I have received this sad news about veteran Second World War bomb & mine disposal officer Eric Worsley (see entry for 26 Nov 16 in News Archive 56).
My grandfather died in his sleep in the early hours of this morning. I have found some of his notes about the GM and MBE incidents and will type up and send to you with some photographs for the site.
Hope your Christmas went well.
I am sure that all members of our community will join me in extending our sincere condolences to Nick and his family.
29 Dec 16 - Funeral of Raymond William 'Brum' Maries BEM
I am grateful to ex-CD Jim 'Tommo' Thomson for this account of the funeral of veteran Second World War 'P' Party diver Ray Maries (see entry for 19 Dec 16).
Yesterday was the funeral of Ray Maries, one of the remaining 'P' Party divers. It was a special occasion for quite a few in the area, with a turnout by the local Sea Cadet Corps.
During the service, Mike Jay, Ray's son-in-law gave a short history of Ray's life. He also included a remark thanking the HDS [Historical Diving Society] for having a representative there.
The last post was played and six Sea Cadets lowered banners, followed by Wakey Wakey!
Unfortunately Les Sharpe was a bit late as he got lost but he managed to make up at the wake with a couple of rums.
Mike Jay has supplied this scan of an obituary for his father-in-law published in the Sunday Mercury, the Birmingham Mail and the Solihull News. Interestingly, it mentions that Ray, already awarded a Mention in Despatches "for good services in mine clearance and mine disposal operations in NW Europe" while serving in 'P' Party 1572, was also awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal) in the 1973 Queen's Birthday Honours for his services as a Petty Officer (SCC) on the staff of his local Sea Cadet Unit, TS Gamecock at Solihull.
24 Dec 16 - Funeral of Arthur Smith, the last survivor of HMS Royal Oak
I am grateful to Clearance Diving branch legend Eamon 'Ginge' Fullen QGM for this account of the funeral of Arthur Smith, the last survivor of the battleship HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 at Scapa Flow in Orkney on the night of 14 October 1939 with the loss of 833 lives including 134 boys (see entry for 16 Dec 16):
It was a good send off for Arthur, very fitting with the ensign he was given from the Royal Oak drapped over his coffin. There have been a few bits on Facebook so it's been well covered.
The St Vincent Association is going to send me a letter Arthur wrote about his career in the Navy. I'm not sure you have it but I will pass it on.
I have a few old photos of him from his family so can scan and pass those on as well. His brother was there. A 92 year-old ex-Royal Marine. He was shot four times in WW2. Made of stern stuff, eh? (although he said he did need ten days off after the third time!)
Have a good Christmas.
Ginge was a pall bearer along with five other members of Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG), at Arthur's funeral which took place at South West Middlesex Crematorium, Hanworth on 22 December.
Archive photo of Ginge Fullen with Arthur Smith
23 Dec 16
NDG deals with unexploded mortar bomb at Perth
HMS Shoreham emerges from refit
21 Dec 16 - HMS Brocklesby returns to the water
20 Dec 16
A Merry Christmas to all our followers
The Webmaster is taking a break during the festive season but normal service will be resumed in the New Year.
Keep those cards & letters coming in.
Image courtesy of MCDOA former Hon Sec
Richard 'Soapy' Watson
19 Dec 16 - Arrangements for the funeral of 'P' Party veteran Raymond William 'Brum' Maries BEM
I am grateful to Martin Jay for this information about the funeral of his grandfather, 'P' Party veteran Ray 'Brum' Maries (see entry for 14 Dec 16):
The details for Granddad's funeral are as follows:
The service will be at 13:00 on Wednesday 28th December at:
There will then be a gathering afterwards at:
If you could include a note asking if people planning to attend would be so good as to email this address so we have an idea of numbers, it would be very much appreciated.
18 Dec 16 - News from HMS Middleton
I am grateful to Lt Cdr Simon Cox, Commanding Officer of HMS MIddleton (MCM2 Crew 6) for this newsletter for December 2016 which I have received via the Ton Class Association ((TCA). I write a column titled 'MCMV News' for the Associaton's bi-monthly newsletter 'Ton Talk'.
MCM 2 Crew 6 has just returned to the UK after six months manning HMS Middleton on Operation KIPION in the Gulf. They have now handed over the ship to MCM2 Crew 8 (ex-HMS Cattistock) commanded by MCDOA member Charlie Wheen. HMS Cattistock is now manned by MCM2 Crew 4.
Crew 6 Chronicle (Issue 04: Dec 2016)
16 Dec 16 - NDG to be represented at funeral of last Royal Oak survivor
The Royal Navy website contains this article announcing the death on Sunday 10 December of Arthur Smith, the last survivor of the battleship HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 at Scapa Flow in Orkney on the night of 14 October 1939 with the loss of 833 lives including 134 boys. He was 94.
The Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG), which replaces the Royal Oak's ensign annually (see entry for 13 Oct 16), knew Mr Smith well and is sending four representatives to his funeral which will take place at 1300 on Thursday 22 December at South West Middlesex Crematorium, Hanworth. CD branch legend Eamon 'Ginge' Fullen QGM informs me that he will be attending, too, having met Arthur in 2007.
Left to right: NDG Chief of Staff (Lt Cdr Tim 'Castro' Castrinoyannakis), CO Fleet Diving Squadron
(Cdr Del McKnight), CO NDG (Lt Cdr Tony Hampshire) and LS(D) Craig MacMillan
replacing HMS Royal Oak's ensign earlier this year
15 Dec 16 - Results of Webmaster's Spinnaker Tower abseil
The fundraising page for my abseil down the Spinnaker Tower (see entry for 29 Aug 16 in News Archive 55) to raise funds for the Vernon Monument and the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) has now closed. Overall sponsorship totalled £5,150 which means £4,635 towards the Vernon Monument and £515 for the RNRMC. I would like to thank all those who supported these worthy causes via my admittedly enjoyable escapade. Who's next?
There are now more ways to support Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a monument at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth to celebrate our Minewarfare & Diving heritage. The latest initiative is Crowd Funding and you can see that some of us have already put our money where our mouths are. Please join us:
Crowdfunder: Vernon Mine Warfare and Diving Monument
The second is the Portsmouth Lottery whereby you can contribute for as little as £1 per week with the chance of winning prizes. Every 10 tickets bought brings in at least £260 for the cause annually:
Portsmouth Lottery: The Vernon Monument
Over £225k has been cleared towards the Vernon Monument to date but, unfortunately, this is still not enough. Without a single benefactor willing to cough up £325k, this was always going to be a marathon rather than a sprint. Since its launch, this competitively-tendered monument in a prime public location, selected by an all-ranks committee of volunteers, was forced to become more than just a simple statue on dry land which is why the target had to be increased. No matter how long it takes, I and others will continue to raise money and give more of our own until the monument is built for the benefit of our minewarfare & diving community, past, present and future. Please continue to be generous until we have achieved our target.
Postscript: The Royal Navy website published this article on 21 December covering the same story.
14 Dec 16 - Death of 'P' Party veteran Raymond William 'Brum' Maries BEM
Yours Truly (Rob Hoole) with Ray Maries in June 2008
I have been informed by ex-CD Jim 'Tommo' Thomson of the death on Tuesday 13 December of Ray 'Brum' Maries after a long illness (see entry for 17 Jul 16 in News Archive 55). He was 91.
The 'P' (Port Clearance) Parties were the fore-runners of the Clearance Diver branch and cleared the booby-trapped ports and harbours of previously German occupied north west Europe of explosive ordnance after D-Day. Ray was awarded a Mention in Despatches "for good services in mine clearance and mine disposal operations in NW Europe" while serving in 'P' Party 1572 immediately before the close of the war with Germany and in the months that followed. To the best of my knowledge, he was the last surviving 'P' Party member following the demise of David Shane of 'P' Party 1571 (see first entry for 20 Aug 14 in News Archive 47), Mike Connolly of 'P' Party 1572 (see entry for 7 Jun 12 in News Archive 38), John Home-Douglas of 'P' Party 1571 (see entry for 24 Apr 12 in News Archive 38) and Arthur Russell MBE of 'P' Party 1572 (see entry for 22 Dec 09 in News Archive 28).
Despite all the hazards they endured, the 'P' Parties only suffered one casualty, AB William Brunskill who died from his wounds on 19 December 1944 after a German V-2 rocket hit the Cinema Rex in Antwerp where he was watching a film three days earlier. He is buried in Schoonselhof Cemetery at Antwerp in Belgium.
These images, kindly provided by Andrew Bailey, son of the late Lt William 'Bill' Bailey CBE DSC GM RNVR (OIC 'P' Party 1574), show a 'P' Party trainee bring dressed in the Sladen 'Clammy Death' Shallow Water Diving Suit and diving set on the training barge at HMS Vernon(D) at Brixham circa 1944:
Diving training barge at HMS Vernon(D) in Brixham with a diver in RMS (Rendering Mines Safe)
diving set shown centre
Left: 'P' Party Mk I suit
Right: 'P' Party Mk II suit
'P' Party members at work
I am sure that all members of our community will join me in extending our sincere condolences to Ray's family, especially his grandson Martin who has accompanied him to several of our functions. I am in contact with Martin and he has promised to send me funeral details when available.
Next year will mark the 65th anniversary of the formation of the RN Clearance Diver branch of which Ray was a pioneer. Here he is being given a preview during the Golden Jubilee 50th anniversary celebrations over the Bank Holiday weekend 3-5 May 2002. About 300 attended the Friday night reunion in the Home Club (where this photo was taken) and over 400 attended the Saturday night dinner dance in the Guildhall. The weekend was rounded off nicely with a Sunday morning thanksgiving service at St Barbara's in HMS Excellent followed by refreshments in the Whaley Club.
Ray 'Brum' Maries ready and waiting for the RN CD Branch Golden Jubilee celebrations
in May 2002
The Committee for the RN CD Branch Golden Jubilee celebrations in May 2002
(Les Sharpe, Yours Truly, Nick Carter and John Cobb)
I look forward to next year's events with anticipation. Sadly, I doubt anyone from Ray's generation will be around to share them this time.
From MCDOA member Bob Hawkins MBE:
"RIP Ray. Condolences to his family."
From Cliff Coulson-Bonner:
"RIP Brum. I had the honour of meeting Ray at CD1 meetings. Such a gent and a humble legend.
Respects to his family."
From Paul 'Yorky' Tudor:
"RIP Ray. Five bells for your efforts and courage. Respects to your family."
From Paul 'Taff' Kennedy:
"RIP Ray. Without heroes like you we would never have had the fantastic careers and lives we have so enjoyed.
Rest easy Sir. Five Bells. Your work is done."
From Martin Spiers:
"RIP Ray. A branch legend."
13 Dec 16 - FDS COs convene on board Royal Yacht Britannia
The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting that the Autumn Conference of Fleet Diving Squadron (FDS) Commanding Officers, all MCDOA members, was held on board the retired Royal Yacht Britannia at Leith on Friday 25 November. The Conference was attended by the COs of the Fleet Diving Squadfron (FDS), Northern Diving Group (NDG), Southern Diving Group (SDG) and Fleet Diving Group (FDG), along with the Officer-in-Charge of the FDS Operational Support Unit (all MCDOA members) and the two Squadron Warrant Officers.
FDS Commanding Officers Conference attendees on board the Royal Yacht Britannia
(Royal Navy photo)
12 Dec 16 - News from HMS Cattistock
I am grateful to Lt Cdr Anthony Pimm RN, Commanding Officer of HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew 4), for this update which I have received via the Ton Class Association ((TCA). I write a column titled 'MCMV News' for the Associaton's bi-monthly newsletter 'Ton Talk'.
"I hope this letter finds you well. Please allow me to introduce myself as the new Commanding Officer of HMS CATTISTOCK serving with MCM2 Crew 4. I wanted to write to you to update you on the various changes and events that have occurred for Crew 4 within the last few months and how my crew and I feel honoured to serve in HMS CATTISTOCK.
Crew 4 returned to the UK in December 2015 having completed a six-month Gulf deployment in HMS ATHERSTONE. After a period of UK running throughout 2016, Crew 4 transferred units and since late November has served in HMS CATTISTOCK. Now under my command we are firmly focused on our future generation in order to deploy to the Gulf in July 2017. At this point we will hand over HMS CATTISTOCK to another crew from our Squadron.
Before the actual deployment the Crew will go through a series of exercises and training serials in Scotland. One of the exercises we will take part in is known as 'Joint Warrior'. This is a golden opportunity for my Crew to conduct Mine Counter Measures operations. After Joint Warrior, we will go through Operational Sea Training (OST) where HMS CATTISTOCK will be put through her paces as every aspect of our operations will be assessed, from fire fighting to live gunnery serials. This will ultimately assure myself and the Fleet Commander that as a Crew we are ready to deploy on Operations.
I am delighted and proud to have now assumed Command of HMS CATTISTOCK and of MCM2 Crew 4. She is a tremendous ship with great history and possesses a formidable capability. I know that you hold a great affiliation with our ship and I will always look where possible to strengthen our affiliation with yourselves through regular updates. Our present programme in the lead-up to deploying is pretty tight. Nevertheless, I remain engaged with our planners to identifying opportunities to invite our affiliates onboard. I will of course keep you updated.
On behalf of HMS CATTISTOCK and Crew 4, I wish you a Merry Christmas and I am looking forward to future correspondence in the New Year.
Lt Cdr RN
MCM2 Crew 4"
10 Dec 16 - HMS Quorn and HMS Atherstone start major upgrade at Portsmouth while HMS Brocklesby re-enters the water
The Portsmouth News website contains this article describing the movement of HMS Quorn and HMS Atherstone into the huge shiphall at Portsmouth Naval Base to undergo a major upgrade including replacement of their Deltic main propulsion engines with Caterpillar diesels.
Postscript: On 13 December, the Royal Navy website published this article, including images, covering the same story.
HMS Quorn (right) and HMS Atherstone in the Ship Hall at Portsmouth
(RN website photo)
HMS Brocklesby was moved out of the Ship Hall and back into the water on completion of her upgrade at the end of November.
(All freeze frame images from Royal Navy video)
9 Dec 16 - From our foreign correspondent
Here is a rare image of the four Avenger class MCMVs USS Dextrous, USS Gladiator, USS Devastator and USS Sentry at sea together in the Gulf. The Bahrain-based ships are under the overall command of the Commander MCM Squadron 5 (COMCMRON 5) otherwise known as Cdre Nils 'Eric' Wirstrom USN who was Guest of Honour at our dinner last month (see entry for 20 Nov 16). The Deputy Commander of MCMRON 5 is MCDOA member Chris O'Flaherty who relieved fellow member David Bence in September last year.
USS Dextrous (MCM-13), USS Gladiator (MCM-11), USS Devastator (MCM-6)
and USS Sentry (MCM-3) in formation in the Gulf
RAN Exercise OCEAN RAIDER 2016
The Royal Australian Navy's website contains this article describing the participation of a minewarfare & clearance diving task group in Exercise OCEAN RAIDER. The exercise took place in Broken Bay, New South Wales and in Cockburn Sound, Western Australia from 14 November to 4 December and involved HMAS Gascoyne, HMAS Huon and CD Team 4.
Launching a Double Eagle mine disposal vehicle from HMAS Gascoyne during OCEAN RAIDER
(RAN website photo)
The Maritime Evaluation Team was led by Cdr Max Muller RAN who undertook the Advanced Minewarfare (AMW) course at HMS Collingwood in 2013 (see entry for 31 May 13 in News Archive 42).
Left to right: Darren Chapman, Yours Truly (Rob Hoole), Max Muller,
John Gunter, Paul 'Taff' Reader and Taff Crandon in May 2013
USN and JDF bilateral MCMEX 3JA
The US Navy website contains this article describing the participation of USS Chief, staff from US Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7 (MCMRON-7) embarked in the Japanese minesweeper tender JDS Bungo and US Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 (EODMU-5) embarked in the Japanes minesweeper tender JDS Uraga, plus other USN and JMDF units, in MCMEX 3JA off Japan. The initial phase focused on limpet mine neutralisation, improvised explosive device (IED) training and helicopter tasking while the secondary phase, involved sweeping, hunting and mine detection culminating in the clearance of a route through a simulated minefield.
Avenger class minehunter USS Chief
Left: Uruga class minesweeper support ship JDS Bungo
Right: Uruga class minesweeper support ship JDS Uruga
Enoshima class minesweeper JDS Chichijima
NATO Exercise NUSRET
The NATO website contains this article describing the participation of corvettes, patrol boats, minehunters, fighter aircraft and unmanned underwater vehicles in Exercise NUSRET. This Turkish-run exercise immediately followed Exercise MAVI BALINA and was conducted in the Aegean Sea from 28 November to 4 December.
Turkish forces included the minehunters TCG Alanya, TCG Amasra, TCG Ayvalık, TCG Anamur, TCG Edincik, TCG Edremit and TCG Enez, the minelayer TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa (which also served as an MCM command & control ship), the corvette TCG Heybeliada, the patrol boat TCG Karşıyaka, a mine recovery vessel, three Coast Guard vessels, a naval EOD team, a helicopter, two F-16C fighters and and a C-130 transport. Other forces included the Bulgarian minesweeper BGS Priboy, the German minehunter FGS Fulda, the Greek minehunter HS Kallisto (ex-HMS Berkeley) and MCM command ship HS Aliakmon, the Romanian minehunter ROS Sub Lieutenant Alexandru Axente and the Spanish minehunter ESPS Tajo. Belgium provided a UUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) and its operators and Greece and Romania deployed EOD teams.
Turkish 'A' class minehunter TCG Anamur
Historical note: On the night of 8 March 1915, just prior to the ill-fated invasion at Gallipoli, the Ottoman minelayer Nusret (365 tons) laid a clandestine field of 26 mines in the Dardanelles which sank the British battleships HMS Irresistible and HMS Ocean and the French battleship Bouvet. It also left the British battlecruiser HMS Inflexible and the French battleships Suffren and Gaulois badly damaged.
Replica of the Turkish Ottoman minelayer Nusret
8 Dec 16 - Award of LS&GC medal
Congratulations to PO(D) J P Harvey, PO(D) P J Hill and LS(D) M G Platts on being gazetted for the award of the Long Service & Good Conduct medal.
7 Dec 16 - Gentlemen Who Lunch
Yesterday, our 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine Trio' of Barlow, Holloway and Hoole joined other members of the Ton Class Association (TCA) for their Portsmouth area Christmas lunch at the Royal Maritime Club. I may have been a tad overdressed this year.
These photos were taken before attendees pulled crackers, donned funny hats and generally let their hair down. Our trio probably helped lower the tone by an order of magnitude.
Many thanks to TCA Stores Officer Laurie Johnson for organising such an enjoyable event to kick off the festive season.
6 Dec 16 - RN Diving Heritage: HMS Safeguard follow-up
I am grateful to ex-CD Peter Gallant for this contribution:
Your entry for 24 Nov 16 featured the Diving School at HMS Safeguard, Rosyth. I enclose a photo taken during Navy Days in the mid-1960s. It shows a mix of CDs and ships' divers.
Back row: Stu Grainger (CD), Wilbur Dodds (SD), Charlie Kempson (CD1), Dave (Tanzy) Lee (CD),
? (ShD), Pete Gallant (CD), ? (ShD), Pete Edge (ShD later CD)
Front row: Ken Snowball (CD1), Chief Robbins (Standard Diver 1), ? Standard Diver,
Lt John O'Driscoll (CDO), Retired CDO)
5 Dec 16 - Query about gas storage bottle and SABA pressures
I have received this query via the website:
"Dear Sir, or if the incumbent is still Rob Hoole, Hello Rob!
We met some years ago, when I was an RNR Officer, during a 'Naval Control Of Shipping' weekend exercise, I think at Falmouth.
I recently took up the writing of an autobiographical book earlier this year that I had allowed to lapse for some time owing to other pressures and Rob had both previously and kindly filled in some detail for me. A BR 155 circa 1964 edition would be very useful at present, or even access to a copy would be invaluable.
I spent the majority of my lower deck career before being promoted on the SD (AV) list, as a Helicopter Aircrewman/SAR Diver. My RN diving life started in February 1963, when I qualified at Devonport as a SWD [Shallow Water Diver], then later that year, I passed a combined Free Diver-SAR [Search & Rescue] Diver course at Vernon and as the years progressed, Senior Rate Supervisor, to ShDO.
It is amazing what people forget and the few former SARDs with whom I am still in contact are unable, for instance, to recall the working pressure of the UBA bottles. I think it was 6,000 psi, 'Stepped up' with a (manual) booster pump from 4,000 psi in the main storage bottles. I don't remember much more about the details of SABA either, apart from the bottles being very light as they were of spun alloy,
A little help from you professionals of the MCDOA would be greatly appreciated and credits will of course be given.
