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Happy Haslar
Yeovilton was
I READ with sadness about the
closure of Haslar Hospital after
265 years of service.
I remember the old place in
the 1940s. The wards were
a big let-down
presided over by nursing sisters
of the QARNNS, all of them
MY BROTHER and I are both aircraft airbourne as possible.This
commissioned officers.
aircraft enthusiasts and have been worked for some, Sea Vixen and
The other female nurses
frequenting airshows around the Seafire, and briefly for the Rafale
were VADs (Voluntary Aid
country for the best part of 40 and Dutch F16, but sadly many
Detachment) who wore a plainer
years. could not. Even some of the light
starched uniform with a large red
This year’s so-called airshow fixed-wing and helicopters were
cross on the bib.
at Yeovilton, however, has affected by the weather.
Patients, if allowed out, were
been completely and utterly “Safety at any air show will
issued with a light blue suit, white
disappointing. Where were the always have the final word.”
shirt and red tie. You could go
anticipated displays befitting a
out leaving your station card at
100 year anniversary?
the gate.
The very few displays that did
There was a pub not too far grace the skies were so brief that
away but Gosport proper was we would have missed them had
a bit of a hike over Pneumonia we sneezed or even blinked! when it’s
Bridge and down Squeeze Gut It should have been so much
Alley. better than this. This was the
We patients were well looked- worst airshow we have ever been time to go
after, each day our shoulders, to and we left Yeovilton feeling
buttocks and heels were rubbed despondent and thoroughly let-
LT CDR James Parkin comments
with alcohol and then powdered down. We do not expect to ever
(June) that ex-serving personnel
with talcum to prevent bed sores. return to Yeovilton. are fi lling the Letters page, with
The food was good but a little – Kevin Pallett, South Molton, little from serving personnel.
sparing, it was served from a Devon He must remember that the
trolley by walking patients. Cdr Richard Fox, Commander former are on the outside looking
On being admitted to hospital (Air) and Display Director, told in with the Navy News their win-
you lost your tot but got a bottle Navy News: “We were equally dow, and the latter are too busy
of stout a day. I found it strange disappointed that our Air Day creating the news for the articles.
but there was a glass on your was so severely affected by a In early 1963 as a writer on his
locker always topped up with
● The happy band of medical personnel pictured in Basra, where all but one of the doctors were RN
persistently low cloud base first draft, I joined the Discharge
cigarettes, most of them pinched
over the Christmas period. Back row, Surg Cdr Raj Shah, Surg Cdr Mike Terry, Surg Cdr Steve Bland,
that the vast majority of the day Pay Office, HMS Victory
by the sickbay Tiffies.
PONN Scott Gilbert, Surg Cdr Steve Wilson, front row, LNN Sarah Armstrong, LNN Nancy Hobbs, Surg
was below the mandatory flying Barracks (as it then was).
Captain’s rounds were a hoot,
Lt Cdr Simon Mercer
display limit. Ratings passing through ranged
first a marine bugler stood at
“It was also unfortunate from those who joined early in
one door and sounded the still,
that some aircraft experienced World War 2 to those on shorter
which meant you had to stand to
technical problems, resulting in engagements.
attention, sit to attention, or lie to
Doctors in the desert flight cancellations. Frequently it would be said
“The forecast (correct as to me: “Time to go, this isn’t
The bugler then marched to
ON JULY 10 the Royal Navy Medical Branch had would like to know that the RN medical branch were it turned out) did not give any the Navy I joined.” I didn’t fully
the next door, followed by a
a high profi le medal parade for all those serving in out in force in Basra over the Christmas period. indication of clearance and I made understand, as I thought life was
marine with the captain’s dog
confl icts in the last 18 months. Indeed all but one consultant doctor at 22 Field a decision to let the programme wonderful.
on a lead, then the matron, the
The event was attended by the Duchess of Hospital were Naval personnel. This caused a certain run, and if a suitable increase in On completing 23 years, I now
captain and a gaggle of medical
Cornwall, and reported in the August edition of Navy amount of amusement if not challenge for the CO, the cloud base or gap appeared understood and also said: “Time
and dental officers, probably 20
News (page 21). Lt Col Heatlie RAMC, as we slowly tried to get him allow the aircraft to display. to go.”
in number, who tramped through
Many if not most on parade were receiving their into Naval ways! “On the day everyone worked A further 24 years on, I hope
at speed, looking straight ahead,
Afghanistan Medals but I thought your readers – Surg Cdr Steve Wilson, Lowestoft extremely hard to get as many that those still serving will plough
followed by another marine
on and sue for a fuller career, so
bugler who then sounded the
that when the time comes they
carry on as the whole lot trooped
too will understand it is “time
into the next ward.
to go.”
The hospital was a credit to
– Charles Lowson, Fareham
the Royal Navy – such a shame
that the Whitehall warriors have
Not-so-special effects
decided that the grand old place
had to go the same way as the
very large Army hospital at
MANY THANKS for the special moored underwater charge that ...I FEEL I must write to vindicate when we received as a patient
article and illustrations on HMS drifted towards the ship during an myself against an extract obviously Amethyst’s 1st Lieutenant, Lt (or
Netley on Southampton water.
– Brian Broadley,
Amethyst in the August issue. extended pause in filming. taken from a report made by a Lt Cdr) Mirehouse, who had been
I had a good chuckle over the By the time the lighting or ‘hack reporter’ to one of the dailies evacuated from the ship, with a
remark that ‘special-effect experts make-up specialists had given at the time. head injury. It was a privilege and
were a little heavy-handed in their approval to continue filming I can assure readers that no honour to nurse him.
