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

31 Jan 18 - Former WO(MW) Terry Briggs becomes a Beefeater


Congratulations to Terry 'Basher' Briggs on his installation as the 408th Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London as reported in this article on the Royal Navy website.



Terry joins former CPO(MW) Garry Burridge who was installed as a Yeoman Warder last year (see entry for 14 Aug 17 in News Archive 59).



30 Jan 18 - Recent Tweets


Click on the linked dates for all associated photos:


Capt MFP


30 Jan 18 - Congratulations to newly promoted Warrant Officer (Mine Warfare) Cashman of MCM 1 being presented his new rank slides by MCM 1 Chief of Staff Lt Cdr Mabbott.  Richly deserved & recognition for the many years of dedication & leadership in the Naval Service.


MCDOA member Keith Mabbott presenting WO(MW) Brian 'Cash' Cashman

with his new rank slides


HMS Middleton


26 Jan 18 - Marine Engineer Dept presented with a Herbert Lott Efficiency Award by COMUKMCMFOR for their superb teamwork in 2017 from regeneration of the unit to refit and keeping the ship 'on task' through the run-up to live ops in the Arabian Gulf.


26 Jan 18 - Commander COMUKMCMFOR presents Able Seaman Barlow with his new epaulettes on his promotion to Leading Seaman (Mine Warfare).


LS(MW) Barlow being presented with his new rank slides by COMUKMCMFOR in Bahrain


24 Jan 18 - UKMCC Chaplain Martin Evans visited MCM2 Crew 2 for the final time, on board HMS Middleton, prior to handing over to Father David Conroy in Feb 18.


15 Jan 18 - After 7 months, Lt Cdr Anthony Pimm (MCM2 Crew 4) hands over Command of HMS Middleton to Lt Cdr Daniel Morris (MCM2 Crew 2)


MCDOA member Dan Morris taking over Command of HMS Middleton from Tony Pimm in Bahrain


HMS Penzance


22 Jan 18 - Today Crew 1 moved back to PENZANCE and have begun to prepare to return to sea.


18 Jan 18 - We have now completed our handover to Crew 8 and Lt Cdr P Ware RN has assumed command of RAMSEY.  Crew 1 will return to PENZANCE and prepare her to go back to sea in the coming weeks.


17 Jan 18 - Proud to be flying our Fleet Efficiency pennant as we handover RAMSEY to Crew 8.


HMS Blyth


15 Jan 18 - Lt Cdr Ben Evans assumes command from Lt Cdr Will Blackett of HMS BANGOR with (MCM1 Crew 2) relieve (MCM1 Crew 6) after a 7 month deployment.  MCM1 Crew 2 will be working hard on ops in the region before sailing HMS BANGOR home later in 2018.


Lt Cdr Ben Evans taking over Command of HMS Bangor from Lt Cdr Will Blackett in Bahrain


HMS Pembroke


26 Jan 18 - What a view - team PEMBROKE get to take part in RNWSA ski championships.  MCMVs really do get to go where others don’t!


25 Jan 18 - Some members of Crew 5 have been experiencing skiing and snowboarding as part of the Royal Navy championship.  Great views, great opportunities, life without limits!  There are many ways to keep Navy fit!


HMS Bangor


2 Feb 18 - HMS Ledbury seen from HMS Bangor while in company on operations in the Middle East.  Protecting our nation's Interests by providing security at sea.


HMS Ledbury seen from HMS Bangor in the Middle East


NATO Maritime Command


18 Jan 18 - Welcome to Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 HMS Cattistock!


27 Jan 18 - SNMCMG2 hosts British Ambassador in Turkey


Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG2) is commanded by MCDOA member Justin Hains embarked in the survey vessel HMS Enterprise.  It has tweeted these images of Justin greeting Sir Dominick Chilcott KCMG, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Turkey, for lunch and discussion with local officials on board HMS Enterprise alongside at Sinop in the Black Sea today.  Other guests included our Defence Attaché.



(SNMCMG2 photos)



26 Jan 18 - Funeral of ex-CPO(D) Len Smith


I am grateful to MCDOA member John O'Driscoll MBE for this message following his attendance of Len's funeral in Bodmin yesterday (see entry for 8 Jan 18):


"Hi Rob,


I attended Len's funeral as discussed.  A very simple and moving occasion with a good turnout from the Branch.  Dave Forsey was in attendance along with about eight old friends.  Brian 'Bill' Cornick was co-ordinating and took a variety of photos which he will send along with a more detailed account.