The bottles of Pattern 5561A/5562A (old-type CDBA oxygen/mixture) rigged for Shallow Water Diving or Clearance Diving were charged to 3,000 psi (205 Bar). If you can provide Roger with the full bottle pressure of the 110 m3 (oxygen) and 150 m3 (air) storage bottles and/or the charged pressure of old-type SABA (Swimmers' Air Breathing Apparatus), then please email me via my Webmaster address. I have checked my copies of the BR 155 and BR 2806 Diving Manuals and the information does not seem to be available. If memory serves me correctly, we charged our SABA bottles to 165 bar (2,400 psi).
Old-style SABA with 110 m3 oxygen storage bottles
on right at top of mining trials tank in HMS Vernon
Hand-operated booster pump
From ex-CD Jim 'Tommo' Thomson:
The fully charged pressure of SABA was 2,410 psi (164 bar). Breathing down one cylinder until breathing became difficult, then equalising from the other cylinder, surface after second equalisation.
The 150 cu ft air supply bottles were 164 bar.
SDDE bottles were charged to 3,000 psi (200 bar).
The 4012 reducer on SABA and SDDE, had to be serviced by the Tiffy Divers. Complicated bit of kit.
The supply cylinder volumes for O2 and mix gas were in cu ft, NOT cu metres. Supplied at 3,000 psi (200 bar) then booster pumped after equalising to 200 bar.
Breathing set twin O2 cylinders, were 1.84 litres, a single being 0.92 litres.
Old style CDBA volume 3.94 litres charged to 200 bar.
If I have made any errors, the head is getting older.
4 Dec 16
Happy 90th Birthday to William Lebeter
See entry for 3 Dec 16.
From Jim Bryce:
On behalf of members of the World Naval Ships Forums, would you please pass on our good wishes to William Lebeter on his 90th birthday. Those little ships were just as important as larger members of the fleet and the role they played ensured that the other members of the fleet, and support vessels, could operate safe from the danger of mines, in all areas of operation."
From Colin Newcombe:
"Happy birthday. All the very best. "
From MCDOA member David Carey:
"Happy 90th birthday, Bill! You and my father, Vincent, shared many wartime experiences and would have some very similar memories to recall over a tot or two: he was in HMS Valiant when you were both off the beaches at the Salerno and Anzio landings in 1943; then, when you were in the 7th MSF, he was in the 6th in HMS Lightfoot, on D-Day and the days directly after the landings: you were even in adjacent swept channels (5, 8 and the Spout)!
Then, when you served in HMS Rifleman, in Force 155, together you swept the same minefields off Trincomalee, Penang, Malacca Straits and Singapore. My dad passed away in 2002, sadly, aged 82 but, like you, he was a lifelong member of the Algerines Association, so I’m sure you must have met each other at some time and I hope that this dit will bring back the happier memories of those days…"
From Terry Gosling:
"Happy birthday. BZ"
From Ken Rutherford:
"Happy birthday, William Lebeter! All the best."
From Terry McKinley:
From Paul Cavanagh:
"Happy birthday, Bill. Splice the mainbrace. "
From Russ Sellars:
"Have a great birthday, Bill. Sippers, shippers."
From Chris Doonan:
"Happy birthday, William. We appreciate your service. Have a great day."
From Bob Dean:
"Happy birthday, William. I hope you have a great day. I know quite a few ex-Algerine men, especially those who run the association. I will have a tot for you."
From Norman Thoroughgood:
From Graham Charlton:
"Happy birthday, mate."
From John Harvey:
From Mick Atkinson:
"Have a great day on your birthday, William, even if it's only to wet your lips. Up spirits!"
From John Rawson:
"Cheers, Bill. Up spirits!"
From Shaun Bailey:
"From an old Ton Class rating, happy birthday, William. I hope you have a brilliant day!"
From MCDOA member Colin Dodd:
"Happy birthday and thank you for your service."
From Dan Archer:
"Happy birthday and best wishes, William. Bottoms up!!!"
From Eamon 'Ginge' Fullen QGM:
"All the best on your 90th. Enjoy your tot of rum on the day.
"Happy birthday, William. Have a great day."
From Ian 'Scouse' Fleming:
"Happy birthday, William. Respect to you, Sir, from the Gibraltar Clearance Diving Element."
From John Crook:
"Many happy returns for the 4th, William."
From Robert Staniforth:
"Happy 90th birthday."
From MCDOA member Nick Stanley:
"Happy birthday, William"
From Terry Heald:
"Happy birthday, shipmate. Have a good day. Enjoy."
From Colin Hamilton:
"Happy birthday, matey!"
From Tony Ray:
"Happy birthday from an ex-HMS Jewel."
From Nick Lee:
"Happy birthday, Bill! Make sure your tot is 90 proof on Sunday!"
From James Baxter:
"Happy birthday, Bill. 'Sandy bottoms!' to another great shipmate when I have my TOT tonight."
From Allan Brown:
"Happy birthday, Bill. I will be drinking a tot in your honour on Sunday. Up spirits!"
From Frank Robson:
"Have a great day with many more to come. UP SPIRITS!"
From MCDOA member Phil Ireland DSC:
"Happy birthday, shipmate William. Thank you so much for your service. Hope you have a lovely celebration."
From John 'JJ' Forbes, member of the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officers' Club (REBDOC):
"Happy birthday, William, from the sapper contingent diving school."
From Francis Frank Murphy:
"Happy birthday, William. Up spirits!"
From Phillip Woodland:
"Happy 90th birthday on the 4th December, William. Here's to your tot time and looking to your 91st."
From Stephen Baxter:
"Happy birthday, William. Tot time I think."
From Jim McIntosh:
"Happy birthday for the 4th. Hands to minesweeping stations. Out sweeps..."
From Bob Maddison:
"All sweepers together. Have a good birthday, William."
From Vernon Tubman:
"All the best, William, for the 4th from Tyne RNA, 90 years young. I will raise a tot to you. Salud!"
From David Michie:
"Happy birthday, William. Splice the Mainbrace! "
From Mick Fellows MBE DSC BEM*
"Happy birthday, William. From one old Algerine shipmate (HMS Acute) to another."
From Sam Cook:
"A very happy birthday, William Lebeter. Thank you for all you did. Have a tot. You deserve it."
From Bernard Foster:
"Happy birthday, William. I will have a tot of Myers rum and salute you on the 4th."
From Richard Conway:
"Happy birthday, mate. Have sippers on me."
From MCDOA member 'Brad Vincent', author of Far from Breaking Waves:
"Happy birthday, William Lebeter. Thanks for your service, shippers!"
From MCDOA Vice Chairman & Webmaster Rob Hoole:
"Hello William. Many happy returns of the day on behalf of the Minewarfare & Clearance Diving Officers' Association. You should be very proud of your daughter Sue."
3 Dec 16 - 90th birthday of a Second World War minesweeper veteran
I have received this request via the website:
"To whom it may concern,
My dad, William Lebeter, is a member of the Algerines Association. As he approaches his 90th birthday (4 December), I wondered if you would be prepared to send him some form of birthday greeting. His sight is failing and he drinks very little rum nowadays but he chats animatedly about his time spent during the Second World War in SE Asia including Ceylon and Singapore. He also speaks about the camaraderie and friendships he formed in the Royal Navy.
I would be so grateful. He lives in Nottingham and is also on Facebook under his name.
Sue Lebeter (daughter)"
HMS Orestes - One of the Algerine class minesweepers in which William Lebeter served
© IWM (A 20671)
This partial account of the Algerine class minesweepers of the 18th MSF, including HMS Orestes, is taken from pages 141-144 of Fleet Sweepers at War by Jack Williams:
18th Minesweeping Flotilla
The second Algerine flotilla to be formed was the 18th MSF. First to be completed and to work together were HOUND, HYDRA, READY (SO) and LOYALTY, sweeping in Lyme Bay in mid-1943. All had had some experience working up with other flotillas (either Halcyon or Bangor). In August they were joined at Harwich by COCKATRICE, ORESTES and ONYX, who had been sweeping with the Halcyon 1st MSF at Londonderry. Also joining to complete the flotilla was RATTLESNAKE.
The first operation for the 18th MSF was Operation 'Starkey'. READY, HOUND, HYDRA, ONYX, LOYALTY and COCKATRICE joined the Bangor 9th MSF (SIDMOUTH SO) to sweep in the English Channel in the hope that the Luftwaffe would be lured to attack, and the RAF would be able to have a go at them. In the event it never happened and the operation was discontinued. However whilst still engaged on 'Starkey' the flotilla came under fire from German coastal batteries at Griz Nez. Several shells fell near HYDRA, one of which caused considerable damage to her bridge and wireless aerials on the mast and several of the crew were wounded including the captain... <snip>
Operation 'Neptune' - Normandy
After undergoing boiler-cleans and the necessary repairs after some months at Iceland, the flotilla began to prepare for the big event - the invasion of Normandy. Exercises were held to accustom the flotilla to sweeping at night and working with landing craft. Early in May the 18th took part in one of the main exercises, along with the Algerine 6th MSF, - Fabius II - for Assault Force G to which the flotilla had been allocated for the invasion. Later in May HOUND (acting SO) led LOYALTY, ONYX, HYDRA, ORESTES, COCKATRICE and a newcomer STORMCLOUD, temporaily attached, on a sweep off Newhaven. During the sweep an acoustic mine exploded under the stern of STORMCLOUD, causing considerable damage. LOYALTY took her in tow back to Portsmouth where she remained under repair and took no further part in 'Neptune'. For the invasion, the 18th MSF, with the danlayers DOON, EGILSAY, HORNBEAM and JUDE and three MLs, were allocated Channel Number 6 ahead of 'G' Force to Gold Beach in the British Eastern Sector. During their sweep on the night of 5/6 June they swept 22 mines, one of the few flotillas to encounter any mines.
The initial sweep over, the flotilla remained in the Normandy area for several weeks, periodically returning to Portsmouth. On 14 June RATTLESNAKE was damaged by a near miss from a mine exploding close by her port side and was retired to Chatham for repair. Replacing her were two BAMs, PYLADES and STEADFAST, and a few days later both READY and HOUND had to leave the area because of defects. In addition to sweeping during the day the flotilla were called upon to protect the anchorage area. With other sweepers they formed a protective ring which became known as 'the Trout Line'. On the night of 7/8 July an attack by human torpedoes was repelled by ORESTES whose Oerlikon gunners accounted for several of these, but not before the flotilla suffered the loss of PYLADES. She was hit in the stern and sank very quickly along with a number of her crew. The previous night two other BAMs, MAGIC and CATO of the 40th MSF, had also been sunk by the human torpedoes with heavy loss of life. During the night of 20/21 July HOUND and ORESTES picked up survivors of the destroyer ISIS, sunk whilst on patrol in the western sector.
During August the flotilla continued sweeping, mainly LL and SA for magnetic and acoustic mines. On 22 August READY, HOUND, HYDRA, LOYALTY and RATTLESNAKE were sweeping on passage back to Portsmouth when LOYALTY's sweeps parted. The remainder continued on passage leaving DOON with LOYALTY recovering her sweep. Steaming at 16 knots to catch up with the flotilla, LOYALTY was hit by a torpedo fired by U-480. Within four minutes LOYALTY capsized and sank with the loss of her captain and 18 ratings. Replacing her was TANGANYIKA, and the flotilla continued sweeping off Le Havre for some more weeks, before re-forming at Harwich in the middle of October.
The next operation for the 18th MSF was to assist in Operation 'Cinderella' - the attack on Walcheren and Westkapelle by Royal Marines. The task of the sweepers was to sweep a clear channel for the big guns of the battleship WARSPITE and the monitors EREBUS and ROBERTS, who would bombard Walcheren before the landings. Following this operation six ships of the flotilla, READY, ORESTES, TANGANYIKA, HYDRA, ONYX and COCKATRICE, arrived off Ostend on 10 November to begin another sweeping operation, but because of bad weather were unable to anchor. After six laps up and down HYDRA hit a mine and the explosion broke her back. She was very badly damaged and all movable top weight was jettisoned. Both the motor boat and whaler were lowered and unfortunately drifted away. Sadly the five men in the whaler were drowned when the whaler capsized in the surf. HYDRA was towed into Sheerness but was found to be beyond repair and became a Total Loss.
The flotilla continued sweeping throughout the winter of 1944/45 in spite of the fog and bad weather encountered. Towards the end of April 1945 the 18th, with FELICITY of the 10th MSF temporarily attached in exchange for CHEERFUL, became part of Force C of Fleet sweepers and Auxiliary sweepers whose task it was to clear the channel into Hamburg and Cuxhaven - Operation 'Dropkick'. The sweep completed on 4 May and CHEERFUL remained with the 10th MSF until the end of June. After escorting the first convoy into Hamburg, ONYX, RATTLESNAKE, COCKATRICE and TANGANYIKA joined with the 10th MSF (COURIER SO) for Operation 'Fireball' - the sweep, mainly LL and SA for influence mines, to open up the port of Rotterdam. This completed, the flotilla remained in the area for more sweeping, and in August moved to Harwich where they were joined by a newcomer, MANDATE, one of the first to be commissioned post-war. The rest of the year was spent sweeping off the East Coast.
With the war in Europe now over the work of the flotilla changed to that of mine clearance and after necessary repairs and refits had been carried out the 18th MSF joined the Plymouth Command in March 1946 to begin the task of clearing the thousands of mines surrounding the UK.
HMS Acute - One of the Algerine class minesweepers in which William Lebeter served
© IWM (FL 142)
This partial account of the Algerine class minesweepers of the 12th MSF, including HMS Acute, is taken from pages 138 -141 of Fleet Sweepers at War by Jack Williams:
Operation 'Torch' - Invasion of North Africa
On 22 October 1942 the flotilla, without ALGERINE who had fouled her propeller with her sweep, sailed from the Clyde as part escort of Convoy KMS 1 - a slow troop convoy heading for the invasion of North Africa (Operation 'Torch). ALGERINE followed a few days later and, with the Halcyons HUSSAR and SPEEDWELL, joined the flotilla at Gibraltar. The flotilla swept ahead of the invasion force to Algiers, arriving there on 8 November, after which the flotilla were assigned to patrol and local escort duties. Early in the morning of 15th November ALGERINE, whilst on patrol off Bone with ALARM, was torpedoed by the Italian submarine Ascianghi and sank with the loss of all her officers and more than 80 of her ship's company.
The 12th MSF continued working in the area; CADMUS being particularly active and coming under heavy air attack off Bougie, and later picking up 211 survivors from the bombed troopship Narkunda. On 4 December CADMUS attacked a surfaced submarine off Djedjelli and rammed her as she attempted to dive. However the submarine escaped. ALBACORE was also heavily bombed but suffered only slight damage from near misses. Early in January ALARM was damaged by bombs whilst alongside at Bone, and a few days later,after being beached, she was again attacked. This time she received a direct hit and was written off as a total loss. The following week ACUTE was damaged when a torpedo hit a propeller blade and she required dockyard repair at Gibraltar. This left only CADMUS and ALBACORE, with the Halcyons SPEEDWELL and HUSSAR, to continue sweeping and escorting convoys along the North African coast. On 29 January CADMUS assisted the antiaircraft ship POZARICA, torpedoed by aircraft, into Bougie after taking off many of her wounded.
Operation 'Antidote' - Sweep along N. Africa coast
In April CIRCE and ESPIEGLE arrived from the UK to replace the casualties of the flotilla, and shortly after the new Senior Officer ship arrived. This was FANTOME under the command of Captain John Boutwood RN. On 9 May the flotilla, including the attached HUSSAR, were joined at Bizerta by the Bangor 13th MSF (Cdr.L J.S. Ede in RHYL SO) and Operation 'Antidote' commenced. This was the clearance of a passage through the Galita and Sicilian channels as far as Tripoli. At the same time as previously described in the chapter on 'Bangors', the 14th MSF (CROMARTY SO) began sweeping westward from Alexandria to Tripoli. Progress for the 12/13th MSFs was very slow, due to large numbers of anti-sweeping devices being encountered. So bad were these that on one occasion every sweeper engaged had lost their gear whilst still in the minefield. On 20 May the flotilla suffered another loss when FANTOME had her stern blown off when a mine exploded in her gear close under her stern. CADMUS towed her into Bone, and after temporary repair she was sailed back to UK but was never repaired and was a total loss. ACUTE took over as leader and by 7 June the sweep was completed, 256 contact mines having been cut and destroyed. The 12th MSF's share was 166. Also in June further replacements arrived from UK in the form of FLY (taking over as SO under Captain Boutwood) and MUTINE.
Operation 'Husky' - Invasion of Sicily and Operation 'Avalanche' Salerno
The flotilla were soon in action again, this time for the invasion of Sicily Operation 'Husky' - which took place on 12 July. In appalling weather conditions FLY, MUTINE, CADMUS and ESPIEGLE swept the approaches to Beach 'West' while ACUTE, CIRCE and ALBACORE joined with Bangors of the 14th MSF to sweep the eastern sector. The initial sweep being successfully completed, the flotilla remained in the area for a couple of weeks carrying out A/S patrols and escorting convoys to Malta or Bizerta. From Tripoli the flotilla, joined by the 13th MSF, sailed to sweep ahead of yet another invasion force - Operation 'Avalanche', the first landings on the mainland of Europe at Salerno. Although the Italian Government had surrendered on 8 September, the invasion the next day was met by heavy bombing by the German Luftwaffe. The sweepers also came under heavy fire from shore guns, but there were no casualties. In his report the Senior Officer, Captain Boutwood, drew attention to a number of problems encountered by the minesweepers, and this report formed the basis for the future success of the biggest minesweeping operation of the war - at Normandy. The 12th MSF remained in the area until 18 September by which time they had accounted for 135 mines.
This was the start of a long association between the 12th MSF and the west coast of Italy which continued through to the middle of 1946 when the flotilla finally left the Mediterranean. Next area for sweeping for the flotilla was the Bay of Naples, the port falling to the advancing Allies on 1 October after which the flotilla were based at Capri. Sweeping in support of the army and for the bombarding British and American cruisers and destroyers kept the flotilla very busy during the following months. More often than not the sweepers came under heavy fire from shore batteries, particularly in the Gulf of Gaeta area, and also from regular visits by the Luftwaffe. CADMUS suffering slight damage from a near miss on one occasion. By the end of December 1943 the flotilla had swept a staggering 770 mines since their arrival in the Mediterranean just 13 months previously.
Operation 'Shingle' - Landing at Anzio
January 1944 saw the flotilla preparing for Operation 'Shingle' - a landing at Anzio ninety miles north of Naples and about 30 miles south of Rome. Assisted by two Algerines of the 19th MSF - RINALDO and WATERWITCH - and two Bangors of the 13th MSF - BUDE and ROTHESAY - the flotilla swept the main channel for the invasion force during the night of 21/22 January 1944. The invasion sweep completed the flotilla returned to their base at Naples. From Naples they were to continue sweeping northwards from Anzio up as far as into the mouth of the River Tiber for the next few months. In addition to clearing channels the flotilla were often engaged on particular operations in support of the bombardment warships. During the period January to May, the flotilla were augmented by the loan of sweepers from the other Algerine flotilla which had entered the Mediterranean in December 1943 - the 19th MSF of RINALDO (SO), ROSARIO, WATERWITCH, BRAVE and SPANKER. When not working with the 12th MSF, the 19th flotilla, joined in March/April by three more - the Canadian built ships ARIES, ANTARES and ARCTURUS - were engaged in mine clearance around Malta. On 11/12 April ACUTE (acting SO), ESPIEGLE, CIRCE and SPANKER (from the 19th MSF) carried out a sweep over known enemy minefields south west of Anzio and cut five mines. The following week the same sweepers extended their sweeping northwards into the mouth of the River Tiber. So close where they to the shore that it was possible to see vehicles along the promenade at Lido di Roma from the sweepers with the naked eye, and which brought German mobile guns to fire at the sweepers. The sweepers then retired for a time but then returned to continue sweeping.
