spent a busy 15 months in HMS LEDBURY, which was recently recognised with the Crew being awarded the Fleet MCM Effectiveness Trophy [See entry for 20 Jan 14 in News Archive 45].  This period has included deploying to the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Baltic Sea as well as a short visit to Swansea, all interspersed with regular training in UK waters both near to Portsmouth and in the Western Isles of Scotland.  Additionally, my Ship’s Company and I exercised the Freedom of the Town of Ledbury in a parade earlier this year [See entry for 24 Feb 14 in News Archive 45].  This was the third time HMS LEDBURY had done so and was an extremely proud moment for all involved.

 

Following my Crew’s handover to Lt Cdr Mark Headley and Crew 4 [See entry for 16 May 14], HMS LEDBURY has a busy summer ahead with the highlight a visit to Caen in Northern France to represent the Royal Navy as part of the D-Day 70th Anniversary Celebrations in early June.  Later this year, she will proceed into dry dock for refit during which time she will receive a new propulsion plant before returning to sea next year.

 

Thank you for your continued support.  I promise to keep you informed of Crew 6’s exploits both in the Gulf and on our return to the UK.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Simon Pressdee"

 

The Royal Navy website has published this article announcing the participation of HMS Ledbury, together with HMS Bulwark, HMS Richmond, HMS Ranger and HMS Express, in the D-Day 70th Anniversary commemorations off Normandy while the Royal Marines will be represented by elements of 1 Assault Group.

 


Supersession of MCDOA Chairman Chris Baldwin

 

Richard 'Soapy' Watson, our intrepid Honorary Secretary, sent this message yesterday regarding the imminent supersession of MCDOA Chairman Chris Baldwin by fellow MCDOA member Mark Atkinson as Superintendent of Diving (SofD):

 

"Hi Rob,

 

Hot off the press!  Pictures of Cdr Chris Baldwin undertaking his last dive as a full-time RN officer.  He starts his handover with Cdr Mark Atkinson as SofD this week.

 

Chris leaves the Service in July.  More info to follow later this week.

 

Soapy"

 

  

 

 

 


19 May 14 - Funeral of former CPO(D) George 'Gabby' Haines

 

Those attending Gabby's Service of Thanksgiving at Bournemouth Crematorium today (see entry for 12 May 14) included MCDOA members John Grattan OBE with his wife Marjorie, Yours Truly (Rob Hoole) and John O'Driscoll MBE plus fellow CD Branch members Cris Ballinger BEM, John Dadd BEM, Gerry 'Pincher' Martin, Mike O'Meara, Ted Setchell, Jim 'Tommo' Thomson and Jess Wakefield.  Ted had been on CD3 course with Gabby in 1962 and CD1 course with him in the early 1970s while Mike O'Meara had been on CD2 course with Gabby in 1969.

 

Gabby's casket was covered in a white ensign and surrounded with family photos and floral arrangements.  His grand-daughter Evie passed around commemorative ribbons and phots of Gabby to members of the congregation.  Mourners entered the chapel to the sound of Frank Sinatra singing Come Fly with Me.

 

The service started with the Reverend Paul Tarrant welcoming those present and offering an opening prayer.  We then sang the 23rd Psalm hymn (The Lord's My Shepherd) before tributes were paid to Gabby, known as Bill to his family, by his son Mark and daughter Joanne.  We heard how Gabby had been born a Londoner and joined the Royal Navy as a Boy Seaman.  He met his future wife Kay while standing in for a friend on a date and they clicked immediately, especially when Gabby took her sailing and they ended up aground.  His passions were cars (especially his Jaguar) and his garden but mostly his family.  They moved around a lot with the RN and had successive homes on Hayling Island and Weymouth before settling in Bournemouth where Gabby pursued a second career in engineering.

 

We then sang the Naval Hymn (Eternal Father) before the Reverend Tarrant performed the Committal and gave a Celtic Blessing.  We left to the sound of Frank Sinatra singing That's Life and several went on to the Miramar Hotel on the clifftop at Bournemouth to raise a glass in Gabby's memory.

 

 

George William Victor 'Gabby' Haines

(5 Mar 1934 - 10 May 2014)

 


From former FCPO(D) Dave 'Mona' Lott BEM:

 

"Rob and Troy,

 

G’day,

 

Firstly Rob - Many thanks for your website coverage of the proceedings at Gabby’s Funeral,  He will be sadly missed by many.  Shiner and I will very much miss his banter in our regular exchanges of emails carried on over a considerable number of years for which Kay was previously the Editor-in-Chief, and The Umpire.   

 

Troy - Firstly I am sorry to hear that your old back is giving you Gip again old buddy.  Here’s wishing you relief ASAP. 

 

I have passed my sincere and sad condolences directly to Gabby’s daughter Jo and her husband, and I have passed other messages in reply to John Grattan who broadcasted the “updated” reports coming from Jo.  I also know that some people that I passed the situation reports onto have either replied directly to Jo or attended the funeral.  

 

Regards,

 

Dave L (Mona)"

 


From ex-CD Jess Wakefield:

 

"Today I went to the funeral of a brave man I had never met.  He was an ex-Chief Diver, from the Clearance Diver branch, from the Royal Navy.  This is a branch in the Royal Navy that no-one really knows about.  It was and is made up of a band of men that continuously put their lives on the line, to keep our shores safe from terrorist devices and ordnance from modern and WWII times.

 

Why did I go to a funeral of a man I had never met or know?  I will tell you all.  A CD old or young, retired or serving, has a badge on his arm or in his heart that he will be proud to say he served as a Clearance Diver.  This will be taken to his grave and celebrated by all that could call themselves a CD.

 

So I paid my last respects to a brave man, a comrade from a different time, a pioneer in diving and bomb disposal techniques.  I paid my my respects to a father, husband and Grand father.  But most of all I paid my respect to a Clearance Diver.

 

RIP Gabby"

 


From MCDOA member John Grattan OBE to fellow MCDOA members David Burstall, Mike Stewart and Yours Truly among others:

 

"Dear friends and fellow divers,

 

Marjorie and I drove to Bournemouth today for Gabby's funeral Service and it was a highly emotional experience.  Without any shame I mentioned you all by name in my prayers for Gabby and Kay so that they know that you were fully represented.  We have all seen too many people killed or hurt not to have an inbuilt sense of the Hereafter and I hope I did the right thing for you all.

 

There was a very good turn-out of members of the Branch as well as his family and we were all very touched by the Priest's conduct of the Service and the eulogy given by both Mark and Jo.  Rob Hoole made a note of all Divers who were there and I believe he will be writing a description of today's moving events for the MCDOA website.  I am trying to forward to you the Order of Service plus a typical photo of the Gabby we all knew and dived with.  There are two photos on the Order of Service, the second is obviously Gabby and Kay but where and when I do not know. 

 

I am almost certain that the photo on the front is Gabby being presented with his Long Service and Good Conduct medal outside the Captain's Office is HMS St Angelo by Commodore Crawford who was then Captain of St Angelo.  A Leander class frigate is behind with the senior dockyard officer's apartments behind that.  Some of you may remember the salvage we did below the steps of St Angelo which is also in the photo!

 

 

As you know I am almost useless with these fiendish machines and I cannot get the other two scans as attachments to this e-mail.  So you will be getting two more self evident e-mails soon after this.

 

Yours aye,

 

John"

 

By Webmaster: I have published the other photo to which John refers at the bottom of my account of Gabby's Thanksgiving Service above.

 


16 May 14 - News from HMS Cattistock

 

I am grateful to Lt Cdr Mark Headley RN, the Commanding Officer of HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew 4), for this update received via the Ton Class Association (TCA):

 

 

"It is with some sadness that I approach the end of my tenure as Commanding Officer of HMS CATTISTOCK.  As I mentioned in my letter of January 2014, the time is now fast approaching for the ship to enter dry dock for a period of routine essential maintenance.  This is an exciting time for the ship as it is for the entire class, with the focus being on a major upgrade to her propulsion system.  Those of you who were able to join us in Poole at the start of April will know that, although a venerable old lady, CATTISTOCK is fully up to date with the most modern equipment and capabilities.  I am happy to report that this work will both enhance these capabilities and prolong significantly her useful lifespan. 

 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you once more for your support to CATTISTOCK over the spring months.  As you know, the ship has a very close relationship with her affiliates, and it was a great pleasure to me to be able to welcome so many of you onboard for our reception in Poole.  I was delighted that so many of our affiliates were able to make the journey to join us for the evening.

 

Looking to the future, CATTISTOCK will be re-emerging from dry dock on 3 November 2014 with a new crew to take her out of refit.  Her planned ready for sea date is currently 5 June 2015.  Meanwhile, Crew 4 will be transferring out of CATTISTOCK and into LEDBURY, another Hunt class MCMV, with an extremely active programme throughout the months to come.

 

Although CATTISTOCK will now be dormant for some time, while work is carried out by BAE contractors; allow me to assure you that when the next crew take over in November they will be as eager as I have been to continue our affiliations.  I have little doubt you will be hearing from them in due course.  Meanwhile, as always you can monitor the ship's progress on the Royal Navy website, at www.royalnavy.mod.uk.

 

Yours Aye,

 

Mark Headley"

 


15 May 14 - HDS Diving Museum update

 

 

MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan, Chairman of the Historical Diving Society (HDS), has provided this update about the Diving Museum in No.2 Battery at Stokes Bay and the WWII bunker in Gosport that houses the Society's library and museum reserve collection: 

 

"VISITORS

 

Saturday was 19 and Sunday was much better with 36.  We were treated to a VIP visit by Gianfranco Vecchio, President/CEO of The Historical Maritime Society in La Spezia, Italy, together with his wife Barbara and young son, Lawrence.  They had come over specially to see the Diving Museum and they enjoyed it so much, they are planning to bring a group over next time.  

 

Ex-CD Jim 'Tommo' Thomson, Gianfranco Vecchio and his son Lawrence,

 John Bevan and Kevin Casey in the HDS Museum on Saturday

 

BUNKER

 

Nigel and Mike O'Meara made great progress with the building of the new shelving in the ARP Control Room on Saturday.  Builders Kevin Lawrence with Martin and Steve have also installed a porthole in one of the bricked-up windows and an air vent in another.  They did a superb, professional job for us, all for free.  The porthole originally came from the Earl of Zetland, my floating museum in London Docklands. 

 

     

Left: Nigel Phillips building shelves in HDS Bunker

Right: Porthole in HDS Bunker

 

DIVERS AT WAR - DON'T MISS THIS!

 

 

We had a fantastic taster on Monday of what's in store for the public on Saturday night when we held a dress rehearsal at the Museum!   Margaret and Martin Marks have laid on a spectacular, specially produced, spooky film to show inside the Gosport Room (magazine) and (weather permitting), on the outside wall at the entrance, including the ghosts of John Deane, William Walker and Buster Crabb as well as special sound effects throughout.

 

Ann Bevan has provided a 'haze' machine to generate a spooky haze throughout the museum.  John Dadd and Jim Thomson have produced a live and highly dramatic acting scenario of an RN Clearance Diver searching for and defuzing a 'live' bomb.  

 

           

Tommo rehearsing for the big night

 

The whole event will be in darkness with special lighting effects.  We will need a maximum turn-out of Guides for Saturday evening, 2100-2200, since many Guides are involved in the presentations.  We can guarantee a seriously fun evening.

 

Thanks to all the effort put in to our spectacular, we had a mention on Radio Solent at 0725 this morning and this will be repeated on 'Drive Time' between 1600 and 1800.  The reporter called in yesterday to record the interview.  Not to be missed!

 

So sing along:

 

We come along on Saturday evening

Greeting everybody with a smile, smile, smile.

Greeting everybody with a smile!

 

JohnB"

 

The HDS Museum is now open again at weekends until the end of the summer season.  It relies on a handful of volunteer guides, at least two but ideally three of whom need to be on site when it is open for business at weekends during the summer.  If you live locally and can spare the odd few hours, please contact John Bevan via this email address or call him on 078 0278 5050.  You will then be given access to the online roster to fill in your own dates as and when you are available.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved in this or any other way.

 


14 May 14

 

SDU2 attends incident in Southampton

 

The BBC News website contains this article describing an incident involving an explosive device found in the garden of a property in Southampton this morning.  The incident was attended by RN EOD personnel, presumably members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2).  A man has been arrested.

 

SDU2 EOD wagon in Southampton today

(BBC News photo)

 


HMS Pembroke sails into Pembroke Dock

 

The Royal Navy's new website contains this article and the Western Telegraph website this article announcing yesterday's arrival of HMS Pembroke (MCM1 Crew 5) in Pembroke Dock, Wales as part of the town’s bicentenary celebrations.  The RN article features PO(D) Darren Lacey (the ship's Coxswain) who lives in nearby Neyland and AB(MW) Andrew Macleod who spent his first 10 years in Pembroke Dock and was expecting a big family group to visit the ship.

 

 

HMS Pembroke arriving at Pembroke Dock yesterday

 

The ship is open to the public at No.1 Berth today from 1600 to 1900 and will leave on Saturday.

 


SDU1 deals with ordnance at Perranporth

 

The Plymouth Herald website contains this article describing last Sunday's disposal, presumably by members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1), of a suspected shell discovered on the beach at Perranporth in Cornwall.

 

 

 

 


13 May 12 - Gulf MCMVs participate in Omani exercise

 

The Navy News website contains this article describing the participation of the Gulf-based minehunters HMS Quorn (MCM2 Crew 3), HMS Atherstone (MCM2 Crew 2) and  HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 4), their command ship RFA Cardigan Bay and escorting frigate HMS Somerset and ships from the USA, France and Oman in the four-day-long Exercise KHUNJAR HADD. 

 

Units involved in Exercise KHUNJAR HADD

(Navy News photo by LA(Phot) Ben Shread)

 

The article features MCDOA member Jim Byron DSC, Commander of the Mine Warfare Battle Staff embarked in RFA Cardigan Bay.

 

Lt Cdr Toby Shaughnessy on the bridge of HMS Shoreham

(Navy News photo by Lt Cdr Sally Armstrong, UKMCC)

 

HMS Quorn from HMS Somerset's Lynx

(Navy News photo by LA(Phot) Ben Shread)

 

One of HMS Quorn's divers

(Navy News photo by Lt Cdr Sally Armstrong, UKMCC)

 


12 May 14 - Arrangements for the funeral of ex-CD1 George 'Gabby' Haines

 

The funeral of Gabby Haines will take place at 1330 on Monday 19 May at Bournemouth Crematorium, Strouden Road, Bournemouth, Dorset BH8 9HX (see entry for 10 May 14).  A reception will be held afterwards at the Miramar Hotel, East Overcliff Drive, Bournemouth, BH1 3AL.

