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 Dec 19 - Latest tweets

 

Click on the linked dates to see all associated photos and videos.

 

Royal Navy

 

16 Dec 2019 - As the big ships celebrate their homecomings, MCM1 Crew 6 and MCM2 Crew 4 quietly return to RAF Brize Norton after six months of operations in the Gulf on HMS Brocklesby and HMS Shoreham.  Welcome home, and Happy Christmas!

 

 

First Sea Lord (Adm Tony Radakin)

 

14 Dec 2019 - Two more ship visits today, to HMS Defender and HMS Blyth at sea.  Both have been busy on operations and will be away from families and loved ones at Christmas.  Thank you for your service, and thanks too to your families for their support.

 

 

COMUKMCMFOR (Commander UK Mine Counter Measures Force) embarked in RFA CARDIGAN BAY in Bahrain.

 

19 Dec 2019 - Home sweet home for COMUKMCMFOR.

 

 

HMS Brocklesby (MCM2 Crew 4)

 

1 Dec 2019 - Crew 4 have been working with our US Navy counterparts to bring the latest generation of autonomous underwater survey systems to the mine warfare world and inspire our sailors.

 

 

HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 1)

 

31 Dec 2019 - It may be hard to believe for such fine looking ships, but HMS CHIDDINGFOLD and her sisters are about to enter their FIFTH decade of active service in the RN!  Well done to our RN engineers and industry partners for keeping us ready to fight throughout!

 

25 Dec 2019 - Wishing you all, our friends, families and affiliates, a very merry "CHIDDMAS", and a prosperous new year.

 

19 Dec 2019 - The rainbow shining at the end of the gangway pretty well sums up our feelings about Christmas leave!

 

18 Dec 2019 - The Senior Rates have given their seal of approval to Christmas lunch... except one notoriously miserable customer, but we've seen to that.

 

17 Dec 2019 - Surface interval officially over for our clearance divers as they got back in the water today for the first time in a while.  If only the vis was always this good!

 

 

5 Dec 2019 - HMS Chiddingfold is now in the hands of Crew 1 after a successful handover from Crew 2 this week!  We’re excited to share our journey with you as we prepare Chid for deployment in 2020.

 

HMS Hurworth (MCM2 Crew 3)

 

25 Dec 2019 - From everyone in HMS Hurworth we wish all our families, friends and followers a very merry Christmas We look forward to sending out tweets to you in the New Year!

 

13 Dec 2019 - It was a privilege to welcome on board members of the Team GB rowing squad.  Congratulations on your Olympic success - your medals are a bit bigger than ours!  Good luck with your training for Tokyo 2020.

 

12 Dec 2019 - Practice = Precision = Protection.

 

6 Dec 2019 - Another awesome photo of HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and HMS PRINCE OF WALES from a Spitfire.  Just wow!  Can you spot us berthing in 2 Basin?

 

 

4 Dec 2019 - Lovely evening to get in the dive boat.

 

4 Dec 2019 - The mighty HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH sighted off the port bow.  Welcome home!

 

3 Dec 2019 - Tuesday training - gunnery!  Mine Warfare ratings have a variety of roles.  Here is just one of them.  3000 rounds per minute.  150 in 3 seconds.

 

2 Dec 2019 - At the beginning of a new month we recognise the hard work and effort that has gone in to making the past month a success.  Well done to these two chaps who went above and beyond this November!

 

HMS Middleton (MCM2 Crew 8)

 

19 Dec 2019 - Merry Christmas to our families, friends and fantastic followers.  Looking forward to a busy 2020 from MCM2 Crew 8.

 

 

HMS Pembroke (MCM1 Crew 5)

 

11 Dec 2019 - 1/2.  Always great to be able to recognise our people for the great work that they do.  Today ET(CIS) Milne was awarded “Sailor of the Quarter” for going above and beyond as we brought PEMB out of refit and back to the Fleet.

 

11 Dec 2019 - 2/2.  Cdr MCM1 [MCDOA member Steve White] was also able to present PO(CIS) McEwan with his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, awarded for 15 years of loyal service, before we got stuck into tea and cake ahead of our Christmas Lunch.

 

 

HMS Ramsey (MCM 1 Crew 2)

 

10 Dec 2019 - The Crew 2 Christmas Lunch.

 

 

MASTT (Maritime Autonomous System Trials Team commanded by MCDOA member Dave Stanbury)

 

24 Dec 2019 - To all those deployed on Operations, or on Duty (including the Blue Light Services), in advance of tomorrow’s Christmas Day, in the UK; MASTT wish you all, a very Merry Christmas.

 

18 Dec 2019 - “Bring out the....” Seriously, “Can the USV be operated in a CBRN environment?”  “Yes, it would appear so!”.  A THALES employee demonstrates his ability to complete full boat checks, start up, manual and remote operations of the Trials Vessel Artemis.

 

17 Dec 2019 - Homeward Bounders!  THALES Trials Vessel Artemis, returns from an acceptance test for alongside tests in glorious Devonshire conditions.

 

16 Dec 2019 - A common question...  “Why do unmanned vessels (USVs) have windows?”.  Well obviously to be able to see inside.  Acceptance ongoing....

 

 

13 Dec 2019 - 1PBS and RNMB Hazard at high tide, Portsmouth, at lunchtime today.

 

9 Dec 2019 - The Sail Loft chimney was a bit small for this gift, from the tower of power (NCHQ arranged) but still, it must be Christmas!  A new toy, for the RN Sweep Demonstrator Team.  This Combat Support Boat (CSB) will act as a support boat during the Cold Wx Trials, in Canada, next month.

 

5 Dec 2019 - Delighted to host the Hydrographic Trials Team (HECLA) at MASTT, this week during the MASTT/WILTON/HECLA Training Week.

 

2 Dec 2019 - The new MASTT Christmas Angel.  “While shepherds watch'd their flocks by night/All seated on the ground/The Angel of the Lord came down/He commanded ‘Get turned too, you lazy Swab’/And glory shone around” (as did the decks).  While the OIC is away the JRs will play!!

 

HMS King Alfred

 

19 Dec 2019 - Our Carol Service was a chance to say “thank you” to two unit veterans: CPO Swindell with 41 years Royal Navy & Royal Naval Reserve service & CPO Christie with 48 years regular & reserve service.  Both have displayed exceptional fitness in field gun & Navy diving.  Thank you both!

 

Maryla Ingham

 

12 Dec 2019 - Another sad goodbye today to [MCDOA past-Chairman] Cdr David Hilton MBE who leaves the Service tomorrow after 55 years in the Royal Navy and 18 years in HMNB Portsmouth.  You can see by the last picture taken at the PWLS commissioning that everybody knows David and he will be sorely missed!

 


29 Dec 19 - Death of Lt Cdr David John Baden Forsey MBE RN

 

 

I regret to announce that MCDOA member Dave Forsey crossed the bar yesterday morning at the age of 86 as the result of a fall.  He emailed me only last week to confirm his attendance at the unveiling of the Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument at Gunwharf Quays next March.

 

Dave joined the Royal Navy at HMS ST VINCENT in 1949 at the age of 15.  He specialised as a Boy Telegraphist at HMS GANGES then went on to serve in the cruiser HMS SWIFTSURE (1950-51), the Algerine class minesweeper HMS JASEUR (1952), on various occasions at the Signals Schools at HMS PEMBROKE and HMS MERCURY, on the staff of Flag Officer Mediterranean Fleet (1954), the destroyer HMS CHEVRON (1954), HQBF HMS TAMAR (1956-57), the sloop HMS STARLING (1958) and the cruiser HMS BERMUDA (1960).  He was commissioned as a Sub Lt in June 1962 and his subsequent appointments included RNC Greenwich (1962), the frigate HMS TENBY in the Dartmouth Training Squadron (1963), HMS MERCURY (1964-66), BRNC Dartmouth (1966-68), HMS VERNON where he qualified as an MCD officer in 1968, the Ton class patrol vessels HMS HOUGHTON (1969) and HMS MAXTON in Hong Kong as 1st Lt (1969-71), HMS NEPTUNE as OIC Faslane CD Team (1972-73), the Ton class patrol vessels HMS WOLVERTON as CO (1975) and HMS BEACHAMPTON in Hong Kong as CO (1976), HMS COCHRANE as OIC SNICDT (1977-78), HMS VERNON as OIC of the Fleet CD Team (1979-81), HMS VERNON for Captain Underwater Trials & Acceptance (1982-83), and DNOR in the MOD (1984-88).  He left the Royal Navy in 1988 having been appointed an MBE in the 1983 Queen's Birthday Honours.

 

MCDOA members Dave Forsey (XO HMS MAXTON) and John Lang (XO HMS KIRKLISTON)

hosting disabled children in Hong Kong in 1968

(Photo courtesy of John Lang)

 

Dave Forsey as OIC Fleet Clearance Diving Team at HMS VERNON circa 1980

(Photo courtesy of Tony Groom)

 

A keen supporter of the MCDOA, Dave celebrated the 50th anniversary of his 1968 LMCDO course with his course officer Peter Waddington and fellow students Bob White MBE and Mike Emary at our annual dinner last year (see entry for 24 Nov 18 in News Archive 64). 

 

LMCDO '68 course members Dave Forsey MBE, Mike Emary and Bob White MBE with

their course officer Peter Waddington at HMS EXCELLENT in November 2018

 

Dave's delightful wife Kathy, to whom he was married for almost 57 years, died nearly seven years ago (see second entry for 20 Apr 13 in News Archive 42).

 

      

Left: Dave & Kathy Forsey after their wedding on 2 June 1956

Right: Dave & Kathy Forsey at an MCDOA Ladies Night in HMS NELSON on 2 June 2006

 

I will publish funeral details as and when they become available.  In the meantime, I am sure all members of our community will join me in extending our sincere condolences to Dave & Kathy's son Paul, daughter Catherine and their respective families and close friends.

 


From Lt Cdr John Pressagh RD RN/RNR:

 

"Hello Rob,

 

I have just read the sad news of Dave Forsey's death.  He was the regulating staff officer at Dartmouth when I was a third year Sub Lt. 

 

I did my first dive in the River Dart probably in Nov 1967 as his buddy   It was freezing cold with nil visibility and my ears hurt.  We dived down to a mooring chain, found a defective shackle, returned to the surface and dived again to repair the shackle.  When we were half way back to Sandquay he used to jump overboard and swim the remainder. 

 

I saw him in the MOD later. He was one of the good guys.

 

John"

 


From MCDOA member Mike Emary:

 

"Dear Catherine,

 

Judy and I were sorry to hear that your Dad had died.  Please accept our deepest sympathy.

 

He was a wonderful man and I was proud to be his buddy on the MCDO course.  We spent many hours swimming up and down Horsea Island Lake attached to each other by the buddy line.  I was so glad that he, Bob White, and I were able to attend the MCDOA Dinner last year and so celebrate the 50th anniversary of us passing out. 

 

I don’t suppose you remember but we were in the same married patch in Ainsdale Road all those years ago  

 

Judy and I would very much like to be at the funeral on the 7th February.  Rob Hoole has kindly sent me the details.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Mike and Judy Emary

 


From MCDOA member Chris Meatyard:

 

"Dear Rob, 

 

Am so sorry to read this news.  Dave was my Boss on SNICDT when I joined the Team in 1977 as Boss 2/Staff EOD officer, until he was relieved by John Belchamber in 1978.  He was always calm, steady and supportive, a great Boss to have, especially as I was straight out of the LMCDO 76 `box' and in my first Branch job. 

 

There was a serious incident in my first few months (some may remember) where I countermined a torpedo warhead too close to Pittenweem, causing damage and consternation ashore and much annoyance in FOSNI HQ (MCDO Capt Arthur Checksfield was FOSNI's Chief of Staff).  Dave must have been given a very hard time by Arthur about this (as I was) but he didn't deflect it downwards and remained calm and supportive throughout.  I remember him saying "You win some, you lose some, just don't lose too many", and these words have guided me ever since. 

 

A lovely man, and really sad loss.

 

Rest in peace Dave.

 

Chris"

 


From MCDOA member Dougie MacDonald:

 

"Hello Rob,

 

What desperately sad news.  I don’t think that I ever saw Dave without a smile on his face. 

 

My condolences to his family.

 

Dougie"

 


From former WO(D) Terry Settle MBE QGM BEM:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of Dave’s death from his son Paul.  It was only a couple of days before Christmas that Mags and I met up with Dave and his daughter Catherine for lunch and a catch-up at his home.  Dave was in fine fettle and was looking forward to being with his family over the Christmas period.

 

I first met Dave in the 1970s when he was the boss of the Faslane team.  From that time on, he and his family have been lasting friends.  He acted as Mags' father and gave her away at our wedding.  He is also Godfather to my eldest, Jamie.

 

He was one of the finest bosses you could ever wish to serve under.  I had the privilege to serve with him again in SNICDT in the 1980s.  I’ve not known anyone to have said an adverse word about him.  He was highly respected by all team members who were lucky enough to serve with him.

 

One of the many dits that comes to mind is during the Faslane days.  The team on invite {wife unaware} would muster at the Forsey house at some unsociable early hour on the  many occasions we had successfully completed a 2 – 3 day and night nuke screw change.  His wife Cathy would happily cook up a full Irish breakfast and his three lovely kids would serve this up to us reprobates.  Most of us were still dressed in dry bags or filthy undersuits.  The Boss would produce a case or two of Tennants and a bottle of whisky that he always procured from the boat on which we had been working.  Fully fed and longing for bed as the sun was coming up, we would leave the officers' marriage patch ensuring the submariners knew the divers had visited by the sounding off Five Bells on the two tones.

