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Items from The News, Navy News and Warship World are reproduced by kind permission of David Brown, Sarah Fletcher and Steve Bush respectively.  Click on the thumbnails to enlarge them.

22 Jul 17 - News coverage of Vernon Monument Dinner


Prince Harry with chosen sculptor Les Johnson FRBS and Vernon Monument

Project Manager David Sandiford at Trinity House


Prince Harry with Vernon Monument Project Manager David Sandiford and your humble

Vice Chairman & Webmaster Rob Hoole (co-founders of the MCDOA) at Trinity House


The BBC and Daily Mail have published the following articles covering Wednesday's Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument 'Falklands 35' Charity Dinner at Trinity House:


BBC News: Prince Harry praises Portsmouth mine warfare monument


Daily Mail: Prince Harry praises `fantastic´ Royal Navy diving monument


Daily Mail: Prince Harry looks dapper as he meets Falklands veterans at black tie charity dinner in London


The Mail: Prince Harry praises 'fantastic' Royal Navy diving monument


Capt MFP & MCDOA President-elect Roger Readwin with CO Fleet Diving Squadron

 Del McKnight and personnel from the FDS and HMS Brocklesby outside Trinity House


Photos of the event can be viewed in a slideshow and ordered here:


Mark Dalton photography: Vernon Monument Dinner at Trinity House 19 July 2017


Mark Dalton is kindly donating £5 to the Vernon Monument for each photo he sells.


21 Jul 17 - NDG helps raise 'Highball' bouncing bombs from Scottish loch


The BBC News website contains this article, the Mail Online website this article and the Royal Navy website this article reporting that members of Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG) assisted in the recovery of historic World War Two bouncing bombs from the bottom of Loch Striven on 19 July.  They were among an estimated 200 of the Barnes Wallis designed munitions tested on the loch ahead of the famous Dam Busters raid in 1943.


 The Royal Navy article features MCDOA member Tony Hampshire (CO of NDG) and CPO(D) Garth [not Gareth] Spence.



Royal Navy photos by LPhot Will Haigh, FRPU North




Royal Navy photos by LPhot Will Haigh, FRPU North



Royal Navy photos by LPhot Will Haigh, FRPU North


20 Jul 17 - Funeral of Lt John Ernest Hendrick RN


Former FCPO(D) Chris Jones BEM has kindly informed me that John Hendrick's funeral will take place at 1430 on Thursday 3 August at The Oaks.Crematorium, Barton's Road, Havant PO9 5NA (see entry for 9 Jul 17).   There will be a gathering afterwards at The Old Customs House. Gunwharf Quays (formerly HMS Vernon), Portsmouth PO1 3TY.


If you intend to be there, please let Chris know.  If you are local and think you will have travel problems, let him know your address and telephone number.  Email: Chris here or telephone him on 023 9264 1223.


19 Jul 17 - Prince Harry to meet Vernon Monument campaigners


The Portsmouth News contains this article announcing that Prince Harry, Commodore-in-Chief Small Ships & Diving, will attend the reception preceding the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument 'Falklands 35' Charity Dinner at Trinity House tonight (see entry for 14 Jul 17).


18 Jul 17 - Pip Piper out of hospital


I am grateful to MCDOA member Pip Piper's daughter Michelle for this welcome update:


"Hi Rob,


I have seen the article on your 'Latest News' page (see entry for 11 Jul 17) and read all the kind words of your members which my sister has passed on to my father.  I am very grateful to you for this.  It will mean a lot to my father who is now out of hospital and well enough to be back in his rest home in France.  Still enjoying life and back to drinking a glass of red wine with his lunch most days!!  


I have attached a photo of him taken in France in June this year.


96-year-old Pip Piper drinking a beer

in France last month


Kind regards,




17 Jul 17 - A Permanent British Base in the Persian Gulf


The UK Defence Journal website contains this article reporting the re-establishment of HMS Jufair as a permanent British naval base in Bahrain.



16 July 17 - Vernon Monument 'Falklands 35' Charity Dinner online auction


The online auction preceding the live auction at the Vernon Monument 'Falklands 35' Charity Dinner at Trinity House on 19 July will end at 1200 on Tuesday 18 July.  Please click here and bid:


15 Jul 17 - HMS Shoreham returns from NATO deployment


The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting Thursday's return to Faslane of HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 2) after her three-month deployment in the Baltic with Standing NATO Minecountermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1).  She interrupted her passage home with a visit to her affiliated town of Shoreham last week (see entry for 8 Jul 17).


HMS Shoreham returning to Faslane on Thursday

(RN website photo)


14 Jul 17 - Prince Harry to attend Vernon Monument reception


Prince Harry at DDS in October 2007


Kensington Palace issued this press release this morning:



Friday 14th July, 2017




London Wednesday 19th July, 2017


Prince Harry will attend a reception for Project Vernon, the campaign to install a monument dedicated to the heritage of HMS Vernon, at Trinity House on Wednesday 19 July.  His Royal Highness is Commodore-in-Chief, Small Ships and Diving, Royal Naval Command.


HMS Vernon was a shore establishment of the Royal Navy. Vernon was established in 1876 as the Royal Navy's Torpedo Branch, named after the ship HMS Vernon which served as part of its floating base.  After the First World War, HMS Vernon moved ashore, taking over the Gunwharf site in Portsmouth, where it continued to operate until 1996 when the various elements comprising the establishment were split up and moved to different commands.


HMS Vernon originally hosted the Mining and Torpedo Schools, from which the Clearance Diving and Mine Warfare branches evolved.  It was also where mines and mine disposal techniques and equipment were developed and minesweepers, minehunters and clearance diving teams were based.


HMS Vernon was the alma mater of naval personnel awarded 23 George Crosses and at least 134 George Medals for bomb and mine disposal on land and at sea during the Second World War.  Since the Second World War personnel associated with HMS Vernon, its mine countermeasures vessels and diving teams, have been awarded at least one Distinguished Service Order, 10 Distinguished Service Crosses, 69 British Empire medals, 14 Queen’s Gallantry Medals and 35 Queen’s Commendations for Bravery.


The Vernon Monument, designed by Australian sculptor Les Johnson FRBS, will be the first monument or memorial to commemorate HMS Vernon’s heritage and celebrate the incredible achievements of its personnel.  Such personnel continue to operate worldwide and the Vernon Monument will act as a fitting, publicly accessible tribute to them.


The reception will take place ahead of the Vernon Monument ‘Falklands 35’ Charity Dinner, which will mark the 35th anniversary of the Falklands War and will be attended by several Falkland veterans.


Our glass is already two-thirds full but let's fill it to the brim,  Bid here and spread the word to others:


Let's get this monument of ours erected:


13 Jul 17 - Vernon Monument Dinner online auction now active


A VIP day at sea in a Royal Navy frigate and days with naval diving & bomb & mine disposal teams are among unique lots now being auctioned online.  The auction will culminate in our charity dinner at Trinity House in London on Wednesday 19 July.


HMS Westminster commanded by MCDOA member Si Kelly

(RN website photo)


The Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument 'Falklands 35' Charity Dinner will mark the 35th anniversary of the Falklands conflict and raise funds towards the Vernon Monument planned at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth to celebrate the minewarfare & diving heritage of HMS VERNON which previously occupied the site. The "Silent Auction" launched today comprises a wide variety of exciting lots including:  

  • A VIP day for six on board a major Royal Navy warship as guests of the Captain - date to be agreed with host.

  • A day hosted by a Royal Navy Area Diving & Bomb Disposal Unit - date to be agreed with host.

  • A day hosted by a Royal Navy Fleet Clearance Diving Unit – date to be agreed with host

  • A day's shooting for nine guns at the Leydene Shoot in Hampshire on Saturday 4th November 2017.

  • A unique silver-plated 280mm high bronze statuette of the planned monument, specially made for this event by the world-renowned sculptor, Les Johnson FRBS.

  • A unique 400mm high bronze statuette of the planned monument, also specially made for this event by the world-renowned sculptor, Les Johnson FRBS.

There are many other interesting lots, too.  Please spread the word.  Online bidding has now opened at:


12 Jul 17 - More publicity for Tim Sizer's charity trek


I am grateful to MCDOA member Mick Beale for drawing my attention to this article on the Portsmouth News website describing former WO(D) Tim Sizer's epic 630 mile trek in aid of Cancer Research UK and the Vernon Monument (see second entry for 20 Jun 17).



Donations in appreciation of Tim's efforts can still be made via:


11 Jul 17 - Lt Norman Douglas 'Pip' Piper RN


On 4 July, I was forwarded a message by Peter Down, the Honorary Secretary of the Ton Class Association (TCA).  It came from Peter Whelan, a former Commanding Officer of HMS Hubberston during her initial deployment in 1964 as the first minehunter to go to Singapore.  Peter and Mark served together in the Black Swan class sloop HMS Crane in 1959:


"Lt Cdr Norman Piper, a member of the RNA France Nord Branch (I am an ex-President) is well into his 90s and currently in a retirement home near Bordeaux.  He has not long to live.


I understand that during a full and varied naval career he either founded the RN Diving School after WW2 or was a key player in its development.  The Branch believes that this information should be passed for the attention of the CD branch with a view to wide recognition when Norman Piper eventually crosses the bar.


As ever,




Today, MCDOA Honorary Secretary Robin Walker forwarded me this message from Pip Piper's daughter Michelle:


"Dear Lt Cdr Robin Walker,


I am writing to you, from New Zealand, about my father, who to my knowledge is not a member of your organisation.  He is 97 in September and living in France.


He has just been in hospital and we were told he doesn’t have long to live.  He is the last remaining member of the original Mediterranean Fleet Clearance Diving Team which he started in Malta after the war.  He even built the building.  He reported to Mountbatten of Burma.  He is second from left in the front row in this photo:



When he left the Navy in 1956 he was Lieutenant Commander N D Piper.  I would like to ask if you can you make him a member of your organisation so that someone from your organisation can attend his funeral when the time arrives.  I am so very proud of his understated heroism and all that he did throughout WWII and after, to protect the world from the horrors of Nazism.  I can provide you with information should you need it.  