 

Jo and Mark would prefer donations to Macmillan rather than flowers.  The funeral directors are:

 

W Smith and Sons

639-645 Wimbourne Road

Bournemouth

BH9 2AR

 

Tel: 01202 528818

 


11 May 14 - Deadline extended for AORNFCD events

 

Troy Tempest, Honorary Secretary of the Association of RN First Class Divers (AORNFCD), has been able to extend the application date for social functions during the weekend of 13/14 June.  The new deadline is Friday 16 May and, as usual, the events are open to all members of the RN CD Branch and their guests:

 

Informal Social: Starts at 1900 (on completion of the AGM) on Friday 13 June in the Royal Maritime Club, Portsmouth.  Cost per head of £5 will cover the standard tot on arrival and a cold buffet.  Don't forget to bring a prize for the raffle.

 

Formal Black-Tie Dinner Dance: Starts at 1900 on Saturday 14 June in the Royal Maritime Club, Portsmouth.  Cost per head of £45 will cover reception drinks, live music, a three-course meal, wine on the table and after-dinner port.  Don't forget to bring a prize for the raffle.

 

Each of these events will provide an excellent opportunity to raise a glass, in the company of those who knew them, to the memory of Bob 'Jock' Adam, Steve Briggs, Gabby Haines, Ken Kempsell, Tom Kissack, Gerry Mitchell, Ramsay Pearson, Neil Primrose, Dennis Selwood, David 'Spike' Spears, Bob Underwood, Steve Wild, Dave 'Wanger' Woon and any other members of our community who have crossed the bar during the past year

 

 Application forms, including menu choices, may be downloaded here:

 

 Application forms for 2014 AORNFCD Social and Black Tie Dinner Dance

 


10 May 14 - Death of ex-CD1 George 'Gabby' Haines

 

I regret to announce that Gabby Haines died at 0405 this morning in the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.  He had suffered heart problems for some time and his COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) finally took its toll.  Gabby and his lively wife Kay, who died from cancer two years ago (see entry for 29 Feb 12 in News Archive 37), were active members of the Association of First Class Divers (AORNFCD) and supported most functions.

 

Gabby and Kay Haines with fellow ex-CD1 Shiner Brassington at

Joint Association Barbecue on Horsea Island in June 2009

 

Derek 'Maggie' Lockwood with Gabby Haines at AORNFCD

Reunion in the Royal Maritime Club in February 2012

 

Gabby was the Chief Instructor for LMCDO '70 and can be seen standing on the far right in this photo taken at HMS Vernon:

 

 

He was also the CD2 Course Instructor for Colin 'Foggy' Goff, Mike O'Meara and Chris 'Pancho' Crask among others.

 

Gabby and Kay will now be enjoying their customary G&T together again but I am sure all members of our community will join me in extending our sincere condolences to their daughter Jo and son Mark on their loss.

 


7 May 14 - Members of SDU2 visit school in Portsmouth

 

The Mayfield School website has published this article containing photos of a visit made by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) last Friday (2 May).

 


6 May 14

 

HMS Blyth arrives on task in the Mediterranean

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting that the diving team of HMS Blyth (MCM1 Crew 1) has hit the water for the first time since leaving Faslane.  HMS Blyth has joined Standing NATO MCM Group 2 (SNMCMG2) in Italian waters for a three-month deployment in the Mediterranean.

 

      

 

RN website photos

 

     

 

Crew 1 is due to return to the UK towards the end of July before beginning their work-up period for a Middle East deployment later in the year. 

 


Names of naval EOD personnel killed on active service to appear on memorial wall at DEMSS

 

I have been asked to compile the naval element of a list of service personnel who have died while conducting Search & EOD operations since the start of the Second World War.  The names will appear on a memorial wall at the headquarters of the Defence Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Munitions and Search Training Regiment (DEMS Trg Regt) which was stood up last year at St George's Barracks, Bicester. 

 

I have previously collaborated with author Chris Ransted for his listing of naval EOD casualties in Bomb Disposal and the British Casualties of WW2 but have now added others and provided some supplementary information:

 

NAME

RANK

SERVICE

UNIT

DATE OF DEATH

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

ACTON
James Shermer
C029603U
Lt Cdr RN SOO MCM1 19 Aug 1999 Died from injuries following an earthquake in Golcuk Naval Base, Turkey on 16 Aug 1999.  Aged 37.  Cremated Portchester Crematorium.

ALLEN
Arthur William
PO/X 3477

Cpl

RM

RM Portsmouth Division

20 Jun 1944

Drowned in the Queen Mary Reservoir near London while conducting testing and experimental work on diving equipment for SOE special projects.  Aged 23.  Buried Staines (London Road) Cemetery.

ATKINSON
Thomas
LT/X 7794C

Seaman

RNPS

HMT Myrtle
(Minesweeper)

14 Jun 1940

Missing presumed killed after mine exploded during recovery in Thames Estuary.  Lowestoft Naval Memorial.

AUSTIN
Allister Charles
P/JX 188870

A/Ldg Seaman

RN

LCOCU No.3

6 Jun 1944

Diver in Landing Craft Obstruction Clearance Unit (LCOCU) killed during very shallow water (VSW) clearance operations off Normandy beaches on D-Day.  Aged 23.  Buried in Bayeux War Cemetery.

AVISON
Will

Lt

RNVR

HMS Hannibal
(Taranto, Italy)

2 Nov 1943

MID awarded posthumously for courage and skill in dangerous minesweeping operations.  Operation ANTIDOTE - minesweeping Galita to Sousse, Tunisia May 1943.  Missing presumed killed in explosion at Naples.  Aged 39.  Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

BALDWIN DSM
Charles Edward
P/J 56017

CPO

RN

HMT Firefly
(Minesweeper)

3 Feb 1940

DSM awarded for great courage and skill in securing and stripping live enemy mines without regard for own safety.  Presentation made by King George VI at HMS Vernon 19 Dec 1939 for rendering safe first German influence mine at Shoeburyness 23 Nov 1939.  Helped OUVRY, LEWIS and VEARNCOMBE render safe first Type A magnetic mine and GLENNY and VEARNCOMBE render safe second Type A magnetic mine at Shoeburyness 25 Nov 1939. 

Killed with course of RNVR Sub Lieutenants while recovering loose British moored mines in Forth.  Aged 40.  Buried Edinburgh (Seafield) Cemetery.

BARKER
Benjamin Robson
LT/X 6058ES

Engineman

RNPS

HMT Firefly
(Minesweeper)

3 Feb 1940

Killed with course of RNVR Sub Lieutenants while recovering loose British moored mines in Forth.  Buried Hartlepool (Stranton) Cemetery.

BASKERVILLE BEM
Thomas Leonard
C/J 18204

CPO(TGM)

RN

HMS Vernon
(Portsmouth)

23 Jan 1941

BEM awarded in 1940 King's Birthday Honours in recognition of services during the War.  On 23 Jan 1941, Baskerville was in the Bridlington Bay area between Flamborough Head and Spurn Head dealing with yet another washed-up mine.  After successfully defuzing the mine, he put the fuze and detonator in his jacket pocket to take back to HMS Vernon.  He made his way through a local town, where his escorting Police Officer stopped to question someone, at which point Baskerville slipped on the icy ground and fell upon the fuze and detonator in his pocket.  There was an explosion and the tragically brave Thomas Baskerville was killed.  Aged 44.  Buried Teddington Cemetery.

BEADLE GM
John Edmund Townsend
C/J 42261

CPO

RN

HMS Eaglet
(Liverpool)

7 May 1941

GM awarded for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty.  Assisted Sub Lt Danckwerts in dealing with many mines in London during 1940.  Aged 41.  Chatham Naval Memorial.

BEAVERS
Henry Edward
LT/X 21451AR

Seaman

RNPS

HMT Firefly
(Minesweeper)

3 Feb 1940

Killed with course of RNVR Sub Lieutenants while recovering loose British moored mines in Forth.  Aged 21.  Buried Tynemouth (Preston) Cemetery.

BENSON
Harold
LT/JX 170577

Seaman

RNPS

HMD Ray of Hope
(HMS Vernon mine recovery vessel)

10 Dec 1939

Killed when mine exploded during recovery in Thames Estuary.  Aged 23.  Buried Hull Northern Cemetery.

BETHUNE-WILLIAMS
Denis Eustace

Lt

RNVR

HMCS Bytown
(Ottawa)

25 Jan 1942

Worked for Department of Unexploded Bombs [HMS President (London)] for duty inside Admiralty.  Drowned when ship to Canada was torpedoed.  Chatham Naval Memorial.

BIRD
William
C/KX 10040S

Stoker

RNR

HMT Myrtle
(Minesweeper)

14 Jun 1940

Missing presumed killed after mine exploded during recovery.  Lowestoft Naval Memorial.

BOYCE GM
Wilson
P/JX 198295

Ord Seaman

RN

HMS Jersey
(Destroyer)

2 May 1941

GM awarded for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty.  Mine disposal Birmingham Oct 1940.

Missing presumed killed after HMS Jersey mined in entrance to harbour at Malta.  Aged 32.  Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

BRATLEY
John Wesley

Gunner (T)

RN

HMS Elissa
(Messina, Italy)

23 Aug 1943

First MID awarded for mine disposal.  Second MID awarded posthumously for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty in clearing Messina harbour of enemy demolition charges Aug 1943. 

Killed when depth charges exploded at Messina.  Aged 28.  Plymouth Naval Memorial. 

BROWNRIGG
Patrick Charles Annesley

Lt

RNVR

HMS Dolphin
(Portsmouth)

6 May 1942

MID awarded for courage, skill and endurance while minesweeping in dangerous waters.  Minefield clearance in HMS Felixstowe (Bangor class M/S) Nore Dec 1941 to January 1942. 

Died during diving training as a Charioteer in Horsea Lake.  Aged 27.  Buried Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery.

BRUNSKELL
William
P/JX 273286

AB

RN

HMS Odyssey (London) for 'P' Party 1571

19 Dec 1944

Only 'P' Party casualty.  Died of wounds after a German V-2 rocket hit the Cinema Rex in Antwerp where he was watching a film on 16 Dec 1944.  Buried Schoonselhof Cemetery, Antwerp, Belgium.

CLARK
Alfred Gordon
D/MD/X 3007

Ord Seaman

RNVR

HMT Myrtle
(Minesweeper)

14 Jun 1940

Missing presumed killed during mine recovery.  Plymouth Naval Memorial.

CLARKE
William
LT/X 21741 A

Seaman

RNPS

HMT Mastiff
(Minesweeper)

20 Nov 1940

Missing presumed killed during mine recovery in Thames Estuary.  Aged 27.  Lowestoft Naval Memorial.

CLAY
John Robert
LT/X 19262A

Seaman

RNPS

HMT Firefly
(Minesweeper)

3 Feb 1940

Killed with course of RNVR Sub Lieutenants while recovering loose British moored mines in Forth.  Buried Tynemouth (Preston) Cemetery.

CLEVELAND RD
William Garwood

Chief Skipper

RNR

HMT Myrtle
(Minesweeper)

14 Jun 1940

Missing presumed killed during mine recovery.  Lowestoft Naval Memorial.

COOK
Reginald Augustus

Commissioned Gunner (T)

RN

HMS Vernon
(Portsmouth)

6 Aug 1940

MID awarded posthumously for gallantry after an anti-handling charge in a booby-trapped GC mine exploded in the mining shed at HMS Vernon 6 Aug 1940.  Aged 45.  Buried Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery.

COULL
Joseph
LT/X 350ET

Engineman

RNR

HMD Ray of Hope
(HMS Vernon mine recovery vessel)

10 Dec 1939

Missing presumed killed when mine exploded during recovery in Thames Estuary.  Aged 43.  Lowestoft Naval Memorial.

CRABB OBE GM
Lionel Kenneth Phillip 'Buster'
Cdr RNVR Unattached 19 Apr 1956 Missing presumed dead while diving under the Soviet cruiser Ordzhonikidze in Portsmouth Harbour. Aged 47. Presumed remains buried in Milton Cemetery, Portsmouth.

CROAKE
William Bernard
P/J 14205

AB

RN

HMS Vernon
(Portsmouth)

6 Aug 1940

Killed when an anti-handling charge in a booby-trapped GC mine exploded in the mining shed at HMS Vernon 6 Aug 1940.  Aged 50.  Buried Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery.

DAVIES
Vernon
D/MX 53006

Ldg Cook

RN

HMT Myrtle
(Minesweeper)

14 Jun 1940

Missing presumed killed after mine exploded during recovery.  Aged 23.  Plymouth Naval Memorial.

DILLON
Alfred Sidney
C/X 3172V

Stoker

RNR

HMT Myrtle
(Minesweeper)

14 Jun 1940

Missing presumed killed during mine recovery.  Chatham Naval Memorial.

DOBSON
Carl

Sub Lt

RNVR

HMT Firefly
(Minesweeper)

3 Feb 1940

Killed with course of RNVR Sub Lieutenants while recovering loose British moored mines in Forth.  Aged 29.  Buried Edinburgh (Seafield) Cemetery.

DUNCAN
Alexander
C/K 61891

PO Stoker

RNVR

HMT Mastiff
(Minesweeper)

20 Nov 1940

Missing presumed killed during mine recovery in Thames Estuary.  Aged 35.  Chatham Naval Memorial.

EDWARDS DSO
Roy Berryman

Lt Cdr

RN

HMS Watchful
(Great Yarmouth)

11 Jun 1942

DSO awarded for courage and skill in securing and stripping live enemy mines without regard to his own safety.  Dealt with around 180 mines within two months.  

Commendation awarded for coolness and devotion to duty.  Assisted by CPO SPRIGGS, AB KEEN and AB WILSON. 

Killed with Ensign John HOWARD USN 11 Jun 1942 at Corton Sands near Lowestoft while attempting to render safe a German TMA (GT) moored mine at Corton Sands near Lowestoft.  Aged 39.  Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

ELLINGWORTH GC
Reginald Vincent
P/J 26011

CPO

RN

HMS Vernon
(Portsmouth)

21 Sep 1940

GC awarded posthumously for great courage and undaunted devotion to duty. Worked as assistant to Lt Cdr RYAN in rendering safe magnetic mines in London during 1940. They worked on many assignments together, sharing the dangers involved. The principal hazard of these mines was the fact that the clock of the bomb fuse was normally timed to explode the mine about 22 seconds after its fall. If it failed to do so, it could be restarted by the slightest movement, even a footfall. The amount of the clock already run off could not be known, and once it was restarted the time for escape could not be more than a few seconds.

CPO ELLINGWORTH had previously been commended by HMS Vernon for his work on mines.  Killed with Lt Cdr RYAN at Oval Road North, Dagenham 21 Sep 1940 when GC mine hanging from its parachute in roof beams exploded as they entered the building.  Aged 42.  Buried Portsmouth (Milton) Cemetery.

ELSON
Charley
C/KX 76131

Ldg Seaman

RNR

HMT Mastiff
(Minesweeper)

20 Nov 1940

Missing presumed killed during mine recovery in Thames Estuary.  Aged 32.  Chatham Naval Memorial.