 

Like many others, I will miss Dave dearly.  Five Bells old buddy.

 

Terry Settle"

 


From MCDOA member Martyn Holloway:

 

"Rob,  

 

What desperately sad news concerning the loss of David Forsey. 

 

I first encountered him in 1967 at BRNC Dartmouth where he performed the duties of the Regulating Officer, his formal demeanour often giving way to show warmth and good humour that was indeed a rarity in those hallowed halls.  Then of course he was ‘the boss’ in the Vernon Minewarfare Training Section in the early '70s where he allowed his staff a lot of rein and always with good humour. 

 

A delightful man to know and work for who got the best out of people and valued their friendship.  He was a branch stalwart who will be sorely missed.  

 

Martyn"

 


From MCDOA member John Lang:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

Totally devastated by Alan Padwick’s news.  It seems like only a couple of weeks since Dave and I were chatting at our Association's dinner on Whale Island.

 

Having worked together for two years in the Hong Kong MCM squadron between 1969 and 1971, we became very close and remained close friends.  I am so pleased to have caught up with him at the MCDOA dinner.  He was a man for whom I had the highest respect professionally but he was also the greatest run ashore pal you could wish for.

 

Living in Northumberland I am going to find it nigh but impossible to attend his funeral, save to say that I will never forget him and the good times we had together.

 

Yours,

 

John Lang"

 


From MCDOA member John O'Driscoll MBE:

 

"Dear Rob,

 

I am writing to add my condolences to those of the other members of our Branch.

 

I first met Dave shortly after he joined the branch and helped him to celebrate the lottery win of a brand new Volvo.  He was gifted not only as a Naval Officer but also with a wicked sense of humour, always sending me birthday greetings with an appropriate comment regarding senility etc.  He will be greatly missed.

 

I will, of course, attend the funeral if I possibly can.

 

Yours aye,

 

John"

 


From Dave's bereaved daughter Catherine:

 

"Dear Rob,

 

Sincere thanks for your incredible tribute for Dad on the MCDOA website.  It is wonderful.

 

Quick question.  Is it possible for me to read the tributes and comments from people that are posted and how do I access them please? 

 

I will, of course, let you know Dad's funeral arrangements once my brother and I have the details. 

 

Kind regards,

 

Catherine Chinery"

 

By Webmaster: I have responded to Catherine direct.

 


From former WO(D) Ray Ramsay:

 

"Good afternoon Rob,

 

The passing of Dave is devastating news.  He was a true gent who will be missed by many people.  The finest “Boss” with whom I had the honour to serve.

 

I have attached a photo, remembering the good times.  It was taken during a Fleet CD Team “mission” on Bermuda in 1980/81.  

 

 

Yours Aye,

 

Ray"

 


From MCDOA member Mick Beale:

 

"It is of great sadness to hear of the passing of Lt Cdr Dave Forsey, my ex-boss of the Fleet Clearance Diving Team in 1981.  He was a gentleman and an excellent officer who we were proud to serve with.

 

I was fortunate to have met him briefly in 1976 whilst at school in Hong Kong with his son Paul when Dave was the CO of Wolverton and Senior MCDO in Hong Kong.  It was from meeting people like Dave and others on the Hong Kong team at the time that inspired me to join up as a Clearance Diver.

 

Five Bells, Boss.  RIP.

 

Mick Beale"

 


From MCDOA member Bob White MBE:

 

"Hi, Rob,

 

Many thanks for letting me know.  Not good news. 

 

Bob"

 


From MCDOA member Jon Riches:

 

"Dear Rob,

 

So very very sad to hear the news about David Forsey.  He had an excellent career in the RN and the Branch and was very highly regarded. 

 

He and I served together in Vernon and again in the MOD when he was on the Staff of DNOR and I was in DNW.  Most nights after work before returning to our digs we would retire for a few pints (Guiness in his case) at the Shades pub in Whitehall.  Apart from his taxing professional duties he also found time to run a very popular bar in DNOR which supplied many RN Officers in the building.  During his time in the MOD he was instrumental in making sure we had the best equipment. 

 

A very experienced and professional man with whom it was a pleasure to work.  His impish sense of humour was a tonic if things were not going well.  He was a good chum and I am so pleased to have met him and to have been able to work with him during my time in the RN.

 

I have passed on my condolences to Catherine.

 

Best wishes,

 

Jon"

 


From MCDOA member Alan Padwick OBE:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

Just read the piece about Dave on the MCDOA website.  You have done a first class job of putting it together so swiftly and comprehensively.

 

Yes, it is a big shock.  Dave and I had many happy interactions over the years, too often involving alcohol!

 

We shall probably meet at the funeral.  It all depends on my operation, the date of which keeps drifting.

 

<snip>

 

Alan" 

 


From MCDOA member Peter Waddington:

 

"Dear Rob,

 

I was deeply saddened to read your email this evening about Dave Forsey's sudden and unexpected passing.  He was, as you will be aware, the "star" of the course I ran in 1968, and along with Tim Hildesley, also sadly no longer with us, one of its outstanding personalities.

 

Although we never subsequently served together, he was, as you say in your entry on the website, a keen supporter of the MCDOA, and, as such, regularly attended the annual dinner, where we met and updated each other on our various activities.

 

I last met him at the 2018 anniversary dinner, as witnessed by your photograph on the website.  He was on his usual good form at that event, and of the four of us I would have said that he was one of the fittest, so it was a surprise to read in your email that he was of late under some form of care.  

 

I did not know his family, and am unlikely to be able to attend his funeral, but naturally join you in the joint condolences which you will be conveying on behalf of the association, and, if you get a chance, would be grateful if you would pass on my personal condolences as a friend and his former course officer.

 

Regards,

 

Peter" 

 


28 Dec 19 - New Year Honours and other commendations

 

Congratulations to MCDOA member Justin Hains on being gazetted for his appointment as an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in the New Year Honours released today.  Last year, Justin completed a 12-month deployment on board HMS Enterprise as the Commander of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG2) in the Mediterranean (see entry for 6 Feb 18 in News Archive 61).  He currently leads the MCM Capability Delivery Team at NCHQ (Navy Command Headquarters) on Whale Island.

 

MCDOA member Justin Hains MBE with MCDOA President Roger Readwin on board

HMS Enterprise in the Black Sea in February 2018 

 

The full list of RN & RM Honours and Awards is available on the Royal Navy website here:

 

The list of Naval Service recipients in full

 

I am grateful to Cdr Andy Jones, CO of the Royal Naval Reserve Minewarfare Branch, for informing me that Lt Cdr Richard Bicknell RNR (currently on FTRS in Northwood on the Standing Joint Commander's Staff) has been awarded a Second CJO (Chief of Joint Operations) commendation for his work on Operation KIPION MCM in the Gulf.  He was deployed last year as the N3N5 (Ops) on the staff of MCDOA member Steve White (COMUKMCMFOR).  The award of one CJO commendation is an achievement in itself but the award of two is remarkable.

 

I am sure that all members of our community will join me in congratulating both worthy individuals on their achievements.

 


21 Dec 18 - Casting of Vernon Monument update

 

 

I am grateful to sculptor Mark Richards FRSS for these images showing that moulding and casting of the MCDOA-sponsored bronze one-and-a-quarter life-size Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument is continuing apace at the Morris Singer Foundry at Lasham in Hampshire (see entry for 9 Dec 19).

 

 

         

 

         

 

 

 


20 Dec 19 - Merry Christmas from Project Vernon

 

Project Vernon, the MCDOA-sponsored campaign to erect the monument at Gunwharf Quays commemorating the heritage of HMS Vernon, which previously occupied the site, and celebrating all personnel - past, present and future - involved with mine warfare & diving, wishes all members of our community a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

 

 

The one-and-a-quarter life-size bronze scupture, created by Mark Richards, is due to be unveiled on Wednesday 25 March.  Our various contributions to date have paid for the statue but we need to keep the pennies rolling in to cover the unveiling ceremony, maintenance, insurance, lighting, signage and clever facilities to tell the full story of what it represents (we even have Portsmouth University on the case).  Make a direct donation here or purchase merchandise (e.g. new design polo shirts and statuettes) here via the Project's online shop.  Another good way to donate is to buy PV tickets for the Portsmouth Lottery here for as little as £1 per week.  The Project receives at least half the income.

 


19 Dec 19 - RN Effectiveness Awards

 

 

Hearty congratulations to MCM1 Crew 3 (HMS Grimsby) for winning the MCM Effectiveness Trophy and to runner-up MCM1 Crew 8 (HMS Bangor) as well as MCM2 Crew 6's CD Element (HMS Cattistock ex-HMS Ledbury) for winning the Fleet Diving Unit Trophy.  Congratulations also to COMUKMCMFOR's N2 Cell in Bahrain which won the Fleet Intelligence Trophy and to MCM2 Crew 6 as runner-up for the Communications Trophy.

 

The full list of awards can be seen in this article on the RN website.

 


18 Nov 19 - CPO(D) Neil 'Chris' Christie retires

 

Our best wishes for the future to Chris Christie on his departure after 48 years regular & reserve service.  He is seen here being presented with a framed badge of HMS King Alfred, the RNR unit in which he has served for the past few years, by Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC DL, the former First Sea Lord.

 

 

This was Chris in action last month at HMS King Alfred, the RNR unit at HMS Excellent on Whale Island.

 

 


17 Dec 19 -  Latest EOD incidents

 

16 December - WW2 Bomb Discovered on Somerset Beach

 

16 December - 200 metre cordon set up on Somerset beach after bomb found

 

15 December - Coastguard called after Second World War bomb found on Kilve beach

 

6 December - Unexploded Second World War Torpedo Forces Closure of Orkney Islands Airport

 

4 December - Bomb disposal experts called to Orkney following discovery of second torpedo

 

3 December - Bomb experts heading to Scapa Flow torpedo warhead

 

2 December - Bomb disposal teams head to Orkney after Scapa Flow ‘WWII warhead’ discovery

 

2 December - Dad finds huge unexploded bomb while clearing out garden

 

29 November - Police and Royal Navy bomb squad called to Plymouth home

 

3 November - Off-duty reporter discovers 'smoking' Second World War bomb on South Hams beach

 


14 Dec 19 - MWA Southern Area Christmas Dinner

 

Five joint MCDOA/MWA members (Bob Hawkins MBE, Martyn Holloway, Rob Hoole, David Sandiford and John 'George' Turnbull) attended last night's hugely enjoyable Mine Warfare Association (MWA) Southern Area Christmas Dinner at the Royal Maritime Club.  Other attendees included Lee 'Barney' Barnett BEM, Nat & Joanne Coles, Jim Hawkins, Allan & Pete Mills, Peter 'Taff' Reader and Peter Whitehead.

 

Many thanks to Taff Reader for organising the event.

 

 

 

 

 

 


13 Dec 19 - David Hilton retires

 

MCDOA past-Chairman Cdr David 'Jan' Hilton MBE leaves the Service today after 55 years in the Royal Navy.  For the past 18, he has been on extended service as the Naval Base Services Manager at Portsmouth (see entry for 14 Jun 14 in News Archive 46).

 

As can be seen from the accompanying photo taken at the commissioning of HMS Prince of Wales on 10 December, everybody knows David and he will be sorely missed.

 

David Hilton (centre) at the commissioning of HMS Prince of Wales on 10 Dec 2019

 

I am sure all members of our community will join me in wishing David and Marion a long and happy retirement. 

 


11 Dec 19 - Gentlemen Who Lunch

 

Fellow member of the MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine Trio' Martyn Holloway and I had an enjoyable lunch at the Royal Oak in Langstone yesterday with James Rowledge. 

 

Rob Hoole, James Rowledge and Martyn Holloway at the Royal Oak in Langstone

on Tuesday 10 Dec 2019

 

In 1982, Martyn led the five minesweeping trawlers of the 11th MCM Squadron to the Falklands and back as senior CO in HMS CORDELLA, manned mostly by members of HMS UPTON’s ship’s company.  James is the son of the late Lt Cdr Mark Rowledge who commanded HMS JUNELLA, manned mostly by members of HMS BICKINGTON’ ship’s company, in Martyn’s squadron.  Mark later commanded HMS SOBERTON but died prematurely in May 1990. 

 

For further background, see 'The Forgotten Few of the Falklands' in the website's Dit Box.

 


10 Dec 19 - Latest LS&GC awards

 

Congratulations to WO1(D) Kevin Wilkins on being gazetted for the award of the 2nd Clasp to the Naval Long Service & Good Conduct Medal and to PO(MW) D. J. Watson, LS(D) R. A. Haigh, LS(MW) T. J. Purslow and LS(D) M. C. Taylor on being gazetted for the award of the Naval LS&GC medal itself.

 

Good to see Project Vernon trustee WO1(D) John 'YoYo' Ravenhall's name has been corrected, too.

 


9 Dec 19 - Casting of Vernon Monument update

 

 

This image, courtesy of sculptor  Mark Richards FRSS, shows that moulding of one of the MCDOA-sponsored Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument's divers, in preparation for bronze casting, has begun at the Morris Singer Foundry at Lasham near Alton in Hampshire (see entry for 29 Nov 19).

