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NAVY NEWS, APRIL 2010

29

Pershore stops to

salute Percy

PERSHORE High Street was brought to a standstill as the local branch paid their last respects to one of their founder members. Following a funeral service in

Pershore Abbey with full Naval honours, the horse-drawn hearse bearing the coffin of S/M Percy Newell and the funeral cortège processed up the High Street through an RNA guard of honour outside the Naval Social Club, where both Pershore and Tewkesbury branch standards were lowered. Percy had volunteered for

service in the Royal Navy and was called up in 1943 when he was 19.

He trained at HMS Ganges, then joined destroyer HMS Caprice which successfully escorted four merchant convoys to Russia. She also escorted regular

convoys and joined U-boat hunts, as well as shepherding troopships bringing American soldiers to the UK for the D-Day landings. Percy, an AB Torpedoman First

Class, was known to the captain as a lousy shot with a pistol – in the old man’s words “he was the only sailor who could miss the sea when shooting...” Demobbed in August 1946, he

returned home to Pershore where he and his wife Vera raised their family and ran the Brandy Cask pub for many years.

He also joined the RNA branch

at the inaugural meeting set up by chairman S/M Ted Annis in September 2002. S/M Percy, who died at the age of 86, is survived by his three daughters and son.

Bourne romantic

MORE than 30 members and guests of Bourne branch enjoyed a Valentine’s Day lunch – Christmas postponed due to bad weather. Everyone enjoyed a three-course

meal, the wine flowed freely – and £91 was raised for branch funds.

HAVING read the account of the Forgotten Fleets service of remembrance in the March edition of Navy News, Les Wills contacted us with his account of another pilgrimage to the

Les pays tribute at Okinawa Peace Park

my daughter Elaine, to accompany me as my carer. We flew from Heathrow in

served on board during the whole of the commission in the Far East. During that time we took part in the invasion of Okinawa on April 1 1945 and were hit a couple of hours after it started. When I saw the Big Lottery

Fund was open to those who had served at Okinawa I applied and was successful in obtaining the most generous full grant from Heroes Return 2 for myself and

Far East earlier this year:

I enlisted at HMS St George, Isle of Man, as a Boy in 1943 and joined HMS Indefatigable at

Scapa in 1944, writes Les, who is chairman, secretary and treasurer of the HMS Indefatigable Association.

I left her in May 1946 having

January to Hong Kong and then on the twice-weekly service to Naha City, the capital city of Okinawa prefecture. Our prime purpose was to visit

the Peace Memorial Park. The park is situated in the

Mabuni area of Itoman City, which is in the south of the island near where the final land battle of Okinawa took place. The park enjoys a spectacular view of the rugged and beautiful coastline on its south-east border. The former Ryukyu Government

initiated the creation of the park on the site and following Okinawa’s reversion to Japan in 1972 full- scale construction of a public park was started.

War Dead Mausoleum, a Prayer Area, the Peace Memorial Hall, the

Flame of Peace and the

Cornerstone of Peace. The Cornerstone of Peace,

unveiled in 1995 – 50 years after the end of the fighting – records the names of all of the 240,000 war dead, regardless of nationality or military/civilian affiliation, killed during the 11-week battle. These names are on monument faced with black marble,

walls,

spread out in concentric arcs from the Flame of Peace at the centre of the Peace Plaza.

under either ‘Japan’ or ‘Foreign Countries’.

The park covers some 120 acres and features many facets of the war on Okinawa, including a computerised information centre and museum, the National

The 117 monument walls are shaped like folding screens with space for 250,000 names. The names are grouped

Our monument wall, in memory of those men from the British Pacific Fleet, is in Row D and in the same row as those of the 14,000 men from the USA. Those named are in alphabetical

ALSO in response to our coverage of the Singapore ceremony (see above), S/M Alf Lonsdale has been in touch to add the final element of the trip, which took them on to Malaysia. “We proceeded to Penang and were welcomed

Warm welcome in Penang

by both the Penang State Government and Veterans Association of Penang,” said Alf. “A service was arranged at the Cenotaph, for which the Army provided a guard, buglers and attendants for lowering and raising both national emblems and the White Ensign. “During the service tribute was paid to the personnel of HM ships Hermes,

Dorsetshire, Vampire and Hollyhock, all lost to Japanese attacks at Easter 1942 in that region. “It was a memorable service,

reception at the Dewan City Council Building.”

