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War graves project widens its remit

BACK in 2004 Navy News reported the story of a senior rate who was aiming to make a photographic record of every official war grave in Hampshire. WO Steve Rogers was seeking help to ensure the graves were included in a national memorial project, the initiative being a spin-off from Steve’s research into family history and subsequent visit to a Belgian military cemetery. Almost seven years on and the subject matter is the same – but Steve has set himself a

more ambitious target. He and his widespread ‘team’ is nine- tenths of the way towards recording all 1.75 million-plus graves under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), including memorials to those whose bodies were never found. The War Graves Photographic Project (TWGPP) initially sought to go back as far as World War 1, but the burgeoning popularity of the site has now led to all military personnel in

whatever campaign being covered. The task has been carried out by fewer than

900 volunteers, who have visited more than 23,000 cemeteries in 150 countries, including the graves of the former foes of the Allies. The ultimate aim of the project is an online

database of all graves, so that families or researchers can search for and locate any such grave anywhere in the world. For more details on the project, and how you can help, see

● Cdre Tim Lowe presents S/Lt Luke Perret with the Tigerfi sh Trophy

Trophy double for Luke

AN outstanding

during his Initial Warfare Officers course in 2009 saw S/Lt Luke Perret return to HMS Collingwood to pick up two prizes. In a ceremony watched by his parents and sister, the first prize – the Tigerfish Trophy, traditionally awarded to the top student of the year – was presented to him by Cdre Tim Lowe on behalf of BAE Underwater Systems. Paul Adderley, the Managing Director of Carl Zeiss Ltd, then awarded Luke a set of binoculars for achieving the highest marks in the navigation element of his course for 2009. The awards made by these companies date back to 2005 and 1990 respectively. Luke’s citation for these

awards read: “Luke arrived on IWO course fully prepared and ready for the challenge of the Navigational Watch Certificate assessment, which was reflected in an outstanding set of examination results.

On completing his IWO course Luke joined the

class Trident submarine HMS Victorious.

awards: “It’s a great honour to receive these prizes, to have my family here too is extra special.”


amidst the patrols

A NAVY medic who started writing to pass the time between patrols in Northern Ireland has been prompted to put some of his work in the public eye. MA Gordon Bruce joined the

Navy in 2008, but spent four years in the Army from 1998-2002. “It was during my first tour

in Northern Ireland when I was based at Forkhill that I started to do writing to pass the time between patrols,” said Gordon. He started with a short story, which grew into a novel (which has to date got no further than his computer screen), and he started writing poetry in 2000. Now, as an MA at HMS Nelson, he has also added screenplays to his repertoire. “People say they can relate to most of my poems, whether it’s love, children, war, day-to-day life or personal feelings,” he said. “I don’t regard my poems as

anything special, but if people find comfort in them then I am pleased I have been able to help – they are just something I do to pass the time.” Friends of Gordon, however,

felt his poetry deserved a wider audience – and you can judge for yourself on the Navy News website, where three of Gordon’s poems can be found.

Luke said of receiving his Vanguard-

standard expected, he proved himself not only as a safe and competent Officer of the Watch but also charismatic and dynamic.”

“Consistently well above the performance

Reservist commands Cunard’s latest liner

CHRIS Wells might be a Reservist, but he has charge of a ship which dwarfs everything

else in the Naval Service. For Lt Cdr Wells RNR is the Master of the latest Cunard luxury liner, the Queen Elizabeth – over 90,000 tons of pure indulgence and therefore about as far away from a pusser’ grey war canoe as it is possible to get. But Lt Cdr Wells,


ship was named by the Queen in Southampton in October, has

a role which manages to

straddle opulent cruise ships and war machines packed full of commandoes.

“I am a List 1 Amphibious

Warfare Officer,” said Lt Cdr Wells, who was due to retire from the Reserves at the age of 55 as Navy News went to press – though he is looking forward to a further ten years serving in “these magnificent passenger liners” before he retires for good. “My primary role would be to act as Senior Naval Officer on a ship taken up from trade – STUFT – providing advice to the Master of same with regard to tasking, protection and so on while operating with an amphibious task group.

“In practice, I could be assigned as SNO on a passenger or Ro-Ro vessel, or remain in command of my own passenger vessel if this was STUFT. “In recent years, have

very few ships been requisitioned

or chartered for operations or exercises, and this has resulted in very few opportunities to exercise the SNO role. “However, in the meantime, there has been a significant increase in capability within the RN and RFA for amphibious operations, with the introduction of Albion, Bulwark, and the four Bay-class RFAs. “The AW RNR officers have been

allocated the role of Amphibious Primary Watchkeepers within the Ship To Operational Manoeuvre cell within these ships, and my most recent training opportunities have been to act in this capacity on two of the Bay-class ships.” Despite the obvious differences between merchant and warship,

there is plenty of common ground, according to Lt Cdr Wells. “The SNO role provides an

opportunity to bring RN training and experience to my normal role as Master of a merchant ship, either my own, or in an advisory capacity to the Master of a STUFT ship,” he said. “Both roles involve the

movement of cargo or personnel, either ship to ship, or ship to shore or vice versa, and are therefore entirely complementary. “The Navy provides excellent training in a number of areas, particularly organisational, which are not routinely covered in Merchant Navy training, and in damage control, which adds to the skills set.

