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 Mar 11


News from HMS Blyth


I am grateful to Sub Lt Martyn Mayger RN, the Navigating Officer of HMS Blyth (MCM1 Crew 1), for this update:


"HMS Blyth has had a very busy first quarter of the year. Not only has she been exercising intensely in and around Scottish waters, she was also called upon to assist with the search for a downed RAF Tornado in the Minches at the end of January.


Following this successful tasking, she made her way south in incredibly rough weather for an official visit to Cork, Ireland for the first weekend of February. The pilotage in to the town was long and tricky, totalling a 14 mile, 2 1/2 hour transit in very confined waters with strong winds and tides. The ship’s company took it in their stride, however, and enjoyed some excellent hospitality from their Irish hosts. It was then down to Plymouth for war games and then to Portsmouth for a weekend visit before heading back home to Faslane at the end of February. 


The ship’s company were then permitted early Easter leave and are now back at work and training hard, striving towards their forthcoming work-up prior to deployment to the Middle East in a few months’ time.”


RN Minehunters join NATO Exercise


The RN website contains this article describing the participation of HMS Pembroke and HMS Middleton, accompanied by RFA Lyme Bay, in the final stages of the month long Exercise INAS BAHR (Friendly Seas) in the Arabian Gulf.  The ships combined with members of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG2).


HMS Pembroke participating in NATO's

Exercise INAS BAHR

(RN website photo)


Diving Dutchmen join Brocklesby in the Mediterranean


The RN website contains this article describing the activities of divers from HMS Brocklesby and HMNLS Haarlem.  Both ships are members of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1), currently deployed in the Mediterranean.  The article features prospective MCDOA member Jace Hutchison RAN (his wife, Jodie, promised me she would persuade him to join us).


Divers from HMS Brocklesby and HNLMS Haarlem

in the Mediterranean

(RN website photo)


The story is also covered on the Navy News website here.


30 Mar 11


HDS Diving Museum update



MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"We are so close to finishing!


We had an excellent day today with Martin and Margaret Marks, Jim Thomson, John Towse, Dougie Saunders, Ann Bevan and our very welcome new supporter - Donne Caswell.


Jim has prepared the Sat diver for his bale out cylinder



John Towse and Ann Bevan have finalised the beach in the Subsea Animation Theatre.




Martin Marks has fixed DVs to the sets in the SCUBA section.  He has also been tweaking the magnificent DV display.



Ann Bevan has installed five full face masks in a display.



The two standard divers with pumps are now rigged.



The RN section has been juggled (again).  Dougie has built 5 super posts/stands for roping off the exhibits.




Next sessions are scheduled for FRIDAY and Saturday, 1 and 2 April.




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.  


End in sight for epic drive by Keith Riches


MCDOA member Keith Riches is due to fly back to the UK tomorrow after completing his epic drive from Bristol to South Africa in his trusty Land Rover 'Stanley'  (see second entry for 28 Feb 11 in News Archive 33).  If you wish to express your congratulations to him in some tangible manner, why not donate to Motivation, his chosen charity, via his JustGiving charity webpage here?


Keith and his co-driver Jane with 'Stanley'


29 Mar 11 - HDS Diving Museum update



MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"We are on the final straight at last!


Over 95% of the exhibits are in place.  We are now assembling the few remaining items which include a civils diver, standard diver, the BSAC scuba diver, an MoD/Drager manikin and tidying up some of the displays. The most recent installation is the spearfisherman.



The dive computer display has been given a perspex cover.


We have taken delivery of the standard diver stand built specially for us by Howard Dykes of Preston.  It came with boots, weights, belt and jock strap from John Smillie.  Assembly is next.


A mermaid has been caught and given a home in the children's corner.


One of the sad modifications we have had to introduce has been the removal of all diving knives on safety and security grounds.  Fortunately, Martin Marks has been making dummy knives to take their place on the various manikins. 


We have had the electrics certified and an alarm system installed.


The Subsea Animation Theatre has been given a typical British sandy beach, complete with sea shells and the occasional amphora!


If you have been able to help in setting up any of the exhibits, it would be helpful if you could now come along and write a few words of wisdom about them, so we can make up the signs etc.  We are starting to look like a real museum!


We had a large display promoting the Diving Museum on the HDS stand at ExCeL Dive Show in London over the weekend and it attracted a lot of attention.


Busy bees have included:


Martin and Margaret Marks

Jim Thomson

John Dadd

Ann Bevan




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.


28 Mar 2011 - Death of Lt Cdr Mark Terrell MBE RN


Ex-CD David Eaton has informed me of the death of ex-CDO Mark Terrell from natural causes on 18 January at the age of 85.  According to the London Gazette, he was appointed an MBE "for gallantry and skill in rendering safe a German mine underwater and in darkness in the West India Dock, London on 26th January 1957".  This is how the event was described on the front page of the June 1957 issue of Navy News.



The late MCDOA associate member, Lt Noel Cashford MBE RNVR, wrote the following passage in his description of Cdr Gordon Gutteridge OBE RNR in 'BANG', one of his books about EOD achievements:


" ...In 1957, a Port of London diver doing a routine below water dock wall inspection discovered an unexploded 'bomb'.  Cdr Gordon Gutteridge, Lt Cdr M. Terrell, Lt C. Heatley, Petty Officer [later Lt Cdr] P. Cobby, Leading Seaman P. Alderton and Able Seaman E. Harris were in Gordon's team sent to the West India Dock.  The 'bomb' was half buried in the mud; it was in fact a magnetic 'G' mine.  It could not be brought to the surface and onto the dock, as it was likely to have a hydrostatic switch that would explode it.  For eight cold hours, officers and other ranks took it in turns to render it safe.  For this dangerous job, Gordon was appointed an OBE, Lt Cdr Terrell and Lt Heatley MBEs.  PO Cobby, Leading Seaman Alderton, Able Seaman Harris received British Empire Medals.  This was the last real life threatening 'job' Gordon did before leaving his beloved Navy..."


Mark's daughter Katherine has published an entry dedicated to her father here on the 'Gone too Soon' website.  It contains several photos and these words:


"Mark Terrell was born in London 15th August 1925, entered the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth in 1939 & served in the Royal Navy principally in submarines & experimental diving.  In this time he was awarded the MBE for mine disposal, and later the VRD.


In 1957 he retired to form and run the diving engineering company Underseas Ltd and during this time, worked on a wide variety of marine engineering projects across the globe, including an early survey of the Cross Channel Power Cable Route in 1960, and many other challenging and innovative projects.  In 1964 he left the company to work as a marine consultant, expanding his interests in science and writing. 


Mark designed and developed a number of devices, (some patented) ranging from breathing apparatus to pipeline laying and burying systems.  His book, 'The Principles of Diving', was published in 1965.  His scientific interests were largely centred on the physiology of respiration, sensory deprivation underwater and decompression sickness.  This led to involvement with a student group in 1988 and an introduction to computing from which his long term study of the human brain and a model for a possible mechanism of consciousness emerged.  His study of this subject spanned two decades and resulted in a number of essays and a privately published book, 'The Resonant Triad'.


Having moved to an island in Greece in the 1980s, Mark returned to UK and moved to the seaside town of Bridlington, a familiar and favourite place.  Mark was in the process of revising and adapting when an accident, followed by worsening progressive illness, prevented further work on this project.  Further information on the book and the project will be released at a future date.


Mark died on Tuesday 18th January 2011 at The Meadows Care Home in Yardley Gobion, Northamptonshire, UK at the age of 85, following a bad fall and progressive illness.  Right up until the day of his accident, Mark continued to keep fit, as he had always counselled others.  He walked everywhere, swam in the sea and did morning press ups, sit ups and stretches. He also retained an enduring curiosity and passion about flora, fauna and the sea throughout his life."


David Eaton, who served with Mark Terrell on the UCWE (Underwater Countermeasures Weapons Establishment) diving team, has emailed Katherine these descriptions of some of the photos she has published on the 'Gone too Soon' memorial website:


"Page 1

'The Trawl' was taken by Mark in Falmouth Bay between dives.  We often carried out this procedure, also line fishing and collecting scallops and crabs from the sea bed and these were cooked on board the M.F.V. by the crew.  The second photo shows me in diving gear with Peter Cobby, a member of the team, and the remainder are crew.  Photo No.5 is C.P.O. Nick Carter (a team member).  The adjacent one is also of Nick with a pot on his head


Page 2

The third and fourth photographs are of Derek Rowe (AB) and the following one is George Robey (LS) and Mac (I am afraid his Christian name escapes me).        


Page 3

Photo No.1 shows the Cornish engineer on board the MFV, also a deck hand.  Photo No.2 shows George Robey on the right with a deck hand in the background and the diver is a deckhand who asked for a dive but once again his name escapes me."


David and ex-CD John Cobb also feature in some of the photos.


Lt Cdr Mark Terrell MBE RN

(15 Aug 1925 - 18 Jan 2011)


We extend our deep condolences to Katherine and her family on their loss.


26 Mar 11 - SDU2 disposes of mortar bombs exposed by 'supermoon' low tides


The BBC News website contains this article describing yesterday's disposal by Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) of dozens of mortar bombs exposed on the beach at Calshot near Southampton by exceptionally low tides.  The article features MCDOA member Al Nekrews (OIC SDU2) who I heard being interviewed by Solent Radio in situ yesterday morning.  The Daily Mail contains this article covering the same story.


SDU2 vehicle at Calshot

(Daily Mail photo) 


25 Mar 11 - Latest Operational Honours and Awards


Congratulations to MCDOA member Lt Cdr Ian Berry RD RNR on being appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) and to PO(D) Simon Spencer on being awarded the Queen's Commendation for Bravery (QCB) in the list of Operational Honours and Awards released by the Ministry of Defence today. 


According to the citations in the London Gazette, Ian Berry was appointed an MBE "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Afghanistan during the period 1st April 2010 to 30th September 2010"PO(D) Spencer was awarded the QCB "for bravery in recovering eighty-four SIP [Self-Igniting Phosphorous] grenades individually for disposal, without causing an explosion, and saving innocent civilians from serious injury on 30th June 2010."


24 Mar 11


More RN Divers deploy to Afghanistan


Today's Portsmouth News contains this article describing the deployment of PO(D) Gareth Buffrey and LS(D) Simon Day of Fleet Diving Unit 2 to Afghanistan for EOD and IEDD duties.  The same story is covered by the MoD website here, the British Forces News website here and the Wales Online website here.


PO(D) Gareth Buffrey and LS(D) Simon Day

(Portsmouth News photo)


Come back safely, chaps.


HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"If you blinked, you missed something happening in the Museum on Wednesday!


Martin Marks, Hazel Casey and Ann Bevan have almost finished sorting the regulator display and it's looking the business!



The Subsea 7 saturation diver kits arrived safely from Aberdeen and two manikins have been rigged by John Millerchip, Jim Thomson and Ann Bevan.  Special thanks go to Mike O'Meara for arranging this very significant exhibit.



Brace yourself!  It's not a pretty sight and there could be ramifications.  If there is a rational explanation for the explicit photo below, our legal team would be grateful for your co-operation. 



It all seemed so innocent to start with.


The Museum electrics are in the process of being upgraded for certification and a burglar alarm is half-installed.  This should be completed tomorrow.  Ray Mabbs has been especially helpful here.


John Dadd made a quality control visit along with his RN diver nephew.  The large perspex cover for the computer display has arrived and should be installed tomorrow  (Thursday) when we will have another day's work and the electrics and alarms should be completed. 




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.


23 Mar 11


HMS Hurworth has 'Blue Day'


The Portsmouth News contains this article describing how members of the ship's company of HMS Hurworth are donning a different shade of blue on 6 May to raise money for the Tom Prince Cancer Trust.


HMS Hurworth's football team from left: LET(ME) Phillip Rice,

AB(MW) Max Bumford, AB(MW) Will Clayton, AB(MW) James O'Doud,

ET(ME) Lawrence Drysdale and AB(MW) Paul Crane

(Portsmouth News photo)


Navy News items


The March issue of Navy News contains these items of particular MCDOA interest:

22 Mar 11 - New contract awarded for MCMV training simulator support


The Portsmouth News contains this article describing the award of a new contract to BAe Systems to support the Sandown and Hunt Class MCMV Command & Operator Trainers (COTs) at HMS Collingwood.


21 Mar 11 - News from HMS Penzance


I am grateful to Lt Bridget McNae, the Navigating Officer of HMS Penzance, for this update:


"After a busy support period during January and February HMS PENZANCE sailed out from Faslane heading south to conduct Maritime Security Operations.  This was the first time HMS PENZANCE had been at sea this year and, with a few new faces on board, the transit and operation gave those members and the rest of HMS PENZANCE’s ship’s company the chance to integrate and work together.  


After a demanding two weeks at sea HMS PENZANCE had a brief operational support period in Ipswich.  This also gave one of HMS PENZANCE’s affiliates, Kimbolton School CCF the chance to visit the ship.  With over five hundred miles between Cambridge and Faslane, opportunities to meet are rare.  The ship was also visited by a group of Sea Cadets from Walton-on-the-Naze and by members of Ipswich Fire and Rescue Service.  


After departing Ipswich HMS PENZANCE headed towards the south coast and continued with training the ship’s company before once again transiting north back to base port at Faslane.  This included a gunnery shoot in the exercise areas off Plymouth in order to qualify key personnel.  


The passage back to Faslane also marks the last period at sea for HMS PENZANCE’s current Commanding Officer, Lt Cdr Steve Brown who has said of his 18 months in command:  


"I have been very lucky to have command of such high quality men and women who have such professional pride, fighting spirit and a sense of fun.  Being Captain of one of Her Majesty's Ships is an equal honour and a fantastic experience I shall never forget.“


At the beginning of April, Lt Cdr Tony Williams will assume command of HMS PENZANCE and MCM1 Crew 6 while PENZANCE is in base port once again preparing the ship and training her crew in order to conduct further Maritime Security Operations.  After this the ship’s company is looking forward to the opportunity to take part in some Adventurous Training in Bavaria.  


During the later stages of 2011, the ship will undergo an intense work-up period and Pre-Deployment Training package.  This will prepare the ship’s company fully for the MCM Operations in the Middle East where they will return in December.


Steve Brown, the outgoing Commanding Officer, is an MCDOA member and we wish him good fortune wherever he goes next.


20 Mar 11 - HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"The pace is picking up!


Saturday included an exhausting attack on the gorse shrubbery in blazing sunshine!  Nigel Phillips was the key player with his chain saw and jungle clearing kit.  It was a good turnout including:


John Millerchip (vent cover constructor/fitter)

Martin and Margaret Marks (regulator displaypersons)

Mike Bran

John Dadd

Ann Bevan

Jim Thomson

John Towse

Shirley Greenwood

Not to mention about 20 divers from Southsea Sub Aqua Club headed by DO Martin Davis and Duke of Edinburgh Award-winning Alison Mayor.


Sunday was another beautiful day and major works in progress.  Phill Jackson joined in after his visit yesterday.  John Dadd, Martin Marks and Ann Bevan all piled in.


Ann Bevan's display of diving masks has been installed next to the BSAC diver.



Ann also rigged a vertical display of diving depth gauges next to the computers and has been slapping the white paint on the cupboards.




One of the camera cupboards is coming together, now the paint is dry.



Martin is building the regulator display.




The second standard diver exhibit is growing and awaiting its stand build by Howard Dykes in Preston.



We were visited by Robert Hind, a freelance film cameraman who filmed around the museum. When he has finished his editing, he is willing for us to use his film on our web site.


Ann Bevan will be down the Museum most days this week.  Wednesday 23rd will be a definite day, as well as Saturday and Sunday, 26/27 March.


We expect the saturation diving kit to arrive soon, so that will mean two more manikins to dress up.




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.


19 Mar 11 -  Unidentified Clearance Divers


Please see the postscript I have added to the first entry for 21 Feb 11 in News Archive 33. 


18 Mar 11 - Prince Harry presents medals to MCMV personnel


The Portsmouth News contains this article describing today's presentation of TELIC (Iraq) Operational Service Medals to the returning ships' companies of HMS Grimsby, HMS Middleton and HMS Shoreham, as well as the deployed Mine Warfare Battle Staff, by Prince Harry (Commodore-in-Chief Small Ships & Diving).



Left: Prince Harry presents medals to MCMV sailors

Right: Prince Harry chats to MCDOA members Dave Bence (MCM1) and Mark Durkin (Capt MFP)

(Navy News photos)


Postscript: Navy News has covered the visit here and the Daily Mail has covered the visit here.  Scroll down the article for some good photos of the Prince with MCMV personnel.


17 Mar 11 - HMS Shoreham to be granted Freedom of the Town


The Navy News website contains this article and The Shoreham Port website contains this article announcing that HMS Shoreham is to be granted the Freedom of the Town of Shoreham this weekend.


HMS Shoreham

(Navy News photo) 


16 Mar 11 - HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"Today was like Piccadilly Circus in the museum!  Thanks to help from Tony Marshall, BSAC, we have just received the first installment of the state-of-the-art recreational diver in the shape of the wet-suited manikin.



Ray Mabbs and Barry Jackson came and plumbed in the electrics for the Subsea Animation Theatre.



Ann Bevan has finished painting the glass cabinets and the cameras have been provisionally installed.



Bob Campbell has spent the day with Martin and Margaret Marks categorising/selecting the regulators for display.  Bob also brought all the way from Swanage several dry suits and a batch of his own regulators to augment the HDS collection.




Gary Wallace-Potter arrived from an errand to pick up our second pump from Devon as well as a 6-bolt kindly lent by Trinity Marine.  All hands were lent to hump the pump into the sump including Dougie (IoW), John Millerchip and Jim Thomson.




Meanwhile, Kevin Casey has been measuring up for the planning permission applications.



Dougie Saunders cycled from the IoW carrying a 12ft section of plastic pipe that looked suspiciously like a rocket launcher!  Questions were asked on the ferry.  More later.


John Towse popped in to assess the requirements for his beach in the Subsea Animation Theatre.


In the RN section, the Sladen/Clammy Death suit is nearly ready. Note the authentic position adopted to signal "I knew I should have gone before I got into this thing!".




Similarly the ships crests display is nearly complete.



Mike O'Meara has sent us news that the Subsea 7 saturation diving equipment should arrive early next week.


We are on schedule for getting all of the exhibits installed by the end of March which gives us time to get all the signage sorted for the opening on Saturday, 30 April.


We are being visited by Southsea Sub Aqua Club on Saturday, 19th.  The donation box will be awaiting them.  Thanks, by the way for the recent infusion of paper money into the box from Barry Jackson and John Millerchip.


Rob Hind is visiting on Sunday to assess filming options."


If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved. 


14 Mar 11 - HDS Diving Museum update: Addendum


John Bevan has sent this mini-update today:


"Here is the newly-commissioned Subsea Theatre!



Thanks to Margaret Marks' brilliant U/W DVD and her ingenuity in getting the projection arrangements set up, we can now offer the kids a sense of looking out at underwater activities.  I kept on clearing my ears as I watched it!




13 Mar 11


HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"I copy [fellow MCDOA associate member] Gavin Anthony’s email for info.  Gavin has also kindly lent us some more camera kit.  We are working our way north along the museum. 




An extra glass case has been kindly supplied by Gavin and Ann Bevan have been painting them white to improve their visibility.


John Dadd and Jim Thomson worked up the Clammy Death diver in the RN section with a hood/helmet made from Jim’s dressing gown! 


The dive computer display has been cherry-picked as you can see and moved to a different wall.



The Subsea Animation Theatre is nearly complete.  Dougie Saunders (IoW) and Martin Marks lent a hand with building the porthole mounting board.


This coming Wednesday is a big day with another standard diver pump arriving (hands needed again!).  Also Bob Campbell will be sorting out the regulator display.  The BSAC diver and Subsea 7 divers are also expected any day now.


In the background, Kevin Casey is ploughing ahead with the paperwork in getting planning permission for the various bits that need it.  The Head of Conservation of GBC is paying us a visit tomorrow (Monday).


John B


 ------ Forwarded Message  ------


From: Gavin Anthony

Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2011 19:13:45 -0000

To: Ann Bevan

Subject: Museum




Unfortunately glass cutting this afternoon was unsuccessful so will need to consider a Plan “B” for the Computer cabinet.   Sorted the camera equipment into two displays: 


Video and UW Camera Cabinet display

Nikonos system Cabinet display


When the cabinets are ready can put the equipment in, which will require a series of wooded blocks/supports.  I will look into getting some tripod screws to try and assist.  


Brought along the following personal camera equipment, which I would like to be “on loan” to the museum: 


Sekonic meter and housing

Nikonos II

Nikonos bulb flash in case

Nikonos 35 mm close up lens frame

Ikelite underwater mateable flash system and flashgun

Nikonos IV Green

Sunpack Marine 32 Flashgun and light

Viz Master wide angle lens – viewfinder

Sea and sea screw on wide angle lens and viewfinder






------ End of Forwarded Message ------


If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.


RN EOD Heritage: Death of Captain Richard Franz USNR


I received this message from Doug Franz of Pensacola on Thursday:


"Dear Mr Hoole,


Our family has recently been contacted by Dr Geoff Mason from England with regard to our recently deceased patricarch, Richard J Franz.  Dr Mason had a photo of eight people, both USN and RN, walking on Corton Beach, Suffolk, England.  The first person in line was marked R J Franz and is indeed my father-in-law. 


Naval Bomb and Mine Disposal personnel pulling on a rope

on a beach near Lowestoft in Suffolk

(Australian War Memorial photo)


[By webmaster: Dr Geoff Mason (see below) believes the photo to show members of the Enemy Mining Section of HMS Vernon, from right to left: Lt Dick Franz USN, Lt Cdr John 'Mouldy' Mould GC, GM, RANVR, Unidentified Chief Petty Officer, Lt Geoffrey Turner GC, GM, RNVR, Leonard Walden (Temporary Experimental Assistant 2) GM in Home Guard uniform, Unidentified RN rating, Lt Cdr Robert Armitage GC, GM, RNVR, Unidentified RASC driver and Lt Cdr Leonard (Leon) Verdi Goldsworthy GC, DSC, GM, RANVR.]