£50 PRIZE PUZZLE

followed by a

repairs in Trincomalee, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), but she sailed as word came through of an impending Japanese attack. Following the raid, on April 9 1942, she was

Aircraft carrier HMS Hermes had been undergoing Cornwall,

returning to port when she was spotted by an enemy reconnaissance aircraft off Batticaloa, and with no air defence on board she was defenceless as bombers struck at will, sinking her with the loss of more than 300 men. Escorts HMAS Vampire, a destroyer, and Flower- class corvette Hollyhock, plus two tankers were also sunk. Cruisers Dorsetshire and Cornwall were sunk off Ceylon during the original Japanese raid with the loss of more than 400 men between them, though hundreds more survived.

Where are you all?

AS reunions go it was bijou – but there are plans for greater things to come. Four of HMS Ark Royal’s RPs 1970 commission got together at the end of last year – they have been trying to find all the seamen POs of 5c2 Mess but have only found a few so far. Even so, a reunion is a reunion,

and after 37 years there was plenty of lampswinging and laughter. So, where are you ‘Scats’ Atkins, Bob Newland, Geoff Hanson, Alec Duncan, Bill March, Phil Phillips, Pete Chapel, Jan Pike, ‘Sails’ and others – they want another reunion, but with more faces. Contact Phill Hadfield at

Philliprhadfield@talktalk.net

order, with full given names added, and read across the wall. There is no indication of rank/

date of death or that they were even serving in HM Ships, although all the walls in the park are similar with only names thereon. They were serving on the

following ships: Victorious (22), Indefatigable (20), Indomitable (10), Illustrious (9), Ulster (4), Swiftsure (1) and Implacable (1). The Peace Park, which is beautifully maintained, is a key tourist site, so not only acts as a place of remembrance but also has large grassy areas, away and apart from the memorials, where families can picnic, play ball games and enjoy recreational activities. By the size of the car park and

other facilities I think it must be frequently used, and considering land is at a premium the size of the entire Peace Park is astonishing. June 23 is Okinawa Memorial

Day and each year veterans, bereaved families and other individuals come to participate in a memorial service. I am not aware that any veterans

association from the British Pacific Fleet or other official bodies has ever attended, or been invited. My thoughts as I stood beside the names were that, although in reality it was nearly 65 years ago it all happened, it could have been yesterday when we were hit. The images of that morning, perhaps a bit frayed round the edges, are I am sure still with us all who were there. Elaine and I went alone, and

we used the local transport whilst there.

From Naha City to the Peace

Park there is a bus service which runs every 20 minutes, but requires a change at Itoman City, from where the bus only runs every hour but does drop you off outside the park. The journey takes about two

hours each way. We found English is hardly spoken at all outside of the hotel which makes the journey just that little more fascinating! The HMS Indefatigable

Association holds its annual reunion at the Royal Maritime Club in Queen Street, Portsmouth over the weekend of April 9-11.

h

Past meets with present

THE mystery ship in our February edition (right) was HMS Grafton, now flying the naval ensign of the Armada de Chile as the Almirante Lynch.

Mike Hatton, of Whitstable, Kent, wins £50 for providing the correct answer. This month’s Montrose-built

ship (above), was one of three Ton-class ships which engaged with Indonesian sampans off the Malayan coast in March 1965, the others being HM ships Puncheston and Invermoriston. Four of her ship’s company

were slightly injured – what was her name? We have removed her pennant

number from the picture.

Complete the coupon and send

it to Mystery Picture, Navy News, HMS Nelson, Portsmouth PO1 3HH. Coupons giving the correct answer will go into a prize draw to establish a winner. Closing date for entries is May

14. More than one entry can be submitted, but photocopies cannot be accepted. Do not include anything else in your envelope: no correspondence can be entered into and no entry returned.