All the best.


Yours aye,




CD1 Course BCD 15 1965

(Courtesy of Alf Slingsby)

Back row: Bob 'Tug' Wilson, Mike Handford, Noddy McGrath, Smudge Smith, Dickie Radford, South African, Alf Slingsby

Front row: John Cobb, Len Smith, Instructors, Ken Blaylock, Tom King, Bill 'Chippy' Norton, Brian 'Bill' Cornick 


 Jan Johns has kindly sent me the Order of Service.  Click on this image to open it.



From Brian 'Bill' Cornick:


"Hi Rob,


Len's funeral was well attended by family and friends.  A number of his old lodge friends were there and Gillian was supported by family.


I am very glad to say that the branch supported well and the following were there:


Dave Forsey* and his son Paul

John O'Driscoll*

Tom Norman

Spike Wheeler

Cris Ballinger

Jan Johns

Mick Kester

Rocky Stone


[* MCDOA members]


(Photo courtesy of Helen Forsey)


It was wonderful to see Elsie Alderton there too.  Spike read the eulogy.  Even though he was very nervous, he did the branch well in all he recalled.


We all went back to a pub to see him off afterwards and I left them all drinking his health (though in tea for some of them).


I would personally like to thank all who attended as indeed would Gillian.  A special thanks to Nigel Davies who could not make the service but is popping in on Saturday to see Gillian.


The bugler was a chap called Paul Uzzell who played the Last Post very well indeed.  He can be contacted on 077 9885 5385 and is very willing to assist if anyone needs him.


Best Regards,


Bill Cornick"


23 Jan 18 - SDG divers on bow of QEC carrier


I am grateful to MCDOA member Sean 'Central' Heaton, CO of Southern Diving Group (SDG), for allowing me to publish this image of members of his team standing on the bulbous bow of one of our two new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.



22 Jan 18 - Arrangements for the funeral of Lt Cdr William Brian Norton RN


The funeral of MCDOA member Bill 'Chippy' Norton (see entry for 6 Jan 18) will be held at 1215 on Monday 12 February at The Oaks Crematorium, Havant with a reception to follow at the Royal Naval Club and Royal Albert Yacht Club (RNC & RAYC) in Pembroke Road, Old Portsmouth. 


Family flowers only but donations to Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a monument at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth to celebrate the minewarfare & diving heritage of HMS Vernon which previously occupied the site, are requested in lieu. The monument will act as a tribute to personnel involved in such operations - past, present and future including Bill himself - and be a fitting memorial to those who have lost their lives undertaking such hazardous duties.


21 Jan 18 - Another minewarfare book in the offing


'Home Waters: Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and US Navy Mine Forces Battling U-Boats in World War I', written by your humble Webmaster in collaboration with prolific American author David Bruhn, is currently at the printers.  Advance orders are being accepted online but I will be taking orders for copies, inscribed if desired, when I receive my first consignment, thus saving the cost of postage from the USA (see entry for 16 Nov 17 in News Archive 60).


The cover of Home Waters shows 'They Opened the Seaways' by marine artist Richard DeRosset.  It depicts a mine detonation off the port quarter of the British-built Mersey class minesweeping trawler USS Richard Bulkeley.  The wooden-hulled vessel was sunk with the loss of her Commanding Officer and six crew members while engaged in post-First World War clearance of the North Sea Mine Barrage stretching from the Orkney Islands to Bergen, Norway.



'They Opened the Seaways' by Richard DeRosset


David and I have now started working on 'Night Raiders: US Navy, Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy, and Royal Netherlands Navy Mine Forces Battling the Japanese in World War II'.  As before, the cover art has been produced by Richard DeRosset and it is called “Mining the Tokyo Express”.


'Mining the Tokyo Express' by Richard DeRosset


The painting depicts the minelaying destroyers USS Tracy, USS Montgomery (shielded from view by the Tracy) and USS Preble laying mines off Guadalcanal on the night of 1 February 1943 in an attempt to prevent an approaching force of 19 Japanese destroyers from evacuating enemy troops from the island.


As before, I will be donating my proceeds towards  Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a monument at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth to celebrate the minewarfare & diving heritage of HMS Vernon which previously occupied the site.


