This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
to stoker
has witch
HUNDREDS of mourners
gathered in Oxfordshire for the
funeral of Chief Petty Offi cer Bill
Stone, the last surviving naval
veteran of both World Wars, who
THE sinking of HMS Barham
died at the age of 108.
in November 1941 has been very
Bill Stone was a stoker who
much in the minds of members
took part in the evacuation of
of the Norwich branch recently.
Dunkirk and later served in the
Members saw a BBC show
cruiser HMS Newfoundland.
last Hallowe’en which featured
He was mentioned in
the story of Helen Duncan, the
despatches for his part in saving
last person convicted under
Newfoundland when she was
ancient witchcraft legislation
torpedoed in July 1943.
for reportedly revealing secret
Bill was born in Ledstone,
military information during
Devon, in 1900. When he was 15
he walked to Kingsbridge to join
One such piece of information,
the Navy, but his father refused
although she was not arrested
to sign the papers.
folowing the incident, was the
Two weeks before his 18th
sinking of HMS Barham after a
birthday he got his wish when he
torpedo attack, in which more
was called up.
than 860 sailors – two-thirds of
He subsequently served as a
the crew – died.
stoker in many ships including
The incident was kept quiet by
HMS Tiger, HMS Hood and
the British to maintain morale,
HMS Salamander.
as the Germans were for several
When he left the Navy
weeks unaware of the incident.
after World War 2 he set up a
One of the survivors is a
flourishing business as a barber
member of Norwich branch, and
in Paignton and was an active
85-year-old S/M Les Baker has
member of the RNA and HMS
his own theory about the séance.
Hood Association.
A Boy Seaman at the time,
His funeral was held at St
some letters sent to Les by his
Leonard’s Church, in Watlington,
mother were returned “Last
with Royal Navy guard of honour.
known ship – killed in action”.
His coffin was carried into the
In fact Les had clambered
church by a group of serving
● Standard Bearers mark the arrival of veteran Bill Stone’s coffi n at his funeral in Oxfordshire
on to the upturned hull of the
Picture: LA(Phot) Nick Crusham Navy stokers.
battleship looking for a way off
when the Barham exploded.
Les was blown some 200ft into
the air, surrounded by smoke and
debris, and all his clothes were
burned off in the blast.
He was picked up an hour War memorial
later by destroyer HMS Hotspur,
having been spotted clinging to
floating wreckage.
Branch secretary S/M Ken
Baish said: “Les believes that
some of the survivors managed
to get messages home to their
families, many of whom came
restoration bid
from Portsmouth.
“He believes that this is where
the ‘witch’ got her information AN ARCTIC Campaign
from – this is, of course, his
memorial in a Merseyside
personal belief.”
churchyard is in urgent need
of repair.
The memorial, in the grounds of
Liverpool parish church, consists ● S/M Colin Ramsden with his model Swordfi sh
of a flagstaff – ex-Royal Arthur
– and two tablets set in concrete-
faced brick plinths surrounded by
Colin’s Taranto
One memorial tablet has the
badge of the Arctic Campaign
THE Whitehaven branch has
Memorial Trust, and is inscribed
proudly fl own its standard for
In memory of those who died in the
the last time.
Arctic Campaign 1941-45.
PRIDE of place at the Taranto lunch was enjoyed by all at the
At a ceremony held at the
The second has the badge of
lunch of the Fleet Air Arm Horsforth Golf Club in Leeds.
harbourside headquarters of TS
the North Russia Club and is
Association Yorkshire branch After lunch a tot was handed
Bee, Whitehaven’s Sea Cadet
inscribed In thanksgiving from
went to a model of the aircraft that out and the president toasted the
● One of the weather-beaten memorial plinths in the grounds of
Unit, the remaining members of
those who returned from the Arctic
Liverpool Parish Church
carried out the raid. men of Taranto.
Whitehaven RNA sadly drew to
Campaign 1941-45.
The scale model of a Fairey Guest speaker was S/M Mick
a close its 24-year history and
The memorial is exposed to the both tablets and cover them with years there are now very few
Swordfish was created by shipmate Grubb, a branch member who
association with the town, and
worst of the weather that sweeps a protective coating, veterans of the Arctic Campaign
Colin Ramsden, a member of the used to be a FAA armourer,
handed their standard to the
in from the Irish Sea, and has ■ Enclose the area around the who are still living and clubs such
branch. who gave a talk on Pearl Harbor,
cadets for safekeeping. suffered accordingly – the flagstaff
flagstaff within a set of Victorian as the North Russia Club have
The branch standard was explaining how the Japanese plans
The cadet unit’s commanding is rusting, with halyards and flags cast-iron railings previously fitted
long since been wound up.”
paraded by S/M Ron Summers. were inspired by the Royal Navy
officer, Lt (SCC) Peter Lucas often being damaged by vandals, at the old local Seamen’s Home. The church would like to hear On the top table were Fleet Air Arm attack on Taranto.
RNR, said it was an historical the inscriptions have degraded The cost of carrying out the from anyone prepared to help branch president Lt Cdr Miles The president then presented
moment and the end of an era. and the paint worn away, and the work is estimated to be in the or sponsor the work that needs Freeman, who used to be a naval life membership to three founder
“The RNA has been active concrete is crumbling. region of £5,200 – £4,300 for to be done to ensure that the aviator, friend of the branch members of the branch – S/Ms
in the town since 1985 and it is The parish is aiming to: recladding the memorial plaques memorial once again provides a Cdre Paul Sutermeister, branch Albert Firth, Vernon Stansfield
very sad that no-one has come ■ Replace the flagstaff with with blue pearl granite and fitting tribute to those who fought chairman Mike Farrington and and Geoff Hainsworth.
forward to keep the branch a single fibreglass flagpole with repainting letters and crests, in some of the most atrocious branch secretary Albert Firth, The final presentation was
alive,” he said. locking halyards to reduce and £900 for the removal of the conditions in World War 2. accompanied by their partners. Shipmate of the Year, and the
He added: “However, the vandalism, existing flagpole and the fitting of Write to Capt Woods at The secretary read the FAA shield went to S/M Peter Shepherd,
Association is granting a great ■ Remove the concrete a new one plus the cost of erecting Liverpool Parish Church, Old prayer and grace and a hearty the branch slops officer.
honour in allowing us to hold rendering from the brick plinths, the railings. Churchyard, Chapel Street,
their standard, rather than repoint the brickwork and cover Capt Peter Woods RNR (Retd), Liverpool, Merseyside L2 8TZ, tel
having it returned to their the tablets in marble, the Clerk of Works at the church, 0151 236 5287, or see the church
Veterans mourn
headquarters.” ■ Restore the inscriptions on said: “Due to the passing of the website
a true Leader
MEMBERS of the Coastal Forces Veterans’ Association are
mourning the death of Harry Leader, an active member of their stokers’
mess and one of only 10 survivors of MTB 622, which was lost off the
coast of Holland in 1943.
Harry, who was 85, ended his naval career as an AB Seaman but was
awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
After surviving the loss of MTB 622 and severely injured, he was
rescued by the Germans and spent many months in Dutch and German
hospitals before being incarcerated in a POW camp, from which he and
three others succeeded in escaping.
Pam Phillips, London Branch Secretary of the Coastal Forces
Veterans’ Association, said: “Harry thoroughly enjoyed the friendly
banter between ‘Home Waters’ and ‘Mediterranean War Theatre’
“He was absolutely a lovely man, no airs and graces, what you saw is
exactly what you got.”
She added: “He will be remembered as a true friend, but it should
also be remembered that he stands among the ranks of this country’s
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