I do not have all of the full details of all the ships he was on but here is some of Lieutenant Commander N. D. Piper’s naval history that my mother (his wife of 63 years) put together before her recent death:


1941 or 1942 - Joined as Ordinary Seaman Piper


1942 - Commissioned as Temp. Sub-Lieutenant RNVR and opted for the Submarine Service. First Patrol in HMS/M Tuna in the North Sea.  He did several Arctic Patrols in HMS/M Ursula and HMS/M Tuna.  Stood by the commissioning of HMS/M Unswerving in which he remained with until the end of the war, first on Arctic Patrol, then from 1943 he was based in Malta and did several patrols in the Med where they were depth charged and completed about seven month-long patrols in the Aegean.  He remained with HMS/M Unswerving until 1945. 


In May 1945 he was promoted to Lieutenant in Command.  He was then put in command, because the Captain was on leave, and Piper then brought back the submarine (leaking like a sieve and leaving a trail of oil behind them all the way) from the eastern end of the Med (he had been at the liberation of Khios) to Gibraltar, and continued on into the Atlantic then took the sub up to Newcastle and into the Tyne.  He was instructed through a loud hailer to find the gate to get the sub into the correct dock.


Appointed to HMS Ferret in Lisahally then first Lieutenant U-3514. 


November 1945 set of to deliver U-boat to Libau in Latvia.  Finally took U3515 to Libau but because of bad weather and the tow to the HMS Icarus breaking didn’t arrive till Feb 1946.


1946 - HMS Cynthia, Minesweeper – released from RNVR re-appointed Lieutenant RN on 9th December 1946. Also served on HMS Zodiac, Seabear and Bramble


1948 – HMS Mermaid


November 1948 – Aircraft carrier Triumph


January 1950 - HMS Jamaica


April 1951 - Officers Clearance Diving Team training


1953 – Malta - In command of the Fleet Clearance Diving Team Mediterranean – Reported to Mountbatten of Burma.  


Kind Regards,


Michelle Piper"


I have sent Michelle the following response:


"Hello Michelle,


The name Pip Piper is well known to me, not least because of what John Grattan, Bill Norton and the late Robbie Robinson have told me about him.


I have also received recent news about your father (via Ton Class Association Secretary Peter Down) from Mark Whelan, the ex-President of the RNA France Nord Branch of which your father is a member.  


My records confirm that Lt Norman Douglas ‘Pip’ PIPER qualified as a Clearance Diving Officer in May 1951.  This means your father is automatically eligible for membership of the MCDOA.  As he is over the age of 75, he is not compelled to pay membership fees according to our constitution.  


Please regard your father as an honoured and well revered member of the MCDOA.  I will publish an appropriate announcement on the MCDOA website’s ‘Latest News’ page.


Best wishes,




From MCDOA Member Jon Riches:




Excellent news that Pip Piper is at long last a member of the MCDOA.  He well deserves the honour!!  


After my rather vague email to you I am glad that we now know a bit more about his RN career and that he served in most theatres of WW II.  I went to his 90th birthday party in Brittany which was an exuberant event with Pip in full command of his faculties.


Very sad to hear he is fading but he has had an excellent innings.  It was a pleasure to have known him though regrettably for me, in the late stage of his life.


Well done for drawing all the threads together.


Best wishes,




From MCDOA member Mike Gillam:




I was delighted to receive your email, thoughtfully forwarded by Rob Hoole, as Pip introduced me to Clearance Diving back in 1954.  I was serving in a minesweeping flotilla in the Mediterranean Fleet when Pip brought  the Med team on board for an exercise.  Having already had a one-week diving acquaint course as a midshipman, I was very impressed by this very professional and confident group and sought Pip’s advice on joining them.  Having then sent off my formal application to be accepted on the long CD Course I was taken on a run ashore in Malta by Pip and Morty Drummond, another CD luminary from those early days who just happened to be passing through,  


In order to check my suitability for this new specialisation. I must have passed the test as my application was accepted.  Not long after, your parents invited me to dinner at their flat in Sliema which remains one of my happy memories from this early time in my career.


If you have the opportunity, please would you convey my greetings to him and my thanks for all his kindnesses


With kind regards,


Michael Gillam"


From MCDOA member Jim Sykes:




 I saw the recent entry for Pip Piper who I remember meeting as a baby Surg Lt at one of the many diving shindigs.  


However, that aside I also see that he is a member of ARNO.  The family may not be aware of this but with his impending demise might wish to know what it can offer - a White Enisgn for example.  


I somehow doubt that either he or his immediate family would require the support of the Royal Navy Officers' Charity (membership of ARNO not obligatory!) but it is there if needed.  ARNO's website and the Yearbook provide information as will Head Office.  


Trusting you are keeping well.


Yours aye,




P.S. Keep up the good work on the website." 


From Pip's daughter Michelle:


"Hi Rob,


Thank you very much for that.


Is there anything I can send to my sister in France to print off for my father to show him that he is a member?  I am very proud of his achievements, his longevity and his positive attitude to life.


I do not know a lot about my father’s time in the Navy, apart from all the stories we heard growing up from him and his friends.  Funny how you just don’t talk about things when you have the chance.  He has spoken to my son about many aspects of his life during the war in submarines.  I know he was very proud to be in the Royal Navy and loved Navy life with my mother in Malta.  Many of his life-long friends, unfortunately mostly passed on now, were ex-Navy so it was a backdrop to our lives growing up.


He is in failing health and sleeps for long periods - but can still converse, read (with help) and comprehend.  He still counts his blessings, sees joy in everyday things, has retained his dry wit and sense of humour and is still a true gentleman.  We have just returned from visiting him in France.


I look forward to hearing from you.


Kind regards,


Michelle Piper"


From MCDOA member John Grattan OBE:


"Dear Rob,


Firstly, many thanks for your kindness to me and Michelle – absolutely typical of you.


I first met Pip Piper at the City Gem in Sliema, Malta at Christmas 1953 or very soon thereafter.  In spite of a fourteen year age gap (which is enormous in naval society) plus his distinguished war record, Pip remembered his roots and asked me to call him Pip.  We compromised by me always calling him “Pip Sir” and he was the perfect gentleman at all times.  We met quite frequently at the City Gem and I had the pleasure and privilege of going to the Manoel Island diving centre where he reigned supreme.  


He inspired many, included me, to try to pass the CDO course.  Like so many of us who knew him, I am so pleased he has had a long and fruitful life.  Reaching the age of 97 is a great achievement for a great and good man.  I pray he has a peaceful last dip – he more than deserves it.


Michelle and all are in my thoughts and prayers.


Yours aye,




From MCDOA member Bob Lusty:


"Hello Rob,


I am amazed that Pip is still with us.  I last saw him when he was working in Jackie Warner's Diving Inspectorate Team and he visited the Forties Field where I worked for BP.


I recognise most of the faces in the Med team photo but can't put names to them except for front row left CPO Ace Stanley and back row second from left Robby Robinson.


Pip was a well known and well respected CDO in the early days of the Branch.  I believe Mike Gillam did his first diving course with Pip's team.


Best wishes,


Bob Lusty"


10 Jul 17 - It's not a TON class minesweeper in the 'Dunkirk' film trailer


I have recently fielded several enquiries asking whether a vessel that features in the trailer for the forthcoming film 'Dunkirk' is a TON class minesweeper.



She is actually the former Dutch Dokkum class coastal minesweeper HNLMS Sittard although she has been 'modified' somewhat, especially with those extra guns aft.  She was in Stan's Navy (NATO's STANAVFORCHAN - Standing Naval Force Channel) at the same time as me in HMS Wilton in 1977.


The similarity with our TONs is not surprising.  Drawings of the TON Class coastal minesweeper were supplied to France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Canada who used these and plans of American equivalents to build comparable vessels to their own designs.  In particular, the American-designed MSC-172 Class Coastal Minesweeper, otherwise known as the ‘Western Union’, served in several navies under the offshore procurement plan known as the Military Defence Assistance Pact.


It all started when the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors formed a team at Bath in the UK in 1947 to design the post-war generation of minesweepers.  This team produced two sets of hull drawings in 1949 for the construction of future inshore and coastal mine countermeasures vessels, each hull design being sub-categorized into two variants: a minesweeper (CMS/IMS) and a minehunter (MHC/MHI).  J.I. Thornycroft Ltd of Southampton was designated lead yard and given responsibility for detailed drawings.


Although no initial orders were placed, owing mainly to a lack of funding, the impending offensive in Korean waters led to the acquisition programme being brought forward to September 1950.  The result of this urgent requirement was the TON Class, originally intended to be known as the Insect Class.  These ships were much smaller than their Fleet Minesweeper predecessors but were still able to carry out all forms of minesweeping.  The coastal minehunter variant was, however, suspended in June 1952 and cancelled altogether in March 1953, principally because of the lack of effective minehunting systems, particularly sonar, at the time.


 The first British Insect/TON class minesweepers were ordered on 9 September 1950 and HMS CONISTON (originally named RED ANT) was laid down on 14 June 1951, launched on 9 July 1952 and commissioned on 18 March 1953.  However, Thornycroft was beaten to the first launch by Doig with HMS BILDESTON being launched on 9 June 1952 although she was not commissioned until 28 April 1953.


9 Jul 17 - Death of Lt John Ernest Hendrick RN


Former FCPO(D) Chris Jones has informed me of the death today of MCDO John Hendrick after a long illness.  I was present when he suffered a stroke at a Historical Diving Society dinner at the Queen’s Hotel in Southsea in November 2010 (see entry for 17 Nov 10 in News Archive 32) and he never completely recovered.  As the first XO of HMS WILTON (1972-73), John was one of my predecessors.


John Hendrick (right) and Chris Jones flanking the late Tony 'Willie' Wilkes' partner Maureen

after Willie's funeral in March 2010


I will announce funeral arrangements when available but a service is likely to be held at The Oaks crematorium near Havant.


John was not an MCDOA member but I am sure all members of our community will join me in extending our condolences to his family and close friends.


8 Jul 17 - HMS Shoreham at Shoreham


With the kind permission of Lt Cdr Ben Evans, the Commanding Officer, I visited HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 2) at Shoreham yesterday with fellow members of the Ton Class Association (TCA).  As always, we were well looked after by members of her ship's company but I am particularly grateful to CPO Adam Slack, the WEO, for acting as our ship liaison officer in lieu of the MEO who was called away on duty.  HMS Shoreham has returned from a deployment with Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) in the Baltic which culminated in her showing the flag at Kieler Woche in Kiel (see entry for 22 Jun 17).










The starboard Mk 44 Minigun proved particularly popular although I'm not sure what the people in the houses opposite must have thought.



The visit was rounded off with a beer or two on the bridge.




