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 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.  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 of the MCDOA website 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 of the MCDOA website).  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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