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28 NAVY NEWS, MAY 2002 Roval Naval Association

Legion's bell rings out again

THE SHIP'S bell of HMS Legion rang out six bells, loud and clear, at a ceremony in Cheltenham Town Hall to mark the 60th anniversary of the loss of the town's adopted wartime ship.

25-26, 1942, by German dive- bombers at Malta. The ship's bell, recovered from

The Legion was sunk on March

the sea after the war, was loaned for the occasion by Mrs Peggy Walford, daughter of the late Cdr R.F. Jcssel DSP DFC* RN, Commanding Officer of

brance, conducted by the Rev Jeremy Whales, a tribute was paid to Cdr Jessel and the ship's com- pany by the Captain's son, Tony Jessel,

Twickenham. For

are the future," said chairman S/M Jim Swain as he handed over a bosun's call, salvaged from the ship to Sgt Josh Bence, an 18-year- old Marine cadet, who said: "We are proud to be taking it forward. The Legion is something the whole town can be proud of." The occasion was attended by

survivors of the Legion and of HM ships Ark Royal, Rajputana and Cossack, civic dignitaries, mem- bers of the RNAand ex-Service associations, with five standards on display.

Branch honour

THE HONOUR of laying up the Australian Veterans standard in their club was greatly appreciated by the members of Portsmouth RNA.

Perth and Rockingham branches and S/M Geoff Purcell for making it possible.

The British branch thanked the

Cheltenham branch the occasion marked an end to the duties of dedication they have performed for HMS Legion over the years - they have now handed these duties to a younger generation, the Sea Cadet Unit TS Legion. "We are the past and the cadets

former MP members


for the

Legion. Prior to a service of remem-

the • From left: David Woodcock, Joe Brown, Kenneth Cleave and Leonard Hare.

Carrier and escorts are not forgotten

ONE of the darkest tragedies of World War II - the loss of the air- craft carrier HMS Glorious and her attendant destroyers HM ships Ardent and Acasta - has been recalled with the presentation of special photo-montages to the sur- vivors.

A total of 1,530 men were lost in

the Devonport-based ships, sunk by the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in the Norwegian Sea on June 8, 1940. Hundreds survived the sinking

but died in the freezing sea over the next two days. One survivor's account tells of

suicidal attacks on the powerful German warships by the British destroyers, sealing their fate - but a torpedo from Acasta hit the Scharnhorst and forced her to retire from the scene, inadvertent-

Looking for someone?

• The plaque commemorating the loss of the Glorious, Ardent and Acasta

ly preventing a potential encounter with a near-defenceless convoy of troopships evacuating Norway. Of the 40 survivors - 38 from the

carrier, and one each from the destroyers - only three are still alive. No official tribute has been

made to the ships or the men who served in them. It was left to their relatives to commemorate the loss and keep the memory alive. They raised enough money for a

vivors - Joe Brown (88), of Horrabridge and Kenneth Cleave (82), of Newton Abbott - returned to St Nicholas' Church to be pre- sented with a framed phot-mon- tage. The

plaque in St Nicholas' Church at HMS Drake, Devonport Naval Base, which was unveiled last year. A service of remembrance was

also held on Plymouth Hoe, attended by 400 relatives and

Thornton (80), of Birkenhead, was presented with his photo-montage at the Town Hall in Bootle in a ceremony

third survivor, Fred

Commodore Madgwick. Mr Brown, a former CPO in the Glorious, said: "It was quite a sur- prise to receive the montage. "They have done such a good

attended by

friends from as far afield as Canada. More recently, two of the sur-



job to keep the memory alive. "I still think about it every day. I

can see the faces of the men who lost their lives 62 years ago, where- as I can't remember people I met in the last few months. "It was horrible. We were sunk

about 5pm on the Saturday and we were not picked up until Tuesday morning. "Of the 40 on our raft, there

were only four of us who survived." Mr Dave Woodcock, whose

father Jonathan Woodcock was the Master at Arms in the Glorious, and Leonard Hare, who lost his father-in-law AB Fred Oxenham in the Ardent, organised the photo- montage presentation. Mr Woodcock said: "We have

also made the montage as post- cards and sent out 500 of them. "So many people are interested

in what happened. It has been shrouded in mystery for so long. "We did not even know at first

where the ship was sunk. They could

have been in the

Mediterranean." Mr Woodcock would now like to

hear from relatives of those on the three ships or anyone interested in the tragedy, and can be contacted on 01229 462414

