26 NAVY NEWS, SEPTEMBER 2010
A truly silent service
I READ with interest the article So what do you think? (Two Six, July, page 36). While serving in the previous
‘Victorians,’ Albion, Corunna, Zulu and Loch Lomond, we were not allowed to comment on anything to anybody. We always were told to obey the last order, no matter who or what, and then complain afterwards, first to a senior rate, PO or CPO, who then took the grievance to the Divisional Officer.
the first lieutenant was informed and then, depending on what he thought, the Commanding Officer heard, or not, about it. The final decision was his and
If he thought it was justified,
impresses or enlightens us the most.
letter which amuses,
Amazon voucher to the
AN INTERESTING article (August) about the recent voyages of RN small craft Tracker (pictured left) and Raider from Portsmouth to Gibraltar.
I assume they are diesel-
powered, but amazed they needed so many refuelling stops en route. May I make a plug for the
wartime Coastal Forces? Flash back to November 1944, and the 14th and 34th Fairmile B Flotillas left Pembroke Dock, Milford Haven, bound for the Far East. These dear boats were mass- produced by small boat-yards all over the country to a prefabricated design, consisting of two skins of mahogany with calico infill, and powered by twin Hall Scott 600hp petrol engines. For the journey to Mumbai
the written request was signed to the affirmative or negative. Writing to newspapers was taboo and could get the person concerned into a lot of trouble. I knew a rating who did it. I am glad that the Armed
Forces Continous Attitude Survey is now listening to all ranks.
every success with his evidence to argue his men’s attitudes on the Navy and Royal Marines. I finish by saying, yes, I
Memories of Inskip
WITH reference to the closing of Inskip (letters, August) HMS Nightjar, a Naval Air Station, commissioned at Inskip in 1943. It was Operational Training Unit No1 and the home of 766 Squadron, operating Fairey Swordfi sh, training aircrews in anti-submarine warfare. As an AM/L I served there
from February 1944 until November 1944 working in the MU, when I was drafted to Australia to join the British Pacific Fleet. Four Wren AM/Ls were also working in the MU. Besides the camp at Inskip all the mechanics and aircrew were housed at Wharles Camp at the other side of the airfield. There was plenty of social life and Blackpool and Preston were nearby.
On three occasions when
staying in St Annes I visited the control tower and an archive to HMS Nightjar had been set up. I would be interested to know what has happened to all this historical information. On May 10 1945 I joined the escort aircraft carrier HMS Arbiter in Sydney, pennant no. R303. She was one of five carriers in the 30th Aircraft Carrier Sqn. When the Arbiter arrived in Sydney her Corsair Sqn 1843 left her for Nowra. I was a member of Maintenance and Repair Unit no 5 (MSR 5) which served onboard her until September 1945 when she went up to Hong Kong.
I wish the Second Sea Lord
enjoyed my 18 years’ service, which sent me all over the globe. – Eric Pearce, Singleton, Kent
(Trombay) they carried 2,000 gallons of 98 octane fuel in deck tanks, plus their normal 2,500 gallons in internal tanks. A very dodgy cargo in 1944. The B Fairmiles were originally designed to have 14 crew plus two officers,
but with ever- Picture: Sgt Steve Lancaster RAF increasing armaments the for’d
crew increased considerably. They were 112ft x 18ft, with one pumped heads and washbasin for crew, and a coal-fired galley for cooking and hot water for the boat, providing the crew remembered to pump the small tank over the stove!
Coal-fired on a petrol-driven
craft... but we all survived! The 14th Flotilla of eight boats
went on to Burma and Arakan, and 34th of eight to Penang and Japanese surrender at Singapore. Which brings me back to the
article, all boats made UK to Gibraltar in one hop! What has happened to small craft development since the 1940s? To all my 85-year-old plus CFVA buddies,
wonderful boats, and friendships have continued over the years. – Don Tucker, Coastal Forces
Veterans’ Association member, ex-ML194, East Anglia Branch
See pages 18-19 for All the small things, a feature on the 14 ships of the URNUs on their summer deployment – Ed
Veterans should club together
Like many of your readers no doubt, I received a letter from the Head of Veterans Services at the Service Personnel and Veterans’ Agency about a new ‘service’ called Club Together, which included a survey with
prizes. I may have got this government deficit thing wrong, but what is the SPVA doing, wasting public money, sending such a letter about a commercial scheme that may take business away from existing service charities and associations? Indeed, why is SPVA’s Alison Sansome, a one-star MOD civil servant,
explicit in the letter. Put simply, Club Together is a
private business and wants to make more money out of being the government’s contract pension provider under the pretence of providing veterans with new services.
The services they offer are available elsewhere,
organisations your readers know and trust.
Is there a need, for example,
for yet another way to “trace your former comrades”? SPVA offers, for completing the
allowed to write such a disingenuous letter to tens of thousands of service pensioners? One might wonder what it is about the many armed forces organisations for veterans that SPVA does not like or understand, in presuming that yet another organisation is needed, when streamlining, merging and cost- saving should be the order of the day.
There is already a plethora of
– A W Hodgins, ex LAM/L, Leeds
tri-service, single-service and unit charities, clubs and organisations and many do a good job, helping with the “sense of community...” that SPVA so arrogantly claims Club Together will do. SPVA’s relationship with Club Together, a commercial organisation that is a wholly- owned subsidiary of Xafinity Paymaster, the armed forces’ pension administrator, is seriously flawed but that relationship is not
Club Together survey, prizes that are “double your next month’s pension”, helpfully adding that the “cash prize [is] equivalent to 2 x your monthly pension”! This is, frankly, disgraceful. The SPVA should treat all its pensioners as being of “one company”. It certainly should not contrive to offer a double whack of pension to a superannuated air marshal, or even to a major, when the same prize on offer to a leading hand or sergeant pensioner is so much less in prize value.