7 Jul 17 - Justin Hains takes command of SNMCMG2



The Royal Navy website contains this article announcing that Royal Navy officers have assumed command of two NATO task groups in the Mediterranean.


Congratulations are in order for MCDOA member Justin Hains who has become the Commander of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG2) for 12 months.  He will exercise command of SNMCMG2 from the survey ship HMS Enterprise and has previously commanded HMS Atherstone and HMS Ledbury.


Justin Hains (left) with Rear Admiral Jens Nemeyer German Navy

(MARCOM Deputy Chief of Staff, Operatons)


Justin Hains (right) with Cdr Philip Harper RN, the Commanding Officer of HMS Enterprise


Meanwhile, Cdre James Morley, the Commanding Officer of the Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan, has become the Commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), a force of six British, German, Albanian, Turkish and Greek warships patrolling between the Pillars of Hercules and the Black Sea.   He has previously commanded HMS Dulverton.


5 Jul 17 - A photo from Bob the Dog


I am grateful to MCDOA member Bob Hawkins MBE, 1st Lt of the brand new carrier Queen Elizabeth (see entry for 19 May 17), for allowing me to publish this superb photo emphasising the true breadth and length of the ship's flight deck.  Bob says he took it himself "at sunset while the ship was at anchor over the former Exercise Minefield (X56...?!) in Kirkcaldy Bay."



4 Jul 17 - SDU2 detonates bomb at Southend


The Essex Live website contains this article (including video) reporting the detonation yesterday, presumably by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2), of a Second World War bomb,off Western Esplanade at Southend.



3 Jul 17 - Award of LS&GC


Congratulations to AB(D) Andy Waller on being gazetted for the award of the Long Service & Good Conduct medal.


29 Jun 17 - HMS Bangor finds US Navy minehunting sonar towed body in Gulf


The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting the successful detection and recovery by HMS Bangor (MCM1 Crew 7) of a $1.2 million AN-AQS-14A side-scan sonar towed body lost on the seabed by a US Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter during ARTEMIS TRIDENT, the latest Anglo-French-US exercise in the Gulf.  The article features AB(MW) Nathan Taylor.


HMS Bangor personnel with US Navy ROV team and recovered sidescan sonar body

(RN website photo)


MH-53E Sea Dragon of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron Fifteen (HM-15)

retrieving an AN/AQS-14A Side-Looking Sonar in November 2003

(US Navy photo by Photographers Mate 2nd Class Christopher Mobley)


28 Jun 17 - The first Royal Navy clearance divers


Although this year marks the 65th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Navy's Clearance Diver branch i.a.w. Admiralty Fleet Order 857/52, I am grateful to MCDOA member Cdr Edward 'Jake' Linton BEM RAN (who is also Patron of the RANCDA) and Cdre Hector 'Hec' Donohue AM RAN for discovering and sending me this undated copy of Confidential Admiralty Fleet Order 341/48



This document, renaming 'P' Party divers, is the first reference to Clearance Divers (Divers (C)) in the Royal Navy.  Divers (C) were based and trained at HMS Lochinvar at Port Edgar on the Forth from 1948 until 1951 when all RN diving was centralised at HMS Vernon in Portsmouth prior to the official formation of the Clearance Diver branch on 7 March 1952.



Diver in 'P' Party Mk II dress incorporating

Sladen 'Clammy Death' suit


Jake and Hec are also co-authors of United and Undaunted - The First 100 Years chronicling the history of Royal Australian Navy diving.


27 Jun 17 - Gentlemen Who Lunch


Having eaten at The Traveller's Joy in Southbourne today, the MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine Trio' of Barlow, Holloway and Hoole enjoyed a pint (St Austell's Tribune) just along the road at The Bosham Inn where Barlow continued to regale us about his latest cruise taking in the ports and rivers of France and Spain including Bordeaux, Rouen, Bayonne, Vigo and Seville.



26 Jun 17 - Angus Benton awarded 2SL Commendation



I am grateful to MCDOA past-Secretary Mick Beale for drawing my attention to the award of a Second Sea Lord's Commendation to fellow MCDOA member Angus Benton.  When I asked Angus to elaborate, he sent this response:


"Hi Rob,


Yes, guilty as charged.  The short citation reads:


"Lt Cdr Benton has been integral to sustaining delivery of operational output while ensuring enhancement to the UK MCM Force.  He has achieved all that he has through unrelenting commitment and determination which is well above that expected of his role."


The enhancement was basically carving through the paperwork necessary to get the three Minewarfare Battle Staffs from Augmentation to Liability.  The challenge of filling the posts will remain for a few more years (until the branch has grown a couple of dozen more warm bodies).


In addition to the 2SL Commendation, I also won an all expenses paid six-month trip to the Gulf, including the extra bonus of Christmas in the sun.


Yours Aye,




From MCDOA member Dougie MacDonald:


"Hello Rob,


Really good to see Angus' chuck up, well deserved.


One of our number is in the unique position of having a CinCFleet's bollocking and a chuck-up ... my lips are sealed but I was responsible for .... the latter.




From Dixie Dean MBE:




On behalf of the Minewarfare Association and from me personally, very many congratulations to Angus.  Excellent news on him receiving the 2SL Commendation for his work relating to the MW Battle Staffs.  BZ Angus, well deserved.  


Also good to see that the MW Branch and Diving Branch will increase in numbers (albeit slowly) instead of reducing.


Down Kite.  




Mine Warfare Association"


From MCDOA past-Secretary Mick Beale:




Well done oppo, and what a cracking prize!


Kind Regards,


Mick Beale

Diving Standards Inspector (Commercial)"


25 Jun 17 - Nick Stanley's retirement


Mrs Webmaster and I were delighted to attend an 'open house' hosted by MCDOA member Nick Stanley and his wife Sue today to mark Nick's departure from the Royal Navy after 40 magnificent years of service.



Other MCDOA members present included David Sandiford, Geoff Goodwin and Tom Russell. 


24 Jun 17 - Retirment beckons for PO(MW) Andrew 'Gilly' Gilmore


Your humble webmaster has enjoyed a grand evening at Andy 'Gilly' Gilmore's retirement party on board HMS Victory.  Gilly leaves the Royal Navy in 47 days after which he and his wife Tanya plan to move to Spain.  Other members of the cloth present included WO(MW) Steve 'Bunny' Warren and WO(MW) Steve 'Stirling' Moss.











As Gilly kindly acknowledged in his speech, I was his first seagoing commanding officer in HMS Berkeley (1987-89) when we took the ship out of build and deployed to the Gulf during the Iran/Iraq Tanker War.  We have remained in touch ever since.


I am sure that all members of our community will join me in wishing Gilly and Tanya every happiness in whatever the future holds for them.


23 Jun 17 - NDG call-out for weapons and devices found in Blantyre


The Scottish Sun website contains this article and the Scottish Sunday Herald this article describing the attendance of members of Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG) after police found “firearms and ammunition” and “two suspect devices” yesterday at a house in Blantyre, South Lanarkshire.  The suspect devices were removed by members of NDG.



22 Jun 17 - HMS Shoreham attends Kieler Woche (Kiel Week)


Following the participation of HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 2) in BALTOPS 17, delivered by MCDOA President Paddy McAlpine in his role as NATO's DCOMSTRIKFOR (see second entry for 15 Jun 17), the ship has been showing the flag at Kieler Woche in Kiel together with other units assigned to Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1).


HMS Shoreham outboard of BNS Primula and ENS Wambola at Kiel


HMS Shoreham is due to be alongside at Shoreham-on-Sea on 6 July when I hope to visit her courtesy of her affiliation with the Ton Class Association (TCA).


21 Jun 17


HMS Brocklesby returning to operations


The UK Defence Journal website contains this article reporting that HMS Brocklesby (MCM2 Crew 2) has begun her sea trials programme after an extended maintenance period in the Ship Hall at Portsmouth Naval Base.  Work included replacing her Deltic diesel propulsion system with Caterpillar engines, installing new machinery controls and surveillance system, overhauling her chilled water plant and fitting new propellers.  She has also had her galley refurbished.


HMS Quorn is due to undergo the same treatment later this year. 


From our foreign correspondent


The Australian 'Navy Daily' website contains this article announcing the Queen's Birthday Honours award of a commendation for distinguished service to PO(D) Kevin Paul RAN.


 Royal Australian Navy

Petty Officer Kevin Michael PAUL, NSW

For distinguished performance of duties in warlike operations as the Chief Counter Improvised Explosive Devices Training Advisor of the Afghan National Police Central Training Centre during Operation HIGHROAD.

Petty Officer Paul significantly improved the level of training and resultant operational capability of Afghan Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Improvised Explosive Device Defeat operators. His engagement and mentoring of senior leadership, the implementation of enhanced training facilities and methodologies and the wider gender integration within the capability, have increased the Afghan ability to defeat Improvised Explosive Devices


20 Jun 17


Peter Laughton selected for promotion to Captain


Warm congratulations to MCDOA member Peter Laughton MBE on being gazetted for promotion to Captain RN effective from 2 May 2017. 



Peter Laughton as CO of HMS Lancaster in December 2013


Tim Sizer finishes walk for cancer charity


Congratulations to former WO(D) Tim Sizer, a cancer sufferer, for completing the South West Coastal Path Walk yesterday.


My longtime friend and neighbour Lez Howard, a member of our 'Gentlemen Who Lunch' bunch, and I travelled to Shell Bay near Poole to help Tim's wife Lynn, Tug Wilson & his wife Annette and Sid Seabrook clap him over the finish line. 







We then conducted a liquid debrief in the garden of a local hostelry where we were joined by Tim's brother Rob who had been held up in traffic.





Tim's 630 mile trek in aid of Cancer Research UK took 46 days (including a two-day stopover in Falmouth) and was the equivalent of scaling Everest four times (115,000 ft of ascent and descent).  If you haven't done so already, please show your appreciation for Tim's feat by sponsoring him on his JustGiving webpage (which also contains a cracking daily blog and some stunning photos:


So far Tim has raised over £7,000 for Cancer Research UK and he has pledged to make an additional personal donation of 10% (plus 25% Gift Aid) towards the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument.


HMS Ledbury pays homage to Second World War casualty HMS Gloucester


The Navy News Facebook page contains this article describing a ceremony by HMS Ledbury (MCM2 Crew 7) to mark the sinking of the cruiser HMS Gloucester which was dive-bombed during the Battle of Crete on 22 May 1941 with the loss of 722 men out of a crew of 807.  Lt Tom Foley and AB Harry Poole dived to unfurl a White Ensign before dropping it on to her wreck one mile below.