Bernard's big day

ONCE a Marine, always a Marine is true of 85-year-old S/M Bernard Hallas, a member of York branch, who joined in the 1930s.

finest ever", with great support for what he declared the Americans at last admit to be 'the finest Marine Corps in the world'. A highlight for Bernard was the

the RM Association Northern Region biennial reunion in Manchester - a source of great pride for him. The reunion, he says, was "the

With 350 Royals he attended

peaked at the parade on Sunday: "Over 300 of the proudest Marines ever assembled," he said, "displaying ten standards - it was a joy to behold." Watched by cheering spectators

gala dinner at which Maj Gen Whitchcad RM was the guest of honour, and to whom Bernard presented a book of his unpub- lished naval and marine poems. Bernard's pride in the Corps

they paraded to music by the Lancashire Artillery (V) Band.

Service for

H5 victims EXACTLY 84 years to the day, the 27 men lost in the submarine H5 in Caernarvon Bay were honoured at a service in St Cybi's Church, Holyhead, and the unveiling of a plaque in the local maritime muse- um.

H5 - mistaken for a German sub- marine - was rammed by the British vessel Rutherglen and went down off Holyhead on March 2, 1918.

In a tragic wartime accident, the

United States officer, Lt Earl F. Wayne Childs, Lt Sir John Henry Anson and Lt A.W. Forbes DSO, whose relatives attended the ser- vice of remembrance and the unveiling of the Welsh slate plaque. Sir Peter Anson RN and Mrs

Aboard the doomed boat was a

Knight (Forbes), with three grand- children of the Childs family per- formed the unveiling ceremony, following which they were enter- tained with guests in the Thetis Bar of the RNA Club Holyhead, which incidentally boasts a paint- ing of the H5 by local artist Desmond Jones.

Trio honoured

During 2001-2 the following mem- bers of the Christchurch branch were honoured with life member- ship for loyal and outstanding ser- vice: Bob Rowe, Barney Burns and Bill Cross.

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THE CHURCH of St Nicholas at Heythrop was packed for a com- memorative service to mark the 60th anniversary of the loss of the Hunt-class

Bishop of Dorchester and the vicar of St Nicholas, was attended by many naval veterans, including six from the original ship's company. Led by the standard of No 6 Area, 14 standards were paraded,

Hcythrop on March 20, 1942. The service, conducted by the

supported by shipmates from throughout the area. The Last Post was sounded at

destroyer HMS

event took the unusual step of issu- ing a ceremonial tot in the church at the end of the service, prompt- ing one church-goer to remark that the aroma which lingered in the air would serve as a reminder of weeks "that the Navy was here."

the exact time the Heythrop sank stern first 60 years ago to the day. The branch which organised the

Naval Quirks



THERE was praise from chair- man S/M John Utley for mem- bers of the Wetherby branch at the branch annual meeting - and a word of thanks for S/M Vince Parks for organising a varied programme of events in the past year.

The following shipmates

were elected officers: John Utley (chairman), Alan Kemp (vice chairman), Reg Maycock



(secretary), John Hook (trea- surer), Fred Wake (public rela- tions officer). The branch meets on the

second Thursday at 2000 in the Messdeck, the Prison Officers Social Club, HM Prison Wealstun, Thorp Arch, and new members are always welcome. For details, contact Fred

Wake on 0113 281 3297 or John Utley on 01937 844871.


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