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Pilot’s error
● St George for England... A wave for HMS Cumberland at the end
of her anti-piracy patrol Picture: LA(Phot) Jenny Lodge, FRPU West
led to Royal’s
helo death
PILOT error led to the death of
a Royal Marine in a helicopter
crash near Baghdad in late 2007.
commando Cpl Lee Fitzsimmons,
from Peterborough, and Sgt John
Battersby, a 31-year-old in the
Queen’s Lancashire Regiment
● William ‘Bill’ Stone, pictured
were killed when the RAF Puma
by legendary war photographer
they were passengers in toppled
Don McCullin – a portrait taken
over during a night-time mission.
to commemorate the 90th
An offi cial board of inquiry
anniversary of the end of the
report says the two men were
Great War
partially or completely thrown out
of the helicopter by the force of
the crash in November 2007.
A remarkable,
Despite the best efforts of the
surviving crew and passengers to
free the trapped pair, fi re engulfed
long, healthy,
the Puma and they were killed.
The offi cial report into the
and happy life
accident says the helicopter had
made a heavy landing as a result
THE passing of WW1 veteran
of the dust kicked up on the
William ‘Bill’ Stone leaves just
ground at Salman Pak.
one man left of tge 650,000-plus
The pilot feared the Puma was
men who served in the greatest
about to roll over and tried to
Navy Britain ever sent to sea.
take off. He became disorientated
The chief stoker, who died last
by the dust, the blades struck the
month at the age of 108, was the
ground, the Puma fl ipped on to
last British veteran of both global
its right side and rolled along the Fantastic four
confl agrations.
ground for several seconds.
He joined the Senior Service
The subsequent fi re set
on his 18th birthday in September
off fl ares, grenades and other
1918, following his three elder
ammunition and became far too
YOU wait seven months
ship’s sponsor Princess Alexandra Solent folk gave an equally hearty safely into the troubled African
brothers as a stoker – and
intense for the crew with their cheer to HMS Iron Duke which country.
rejecting the recruiting efforts of
handheld extinguishers to cope
for a warship and then
and Honorary Rear Admiral of
had spent seven months in the Cdr Sparkes said that often
the Army. He was still undergoing
with it. Within four minutes, the
four turn up in the space
the Royal Naval Reserve – and
Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Atlantic, North and South. Cumberland’s presence alone was
training when the armistice was
Puma was all but destroyed. of a week. Alan Massey. She began in the North, sufficient to thwart the brigands.
signed six weeks later.
The board concluded that The ebbing days of 2008 saw a The royal guest spent a couple focusing her efforts in the But if the sight of a warship
The young stoker served in
pilot error – ‘controlled fl ight into fl urry of homecomings just in time of hours chatting with members Caribbean and drug smuggling bristling with weaponry wasn’t
battle-cruiser HMS Tiger before
terrain’ – was the cause of the for their ships’ companies to enjoy of the 174-strong ship’s company (and just happened to have Prince enough, the ship would fire flares,
joining ‘the mighty Hood’ – Bill
accident; he became disorientated the Yuletide festivities. before departing Kent ahead of William on board as part of his sound her horns, flash lights
would become a mainstay of her
by using the wrong technique for First back – and home her entry into Portsmouth immersion into life in all all andand make repeated radio
association in years to come and
a dusty take-off. from probably the most so all the attention of the three Forces). calcalls in a bid to make the
proudly wore a blazer emblazoned
varied deployment of homecoming would be Just four days afterfter pirpirates surrender.
Squeezing more
with the ship’s badge – taking part
2008 – were the men and fi xed upon the sailors. arriving in theatre, thethe AAnd when that failed
in the ship’s legendary ‘Empire
women of the good “I am extremely ship’s Lynx intercepted d oon one occasion, the
cruise’ in the mid-1920s.
from Sea Kings
ship Kent. proud of the hard a speedboat crammed ship’s Royal Marines
The rating spent much of
The Type 23 frigate work my team have with £50m cocaine boarding party was
the Inter-War period in the
was dispatched to put in over the last off Barbados. The dispatched, protected
Mediterranean and South Africa
THE venerable Sea King should the Far East on a seven months. They ship followed that by the ship’s Lynx
before joining HMS Salamander
be in the skies 20 per cent more goodwill tour, mixed have done everything bust by apprehending buzzing around
in Portland in 1937.
frequently in the coming decade. with the serious possible to ensure a fuel smuggler off overhead.
With her he would sail to
Whitehall has signed a £258m business of exercising that HMS Kent has Dominica. “Piracy will not be
Dunkirk fi ve times to rescue
deal with Rolls-Royce to provide with allied navies and represented the UK From stopping the tolerated and the RN
British and French troops trapped
– and support – the engines of chasing pirates and and the Royal Navy with bad guys, the frigate then n –– along with its Allied
by the Germans – days the by-
the UK’s entire Sea King fleet. terrorists around the Indian absolute professionalism did a volte face to help the and Coalition partners – is
now senior rating regarded as the
The aircraft is the backbone Ocean. half-way around the world,” said needy as Hurricanes Gustav ready, willing and able to bring to
darkest of his naval career.
of the Commando Helicopter Kent left Portsmouth on June 1, Cdr Hopper. andand Ike steamrollered justice those criminals who disrupt
There were, of course, fi ve
Force, currently deployed in paid three visits to Singapore (but “We have visited some me tthrough the Carhr ibbean. legitimate trade by engaging in
more years of war after Dunkirk
Afghanistan, as well as the missed the grand prix – as she fascinating countriies es MMore than half the ship’o s theft and taking hostages at sea,”
and Bill Stone was in the thick
mainstay of the RAF and RN’s did visiting other countries in the during our deployment, bbuut t ccompanom y were involved in said Cdr Sparkes.