FIRMINGER GM DSM
Anthony Reginald Joseph

Lt

RNVR

HMS Cannae
(Bone/Philippeville, Algeria)

23 Aug 1943

DSM awarded posthumously for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty.  MID awarded for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty in clearing Messina harbour of enemy demolition charges Aug 1943.  GM awarded posthumously for rendering safe bombs and mines.  Killed when depth charges exploded at Messina.  Aged 24.  Plymouth Naval Memorial. 

FLACK
John Chard
C/JX 145182

AB

RN

HMS Elissa
(Messina, Italy)

23 Aug 1943

MID awarded posthumously for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty in clearing Messina harbour of enemy demolition charges Aug 1943. Killed when depth charges exploded at Messina.  Aged 23.  Chatham Naval Memorial.

FLETCHER
Cecil Howarth
P/J 25354

PO

RN

HMS Vernon
(Portsmouth)

6 Aug 1940

MID awarded posthumously for gallantry after an anti-handling charge in a booby-trapped GC mine exploded in the mining shed at HMS Vernon.  Aged 42.  Buried Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery.

FOURACRE BEM
Percy
P/JX 219932

AB

RN

HMS Victory
(Portsmouth)

22 Sep 1943

BEM awarded for gallantry and devotion to duty.  Mine Disposal Thames Oct 42.

Killed with TANNER while attempting to render safe two unexploded G type mines among wreckage of crashed Dornier Do-217 at Out Newton, Yorkshire.   Aged 32.  Buried West Buckland (St Mary) Churchyard, Somerset.

GOODMAN GC MBE
George Herbert

Lt Cdr

RNVR

HMS Vernon (Portsmouth) and HMS Nile (Alexandria, Egypt)

31 May 1945

Appointed MBE for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty.  Rendered safe and stripped the first 'Sammy' mine recovered in the Eastern Med.

GC awarded  for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty. De-fuzed an Italian circling torpedo on beach 11 miles east of Alexandria on 15 Jan 1942 after one had killed the Torpedo Officer of HMS Medway.  GMs awarded simultaneously to assistants PO William Brook FILER and Painter Archibald John RUSSELL.

Killed in explosion at German mine depot in Holland on 31 May 1945.  Aged 44.  Buried West Duin Cemetery, The Hague, Netherlands.

HARDING
Walter Henry
C/JX 144659

AB

RN

HMS Elissa
(Messina, Italy)

23 Aug 1943

MID awarded posthumously for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty in clearing Messina harbour of enemy demolition charges Aug 1943.  Killed when depth charges exploded at Messina.  Aged 23.  Chatham Naval Memorial.

HATHERALL
Frederick
LT/X 102595

Stoker

RNPS

HMD Ray of Hope
(HMS Vernon mine recovery vessel)

10 Dec 1939

Missing presumed killed when mine exploded during recovery in Thames Estuary.  RNPS Memorial at Lowestoft.

HAYNES
Malcolm Henry
C/JX 153497

AB

RN

HMS Elissa
(Messina, Italy)

23 Aug 1943

MID awarded posthumously for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty in clearing Messina harbour of enemy demolition charges Aug 1943.  Killed when depth charges exploded at Messina.  Aged 22.  Chatham Naval Memorial.

HISCOCK GC DSC
William Ewart

Lt Cdr

RN

HMS St Angelo
(Malta)

15 Feb 1942

DSC awarded posthumously for courage, enterprise and devotion to duty in contact with the enemy.  

GC awarded posthumously for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty.  In Sep 1941 a Torpedo Machine (a device in which the Italians specialised) was dropped in 15 feet of water in St. George's Bay, Malta, and Lt Cdr HISCOCK was given the task of disarming it. The operation of salvage was one of considerable danger as, quite apart from the possibility of booby traps, no information was available as to the firing mechanism of the explosive head and its behaviour when parted from the body was a matter of complete uncertainty. While Lt Cdr HISCOCK and his assistant (Petty Officer C. LE BARGY DSM) were working on the bomb, the clock mechanism started and it was only their cool determination and skill which brought the operation to a successful conclusion.   

Lt Cdr HISCOCK and his wife were killed in Malta when their house received a direct bomb hit on 15 Feb 1942.  Buried in Malta Naval Cemetery, Kalkara.

HOLLISTER
Brent
D179708S
LS(MW) RN HMS Atherstone (Minehunter) 18 Oct 1991 Died on board.  Aged 35.  Cremated Stockport Crematorium.

HOLMAN
Edward George
C/LD 896

Ldg Signalman

RNVR

HMT Myrtle
(Minesweeper)

14 Jun 1940

Missing presumed killed after mine exploded during recovery in Thames Estuary.  Aged 34.  Chatham Naval Memorial.

HORNE
George William
LT/X 21728A

Seaman

RNR

HMT Mastiff
(Minesweeper)

20 Nov 1940

Missing presumed killed during mine recovery in Thames Estuary.  Aged 27.  Buried Kessingland (St Edmund) Churchyard near Lowestoft, Norfolk.

HOWARD
John Martin

Ensign

USN

US Embassy, London

11 Jun 1942

Killed with Lt Cdr Roy Berryman EDWARDS DSO while attempting to render safe a German TMA (GT) moored mine at Corton Sands near Lowestoft on 11 June 1942.  He was assigned at various times to the Royal Navy and to the Army's Royal Engineers to gain bomb & mine disposal experience.  Aged 24.  Buried Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, Coton, Cambridgeshire. 

HULME GM
Thomas
P/JX194001

AB

RN

HMS Vernon
(Portsmouth)

11 Mar 1941

GM awarded for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty.  Mine disposal UK Aug to Oct 1940.  Killed in bombing.  Aged 21.  Buried Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery.

HURRELL
Roy
LT/X 10096B

Seaman

RNPS

HMT Myrtle
(Minesweeper)

14 Jun 1940

Missing presumed killed after mine exploded during recovery.  Lowestoft Naval Memorial.

JOHNSON
Walter Edwin
LT/JX 165021

Seaman Cook

RNPS

HMT Firefly (Minesweeper)

3 Feb 1940

Killed with course of RNVR Sub Lieutenants while recovering loose British moored mines in Forth. Buried Great Yarmouth New Cemetery.

JOHNSTONE
David Brand

Lt

RNVR

HMT Firefly
(Minesweeper)

3 Feb 1940

Killed with course of RNVR Sub Lieutenants while recovering loose British moored mines in Forth.  Aged 37.  Buried Edinburgh (Seafields) Cemetery.

KELLY
Thomas 'Ned'
Lt Cdr RN HMS Vernon Sep 2001 Lost consciousness while diving in Horsea Lake in 1999 and died after a long coma.  Aged 43.

KERRIDGE
Roy Sheldrake

Lt Cdr

RNR

HMS Vernon
Portsmouth)

21 Sep 1940

MID awarded posthumously for courage, coolness and devotion to duty.  Killed in explosion in Hackney, London.  Aged 37.  Buried Gillingham (Woodlands) Cemetery, Kent.

KESSACK GM
James Henry Hyndman

Lt

RANVR

HMS President
(London)

28 Apr 1941

GM awarded for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty.  Killed while disarming mine in Southport, Lancashire.  Aged 38.  Cremated Glasgow Crematorium.

KING
Arthur
LT/JX 164585

Asst Cook

RNPS

HMD Ray of Hope
(HMS Vernon mine recovery vessel)

10 Dec 1939

Killed when mine exploded during recovery in Thames Estuary.  Aged 17.  Buried Caister-on-Sea (Great Yarmouth) Cemetery.

KIRKLAND MBE
Donald

Sub Lt

RNVR

HMS Odyssey
(London) for NP 1747

12 May 1945

Appointed MBE for gallant and distinguished service in mine-clearing operations in enemy-held ports during the invasion of Normandy and the Low Countries.  Mine disposal Ouistreham Aug 1944.  Killed with SAULL in explosion while attempting to render safe new type of mine in sea off Rotterdam.  Buried Rotterdam Crooswijk Roman Catholic Cemetery.

LARKIN
Charles Brian
SS/X 839916
LS(CD) RN HMS Terror for Far East Fleet CD Team 28 Jul 1954 Victim of fatal shark attack while diving to recover jettisoned packets of opium in Singapore commercial port's inner harbour.  LS(CD) Sayer awarded Royal Humane Society's Silver Medal and AB(CD) T.C. Sherris awarded Bronze Medal for their attempts to save him.  Aged 21.  Buried Kranji Military Cemetery.

LAW
Douglas
P/JX 138916

PO

RN

HMS Vernon
(Portsmouth)

29 Jun 1944

Died of wounds sustained.  Aged 27.  Buried West Melton Congregational Chapelyard, Yorkshire.

LEWIS-LAVENDER
Walter Charles

Lt

RNVR

HMS King Alfred
(Hove)

28 Sep 1940

MID awarded posthumously for courage, coolness and devotion to duty.  Tasked to defuze two German type C magnetic mines which had fallen close to Lambourne Church. After successfully defuzing the closer of the two mines, he retired to take tea with Mr and Mrs Stephen Padfield of Lambourne Hall.  Shortly after beginning work on the second mine, he was killed by its explosion.  Aged 39.  Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

MACLEAN
Andrew MacGavin

Lt

RNVR

HMT Firefly
(Minesweeper)

18 Feb 1940

Died of wounds after explosion on 3 Feb 1940 while recovering loose British moored mines with course of RNVR officers in Forth.  Buried Strathblane Parish Churchyard, Stirlingshire.

MACPHERSON
George
LT/X 6067 ES

Engineman

RNPS

HMT Myrtle
(Minesweeper)

14 Jun 1940

Missing presumed killed after mine exploded during recovery in Thames Estuary.   Lowestoft Naval Memorial.

MAIN
William Dawnie
LT/X 9446

Ldg Seaman

RNR

HMT Mastiff
(Minesweeper)

20 Nov 1940

Killed during mine recovery in Thames Estuary.  Aged 30.  Buried Burghead Cemetery, Duffus, Morayshire.

McKELVIE
William
C/JX 376655

A/Ldg Seaman

RN

LCOCU No. 14

20 Sep 1944

Died on war service.  Aged 21.  Buried Glasgow (Cardonald) Cemetery.

McKENZIE
Eric 'Jock'
J/X 830709
PO(CD1) RN HMS Cochrane for Flag Officer Scotland & Northern Ireland CD Team 5 Jun 1963 Killed while extracting a shell from a bucket dredger.  Aged 31.  Cremated Kirkcaldy Crematorium.

MEADOWS
Richard William James
LT/KX 99965

Engineman

RNPS

HMD Ray of Hope
(HMS Vernon mine recovery vessel)

10 Dec 1939

Missing presumed killed when mine exploded during recovery in Thames Estuary.  Aged 23.  Lowestoft Naval Memorial.

MURRAY
David Malcolm
D222515F
Diver 2 RN HMS Excellent 24 Jul 2001 Underwater diving accident during 80m CDBA trials. Buried Waterlooville Cemetery.

MURRAY
Gilbert Ralph

Lt Cdr

RN

HMS Vernon
(Portsmouth)

11 Mar 1941

MID awarded for courage and skill in dealing with an unexploded bomb.  Killed in bombing raid on HMS Vernon.  Aged 34.  Buried Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery.

MURRAY
John
C/X 30 SB

Second Hand

RNR

HMT Myrtle
(Minesweeper)

14 Jun 1940

Missing presumed killed after mine exploded during recovery.  Aged 40.  Chatham Naval Memorial.

NELSON
Harry Elvin P/JX172374

AB

RN

HMS Campbeltown
(Destroyer)
Ex-HMS Vernon
(Portsmouth)

28 Mar 1942

BEM awarded for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty.  Missing presumed killed during raid on St Nazaire.  Aged 23.  Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

NIXON
William
P/SSX17748

AB

RN

HMS Menestheus
(Hired as minelayer)

15 Feb 1944

MID awarded for courage and skill in dealing with an unexploded bomb.  Aged 25.  Buried Hawthorn (St Michael) Churchyard, Durham.

ORR GM
Ronald Mervyn

Sub Lt

RNVR

HMS Odyssey
(London) for NP 1502 then NP 1747

8 Nov 1944

GM awarded for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty. Conducted underwater clearance of hospital ship berth Avant Port, Dieppe on 12 Oct 1944.  Killed in later mine incident.  Aged 22.  Buried Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery, Hautot-sur-Mer.

PEAT
Norman Fraser

Sub Lt

RNVR

HMT Firefly
(Minesweeper)

3 Feb 1940

Killed with course of RNVR Sub Lieutenants while recovering loose British moored mines in Forth.  Aged 23.  Buried Glasgow (Eastwood) Old & New Cemetery.

PRIOR
Walter Erskine

Lt

RNVR

HMS President
(London)

22 Dec 1945

Killed while recovering beached mine at Aldwick near Bognor Regis.  Aged 23.  Buried Upton Warren (St Michael) Churchyard, Worcester.

QUAYLE
William
LT/X 10145S

Engineman

RNR

HMT Myrtle
(Minesweeper)

14 Jun 1940

Missing presumed killed after mine exploded during recovery in Thames Estuary.  Lowestoft Naval Memorial.

REID
Peter
LT/X 18333

Seaman

RNR

HMT Firefly
(Minesweeper)

3 Feb 1940

Killed with course of RNVR Sub Lieutenants while recovering loose British moored mines in Forth.  Aged 24.  Buried Buckie New Cemetery.

RITCHIE
Gavin
D193728B
AB(D) RN HMS Bronington 7 Mar 1986 Underwater diving accident. Aged 21.  Buried Douglas Bank Cemetery, Dunfermline.

ROBERTSON
James
LT/JX 241461

Seaman

RNPS

HMS Calliope
(North Shields) for HMT General Botha
(Minesweeper)

28 Jul 1943

Killed when sheerlegs holding up mine collapsed at South Shields.  Aged 36.  Buried Tynemouth (Preston) Cemetery.

ROGERS GM
Antony Gusterson

Electrical Lt

RN

HMS St Angelo
(Malta)

23 May 1941

First MID awarded for courage, coolness and devotion to duty. GM awarded for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty.  Mine disposal London Sep 1940.  Second MID awarded posthumously for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty.  Mine disposal Malta.  Buried Malta (Capuccini) Naval Cemetery.

RYAN GC
Richard John Hammersley

Lt Cdr

RN

HMS President
(London)

21 Sep 1940

GC awarded posthumously for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty.  Lt Cdr RYAN was one of two officers who stripped the first magnetic mine of Type C found in a German aircraft which had crashed at Clacton.  When magnetic mines were first dropped over London he came forward without hesitation for the perilous work of making them safe, although, with his unrivalled knowledge of this work, he was well aware of the dangers he so readily accepted.  The clock of the bomb-fuse was normally timed to explode the mine about 22 seconds after its fall. If it failed to do so, it might be restarted by the slightest movement, even a footfall.  The amount of the clock already run off could not be known, and once it was restarted time for escape could not be more than a few seconds.

Lt Cdr RYAN tackled six of these mines with his own hands, one of them in a canal where he worked waist deep in mud and water which would have made escape impossible.  Here he found and removed the bomb-fuse only by groping for it under water.