 

 

Big, isn't he?

 


8 Dec 19 - Minewarfare & Diving Heritage: Lt Cdr Peter Scawen Watkinson Roberts VC DSC

 

Only 23 Victoria Crosses were awarded to Royal Navy personnel throughout the entire Second World War and Peter Roberts, who crossed the bar 40 years ago today at the age of 62, was one of them.  Although he was a wartime submariner, he qualified as a Clearance Diving Officer at HMS Vernon in September 1955.  On the course's celebratory run ashore in Southsea, he attempted to climb a lamp post. 

 

This photo shows Peter sitting second right with other members of Vernon's diving community.  They were at the home of the late MCDOA member Lt Cdr 'Uncle Bill' Filer GM MBE who is sitting on Roberts' right. 

 

 

This photo shows Peter Roberts and his wife with Bill Filer.

 

 

Peter Roberts went on to lead the Home Station Clearance Diving Team as CO of HMS Dingley, an inshore minehunter then attached to HMS Lochinvar at Port Edgar but transferred to HMS Vernon in December 1959, before serving on Vernon's acceptance trials staff at the Underwater Countermeasures and Weapon Establishment (UCWE) at Leigh Park (see entry for 9 Oct 19) and at the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment (AUWE) at Southwell on Portland Bill.  He ended his naval career as OIC of the CD Team based at HMS Drake.

 

Further information at vconline.org.uk/peter-s-w-roberts-vc/4588054806.

 


7 Dec 19 - HMS Vernon Heritage: The Waterfront

 

The Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument, due to be unveiled on Wed 25 March 2020, will stand proudly in Pool B at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, on the site previously occupied by HMS Vernon, in an extension of what was once Vernon Creek.  Here are some historical images of HMS Vernon's waterfront, including Vernon Creek, from when it was a hive of activity including the comings and goings of her vessels which ensured there was always a stimulating whiff of salt air about the establishment.

 

     

Left: Plan of HMS Vernon in August 1940 with Vernon Creek highlighted

Right: Gunwharf Quays (formerly HMS Vernon) today courtesy of Google Earth

 

Training in Diving, Demolitions and Minewarfare, along with Naval Control of Shipping and, for a time, Seamanship, continued on the site of HMS Vernon at Portsmouth even after it ceased to be an independent command on 31 March 1986 and was renamed HMS Nelson (Vernon Site).  In 1987, the establishment was renamed HMS Nelson (Gunwharf) and briefly became Headquarters for the Commandant General Royal Marines before his move to permanent accommodation at HMS Excellent on Whale Island.

 

In November 1995, Minewarfare training was shifted to the School of Maritime Operations (SMOPS) HMS Dryad at nearby Southwick and subsequently to the Minewarfare Operational Training Centre at the Maritime Warfare School in HMS Collingwood across the harbour from Portsmouth.  Diving training, together with the Superintendent of Diving, the Fleet Diving Headquarters, the Fleet Clearance Diving Team and the Portsmouth Area Clearance Diving Team moved into new accommodation on Horsea Island in Portsmouth Harbour on 1 September 1995 and the old Vernon establishment closed its gates for the last time on 1 April 1996.

 

This was HM Trawler VERNON (ex-STRATHCOE), tender to HMS Vernon for minelaying trials between 1924 and 1938, berthed outboard of HMT KATE LEWIS (another of HMS Vernon's pre-war minelaying tenders) and the monitor HMS TERROR astern

 

 

Here was HM Trawler VERNON (ex-STRATHCOE) with controlled mines embarked.  Controlled minefields used a combination of sensors and cables and could be actuated remotely from a shore station.

 

 

Here are cables for controlled minefields prepared for laying on board launches alongside HMS Vernon circa 1938.

 

 

This is HMS Vernon's mining tender SKYLARK being re-christened VERNON on 9 Dec 1938.  Her name was changed to VESUVIUS in Apr 1941 owing to "difficulties with the postal arrangements".  She was launched at Portsmouth Dockyard on 15 Nov 1932, sold on 5 Jul 1957 and broken up in Feb 1958 at Pollock Brown in Southampton

 

 

Members of HMS Vernon's Auxiliary Company in picket boats during the Second World War.  They also manned vessels conducting experimental minesweeping trials.

 

 

Here are some of HMS Vernon's boat party Wrens coming alongside Marlborough Pier during the Second World War.

 

 

Here is another photo of HMS Vernon's boat party Wrens on Marlborough Pier during the Second World War.

 

 

HMS Vernon's Wrens marching past the Admin Block (now the Old Cutstoms House pub) during a parade for King George VI on 16 November 1944.  The crane on Maintenance Jetty can be seen in the background.

 

 

In May 1948, HMS Vernon bade farewell to Capt Hughes-Hallett beside Vernon Creek.

 

 

 

This was HMS Vernon's triumphant sailing team on a pontoon in Vernon Creek circa 1949.

 

 

...and this was HMS Vernon's sailing team beside Vernon Creek circa 1950.  The Admin Building containing the Captain's offices is in the background.  It is now the Old Customs House pub in Gunwharf Quays.

 

 

These show HMS Vernon's Vernon Creek and Maintenance Jetty circa 1955 with the floating diving school HMS DEEPWATER alongside.  Note the torpedo tubes used for training purposes on the corner of Maintenance Jetty.  DEEPWATER was the ex-German seaplane tender and experimental torpedo boat WALTER HOLTZAPFEL, brought back from Hamburg as a war prize in 1945 by Captain Bill Shelford, the RN's first Superintendent of Diving.

 

 

 

Lt (later Lt Cdr) Doug Barlow and your humble Webmaster Sub Lt (later Lt Cdr) Rob Hoole sailing one of HMS Vernon's bosun dinghies in Portsmouth harbour in 1973.

 

 

HMS Vernon's Principal Photographer Maurice Pavey took this photo of Vernon Creek in March 1974 from the roof of Creasy Centre on the occasion of HMS LALESTON's post-refit inspection by MCM2.  LALESTON was Vernon's diving training tender at the time and your humble Webmaster was her Navigator.  Ships of the RNR's 10th MCM Sqn were berthed on Maintenance Jetty ready for VERMEX and the ships on Marlborough Pier belonged to STANAVFORCHAN.

 

 

My photo, taken from HMS LALESTON, of her TON class sister MCMVs (Mine Countermeasures Vessels) CROFTON, LEWISTON and HUBBERSTON alongside Maintenance Jetty at HMS Vernon (now Gunwharf Quays) in 1974.

 

 

My photo, taken from HMS LALESTON, of vessels alongside Maintenance Jetty at HMS Vernon (now Gunwharf Quays) in 1974. They include the diving training tender FDT DATCHET and the TON class MCMV (Mine Countermeasures Vessel) HMS STUBBINGTON.

 

 

My photo, taken from the open bridge of HMS LALESTON, of Vernon Creek in 1974.

 

 

A competitor returning to HMS Vernon from the second Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race on 24 March 1978.  HMS Vernon was the start and finish of the first race (1973-74) and the second race (1977-78);  I remember the parties well!  The third race included a South African competitor and the politics of the time prevented the Royal Navy's involvement so it started and finished at Camper Nicholson's in Gosport.  The competition was renamed the Volvo Ocean Race in 2001 but from 2019 it will be known simply as The Ocean Race.

 

 

Navy News reported the commissioning of HMS BRECON, the first of the Hunt class MHSCs (Mine Hunter Sweeper Coastals), on Maintenance Jetty at HMS Vernon on 18 December 1979.

 

 

A happy couple (MCDOA member Doug Barlow's younger daughter and son-in-law) leaving Vernon Creek.

 

 

Here is a Hunt class MCMV berthed at the Gunwharf Quays marina (what was once HMS Vernon's waterfront) in May 2010.

 

 

 

My version of the print titled 'Vernon Creek' painted by the late John Terry FCSD for Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a monument at Gunwharf Quays to celebrate the minewarfare & diving heritage of HMS Vernon which previously stood on the site.

 

 

The print features HM Ships BRONINGTON, SOBERTON and FITTLETON off HMS Vernon during the mid-1970s and copies are available via the Project Vernon website at www.vernon-monument.org.uk/shop.  Statuettes and polo shirts depicting the monument's new design are also being sold to help cover the cost of the unveiling ceremony plus maintenance, insurance, signage, lighting and a clever facility (an 'app' and associated website being developed with the University of Portsmouth) to educate the annual footfall of 8 million at Gunwharf Quays about everything and everyone the monument represents.  The monument is due to be unveiled on Wednesday 25 March 2020.

  


6 Dec 19 - Latest awards and promotions

 

A Chief of Joint Operations’ Joint Commander’s Commendation has been awarded to LLog(Wtr) L P Newton (ex-UKMCC, now MASTT LWtr):

 

“Leading Logistician (Writer) L P NEWTON (currently serving in MASTT) - in recognition of his performance as the N1 Leading Writer, United Kingdom Naval Support Facility, Bahrain.”

 

 The following Warfare Branch specialists have been selected for SUY (Senior Upper Yardman) promotion:

 

WO1(D) RAVENHALL (COMPORFLOT)

 

CPO(D) ELLIS (SDU2)

 

CPO(MW) NELSON (MWS COLLINGWOOD)

 

The following Warfare Branch specialists have been provisionally selected for promotion to Petty Officer:

 

LS(MW) J F BARLOW (MCM2 Crew 2)

 

LS(MW) B J FURNEL (MCM2 Crew 8)

 

LS(MW) R S MCKINNEY (MCM1 Crew 4)

 

LS(MW) G C MILES (MCM2 Crew 1)

 

LS(MW) O RICKMAN (MCM2 Crew 5)

 

LS(MW) R WOOD (MCM1 Crew 6)

 

Hearty congratulations to all concerned.

 


5 Dec 19 - HMS Vernon Heritage: The Wardroom

 

Here are some photos of HMS VERNON's Wardroom (Officers' Mess) through its history.  Otherwise known as Ariadne Block, building work started in 1922 and was completed about 1925.  It was built on the site of the Old Gunwharf armoury.  The sub-lieutenants' north wing, adjacent to the Portsmouth Harbour railway line, was added in late 1938.  The roof was damaged by German incendiaries during a bombing raid on the night of 8/9 April 1941 and the east wing was badly damaged by the blast of a land mine (common use of a parachute sea mine) on 17 April 1941.

 

In 1932, HMS Vernon was visited by the First Lord of the Admiralty, not to be confused with the First Sea Lord.  The photo shows the central block and west wing of the wardroom in the background.  The group is standing next to the figurehead of HMS Ariadne after which the wardroom building was named.  The ship was one of the hulks comprising HMS Vernon afloat before it moved ashore to the Gunwharf in 1923. Read more of the story at www.vernon-monument.org.uk/history.

 

First Lord of the Admiralty visiting HMS Vernon on 26 April 1932.

Left to right: Cdr Phillips, Captain Tillard, the First Lord and Admiral Waistell

all of whom were Torpedomen trained at HMS Vernon

 

The First Lord appears to be wearing the uniform of an Elder Brother of Trinity House which Winston Churchill chose to wear when First Lord too.  Monsell Bolton Meredith Eyres-Monsell, 1st Viscount Monsell, GBE, PC, was born in 1881 and was First Lord of the Admiralty from 1931 to 1936.  He was MP for Evesham from 1910 until 1935 but had first served as an officer in the RN at the turn of the 20th century.  He also served in the RN with distinction during the First World War and again during the Second World War when he reached the rank of Cdr.  He died in 1969.  Google him for more detail.  He had quite a life.

 

This was HMS Vernon's wardroom central block, east wing and garden circa 1933 with the elm tree still standing tall and proud.  Donegal House, the adjacent building, was still occupied by the Chaplain but was taken over by the Captain when Vernon House, his own official residence, was destroyed in the Blitz.  Vernon's main gate and guardroom (still in existence) are to the right of Donegal House.

 

 

HMS was Vernon's wardroom garden in September 1936.  Note the blown-over elm tree which was hollow and flooded the roadway with water. Donegal House, the adjacent building, was originally occupied by the Chaplain but was taken over by the Captain when Vernon House, his own official residence, was destroyed in the Blitz.

 

 

 

This was HMS Vernon's wardroom garden in May 1937.  Vernon's main gate and guardroom (still in existence) are to the right of Donegal House.

 

 

This was HMS Vernon's wardroom east wing and garden in the Summer of 1938 after landscaping by Lt Philip Colomb RN (see second entry for 28 Apr 06 in News Archive 14).  Vernon's main gate and guardroom (still in existence) are to the right of Donegal House.  The domed clock tower of Portsmouth's Guildhall can be seen top left.  The building was gutted when bombed on 10 January 1941 and the cupula (dome) was never replaced.

 

 

This is a plan of HMS Vernon in August 1940.

 

 

VERNON's role in the Dunkirk evacuation from ‘HMS Vernon 1930-1955’ published by the Wardroom Mess Committee (pp.32-33):

 

"The evacuation of Dunkirk produced intense but controlled activity in Vernon, and every possible boat was manned for the job.  The newly-installed loudspeakers in the Wardroom block, now regarded by some as a mixed blessing, were then a great asset. The Commander oscillated between the east ante-room and the hall and called out officers as the boats were reported ready from the pier-head or as requests were received for officers from the Commander-in-Chief.  The mess caterer, John Canty, and his storekeeper kitted them up with haversacks of bully beef and biscuits, pusser's dirk [seaman's clasp knife], cigarettes and matches, and with water-bottles and revolvers.  Some who accepted a pusser's dirk unwillingly said afterwards that it was the most useful thing out of everything they took.

