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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.

Have you ordered your miniature of the Vernon Monument yet?  It is being sold in a variety of sizes, finishes and prices to raise funds for the planned sculpture at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth to celebrate the Minewarfare & Diving heritage of HMS Vernon which previously stood on the site.  'Project Vernon' is officially supported by Portsmouth City Council, Gunwharf Quays, the MCDOA, AORNFCD, MWA, RNCDA and the TCA.  Click here for details.

15 Sep 14 - Updated funeral arrangements for ex-CPO(D) Albert Derek 'Ginger' Snell BEM


From Ginger's sons Alex and Derek (see entry for 6 Sep 14):


"Just to let you all know that Dad's funeral arrangements are:


Tuesday 23rd September 3.20pm at Great Yarmouth Crematorium, Oriel Avenue, Gorleston, NR31 7JJ.


Followed by a reception at Lowestoft Railway & Bowls Club, 123A Carlton Road, Lowestoft, NR33 0LZ.


If you know of anyone else who may wish to attend, please let them know.  They will be very welcome   Strictly no flowers please and donations, if you wish, to a charity of your own choice.  No collection will be taken at the service.  


If you need to contact us: 01263 823914


Alex and Derek Snell" 


14 Sep 14 - Jimmy Bond and Mick Beale swimming for Project Vernon today


Ex-CPO(D) David 'Jimmy' Bond and former MCDOA Honorary Treasurer Mick Beale are swimming 10 km of the River Dart from Totnes to Dittisham and possibly the extra 6 km to Dartmouth Castle today for Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a monument in Gunwharf Quays to celebrate the minewarfare & diving heritage of HMS Vernon which previously stood on the site (see entry for 23 Aug 14).  Some of the money will also go to Frank Water UK, Help for Heroes (H4H) and the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC).


Jimmy Bond (second left) and Mick Beale (centre rear) with fellow Round

 Portsea Island swimmers John Beavis, Antony 'Pinta' Beer, Richard

 'Soapy' Watson, Steve 'Scouse' Vernon and Dave 'Stretch' Armstrong

at Gunwharf Quays (formerly HMS Vernon) in July 2011


Please give them your generous support and sponsorship by donating via their webpage here:


Virgin Money Giving: David (Jimmy) Bond's fundraising page


Don't forget to register for Gift Aid which adds 25% to your donation.


Post script: Congratulations to veteran aquanauts Jimmy Bond and Mick Beale on not only completing the 10 km swim in tidal waters from Totnes to Dittisham in three hours but also the extra 6 km to the mouth of the River Dart in another two hours despite the rough sea state.  Now, let's see the colour of your money.


12 Sep 14 - 'Project Buster' team raises over £100k for Project Vernon


Artist's impression of the Vernon Monument

in situ at Gunwharf Quays


Congratulations and a huge BZ to MCDOA past-Chairman Chris Baldwin, Honorary Secretary Richard 'Soapy' Watson and members David Hunkin OBE, Al Nekrews QGM, Keith Broughton and others for teaming up to initiate, plan and execute 'Project Buster'.  This involved the independent organisation of a £400 per plate charity dinner last night on board HMS Victory, the world's oldest commissioned warship, by kind permission of Vice Admiral David Steel CBE, the Second Sea Lord.  The object of the exercise was to raise funds for Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a monument in Gunwharf Quays to celebrate the minewarfare & diving heritage of HMS Vernon which previously stood on the site.  I'm sure the Vernon Monument trustees are extremely grateful.



Guests were greeted on their arrival at HMS Victory by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) who provided a display of their kit and capabilities beside the ship.  Thanks for your time and effort, guys.