On 20 April the same four sweepers, with the attendant trawler danlayers ST KILDA and HORNPIPE, left Naples to again sweep the western approach channel off Anzio, which again took them into the Tiber area. Sweeping began the next day and continued on 22 April, the sweepers carrying out anti-submarine patrols at night. On Sunday 23 April - St.George's Day - more mines were swept and at 1400 the sweepers finished for the day. As they got their sweeps in, an explosion occurred at the stern of CIRCE. She had caught a mine in her sweep and had hauled it inboard. Several of the crew were killed or injured and her stern compartments were flooded. ACUTE and SPANKER raced to help her and it was decided to tow her the 100 miles back to Naples. With ACUTE and SPANKER secured on either side and ST KILDA towing at three knots and ESPIEGLE escorting, the crippled CIRCE eventually arrived back at Naples. Subsequent repair at Taranto took seven months. On 11 May FLY, CADMUS, ACUTE, ESPIEGLE, ALBACORE, with SPANKER and ROSARIO (of the 19th MSF) carried out a night sweep off Gaeta in support of the final offensive mounted on Monte Cassino and the 30 mile front of the Gustav Line, which for some months had held up the advancement of the Allied armies. During the next two days the sweepers swept close inshore off Gaeta in preparation of a bombardment by the the British cruiser DIDO and American cruisers BROOKLYN and PHILADELPHIA. During this sweep the flotilla came under heavy gunfire from coastal batteries at the eastern end of each lap as they came to less than a mile from the shore.
At the end of May the flotilla completed the Naples to Anzio channel through the Gulf of Gaeta, cutting 89 mines. After the fall of Rome on 4 June the flotilla with Bangors of the 13th MSF and the 28th Motor Launch Flotilla swept the approaches to the port of Civitavecchia which fell to the advancing Allied troops on 13 June. The flotilla then carried out the sweeping of the anchorage area for magnetic and acoustic mines. Gradually the flotilla moved up the coast, in a race against time for the sweepers to keep up with the Allied advance, but so successful were they that at one time the flotilla were actually ahead of the advancing troops. On 14 July the 12th MSF joined forces with two other flotillas - the 19th and the 13th MSFs - to clear a channel to the port of Leghorn (Operation 'Lobster'). On 25 July the channel was declared cleared and the port was open to shipping. The operation to clear the Anzio to leghorn channel had taken six weeks, involving three flotillas of Fleet sweepers, numerous danlayers, MMS, BYMS and MLs, covering a total area of 234 square miles and accounting for 250 mines. During the early part of the sweeping the flotilla had come under the fire of 'Anzio Annie' and in the latter stages under the fire of 'Leghorn Lizzie'. For the next couple of months the flotilla continued sweeping off the west coast of Italy and raised their total of mines swept to 1013, which occasioned the congratulations of the Supreme Allied Commander (Mediterranean).
On 22 October the flotilla were ordered to Greece to assist the Algerine 5th MSF which had suffered the loss of two of that flotilla through mines. ACUTE, ALBACORE, ESPIEGLE and MUTINE were joined by two of the 5th MSF, SKIPJACK and TRUELOVE, and began sweeping on 1 November off Skiathos and into Salonika. During this sweep the flotilla had their first encounter with German 'Oboe' mines - designed to explode shortly after being cut and reaching the surface, usually just as the following sweeper was passing. This often resulted in minor internal damage and both MUTINE and ACUTE received some damage. The flotilla continued sweeping in the area for the next few weeks, often working with the 5th MSF (WELFARE SO), with periodic visits by individual ships to Malta for repair or boiler-clean. On 17 December FLY, ALBACORE and MUTINE joined with six of the 5th MSF to sweep through the Dardanelles to ensure a swept channel for a fleet of major warships carrying Sir Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt to a meeting with Stalin at Yalta. Because of bad weather sweeping was held up and Christmas was spent at Mudros. When the sweep restarted on 1 January 1945 ACUTE and ESPIEGLE replaced FLY and MUTINE. During the next few days a channel 19 miles long and two miles wide was swept and 52 mines accounted for. The weather during this sweep was described as 'stinking' but because of the importance of the operation it had to continue. There was an interesting occurrence when ACUTE went aground on the Turkish coast, but fortunately she was towed off before an international incident could arise. The 12th MSF continued sweeping off Greece for the next couple of months; in four and a half days accounting for 187 mines when clearing the Thermia and Doro channels, and a few days later clearing a minefield which yielded another 131 mines. On 23 March, after a brief respite for repairs and rest at Malta, the flotilla - ACUTE, ALBACORE, CADMUS, CIRCE and ESPIEGLE - returned to Naples and then back north to Leghorn. At Genoa the 12th relieved the Algerine 8th MSF and on 9 May ACUTE became the first major warship to enter the anchorage at the port.
With the war in Europe now ended, the flotilla was engaged in mine clearance mainly in the Leghorn/Genoa area until leaving for Malta in March 1946. In April ESPIEGLE left the flotilla to join the 5th MSF, and the remainder FLY, ACUTE, CADMUS, ALBACORE, CIRCE and MUTINE returned to the UK. During their time in the Mediterranean the 12th MSF had accounted for 2,395 mines and 320 obstructions - a magnificent achievement indeed!
HMS Rifleman - One of the Algerine class minesweepers in which William Lebeter served
© IWM (FL 18071)
This partial account of the Algerine class minesweepers of the 7th MSF in the Far East, including HMS Rifleman, is taken from pages 149 & 150 of Fleet Sweepers at War by Jack Williams:
...The ships of the 7th MSF spent most of December and January 1945 at various dockyards, undergoing repairs and refits as part of their preparation for service with the British East Indies Fleet based at Colombo (Ceylon). By mid-February all the flotilla were at Falmouth or Portland ready for the passage out to the Far East. On 17 February the first to leave - PINCHER, RECRUIT, RIFLEMAN and PLUCKY - sailed from Falmouth escorting a convoy of LSTs bound for Gibraltar. At 0855 on 23 February as the convoy was in sight of Cape Trafalgar, a lookout in PINCHER reported what he thought was a periscope. The Asdic confirmed the contact and PINCHER turned and headed towards the enemy at full speed. As PINCHER neared the expected position the conning tower of a submarine appeared and to everyone's astonishment the crew came pouring out and leaping into the sea. By this time PINCHER had opened fire with her 4-ins and RECRUIT was joining in the shooting. However the U-boat (later found to be U-300) was already sinking and the sweepers, including RIFLEMAN, began to pick up survivors. Four officers and 37 crew were rescued and put ashore at Gibraltar. Subsequently it was learned that U-300 had been damaged two days earlier by the Armed Yacht EVADNE and her captain had decided to scuttle her when confronted by the sweepers.
The others of the flotilla sailed singly or in pairs at various times in the last weeks of February, in company with others as part of convoy or escort. FANCY and SQUIRREL had the enviable task of towing an Admiralty Floating Dock which foundered in the Bay of Biscay and damaged SQUIRREL so that she had to return to Plymouth and couldn't leave again until mid-April. On arrival at Malta FANCY left the 7th MSF and was re-allocated to the 19th MSF in the Mediterranean. By 14 April PINCHER, PLUCKY. RECRUIT. CHAMELEON, VESTAL, PICKLE (SO) and RIFLEMAN were at Colombo and a few days later sailed for Akyab, Burma. On 29 April the flotilla with the 37th MSF (Royal Indian Navy Bathursts) and a host of auxiliary sweepers and danlayers (the whole minesweeping force known as Force 65) sailed to take part in Operation 'Dracula', the assault to recapture Rangoon from the Japanese. Sweeping began on 1 May of the approaches to Rangoon and the big warships and troopships arrived the next day. Rangoon was recaptured without any fighting and the battleships and cruisers were not required. In fact the Japanese had already left the city on 29 April, but of course this was not known to the invasion force.
Loss of SQUIRREL and VESTAL
During May and June the flotilla took the opportunity for essential repairs and minor refits to take place in the delightful surroundings of South Africa, at Durban or Port Elizabeth. This meant that the only available ships on 19 July were PLUCKY (acting as SO), PINCHER, VESTAL, SQUIRREL and RIFLEMAN, and they sailed that day to take part in Operation 'Livery', an offensive sweep off Phuket Island, Siam, supported by the battleship NELSON, the cruiser SUSSEX, two carriers AMEER and EMPRESS, and four destroyers. Acting as danlayers for the 7th MSF were the RIN Bathursts PUNJAB and DECCAN. Sweeping began on 24 July and having swept eleven mines in the previous three laps, the flotilla were about to start their fourth lap. As they began this lap a mine exploded in PLUCKY's sweep causing her to haul out of line. SQUIRREL following was unable to get into clear water and hit a mine which exploded under her forepart. She was very badly damaged and obviously sinking so the order to 'Abandon Ship' was given. The others of the flotilla took on board survivors and one of the destroyers sank her with gunfire. Seven ratings were killed or died later and fourteen ratings and three officers were injured. Sweeping resumed the next day and continued on 26 July. A further 24 mines were swept. During the morning a group of Japanese 'kamikaze' planes attacked the force, and slightly damaged SUSSEX and AMEER for the loss of three aircraft. This was the first such attack on the British East Indies Fleet. Later that day the planes returned and this time obviously intended to press their attack. Despite heavy fire from the supporting warships, the planes made for the minesweepers, busily minesweeping and keeping a straight course and unable to take evasive action in the minefield. One of the aircraft made straight for VESTAL and there was a tremendous explosion as the plane crashed onto the upperdeck, amidships aft of the funnel. The order to abandon ship was given and PUNJAB went alongside to take off survivors and the wounded. More than twenty men were killed or missing, and many others injured. VESTAL was sunk by gunfire and a torpedo from the destroyer RACEHORSE. In just three days two ships and many shipmates had been lost and it was a sad return to Trincomolee a few days later. VESTAL and SQUIRREL were the two transferred from the 6th MSF.
On 15 August 1945 PLUCKY, RIFLEMAN, RECRUIT and PINCHER joined Force 155 (6th MSF and RIN Bathursts), left Colombo and swept through the Malacca Starits ahead of the British East Indies Fleet, the first time for a British warship since the tragic loss of PRINCE OF WALES and REPULSE. On 30 August they swept the approaches to Penang for the cruisers CLEOPATRA and LONDON and the battleship NELSON on board which the surrender of Penang was signed. On 4 September the flotilla swept the cruiser SUSSEX into Singapore for the surrender. The war in the Far East was now over and the 7th MSF spent the next few months clearance sweeping in various areas, mainly Penang and the Banka Straits. There were several changes to the flotilla during that time - newcomers MICHAEL and MINSTREL joining in February 1946. In July the original six of the flotilla sailed for home and by September all had paid off and the 7th MSF was disbanded.
I have alerted certain people about Sue's request but it would be wonderful if other readers of this website participate too. Send me your greetings via FB message or my MCDOA Webmaster email address and I will publish them for William and his daughter Sue to see.
2 Dec 16 - More ordnance dredged up off Portsmouth
1 Dec 16 - Funeral of Lt Cdr Ian Morton RN
It was good to see so many naval uniforms, all worn by RNR personnel including a Captain, at Ian's funeral at the Oaks Crematorium in Havant yesterday (see entry for 17 Nov 16). Other attendees included MCDOA past-Presidents Chris Massie-Taylor OBE and Colin Welborn, MCDOA founding Chairman David Sandiford and his wife Pauline, MCDOA members Doug Barlow and his wife Jill, Roger Davies (who joined BRNC Dartmouth with Ian as a fellow SD officer), Brian Dutton DSO QGM and his wife Audrey, Dougie MacDonald and your humble Vice Chairman Rob Hoole with my wife Linda as well as Mine Warfare Association (MWA) Chairman Dixie Dean MBE. Other familiar faces included Cdr Paul 'Paddy' Murnane MBE, Cdr Kevin Kinsella QVRM and Lt Cdr David Ranger. Paul 'Yorky' Tudor, who served with Ian in the Portsmouth Area Clearance Diving Unit (PACDU), was the only non-MCDO Clearance Diver present. The congregation was completed by members of Ian's extended family and their many, many other friends.
Mourners entered the chapel to the sound of The Skye Boat Song sung by Laura Wright before the casket was borne in. The Rev'd Colin Noyce, Chaplain to the Ton Class Association (TCA), then welcomed attendees and led the prayers of penitence. We then sang the Naval Hymn (Eternal Father) before Colin read from John, Chapter 14, verses 1-6 (In My Father's House are Many Mansions). Ian's younger son Michael then delivered a brief tribute to his father before his elder son James, a former serving Royal Marines officer, delivered this eulogy:
A Eulogy to Dad
(by James Morton)
On behalf of Dad and the whole family, thank you all very much for coming to say goodbye to my father, celebrate his life and wish him well as we send him on his way.
Born in 1948 in Irvine, Ayshire to Betty and Jon Morton. Dad was the eldest of three children, his brother James, and sister Josie. His parents told him at 15 that he should join the services; just pick one they said. Of course he chose the Senior Service, the Royal Navy.
Tragically, his brother James was killed in a road traffic accident at the tender age of 18. He would decide a number of years later that I should be named after him. His parents struggled to cope with the loss and chose to make a fresh start in New Zealand, taking his younger sister Josie with them to Auckland. Their plan was that Dad would transfer to the New Zealand Navy. However, by this time he had met Elizabeth Margaret Anderson at the Pavilion Dance Hall in Ayrshire. Dad was 20, and Mum was 18. She was a trainee sick children’s nurse whilst Dad was now a communicator in the Royal Navy. The problem was that he was based in Portsmouth. Every weekend without fail, he would jump in his Mini Cooper and make the 12-hour trek to see mum, driving through the night and sleeping in his car. If the Matron hadn’t given Mum a pass, she would often have to sneak out through the window to see him.
Mum lived in West Morton St. She went to Morton Academy, and got married on the 2nd November 1972, in Morton Parish Church to Ian Morton – surely that was fate. They could only get married on a Thursday, as Mum's parents owned a small shoe shop and it was half-day opening every Thursday. Typically Scottish, they didn’t want to lose any trade! They moved at the end of the month to Portsmouth, where they built a life and made many new friends. Aunty Jacqui and Uncle Steve, John and Di. They had myself and younger brother just 18 months apart.
Although away a lot with the Navy, he was a great father, and we both have very many happy memories growing up. Things that I will remember: fantastic holidays, teaching us to swim, sail and windsurf. Watching him on his windsurfer; pretty easy to spot, not just his size but the large mickey mouse sail that he had got from somewhere – no one else had one of those?
Although he was given elocution lessons in the Navy, his Scottish accent would always come back after a couple of drinks, Burns night and when he crossed the border back into Scotland. He also had a particularly strange Indian accent when he ordered a curry. Painfully deaf – most of it I’m sure was selective …watching him frustratingly blue tooth his iphone to his hearing aids His cycling lycra, a joy for all to see All of the things a Dad to should help with – our education, the clubs and sports events he took us to – fixing bikes, cars, houses, advice – he always had something valuable to add and worth listening to.
One father’s day dinner after the port had gone round – he challenged 30 Royal Marines Officers in their 20s to mess rugby – Dad was 55. Not in peak physical condition, but game nonetheless. Great family BBQs. His love for whiskey, but reluctance to share the good stuff. The strange surprises over the years that he arranged for Mum: 40th - a block of kitchen knives, 50th - a chimenea that he proudly wheeled up from the bottom of the garden. Popping out for milk and coming back having bought Mum a small sports car
But his best and crowning moment, after a couple of whiskies one night in the Plockton hotel, near the Isle of Skye – he bought a house. Naturally, Mum was furious but, actually, this became a fantastic holiday home where they shared many special memories and made many more new wonderful friends – such as Ian and Mary.
He was my inspiration and mentor for joining the Royal Marines and making it as an officer. I only found out recently that when I was in Iraq and Afghanistan he visited the Chapel every day – something he never shared with me.
Everything he did, he did not for himself but for Mum and for the rest of the family. A great grandad or 'Grumps' to the children, he loved his grandchildren Chloe, Maddie, Evie, Annabelle and Sammy. A truly great character: kind, patient, compassionate, loyal, sincere and many more. I hope that between us we have inherited just some of your wonderful qualities.
Devoted to mum and the whole family, you spoilt all of us and I know that you were Immensely proud of all our achievements. We will all miss you so very much, but I know that you will be walking alongside each and everyone of us, but especially Mum.
God bless you Dad. We love you always,
I then provided these words about Ian and his time in the Royal Navy:
Ian Morton – The Navy Days
(by Rob Hoole)
Funerals can be daunting, sombre events but naval funerals tend to be uplifting occasions, leavened with joy and humour because we are not just friends but family, reunited to remember not only bad times but also great times with one of our own who has gone on ahead of us. I can think of no other profession outside the military, and especially the Navy, where so many people stay in touch with each other from the day they join a particular service or branch, in the flower of their youth, until the day they die. Even after years of separation, they can pick up comfortably from where they left off. That’s true family and it’s a wonderful thing.
This quality applies particularly to the close-knit Minewarfare & Diving community that I, and others here, shared with Ian. Perhaps it is because of the small ships in which we rubbed shoulders while bouncing around the oceans of the world, or the diving & bomb disposal teams in which we relied on each other for our very lives. Ian’s passing will certainly leave a yawning gap in our family photograph as evidenced by these tributes on Facebook. There are seven columns of them from those who knew and served with Ian, and some from those who didn’t but share in our grief anyway.
James has already said what an outstanding family man Ian was at home. He also referred to Elma’s parents’ stereotypically Scottish parsimony. This was not a trait shared by Ian who was a cheerful optimist and generous to a fault. I will testify to this later but in the meantime, think of a male version of Sandra Bullock in ‘Miss Congeniality’. Ian got on with everyone.
Of course there is proper family and Linda and I have had the privilege of knowing Ian’s devoted wife Elma through her work as a children’s nurse at QA. So many were the occasions we committed our children into her care, particularly our son Gareth after he had suffered yet another greenstick fracture after being karate-kicked by his little sister Carolyn, that we were worried about Social Services taking an interest. I’m sure we have Elma to thank for the fact that our children are now enjoying healthy adulthood as well-confirmed 30-somethings. Ian, with justifiable pride, also brought his sons James and Mike to our Association’s annual dinner where my own son Gareth warmly greeted Mike with whom he had worked in the past.
Junior Seaman Ian Morton joined the Royal Navy at HMS Ganges, the Boys’ Training Establishment at Shotley Gate near Ipswich in Suffolk, as a 16-year-old in 1964. He went on to specialise as a Tactical Radio Operator, or what we call a ‘bunting tosser’, versed in communicating by voice, signal flags, semaphore, flashing light and morse. He must have gained his love of small ships from serving in the TON class minehunters HMS Gavinton (1968-70) and HMS Bossington (1971-73) and it is particularly appropriate that Colin Noyce, the Chaplain of the Ton Class Association, is conducting this service because Ian didn’t stop at those.
Ian’s potential for greater things was recognised while he was a rating. When he became a Signals Communications Yeoman, a Petty Officer rate, he was selected for training at BRNC Dartmouth to become an officer in 1978. After service in HMS Maxton (1978-79) and a brief period at HMS Mercury, the RN Communications Training establishment near Petersfield, Ian qualified as a Minewarfare & Clearance Diving Officer at HMS Vernon in 1981 with Martyn Allen, George Cairns, Tom Chambers, David Hilton, Rennie Miller, Simon Nicholson, Nick Stanley and Royal Norwegian Navy officer Geir Gade.
Commodore Nick Stanley, our National Military Representative at SHAPE, sent this message the day before yesterday:
“RIP Ian. I very much regret I won't be able to escape commitments in Belgium to attend the funeral of my LMCDO '81 course-mate.”
As an MCD officer, Ian went on to serve in HMS Brinton (1982), at HMS Vernon as DIVO2 (1983-85), in HMS Hurworth (1986), Captain Weapons Trials & Assessment based at HMS Vernon (1987-88), HMS Quorn (1989-90) and he was OIC of the Portsmouth Area Clearance Diving Unit based at HMS Vernon (1991-93) before training Royal Saudi Naval Forces personnel to operate their Al Jawf class minehunters at sea (1994-96). He served at HMS Drake in Plymouth (1997) before leaving the RN but he was later employed in Full Time Reserve Service as the Support Manager at HMS King Alfred, the RNR unit in HMS Excellent (1999-2005). He was then employed in the same post for a number of years as a Civil Servant.
Ian seemed to be everywhere I went, whether it was Portsmouth, Falmouth, Weymouth, Portland, Rosyth, Faslane or Kyle of Lochalsh. One night in 1991, we even took cover from Iraqi Scud missiles together in a requisitioned airport terminal at Riyadh in Saudi Arabia at the start of Operation GRANBY, the first Gulf War. Ian was on his way back to the UK after taking a ship-keeping crew out to Bahrain to look after a minehunter for a short spell while I was headed in the opposite direction after being pier-head jumped to join the Senior Naval Officer Middle East’s staff on board HMS London somewhere in the Gulf.
We had many a yarn together, often over a beer or two, and I particularly remember empathising with him about training certain foreign students when he visited HMS Osprey at Portland where I was a liver-in at the time.