12 Jan 18 - HMS Cattistock deploys for NATO duties in the Baltic


The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting yesterday's departure from Portsmouth of HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew 8 commanded by MCDOA member Charlie Wheen) to join Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) as part of a three-month deployment to the Baltic Sea.



10 Jan 18 - NATO Maritime Groups


An informative graphic showing the various activities of the four NATO Maritime Groups, including Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Groups 1 and 2 (SNMCMG1 and SNMCMG2), during 2017:



9 Jan 18 - A reunion with Allan Rankin


Mrs Webmaster and I enjoyed a leisurely afternoon tea at the Queens Hotel in Southsea yesterday with Allan and Marie-Louise Rankin (visiting from Australia), Martyn and Ann Holloway and Colin and Jo Welborn.  We blokes were all single MCDO 'livers-in' together at HMS VERNON during the 1970s.



8 Jan 18 - Arrangements for the funeral of ex-CPO(CD1) Len Smith


Brian 'Bill' Cornick has informed me that Len's funeral will take place at 1230 on Thursday 25 January at Bodmin Crematorium (see entry for 1 Jan 18).


7 Jan 18 - Diver discovers Royal Navy submarine graveyard off Tabarka, Tunisia


I am grateful to MCDOA past-President Colin Welborn for this message:


"Dear Rob,


Happy New Year to you and L.


You have probably seen this article:


The Times: Diver discovers Royal Navy submarine graveyard off Tabarka, Tunisia






The Times article is behind a paywall but this article on the Daily Mail website contains the same story:


Belgian amateur diver believes he has discovered the wrecks of six Royal Navy submarines in a Second World War graveyard off the Tunisian coast


It describes how an amateur diver may have found the previously undiscovered wrecks of six British submarines (TALISMAN, TIGRIS, TURBULENT, UTMOST, USURPER, P48 and P222) and a seventh believed to be Italian, all lost during the Second World War.  They are suspected to have been the victims of mines.



As shown in this detail from Volume II of 'British Mining Operations' 1939-1945, the area to the east of Tabarka was mined extensively by the British and Axis Powers during the Second World War:




6 Jan 18 - Death of Lt Cdr William Brian 'Chippy' Norton RN


I have just been informed by MCDOA member Bill Norton's wife Gunhild that he passed away last night.  I published this photo showing him as a Petty Officer on CD2 course as recently as 7 Dec 17 but you will find many more references to him if you type "Norton" into the search box on the website's Home page:


CD2 Course DCD 14

Back row: Bob Fraser, Anthony 'Charlie' Charlwood BEM, Instructor Bernard 'Donkey' Bray BEM*,

Roy 'Blondie' Rees and Vern Gibbons

Front row: Brian 'Ben' Gunnell, Bill 'Chippy' Norton, Pete Lumbis and P 'General' Booth


Bill was an old style 'Steamer' (standard diver) who qualified as a D3 at the RN Diving School in Chatham in the 1950s.  He was a Ldg Seaman (D2) in HMS Victorious in 1960/61 and converted to CD* as an Acting Petty Officer in 1962/63.  Commissioned in 1966, he undertook the MCD conversion course in 1968 before relieving MCDOA member John Coggins MBE as EODO of the Far East Fleet CD Team in Singapore until 1970.  Originally nicknamed 'Chipping' Norton after the town of the same name, this was misinterpreted as 'Chippy' so often that it stuck. 


Bill left the Royal Navy as an Honorary Lt Cdr in 1978 after running the Saturation Diving Team among other jobs.  He pursued a second career in the offshore gas and oil production industry and met Gunhild while working in Norway.  On finally retiring, he and Gunhild lived in a villa in southern Spain for several years although he retained a pied-à-terre in Portsmouth. 


In November 2006, Bill commissioned a replica set of medals awarded to the then recently deceased MCDOA Honorary Member Lt Cdr Robbie Robinson MBE.  He presented these, together with a framed photograph and biography, to fellow MCDOA member Chris Lade, the then CO of the Defence Diving School, in the wardroom at HMS Excellent so they might be displayed in the school as an inspiration to staff and trainees.




In October 2007, Mrs Webmaster and I had the privilege of spending time with Bill and Gunhild at a Trafalgar Night dinner hosted by fellow MCDOA member Jon Cox and his wife Karin at their nearby villa in Spain.  The following day, we all visited Cape Trafalgar on the 202nd anniversary of Nelson's final battle.


