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NAVY NEWS, DECEMBER 2010


Malaysia medals are presented


MORE than 500 ex-Service personnel gathered at in Portsmouth for two days of medal presentations – further tribute to the efforts of a small team of dedicated volunteers. The awards being presented


were the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal, instigated by the Malaysian government for veterans who served in operations in Malaya/Malaysia between August 1957 and August 1966. Early in 2006 Fred Burden, membership secretary of the National Malaya and Borneo Veterans Association (NMBVA) – which campaigned for formal recognition for Britons who had helped Malaysia gain and retain independence – told the Malaysian High Commission (MHC) that he and his wife Annie would also collate and process applications from non- NMBVA members. Another member of the


Association, ex-Pongo Mike Warren (who on occasions served alongside the Royal Marines during his days in the REME) and his wife Bev also offered to help, and they have been working away furiously ever since to ensure everyone eligible for the medal gets one. A third volunteer, John Simcock, came on board the operation in 2007 and between them the volunteer team has collected more than 28,000 applications. In order to save on


considerable postal costs for sending out medals, recipients are invited to ceremonies staged around the country and overseas. The Portsmouth event saw 520 people congregate at the Royal Maritime Club in Queen Street, where a five-strong delegation from the MHC, led by Brig Gen Othman Jamal, Military Advisor to the Malaysian High Commission in London, present the medals to veteran from all three Services. The Portsmouth event was put together in its entirety by Mike and Bev Warren, entailing many hours on the phone to hundreds of potential recipients in addition to initiating and finalising arrangements for the venue. With Portsmouth finished, the couple could turn their attention to Bristol, where a further 500- 600 people are expected to pick up their medals in a two-day event at the beginning of this month.


But the finishing line is in sight


– Mike, a member of the Royal Marines Association Blackpool branch, believes there are now fewer than 6,000 outstanding, a number which will have fallen again by Christmas. If anyone believes they are entitled to the medal, they can check qualifying criteria at www. veterans-uk.info/medals/ pingat.html www.nmbva.co.uk gives details and dates of future presentations, and Mike Warren can be contacted at mikewarren44@yahoo.com


The Devonport experience


A survey of matelots based in the West Country has helped shape the new ‘Devonport Experience’ initiative.


Naval Base Commander, the Commodore of the Devonport Flotilla and Babcock, the survey quizzed more than 100 people from 11 ships and submarines on all aspects of facilities and services.


Commissioned by the


Chatham remembers loss of Jervis Bay


ALMOST 200 people


gathered in Chatham to mark the anniversary of the heroic loss of a wartime convoy escort.


cruiser HMS On November 5 1940, as she


was shepherding convoy HX84 eastwards across the Atlantic, armed merchant


Jervis Bay encountered German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer. Jervis Bay was a converted ocean liner, hastily armed with World War 1-vintage 6in guns, and had sole responsibility for 37 merchant ships, but her CO, Capt Edward Fegen, knew she was hopelessly outgunned. His only hope of saving her charges was to engage the Admiral Scheer, so Jervis Bay turned and steamed straight at the German, opening fire once clear of the convoy. Admiral


Scheer responded,


wrecking the cruiser’s bridge and shattering Fegen’s arm.


And she continued to pound


the stricken Jervis Bay, pounding her superstructure and holing her hull in several places, starting numerous fires. The White Ensign was


shot


away, but a member of the crew nailed it back up as the mortally- wounded ship continued the one- sided battle for three hours. By the time the Admiral Scheer could turn her attention to the convoy it had scattered, and the German warship caught up with and sank just six merchantmen. By this time the hulk of the


Jervis Bay had sunk over 700 miles off Iceland, taking her captain and 185 of his crew with him. Of the 68 survivors, three more died after being rescued by a Swedish ship which found them. Fegen was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. Jervis Bay, which spent 17 years shuttling passengers and cargoes between the UK and Australia before the war, had been allocated to the Chatham Division. So it was appropriate that the ship should take pride of place at the new No.1 Smithery facility in Chatham Historic Dockyard. The group of 180 people, most of whom were directly related to those who lost their lives 70 years ago, attended a commemorative service in the Royal Dockyard Church, organised by the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust (CHDT) and led by the Rt Rev Dr Stephen Venner, Bishop to the Forces. They then moved on to the


renovated metal workshop for lunch and a reception, held in the gallery which contains a large- scale model of the Jervis Bay. Mrs Iris Bagnall, sister of ship’s


carpenter Arthur Desborough, who died in the encounter, said: “It is heartwarming to know that they are being remembered.” Cdre Peter Lockwood, Head


of the Australian Defence Staff in London, said: “The service was especially poignant to me in that it remembered a ship and her crew who hold a special place in the hearts of many Australians, both


27


Reservists tackle high ropes rig


throw a VIP onlooker into the scenario? Prince Michael of Kent, Rear Admiral Royal Naval Reserves, spent a day at the Torpoint training establishment, watching Reservists from Plymouth unit HMS Vivid using the high ropes (as featured in November’s Navy News). Although primarily for the use of new recruits on the nine- week basic training course, the 13m-high installation can be used by other courses and units. The equipment provides students with a range of challenges, from crossing ropes and walkways suspended


climbing ropes and ladders – all the time safely attached to the facility by a safety harness. Capt Steve Murdoch,