Like Doug & Jill Barlow and many others here, Linda and I have enjoyed the company of Elma and Ian at various social events including mess dinners and balls at local naval establishments. In more recent times, Ian has even joined our 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio for the occasional sail (or bar opening while moored to a buoy in Fareham Creek).
As I promised earlier, here is a story that illustrates how Ian wasn’t stereotypically ‘careful with money’ like Elma's parents but was, instead, generous to a fault and incredibly optimistic. It was about 25 years ago. I was in the Kings Arms in Weymouth with some other members of our MCD community. I can’t remember whether they were officers on LMCDO course, an Advanced Minewarfare Course or a bunch of divers. It doesn’t really matter. Ian happened to join us and everyone bought a round until it came to his turn. We all looked at him expectantly.
Ian said he hadn’t any money on him but told us to carry on and order our drinks while he went off to draw out some cash. We subsequently ordered a round and it came to about £12.
On Ian’s return from the ATM, the barmaid asked him for his money. “Fiddlesticks!” said Ian (or words to that effect). “I didn’t think it would be as much as that. I only drew out a tenner.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call optimism!
Five Bells, old friend! Your work here is done and it’s time to rest. I hope I’ve done you justice.
We then reflected while listening to Shania Twain's From This Moment On. Colin Noyce then provided the Words of Comfort and Prayers before a Royal Marines bugler playing The Last Post and Reveille with a minute's silence in between. Colin then delivered the Commendation before family members touched Ian's casket for a final farewell. This was followed by the Committal and Final Blessing after which we left the chapel to the sound of Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman singing Time to Say Goodbye.
Most of us then repaired to HMS Nelson's wardroom to raise a glass in Ian's memory and enjoy a buffet lunch.
Lt Cdr Ian Morton RN
(25 May 1948 - 16 Nov 2016)
From Capt Colin Welborn RN, MCDOA past-President:
"My dear Rob,
What a splendid turnout to-day for Ian and his family. James, Michael plus you, hit the mark with your very fitting reflections of a husband, father, grandfather, Yeoman, RN Officer and 'one of us'. Thank you - the RM bugler rounded off a perfect send-off.
30 Nov 16 - Graduation of Minewarfare Courses
I am grateful to MCDOA member Dave Stanbury for this news from the Mine Warfare Operational Training Centre (MWOTC) at HMS Collingwood:
Good morning. Please see attached the MWO 16/02 & MHD 16/01 course photo, taken on the ‘Mine Deck’ at HMS Collingwood, by Keith Woodland, the HMS Collingwood photographer, on Thursday 24 November.
Back row: Lt Alexander Szweda, Lt David Lee, Lt Cdr Ben Piper (Course Officer),
LS(MW) C Ottway, LS(MW) D Horne.
Front row: LS(MW) S Gripton, LS(MW) M Richardson, Lt Matthew Cary, Lt Jason Munson.
LS(MW) Richardson won the Milford Haven Award for Top Academic and Top MHD Student. Lt Cary won the BAE Systems Trophy for Top Academic and Top MWO Student.
I am currently piggy-backing fellow MCDOA member Ben Piper (2i/c MWOTC), basically ‘on job training’, and will be relieving him at the end of this term.
All the best,
Congratulations to all concerned.
29 Nov 16 - Funeral of Lt Cdr Ian Morton RN: a gentle reminder
The funeral of MCDOA member Ian Morton, who died aged 68 in Raigmore Hospital, Inverness on 16 Nov, will take place tomorrow (Wed 30 Nov) at The Oaks Crematorium, Havant at 1130 with a reception afterwards in the Wardroom, HMS Nelson (see entry for 19 Nov 16). Despite my encouragement, Ian was not a member of the Ton Class Association but the service will be conducted by the TCA's Chaplain, the Rev'd Colin Noyce.
Donations in memory of Ian may be made payable to Raigmore Hospital Intensive Care Unit or Respiratory Unit c/o Meridian Funeral Services 252 Havant Road, Drayton, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO6 1PA. Telephone: 023 9222 1299.
From MCDOA past-Chairman Chris Ameye:
Hope this finds you and family well.
Colin Welborn called me on Sunday to inform me of the sad news. Regrettably I will not be able to make the funeral.
Ian was a kind man and good company who always had a word of encouragement. He joined my Long Course in Oban and was my buddy on a dive to 54m off Lochaline; a steady and reassuring companion. My thoughts and prayers are very much with his family at this very sad time.
From MCDOA member Nick Stanley:
"RIP Ian. I very much regret I won't be able to escape commitments in Belgium to attend the funeral of my LMCDO '81 course-mate."
From MCDOA member Bob Hawkins MBE:
"RIP dear Ian, a colleague and always very nice man. I too much regret I'm unable to make it to Ian's funeral, being tied to the mid-week drum beat up here in Rosyth, standing by QNLZ. I'll raise a glass to Absent Friends on Wednesday evening."
28 Nov 16 - RN Diving Heritage: Malta and elsewhere
I recently made contact with Roger 'Jan' Meecham, a former Ordnance Armourer now living in Wellington, New Zealand. He qualified as an SWD (Shallow Water Diver) at the RN Diving School on Manoel Island in Malta in 1957 for service with the Mediterranean Fleet's Torpedo & Anti-Submarine Experimental Warfare Establishment diving team at Kalafrana. Among his other achievements, he manufactured a homemade recreational diving set consisting of a low-pressure cylinder and a converted Submarine BIBS (Built In Breathing System) regulator, rebuilt from scavenged parts.
Roger Meecham in his homemade diving set
in Malta in 1957
Roger runs a blog and I found these stories particularly entertaining. I hope you do, too:
Roger Meecham in the wheelhouse of
MFV 37 on passage to Sicily circa 1958
MFV 37 holed and aground off Milazzo, Sicily circa 1958. Not a good look.
Roger's blog contains several similar stories and I am grateful to him for allowing me to draw attention to it on our website.
Roger 'Jan' Meecham in New Zealand today
27 Nov 16 - The first International CDO course
I have received this email from MCDOA member Mike Gillam who qualified as a CDO in September 1955:
Many thanks for compiling the list of QDD, CDO, MCDO & MWO Courses & Course Officers [see Branch History section]. It brings back many memories.
I note that the list includes a few people from other navies. Should it not also include those on the course that I was detailed off to run September to December 1955 at HMS Defiance, the old Wilcove Camp on the Cornish bank of the Tamar? I may have their names somewhere among my files but these are from memory.
Back row: Portuguese Navy diver, two Royal Norwegian Navy divers surnamed Barrelds and
Schaap, me, Course Instructor Bungy Edwards, Lt Valkert Vilkins Royal Netherlands Navy..
Front row: Lt Willi (can’t recall his surname) Royal Norwegian Navy, Lt Juan de Carvalhosa
Portuguese Navy, CPO Bas de Konig Royal Netherlands Navy, Mr Shah, Pakistan Navy Bosun
As I remember, the course members insisted on being photographed fully fitted and finned!
Gentlemen, that reminds me...
Twenty-seven years after Mike's experience above, I ran OLMCDO '82 which comprised a Bangladeshi Navy officer a Royal Malaysian Navy officer and two Singaporean Navy officers, one of whom knew FDT Datchet's sister ship in Singapore where she was built. We used much the same diving kit as Mike's course; only the shapes of the (pre-DSSCCD) CDBA facemasks and fins were different. The Chief Instructor was Bob Oulds QGM and the second dickies were Thomas 'Ned' Kelly and Charlie Smithard, both since deceased. The students were all delightful characters who responded well to training.
Bazlur Rahman, an extremely personable Bangladeshi Navy officer, had undergone his initial training at BRNC Dartmouth. Despite never having dived before, he surpassed everyone else by the end of the first week at Horsea Island in freezing conditions and eventually finished top of the course (see second entry for 10 Dec 10 in News Archive 32). We have remained in touch ever since. He retired as a Rear Admiral in 2009 and became Bagladesh's Director General of Shipping before being appointed Commandant of the United Maritime Academy at Dhaka in 2011. Take a look at the first suffix in the signature block of his welcome message. Proud of being an MCD or what?
Rear Admiral Bazlur 'Baz' Rahman today
I would gladly include foreign/international LMCDO courses in the website's list if given access to the Course Book I remember from my time as LTO. Who has it now?
26 Nov 16 - RN EOD Heritage: Lt Eric Worsley MBE GM RNVR
I was not aware of any Second World War naval bomb & mine disposal officers still surviving after the demise of my old friend Lt Noel Cashford MBE RNVR in January 2011 so I was delighted to receive this email earlier this month via my Webmaster address:
I am trying to track down as much information as possible about my grandfather, Temp Sub Lt Eric Worsley MBE GM RNVR. He is 102 (born 9 Sep 1914) and still going although getting increasingly frail.
A brief outline of his service history is:
|27.06.1940||01.07.1940||HMS Vernon (torpedo school and experimental establishment, Portsmouth)|
|01.07.1940||(10.)1940||HMS Daedalus (RN Air Station, Lee-on-Solent) (additional; for various services)|
Unexploded Bomb Disposal Department, Admiralty [HMS President] (GM,
[date of appointment shown as 13.06.1940]
|(02.1941)||(12.1942)||for duty outside Admiralty|
|(02.1943)||(06.1943)||for duty inside Admiralty|
|(08.1943)||Unexploded Bomb Disposal Department, Admiralty [HMS President] *|
|13.09.1943||(10.1944)||HMS Royalist (improved Dido class cruiser)|
|(01.1945)||HMS Heron (RN Air Station, Yeovilton, Somerset) *|
|01.02.1945||(10.1945)||HMS Glory (Colossus class aircraft carrier)|
(Data courtesy of Hans Houterman's Unit Histories website.)
His service included the Med and then over to the South China Sea. I am keen to fill in gaps and to try to discover more.
I saw in a review from some years ago of a Noel Cashford book that Lt Cdr Hoole thought that Cashford was the last surviving BDO from the war.
Grandpa has always been very modest and quietly spoken about his time. I would very much like to put together as much detail as possible for him and to show his great grandchildren (eight and another on the way!). Is there anyone in your organisation I could speak to? I don't know if you have access to photographs or unit histories that I could use for research.
Additionally, if Lt Cdr Hoole is still actively involved I would value the opportunity of speaking to him.
I have since spoken with Nick on the telephone and ascertained that he lives in Leeds and his grandfather lives in Hull.
This is the entry for Eric Worsley in the list of WW II Awards for RN Diving and Bomb & Mine Disposal in the MCDOA website's Branch History section:
11 Mar 41
23 Sep 41
BD - GM awarded for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty. BSO at Portsmouth and conducted BD at HMS Collingwood, Fareham 18-19 Oct 40.
Appointed MBE for BD after air raid Portsmouth 10 Mar 41.
I enlisted the help of some contacts and received these responses:
From Lt Cdr Mike Coombes OBE, custodian of the Navy List Research website:
Thanks for your email. What an interesting history Eric Worsley has had, and the story behind his distinguished decorations must be interesting, but unfortunately I don’t think I can add much to what you already have.
The Navy List for 1946 does not list him and he had probably left the Service by then, but the previous one for October 1945 indicates that he was then a Lieutenant RNVR - seniority as Lt 16/10/1940 GM MBE, so he was a Lieutenant for about five years and not a Sub Lt.
I attach some scans of the 1945 Navy List showing the officers serving in HMS Glory. He appears in the first column of the third page, five up from the bottom. He may find it interesting to remember the names of some of his shipmates.
I am afraid that is the best I can do from the records I hold.
From Chris Ransted, author of Bomb Disposal and the British Casualties of WW2:
Rob copied me in to your e-mail. Unfortunately the only references I can find relating to your grandfather are the London Gazette entries shown here:
Awarded George Medal 11 Mar 1941: https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/35100/supplement/1439/data.pdf
Appointed MBE 23 Sep 1941: https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/35281/supplement/5499/data.pdf
He also gets a mention in the book Dragons Can Be Defeated: A Complete Record of the George Medal's Progress, 1940-83 which lists George Medal recipients with a few brief details. It says that the incident for which he was awarded the medal occurred at HMS Collingwood on 18/19 October 1940 but you're probably already well aware of that. Some discussions about it here:
I am at the National Archives tomorrow so I'll order up the file, ADM 358/3169 - HMS Collingwood: 18 June 1943; air raid, and will see if it provides anymore details (I have an interest in BD so now my curiosity has been piqued!). Will let you know if I find any more info relating to your grandfather.
Followed up with:
I had a look at the file about the 18 June 1943 air raid on HMS Collingwood but it mainly comprises details of casualties. This page provides a little info:
Good luck with your research.
25 Nov 16 - RN Minewarfare & Diving Heritage: Hong Kong
The first HMS Tamar was the hulk of an iron screw troopship, commissioned on 1 October 1897, and used as the Royal Navy's base in Hong Kong. She was scuttled on 12 December 1941 when the Japanese invaded the island. The shore base known as HMS Tamar was commissioned on 7 September 1945 and later became home to the Hong Kong Patrol Squadron and the Far East Fleet Clearance Diving Team. It paid off on 10 April 1997, shortly after moving to Stonecutters Island, and Hong Kong was officially handed back to the Chinese on 1 July 1997.
Following his contribution to the second entry for 12 Nov 16 about HMS Dufton 50 years ago, MCDOA member Mike Harwood MBE has sent me these photos, taken in April this year, of Hong Kong and the site previously occupied by HMS Tamar.
The first image shows the entrance into Hong Kong through the early morning mist in April 2016. It is still painted white. Mike isn't sure when this was first done but the reason was to enable ships to locate the entrance easily and not stray into Chinese waters. Old Hong Kong sailors, especially MCMV navigators, will remember this essential navigational feature.
Entrance to Hong Kong in April 2016
This photo shows Hong Kong naval base (now the PLA military base). The building emblazoned with the star is known locally as the 'Upside Down Gin Bottle'. Lower left is the old operations room, offices and the wardroom; then the gap where the graving dock was; then the building to the right which was the medical centre, accommodation block, etc.
Large ships, such as County Class destroyers, used to berth right in front of these buildings which is now Lung Wo Road. The basin is now Tamar Park.
Google Earth view of the former HMS Tamar. The highlighted former HMS Tamar buildings
on the far side of the grey dual carriageway (Lung Wo Road) are where the waterfront jetty
used to be. What was once Tamar Basin, on the left of the image, is now Tamar Park.
This was Victoria Harbour in 1962 looking from the opposite direction, prior to land reclamation, with the former HMS Tamar buildings, interjacent graving dock and Tamar Basin (both now filled in) highlighted in red.
This model of the original Hong Kong naval base is in the Hong Kong Maritime Museum. When the dockyard, shown in the lower half of the image, was closed and reduced to a naval base and Connaught Road was built, the rubble from the old buildings was used as infill to the graving dock at the very top of the photo, helpfully right next to the small orange light reflection.
These photos from my archives show HMS Tamar's Victoria Basin in the late 1970s. It has now been filled in and overbuilt and the Tamar buildings on the jetty middle right are those shown in the photos above.
Elsewhere in the Hong Kong Maritime Museum is this display of diving helmets.
Thanks, Mike, for some very interesting photos.
Incidentally, the 'Upside Down Gin Bottle' featured in the March 1979 issue of Navy News after its completion as the new headquarters for British Forces in Hong Kong.
24 Nov 16 - RN Diving Heritage: HMS Safeguard
HMS Safeguard was commissioned at Rosyth on 1 July 1940 as a Boom Defence base and depot. Responsible for navigational buoys, moorings and salvage, it was also home to a Royal Navy school of marine salvage and, from 1951, a diving school teaching Shallow Water Diver (SWD) candidates in the use of Pattern 5562A (a version of our old-type CDBA rebreather) then Ships' Diver courses in the use of SABA and SDDE. The Diving School also trained Apprentice Artificer Divers from nearby HMS Caledonia, initially in the use of Salvus then Pattern 5562A. HMS Safeguard was also the base for a Port Diving Unit and Bomb & Mine Disposal Team covering Scotland and northern England. It paid off in 1969 when it was subsumed into HMS Cochrane.
From Navy News May 1966
I am grateful to MCDOA member John Lang, a member of the first LMCDO course in 1966 who attended our branch anniversary dinner last Friday, for this exchange of emails and photo as the result of the email exchanges appended to the entry for 8 Sep 16 in News Archive 55 announcing the death on 28 August of Lt Cdr Arthur John 'Futch' Futcher MBE RN in Australia:
John Lang at last Friday's dinner
I'm now in touch with John's son re obtaining a copy of Futch's autobiography. The attached photo is of interest, particularly, in view of the fact that as well as John, my diving buddy from LMCDO '66, Bill Grady, is up there bold as brass top left back row. This must be 1967 as that is the year I took over from him as Diving Training Officer.
23 November 2016
From: Michael Futcher
To: John Lang
Many thanks for your kind email and my apologies for the late response - this week has been quite hectic!
Dad would have been chuffed to hear that you had been in touch - he always loved to hear from his old RN colleagues and I'm sure you two would have had a few stories to share! Alas he is gone now but in his brilliant book he has left us the gift of the story of his life, bravely written over three years while he was suffering from cancer and Parkinsons, and I'm sure there will be plenty in there to interest you.
Mum still has a few copies left here so I can send you one no problems. Unfortunately postage is pretty expensive this end so it would come to: $25 for the book plus $30 postage which equates to £33 pounds I'm afraid! If you would still like one let me know.
I have passed on your email to Mum and she was very happy to hear from you. I attach a photo of the Rosyth team which you probably have - I'm not sure if you are in this one but if you are can you let me know which one is you?!
HMS Safeguard staff in 1967 with John Futcher bottom right and Bill Grady (LMCDO '66)
top left shortly before being relieved by John Lang as Diving Training Officer
Thanks again for your interest - it's wonderful to hear from you.
Very best wishes,
21 November 2016
From: John Lang
To: Michael Futcher
So sorry to hear about your dad. I served with him up until he retired from the RN during 1967/69. I was Diving Training Officer whilst he was in charge of the bomb disposal squad at HMS Safeguard in Rosyth. We became quite close during those years.
My purpose in writing to you is to ask if you could provide me with details of how to obtain a copy of 'Futch'.
Please pass on my best wishes to your mum whom I have not seen since those times.
23 Nov 16 - Photos of MCDOA Annual Updates, AGM and Dinner
I have now uploaded the last of my photos of the day's events to the entry for 20 Nov 16.
22 Nov 16 - Funeral of former FCPO(D) Derek 'Nobby' Clark
There was an upbeat air to Nobby's funeral at the Oaks Crematorium in Havant yesterday (see entry for 31 Oct 16). Former RN divers present included Dr John Bevan (ex Royal Naval Scientific Service), Reg Boyle (first CD course in 1952) and his wife Carol, John Dadd BEM, Vic Humphrey BEM, Chris Jones BEM, Colin 'Scouse' Kidman QGM, MCDOA member Cyril Lafferty (qualified CDO in 1963 and converted MCDO 1971), MCDOA member Bill 'Chippy' Norton (CDO converted MCDO 1968) and his wife Gunhild, Mike O'Meara, Willie Owen, Ted Setchell, Jim 'Tommo' Thomson and Paul 'Yorky' Tudor as well as family and friends who had travelled from as far as Perth, Western Australia. Cris Ballinger BEM was held up by the closure of the M27 owing to an overturned lorry but arrived in time for the reception.
Paul Hickman, a personal friend and supporter of the RN diving branch, officiated and mourners followed the casket into the chapel to the sound of String of Pearls by Glenn Miller and Unforgettable by Nat King Cole. Paul Hickman then welcomed everyone and provided an introduction in which we learned that Nobby, survived by his wife Pam, had six children (John, Michael, Lisa, Shirley, Tina and Collette), nine grandchildren and five great grandchildren. He and Pam married in 1954 and his family meant everything to him although his interests also included rugby, speedway, crosswords, sudoku and his PC. We also heard about Nobby's long and varied career as a diver in the Royal Navy (he was one of the first three CPO(CD1)s to be promoted Fleet Chief Petty Officer (Diver) in the mid-1970s) and afterwards in the commercial diving industry until he was into his seventies.
After Paul Hickman read tributes from Nobby's daughter Tina and grand-daughter Leah, Nobby's grand-daughter Katherine read a tribute from fellow grand-daughter Jodie. We then listened to Louis Armstrong's Wonderful World before Paul Hickman delivered Epitaph to a Friend by Robert Burns and executed the Committal and Farewell. He followed this with the reading of Feel No Guilt in Laughter. Our exit music was Frank Sinatra singing My Way.