At Hornchurch he made safe a very hazardous mine which threatened the aerodrome and an explosives factory, and then he and his assistant, Chief Petty Officer ELLINGWORTH with whom he had shared many dangerous assignments, went on to Oval Road North, Dagenham on 21 Sep 1940.  Here they tackled a mine hanging by a parachute in a warehouse and both were killed by its explosion as they entered the building.  Aged 37.  Buried Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery.

SAULL GM
Ronald Henry

Lt

RNVR

HMS Odyssey
(London) for NP 1502 then NP 1747

12 May 1945

Commendation awarded for bravery and devotion to duty in helping to salvage a cargo of bombs after an air attack. (SS Malakand at Huskisson Dock, Liverpool 2 May 41).  GM awarded for exceptional gallantry, skill and great devotion to duty, often in close proximity to the enemy, during mine-searching and clearance operations in the ports of Normandy and the Low Countries.  Helped salvage Lk Sta Ouistreham Aug 1944.  Killed with KIRKLAND in explosion while attempting to render safe new type of mine in sea off Rotterdam.  Buried Rotterdam Crooswijk Roman Catholic Cemetery.

SAVAGE
Ernest

Lt

RN

HMS Philomel
(Auckland, NZ)

12 Oct 1946

Disarmed sea mines in New Zealand.  Aged 53.  Remains cremated South London Crematorium, Mitcham.

SHELDON GM
Lord Joseph Herbert

Commissioned Boatswain

RN

HMS St Angelo
(Malta)

23 Jul 1941

GM awarded for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty.  Bomb disposal Malta 7 Sep 1940.  Assisted Lt Rowlands with B&MD at Malta and recommended for bar to GM but was killed and awarded MID instead because GM could not be awarded posthumously until 1977.  Killed while disarming mine.  Buried Malta Naval Cemetery, Kalkara.

SMITH
James Sidney
LT/KX 99079

Stoker

RNPS

HMD Ray of Hope
(HMS Vernon mine recovery vessel)

10 Dec 1939

Missing presumed killed when mine exploded during recovery in Thames Estuary.  Aged 30.  Lowestoft Naval Memorial.

SMITHARD
Charles Anthony
D172151S
LS(D) RN HMS Vernon 18 Jan 1983 Road accident. Aged 27. Cremated Chichester Crematorium.
SOTHCOTT
Peter Charles
M/X 714889
Shipwright Diver First Class RN HMS Vernon (Portsmouth) 3 Mar 1961 Underwater diving accident. Aged 34. Buried RN Cemetery Haslar.

SOUTER
James
LT/X 9371B

Ldg Seaman

RNPS

HMT Myrtle
(Minesweeper)

14 Jun 1940

Missing presumed killed after mine exploded during recovery in Thames Estuary.  Aged 28.  Lowestoft Naval Memorial.

SOUTHWELL GC
Bennett
P/JX 204557

Ord Seaman

RN

HMS Vernon
(Portsmouth)

17 Oct 1940

GC awarded posthumously for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty.  Mine disposal Hoxton 17 Oct 1940.  Killed while assisting Sub Lt J. EASTON deal with GC mine that had penetrated house in East End of London and was suspended from its parachute.  Clock started when fuze removal tool was applied and Ord Sea SOUTHWELL was killed by blast having run across road to take shelter.  The blast of the mine destroyed six complete streets.  Aged 27.  Buried Leicester (Gilroes) Cemetery.

STEARNS
William James
P/JX 150497

AB

RN

HMS Vernon
(Portsmouth)

12 Aug 1940

Died of wounds after an anti-handling charge in a booby-trapped GC mine exploded in the mining shed at HMS Vernon 6 Aug 1940.  Buried Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery.  

STEVENS
Alfred Ernest
P/J 11953

AB

RN

HMS Vernon
(Portsmouth)

7 Aug 1940

Died of wounds after an anti-handling charge in a booby-trapped GC mine exploded in the mining shed at HMS Vernon 6 Aug 1940.  Aged 45.  Buried Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery.

STEWART
Alexander
LT/X 18334A

Seaman

RNPS

HMT Firefly
(Minesweeper)

3 Feb 1940

Killed with course of RNVR Sub Lieutenants while recovering loose British moored mines in Forth.  Aged 23.  Buried Buckie New Cemetery, Banffshire.

STEWART
James
LT/X 9385

Seaman

RNPS

HMT Firefly
(Minesweeper)

3 Feb 1940

Killed with course of RNVR Sub Lieutenants while recovering loose British moored mines in Forth.  Buried Lossiemouth Burial Ground.

SUTHERLAND
Andrew Charles
LT/X 7788C

Ldg Seaman

RNR

HMT Myrtle
(Minesweeper)

14 Jun 1940

Missing presumed killed during mine recovery.  Aged 31.  Lowestoft Naval Memorial.

SUTHERLAND
Reginald Bruce

Lt

RNVR

HMS Vernon
(Portsmouth)

6 Mar 1941

Missing presumed killed while attempting to recover mine in Falmouth harbour on 6 Mar 1941 while diving from boat towed by 'The Mouse', a small motor launch belonging to HMS Vernon which was specially fitted with Hotchkiss propulsion (no propeller).  Lt J. F. NICHOLSON RNVR, PO BENHAM plus one other manning 'The Mouse' survived.  Aged 27.  Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

TAIT
William Kermack
LT/X 5999ES

Engineman

RNPS

HMT Myrtle
(Minesweeper)

14 Jun 1940

Missing presumed killed after mine exploded during recovery.  Lowestoft Naval Memorial.

TANNER GM
Charles Graham

Lt Cdr

RNVR

HMS President
(London)

22 Sep 1943

GM awarded for gallantry and devotion to duty.  Mine disposal Thames Oct to Nov 1942.  Killed with FOURACRE while attempting to render safe two unexploded G type mines from wreckage of a crashed Dornier Do-217 at Out Newton, Yorkshire.   Aged 35.  Buried Tilford (All Saints) Churchyard near Farnham, Surrey.

TAWN DSM BEM
Robert George
C/JX 137109

AB

RN

HMS Vernon
(Portsmouth)

6 Mar 1941

DSM awarded for coolness, courage and resource when dealing with a magnetic mine in a tideway.  Performed first underwater RMS attempt (GC mine in Poole harbour) in 42 feet of water from Vernon echo-sounding yacht Esmeralda 14 Jun 1940.  Mine exploded while being towed ashore by fishing boat.

BEM awarded for gallant conduct and devotion to duty.

Killed by mine in Falmouth harbour on 6 Mar 1941 while manning a boat towed by 'The Mouse', a small motor launch belonging to HMS Vernon which was specially fitted with Hotchkiss propulsion (no propeller).  Lt J. F. NICHOLSON RNVR, PO BENHAM plus one other manning 'The Mouse' survived.  Aged 24.  Buried Falmouth Cemetery, Cornwall.

THOMPSON
James Edwin
LT/JX 170589

Seaman

RNPS

HMD Ray of Hope
(HMS Vernon mine recovery vessel)

10 Dec 1939

Killed when mine exploded during recovery in Thames Estuary.  Aged 29.  Gillingham (Woodlands) Cemetery, Kent.

VAUGHAN
Geoffrey William

Sub Lt

RNVR

HMT Firefly
(Minesweeper)

3 Feb 1940

Killed with course of RNVR Sub Lieutenants while recovering loose British moored mines in Forth.  Buried Bournemouth (Wimborne Road) Cemetery.

WALKER
George Albert
LT/JX 170556

Seaman

RNPS

HMD Ray of Hope
(HMS Vernon mine recovery vessel)

10 Dec 1939

Killed when mine exploded during recovery in Thames Estuary.  Aged 28.  Buried Hull Eastern Cemetery.

WALTERS
Jeffery 'George'
D201868L
LS(D) RN Northern Diving Group, Faslane 21 feb 2004 Believed to have suffered a heart attack while diving at Oban. Aged 36. Cremated Newcastle Crematorium.

WHARTON
Ivan Vincent
C/JX 113809

Ldg Seaman

RN

HMS Vernon
(Portsmouth)

6 Mar 1941

Killed by mine in Falmouth harbour on 6 Mar 1941 while manning a boat towed by 'The Mouse', a small motor launch belonging to HMS Vernon which was specially fitted with Hotchkiss propulsion (no propeller).  Lt J. F. NICHOLSON RNVR, PO BENHAM plus one other manning 'The Mouse' survived.  Buried Falmouth Cemetery, Cornwall.

WHITE
Herbert Albert
C/JX 138664

Ldg Seaman

RNPS

HMT Mastiff
(Minesweeper)

21 Nov 1940

Died of wounds after mine exploded 20 Nov 1939 during recovery in Thames Estuary.  Aged 22.  Buried Thetford Cemetery, Norfolk.

WILKIE
John Hebenton
P/ESD/X 1664

Ord Signalman

RNVR

HMD Ray of Hope
(HMS Vernon mine recovery vessel)

10 Dec 1939

Missing presumed killed after mine exploded during recovery in Thames Estuary.  Aged 18.  Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

WINTER
William Henry

Skipper

RNR

HMT Myrtle
(Minesweeper)

14 Jun 1940

Missing presumed killed after mine exploded during recovery in Thames Estuary.  Aged 42.  Lowestoft Naval Memorial.

WRIGHT
Edward Archibald Templeton

Lt

RM

RM Boom Patrol Detachment
(Cover name for 'Cockleshell Heroes')

28 Jan 1944

Drowned while undertaking 'Sleeping Beauty' MSC (Motor Submersible Canoe) training while wearing underwater breathing apparatus in the trials tank at ARE Haslar.  Aged 20.  Buried Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery.

WRIGHT GM
Graham Maurice

Sub Lt

RNVR

HMS Cormorant
(Gibraltar)

19 Aug 1941

GM awarded for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty. Dealt with GC mine suspended over stage of London Palladium Theatre 11 May 1941 by climbing a ladder.  The fuze started ticking during removal but the mine failed to explode.

Reported missing presumed killed while en route to Gibraltar on board the torpedoed troopship SS Aguila.  Aged 29.  Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

WYLLIE
John Richard
LT/X 9485B

Seaman

RNPS

HMT Myrtle
(Minesweeper)

14 Jun 1940

Missing presumed killed after mine exploded during recovery in Thames Estuary.  Lowestoft Naval Memorial.

 

If you know of anyone I have missed out, please inform me via my Webmaster address.  Most of the RN EOD personnel listed above belonged to the Torpedo (T) Branch.  This had been based at HMS Vernon in Portsmouth since its inception in 1876 and was responsible for all matters minewarfare, including rendering safe mines, among its other roles.  The Torpedo Branch merged with the Anti-Submarine (AS) Branch based at HMS Osprey in Portland to become the TAS Branch based at HMS Vernon in 1946 and this in turn spawned the Mine Warfare (MW) Branch in 1975.

 

Naval diving remained the responsibility of the Gunnery (G) Branch based at HMS Excellent until transferred to the Torpedo Branch based at HMS Vernon in 1944 whereupon the Port Clearance (P) Parties were formed.  The Clearance Diver (CD) Branch only assumed responsibility for EOD when it was spawned by the TAS Branch in 1952.  TAS Branch Minewarfare sub-specialist officers were amalgamated with Clearance Diver officers to form the Minewarfare & Clearance Diving (MCD) Officer Branch in 1966.

 

The planned Vernon Monument at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth is intended to celebrate the inextricably entwined minewarfare, diving and EOD heritage of HMS Vernon and everyone associated with these roles, both past and current.   Although it will not act solely as a memorial to those who have died in the line of duty such as the men listed above, it will serve this purpose admirably as well and this will be explained on an accompanying interactive display.  Please give the fundraising campaign your generous support.

 


5 May 14 - HDS Diving Museum update

 

 

MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan, Chairman of the Historical Diving Society (HDS), has provided this update about the Diving Museum in No.2 Battery at Stokes Bay and the WWII bunker in Gosport that houses the Society's library and museum reserve collection:

 

"VISITORS

 

WOW!  That was a serious Bank Holiday weekend!  47 on Saturday; 91 on Sunday, which included 52 "Subbrit" [Subterranea Britannica currently investigating Stokes Bay Lines] members who were interested in the buildings themselves at No.2 Battery and our ARP Bunker; then 40 on Monday.  We had a good turn-out of Guides including Jim Thomson, John Dadd, Martin Marks, John Millerchip, Mike Dear, Morrie Young, Kevin Casey, Dusty Miller, Roger Forster and Ann Bevan.

 

Subbrit visitors to the HDS Museum

 

The Subbrit visitors also attracted Radio 4 coverage:

 

      

BBC Radio 4 interviewing at the HDS Museum 

 

There is also an amazing possibility of a grant from Subbrit to help us with repairs to the Battery structure.  

 

Our VIP visitor was Bob Campbell who carried out an intensive quality control audit of our regulator collections at the Museum and in the Bunker.  I understand we passed with flying colours!  Bob brought a crowd of supporters from Swanage including Chris Dunkerly, formerly of the National Hyperbaric Centre in Aberdeen.

 

HDS member Bob Campbell

 

Next Saturday (10 May) we expect a VIP from sunny Italy, namely Giafranco Vecchio, President of the Historical Maritime Society along with his family.

 

BUNKER

 

Fantastic progress at the Bunker thanks to Mike Fardell and Nigel Phillips!  The floor in the WVS room is now stained and waxed and the book shelves are in (generously donated by Mike) and the books installed:

 

 

Jim Thomson and Ann Bevan provided physical and mental support.  

 

DIVERS AT WAR

 

Our spectacular spooky Museums at Night event on 17 May is slithering closer and closer. 

 

 

The bomb is ticking.  Will our heroic Clearance Diver guides be able to make it safe?  We will find out, in the dark, on the 17th.  Be afraid.  You have been warned!

 

JohnB"

 

The HDS Museum is now open again at weekends until the end of the summer season.  It relies on a handful of volunteer guides, at least two but ideally three of whom need to be on site when it is open for business at weekends during the summer.  If you live locally and can spare the odd few hours, please contact John Bevan via this email address or call him on 078 0278 5050.  You will then be given access to the online roster to fill in your own dates as and when you are available.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved in this or any other way. 

 


4 May 14 - More ammunition found at Brean

 

The Burnham-on-Sea.com website contains this article describing the uncovering of more wartime ammunition on the beach at Brean in Somerset (see entry for 24 Apr 14).

 


3 May 14 - Recent EOD incidents

 

The following recent incidents have been handled by Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) and Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) respectively:

 

2 May 2014 - Isle of Thanet Gazette: Navy called after 'bomb' discovered off Margate coast

 

29 April 2014 - Plymouth Herald: Bomb disposal team block off road in village outside Plymouth

 


2 May 14

 

Spotlight on the RNZN Operational Dive Team

 

Lt Cdr Greg Camburn RNZN relieved Lt Cdr Trevor Leslie RNZN as Commanding Officer of the Royal New Zealand Navy's Operational Dive Team (ODT) on Wednesday (30 April) at a colourful ceremony in Devonport Naval Base on Auckland's north shore.

