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HMS Cossack’s here!

VETERANS rarely need much of an excuse to organise a reunion – but those of the HMS Cossack Association

based at the Royal Beach Hotel in Southsea, marked the 70th Anniversary of the Altmark Incident. The

members of World War 2 Tribal-class destroyer

Cossack, under Capt Vian, board German supply ship Altmark in Jøssingfjord in Norway

British merchant seamen captured when their vessels were sunk in the Atlantic by Graf Spee – and also gave rise to the renowned cry “The Navy’s here!” That warship was sunk in the autumn of 1941, but her successor, a C-class destroyer, provided two more reasons for the veterans to gather – the 60th anniversary of the ship entering the Korean War, and the 50th anniversary of her final commission. After members helped set up a comprehensive archive display on the Friday – and prepared for the fundamental business of any reunion, catching up with old shipmates – a lively AGM was held on the Saturday morning, which was attended by some of the Norwegian party which had travelled over for the occasion. Association members attended ceremony

a Cathedral in in memory of

Portsmouth those

who died when Cossack was sunk in October 1941. Guests at the Saturday evening dinner included the Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Sir Alan Massey, the Mayor and five other Norwegian representatives

from to release incident saw HMS

had plenty to choose from.


19th annual reunion,

the Sogndal Community (close to Jøssingfjord), Admiral Vian’s two daughters, a Norwegian commander

Norwegian Embassy and his wife (in national costume), and the officer in charge of the Board and

HMS Raleigh, which perpetuates the name Cossack.

to the dinner, after which association chairman S/M Ken Satterthwaite rose to say a few words and drew attention to a screen showing ‘Another Banquet’ in 1940, where the merchant seamen released by Cossack and some of her ship’s company were gathered together with other ships’ companies involved in the Graf Spee chase, for a dinner where Winston Churchill was his usual eloquent self. A number of presentations took place during the dinner. The first involved the boards erected by occupying German forces in Norway identifying the spot where the Altmark Incident took place – and describing Cossacks ship’s company as “sea pirates” – which were dismantled by

at the end of the war and one element given to Admiral Vian in recognition of the incident.

his leadership at

These boards were presented to the Royal Naval Museum by Admiral Vian’s daughters. The second was a surprise presentation of a scale diorama – of Cossack and Altmark in Jøssingfjord at the time of the incident – built by Phillip Warren, which was given to Dag Sorensen, the Mayor of Sogndal,

and British airborne troops

Almost 150 members and guests

sat down Search School at representing the Finn Nesvold, the association’s

Norwegian honorary member. The third presentation was of a Cossack plaque to the Officer-in- Charge of the Board and Search School, which had come to the Association from the Royal British Legion in Twickenham and had had an enhanced mounting made by one of the members. Fourth was an inauguration

of the Admiral Vian Award, an annual award in the form of an engraved bosun’s call to the most improved cadet in the Southwick Sea Cadet unit TS Cossack, which the association is supporting. Admiral Massey presented the

award to Cadet Joshua McBride, who was there with a number of colleagues to help run events over the weekend. The Mayor of Sogndal


presented the association with a glass decanter.

Admiral Massey endorsed the continuing connections between Britain and Norway, exemplified in the association’s relationship with the people of the Jøssingfjord area.

He also talked of the Navy

of today carrying on the spirit of past-serving members and of the workload carried out by the present Fleet in terms of time at sea against time alongside. Music, dancing and conversation

followed throughout the evening, with some liquid refreshment in the form of bitter beer provided as a gift by Wadsworth Brewery under Cossack’s cry of “The Navy’s Here!” Sunday saw an early shake as three coaches left at 09.15 for St Ann’s Church in Portsmouth Naval Base,

where members

joined the Eucharist service. Because of prior commitments for other associations, only four standards could be paraded, but during the service Cossack’s activities were recounted,


were the names of those who had crossed the bar in the past year. After the service members

formed up to march past, led by the small-but-impressive Sea Cadet band of TS Cossack. Admiral Massey took the salute and spent some time inspecting and talking to all who paraded.

Then it was back to the hotel where for some there was a quick bite to eat before returning to the naval base for a ship visit to HMS Richmond. The visitors were welcomed to

the Type 23 frigate’s wardroom with tea and biscuits, then divided into two groups for tours of the ship.

Old hands were amazed by the complexity of the modern warship – but then their forbears would no doubt have felt the same about the wartime Cossacks.

Coaches back to the hotel

provided just enough time to peruse the archives before they were packed away and the reunion drew to a close.

● Vice Admiral Sir Alan Massey addresses the HMS Cossack Association, with one of the German Altmark Incident boards behind him. (Below): Standards are paraded at St Ann’s Church

● The TS Cossack Band on duty in Portsmouth Naval Base

● Vice Admiral Massey presents the inaugural Admiral Vian Award to Cdt Joshua McBride, of TS Cossack. (Below): Members of the association parade in the Naval Base

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