Most of us went on to raise a glass or two in Nobby's memory at The Hampshire Rose in Widley where we met and and mingled with friends old and new. A screen on the wall displayed a rolling slideshow of images from Nobby's busy life.
Cyril Lafferty and John Dadd with Nobby's wife Pam
Nobby's daughter Tina with Rob Foord
Left: Yours Truly (Rob Hoole) and Cyril Lafferty with a photo of Nobby
Right: Carol and Reg Boyle flanking John Bevan
Cris Ballinger, Chris 'Paddy' Doonan, Nobby's daughter Shirley and Willie Owen
Some of the attendees at Derek Clark's wake
Chris 'Paddy' Doonan, Nobby's son Mike and Paul 'Yorky' Tudor
John Dadd, Ted Setchell, Mike O'Meara, Rob Hoole (kneeling), Cyril Lafferty,
John Bevan and Willie Owen
Derek 'Nobby' Clark
(2 May 1934 - 29 Oct 2016)
21 Nov 16 - Bob Hawkins on TV (again)
"Five naval officers from HMS Queen Elizabeth answer questions about top 10 lists from the realms of pop culture and general knowledge, then try to score a perfect 10 in the final round to take home the prize money."
Bob Hawkins second from right in 'Tenable' line-up
Postscript: This episode is available for the next 28 days on the ITV Hub here:
20 Nov 16 - MCDOA AGM, Operational Updates and Annual Dinner
Anyone who knows me will be aware that I am passionate about connecting people of different nationalities, services, ranks, branches and generations who share my interest in the rich interwoven tapestry of service minewarfare, diving and EOD - past, present and future; in other words, our mutual heritage. The past week has provided abundant opportunities to promote and reinforce this objective.
It was the UK's turn this year to host members of the ABCANZ (America, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) Diving & EOD Working Group. Curiously enough, it coincided with the Minewarfare & Clearance Diving Officers' Association's Annual Dinner in the wardroom at HMS Excellent on Friday but we also had a reception earlier in the week on top of the Spinnaker Tower... and no, I didn't abseil back down it this time.
Friday also included the MCDOA's AGM and Operational Updates at Horsea Island earlier in the day. The following images constitute an illustrated chronicle of these events.
ABCANZ 'Winter Warmer' at the top of the Spinnaker Tower
This function on Wednesday was sponsored by JFD (formerly DIVEX) which included several familiar personalities among their attendees.
The JFD static display and rolling slide show
Left: Rollie Leyte RCN, MCDOA member Chris Deere RCN and Yours Truly
Right: Some of the JFD team including MCDOA associate member Glyn Gilbert far right
MCDOA members Chris Deere RCN, Yours Truly and Martyn Holloway
Martyn Holloway and YourTruly flanking former WO(D) Andy Brunton MBE of JFD
MCDOA member Mark Savage and his wife Lucy with Martyn Holloway
WO(D) John 'YoYo' Ravenhall and MCDOA member Angus Benton
flanking one of the ABCANZ delegates
Night view of Portsmouth from the Spinnaker Tower
MCDOA Operational Updates
After an extremely convivial lunch of Scampi & Chips in the basket in the mess bar at Horsea Island on Friday, we were treated to an introduction by Cdr Mark Atkinson (SofD) followed by operational updates from Cdr Simon Pressdee (NCHQ), Cdr Del McKnight (FDS) and Cdr Mark Savage (MCM Capability), all members of the MCDOA. Mark Savage's video about UNMANNED WARRIOR 2016 (in which he makes an appearance) was particularly interesting and is now available on YouTube:
This was an extremely good set of briefs and I commend and thank all speakers on the standard of their presentations and question answering.
I then chaired our AGM in the absence of our Chairman whose presence was required at ABCANZ meetings. Of note, the AGM endorsed Captain Roger Readwin RN, currently Captain MFP, as our new President pending a mutually-agreed handover by Rear Admiral Paddy McAlpine CBE. We all thank Admiral Paddy for the support he has given our Association although Her Majesty has not allowed him much time with us during his tenure.
All the Association's officers, apart from Membership Secretary David Miln, were re-elected. This post is now gapped pending a willing volunteer stepping forward. The AGM also voted to contribute £1,200 towards the cost of the bar at the evening's dinner and donate Association funds in excess of two years' running costs (plus 10%) to its adopted charity, the Vernon Monument. The committee will continue to consider/approve the subsidy of the MCDOA Northern Dinner and any other function organised locally (e.g. in the Middle East) provided that only MCDOA members benefit directly. It was noted that labour costs would be waived for this year's dinner as HMS Excellent had graciously included it among its four official functions but this was unlikely to be repeated next year. It was also noted and appreciated that JFD Diving would be sponsoring the port for this year's dinner as they kindly did last year.
MCDOA Committee worker bees Martyn Holloway (Committee Member 1), Peter Davis
(Hon Treasurer), Rob Hoole (Vice Chairman) and Mark Shaw (Hon Secretary). Also re-elected
were Mark Atkinson (Chairman) and Graham 'Tug' Wilson (Committee Member 2)
MCDOA Annual Dinner
20 November 2016
Friday night's dinner in HMS Excellent's wardroom was a triumphant affair starting with the usual pre-dinner drinks in the bar.
LMCDO '66 members John Lang, Alan Padwick, John Ludgate and John Coggins
LMCDO '82 members & instructional staff
Simon Neil, Stu McAlear, Ray Ramsay, Sean O'Reilly, Pete Robinson, Bob Hawkins and Geoff
Goodwin. They couldn't find me (second course officer) or Stu Robinson (course member)
Members of our 50th, 40th and 25th anniversary courses were feted and our leavers were given a terrific send-off with Cdre Nick Stanley responding as senior leaver.
Composite view of diners
Above and below: Nick Stanley responding as senior leaver
Here are the photos I took during the meal, excellently cooked and served under the watchful eye of Jon Boreham, the mess manager. Several people said it was some of the best food they could remember at one of our dinners.
With Captain John Phillips DSC RE, the only soldier to have been decorated with
this Royal Navy award for gallantry
Here comes the singing!
As usual, HMS Nelson's Volunteeer Band, under the direction of Band Sgt (Rtd) Neil Silvester, entered into the spirit of the occasion and played their hearts out.
Even the mess staff got into the act (with a little help from David Bond and Mick Beale).
After the last encore of 'Bubbles', it was time for a truly inspirational speech from Cdre Eric Wirstrom USN, our Guest of Honour.
It was then back to the bar for more dit-swapping and the last few photos.
Former Guns (Graeme Waugh), CO (Rob Hoole) and Ops (Chris Ashcroft) of HMS Berkeley
BZ to our Hon Sec Mark Shaw for a brilliant job organising everything.
From MCDOA member Mike Bull (LMCDO '66):
Great to hear from you, and thanks for all the info. Nice to see the pictures of the '66 crowd.
All the best,
19 Nov 16 - Arrangements for the funeral of MCDOA member Lt Cdr Ian Morton RN
I am grateful to Ian's son James for this announcement about his father's funeral (see entry for 17 Nov 16):
James here. Many thanks for your visit. It was really very much appreciated by both mum and myself.
As an update, we have now secured a date and time for the service & wake.
Wed 30 November 2016
Service: The Oaks Crematorium, Havant @ 1130 (service lasting 45 mins)
Wake: Wardroom, HMS Nelson 1300 - 1600
I look forward to celebrating my father's life with you over a glass of wine on 30 Nov.
Donations in memory of Ian may be made payable to Raigmore Hospital Intensive Care Unit or Respiratory Unit c/o Meridian Funeral Services 252 Havant Road, Drayton, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO6 1PA. Telephone: 023 9222 1299.
18 Nov 16 - MCDOA Operational Updates, AGM and Annual Dinner: 50th Anniversary of the MCD Officer Sub-Branch
It's today! Events start with lunch in the Horsea Island Officers and Senior Rates Mess from 1200 with the update brief and AGM starting at 1315. Members are encouraged to attend this important serial and make your voices heard by the committee.
Tonight's full capacity dinner in HMS Excellent's wardroom starts at 1900 for 1930.
|Guest of Honour
Cdre Nils 'Eric' Wirstrom USN
COMCMRON 5/CTF 52
Cdre Nick Stanley RN
Cdr Tom Russell RN
Lt Cdr Bill Kerr RN
Lt Cdr Si Leightley RN
Lt Cdr Mick Beale RN
|Other Members and their Guests
(Host's name in brackets)
|Lt Chris Andreason RN/RNR (Russell)
Lt Cdr Dave Armstrong RN
Cdr Chris Ashcroft RN
Cdr Mark Atkinson RN
Lt Cdr John Bainbridge RN
Cdr Chris Baldwin RN
Mr Simon Baldwin (Baldwin)
Lt Cdr Ross Balfour RN
Lt Chris Barber RN
Lt Cdr David Bartlett MBE RN
Lt Robin Bennett RE
Lt Cdr Angus Benton RN
Mr Oliver Benton (Benton)
Mr David Berry
Col Gareth Bex OBE RLC
Mr David Bond (Beale)
CMC Chris Borkenheim USN
Lt Keith Broughton RN
WO(D) Andy Brunton (Shaw)
Lt Matthew Bryers RN
Cdr Alex Bush RN
Lt Cdr Jonathon Campbell RN
Lt Cdr Tim Castrinoyannakis RN
Lt Cdr Jon Chapple RN
Lt Cdr John Coggins MBE RN
WO(D) Brian 'Bill' Cornick
WO(D) Mo Crang (Wilson)
Lt Cdr Mike Critchley RN
Cdr Tim Curd RN
Lt Cdr Peter Davis RN
Cdr Chris Deere RCN
Cdr Jim Donaldson RN (Welborn)
Mr Nick Doyle (Forbes)
Cdre Mark Durkin RN
Lt Cdr Brian Dutton DSO QGM RN
Mr Simon Edwards (Broughton)
Cdr Mike Emary RN
Cdr Ford Ewaldsen USN
Lt Cdr Chris Flaherty RN
Capt John 'JJ' Forbes RE
Mr Mike Forbes (Forbes)
Lt Cdr Dave Forsey MBE RN
Mr Paul Forsey
Mr Nigel Fulcher (Baldwin)
Lt James George RN
Mr Glyn Gilbert (Shaw)
Lt Cdr Richard Gobey RN (Gobey)
Lt Cdr Steve Gobey RN
Cdr Geoff Goodwin RN
Lt Cdr Stu Harper RN
Mr Cameron Hawkins (Hawkins)
Lt Cdr Bob Hawkins MBE RN
Lt Cdr Sean 'Central' Heaton RN
Lt Cdr Dan Herridge RN
Cdr John Herriman RNR
Gp Capt Stanley Hickey RAF (Sandiford)
Lt Cdr Richard Hill RN
Lt Cdr Martyn Holloway RN
Mr Gareth Hoole (Hoole)
Lt Cdr Rob Hoole RN
Maj David Hough RE
Lt Cdr John Hunnibell RN
Mr Jeff Hurst (Benton)
Mr John Hurst (Forbes)
Lt Cdr Nathan Isaacs RN
Lt Cdr John Keenan RCN
Cdr Simon Kelly RN
Lt Cdr Bill Kerr RN
Mr Rory Kerr (Kerr)
Cdr Bob Klein RCN
Cdr Chris Lade RN
Lt John Lang RN
Lt Derek Leach RN
Mr Alastair Lee (Lee)
Lt Cdr Jonathan Lee RN
Mr Nicholas Lee (Lee)
Mr Timothy Lee (Lee)
Cdr Rollie Leyte RCN
Lt Cdr Richard Lowther RN
Cdr John Ludgate RD+ RNR
Lt Bob Lusty RN
Cdr Martin Mackey RN
Lt Cdr Alasdair Magill RN
Capt Vincent Martinez USN
Lt Cdr Ralph Mavin RN
Mr Antoni Mazur (Kerr)
Lt Cdr Stu McAlear RN
Lt Darren McDevitt RAN
Cdr Del McKnight RN
Lt Col Matt Middleditch MBE QGM RLC
Lt Wesley Moir RNZN
Cdre Richard Moore RN
Mr Tim Moore (Moore)
Lt Cdr Dan Morris RN
WO(MW) Steve 'Stirling' Moss (Benton)
Lt Peter Needle RN
Cdr Simon Neil RN
Cdr Al Nekrews QGM RN
Mr George O'Reilly (O'Reilly)
Cdr Sean O'Reilly RN
Lt James Oxley RN
Cdr Alan Padwick OBE RN
Mr Jonathon Peasley (Benton)
Capt Andy Peat RLC
Capt John Phillips DSC RE
Lt Cdr Ben Piper RN
Mr Eric Piper (Piper)
Cdr John Porter USN
WO(D) Cosy Powell (McKnight)
Lt Cdr Greg Powell RN
Cdr Simon Pressdee RN
WO(D) Ray Ramsay (Hoole)
WO(D) John 'YoYo' Ravenhall
Capt Roger Readwin RN
Lt Cdr Ian Richardson RN
WO(D) Karl Roberts (Benton)
Lt Cdr Peter Robinson RN
Cdr Stuart Robinson RN
Cdr David Sandiford RN
Cdr Mark Savage RN
Cdr Jason Scott RN
Lt Cdr Mark Shaw RN
Lt Cdr Oliver Shepherd RN
WO1 'Jez' Simpson RM (Beale)
WO(D) Tim Sizer (Wilson)
Maj Nick Stanford RLC
NDCM Ryan Stewart USN
WO(D) Peter Still (Beale)
Lt Rob Stoneward RN
Mr Jack Talbot (Benton)
WO(D) Graham 'Piggy' Trotter DSM (Wilson)
Cdr Ben Vickery RN
Lt Cdr Peter Waddington RN
Mr Ben Watson (Watson)
Lt Cdr Richard 'Soapy' Watson RN
Lt Graeme Waugh RN (Ashcroft)
Capt Colin Welborn RN
Lt Cdr Charlie Wheen RN
Lt Cdr Jason White QGM RN
Lt Cdr Steven White RN
Lt Cdr Graham 'Tug' Wilson MBE RN
Mr Steve Woodhead (Forbes)
Cdr Andy Woollven RN
Mr Dave Worner (Herridge)
Lt Cdr Steven Yates RN
* LMCDO '91A & '91B 25th Anniversary celebrants shown in green
* MWO 1/91 25th Anniversary celebrants shown in orange.
* LMCDO '76 40th Anniversary celebrants shown in blue
* LMCDO '66 50th Anniversary celebrants shown in red
* ABCANZ delegates shown in purple
This year's dinner will mark the 50th anniversary of the formation of the MCD Officer sub-specialisation in accordance with DCI 278/66. Standard rules of etiquette apply to such formal occasions:
The MCDOA Dinner follows the format of a traditional naval officers' mess dinner.
Hosts are responsible for the entertainment of their guests, acquainting them with the rules and enforcing proper standards of dress and behaviour.
Dress for the dinner is either uniform mess undress or black tie. Fancy dress, including accessories, is not appropriate although distinctive cummerbunds are acceptable.
Diners are not to leave their seats unless authorised by the President although certain leeway is granted to the few 'elderly statesmen'.
Diners are not to remove jackets or other apparel unless authorised by the President.
Conversing during speeches is rude and intrusive. The combined effect of several people 'whispering' is surprisingly loud even if the culprits don't realise it.
About our Guest of Honour:
Captain Nils 'Eric' Wirstrom US Navy
Captain Eric Wirstrom, USN, graduated from Texas A&M University and was commissioned as an Ensign on May 10, 1991. Following initial training at Surface Warfare Officer School, Newport, Rhode Island, he reported to USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) where he served as a Division Officer. CAPT Wirstrom subsequently transferred into the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officer community in 1995.
Wirstrom’s operational assignments include: EOD Mobile Unit TWO, EOD Mobile Unit TWO Detachment Norfolk, EOD Mobile Unit ELEVEN, and Joint Special Operations Command. CAPT Wirstrom commanded EOD Mobile Unit ONE in San Diego, CA. EOD Mobile Unit ONE is the only unit in the DoD capable of conducting low visibility mine countermeasure and obstacle clearance operations in the very shallow water zone and provides task organized Navy EOD units to support combat expeditionary support missions. While under his command EOD Mobile Unit ONE deployed to Iraq as the Counter IED Task Force providing direct support to 25th Infantry Division in Multi-National Division-North (MND-N).
His shore assignments include: Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center, OPNAV N80 Programming Division, and Navy Expeditionary Combat Command where he currently serves as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Readiness and Training (N7).
Wirstrom attended the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, RI, and earned a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies. He was selected as the U.S. Navy student representative to the Naval Command College, the senior course for international students.
Captain Wirstrom is a qualified EOD Officer, Surface Warfare Officer, Basic Diving Officer, Salvage Officer, and Naval Parachutist. His personal awards include the Bronze Star Medal (3 awards); the Defense Meritorious Service Medal; the Meritorious Service Medal (2 awards); the Joint Commendation Medal; the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (five awards); and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards). He is also authorized to wear the Navy Combat Action Ribbon.
From a personal point of view, it will be my particular pleasure to renew acquaintance with Captain John Phillips DSC RE, a member of the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officers' Club (REBDOC) with which our Association enjoys an affiliation. He was awarded the DSC but lost an arm while attempting to defuze an unexploded 1,000 lb bomb on board HMS Antelope in the Falklands in 1982. Sadly, his colleague, SSgt Jim Prescott CGM RE, was killed in the ensuing explosion. The pair had successfully rendered safe a similar bomb on board HMS Argonaut the previous day.
John Phillips then and now
John and I last met at Shrivenham two years ago (see entry for 26 Apr 14 in News Archive 46).
John Phillips and Your Truly (Rob Hoole) at Shrivenham in April 2014
For more information about the dinner, including photos of courses celebrating their 25th and 50th anniversaries, see the entry for 1 Aug 16 in News Archive 55.
From MCDOA member John O'Driscoll MBE:
Sorry not to be able to make the dinner this year. Regards to all and have a great evening.
From MCDOA member Martin Mackey:
I had planned to be at the day-time events tomorrow, but that’s not possible now. I will be at the dinner though, which looks like it’s going to be another good one. Thanks for your efforts on getting Jonathan Lee and me (MWO 1/91) in on the 25th anniversary action. I am pleased we got it to work as I know is Jonathan.
Please may you pass on my apologies at the AGM.
I look forward to seeing you tomorrow evening.
From MCDOA member John Herriman:
"Dear Rob and Mark,
My apologies for the late call on this but I'm afraid I will have to withdraw from the dinner on Friday because my mother in law has very recently passed away. The funeral has been arranged for Friday and will now run into the evening. I therefore need to be with my wife and family at this time.
I was dearly looking forward to catching up with everyone at my 25th anniversary dinner (although not being reminded of advancing years which this milestone is!). I was also hoping to be there with John Ludgate who is with you for his 50th I believe - we have the common connection of being the Commanding Officer of HMS PRESIDENT.
I wish you all a fabulous dinner and will hope to join you next year.
With best wishes,
From Rear Admiral Paddy McAlpine CBE, MCDOA President:
Well, I'm really embarrassed yet again to be unable to make this dinner. It's been just a constant clash of seagoing, deployments or exercises for seven out of the last eight years - I did manage to precide over one dinner with the current CDS! It's not that I don't want to attend nor that my loyalty to the Branch and utter pride in being an MCDO is on any sort of wane. Far from it. However, I'm afraid that I'm required to be in Lisbon on Friday 18 Nov to host a delayed British-led STRIKFORNATO Traf Night (we are at sea for the preceding six weeks). Just terribly bad timing.
Life continues to be good over here in Portugal; cracking job, seagoing, important role, great people, lovely location. Hope to catch up sometime.
(Loving the 1980s/90s photos on FB of our times in the MCMVs - afraid I've not many photos of that period at all.)
From MCDOA member Steve Gobey:
Please accept/give my apologies for not attending the Update and AGM, which I always enjoy, on Friday. As often happens all the busses have come along at once!
We recently had a very successful '66ers 50th reunion at BRNC and there's a wash-up lunch in the Bridge Tavern in Old Portsmouth that day which I must attend. However, son Richard will extradite me in time for us to be dressed and ready for the water/beer/wine/port in time for the Dinner.
Looking forward to seeing you and all the usual suspects there!
From MCDOA member Jon Cox:
I'm very sorry to say that I cannot come out to play for the annual MCDO dinner; prior engagements outside my control have rather got in the way.
Please pass on my warmest regards to all those attending and I hope you all have a splendid evening. I am specially miffed as I shall miss all of the WO(D)s attending. It would have been a great opportunity to catch up and spin a few dits. All good things, etc.
From MCDOA member Jon Riches (LMCDO '66):
I regret I cannot attend the dinner this year as Anne is not very well.