Lt Tom Foley and AB Harry Poole of HMS Ledbury paying homage to HMS Gloucester

(Navy News image)


Service of Remembrance on HMS Ledbury's sweep deck

(Navy News image)


Lt Tom Foley and AB Harry Poole of HMS Ledbury paying homage to HMS Gloucester

(Navy News image)


The wartime cruiser HMS Gloucester

(Navy News image)


HMS Ledbury is nearing the half-way point of her 6,000-mile passage from Portsmouth to Bahrain to relieve HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 1 commanded by MCDOA member Dave Louis) which has spent nearly four years in the Gulf region on Operation KIPION (see entry for 16 Jun 17).


19 Jun 17 - Tim Sizer's ETA changed


MCDOA member Graham 'Tug' Wilson MBE reports that Tim is now expected to finish his South West Coast Path walk in aid of Cancer Research UK (see entry for 17 Jun 17) at Shell Bay, Studland BH19 3BA at 1400 today.  I hope to be there with my camera.


18 Jun 17 - News from HMS Shoreham


I am grateful to Lt Cdr Ben Evans, Commanding Officer of HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 2), for this update received via the Ton Class Association ((TCA).  I write a column titled 'MCMV News' for the Associaton's bi-monthly newsletter 'Ton Talk'.


"I hope that this letter finds you well.  I am aware that it has been some time since I last made contact, and so I wanted to update you on our progress on deployment and to announce the dates for our home town visit. In late April we sailed from Scotland to start our journey towards the Baltic to join Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group One (SNMCMG1).  On the way we briefly visited the Ship's previous base port in Portsmouth before continuing our transit through the Kiel Canal and into the Baltic Sea.


Throughout May we have visited Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Sweden, conducted historical ordnance disposal near the Bay of Riga and north of Tallinn and improved our interoperability with other NATO and non-NATO navies.  A very busy month but the weather has been kind to us and the Crew have enjoyed the fantastic foreign visits.


We are now participating in Exercise BALTOPS 17 [see second entry for 15 Jun 17] which is the premier exercise in the Baltic and one of the largest in the Northern Hemisphere.  There are 46 ships, over 50 aircraft, over 4,000 sailors, marines and aircrew taking part from the armed forces of more than 14 countries.  On completion we will visit Kiel, Germany to be part of the world famous Kiel Sailing Festival.


I am pleased to announce that from 5 to 9 July 2017 we will be making a return visit to our home town of Shoreham-by-Sea.  It will be a fantastic opportunity to strengthen our links with our affiliates, through organising official events and hosting you on board.  We would like to offer the Ship to be open to the public and provide guided tours for all our affiliates.


The detailed programme is being worked through as I write this letter with our Naval Regional Commander but I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the Visit Liaison Officer for the Ship, my Marine Engineering Officer (MEO); Warrant Officer Trevor Brinkley.


Our RN website is slowly being updated due to technical issues shore side but we continue to add press releases on our activity. 


We are all looking forward to visiting Shoreham-by-Sea and meeting you all very soon.  In the meantime please contact WO1 Brinkley if you have any questions about the visit.


Ben Evans


Lieutenant Commander Royal Navy

Commanding Officer

HMS Shoreham"


17 Jun 17 - Tim Sizer nearing end of walk


Former WO(D) Tim Sizer is on day 44 and nearing the end of his South West Coast Path walk in aid of Cancer Research UK (see second entry for 21 May 17).  As this photo relayed by MCDOA member Tug Wilson MBE shows, he camped last night at Durdle Door. 



Tug reported on 13 June that Tim had decided to complete the whole route, including Weymouth to Poole which he had previously undertaken, and not pause in Weymouth as expected.  His current plan is to finish at South Haven Point near Poole at 1500 (since amended to 1400) on Monday (19 June).


You can still appreciate Tim's extraordinary efforts by sponsoring him via his Just Giving page (where he has maintained a fascinating photographic blog) at:  


For every £10 Tim raises for Cancer Research UK, he is personally donating £1 to the Vernon Monument appeal up to a ceiling of £1,000. 

16 Jun 17  


HMS Ledbury sailors perform Top of the Rock Race and Cyclothon


The Royal Navy website contains this article describing a 'Top of the Rock' race performed by ship's company members of HMS Ledbury (MCM2 Crew 7). 


HMS Ledbury's 'Top of the Rock' team

(RN website photo)


Meanwhile, the 'Ledbury Riders' hit the roads of the southern Iberian peninsula for a 50-mile cycle ride into the Andalusian hills. 


HMS Ledbury cyclist in Spain

(RN website photo)


The article features minewarfare specialist AB(WS) Ed 'Dutchy' Holland.


HMS Ledbury was alongside in Gibraltar for two days while on passage to the Gulf to relieve HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 1 commanded by MCDOA member Dave Louis) which has spent nearly four years as part of the four-strong RN minehunting force deployed on Operation KIPION.


SDU2 detonates mine off Margate


The Isle of Thanet News website contains this article describing this morning's detonation of a mine off Ramsgate by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2).


15 Jun 17 - HMS Middleton starts 24-hour charity rowathon in Bahrain


MCM2 Crew 8, commanded by MCDOA member Charlie Wheen, is currently manning HMS Middleton on Operation KIPION in the Middle East.  The crew has just begun a 24-hour indoor rowing race in which two teams of six are rowing against each other.  Live video of the event is being shown on the Royal Navy's Facebook page here.


Charlie Wheen on video


Team 1:  Tom Milner, Will Murray, Rob Stone-Ward, Remi Dobson, Craig Wootton and Paul Bushnell


Team 2:  Jonathan Ellis, Ryan Drake, Chris Forster, Tom Lewis, Gary Threapleton and Jake Caddy



The aim of the rowathon is to raise funds for the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Bristol Children’s Hospital:  Please sponsor them here on the JustGiving website here:


The Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity ‘Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal’

MCDOA President and President-elect meet at BALTOPS


BALTOPS 17 culminated yesterday in a DV (Distinguished Visitors) Day involving amphibious landings at Utska in Poland.  As DCOMSTRIKFOR, MCDOA President Paddy McAlpine had been charged to deliver this by his USN 3* boss COMSTRIKFOR.  As Captain Mine Warfare and Patrol Vessels, Fishery Protection and Diving (CMFP), MCDOA President-elect Roger Readwin witnessed events as 1SL's representative and Paddy has drawn my attention to these photos of them together.



Above and below: Paddy McAlpine and Roger Readwin

(The Ant & Dec of NATO?)



BALTOPS 17, the 45th in the series, is an annual, joint multinational maritime exercise in the Baltic led by the US and executed by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO).  It began on 1 June in Szczecin (formerly Stettin) and ends in Kiel tomorrow.  


Three B-52H Stratofortress bombers from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana began missions in support of Baltic Operations on June 6, 2017.  They laid inert Mk 62 Quick Strike mines utilising modified Mk 82 500 lb general purpose bomb bodies, which were loaded at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.



Above and below: Inert Quick Strike MK 62 mines being loaded into the bomb bay of a B-52H

Stratofortress at RAF Fairford on 5 June 2017 prior to being laid in the Baltic for BALTOPS 17

(USAF photos by Airman 1st Class Randahl J. Jenson) 



Participating forces from 14 nations comprise 4,000 shipboard personnel, 50 ships and submarines and more than 50 aircraft including HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 2) which is currently assigned to Standing NATO MCM Group 1 (SNMCMG1).


HMS Shoreham wearing her NATO funnel badge


Mine detonated by the Tripartite-class minehunter BNS Narcis during BALTOPS 17 


Oksay class minehunter HNoMS Hinnøy leading HMS Shoreham and other units of SNMCMG1


MCM leadthrough during BALTOPS 17


14 Jun 17 - Falklands 35


Thirty-five years ago today, the Argentinean forces occupying the Falklands surrendered but hazardous tasks still had to be performed by minewarfare and diving unit personnel.


Between 23 June and 4 July, when the weather allowed, the minesweeping trawlers of the 11th MCM Squadron swept the enemy minefields at the entrance to Port Stanley.  They bagged 10 of the 21 deadly moored mines laid by the Argentinians, the other mines having broken adrift and floated away or failed to deploy from their sinkers properly.  CORDELLA did not sweep any mines as she was always out in front using her sweeps to protect the other ships and hopefully in safe water.  PICT, next in line swept three mines.  One of these nearly struck NORTHELLA which had to manoeuvre hurriedly to avoid it. NORTHELLA swept two of her own, JUNELLA four, and FARNELLA one mine.  Another of PICT's mines was towed inshore by JUNELLA on 26 June to be made safe by Lt Cdr Bernie BRUEN for shipping back to the UK for analysis.  The mine, normally on display in the mining hall of the Minewarfare Training Element at the Maritime Warfare School at HMS Collingwood, was exhibited at the Imperial War Museum as part of the 'Falklands 25' exhibition in 2007.

Martyn Holloway with recovered Argentinean
mine at the Imperial War Museum

In early July 1982, the Hunt Class minehunters HMS BRECON and HMS LEDBURY arrived in theatre and confirmed by sonar that all poised mines had been cleared.  Further utilising their submersibles and divers, the two mine hunters then located and disposed of remaining married mine failures and mine sinkers.

Between 13 October 1982 and 2 January 1983, a Royal Navy saturation diving team led by MCDO Lt Cdr (later Cdr) Mike KOONER RN (CO MV STENA SEASPREAD and OIC Naval Party 2002) recovered sensitive items from the wreck of the Type 42 destroyer HMS COVENTRY, sunk by Argentinean bombs 10 miles north of Pebble Island.  At the request of COVENTRY’s Commanding Officer, Captain David HART DYKE LVO, RN, the divers also recovered his ceremonial sword and telescope, now on display in the RN Museum in Portsmouth, and the cross of nails from Coventry Cathedral, presented in 1978 when the ship was commissioned.  Lt Cdr KOONER was subsequently appointed an MBE and PO(D) Michael 'Harry' Harrison was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal (QGM).