of it, taking part in the Atlantic
Search and Rescue operation, Far East), paid a high-profi le visit nothing beats the feeling g tthe clean-up operah tion “HMS Cumberland has made
convoys and Mediterranean
while the Mk7 version of the to China (arriving just after the of coming home to see on Grand Turk where a very real contribution to the
campaign (for which he earned a
helicopter – the ‘bagger’ – carries Olympics…), climbed Mount Fiji families and friends they helped to restore international effort to combat
Mention in Dispatches following
out the Fleet Air Arm’s airborne (well, her sailors did), called in on waiting on the jetty essential services. piracy – and sent a clear message
a torpedo attack on HMS
surveillance and control mission. Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia and the chance to And then another to those involved in it. I am
All variants of the Sea King and Sri Lanka before tackling the see Pompey playing complete change for extremely proud of what the Royal
He was fi nally demobbed in
rely on two Rolls-Royce Gnome terror/piracy/smuggling threat in live at Fratton Park the 180 men and Navy – and we in Cumberland –
September 1945 and returned
engines to power them. the Indian Ocean at the tail end of again.” women: six weeks have achieved.”
to his native Devon, taking up
Under the deal signed with the six-month tour of duty. After Christmas in the Falklands and And you don’t even need a
a trade which he had learned
the aerospace giant, Rolls-Royce In all these places – and more – leave and a spell l eenvirons, including warship to enjoy a homecoming.
during his naval days: a barber.
will be required to deliver the the frigate had served “as a physical of maintenance, the th SSouth Georgia, before The men of HMS Atherstone are
In later years, Bill Stone
engines, repair and overhaul them symbol of the Royal Navy”, CO frigate faces a work up then finally heading for the Solent. home, even if their ship is not.
became fêted by a host of
and provide spares for the next Cdr Simon Hopper said proudly. deployment east of Suez again in “The last seven months The Hunt-class warship is on
organisations, associations and
ten years. The MOD reckons the Besides several hundred the spring – or, as her commanding
have been among the most
a long-term deployment to the
the RN. He was invited to watch
deal should save it £70m over friends and family, the warship offi cer put it, “there is a hunger to
challenging – and
Gulf with her sister HMS
the Trafalgar 200 Fleet Review in
the coming decade instead of the was welcomed home by Prince carry on”.
rewarding – of my naval
the Solent, was a regular guest at
existing arrangement. Michael of Kent – brother of the Hot on Kent’s heels, good
career,” said CO Cdr
To sustain operations,
WW1 commemorative events and
Mark Newland.
sailors on all eight Hunts
reunions of HMS Hood veterans.
“After the counter-
are being rotated through
His last public engagement
drugs and hurricane
the Gulf.
was taking part in the November
relief operations in
This latest batch
ceremonies in Whitehall last year.
the Caribbean, the
of sailors to call
He was renowned for his love
change in tasking to
Atherstone their home
of life – and his love of singing
the South Atlantic
took charge of her in
(All the Nice Girls Love A Sailor
presented a subtly-
July – as temperatures
being a particular favourite).
different challenge –
in the Gulf reached
He would often entertain fellow
one which Iron Duke
their climax of 50˚C
veterans with his rendition of
rose to. I am immensely
– and returned just in
old-time songs, frequently with
proud of my ship’s company
time for Christmas (when
alternative words.
for all they have achieved.”
it was struggling to reach 0˚C
“William had a remarkable,
Equally proud is Cdr Peter
in Pompey).
long, healthy, and happy life.
Sparkes who brought HMS
The highlight of the deployment
He thoroughly enjoyed going
Cumberland into Devonport the
was a (lightning) visit to Umm
to events, meeting people and,
following day.
Qasr – the first since RN and
whenever possible, regaling those
The Mighty Sausage’s
RFA vessels re-opened the port
around him with his fund of
deployment was rather shorter
during the 2003 war with Saddam
naval stories and jokes,” said his
than Iron Duke’s at four months –
daughter Anne.
but she too hit the headlines.
“It proved to be a challenging
“He was a very determined
You might just have read about
time operating in an extreme character, a man of great faith
her anti-piracy mission off Somalia,
environment,” said Lt Cdr Steven and his recipe for long life was:
which reached its climax with four
Holloway, Atherstone’s CO. clean living, contented mind and
pirate vessels being interdicted, a
“My team worked superbly – trust in God. His motto: keep
substantial weapons cache being
sometimes in arduous conditions, going.”
seized, and several pirate skiffs
keeping the ship seaworthy and There are now just two WW1
being sunk.
proving the UK’s expertise in veterans left in Britain – Henry
The Type 22 frigate sailed
mine warfare which is critical to Allingham, once of the Royal
initially to join NATO’s Standing the Coalition effort. Naval Air Service, and former
Maritime Group 2, which typically “We have played our part in soldier Harry Patch.
patrols the Med. providing stability in the region.” You can read Bill’s remarkable
But with pirates in the Indian Atherstone sailors have traded life story at the HMS Hood
Ocean becoming increasingly places with the ship’s company Association website: hmshood.
brazen – and ruthless – NATO of HMS Quorn, who are now com/crew/biography/wfstone_
sent the task force to waters off guardians of the ‘Crazy A’ in bio.htm
Somalia to escort food aid ships Bahrain. Noticeboard, pages 32-33marina
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