“My experience within the Merchant Navy


knowledge of the problems associated with moving large numbers of people in a short period of time, the difficulties in accounting for people and materiel. “A ‘boat port’ operation on a large passenger ship requires the movement of up to 3,000 passengers ashore, using ship’s boats, in as short a time as possible, together with their recovery back on board at the end of the day. “Sound familiar?” Lt Cdr Wells is the only Reserve officer serving in command with Cunard, now owned by the Carnival Group, and he welcomed the Queen on board his new ship in Southampton in October for the liner’s naming ceremony. As the liner prepared for its maiden voyage to Portugal and the Canary Islands the Blue Ensign fluttered in a stiff breeze on Southampton Water – the Master of the Queen Elizabeth is entitled by warrant of his Naval Reserve Queen’s Commission to fly the prestigious ensign. “The ensign definitely does add

value and kudos – we strive to maintain the traditions and level of

following ship naming

style and quality demanded by the Senior Service on board,” he said. “We had the Loyal Toast the

ceremony dinner, and undoubtedly there are many parallels in both

● CPO Andy Vanes

Totting up hours in Stringbag

THE iconic Fairey Swordfish aircraft of the Royal Navy Historic Flight (RNHF) has been out and about in the latter part of 2010 – and a newcomer to the team has been delighted at the chance to put some hours in his logbook. The RNHF was established

collection was Swordfish II LS326, presented to the RN in 1960 by Westlands at Yeovil. The ‘Stringbag’ was a torpedo bomber which proved potent despite its lack of speed.

70th anniversary of the raid on Taranto, the Swordfish was an obvious choice for flying duties. Taranto, staged on Armistice

Day in 1940, saw the outdated Swordfish attack Italian warships in harbour, damaging several ships and denting Axis morale. The RNHF Swordfish finished

its brief 2010 flying season by conducting a flypast at Lee- on-the-Solent in honour of the Telegraphist Air Gunners (TAGs) – the TAGs memorial is situated on the seafront at Lee.

And with 2010 marking the

at Yeovilton in 1972 to preserve Naval aviation heritage, and as a living memorial to all Fleet Air Arm personnel. The first

aircraft to join the

And taking a keen interest in her schedule was CPO(ACMN) Andy Vanes, of the RNR Air Branch, who works with the Commando Helicopter Force at Yeovilton. Andy has clocked up over 8,000

● Lt Cdr Chris Wells RNR, Master of the new Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth, with the Queen on the day of the ship’s naming ceremony Picture: Cunard

style and maritime tradition.” Lt Cdr Wells, as Capt Wells, has charge of a ship more than four times the size of anything in the Royal Navy fleet – but he is already thinking of the opportunities presented when the Senior Service’s new leviathan first goes to sea. “Size isn’t everything!” he said. “Of course, I am extremely proud to have been given command of this brand new Cunard liner, to have brought her into service, to have had the opportunity to escort Her Majesty around the ship, and to lead a dedicated multinational ship’s company.

“One of the biggest differences

between the RN and the Merchant Service is that the merchant ships employ seafarers from around the world, and Queen Elizabeth

Fun in fearnoughts

FIREFIGHTING might not be your idea of fun and games – but these youngsters look like they are having a good time. Children from Carn Thomas Secondary School in the Isles of Scilly tested their firefighting skills when they visited assault ship HMS Albion.

Thanks to an initiative by the

Naval Regional Commander for Western England Cdre Jamie Miller, the ship hove to off the islands and the children hopped into a landing craft for the transit. And once on board the pupils

Picture: LA(Phot) Luron Wright

were given a brief tour, and even got to sit in the Captain’s chair. They took part in a mock firefighting and damage control exercise, and at the end of their day at sea, they organised a Trafalgar- themed dinner party for members of the ship’s company.

Preserving Dartmoor

THE cadets of Cornwall Division at BRNC got an early taste of Dartmoor, long before the assessed leadership training session, when they spent a day working in support of the Dartmoor Preservation Association (DPA). The session was programmed in as their assigned outreach project. After navigating their way through some fairly thick fog the

officer cadets worked alongside the regular volunteers of the DPA clearing scrub from Leedon Hill, a site with significant Bronze Age archaeology (see above). Fiona Senior, of the DPA, said

“We are extremely grateful for the efforts of the cadets.

teamwork ensured we achieved a lot in a fairly short time.”

“Their sense of humour and

currently has 55 nationalities represented in her ship’s company. “Meanwhile the Royal Navy is

building two aircraft carriers to play catch-up in the size stakes, and we are particularly looking forward to the first delivery, our namesake HMS Queen Elizabeth – it is hoped that these two ships will develop a special and close relationship, embodying the close links between the Royal and Merchant Fleets.” Lt Cdr Wells’ commitment to both services is admirable – his Reservist duties have been carried out in his leave periods – but from now on he will be able to devote his time to the second- largest Cunarder ever built, which will conduct programmes ranging from transatlantic crossings to world cruises.

flying hours in Wasp, Wessex and Sea King helicopters and Jetstream T3 planes, among others. Now on full time reserve service with 848 NAS, he is passing on his skills to the next generation. Last year he was invited by the CO of the RNHF to act as crew in the Stringbag during the display season – and the answer was very swift and in the affirmative.

Sodexo stars SODEXO,


RNAS Culdrose, has rewarded the achievements of employees at the base. Certificates to mark Level 2 NVQ and Emergency First Aid qualifications were presented. And star of the event was the Sodexo Unit and Regional Employee of the Month, Wai Man-Chan from Hong Kong. Mr Wai, of Helston, has lived in the UK for nine years, working at Culdrose for the last eight of those.


the catering and contractor


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