Lt Cdr James Hutcheon ‘Hamish’ LOUDON MBE RN (Fleet MCDO)


Lt Cdr Christopher George Brandon 'Chris’ MEATYARD RN (COMAW SMCDO)

HMS Endurance

Lt David Charles Winston ‘Doc’ O’CONNELL MBE RN


CPO(D) Brian T ‘Ben’ GUNNELL
LS(D) A P ‘Tony’ GROOM
LS(D) Garry J ‘Jan’ SEWELL
LS(D) David W ‘Saggy’ SOUTHWELL
LS(D) David ‘Wilkie’ WILKINSON
AB(D) J W 'George' SHARP
S(D) W G 'Stan' BOWLES


CPO(D) Barry 'Blondie' LIMBRICK BEM
LS(D) Graham 'Tug' WILSON MBE
LS(D) 'Biff' DAVIS
LS(D) Dickie DABER
LS(D) 'Freebie' BEAN
AB(D) Paul 'Yorky' TUDOR

FCDT 3 (NP 1890)

Lt Cdr Nigel ‘Bernie’ BRUEN MBE, DSC, RN (OIC)
CPO(D) Graham Michael ‘Piggy’ TROTTER DSM (2 I/C)
CMEA(L) David FOX (Technical Support)
LS(D) Alan ‘Charlie’ CHAPMAN
Charles Anthony ‘Charlie’ SMITHARD
LS(D) Anthony Savour ‘Tommo’ THOMPSON
AB(D) ‘Buster’ MOTTRAM
AB(D) ‘Taff’ REES
AB(D) ‘Whisky’ WALKER
AB(D) David ‘John Boy’ WALTON
AB(D) G R ‘Jock’ WEIR
AB(D) M A ‘Wheels’ WHEELER

Special Mine Evaluation Liaison Team
(NP 1880 embarked in HMS Intrepid)

Lt Cdr Iain Bruce MACKAY RN (OIC)
CPO(MW) Brian ‘Bill’ HALEY

11th MCM Squadron

 Lt Cdr Martyn HOLLOWAY RN (CO HMS CORDELLA and Senior Officer 11th MCM Sqn)
Lt (later Cdr RAN) Allan RANKIN RN (Squadron Operations Officer)
Lt Cdr David Gordon GARWOOD RN (CO HMS PICT)

Falklands Liberation Memorial showing ships of 11th
MCM Squadron (section enlarged for clarity)

Initially, the list of participating units on the Falklands Memorial outside Port Stanley failed to mention either of the two main Portsmouth-based Fleet Clearance Diving Teams (FCDTs 1 and 3 but up to five FCDTs were active) although it did include the Army’s field postal unit and the RAF’s mobile meteorological unit.  Of further note, Sir Lawrence Freedman’s first edition of the Official History of the Falklands Campaign said little about the activities of the Fleet Clearance Diving Teams or the minesweeping trawlers of the specially formed 11th Mine Countermeasures (MCM) Squadron that swept 10 of the 21 deadly moored mines laid by the Argentinians in the approaches to Port Stanley; the other mines had either broken adrift and floated away or failed to deploy properly.  I brought these omissions to Sir Lawrence's attention in the hope that he would set the record straight sometime in the future.

In August 2007, MCDOA member Brian Dutton sent me photos showing that FCDT 1 and 3 had been added to the units listed on the Falklands Liberation Memorial at Port Stanley.  In February 2012, Sukey Cameron MBE, the London representative of the Falkland Islands Government, provided a photo showing the addition of FCDT 2 in 2007/8.  Unfortunately, the teams are shown as '1 FCDT', '2 FCDT' and '3 FCDT' instead of 'FCDT 1', 'FCDT 2' and 'FCDT 3' respectively but at least their contributions have now been acknowledged. 

Falklands Liberation Memorial showing the addition of the FCDTs

The Revised and Updated Edition of Volume II of Sir Lawrence Freedman's Official History of the Falklands Campaign was released in October 2007.  In his introduction, Sir Lawrence stated with regard to his previous work:

"...I am sure it was galling for those who had been neglected in earlier studies and reports to find that this omission was continued.  An example of this is the Fleet Clearance Diving Teams whose role I am now pleased to acknowledge."

At long last, the record was being set straight.

This Ministerial Statement to the House of Lords was published in Hansard on 29 June 2014.  Its Annex contained this passage:

"South Atlantic  The qualifying period for the award of the South Atlantic Medal without the Rosette will be extended from 12 July to 21 October 1982.  The original decision to end the qualifying period on 12 July 1982 was taken too hastily: those who served beyond that date experienced both risk and rigour until the airfield at Mount Pleasant was completed on 21 October.  The qualifying period for the award of the South Atlantic Medal without the Rosette will be extended from 12 July to 21 October 1982.  The original decision to end the qualifying period on 12 July 1982 was taken too hastily: those who served beyond that date experienced both risk and rigour until the airfield at Mount Pleasant was completed on 21 October."

The islands had been liberated on 14 June but this statement brought into entitlement members of the ships' companies of HMS Brecon (CO & CTU Cdr (later Cdre CBE) Peter Fish RN), HMS Ledbury (MCDOA member Lt Cdr (later Cdr OBE) Tony Rose RN) and the older RMS St Helena who didn't arrive off the Falklands until early July 1982.  MCDOA member Dougie MacDonald was the TU's SOO.


The following was then published on the Veterans UK website:  

Changes to Ministry Of Defence Medals and Clasps following Sir John Holmes’s Independent Review  

Existing Medals/Clasps that are to be awarded under revised qualifying criteria

South Atlantic

The qualifying period for the award of the South Atlantic Medal without the Rosette will be extended from 12 July to 21 October 1982, when the airfield at Mount Pleasant was completed.  Applications for the South Atlantic Medal, under the new time extension, will be accepted from 1 October 2014 onwards.  The awards will begin to be despatched towards the end of that month.  Applications will be dealt with in date order.

MOD Medal Application Form

13 Jun 17 - Gentlemen Who Lunch


The MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine Trio' comprising Martyn Holloway and Yours Truly (but minus Doug Barlow who is away on a cruise) joined fellow MCDOA members Colin Welborn, David Sandiford and MWA Chairman Dixie Dean to host our dear friend Allan Rankin for a splendid lunch at The Town House in Petersfield today.  Allan, with whom we all served at HMS Vernon nearly 40 years ago while he was still in the RN, is making one of his rare visits from Australia where he has just left the RAN to live in a newly built house on the Sunshine Coast.


Colin Welborn, Dixie Dean, Martyn Holloway, Rob Hoole, Allan Rankin and David Sandiford


Allan was Martyn's SOO in the five-ship 11th MCM Squadron when it deployed from Rosyth to the South Atlantic for operations during the Falklands conflict.


12 Jun 17 - Falklands 35


Thirty-five years ago today, HM Ships CORDELLA, PICT and JUNELLA started conducting three nights of covert operations re-supplying SAS and SBS teams deployed variously along the coast.


10 Jun 17 - Falklands 35


Thirty-five years ago today, HMS PICT (Lt Cdr David Garwood RN), (sister ship of the GAUL that had sunk in unknown circumstances while fishing) was tasked with HMS CORDELLA (Lt Cdr Martyn Holloway RN) in support to influence sweep Berkeley Sound.  Their objective was to clear an area for ships that would provide naval gunfire support for the final stages of the assault on Stanley. HMS PICT was the only ship available that had the special sweep system necessary.  Transferring all non-essential crew to HMS CORDELLA at sea at the entrance to Berkeley Sound, HMS PICT began sweeping but the risk increased markedly early in the operation when the influence sweep failed.  Clearly PICT was not built as a minesweeper and any breach in the hull would have resulted in the ship's rapid sinking.  Undeterred, knowing the importance of the mission, and in the knowledge that the Task Force Commander had accepted the risk of loss of a trawler, HMS PICT's Commanding Officer decided to turn his ship into a guinea pig.  HMS PICT was made as noisy as possible by running all machinery at various speeds and revving up the main engine while completing the required number of runs through the area.  Fortunately no mines were found, HMS CORDELLA transferred the remaining crew back to HMS PICT and Lt Cdr Garwood was subsequently awarded a Mention in Despatches.


9 Jun 17  - HMS Ledbury at Gibraltar


I am grateful to local photographer Daniel Ferro for this image of HMS Ledbury (MCM2 Crew 7) alongside the stores wharf at Gibraltar yesterday. 





Ledbury is alongside at Gibraltar for a two day stop-over during her passage to the Gulf to relieve HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 1 commanded by MCDOA member Dave Louis) which has spent nearly four years as part of the four-strong RN minehunting force deployed on Operation KIPION.  The ship berthed astern of her is MV Hurst Point, one of four Point class ro-ro vessels procured by the MoD under a Private Finance Initiative for use as as military sealift ships when required.


8 Jun 17


Falklands 35


Thirty-five years ago today, the Type 12 frigate HMS PLYMOUTH was struck by four bombs, none of which exploded.  WO(D) Fellows and other members of FCDT 3 de-fuzed two unexploded bombs in her mortar magazine and removed damaged volatile Seacat missiles from her launchers.  RFA SIR TRISTRAM was also bombed and severely damaged at Fitzroy Cove.  She was abandoned while FCDT 3 conducted a search for unexploded bombs (UXB).


Calling HMS Ledbury ship's company members from 1982


I have received this appeal from Ian McVitie:


"Hello Rob,  


I have contacted you previously and you kindly passed a message on to Cdr Tony Rose and Cdr Peter Fish, ex-Commanding Officers of HMS Ledbury and HMS Brecon respectively. 


On the 21st May 2017 I was honoured to march at the Falklands 35th Commemoration event with other Falklands Veterans in Gosport.  On the Saturday I met up with old shipmate Taff Hembrow who served in HMS Ledbury with me in 1982 and left as a CPO(MW). 



Left: Ian McVitie at the Falklands 35 ceremony in Gosport

Right: Taff Hembrow and Ian McVitie outside Gunwharf Quays (previously HMS Vernon)


I am trying to arrange a reunion in Newcastle for those who served in HMS Brecon, HMS Ledbury and RMS St Helena but am having no luck in getting sufficient numbers.  I would like to get in contact with Cdr Keith Harvey who was the Ops Officer, Dave Hill who was the Navigator, the divers who served in them both and any MW ratings.  Can you advise me who I can contact to try and track them down please?  Any help would be greatly appreciated.






5 Jun 17 - Vernon Monument ‘Falklands 35’ Charity Dinner.



Vernon Monument 'Falklands 35' Charity Dinner tickets now on sale!


A charity dinner will be held at Trinity House in London on Wednesday 19 July to mark the 35th anniversary of the Falklands War and raise funds towards the monument planned at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth to celebrate the minewarfare & diving heritage of HMS VERNON which previously occupied the site.  The dinner will be preceded by a reception attended by a Royal VVIP whose identity cannot be released until nearer the time.  The event will also be attended by former Royal Marine, broadcaster, writer, biologist and inspirational speaker Monty Halls.  Popular nautical song writer, folk singer and standup comedian Shep Woolley will deliver an after dinner speech.