Dick passed away on 6 February 2011 and I have attached a copy of his obituary.  Along with the obituary is a picture of Dick in uniform on a leave at home and a picture of a recycled mine from WWII.



Left: Dick Franz as a Lt USN

Right: Fireplace made from recycled naval mine


While you are sorting out your many pictures from Gilbert Stubbs, perhaps you could forward pictures of my father-in-law to me.  I will share them with my mother-in-law, Jeanne Franz and my husband, John Douglas Franz.  I wish Dick were here to help identify some of the fellows in the pictures.  His mind was sharp throughout his illness and he would have assisted identifying his friends.


Warm regards from Florida,


Kathy and Doug Franz"


Here is the obituary Kathy and Doug provided:


Captain Richard J Franz III USNR

(1919 - 2011)


Richard John "Dick" Franz III, 91, died February 6, 2011.


Mr. Franz was born September 8, 1919 at Newark, NJ, the first child of Richard J. Franz, Jr. and Hazel I. (Smith) Franz.  He grew up in Massachusetts and attended schools in Medford and Melrose, MA.  In 1939 he received a BS in Chemical Engineering from Tufts University then attended Harvard Law School for one year.  In 1940 he joined the US Naval Reserve and was on active duty during WWII where he served two tours of duty in the European Theater.  Dick qualified as a Mine Disposal Officer and Deep-Sea (Hard hat) diver and was part of the technical investigation of German military and civilian personnel.  He remained in the US Naval Reserve, later retiring as Captain.


Dick was employed in 1946 by the American Cyanamid Co. as an engineer and worked at locations in Bound Brook, NJ and Pace, FL, in a variety of engineering and management positions.  After retirement from Cyanamid in 1984 he was a consultant on the design of a major acrylic fiber manufacturing facility in China.  He was a 50-year member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.


Dick enjoyed golf, sailing, reading, choral singing and puzzle-solving. He was a member, Sunday School teacher, Deacon and Elder of Trinity Presbyterian Church. He served as Chairman of the Church Building Council during the building of the church's Sanctuary. He was a member of the US Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Association, a volunteer tutor at Pensacola State College, a director emeritus of United Cerebral Palsy of NW FL, Past President of UCP of FL and a Director of UCP NW FL Foundation.


He is survived by his wife, Muriel Jeanne Uden Franz, a son, John Douglas (Kathleen) Franz, and a daughter, Marcia Baker, both of Pensacola. He is also survived by his sister Laura (Richard) Eagan, Plymouth, MA and sister-in-law Joan Franz, wife of his late brother, Robert K. Franz, Hamburg, ME and several nieces and nephews.


A memorial service will be held at Trinity Presbyterian Church on Friday, February 11, 2011 at 11:30AM. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to United Cerebral Palsy of NW FL, 2912 N. "E" St., Pensacola, FL 32501 or Trinity Presbyterian Church, 3400 Bayou Blvd., Pensacola, FL 32503. HARPER-MORRIS MEMORIAL CHAPEL is in charge of arrangements."


Yesterday, I received this message from Dr Geoff Mason of Loughborough who has been researching Australian naval bomb and mine disposal officers during the Second World War:


"Hi Rob,


I have been checking the picture captions on some of the photographs on the Australian War Memorial website for them.


There is a series of photos from Goldsworthy's estate (see here) which shows an incident defuzing a booby-trapped TA mine on Corton beach in 1942.  An American officer is shown in two pictures and identified (presumably written on the back) in one as 'Franz'.  I could find no trace of him but he died recently and his obituary was published on the web here.  I have been in touch with the family and they have confimed that Dick Franz is the man in the beach photos.


In the second entry for 23 Oct 05 in News Archive 12 of your website, you mention that you have been given the photographs of Lt Cdr Gilbert Ernest Stubbs GM RNVR and that a 'Yank' is mentioned who you think may be Ensign Franz.  The family were pleased to see the Australian photographs of Dick because they were previously unaware of them.  If you can find the time I am sure that they would welcome copies of any more wartime photographs or information about Dick.


You posted some of the photographs asking for identifcation of some of the people and places.  I managed to identify four of the officers in the photograph of the group of five.   In conjunction with commenting on the AWM photographs I have compiled an 'e-scrapbook' of the Corton incident and I attach a copy for your information.  The seventieth anniversary is next year.


Congratulations again on your website.  It is a brilliant resource, even more so when compared to its US equivalent.


Geoff Mason"


I have expressed my deep condolences to Doug and Kathy Franz on behalf of the RN minewarfare and diving community.  I have also assured them that I will take a look through the photos of the late bomb & mine disposal officer, Lt Cdr Gilbert Ernest Stubbs GM RNVR, to see if there are any showing Dick Franz.


12 Mar 11 - HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"We have been refining the RN and Scuba exhibits whilst waiting for delivery of more items. The photos below are from Ann Bevan. The BSAC have also confirmed they will be supplying a state-of-the-art scuba diver manikin shortly.



Left: Position of No. 2 Battery in the defences of Portsmouth and environs

Right: Plan of No. 2 Battery


SCUBA wall display



'Flying Divers'


Diving computers in display case


If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.


11 Mar 11


World War Two RN bomb disposal volunteer fined


MCDOA member Brian Braidwood has drawn my attention to this entertaining article re-printed from the Daily Telegraph of 70 years ago:



Minesweeping operations for D-Day landings


I am grateful to Naval Researcher David Verghese for allowing me to publish his comprehensive article entitled 'Operation Neptune: the Minesweeping Operation June 5-6 1944' in the website's Dit Box.


David would like any specific information about the activities of the Catherine Class (ex-US AUK Class) Fleet Minesweepers between late 1943 and 1945 for a follow-up article he is planning.  If you can help, please email him via this address.


10 Mar 11 - Commander-in-Chief refers to MCM forces as "the jewels in the crown"


Today's Guardian contains this article describing an interview with Admiral Sir Trevor Soar KCB OBE, the Commander-in-Chief Fleet.  It includes these passages referring to our MCM forces in the Gulf:


"...The navy has four mine warfare vessels in the area, and they are prized, especially by the Americans, who have privately made it clear they will not tolerate their decommissioning as part of the MoD's ongoing spending crisis. Though some of them are old – HMS Middleton has been in service for almost 30 years – the ships and their support vessels have special protected status.


"They are the jewels in the crown. We are, as the UK, very dependent on energy trade and energy flow. If the straits (sic) of Hormuz were closed, as they could quite easily be, by even one mine, then we provide a capability to be able to remove the risk...


We can provide reassurance to the Gulf states because there is a nervousness. What we don't want to see is an over-reaction because of a single event. The MCMVs [mine countermeasure vessels] have a unique capability, which I am happy to say is the best in the world. The US will tell you that."


9 Mar 11 - HMS Brocklesby in exercise off Gibraltar


The MOD website contains this article describing the participation of HMS Brocklesby in NOBLE MARINER, a NATO exercise in the vicinity of the Strait of Gibraltar.


AB(D) firing GPMG from HMS Brocklesby's bridge wing

under supervision of a PO(MW)

(MOD website photo)


8 Mar 11


Heavy weather for HMS Brocklesby


The Navy News website contains this article describing the recent activities of the Portsmouth-based minehunter HMS Brocklesby.


HMS Brocklesby ships it green in the Bay of Biscay

(Navy News photo)


News from Tag Caisley


I have received this update from MCDOA member Tag Caisley MBE:


"Hi Rob,


I am devastated to learn of Uncle Bill's passing.  I saw it in the Portsmouth News today. 


Uncle Bill was my boss as DSofD with Cdr Carr when I had the EDU [Experimental Diving Unit] at HMS Vernon in 1961.  He and Eileen were great stalwarts of the Divers' Skittles PU at the Nuffield United Service Officers' Club (NUSOC) at Burnaby Road [now part of Portsmouth University] in the old days, together with Jackie Warner, Arthur Checksfield, Stewart Honour, Pete Messervy, Philip White plus others.  Being the junior, I always had to hold the kitty and get the beer in (gin for the girls or possibly horses' necks if I remember).  I will never forget that disgusting pipe of his!! 


Enid and I were on holiday last year when we bumped into a lady who it transpired was Uncle Bill's secretary at RNPL!!  Small world.  As I get older I seem to be remembering more of the long past than I do of the recent past.  Where did I put my glasses?  [Join the club!] 


The news about Uncle Bill made me get onto the website only to discover that I am way out of date with the news.  I did not even know that the subs had increased and I will send a cheque forthwith...


Going through the postings on the website I have a few comments.  


Re Taff Sweeney's exchange officer's list: Although I was not in a diving appointment, I did have an exchange job as the OiC of the RAN NBC Defence Section of the NBCD School at HMAS PENGUIN in Sydney from 1962-64.  I kept up my minutes with Keith Jenkins at HMAS Rushcutter in their very lucrative tasks of scrubbing the bottoms of plush yachts and swimming pools at Rose Bay!!  


I also did the radiological survey of the ground zeros in the Monte Bello Island off Broome but the authorities would not let me dive on the remains of HMS PLYM!!  I think they thought I might 'salvage' a few bits.  As if any RN CDO would do such a thing!!


One last thing.  On the photograph in the archives of HMS LIVERPOOL'S 1951 rugby team with myself and Dougie Barlow I am stated to be a PO.  However, I was just a scabby AB.




Tag Caisley"


I have corrected the caption to the image in the Photo Gallery.  This is the picture in question:


HMS Liverpool Ship's Rugby Team 1951

PO (later Lt Cdr) Doug Barlow (seated last in middle row)

with AB (later Lt Cdr) Tag Caisley (first in front row) 


7 Mar 11


Another obituary for 'Uncle Bill'


I am extremely grateful to Mike Powell, Defence Correspondent of the Portsmouth News, for agreeing to write this obituary for MCDOA member Lt Cdr Bill Filer MBE GM RN published in today's paper.


Appeal for photos of old-type SABA and SDDE


I have received this appeal from ex-LS(D) Steve Goble in Australia:


"Hi Rob,


I’m putting together a presentation about Military and Commercial Diving Techniques of the 1970s and 80s and their relevance to modern recreational technical diving for the South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society’s Annual Scientific Meeting in Guam in May.  To that end I’m busily trying to track down photos of old RN diving equipment.  Mick O’Leary & Tony Groom have been a great help but I’m really short of photos of 1970s SDDE and SABA, either in use, on a mannequin or out of a manual would be good.  If you know of anyone who has a good shot of the Fleet or Sat teams undertaking 75msw surface supplied diving from three inflatables, I would be eternally grateful. 


It’s times like these I wish that I’d been more interested in photography!


Kindest Regards,


Steve Goble


Head Hyperbaric Technical Officer

Hyperbaric Medicine Unit

Royal Adelaide Hospital" 


If anyone can help Steve in his quest for photos of old-style SABA and SDDE, please email him using this address.  I've sent him this one for starters:


See here for background


Follow-up from Steve Goble:


"Hi Rob,


Thanks for the photos and for posting my message.  It has garnered instant results with more photos from Tony Groom and some from Pete Jenner.  He sent me this photo of the Sat team in 1979.  I’m far left middle row standing behind Brian Hutchinson (he was instructor on my basics course!).  However, on the ground at the front are two of the Windak air hats and far left looks like an Aquadyne air helmet - another one that never really took off.


RN Saturation Diving Team 1979


One thing about the Fleet & Sat teams is that we got to play with (evaluate!) all sorts of interesting stuff!   Thanks for the invite to the RN CD website.  I’ve joined up and had a good look through the photo galleries.  Makes me feel old.  


Currently no rats, the plague locusts have been and gone (gave the dogs something to chase for a couple of weeks) and now it’s raining.  SA missed the flooding earlier but it looks like we’re getting it now!


All the best,




6 Mar 11 - HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"A good turnout today and lots of activity to report.  Martin Marks' Recreational Scuba Diving exhibit has had a restructuring to give prominence to the Cousteau/Mountbatten and Jimmy Hodges aqualungs.  The dive computer display has be moved to the side.


The RN exhibit has been changed around with Jim Thomson's assistance, the ships crests resited and a Russian corner established.  Dougie (IoW) has built a special bracket to support the SDDE diver which is now resited.  This has established a "Comms Corner" and we plan to provide a kids' comms system to talk via DUCS bone conductors.  The HMS Diver bell has had a polish and now greets visitors at the entrance.  We have been working up a Sladen Suit exhibit which was recently donated by Pop Yarrow.


The Standard Diver has been given more prominence and teamed up with his pump.



The Subsea Animation Theatre has been fitted with its porthole and Margaret Marks has provided a test DVD which we successfully projected today.  A bit of boxing in, and it's ready for action.



Kevin and Hazel Casey were back again to offer a helping hand.


We were particularly popular with the public with many visitors showing curiosity about our progress. Our next sessions are Wednesday (9th) and Saturday and Sunday (12 & 13th).




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.


5 Mar 11


HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"It's been a busy day down at Ye Olde Diving Museum.  We launched our second flying diver - this time a scuba diver.  Thanks to a fabulous paper mache air cylinder by Margaret Marks, we didn't need a crane, but only Martin and Margaret Marks, Kevin and Hazel Casey and Ann Bevan to wrestle the diver into place.




The RN exhibits have been shuffled, the tables painted battleship grey and the White Ensign run up, Jim Thomson and John Dadd on duty.



HMS Diver's ship's bell has been suspended as a centre-piece near the entrance and Jim Thomson has provided a bell rope which needed a swift short-back-and-sides and the fishes removed (don't ask).




The Siebe Gorman pump has been planted in its corner. 



The Subsea Animation Theatre porthole has been half-completed. Watch this space.  The Recreational Scuba exhibit is being re-arranged to give prominence to the Cousteau and Jimmy Hodges diving sets.  More later.


Pop Yarrow came down from Hertfordshire and delivered a Sladen Suit he is generously donating.  Doug McElvogue (diving archaeologist) called by to discuss his work on salvaging the HMS Boyne cannon for the Diving Museum.


Tomorrow (Sunday), thanks to popular demand, we expect a repeat guest star appearance by Dougie from the IoW.




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.


HMS Vernon heritage


I am indebted to Ben Colomb for sending me this remarkable photo showing a visit by King Edward VIII to HMS Vernon on 30 June 1936.  He had only reigned since January and was to abdicate the throne on 11 December of the same year to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson and subsequently become the Duke of Windsor. 



Divisions are lined up on the old playing field and the front of the Administration Building (now the Old Customs House pub in Gunwharf Quays) can be seen in the top right corner of the picture.  Much later, the same playing field became the venue for many Vernon Searchlight Tattoos, the last of which was held in 1984.



Ben's grandfather, Cdr Philip Colomb RN, served at HMS Vernon from 1935 to 1938 and his significant contributions, both to HMS Vernon and to the Royal Navy, are described in the second entry for 26 Apr 06 in News Archive 14.  They make fascinating reading.


As the result of the abdication of King Edward VIII, his younger brother Albert (Bertie) reluctantly ascended the throne and was crowned King George VI on 12 May 1937 as dramatised in this year's Oscar-winning film 'The King's Speech'.  King George VI visited HMS Vernon on 19 December 1939 to decorate Cdr John Ouvry DSO RN, among others, for their work in rendering mines safe.  These were the first RN decorations of the war.


King George VI at HMS Vernon with

Ouvry and the German magnetic mine

he rendered safe at Shoeburyness  


4 Mar 11 - HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"56 days (8 weekends) to O-Day.


Last Wednesday was another special day with the arrival of the Siebe Gorman hand pump from London.  Peter Wingett and Gary Wallace-Potter provided the transport and many willing hands helped hump it into the Museum.  Apart from Peter and Garry, the willing hands belonged to Dougie Saunders (IoW), John Towse, Jim Thomson, Dick Millerchip, Kevin Casey, John Millerchip and Ann Bevan.


Progress has been made building the projector housing and 'porthole' for the Subsea Animation Theatre. The inflatable 'diver' has been successfully plumbed in by Dougie Saunders (IoW) and the occasional popping off of his head (a bit like a cannon ball!) is proving to be quite entertaining.


The standard diver has been fitted with a 6-bolt helmet and is now looking more the part.  But we could do with more standard helmets.


More CDBA parts arrived courtesy of Soapy Watson to complete one of the exhibits.  There should be another leap forward this weekend when I hope to have some more photos for you.




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.


3 Mar 11 - Death of Chris Hales, Editor of Ton Talk


Chris Hales


Fellow members of the Ton Class Association (TCA) will be particularly saddened to hear that Chris Hales crossed the bar on the evening of 12 February at the age of 70.  He had just arranged his summer holiday on a canal boat, had a celebratory drink with a friend in a pub and then fell asleep in a taxi while they were en route to a curry house.  He could not be woken.


Chris was a survivor of the HMS Fittleton disaster which saw this Sussex RNR Division Ton Class minesweeper capsize with the loss of 12 lives after colliding with the frigate HMS Mermaid during a RAS in the North Sea on 20 September 1976.  For the past few years, he was the Editor of the TCA's enviable bi-monthly magazine 'Ton Talk'.  He and his sidekick Barry Barnes, the TCA's 'postman', not only guaranteed the production and delivery of a first class magazine for TCA members but also ensured that each MCMV on the Bridge Card was provided with two copies.  As the author of the regular 'MCMV News' column, I found Chris among the most affable people with whom I have ever had the pleasure to work.  It was a privilege to know him and I will sorely miss our regular chats.


Chris's sister, Mrs Philippa Wood, has confirmed that his funeral will be held at Vale Crematorium, Stopsley, Luton LU2 8DD at 1430 on Thursday 10 March.  Flowers from family only; donations to the Royal British Legion or to Railway Children, a charity which Chris supported.  A buffet reception will be held after the funeral at a pub in Ickleford, about ten miles to the north east, beyond Hitchin.  To assist with estimates for catering, prospective attendees are requested to email Peter Down, the TCA's Honorary Secretary, as soon as possible.


I am sure that all members of the RN minewarfare & diving community will join me in extending our sincere condolences to Chris's family and close friends.


TCA members Bob Dean and Chris Hales

all at sea on board HMS Cattistock

in July last year


2 Mar 11 - More on last Friday's MCDOA Northern Dinner


From MCDOA past-Chairman Paul Jones:


“Can I add to Cdr Phil Ireland’s earlier piece on the Northern MCDOA Dinner last Friday (see third entry for 28 Feb 11).  Well worth the journey up from Portsmouth – brilliantly advertised and organised by Lt Cdr Bob Hawkins MBE (including late bar, piper, perfect guest speaker and ship’s badge presentations) and I was extremely pleased to see a fantastic turnout from the ships (I cannot recall the last time I saw a midshipman at such an event.. and we had a least three on Friday!).  It was a great introduction to the Association to the recently qualified MCDOs, an opportunity to renew friendships between serving and retired members and a useful exposure to those junior officers seeking a fun career.


I would also like to thank Cdr Ian Riches OBE who, as the Wardroom Mess President, made it quite clear that he sees NEPTUNE as much the divers and minehunters’ domain as the submariners.  A super night, lots of fun and I was another night bar victim that crawled into bed after 4 am!”



Left: Bob Hawkins (plus two sons), Paul Jones and Sean O’Reilly preparing for the evening ahead

Right: Bob “the Old Dog” Hawkins with a worried looking Ian Riches



Left: Sean O’Reilly (Guest Speaker) in full dit mode

Right: Following day - Six Nations Rugby recovery mode – Jonesy (representing Wales),

Hawkins (representing England) and O’Reilly (representing... er... France?)  


From MCDOA member Bob Hawkins MBE:


"Ladies and Gentlemen,


For those of you that were there I hope you’ll agree that last Friday’s Northern MCD Officers Association Dinner was a resounding success.  I hope also that it served splendidly as the headline event for the MFP Community based in Faslane, as envisaged by Cdr MCM1 and myself.  I said it on the night and I’ll reiterate here my thanks to the WR Mess Manager, Mr John Clancy and his staff; to my fellow committee members, Lt Cdr Kev Stockton and Lt Charlie Wheen; not forgetting Lt Cdr Ewan Wharrie who was quite splendid on the pipes.  Thanks also to the Mess President, Cdr Ian Riches OBE, for giving his permission for the dinner to be staged in the Wardroom, HMS NEPTUNE, and to the WR Mess Committee for approving the sponsorship of the dinner.  Finally, I think you’ll agree that Cdr Sean O’Reilly was a real hoot as our Guest of Honour – thanks Sean.  


Next year’s Northern Dinner is already in the diary: Friday 24th February 2012 – please put it in yours.  The ad-hoc committee will once again canvass the WRMC, NEPTUNE to vote in favour of official sponsorship of the event under the super-mess contract with Babcock.  


In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with your advance registration to attend next year’s dinner, noting that I’ll send out a calling notice in the Autumn of this year.




Bob Hawkins"


1 Mar 11 - A message from the family of 'Uncle Bill' Filer


Lt Cdr W.B. Filer MBE GM RN


‘Uncle Bill’


"Bill would have been quite shocked to see the number of people who came to celebrate his life, the turnout at Portchester Crem was quite outstanding.  As many of you know Bill was a modest man who liked good company and friends around him and we certainly had a taste of the camaraderie and affection he was held in on that occasion.


We were quite overwhelmed by the number of people who have sent messages and reminiscences about their friendship and working experiences with him, we will treasure them almost as much as we did the man himself, they were the substance of what made Bill, Uncle Bill, Father, Father-in-Law and all round mate.


In going through some of Bill’s papers we found a wealth of Diving information both Bill’s and other technical information, this together with a number of pieces of diving memorabilia we have loaned to the Historical Diving Museum at No 2 Battery in Stokes Bay.


