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Island heritage revisited

MEMBERS of the Isle


Sheppey branch have been encouraged to help rekindle an interest in the naval heritage at Sheerness. Three

centuries of maritime

history are to be celebrated at Blue Town on June 26 and 27, when the High Street will be transformed into a ‘living timeline’ covering 1660 to 1960, when the royal dockyard closed. Branch chairman S/M Mick Withington said: “Many folk on the island are working very hard to rekindle the heritage that is rightly ours before it is lost completely in the mists of time.”

Stalls will line the High Street, manned by people in period costume, and there will be a

parade of standards at 10am

on the Saturday, with a church service to be held on the steps of the burnt-out Dockyard Church. The parade will then march, led by the Sittingbourne Sea Cadet Band, from the Dockyard into Blue Town, the name coming from the houses built by the dockyard workers and finished using RN blue-grey paint. Memories will also be evoked of

the ‘Dockyard Mateys’ Mad Dash Home’ on their bikes as soon as the hooter sounds to round off the events of the day.

MEMBERS of Beccles branch, along with shipmates from the



Great Yarmouth, have honoured the memory of sailors who died more than 200 years ago. The group attended the annual

service of remembrance at Happisburgh in Norfolk to honour the 400 men lost when HMS Invincible, a 74-gun man o’war was wrecked on the Hammond Knoll rock.

The ship had sailed from Great

Friends plan tribute to ‘lost’ Valiant shipmate

LAST month we reported on a reunion of former shipmates

from HMS Valiant,


included a theatre visit to watch the play Kursk, which is set in a British nuclear


The story of how the reunion came about owes much to chance, and will result in closure for some old shipmates. Steven Large was a junior rate

in Valiant, and became friends with another RN man, Mike Dolan, who lived in the same street in Gosport. In November 2008 the two

men, with their wives, took a break together in Chatham – Mike had served in a sister ship to HMS Cavalier, which is on display in the historic dockyard. He also wanted to visit the

grave of his best friend Martyn, who died in a motorbike accident in 1971. Over dinner, while chatting about Martyn, Steven told Mike that two lads from his boat, both

Invincible remembered

Arm Association,

Yarmouth to join a British raid on the Danes, but was wrecked in a gale on March 16 1801. Some years ago a mass grave

was discovered in the churchyard containing the remains of many of the crew.

A small stone memorial was erected on the site, and since then shipmates of Beccles branch have taken the lead in holding a service and laying a wreath on the nearest Saturday to the anniversary of the ship’s loss.

● Former shipmates from Valiant during their reunion in London

called Kevin, had died in a road accident at Cardross in March 1980.

LS Kevin Gregory came from Lancashire, and the other, AB Kevin Whale, from the South of England; the latter had been married with a baby daughter who

had never known her father. On the Sunday morning the

two couples set out to search for Martyn’s grave, and on finding it they stepped back to afford Mike some privacy. Steven’s wife Jane then spotted that the next headstone had the

name “HMS Valiant” on it – and to Steven’s astonishment it was the grave of Kevin Whale. When the Kevins were buried back in 1980, Valiant was in the middle of a vital work-up programme, and the submariners could attend only one funeral, that of Kevin Gregory in Lancashire. Now, 30 years on, with the


reunion already having taken place in London, Kevin Whale’s former shipmates are planning to finally pay tribute to their old pal. Another Valiant veteran, Paul Williamson, said a rededication ceremony will be held at Kevin Whale’s grave in Chatham on July 31; the chaplain who conducted the funeral will also be there, as will Kevin’s daughter Cherie, who will be bringing her own eight- year-old daughter with her. And as a wreath is laid on Kevin grave,

a simultaneous

ceremony will take place at Kevin Gregory’s grave in Preston. It is hoped the whole story of the reunion will appear as a documentary in the near future.

ALMOST 80 former crew members of HMS Resolution met at Rosyth for their first reunion, 16 years after their old boat was decommissioned. The 78 deeps, plus more than

40 family members and guests, gathered to visit the submarine and to honour those former shipmates who have crossed the bar – some travelling from as far as Australia and Poland to do so.

Return to the Resolution



Association was set up in January 2009, and a committee formed three months later with the objective of organising a reunion and a visit to the boat. The plan came to fruition as members gathered at the Queensferry Hotel one Friday, and the following day the group was hosted at Rosyth Dockyard by Babcock Marine and DE&S.