The handful of Royal Navy personnel involved in Minewarfare, Diving and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD - more familiarly known as Bomb Disposal) during Operation CORPORATE, the Falkland Islands campaign in 1982, and its aftermath, was awarded a total of one DSO (Distinguished Service Order), three DSCs (Distinguished Service Crosses), one DSM (Distinguished Service Medal), one QGM (Queen's Gallantry Medal), one BEM (British Empire Medal), six MIDs (Mentions in Despatches) and at least seven Commander-in-Chief’s Commendations for Brave Conduct.  One MCDO (Minewarfare & Clearance Diving Officer) was appointed an OBE (Officer of the British Empire) and three others were appointed MBEs (Members of the British Empire).


We are grateful to Honorary Vice Admiral Sir Donald Gosling KCVO for his kind donation of £30,000 towards the cost of the event and to Trinity House for providing the venue and donating £500 towards the cause.



Royal VVIP to be announced via press release.


A "Silent Auction", launched prior to the event, will include a wide variety of exciting lots such as diving memorabilia and Project prints. There will also be a main auction of very special lots including:


* A unique 400 mm high bronze miniature of the Vernon Monument

* A unique 280 mm high bronze miniature of the Vernon Monument

* A VIP Day at sea in a frigate as the guest of the Captain

* A VIP Day hosted by Portsmouth-based Fleet Diving Unit One

* A VIP Day hosted by Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit Two

* A VIP Day of shooting for nine guns at the Leydene Shoot in Hampshire


£295 per plate or £2,700 per table of ten.  Buy your tickets here: Vernon Monument 2017 Charity Dinner

PROJECT VERNON, initiated in April 2008, is the campaign to erect a monument at Gunwharf Quays (the marina, retail centre and residential development in Portsmouth) to celebrate the naval and military heritage of HMS VERNON, its alma mater, which occupied the site in one form or another from October 1923, when it moved ashore from hulks, until its closure in April 1996.  Gunwharf Quays has an annual footfall of 8 million and is home to the iconic Spinnaker Tower.  To date, the campaign has raised over £230,000 of the £325,000 required to meet the target.  The ‘Falklands 35’ charity dinner at Trinity House on 19 July 2017 aims to close the gap considerably.

Throughout the Falklands campaign in 1982, the members of the FCDTs (Fleet Clearance Diving Teams) lived and worked in atrocious conditions.  Performing most of their bomb disposal and repair work at night during lulls in the air raids, they slept in cramped spaces in odd nooks of ships or ashore in damp, makeshift shelters.  Much of their diving was conducted in dark fetid compartments surrounded by jagged steel edges, explosive debris and freezing water contaminated by oil, battery acid and raw sewage.  They also turned their hands to acting as mechanics, welders, cutters, riggers, first aiders, stretcher bearers, nurses and mortuary attendants, as well as organising the odd entertainment for fellow servicemen.  Early on, the members of the FCDTs surrendered all their spare clothing to the survivors of SIR GALAHAD and other bombed ships so they soon looked a piratical bunch.  When he first heard about the bomb disposal work conducted by the Fleet Clearance Diving Teams in the Falklands, Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fieldhouse GCB, GBE, the then Commander-in-Chief Fleet, said in wonderment:

“Who are these people and where do we get them from?”

The ships’ companies of the five minesweeping trawlers comprising the rapidly formed 11th Mine Countermeasures (MCM) Squadron also had it tough. They endured rough weather, unreliable machinery and lack of proper self-defence armament, communications and navigation systems. Sailing to and fro on their various often clandestine missions carrying stores and personnel in the dark, with radar switched off and all lights extinguished for security, they frequently ran the risk of being rammed or fired on by both enemy and friendly forces. Apart from acting as guinea pigs in channels suspected of being mined and landing Special Forces raiding parties, they swept 10 of the 21 deadly moored mines laid by the Argentinians in the approaches to Port Stanley; the other mines had either broken adrift and floated away or failed to deploy properly.  Astonishingly, the relatively junior officer who welded the makeshift squadron together as an effective force, led it 8,000 miles south, supervised its hazardous operations and then brought it home again four months later without its ships or men sustaining a single casualty received no public recognition for his feat.

During the Second World War, HMS VERNON was the alma mater of naval personnel awarded 23 George Crosses and at least 134 George Medals (including 16 bars) for bomb & mine disposal (including minesweeping) on land and at sea.  Countless other medals, Mentions in Despatches and King's Commendations for Bravery were awarded to personnel associated with HMS VERNON for naval minelaying, minesweeping, diving and bomb & mine disposal while hundreds of other personnel were appointed OBEs and MBEs in the military lists.

Since the Second World War, personnel associated with HMS VERNON, its mine countermeasures vessels and diving teams have been awarded at least one Distinguished Service Order, 10 Distinguished  Service Crosses, 69 British Empire Medals (including one bar), 14 Queen's Gallantry Medals and 35 Queen's Commendations for Bravery among other honours and awards for gallantry, in naval minewarfare, diving and EOD operations from the waters of the North Sea,  Mediterranean, South Atlantic, Arabian Gulf, South China Sea and the Gilbert & Ellis Islands to the badlands of Iraq and Afghanistan. 

No single monument or memorial exists to celebrate these individuals or commemorate the heritage of HMS VERNON.  The Vernon Monument, designed by world renowned sculptor Les Johnson FRBS and chosen by an all-ranks committee of serving and retired minewarfare & diving personnel after an exhaustive and transparent competitive process, will be the first.  The fourteen-ton stone, bronze and steel structure will depict a Royal Navy Clearance Diver in typical diving equipment of the VERNON era placing an explosive charge on a publicly identifiable swept moored mine (sometimes referred to as a buoyant mine)  which has become fouled on a wreck on the seabed.  A colour image is available on request.

The diver represents all aspects of HMS VERNON’s diving heritage including clearance diving, deep diving, ship’s diving, experimental diving, X-craft midget submarine divers, Chariot human torpedo divers, SAR (Search & Rescue) diving and diving training  including Royal Engineers diving based at HMS VERNON.  The monument will act as a tribute to personnel involved in such operations and activities, including RN clearance diving personnel involved in EOD operations ashore in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The mine, incorporating a fouled sweepwire and explosive cutter, represents all aspects of HMS VERNON’s minewarfare heritage including those involved in mine design, minelaying, bomb & mine disposal, minesweeping and minehunting.  It will also act as a tribute to personnel who have manned and continue to man the minehunters deployed in the Gulf region for many years.

Project Vernon has a website at and a Facebook group at

Registered Charity No. 1128677.

The Vernon Mine Warfare and Diving Monument is a Charitable Trust, registered by the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

From MCDOA Member Phil Ireland DSC:


"Jason White got Monty to be guest of honour at one of the MCDOA(N) dinners a few years back.  He was very entertaining and great company.


Gutted to be missing this event."


From MCDOA member Sean O'Reilly:


"Hello Rob,


Thank you for forwarding the Falklands 35 flier.  I can’t resist it ....  so good and compelling is the flier – THANK YOU, and I mean thank YOU!


As a one-time guest speaker at the annual dinner a few years ago correctly observed, you are an absolute diamond, and it is appreciated.


Anchors, five bells and a pot mess!




Sean A O’Reilly

Commander MA

Royal Navy Deep Blue Sea Consulting

AKA Captain Horatio Hardy (at"


From MCDOA acting Chairman Don Crosbie:




Many thanks for this.  Regrettably I will not be able to attend as I had already booked a family holiday over this period -  I’ve just taken over from Mark as S of D having been deployed (unaccompanied) in Japan for almost a year.  Had it not been for this holiday I would have attended. 


Please let me know if there is anything I can do to support you.


Kind Regards,




D E F Crosbie

Commander Royal Navy

Superintendent of Diving"


From MCDOA member Terry Iles:


"Dear Rob,


Thank your letting me know.  Sadly I will be unable to attend and will be thinking of you on the 19th.  I am sure it will be a wonderful occasion and highly successful.


All the best.  


Yours aye,




From MCDOA past-Treasurer Dave Ince who transferred to the RAN in early 2007:


"Hi Rob, 


It sounds like it will be a fantastic run ashore but my usual response applies.  MRU shippers, but I’ll raise a glass from my new base of operations sunny Cairns in Far North Queensland. 


I have recently returned from my three year sabbatical in Tonga and was immediately found guilty of ‘going tropo’.  I think the pirate rig, outrageous suntan and taste for rum supped from coconuts may have tipped the balance against me there.



For my crimes I was sent on a five-month command course based from the RAN’s centre of excellence HMAS Watson, the equivalent of HMS Dryad or Collingwood.  This course included two months of ROR and intense navigation training to bring me back up to speed with the grey funnel line.  I also had to wear a proper Navy uniform, become a member of the wardroom plus give and take salutes.  All a bit of a culture shock.  


However, all is good.  I have re-adjusted to Naval life and just joined my new steamer HMAS Leeuwin as the XO.  She is a hydrographic ship similar in size and function to the old Herald Class.  In fact, back in the day I served in HMS Herald, just as she reconfigured as an MCM Command ship and deployed to Operation CIMNEL so I had very little exposure to true droggy shenanigans.  But I have no doubt  that my future role will be as dynamic and interesting in its own way!




Dave Spidy Ince


Executive Officer



4 Jun 17 - Falklands 35


Thirty-five years ago today, members of FCDT 1 conducted a covert underwater search of Bluff Cove inlet for obstacles or mines that could hazard an amphibious landing.


31 May 17 - Falklands 35


Thirty-five years ago today, MCDOA member Lt Cdr Iain 'Bruce' Mackay RN, accompanied by CPO(MW) 'Bill' Haley, LS(MW) P C Stride and LS(MW) J S Carter, commanded one of two Landing Craft Vehicles & Personnel (HMS INTREPID’s LCVPs T5 and T6) towing the hurriedly developed Assault Minesweeping System Mk 1 to confirm the Port Salvador approach channel and the length of Teal Inlet were clear of mines prior to amphibious landings.  The operation took three days and Lt Cdr Mackay was subsequently awarded a Mention in Despatches.


29 May 17 - Falklands 35


Thirty-five years ago today, CPO(D) Trotter (FCDT 3) and his team removed the unexploded bomb from RFA SIR LANCELOT after a lengthy operation which required considerable cutting and rigging.  CPO(D) Trotter was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM).