We would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has written & all those who made such an effort on a cold February day to celebrate Bill’s life & raise a glass with him, as he is demonstrating in the photo above, taken at his 90th Birthday party.


The picture below is one we found in his desk, of Bill himself aged about 8 years at Watts Navy School – he even had a cheeky grin in those days!  



From all of the Filer family with thanks for your kindness and support over the recent weeks since this bright light went out of our lives.


As a long held query - is there anyone out there who knows why he was known as 'Uncle Bill'?


All best wishes,


Richard and Jennifer Filer"


28 Feb 11


Anyone for a group visit to Menorca?


I have received the following proposal from Mike Critchley (not the MCD but the founding proprietor of Maritime Books and recent author of Britannia to Beira and Beyond):


"Dear Rob,


I trust my days as a naval book publisher may be coming to an end – or at least I will working far less hours at it.  As an Equitable Life 'would-be pensioner' I have, it seems, to work til I am 84......


I have taken a number of groups of our customers away on various foreign trips where there is some form of naval interest to view: Canada in 2010 – Russia in 2009.  I enjoy them and they put a few shillings in the bank too – so am looking to expand it a bit all the time I am fit and healthy.  I don’t know if you offer your MCD members an annual 'jaunt' but the following may spark a few ideas?


After a recent visit to Menorca I discovered the beautiful harbour of Mahon and the friendly Spanish CO of their tiny naval base at the waters edge (The base in a prime position and is only just alive having been massively reduced to some 30 people).  He has converted the wardroom into a Spanish Navy officers R & R retreat (4-Star standard, all rooms en-suite, etc) but his Navy Officers only use it from 15th June to 15th September each year (a period too hot for Brits anyway?).  He has it staffed 365 days a year so is keen for it to be used more as you can imagine.  We have done a deal whereby I can offer any RN or ex-RN officers a very cheap holiday (B&B only for the moment ) in a gem of a place.  There are flights out from many regional airports which makes it more attractive of course.  There are 25 rooms – plus Bar...TV lounge.... breakfast bar... patio, etc, etc.


I have a lot more research to do with him but, if I do put something together, would it be worth exploring an annual jaunt for your people and their wives?  I don’t mind doing the leg work to make it happen (I would probably go and live out there for a month anyway) but would need your help to “get the word round” if it sounds attractive.  As you can see from google there are a million things to do locally – or just sit and chill.  Perhaps you could give it some thought and get back to me at some stage.  I would be offering a twin/double room at about £40-45 (it depends on the state of the Euro) per night including B&B.  Then add in any extras required like Airport hire....


I would suggest it is easiest for your people to fix their own flights to Menorca (there are so many different start points).  We would run any jaunt from Wednesday to Wednesday when flights are cheaper than at weekends.  I’ll be taking a group of our readers out in September/October but you may want to consider an MCD officers jaunt before the 15th June or after 15th September.  You can see all the details of Mahon / Menorca on the web –and also see what a bargain we could offer your people.  We can fix a history tour to the naval and military areas of the island –or the gin factory opposite the base for those less historically aware.  I did a superb flight round the island in a light aircraft for an hour too - £50 I seem to remember! (A lady – ex-RAF pilot – very good too!)


The base by the way is a small low level white painted group of buildings – nothing like Portsmouth dockyard!!  The “hotel” overlooks the smart yachts of the super rich on the other side of the harbour.  It has plenty of space for a Bar BQ and G&T.  Google maps tells all.  It would be interesting to hear any initial views you may have.  It may not be appropriate or clash with something you have already arranged.  No problem!




Mike Critchley"


If any members of the RN minewarfare & diving community fancy a week in the sun outside the period 15 June to 15 September, if only to swing the lamp some more, please email me via my webmaster address by the Hon Sec by 17 April 2011 so we can judge whether there is sufficient interest to book a week away for our members and their wives.


Keith Riches and his epic drive to South Africa


MCDOA member Keith Riches has reached Malawi on his journey from Bristol to South Africa and I have updated the narrative appended to the second entry for 18 Jan 11 in News Archive 33.  Please consider giving him your moral support by donating to Motivation, his sponsored charity, via his JustGiving webpage here.


Last Friday's MCDOA Northern Dinner


MCDOA member Phil Ireland (Commander Sea Training FOST(MPV)) has kindly sent me this message and photo concerning the MCDOA Northern Dinner held last Friday at Faslane (see second entry for 22 Feb 11):




I imagine you will be in receipt of quite a few photos from the MCDOA(N) dinner on Friday, which was a fantastic event for which Bob Hawkins and his supporting team deserve huge praise.  Sean O’Reilly was an inspired choice of guest speaker who had has falling off our chairs and set the tone for a late one.  I was well impressed by ‘Uncle’ Alan Bayliss’ ability to stay the course – he was still ditting on in the Night Bar at 0400 when my gyro stab amber caption started to flicker red.  Respect!


The photo below was taken to mark HMS BROCKLESBY’s TELIC 1 team being together: Matt Offord (XO, now FOSNNI SMCDO), Phil Ireland (CO, now CST FOST MPV) and Russ Scott (MEO, now SEO FOST MPV).


Kind Regards,




MCDOA members Matt Offord and Phil Ireland with Russ Scott


Does anyone else have photos of this event to share via the website?


27 Feb 11 -  HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"62 days (8 weekends) to O-Day.


We are really shaping up!  Dougie (IoW) came over to the mainland carrying a lady in high heels (and not much more!).  The people on the ferry must be starting to talk by now!  After some expert surgery to remove the heels, Dougie, Kevin and Hazel Casey managed to wrestle her into the Russian diving dress (note "Brin" the Casey guard dog on the right).  With some appropriate padding, we managed to convert her into a 'him' and now we have another dressed manikin.




Further experiments were conducted into inflatable divers and, using a wide bore vacuum cleaner hose, we managed to inflate a survival suit.


Martin and Margaret Marks re-arranged the ABLJ display in the Scuba section and mounted the Jimmy Hodges twin tadpole set.  The regulators have also been placed in the glass cabinet ready for Bob Campbell's expert re-arrangement.



John Dadd worked on re-siting the SDDE diver and the ships' crests display. The "Attack Diver" was given a few authentic accessories.


We managed to dress the seated diver at last, thanks to Stew Sissons' extra large dry suit.



Ray Mabbs repaired an electrical socket which we had managed to break.


I am delighted to report that we were honoured by a visit from Mr Jean-Paul Dimier.  Jean-Paul now lives in Gosport but he is a native of Switzerland.  His diving career goes back many years and diving in the deep Swiss lakes.  He has most generously donated his old set from 1959 which consists of an Aquamatic Cousteau Gagnan regulator, the first two stage single hose regulator and a Gehratz aluminium cylinder.  This came with various accessories.


Next sessions are Wednesday 2nd, and Saturday & Sunday, 5th & 6th.  At around 1330 on on Wednesday 2 March, Peter Wingett and Gary Wallace-Potter will be arriving at the museum with the HDS Siebe Gorman air pump.  This is a heavy item and we will need at least two extra men to help lift and carry the pump into the Museum and down the steps.  Unfortunately (!) I can only be at the Museum in the morning on Wednesday as I have a meeting in London in the afternoon.  So I will miss the event (which is just as well with my back).  Can we please have 2-3 volunteers to help with the hump/lift?


NEWS FLASH!  The "Local Heroes" exhibition opens in the Gosport Gallery on Saturday, 5 March for a month.  This features 20 local people from Gosport and Fareham, including JOHN DEANE, who was co-inventor of the diving helmet and dress.  Entrance is free.




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.


A special appeal from former FCPO(D) John Dadd BEM:




The RN section of the HDS Museum is almost complete.  However, there are two large notice boards that need items for display.  One, I have already started, with 'team and ships' plaques and the other I intend to use for old RN diving pictures (not class photos). 


Would you be kind enough to put the word out on your website that they are needed and would be proudly displayed if appropriate.  Photos can be scanned and sent to me via this email address where, hopefully, I will be able to access them or  material can be brought personally to the museum.  We are normally there most weekends from 1000 through to 1600. 


Alternatively, items can be sent to me at:


62 Gomer Lane



PO12 2QN




26 Feb 11 - SDU2 deals with netted bomb


Today's Portsmouth News contains this article describing a call-out for Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) after a Belgian fishing vessel trawled up a WW II bomb.



25 Feb 11 - SDU1 deals with bomb excavated in Plymouth


MCDOA member John Beavis, CO of the Southern Diving Group (SDG), has kindly drawn my attention to this article on the 'This is Devon' website describing the disposal of a wartime German bomb unearthed by a digger in Plymouth.  The article features MCDOA member Richard Talbot, OIC of Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) and WO1(D) Robin 'Rick' Rickard.


Richard Talbot


Another 'blast from the past'


24 Feb 2011 - Daily Telegraph obituary for Dr Christian 'Chris' Lambertsen


MCDOA member Jim Sykes has drawn my attention to this obituary for Dr Christian Lambertsen in yesterday's Daily Telegraph but says it doesn't do the man justice.


Christian Lambertsen was well known to the international diving medicine fraternity and developed an early model of the frogman’s closed-circuit rebreather.  Called the Lambertsen Amphibious Respirator Unit (LARU), this device was used by the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in the Second World War.  In 1952, Lambertsen co-wrote a paper describing his 'Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus' which he shortened to 'SCUBA'. 


Dr Christian Lambertsen in

US Army Major's uniform

(15 May 1917 - 11 Feb 2011)


More information about Dr Christian Lambertsen, including photos of LARU, can be found here on the Defense Media Network website.


23 Feb 11 - HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"66 days (8 weekends) to O-Day.


Today was mainly spent tweeking the RN and scuba exhibits, the glass case and the inflatable diver. 


We were honoured by the presence of no fewer than TWO notable IoW supporters, namely Dougie Saunders and Trevor Lewis.  Dougie has been making fittings to anchor down (and up) the RN manikins as well as making keys for the glass case lock (yes, actually making the keys!). 




The heads on the RN manikins were given some precision plastic surgery by Jim 'Tommo' Thomson (with a saw) and now seem to look in the right direction.  The bell (ding-dong type) of HMS Diver and a salvaged steering light from WW2 were added, having come from the late Bill Filer's collection.  There are now an impressive 13 RN and other military diving sets on display, several of which have been loaned by the RN.



The inflatable diver was attacked by everyone, including John Millerchip, John Towse, Dougie Saunders and Trevor Lewis.  They huffed, puffed and pumped and eventually discovered they needed to get a wider bore pipe to reduce the back pressure. The lack of a helmet didn't help much either.  Watch this space.  John Millerchip also re-mounted the three Lethbridge boards since the adhesive on the velcro wasn't up to the job.


Martin Marks also made a flying visit to tweek the scuba exhibit, which is now looking pretty good.



We are currently standing by awaiting a dive pump from London, a standard diver stand from Preston, a civils diver from Fort William, a bell diver from Subsea 7, Aberdeen, a scuba diver from the BSAC and a couple of 6-bolt helmets from anywhere, and Bob Campbell's regulator display.  No volunteers yet for the standard dress displays (!!)


Our next sessions will be this Saturday and Sunday, 26 and 27 February.




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.


22 Feb 11


Gulf minehunter crew receives appreciation


The RN website contains this article describing a visit by Vice Admiral George Zambellas, the Deputy Commander-in-Chief Fleet, to meet MCM1 Crew 4 which has recently returned from the Gulf.  The visit took place on board HMS Shoreham at Faslane on 10 February.


Vice Admiral George Zambellas

visiting HMS Shoreham

(RN website photo)


MCDOA Northern Dinner attendees


MCDOA member Bob Hawkins has produced this list of attendees for the Northern Dinner at Faslane this Friday:


Name (* = MCDOA member) Organisation
Presiding officials  
1.   Lt Cdr Robert Hawkins MBE* Cdr FPBS - Presiding
2.   Lt Cdr Kev Stockton* CO NDG – Mr Vice
Honoured Guests  
3.   Cdr Sean O’Reilly* Guest of Honour
4.   Cdr Ian Riches OBE Mess Pres - NEPTUNE
5.   Lt Cdr Ewan Wharrie Piper (FOST NETS)
6.   Cdr Phil Ireland DSC* CST MPV
7.   Cdr Chris Davies* COLLINGWOOD
8.   Cdr Duncan Ross Clyde Military Advisor
9.   Cdr James Leatherby COS to NBC Clyde
Commanding Officers  
10. Cdr Paul Jones* CO EXCELLENT
11. Lt Cdr Steve Brown* CO PENZANCE
12. Lt Cdr Alex Bush* CO RAMSEY
13. Lt Mark Heward CO DASHER
14. Lt Peter Vincent CO SMITER
MCDOs serving ashore  
15. Lt Cdr Matt Offord* SMCDO to FOSNNI
16. Lt Cdr Bill Kerr* FOST MPV OIC MWOTC
17. Lt Steve White (*?) PWO Course
Seagoing/Operational Officers  
18. Lt John Keenan RCN (*?) OIC NDU2
19. Lt Charlie Wheen* FOST MPV SWO(MW)1
20. Lt Russ Scott (guest of Matt Offord) FOST MPV SEO
21. Lt Mark Shaw* XO PENZANCE
22. Lt Graham Boulton (*?) XO RAMSEY
23. Lt John Skinner* (*?) OPS PENZANCE
24. Lt Catherine Ker (*?) OPS RAMSEY
25. Lt Martin Mayger NAV BLYTH
26. Lt James Wallington-Smith NAV PENZANCE (outgoing)
27. Lt Bridget McNae NAV PENZANCE (incoming)
28. Lt Shaun Dodd N2 RAMSEY
29. Lt Hamish Maxwell NAV RAMSEY
30. Lt Matt Harvey GO BLYTH
31. Sub-Lt Sam Nolan GO PENZANCE
32. Lt Andy Rowlands GO RAMSEY
33. Sub-Lt Andrew Platt YO BLYTH
34. Mid Ross Pawley YO BLYTH
35. Sub-Lt Topsy Turner YO PENZANCE
36. Sub-Lt James Preston YO RAMSEY
37. Mid Stephanie Buttery YO RAMSEY
38. WO(MW) Craig Campbell MCM1 EWO
39. WO(D) Karl Roberts OIC NDU1
40. WO(D) Kev Wilkins FOST MPV WOMEOD
Former and venerable MCDOs / MWOs  
41. Cdr Peter Waddington*  
42. Cdr Bertie Armstrong*  
43. Lt Cdr Ken Kempsell GM*  
44. Lt Cdr Alan Bayliss*  
45. Lt Cdr John Belchamber*  
46. Lt Cdr Nigel Davies*  
47. Lt Cdr Paul Henke*  
48. Lt Cdr Hamish Loudon MBE*  
49. Lt Bob Officer  
Well connected guests  
50. Cdr Kev Morrison  
51. Lt Cdr Iain Leitch  
52. Lt Stuart Ker  
53. Mr Graeme Symes  
54. Mr Derek Clarke (DIVEX)*  
55. Mr Scott Waddell (DIVEX)  
56. Mr Cameron Hawkins  
57. Mr James Hawkins  


Sorry I can't make it on this occasion but I wish everyone a cracking time.  Don't forget the photos!


21 Feb 11


Naval Bomb & Mine disposal veteran visits Northern Diving Group


Harry McLean

(RN website photo)


The RN website contains this article about a visit to the Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG) by Harry McLean (77) who was a Clearance Diver in the 1950s.  The article features MCDOA member Kev Stockton (Commanding Officer of NDG) and CPO(D) Willie Sharp.


HMS Lochinvar-based CD Team in

mid-1950s with Sub Lt (later Cdr)

Peter Messervy MBE, GM in charge


Postscript:  Thanks to MCDOA members Brian Braidwood, David Burstall, Tag Caisley, Pat Dowland, Bob Lusty, Julian Malec and Peter Waddington plus ex-CDs David Eaton, Dave 'Mona' Lott, Gabby Haines and Del 'Bungy' Williams, the individuals in the photo above have been identified from left to right as:


Back Row:  AB(D) Harry 'Jock' McLean, LS(D) George Robbie and AB(D) Sarge Sarginson

Front Row:  Sub Lt Peter Messervy, AB(D) Yorky Overend and CPO(D) Nick Carter


HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"68 days to O-Day (9 weekends to go!)


Many thanks to Martin Marks who took over as duty key-holder over the weekend. Progress continued with both the RN and Recreational SCUBA sections with Jim Thomson and John Dadd beavering away.


Phil Thurtle has been able to provide us with a comprehensive dive computer history to help explain the collection.  Phil has also provided additional historical information which will be adaptable to the Museum needs.


Over the Weekend at a dive show at Olympia, London, I managed to convince The Underwater Centre, Fort William to sponsor a modern Civils Diver manikin and the BSAC to sponsor a modern Sport Diver manikin.  The U/W Centre are also going to supply us with U/W footage of divers at work for our Subsea Animation Theatre.


Meanwhile, Adrian Barak has brilliantly managed to get our existing Heritage Lottery Fund grant to cover the cost of the film projector.


A spokesperson for the gathering crowds outside keeps asking "Will they get the standard diver exhibits ready in time?!" So far the barriers have held up and the mounted police have been able to keep them under control, but it could turn ugly anytime.


John Towse is the guest star speaker at the Gosport Discovery Centre on Thursday, 24 February, 7.30pm.  Book early to avoid disappointment!


Our free expression sessions this week will be the standard Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday sessions from 1000 hrs.




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved. 


19 Feb 11 - Navy News items


The February issue of Navy News contains these items of particular MCDOA interest:

18 Feb 11 - Inquest verdict of suicide for Leading Diver


Today's Portsmouth News contains this article describing the inquest into the death of Leading Diver Barry George in October 2009.  I will add no further comment about this extremely sad occurrence save to express our deepest sympathy to Barry's family, friends and comrades for their continuing tragic loss.


17 Feb 11 - News from Down Under


Lt Cdr Dave Ince RAN


It's good to see MCDOA former Treasurer Dave 'Spidey' Ince doing so well 'down under' as illustrated by this page on the RAN website.  Dave transfered from the RN to the RAN in 2006 and is currently the Commanding Officer of Armidale Class Patrol Boat Crew Ardent Four.  Also see entry for 20 Sep 10 in News archive 31.


16 Feb 11 - HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"72 days (10 week-ends) to O-Day.  The Diving Museum will open to the public on Saturday, 30 April 2011, the day after THE wedding.  We will have a special, ceremonial opening on Saturday 18 June 2011 with invited VIPs including the Mayor of Gosport, Vice Admiral Sir Richard Ibbotson and Caroline Dinenage MP.


A huge leap for mankind today!  The Fleet Diving Squadron (FDS) has kindly loaned us:


LEBA mixed gas rebreather

LAR V rebreather

CDBA 95 rebreather

SABA Mod 1 air set


And from the RN Submarine Museum we have been kindly loaned:


DSSCCD nitrox semi-closed rebreather

A couple of Siebe Gorman lights

Several chamber models originally from the Siebe Gorman Museum



So John Dadd and Jim 'Tommo' Thomson had all their Christmases rolled into one today!  It was "Ooohs" and "Aaahs" all day long!  Together, they beat their Attack Diver into submission which eventually relented and allowed itself to be hoisted to the ceiling.  But what a fight!





Stew 'George' Sissons made a shock quality control visit. 


Martin Marks managed to get his new dive computer display case up on the wall and the computers installed. We have also received the world's first electronic, portable dive computer (1975).



The exquisite Siebe Gorman chamber models took pride of place in the glass case.  Note especially the TUP chamber model, the first TUP system in the world, which was installed on HMS Reclaim.




The gap for a standard diver display is looking very bare.  We still don't have a volunteer to take charge of it!


The next sessions are Sat & Sun, 19 & 20th, opening at 1100 hrs with Martin Marks as duty key-holder.




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.


15 Feb 11 - Report on the funeral of Lt Cdr William Brook 'Uncle Bill' Filer MBE GM RN


As we have come to expect for icons of the MCD Branch, it was standing room only for Uncle Bill's funeral at Portchester Crematorium today. 


Apart from family, friends and members of the Lee-on-the-Solent Sailing Club and the Tennis Club, those present included MCDOA members Gavin Anthony, John Bevan, John Coggins, Morty Drummond, David Edwards, Rob Hoole, Bob Lusty, Julian Malec and Jim Sykes.  Other divers included Ginger Andrews, Donkey Bray (the elder), Jim 'Guns' Cannon, Chris 'Paddy' Doonan, Paul Gibbons, Don 'Jimmy' Green, Gabby Haines (with Kay), Hoppy Hopewell, Dusty Miller, Mike O'Meara, Dickie Radford, Ray Ramsay, Ted Setchell, Peter Still and John Towse.  It was especially heartening to see a strong contingent in uniform from the Fleet Diving Squadron comprising MCDOA member and CO FPS Mark Savage, MCDOA Secretary and Chief Staff Officer FPS Richard 'Soapy' Watson, MCDOA member and OIC FDU 1 Chris Flaherty, PO Peers, PO Spensor, PO Doherty, LD Throup, LD Eaton, LD Roberts, LD O’Toole, LD Boughen, AB Kershaw and AB Halbrauer.  Last but not least, it was good to see Claire Harris, daughter of MCD legend Jackie Warner MBE and a staunch long-term friend and supporter of Bill.  As usual, I know I have missed out many names and will be happy to add them to the list if you inform me via my Webmaster address.


Mourners entered the larger chapel at Portchester to the sound of 'I Vow to Thee my Country' sung by Katherine Jenkins.  After Bill's casket, draped in a white ensign, had been borne to the front, the Reverend Brian Williams spoke the Opening Sentences and welcomed everyone before reading Corinthians 1:13 ('Love is patient and kind').  He then read a passage recorded by Captain James Cook in Tahiti in 1769.  To help combat scurvy, Captain Cook had tried to persuade his crew to eat alien greenstuff such as wild spinach but only succeeded after he made it an officers' 'treat':


"...for such are the Tempers and disposition of Seamen in general that whatever you give them out of the common way - although it be ever so much for their good - it will not go down, and you will have nothing but murmurings against the Man who first invented it; but the moment they see their superiors set a value upon it, it becomes the finest stuff in the world and the inventor an honest fellow..."