The winners will be announced in our June edition. The competition is not open to Navy News employees or their families.

MYSTERY PICTURE 182

Name . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

My answer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

MEMBERS of the Gosport

branch

of the Submariners

Association paid a visit to HMS Raleigh to see how their modern counterparts are trained. Five former deeps spent the

day at the RN Submarine School, where they looked at the latest technology and training methods, chatting to students about the association and the history of the Submarine Service. There was a surprise reunion for one veteran when Roy Dixon bumped into PO Willy Wilmshurst, an instructor at the school. The two men served together in the old diesel-electric boat HMS Otter in 1980 – PO Wilmshurst’s first trip in a submarine, and Roy Dixon’s last. Les Catlin, vice chairman of the Gosport branch, said: “It was a great privilege and a pleasure for us ‘old boys’ to be invited to visit the Submarine School and talk to some of the students. “We hope we were able to give

them at least a brief insight into the proud history and traditions of the Service they are joining.” The branch has developed close ties with serving submariners and in particular the Communications branch.

Each year the association presents an award to the Communications branch rating who achieves the best marks on a

Gunning for new members

HAVE you ever served in the Naval Gunfire Support world? Are you a member of the Amphibious Bombardment Association – and if not, the association would like to know why not? The ABA is about 390 strong and includes current and former members of the NGS world, Army, Navy and Royal Marines, Regular and TA (NGLOs as well as others) and comprises all ranks and rates.

philip.west3@btinternet.com or BSM 148 Bty WO2 Richard Bociek at 3CDOX-29CDO-

148BTYBSM@mod.uk

That’ll be rolls for lunch, then

YOU may remember some correspondence on our letters pages last October over the presence of bunks and hammocks

in HMS Amethyst.

The conclusion from the experts

at the Naval Historical Branch was that there were stabilisers, but that the jury was out on hammocks or bunks.

Kenneth Thornton has written to us to affirm that “there were no bunks on the ship – we all used hammocks.

“In our mess there was the Chief ERA, one 3rd and one 4th class ERAs and one Mechanician. “I was a 5th, shortly promoted to Acting 4th ERA.”

With regard to the stabilisers, S/M Kenneth wrote:

“The

stabilisers were controlled by the Chief Stoker and so, as I recall, were not used in heavy seas but on occasion he tested them in the calm to make the ship roll – usually when it was lunchtime...”

Fantastic 50th

CORK and County branch

celebrated its 50th anniversary with a dinner held at the Vienna Woods Hotel, Cork. The event was well-attended, with many distinguished guests from all over Ireland, north and south.

The principal guest was Cllr

l Members of the Submariners Association Gosport branch with Cdr Nick Meredith (front, centre), Officer Commanding the RN Submarine School, and instructional staff

Leading Hand promotion course. CPO Sandy Sandbrook, the

instructor who organised the visit, said: “I’ve escorted the winner of the award to the association’s annual mess dinner on a number of occasions. “The first time I attended I

learned so much, first and foremost that the camaraderie of the submariner doesn’t fade with time – if anything it gets stronger. “We in the Submarine Service

have a number of sayings. “One is ‘look to the future, but remember our past.’

history and it’s what drives us to be the best we can. “Another is ‘all buddies in

“We pride ourselves on our

boats’ – all submariners have had to earn their dolphins by learning all the systems and routines used by the submarine. “We work in a confined

Picture: Dave Sherfield

Brian Bermingham, the immediate past Lord Mayor of the city, who gave an enlightened address worthy of any blue-blooded Royal Naval historian, according to S/M Ivan Hunter, the National Council member for Area 12 (Ireland).

A matter of timing

environment for months on end, often under stressful conditions, which makes the bonds between all submariners very strong. “The association is proof that once a submariner, submariner.”

always a

S/M ALAN Waite has asked us to clarify the timings of donations by the HMS Newfoundland Association, as reported in our March edition. “The Help for Heroes was initially given, at the final AGM, £1,357 and then £142.35 with the other recipients,” said S/M Alan.

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