 

Maori warrior laying down the challenge to the incoming CO ODT

(NZ Defence Force photo)

 

Trevor Leslie (left) passing the Maori symbols of authority to Greg Camburn

(NZ Defence Force photo)

 

In a separate ceremony on Wednesday, WO(D) Brendon Johnson was presented with his warrant by Rear Adm Jack Steer OZN RNZN, Chief of the Royal New Zealand Navy.

 

RNZN Chief of Navy presenting WO(D) Johnson with his warrant

(NZ Defence Force Photo)

 

You have to admit that the Admiral, a qualified Ships' Diving Officer, has style.  Here he is again with the Operational Dive Team last month:

 

 

Above and below: RNZN Chief of Navy diving with ODT on 3 April 2014

(NZ Defence Force photos)

 

 

Congratulations to all concerned.

 


OBE for Commander Sea Training (Mine Warfare and Patrol Vessels)

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article describing yesterday's investiture at Buckingham Palace of Cdr Iain Cull RN, a PWO(N) by trade, as an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE).  He was appointed an OBE in the New Year Honours list for his performance as CST (Mine Warfare and Patrol Vessels) in Faslane and developing a training package reflecting the requirements of operations in the Middle East.  This enabled a step change in operational capability, especially when working with the United States Navy.

 

Cdr Iain Cull OBE RN

(RN photo by PO(Phot) Des Wade)

 

I am sure all members will join me in offering Iain our congratulations.

 


1 May 14 - High Jinks at Horsea

 

The Navy News website contains this article describing an endurance and fitness competition between RN and Army instructors and students at the Defence Diving School (DDS) on Horsea Island.  The contest began with a jump from the high board before a variety of running and finning tasks including a slalom (climbing in and out of each of four liferafts) and two lengths of Horsea Lake.  The first diver to complete the challenge was AB(D) Will Davis in 40 minutes and four seconds.  The article also features WO(D) Martin Slade and CPO(D) Andrew Seabrook who beat their own trainees.

 

 

The competition involved over 60 personnel and the CO’s Trophy, presented by Lt Col Paul Young RE, was won by... the Army?!?  Must be shoddy journalism! 

 

Ah, well.  Congratulations to everyone who took part and especially to the Sappers for their victory.

 


30 Apr 14 - HMS Blyth stops off in Gibraltar

 

The Gibraltar Chronicle website contains this article and the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation website this article describing a fleeting visit to Gibraltar by Faslane-based HMS Blyth (MCM1 Crew 1) during her eventful passage to join Standing NATO MCM Group 2 (SNMCMG2) in Italian waters for a three-month deployment in the Mediterranean.

 

(Image courtesy of local photographer Daniel Ferro)

 

HMS Blyth at Gibraltar 29 April

 

(RN website photo)

 


29 Apr 14 - Daily Telegraph obituary for Lt Cdr Kenneth Douglas Kempsell GM RN

 

As always, I am indebted to Capt Peter Hore RN for agreeing to produce this obituary, published in today's Daily Telegraph, for the late MCDOA member Ken Kempsell (see entry for 25 Apr 14).  This is the full unabridged text Peter submitted:

 

Lt-Cdr Kenneth Kempsell - obituary

 

Lt-Cdr Kenneth Kempsell was a naval mine clearer who won a George Medal for detonating 24 torpedoes as acid ate into his asbestos suit.

 

Kenneth Kempsell dealing with a mine

 

Lt Cdr Kenneth D Kempsell, GM, who has died aged 83, was an outspoken leader of the Royal Navy’s elite band of mine clearance divers.

 

On 15th August 1963 a torpedo exploded in the armoury at RAF Kinloss killing two men, severely damaged the building, and a 19-ton armoured roof collapsed onto 24 other torpedoes.  Acid from their batteries leaked onto the floor.   Attempts were made to move the torpedoes without avail, when Kempsell and the Navy’s Scotland and Northern Ireland Disposal Team were summoned.

 

 Lt Cdr Kenneth Douglas Kempsell GM RN

 

Kempsell arrived at 1 am on August 17 and quickly established that the type of torpedo was new to him and the only man who could brief him was one of the dead.  Several of the torpedoes were too hot to touch, and he could hear their batteries hissing and bubbling.  Kempsell recalled “I was amazed that they had not blown up too.”  He reckoned that there was about two and a half tons of explosive ready to blow up at any second.

 

His advice to demolish the unstable weapons was accepted, but there was little Kempsell could do in the dark, so he went to bed and slept like a log.

 

At 7.30 next morning, dressed in an asbestos suit, Kempsell crawled into the 20-inch gap between the fallen roof and the torpedoes on which it was resting.  For 71 minutes he worked to place 16 charges around the torpedoes, while the acid ate at his suit.  When he had done, Kempsell crept out and sauntered as best he could in his weighty suit whose visor was by now misted by the condensation of his sweat: “It would have looked bad to run,” he said, but later he admitted “I have never been so scared in my life.”

 

Three hundred yards away he lay down behind a hummock and pressed the plunger to set off the charges.  “It was a lovely big bang” - which broke windows a mile away.

 

For his great skill and courage Kempsell was awarded the George Medal, and his team were recognised by a Special Order of the day for their exploits under his leadership.

 

Kenneth Douglas Kempsell was born in Glasgow, educated at Spiers School in Beith, Ayrshire, and joined the Royal Navy on November 18, 1946 as a 15-year old Boy 2nd Class at the training establishment HMS Ganges at Shotley in Suffolk.

 

He served in the frigate Black Swan during the Malayan campaign in 1948 and the Yangtze Incident in 1949, and saw service as a sonar operator during the Korean War.  After two years on the America and West Indies station, in Sparrow, and a spell of duty as a Petty Officer in the Training Squadron at Portland, Kempsell was commissioned in 1956 and qualified as a Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Officer in 1961.

 

While on the staff of the Flag Officer Scotland, in 1963, Kempsell boarded an Aberdeen trawler where a fisherman had been trapped by a wartime mine which the nets brought in.  Kempsell wrestled for three hours in heavy seas to make the mine safe, and next day crowds lined the shore when it was announced that at 1pm he would take it offshore and blow it up: precisely at one they witnessed the explosion and the column of water which crashed into the sea.

 

Kempsell was chosen to be the first lieutenant of the Royal Navy’s first operational minehunter Kirkliston, he served on the staff of Britannia Royal Naval College, next he was first lieutenant of the newly-commissioned mine countermeasures command and support ship Abdiel, and in 1969 he commanded the minehunter Nurton.

 

Kenneth Kempsell about to make safe a mine

 

In 1973 Kempsell was loaned to the Royal Australian Navy as diving training officer, when he was commended by the Australian Commonwealth Naval Board in 1973 for disposing of hazardous explosive ordnance at Cairns in Queensland.

 

In 1975-79 Kempsell commanded the deep trials diving ship Reclaim, before becoming staff officer to Tay and Clyde Divisions RNR, during which time he commanded the divisions’ training ships Montrose, Peterel, Walkerton and Hodgeston.

 

In 1980 he was appointed as Resident Naval Officer, Invergordon and in 1982 Queen's Harbour Master, Cromarty Firth.  When the latter post was civilianised Kempsell won his own job in an open competition, and when the Ministry of Defence put his official residence on the market, he bought that too.  He retired in 1986.

 

There were no grey areas in Kempsell’s character, and he was never known to shed a tear.  It was through his black and white perspective of the work that he achieved his results in leadership, in decision-making and in disposing of mines and bombs, and probably prevented him from being promoted further. He enjoyed television as long as it was news or documentaries, but had no time for soaps.

 

Outside his family Kempsell’s love was for his dogs, a succession of Cairn terriers, the latest being Honey and Scruffy, who gave him hours of pleasure.  

 

Kempsell married Doreen Fluker in 1955 who survives him with their two sons.  In 2008 Kempsell attended the passing-out parade of his grandson, James, at HMS Raleigh, where James's father was serving as a Lieutenant Commander.

 

Postscript: On 2 May 2014, the Scottish Herald published this obituary for Ken.

 


 

Over the past few years, Peter Hore has been extremely cooperative in writing tributes to members of our small community for publication in the Daily Telegraph.  Other examples have included (in alphabetical order):

 

CPO(D) Stephen 'Darby' Allan

 

Cdr Philip Arthur Balink-White MBE RN

 

Lt Cdr John Bridge GC GM* RN

 

Lt Noel Cashford MBE RNVR

 

Lt Cdr Peter Cobby BEM RN

 

Lt Cdr 'Uncle Bill' Filer MBE GM RN

 

Lt Cdr Ian Fraser VC DSC RD* RNR

 

Surgeon Vice Admiral Sir John 'Jab' Harrison

 

Val Hempleman

 

Ldg Sea Sydney Knowles BEM

 

Lt Cdr Bruce Mackay RN

 

Cdr Peter Messervy MBE GM RN

 

Surgeon Vice Admiral Sir John 'Doc' Rawlins KBE, FRCP, FRAeS

 

Lt Cdr 'Robbie' Robinson MBE RN

 

Lt Arthur 'Bubs' Russell MBE RNVR

 

Lt Cdr Dennis Selwood OBE RN

 

Lt Cdr Harry Wardle RN

 

Lt George Wookey MBE RN 

 

If you believe that these people and everyone else who has ever been engaged in Royal Navy minewarfare, diving and EOD should be celebrated in a more tangible fashion, support Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a monument at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth where HMS Vernon previously stood.  An accompanying interactive display will explain their past and current roles, capabilities and achievements.

 


28 Apr 14

 

HMS Ledbury's diving team augmented for Exercise JOINT WARRIOR

 

The Royal Navy's Face Book page contains this story about HMS Ledbury (MCM2 Crew 6 commanded by MCDOA member Simon Pressdee):

 

"During the recent Exercise Joint Warrior HMS Ledbury was able to claim having the largest diving team embarked when her numbers swelled from the usual six to ten.  As a result the Hunt class minehunter saw her clearance diving element rise to nearly a quarter of the ship's company. 

 

HMS Ledbury's augmented diving team during Exercise JOINT WARRIOR 14/1

with MCDOA member Simon Pressdee far right

(Royal Navy photo)

 

The clearance divers were kept busy during Exercise Joint Warrior with Ledbury discovering several drill mines in the waters adjacent to, and inside, Loch Ewe on the North West coast of Scotland."

 


UK Minister breaks ground on Royal Navy HQ in Bahrain

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article announcing that Armed Forces Minister Mark Francois MP has broken ground with a golden shovel at the site of a new £6 million headquarters at the Salman Naval Base in Bahrain to house the UK Maritime Component Command (UKMCC), the Commander of which also serves under the Commander US Fifth Fleet as the Deputy Commander, Combined Maritime Forces in the US CENTCOM Area of Responsibility.  A second new building will house the in-theatre Forward Support Unit (FSU) which looks after all the needs of Royal Navy ships based or visiting Bahrain.

 

Four RN minehunters are permanently based in the port together with a Royal Fleet Auxiliary mother ship.  Generally two RN frigates or destroyers are also in the Gulf and Indian Ocean undertaking maritime security duties and clamping down on piracy, smuggling, people trafficking and terrorism.  RFA tankers and supply ships support the wider international security mission in the region.

 

The Royal Navy has ties with the small kingdom of Bahrain going back 200 years and has maintained a permanent presence in the Gulf for the past 30 years.  However, its role in the region has mushroomed since 2001 when it established its first headquarters in Bahrain since HMS Jufair (7 Nov 1955 to 15 Dec 1971 - see entry for 25 Aug 13 in News Archive 43).  In 2001 the effort was supported by a staff of eight.  Now UKMCC numbers more than 80 men and women and they have outgrown their existing building.

 


27 Apr 14 - Currently available on eBay

 

Do you want your own RCMDS PAP (Poisson Auto Propulsé) vehicle or some other MCM artefact?  The following items are currently available on eBay:

 

Yellow British Royal Navy Remote Controlled Mine Clearance Submarine RCMDV MK2 (£2,565)

 

 

HMS Lewiston Ton Class Minesweeper (1960) Name Board (£960)

 

 

More items available here.

 


26 Apr 14 - REBDOC lunch

 

Your humble Vice Chairman & Webmaster was privileged to join members of the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officers' Club (REBDOC) for lunch earlier today in the Defence Capability Centre (DCC) at the UK Defence Academy at Shrivenham.  REBDOC is affiliated with the MCDOA and we have enjoyed each other's hospitality at several events over the years. 

 

 

Above and below: Yours Truly (Rob Hoole) flanked by REBDOC members at Shrivenham

 

 

I was particularly pleased to renew acquaintance with Capt John Phillips DSC RE.  As a Warrant Officer, he was decorated with the Royal Navy's Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) following his attempt to render safe an Argentinean 1,000 lb bomb remotely on board HMS Antelope on 23 May 1982 during the Falklands conflict (see The Forgotten Few of the Falklands in the website's Dit Box).  He sustained serious injuries including the loss of an arm when the bomb exploded.  His colleague, Staff Sergeant James Prescott, was killed outright and was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM) posthumously.  The previous day the pair had disarmed a similar bomb on board HMS Argonaut.

 

John told me that he is attending a service in Scotland on the 32nd anniversary of the tragedy next month when a granite plaque will be dedicated in memory of Jim Prescott to replace the brass version stolen by thieves last year (see this article on the Milngavie Herald website).  For details of the rededication service on 23 May at Prescott Bridge, Balfron near Glasgow, open this link:

 

Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Family and Falklands Veterans Replace Stolen Memorial of Falklands Hero

 

John Phillips and Your Truly (Rob Hoole) at Shrivenham

 

The huge exhibition hall and side galleries in the DCC at Shrivenham contain all manner of British, allied and captured enemy military vehicles, weapons and ordnance.  It is only surpassed by the Tank Museum at Bovington for its quantity and range of modern armour and I was grateful for the opportunity to take a close look at everything and photograph non-sensitive items. The Sapper officer standing next to one of the displays in the ammunition hall is Maj Ben Hawkins RE, already known to several of our members.

 

 

     

 

     

 

     

 

     

 

     

 

     

 

     

 

 

     

 

     

 

 

     

 

 

      

 

      

 

    

 

     

 

 

     

 

      

 

     

 

My thanks to the members of REBDOC, particularly Honorary Secretary Robin Bennett, for their kind invitation to the members of our Association and for making me feel so welcome.

 


25 Apr 14

 

Funeral of Lt Cdr Kenneth Douglas Kempsell GM RN

 

I am extremely grateful to ex-CD1 John Friar for this account of the late MCDOA member Ken Kempsell's funeral yesterday in Scotland (see entry for 22 Apr 14):

 

"Rob,

 

It was a beautiful sunny day at Douglas Bank cemetery for the funeral of Ken Kempsell and there was a good turnout of relatives and friends.  The diving contingent is shown in this picture.