The congregation then sang 'To be a Pilgrim' before the Padre gave the address which included many of the facts about Bill's life and career published in the entry for 31 Jan 11 in News Archive 33 although I had not realised that he had been sent away to Watts Naval School at the tender age of six.  There was also much about Bill's love for his family and the fun they all had together right up to his demise.


After Prayers, the congregation sang 'The Naval Hymn', including the special verse for divers penned by Bill himself.  His remains were then committed and the Padre gave the Blessing.  Mourners left the chapel to the strains of 'Prelude and Sunset' played by the Bands of the Royal Marines.


After the service, many glasses were raised in memory of Bill at the Crofton in Stubbington and old friendships were renewed.  I passed on the personal condolences of former SofD Philip Balink-White (resident in Florida) and John Grattan (still recuperating after a car crash) to Bill's family as requested.  Overall, I think we gave Uncle Bill the send-off he deserved and I hope his son Richard, daughter Judy and other family members drew some comfort from this.  We will never see his like again.


14 Feb 11 - RN Diving Heritage: Shallow Water Diver


I am grateful to ex-CD Peter Gallant for sending me this email and photos:


"Hi Rob,


The certificate below was presented to me on completion of a three-week Shallow Water Diving Course at HMS Phoenicia, Malta in February 1959.  I was seventeen at the time.  It was signed by the late George Wookey QDD RN.


[By Webmaster: The late George Wookey MBE, a sorely missed MCDOA member who died in Australia in 2007 (see entry for 27 Mar 07 in News Archive 17), set a world record by diving to 600 feet (183 metres) from HMS Reclaim in Sørfjorden on 12 October 1956.  See 'HMS Reclaim - A World Record Breaker' in the website's Dit Box for further background.]



[By Webmaster: See entry for 4 Dec 05 in News Archive 12 for an almost identical certificate presented to MCDOA member Brian Braidwood when he completed the SWD course at the RN Diving School in Malta in October 1957.]


The photo below was taken in 1961 on board HMS Forth, the Submarine Depot Ship at Devonport, and shows the shallow water diving dress (see entry for 26 Jan 11 in News Archive 33).  Note the 'C' type hood which had rubber pads over the ears with a cross cut in them to prevent reversed ears.  Also, the small face mask with a changeable face glass.  Some divers put grays (elastic bands used by standard divers to seal the wrist) around them to stop them popping out   The working depth was 33 feet in boots and 25 feet in fins.



[By Webmaster: The set looks uncannily like old-style CDBA (Clearance Divers' Breathing Apparatus) rigged for O2 on flow when 1.5 lpm (litres per minute) was set on the jet of the constant mass reducer and an O2 filter was fitted.  Does anyone know different?]


I also worked with Bill Weisham (see second entry for 9 Feb 11 and ensuing comments) back in the eary days when he was putting a diving team together, mostly for inspection work.  Then we got a contract with Shell BP in Nigeria.  Sadly, Bill died of a heart attack whilst changing a tyre on a motorway a few years back.




Peter Gallant

Jalon, Spain"


Postscript: MCDOA member Brian Braidwood has kindly provided these photos showing a Shallow Water Diver, front and back, with boots and with fins:




13 Feb 11 - HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"75 days (or 7 weekends) to O-Day.

Gavin Anthony left his extreme rain/wind/cold home gardening project and called in with spares for our CDBA.  John Dadd and Jim Thomson shed tears of nostalgia as they lovingly rebuilt the CDBA exhibit.  The RN corner is poised for an injection of four or five more BAs this coming week.  Jim Thomson has been busy building stands for them as well as having generously donated several of the display tables.

Martin and Margaret Marks of the Recreational SCUBA section have been sorting out the mountain of dive computers for display and repainting the display case.  Gavin Anthony has kindly interpreted the collection as well as the cameras.

Dougie Saunders (IoW) has continued to refurbish our glass case and rebuilt the SS Alphonso treasure chest.  This was in such poor condition that Dougie had to reassemble the pieces around a wooden box and then encapsulate it in a perspex box, to hold everything together.  Dougie has also supplied us with a lock for the sliding glass doors of the large cabinet.


We have put up the three display panels which we inherited from the Newton Abbott - Lethbridge exhibition.  The band mask commercial diver is coming together.

We await the arrival of our Siebe Gorman pump from London and a single man chamber from Gillingham (Jim Hutchison).  Incidentally we wish Jim "get well soon" after his lung operation at Guy's Hospital.  Reg Vallintine has recovered well after his pace-maker rewiring job and will be home on Monday.

Howard Dykes is preparing a stand for a standard diver exhibit and Mike O'Meara is hunting for a couple of large hot water suits.

We still desperately need a couple of 6-bolt helmets for display.  Can anyone lend us one or two just for the season?  We also need a couple of pairs of standard boots.

Our next sessions are Wednesday 16th when the extra RN BAs arrive.  And Sat & Sun, 19th & 20th (later time of 1100 hrs).


If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.   


11 Feb 11 - NATO Submarine Rescue System exercised


The RN website contains this article describing a recent exercise involving the Faslane-based NATO Submarine Rescue System (NSRS).


MCDOA members John Burden (Rolls Royce)

and Chris Ameye (then SofD) during a

demonstration of NSRS in June 2006


Members of the Northern Diving Group (NDG) are trained to operate the recompression element of NSRS.  A diver will be the first person a stricken submariner sees when they enter the rescue submersible.  Once they reach the surface, they will be transferred into a complex of recompression chambers where Clearance Divers will be responsible for looking after them, treating injuries and operating the chambers to ensure they are safely decompressed after their rescue.  See this two-page spread from the Jan 2010 issue of Navy News for further information and photos.


10 Feb 11


Service of Thanksgiving for Lt Noel Cashford MBE RNVR


Noel's wife Brenda advises me that a service to celebrate his life will be held on Saturday 7 May at 1100 at the Methodist & United Reformed Church, Bank Road, Matlock, Derbyshire with refreshments in the church hall on completion (see entry for 15 Jan 11 for obituary).


I would be grateful if anyone intending to be present would inform me via my Webmaster email address.


FSU in Bahrain


The RN website contains this article describing the Forward Support Unit (FSU) currently deployed in Bahrain to support our MCM vessels.


Engine removed from HMS Chiddingfold

(RN website photo)


SDU2 deals with floating torpedo


I am grateful to PO(D) Ken Smith for drawing my attention to this article on the BBC website describing a task performed by Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) on Tuesday.  The MOD website contains this article and the RN website contains this article about the same incident.


Mk 9 Torpedo

(RN website photo)


HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"Another spurt forward today!


The Margaret and Martin Marks Subsea Animation Theatre was commissioned today!  See photo courtesy of duty photographer Martin Marks.  The effect is spectacular.  You just have to imagine the view through a porthole and you will have the full effect.



Martin also tweeked the SCUBA section (see photo below and note the battens on wall above the SCUBA sets) and, with the help of Jim Thomson, started work on refurbishing a display cabinet which will go up on the wall above the SCUBA sets and provide the dive computer exhibit.



Barry Jackson did a spot quality control visit and gave us the benefit of his great wisdom, again, and again ... and again.  John Towse called by and helped to pacify Barry Jackson.


New low-energy bulbs have replaced all the dead filament bulbs and will gradually replace all the filament bulbs as they progressively give up the ghost.  This coming Saturday and Sunday should see further progress in preparing the exhibits.


WEDNESDAY 16th will be another session and that day we expect to receive more diving equipment from the Defence Diving School.




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.


RN MCD Exchange Officers in Australia



Ex-RN MCD officer Taff Sweeney, who has clocked up almost 50 years of service with the RN and RAN, is trying to establish the names and dates of RN MCDOs who have served on exchange with the RAN.  Can anyone help fill in the gaps in his list, please?


Rank Name Year Location
LT Alastair Cuthbert RN* 1957- HMAS RUSHCUTTER (Diving School)
LT Dave Lambert RN* 1957- HMAS RUSHCUTTER (Diving School)
LT CDR Morty Drummond RN 1958-60 HMAS RUSHCUTTER (OIC Diving School)
  John Lovell RN    
  Alan Wright RN    
Dennis Selwood RN
  Keith Jenkins RN    
  Mike Welford RN*    
  Hookey Walker    
  David Ramsden   No exchange - Transferred to RAN
LT CDR Ken Kempsell RN 1972 - 1974 HMS PENGUIN (Diving School)
LT Steven Gobey RN 1974 - 1976 HMAS PENGUIN & CDT 1
LT Brian Dutton RN 1976 - 1978 HMAS PENGUIN
LT Gerry Kelly RN* 1978 - 1980 HMAS PENGUIN
LT Christopher Tarmey RN 1980 - 1982 HMAS PENGUIN
LT Paul 'Taff' Sweeney RN* 1982 - 1985 HMAS PENGUIN
LT Allan Rankin RN* 1985 - 1987 HMAS PENGUIN
LT Clive Rogerson RN 1987 - HMAS PENGUIN
LT Angus Crampton Smith RN*    


* Subsequently transferred to the RAN.


9 Feb 11


Times obituary for Lt Cdr 'Uncle Bill' Filer MBE GM RN


I am grateful to Rear Admiral Guy Liardet CB, CBE for writing this obituary for Uncle Bill which was published in The Times today (see entry for 5 Feb 11 for funeral details).


RN Diving Heritage: Request for Information


Can anyone help Mike Novak of BWT with this query please?




I am the head of product design at a company called Senior Aerospace BWT, formerly Baxter Woodhouse and Taylor.  Our company is 175 years old this year and we are trying to piece together the company's history.  


We have in previous years made diving suits for the MOD and, after speaking to an ex-employee, I understand these suits were delivered to HMS Vernon.  I would appreciate it if you could help point me in the right direction to uncover some information on what these suits were used for and if there are any photgraphs of them being used.  


Best Regards,


Mike Novak"


When I asked Mike for more specific information about the period in question, he supplied this:




Thanks for the quick response.  It was in the 1970s the company made the diving equipment, mainly closed-circuit breathing apparatus and, later, helmets but I also believe suits and harnesses.  The equipment may have carried the name Windak as this was a trade name of BWT at the time.


I spoke with our ex-employee again who seemed to remember someone at HMS Vernon called Bernie Stockton and also Bill Weichman (not sure of the spelling here).  I have attached a couple of pictures I managed to find as well.




Mike Novak"


These are the photos Mike provided:


BWT or Windak Diving Suit


I have my own suspicions and MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan, Chairman of the Historical Diving Society (HDS), is also on the case but I would welcome any other insights via my webmaster email address.


From ex-CD1 Colin 'Foggy' Goff:


"I think Strongwork may have used Windak in the early days of commercial diving, not that it helps."


From ex-CD1 Cris Ballinger:


"Hi Rob,


I couldn't do a reply to you on your website as it is blocked out here.  In fact, because it is a work web they block everything but we are allowed email which is how I saw your request.


Back just a few years when the branch was pushing the boundaries in the diving world, the branch intended to get to 300m using a mix gas rebreather, which we did on more than one occasion.  The final set which I used successfully to 300m was the Windak Mk 4C (I think).  By the end of all the trials and all the mods, it wasn't a bad piece of kit.  We even adapted it for surface supplied.  As you can imagine, being all CDs rebreathing was second nature to us.  Anyway, come the day to use it on the open water 300m dive, the Americans wouldn't let us put a separate penetration on their bell.  The dive was then done using KMB and the rest is history.  I wish I had some photos but I'm sure Hoppy will have.




[By Webmaster: I will see Hoppy Hopewell at Uncle Bill's funeral on Tuesday and will ask him then.  Ray Ramsay is kindly giving him a lift.]


From Mike Kettle, ex-AEDU staff:


"I think that AEDU first had contact with Baxter Woodhouse Taylor (BWT) because they manufactured electrically-heated clothes for pilots and also pilots' helmets and breathing masks; probably about 1972.  


They worked on the umbilical supplied semi-closed circuit breathing apparatus called Windak Mk 4C and the company also took the Windak name.  The main aims were a very streamlined breathing apparatus to reduce encumbrance in and around the bell.  It worked well, but probably was weakest on durability and maintainability.  Bill Taylor and Roy ? (both now deceased) were very enthusiastic proponents.  


I don't recognise the helmet at all and presume it must have appeared after 1975 (I left in September).  


It may be of novel interest that I produced a simple continually evacuated suction pad for use by divers with a water-filled seal and the Admiralty took out a patent in 1970.  Windak bought the patent (princely sum of £100) and developed it with neoprene fronds and two ejector evacuation systems for either above or underwater use (see below).  The surprise biggest customer was Guinness, who built them into frames for gently handling multiple kegs (it was strangely pleasing that underwater R & D found this application).   


Sorry I can't help with the helmet, but your question stirred a bit of nostalgia."  




From Norman Hart:


"I hope I can throw some light on the matter.  


Bill Weisham employed me as a diver back in 1976.  There were just the two of us to start with.  The company was called Solus Schall, a division of Rank Precision Industries, a division of the Rank Organisation, the film makers.  This might sound strange but Rank also owned a division that manufactured underwater equipment for the MOD. I believe they were mine detectors.  


I remember going to Windak to test out a rebreather in a local swimming pool.  Whilst impressive, not really much use in the commercial diving business.  


Attached is a picture of glass hard hat I tried on.  I think it may have been made by Windak, although I am not sure as I suffer from CRAFT (Can't Remember A Flipping Thing).  Well you get the gist!  


That's about all I can remember about the gear.  Bernie Stockton, I believe, worked for Nordive or Northern Divers.




Norman Hart"



From MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan, Chairman of the Historical Diving Society (HDS):




I attach a couple of pics from the Vernon archives for info.




Windak Mk 4C rebreather



Windak Mk 3 shallow-water rebreather


From Iain Middlebrook:


"Dear Sir,


The Windak Mk 4C was one of a number of products from Baxter Woodhouse and Taylor that I can remember including surface supplied air helmets and the original Arvest harness. 


The Mk 4C was issued around June 1975 from AEDU Vernon.  As a deep diving unit it was an umbilical supplied semi-closed circuit unit with a 1.3 kg charge of soda lime capable of about 100 minutes duration.  The emergency back up cylinder held 340 litres at 195 barg.  The emergency reducing valve was a simple sports divers Nemrod Snark II silver first stage with the A clamp removed and an adapter fitted.  The small size of the bail out bottle lent itself for bell lock out diving not surface supplied.  At 30MSW the duration was around 8 minutes.  At 100MSW under 5 minutes and at 350MSW it gave a genuine "One Breath From Death" less than 2 minutes duration. 


It used the familiar jewelled jet system of the CDBA Jet 1 for 40/60 and 32.5 mix Jet 2 for oxy/heluim and Jet 3 was for the lesser adopted air/helium mix.  As a deep diving partial pressure unit as mentioned in one of your earlier posts the maximum depth was 344 MSW using a 5/95 He 02 mix.  For that dive the surface supply gas unit was set at 88 lpm flow at a 70 barg regulator pressure and at that setting diving from 166 msw to 344 was calculated.  There was a chart for diving the unit for both Jets and pressure settings: Jet M2 flow 45 l/min at 44 barg.  Depth 6.5 - 78MSW depth on 20/80 He02 Jet M2 flow 54 l/min at 44 barg.  Depth 45 - 167 MSW depth on 10/90 He02 and so on.  The control panel used for the Mk4C was specific to the 4C.  Four jets each marked with an "O" were fitted to the lower panel. These jets were used in conjunction with the earlier Mark 3.


It is the shallow water Mark 3 variant that you see in the two lower photos from earlier posts from John Bevan.  A minor detail I know but it should be noted that the earlier units were shallow water and not suited for deep bell lock out.  The photo enclosed is of a younger thinner version of myself with the Windak Air helmet some years ago now.


Iain Middlebrook"


Iain Middlebrook with Windak

air helmet


From Steve Goble in Australia (not to be confused with MCDOA member Steve Gobey):


"Hi Rob,


I remember we test dived the Windak air hat while I was on the Sat team in 1979.  Sorry I don’t have a photo but I remember we trudged around the bottom of Falmouth docks and some of us (lucky my memory’s fading or I could mention his initials) had some issues with ears because a free flowing helmet positive pressure built up as soon as the helmet was locked on.  One of our members was unable to operate the internal vent valve and had ear pain before getting in the water.  There was talk of using it on the Clansman but nobody liked it enough to promote further investigation.


Kindest Regards,


Steve Goble 

(Ex-Leading Seaman CD)


Head Hyperbaric Technical Officer

Hyperbaric Medicine Unit

Royal Adelaide Hospital" 


From MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan, HDS Chairman:




Re the earlier query about Windak.  Here is a pic just received from Phil Plevey.




Windak Mk 3 Shallow Water Diving Set?


8 Feb 11


Pioneer Portsea Island swimmer wishes Project Vernon divers well



Today's Portsmouth News contains this article in which the first man ever to swim around Portsea Island has wished good luck to a team of RN divers taking on the same challenge to raise funds for Project Vernon and the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) (see second entry for 15 Jan 11 in News Archive 33).


Yet again I must emphasise that the planned monument is intended as a tribute to all those involved in RN minewarfare (as represented by the mine) as well as diving.  This will be reflected in the description on the accompanying plaque or interactive display.


New transatlantic rowing record for MCDOA members


They have done it!  Congratulations to MCDOA member David Hosking MBE (Leader of Team Hallin), sponsored by fellow MCDOA member John Giddens (Founder & Chief Executive of Hallin Marine) for breaking the transatlantic rowing record yesterday (see third entry for 3 Feb 11).  Further details are on their website here.


Team Hallin arriving in Port St Charles, Barbados


David and his team are still raising funds for Combat Stress and you can show your appreciation for their remarkable achievement by donating via their JustGiving webpage here or making out a cheque to 'Combat Stress' and sending it to David c/o 15 Wilton Crescent, London, SW19 3QY.


The triumphant Team Hallin with Dave Hosking front and centre


Postscript: Trust the Daily Mail to see things from a different perspective:


Naked ambition! Why one woman rower stripped off with her five-man crew to break a world record


7 Feb 11 - HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"Lots more progress to report this weekend!


Whilst the wind raged outside on Saturday, we took shelter in the ex-nuclear bunker and took comfort fondling the displays again. 


The SCUBA exhibit is starting to shape up thanks to Martin and Margaret Marks. 




Jim Thomson grappled with the RN display and we got the NGL Deep Dive 500 out of its box.



The Unisuited diver got well and truly stuffed. 




Gavin Anthony delivered three historical 16mm films from the QinetiQ collection which Margaret Marks is going to copy onto DVD for the Subsea Animation Theatre.  We now have a special projector for the Subsea Animation Theatre.  Roger Forster did a shock quality control visit.  Excitement is mounting because tomorrow we get a visit from Dougie Saunders from the IoW and that always means another huge leap forward.


Three more Founding Patrons have been initiated.  Their financial support is hugely appreciated.  It provides the Diving Museum with a sound foundation on which to build for the future.  The honorable list now stands as follows:


Bob Campbell

John Bevan

Michael Cocks

Kevin Casey

Nigel Phillips

Surg VA Sir John Rawlins

Jim Thomson

John Towse

Peter Wingett

Cheryl Wingett



As expected, Dougie came up trumps again on Sunday.  He has transformed an old experimental diving helmet into a donations box. 



He's put the finishing touches to the inflatable diver pump, though we still have to make the connections to the inflatable diver.  We still need a 6-bolt helmet! 



Dougie repaired the splitting glass door of the glass case and has taken away one of its locks to get a key made.  Dougie has also generously donated a wheelchair which will contribute to our disabled access arrangements.  


In the RN section, John Dadd and Jim Thomson have been stitching, stuffing and capitating a few torsos.  An "attack diver" is being prepared. The SCUBA section is coming on leaps and bounds with a new spearfishing diver, a few more sets and the wall prepared to accept a new display cabinet above the SCUBA sets.





Martin Marks has done most of this work, with help from Dougie Saunders and John Millerchip.  Since John is 6ft 2ins and the manikins are supposed to be the same height, John donated his old wet suit to try it on.  With four of us pulling, pushing and squeezing, we only just managed to overcome the resistance of the manikin!





We've pulled out all the cameras and placed them in a display cabinet. It now needs a competent U/W camera person sort them out and do the "interpretation".  Any volunteers (Martin Davies)?



Next week's sessions will be THURSDAY 10th, SATURDAY and SUNDAY 12th & 13th.




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.   


6 Feb 11 - Our minehunters in the Gulf


I am grateful to MCDOA member Martin Mackey for drawing my attention to this article on the BBC website describing the work of the four RN minehunters in the Gulf.


5 Feb 11 - Funeral of Lt Cdr 'Uncle Bill' Filer MBE GM RN


Uncle Bill's son Richard has informed me that his father's funeral will take place at Portchester Crematorium on Tuesday 15 February at 1030 (see entry for 31 Jan 11 in News Archive 33 for obituary).  A wake will be held after the service at The Crofton, Bells Lane, Stubbington.


Family flowers only.  Donations to Barnardos c/o Solent Funerals, 81 High Street, Lee on the Solent, PO13 9BU.


4 Feb 11 - WO1(D) Steve Vernon awarded Meritorious Service Medal


Congratulations to Steve 'Scouse' Vernon on being gazetted for the award of the MSM in this Supplement of the London Gazette.  A maximum of 49 are awarded throughout the Royal Navy each year although, historically, many fewer than this are actually granted.


Apart from Steve's professional achievements, he was among those who swam the length of Windermere last September to raise funds for Project Vernon.


