NAVY NEWS, JULY 2010
Torrents can’t halt Torrevieja
MEMBERS of Torrevieja branch in Spain took part in the local Veterans Day parade, which was well-attended despite the torrential storm which struck just before the event was scheduled to start. Shipmates joined serving and
ex-serving Spanish, British and foreign personnel in the event, part of the town’s St Christopher festival,
which celebrates the
patron saint of travellers. S/M Dick Conway and his team had been working hard at the waterfront site since early in the morning, and although the downpour curtailed some of the planned entertainment, military displays did go ahead as planned in the early evening. Spanish patrol ships were open to visitors during the day, and the guest of honour was Lt Gen José Emilio Roldan Pascual, head of the Spanish military emergency response unit Unidad Militar de Emergencias, an Army group trained to deal with fire, flood, earthquake and whatever else Mother Nature throws at them. The final veterans parade and homage to the fallen, although rearranged because of the weather, still won the admiration of a considerable gathering of locals.
Pilgrimage fund boost
THE Joint Services Hosanna House Group members were entertained by WO Deno Lawson and his messmates at the HMS Drake senior rates mess – an event which included a meat raffle – before the departure of the International Military Pilgrimage (IMP) to Lourdes, in France. The members thanked WO
Lawson and his colleagues, and also appreciated a donation of £200 from Plymouth branch to support the work of the JSHHG, which takes children and adults with disabilities and special needs on pilgrimage holidays to Lourdes every year. For more details see www.
Crosby celebrates silver jubilee
CROSBY branch has celebrated the 25th anniversary of its re-founding. The venue for the party was the branch’s
base at the Crosby Old Comrades Club. Youngsters from TS Starling provided a Sea Cadet band and a guard of honour for the occasion.
The band played some excellent music and
provided a proud guard throughout the day, according to the Crosby shipmates. The Mayor and Mayoress of Sefton attended
the event, and were met at the reception by the club’s chairman, S/M Bill Roberts.
St Helens, Chester and the George Cross
Association also attended, as well as Cdr Harley, the Area 10 president. There were some important presentations made on the day, including sets of memorial cufflinks presented to S/Ms Bill Roberts, Claude Harding, Brian Simpson and Dave Palmer. All four members have been with Crosby branch since its beginning, and were presented with their gifts by the Mayor and Cdr Harley. The biggest presentation was made to club president S/M Tom Beswarick in celebration of his forthcoming 90th birthday.
Tom – a former mayor, JP and member of the George Cross Association – had recently written his biography and a photograph from his book was used to commission an oil painting of the ship he served on during World War 2 at Malta. The painting was completed by a talented
prisoner at HMP Altcourse in Liverpool. Cdr Harley and the Mayor made the presentation to Tom, who provided an emotional explanation as to the meaning of the painting. The celebrations continued with ‘up spirits’ and entertainment provided by a local singer.
Visitors help Orkney dedicate standard
ORKNEY branch has staged a weekend of celebrations to mark the dedication of
their standard. Friday began with a tour over to the island
of Hoy, where Lyness – the former Royal Navy wartime HQ for Scapa Flow – is the home of the Naval Museum, the Arctic Convoy Memorial and Lyness Naval Cemetery. The weather was kind and the group on the tour seemed to have a thoroughly good time. Later that evening, a welcome party was held in the Kirkwall branch of the Royal British Legion.
In proper naval tradition, the bar remained
busy and shipmates kept the sea stories flowing. Saturday was Orkney branch’s buffet and
dance, which started with a few words from the chairman, followed by replies from the 15 visiting branches. After a presentation to all the branches of an Orkney RNA crest – including one to National President S/M John McAnally, the buffet was served and the dancing began. There may be some who are considered
elderly, but not when it comes to the dance floor – the band worked hard until time was called. Sunday saw most people getting an early lunch before forming up outside Kirkwall RBL for the parade, starting at 1300hrs. The marchers headed to the Kirkwall Cenotaph to lay a wreath, then moved on for a church service in St Magnus Cathedral, led by branch chaplain the Rev David Dawson. After a very moving service, the parade
formed once again and marched back to Kirkwall RBL for refreshments and farewells to those returning south.