Good work so far with listing all those who qualified QDD, CDO and MCD. I enjoyed our pub lunch a couple of months ago. Are you coming out this way again?
Best wishes and keep up the good work.
From MCDOA member Phil Ireland DSC:
Very saddened that I am not able to attend this year's MCDOA Dinner due to work commitments. I will be in Kyle that evening and raise a glass to you all.
From MCDOA member Kev Stockton:
Hope all well with you and pleased to see the MCDOA website is still going strong thanks to your valiant efforts.
The guest list for the forthcoming dinner suggests it will be a fantastic evening (as always) and it is a shame I will not be able to make it. Please accept my sincere apologies but my current appointment in Kuwait will preclude me from attending, especially as the week of the dinner coincides with the FPC for Exercise COUGAR VOYAGE and planning for the visit of the RN Fleet Flagship to Kuwait at the turn of the year.
Please pass on my warmest wishes to the MCDO brethren and many guests whom I know attending and I promise to send an update for your news page soon.
From MCDOA member Steve Marshall DSC:
I hope you and the family are well and, as always, thanks for keeping our wonderful association going and especially for all you do on the website.
For the first time in years I am sad to have to say that the Marshall contingent will not make the dinner this year. Both myself and James are away working. My dad said to tell you that he plans to still be around next year to resume our attendance.
Please accept my apologies for my absence and I hope the evening is as successful as ever.
17 Nov 16 - Death of Lt Cdr Ian Morton RN
I regret to report the death of MCDOA member Ian Morton yesterday morning in Raigmore Hospital, Inverness.
Ian's wife Elma advised me ten days ago that she and Ian had travelled from their home near Portsmouth on 21 October for their usual break at their chapel conversion in Plockton near Kyle of Lochalsh. However, Ian became very unwell owing to a pre-existing condition called hypersensitive pneumonitis. His breathing deteriorated and he was initially taken to a hospital on Skye but, as things failed to improve, he was transferred to Raigmore hospital in Inverness where he was taken into intensive care and ventilated. After five days, he was taken off the ventilator but he remained very poorly for a further four days. Although he seemed to rally after this, the improvement in his health was obviously only temporary.
Ian was a signals communications yeoman before being commissioned in January 1978. He served in HMS Maxton (1978-79) and at HMS Mercury (1980) before qualifying as an MCD officer on LMCDO '81.
In November 2006, Ian helped his course celebrate its 25th anniversary at our annual dinner in HMS Excellent's wardroom. This year marks its 35th anniversary.
Ian went on to serve in HMS Brinton (1982), at HMS Vernon as DIVO2 (1983-85), in HMS Hurworth (1986), MoD for Captain Weapons Trials & Assessment (CWTA) based at HMS Vernon (1987-88), HMS Quorn (1989-90) and he was OIC Portsmouth Area Clearance Diving Unit based at HMS Vernon (1991-93) before training Royal Saudi Naval Forces personnel to operate their Al Jawf class minehunters at sea (1994-96). He then served at HMS Drake in Plymouth (1997) before leaving the RN but was then employed in Full Time Reserve Service (FTRS) as the Support Manager at HMS King Alfred, the RNR unit in HMS Excellent (1999-2005). He was then employed in the same post as a C2 MSF Civil Servant (new-style Retired Officer 2).
Ian supported our activities and even joined our 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio for the occasional sail (or bar opening while at anchor or moored to a buoy in Fareham Creek - see first entry for 20 Sep 05 in News Archive 11).
Ian was also a keen traveller and enjoyed diving holidays in the Red Sea and Cyprus among other places. In 2010, he sent us this photo of himself with MCDOA member David 'Topsy' Turner in New Zealand (see entry for 24 Sep 10 in News Archive 31)
In February 2015, Ian sent us these photos of himself with MCDOA member Colin Dodd in Phuket, Thailand (see addendum to entry for 1 Mar 15 in News Archive 49).
Here is Ian with Pete Greenwood at the 2012 MCDOA Annual Dinner and with Doug Barlow at the 2013 dinner respectively.
This is Ian at last year's dinner with his sons Michael (left) and ex-Royal Marine James (second left):
Earlier this year, Ian sent us this photo of himself with a mine on display near his occasional home in Plockton at Kyle of Lochalsh (see first entry for 10 Mar 16 in News Archive 53).
I, for one, will miss Ian's friendship, his contributions to the website and his enthusiastic participation in events. Elma has now been driven home by her sons Michael and James. I am sure that all members of our community will join me in offering her and her family our deep condolences and any support they require at this difficult time.
From MCDOA associate member Doug Barlow:
I have just read the very sad news of Ian's passing. You have so kindly re-printed photos of our joint happy activities. In addition, my wife Jill also shared several memorable social occasions from Summer Balls in HMS Nelson to Hogmany in the Village Hall. We always enjoyed his company on these occasions.
God bless you Elma. With love and condolences to you and the family.
Douglas & Jill Barlow
From former WO(MW) Dixie Dean MBE, Chairman of the RN Minewarfare Association (MWA):
Just read the very sad news regarding Ian Morton's passing.
I have known Ian for many years but I worked extensively with him on the Saudi Hunter Project preparing the Al Jawf Class for trials and training. We spent a lot of time together with the ships at Campbeltown and the Kyles of Lochalsh training the crews and assisting in the trials to get the ships and ships' companies ready for the long haul back to the Kingdom. It was during the time in the Kyles that Ian found his cottage in Plockton where he made many friends and simply loved the place.
We had some very interesting times during our time together with the RSNF and there are many stories to tell. He went out of his way to look after the Officers and Ship's Company of the ships he was involved with (AL JAWF and SHAQRA if my memory serves me correctly) and always gave them sound advice sometimes to the detriment of the companies involved with the project.
Ian was committed to both the diving and mine warfare fraternity marked by his long service to the RN in many guises. He will be missed. Gone deep for the last time.
My sincere condolences to his family.
R DEAN MBE
16 Nov 16 - Another Second World War bomb found in Portsmouth Harbour
The Portsmouth News website contains this article and the Royal Navy website this article describing the disruption being caused by this morning's discovery of another Second World War German bomb during dredging operations in Portsmouth harbour. Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) is involved in its disposal.
(Royal Navy images)
WATCH: Unexploded bomb unlikely ‘to be last’ found in Portsmouth Harbour (Featuring MCDOA member Del McKnight, CO Fleet Diving Squadron (FDS))
Presentation of clasp to LS&GC medal to PO(MW) Andy 'Gilly' Gilmore
I was particularly privileged to be invited aboard HMS Victory with Mrs Webmaster last night to help PO(MW) Andrew 'Gilly' Gilmore celebrate the presentation of the clasp to his Long Service & Good Conduct medal by Cdre Peter Sparkes (COMPORFLOT: Commander Portsmouth Flotilla) after 30 years of undetected crime.
Gilly had invited us because I was CO of his first sea draft, HMS Berkeley, which we took from launch at Vospers in Woolston in 1986, commissioned at South Railway Jetty with Mrs Webmaster cutting the cake in 1987, worked up at Rosyth and then deployed to the Gulf for eight months during the Iran/Iraq tanker war in 1988/89. In February 2001, Mrs Webmaster and I were back on South Railway Jetty to witness HMS Berkeley being handed over to the Greek Navy during which she was renamed HS Kallisto.
It was wonderful to meet Gilly's wife Tanya and other members of his family plus old hands like WO(MW) Bunny Warren, CPO(MW) Joe Lyons and CPO(MW) Jon Aylett who receives a well-deserved mention in the second entry for 3 Nov 16.
Left: Tanya preparing the buffet
Right: Gilly with members of his family
Tanya and Gilly
Left: WO(MW) Bunny Warren behind the bar
Right: CPO(MW) Jon Aylett
Mind that beam! Gilly with Yours Truly (Rob Hoole)
15 Nov 16 - Funeral of former CPO(D) Bill McGovern
No flowers please but donations to the British Heart Foundation are requested in lieu.
14 Nov 16 - Prince of Wales opens new Welfare Building at RN base in Bahrain
As reported in the entry for 8 Oct 16, HMS Jufair is due to be recommissioned as a Royal Navy base at Mina Salman in Bahrain in July next year and the team is seeking any old photos and insights for a timeline to be displayed in the new Welfare Building. The Royal Navy website contains this article describing the opening of the Welfare Building by HRH the Prince of Wales. The article features AB(MW) Gareth Miles of HMS Middleton (MCM2 Crew 6) which is currently deployed in the Gulf on Operation KIPION.
HRH The Prince of Wales sharing a joke with the ship’s company of HMS Middleton
(Picture: PO G Granger US Navy)
13 Nov 16 - 'Let there be a way through the water'
I am grateful to MCDOA member Bob Hawkins MBE for allowing me to publish this photo showing him with Lt(SCC) Colin Butcher RNR after a Remembrance Day service today at the Algerines memorial in South Queensferry on the Forth. Bob has pointed out that Colin, the CO of TS Lochinvar which stands on the site of the former HMS Lochinvar, the MCMV base at Port Edgar, was serving in HMS Berkeley (now HS Kallisto in the Greek Navy) during my tenure as her first CO between 1987 and 1989.
Bob Hawkins with Colin Butcher flanking the Algerines Memorial at TS Lochinvar
The Algerines Memorial at TS Lochinvar
In July this year, I captured this image of a similar memorial to the Algerine class fleet minesweepers on Governor's Green behind the Garrison Church in Old Portsmouth.
12 Nov 16
Death of former CPO(D) Bill McGovern
Ex-CPO(D) Kevin 'Ginge' Reynolds reports that big Bill 'Budgie' McGovern passed away in Monklands Hospital in Airdrie during the early hours of this morning. His wife Kate and their family were at his bedside. Bill had been in and out of hospital several times recently with respiratory problems following cardio-thoracic surgery and we spoke on the phone regularly. Even at home, he relied on oxygen to maintain some semblance of normal life despite his breathing difficulty.
Bill and I had known each other for the best part of 40 years since he was the Cox'n of HMS Wilton when I was the XO. He was later Cox'n of HMS Gavinton with my old LMCDO '76 course mate and fellow MCDOA member Bernie Bruen as XO.
Bill McGovern with Bernie Bruen MBE DSC on board HMS Gavinton in 1978
Bill was an avid supporter of branch functions and usually appeared in the company of his long-term friend and Scottish neighbour ex-CPO(D) Albert 'Albert RN' Chapman.
Bill McGovern with MCDOA past-Chairman David Hilton MBE at the RN CD Branch Golden
Jubilee stag night in the Sailors' Home Club (now the Royal Maritime Club) in May 2002
Bill McGovern with David 'Jim' Bond in the background at a divers' reunion
in the Royal Maritime Club in June 2008
Bill McGovern with MCDOA committee member Graham 'Tug' Wilson MBE at the
MCDOA-sponsored barbecue on Horsea Island in June 2008
Bill McGovern with Irene Strange (widow of PO(D) Albert Strange), Edda Rea
(widow of Lt Cdr Jackie Rea MBE) and ex-CPO(D) Gabby Haines' wife Kay at the
MCDOA-sponsored barbecue on Horsea Island in June 2009
I am sure that all members of our community will join me in extending our deep condolences to Bill's wife Kate and their family.
From ex-CPO(MW) Jan Pearcey in Australia:
I have just read on the MCDOA website of the passing of Bill McGovern. We served together in Gavinton. We had our moments, but nevertheless it is always sad to learn of another of your era that has passed.
Fair winds, Bill.
Minewarfare & Clearance Diving Heritage: 50 Years Ago
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Navy's MCD Officer sub-specialisation, in accordance with DCI 278/66, which entailed the transfer of all aspects of Royal Navy minewarfare from the TAS (Torpedo and Anti-Submarine) branch to a new organisation incorporating clearance diving. We will be privileged to have several members of the first MCDO course (LMCDO '66) at our annual dinner in HMS Excellent's wardroom next Friday (see first entry for 2 Nov 16).
Among other highlights of 1966, MCDOA member Colin Churcher, a Russian convoy veteran who had qualified as an SD CDO in 1964, led the operation to render safe and recover the Blackfriars bomb from the Thames in February and was subsequently appointed an MBE.
I found these Navy News articles of 50 years ago particularly enlightening because they provide an insight into 'our Branch' the year it was formed. The graphic below, published in the March 1966 issue, shows the strength of the Navy at the time. As well as seven aircraft carriers and umpteen cruisers, destroyers, frigates and submarines, our Fleet comprised 91 coastal minesweepers. The same year saw the launch of HMS Resolution (our first Polaris SSBN) while the building programme comprised two County class guided missile destroyers, six Leander class general purpose frigates, one SSN, three further SSBNs, one SSK, two fleet replenishment ships and three stores support ships. It is sobering to think that I joined the Royal Navy only five years later.
Although most of the country remained blissfully unaffected, our part of the Royal Navy was at war:
Our MCMVs were also involved in another kind of war...
...but, as always, things were changing:
Our MCM flotilla was undergoing reorganisation. This article, published in the April 1966 issue, describes the merging on 1 January 1966 of the 1st Minehunting Squadron (formed on 1 Oct 1962 from the 51st MSS and comprising HMS Shoulton, HMS Bronington, HMS Brinkley and HMS Brenchley) with the 5th (ex-Vernon) MSS and 2nd MSS to form the 1st MCM Squadron based at Port Edgar on the Forth.
1966 was also a time when HMS Drake (and previously HMS Defiance) at Plymouth not only had a clearance diving team but, like HMS Vernon at Portsmouth and HMS Pembroke at Chatham, was also home to an RN diving school. There was an RN diving school and a port diving unit at HMS Safeguard on the Forth, too:
HMS Reclaim, the Royal Navy's Deep Diving Trials & MCM Support Ship, was in her heyday and featured as the Navy News 'Ship of the Month' in the August 1966 issue. She was involved that year with HMS Maxton, HMS Nurton, RMAS pintail and members of AEDU (the Admiralty Experimental Diving Unit) and PCDT (the Plymouth Command Clearance Diving Team) in locating and recovering the wreckage of a Buccaneer from HMS Victorious in 360 feet of water ten miles off the Lizard.
When you see the pioneering members of LMCDO '66 at our dinner, bear in mind the circumstances surrounding RN minewarfare & clearance diving when they undertook their course.
From MCDOA member Mike Harwood MBE:
Nice to see an article about HMS Dufton when I was serving on board as a Sub-Lieutenant. Here are three old photos of HMS Dufton all taken after the "Confrontation" was over; two in Hong Kong and one on our way home to Portsmouth.
HMS Dufton, HMS Lanton and HMS Penston exercising off Hong Kong in 1966
HMS Dufton entering Hong Kong naval base in 1966
HMS Dufton on her way back to Portsmouth from Hong Kong in 1967
This photo was taken in April 2016 through the early morning mist and shows the entrance into Hong Kong which is still painted white. I'm not sure when this was first done but the reason was to make sure ships located the entrance into Hong Kong and did not stray into Chinese waters. Old Hong Kong sailors, especially MCMV navigators, will remember this essential navigational feature.
Entrance to Hong Kong in April 2016
Of less interest I also have some photos taken this year of the land-locked Royal Naval Base buildings that are now the PLA Military Base. Let me know if you wish me to send them on to you.
11 Nov 16 - Lest we forget
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
|Robert Laurence Binyon|
The website's Branch History section contains a list of RN & RM personnel killed while serving in Minewarfare, Diving and EOD roles since the beginning of the Second World War although it is by no means comprehensive, especially where minesweeper crews are concerned. Generically, I have titled it RN Bomb & Mine Disposal Casualties.
Postscript: MCDOA member Bob Hawkins MBE, First Lieutenant of HMS Queen Elizabeth undergoing completion at Rosyth, was accompanied by his delightful wife Trudy today while representing his ship at the Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle. He has kindly allowed me to publish these images of the occasion:
On Remembrance Sunday, Bob will be laying a wreath on behalf of the Royal Navy at the Algerines Association Memorial at Port Edgar.
9 Nov 16
SDU1 deals with unexploded ordnance in Totnes
The Daily Mirror website contains this article and the Torquay Herald Express this article, including video, reporting that members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) removed a suspected Second World War 'bomb' (which looks remarkably like an artillery shell complete with driving band) yesterday from a recycling centre on an industrial estate in Totnes, Devon.
Piece of Iran/Iraq Tanker War memorabilia presented to the Mess at Horsea Island
Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be in the mess at Horsea Island to capture former WO(D) Ray Ramsay presenting a significant piece of memorabilia, cleverly put together by former WO(D) Terry Settle, to WO(D) John 'YoYo' Ravenhall. It comprised a chunky fragment of metal from the hull of the 268,255 ton VLCC Fellowship L, the world's second largest supertanker, struck by an Iraqi Exocet missile in the Gulf on 12 February 1985 during the Iran/Iraq Tanker War. The missile failed to detonate and this fragment of the ship was recovered from a drained tank by members of the Fleet Clearance Diving Team during their EOD operation to remove the missile and its warhead.
These are the panels providing the descriptive text:
Several members of the branch were present to witness the presentation including MCDOA members Graham 'Tug' Wilson, Mick Beale and Adrian 'Spanner' Dann. Also present were WO(D) Steve Vernon, WO(D) Steve Fitzjohn and CPO(D) Nellie Nilsson.
8 Nov 16
Daily Telegraph obituary for Lt Cdr John 'Futch' Futcher MBE
Lt Cdr John 'Futch' Futcher MBE RN
(23 Jul 1928 - 28 Aug 2016)
Over the past few years, Peter 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):
From MCDOA member Cdr Edward 'Jake' Linton BEM RAN (Patron of the RANCDA):
It is with great disappointment that I received your email about Futch's obituary. To think that he had been living all this time in Australia and we did not seem to be aware of it. I appreciate that he may have wished for anonymity but for a man of his stature in our branch and long-term resident of Australia to pass without recognition by the RAN side of our association is a sad thing.
To Michael - Please accept the sincere condolences of the RAN CD Community.
United and Undaunted!
SDU1 destroys dangerous chemicals from school
The Plymouth Herald website contains this article, including video, describing how members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) were called to a school today to destroy quantities of chemical 2,4-DNPH (2,4 dinitrophenyl hydrazine) which has been declared a dangerous substance.
On 31 October, members of Portsmouth-based SDU2 visited schools on the Isle of Wight for the same reason, as reported in this article on the Island Echo website.
7 Nov 16
Funeral of former FCPO(D) Derek 'Nobby' Clark
Nobby's son John has asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations are made to the Historical Diving Society's museum. Bank details as follows:
Historical Diving Society
Branch: 60 03 30
Tributes to Nobby are being appended to the entry for 31 Oct 16.
HMS Chiddingfold blags rum
The Sun website contains this article describing how the ship's company of HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 3), currently deployed on Operation KIPION in the Gulf, has blagged 40 bottles of O'Hara's Spiced Rum "to lift their spirits". Also see the entry for 23 Oct 16.
...38, 39, 40!
6 Nov 16 - Vernon Monument supported by the new Portsmouth Lottery
The Vernon Monument is one of the causes associated with the new Portsmouth Lottery and you can support it for as little as £1 per week. One supporter has already won a prize in yesterday's draw.
The next draw is on 12 November. Purchase your tickets here to help get the monument erected quicker:
This episode of a 1977 BBC TV series called 'The Secret War' explains why HMS Vernon (and Southsea Canoe Lake) had such a profound effect on British survival during the Second World War. The Vernon Monument will constitute a physical celebration of such minewarfare, diving and EOD achievements and the people who continue to execute them. Have you been giving our project the support it deserves (e.g. by organising fundraising events) and encouraging others to do the same?
These somewhat blurry images are screen captures from the video and the location may be familiar to some:
5 Nov 16 - TV report on Southern Diving Unit 2
The BBC website contains this article including a video, part of which was broadcast on tonight's regional TV news programme, South Today. It covers a day with Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) and features MCDOA member James Oxley, the unit's OIC.
James Oxley with BBC reporter Leanne Brown
4 Nov 16 - Australian CDO relives mine disposal memories
I am grateful to MCDOA member Norman Brookhouse, former FCPO(D) Dave 'Mona' Lott BEM, Peter Chapman, and others for drawing my attention to this article on the Gold Coast Bulletin website which describes the recent return of Lt John Kenneth 'Tom' Parker RAN to Surfers Paradise in Queensland where he had dealt with a German GY* moored mine that washed up on the beach in February 1966.
