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Invitation to the parade

THE General Secretary of the RNA has issued an invitation to all associations and individuals with a Naval background to join shipmates on their big parade in London in September. In his ‘open letter from the

RNA’, S/M Paul Quinn says: “The Royal Naval Association will be holding its Biennial Parade at the Cenotaph at Whitehall on Sunday September 11 2011. “Associations and individuals

related to the Naval Service are cordially invited to march with their Shipmates and to parade their standards with the RNA National standard and RNA Area and Branch standards.

“Those interested should contact Nigel Huxtable on 023 9272 3747 or at nigel@royalnavalassoc. com or the General Secretary Capt Paul Quinn at paul@, who will provide more details. “Yours in comradeship, Paul


Legacy project

FILM company Legasee is seeking war veterans who would like their stories filmed for posterity as part of a social history project. Legasee is developing an online resource of filmed interviews featuring ex-campaigners for use by schools, colleges, and members of the public. Anyone interested should contact Legasee by phone, email or by letter, giving name, age, daytime phone number and brief details of wartime service. Email, telephone 01992 719363, or write to Legasee, 27 Government Row, Enfield Lock, London EN3 6JN. The Legasee project is completely free of charge, with any travel expenses paid. See for further information.

New advisor

SHIPMATE Mick Kieran has been elected as the National Ceremonial Advisor.

He will assume the full duties

at the end of the conference parade and wreath-laying, and will understudy until then.

And talking of the conference, please remember that motions and amendments for debate should reach the General Secretary by February 11.

Service remembers victims of collision

MORE than 200 people turned up for the 61st memorial service for the 64 men who died when HMS Truculent sank in the Thames following a collision with a

merchantman. The service, at the St George’s Centre, Chatham, was held on the

nearest Saturday to the anniversary of the sinking,

January 12, to

enable more people to attend – a decision which was justified by the numbers. Truculent was lost when she collided with the Swedish tanker Divina eight miles off Sheerness on the evening of January 12 1950, a cold, clear night.

There was confusion over the lights carried by Divina, and by the time evasive action was taken it was too late.

The small tanker, carrying paraffin down the Thames, sliced into the T-boat, almost knocking her flat; the two vessels remained locked together for several seconds before Truculent sank.

The men on board who

survived the initial collision waited in the dark on the sea bed until they believed it would be safe to escape, rescue vessels having been alerted.

But when they made their escape they found no alarm had been raised, and although Divina and another freighter, the Dutch ship Almdijk, picked up 20 men between them, another 57 were swept to their deaths by the strong, icy current.

A total of 64 men died – the crew had been augmented on that trial run by dockyard workers who had been involved in her refit at Chatham.

The ceremony also remembers

the five-strong crew of a Coastal Command Lancaster patrol aircraft from RAF Kinloss which had been tasked to pick up divers for the subsequent rescue mission, but which crashed on take-off, killing all on board. Organised by the Medway

● Lt Noel Cashford praises the work of wartime comrades aboard HMS Belfast in 2009

Picture: PO(Phot) Mez Merrill UXB hero dies

THE Navy has lost a key link with its greatest generation with the death of legendary wartime bomb disposal officer Noel Cashford. Lt Cashford, who has died aged 88, rendered more than 200 unexploded bombs and other devices safe during WW2 and its immediate aftermath. He always played down his

bravery saying simply: “I had my moments”, but his selfless actions meant he was appointed an MBE at the war’s end.

Although he left the Service in 1947 he remained passionate about the wartime work of his


to erect monuments, attending memorial services, giving speeches and compiling four books on the exploits of WW2 bomb disposal men. “Today’s generation should

supporting efforts

know about the heroes of yesteryear and those who do the same dangerous job today,” he said at 70th anniversary commemorations of the first German magnetic mine being defused by his friend Lt Cdr John Ouvry.

Lt Cashford was believed to be the last surviving naval wartime bomb and mine disposal officer. “Over the past ten years, I have come to rely on Noel as a living link with our wartime explosive ordnance disposal heritage and will dearly miss his friendship, knowledge and valuable advice,” said Lt Cdr Rob Hoole, vice chairman of the Minewarfare and Clearance Diving Officers Association.