 

In the hall porter's office was a young Leading Seaman, too young to have even his first badge.  He was qualifying for L.T.O. and swotting at his manual, quite unmoved.  As the Commander threw messages at him - 'I want to speak to So-and-so' - he put down his manual, looked up the officer's card in the index, dialled his home number, gave the message, and went on reading.  At intervals he interrupted his studies to broadcast.  A message that would have taken some sorting out without the broadcaster was a signal from the Commander-in-Chief calling for an R.N.R. with an Extra Master's ticket.  This was broadcast, and within about two minutes there were six in the hall.

 

The revolving light-tight door at the Wardroom entrance paid for itself that night, as things could be controlled in a calm, fully-lit hall instead of in a windy blackness.  Meanwhile, the Chief Routine Officer was collecting crews in Warrior Block in much the same manner. 

 

The establishment was almost cleared.  Some manned Vernon's boats and tenders and set off for Dover via Newhaven, some joined the port organisation for manning Dutch skoots at Poole, the Long Course were rushed to the beaches.  At the time they were learning Fire Control at Whale Island.  They returned to Vernon by boat in the dinner hour and were issued at the pier-head with sandwiches for twenty-four hours and a revolver.  Then off to Lee and thence by Albacores to Hawkinge.  That evening they were briefed at Dover as beach-masters to take charge of embarkation from the beaches east of Dunkirk.  They sailed after dark in destroyers and landed by motorboat soon after midnight, to start a very hectic and strenuous few days.  There were some consolations - one or two got a new uniform suit out of the affair and all avoided the Low Power exam.

 

Vernon's ratings from Bincleaves manned a Dutch skoot and the mobile torpedo discharge vessel Bloodhound also set out from Bincleaves [Weymouth].  It is difficult to say exactly which of Vernon's power boats got as far as Dunkirk, as the official accounts differ; it seems that at least two did.  The longest list gives two diesel torpedo recovery boats, one steam picket boat and two petrol power boats. 

 

Very soon afterwards Vernon, and notably the Long Course again, was involved in the attempt to evacuate the 51st Division from St Valery.  A number of demolition parties were instructed and kitted up in Vernon, for despatch to Continental ports.  One of the last of these was led by Commander C. D. Howard-Johnston, an A/S specialist who was later to cement the connection by becoming Captain of the Vernon T.A.S. School.  His party embarked in the Wild Swan and set off for St Malo with eight tons of explosive.  They were invited to find their own way back and were provided with £300 in notes for the journey across (occupied) France.  They eventually returned via a very distracted Channel Island.

 

The collapse of France and the threat of invasion brought the war closer to Vernon's doorstep.  At Portsmouth, Vernon was made responsible for a section of the port defences from the Dockyard Main Gate to Clarence Pier.  Sentries were re-disposed with a special eye to parachutists.  `Pencil' plans were made for destroying the cranes and jetties at Vernon Creek but no charges were ever laid, as the risk from fools meddling and from air raids always remained greater than that of invasion.  Vernon's demolition parties toured the south coast laying charges in many piers and jetties.  Some of these were at once removed by the military, owing to a temporary misunderstanding."

 

From ‘The Torpedomen – HMS Vernon’s Story 1872-1986’ by Rear Admiral Edmund Nicholas 'Nico' Poland (pp.166-170):

 

"...At Ramsgate were the drifters Lord Cavan, Silver Dawn, Fisher Boy, Jacketa and Formidable,under the command of Lieutenant Commander A J Cubison, waiting for orders to recover German ground mines by trawling.  They were commanded by Royal Naval Reserve skippers, all fishermen from the Hull and Grimsby deep sea fishing fleets.  Each ship had a crew of ten; a mate, a chief engineer, cook, signalman, four deckhands and two stokers.  The name Formidable had been reserved for the new aircraft carrier under construction and the name of the drifter was changed to Fidget, much to the annoyance of the skipper.

 

With the situation at Dunkirk deteriorating rapidly, Cubison was instructed to stand by to assist in the evacuation.  Armitage, the second-in-command, was under orders to return to Vernon but he contrived to remain with the flotilla, particularly as it seemed unlikely that the little ships would be able to make more than one visit to the b eaches. They had been given the job of acting as ferries between Dunkirk harbour and the larger ships lying in the approaches.  At 1630 on the afternoon of 28 May the flotilla, led by the Lord Cavan, sailed from Ramsgate and proceeded at full speed towards Dunkirk where it arrived at 2200.  As they approached the flames of burning buildings and ammunition dumps illuminated the night sky.  Inside the harbour all was quiet, although wreckage littered the entrance.  As soon as each drifter had embarked one hundred and fifty men from the East Mole, they tried to transfer the troops onto larger ships in the roadstead.

 

In the dark and confusion it only proved possible to transfer a few loads.  Cubison decided that it would be best to take the soldiers direct to Ramsgate.  The drifters left Dunkirk at 0230 and arrived at Ramsgate without further incident.  There the ships were cleaned and refuelled and, with the exception of Lord Cavan which had remained at Dunkirk, the four drifters were ready to sail again at 0500, accompanied by the 80 foot echo-sounding yacht Bystander.  They were back at Dunkirk by 1030, by which time many more fires were blazing and the air was thick with smoke from burning oil.  Armitage, in charge of the four drifters and the yacht, was surprised to find no sign of other shipping and, with the sound of small arms fire from the harbour, concluded that the Germans must be in possession of the port.  Alongside the East Mole was a troopship which Armstrong approached in the Fidget to get news of the situation.  The troopship's electric bells were ringing, there was no sign of life and she was sinking.  In the absence of other ships, Armitage decided to lead his little force into the harbour.  Securing alongside the jetty, he stepped ashore to find the mole littered with equipment and suitcases but the whole place was deserted, except for the armed boarding vessel King Orry whose crew informed him that there had been a severe bombing attack; the destroyer Grenade had been hit, she was burning fiercely and the sound of small arms fire was caused by her ammunition exploding. 

 

The Captain of King Orry, which had been badly damaged, was anxious to escape but no sooner had she cleared the harbour in the strong running tide than she rolled over and sank.  Bystander picked up thirty-two of her crew and with fifty soldiers already embarked, made her way back to Ramsgate.  By now the drifters were waiting at the inner end of the mole anxious to embark as many soldiers as possible before the ebbing tide grounded them.  There was no sign of life, so Armitage decided to land and find the Army.  Before long he found an officer and asked for a thousand men as quickly as possible, but they only drifted down the mole in small parties.  The whole business seemed interminably slow.

 

Armitage remarked: “At a time like this knowledge of the Taoist philosophy of indifference is an advantage, nothing more can be done so you are free to sit on the sandbag and stare at the scenery.”

 

After what seemed a lifetime, the loading was completed.  Surprisingly, there were no accidents, although it had been necessary for soldiers with full kit to climb down ladders from the top of the mole to the wheelhouse of each drifter.  The soldiers, weakened by lack of sleep, could hardly make the descent but the sailors rallied round and the tired men were half rolled and half lifted from the wheelhouse roof to the deck.  From time to time bombing caused delays, but the drifters suffered no damage and by 0230 on Thursday 30 May the last ships were away, each carrying 180 soldiers.

 

If it had not been for the unintentional but sustained efforts of a friendly destroyer to sink Fidget, the return journey to Ramsgate would have been without incident.  When scarcely a mile out of Dunkirk in the narrow western channel, a fast moving destroyer was sighted dead ahead at no great distance.  Since Fidget fully loaded could not make more than six knots little could be done to get out of the way.  Armitage ordered a turn to starboard in accordance with the rule of the road, sounded his siren and flashed a light but it was to no avail; the destroyer ploughed down upon her.  At the last moment, fearing that Fidget was going to be cut in half, Armitage rang down full speed astern.  The destroyer struck a glancing blow with the side of her bow, causing the drifter to bounce down her side.  The soldiers remained remarkably calm, except for two who jumped overboard and were later recovered by the destroyer.  To Armitage's surprise Fidget suffered little damage but it might have been much worse.

 

The drifters reached Ramsgate at 0900, where they disembarked their passengers.  There was now no time to consider a plan of campaign; each ship began to act independently and by 1800 they had sailed again for Dunkirk where they arrived at 2330.  On that last evening of the evacuation Armitage found that the harbour was full of large ships and as it seemed that the drifters might cause confusion, he ordered them to proceed to the beaches.  In the darkness and without lights, taking soundings until they were as close inshore as possible, they steamed slowly east as far as La Panne.  There was still no sign of life till they were halfway on their return leg when they heard shouting coming from the shore.  Fidget anchored and lowered her boat, but having been badly maintained, it filled and sank, but they found and secured an empty skiff.  Armitage and one member of the crew rowed ashore where they found a solitary soldier who said there were about forty others nearby.  Only seven at a time could be embarked in the skiff and it was a difficult task to relaunch it each time.  It was made harder by occasional shells which dropped too close for comfort.  The long row back with a strong cross tide running proved too hazardous and Armitage decided to abandon the skiff and to find some more practical way of embarking the waiting soldiers.  Fidget was, however, not the only ship of the evacuation force which was in trouble.  Armitage soon came upon the Eastbourne beach excursion boat Enchantress which, having no charts on board, had found its way from Dover by following a tug.  Her captain kept close to Fidget but Armitage lost sight of her and she was later sunk.

 

 On finding no more soldiers for evacuation during the night, Armitage concluded that the operation was over, but with daylight he met a large motor barge which he asked to stand by and help him load Fidget with troops from the beaches.  By 0600, large numbers of men were sighted standing patiently in the water.  The German shelling was comparatively ineffective in the area but enemy aircraft made occasional bombing runs.  Most of the noise was caused by the pom-pom fire from the destroyers.  Armitage kept Fidget in just sufficient depth of water in the ebb tide, sending the barge in on the end of a grass line attached to Fidget's winch.  As soon as the barge was full it was hauled off, secured and the men disembarked.  The instructions from the Naval Officer In Charge (NOIC) at Ramsgate had been that the drifters should limit their loads to about one hundred men, but by this time Armitage knew that they could carry twice as many and on this occasion he took on the whole barge load which was a little over three hundred.  This was undoubtedly the limit and reluctantly he had to send back a number of men who had swum out whilst loading was taking place.

 

Armitage remarked that: “They were amazingly philosophical about it and went back with cheerful comments on the wetness of the water.”

 

Fidget made her way slowly back to Ramsgate, arriving there at 1400 on the afternoon of Friday the 31st.  Armitage took pity upon a Colonel of the Highland Light Infantry whom he had found sitting drying out his trousers.  He took him to the wheelhouse and gave him a tot of whisky.  A year later Armitage ran into him again, by which time he was a Brigadier.  He told Armitage that the wife of a brother officer who had been on board had had a daughter shortly after returning and had insisted on her being christened Fidget.  It was as well that the drifter's name had been changed from Formidable!

 

Fisher Boy, Jacketa and Fidget were ready again for another trip to the beaches, and at nine o'clock next morning they were away again.  Silver Dawn had dropped out with a smashed propeller, having lost a blade on some wreckage in Dunkirk harbour, but the skipper had managed to get her back with over three hundred men on board.  In addition to the three drifters, Armitage had collected three large motor boats commanded by Royal Naval Reserve officers.  By now the drifters had perfected their method of embarkation using grass lines; and the new officers, who had not been to the beaches before in their boats, were instructed in their use.  Things turned out differently.  Ten miles short of Dunkirk, the drifters came upon a large troopship, Scotia, lying on her side and burning after five direct bomb hits.  A destroyer which had gone alongside signalled the drifters to close in, but as they approached the wreck the German aircraft returned to machine gun the troops in the water, most of whom were French.  The drifters set about picking them up, the ships' companies jumping onto the upturned boats and wreck­age to pass lines around those of the wounded who were unable to help themselves.  When the last survivor had been recovered the drifters returned to Ramsgate in company with the homeward bound evacuation force.  The journey was punctuated by attacks by enemy bombers, but their bombs fell harmlessly into the sea. 

 

The heroic action of the Vernon drifters was now at an end.  The official figure of troops brought off by the four vessels was four thousand and eighty-five.  The record for a single trip was held by Silver Dawn with three hundred and twelve.  Lord Cavan, which had stayed in Dunkirk was sunk by shell fire, but Cubison and his crew returned safely.  The crews had acquitted themselves tirelessly and gallantly under trying conditions, even though towards the end they had found difficulty in keeping awake.  There had been no time for relaxation as, despite the calm weather, there had been a great deal of sickness amongst the soldiers so that when in harbour the time had been spent in cleaning ship, refuelling and carrying out repairs.

 

Throughout the whole operation the crews remained keen for another trip, none more so than the cooks who succeeded in producing tea and food for the majority of the soldiers.  This meant victualling over one hundred men from a galley equipped for twelve.  Vernon could be rightly proud of its drifters and their crews.  Cubison, Armitage and the skippers had shown that their skills were not confined to the business of mine recovery, and the seamen had shown a great deal of ingenuity in adapting the meagre resources available to the task of evacuating soldiers from the harbour and the beaches at Dunkirk.