Bar blunder
their use of explosives to recreate the charge had drifted against LAT/LONG positions were Later that year, I was en route
some of the battle scenes’ as my the ship’s side and the resulting signalled throughout our journey to Singapore on HMS Unicorn
father, Lt Max Reid, was the chief damage sent a couple of matelots down river (this would have been sailing through the Red Sea when
LETTERS to the editor should
IN YOUR a rticle From one god
‘expert’ who nearly racing to the local tantamount to committing suicide all hands were piped onto the
always be accompanied by
to another (August p16) and
succeeded in sinking fire station to borrow as any numbskull would know.) flight deck to give three hearty
the correspondent’s name
the accompanying photograph
her. a pump – most of The sequence of events: – the cheers to Amethyst as she passed
and address, not necessarily
of former WO1 Steve ‘Pincher’
He would have the ship’s equipment ship sailed under “W/T Silence” on her way home. Quite an
for publication.
Martin in his incarnation as King
been the first to had already been until all hell let loose and I sent emotional experience at the time
E-mail correspondents are
Neptune, I believe it should have
admit that they were removed. the signal “I am under heavy fire for a fairly young rating and one I
also requested to provide
been reported as a ‘crossing the
rank amateurs and The water was and have been hit.” always relive when the ship’s name
this information. Letters
line’ ceremony and that which
remembered that it pumped out and I then informed the operator at is mentioned.
cannot be submitted over the
actually appeared was a most
was only after the filming resumed Hong Kong I would transmit OK – David Wilkinson, ex
unfortunate slip of somebody’s
civilian special effects the next day but (not OKAY) every 15 minutes SBPO(O), Beeston, Nottingham
If you submit a photograph
experts had nearly the incident had and he would respond with R (no ...THE distinguished composer/
which you did not take
– Derek Bridge, Chiang Mai,
destroyed an aircraft been witnessed by a callsigns to be used.) conductor Leighton Lucas wrote
yourself, please make sure
that the Lords of the former captain RN My reason for this was that a stirring patriotic march called
that you have the permission is a pity that the writer of this
Admiralty ordered who had retired to should the ship (or I) succumb, HMS Amethyst for the fi lm Yangtse
for us to publish it.
article referred to crossing the bar,
HMS Vernon to
A £25 Amazon
the River Orwell and they would be able to roughly Incident and I believe a commercial
Given the volume of letters,
which is a euphemism for dying
dispatch a naval
voucher to the
had immediately work out our positions. recording appeared at the time the
we cannot publish all of your
and is therefore only used in very
party to take over the phoned a friend at – J L French, Cheltenham fi lm was released in 1957.
correspondence in Navy
sad circumstances.
explosive duties.
author of the letter
the Admiralty. ...I HAVE just received my August Unlike the Dambusters March
I wonder how someone
Dad was taking a
which impresses us
My father was edition of Navy News and what and Cockleshell Heroes it has been
We do, however, publish
connected with Navy News
Long Course there, the most. summoned back memories it has aroused. unaccountably neglected down
many on our website,
should make such a bad mistake.
I believe, but must to HMS Vernon to I was a seven and five man, the years.,
– Audrey Martin, Gosport
have been considered explain himself but joined in 1948 in the Sick Berth It would surely be a fine and
accompanied by images.
It was a bad mistake. My only
expendable for the unusual returned later that day, a somewhat branch. Of that service I spent fitting tribute to the bravery and
We look particularly for
excuse is that I had been reading
mission. chastened ‘special effects expert’! about five years in Haslar, so valour of the officers and men
correspondence which
about Tennyson, whose 200th
Their equipment was crude in My father, a retired captain, the item on its final closure is of Amethyst if one of our Royal
stimulates debate, makes
anniversary was on August
the extreme and included a car died on Trafalgar Day 2005 but he somewhat poignant. Marines bands could restore this
us laugh or raises important
6, and how he came to write
battery and a board fitted with always remembered with pleasure It was at Haslar in 1949 – music to circulation by including
Crossing the Bar. It must have
nails as their ‘demolition panel.’ his brief experience of Hollywood I forget the exact month but it it in an appropriate forthcoming
The editor reserves the right
been in my subconscious when I
The incident which cracked a plate in HMS Amethyst. would be June, July time – I was CD release.
to edit your submissions.
wrote the piece – Managing Ed
in the ship’s side resulted from a – Mark Reid, Ottawa, Canada an SBA on the Sick Officers’ Block – Roger Hyslop, Surbiton

THE sad sight of military funeral corteges passing through stopped crying for four days after she was told the news,”
Wootton Bassett is becoming etched into our national he writes.
Leviathan Block, HMS Nelson, Portsmouth PO1 3HH
psyche as the bodycount from Afghanistan rises. But there are bright touches of hope in his book, and it’s
But how often do we hear about the other casualties, the the families that provide them. Not just Mark’s family and
September 2009 no.662: 56th year
ones who made it home but face a future seriously injured his exceptional wife, Becky, who refused to let him give up
Editorial Business
in body or mind? And who tells the stories of their families, when he wanted to die, but the extended family of the Royal
Managing editor: Business manager:
and how they cope? Marines and indeed the Armed Forces. Sarah Fletcher (023 9272 4194) Lisa Taw (023 9272 0494)
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when he lost both legs and an arm in a Taleban bomb in bust his bollocks to come and get you no matter where you
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Christmas 2007, pulls no punches in his book Man Down are or what state you are in.”
News editor: Richard Accounts 023 9272 0686
(reviewed on page 45). Mark is now based at 42 Commando in Plymouth, where
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His account of his physical injuries is harrowing, but so too working alongside his mates is probably the best long-term
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