Diners were given the option of a guided tour of the ship before assembling on the upper deck.  Here, an exhibition of auction lots enabled them to view the marvellous artefacts, pictures, statues and events they would be bidding for during the evening while enjoying a glass of Champagne and canapés.  Lots included the late John Terry's original painting of 'Vernon Creek, silver-plated miniatures of the Vernon monument, the rug used to disguise the IED rendered safe by MCDOA member Al Nekrews in Afghanistan which led to his award of the QGM, a day at sea in HMS Lancaster commanded by MCDOA member Peter Laughton MBE and another day in a different frigate, a VIP day at RNAS Yeovilton, a day with a Clearance Diving unit, a day of driven game shooting with the RN Gun Club, a box at the O2 Arena, a decanter and glasses engraved with HMS Vernon's badge kindly donated by MCDOA member Doug Barlow and much else.  Commodore Paddy McAlpine CBE ADC, MCDOA President and Commodore Portsmouth Flotilla (COMPORFLOT), was on hand to give guests a friendly welcome.








We were then treated to a display by a quartet of Royal Marines drummers after which the Drum Major was offered and drank a silver bowl of rum presented by the Guest of Honour, Admiral of the Fleet Lord Boyce KG GCB OBE DL, former First Sea Lord and Chief of the Defence Staff.








During the ensuing mingling, I was able to introduce David Carey, the Project Manager of Project Vernon, to Admiral of the Fleet Lord Boyce.  David, who has suffered a serious illness recently, had flown over from Dubai especially for the occasion and exploited the opportunity to brief Lord Boyce about the project.



Admiral Sir Jonathon Band GCB DL, former First Sea Lord and our Master of Ceremonies for the night, is seen here chatting with our main after-dinner speaker, Sir John Scarlett KCMG OBE, the former Head of MI6 (Secret Intelligence Service), and MCDOA member Simon Bound:





Our final evolution on the upper deck was to assemble for the group photograph.



We then proceeded down to the lower gundeck and took our places at the tables before MCDOA past-Chairman Chris Baldwin, the chief instigator of 'Project Buster', welcomed Admiral Band as Master of Ceremonies for the evening.





The menu comprised Red Onion Tart Tatin, Beef Wellington and a Desert Island Trio with a selection of wines and port.  I found myself sharing a riotous table with MCDOA Honorary Treasurer Soapy Watson, WO1(D) Steve Vernon, WO1(D) Karl Roberts, ex-CD Aubs de Lavenu and Capt Mick Stewart RE.  During the course of the meal, MCDOA member David Hunkin gave an accolade to fellow member Al Nekrews and explained the significance of the framed blanket in the auction.





Diners were then given the opportunity to write down their bids for items available in the silent auction to the accompaniment of a musical duo.



The evening then continued with splendid speeches from Sir John Scarlett (former Head of MI6) and Admiral of the Fleet Lord Boyce (former Chief of the Defence Staff) plus a singalong comprising 'Heart of Oak' and 'Rule Britannia'.










When it came to the live auction, one could only sit in stunned admiration as the flamboyant and ebullient auctioneer Simon Morgan, late of Bonhams, used every trick in the book to wheedle, cajole and otherwise encourage bidders to pledge the maximum amount for the lots on offer.  As he plied his trade and the sums rose through the tens of thousands, it soon became apparent that our wildest expectations had been exceeded.






I don't yet know the total sum raised but it certainly topped £100k.  Some final words of appreciation came from our Master of Ceremonies, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, before we dispersed our separate ways.


There is still some money to find before Project Vernon hits its overall target but if everyone with HMS Vernon to thank for getting their foot on the first rung of the ladder of their offshore career were to donate a couple of hours' pay plus Gift Aid or purchase a silver-plated miniature, we'd be home and dry.


11 Sep 14 - New book about Lionel 'Buster' Crabb from MCDOA member


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan, Chairman of the Historical Diving Society (HDS), has sent me this announcement:




In case any members are interested, I will be launching my book on Cdr Crabb in November in Gosport and Portsmouth as follows:


Discovery Centre, Gosport Saturday, 8 November,  -  2pm  -  Book launch and signing  


Central Library, Portsmouth Saturday, !5 November  -  1.30pm  -  Illustrated talk and book signing







10 Sep 14 - Funeral arrangements for ex-CPO(D) Albert Derek 'Ginger' Snell BEM 


From Ginger's sons Alex and Derek (see entry for 6 Sep 14): 


"Just to let you all know that we have started making funeral arrangements for Dad.  It will be on Tuesday 23rd September at 3.20pm at Gorleston Crematorium, Great Yarmouth.  Please let us know if you would like to come.