 

The fall of Dunkirk was followed by an attempt to evacuate the 51st (Highland) Division from St Valery.  Craft from Vernon were involved in this operation on 11 and 12 June 1940 but fog intervened and, before the ships could make the harbour, the Germans had reached the cliffs to the south and the beach was under direct fire.  Now all that was left was for Vernon demolition parties to visit the remaining continental ports to destroy stores and dock installations.  A party under Commander CD Howard-Johnston, a future Captain of Vernon, embarked in the sloop Wild Swan for St. Malo with eight tons of explosive.  After completing their demolition tasks they escaped via the Channel Islands just ahead of the advancing Germans..."

 

Vernon House and, beyond it, Marlborough Lodge at HMS VERNON during the late 1930s.  Portsmouth Guidhall can be seen in the distance.  Vernon House was built in 1877 and used as the Captain's house until badly damaged in the Blitz.  It was demolished in May 1941.  In the meantime, the Captain moved into Donegal House previously occupied by the Chaplain.  Marlborough Lodge was built in 1877 and originally named Ordnance House.  It was used as the Commander's house until damaged during the Blitz.  It was demolished in August 1941.

 

 

 

This was HMS Vernon wardroom's central block, east wing and garden in January 1941 after 'landscaping' by the Luftwaffe. 

 

 

This was the farewell dinner in HMS Vernon's wardroom for Admiral Sir William Milbourne 'Bubbles' James, GCB (CinC Portsmouth) in September 1942.

 

 

Here is a plan of HMS Vernon in 1955.

 

 

These photos of HMS Vernon's wardroom were taken during the drought of 1976.  The lawns used to be covered with marquees for summer balls.

 

 

 

 

 

The dining room in HMS Vernon's wardroom, modelled as the saloon of a wooden ship, was laid up for 'The Last Supper' in 1985. The poop deck and wheel were from HMS MARLBOROUGH, one of the hulks used when HMS Vernon was still afloat before moving ashore to the Gunwharf in 1923.  The establishment was shrinking thus making a separate mess no longer viable.  Communal lunchtime facilities were used thereafter with the ship’s company accommodated overnight in nearby HMS Nelson or HMS Excellent.

 

 

HMS Vernon ceased as an independent command on 31 March 1986 although it survived under other guises until its eventual closure on 1 April 1996.  Captain David Husband OBE RN posed for this photo with his officers and senior civilian staff in front of HMS Vernon wardroom's east wing and part of Donegal House on 31 March 1986 when the establishment ceased as an independent command.  It was renamed HMS Nelson (Vernon Site) with a Commander as OIC.  The wardroom had closed the previous year. The establishment was renamed HMS Nelson (Gunwharf) in 1987 but its gates closed for the last time on 1 April 1996 to make way for the development of Gunwharf Quays. 

 

 

This was demolition of the central block of HMS Vernon's wardroom being conducted circa 2000. 

 

 


1 Dec 19 - Unveiling of Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument

 

 

The unveiling ceremony for the Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument is planned for Wednesday 25 March 2020 at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, hopefully to be conducted by a VVIP.

 

Priority for invitations is being given to significant fundraisers and organisations that have supported Project Vernon, i.e. the MCDOA, MWA, AORNFCD, TCA, RNCDA and RANCDA.  Supporters will be added to the list if they submit their name, title, postal address, email address and a convincing case for consideration via the Contact Form on the PV website's Home page.  The deadline for applications has been extended to 31 December 2019.

 

www.vernon-monument.org.uk

 

So far, the event organiser has compiled a list of several hundred people with more requests flooding in daily so you can imagine the funds still needed to cover the cost of catering, seating, security, etc.  Our various contributions to date have paid for the statue but we need to keep the pennies rolling in to cover the unveiling ceremony, maintenance, insurance, lighting, signage and clever facilities to tell the full story of what it represents (we even have Portsmouth University on the case).  Make a direct donation or purchase merchandise via the Project's online shop:

 

www.vernon-monument.org.uk/donate

 

www.vernon-monument.org.uk/shop

 

Another good way to donate is to buy PV tickets for the Portsmouth Lottery for as little as £1 per week.  The Project receives at least half the income:

 

www.portsmouthlottery.co.uk/support/the-vernon-monument

 

 


30 Nov 19 - Latest tweets.

 

Click on the linked dates to see all associated photos and videos.

 

Royal Navy

 

23 Nov 2019 - Welcome home HMS Cattistock!  The ship has returned to Portsmouth after working with NATO in the Baltic.

 

 

COMUKMCMFOR (Commander UK MCM Force in Bahrain for Operation KIPION)

 

12 Nov 2019 - For those who leave never to return, for those who return but are never the same, we will remember.

 

HMS Brocklesby (MCM2 Crew 4)

 

24 Nov 2019 - No matter the weather in the Gulf, HMS BROCKLESBY is always ready.

 

 

23 Nov 2019 - Working together with our international partners as part of IMX19, our MCM Force has gained valuable experience.

 

14 Nov 2019 - Led by the Japanese 5th Minesweeping Division in JS BUNGO, the IMX19 MCM Force is a truly international force training together.

 

14 Nov 2019 - International Maritime Exercise 19 kicked off in style.  The Mine Hunting Force in formation, ready to start work.

 

HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 2)

 

27 Nov 2019 - Preps are all in place for a mess dinner onboard CHIDDINGFOLD to mark the departure of Captain MFP, even with a roaring open fire!

 

 

24 Nov 2019 - CHIDDINGFOLD has arrived safely back in Portsmouth after successfully completing Operational Sea Training in Scotland.  Crew 2 are ‘Ready to Deploy’.

 

19 Nov 2019 - Not your average day in the office... The team finesse their gunnery skills prior to deploying!

 

13 Nov 2019 - The storms have finally passed; straight back into action.  Perfect conditions for CHIDDINGFOLD’s divers to practice mine clearance operations.

 

HMS Hurworth (MCM2 Crew 3)

 

28 Nov 2019 - If we have a man overboard, the swimmer of the watch is our primary recovery method.  We train to be quick and safe!  Lovely day for it.  Bit cold mind - 8 deg C sea surface temp.

 

27 Nov 2019 - Portsmouth is somewhere over the rainbow!

 

26 Nov 2019 - Tuesday training for Officers of the Watch - how to fire flares.

 

20 Nov 2019 - Congratulations to our very own Chief Petty Officer Riley who won the MCM2 Squadron award at the Merchant Tailor Company Ladies & Affiliates Awards Night.  Well done for your contribution to the crew & squadron!  BZ!

 

19 Nov 2019 - Mine Clearance diving in the Royal Navy takes courage and commitment and is hugely rewarding.  See the team begin work!

 

18 Nov 2019 - Monday Morning navigation training in company with the Sea Cadets UK.  An excellent way to start the week!

 

14 Nov 2019 - After a busy few days of training & assurance, a fantastic team effort has helped us on our way.  These chaps put in a particularly sterling performance.

 

10 Nov 2019 - It was a privilege to pay our respects at the Remembrance Sunday service in our affiliated town.  Thank you for your welcome and hospitality.

 

 

7 Nov 2019 - An excellent November day to be out on the ocean wave!  For one member of our crew it was his first day at sea in a pusser’s grey.  Not your average first day at work!

 

7 Nov 2019 - ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.’  Michael Jordan

 

6 Nov 2019 - The hard work, professionalism and dedication of our engineers is essential and ensures HMS Hurworth is ready to fight and win.

 

5 Nov 2019 - We hope you enjoy Bonfire Night. But do stay safe!  For us, a fire at sea is no fun so in the Royal Navy we train hard so we can keep ourselves and the ship safe.

 

4 Nov 2019 - Here we are on Monday morning getting reacquainted with some of our damage control and fire fighting equipment and procedures.  These core sailoring skills help keep us safe at sea.

 

HMS Middleton (MCM2 Crew 8)

 

12 Nov 2019 - It was great receiving so many thank you messages from the children at Lovington School!  Thank you for your pictures, they are now proudly displayed on the bulkhead in our refit office.

 

7 Nov 2019 - Members of Crew 8 headed to Somerset yesterday to deliver an interactive presentation to the children of Lovington School.  Both children and Crew had a great day!

 

 

5 Nov 2019 - Thank you Poppy Legion for the opportunity to sell poppies in London.  Members of Crew 8 spent Thursday at City Thameslink station and the generosity of the public was fantastic.

 

HMS Pembroke (MCM1 Crew 5)

 

25 Nov 2019 - Thank you to the outgoing CO of HMS Grimsby for sending us this picture of PEMB in the Clyde last week.  Anyone know the name of village in the background?

 

 

20 Nov 2019 - Gone fishing.  Another SEAFOX run successfully completed as we train the next batch of mine warfare officers and ratings.

 

HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 6)

 

19 Nov 2019 - HMS SHOREHAM enjoyed the chance to host our friends from Princess of Wales Royal Regiment for a day at sea where we showed them some basic damage control capabilities.

 

11 Nov 2019 - At the going down of the sun, HMS SHOREHAM Remembers.

 

10 Nov 2019 - HMS SHOREHAM had the privilege to host the Chelsea Pensioners on board for lunch after our Remembrance Sunday Service.

 

 

4 Nov 2019 - This week we had the honour of welcoming dignitaries and guests on board as part of BIDEC 2019 in Bahrain.  We had the opportunity to showcase our equipment and the capabilities of the Royal Navy.

 

MASTT (Maritime Autonomous System Trials Team commanded by MCDOA member Dave Stanbury)

 

6 Nov 2019 - Winter Solstice.  MASTT are delighted to have General Dynamics and their Bluefin 9.  MASTT are again busy, preparing and integrating the AUV with our military ops boat - Hazard.  Of particular interest is the Solstice SSS and it’s comparison to our current SSS.

 

 

HMS King Alfred

 

23 Nov 2019 - This afternoon our potential recruit day visitors are getting a chance to learn about the Royal Naval Reserve Diving branch.  A branch that offers both a physical & mental challenge, reservist diving has a proud history, especially in WWII, and supports Royal Navy operations today.

 

 

Navy Lookout

 

12 Nov 2019 - HMS Hurworth enters Portsmouth this morning after participation in ex Joint Warrior and training in Scottish waters.

 


29 Nov 19 - Casting of Vernon Monument update

 

 

I am grateful to sculptor Mark Richards FRSS for these images showing that casting of the bronze one-and-a-quarter life-size Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument is continuing apace at the Morris Singer Foundry at Lasham in Hampshire (see entry for 16 Nov 19).

 

 

         

 

 


23 Nov 18 - MCDOA Operational Updates, AGM & Dinner: After Action Report

 

We had some exremely illuminating operational briefs (thanks to all concerned for your valuable time), a productive AGM and another grand MCDOA Annual Dinner in HMS Excellent's wardroom last night.  We owe Ben Brown, our Hon Sec, a huge debt of gratitude for the time and effort he put into organising events.

 

 

     

 

     

 

         

 

 

 

     

 

     

 

 

     

 

 

 

     

 

In among all the singing, we also dined Jason Poole out of the Royal Navy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

     

 


16 Nov 19 - Casting of Vernon Monument update    

 

 

 

I am grateful to sculptor Mark Richards FRSS for these images showing that casting of the MCDOA-sponsored bronze one-and-a-quarter life-size Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument has begun at the Morris Singer Foundry at Lasham in Hampshire.

 

 

         

 

         

 

         

 

This image shows Mark and foundry staff with some of the Project Vernon volunteers when they visited the foundry back in the summer (see entry for 17 Jul 19 in News Archive 67).

 

 


15 Nov 19 - Latest LS&GC awards

 

Congratulations to CPO(D) Leslie Cockerton and PO(D) Craig Waghorn on being gazetted for the award of the Naval Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (LS&GC).

 


11 Nov 19 - 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

 

 


31 Oct 19 - Latest Tweets

 

Click on the linked dates to see all associated photos and videos.

 

COMUKSTRKFOR (Commander United Kingdom Maritime Strike Force) & RASS (Rear Admiral Surface Ships)

 

 17 Oct 2019 - Great opportunity to visit the Mine Warfare Battle-staff, during JOINT WARRIOR 192, as they prepare for their operational deployment

 

COMUKMCMFOR (Commander UK MCM Force in Bahrain for Operation KIPION)

 

28 Oct 2019 - IMX 19 preparations are fully underway on board RFA Cardigan Bay.  COMUKMCMFOR will be providing Command and Control for the underwater elements with unmanned and autonomous systems and dive teams from Japan, UK, USA, Australia, France, Italy, KSA and UAE.

 

8 Oct 2019 - A short video of some of our recent activity working with RFA Cardigan Bay doing what they do best!

 

HMS Bangor (MCM1 Crew 7)

 

15 Oct 2019 - A memorial service in remembrance of the 835 men and boys who lost their lives onboard HMS ROYAL OAK 80 years ago took place onboard HMS Bangor yesterday in Scapa Flow.

 

 

HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 2)

 

26 Oct 2019 - Week 1 of Operational Sea Training complete... a great start for MCM2 Crew 2.  What a way to celebrate CHIDDINGFOLD’s 35th birthday, and still going strong!

 

20 Oct 2019 - ‘Work hard play hard’ on board CHIDDINGFOLD.  The Crew has spent the week training 24/7 before finally enjoying ‘Pirate night’ hosted by the LHs Mess.  Great effort and well deserved!