News from HMS Grimsby


Lt Cdr Will Blackett on board HMS Grimsby

(RN website photo)


I am grateful to Lt Cdr Will Blackett, Commanding Officer of HMS Grimsby (MCM1 Crew 6), for this update received via the Ton Class Association ((TCA).  I write a column titled 'MCMV News' for the Associaton's bi-monthly newsletter 'Ton Talk'.


"Hello to you all.


I hope this letter finds you well.  Since my last letter in March, we have been busily preparing ourselves for Gulf operations through Exercise Joint Warrior 171 and a 5-week period of Operational Sea Training (OST); this is now complete and Crew 6 have been deemed 'ready for operations'.  GRIMSBY herself has been a faithful servant throughout - she has been remarkably reliable and has stood up well to the rigours of the training programme.  This is particularly impressive considering what we put her through in the Baltic last year!


We have now delivered GRIMSBY to Rosyth Dockyard, where she will undergo an extensive refit.  She is currently berthed in between the two new aircraft carriers, HM Ships QUEEN ELIZABETH and PRINCE OF WALES.  As you can imagine, we feel somewhat insignificant considering that each carrier is over 140 times our size!


Sadly this is the last time you will hear from me; Crew 6 will now depart for the Gulf and leave GRIMSBY in the hands of Babcock.  MCM1 Crew 7 will take the reins later this year under the command of Lt Cdr Charlie Luxford; he will contact you in due course.  I hope that the post-refit programme will have enough flexibility to allow a home port visit - I know that Charlie will work hard to find an opportunity.


So this is goodbye for now; thank you for your continued interest and support - it has been a privilege.


Yours aye,


Will Blackett"


I am sure all members of our community will join me in wishing Will and his ship's company the very best for the future, whatever it holds for them.


28 May 17 - Falklands 35


Thirty-five years ago today, Lt Cdr DUTTON (OIC FCDT 1) and his team removed the remaining unexploded bomb from HMS ARGONAUT early in the morning.  FCDT 3 investigated three unexploded bombs in Ajax Bay and countermined one bomb found on the shoreline.  They also built a sand bag wall to protect the field hospital from two adjacent unexploded bombs then bivouacked between the blast wall and the hospital to provide reassurance to its patients and staff.  Other members of FCDT 3 recommenced clearing access to the unexploded bomb on board RFA SIR LANCELOT. 


27 May 17 - Falklands 35


Thirty-five years ago today, progress was made in cutting out two of three access holes for the extracation of HMS ARGONAUT’s remaining unexploded bomb.  Repairs to RFA SIR GALAHAD continued while members of FCDT 3 secured and padded the unexploded bomb in RFA SIR LANCELOT. 


26 May 17 - Falklands 35


Thirty-five years ago today, the 11th MCM Squadron arrived at South Georgia and various high value ships such as the QE2 packed with the men of 5 Brigade, vital stores and ammunition began arriving from 28 May.  It was vital to transfer these essential supplies for the re-supply of the Falklands into the CANBERRA, NORLAND and the various RFAs that shuttled between South Georgia, the Task Force at sea, and the bridgehead at San Carlos.  The trawler minesweepers worked tirelessly day after day transferring troops, stores and ammunition in atrocious Antarctic weather with wind speeds in excess of 100 knots, on occasions for several days, before heading on towards the Falklands.


Members of FCDT 1 completed the clearance of ordnance from the vicinity of the bomb in HMS ARGONAUT’s Seacat magazine.  This had been patched and pumped out but still required a route to be cut and lifting gear to be fitted before the bomb could be removed safely.  FCDT 3 had removed the unexploded bomb from RFA SIR GALAHAD during the night and lowered it into an inflatable Gemini dinghy filled with boxes of corn flakes and two Board of Trade lifejackets; they then towed the Gemini away and sank it in deep water.   FCDT3 then commenced clearing the area surrounding the bomb on board RFA SIR LANCELOT, in the meantime moving their belongings from HMS INTREPID to a new shore base at Ajax Bay.


25 May 17


Falklands 35


Thirty-five years ago today, RFA FORT AUSTIN reported suspicious underwater noises and members of FCDT 1 and FCDT 3 searched the ships’ hulls of all RFAs in the area to ensure that no explosive devices had been planted.  Other members of FCDT 3, supported by technical staff from HMS FEARLESS, started to clear the way for the removal of the bomb from SIR LANCELOT but the operation to remove the bomb from SIR GALAHAD had to be curtailed because FCDT 3 had to move themselves and all their equipment to INTREPID because SIR BEDIVERE, their accommodation ship, was suddenly forced to depart San Carlos Water.  


MCD officer to be Commander Australian Fleet (COMAUSFLT)



Warm congratulations to Australian MCD officer Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead AM RAN on his appointment as Fleet Commander of the Royal Australian Navy from January 2018.


Another Australian MCD officer, Vice Admiral Russ Crane AO CSM RAN who served on exchange with the RN at HMS Vernon in the 1980s, was Deputy Chief of the Royal Australian Navy from 2006 to 2008 and Chief of Navy from 2008 to 2011 (see entry for 19 Mar 08 in News Archive 21).  


24 May 17 - Falklands 35


Thirty-five years ago today, HMS ANTELOPE broke in half and sank after burning throughout the night.  RFAs SIR GALAHAD and SIR LANCELOT both reported unexploded bombs on board and Lt Cdr BRUEN, OIC FCDT 3, carried out surveys of both ships.  The bomb in SIR GALAHAD had entered her hull on the port side, punched its way through several compartments picking up an aluminium bulkhead on the way, and ended up in her battery charging room wrapped in torn steel and surrounded by smashed carboys of acid.  The bomb in SIR LANCELOT had come to rest underneath a companion ladder leading from the recreation space to the officers’ accommodation on the deck above.  It was positioned with its nose up at an angle of 45 degrees beneath the lowest treads of the stairs in the ship’s tiny film store.


22 May 17 - MCDOA members rendezvous off Turkey


This was the moment today when MCDOA members Chris Tarmey and David Carey laid eyes on each other at sea off the Turkish coast.



Left: Chris Tarmey on board Christiana, his 42 ft Nord West flybridge motor yacht

Right: David Carey on board SY Talia, a chartered Discovery 55 cruising yacht


I had spotted that Chris and David were both in the vicinity of Marmaris and put them in touch with each other via Facebook Messenger. 


Track of Christiana to R/V with Talia


I was able to track Chris's movements on AIS (Automatic Identification System) as they subsequently rendezvoused where Talia was anchored off My Marina at Ekincik.  They enjoyed what Chris described as "a salty dit evening" after Chris had berthed at the marina.


Chris and David with Christiana at My Marina 


Last year, I arranged a rendezvous between the waterborne Chris and MCDOA past-Chairman Paul Jones in Cyprus (see entry for 7 Jun 16 in News Archive 54).


21 May 17


Falklands 35


Thirty-five years ago today, FCPO(D) Fellows, LS(D) Sewell and AB(D) Pullen of FCDT 1 were called upon to deal with an unexploded Argentinean 1,000 lb bomb in the County Class destroyer HMS ANTRIM.  The bomb had passed through the Sea Slug missile magazine and lodged in the heads (toilets).  The fuze had been damaged so any attempt to render the bomb safe was useless.  While still under air attack and with considerable difficulty, the clearance divers and ship’s staff carefully manoeuvred the bomb through a hole cut in the flight deck and lowered it into deep water.


In the meantime, the Type 21 frigate HMS ARDENT was bombed and sunk and the Leander Class frigate HMS ARGONAUT reported two unexploded bombs on board; one forward in the Seacat missile magazine and one aft in the boiler room.  As ARGONAUT’s Officer of the Watch, Lt Peter Morgan RN had already saved the ship once by letting go an anchor to stop her running at full speed towards the shore with her rudders jammed owing to bomb damage.  As the Ship’s Diving Officer, he also led his men in surveying and making temporary repairs to the bomb damage in the flooded forward magazine, diving on two occasions in the knowledge that there was an unexploded bomb in the compartment.  He was later awarded the DSC.


Tim Sizer reaches Land's End


This is the latest photo of Tim, as relayed by MCDOA member Graham 'Tug' Wilson MBE.


Tim Sizer at Land's End today


Tim is on Day 18 of his South West Coast Path walk in aid of Cancer Research UK (see entry for 17 May 17).  He was diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system) in January last year.  If you have not yet sponsored him for his endeavour, please do so via his Just Giving page (where he is maintaining a photographic blog) at:


For every £10 Tim raises for Cancer Research UK, he is personally donating £1 to the Vernon Monument appeal up to a ceiling of £1,000.


20 May 17 - Death and funeral of ex-PO(D) Anthony Peter 'Foz' Foster


I am grateful to MCDOA past-Chairman David Hilton for informing me of the death of Tony 'Foz' Foster on 5 May at the age of 69.  His funeral service will take place at 1415 on Thursday 25 May at the Isle of Wight Crematorium, Whippingham, East Cowes PO32 6NJ. 


Foz's wife Carole would like to see as many of his old colleagues as possible at the service which will be conducted by the Rev’d Tony Richards, Priest and Local Minister at St. Blasius Old Parish Church, Shanklin.  Tony has asked that prospective attendees inform him via this email address, or call him on 01983 863607 (Home) or 07751706103 (Mobile), so that he can provide sufficient Orders of Service.


Donations in lieu of flowers to the Earl Mountbatten Hospice, Newport, IOW.


I am sure all members of our community will join me in extending our sincere condolences to Foz's wife Carole and his other family and friends.


19 May 17 - MCDOA members prominent in new carriers


It is common knowledge that MCDOA member Bob Hawkins MBE is the 1st Lt of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the new 65,000 ton aircraft carrier nearing completion at Rosyth.  Perhaps it is less well known that Bob's opposite number in QNLZ's sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, also in build at Rosyth, is his fellow MCDOA member Dave 'Shiner' Wright.  The pair has just spent an evening together in South Queensferry where this photo was taken.


Dave Wright and Bob Hawkins at South Queensferry


18 May 17 - Oldest Sandown class minehunter meets youngest in the Baltic


The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting that HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 2) has met up with her Estonian sister ship ENS Admiral Cowan (ex-HMS Sandown) during minewarfare exercises in the Gulf of Finland.  HMS Shoreham is currently assigned to Standing NATO MCM Group 1 (SNMCMG1) which has been operating with the larger ships of Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) before both groups visited Tallin, the capital of Estonia.  See entry for 4 May 17.