Battle is commemorated Battery

AROUND 60 shipmates and supporters attended Londonderry branch’s

annual Battle of the

Atlantic dinner and service of remembrance. The dinner was staged at the City Hotel, venue for last year’s National Conference. No 12 Area President Cdr Campbell spoke of the important events in which the inhabitants of the city, RN ships and contingents were involved, and in particular of its place in history as the main surrender point for U-boats at the end of World War 2. It was also the focal point for

Operation Deadlight, the scuttling of over 100 U-boats near Malin Head once hostilities were over. RNA General Secretary Cdr

Paddy McClurg proposed the toast to the RNA, then a fine dinner was had by all and, as they say in Ireland, “drink was taken”. The following day was a perfect parade day, and wreaths were laid at the RNA Memorial to all lost in the Battle of the Atlantic. All Saints Church, Clooney, was

filled to overflowing and a very appropriate sermon was delivered by Londonderry branch chaplain Canon John Mayes.

● Standards are paraded in Londonderry

The parade totalled some 150 marchers with nine standards, including a contingent from the Portrush Sea Cadets, together with the very welcome addition of the RN unit of Foyle College CCF, formed only a month ago and on their first formal outing.

The marchers, led by the Churchill Band, proceeded back to the Londonderry Services Club, with the salute being taken en route by the Senior Naval Officer Northern Ireland, the Deputy Mayor of Londonderry and the Area President of No 12 Area.

follow, starting at 1900. For

check in if possible 14 days before the event with either Brum Richards on mdrhome@ntlworld. com or 01202468720, or current BSM WO2 Richard Bociek on

3CDOX-29CDO-148BTYBSM@ or 01202 202273. They will need your car

registration number, and you will need photo ID to get in.


MEMBERS of Redruth

Camborne branch raised £680 at an event at Morrisons in Redruth, and shipmates

appreciation for the support of shoppers and staff.

expressed their




DUE to operational commitments next year, 148 Battery will host an ABA Reunion at Poole on Saturday June 26. “Doors open” is at 1200, and

after drinks and curry lunch the afternoon programme will follow the familiar pattern, including a short act of remembrance at the Battery Memorial Stone. An evening social function will

attending, please

Ganges gang gather

THERE were some

routines at the ‘Third Pakefield Gathering’


for Ganges



It is now 34 years since the

gates of the Shotley training establishment closed after 105 years of service, but the spirit of Ganges pervaded the programme at Pontin’s Pakefield, where the reunion was held. Lampswinging was high on the agenda after the Old Boys and their guests went through their joining routine at the Suffolk holiday centre. There was some business to

It was a sobering moment for all when they reached the jetty and saw the Old Lady, where they held a short memorial service, led by former CO Hugh Peltor. Then it was on to the submarine

for a tour, and the visitors were pleasantly surprised that the vessel was in such good condition. They also toured the new

aircraft carrier dock and saw some of the impressive new build, while after lunch Ken Munro, the HR Director of Babcock Marine and an association member, talked about the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier build strategy. A reunion dinner was held in

the evening when new Dolphins were presented to all the first commission crew members who left the Service prior to the issue of the much-prized insignia. A charity raffle raised nearly £700 for SSAFA, and the evening drifted to a close as former friends and new buddies swung the lamp. “The feedback from those

attending was all positive, with a great debt of thanks to Babcock Marine and DE&S, who gave up their Saturday to ensure a bunch of old submariners could have a good time,” said S/M Ron Baird, association chairman.

attend to during the forenoon watch on Saturday, but after a good meal provided by the ‘Central Mess Galley’ and some make and mend, it was into dress of the day – blazers and flannels for the Old Boys, posh frocks for the ladies – for dinner, and entertainment by Shep Woolley. Sunday brought Divisions and a church service, and a very good lunch persuaded some attendees to go round the buoy for more victuals.

All too soon it was time to

depart for home ports – but before they went the Old Boys expressed their thanks to S/M Dickie Doyle (Ganges 1948) and his wife Eileen for their hard work in making the annual gathering a success.


20 members

is welcomed

MORE than

Wetherby branch – including a former chairman – enjoyed their annual spring dinner at the Pax Inn, Thorp Arch. S/M John Utley and his wife Anne had been invited along as they were on holiday in the UK. S/M John helped set up the branch in 1996 and was chairman for ten years while he served as a chief petty officer at the Leeds recruiting office. After retiring the couple moved to Turkey four years ago.


● From left: S/Ms Bob Coburn, Mick Kieran, Steve Susans, Val Gleave, Christine Sandman, Marie Taylor, Brian Payne, Malcolm Day, Trevor Crowter,

Bob sets the standard

THE National Standard will be in the safe hands of S/M Bob Coburn for another year following his success in the National Standard Bearers competition. The competition was held in

Portsmouth and attracted a high- quality field of nine entrants, three

of them women.

high degree of skill on display, but in the end awarded the top prize to S/M Bob (Scottish Area), with S/M Mick Kieran (No 8 Area) runner-up and S/M Steve Susans

(No 2 Area) third.

The judges commented on the

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