 

 

17 Oct 2019 - Our seaboat heads out to find the gold...

 

16 Oct 2019 - Safe arrival in the Firth of Clyde, ahead of the Gales.  Great to see Alisa Craig in the sunshine! Never an opportunity missed to practice a ‘man overboard drill’ prior to Operational Sea Training next week.

 

HMS Hurworth (MCM2 Crew 5)

 

31 Oct 2019 - Handover complete!  Crew 3 have taken over HMS Hurworth and Lt Cdr Harrison has assumed command.

 

 

HMS Pembroke (MCM1 Crew 5)

 

30 Oct 2019 - No matter how many times we get to see these, it’s always special.  Extra points if you can ID the species.

 

28 Oct 2019 - Sorry we’ve been so quiet, but we’ve been busy with trials over in Norway.  Working at the NATO range in Stavanger to ensure our kit is top line.  We passed with flying colours and also had time to get in some Adventurous Training as well.

 

7 Oct 2019 - Today we start our engineering trials to ensure that everything works as it should after our refit. This is the view aft from the bridge during our full power trial. We may not be able to outrun an F-14, but we certainly feel the need for speed.

 

 

HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 6)

 

28 Oct 2019 - HMS SHOREHAM enjoyed the opportunity to work with our US Navy partners during a recent UK-US interoperability exercise.

 

 

MASTT (Maritime Autonomous System Trials Team commanded by MCDOA member Dave Stanbury)

 

16 Oct 2019 - Ooh she’s a Beast!  The ECA built, Alister-27 AUV, undergoing an acceptance event from Thetis, near Brest.  The 1T AUV is fitted with the THALES SAMDIS Side-Scan SONAR (circled), generating long rage, high resolution images (1” x 1”).  The AUV is proposed, for use under MMCM.

 

15 Oct 2019 - Sweep’s away!  MASTT deploy the Sweep Demonstrator complete with 3 x Coil Auxiliary Boats (CABs) in tow, for today’s mission.

 

 

10 Oct 2019 - The RN Sweep ‘Love’ is showing today, as the USV turns away from a potential danger (Red buoy) to get back to it’s Mission. The RN Sweep Demonstrator is undergoing Optimisation and ‘SOUP’ Trials this month, in Southern UK waters.

 

10 Oct 2019 - As Flood Warnings are announced for the weekend, in the UK, the Sweep team continue Trials, under darkening skies.

 

 


30 Oct 19 - HMS Pembroke returns to service

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article announcing the return to service of HMS Pembroke (MCM1 Crew 5) after a major overhaul at Rosyth.  She starts with a passage to Stavanger for trials.

 


25 Oct 19 - RN Diving Heritage: The 'P' Parties

 

In an amazing piece of serendipity, I was recently contacted by Jonathan Murray who lives in the USA and Martin Clark who lives in the UK.  Coincidentally, Jonathan’s father (AB Eric ‘Wings’ Murray) and Martin’s father (AB Leonard ‘Nobby’ Clark) were fellow divers in 'P' Parties 1571 and 2443 around the end of the Second World War. 

 

'P' Party 1571, based at  HMS Vernon(D) in Brixham, was disbanded in March 1946 after clearing European ports of explosive ordnance and other debris after D-Day.  Its final job was the clearance of the harbour at Bremen where its OIC, Lt (later Lt Cdr) George Gosse GC RANVR, was the first to render safe and and recover a German 'Oyster' pressure mine in June 1945 (see entry for 20 Mar 07 in News Archive 17 among other places).

 

Shortly after 'P' Party 1571's return to the UK, its remaining members were transferred to 'P' Party 2443.  This was formed in June 1945 to clear any suspected residual bombs and mines in British ports and was based at HMS Vernon in Portsmouth under the Command of Lt William Jackson RANVR supported by Lt Roy Blyth RNVR, Lt Evan Desmond James MBE RNVR and Sub Lt Arthur Douglas Russell MBE RNVR.  

 

I put the two sons in contact with each other and they have since been exchanging emails (including photos of each other’s father).  Here are some examples, including a few from my own collection courtesy of the late David Shane who served in the same units (see second entry for 12 Sep 08 in News Archive 23 and entry for 23 Oct 08 in News Archive 24).

 

Some of these photos show HMS Vernon(D) at Brixham undergoing an inspection by Admiral Sir Ralph Leatham KCB, Commander-in-Chief Plymouth, towards the end of  August 1945. The 'D' stood for Dartmouth where the establishment's administration was conducted.  The 'P' Parties had utilised makeshift accommodation elsewhere, including HMS Volcano at Holmrook Hall near Ravenglas and HMS Firework near Barrow, both located in Cumberland (now Cumbria) but HMS Vernon(D) was their first fit-for-purpose base.  The establishment, which also became home to the Admiralty Experimental Diving Unit (AEDU) and the Deep Diving Tender HMS Tedworth, was commissioned on 27 October 1944 and paid off on 30 November 1945.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each 'P' Party was assigned three officers, twenty divers, fifteen maintenance hands,

four Royal Marine drivers, a sickbay attendant and a cook.

 

 

After his inspection, Admiral Leatham sent the following signal:

 

"My visit to your establishment last Monday was very interesting, and I was most impressed by the efficiency and enthusiasm of the officers and men whose many decorations showed the grand work the 'P' Parties have done.  I wish them all good fortune in the future and thank you for a very pleasant day."

 

As the newspaper article describes, these photos were taken during the recovery of a bomb from the Manchester Ship Canal by members of 'P' Party 2443 in 1946:

 

 

An unconventional entry with AB Len ‘Nobby’ Clark standing third right 

 

The ‘P’ Party divers in these images are wearing Siebe Gorman's Admiralty Shallow Water Diving Dress which incorporated the Admiralty Neck Salvus (ANS) Self-Contained Diving Apparatus using a closed-circuit enriched oxy-nitrogen mixture.  This suit was a more robust replacement for the infamous Sladen ‘Clammy Death’ all-in-one diving suit.  As with the Sladen, entry was effected through a large aperture in the belly of the suit.  When a diver relaxed out of the water, he poked himself out through this flexible tube of rubber as seen in several of the photos.    When the suit was fully worn, the tube was folded and clamped with the diver’s head protruding into the attached hood of the suit containing the faceplate, mouthpiece for the breathing tube and relief valve.

 

See second entry for 12 Sep 08 in News Archive 23, entry for 23 Oct 08 in News Archive 24 and entry for 20 Jun 15 in News Archive 50 for further background.  The second entry for 4 Mar 10 in News Archive 29 might also be of interest.

 

L to R: ABs McCallum, Len 'Nobby' Clark, Rixon and David Shane

 

 

 

Spot, the 'P' Party's mascot

 

Originally, the Northcliffe Hotel was used as the wardroom for officers belonging to HMS Vernon(D) at Brixham.  It was demolished circa 1994.

 

Dining Room of Northcliffe Hotel in Brixham

 

In an unpopular move, a private house was requisitioned as the wardroom in 1945 and I believe these photos of HMS Vernon(D) officers, kindly supplied by Jonathan Murray together with lists of names, were taken outside it:

 

Back row: Lt (later Lt Cdr) George Gosse GC RANVR, Surg Lt A G H Winterburn RNVR, Lt William Jackson RANVR, Sub Lt Arthur Douglas Russell MBE RNVR,

Lt William 'Bill' Bailey CBE DSC GM & Bar RNVR, Lt W E 'Shiner' Wright RN, Lt Cdr Frederick Charles Gill RNVR, Lt Jack Woodcock RNVR

Fourth row: Lt George Branch RNVR, Lt Ralph Edward Wheeler RNVR, Lt H F Ford RNVR, WO Gunner(T) Levi Sawkins (Rum Bosun),

Lt (later Lt Cdr) Maurice Samuel 'Bats' Batterham OBE RANVR, Lt Richards

Third row: Surg Lt G B Locke, Lt Blyth, Lt Six 'Peter' Dijkstra RNLN, Lt F Stirland RNVR, Lt ?, Lt Paul Roland Frank Britnell GM RNVR

Second row: Lt ?, Lt ?, 3/O Joan Scaife-d'Ingerthorpe WRNS, Lt Cdr ?, Lt Percy Alexander 'Bumblebee' Brambleby RNVR, Lt W E Wheeler RN

Front row: Lt Cdr William Horace Taylor GC MBE RNVR, Cdr John Stuart 'Mouldy' Mould GC GM RANVR, Cdr Charles Edward Hamond DSO DSC & Bar RN,

Cdr Aubrey Rowland Alston OBE RN (CO Vernon(D)), Lt Cdr Leonard Maurice Bates RNVR (First Lt), Surg Lt D A Thomson RNVR

  

Back row: Lt Six 'Peter' Dijkstra RNLN, Lt H F Ford RNVR, Lt Jack Woodcock RNVR, Sub Lt Arthur Douglas Russell MBE RNVR,
Lt Percy Alexander 'Bumblebee' Brambleby RNVR

Front row: Lt William Jackson RANVR, Lt (later Lt Cdr) George Gosse GC RANVR, Cdr John Stuart 'Mouldy' Mould GC GM RANVR,

 Lt (later Lt Cdr) Maurice Samuel 'Bats' Batterham OBE RANVR, Lt Roy Blyth RNVR

 

Courtesy of the 'Brixham in Pictures' Facebook group (it took all of 18 minutes for someone to respond), I now know that the photos above were taken outside Hellier/Hellyer Mansion, now known as Wolborough House, in Berryhead Road, Brixham.  It was built in 1910 for Mr Charles Hellier/Hellyer, a wealthy trawler fleet owner, at a cost of over £48,000.  In an unpopular move, the officers of HMS VERNON(D) had to shift to this private house from the much more ‘accommodating’ Northcliffe Hotel.  

 

More about the house’s history here although it says it was used by the Navy during the war as a hospital rather than a wardroom (officers’ mess); perhaps it had been a hospital prior to the post D-Day commissioning of HMS VERNON(D).

 

wolboroughhouse.com/history-of-wolborough-house.html

 

 

This is how the house looks today:

 

 

Incidentally, Lt Cdr Leonard Maurice Bates RNVR co-wrote ‘Open The Ports – The Story of Human Minesweepers’, the authoritative source about the ‘P’ Party divers.  It contains this intriguing passage:

 

“…There was another mark of high favour, too; the well-deserved and most popular promotion of Mould to the rank of Commander, R.A.N.V.R.  This was a recognition that seemed to his fellow-officers to have been far too long postponed, for Mould had done so much to make a success of the “P” Parties.”

 

The problem is that this promotion doesn’t seem to be reflected anywhere else although the list of names supplied and photos appear to show him wearing three thick stripes.

 

These are the many honours and awards received by P Party members according to 'Open The Ports':

 

 

 

N.B. Despite their hazardous duties clearing ports and harbours around Europe, the 'P' Party divers suffered only one fatality.  AB William Brunskill of 'P' Party 1571 died from his injuries on 19 December 1944 after a V2 rocket hit the Cinema Rex in Antwerp where he had been watching a film three days previously.  He is buried in Schoonselhof Cemetery near Antwerp.

 


From Andrew Bailey, son of Lt William 'Bill' Bailey CBE DSC GM & Bar RNVR:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

Many thanks for keeping me in the loop; great research you are doing.

 

Many of the pictures l am familiar with, and interested to see my father in the fifth photo on parade at the head of his "P" Party or Section with a hand up to his nose and his unmistakable double jointed legs.  He also features in the ninth photo, extreme left with main group and visiting Admiral Leatham.

 

As a youngster l remember visiting the Northclffe Hotel.  Sadly nothing of it remains today.  It may or may not be of interest but l remember my father mentioning that Mrs Silley, the owner, was held in great esteem by all HMS Vernon(D) who stayed there.  She must have been extremely patient to put up with such a high-spirited group!

 

Lovely to see Wolborough House as it is today.  What a view, the entrance and windows each side of the door being exactly as in HMS Vernon(D) photos.

 

Wonderful that the great and dangerous work carried out by these special men in the war effort is not forgotten.  Keep well and keep up the good work.

 

Best wishes,

 

Andrew"

 


24 Oct 19 - Latest EOD incidents

 

23 October: Royal Navy bomb squad and police called to Plymouth street - updates from the scene

 

23 October: Bomb Disposal Unit heading back to the Isle of Wight (update 2)

 

20 October: Bomb disposal team heading to Yaverland beach — where suspected grenade has been found

 

Beach partially cordoned off after grenade found at Yaverland

 

World War Two Hand Grenade Destroyed At Yaverland

 

19 October: House in Cornwall cordoned off in bomb alert

 

The 'bomb alert' that cordoned off house in St Austell

 

18 October: Bomb disposal unit carry out 'controlled explosion' on Troon Beach

 

15 October: Area evacuated as explosive device found in Duntocher

 

15 October: Bomb squad searches house after suspected gunman, 61, arrested

 

9 October: Royal Navy bomb disposal team called to Deal and find 19th century weapon

 

4 October: Police confirm hand grenade found in Taunton cemetery

 

25 September: Boy, 12, seriously injured in bomb blast inside UK home packed with explosives

 

Boy seriously injured in Plymouth explosives incident

 


23 Oct 19 - Death of former CPO(D) Don Hodge

 

Eamon 'Ginge' Fullen QGM has passed me the sad news of the death in France of former CPO(D) Don Hodge whose life and career he has chronicled in one of his books (see entry for 30 Jan 19 in News Archive 65).