 

Left to right: Ex-CD1s Stu Grainger and Albert Chapman, ex-LS(D) Andy Lettuce,

 ex-CD1s Alf Slingsby BEM, Leo Wheeler and John Friar, MCDOA member

Alan Bayliss and ex-CD1 Kevin 'Ginge' Reynolds

 

Stu Grainger's wife Anne, Alf Slingsby's wife Yvonne and Alan Bayliss's wife Ella also attended.  I would have thought that a George Medal diver would have had someone from Northern Diving Group attending but maybe that's just me.

 

Ken was piped into the cemetery by his son Ian.

 

 

A humanist ceremony was carried out at the graveside and there were a few laughs at some of the stories of a young Ken.  After the casket was lowered, Ken's grandson James, who was in rig, stood and saluted his grandad,  Ken would have been very proud of him.  A poem was read by Ken's other son, Neil, and Ken was laid to rest just down a slope from the war graves section. 

 

Everyone was invited by the family to join them for light refreshment at the Caledonia MoD base (formerly HMS Caledonia).  As people left, Ian the piper played Amazing Grace followed by Flower of Scotland.  Ken's wife, Doreen, was really pleased at the diving turnout.

 

Regards,

 

John"

 

My sincere thanks to John and everyone else who represented the Branch as well as themselves at Ken's service.

 

Lt Cdr Kenneth Douglas Kempsell GM RN

(6 Jan 1931 - 17 Apr 2014)

 

Postscript:  From ex-CPO(D) Kevin 'Ginge Reynolds on 21 November 2014:

 

"Lt. Cdr. Kempsell's graveside today at Pattiesmuir Cemetery Rosyth.  Temporary placing of granite mount with anchor.  Doreen is awaiting larger granite block from China (appropriate if you know that Ken was in HMS Black Swan awaiting HMS Amethyst's breakout from the Yangtse).

 

 

Family and friends attended.  Lt Cdr Alan Bayliss [MCDOA member] can be seen to right of picture.  For info there is also an Amethyst Crest in our local hostelry, the Hillend Tavern.

 

 

Rob Hoole - lf you would care to re-post on the LMCDOA site, Ken's son lan (ex RN) would be grateful."

 


ANZAC Day 

 

Best wishes to all our Aussie and Kiwi friends as well as expat members of the Branch (including MCDOA member Chris Davies newly arrived in Australia) who are commemorating this special occasion 'down under' today.

 


Interesting round-up of remote MCM

 

The well-established Think Defence website contains the following recent post which has drawn considerable comment:

 

Unmanned Mine Countermeasures Update  

 

The post resonates with what MCDOA member John Craig, currently on exchange as a joint military operations professor at the US Naval War College, had to say about the efficacy of MCMVs vs UUVs in the third entry for 2 Jul 13 in News Archive 43.

 

Although the Think Defence blogger tends to disparage the Royal Navy's role, people, capabilities and achievements and attracts those similarly minded, the introduction to his post contains this uncharacteristically complimentary paragraph:

 

"Minesweepers are an enduring image of the battle against mines but the last combined influence sweep system deployment was in 2005, the MCDOA provides a great look at this, click here to view.  The Minewarfare and Clearance Diving Officers’ Association has a wealth of great information about the subject in general and you can lose many hours on their great website."

 


24 Apr 14 - SDUs attend EOD incidents over Easter period

 

The Southend Echo website contains this article describing the disposal, presumably by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2), of several items of ordnance plus suspected aircraft machine guns on Shoebury East Beach in Essex on Easter Sunday (20 April).  This is close to where Cdr John Ouvry DSO RN and CPO Charles Baldwin DSM famously rendered safe a German magnetic mine and exposed its secrets in November 1939.

 

 

The Burnham-on-Sea.com website contains this article describing a call-out, presumably for members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1), to deal with a suspected item of ordnance on the beach at Brean in Somerset on Tuesday (22 April).

 

 


23 Apr 14

 

HMS Quorn flies white ensign at Middle East defence exhibition

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article describing the participation of HMS Quorn (MCM2 Crew 3), together with RFA Cardigan Bay, in last month's Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX) in Qatar.  The article features AB(MW) Connah “Bungy” Williams. 

 

Members of HMS Quorn's ship's company at DIMDEX 2014

(RN website photo) 

 


HMS Blyth plucks dinghy sailors from the sea

 

The Navy News website contains this article describing how HMS Blyth (MCM1 Crew 1) rescued two dinghy sailors who had capsized off Ailsa Craig in the Irish Sea.  The ship was on passage to join Standing NATO MCM Group 2 (SNMCMG2) for a three-month deployment in the Mediterranean.

 

Capsized dinghy sailors rescued by HMS Blyth

(Navy News photo)

 


HDS Diving Museum update

 

 

MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan, Chairman of the Historical Diving Society (HDS), has provided this update about the Diving Museum in No.2 Battery at Stokes Bay and the WWII bunker in Gosport that houses the Society's library and museum reserve collection:

 

"VISITORS

 

Despite suffering all four seasons over Easter (several times), we managed 93 visitors over the four days.  Thanks to Guides Jim Thomson, John Dadd, Dusty Miller, Martin Marks, Mike Dear and Ann Bevan.

 

One visitor (and HDS member) turned out to be the great grandson of James Mearns of Siebe Gorman & Co Ltd (Barry Porter).

 

DONATION


Thank you to N Dodds who donated a Siebe Gorman standard knife with sheath and belt.

 

EXHIBIT

 

The six-bolt standard diver is now fitted with an injector set for deep diving.  [By Webmaster: A similar rig was used by the late MCDOA member George Wookey MBE when he dived to 600 ft (183 m) from HMS Reclaim in Sørfjorden on 12 October 1956 and broke the world deep diving record.  See HMS Reclaim - A World Record Breaker in the website's 'Dit Box'.]

 

 

SIGN

 

The outside Gosport Borough Council sign has been cleaned up following a vandal attack.  We hope to install an illustrated sign soon.

 

 

BUNKER

 

Nigel Phillips had done a fantastic job on the wood floor in the WVS room.  Rumour has it that Strictly Come Dancing are thinking of holding an event there.  Watch this space for the installation of the new bookshelves, courtesy of Mike Fardell.

 

 

ROLLS

 

This week's competition is to work out what the Rolls was doing outside the Museum.  Answer will be revealed next week.

 

 

MUSEUM AT NIGHT - DIVERS AT WAR!

 

Come along for this spectacular event, 9-10pm on Saturday, 17 May and bring your friends!  Margaret Marks is producing a special film to project on the evening.  Special effects are planned, with appearances of the ghosts of John Deane, William Walker and Buster Crabb!!  Real Clearance Divers will risk defuzing a large bomb ...!

 

JohnB"

 

The HDS Museum is now open again at weekends following its winter closed period.  It relies on a handful of volunteer guides, at least two but ideally three of whom need to be on site when it is open for business at weekends during the summer.  If you live locally and can spare the odd few hours, please contact John Bevan via this email address or call him on 078 0278 5050.  You will then be given access to the online roster to fill in your own dates as and when you are available.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved in this or any other way.

 


22 Apr 14 - Arrangements for the funeral of Lt Cdr Kenneth Douglas Kempsell GM RN

 

Ex-CD1 John Friar has informed me that Ken Kempsell's funeral will take place this Thursday (24 April) at 0945 at Douglas Bank Cemetery, Pattiesmuir, Dunfermline, KY11 3ES near the former HMS Caledonia.  Johnny will be there with fellow ex-CD1 Albert Chapman and it seems that Kevin 'Ginge' Reynolds and Leon Wheeler may also put in an appearance.  I would appreciate it if someone would provide a brief account of the service for publication on the website.

 

I am appending tributes to Ken to the entry for 20 Apr 14 as I receive them.

 


21 Apr 14 - Soapy and his epic Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race

 

I have received this announcement from Richard 'Soapy' Watson, our intrepid Honorary Secretary:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

I am very disappointed to report that we had to retire from the race!  Not without a fight and it was definitely a decision that Mark Campbell and I thought long and hard about.

 

We really pushed hard along the course and were on for a sub-23 hour.  Conditions along the course were good and we averaged 5.5mph.  After a 10 min food stop at Reading (54 miles) we moved onto the Thames.  It must have been around 0300 and we were paddling along a very rural part of the Thames when, unfortunately, we turned over!  After a 200m swim in the cold Thames and then a scramble up a muddy bank we were able to sort the boat out and put on our emergency dry clothing!  This put an hour on our time!

 

We never really recovered from the dip and, as we were very likely going to miss our tidal window at Teddington, we reluctantly made the decision at Pentland Hook near Staines to retire.  We had been going for 19 hours 54 mins and travelled 93miles, so near to the end.

 

Sorry that I have let people down, but this is an epic event and I have great admiration for the people who complete it.  A big thank you to our support team: WO Brian Jacobs and wife Jan, my wife Suzanne and friend Tracey Malkin, Lt Cdr Hugh Maddison, Dan and Simon.  Not forgetting Mark Campbell my paddle partner who jumped into the seat at short notice!

 

Thank you to all that have sponsored the two worthy causes!

 

Regards,

 

Soapy"

 

So near and yet so far; only 32 miles from the finish line.  I am sure we all appreciate the Herculanean efforts of Soapy and Mark and wish them better fortune next time.  Well done guys and thank you.

 


20 Apr 14

 

Death of Lt Cdr Kenneth Douglas Kempsell GM RN

 

Ken Kempsell (on the left) in typical pose

at the MCDOA Annual Dinner in 2002

 

I have received the sad news from MCDOA member David Edwards that fellow member Ken Kempsell died peacefully on Thursday morning (17 April) in the presence of his family.  He was 83.

 

Ken was gazetted here for the award of the George Medal in November 1963 while 2 I/C of the then Rosyth-based Scotland & Northern Ireland Clearance Diving Team (SNICDT).  This was the citation:

 

"On 15th August 1963 an explosion occurred in a Torpedo Ready-Use Store killing two men and severely damaging the building.  The reinforced concrete roof was brought down upon the ready use stock of torpedoes and warheads, crushing them and activating at least ten batteries so that the whole was in an extremely dangerous condition.

 

It was judged too dangerous to try and remove the torpedoes and warheads from the debris and, on 16th August, Lieutenant Kempsell led the team which placed sixteen demolition charges against the battery compartments of the torpedoes, some of which by this time were hissing and bubbling and were hot to the touch.  Great difficulty was experienced in gaining access to the battery compartments of many of the torpedoes and considerable ingenuity was necessary to get the demolition charges correctly spaced.

 

Lieutenant Kempsell did his work with great skill and courage and his efforts resulted in a most effective demolition operation."

 

Ken Kempsell (sitting third from left) at the 2003 MCDOA AGM

at Fleet Diving HQ on Horsea Island

 

Ken's later naval career comprised:

 

1967 Staff Officer at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth.
1968 XO of HMS Abdiel (Exercise minelayer and MCM command & support ship).
1969-70 CO of HMS Nurton (Ton class minehunter).
1970-71 HMS Cochrane, Rosyth.
1972-73 Exchange appointment with the Royal Australian Navy.
1974-75 Admiral Commanding Reserves as Staff Officer Tay Division RNR.
1976-78 CO of HMS Reclaim, the RN's deep diving trials ship.  I helped host Ken and his rambunctious XO, the late MCDOA member George Dance, at a riotous RPC on board HMS Wilton during the 1977 Silver Jubilee Review at Spithead.
1979 Flag Officer Scotland & Northern Ireland as Staff Officer Clyde Division RNR and Commanding Officer HMS Peterel (Bird class patrol vessel).
1980 CO of HMS Hodgeston (Ton class minesweeper).
1981-1986 Flag Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland as the last Resident Naval Officer (RNO) Invergordon and Queen's Harbour Master (QHM) Cromarty.  He subsequently bought his official residence when the MoD put it on the market.

 

 

Ken Kempsell standing front and centre at the 2007 MCDOA Northern Dinner

in HMS Neptune at Faslane

 

In July 2008, Ken attended the passing-out parade of his trainee Air Engineering Technician (AET) grandson James at HMS Raleigh as described in this article on the Plymouth Herald website.  Ken's son Ian (James's father) was a Lt Cdr serving at HMS Raleigh at the time.

 

Ken Kempsell (sitting fourth from left) at the 2012 MCDOA Northern Dinner

in HMS Neptune at Faslane

 

A proudly forthright Scotsman with a twinkle in his eye, Ken was an active member of the MCDOA although he understandably chose to attend the Northern Dinner at Faslane in recent years rather than travel from Limekilns to Portsmouth for the main event.  I am sure all members of our community will join me in extending our sincere condolences to his widow Doreen and his other family members, friends and former colleagues.  I will publish funeral arrangements as and when they become available.

 


From MCDOA member Chris Davies, newly moved to Australia:

 

"Rob,

 

Thanks for the most recent news from the UK, even if it is rather sad.  Obviously I am unable to make the funeral but please pass on my condolences if you attend on behalf of the Association.

 

Regards,

 

Chris Davies"

 


From MCDOA member Phil Ireland DSC:

 

"Rob,

 

Very saddened to hear of Ken's passing.  I enjoyed his company at quite a number of Northern dinners, more often than not alongside his drinking companion 'Uncle' Alan Bayliss.  And I echo Topsy's recollection of Ken's great repertoire of hugely entertaining dits.  A brave diver and real gentleman. 

 

Would you be so kind as to pass on my condolences to his family and many friends.

 

Best Regards,

 

Phil"

 


From MCDOA member John O'Driscoll MBE:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

So sad to read about the death of Ken Kempsell.  I last saw him in 1981 when I was in Invergordon as a Coastguard Inspector.  As ever he was full of life and obviously liked and respected by everyone who knew him.  He was referred to as the local Laird.

 

A very special man who brought a feeling of fun and good fellowship to everyone he met.  Evergreen memories.

 

Yours Aye,

 

John"

 


From MCDOA member Peter Waddington:

 

"Rob,

 

Sad news about Ken.  He will be greatly missed.

 

My only professional contacts with him were when I took over from him as First Lieutenant of HMS Abdiel and SMCDO to MCM1, and thereafter while I was in that appointment and he was one of the Squadron COs, in HMS NURTON.   I particularly remember the patience with which he turned over the detail of mine prepping and minelaying, of which I had had no prior experience, and his cheerful and friendly relationship with the Squadron Staff when in command of NURTON.  

 

Socially, he was a real "live wire" and always great pleasure to be with.  I think the first sentence of "Topsy" Turner's comments is particularly apt.  

 

My sincere condolences to Doreen, whom I have not met for many years, but whom I remember as the delightful other half of a charming couple.

 

Peter"

 


From MCDOA past-Vice Chairman Jon Riches:

 

"Rob,

 

I was so sorry to hear of Ken's death.  He was one of the stalwarts of the Branch and one for whom I had the utmost respect.

 

I first met Ken in 1967 when he was Ist Lt of HMS ABDIEL in Lochinvar.  I was then a very newly qualified MCDO and Ist Lt of BRONINGTON.  I ran into him frequently after that at various MCD functions.  The last time I saw him was with John Rayner when we called into Invergordon on our way to catch a flight at Inverness.  Always the gentleman and pleased to see you.