There will be a small reception afterwards which is yet to be arranged.  By Dad's own request, it will not be a ceremonial funeral.  There are to be no flowers at all, but you are welcome to make a donation to a charity of your own choice if you wish.


Ganges: Suffolk Coastal Group, will be wearing their blazers.  You may wish to wear yours, that will be fine.  As I say email me via this address if you wish to come and I send more details as I get them.


Ginger's youngest son Andrew is busy compiling a eulogy.  If you have anything which might lighten the service, please email Andy as soon as possible via this address and we will do our best to include it.


Thank You,


Alex and Derek"


9 Sep 14 - HDS Diving Museum update



MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan, Chairman of the Historical Diving Society (HDS), has provided this update about the Diving Museum in No.2 Battery at Stokes Bay and the WWII bunker in Gosport that houses the Society's library and museum reserve collection:






Margaret Marks had organised a "Pirates & Sunken Treasure" theme and we had previously rehearsed our Guides on board HMS Warrior 1860 [commanded by MCDOA member Tim Ash].


Margaret Marks, John Bevan, Ann Bevan, former FCPO(D)

John Dadd and ex-CD Jim 'Tommo' Thomson

on board HMS Warrior 1860


On the day, we were stampeded by treasure-hunting kids towing parents/grandparents etc.






Margaret included a sing-along sea-shanty pirate ukulele band and a pirate drumming group to add some atmosphere. 




Ann Bevan had arranged a treasure hunt with hidden clues all around the Museum and the Guides were dressed up in awesome pirate gear.


Cut Throat Jack (John Bevan), Rolly Roger (Martin Marks), Merry Meg (Margaret Marks),

Black Bess (Ann Bevan), Jethro Thug (ex-CD Jim 'Tommo' Thomson,

ex-CPO(D) Dusty Miller and Whitebeard (former FCPO(D) John Dadd).


John Bevan and ex-CD Jim 'Tommo' Thomson


Margaret also organised Mike O'Meara to give an illustrated presentation on his HMS Edinburgh gold salvage project [which also involved MCDOA member Mike Stewart and Honorary Member David Keogh] on Saturday evening, complete with the Gosport Mayor and Mayoress in attendance.  This went extremely well and we have discovered that we can fit in 60 people seated for such presentations.




Left: Ex-CD Mike O'Meara with Cllr Keith Gill (Mayor of Gosport) and his Mayoress

Right: Mike O'Meara talks about the salvage of gold from HMS Edinburgh


Margaret joined in with a sizzling, hip wiggling hula dance.


Merry Meg (Margaret Marks)


The result: over 200 visitors!!


A big THANK YOU to the Guides and supporters who made it all possible.  Check out the Museum Facebook page for more evidence.  Margaret now has her sights on THE BIG DRAW weekend (4 & 5 October) when visitors will be invited to get drawing the exhibits.  





All Guides are invited to a social evening at the Museum, from 1800 onwards, on Sunday 21 September for some fun and briefing.  Jane Russell will be displayed diving to the ocean depths amongst other things.  




Nigel and his team, including John Dadd and Jim Thompson, have been busy at the Bunker again.  We now have a new concrete apron outside the new front door.


Nigel Phillips (the doorman)


There's also been work on the windows, and sorting of the books, archives, drains and mains water wall penetration.




The HDS Museum is open at weekends until the end of the summer season.  It relies on a handful of volunteer guides, at least two but ideally three of whom need to be on site when it is open for business at weekends during the summer.  If you live locally and can spare the odd few hours, please contact John Bevan via this email address or call him on 078 0278 5050.  You will then be given access to the online roster to fill in your own dates as and when you are available.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved in this or any other way.