Lt Cdr John Kenneth 'Tom' Parker RAN
(Photo by Mike Batterham)
The mine had broken adrift after being laid off Newcastle, New South Wales in 1941. Tom Parker and his team from the Sydney-based CDT2 dug out the mine and rendered it safe before loading it on a sled which Tom towed behind a bulldozer to an isolated part of the Spit, north of Surfers Paradise, where he burned out the explosive content. Several of these images are courtesy of the RAN Clearance Divers' Association (RANCDA).
CPO(CD1) John Dollar and Lt Tom Parker RAN with AB(CD)s Paddy Turley & Phil Kember
Left: AB(CD)s Paddy Turley & Phil Kember
Right: CPO(CD1) John Dollar walks the mine
CPO(CD1) John Dollar and Lt Tom Parker with local civic officials
AB(CD) Philip Kember was subsequently awarded a Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct for the operation.
Tom Parker had qualified as a Clearance Diving Officer at HMS Vernon in October 1960 and is listed on the website among the members of QDD, CDO, LMCDO and MWO Courses. He has lived in California since 1975 but returned to Surfers Paradise for a reunion of the 16th Minesweeping Squadron. This squadron was formed during Konfrontasi (the Indonesian Confrontation 1963 - 66) and comprised the Ton Class minesweepers HMAS Curlew, HMAS Gull, HMAS Hawk, HMAS Ibis, HMAS Snipe and HMAS Teal.
These ships operated alongside the Royal Malaysian Navy as units of an Inshore Flotilla that also included TONs of the Royal Navy's 6th 'Blackfoot' Minesweeping Squadron and the Royal New Zealand Navy's 11th Minesweeping Squadron comprising HMNZS Hickleton and HMNZS Santon. Hickleton and Santon were converted for patrol duties and commissioned into the RNZN at Singapore. They served with the RNZN from April 1965 to October 1966 and were the only RNZN ships never to visit New Zealand.
3 Nov 16
NDG clears Garvie Island range
The Royal Navy website contains this article describing range clearance at Garvie Island by 15 members of Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG). The article features MCDOA member Tim 'Castro' Castrinoyannakis, PO(D) Gerry Mulholland and recently qualified AB(D) Deri Gittings.
NDG divers involved in clearance of the range at Garvie Island
(RN website photo)
Left: AB(D) Deri Gittins
Rightr: A 4.5" shell requiring disposal
(RN website photos)
Double Whammy for Jonathan Aylett
Congratulations to CPO(MW) Jonathan Aylett on being selected for officer training at BRNC Dartmouth on the same day (10 October) that he won the RN Sports Lottery's top prize of £5,000 as reported in this month's Navy News:
2 Nov 16 - QDD, CDO, MCDO and MWO Course nominal lists
To help mark this 50th anniversary year of the MCD Officer sub-branch, I have compiled nominal lists of associated QDD (Qualified in Deep Diving, CDO (Clearance Diving Officer), MCDO (Minewarfare & Clearance Diving Officer) and MWO (Minewarfare Officer) courses to date. It is still a work in progress but I would appreciate any alterations and additions:
1 Nov 16
HMS Grimsby in the Norwegian fjords
The Royal Navy website contains this article describing a passage through the 26-mile long Lysefjord, gateway to Stavanger, by HMS Grimsby (MCM1 Crew 6) in company with her fellow members of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1). The group also contains the Estonian ENS Sakala, formerly HMS Inverness.
Ships of SNMCMG1 transiting Lysefjord
(RN website photo)
R&R in Oman for sailors from HMS Chiddingfold and HMS Penzance
The Royal Navy website contains this article describing a visit to Muscat by HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 3) and HMS Penzance (1/5) during which 80 sailors enjoyed a week of Adventurous Training including hiking, swimming, diving, sea kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding plus a trip to Wadi Shab for a trek along its spectacular gorge. The week culminated in a joint sports afternoon at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, as the ships went head-to-head in stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking and beach volleyball. HMS Penzance seized the glory with her engineering team ‘The A-1 OPDEFs’ taking first prize in the combined competition. The article features AB(MW) Daniel ‘Digger’ Gardner.
Above: Diving off Muscat
Below: Part of Wadi Shab
(RN website photos)
Gentlemen Who Lunch
Following an exploratory visit two weeks ago, the MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio of Barlow, Holloway and Hoole enjoyed an excellent lunch with Barlow's spouse Jill today at The Deck in Emsworth Yacht Harbour. This pretty venue is thorougly recommended although prior booking may be necessary and the beer is only available in bottles.
31 Oct 16
Death of former FCPO(D) Derek 'Nobby' Clark
I am grateful to former FCPO(D) Dave 'Mona' Lott BEM, Ron Alleway, Colin 'Foggy' Goff and many others for the sad news from his grandson of the death of former FCPO(D) Derek 'Nobby' Clark on 29 October after a long battle with asbestos-related cancer. He was one of the first three CPO CD1s to be appointed to the newly introduced role (1972) of FCPO along with Dutchy Holland and Tom King. After leaving the the Royal Navy in the mid-1970s, he worked with former FCPO(D) Dutchy Holland at Oceaneering as the Diving Safety Officer. According to Mike O'Meara, he also worked for Rockwater then Halliburton Subsea as it was then. I am sure all members of our community will join me in extending our condolences to his family and close friends.
Among his many claims to fame while serving in the Royal Navy, Nobby portrayed an Italian diver 'stabbed' by Lionel 'Buster' Crabb, played by Lawrence Harvey, in the 1958 film The Silent Enemy.
In 1968/9, Nobby was one of the RN exchange personnel involved in the US Navy's multinational SEALAB III project in 610 feet of water off San Clemente Island, California. This succeeded the SEALAB II (Man in the Sea) project in the La Jolla Canyon off the coast of Scripps Institution of Oceanography/UCSD in La Jolla, California in 205 feet of water. Other 'Royal Alien Navy' personnel involved in the mysteriously plagued SEALAB III project included the late Surg Vice Admiral Sir John 'Doc' Rawlins KCB, Surg Cdr David Elliott, MCDOA member Cyril Lafferty (also involved in SEALAB II), Lt Cdr Mike Shotter RAN, Lt Cdr Mike Lafontaine RCN and LS(CD) Bill Lukeman RCN. Their exploits were chronicled on pages 9 to 15 of Vol 15 No 2 and pages 4 and 5 of Vol 16 No 1 of the RN Diving Magazine.
The 'Royal Alien Navy' at UW Swim School, Key West, Florida
(Left to right: PO(CD1) Nobby Clark, Lt Cyril Lafferty RN, Lt Cdr Mike Shotter RAN,
Lt Cdr Mike Lafontaine RCN and (sitting) LS(CD) Bill Lukeman RCN)
In January 1973, Nobby was HMS Reclaim's Chief Diver during the recovery of a Welman (Welwyn One-Man Submarine) from Rothesay Bay (see second entry for 1 Mar 09 in News Archive 25).
HMS Reclaim's Chief Diver Derek 'Nobby' Clark and
Diving Officer Les Maynard inspecting the Welman
Most recently, Nobby visited The Historical Diving Society's museum at Stokes Bay in August last year (see entry for 22 Aug 15 in News Archive 51) and I saw him again at the HDS Conference at Poole in October (see entry for 12 Oct 15 in News Archive 52).
Derek 'Nobby' Clark standing next to the Crabb and
Knowles exhibits at the HDS Diving Museum
From Nobby's son John Clark:
Thanks for your kind thoughts which I have passed on to my mother and other members of the family.
The funeral will be held at Havant Crematorium (The Oaks), at 13:45 on 21st November. My mother has requested that, rather than flowers, a donation to the Historical Diving Society's museum would be appreciated, at your discretion. Bank details as follows:
Historical Diving Society
Branch: 60 03 30
From MCDOA member Bill 'Chippy' Norton:
I was very saddened and shocked to read of the passing of Nobby. Please pass my condolences on to his family.
Nobby became my Chief when I was given a pierhead jump to take over as OIC of the Saturation Diving & Trials Team following the sudden departure of Peter Cobby. He had been working with Peter and the team at DTU on the 300m table trials and the team was due to deploy in three weeks time to the USN Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU), newly re-located to Panama city in Florida, there to join up with the USN MK1 deep diving system. The Mk1 was normally based at Little Creek Virginia on its parent barge, but was being deployed to the Gulf of Mexico for the period of the trials.
After a quick briefing I was stuffed into the facility at DTU for a short familiarisation sat dive leaving Nobby and my USN second-in-command to progress the preparations for the deployment. Nobby's previous experience with the US as a well respected member of the 'Man In The Sea' project had given him a good knowledge of the USN and was to prove invaluable during the preparations and the deployment as a whole. He was not given to making loud noises but this did not deter his ability to maintain discipline and coherence in the team, who were dispersed in a variety of rented civilian accommodation, when not out on the barge. His technical ability was also a great asset and he was well respected among the deep diving community.
Nobby was undoubtedly a key factor in the successful completion of the trials and the safe return of the team. Regrettably the Service was not able to realise his full potential, but his skills were highly sought after in the commercial field where his general air of quiet confidence was also highly appreciated in his latter safety role in the industry and was a perfect foil to the more robust style of his well known colleague, 'Dutchy' Holland! I have not seen him since we both retired, but understand that he lived quietly at Widley with his family until his illness developed.
I am very glad to have had the opportunity to serve with Nobby and grateful for all the loyalty, support and commitment he gave to the Sat team during his time with us, and to me personally when I was very new to the game. The world will be a poorer place for his passing.
From Nobby's son John Clark:
"I believe you heard from my son Karl regarding the death of my father, Derek (Nobby) Clark. We appreciate you organising the posting on the CD website as we are a bit short of his naval / diving contacts. As you now know he passed away at home at 0300 on the 29th after a long battle with asbestos related cancer. He struggled toward the end but eventually fell unconscious and passed away 24 hours later. He requested to die at home so we made sure that it happened with my mother, sisters and me in attendance during his final days. He is at peace now.
We don’t have any funeral details as yet, as they need to hold an inquest, because he died from an ‘industrial disease’, before a death certificate is issued, Hopefully it won’t be too long.
Hope you are keeping well,
HDS Diving Museum Newsletter
The Historical Diving Museum (HDS) museum is now closed until next Easter. Here is the year's final newsletter:
30 Oct 16 - News from Paddy McAlpine and Al Magill
As promised, some info and pictures about the MCMV effort in JOINT WARRIOR 16-2. I'll chase the diving photos, which I hope have been sent to me by snail mail.
UK Assets involved in exercise NOBLE MARINER 2016:
Royal Navy MCM Task Group (TG 315.06):
HM Ships CATTISTOCK, HURWORTH, PEMBROKE and RAMSEY (two “Hunt” Class and two “Sandown” Class).
Commander Task Group (Captain Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff (JTEPS)) is based ashore at HMNB Faslane. Commander Task Unit (Cdr Nick UNWIN RN), with the Mine Warfare Battle Staff, is forward-deployed to Loch Ewe, along with Fleet Support Unit 03. He and his staff are undergoing certification before deploying to Bahrain to take charge of the RN’s four MCMVs that are permanently based there.
Meanwhile, Fleet Diving Unit 2 are conducting intensive Mine Clearance Diving operations in the Gareloch and will also be diving elsewhere in the North Minch area during the exercise.
The ships have been conducting exploratory operations in North Minch and Loch Ewe, whilst also participating in trials on the BUTEC ranges near the Kyle of Lochalsh.
NATO Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1):
The “Sandown” Class HMS GRIMSBY is the RN’s current contribution to the NATO group. The NATO group was employed in the Campbeltown area for the first few days but has now moved on to the Mallaig area near the Kyle of Lochalsh.
Apart from their core MCM business, both groups have gained from broader training, such as having to deal with “swarm attacks” by Fast Inshore Attack Craft, and Air Defence exercises, with the Escort Task Group providing the vital MCM vessels with protection.
Two ex-RN ships are operating with us, now serving with foreign navies: Ex-HMS COTTESMORE (now the Latvian Ship SKALVIS) and Ex-HMS INVERNESS (now the Estonian Ship SAKALA). As a matter of interest, the Estonian Navy have named their flagship (Ex-HMS SANDOWN) after the Royal Navy’s Admiral Cowan, who played a key role in guaranteeing Estonia’s independence against Russian aggression in the immediate aftermath of the first World War.
True to his word to Admiral Paddy, MCDOA member Alasdair Magill (OIC Fleet Diving Unit 3 (FDU3)), has sent me the following message and photos:
FDU 3 have recently returned from JW 162 (08-22 Oct) in Scotland. We were conducting a validation period for our Mine Investigation and Exploitation capability and were visited by RAdm Paddy McAlpine, who asked that I submit some of the photos to you.
Paddy McAlpine (centre) with Jason White, Del McKnight and members of FDU3
Paddy McAlpine being shown EM23 mine
during FDU 3 MIE ops
Paddy McAlpine discussing manual approach with PO(D) Alex Newnes
29 Oct 16 - News from Bob Hawkins
I am grateful to MCDOA member Bob Hawkins MBE (First Lieutenant of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth being completed at Rosyth) for this update in which he addresses plans to hold an event on board to raise funds for the Vernon Monument:
May I use David's recent missive as a segue into an update on HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH (QNLZ), of which I'm proud to be her First Lieutenant. BLUF: Ability to arrange anything charitable on board QNLZ, that might benefit VMP remains impossible before Vessel Acceptance Date (VAD).
The build process continues up here in Rosyth. Some of you may have experienced this from the RN side of the house, perhaps in a new class of ship, in a new build. The frustrations are many and varied. Add to this the sheer scale and complexity of the Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carriers and you can imagine that each day brings a new challenge in moving towards Ships Staff Move On Board (SSMOB) then its sequel, Ready For Sea Date (RFSD).
SSMOB is planned for 9 January; RFSD 10 March. Using Andrew St George's 12 principles of Leadership in the Royal Navy, I subscribe to his No.2, Cheerfulness. A glass half empty as opposed to a glass half full approach is a choice, and I choose to remain optimistic. Draw from that what you will.
Timing of First Entry Portsmouth (FEP) is dependent upon achieving RFSD and the subsequent success of Power and Propulsion Trials. This initial Contractor Sea Trials period we call euphemistically '5-1-5', i.e. from RFSD, five weeks at sea, one week alongside (Invergordon), five weeks at sea, then FEP: a standard package that must be executed in full from whichever start date we achieve. Clearly, FEP will shift right if RFSD does, or indeed if '5-1-5' needs to be extended to accommodate any set-backs thrown up during the trials.
The shape of FEP is generating some debate in the centre, and thankfully divorced from the ship. One school wants all-singing, all-dancing, bells and whistles for the first entry of the nation's new Flagship; the other a low-key event for a Government Owned, Company Operated (GO-CO) 'merchant vessel' which is still undergoing trials and is some way off from being handed over to the RN. The ever commercially-minded Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) wishes the latter. The realistic approach lies somewhere between the two; the decision rests not with the ship, nay not even with our GO-CO masters, the ACA, but at the Navy Board, to be ratified by the Admiralty Board very soon.
Former RN might be wondering why the ship's company (now only 80 or so short of our full complement) is here so early compared to previous build processes. The MOD being the fourth partner of the ACA has been contracted to provide the 'ACA Sea Trials Crew' - we are 'Agents of Industry' in this respect. Our RN aim is to become Suitably Qualified and Experienced Personnel (SQEP) of the QEC carrier. A large part of the frustration is the lack of access to systems in order to become SQ, let alone building E. The ship simply does not yet belong to the Navy. Yes, we look forward to working with our ACA partners to assist in the build process, particularly where that activity sets the conditions to achieve SQEP. However, we remain hostage to the progress the ACA sets itself in this GO-CO ship. VAD is set for a date TBC in the early autumn of 2017.
This brings me back to my Bottom Line Up Front. As First Lieutenant in QNLZ I remain committed to facilitating an event in our new Flagship to the benefit of the Vernon Monument Project, when circumstances allow.
More QNLZ porn for those who enjoy following our progress. Marine Evacuation System (MES) Demonstration Trial, yesterday in the basin at Rosyth. BZ to the Bosun and ship's company.
Right: Note the newly refitted HMS Shoreham in the background
Warm regards to you all,
1st Lt QNLZ
P.S. Rob H, should you wish to post this update on our MCDOA website - delighted if you do."
28 Oct 16 - RN MCMVs participate in MCMEX 17-1 in the Gulf
The Royal Navy website contains this article describing the participation of HMS Bangor (MCM1 Crew 2), HMS Penzance (1/5), HMS Middleton (2/6) and HMS Chiddingfold (2/3), plus their command/supply/depot ship RFA Lyme Bay, in the RN/USN Mine Countermeasures Exercise 17-1 (MCMEX 17-1) in the Gulf. The US Navy committed the minehunters USS Devastator, USS Gladiator and USS Dextrous plus MH-53 Sea Dragons from Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 15 Det. 2.
24 Oct 16 - HMS Shoreham at Rosyth
From HMS Queen Elizabeth's Twitter feed:
"M112, HMS Shoreham getting lowered into the basin. We are 100 times heavier & 5 times longer. @RoyalNavy :credit CPO Dunlop"
23 Oct 16 - News from HMS Chiddingfold
20 Oct 16 - Website restoration
For reasons unknown, the host server 'lost' the website last night (Wednesday). I have asked for its restoration from the back-up but this has yet to be implemented, In the meantime, I am uploading my own back-up but this will take considerable time as it involves processing more than 32,000 files (4.4 GB) in relatively small batches. Rest assured that normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.
19 Oct 16 - HMS Brocklesby honours wartime forebears
The Navy News website contains this article describing a visit by ship's company members of HMS Brocklesby (MCM2 Crew 2) to the annual service remembering the 70,000 men who served in the RN Patrol Service (RNPS aka 'Harry Tate's Navy) during the Second World War at 'The Sparrow's Nest', its spiritual home in Lowestoft.
Lt Dan Buttar, HMS Brocklesby’s gunnery officer, leads a Guard of Honour comprising
a petty officer and six able seamen from the ship
(Navy News image)
17 Oct 16 - Ton Class Association reunion in Torquay
The weekend's annual reunion of the Ton Class Association (TCA), held this year at the Toorak Hotel in Torquay, was as enjoyable as ever. It comprised an informal dinner on the Friday, an AGM, formal dinner and disco on the Saturday and a church service on the Sunday morning.
TCA Committee members at the AGM comprising Stuart Johnson (Hon Treasurer), Rear Admiral
John Lippiett CB CBE (President), John Soanes (Chairman), Peter Down (Hon Sec & Editor of
'Ton Talk') and Peter Harrison (Reunion Secretary)
Above and below: The TCA's AGM
Above and below: The TCA's AGM
Left: John Soanes delivering his Chairman's report
Right: Stuart Johnson delivering his Treasurer's report
Peter Down delivering his report as Hon Secretary & Editor of 'Ton Talk' with his
deputy editor 'Gash the shitehawk'
Left: Bob Dean delivering his report as Head of the Historical Group & Webmaster
Right: Charlie Farnes delivering his typically hilarious report as Welfare Officer
Peter Harrison delivering his Reunion Officer's report and a fine job he makes of it, too.
Next year's reunion will be held in Derby
Left: Pancho Brett delivering his report on Sea Cadet Affiliations
Right: Laurie Johnson delivering his Stores Officer's report
For me, the highlight of the banter-filled AGM was the Yorkshire 'White Rose' element (complete with ferret (stuffed), whippet (stuffed), pigeon (stuffed) and flat caps) summoning TCA Historian & Webmaster Bob Dean to induct him as an honorary.... Lancastrian.
Members of the Yorkshire 'White Rose' contingent
TCA Historian & Webmaster Bob Dean (left) being inducted as an 'Honorary Lancastrian' by members
of the TCA's Yorkshire 'White Rose' contingent comprising Pancho Brett, Clive Dennison,
Terry Foreman, Allan Brown (aka Whippet Master), Dave Brown and Dave Parrish
Up Spirits! Tot time after the AGM
We were graced at our formal dinner with the presence of MCD officer Lt Lucy O'Callaghan (Ops Officer) and Sean Esson (AB(D)) from HMS ATHERSTONE. They brought a refreshing breath of 'sea air' to our proceedings and were a credit to their ship and themselves. It was a useful opportunity to reciprocate their hospitality during our sea day in HMS Atherstone earlier this year (see entry for 27 May 16 in News Archive 54).