 

A sad loss but he had a good and eventful innings. A great character whom it was a privilege to know.

 

My condolences to Doreen and the family.

 

Jon"

 


From MCDOA ex-Honorary Secretary David 'Topsy' Turner in New Zealand:

 

"Rob,

 

Let me tell you - the George Medal recipients' bar in diver heaven is just about to get a whole lot noisier and far more entertaining!

 

I first met Ken when visiting Cromarty with HMS LEDBURY.  I was XO at the time and distinctly recall Ken regaling us all with his ripping yarns and legendary tales as his two West Highland Whities (I think) danced around his ankles.  His love for all things Scottish was very clear to me even then, and looking across the Cromarty Firth I could see why.

 

I then lost track of Ken until about 2000.  He popped up when I started to drive a mini bus to the MCDOA Annual Dinner in Portsmouth for those who were finding it hard to attend from north of the border.  On our inaugural journey south we had Ken, Uncle Alan (Bayliss), Harry (Parker) and WO(D) Andy Brunton.  We picked up Nigel Butterworth somewhere on the M6 on the way down.  The dinner was a roaring success and the Saturday morning drive back north came around all too soon.  I was the sensible one and turned in at a reasonable hour knowing I had to drive, but I recall Ken pushing through to the early wee hours.  He had an enormous constitution and didn't look any worse for wear the following morning.

 

We had decided to break up our journey north by staying at a hotel close to where Nigel lived (Burnley??) where there was a Roy Orbison tribute night in full flow.  Ken and I shared a room - we also shared the bottle of Teachers and soda he always seemed to have with him, so by the time we got around to singing 'Pretty Woman' we were ready for anything!  The journey back to Ken's home in Limekilns the following morning was unforgettable.  Ken never stopped talking and joking and plying me with stories and tales from the moment we left the hotel car park until we pulled up outside his house.  He may have stopped momentarily to draw breath and reverently utter a short prayer as we passed the border back into his beloved Scotland but that would be it!  Doreen was clearly delighted to have him home safely and after a cuppa tea and a bun whilst looking out across the River Forth from their lounge I was on my way home to Kinnesswood (Kinross).

 

A couple of years later I started the MCDOA (North) Dinner which meant that my driving days were over and Ken could get a taxi home - he would still be the last to leave the bar though - bless him.

 

A true gentleman, old-fashioned officer and an unforgettable character - 5 Bells received and understood Ken.

 

Yours Aye,

 

Topsy"

 


From MCDOA member Dougie MacDonald:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

Very sorry to hear about Ken.  He and Hamish Loudon introduced me to the branch.  Ken was the Staff Officer at Tay when we went on a West Coast diving cruise (all you can eat crabs, lobbies, scollies, and mussels).  I shared a cabin with Ken and his son while Lt Cdr Euan Fairbairn RNR commanded the ship.  Happy times.  Luckily I left Clyde before he joined.  He then sent me round again when I berthed at Invergordon!!! 

 

The branch seemed to have a monopoly up North with Ken and Mike Bull!  A gentleman, I'll miss him.

 

My sympathy to his family.

 

D"

 

By Webmaster: After leaving the RN, Ken's fellow MCDOA member Mike Bull (an old family friend of mine) was GNXO Inverness at the same time as Ken was RNO Invergordon.  As Dougie intimates and I know from my time as SOO MCM3 in the mid-1980s (Dougie was SOO MCM1 during the same period), Mike and Ken Kempsell always ensured that visiting ships were given a warm welcome, helped no doubt by the fact that the city's Provost had been lifted from the Dunkirk beaches by the RN and remained eternally grateful thereafter.

 


From MCDOA member Dave Forsey:

 

"Rob,

 

Sad to hear of the passing of Ken.  We served together on the staff at BRNC Dartmouth and his enthusiastic encouragement played a great part in my decision to transfer to the newly-formed MCD branch.

 

Dave"

 


From MCDOA member Steve Gobey:

 

"Rob,

 

Sad news indeed.  Ken was the Diving Officer at Dartmouth when I was there as an Upper Yardy.  His influence played a significant part in my decision to pursue the MCDO route.

 

Sally and I later took over the Australian Exchange job from Doreen and Ken.  He had got the post changed from a Lt Cdr to a Lt as he could see that the RAN Diving Branch really needed a more junior exchange officer who could be better employed and be more hands on.  Thanks to his foresight, in my two and a bit wonderful years there I experienced diving and EOD training, diving tender driving (ex-inshore minesweepers) and CO of CDT1!

 

STAN's Navy [NATO's MCM Group STANAVFORCHAN - Standing Naval Force Channel] made a visit to Invergordon when I was SOO in 81/82 and Ken made sure we were well looked after.  I remember him saying, "Tell everyone it's a rig-run."  How right he was!  It was also good to have a friendly contact at Inver G when I was later FOSNI SMCDO.

 

I last saw Ken at a Northern Dinner some years ago.  I remember him being very pleased with himself as he had just bought a shiny new Jag!

 

I will always have great respect and fond memories of Ken.  Please pass Sally's and my sincere condolences to Doreen and family.

 

Steve"

 


From MCDOA member Geoff Goodwin:

 

"Very sorry to hear Ken Kempsell has died.  He represented the finest professional traditions of the MCD branch.

 

Please pass on my sympathy to family and friends.

 

G"

 


From MCDOA member Bob Hawkins MBE in Singapore:

 

"Dear Rob,

 

So very sad to hear of the death of Ken Kempsell GM, who became a friend through our mutual connection with the Northern Dinner.  Also, I was fortunate to be able to call him a professional colleague in that he was QHM and RNO Invergordon in 1985 when he commissioned SNICDT to locate and dispose of a sunken Sunderland aircraft lying in the way of a planned mooring for an offshore installation being placed in Cromarty Firth for maintenance.  

 

I was lucky enough to follow in his footsteps as 2 I/C SNICDT (becoming SNICDU during my time on the team) and I detailed myself off for this particular U/W Dems task.  It was an honour and a privilege to work for and alongside this luminary member of our Branch, albeit on one, brief occasion.  

 

On a social note the highlight of my time as the Chairman of the Northern Dinner was to get Ken and my father-in-law Jock Masson (GM awarded for IEDD work in Palestine 1947) together as special guests in February 2005.

 

My sincerest condolences to his family.  

 

RIP Ken GM.

 

Yours Aye,

 

Bob"

 


From MCDOA member Bob Lusty:

 

"Thank you Rob,

 

Ken was great company and we had a very uplifting session at his last MCDOA dinner in Portsmouth.

 

Bob Lusty"

 


From Cdr Pat Barron RNR (ex-Clyde and Tay Divisions RNR):

 

"Hi Rob,

 

Sorry to hear such sad news.  Any idea of funeral arrangements? 

 

Your potted biography did not mention that Ken was Staff Officer to two Scottish RNR Divisions: Tay (just before Reclaim) and Clyde (just after Reclaim).

 

Regards,

 

Pat"

 

By Webmaster: I have now added these details of Ken's naval career.

 


From MCDOA past-Chairman David Sandiford:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

I had the pleasure to serve under Ken in both HMS NURTON and HMS RECLAIM and have fond memories of a good man to work for.  In particular I remember his fine handling of RECLAIM in tight berths and strong winds.  He was a good teacher and there were few dull moments.

 

I remember a visit he and his fellow travellers in a bar-hopping speed boat paid to HMS CHIDDINGFOLD when we were anchored in Loch Fyne one summer weekend - 1985 I think.  Good days for all!!

 

Please pass my condolences to his family.

 

Kind Regards,

 

David"

 


SNMCMG1 Prepares for Baltic Deployment

 

The NATO website contains this article announcing the assembly of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) at Kiel in Germany in preparation for its next deployment in the Baltic.  SNMCMG1 units will comprise the Norwegian support vessel HNoMS Valkyrien as flagship, the Dutch minehunter HNLMS Makkum, the Belgian minehunter BNS Bellis, the Norwegian minesweeper HNoMS Otra and the Estonian minehunter ENS Admiral Cowan (ex-HMS Sandown).  The Baltic deployment will include participation in the Latvian-sponsored Partnership for Peace (PfP) Operation OPEN SPIRIT which will involve clearance of historical ordnance from the First and Second World Wars.

 

SNMCMG1 assembling in Kiel

(NATO photo)

 

The article also includes the assumption of Command of SNMCMG1 by Cdr Eirik Otterbu RNoN during a brief meeting with Vice Adm Peter Hudson, Commander NATO Allied Maritime Command, at Northwood Headquarters.  Members will recall that Vice Adm Hudson, a staunch friend of the RN MCM community, was the principal guest at our Annual Dinner last November.

 

Cdr Eirik Otterbu RNoN with Vice Adm Peter Hudson CBE

at NATO Maritime Command HQ, Northwood

(NATO photo)

 


19 Apr 14 - Soapy and Mark's 125 mile 24 hour paddle

 

The MCDOA's intrepid Honorary Secretary, Richard 'Soapy' Watson, started the 125 mile Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race with his paddling partner Mark Campbell this morning.  Fellow MCDOA member Alan Padwick OBE, who conveniently lives on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Devizes, has supplied these early reports:

 

Received at 0931:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

Fresh from the start line half an hour ago.  Here is our team ready to go:

 

     

Left: Alan Padwick flanked by Soapy Watson and Mark Campbell

Right: Mark and Soapy flanked by their support team

 

There will be more pictures when they pass my garden in an hour from now.

 

Yours,

 

Alan"

 


Received at 1047:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

Here is my second instalment as Soapy and Mark passed my garden.  They are still looking pretty cheerful at this stage (although they have only been going for five minutes!).

 

     

 

 

       

 

The weather is certainly a lot better than last year when early paddlers had to break the ice.

 

Good luck to the team.

 

Yours,

 

Alan"

 

Soapy and Mark are raising money for Parkinsons UK and Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a monument at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth to celebrate the minewarfare & diving heritage of HMS Vernon which previously stood on the site.  Their waypoint times and geographic position (Crew 304) can be checked here and here respectively and you can still support them in their endeavour here:

 

 Soapy and Mark's sponsorship page on Virgin Money Giving.  If temporarily unavailable, try the direct donations page here.

 


18 Apr 14 - Death of Dr Tom Hennessy

 

I am grateful to MCDOA associate member Surg Cdre Jim Sykes for this notification:

 

"Rob,

 

See today's DT death notices with regard to the death of Tom Hennessy.  As well as developing the BSAC tables, he worked with Tom Shields on the trimix trials and other MCM diving schedules.  He also worked on very deep saturation experimental decompression.

 

He was a stalwart of RNPL scientists.

 

Regards,

 

Jim"

 

This is the death notice concerned: 

 

HENNESSY. - THOMAS RICHARD PhD, mathematical scientist and author of 1988 BSAC Diving Tables, died at the Heart Hospital, London on Palm Sunday 13th April 2014, aged 73.  Having been ill for 30 years, he underwent his third and final heart operation with great courage but it was not to be.

 

He leaves behind a wife Deborah, two daughters Marina and Claire, two sons-in-law Matthew Palmer and Robert Sharp and five beautiful grandchildren Anna, Jemima, Edward, Tallulah and Clementine.

 

Funeral at 11:15 a.m. on Friday 9th May in the St Richard's Chapel, Surrey & Sussex Crematorium, Crawley, RH10 3NQ.  Family flowers only, no black to be worn.  Donations, if desired, to the British Heart Foundation c/o Ballard & Shortall, Funeral Directors, 1 Wellington Street, Horsham, RH12 1DD. 

 

A Memorial Service to be announced at a later date.

 

Tom Hennessy collaborated with the late Dr Val Hempleman (see second entry for 30 Oct 06 in News Archive 16) for much of his work aimed at increasing possible diving depths while preventing the onset of decompression sickness.  Like many others, I acted as a guinea pig for the 90 metre trimix wet trials he conducted at RNPL's DTU (Deep Triais Unit) at Alverstoke in 1979.

 

I am sure all members of the diving community at large, and RN divers in particular, will join me in extending our sincere condolences to Dr Tom's family, friends and former colleagues.

 


17 Apr 14 - SDU1 deals with grenade in Dorset

 

The Daily Mirror contains this article and the BBC News website this article describing Monday's disposal, presumably by members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1), of a hand grenade found on the beach at Charmouth in Dorset.  Incredibly, a tourist handed the grenade in at the busy Heritage Centre!

 

 

     

 


16 Apr 14

 

Royal Navy begins testing ‘remote controlled minehunter’

 

I am grateful to Richard Hargreaves, the News Editor of Navy News, for drawing my attention to this article describing trials being conducted by the Portsmouth-based Maritime Autonomous System Trials Team (MASTT).  The trials involve testing the Atlas Remote Combined Influence Minesweeping System (ARCIMS), designed by Atlas Elektronik UK of Winfrith and built by ICE Marine of Farnborough.  The vessel is called 'Hazard' (named after the seventh HMS Hazard?) and is the 'mother ship' for an assortment of hi-tech remote-controlled and robot submersibles.  Modified versions of the same systems are being investigated as part of the future Mine Countermeasures and Hydrographic Capability programme (formerly the MHPC project).

 

The article features MWO Lt Cdr Jacqueline 'Jack' McWilliams RN (OIC of MASTT) and CPO(MW) Colin Dumbleton.  Jack was previously XO of the Defence Diving School (DDS) on Horsea Island. 

 

RN Trials Vessel 'Hazard' at speed in the Solent

 

Ocean Modules Intervention V8 M500 ROV being readied for deployment 

 

Kongsberg Maritime REMUS 100 AUV being recovered

 

Royal Navy images by LA(Phot) Nicky Wilson of FRPU East.  Navy News will publish a comprehensive article in its May issue.

 

Postscript: On 17 April, the Portsmouth News published this article covering the same story.

 


Recent EOD Incidents

 

The ITV website contains this article, including video, describing yesterday's disposal by members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) of what looks suspiciously like an ASW Mortar Mk 10 (Limbo) projectile on the beach at St Thomas Head near Kewstoke on the Somerset coast. 

 

 

The article and videos feature PO(D) Mark 'Jan' Cocking.

 

 


The Western Morning News website contains this article and the Exeter Express & Echo website this article describing the collection, presumably by members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1), of a hand grenade from outside Exeter city centre offices.

 

 


The Isle of Wight County Press website contains this article describing the disposal, presumably by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2), of ten Second World War shells found in dredged gravel at an aggregates yard at Medina Wharf on the Isle of Wight.

 


Three Men in a Boat

 

Readers may or may not be interested in learning that the MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio of Barlow, Holloway and Hoole returned to the water yesterday on board Barlow's yacht 'Dougout' and enjoyed a marvellous sail in ideal conditions from Thornham Marina in Chichester Harbour to the boat's summer berth at HMS Excellent's marina on Whale Island.  The trio was accompanied by their occasional deckhand, recently retired Captain Dean Molyneaux OBE RN. 