3 Feb 11


HMS Quorn to receive freedom of Ipswich


The BBC website contains this article announcing the award of the Freedom of Ipswich to HMS Quorn during her current visit.


HMS Quorn arriving in Ipswich


Daily Telegraph obituary for Lt Noel Cashford MBE RNVR


As ever, I am extremely grateful to Capt Peter Hore RN for agreeing to write this obituary in today's Daily Telegraph for wartime naval bomb & mine disposal veteran, prolific author and MCDOA associate member Noel Cashford (see entry for 15 Jan 11 in News Archive 33).


Noel Cashford with beached British Mk 17L moored mine

at Margate


MCDOA members on track for world record


Team Hallin, led by MCDOA member David Hosking and sponsored by fellow MCDOA member and LMCDO '83A course-mate John Giddens (Founder & Chief Executive of Hallin Marine), is now less than a week away from reaching Barbados and breaking the world record for rowing the Atlantic (see second entry for 18 Jan 11 in News Archive 33).  Competition with rival team Sara G remains fierce, as can be seen on the Ocean Rowing Society's website here, but both boats are on track to beat the record set by La Mondiale in 2007/8.  The question is, which will achieve the fastest corrected time and thereby reign supreme?


Chart showing relative positions of Team Hallin (HM), Le Mondiale (LM) and Sara G (SG)


Follow Team Hallin's progress on its blog here.  It is raising funds for Combat Stress and you can donate via its JustGiving webpage here or make out a cheque to 'Combat Stress' and send it to David c/o 15 Wilton Crescent, London, SW19 3QY.  Otherwise, why not leave an encouraging message on the team's website?


2 Feb 11


MCDOA Northern Dinner 25 Feb 2011



MCDOA member Bob Hawkins has promulgated this announcement:


"Dear Friends, Colleagues and Fellow MCDOA Members,


It’s now just over one calendar month until we’ll sit down together in the Wardroom, HMS NEPTUNE for the Northern MCDOA Dinner 2011 on Friday 25th February, which coincides exactly with the 45th anniversary of the founding of the MCDO Branch on 25 Feb 1966 as stipulated in DCI 278/66. 


We were successful in persuading the Wardroom Mess Committee to agree to the Northern MCDOA Dinner being one of the nine supported official functions under the super-mess contract with Babcock, ergo, achieving a very sumptuous three course meal including pre dinner drinks, wine throughout and Port thereafter for a very reasonable sum of £30-35 per head, although I’m hoping I’ll get confirmation next Monday that it’ll be closer to the £30 mark.  Even if it is £35 I think you’ll agree that that is a great ‘all-in’ price.  I’ve been to nearly all the functions in the new mess and I can report that the food is great and service is great!


I reiterate that the justification for achieving ‘sponsored’ status was to make the Northern Dinner the headline event for the MFP Community based in HMNB Clyde and this year there should be major attendance from the MM and PP ships’ wardrooms based here, which will add to the usual camaraderie.


I’ve had preliminary WMPs from some of you but now I’d like confirmation from all addressees that you are coming, or not.  Please reply to me at this address giving a WMP (again please, if you have already) or MRU.  If you are hoping to come but can’t confirm yet – the cut off date is Friday 18 Feb but still let me know if you’re TBC.  Accommodation is extremely tight in HMNB Clyde but please let me know if you’d like me to try for you and I’ll see what I can do but I can’t guarantee any availability.  I’ll send out the final price, programme and a pro forma (to fill in) early next week.


COs and XOs please cascade down through your Wardoom officers but please come back with one response per Ship.  Cdr Ross, please cascade to any MW qualified RNR who you think might like to come.  WO Campbell please pass on to Coniston Crew.  Anybody – I’m sure I’ve forgotten some so please pass on to another MM/PP related friend or colleague who you think would like to come.  Some attendees have asked to bring guests (not partners) and we’ll have some room for that, so get your bid in early.


Warm regards,


Bob Hawkins


R H Hawkins

Lt Cdr MBE RN"


HDS Diving Museum update



MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"87 days to O-Day.  Things are hotting up!  It's also getting personal! 



The latest influx of manikins is causing some excitement in the ranks!  It's actually quite heart-warming to see such meaningful relationships developing between the supporters and the exhibits.  John Dadd and Jim 'Tommo' Thomson have done a great job with their action man (photo courtesy of award-winning photographer Martin Marks - caption anyone?) and stuffed another diver ready for hanging. [By Webmaster: Judging from the likenesses, Madame Tussauds' standards have taken a real nose-dive recently!]



My pic "Casualty" demonstrates that this project is not for the squeamish, as you can see that one stuffed diver just couldn't handle it. The four new manikins are taller than expected (about 6ft 4ins). Does anyone have any large suits for them to wear?



Bob Campbell came over from Swanage to help plan the SCUBA regulator display.  He also brought the original triple set which Cousteau had presented to Earl Mountbatten.  




The SCUBA display area has been given the Hawaiian Blue treatment by Margaret and Martin Marks and Ann Bevan.



Bill Braithwaite came all the way from Hertfordshire and gave our glass cabinet a special polish with "button oil" and it now looks magnificent.



Maniacal manikin stuffing reached a frenzy level.  We have a few more heads on the way.



HELP! - Amazingly, we do not yet have a standard diver helmet to display.  We could do with a couple on loan, even for a short while, if you know of any.


TASKS 1.2.11

Can you spot a job you could take on or help with?




* Fill holes in ceiling with polyurethane foam (we need dry weather)

* Make shelf for recess

* Continue recovering exhibits

* Continue design and construction of displays

* Continue build of RN diving exhibit (John Dadd & Jim Thomson)

* Fire Risk Assessment; Fire Plan; Recommend extinguishers (Volunteer?)

* Make lid for 'toilet' 16 x 16 cm (JB)

* Commission locks on 4-sided glass case (Dougie)

* Rebuild "Alphonso" treasure chest (Dougie)

* Build donations box (Dougie)

* Produce lock for glass cabinet (Dougie)

* Repair door in glass cabinet (Dougie?)

* Build SCUBA exhibit (Margaret & Martin Marks, Ann Bevan)

* Set up Animation Theatre (Margaret & Martin Marks)

* Investigate chair lift availability (Dougie)

* Make out application for exhibits in RN Sub Museum (Mike Fardell/Kevin Casey)

* Make shelves for library book cases (Chris Murphy)

* Chase Subsea 7 for diver exhibit (Mike O'Meara)

* Deliver HDS pump from London (Peter Wingett)

* Collect single-man DDC from Jim Hutchison, Gillingham (Volunteer?)

* Produce drawings for doors and windows in Bravo & archive room (Chris Murphy)

* Get planning consent for doors and windows (Kevin)

* Construct doors and windows in Bravo and archive room (Chris Murphy)

* Make wheelchair ramp for front door, outside


OUTSIDE (on dry days)


* Bitumen paint cracks in concrete above Bravo

* Level out soil Make/tidy paths on slopes

* Prepare ground for external exhibits (Bob Wakefield)

* Install signs  




* Wire brush, red lead and paint both chambers




* Buy heating tubes

* Buy dehumidifier

* Buy appropriate fire extinguishers

* Design outside signs

* Install burglar alarm and smoke alarm

* Start grant application process (Kevin, Bill, JB)

* Acquire manikins

* Acquire flag pole




* Fire Officer

* More Official Guides

* Transport single man DCC from Gillingham, Kent




* 1 off 3-cylinder SG pump held by Steve Roue, after loan to NMM, Falmouth

* 1 off 2-cylinder SG pump held by Peter Wingett, ex-Harvey Porrett

* 1 off lever pump - JB's in RN Sub Museum

* Approx 100+ regulators with Bob Campbell

* 1 off Carleton rebreather

* 1 off CDBA with Soapy Watson

* 1 off saturation diver manikin with Subsea 7




* Gavin Anthony

* Adrian Barak

* John Bevan

* Kevin Casey

* John Dadd

* Roger Forster

* Rob Hoole

* Margaret Marks

* Martin Marks

* John Millerchip

* Stew Sissons

* Jim Thomson

* John Towse

* Your name here  


Our next sessions will be Saturday and Sunday, 5th & 6th February.




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved. 


1 Feb 11 - Tearful farewell for MCDO


The revamped Portsmouth News website contains this article describing a tearful farewell to MCD officer Lt Andrew Penfold RN in HMS Brocklesby from Bianca, his fiancée of two days.  Brockesby left Portsmouth yesterday for a six-month deployment with Standing NATO MCM Group 1 (SNMCMG1).


HMS Brocklesby leaving Portsmouth

(Portsmouth News photo)


31 Jan 11 - Death of Lt Cdr 'Uncle Bill' Filer MBE GM RN


I regret to report that Uncle Bill succumbed to a suspected heart attack or stroke this morning.  He was 93 and had lost his wife Eileen two years previously.  Bill was one of only three Honorary (life) Members of the MCDOA.  His son Richard informs me that there is likely to be a funeral at Portchester Crematorium but not for 10 to 14 days owing to the need for a post-mortem.  I am sure that everyone will join me in extending our condolences to Bill’s son Richard and daughter Judy, their respective spouses Jennifer and David, and their families.


I first met Bill at HMS Vernon in March 1973 and soon came to realise why he was held in such admiration and affection by his contemporaries and those who followed in his footsteps.  He had done it all before but still found time to listen to other members of the branch, including young officers and sailors, and offer them encouragement and advice when approached.  In 1979 he was still in charge at the Deep Trials Unit (DTU), part of the Royal Naval Physiological Laboratory (RNPL) at Alverstoke, when I and many others undertook experimental dives to 90 metres on Trimix.  Though long retired from active service, he still took pride in wearing his uniform as he was perfectly entitled to do.  Even in more recent years, he has remained a good run ashore and wont to invite a few friends to drink with him at Lee-on-the-Solent Sailing Club, where he was a revered member, before lunching at the Tennis Club where he had his regular stool at the bar.  The photos below show Bill on two such occasions with ex-CPO(D) Hoppy Hopewell (his long-time deputy at DTU), the late ex-CPO(D) Tony 'Willie' Wilkes and his partner Maureen, Claire Harris (daughter of Bill's late friend and diving colleague Jackie Warner MBE) and her partner's mother Maggie, and Bill's fellow MCDOA members Morty Drummond and Yours Truly. 


Left to right: Bill Filer, Hoppy Hopewell, Claire Harris, Rob Hoole, Maureen,

and the late Willie Wilkes at Lee-on-the-Solent Tennis Club in April 2009


Left to right: Maggie, Claire, Morty Drummond, Rob Hoole and

Bill Filer at Lee-on-the-Solent Sailing Club in April 2010


Bill also introduced MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan when he gave a talk in June last year about his book, The First Treasure Divers, which describes the pioneering diving achievements of the Deane brothers (John and Charles) who adapted August Siebe's smoke mask and used it as the first effective surface-supplied diving helmet.


'Uncle Bill' introduces John Bevan in June 2010


William Brook Filer joined the Royal Navy in 1933 as a 15 year-old Boy Seaman at HMS Ganges.  He said his reasons included being hungry and admiring the picture on the front of the Players cigarette packet depicting a very seamanlike bearded sailor from HMS Victory but most of all because he had spent the previous five years at the Barnados-run Watts Naval School in Norfolk. He also found the weekly pocket money of 5/3 (26 pence) as a Boy 2nd Class particularly appealing.


HMS Ganges


Bill spent 15 months at Ganges, the latter as an Instructor Boy which involved looking after a batch of New Entries from the time they arrived until they joined one of the mainstream messes.  One such entry was a boy called J. Peach whom he collected with others at Shotley Pier on arrival from Harwich.  Johnnie Peach had a distinguished diving career in the RN and, following his retirement as a CPO(D), he spent the next 20 years as Bill's Chief Supervisor at DTU.  By the time they both retired, their association had lasted 50 years and continued long afterwards. 


Bill had been the 'heavyweight' boxing champion at Watts Naval School but was reduced to 'middle weight' at Ganges.  He was selected to represent Blake Division in the divisional championships and seemed to be doing quite well.  However, he found himself coming round in the Sick Bay after having been knocked out by a 'Boy Green' of Collingwood Division.  Jimmy Green, his opponent, subsequently went on to win all his fights and became Med Fleet Champion before buying himself out of the Navy and turning professional.  Bill's final experience at Ganges was being awarded the prize for the best all-round boy of the year.  His prize was £5 worth of text books, signed and presented by Captain (later Rear Admiral) H. H. Rogers RN.  These books proved a great asset later on when Bill was striving to pass the Higher Educational Tests for promotion.


In 1934, Bill joined the battleship HMS Nelson at Portsmouth in time for the Home Fleet's Cruise to the West Indies.  The Atlantic crossing was rough and he remembered battleships losing their sea boats and cruisers completely disappearing from view in the troughs.  The Home Fleet Boxing Championships were held in Barbados and Bill fought a boy from the cruiser HMS Neptune.  After three tough rounds he ended up with a big hand for the loser and decided to give up boxing there and then.  His opponent, Nobby Noble, went on to win the Combined Fleet Championship when the Home Fleet subsequently met the Med Fleet in Gibraltar.


HMS Nelson at Portland


In Gibraltar, Bill helped the RN divers, who all wore standard dress in those days, work up to their maximum depth of 30 fathoms (180 ft).  After a day's vigorous pumping, the thought crossed his mind that the divers had the better deal, especially as they were paid 'dip money' of five shillings (25 pence) for the first half-hour and four shillings (20 pence) for the second half-hour.  Although he had never won any other aquatic events at his school, he had triumphed in the 'diving for plates' competition in the swimming pool.  By the time Bill's ship eventually returned to the UK, he had been rated Ordinary Seaman at 14 shillings (70 pence) per week and Able Seaman at 21 shillings (£1.05) per week.  He was given the option of specialising in Gunnery or Torpedoes and he chose Torpedoes whereupon he passed the course for Seaman Torpedoman (ST) at HMS Vernon in 1935.


On completion of his ST Course, Bill was drafted to the ill-fated light cruiser HMS Curacao, then running for the Gunnery School at HMS Excellent, Whale Island.  By this time, he had 'taken the plunge' and requested to undertake the course to become a diver.  Owing to a candidate dropping out at the last moment and Bill's close proximity to Whale Island, he found himself drafted to HMS Excellent to qualify as a Diver 2 much quicker than expected.  On his first night, he was assigned sentry duty on the pig compound.  The pigs were fed scraps from the galleys and their sale subsidised the Canteen Fund.  Bill remarked that he wished they had sold the peacocks that screeched him awake each morning, too.


HMS Curacao


Bill found his diving course an experience never to be forgotten.  He described his Instructor, Fred Jenner (a PO Gunner's Mate) as 'absolutely first class' and responsible for ensuring that his course passed 'with flying colours'.  Bill suddenly found himself the youngest diver in the Navy and richer by thruppence (1p) per day.  The new divers were extremely proud of the newly sewn-on gold embossed diving helmet badges on their left cuffs but Bill recounted how one of his course mates was taken down a peg on the train to London when an elderly lady asked, "Excuse me young man, but what instrument do you play in the band?".  The completion of Bill's course coincided with Navy Days so they put on a diving display in a flooded dry dock.  On seeing the attendants turning the handles of the air pump, one lady was heard to observe that the diver must have been very deep because it was taking such a long time to wind him up to the surface.  There were several 'tricks' to keep the public entertained, one of which involved the diver calling up on the loud speaker system and asking for a bottle of beer.  He was sent down a transparent bottle of cold tea which he held upside down over his spit cock and blew the contents out before returning the re-capped empty bottle and asking for more.


Bill's first draft as a newly qualified diver was to the submarine base at HMS Dolphin.  His tasks included underwater maintenance, clearing inlets, freeing propellers, taking readings of stern glands and recovering items lost over the side.  He recalled being assigned one day as mate to a Tiffy (Artificer) who had a Brotherhood engine from one of the torpedoes on the bench for test.  The Tiffy inadvertently blanked one of the apertures with the screw top from a can of Bluebell metal polish instead of the proper item and, when the 3,000 psi supply to the motor was opened up, the top went right through his wrist.


Bill's next draft was to another ill-fated ship, the sloop HMS Penzance.  To join her, he was among seven RN personnel with 170 tourist class passengers who sailed from Tilbury to Cape Town in the coal-burning SS Durham Castle.  The voyage took seven weeks.  On his first night aboard Penzance, he was turned out of his hammock to help fight bush fires on Table Mountain.  Bill much enjoyed the hospitality of the South Africans but his only diving comprised a wreck survey at Port Elizabeth and a Navy Days display in Simon's Town.  He remembered Cape Radio interviewing a diver from HMS Amphion, the Senior Officer's ship, when the interviewer asked the inevitable question, "What was your most memorable experience?".  The diver ended up saying, "...and when I woke up, I found that I was unconscious."  It took him some time to live this down.  Before leaving the South Africa Station, Bill responded to an Admiralty Fleet Order (AFO) inviting ratings to apply to become pilots in the Fleet Air Arm (FAA).


HMS Penzance


Bill next qualified as a Leading Torpedo Operator (LTO) at HMS Vernon but didn't remember much about the course.  While waiting to be drafted back to sea, he teamed up with the Vernon divers and helped to install the Degaussing Range at Clarence Pier.  He also assisted with trials of the Mine Recovery Suit (MRS) headed by Lt Cdr Leon Goldsworthy GC GM DSC RANVR and Lt Cdr John 'Mouldy' Mould GC GM RANVR.


'P-Party' trainee being dressed

in MRS at HMS Vernon(D) 


From out of the blue came instructions for Bill to report to Chatham Naval Base for No. 5 FAA Pilot's Course for officers and ratings.  For around a month, he and his fellow trainees underwent ab initio training on Avro Tutor aircraft at Rochester Aerodrome before proceeding to No.1 Flying Training School at RAF Netheravon for advanced training on North American Harvards and Fairey Battles.  On completion, Bill was awarded his wings and became the first 'flying diver' although he wasn't allowed to wear his diving badge as well.  While the officers went on to Torpedo Spotter Reconnaissance in Fairey Swordfish, Bill and the rest of the ratings underwent either fighter or flying boat training, using the Gloster Gladiator or Supermarine Walrus respectively.  After flying boat training, Bill was put on flying Blackburn Sharks for Observer Training Courses until a 'death notice' appeared ordering all five ratings to return to General Service.  Bill was told that he would be of more value to the war effort as a diver than a pilot.  When he and his fellow trainees requested to be transferred to the RAF, they were told that they could not transfer to a more junior Service.  Bill later discovered this was untrue because two ex-RN Radio Supervisors became Squadron Leaders in the RAF, one being awarded a DFC.  To add insult to injury, the ratings were reverted to their rank prior to acquiring their wings.  For Bill, this meant demotion from Petty Officer Airman to Leading Seaman.  As he had just got married and had been living off base owing to a shortage of accommodation at HMS Daedelus, the simultaneous loss of PO's pay, flying pay and RA's lodging allowance meant a reduction of 50% overall, which came as a particularly bitter blow.  On the other hand, Bill believed that the whole of his squadron, complete with aircraft and crews, was sunk on the way to the West Indies with no survivors including two members of his No. 5 course.


Back at HMS Vernon, Bill passed for Petty Officer and next set his sights on passing for Warrant Officer which, in those pre-SD days, constituted wardroom status.  He managed to qualify sometime around 1941 but his results were declared null and void because his time spent flying meant that he had not acquired the necessary four years of sea time from the age of 18.  He was on the point of appealing when he received orders to join the 10,000 ton landing ship, HMS Glenroy.  When Bill pointed out that his draft chit made no mention of his diving qualification, it was immediately cancelled because Glenroy was not entitled to divers and his services were desperately needed elsewhere.  He was sent from Vernon to Rosyth to join the newly refitted battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth as an Acting Petty Officer LTO/Diver.  On arrival, Bill was tasked to help repair the controlled minefield protecting the mouth of the River Tay.


HMS Queen Elizabeth at Gibraltar 


HMS Queen Elizabeth's first job was to help escort a massive convoy to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  The ship was two days from her destination when she was ordered to turn around because the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau had broken out of Brest on 11 February 1942.  The Queen Elizabeth was too late to play any role in this affair and was subsequently ordered to join the Mediterranean Fleet at Alexandria where Bill soon found himself busy diving.  However, his worst experience was helping remove the mangled remains of sailors and soldiers from the cruiser HMS Orion returning from the evacuation of Crete.  On a lighter note, Bill was seconded to the submarine depot ship HMS Medway to qualify as a Diver 1.  This involved performing much-needed practical work on ships in harbour with the theory being reserved for the dog watches.  Back on board the Queen Elizabeth, Bill was required to help recover hundreds of 15" shells from a sunken merchant ship in the harbour.  During this task, Bill had to find and recover the body of a diver whose helmet had been punctured by a shell falling from a grab hoist in one of the holds.   Bill also witnessed the death of several personnel when a mine exploded in the anchorage recently occupied by the aircraft carrier HMS Formidable before she was towed into a dock.


In January 1942, Bill was seconded to the shore-based bomb & mine disposal team where the incumbent diver had gone sick.  He subsequently found himself travelling by camel to help Lt George Goodman GC MBE RNVR render safe and recover an Italian circling torpedo washed up on the beach near Ras el Tin, about 11 miles east of Alexandria.  A similar weapon had killed the Torpedo Officer of HMS Medway (Lt Cdr J G S Cunningham RN - uncle of MCDOA member Tim Trounson) on 23 Sep 1940.  As a result of the team's efforts which led to the recovery and examination of the torpedo, Lt Goodman was awarded the George Cross (GC) and Bill Filer and Painter A. J. Russell were each awarded the George Medal (GM).