Protector date

Harris at dougatspindrift@aol. com, or see the website www. where you can also download booking forms.

THE HMS Protector Association annual reunion is to be held at the Royal Court Hotel, Coventry, from April 29 to May 2. Further details from Doug

Towns branch of the Submariners Association, the event began with a piper – WO2 Kerr from the Royal Engineers Brompton Barracks – playing as the guests and congregation arrived. Sea Cadets helped run an efficient car-parking operation, manned the doors and provided a guard at the entrance.

Guests included the Mayor of

Medway David Brake and the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Brig John Meardon.

A total of 18 standards were paraded, including the National Standard, standards from the Royal British Legion, the RAF, Royal Engineers,


Navy and various Submariners Association branches, some of which were brought considerable distances to support the event. The service was conducted by Rev David Preston, and the sermon given by Rev Gordon Warren RN. Wreaths were laid, standards paraded and Medway Towns branch chairman S/M Archie Watt read the dedication.

The organist accompanied the ceremony in the manner in which submariners like to sing their hymns – swiftly and with gusto. The service over, all headed to tables laden with food, prepared and supplied by the wives of branch members and the “tame Medway Towns branch chef”, S/M Dave Scott. There was,

naturally, the

obligatory tot or two alongside the other drinks. And while eating, those who

attended the service could contemplate a superb model of a submarine, made by Ernie Weeks and placed on an elevated table behind the food. And the branch’s artist,

Plea for help with FitzRoy’s tomb

THE final resting place of one of the Royal Navy’s most influential sons is in need of refurbishment. Paul Owens has contacted

Navy News to raise awareness of an appeal to renovate the grave of Admiral Robert FitzRoy, the father of weather forecasting. The tomb and memorial stone, lie in the churchyard of All Saints in Upper Norwood, London. “Our church is sadly lacking funds and volunteers to assist in this project, and we thought it would be appropriate to contact Navy News to plead for any help from your readership,” said Paul. “Next year is the 150th

anniversary of public weather forecasts and the Met Office will mark this with various events which will be widely reported in the press. “We would like to offer Navy

News and your readership an invite to join in and give the Admiral the recognition, and his grave the restored glory, he so richly deserves through his dedication to the Navy and public life.” FitzRoy was the CO of HMS Beagle for the voyage of discovery undertaken by Charles Darwin – but the Naval officer was just as active in the field of science. He was a Fellow of the Royal

Society, and was put in charge of a new department set up to gather weather data at sea – the forerunner of the Met Office. The innovative FitzRoy


Vowden – responsible for the painting of the Truculent which is used on the group’s greetings cards – set up a number of tables from which he sold original paintings for the benefit of the Truculent Fund.

advanced many initiatives which improved safety at sea, and was the first to formally forecast weather patterns. He was also a hero to

fishermen and other mariners through his pioneering storm- warning system.

Contact the appeal team at

● From left: Plymouth branch secretary Arthur Gutteridge, Lady Mayoress Kate Aspinall, Lord Mayor Mary Aspinall, Plymouth branch chairman Bob Palmer and mess vice president MAA Korina ‘Jesse’ James

Showcase event is a success

MORE than 200 members of Plymouth branch and their guests turned out in their finery for the showcase event of the year – the annual dinner and dance. Among the guests were the Lord and Lady

Mayoress of Plymouth, Mary and Kate Aspinall, RNA national vice president Cdre Adrian Nance and branch president Cdre Steve Dearden. Branch chairman S/M Bob Palmer thanked staff

at the Warrant Officers and Senior Rates Mess at HMS Drake for their efforts, social secretary S/M Sue Gutteridge and her team for once again ticking all the boxes, and the Sea Cadets of TS Manadon and TS Golden Hind for their immaculate ceremonial turn-out, as well as mess president ‘Dino’ Lawson and his mess members for allowing the branch to use the superb venue.

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