So much for equality and
fairness, but it does shows how little understanding SPVA, and its new mates at Club Together, of the armed forces family have. Five hundred free pens are also on offer – wow! I hope five deserving veterans, on small pensions and in real need of some luck, do win these prizes (the deadline was July 30). The best thing after that,
however, free pen or not, is to ignore this ridiculous scheme
from SPVA, and unsubscribe from any related emails or mailings; veterans should ‘club together’ and torpedo this venture on its maiden voyage. SPVA should learn to stick to its core business. Of course, if chief executive
Wayne Story’s Club Together and Xafinity are so keen to help forces pensioners, then they can easily do so by supporting the existing service charities that offer similar services to those they offer, rather than complicating the picture with another ‘club’ while themselves trying to make a fast buck out of us veterans. For the Ministry of Defence, and the Veterans’ Minister in particular, looking for ways of saving money in the SDSR, the SPVA has now put its head well above the parapet and invited closer inspection of its activities and senior team. The country can do without highly paid public servants wasting public time and money on poorly thought out ideas like this. Clearly, any bonus that might
have been expected by those involved should remain in the public exchequer.
– Lt Cdr Lester May (Ret’d) Camden Town, London
David Johnson, External Communications Manager for the SPVA, told us: “We were sorry to read that Lt Cdr May so strongly objected to receiving the information mailing on Club Together. “We have sent a detailed response to him separately but
we would like to clarify a few points for Navy News readers. “First, the mailing was entirely funded by Xafi nity Paymaster, the contractor that pays Armed Forces Pensions and which also administers the Club Together scheme. “There was no cost whatsoever
to SPVA, the MOD or taxpayers. “We sent the mailing because we felt that, far from competing with what is offered by ex-Service organisations, some of our pensioners would be interested in the additional services that Club Together provides. “Those interested needed to ‘opt in’, therefore if someone felt it wasn’t for them, the letter simply needed to be thrown into the nearest appropriate receptacle. “People were also given an ‘opt out’, which went a step further in ensuring no information material on the scheme is ever sent to them again.
“Regarding the level of prize available to individuals, again this was intended as an additional benefi t but we do take on board Lt Cdr May’s comments on this. “We fully understand that
Club Together isn’t for everyone, but some 36,000 people have requested further information as a result of the mailing. “We think it would have been a
great shame to deny these people the opportunity to get involved simply because others didn’t want to take up the offer. “Unfortunately, until we sent the letters, we had no way of knowing who fell into which group.” – Ed
Charity kept us going
WE WOULD be so grateful if you could publish our thanks to the Naval Personal Families’ Service for all their support and help with my husband and family. My husband Shaun, a
Steward in HMS Campbeltown, came down with cancer last August.
trip to Scotland to be with him. He had two operations and another when he had an infection. To date he has had six months of chemotherapy and we are waiting for news of a CT scan. We don’t think without the help of NPFS we would have made it through as a family. – Sarah and Shaun Cowell, Ernesettle, Plymouth
Sticking to my Polaris pin
I fully empathise with Bill ‘Fred’ Purves (letters, July) about a bomber pin for ex-Polaris sailors.
Forty years ago I was in Cape Kennedy doing our DASO on HMS Revenge (Port). One night in a bar on Cocoa Beach an American sailor gave me his Polaris pin (it probably cost me a drink – I don’t remember).
The NPFS helped fund my
It is two-and-a-quarter inches long and has the A3 missile in the centre, worn just above medal ribbons. The only difference the insignia has with our boats is that the tiny hydroplanes are on the ‘sail’ or ‘fin’ and not in the bows.
I keep it polished and will never part with it.
In 1970 the ‘sausage on a stick’ worn on the wrist had long gone. I cannot remember when
we were issued with our brass dolphins. – Trevor ‘Topsy’ Turton, Arnold, Nottingham
IN MAY 2003 15 Canadian ex-Service personnel were despatched to Liverpool to participate in the 60th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic. That will probably be the last one to be celebrated by us veterans. It would have been a high honour for the 15 of us to have received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.
that group, I am asking if anyone in a position to make this a reality could please step up to the plate on behalf of the surviving members?
On behalf of the survivors of
Don Hensler, ex RCNVR RCN, Gibsons,
BC Canada, VON 1VR, email email@example.com
THERE is a fellowship among those who serve, or have served, in small ships, as our correspondent Don Tucker points out on this page. Mr Tucker’s wartime experiences might seem a world away from those of the officer cadets in the University Royal Naval Units (URNU) on their summer deployment (see pages 18-19).
For one thing, overnight accommodation in hotels was not generally a feature of life in the wartime Coastal Forces. But he would recognise many of the challenges – the cramped conditions, the narrow bunks, the potential for seasickness and above all the compelling necessity of getting along with everyone else in a small metal box where
there’s no prospect of brooding in private. On the plus side are the friendships which are forged in these surroundings and often continue for years, as many of these students will no doubt discover in later life. Whether or not they decide to join the Navy, the officer cadets in the 14 URNU ships will carry a unique experience of naval life through to their future careers. The skills they learn of endurance and teamwork will stand them in good stead in whatever job they subsequently do. Their time in the Navy will also have given them a much better understanding of just how the Armed Forces work in these days when so many people in civilian life sadly have no contact with the Services at all.
The views expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect the views of the MOD
September 2010 no.674: 56th year Leviathan Block, HMS Nelson, Portsmouth PO1 3HH
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