Shortly afterwards, Italian charioteer frogmen attacked the battleships Queen Elizabeth and Valiant, inflicting enough damage to put them on the seabed for months although this was not obvious to aerial reconnaissance.  Bill was tasked to find out where the invaders had cut through the boom defence nets but discovered enough gaps, where sections hadn't been laced together, to allow a double decker bus through.  When the newly developed Cox's bolt gun was brought from the UK to help patch up the Queen Elizabeth,  Bill received a shrapnel injury to his leg during a demonstration in a crowded shoreside shed of the ability of its 'D' type bolt to penetrate armour plate.  The foreign object remained lodged in his thigh for the rest of his life. 


Bill was then instructed to rejoin HMS Medway as the Senior Diving Instructor.  With Rommel at the gates of Alexandria, it was decided to evacuate the port and Bill found himself on board when Medway was struck amidships by three torpedoes from U-372 on 30 June 1942.  She sank within half an hour with the loss of 30 personnel.  After abandoning ship, Bill found himself swimming with two WRNS cypher officers to the destroyer HMS Hero whose Coxswain was one of his shipmates from his days in HMS Penzance.  After a couple of days at Suez where the Red Cross provided Bill and his surviving shipmates with pyjamas, they were sent to a transit camp in Durban where they were issued kit and then repatriated to the UK in the troopship Monarch of India.  Bill remembers the voyage for the good food and the fact that most of the soldiers had little appetite so there was plenty to go around.


Following survivors' leave, Bill was drafted to HMS Tedworth to qualify as a deep diver.  Only nine of these were complemented in the entire RN, each qualified to dive to depths of 180 to 300 feet.  After several encounters with nitrogen narcosis (rapture of the deep), Bill passed the course and was sent to HMS Excellent for a short period as an instructor, better off to the tune of thruppence (just over one new penny) per day.  He was also tasked with writing instructions for underwater demolitions which took him to HMS Volcano at Holmrook Hall near Whitehaven in West Cumberland (now Cumbria).  Just over a year later, 28 October 1944, Bill qualified as a Gunner(G) at HMS Excellent with the rank of Warrant Officer and a thin stripe on his arm, and was appointed back to HMS Tedworth in February 1945.


HMS Tedworth, the deep diving tender, was originally a WWI Hunt class minesweeper.  The Senior Commissioned Gunner and Diving Officer on board was happy to be responsible for her main armament, an ancient 12 pdr gun.  This suited Bill admirably as he didn't know much about gunnery.  Instead, he looked after diving and counted himself lucky with his appointment as most of his ex-course mates were sent to ships of the Fleet, mainly as 'Third or Fourth Hand', while he was ensconced in a virtual independent command and allowed to run his own department.


HMS Tedworth


In Tedworth, Bill oversaw underwater oxy-hydrogen gas cutting trials down to 120 ft and no-stop surface decompression diving trials down to 150 ft.  He sustained his only 'bend', in his shoulder, after attempting 250 ft with a single in-water stop and surface decompression.  He was unable to enter the chamber immediately owing to its occupation by another diver who had collapsed and needed further treatment.  This left Bill suffering occasionally painful osteoarthritis for the rest of his life.  When Tedworth came due for refit, she was sent to post-war Antwerp.  Bill had been made the Navigator and found the trip along the coast and up the River Scheldt particularly daunting owing to the number of wrecks littering the fairway. 


Bill left Tedworth in the hands of the Dutch and returned to the UK on board a Landing Ship, Tank (LST).  By this time, Lt Cdr Bill Shelford had been appointed as Superintendent of Diving.  As such, he was also Head of the Admiralty Experimental Diving Unit (AEDU).  He initiated the move of several organisations to HMS Vernon including AEDU from Siebe, Gorman at Tolworth in Surrey, Clearance Diving training from HMS Lochinvar at Port Edgar in Scotland, 'P-Party' training from HMS Vernon(D) at Brixham, the amphibious team from Poole and Standard and Deep Diving from HMS Excellent.  Thus, for the first time, all RN diving was focused under the single umbrella of HMS Vernon.  Cdr Shelford also acquired the ex-German torpedo trials ship and seaplane tender Walter Holtzafel to replace HMS Tedworth and she became the diving trials ship, later a floating diving school, HMS Deepwater based at HMS Vernon with Cdr Shelford in Command.  Bill was initially appointed as Deepwater's Diving Officer and went on to continue his very successful career in RN diving and deep diving trials. 


After the RN's new deep diving ship HMS Reclaim was launched by Lady Lillicrap at William Simons & Company, Renfrew in March 1948, Bill was appointed to stand by her as technical advisor.  Although he had missed the launch, he had some compensation as he was selected for direct promotion to Lieutenant.  This involved leaving Reclaim for 12 months of courses including a period at the Royal Naval College at Greenwich.  On completion, he was delighted to be appointed back to HMS Reclaim but this time as her First Lieutenant and Chief Diving Officer.  His first mission on board was the search for the submarine HMS Affray which disappeared on 16 April 1951 and was believed sunk ten miles south of the Nab Tower.  She was eventually detected on 14 June in 287 ft (86m) of water on the edge of the Hurd Deep.  Despite the depth and horrendous tidal stream, Reclaim's divers conducted an initial investigation but an experimental underwater camera, brought along by Cdr Lionel 'Buster' Crabb GM OBE RNVR, confirmed the submarine's identity.  Recovery of her snort mast indicated a combination of faulty welding and metal fatigue which could have caused her flooding.  For their contribution to the operation, Reclaim's Captain was appointed an OBE, Bill was appointed an MBE and four of the divers received C-in-C's Commendations.


HMS Reclaim under sail 


Bill's next appointment was to AEDU from where he toured the USA with Cdr Gordon Gutteridge OBE RN to evaluate and acquire much diving equipment for the RN although the Minisub was not procured as a towed diver search was considered faster, more practical and far cheaper.  However, Bill also got the idea for a Deep Trials Unit which was subsequently completed at Alverstoke in 1963.  While at AEDU, Bill was promoted to Lieutenant Commander.  His subsequent jobs included two years in Command of HMS Diver, the diving tender attached to the 50th Minesweeper Flotilla (50th MSF) based at Port Edgar on the Forth, Diving Acceptance Trials Officer at HMS Vernon where he oversaw the acceptance of Surface Demand Diving Equipment (SDDE), and back to AEDU as Cdr John Carr's Deputy Superintendent of Diving when he was largely responsible for bring into service suit inflation, neck seals, foam neoprene mittens and hoods, woolly bear undersuits, Divers Underwater Communications System (DUCS), Swimmer's Air Breathing Apparatus (SABA) and SDDE.  The warm diving clothing proved especially useful during cold water trials of the Mine Radiographic Outfit (MRO) from HMS Reclaim off Inverary.  He was also embarked in Reclaim to oversee deep water trials of SDDE off Norway and Tenerife when six divers dived to 450 feet using a heliox mixture and nine later dived to 600 ft for an hour.


HMS Diver


50th MSF Diving Team being briefed by Bill


Bill cross-trained as a Clearance Diver before retiring from active service and being appointed civilian Officer-in-Charge of DTU for the next 20 years.  During his time in the RN, he had completed 29 years, 25 of which involved diving.  At DTU, he oversaw the conduct of many deep diving trials including the pioneering of saturation diving, the introduction of Trimix, two sessions of 'Bhulman Dives' (700 ft dive for one hour and 1,000 ft dive with excursions, total dive time 88 hrs 25 mins, decompression 88 hrs), two sessions of US Navy experimental dives and the establishment of a new deep diving record in March 1970 when MCDOA member Dr John Bevan and Peter Sharphouse of the RN Scientific Service at RNPL spent 10 hours at a simulated depth of 1,500 feet of seawater (457 metres of seawater).  This dive was 300 feet beyond the predicted maximum of around 1,200 fsw (366 msw) and was described by American colleagues as “a hyperbaric moon landing”.


Associate MCDOA member Gavin Anthony has drawn my attention to the following Pathé News video clips show Bill supervising diving trials at DTU Alverstoke: 

For several years after he retired for good, Bill enjoyed a weekly round of golf at the Lee-on-the-Solent course, especially against his old diving buddy Frank Spragg.  He and Frank also helped set up a hyperbaric oxygen therapy facility in North End to treat the sufferers of various diseases and ailments.  A few years ago, Bill's doctor advised him for the sake of his health to stop accompanying his customary lunchtime pints of bitter with whisky chasers.  Bill promptly complied by switching to rum.


God bless you, Uncle Bill.  You had quite an innings.


Lt Cdr W B Filer MBE GM RN

(6 Aug 1917 - 31 Jan 2011)


From ex-CD1 Colin 'Foggy' Goff:


"What a gentleman, a sad loss, I think we all knew him and most of us met him in days gone by. Rest in peace Bill."


From ex-FCPO(D) Peter Still:


"Uncle Bill was an inspiration to the Deep Trials Unit and a disciplinarian to us young divers in the Trials Team during the late 60s, 70s and 80s.  His knowledge and forthrightness created a stepping stone into saturation diving as we know it today.  I had a great deal of respect for him and I know that he will be sadly missed.


Rest in peace Uncle Bill."


From ex-CD Len Fisher:


"Uncle Bill, great Gentleman who treated all as equals.  I worked with him in the '60s in the Deep Trials Team.  He will be sadly missed but never forgotten.


Len Fisher"


From ex-CDO Peter Cobby:


"Although I did not know Uncle Bill's children, I did feel part of his naval family.  We went back a long way and I had tremendous respect for his knowlege and professionalism whilst as a serving officer and as the OIC Deep Trials unit.  He didn't do bad at the winemaking either.


My sincere condolences to the family."


From MCDOA associate member Gavin Anthony:




I'm sure many are sorry to hear that Bill Filer has passed away.  As a memory, those of you who knew him (and the DTU) may appreciate these links to Pathe News clips from the 1960s:






From ex-CD1 Perry Mason:


"My deepest condolences go out to Bill's son Richard and daughter and their families.  It is indeed another great loss for the Branch.


Rest in peace Bill."


From ex-FCPO(D) Don 'Jimmy' Green, Chairman of the Association of RN First Class Divers:


"My condolence to Uncle Bill's family.  He was a true pioneer of the branch, expecially when we experimented with equipment and tables for the major transition into the SAT world bringing RN diving into the 21st century.  I spent many hours in his company at DTU and one could not fail but to appreciate his enthusiasm, knowledge and caring nature for all that were brave enough to set foot in his tight ship.




Don Green" 


From John Towse, Bill's former colleague at RNPL:


"Bill Filer was a colleague and friend for many years.  He was very supportive of the amateur diving scene and always ready to give advice.


I moved to RNPL in 1966 as Deep Trials Unit (DTU) was beginning to pull its weight.  Back then I was a junior member of the High Pressure Chamber Unit (HPCU) team and a sense of rivalry persisted between the two units.  Nevertheless Bill, with his strong RN allegiance, joined with great enthusiasm in our civilian volley ball contests and threw himself about on the hard court with little regard for personal damage.


When I eventually took over as head of the HPCU one of my first actions was to have a physical connection made between the two units HPCU & DTU.  This meant that Bill and I could now exchange stored gases if and when necessary that is back-ups for helium recovery and emergency mixtures.  Both units were now pushing to the limits of their 'depth' capability.  We could work easily together and combined many experiments and 'dives'.  He was also a great supporter of the newly formed National Underwater Instructors Association (NUIA 1965) giving up considerable time at week-ends to lecture and tour candidates. 


When the time came, in 1982, for Bill to retire I then had the extremely difficult task of replacing him and his reputation as Officer-in-Charge of DTU. I probably never fully achieved this as a 'scruffy' civilian scientist.  Finally, as I found during our association, work and alcohol were two very different entities for Bill and the two never seemed to overlap. 


Long may he be remembered." 


From Cdr Edward 'Jake' Linton BEM RAN, MCDOA member and Patron of the RANCD Association:


"My condolences to the Filer family and relatives.  Those of us colonials who had the privilege to know him always appreciated his guidance.


Jake Linton



From MCDOA member Cdr Julian Malec OBE RN:


"Dear Rob,


Very many thanks for your excellent account of Bill Filer’s life in MCDOA “latest news”.  What a career of success.  Like many many others I greatly admired Bill, and always enjoyed his good company and his generosity of spirit.  He made people feel better about themselves.


All the very best,




From ex-CPO(D) Brian 'Troy' Tempest, Secretary of the RN Association of First Class Divers:


"My condolence to Bill's family.  He will be missed by many of us.  Another of the greats have been lost.  He will be missed not only by the divers, but many at the Lee-on-the-Solent Tennis Club and the Sailing Club.


RIP Bill."


From Capt Colin Welborn RN, MCDOA President:




I was deeply saddened to hear of Bills death and your outstanding tribute to him forced me to reflect on the enormous contribution Bill made not just to the Royal Navy but also as a great citizen.  When the mosaic that is the history of the UK is made, Bill will have several pieces.  For me he had that inestimable human quality – mettle.  Equally, he could have been a knight of old – valiant, courteous, loyal coupled with eternal optimism.


It will be a jolly long time before a man of his quality walks by.






From MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan:




Bill was a true and generous friend to a vast number of divers.  I am particularly indebted to him for introducing me into RNPL in 1967 where my career first started.  One of his favourite lines, around the time of the 1,500 ft dive in 1970, was "I was the deepest stand-by diver in the world!".


What a life!  What a man!




From MCDOA member Ian Morton:




What a great man he was.  Your history of his career was most interesting.  He joined HMS Ganges exactly 30 years before I did! 


Sadly I will not be there next week as we are away at Plockton doing our Spring renovations before the new season.


Hope to see you soon.


Yours aye,




From David Goodman, cousin of Lt George H Goodman GC MBE RNVR:


"Dear Rob,


I was greatly saddened to hear of the deaths of both Noel Cashford and Bill Filer in the last week.


As I think I mentioned before, having discovered Bill Filer's name in a file in the PRO, I tracked him down through Navy News, and whilst he clearly worked only for a very brief time with my cousin George Goodman, he was able to provide me with an invaluable first hand account of GHG's GC action.  Without this, we would have no idea of the circumstances surrounding GHG's award, and indeed that of his own and Archibald Russell's GMs.


Best Wishes,




From MCDOA member John Grattan:


"Dear Rob,


I much regret that Marjorie and I will not be able to make Bill Filer's funeral next week and would ask you to represent us and tender our regrets.


Bill and Eileen were particularly kind to us way back in 1958 and for many years afterwards.  He was my boss when I had the ECDU [Experimental Clearance Diving Unit] and I have always believed he got me the command of HMS Dingley and the HSCDT [Home Station Clearance Diving Team].


His passing is a great sadness and loss.


Yours aye,




30 Jan 11 - A day in the life of a mine hunter


The Gulf Daily News contains this article written by a reporter who spent a day at sea on board HMS Middleton


29 Jan 11 - MWA Southern Area Dit Session


A few members of the all-ranks Minewarfare Association (MWA) got together at the Royal Maritime Club (former Royal Sailors' Home Club) in Portsmouth for their monthly dit session on 27 January.  MCDOA members Bill Kerr and Yours Truly (Rob Hoole) were among the attendees.



Left: Good company and cheap beer in a friendly environment.

Right: Back row: Ginge Wilcockson,  Pinta Beer, Benny Carroll. Taff Reader, Pete Whitehead, Dixie Dean

Front row: Basher Briggs, Allan Mills, Andy Strickland, Rob Hoole, Bill Kerr


28 Jan 11 - Bargain book by MCDOA member


Maritime Books is currently offering MCDOA member Colin Churcher's autobiographical book, To Render Safe, for only £4.99 online here.  The normal published price is £12.



This was the citation accompanying Colin's appointment an MBE on 8 January 1971:


"On 6th February 1970, the Portsmouth and Medway Clearance Diving Team, led by Lieutenant Churcher, were called in to dispose of a German Ground Mine type GC which had been discovered during clearing operations in the West Warwick reservoir at Walthamstow.  These mines are fitted with an outstandingly dangerous combination of actuating and anti-removal devices.  Until inspection proves the contrary, it must be assumed that any or all of the following devices are fitted: a magnetic and /or acoustic system, an arming clock "booby-trapped" with an anti-removal device, a 6-80 day timing circuit, and a light sensitive mechanism.  The main charge is 1,500 lbs of hexanite.


The team arrived on site shortly after mid-day and found the mine completely exposed and resting in about a foot of mud and water.  A 1,000 yd radius evacuation of the surrounding area, which contained factories and a few private dwelling houses had already been carried out.  Lieutenant Churcher, accompanied by one assistant, made a preliminary inspection of the mine, the outer case of which appeared to be in remarkably good condition.  The bomb fuse and primary release were found to be somewhat mutilated, and because of their damaged condition, Lieutenant Churcher decided not to gag or immunise the fuse.  The detonator plates were easily removed, and the leads were cut one at a time and isolated.  The detonator itself proved relatively stubborn.  As it was now comparatively safe, Lieutenant Churcher decided to leave it in place, rather than exert any undue force to remove it.


Because of the large quantity of explosive and the nature of the site, exploding the mine in situ was out of the question.  As all the detonating devices had being completed at midnight.  A further two hours were then spent in filling sand bags with explosive from the mine case and preparing them for burning the next day.  The high degree of personal risk which existed during the period of preliminary inspection, rendering safe, and steaming out, was borne out by the excellent condition of the detonator and' the booby trap arming clock on removal.  At 0930 on 7th February the main charge was ignited, burning for 15 minutes, and the fuse pocket successfully detonated.  The empty mine case was later removed from the reservoir.


Lieutenant Churcher, who was in personal charge throughout this long operation, displayed outstanding skill, coolness and courage, exposing himself to great personal risk.  His conduct at all times was in the highest traditions of the Service."


27 Jan 11 - HDS Diving Museum update 



MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"94 days to O-Day.  Exciting times!


Martin and Margaret Marks, Jim Thomson and John Millerchip have been in building mode. Things are hotting up and there's lots of display design and construction to get on with.




The next session will be this SATURDAY 29th. If there is interest to work on Sunday as well I will need to leave the keys with someone again because I won't be able to make it myself.  Bob Campbell is visiting Tuesday next week, about 12-ish, to help plan the display of 100+ regulators.  We also now have about 50 dive computers to dangle somewhere.


TASKS 24.01.11




* Fill holes in ceiling with polyurethane foam (we need dry weather)

* Make shelf for recess Continue recovering exhibits

* Start thinking about the design of displays eg Regulator and SCUBA collections

* Fire Risk Assessment; Fire Plan; Recommend extinguishers (Volunteer?)

* Make lid for 'toilet' 16 x 16 cm (JB)

* Paint the 4-sided glass case (Bill Braithwaite)

* Commission locks on 4-sided glass case (Dougie)

* Rebuild "Alphonso" treasure chest (Dougie)

* Build donations box (Dougie)

* Produce lock for glass cabinet (Dougie)

* Build RN diving exhibit (John Dadd & Jim Thomson)

* Build SCUBA exhibit (Margaret Marks)

* Set up Animation Theatre (Margaret Marks)

* Make fibreglass half-manikins (Dougie)

* Investigate chair lift availability (Dougie)

* Make out application for exhibits in RN Sub Museum (Mike Fardell/Kevin Casey)

* Make shelves for library book cases (Chris Murphy)

* Chase Subsea 7 for diver exhibit (Mike O'Meara)

* Deliver HDS pump from London (Peter Wingett)

* Collect single-man DDC from Jim Hutchison, Gillingham (Volunteer?)

* Produce drwgs for doors and windows in Bravo & archive room (Chris Murphy)

* Get planning consent for doors and windows (Kevin)

* Construct doors and windows in Bravo and archive room (Chris Murphy)

* Make wheelchair ramp for front door, outside


OUTSIDE (on dry days)


* Bitumen paint cracks in concrete above Bravo

* Level out soil

* Make/tidy paths on slopes

* Prepare ground for external exhibits (Bob Wakefield)

* Install signs




* Wire brush, red lead and paint both chambers  


We still don't have any standard diver helmets.  Any ideas?




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.


26 Jan 11


Two EOD jobs, one bomb disposal team


The RN website contains this article describing two tasks in quick succession for the Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG).  It features PO(D) Richard 'Buster' Brown and Leading Diver Allan Lofthouse.


RN Diving Heritage: Shallow Water Diving Dress


I am most grateful to MCDOA member Brian Braidwood for contributing a copy of BR 155B/44 (Instructions for use and maintenance of the Admiralty Shallow Water Diving Dress) to my archives. 


BR 155B/44 (dated 1944)


This diving dress was based on the Sladen Suit, nick-named 'Clammy Death', which was developed during WWII by a submariner called Lt Cdr G.M. Sladen RN.  Shallow Water Divers were the predecessors of Ships' Divers and were trained to dive to 33 feet (10m) on oxygen and 40 feet on air although a depth of 60 feet was achieved during trials. 



Plates showing Shallow Water Diving Dress rigged for

Salvus (self-contained oxygen) and surface-supplied air


Shallow Water Diving Dress was originally used in conjunction with modified Davis Submerged Escape Apparatus (DSEA). 


Davis Submerged Escape

Apparatus (DSEA)


Brian Braidwood qualified as a Shallow Water Diver (SWD) at the RN Diving School, HMS Phoenicia in Malta in 1957 but was trained on a derivative of 'old' Clearance Divers' Breathing Apparatus (CDBA) instead of Salvus (see entry for 4 Dec 05 in News Archive 12).


23 Jan 11


A message from Paul Guiver


I chatted on Skype yesterday with MCDOA member Paul 'Guiver the Diver' Guiver who is also the proprietor of Divers' Gifts & Collectables.  He is currently in Exeter Hospital after surgery to remove a cancerous growth from underneath the back of his tongue.  He received his final session of Chemo & Radiotherapy last week and his oncologist has told him that he should turn the corner from the treatment in about three weeks' time.  All being well, he will then get back the use of his throat which will be extremely welcome as he has not eaten conventionally since 23 December!


Although Paul still has his fingers crossed, he has decided it is about time he recovered and returned to the interrupted process of retiring from the Navy.  He says he has been overwhelmed by the support he has received from colleagues through various networks and would like to thank all those who have expressed their good wishes.