Commanding Officer of Raleigh, said: “The high ropes course is a valuable addition to the first-class training facilities we have here at Raleigh. “It allows us to develop and test


the physical and mental robustness of recruits while exposing them to controlled stress. “We are very pleased that His


Royal Highness found time to visit HMS Raleigh and for the opportunity to show him the wide variety of training conducted at the establishment.” During his visit Prince Michael


the between poles to


TACKLING the new high ropes training apparatus at HMS Raleigh can be a little intimidating. So why not up the ante and


also met a group of Royal Navy recruits tackle the assault course. Having been met by a royal guard of honour, the Prince saw more ceremonial in the form of the passing-out parade, where he was the VIP inspecting officer. Some 600 sailors took part in the parade, including almost 60 recruits who were marking the successful completion of their basic training.


14 Reservists from across the UK who had completed their own two-week basic training course, building on training and drill instruction at their parent units by immersing them in a Naval environment working skills


to


knowledge of Naval procedures, standards and practices.


Submariners


visit Islay TRIDENT


● Relatives of sailors from HMS Jervis Bay gather around the model and display of the ship in No.1 Smithery at Chatham Historic Dockyard


past and present. “Indeed,


Australians


some of today’s have


parents and


grandparents who immigrated to Australia between the wars in the Jervis Bay and in her sister ships and her loss at the time, albeit in such courageous circumstances, was greatly mourned ‘down under’.” Capt


(N) Harry


Canadian Defence Liaison Staff London, said: “It was both a great honour and a sincere pleasure for me to represent Canada at this special and very moving event. “There


are many connections to the


Canadian remarkable


story of HMS Jervis Bay, especially the 25 Canadians and Newfoundlanders who were part of her ship’s company – 13 of who died that day and 12 who were among the 65 who survived. “And, of course, there is also the


Harsch,


fact that the convoy was one of the countless which sailed from Halifax to sustain the Allied war effort. “As well, during the summer


of 1940, just a few months prior to her loss, Jervis Bay refitted in St John, New Brunswick, where the name Jervis Bay lives on in a memorial to the action in the Ross Memorial Park, as well as in the


Jervis Bay Memorial Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.” Bill Ferris, chief executive of the CHDT, said the event was “not only a fitting and memorable day, but demonstrates brilliantly how museum objects such as the magnificent model of the ship so prominently on display in our new No.1 Smithery, can stimulate real emotion and community engagement. “The event would never have happened without the focus on this object and the story that it tells – we were incredibly proud to host it.”


Vanguard has strengthened its ties with Islay with a visit by members of the Port crew.


submarine HMS


at the invitation of the city’s Submariners Association branch. The deeps attended a Trafalgar Night dinner and a remembrance service at the National Arboretum. There was also a tour of the Rolls-


charities on the island – known as the Queen of the Hebrides – took part in a ‘work in the community’ gardens project and had a meal with island councillors. They also somehow managed to find a little time to visit two of the island’s eight whisky distilleries... A visit was also made to Derby


The bomber team met local and hone develop


team- their


Also on the parade ground were


Royce plant which produces the latest Pressurised Water Reactor, PWR2 Core H, which powers the Astute-class submarines.


Deep Blue divers in the Red Sea


was engineering support. And regular gripes are being addressed – in the short-term new signs have appeared, along with bus shelters, smoking shelters, bike racks and a mobile catering van.


Among the strengths identified


DEEP Blue might have been the title, but ten trainee frogmen found a rainbow in the waters of the Red Sea on a diving expedition to Egypt. Ten members of University RN Units (URNUs) – nine from Oxford and one from London – were joined by an individual from the Northern Diving Group on Exercise Deep Blue, part of the RN’s Adventurous Training programme, and organised by OC Giles Richardson. Split into two groups, one for the six beginners, the other for those looking to build on their experience, the divers spent a week on the MY Liberty. “The dives were spectacular!” said CPO ‘Dan’ Maskell, Oxford URNU coxswain. “The brilliantly-coloured reefs were packed with


In the longer term the initiative should see other improvements brought in, such as better connectivity alongside, including email services.


fish, eels and other marine life. “A personal highlight was watching a metre-long turtle munching on coral, quite unperturbed by our


● The Exercise Deep Blue divers pose for the camera in the Red Sea


presence, and plenty of lionfish, stingrays, moray eels, stonefish and scorpion fish were also sighted.” The teams managed a number of night dives, played with a school of dolphins, and had a look round the wreck of the British supply ship Thistlegorm, whose holds are packed with wartime supplies including Jeeps, armoured vehicles and two steam trains. Before they left the site the divers held a minute’s silence in tribute to the five RN sailors and four merchant seamen who died on October 6 1941. It wasn’t all water-based – there were lectures, practical demonstrations and exams on the Liberty. But it all came together in a final dive on the Egyptian minesweeper El Minya, sunk in 30m of water outside the harbour during the Six Days War. At the end of the exercise the six beginners had qualified as sports divers, a clearance diver had achieved the same status, another sport diver completed her qualification and two dive leaders were closer to their Advanced Diver qualifying dives.


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