8 Sep 14 - MCDOA AGM, Operational Updates & Annual Dinner



From our Honorary Secretary, Richard 'Soapy' Watson:


"This year’s Association Dinner will be held in the Wardroom, HMS Excellent on Friday 21 November 2014.  There will be a number of leavers (including myself and Bill Kerr).  I will be away the first half of November so please get your applications over to me early.  The dinner will cost a very reasonable £45 per head for members (£50 for Guests).  Before applying, please ensure that your standing order mandate is in effect for the annual membership subscription of £15, as there are still many members who have not changed their mandate.


We will follow the traditional format commencing with pre-dinner drinks in the bar at 1900 followed by good food and refreshments and a hearty sing-song to the musical accompaniment of the HMS Nelson Volunteer Band before retiring for a nightcap or two.  This year we are very fortunate to have Rear Admiral Clive Johnstone CBE as our Guest of Honour.  He is the Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff and is the First Sea Lord's agent in the MoD.  He has been a Navigator, Fighter Controller and Principal Warfare Officer in ships ranging from minesweepers to aircraft carriers.  He has been engaged on operations in the North Atlantic, Caribbean, the Balkans, in the Northern Gulf and Lebanon.  His biography can be downloaded here.


Rear Admiral Clive Johnstone CB


As well as toasting the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Long Courses, this will also be a great opportunity to meet up with many old friends and acquaintances.  Any service leavers (who are paid up members) wishing to be dined out are requested to contact the Hon Sec.


As ever, the mess is likely to be full but limited accommodation should be available on board HMS BRISTOL courtesy of her Commanding Officer.  


To ensure that you do not miss out on this great evening please complete and return the attached application, ensuring that it reaches me before 30 October 2014.


Kindest Regards,




The calling notice and booking form for the AGM and Operational Updates at Fleet Diving Headquarters on Horsea Island are available for download here and those for the Annual Dinner in the Wardroom, HMS Excellent are available for download here.  Links are also available on the Forthcoming Events page. 


Serving and ex-serving WO(MW)s and WO(D)s are thoroughly welcome to attend the dinner at the 'guest rate' of £50 and members of our affiliated Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officers' Club (REBDOC) are also invited at the member rate.


As is our custom, we will be marking the 25th anniversary of the Long MCDO Courses of 1989.  LMCDO '89A comprised: Course Officers Jon Chapple and the late Steve Wild; Course Instructors Mo Crang and Chris 'Charlie' Howe; Students Mark Atkinson, Kelvin Barrett RNZN (MW only), Rob Cornick, MCDOA ex-Treasurer Kim Godfrey (Diving only - MW module completed on LMCDO '97A), Bob Gwalchmai RCN (MW only), Nick Quinn RNZN (MW only) and Nick Whitfield (MW only).



LMCDO '89A at the start of its Diving module and Minewarfare module respectively


LMCDO '89B comprised: Course Officers MCDOA past-Chairman Dave Hilton and Paul Raisbeck; Course Instructors Tiny Timms and Dave Smith; Students: Adrian 'Spanner' Dann, Ralf Dreimanis RCN (MW only - later OIC FDU3), MCDOA ex-Treasurer Dave 'Spidy' Ince (later transferred RAN), Mike Parrott (MW only) and Andy Woollven plus an unidentified MWO on the MW module - can anyone help?



LMCDO '89B at the start of its Diving module and Minewarfare module respectively


We will also be dining out any MCDOA members leaving the Service.  If you are a leaver and wish to be dined out this year, please inform our Honorary Treasurer Soapy Watson in good time or you won’t receive a ‘gizzit’.  Leavers must have been paid-up members for at least the past three years to dine for free but may pay for the privilege if they have joined the Association in the meantime.   


This event is heavily subsidised by the MCDOA so only bona fide members and affiliates are eligible to attend and bring private guests.  Check that the Standing Order covering your annual membership subscription is still valid and reflects the increased amount of £15 per year before applying or you will be disappointed.  If you are not yet a member of the MCDOA but feel you are entitled to join, the necessary Application Form and Standing Order Authority (effective from next 1 Jan) are available for download via the Membership section but you must also send a cheque for £15, payable to the MCDOA, to cover the current year.  


I look forward to seeing as many as possible on the day of the race.