Paul after receiving his final treatment


Paul is happy for me to pass his contact details to anyone who would like to get in touch.


John Hendrick recovering from a stroke


MCDO John Hendrick suffered a stroke at the Historical Diving Society's annual dinner in Southsea on 14 November.  The paramedics were on the scene within minutes and promptly rushed him to hospital.  I witnessed the incident but have kept quiet pending definite news of the outcome.  I am now pleased to report that John has progressed extremely well and was allowed home last Wednesday.  He is still unable to walk very far without assistance but his speech has improved considerably, he is much brighter and he still has his wicked sense of humour.


John has a phone nearby and I can provide his number to any of his old friends and colleagues who would like to speak to him.


22 Jan 11 - HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"98 days to O-Day.  Exhibits development is underway!


The RN section is shaping up with provisional display arrangements.



Above and below: Provisional RN Diving Display arrangement




The SCUBA section is being constructed as we speak and the Subsea Animation Theatre (SAT) was successfully tested today.  Workers today included Martin and Margaret Marks and Ann Bevan (SCUBA and SAT), Adrian Barak (SAT) and Jim Thomson (RN).


The next working session is Wednesday 26 January.  The key-holder will be Martin Marks (SCUBA) so confirm with him if you can make it.  I'm in London most of next week.  Saturday 29th is DEFINITE and Sunday 30th is a possibility if needed and someone else can be duty key-holder (I can't make it Sunday).


Thanks are due to Soapy Watson and Barry Jackson (Bourne Removals) for their support.




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved. 


21 Jan 11 - Navy News items


The January issue of Navy News contains these items of particular MCDOA interest:


20 Jan 11 - HMS Chiddingfold and HMS Grimsby host Canadian Senators


The RN website contains this article describing a visit by Canadian Senators to HMS Chiddingfold and HMS Grimsby in the Gulf.


Lt Cdr Adam Northover RN, CO of HMS Chiddingfold, welcomes

Canadian Senators on board

(RN website photo)


19 Jan 11


Another message from Brenda Cashford


I received this message from Brenda this morning and she has given me permission to publish it:


"Dear Rob,


Having given it much thought, I have decided that I will arrange a 'Celebration of Noel's life' a little later in the year.  Depending on how much there is in donations, I should like to name the British Heart Foundation and Project Vernon to benefit.  These are two things he was passionate about.


The Big Lottery Fund has told me that I can use Noel's grant to go to Jersey myself, with a carer (my sister-in-law Lesley from Hayling Island) and we hope to go in June.






I have thanked Brenda, especially for choosing Project Vernon as a recipient of donations, and can provide her address to any bona fide individual wishing to write to her.


From former WO(MW) Robert 'Dixie' Dean MBE:




What a nice thought in such sad times.  A fitting way to remember Noel.


Maintain Momentum!


Best regards,


Dixie R Dean MBE

Trustee & Head of Communications

Vernon Monument"


News about HMS Middleton


The Navy News website contains this article describing the recent crew handover and other activities of HMS Middleton in the Gulf.


Middleton and Chiddingfold in the Gulf

(LA(Phot) Steve Johncock, FRPU West)


18 Jan 11


A message from Brenda Cashford


I have received an email this morning from Brenda Cashford, wife of Lt Noel Cashford MBE RNVR who died on Saturday (see entry for 15 Jan 11).  Here is an abridged version:


"Dear Rob,


Thank you so very much for the wonderful tribute to Noel you have put on the MCDOA website.  I'm thinking about a celebration of his life rather than a memorial service but I shall have to do a bit more thinking about it.  The Leicester School of Anatomy has accepted his body for research and will be collecting it in a day or two from the funeral parlour where he is at the moment...


...Once again, thank you.  It was lovely to see all the tributes on your website, especially from John Ouvry's granddaughter.






Two MCDOA members involved in epic journeys


This is a reminder that MCDOA members David Hosking and Keith Riches are involved in epic but quite different journeys at the moment.


David Hosking


David Hosking is leading the six-strong Team Hallin, sponsored by fellow MCDOA member John Giddens, in its attempt to break the Transatlantic rowing record of 33 days 7 hours 30 minutes set by La Mondiale in 2007/8 (see entry for 3 Jan 11).  The team departed Tenerife on 7 January and an exciting contest has developed with rival team Sara G, as can be seen on the Ocean Rowing Society's website here


Ocean Rowing Society's chart showing daily relative positions

of Team Hallin, Sara G and La Mondiale (2007/8)


Follow Team Hallin's progress on its blog here It is raising funds for Combat Stress and you can donate via its JustGiving webpage here or make out a cheque to 'Combat Stress' and send it to David c/o 15 Wilton Crescent, London, SW19 3QY.  Otherwise, why not leave an encouraging message on the team's website? 


Postscript: The Daily Telegraph published this article about Team Hallin's exertations on 20 January.



Keith Riches


Keith Riches is fulfilling his lifetime ambition to drive to the southern tip of Africa in his Land Rover, 'Stanley' (see entry for 6 Jan 11). He departed Bristol with his co-driver Jane on 5 January and was due to have reached Cairo on Sunday. This is his 'blog' and I will update it as new information becomes available. The initial entries are texts relayed by his wife, Carrie:


Wednesday 5th Jan

Departed from Glastonbury about 5.30pm to catch the night ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg.  Route planned across France, through the Mont Blanc tunnel then down Italy to Bari and another ferry to Igoumenitsa, Greece, and on to Turkey.  Hopefully this will be a warmer route than Austria (with temperatures of -20C), Hungary, and Rumania!  


Thursday 6th Jan

 A very wet 450 miles to Bourg en Bresse. Mont Blanc tunnel tomorrow.  


Saturday 8th Jan

Stopped just south east of Bologna on Friday night after another wet and misty drive.  Arrived at Bari in time to get the night ferry to Greece.  So far, the route has been mainly motorways and unremarkable scenically.  


Sunday 9th Jan

Done Greece today!  Reached Alexandroupolis near the border with Turkey with time enough for a (cold) swim in the Aegean Sea.  


Wednesday 12th Jan

Braved scary traffic to drive right into middle of Istanbul on Monday afternoon.  Note for any other intrepid travellers that fuel is more expensive in Greece than Italy, and even more expensive in Turkey!  Tuesday was a day off from driving - the hotel was sufficiently central to be able to walk to the sights - Blue Mosque, the very impressive Ayasophya, and shopping haven of the Grand Bazaar for Jane! Keith managed to resist selling Jane for camels, though if it had been motorbikes, things might have been different!  Jane was wondering if she could exchange Keith for handbags and shoes.  Today, they were back on the road for 300 miles to just south of Ankara where it is cold and snowy.  Tomorrow they hope to reach Iskenderun.


Keith in front of the Blue Mosque

in Istanbul on 11 January

Thursday 13th Jan - Keith's first contribution!

Well this is my first attempt to edit myself.  You know I am a luddite and this is a Turkish keyboard!  Today we set off in sub zero temps and thick fog .... again!  Rather boring transit south until lunchtime when the viz improved and the mountain scenery was excellent.  Very long descent from high plateau and we finished up in Iskenderun (350 miles) at 1700 - tired dark and rush hour ... its not all plain sailing!  Found a half decent hotel and fed at Pizza House in a spanking new shopping mall.  Turkey is a land of incredible contrast, massive housing and industrial development.  Everybody very friendly, notwithstanding the language barrier.  Tomorrow will be an early start and over the border into Syria - our first serious border crossing with Carnet, visas, insurance and various taxes ......sounds fun!  


Friday 14th Jan - Back to relayed texts

In a seedy hotel in the middle of old Damascas, and hoping that Stanley will be OK in the street!  Some sightseeing in the evening but have to move the vehicle by 8am tomorrow so may just crack on to Jordan and the Dead Sea.  


Tuesday 18th Jan

No campsites to be found by the Dead Sea on Saturday, so it was good old Holiday Inns to the rescue.  Early swim followed by sumptuous breakfast, then on to Petra.  Sunday's text said 'Supper with locals in smokey tent and live music'! Sightseeing in the morning before getting to Aqaba to catch the night ferry across the Gulf of Aqaba to Nuweiba (thus avoiding Israeli territory).  Target destination for today is Cairo.  


Thursday 20th Jan

Not surprisingly, no sleep on the overnight ferry, then 5 hours to sort out all the paperwork to enter Egypt. Another long drive and bad traffic made for a late arrival in Cairo. Supper of lager and crisps, swiftly followed by bed!  Next day old Cairo and the Museum while the Sudan Embassy processed the visas.  Today, hoping to collect visas and set off for the pyramids, but phone call to ferry man in Aswan has changed plan.  Disappointingly for Jane, no time for pyramids as they have to be in Aswan by 21st.  Got as far as Luxor at 11.30pm and made camp.  V. tired!


Tuesday 25th Jan

In view of the current situation it is good to know they are well away from Cairo.  They reached Aswan on Friday where they stayed until the ferry left on Monday afternoon.  Lots of paperwork to do with traffic police etc and general briefing.  Stan was loaded onto a barge to arrive on Wednesday while Keith and Jane boarded the ferry - very crowded with no space to lie down and baking hot.  Met up with some cyclists doing Cairo to Capetown who have been good company.  Arrived in Wadi Haifa today.  I get the impression that Hotel Kilopatra is not one they would recommend!  Hoping that Stan arrives tomorrow.


Sunday, 30th Jan

Now clocked over 5,000 miles!

After a couple of nights camping in the desert with fellow travellers - 3 Norwegians and LRover, 2 Dutch and Toyota L Cruiser, 2 Austrians with F Transit and 2 Italian bikers - they reached Khartoum and the Blue Nile Sailing Club.  They're alongside Kitchener's old ship and struggling with history!  Sudan seems comparatively peaceful and the people polite and curious.  An email on Friday suggested they might visit the pyramids at Meroe, but hope to be across the Ethiopian border by Wednesday.  Differing stories about the need for a letter from the British embassy in Addis Ababa....... fingers crossed 'cos they don't have one!


Sunday, 6th Feb

Tuesday was a difficult day.  Customs at Gallabat did want the letter to 'vouch' for vehicle.  Also had first mechanical problem with a u/s alternator. Somehow both issues resolved - apparently the border crossing was quite a story - no details yet.  Had a couple of days r & r at Lake Tana then back on the road on Thursday for 2 long days driving with a brief stop in Lalibela. Mountain scenery is huge and awesome  but no snow. Arrived in Addis (at 2400m!)  on Saturday and headed for Wim's Holland House, an overlanders' campsite in the centre of Addis offering a complete package of facilities, from tea and meals to vehicle overhaul.  Looking forward to a quiet day with maybe a little sightseeing.


Wednesday, 9th Feb

Into Kenya yesterday.  As warned earlier, roads have been truly diabolical.  Camped last night, but tonight they are in Marsabit in a cheap hotel where guests are politely informed that prostitution is not allowed!   On to Isiola tomorrow.  It is all quite hard but really seeing places - and it is hot.


Thursday, 10th Feb

Safe in Isiola after more awful road.  In up-market hotel at £20 for B & B, plus en suite and running water - luxury!  Big day tomorrow as they cross the equator on the way to Nairobi.  Hoping to find Indaba Camp where they can camp and Keith can service Stanley.  Also, Jane has run out of pages in her passport so has to get a new one.  They may even have to stay in one place for a couple of days to do all this!


Sunday, 13th Feb

Good journey from Isiola with great views of Mt Kenya.  Bad traffic in Nairobi.  Now at 'Jungle junction' where it is very hot.  Keith has serviced Stan.  Hoping that Jane can sort her passport tomorrow so they can continue on their journey on Tuesday.


Friday, 18th Feb

Bit of an enforced break this week.  It took several visits to the British High Commision, braving the Nairobi traffic, for Jane to secure an emergency travel document, but yesterday they were back on the road.  Once at Moshi they made contact with a Motivation representative and today, had an interesting tour of the workshops and training facilities that Motivation shares with an NGO called Comprehensive Community based Rehabilitation.  Apparently, wheelchairs come in all sizes!  Enjoying views of a snowy Kilimanjaro from their campsite at Honey Badger Lodge.  Tomorrow they are setting off in a south easterly direction to an as yet unspecified destination.


Saturday, 19th Feb worth a look, located near Lushoto, off the road from Moshi to Dar es Salaam.  Lots of photos and scenic panoramas.


Saturday, 26th Feb

After a couple of nights at Mambo, it was back to bush camping on the way to Dar es Salam, just south of which they found a nice overlanders camp on the beach.  Very hot and sticky, so after chores, it was time for a swim.  Sadly, diving and game parks were deemed too expensive so it was back on the road. Thursday morning brought great news from Pip and Robin of the arrival of Lucas Digby Riches, a brother for Oliver. The occasion was suitably celebrated that evening!  Friday was a long day and Keith was moved to reflect that although he wasn't pedalling, this trip was proving more gruelling than LeJog.  Finally crossed into Malawi in the afternoon and on to a campsite near Lake Malawi.  Wind, rain and an amazing electric storm all night.  Short drive today down the side of the lake to Nkharta Bay.  Camping at Njaya Camp.  A bit worried that all fuel stations out of diesel today - fingers crossed for tomorow as they continue south.


Thursday, 3rd March

On to Zambia, with stop at Senga Bay.  Jane and Norwegian Robert taking the long route via Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Another long day on Monday,  reached Livingstone on Tuesday.  The Falls have lived up to expectations, and Stanley has had new gear box mountings and I think a new universal joint.  Taking a break for a few days here.


In the process of his journey, Keith is raising funds for Motivation, a charity that improves the mobility and quality of life of disabled people in the developing world.  If you wish to sponsor him for this worthy cause and keep track of his progress, his Just Giving webpage is available here


NDG bomb disposal team called to Aberdeen University


The Scottish TV website contains this artice describing the attendance of an EOD team from Northern Diving Group (NDG) to help deal with an incident at Aberdeen University over the weekend.



17 Jan 11 - More coverage of Noel Cashford's death


The Navy News website contains this article announcing the death of Lt Noel Cashford MBE RNVR.  I am appending tributes to Noel to the entry for 15 Jan 11.


Look out for a possible obituary in the Daily Telegraph during the forthcoming weeks.


16 Jan 11 - HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"Another good day's progress today.  Ex-CDs John Dadd and Jim 'Tommo' Thomson have taken on the preparation of the RN diving exhibit.  They sorted all the kit out and made some repairs today.  There about eight different breathing sets and more to come.


Tommo and John sorting out

RN diving exhibits


Margaret Marks has taken on the preparation of the SCUBA exhibit.  This is a massive task as there is a very large quantity of kit to sort and display.  Martin Marks and Ann Bevan gave a helping hand.  


Margaret and Martin Marks working on SCUBA exhibits

with Ann Bevan


Dougie Saunders beavered away, completing the refitting and hanging of the windows, mounting the inflatable diver air pump and servicing the front door lock.


Dougie Saunders servicing the front door lock


Gavin Anthony called by and delivered two rebreather sets, an air panel and critically, a mould to make fibre-glass half-manikins. Roger Forster dropped in a couple of Nikonos cameras and accessories. David Moore of the Palmerston Forts Society came by and explained further fascinating aspects of the Battery construction and operation. So far we have:


RN diving exhibit - John Dadd and Jim Thomson

SCUBA - Margaret Marks

Film Animation Theatre - Margaret Marks

Inflatable diver - John Towse and Dougie Saunders


We don't have anyone to prepare the standard diver kit yet - any volunteers?


I'm preparing a rota of Guides at the Diving Museum.  Once I have a fairly definitive list of those interested, I'll produce a blank rota sheet so people can tick off the days (or half days) they can help out.


So far, the following have said they will be prepared to help out with manning the Diving Museum as a Guide, as and when available/convenient:


Gavin Anthony

John Bevan

John Dadd

Roger Forster

Martin Marks

Margaret Marks

Stewart 'George' Sissons

Jim 'Tommo' Thomson

John Towse


Depending on how much time people can commit to, we should aim to be able to man the Museum every weekend and Bank Holiday at least between the opening and the end of October.  If there is enough support, we could even go for the whole of the school summer holidays (??).


This season is largely an experimental one, to find out what level of manning we can achieve.  There should be at least two guides on duty at any one time.  Please let me know if you would like to put in some time as a guide.  The more we can spread this load the better.  I'm also spreading copies of the attached flyer around as much as possible.  Feel free to print any off and do the same.



The 'official' opening of the Diving Museum has been postponed until sometime after 18 May which is when Chris Carter becomes Mayor of Gosport.  I'll let you know as soon as we have fixed a new date.  The museum will still be opened 'unofficially' on 30 April.  There will be an 'unofficial' gathering between 2 and 3pm for Supporters, HDS committee and other invitees and then we will open to the public from 3pm onwards (close at 6pm).


The next sessions will be the AFTERNOON of Wednesday 19th and SATURDAY 22nd (not Sunday).






Many thanks to Andy Carss and Ginge Reynolds for their offers of items for the RN diving exhibit.  I have put them in touch with John Bevan.  If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved. 


15 Jan 11


Death of Lt Noel Cashford MBE RNVR


Noel Cashford's wife Brenda, an ex-Wren, has just given me the sad news that Noel passed away peacefully at home at 0130 this morning after a short illness.  He was 88.  Many members of today's minewarfare & diving community met the then sprightly Noel at an event on board HMS Belfast in November 2009 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Cdr John Ouvry DSO RN being the first to render safe a German magnetic mine.  Noel, together with John Ouvry's son David and me, organised it as a tribute to his wartime colleague (see entry for 27 Nov 09 in News Archive 28).  As a bonus, £410 was raised for Project Vernon.



Left: David Ouvry, Rob Hoole and Noel Cashford beside John Ouvry's mine in July 2009

Right: Noel Cashford with MCDOA members Peter Greenwood, Si Leightley and FDS personnel

 with a similar mine at the Ouvry commemorative event in November 2009



Left: Noel briefing schoolchildren on upper deck of HMS Belfast in November 2009

Right: Noel explains the desperate state of affairs in November 1939 and the significance

of John Ouvry's feat


Noel attended the annual Service of Remembrance at Aldwick near Bognor Regis for another of his wartime colleagues, Lt Walter Erskine Prior RNVR, who was killed on the beach by a floating sea mine in December 1945.  I drove Noel and Brenda to the service in 2008 (see entry 23 Dec 08 in News Archive 24) and represented them at the 2009 service owing to Brenda's poor health at the time (see second entry for 22 Dec 09 in News Archive 28).


Noel and Brenda Cashford prior to our

departure for the 2008 memorial service


Noel salutes the wreath he laid in memory of

his old comrade and chum in December 2008


Last but not least, Noel masterminded the erection of the Landmine Clearance Memorial at Mundesley-on-Sea in Norfolk for which he was recently presented with a testimonial (see entry for 27 Nov 10).  This memorial honours the 26 Royal Engineers bomb disposal personnel who lost their lives while clearing World War II landmines from Norfolk's cliffs and beaches between 1944 and 1953.


Mundesley Landmine Clearance Memorial


Noel Cashford was born in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent where, as a boy, he was an active member of the Navy League's Sea Cadet Corps.  At the outbreak of war, he volunteered for the LDV (Local Defence Volunteer) force which later became the Home Guard. In 1941, he joined the Royal Navy as an Ordinary Seaman and was drafted to HMS Pembroke, Chatham.  After an initial period at sea, he was recommended for officer training.  He subsequently passed out at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich and was commissioned as a Sub Lieutenant RNVR (Special Duties).  As such, he joined a relatively small band of officers trained at HMS Vernon, HMS Firework and HMS Volcano to render safe unexploded bombs, sea mines and any other unexploded devices found in the sea or ashore.  He was trained to dive using Admiralty pattern standard diving dress and later in a 'frogman' suit but openly admitted that diving was his most disliked task. 


Noel rendering safe a moored contact mine in 1945


During his period of service, Noel dealt with over 200 lethal devices and he was appointed an MBE on 14 May 1946 for "courage and zeal in bomb and mine disposal operations in the Dover Sub-Command in December 1945".


Noel (far left) in Dover


When Noel was demobilised in 1947, he remained a member of the Supplementary Reserve and was attached for a short period to HMS Wessex at Southampton.  After becoming a salesman, manager and area manager for a national company, he became a group training officer until his retirement.  While with his employer, he lectured socially to various associations, mainly about bombs and mines.  It was one of these early talks that stimulated the development of his visual presentations.  After his retirement, Noel spoke about his EOD experiences at meetings of the Round Table, Rotary Club, Luncheon Clubs, Probus Club and the Women's Institute, etc.  He waived any fee and asked instead for donations to be sent to Cancer Research or to Weston Park Cancer Care Hospital, Sheffield.  In recent years, Noel has written several extremely readable books, all typed up by Brenda, about the EOD exploits of service personnel including All Mine! (about his own experiences), All Theirs!, Bang and Ticking Clock!



Noel's books - Click on the title links above to order online


Over the past ten years, I have come to rely on Noel as a living link with our wartime EOD heritage and will dearly miss his friendship, knowledge and valuable advice.  I have expressed my personal sympathy to Brenda and conveyed the sincere condolences of the RN minewarfare and diving community for the loss she and her family have suffered.  She has told me that a funeral is dependent on whether Noel's body is wanted for medical research but she has promised to keep me informed of developments.


Lt Noel Cashford MBE RNVR

(1 Sep 1922 - 15 Jan 2011) 


From MCDOA member Graham 'Tug' Wilson MBE:




Many condolences to Noel’s family on his passing.  I met him a couple of times and what a lovely man.  It is testament to Noel and his contemporaries that their innovative ground-breaking techniques formulated during the war saved lives then, and paved the way for the compilation of the SOPs that we use today.




From Rita Sayers, founder of the Derbyshire Dales Branch Association of Wrens:


"Dear Rob,


We met Brenda and Noel through the Wrens Association branch which I formed about ten years ago.  My husband John accompanied Noel as his 'bag carrier' when they went on the Belfast tribute to John Ouvry.