Left to right: BNS Primula, HMS Shoreham, HNoMS Roald Amundsen, ENS Admiral Cowan,

HNLMS Evertsen, ENS Wambola, HNoMS Hinnoey

(RN website photos)



17 May 16 - Tim Sizer reaches Newquay


Tim approaching Newquay yesterday 


Former WO(D) Tim Sizer, supported at 'base camp' by MCDOA Committee member Graham 'Tug' Wilson MBE acting as his Facebook mouthpiece, has reached Newquay in Cornwall on Day 14 of his South West Coast Path walk in aid of Cancer Research UK (see entry for 3 May 17).  He is trekking from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset, a total of 630 miles.  Tim had already completed the leg from Weymouth to Poole during Easter leave when the Lulworth ranges were dormant.  He provisionally plans to arrive in Weymouth on Friday 23 June although he is currently a couple of days ahead of schedule.


Tim's progress to date


Tim's luxury accommodation with a view


Tim was joined by MCDOA member Martin Jenrick for part of the route on Sunday and hopes to be joined by ex-CD1 Cris Ballinger BEM today.


Tim Sizer and Martin Jenrick


Tim was diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system) in January last year.  If you have not yet sponsored him for his endeavour, please do so via his Just Giving page (where he is maintaining a photographic blog) at:


N.B. For every £10 Tim raises for Cancer Research UK, he is personally donating £1 to the Vernon Monument appeal up to a ceiling of £1,000.  What a player!


Postscript: Tim and Cris Ballinger were reunited in Perranporth tonight.  



16 May 17 - HMS Hurworth in Poole this weekend


From the Navy News Facebook page:


IF YOU are in Dorset this weekend and want to see some RN action – or admire the magnificent musicianship of the RM Band – then Poole is the place to be.


The Senior Service is attending the town’s Harbour Boat Show in force providing minehunter HMS Hurworth [MCM2 Crew 5 - see entry for 10 May 17], P2000 patrol boat HMS Puncher, the Royal Marines Display Team with their climbing wall, and, on Saturday night, the Band of HM Royal Marines Portsmouth performing Beat Retreat.


Both ships and the Royal Marines display will be in the new Ballast Quay exhibition area, accessed from Town Quay via a free passenger boat service. They’ll be open between 10am and 6pm.


Beat Retreat will be performed at Town Quay at 6.15pm on Saturday.


HMS Hurworth

(Navy News image)


14 May 17 - Informative article about modern MCM


The highly regarded 'Think Defence' website has published this article describing modern developments in MCM.  It contains a warm tribute to the MCDOA website:


From Umm Qasr to Unmanned Warrior – Royal Navy Mine Countermeasures


13 May 17 - Falklands 35


Thirty-five years ago today, the five minesweeping trawlers of the 11th MCM Squadron sailed from Ascension Island for South Georgia and SIR TRISTRAM (with FCDT 1 embarked) and SIR BEDIVERE (with FCDT 3 embarked) sailed for the Falklands.


12 May 17


Falklands 35


Thirty-five years ago today, FCDT 1 embarked in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary landing ship RFA SIR TRISTRAM and FCDT 3 embarked in the landing ship RFA SIR BEDIVERE at Ascension Island.


MCM2 Crew 4 ready for Gulf deployment


The Royal Navy website contains this article announcing that MCM2 Crew 4, currently manning HMS Cattistock, has completed pre-deployment training and will shortly be flying to the Gulf to relieve MCM2 Crew 8 on board HMS Middleton.  It is believed that Crew 8 will take over HMS Atherstone at Portsmouth on completion of some well-deserved post-deployment leave.


MCM2 Crew 4 on board HMS Cattistock

(RN website photo)


11 May 17


Falklands 35


Thirty-five years ago today, FCDT 1 (led by MCDOA member Lt Cdr Brian Dutton DSO, QGM, with FCPO(D) Michael 'Mick' Fellows MBE, DSC, BEM* as his 2 I/C) and FCDT 3 (led by MCDOA member Lt (later Lt Cdr) Nigel ‘Bernie’ Bruen MBE, DSC with CPO(D) Graham ‘Piggy’ Trotter DSM as his 2 I/C) arrived at Ascension Island in an RAF C130 Hercules aircraft to join the Task Force.  The 11th MCM Squadron arrived at Ascension Island for fuel and met up briefly with FCDT 3 which had planned to embark in the minesweeping trawlers but was ordered to take passage in RFA SIR BEDIVERE instead.


RNCDA Annual Dinner



Royal Navy Clearance Divers Association Dinner

The Dinner is Open to all Serving and Retired Royal Naval Divers, Partners and Guests

Who will be celebrating the 65th Anniversary of the Royal Navy diving Branch.

Doors Open At 1900 where you will be greeted by the official photographer

And a welcome Drink followed by pre-dinner drinks in the bar,

You will be asked to take your seats for dinner at 2000

On completion of which there will be a Auction and Raffle

The night will continue through until 0200 With entertainment from

 local DJ and a NONE cash mobile casino.

Date: Saturday 14th Oct 2017 Time: 1900 until 0200

Venue: Plaza Suite the Pyramids Center Clarence Esplanade Southsea Portsmouth PO5 3ST

Dress: Formal /Association Tie

Cost: £37.50 for RNCDA members and One Guest,

Cost: £42.50 for Non-RNCDA Members and their Guests.

Menu is a 3 course meal, ½ bottle of wine and glass of port.


Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup (V)

With Tarragon cream

Ham Hock Terrine

With a mild mustard pickle, pea puree and a toasted brioche


Roast Rump of Lamb

With dauphinoise potatoes, buttered cabbage, green beans and a redcurrant reduction

Pan Roasted Corn Fed Chicken

With dauphinoise potatoes, roasted root vegetables and a port reduction

Artichoke and Wild Mushroom Ravioli (V)

With mushrooms, sun blush tomatoes, grilled artichoke, seared pearl onion and celery cream sauce



With warm chocolate sauce

Raspberry and Lavender Crème Brûlée

With raspberries and clotted cream

Event Applications Are Available for Download Here



N.B. I have also listed this on the website's Forthcoming Events page.



10 May 17 - Photos from HMS Hurworth



Yet again I am grateful to Lt Cdr Charlie Collins, Commanding Officer of HMS Hurworth (MCM2 Crew 5), for sending me these stunning photos captured during the past week in Scotland. 








9 May 17 - LS&GC Awards


Congratulations to WO1(MW) Stephen 'Bunny' Warren, CPO(D) R. A. 'Buster' Brown, CPO(D) Lee Edmunson and LS(D) D. N. 'Cags' Lacy on being gazetted for the award of the clasp to the Long Service & Good Conduct medal and to PO(D) P. J. Hill on being gazetted for the award of the LS&GC medal.


Bunny Warren on board HMS Victory last November


8 May 17 - Funeral of ex-CD1 Barry 'Baz' Clyde Davis


As ever, I am indebted to former CPO(D) Cris Ballinger BEM for sending me this Order of Service for the funeral of Baz Davis which took place at Weston Mill Crematorium in Plymouth on 25 April (see entry for 18 Apr 17 in News Archive 58).  Click on the image to see the full document. 



Cris was also kind enough to send me the Order of Service for the funeral of former FCPO(D) Peter 'George' Hann Alderton BEM which took place at Weston Mill Crematorium on 12 April.  I have appended it to the entry for 12 Apr 17 in News Archive 58.


4 May 17 - HMS Shoreham joins SNMCMG1 in the Baltic


The NATO website contains this article announcing yesterday's arrival of Standing NATO MCM Group 1 (SNMCMG1) in Liepāja, Latvia prior to participating in Historical Ordnance Disposal Operations (HODOPS) off the coast of Latvia until 11 May.  The group was joined by HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 2) in time to help celebrate today's 27th anniversary of Latvia's Restoration of Independence.


HMS Shoreham outboard of HNoMS Hinnøy with the stern of BNS Primula in the foreground


3 May 17 - Charity Walk for Cancer Research UK


I have received this thoroughly worthy appeal from former WO(D) Tim Sizer:



"Hi Rob,


I realise that you are currently taking a well-deserved break from your excellent website but just wondered if you could do me a massive favour and help me drum up some support for my charity walk when you get back.  Details as follows:  


In January last year I was diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system).  Having been a Navy Clearance Diver since the age of 17, I have always prided myself as being fit and healthy,  I never thought for one moment that something like this would hit me so suddenly and at what I term an early age 54.

Unfortunately, this indiscriminate disease is likely to affect every single one of us either directly or indirectly at some point in our lives.  Despite losing my dad to the disease in Feb 2010, I’ll be totally honest, I knew very little about cancer and even less about the options of treatment until that day I got told by the consultant that I had it.  Having completed an intense stint of chemotherapy over a six month period, what I can now say, is that if it wasn’t for Cancer Research and the amazing work they do, or indeed the people that donate to it, I wouldn’t be here now and be in the privileged position to help people like you and me, in the future who unfortunately may require the benefit of their services.  


My intention is to walk the South West Coast Path in aid of Cancer Research UK, from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset, a total of 630 miles, climbing a total height of 114,931ft, almost four times the height of Everest.  My aim is to set off on the 4th May 2017 and continue until I finish.  I am not setting any target time as I’m unsure how my fitness will hold out, but aim to complete it in around 50-55 days!  I will be wild camping for the majority of it, but may take in the odd B&B en-route for a dhobi and to literally recharge the mobile battery.  I have already completed the final leg from Weymouth to Poole, 55 miles during Easter Leave due to the accessibility of the Lulworth Ranges.


If anyone out there would like to join me on any leg of the route then please let me know.  It would be good to have some friendly company.  


To give my challenge a military diver / mine warfare slant, for every £10 I raise for Cancer Research UK I shall personally donate £1 to the Vernon Monument appeal up to a ceiling of £1,000.  This would mean I would raise £10,000 for Cancer Research UK which would be absolutely fantastic and a target I would love to reach, so please dig deep and support me in my trek by visiting my Just Giving page at:   


This quest obviously means a great deal to me personally and I would like to thank all of you in advance who pledge to support me during my walk and ultimately Cancer Research UK.  


Many thanks again,


Tim Sizer"


We have lost so many of our minewarfare & clearance diving community to this evil disease over the years, as well as other close friends and relations.  Please give Tim all the support he deserves.


Tim Sizer in Oman in February 2013




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