£50 PRIZE PUZZLE l The national and local branch standard at the Orkney ceremony Tallinn honours E18
A SERVICE of remembrance has been held in the Estonian capital of Tallinn to honour the Royal Navy sailors of submarine E18. The boat was one of a handful sent to the Baltic
THE mystery ship in our May edition (right) was HMS Fox and the mascot was Basil Brush – so J Bigg of Gosport wins our £50 prize.
This month’s ship (above), had something of a split personality. She was launched at Camper & Nicholson in October 1957 as a Ton-class minesweeper under one name, but in 1959 took up a new training role with the RNR in Liverpool under a second name. In January 1976 she reverted to her original name and role – but within months she entered refit and emerged in 1978 to take up a new role in fishery protection. What were the ship’s two
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 August
13. 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 winner will be announced in our September edition. The competition is not open to Navy News employees or their families.
MYSTERY PICTURE 185 Name . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . My answers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
German iron ore supply lines during World War 1, successfully operating out of the Russian port of Reval, as Tallinn was known at that time. But in June 1916 she
disappeared, taking 30 British sailors and three Russian liaison officers with her, and her fate remained a mystery until the involvement of Darren Brown, the Australian great-grandson of a crewman who was taken ill shortly before her final patrol and was haunted by his narrow escape for the rest of his life. Darren spent a decade archives until
was convinced he knew roughly where she lay – and a sonar
survey quickly found the wreck of E18, the evidence suggesting she had struck a mine. Efforts then began to contact
relatives of the crew, co-ordinated by Robert Davenport, whose grandmother’s
was E18’s slightly eccentric CO Lt Cdr Robert Halahan. The Russian Submariners Club
is also involved, though it has yet to trace any Russian descendants. Relatives of half-a-dozen
British crew members, plus a couple who were not on board when she sank, have since come forward. And more than a dozen people
travelled to Tallinn for the service and dedication of a memorial at the Pühavaimu Kirik, or Church of the Holy Spirit. The party also toured historic
Naval sites. The wreck is in the process of being officially recognised as
Dauntless link a maritime military grave, but
would make her attractive to unscrupulous divers.
FORMER Wrens were among the first guests on the list for the commissioning of HMS Dauntless (see p23).
Mr Davenport has said he hopes the authorities will watch the site until that happens as her location and
Because the name Dauntless has a special significance for many Wrens, having been trained at the stone frigate HMS Dauntless, near Reading, between 1953 and 1981.
See next month’s Navy News for a closer look at the links between the two Dauntlesses, and at the Association of Wrens, which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year.
l James ‘Lofty’ Christmas
Lofty: In the thick of the fighting
FORMER Thurrock branch shipmates of James
Christmas have been in touch to expand on his war record. Lofty, who died on May 2, shortly before the Little Ships returned to Dunkirk, joined the Royal Navy a couple of years before World War 2, and was a young seaman/gunner in a destroyer which saw action in the Spanish Civil War whilst picking up British Embassy staff off the coast. With war declared, Lofty served in one of the H-class destroyers which were involved in the First Battle of Narvik in April 1940. While taking a few days rest in
Chatham, he and a rating named Alfie were told to head by bus to Ramsgate as they were urgently needed to crew the boats heading for Dunkirk.
Lofty and another sailor crewed the Sea Scouts pinnace Minotaur, skippered by the Group Scout Master from Mortlake and a Scout Leader engineer. After a couple of days, short of fuel and with her engine making strange noises,
stood down. The two ratings managed to get a few hours sleep before being sent back to Dunkirk to man motorised open lifeboats. While heading back to the beach after transferring evacuees to a destroyer, the blast from a Stuka bomb capsized Lofty’s lifeboat; Alfie was never seen again. Only hours before Alfie had found a cork strip lifebelt and handed it to Lofty to avoid injury to his waist and stomach from pulling soldiers over the sides of the lifeboat. The belt saved Lofty. He went on to serve in Malta
and Arctic convoys, and while in a Russian port late one dark, cold winter evening, while taking a stroll around the destroyer’s deck, he heard a splash in the water. Looking down he saw a Russian guard who had slipped on the ice of the dock walkway and fallen in. Lofty jumped in and held the
man’s head above the water until other guards dragged them out. S/M John Rush, who provided
this brief biography, said: “The Russians never forgot the brave British sailor and, over the years, Lofty was asked to attend the Russian Embassy on more than one occasion and was presented with three Russian medals over the years.”
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