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Capital eyes on Richmond

THE time is morning rush hour on Monday July 5. But we’re sure the capital’s commuters didn’t mind being held up by one of Her Majesty’s warships passing the unmistakeable raised bascules of Tower Bridge. This is HMS Richmond – pictured here by CPO(Phot) Andy Gedge – entering the Pool of London for a rare hometown visit. The frigate spent a week on the Thames, berthed next to HMS Belfast, with two aims: to show inhabitants of the capital what a Type 23 can do and to see the good folk of Richmond-upon- Thames.

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our streets was an ideal way for residents – especially young people – to see at fi rst hand what a front-line fi ghting unit looks like,” said Cllr Marlow.

Not since the ancient rights of Freedom of the Borough were bestowed on the ship five years ago have the men and women of HMS Richmond been back to their namesake town to parade.

mayor, Cllr David Marlow, the Band of HM Royal Marines led the Guard and three platoons through Richmond, while locals offered their encouragement. “Having 96 offi cers and ratings march through

After a formal inspection by the borough’s

While in Richmond, sailors were invited into schools to give youngsters an insight into life at sea in today’s RN; there was a particular grilling for four ship’s company at Orleans Infants, where 200 four to six- year-olds were posing the questions. “By far the highlight of the entire visit was the opportunity for the ship’s company to exercise their Freedom of the Borough,” said Capt Mike Walliker, Richmond’s Commanding Offi cer. “The parade was well received by the local populace who lined the route of the march.” Meanwhile, downstream... The frigate had an extremely busy programme including an offi cial reception, guided tours for military and affi liated organisations and numerous other briefi ngs to invited guests – all with the aim of nurturing a better understanding of the Royal Navy among the general public and commercial leaders in the City of London.

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‘Today is about saving Alliance’

WITH a fl urry of poppy-like confetti swirling over the Silent Service’s greatest museum-piece, a £6m appeal is launched to save HMS Alliance from

the ravages of the elements. After three decades as the key draw to the RN

Submarine Musuem in Gosport, the boat – the last physical link with the iconic workhorses of World War 2 – is in trouble; time (and pigeons) have not been kind to her. “As we all know, metal exposed to sea water and sea air doesn’t last, and the time has come to restore the submarine,” said Capt David Pender-Cudlip, Alliance’s last commanding offi cer. “I’m amazed how well the museum staff

over the 30 years here have managed to maintain the submarine.

have the ability to see the submarine from both sides and walk underneath, to really get some idea of the size and scale of the boat.”

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which enjoys royal patronage in the form of Prince William, was formally launched by deeps past and present in the shadow of the boat the campaign is intended to save. Rear Admiral Roger Lane-Nott told the assembled audience: “Today is about saving HMS Alliance; her parlous state, as you look at her today, speaks for itself.

The Saving HMS Alliance Appeal, “This new project is really exciting. To

Alliance’s restoration will require repair or replacement of her component parts, overhaul of her exterior, and the provision of means to keep up her maintenance needs. Land underneath the submarine will be reclaimed, and with a cofferdam and backfi ll a dry hardstanding will be laid to allow access to the entire boat for exterior maintenance.

Alliance will be restored to a state as close as possible to when she fi rst entered service, while allowing safe access for the visitors who throng to the site. The boat has been on display to the public at the

Gosport museum since 1982, and during that time some two million visitors have explored this glimpse inside the Silent Service. For Rear Admiral Mark Anderson, Rear Admiral Submarines, Alliance is an essential link to his Service’s history. “The heritage that made submarines different was born in this generation.” The admiral spoke about bringing his

young son to visit Alliance: “He loved it. It brought to life what daddy did for a living. “And for the public, even looking through

their hands on the real thing. “The one thing that Alliance and the museum do

a periscope – which they’ve only ever seen in movies – here is the opportunity to get

“Without our urgent action, it would be an unspeakable end to an historic boat, that is not only the icon of our World War 2 submarines, but an important part of the offi cial memorial to the courageous submariners who lost their lives while serving their country.” The conservation work is expected to cost £6m, but

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Start Date Expiry Date Issue No. CSC No. Delta Switch/Solo Remembering the Lancastria

SAILORS from support ship RFA Fort Rosalie paid their respects to the greatest tragedy in British naval history – 70 years to the day that at least 3,500 people lost their lives. The loss of the troopship Lancastria in June 1940 is regarded as a ‘forgotten disaster’, not least because Churchill ordered a cover-up initially.

The former liner was helping to evacuate British servicemen and civilians from the continent in the aftermath of Dunkirk. She was sunk on the afternoon of June 17 1940 when Luftwaffe bombers attacked her off St Nazaire. At least 6,000 souls were aboard, perhaps as many as 7,000. Only 2,477 were offi cially rescued. Seven decades later, the ship’s company of

RFA Fort Rosalie gathered in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in La Baule- Escoublac, just outside St Nazaire. The immaculately-maintained grounds are the

last resting place of the largest number of dead from the Lancastria.


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The Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s Padre Rev Bernard Clarke led a service of remembrance which was attended by a small group of survivors and their families.

Commemorations followed the next day at the Lancastria memorial on St Nazaire’s sea front with Capt Vernon Ramsey-Smith RFA laying a wreath on behalf of his service, and 2/O Ian Gill

laying one on behalf of the Royal Navy. They then sailed with veterans and families in

a fl otilla of craft, led by the French minehunter FS Pegase, to the buoy which marks the spot where the troopship sank for another service of remembrance. Wreaths were cast into the ocean before every vessel bobbing around the wreck site sounded its horn as a mark of respect at the precise moment the Lancastria sank. A fl y-past from an RAF 1 Squadron Harrier concluded events at sea. Commemorations then moved back to St

Nazaire and a vin d’honneur (reception) aboard Fort Rosalie. Three survivors of the disaster – Stan Forrester,

Fred Coe and Jacqueline Tanner – were the guests of honour, all with harrowing stories to tell of their escape from the stricken liner. Mrs Tanner and her parents were thrown out of a lifeboat as it became stuck when the Lancastria sank. Her father rescued her, swimming on his back, gripping the baby clothes of his daughter in his teeth until a sergeant jumped into the sea and helped the baby to safety, using a board to keep her above water.

As for Mr Coe, he was able – in typical British fashion – to see the lighter side, telling the RFA men and women it was ironic that his two brothers had joined the RN, but as an Army man, he was the only one who was sunk.

the vast bulk of that has already been raised through the hard work of the appeal chairman Vice Admiral Sir Tim McClement and his team who have gathered almost £4.6m, including £3m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

is it’s a good place for all generations – for children, they can explore and it’s evocative; for the existing service as a home for our heritage; and it’s a place that the veterans see as home, their alma mater here at Dolphin.”

Alliance is the only remaining World War 2-era

The museum already has a reputation for excellence with its conservation work on early submarine Holland 1, and the new campaign will continue that tradition.

submarine in the UK that is open to the public, and is listed in the UK’s historic ship register, alongside the Cutty Sark, the Mary Rose and HMS Victory in the core collection. She serves as the offi cial memorial to the 5,300 men who have fought and died in the Silent Service. The RN Submarine Museum is keen to encourage people to start fundraising for the Alliance appeal, whether sponsored challenges or tea parties, public collections or raffl es, or individual donations. To support the campaign call 023 9251 0354 or

visit www.submarine–– appeal.

Picture: LA(Phot) Terry Boughton

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