 

Hoole, Barlow and Holloway enjoying the sun and sea breeze off Eastney

 

Molyneaux and Holloway chatting while proceeding up Portsmouth Harbour

 

Safely arrived at Whale Island

 


HDS Diving Museum update

 

 

MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan, Chairman of the Historical Diving Society (HDS), has provided this update about the Diving Museum in No.2 Battery at Stokes Bay and the WWII bunker in Gosport that houses the Society's library and museum reserve collection:

 

"We were honoured with a visit by [MCDOA member] Lt Cdr David Bartlett RN Retd on Saturday who presented us with a copy of the certificate "to the Ministry of Culture, Arab Republic of Egypt, by the Royal Navy to mark the successful completion of the work undertaken by the joint Royal Navy and Egyptian Navy Team in the recovery of the Philae Monuments between October 1976 and April 1978.  The monuments included the remains of the Temple of Augustus Caesar which was submerged by the building of the two dams at Aswan."

 

John Bevan, Dorothy Bartlett, David Bartlett

 and former FCPO(D) John Dadd BEM

 

The HDS Museum is now open again at weekends following its winter closed period.  It relies on a handful of volunteer guides, at least two but ideally three of whom need to be on site when it is open to visitors at weekends during the summer.  If you live locally and can spare the odd few hours, please contact John Bevan via this email address or call him on 078 0278 5050.  You will then be given access to the online roster to fill in your own dates as and when you are available.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved in this or any other way.

 


15 Apr 14

 

Judo

 

MCDOA member Mark Shaw informs me that he has temporarily given up his dry bag for a Judo uniform.  The former OIC of Fleet Diving Unit 2 (FDU2) and Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) has been released by the Royal Navy for seven months to train full time in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games this summer in Glasgow.  He is currently training in Walsall at the British Judo Centre of Excellence, a bespoke Judo training facility where the nation's best fighters are based.

 

He is hopeful of gaining the heavyweight position for Wales when team selections are made at the end of April and will be sending regular updates about his progress over the next few months.

 

Lt Cdr Mark Shaw RN

 

I am confident that all members will join me in wishing Mark every success in his forthcoming contests.

 


Canoeing

 

Readers are reminded that the MCDOA's intrepid Honorary Secretary, Richard 'Soapy' Watson, will be participating in the 125 mile Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race with Mark Campbell this weekend.  They are raising money for Parkinsons UK and Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a monument at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth to celebrate the minewarfare & diving heritage of HMS Vernon which previously stood on the site.

 

Soapy and Mark training at Dreweatts Lock, Marsh Benham last month

 

You can sponsor Soapy and Mark in their endeavour here:

 

Soapy and Mark's sponsorship page on Virgin Money Giving 

 


Kayaking

 

Soapy has also passed me this request received via the Conference of Naval Associations (CONA) which the MCDOA has just joined:

 

"Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Could any of your members assist please?

 

Richard Hunt is a Royal Navy veteran amputee who is attempting to kayak around the entire coast of the UK in aid of BLESMA (British Limbless Ex-Servicemen's Association) a distance of some 2300 miles.  Would any CONA Members be able to help out by providing an offer of overnight accommodation to Richard and his support team during ‘The Great Paddle Round’ attempt.  They also require volunteer drivers for the support team, for a ten day period, commencing this Thursday roughly between Bridport and Looe.

 

If you can help, please contact Richard via:

 

07872921880 or this email address

 

or contact Nick via:

 

07849 834860  or this email address.

 

Richard Hunt and his kayak

 

For further information, please click on this link:

 

The Great Paddle Round

 

Thank you,

 

Andy

 

Andy Christie

CONA Secretary

RNA HQ Room 209

Semaphore Tower

PP70 HM Naval Base

Portsmouth PO1 3LT

02392 720782 9380 20782"

 


14 Apr 14 - MCDOA members run in the London Marathon

 

Congratulations to MCDOA members Ben Stait (2 hrs 59 mins), Paul McDermott (3 hrs 29 mins) and his daughter Katie (3 Hrs 59 mins), and Al Nekrews and his wife Em (3 hrs 45 mins for both) on completing the London Marathon yesterday.

 

Results for all runners can be found at:

 

London Marathon 2014 Results

 


From MCDOA member Al Nekrews QGM:

 

"Rob,

 

Many thanks for sponsoring Emma and me in support of the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen's Association (BLESMA).  We both completed the London Marathon in 3hrs 45mins and celebrated with a few cold beers in the sun!  We are well on the way to raising £2,000 for BLESMA and would like to thank everyone for their support.

 

Al and Em Nekrews in the BLESMA shirts

 

I was really pleased with our time until I saw your message that Ben Stait finished the marathon in sub 3hrs!  BZ!  

 

Kind regards,

 

Al"

 

I am also grateful to Mark Terry for this photo of MCDOA member Paul McDermott running with panache:

 

Paul McDermott wearing the white singlet with red and green hoops 

 


13 Apr 14 - RN Minewarfare & Diving Heritage: Diving Training in Vernon Creek in 1952

 

I am grateful to WO(D) Dan Archer for drawing my attention to this You Tube video which shows divers undergoing training in 1952 in Vernon Creek at HMS Vernon, now the residential, shopping and marina development in Portsmouth known as Gunwharf Quays:

 

Pathé News: Taxi Divers (1952)

 

 

Note the presence of HMS Deepwater on Maintenance Jetty, visible on the right of the freeze frame image.  She was the former German torpedo trials ship and seaplane carrier Walter Holtzapfel, a war-prize used as the Royal Navy's deep diving tender from March 1946 until replaced by HMS Reclaim in June 1948 (see HMS Reclaim - A World Record-Breaker in the website's Dit Box).  Thereafter, she served as HMS Vernon's floating diving school until scrapped in 1960. 

 

HMS Deepwater as the RN's deep diving tender

 

The two vessels on Marlborough Pier, one of which is visible on the left of the freeze frame image, are Second World War Miner class coastal minelayers used by HMS Vernon for trials and training until replaced with HMS Nightingale and HMS Vesuvius (ex-HMS Skylark, ex-HMS Vernon) in 1955 (see entry for 4 Oct 08 in News Archive 24).

 


12 Apr 14

 

Three Men in a Boat

 

The MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio of Barlow, Holloway and Hoole took advantage of yesterday's spring sunshine to refloat Barlow's yacht 'Dougout', scrub her hull and upperworks and re-rig her sails.  Our next task is to sail her from Thornham Marina to her summer berth at Whale Island ready for the new season.

 

Barlow and Holloway with the new improved 'Dougout'

 


MCDOA President participates in landmark ceremony

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article describing the participation of MCDOA President, Cdre Paddy McAlpine OBE ADC, newly installed as Commodore Portsmouth Flotilla (COMPORFLOT - webpage not yet updated), in a ceremony formally affiliating the City of Portsmouth with the 41 ships comprising the Portsmouth Flotilla.

 

 Vice Admiral David Steel CBE (Second Sea Lord) and the

leader of Portsmouth City Council signing a special

 scroll with Paddy McAlpine standing third right

(RN website photo)

 


RAN CDT3 Service in Vietnam

 

I have received this message from ex-Royal Australian Navy CD Tony Ey:

 

"G’day Rob,

 

I contacted you several months ago about a book I’ve published on RAN CDT3’s service in Vietnam called ‘Can Do Easy’ [see entry for 16 Jul 13 in News Archive 43].  I thought some of your members may be interested.  It is in fact about Jake Linton’s team.

 

 

 

It is now available in both paperback and Kindle:

 

 Amazon: 'Can Do Easy' by Tony Ey

 

Cheers,

 

Tony Ey"

 

MCDOA member Cdr Jake Linton BEM RAN was a founding member of the RAN Clearance Diver branch and is the Patron of the RAN CD Association (RANCDA).  His story, including his exchange service with the RN and USN, can be found in 'A Clearance Diving Experience' in the website's 'Dit Box'.

 

Tony Ey, author and founder of the RANCDA website, is one of three brothers who were all Clearance Divers in the RAN.  Sadly, his brother Dave died in 2007 but I hosted his other brother, Mick, when he visited the UK the following year (see entry for 11 Jun 08 in News Archive 22).  Tony tells me that his son is now a serving CD and he doubts his family's record will ever be beaten.  

 


11 Apr 14

 

MCD Promotions

 

I have received this message from MCDOA member Dave Hunkin OBE:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

A small grumble if I may as I feel we may be letting our younger brethren down:

 

Last night I was enjoying a beer in Singapore with John Giddens when Al Nekrews phoned to tell me that Ollie Alexander and Neil Marriott had been selected for promotion to Cdr - fantastic I thought!   And yet, I don't see it on the website today when I got back to the UK so clearly you have not been told.

 

C'mon chaps, we must all do better in supporting our young blades who continue the fight on the front line on our behalf.   Huge congratulations to both especially Neil who was inexplicably asked to revert to Lt Cdr despite having just been an operational MCM Sqn Cdr in the Gulf and also to Ollie, the first non-PWO SO1 for quite some time.  Both are huge achievements, both are deserving of our heartfelt congratulations.  

 

Sorry to be grumpy old bugger of Suffolk but these two have done particulalry well as I'm sure you will agree,

 

Best wishes,

 

Dave Hunkin"

 

MCDOA member Neil Marriott has informed me that fellow MCDOA members Tim Davey and Si Kelly were also on today's signal.  MCDOA member John Craig has also pointed out that the selections include at least three former/current MCMV COs: Sandown Class - Tony Crabb; Hunt Class - Charles Maynard and Eleanor Stack.

 

Hearty congratulations to all concerned.

 


HMS Brocklesby homecoming

 

The Portsmouth News website contains this article (including video of an interview with MCDOA member Gregg Powell) and the Royal Navy website this article describing this morning's homecoming of HMS Brocklesby (MCM2 Crew 1 commanded until last week by MCDOA member Ben Vickery) following her three-month deployment in the Mediterranean with Standing NATO MCM Group 2 (SNMCMG2).

 

HMS Brocklesby steaming up harbour

(RN website photo)

 

The articles feature Ben, who handed over Command to Lt Cdr John Cromie in Gibraltar on the way home, as well as fellow MCDOA member Gregg Powell (XO), PO(MW) James 'Soapy' Watson and AB(D) Ben Gaskell.

 

Gregg Powell on the bridge wing

(RN website photo)

 

I am sure that all members of our community wish Ben and his former ship's company an enjoyable leave. 

 


10 Apr 14

 

HMS Brocklesby returning to Portsmouth

 

According to QHM Portsmouth's shipping movements, HMS Brocklesby (MCM2 Crew 1 formerly commanded by MCDOA member Ben Vickery) is due to pass Outer Spit Buoy inbound for Portsmouth at around 0900 tomorrow (Friday) morning following her three-month deployment in the Mediterranean with Standing NATO MCM Group 2 (SNMCMG2).

 


A message from Al and Em Nekrews

 

Al and Em Nekrews

 

The following message is from MCDOA member Al Nekrews, awarded the QGM last year for his services as a High Threat IEDD operator in Afghanistan (see entry for 13 Jun 13 in News Archive 42), and his wife Em:

 

"As many of you know, we have taken part in various events over the last few years to raise money for the British Limbless Ex-Sevice Men's Association (BLESMA).   This is a charity very close to our hearts and this year we are both running in the London Marathon to help this amazing cause.  We would be very grateful if you could donate to our page to help our wounded warriors.

 

Many thanks in advance of your generosity.

 

Al & Em"

 

Sponsor Al and Em in their demanding challenge for an excellent cause here on Virgin Money Giving:

 

Al & Em Nekrews's fundraising page

 


9 Apr 14 - MCDOA Curry Run in London

 

MCDOA member Andy 'Sharkey' Ward is organising another gathering for fellow members in London on Thursday 26 June.  The standard format is a few pints of fine ale in a local hostelry followed by dinner at one of London's finest Indian restaurants.  If interested, email Andy via this address.

 


8 Apr 14 - Divers at War on 17 May

 

Attention is drawn to this event at the Historical Diving Society's (HDS) museum at Stokes Bay:

 

This year, for the first time, the HDS Diving Museum is participating in the Museums at Night project.  Just after sundown on 17th May we will open our doors to celebrate the achievements of our wartime diving heroes.

 

 

Film is going to play a big part in the event.  Inside the museum the atmosphere will be infused with a ghostly haze and the chambers of the Victorian battery will be lit by candlelight and torches (all safe electric ones!).

 

Adding to the drama, some of our volunteers will be dressed in wartime kit and, weather permitting, we will be projecting film on the outside of the museum during the evening.  It is sure to be a night to remember.

 

WE HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE! (2100 on 17 May). 

 


5 Apr 14 - Date for the diary

 

This year's MCDOA Operational Updates, AGM and Dinner will take place on Friday 21 November.  Our President, Cdre Paddy McAlpine OBE ADC, has secured Rear Admiral Clive Johnstone CBE (previous FOST but now ACNS POL) as the guest speaker for our annual dinner.

 

Rear Admiral Clive Johnstone CBE

(Royal Navy photo)

 

Paddy McAlpine succeeded Cdre the Hon Michael Cochrane OBE as Commodore Portsmouth Flotilla (COMPORFLOT) last month as described in this article on the Royal Navy website. 

 


4 Apr 14 - HMS Brocklesby at Gibraltar

 

HMS Brocklesby (MCM2 Crew 1 commanded by MCDOA member Ben Vickery) was spotted entering Gibraltar yesterday.  Presumably, she is on her way home to Portsmouth for Easter leave.

 

HMS Brocklesby entering Gibraltar

(Image courtesy of local photographer Daniel Ferro)

 


2 Apr 14 -  HMS Brocklesby in Exercise NIRIIS 2014

 

 

The Navy News website contains this article describing the participation of HMS Brocklesby (MCM2 Crew 1 commanded by MCDOA member Ben Vickery) in Exercise NIRIIS 2014 off Crete.  She is currently deployed in the Mediterranean with Standing NATO MCM Group 2 (SNMCMG2) which also comprises FGS Rhein, ITS Chioggia and FGS Weilheim.  The MCM force operated with HNS Europa (ex-HMS Bicester) and the frigates HNS Kanaris and ITS Aliseo among other units.

 

  

Left: HMS Brocklesby during Exercise NIRIIS 2014

Right: HNS Europa (ex-HMS Bicester) during Exercise NIRIIS 2014

 

The article also features HMS Brocklesby's Ops Officer Tim Allen and PO(MW) James 'Soapy' Watson.

 

Unusual depiction of HMS Brocklesby inboard of HNS Europa (ex-HMS Bicester)

 

HMS Brocklesby is leaving SNMCMG2 soon to return to Portsmouth.  Her place will be taken by Faslane-based HMS Blyth (MCM1 Crew 1).

 


1 Apr 14 - News of HMS Cattistock

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article describing the recent activities of HMS Cattistock (MCM 2 Crew 4).  The article features MCDOA member Matt Teare, Cattistock's Executive Officer.

 

The Royal Navy website also contains this article announcing that the ship is in Poole for four days this week to strengthen her affiliation with the nearby town of Cattistock and support the launch of the Bournemouth Air Festival.

 


 

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