Yours Truly (Rob Hoole) with MCDOA member Lucy O'Callaghan, Ops Officer of HMS Atherstone
Lucy O'Callaghan flanked by Neil 'Nobby' Hall and TCA Hon Secretary Peter Down
TCA President Rear Admiral John Lippiett CB CBE and his wife Jenny with AB(D) Sean Esson
of HMS Atherstone and his partner Rachel
Top table at the formal dinner
Above and below: TCA formal dinner
Above and below: TCA formal dinner
Above and below: TCA formal dinner
TCA resident artist Tony Standish preparing to make a presentation to Chairman John Soanes
to mark his 22 years in office
TCA Chairman John Soanes receiving a framed painting of his TON class minesweeper,
HMS Penston, to mark his 22 years in office while Tony Standish and Chris Green look on
Ann Soanes, wife of the Chairman, expressing her gratitude for a pendant presented in
recognition of the stalwart support she has given her husband and the Association
Lucy O'Callaghan of HMS Atherstone after presenting a basket of flowers to Jenny Lippiett,
wife of TCA President, Rear Admiral John Lippiett seen in background
Diners listening to the speeches
Rear Admiral John Lippiett, TCA President, delivering his after-dinner speech
on the subject of 'cock-ups I have made'
Diners listening to the speeches
AB(D) Sean Esson of HMS Atherstone and his partner Rachel enjoying the post-dinner disco
Above and below: Post-dinner disco
Reunion Secretary Peter Harrison running the well-supported raffle
which took place at break-neck speed with great efficiency
Above and below: Post-dinner disco
Above and below: Post-dinner disco
MCDOA member Doug Barlow's wife Jill being presented with the final raffle prize
by Charlie Farnes with Peter Harrison and Tony Standish looking on
Above and below: Sunday morning church service conducted by the Rev Colin Noyce OCM,
the TCA's chaplain
Above and below: Sunday morning church service conducted by the Rev Colin Noyce OCM,
the TCA's chaplain
16 Oct 16 - MCDOA members' updates
Congratulations to MCDOA member Nick Stanley who informs me that he was due to retire last week but has instead been promoted to Commodore and will likely serve a further six months or so in SHAPE as our National Military Representative to cover an emergent gap. Commiserations to MCDOA member Bob Hawkins whose ambition to become the oldest serving MCD officer has been put on hold yet again.
MCDOA member Graham Landrock informs me that he is still working as the Head of the Joint Synchronisation Branch [No, I don't know either] within the 3* NATO Single Service Maritime Command (MARCOM) but spends two out of every four weeks deployed as MARCOM's Liaison Officer to SHAPE. He is due to retire when he hits 55 next July but has just been offered another extension so nothing is certain yet.......as always!
14 Oct 16
HMS Cattistock stars in BBC1's 'The One Show'
Yesterday's episode of 'The One Show' on BBC TV featured HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew 8 commanded by MCDOA member Charlie Wheen) and her diving team at Kyle of Lochalsh during Exercise UNMANNED WARRIOR (aka JOINT WARRIOR 16-2 and NOBLE MARINER 16).
Among those interviewed were MCDOA members Charlie Wheen (CO of HMS Cattistock) and Mark Savage plus PO(D) Jim Cracker (Cox'n of HMS Cattistock).
Lt Cdr Charlie Wheen, CO of HMS Cattistock
Left: PO(D) Jim Cracker
Right: Cdr Mark 'Doc' Savage
The episode also showed several remote systems being used in autonomous MCM, several of them the responsibility of MCDOA member Jack McWilliams, OIC of the RN Maritime Autonomous System Trials Team (MASTT).
Lt Cdr Jack McWilliams, OIC of the RN MASTT
Left: Remus Autonomous Underwater Vehicle with Antony 'Pinta' Beer in the bow
Right: Radio-controlled boat
Post-mission analysis of survey data
The end result - Scratch one mine!
This episode of the programme can be watched again on iPlayer for the next few days. The relevant segment is between minutes 03:15 and 07:50:
HMS Grimsby battles her way to JOINT WARRIOR
The Royal Navy website contains this article describing the rough weather encountered by HMS Grimsby (MCM1 Crew 6) while on passage to Faslane from the Baltic where she has been deployed with Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1).
HMS GRIMSBY crossing the North Sea
RN website photo)
13 Oct 16
Replacement of ensign on wreck of HMS Royal Oak
I am grateful to MCDOA member Del McKnight, CO of the Fleet Diving Squadron (FDS), for allowing me to publish these photos of the recent replacement of the ensign on the wreck of HMS Royal Oak in Scapa Flow by members of Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG). Del was among the divers.
The team from NDG with the remembrance and memorial plaques
Left to right: NDG Chief of Staff (Lt Cdr Tim Castrinoyannakis), CO Fleet Diving Squadron
(Cdr Del McKnight), CO NDG (Lt Cdr Tony Hampshire) and LS(D) Craig MacMillan
I am also grateful to MCDOA member Tim 'Castro' Castrinoyannakis, OIC of Northern Diving Unit 2 (NDU2), for this message:
A quick email whilst I'm away up at Orkney but I thought you might appreciate a few more photos from our time up at Scapa Flow. Please see below some more info and quotes from the lads. Apologies for the typos etc,, all done on the road.
HMS Royal Oak's ship's badge in the
memorial garden at Scapa Flow
The team with the recovered ensign in the memorial garden at Scapa flow
We (a team of 9 diver from NDG) removed the Ensign on Monday, conducted a survey of the vessel on Tuesday, placing memorial stones and plaques within the wreck. AB Kenrick (Keno) and L(D) Macmillan (Mac) attached and flew a new ensign on Wednesday. Finally we secured the ensign to the port shaft today and placed the final remembrance plaque and a few poppies on the second deck below the quarterdeck (video to follow).
Left: The wreck of HMS Royal Oak lies just 100 meters to the north-east of this buoy.
The keel is at a depth of 5m and reaches a depth of 30m,
Right: PO(D) Andy Starkey recovering the ensign worn by HMS Royal Oak for the past year.
Left to right: NDG Chief of Staff (Lt Cdr Tim Castrinoyannakis), CO Fleet Diving Squadron
(Cdr Del McKnight), CO NDG (Lt Cdr Tony Hampshire) and LS(D) Craig MacMillan
LS(D) McMillan placing a memorial plaque
AB(D) Stephen William Kenrick said:
"I've been privileged and honoured to raise the Battle Ensign on HMS ROYAL OAK for the anniversary of the sinking, and to remember the 834 men and boys who tragically lost their lives on board.
It was a bright and sunny day. From the surface, you could see the upturned hull reflecting below. On descending, the hull is instantly focused. I then made the descent to the propeller shaft with my leading diver and unfurled the 2016 ensign fastening it in position. Once the buoy was released it held the ensign high, the waters of Scapa Flow drawing the ensign outwards as if flying in the wind. I drew further back looking upwards and I took a moment to reflect, then proudly raised a salute to my fallen shipmates, a moment and sight that is engraved in my mind forever."
LS(D) Craig Alexander McMillan said:
"It was an honour and a privilege to place the new ensign on the war grave of HMS Royal Oak In remembrance of the 834 boys and men who made the ultimate sacrifice in 1939. Throughout the diving there were very deep emotions running through my mind, from honour to sorrow. I will always remember this moment. May they rest in peace and never be forgotten."
Postscript: On 14 October 2016, the Royal Navy website published this article and the Navy News website this article covering the same story. It features MCDOA member Tony Hampshire, Commanding Officer of Northern Diving Group (NDG).
Aerial view of the battleship HMS Royal Oak
in her prime
(Navy News photo)
RN Diving & EOD Heritage: Vic Humphrey BEM and Rear Admiral Morgan-Giles OBE DSO GM
It was particularly good to catch up with Vic Humphrey at the dedication of the Memorial Garden at Horsea on Friday (see entry for 7 Oct 16).
Vic Humphrey (second left in the black overcoat) at the dedication of the Royal Navy
Clearance Divers' Memorial Garden on Horsea Island on 7 October 2016
We usually seem to meet on such sombre occasions these days. Here we were after the funeral of ex-CPO(D) Arthur Quantrill 'Ginger' Bryant BEM (see entry for 29 Jan 08 in News Archive 21).
Standing left to right: Maggie Lockwood, Joe Maher, Ted Setchell, Peter Priestley,
Vic Humphrey and Donkey Bray
Crouching à la Vicar of Dibley left to right: Rob Hoole and Spike Wheeler
I'm sure Vic won't mind me sharing this article about the 1959 Divers' Dinner at Kimbells in Southsea from the January 1960 issue of Navy News which contains a photo of him as an AB as well as MCDOA member John Grattan OBE.
Vic was awarded the BEM in 1973 as a PO(D) together with CPO(D) Bernard 'Old Donkey' Bray. The citation read:
"Chief Petty Officer Bray and Petty Officer Humphrey were the Seconds-in-Command of the two shifts who were working under Lieutenant [John] O'Driscoll during the period 16th October to 11th December 1972. Their coolness both whilst diving themselves and directing the operations of others was instrumental in the success of the highly dangerous operation of removing the bombs from the wreck of the SS Talabot. The leadership and courage shown by Chief Petty Officer Bray and Petty Officer Humphrey were of the highest order and in the best traditions of the Service."
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Morgan Morgan-Giles OBE, DSO, GM (the then Captain of HMS Vernon) was awarded his GM:
"...for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty" during bomb & mine disposal work while serving at HMS Nile, the naval base at Ras el-Tin Point, Alexandria."
To quote Wikipedia, Rear Admiral Morgan-Giles:
"...had been sent to help clear the ships from the harbour as quickly as possible, because they were loaded with explosive and ammunition, and (although unknown at the time) mustard gas. Whilst on board HMS Zetland, helping to move the ship out of the harbour to minimise losses, a bomb struck a nearby ammunition ship, and he was hurled the length of the deck, but was uninjured amongst the wreckage and fire. He was nevertheless able to climb onto an American liberty ship, the SS Lyman Abbott that was blocking the harbour exit.
Once aboard, he found not a single man alive, and no power, therefore no method of weighing her anchor. He, and two other men that had joined him, were therefore forced to tamp explosive into the anchor chain, light the fuse and take cover. The explosion severed the cable, and they eventually managed to get the ship towed out of the way. It emerged after the war that the Lyman Abbott had also had mustard gas on board. Had Lyman Abbott been hit whilst still inside Bari's harbour, the casualties from the mustard gas would likely have been extensive."
Here are some more images of that divers' dinner at Kimbells in Southsea in 1959.
The Captain of HMS Vernon (later Rear Admiral) Morgan-Giles flanked by Cdr
Bill Shelford (the RN's first Superintendent of Diving) and Cdr John Carr OBE
(SofD at the time) at the Vernon Divers' Dinner at Kimbells in Southsea in 1959
More attendees at the 1959 Divers' Dinner at Kimbells in Southsea
(See second entry for 6 Nov 08 in News Archive 24 for further details)
12 Oct 16
MCDOA President leads forces in Exercise UNMANNED WARRIOR
MCDOA President Rear Admiral Paddy McAlpine CBE is Deputy COMSTRIKFORNATO (SFN) normally based in Portugal but he is currently leading the forces involved in Exercise UNMANNED WARRIOR (aka JOINT WARRIOR 16-2 and NOBLE MARINER 16) off the coast of Scotland (see entry for 26 Sep 16 in News Archive 55).
ARCIMS at BUTEC, Kyle of Lochalsh for UNMANNED WARRIOR
(RN website photo)
The exercise runs from 9 to 21 October. Paddy has already visited UK units and local authorities and given a press conference at Faslane. He has asked me to "make much mention of the team with Nick Unwin [Cdr First MCM Squadron] all working up" and promised to gather and send "loads of good MCD/MW pictures and stories". He also says the exercise involves 21 nations, 22 warships, 3 submarines, 6 maritime patrol aircraft, 5 helicopters and 4,000 sailors, marines and airmen/women.
Boat transfer through the Rhu Narrows between Mr James (Red) Smith (SFN POLAD)
and Cdr Chris Moorey of SFN
Press Conference at Faslane
Paddy McAlpine with Commanding Officers from 21 NATO and Partner Nations
The JOINT WARRIOR Command Teams assembled at Faslane Naval Base
Paddy and his STRIKFORNATO team are embarked for the exercise in the French Navy's amphibious assault helicopter carrier FS TONNERRE.
FS Tonnerre at anchor in the Clyde
Left: Paddy meeting the CO of FS Tonnerre
Right: The STRIKFORNATO HQ afloat inside FS TONNERRE
SDU1 deals with ordnance at Widemouth
The Bude & Stratton Post website contains this article describing the disposal of a spigot mortar at Widemouth in Cornwall on 6 October, presumably by members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1).
11 Oct 16 - RN CDs' Memorial Garden update
The Portsmouth News has published this article, the Royal Navy website this article and the Navy News website this article about last Friday's dedication of the Royal Navy Clearance Divers' memorial garden on Horsea Island (see entry for 7 Oct 16).
(Photo by Keith Woodland, HMS Collingwood)
10 Oct 16 - News from HMS Middleton
I am grateful to Lt Cdr Simon Cox, Commanding Officer of HMS MIddleton (MCM2 Crew 6) currently on Operation KIPION in the Gulf, for these newsletters for August and September 2016 respectively which I have received via the Ton Class Association ((TCA). I write a column titled 'MCMV News' for the Associaton's bi-monthly newsletter 'Ton Talk'.
The newsletters feature the presentation of awards to ship's company members by visiting senior MCDOA members Roger Readwin and Chris O'Flaherty.
Left: Crew 6 Chronicle (Issue 02: August 2016)
Right: Crew 6 Chronicle (Issue 03: September 2016)
9 Oct 16
Deaths of Ken Beard and Roy Fredrickson
I am grateful to ex-CD Terry Gosling for this announcement:
"I have had information passed to me that two of our fraternity have passed, Roy Fredrickson and Ken Beard.
Roy Fredrickson's funeral will be at Moray Crematorium at Broadley by Buckie in Aberdeenshire on Friiday 14th at 1430. Please promulgate this message to your network. Let's have a good turn out.
According to Terry, both these men were divers in the offshore industry and will be known to several members of our community. Roy Fredrickson was initially trained by the Royal Engineers.
SDU2 deals with bomb off Hastings
The Hastings and St Leonards Observer website contains this article describing today's disposal, presumably by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2), of a Second World War 1,000 lb bomb trawled up by a fishing vessel.
8 Oct 16 - Memories of HMS Jufair at Mina Salman in Bahrain?
I have been asked to pass the following article to you for the site. The team building HMS JUFAIR are looking for anyone who can spin a dit about the original base and I thought that the MCDO Association would be able to help!
Can you bring the pre and post-WW2 Royal Navy operations in the Gulf to life?
We want to show the long, proud history of the Royal Navy's presence in Bahrain when the Mina Salman Support Facility commissions as HMS JUFAIR in July 2017. The hub of operations in the central Gulf region from 1935, the previous HMS JUFAIR closed when Bahrain gained independence from the UK in 1971.
In the last 15 years Bahrain has once again assumed a key role as the centre of operations in the region - the RN (the UK Maritime Component Command), the US Navy (Bahrain is home to the Fifth Fleet), as well as the international Combined Maritime Forces (supported by more than two dozen of the world's navies) all operate from there.
To support UK personnel working in Bahrain, the Mina Salman Support Facility is currently under construction, and will provide accommodation, recreation and welfare facilities, as well as warehouses and logistics/engineering facilities for ships deployed to the region.
We are seeking any old photos and insights into what life was like at the old HMS JUFAIR. Do you have any good dits or photos that you would like to share? We aim to create a timeline in the new Welfare Building, celebrating the 200 hundred years of links between the UK and Bahrain, and hope to feature a good selection of your dits and photos.
If you are able to help, please send your dits and scans of photographs - digital only please - to email@example.com and they'll pass them on to the HMS JUFAIR team.
If you have good two-way with the Ton Class Association that would be useful as well and kill two birds with one stone!
Looking forward to catching up in November at the dinner.
The original HMS Jufair was commissioned at Mina Salman in Bahrain on 7 November 1955 and was the base of the 9th 'Dhow' MSS (Minesweeping Squadron) of TON class MCMVs (renamed the 9th MCM Squadron in 1966 when it acquired minehunters) until shortly before it paid off on 15 December 1971. On 13 August 1971, BEACHAMPTON and YARNTON sailed from Bahrain for Hong Kong. On 5 September 1971, PUNCHESTON sailed for the UK and WISTON sailed for Gibraltar. Finally, BRERETON, BRINTON and GAVINTON sailed for Gibraltar on 2 October 1971. Last of the Wooden Walls - An Illustrated History of the TON Class Minesweepers & Minehunters contains a chapter dedicated to this period.
MCDOA member Martin Mackey was heavily involved in the early days of the re-establishment of HMS Jufair in Bahrain and the restoration of the 'dhow' funnel badges on minehunters currently based in the Gulf. See the entry for 31 Oct 15 in News Archive 52 and the linked articles therein for further background.
7 Oct 16 - Dedication of RN Clearance Divers' Memorial Garden on Horsea Island
Divers ancient and modern congregated at Horsea Island today for the opening and dedication of the new Royal Navy Clearance Divers Memorial Garden. This was the brainchild of WO(D) Steve Vernon, Chairman of the RN Cleance Divers' Association (RNCDA), and he enlisted the help of students on landscaping and builders' courses at Fareham College.
MCDOA member Jim Nisbet said a few words about his memories of Horsea Island before removng a Flag Alpha covering the plaque at the entrance. The Revd James Tabor RN and the Revd Martin Evans RN then conducted a short service that included the ringing of Five Bells on a Memorial Bell and the reading of the names of deceased divers. Fortunately, all but a very small number had died from natural causes.
Click for full Order of Service
MCDOA past-President Colin Welborn with MCDOA member Andy Woollven, Commanding
Officer of the Defence Diving School (DDS)
Former CPO(D) Don Hodge and his son Mortimer who was named after
the late illustrious MCDOA member Morty Drummond
AORNFCD Chairman Don 'Jim' Green and his wife with MCDOA past-President Colin Welborn
Mick Fellows with the memorial he commissioned
for the late Charlie Smithard
(See entry for 28 Aug 16)
Afterwards, attendees gathered in the combined officers' & senior rates' mess (the old W/T station) for refreshments and dit-swapping.
N.B. The MCDOA website's 'Branch History' section contains a list of RN Bomb & Mine Disposal Casualties I have compiled of personnel killed while serving in Minewarfare, Diving and EOD roles. Sadly, the beautiful Memorial Garden on Horsea Island will not be easily accessible to the General Public but the Vernon Monument in Gunwharf Quays, the previous site of HMS Vernon, will help act as a tribute to all those involved in naval minewarfare, diving and bomb & mine disposal, past present and future, and be visible to an annual footfall of 8 million people. Following my abseil down the Spinnaker Tower, my fundraising page will remain open for donations until 28 November. If you haven't already contributed, please act now.
7 Oct 16 - FDU2 participates in IED disposal exercise in Iceland
A video from the NATO website featuring Lt Cdr Sean 'Central' Heaton, who recently deployed as EOD Cdr, along with IEDD teams from FDU2, to Exercise NORTHERN CHALLENGE in Iceland.
YouTube: The bomb disposal experts
NORTHERN CHALLENGE is a two-week NATO sponsored multinational exercise, where maritime and land EOD teams from across NATO come to the former naval air station at Keflavik to take part in a range of IED scenarios. FDU2, under Lt Cdr Nathan Isaacs and his team are at the cutting edge of Maritime IEDD and performed exceptionally in what was a challenging exercise with increasingly complex, and realistic devices being laid.
I have now passed the baton of CO Fleet Diving Group over to Lt Cdr Jason White, after a fabulous and rewarding time in Command. The Fleet Diving Group remains as busy as ever, but with an exceptional team of officers, divers and mine warfare rates all across FDU1, 2 and 3, they keep the good work going and are a credit to the branch. I wish Jason luck and a successful Command tour.
I am sure that all members of our community will join me in wishing Ben the best of good fortune in whatever the future holds for him and congratulate Jason on his new appointment.
Postscript: On 13 October 2016, the Navy News website published this article covering the same story:
Post postscript: On 18 October 2016, the Royal Navy website published this article covering the same story.
4 Oct 16 - Awards of LS&GC medal and clasps
Congratulations to PO(MW) Andrew 'Gilly' Gilmore on being gazetted for the award of a clasp to his Long Service & Good Conduct medal
Gilly was a plankholding S(MW) when I commissioned HMS Berkeley (now HS Kallisto in the Greek Navy) at Portsmouth in January 1988 before work-up and an eight month deployment to the Gulf. I wish him well. It is refreshing to learn that there are people I know from that period who are still serving.
3 Oct 16 - Al Nekrews hands over as CO SDG
The Royal Navy website contains this article announcing the departure of MCDOA member Al Nekews QGM as the CO of Southern Diving Group (SDG). He is due to undertake an operational tour in the Middle East.
Lt Cdr Al Nekrews QGM RN
(RN website photo)