Our sincere condolences to Brenda on her loss of Noel.  He was a lovely man who gave lively talks, all in the cause of charity. If you talked to Noel then you were talking to 'history'.  He was like another member to us and will be sorely missed.


Rita Sayers" 


From MCDOA Honorary Treasurer Richard 'Soapy' Watson:




Very sad to hear the news.  What a lovely gentleman.  Those were great dits he spun on board Belfast!  A true inspiration to the branch by a man who showed true grit and determination!  


Let me know if  Brenda and the family would like flowers or a donation from the MCDOA in memoriam as there will be no funeral.  


Kindest regards and deepest sympathy to Brenda and family,




From Richard Ostler, former Aldwick Parish Councillor:


"Dear Rob,


Thank you for bringing this desperately sad news of Noel's death to me so promptly.  I suspect that he must have become quite frail at the time of his accident and his poor old body, which had worked so very hard in the service of his King, Queen and country, could take no more.  God Bless him!  


I count it a great privilege to have known him and to have counted him my friend and I am sure that you, and you all, think similarly.  It is a sad start to 2011 and, unhappily, I lost an old pal (95) just before Christmas.  He was a fine man who, during the war was a glider paratrooper and landed at Pegasus Bridge.  He came out in 1947/8 at an RSM.  These were 'real men'!


I am doing a picture and a piece for the local Bognor Regis paper.


Kind regards,




From MCDOA member Peter Greenwood:


"Dear Rob,


Really sorry to hear of the sad passing away of Noel.  What an inspirational character he was and what a life and legend he has left us all to look up to.  I only had the chance to meet Noel once and it was onboard Belfast in Nov 09 to commemorate John Ouvry and his team who recovered the first German magnetic mine (Type GA) on 23 November 1939 at Shoeburyness Sands in Essex.  He gave an outstanding brief on life during the war and his speech really captivated the audience with the wonderful history of his life and that of the real wartime heroes who served with him.  


A tragic loss but I have no doubt that he always lived his life to the full.  I understand there is unlikely to be a funeral but if there is a collection or flowers, I'd be grateful if you would let me know so I can make a donation.




Peter Greenwood"


From Andrew Bailey, son of wartime bomb & mine disposal officer Lt Bill Bailey CBE GM* DSC RNVR:


"Dear Rob,


Thank you for letting me know the sad news on Noel.  A true and fitting example of a very special generation who gave so much, and of whom sadly so few remain.  While I had the pleasure of knowing Noel for little over two years he made a very special mark on me, as I am sure he did with all those lucky enough to meet him.  A true privilege to have known such a kind and gentle man who clearly had nerves of steel when called upon.


With best wishes,




From Robin Bennett, Secretary of the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officers' Club:




Thanks for the advice that Noel has died - very sad news.  I would like to write to Brenda - could you let me have her address please.


All the best,




From Lt Cdr Jan Ouvry QARNNS, grand-daughter of Cdr John Ouvry DSO RN:


"Rob and Colin [Welborn],


My Uncle David kindly sent me the email regarding the sad news of dear Noel Cashford's death.


Incredibly sad news, as I guess it will be to the whole MCD community, past and present.  He was such an altruistic and loyal 'historian' with such amusing, and yet sobering, memories (and dits!) of his time in your branch and the 'mob'.    


I feel incredibly honoured to have met him, albeit only at the HMS Belfast reunion (which if my memory serves me right was entirely thanks to his hard work and initial idea!), and his loyalty to the heroics and friendship of my grandfather were humbling.  The camaraderie of those serving in World War 2 was epitomised by his speech on board HMS Belfast and, hopefully, carried forward to those serving now.


I have perused the MCDOA write-up (excellent), and just ordered the three books (I only had 'All Mine') that I had never got around to ordering!   Please DO let me know when/if (having read the website) there is a funeral/memorial planned, as I would love to attend to pay my respects to such a dear man who deserves a damn fine send off! (I am sure Uncle David will attend too)


I hope you are both well!


Jan Ouvry"


From former WO(MW) Robert 'Dixie' Dean MBE:




I have just read the MCDOA website regarding the very sad news of Noel Cashford's passing.  I only met Noel once on board HMS BELFAST for the John Ouvry commemorations in November 2009.  His presentation about his friendship with Commander Ouvry and the life they led during the war as bomb disposal experts was for me the highlight of the commemoration and I will always remember the look of awe on the faces of the schoolchildren he spoke to on the ship.


Truly a great loss to the Mine Warfare and Diving community but a man who led life to the full and on the edge in his younger days.  If there is any form of collection please let me know as I would like to contribute.


Many thanks.




Planned swim around Portsea Island for Project Vernon



Today's Portsmouth News contains this article describing plans to swim around Portsea Island to raise funds for Project Vernon and the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) (see entry for 9 Jan 11).  It features MCDOA members Mick Beale, John Beavis and Richard 'Soapy' Watson as well as WO(D) Steve Fitz John and CPO(D) John 'YoYo' Ravenhall.


I must emphasise once more that the planned monument is intended as a tribute to all those involved in RN minewarfare (as represented by the mine) as well as diving.  This will be reflected in the description on the accompanying plaque or interactive display.


14 Jan 11 - HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"What a wet day on Wednesday!  But Dougie and Tommo battled their way through to carry on the good fight.  The diving equipment exhibits have been given a spring clean and the spiders humanely relocated.


Jim 'Tommo' Thomson cleaning exhibits


Dougie has nearly finished his window rehanging, despite the poor condition of parts of the window frames. 



Dougie Saunders and his window 


He has also nearly finished the mounting of the 'pump' which is looking superb.  Sorry about the picture quality.  I'm grappling with a new camera which is cleverer than I am.



Dougie Saunders with one-man air pump 


Amazingly, we are now at the stage where we should be building the exhibits.  We still don't have all the items there yet so it is a bit difficult to start planning and designing.  We could do with a bunch of manikins and glass cases, if anyone can get any.  We will need some carpentry, etc., done to display the kit.  Volunteer(s) please.


A faceless William Walker with museum bouncer


TASKS   (12.1.11)




* Fill holes in ceiling with polyurethane foam (we need dry weather)

* Make shelf for recess

* Make lid for 'toilet'

* Continue recovering exhibits

* Start thinking about the design of displays eg Regulator and SCUBA collections

* Paint the 4-sided glass case (Bill Braithwaite)

* Complete window rehanging (Dougie)

* Continue building "air pump" (Dougie)

* Commission locks on 4-sided glass case (Dougie)

* Rebuild "Alphonso" treasure chest (Dougie)

* Build donations box (Dougie)

* Investigate chair lift availability (Dougie)

* Make out application for exhibits in RN Sub Museum (Mike Fardell/Kevin Casey)

* Make shelves for library book cases (Chris Murphy)

* Chase Subsea 7 for diver exhibit (Mike O'Meara)

* Collect Normalair rebreather set from QinetiQ (Gavin Anthony)

* Deliver HDS pump from London (Peter Wingett)

* Collect single-man DDC from Jim Hutchison, Gillingham (Anybody?)

* Produce drwgs for doors and windows in Bravo & archive room (Chris Murphy)

* Get planning consent for doors and windows (Kevin)

* Construct doors and windows in Bravo and archive room (Chris Murphy)

* Make wheelchair ramp for front door, outside


OUTSIDE (on dry days)


* Bitumen paint cracks in concrete above Bravo

* Level out soil

* Make/tidy paths on slopes

* Prepare ground for external exhibits




* Buy heating tubes

* Buy dehumidifier

* Install burglar alarm and smoke alarm

* Start grant application process (Kevin, Bill, JB)

* Acquire manikins (suggestions?)




* 1 off 3-cylinder SG pump held by Steve Roue, after loan to NMM, Falmouth

* 1 off 2-cylinder SG pump held by Peter Wingett, ex-Harvey Porrett

* 1 off lever pump JB's in RN Sub Museum

* Collection of dive computers held by John Smillie (details?)

* Approx 100+ regulators with Bob Campbell (he’s preparing a list for me)

* Approx 10 off single hose regulators with Adrian Barak

* 1 off Normalair rebreather with QinetiQ/Gavin Anthony

* 1 off saturation diver manikin with Subsea 7

* 1 off Biomarine set with JB


We have now arrived at the exciting design and construction phase!  I attach a rough sketch of how the layout is shaping up. 

This is extremely flexible and is developing as kit arrives. 



Some supporters have already taken on exhibit responsibilities:


* Stand-up saturation diver manikin - Mike O'Meara/Subsea 7

* Inflatable diver with pump - John Towse and Dougie Saunders

* Subsea Animation projection - Margaret Marks and Adrian Barak


It would now be very helpful if more volunteers stepped forward for specific exhibits.  Here are a few suggested themes/collections for display.  Please let me know if you have any suggestions, etc.


* Royal Navy section

* SCUBA section - we have lots and lots of sets and accessories

* Twin and single hose regulators display

* Dive computer and depth gauge display

* Standard diver section


There are some strong suspension points in the ceiling so there will be possibilities to suspend manikin divers. In addition we can have story-boards and illustrations etc.  What do you think?  


We have made the front page of the Newsletter of the British Hyperbaric Association!  Here are two of the historical chambers that are waiting at Horsea Island [Thanks, Soapy!] to be moved to the Diving Museum.




Sunday is our next session at the Battery, but the only work we have remaining is design and construction.  This could mean protracted periods in the Bayside Café think tank!




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John Bevan via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved. 


13 Jan 11 - Ensign replaced on wreck of HMS Antelope


The Navy News website contains this article describing the replacement by RN divers of the white ensign on the wreck of the Type 21 frigate HMS Antelope in San Carlos Water in the Falklands.


12 Jan 11


Gentlemen Who Lunch


Yesterday, the MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio of Doug Barlow, Martyn Holloway and Yours Truly (Rob Hoole) was joined for its regular Tuesday get-together by fellow MCDOA member Paul Davey who has been visiting the UK from Australia with his family (minus daughter Margaret who is at University) over Christmas and the New Year.  As many members will know, Paul undertook the MW module of the LMCDO course at HMS Vernon in 1984 after qualifying as a CDO in the RAN.  I was the Deputy Minewarfare Training Officer (DMWTO) at HMS Vernon at the time and we both appear in the photo below.



1984 - Australia Day party in the Vernon Club

Back: Rankin RN (later RAN), Burroughs RAN, Kennedy RAN,

Unknown, Sewell RAN, Day RAN, Davey RAN (later RN)

Front: Turner RN (later RNZN), Hoole RN, Davies RN, Griffith RAN


Paul later transferred from the RAN to the RN and moved to Britain.  He served in several MCD appointments before gaining an MBA and taking early retirement in 2000.  He and his family then returned to Australia where he has pursued a successful civilian career and is currently the Director of Legal Aid in Queensland. 


In 2004, Paul, his wife Helen and their children Brendan, Margaret and Edward visited the UK and stayed with my family over Christmas.  As Paul and I had served together with lots of civilian pointy-headed scientific staff at the Maritime Warfare Centre on Portsdown Hill during the late 1990s, we took the opportunity to commemorate this part of our lives during his visit:



2004 - Hoole and Davey drink to 'pointy-heads'


Yesterday, our trio took Paul for lunch in the Blue Bell, one of our regular haunts in Emsworth.  As usual, we were well looked after by Charlie who has just returned from holidaying in South East Asia and is soon to be married.  Coincidentally, it was also Charlie's birthday.


2011 - A well-tanned 'Charlie' with the MCDOA's 'Not Quite the

Last of the Summer Wine Trio' and Paul Davey  


After lunch in the Blue Bell, we sauntered back to Barlow's cottage where his partner Jill kindly provided us with tea and stickies.


2011 - Holloway, Barlow and Davey enjoy Jill's tea and stickies


Jill also took this photo of us in Barlow's garden.


2011 - The MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine

Trio' with Paul Davey in Barlow's garden


Mrs Webmaster and I are dining with the Daveys tonight when we should learn whether their property has survived the 'Inland Tsunami' currently being reported in Queensland.  I am sure all members will join me in praying that it has.


Postscript 1: Paul Davey has confirmed that his house in Brisbane has escaped the flood.


Postscript 2: Having read the entry above on his bus trip home from MOD Main Building last night, MCDOA member Martin Mackey has reminded me that Paul Davey was his MWO Course Officer at HMS Vernon in 1991 with CPO(MW) Taff Davies as Course Instructor:


1991 - MWO 1/91. Back row includes CPO(MW) Taff Davies extreme

left, Martin Mackey second left and Paul Davey extreme right


News from HMS Blyth


I am grateful to Sub Lt Martyn Mayger RN, the Navigating Officer of HMS Blyth (MCM 1 Crew 1), for this update:


"Following a relaxing festive period, the ship’s company of HMS Blyth (MCM 1 Crew 1) has returned to a busy programme for the start of 2011.  The ship will be exercising around the Western Isles of Scotland in January, conducting extensive mine countermeasures serials as her crew looks ahead to operational work up prior to deploying to the Middle East later in the year.   Following this, Blyth will be heading south for a much anticipated visit to Cork, Republic of Ireland, for a weekend in early February.  From there, she will be transiting to Plymouth for war games followed by a weekend in Portsmouth in mid-February before she returns to her home port in Faslane at the end of that month.


MCM 1 Crew 1 on board HMS Blyth

at Blyth in November 2010


Many regards,




11 Jan 11 - HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:


"We had a very satisfying day today [Sunday] when we started to sort out the exhibit material.  I attach the current layout of what we have there:



Planned internal and external layout

of HDS Diving Museum 


This exercise is just to get a feel for how much we have and what display facilities we are going to need.  So far, we have identified the following additional items distributed around the country in various garages and lofts which should eventually find their way into the museum:


* 1 off 3-cylinder SG pump held by Steve Roue, after loan to NMM, Falmouth

* 1 off 2-cylinder SG pump held by Peter Wingett, ex-Harvey Porrett

* 1 off lever pump JB's in RN Sub Museum

* Collection of dive computers held by John Smillie (details?)

* Approx 100+ regulators with Bob Campbell (he¹s preparing a list for me)

* Approx 10 off single hose regulators with Adrian Barak

* 1 off Normalair rebreather with QinetiQ/Gavin Anthony

* 1 off saturation diver manikin with Subsea 7


Dougie delivered two magnificent U/W cine camera housings he has lovingly restored.


We are just beginning to see what the museum is going to look like.  Interestingly we had more than a dozen visitors keen to see the progress we are making.


Basking in the luxurious 7 degrees Celsius at No2 Battery today were: John Dadd (plus assorted grand children), John Millerchip, Dougie Saunders, Jim Thomson and a surprise visit from Ann Bevan.


Other tasks completed included further rebuilding of the window fixtures and the pump for the inflatable diver.


The next sessions at the Battery will be Wednesday 12th and Sunday 16th January.


TASKS (9.1.11)




* Clean-up exhibits

* Start thinking about the design of displays e.g. Regulator and SCUBA collections

* Continue building "air pump" (Dougie)

* Commission locks on 4-sided glass case (Dougie)

* Rebuild "Alphonso" treasure chest (Dougie)

* Build donations box (Dougie)

* Investigate chair lift availability (Dougie)

* Fill hole in ceiling with polyurethane foam

* Make shelf for recess

* Paint the 4-sided glass case (Bill Braithwaite)

* Continue recovering exhibits

* Make out application for exhibits in RN Sub Museum (Mike Fardell/Kevin Casey)

* Make shelves for library book cases (Chris Murphy)

* Chase Subsea 7 for diver exhibit (Mike O'Meara)

* Collect Normalair rebreather set from QinetiQ (Gavin Anthony)

* Deliver HDS pump from London (Peter Wingett)

* Collect single-man DDC from Jim Hutchison, Gillingham (Anybody?)

* Produce drawings for doors and windows in Bravo & archive room (Chris Murphy)

* Get planning consent for doors and windows (Kevin)

* Construct doors and windows in Bravo and archive room (Chris Murphy)

* Make wheelchair ramp for front door, outside  


OUTSIDE (on dry days)


* Bitumen paint cracks in concrete above Bravo

* Level out soil

* Make/tidy paths on slopes

* Prepare ground for external exhibits




* Buy heating tubes

* Buy dehumidifier

* Install burglar alarm and smoke alarm

* Start grant application process (Kevin, Bill, JB)

* Acquire manikins (suggestions?)




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John Bevan via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.


10 Jan 11 - HMS Pembroke in Dubai for New Year


The RN website contains this article describing a three-day visit to Dubai over the New Year by HMS Pembroke (MCM 1 Crew 2).


HMS Pembroke silhouetted against Dubai skyline

(RN website photo by LA(Phot) Jay Allen, FRPU East)


9 Jan 11 - Planning underway for sponsored swim around Portsea Island


Last September, members of the Fleet Diving Squadron (FDS) and others (including MCDOA members David 'Stretch' Armstrong, Mick Beale, John Beavis, Chris Flaherty and Richard 'Soapy' Watson) raised £10,000 by swimming the length of Windermere (see second entry for 1 Oct 10 in News Archive 32).  The proceeds were divided equally between Help for Heroes and Project Vernon


This year, MCDOA Honorary Secretary and RN Diving Standards Officer Mick Beale intends organising a sponsored group swim clockwise around Portsea Island (Portsmouth & Southsea - about 20 km or 12.5 miles) to raise funds for the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) and Project Vernon.


Route of Sponsored Swim around Portsea Island


The provisional date for this exciting event, beginning and ending at Gunwharf Quays (formerly the site of HMS Vernon), is Saturday 30 July.  Watch this space for further details. 


8 Jan 11 - Tony Groom and his new book


On 29 December, the Portsmouth News published the following two-page spread about ex-CD Tony Groom and his new book, In2Deep (see entry for 8 Dec 10).  I have been waiting for an online version of the article but it has yet to materialise.



Tony will provide a suitable inscription on request to anyone ordering the book via his website at


7 Jan 11 - HMS Chiddingfold visits Doha in Qatar


The RN website contains this article describing the recent visit to Doha by HMS Chiddingfold (MCM 2 Crew 2).


6 Jan 11 - Keith Riches raises more funds for charity


In May last year, MCDOA member Keith Riches cycled from Land's End to John O'Groats (see entry for 6 Apr 10 in News Archive 30).  In the process, he raised £4,500 for Motivation, a charity that improves the mobility and quality of life of disabled people in the developing world. 


For his latest venture, Keith intends fulfilling another lifetime ambition by driving to South Africa while raising funds for the same charity.  He departed Glastonbury in his Land Rover yesterday to catch the night ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg.  From here, his intended route is across France, through the Mont Blanc tunnel then down through Italy to Bari where he will take another ferry to Iskerendun in Turkey.


Keith and his co-driver Jane with

'Stanley', their Land Rover 300TDi


If you wish to sponsor the old goat for this worthy cause and/or monitor his progress, his Just Giving webpage is available here.


5 Jan 11 - RN minehunters in the Gulf


The Navy News website contains this article describing the deployment in the Gulf of RN ships, including the minehunters HMS Pembroke, HMS Grimsby, HMS Chiddingfold and HMS Middleton, over Christmas and the New Year.  The article includes this striking photo of HMS Pembroke silhouetted by the sun:


HMS Pembroke on passage to Port Rashid in Dubai

 (Navy News photo by LA(Phot) Jay Allen, FRPU East)


3 Jan 11 - Team Hallin sets a date for Transatlantic record attempt


Team Hallin, led by MCDOA member David Hosking and sponsored by MCDOA member John Giddens (see entry for 29 Nov 10), has set a provisional date of 7 January for its departure from Tenerife in an attempt to break the Transatlantic rowing record in a trimaran.  Follow progress on its blog here.



Left: Dave Hosking at the helm during training

Right: John Giddens pops the Champagne


The team is raising funds for Combat Stress and you can donate via its JustGiving webpage here or make out a cheque to 'Combat Stress' and send it to David c/o 15 Wilton Crescent, London, SW19 3QY.


Postscript: Team Hallin departed Tenerife as planned and a keen competition is developing with rival team Sara G 2011 in an attempt to break La Mondiale's record in 2007/8 as can be seen on the Ocean Rowing Society's website here.


2 Jan 11 - HDS Diving Museum update


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan has supplied this update on progress with the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay:




I'm delighted to report an excellent French Chalking session today with Stew Sissons (French Chalk provider), Jim Thomson and John Millerchip along with chair-painter/duty photographer Martin Marks and window hanger/brass hinger Dougie Saunders (IoW).



Left: Ex-CD Jim 'Tommo' Thomson

Right: John Millerchip


Dougie Saunders


Our next session will be Sunday, 9 January.


TASKS (3.1.11)




* Fill hole in ceiling with polyurethane foam

* Continue building "air pump" (Dougie)

* Make two shelves for recesses

* Paint the 4-sided glass case (Bill Braithwaite)

* Continue recovering exhibits

* Make out application for exhibits in RN Sub Museum (Mike Fardell/Kevin Casey)

* Make shelves for library book cases (Chris Murphy)

* Chase Subsea 7 for diver exhibit (Mike O'Meara)

* Collect Normalair rebreather set from QinetiQ (Gavin Anthony)

* Deliver HDS pump from London (Peter Wingett)

* Collect single-man DDC from Jim Hutchison, Gillingham (Anybody?)

* Produce drawings for doors and windows in Bravo & archive room (Chris Murphy)

* Get planning consent for doors and windows (Kevin)

* Construct doors and windows in Bravo and archive room (Chris Murphy)


TOPSIDE (on dry days)


* Bitumen paint cracks in concrete above Bravo

* Level out soil

* Make/tidy paths on slopes




* Buy heating tubes

* Buy dehumidifier

* Install burglar alarm and smoke alarm

* Start grant application process (Kevin, Bill, JB)

* Acquire manikins (suggestions?)




If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John Bevan via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.



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