 

Former CPO(D) Don Hodge at Horsea Island in October 2016 with his son Mortimer,

named after the late MCDOA member Morty Drummond (inset)

 

I am sure all members of our community will join me in extending our sincere condolences to Don's family and close friends.

 


20 Oct 19 - Another book from Chris O'Flaherty

 

 

Congratualtions to MCDOA member Chris O'Flaherty, the current Captain of the Maritime Warfare Centre (MWC) at HMS Collingwood, on the publication of his new book 'Naval Minewarfare - Politics to Practicalities'.  The foreword is written by MCDOA past-President Paddy McAlpine CBE.

 

 

 

This book is the culmination of Chris's year of research as Hudson Fellow at St Antony's College, Oxford where he researched ‘Naval Mines as an Instrument of Statecraft’.  Previous beneficiaries of the Hudson Fellowship have included MCDOA members Chris Ashcroft in 2000 and Matt Offord in 2016 as well as a host of other luminaries from the Navy List.  The book examines the modern history of naval minewafare, using the 24 naval mining events since World War II as case studies to understand the use of naval minewarfare as an instrument of statecraft.

 

The book is formally published on 31 October 2019 and is already available for order via Amazon and a few other booksellers.  Chris previously published 'Crash Start - The Life and Legacy of Lt Richard Guy Ormonde Hudson DSC RNVR' who bequeathed the Hudson Fellowship (see entry for 13 Jun 19 in News Archive 66).

 


19 Oct 19 - A new 'Diver Chronicle' from Ginge Fullen

 

I must thank CD branch legend Eamon 'Ginge' Fullen QGM for sending me the fifth in his excellent series of illustrated chronicles of veteran Royal Navy divers in which he has captured so many memories (see entry for 30 Jan 19 in News Archive 65).  The latest features Frederick 'Fred' George Hilton who was born in Chelmsford, Essex on 1 May 1907. 

 

Fred Hilton joined the Royal Navy at HMS GANGES in 1922 as a 15 year-old boy seaman.  He joined the Gunnery branch, qualified as a standard diver circa 1927 and rose to become a Commissioned Gunner.  On 10 July 1930, he was diving from the deep diving tender HMS TEDWORTH in Loch Fyne when he was inadevertently lowered to a depth of 344 ft, temporarily exceeding the previous record depth of 330 ft.  This world depth record, achieved on air, stood intact until US Navy divers used a helium mixture to reach 440 ft in 1938.

 

Fred Hilton left the Royal Navy in 1948 and worked as the security officer for an electrical company.  He crossed the bar in Medway Hospital, Gillingham on 12 November 1978, two weeks after suffering a stroke.

 

I was particularly impressed by the way Ginge has woven together so many disparate threads covering Royal Navy diving history from a variety of sources and presented them handily in one place.  For example, these two pages encapsulate the training of the first Royal Navy divers by the Army's Royal Engineers (Sappers) under the Command of Col (later Gen) Sir Charles William Pasley RE at HMS EXCELLENT in 1843/4, thus establishing a close relationship between the two organisations which exists to this day.

 

         

 

All five volumes of Ginge's chronicles to date should be available for sale from the RNCDA website's shop via www.rncda.com.

 

Fred Hilton:

 

     

 

Don Hodge:

 

      

 

Carl Massey:

 

      

 

Yorky Wilkinson:

 

      

 

Jim Cannon:

 

      

 


18 Oct 19 - Exercise JOINT WARRIOR 19/2

 

Rear Admral Andrew Burns OBE (Commander UK Maritime Strike Force and Rear Admiral Surface Ships) has sent this tweet:

 

"Great opportunity to visit the Mine Warfare Battle-staff, during JW192 as they prepare for their operational deployment."

 

 

 

 

 


17 Oct 19 - D-Day Talk at Southwick House

 

Your humble webmaster was privileged to deliver a D-Day talk on Tuesday (15 Oct), focusing on the work of the minesweepers and the RN & RM frogmen of the Landing Craft Obstruction Clearance Units (LCOCUs pronounced 'Lock-yews' - the first men ashore), to members of the Defence EOD & Search Branch (DEODS).  This version of DEODS (as opposed to the old Defence EOD School at Lodge Hill Camp, Chattenden where many of us undertook our EOD & IEDD training - now superseded by DEMS Bicester) was established at Andover in 2010 with the aim of providing a single focus for all tri-service EOD policy, direction and inspectorate responsibilities.

 

 

Attendees included fellow MCDOA members Martin Mackey and Rory Armstrong plus WO1(Diver) 'Whisky' Walker, together with Col Zarach 'Zac' Scott RLC, their Head of Branch, who has attended the odd MCDOA dinner at HMS EXCELLENT.

 

 

The venue was the map room at Southwick House, used by Eisenhower as his HQ for the Normandy landings in June 1944.  As the wardroom of HMS DRYAD, it was also where I was dined out of the Royal Navy in October 2002 and presented with the framed print below, two years before its closure. In 2005, the establishment was transformed into the Defence School of Policing and Guarding. 

 

 

Afterwards, we enjoyed a convivial lunch in the wardroom of HMS NELSON in Portsmouth.

 


16 Oct 19 - Fleet Commander's Commendation

 

Congratulations to PO(D) Gavin Speer on being awarded a Fleet Commander's Commendation in the autumn 2019 list.

 

Many thanks to MCDOA member Dave Stanbury for passing this information.

 


15 Oct 19 - Latest Awards of LS&GC

 

Congratulations to WO1(D) John 'YoYo' Ravenhall on being gazetted for the award of the 2nd Clasp to the Naval Long Service & Good Conduct medal and to CPO(MW) Andrew 'Ozzy' Osborne on being gazetted for the award of the LS&GC medal itself.

 


14 Oct 19 - HMS Bangor in Scapa Flow

 

The Orcadian website contains these articles reporting the presence of HMS Bangor (MCM1 Crew 7) in Orkney to mark the 80th anniversary of U-47 torpedoing and sinking the battleship HMS Royal Oak with the loss of 835 lives, and the underwater changing of the ensign by members of Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG):

 

HMS Royal Oak remembered at Scapa Flow

 

Navy presence for HMS Royal Oak memorial service

 

Poppy ceremony remembers HMS Royal Oak crew  

 

Remembering the loss of HMS Royal Oak

 


9 Oct 19 - HMS Vernon's Mining Department during the Second World War

 

I am grateful to William Dyson--Laurie for this query and photo:

 

"Good afternoon.

 

My late father worked at HMS Vernon during the Second World War.  In his papers I found this 'team photo'. 

 

 

I imagine, from the seated NOs, that it was taken during this period, but haven't been able to identify the building.  Please can you help?  

 

Regards,

 

William Dyson--Laurie" 

 

I was able to send William this reply:

 

"Hello William,

 

Thank you for your marvellous photo which was taken in front of Leigh Park House, just outside Havant near Portsmouth.  The house was demolished in 1959.

 

The now demolished Leigh Park House overlooking the still-present ornamental lakes

in Staunton Country Park near Havant

 

Leigh Park House and grounds: Then and now

 

This excerpt from a colleague’s book is reproduced in the entry for 22 Feb 16 in News Archive 53 and should help explain:  

 

“...In 1939, the Mine Design Department was still at HMS Vernon at Portsmouth, but the massive increase in staff - both civilian and naval - meant the department had to move to an office block on Commercial Road in Portsmouth.  These offices were particularly vulnerable to air attack and the Luftwaffe were determined to bomb Portsmouth out of existence.  Certain sections of the Mine Design Department were therefore moved away from the town to Leigh Park House, about 2 miles from Havant.  This house no longer stands but it was, until 1959, part of what is now Staunton Park.

 

The Leigh Park estate is best known for the work of Sir George Staunton, who had purchased it in 1820 and lived there until his death in 1859.  The dispersal of staff was planned, because the branch of the Mining Department known as Vernon (M) was sited at nearby West Leigh House and the naval staff of HMS Vernon responsible for the trials section of the Mine Department travelled widely to stations around the United Kingdom.  Part of the unit was placed in West Leigh Cottage.  By 1941 administrative facilities had been established at West Leigh Cottage, new trials areas had been set up on Loch Long in Dumbartonshire - at the head of the loch, at Arrochar, and at its mouth at Baron's Point, where mines were tested - and in 1942 a ground mines facility was established at Weston-super-Mare.  The need to experiment, manufacture and test weapons led to all sorts of outstations being set up.  At Weston, by 1943 the base at Birnbeck Pier on the north side of the town was used for all mine-dropping tests by the Aircraft Torpedo Development Unit.  This facility was later moved to the airfield at RAF Locking, about 3 miles south of Weston.  Parts were manufactured at Fareham [Hinxman's Garage?], close to Gosport, and German mines were examined at a disused quarry on Butser Hill, near Buriton, 15 miles north of Portsmouth...”

 

You will find more references and images if you type “Leigh” into the search box on the MCDOA website’s Home page.

 

Best wishes,

 

Rob Hoole"

 

William subsequently sent this response:

 

"Rob,

 

That's very helpful.  Thank you very much.

 

William"

 

While HMS Vernon's Mine Design Department’s Trials and Scientific sections moved into Leigh Park House, the main Mine Design Department, including the Enemy Mining Section, moved into West Leigh House and West Leigh Cottage, also on Staunton's Leigh Park estate at Havant (See the entry for 21 Feb 16 in News Archive 53).  This was the Enemy Mining Section that occupied West Leigh House.

 

 

In 1946, HMS Vernon's Mining Department was reconstituted at Leigh Park as the Admiralty Mining Establishment (AME).  In 1951, its functions had been enlarged sufficiently with the addition of anti-submarine weapons and sensors to justify a change of title to the Underwater Counter measures and Weapon Establishment (UCWE).  Minesweeping and degaussing remained among its interests, and a trials station was retained at Port Edgar on the Firth of Forth.

 

Admiralty Underwater Countermeasures and Weapons Establishment staff

at the back of West Leigh House, Havant

 

With the concentration of almost all underwater research and development work at Portland, the Establishment closed in 1959.

 

West Leigh, Havant: Then and now

 


7 Oct 19 

 

 

MCDOA AGM, Operational Updates and Annual Dinner

Friday 22 November 2019

 

I am grateful to Ben Brown, our Honorary Secretary, for confirming that this year’s association dinner will be held in HMS Excellent’s Wardroom on Friday 22 November 2019.  The Guest of Honour will be Rear Admiral Jim Higham (ACNS Ships, Chief Naval Engineer Officer and ODH (Operating Duty Holder) for Naval & Military Diving).  The evening will follow the traditional format commencing with pre-dinner drinks in the bar at 1900 followed by food and refreshments and a hearty sing song to the musical accompaniment of the HMS Nelson Volunteer Band before retiring to the bar.  

 

The dinner is open to members of the association and their guests only although WO1s (D/MW) are very welcome to attend at the guest price.  If a non-member wishes to attend the dinner who is eligible to join the association (serving or retired), then they will be asked to complete the membership process prior to being offered a place at the dinner.

 

The cost of the dinner will be £45 for members and £50 for guests.  This will include a four-course meal, wine and as usual the association will put a healthy kitty behind the bar.  JFD UK has again kindly offered to provide the port for the evening.  

 

Due to a tightening of regulations within HMS Excellent, accommodation can not be pre-reserved this year and arrangements will have to be made on an individual basis.  

 

This year marks the the 50th anniversary of:

 

LMCDO '69: Course Officer: Lt Cdr Bruce Mackay MBE. Course Instructor: CPO(D) Dusty Miller. Students: John Belchamber, Brian Dutton DSO QGM, Terry Jones, Bill Lampard, Richard Lowther RN/SAN, Julian Malec OBE, David ‘Dan’ Nicholson and John Wiseman.

 

Two MCD conversion courses for CDOs: Students: Norman Brookhouse, Bob Lusty, Bob Pilling, Tony Rose, Dennis Selwood OBE and Frank Spragg.

 

It also marks the 25th anniversary of:

 

MCDO ’94A: Course Officer Lt Cdr Steve Wild. Course Instructor: CPO(D) Graham ‘Tiny’ Petrie. Students: Lt M Howgill, Lt J Goodfellow, Lt D McKnight and SLt S Millar.

 

LMCDO ‘94A MW: Those above plus Lt R Jones and SLt T Kelly.

 

LMCDO ‘94B: Course Officer Lt Cdr Steve Wild. Course Instructor: CPO(D) Graham ‘Tiny’ Petrie. Students: Lt Mann, Lt Campbell, Lt S Williamson, SLt Long and Lt Platt.

 

LMCDO ‘94B MW: Those above plus Lt Abbott, Lt Eam and Lt Webb.  

 

Operational update briefs will be held in Bridge Building, Horsea Island, commencing at 0900.  Free lunch will be available in the Horsea Island Officers and Senior Rates Mess from 1200 with the AGM starting at 1315.  Members are encouraged to attend and make your voices heard to the committee.   Payment for the dinner can be made by cash, cheque or online bank transfer (preferable).  Please ensure that our Hon Sec receives a hard or soft copy application form.  Owing to the number of members who forget to make the BACS transfer, members are requested to provide evidence it is completed; this is required before your name will be added to the list.  The deadline for applications is close of play on Wednesday 13 November 2019.