Trafalgar Night Dinner - Spanish Style     Trafalgar Night Dinner - Spanish Style

Trafalgar Night Dinner - Spanish Style


Jon Cox, Rob Hoole, Joe Isaacs and Bill Norton at Trafalgar Bicentenary Monument     Joe Isaacs, Rob Hoole, Jon Cox and Bill Norton at Cape Trafalgar 21 October 2007

Left: Jon Cox, Rob Hoole, Joe Isaacs and Bill Norton at Trafalgar Bicentenary Monument

Right: Joe Isaacs, Rob Hoole, Jon Cox and Bill Norton at Cape Trafalgar 21 October 2007


In July 2011, Bill was present for the formal unveiling of the Reclaim conference room at Fleet Diving HQ on Horsea Island:



MCDOA members Bob Lusty, Rob Hoole and Bill 'Chippy' Norton at unveiling of Reclaim

conference room at Fleet Diving HQ on 26 July 2011


In November of the same year Bill escorted Kate, the widow of former Superintendent of Diving Guy Worsley OBE, plus his son Mark and daughter Claire, for a presentation of memorabilia in the Reclaim Room at Fleet Diving HQ on Horsea Island.  


Mark Atkinson (then MCDOA Chairman & SofD) receiving an album of lists, hand-written

 in copper plate, of deep divers who qualified on board HMS Reclaim from Kate, the widow

of Guy Worsley OBE (SofD 1971-82) while Rob Hoole and Bill 'Chippy' Norton look on


In August 2012, Bill visited the Historical Diving Society's museum (founded by MCDOA associate member John Bevan) at Stokes Bay where he was reunited with his old friend and colleague John Dadd BEM:


Bill Norton with John Dadd at the HDS

Diving Museum on 25 August 2012


In August 2013, Bill visited the Historical Diving Society's museum again and was reunited with his old friend and colleague Dusty Miller, another of the volunteer guides.  As before, he donated a significant quantity of books and other memorabilia to the HDS museum and its associated library in Gosport.


Ex-CD1 Dusty Miller and Bill 'Chippy' Norton at the HDS Diving Museum

on 25 August 2013


Bill and Gunhild returned to the UK in 2015 after Bill, who had already survived throat cancer, fell ill again and required major surgery.  I took this photo of him at the time:


Bill Norton at home on 2 October 2015


Bill was not only an active member of the MCDOA but he was also a keen supporter of Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a monument at Gunwharf Quays to commemorate the minewarfare & diving heritage of HMS Vernon which previously occupied the site.  This will also act as a fitting memorial to those killed in the course of their duties and celebrate the achievements of RN and other personnel involved in minewarfare, diving and explosive ordnance disposal - past, present and future.  Despite being confined to a wheelchair, Bill even brought his family to support my sponsored abseil down the Spinnaker Tower to help raise funds for the Vernon Monument in August 2016.


The Norton family at Gunwharf Quays on 28 August 2016


This photo shows Bill in August last year in the Old Customs House pub at Gunwharf Quays (formerly the Captain's offices in HMS Vernon) after the funeral of MCDO John Hendrick.  The group includes John's son Jon, a former Lt Cdr (S) submariner.


Left to right: Chris Jones, Bob Lusty, Jon Hendrick, Jim 'Tommo' Thomson, David Hilton,

John Dadd and Yours Truly (Rob Hoole) with Bill 'Chippy' Norton sitting front and centre 


I am sure all members of our community will extend our deepest sympathy to Bill's wife Gunhild and their family, particularly Bill's son Bill Jr and daughter Vivienne.  I will publish funeral details as and when they become available.


From MCDOA member Jon Cox:




Thank you for passing the very sad news of Bill Norton’s death.  He was a former Boss and, more lately over the past ten years or so, a good friend living just an hour from us in southern Spain.  I spent many very enjoyable evenings with him and Gunhild over the past few years.  After lighting the fuse, I would sit back and listen to the stories regarding all the greats of the branch.  He was always generous in his praise and admiration of his fellow stalwarts.


Please let me know when the funeral will be as I shall make every effort to be there to pay my respects.






My photo of Jon and Karin Cox hosting Bill and Gunhild Norton at their villa near Cadiz in southern Spain in October 2007:



From former CPO(CD1) Alf Slingsby:


CD1 Course BCD 15 1965

Back row: Bob 'Tug' Wilson, Mike Handford, Noddy McGrath, Smudge Smith, Dickie Radford, South African, Alf Slingsby

Front row: John Cobb, Len Smith, Instructors, Ken Blaylock, Tom King, Bill 'Chippy' Norton, Brian 'Bill' Cornick


Alf's course photo shows him standing far right with recently deceased Len Smith (standing back row centre) and Bill 'Chippy' Norton (sitting second right).


From MCDOA member Ralph Mavin:


"Dear Rob,


It is with very great regret I received the news of Bill’s death.  He was my course officer when I qualified as a CD Basic before doing the long MCDO Course in 1972.  He was always very supportive during my time as IOMCD particularly when I was assisting over at RNPL.


After I left the Service and joined DofEN we met on many occasions, not always on the same side but, always with good humour.  Bill was a true gentleman, with great dignity and will be sadly missed by many.


My sincere condolences go to his family.






From MCDOA member Peter Waddington:




I was very sad to hear of Bill Norton's passing.


I first met him when we were fellow students on the MCD Conversion Course in the Autumn of 1967, and he worked under me in the Diving Section when I was I Diving and subsequently MCD Training Officer in Vernon in 1970-72.  We got on very well together, and I was pleased to be able to "unblock" his long overdue promotion to Lieutenant, for which he expressed his gratitude.


I don't know his wife, whom I have only met very briefly, but please convey my sincere condolences.






4 Jan 18 - Bomb disposal squad detonates mortar bomb on Norfolk beach


The Eastern Daily Press website contains this article and the Great Yarmouth Mercury website this article describing today's disposal of a mortar bomb washed up on the beach yesterday at Winterton-on-Sea in Norfolk.  Neither article identifies the EOD team involved but MCDOA member Andy Ward advises me it was Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2).


Mortar bomb discovered on Winterton beach

(Picture: HM Coastguard Gorleston) 


2 Jan 18 - Funeral of former CPO(CD1) Donald Albert Bray


This morning's Thanksgiving Service for the life of Don 'Donkey' Bray was a low-key affair bereft of any hymns or personal readings.  The Eulogy was delivered by independent officiator Deborah McGregor who also said Prayers and performed the Committal.  Acompanying music comprised Home Away from Home by James Galway, There You'll Be by Faith Hill and South of the Border by Dean Martin.


The CD Branch was represented by Tony Candler, John Dadd BEM, Chris 'Paddy' Doonan, Mick Fellows MBE DSC BEM, Don 'Jimmy' Green, Mike Handford, Rob Hoole, Colin 'Scouse' Kidman QGM, Mike O'Meara, Eric Piper, Ray Ramsay, Ted Setchell and Brian 'Troy' Tempest.


Mick Fellows, Mike Handford, John Dadd, Rob Hoole, Don 'Jimmy' Green,

Colin 'Scouse' Kidman, Ted Setchell and Mike O'Meara



Left: Don's daughter Liz Blanksby with her foster son Josh

Right: Don's daughter Liz Blanksby flanked by her sons Josh and Matt


After the service, a reception was held at the Lee-on-the-Solent Conservative Club.


Donald Albert Bray

(11 Feb 1929 - 10 Dec 2017)


1 Jan 18 - STOP PRESS! Deaths of Don 'Donkey' Bray and Len Smith


Not the best way to start the New Year but I have only just heard from Eamon 'Ginge' Fullen QGM that ex-CPO(CD1) Don 'Donkey' Bray passed away on 10 December.  His funeral will be held tomorrow (Tue 2 Jan) at 1115 at Portchester Crematorium.


Don 'Donkey' Bray (second left) with John Bevan, John Dadd BEM, Mike O'Meara and Chris Crask

at the RN CD Branch's 60th Anniversary reunion dinner in March 2012


To make it a truly sickly season, Brian 'Bill' Cornick has informed me that former CPO(CD1) Len Smith (aka 'Nautilus') passed away on Saturday night.  More details to follow.


I am sure that all members of our community will join me in expressing our deepest condolences to the families and close friends of Donkey and Len.


From MCDOA member John O'Driscoll MBE:


"Hi Rob,


I hope the New Year has started well for you.


I will be attending Len Smith's funeral on the 25th at Bodmin.  I knew him well when he was serving.  A very special man who had been paralysed from the waist down by a bend whilst diving with Tony Phipps on a helicopter.  He fought back to fitness to pass his CD1's course and went on to run his own diving centre in Falmouth.


All the best to you and yours for the coming year.


Yours aye,





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