 

Download and complete the calling notice and booking form here.  It will also be available via the website's Forthcoming Events page.  

 

Last year's dinner attendees

 


From MCDOA member Phil Ireland DSC:

 

"Hi Rob,  

 

I will be visiting my daughter in Hong Kong (protests, Hong Kong and Chinese Governments allowing!) at the time of this year's dinner and must send my apologies.  Have a great day and evening.  

 

Best Regards,  

 

Phil"

 


From MCDOA member Steve Marshall DSC:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

Hope you and the family are well.  

 

Sadly I will not be able to attend this year's dinner as I am currently working in Canada.  Please pass on my apologies.  

 

Best wishes,

 

Steve"

 


From MCDOA member David 'Topsy' Turner in Hawaii:

 

"Rob,

 

Please accept my apologies for the AGM and the dinner once again.  

 

Yvonne and I return to New Zealand on 7 December (Pearl Harbour day) after almost 3.5 years in this wonderful location in the middle of the Pacific.  

 

I’ll submit an update once settled into my new job that been especially crested for me - NZDF Diving Officer.  It’s gonna be a bit like SofD I think.  

 

Topsy"

 


From MCDOA member David Burstall:

 

"Hello Rob,  

 

Thanks for your email and enclosures. 

 

It's fascinating to see how the branch is flourishing.  And how time flies - whilst I did not do the MCD course but qualified as a 'pure' CDO some 15 years before your present 50th anniversary.  I still remember many of the subsequent milestones.  

 

I had forgotten that the late Dennis Selwood was on a conversion course from CDO to MCDO in 1969.  He was my 'winger' out in the Far East when I was the FEFCDO in 1962.  He was a wonderfully wild young man, who was subsequently awarded an OBE for some clandestine operation during the Falklands war.  The story goes that when he attended at Buckingham Palace to receive his gong, the briefing paper handed to Her Majesty had no details of his exploits for 'security reasons'.  HM was a little surprised to have been excluded and so politely enquired of Dennis: 

 

"My instructions on your activities are rather sparse.  Tell me, if you please, were you successful in your endeavours?".   

 

"Yes, Ma'am, thank you," said Dennis.  "If I hadn't been, I don't think I would be here now." 

 

If he wanted to be, he could be a cheeky little so and so, in the nicest possible way, and it mattered not whether his remarks were directed at me, or the C-in-C Far East Feet, or the Number One Boss.  We were all fodder for his cannon.  

 

Oh, I nearly forgot: I regret I will not be able to attend your forthcoming dinner.  But I should like to attend just one more to see how it all feels, before I fall of my perch.  Not long now as I will be 90 next year, so maybe in 2020 or 2021?  I think there are not many of my time left:  Harry Parker from Dunfermline, perhaps, but I am sure you will know who and where.  

 

Regards,

 

David Burstall"

 


From MCDOA member John Grattan OBE:

 

"I would love to be there, Rob, but I have to conserve my energy at my age!!  

 

What about the unveiling at Vernon in March?  I hope we are on the list!  

 

All the best,

 

John"

 


From MCDOA member Alex Bush:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

Thank you for forwarding the invite to the Dinner.  Having been in Naples for the last three years, it's been difficult to get back.  I can't make it this year either as I am in Ecuador but will make every effort for 2020 as I will be based in UK.

 

Hope you are well.

 

All the best,

 

Alex"

 


From MCDOA member Steve Gobey:

 

"Rob,

 

VMT for the reminder.  Sadly it’s MRU for me this year.  A booking for an overseas trip made back in January failed to avoid this important date.  Must do better next year!

 

Best wishes for another successful dinner.

 

Cheers,

 

Steve"

 


From MCDOA member Les Rutherford:

 

"Morning Rob,  

 

Thank you for the reminder.  

 

I will unfortunately miss the gathering again as COS(D) and I are in our winter quarters in Portugal until Feb 2020.  I’m sure the evening will be the success it always is and hope to make next year's dinner to boost the Sapper EOD element by one!  

 

See you at the VM unveiling in March.  

 

REgards,

 

Les"

 


From MCDOA member Charlie Wilson OBE:

 

"Rob,

 

Sorry I can’t make the dinner this year but who knows about 2020.  

 

Aye,  

 

Charlie"

 


From MCDOA member Terry Iles:

 

"Dear Rob,

 

Hope all is well with you. 

 

MRU the Dinner.  We have been over to UK so many times this year and still more trips to do and the cost mounts!  Are you expecting many of our year?

 

Guernsey is a lovely place to be.  Sadly have got my 30’ Europa yacht on the market.  We have had 20 fun years with her but time moves on!  

 

All the best.  

 

Yours aye,

 

Terry"

 


6 Oct 19 - Recent tweets

 

Click on the linked dates to see all associated photos and videos.

 

Royal Navy

 

13 Sep 2019 - HMS Grimsby will be making her way to Humberside this weekend to visit her namesake town.  Find out more here: http://ow.ly/atkf50w8boN

 

 

HMS Bangor (MCM1 Crew 7)

 

2 Oct 2019 - A good day of navigation training for one of my young officers.

 

13 Sep 2019 - It is good to be back.

 

 

13 Sep 2019 - HMS Bangor has arrived in Bangor for a Hometown visit.  Please come and visit your ship over the weekend (Sat 1000-1400 or Sun 1300-1600) to find out more about the Royal Navy and your Crew.

 

6 Sep 2019 - HMS Bangor has arrived in Great Yarmouth for the 2019 Maritime Festival - the ship will be open to visitors on Saturday (1000-1600) and Sunday (1200-1600).

 

HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 2)

 

4 Oct 2019 - The CO and Dive team are at Crofton Hammond Infant School for ‘Red White & Blue Day’ celebrating the work of the Armed Forces and commemorating D-Day 75!

 

 

1 Oct 2019 - Well done to ETME Jake Howells who represented CHIDDINGFOLD at the ‘Mumbles Sprint Triathlon’ in Swansea last weekend completing it in 2hrs 10mins.  Great Effort.

 

27 Sep 2019 -  Welcome home HMS Duncan.  Great to see you back safely.

 

19 Sep 2019 -  Train hard fight easy... CHIDDINGFOLD continues her pre-deployment training by simulating a real fire on board using smoke machines to test the team to their limits!

 

12 Sep 2019 -  HMS CHIDDINGFOLD’s highly skilled Marine Engineers hard at work on the ship’s vital High Pressure Air Compressors.  Every member of the Crew has a key role to play in keeping us at sea.

 

30 Aug 2019 - Great to get some impromptu training with the Coastguard this morning whilst the ship conducts sea training.

 

 

HMS Grimsby (MCM1 Crew 3)

 

22 Sep 2019 - Dolphin Time!  Brightens up any dull day.  Great to be at sea!

 

19 Sep 2019 - Iconic Bridge, amazing evening.  Hope a train doesn’t go over the top as we go under Navs!

 

19 Sep 2019 - Great to see HMS Prince of Wales off the wall and on the move!  The growing return of Carrier Strike...  Best of luck from all in GRIMSBY!

 

13 Sep 2019 - Outbound from London and onwards to Grimsby!  Very excited about returning to our home town after some time, and meeting the good people of Grimsby.  Come down to see us on Sunday and meet your ship and your Navy!

 

 

31 Aug 2019 - Eagerly awaiting this afternoon’s Naval Parade at Terneuzen.  Not long now...

 

30 Aug 2019 - It was a truly an honour to stand today with friends and Allies at Uncle Beach and remember the brave soldiers and sailors who gave their lives to support the liberation of Holland.  A wonderful ceremony that honoured fallen comrades.

 

MarNauTec

 

31 Aug 2019 - Replying to HMS Grimsby.

 

 

HMS Pembroke (MCM1 Crew 5)

 

5 Oct 19

 

 

4 Oct 2019 - And we’re back!  After a long 10 months we’ve emerged from Rosyth and are now back at sea.  First up is a spot of training with FOST to ensure we are safe to conduct our sea trials.

 

19 Sep 2019 - There seems to be a slight drop in the work rate onboard as HMS Prince of Wales prepares to exit the basin.  Just this once the XO is happy to allow it.

 

 

19 Sep 2019 - “Fair winds” to our next door neighbour HMS Prince of Wales as she prepares to set sail for the first time.  The Captain is going to miss waking up to this view.

 

16 Sep 2019 - Promotion day for two of our Young Officers, who today “Ship” their first Stripe and become Sub-Lieutenants.  Time to celebrate in the finest traditions of the service.  And with cake.

 

10 Sep 2019 - Today we practised dealing with a fire in our galley.  Here you can see the support party making their entry from above, climbing down a ladder in heavy kit before advancing on the fire. Hard enough alongside, harder at sea when the deck is moving.

 

10 Sep 2019 - This is part of our training as we prepare to head back to sea, and today’s “crisis” was dealt with in a professional and seamanlike manner.  Importantly, the fire was extinguished in time for scran!

 

8 Sep 2019 - There appears to be a fair bit of speculation around when a certain Royal Navy ship will be sailing from Rosyth.  All we can say is that we intend to depart just as soon as we complete our refit, and we’ll try and let you know when a little nearer the time.

 

30 Aug 2019 - Cap tallies have been worn in the Royal Navy for over 150 years.  Today our junior rates were issued theirs as they moved onboard for the first time.

 

30 Aug 2019 -  Today saw us reach a major milestone as Crew 5 moved onboard after the Captain officially took charge of the ship back from Babcock.  With the Royal Navy's White Ensign now flying, PEMBROKE is coming back to life as we prepare to return back to sea to deliver for the UK.

 

 

MASTT (Maritime Autonomous System Trials Team commanded by MCDOA member Dave Stanbury)

 

4 Oct 2019 - RN MASST take delivery of two Pacific 22’s.  Providing a 32 kt punch and 78nm range, they ensure the safety and security the RN Sweep Demonstrator, while at sea.  The PACs also provide much needed control of the Coil Auxiliary Boats (CABs) at low speed, to prevent their damage.

 

26 Sep 2019 - Good news for the RN Sweep Demonstrator! Despite the autumnal weather and after 3 days of Test and Commissioning of the system, the RN Team move into their 4th day of tests. MASTT, MHC, DSTL and AEUK can now confidently look forward to a 3 week Trial period in October.

 

1 Sep 2019 - MASTT’s 2I/C seen operating the THALES Practis software system.  Data gathered by the TSAM SSS (also pictured) can be viewed both post mission and also ‘in-stride’ enabling high confidence in classification of contacts and optimising operator workload.

 

 

 

1 Sep 2019 - SAAB Multi-Shot Mine Neutralisation System (MuMNS) ROV for MMCM demonstration, witnessed by MASTT at the THALES Turnchapel waterfront facility.

 

29 Aug 2019 -  RN MASTT’s OIC and 2I/C representing the RN, as POC Operators, at THALES VVIP Day, Turnchapel, Plymouth.

 

 


3 Oct 19 - HMS Cattistock deploys to Baltic with NATO

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article announcing the departure of HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew 6) for a deployment in and around the Baltic with Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1).

 

 

(Royal Navy images)

 

 

 


2 Oct 19 - Funeral of Lt Cdr Nigel Davies

 

I am grateful to MCDOA member Peter Waddington for this account of today's funeral of fellow member Nigel Davies (see entry for 16 Sep 19 in News Archive 67):

 

"Dear Rob,

 

I attended Nigel's funeral service in Kirkcudbright this afternoon, and met and conversed with Sue and her three sons.  It was a full and fitting thanksgiving service for Nigel's life, with the eulogy being read by his son Huan, and tributes from Nigel's sister and family friends.

 

The eulogy naturally ranged over the whole of Nigel's life, including his family relationships and many interests.  Coincidentally, on the MCD side of things, Huan quoted extensively from the eulogy given by his father, as mentioned in my earlier email, at Chris Beresford Green's funeral [see entry for 5 Dec 08 in News Archive 24], giving an account, for the uninitiated, of some of the physical and psychological stresses to which Clearance Divers are subjected in training and subsequent operations.  He concluded with the traditional quoting of "five bells" for his father.  

 

The small church was packed literally to overflowing, principally by family and local friends.  As far as I could discern I was the only diver present, apart from the three uniformed ratings from NDG, whom I spotted entering the church before the service.  I had intended to try to contact them and get a photo for you, but unfortunately I was unable to catch up with them, as they departed as soon as the service was over.  I don't of course know if they, between them, took any photographs.  

 

Regards,

 

Peter"

 

I talked with Nigel's wife Sue and daughter Sarah earlier in the week and extended our condolences.  Nigel's three sons (Huan, James and Luke) are all serving officers in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines but are currently home on compassionate leave.

 

I am particularly grateful to MCDOA members Al Nekrews (CO Fleet Diving Squadron) and Chris Stephenson (CO Northern Diving Group) for arranging the presence of three uniformed members of Faslane-based NDG whose attendance will have meant a lot to Nigel's family and demonstrated that our serving community still cares.

 


1 Oct 19 - A dramatic-looking image

 

This photo of a certain Leading Seaman (Diver) was taken by LPhot Kyle Heller on board the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth during a recent damage control exercise.

 

 

 

Postscript: Coincidentally, I bumped into LS(D) 'Dinga' Bell in the car park at Horsea Island on Monday 14 October.

 


 

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