From MCDOA member Dave 'Spidey' Ince RAN (LMCDO '89B) on 8 Sep 14:


Dave Ince holding the silver-plated miniature of the

Vernon Monument he received last November


"G’day Rob or should I say ‘malo a lalei’,


The latter salutation because I am sending my regrets and apologies for not being able to attend the next MCDOA Dinner from the Kingdom of Tonga, my latest posting.  I am especially regretful because it is the 25th Anniversary of the 1989 Alpha and Bravo courses.  I had been promising myself I would get back for this one and have a few / many with my fellow CD Bravo course mates Adrian ‘Spanner’ Dann and Andy ‘Dinosaur Paws’ Woollven, the Three Disposaleers.  Our course had a particularly high attrition rate; Tiny Timms and Dave Hilton were obviously looking for the best so I’m not sure what happened there (ha ha ha).  


Unfortunately my new job and other significant travel plans (off to Antarctica on hols) get in the way.  Although still in a RAN uniform, I am now the Maritime Surveillance Advisor to His Majesty’s Armed Forces Tonga.  The nearest RN analogy is one of those loafing jobs in the Windies.  I have left all things MCD behind me for a while perhaps for good; I think I can safely say I have ticked all the boxes there.  My time commanding an Armidale Class Patrol Boat has earned me another feather in my cap and broadened the horizons, quite literally.  The Tongans have three small patrol boats and the job is what it says on the tin.  Anyway, as you can imagine, life in this tropical paradise is not too shabby.  The Tongans are great people and punch above their weight. Some of the brethren may even have worked with some of the guys in Afghanistan.  I was actually at BRNC with the reigning King of Tonga, so I’m well connected.


The Spidy Inces are all very well.  Julie came with me to Tonga, but our sons Luke and Brent have flown and grown.  Brent has just commenced an Aussie SF course, and Luke is in the vinegar strokes of joining the Aussie Commandos.  There is a real risk they will end up on the same Commando course, heaven help them!  I will be posted here until early 2017, so if any of members of the Association are thinking of coming out this way be sure to give me a shout.  The diving and whale watching opportunities are superb.  You can even swim with the beast here.  We have plenty of room, loads of dive kit and a couple of boats. 


I have attached my latest requisition, the ‘French Fry’ taken as a prize from a if you couldn’t tell by the name.  Actually the bastard fleeced me!  Anyway, we now call it the ‘Soggy Chip’ and the kayak is called ‘Mushy Pea’... you can take the man out of England but you can’t take England out of the man.  



I’ll be sitting under a palm tree and raising a rum-filled coconut to you all on 21st November.


Cheers one and all.  


Yours Aye,





RAN Maritime Surveillance Adviser - Tonga

C/O Aust High Commission - Nuku'alofa

Locked Bag 40

Kingston, ACT 2604"


7 Sep 14 - News from HMS Grimsby



I am grateful to Lt Cdr William King RN, Commanding Officer of HMS Grimsby (MCM1 Crew 6), for this update received via the Ton Class Association (TCA):


"It is my pleasure to write to you as we depart on deployment to the Mediterranean.  We will be joining the standing NATO mine countermeasure task group [SNMCMG2] which is a team of eight Mine Countermeasures Ships that remain ready to respond to tasking in the Mediterranean region.  This provides a welcome break from the more regular Gulf tasking and the team will return to UK waters just before Christmas.

Over the summer, we have come out of the Coniston Crew, which is the standby crew based at Faslane.  Whilst in Coniston, the crew eagerly awaited the reigns of the coveted HMS GRIMSBY.  Since taking responsibility for HMS GRIMSBY, Crew 6 entered a busy maintenance period ensuring that the Ship was ready in all aspects for Sea and the upcoming NATO deployment.  The Ship was also alongside in Dry Dock at Greenock for 10 days where she was treated to maintenance on her Voith-Schneider propellers and a much needed hull wash.  This maintenance has now made HMS GRIMSBY one of the fastest mine hunters in her class.  All members of the Ship's Company worked tirelessly during the period to get the Ship ready, with a particular mention and thanks to the Marine Engineering department.  It was imperative that the Ship met its deadline before going into sea trials and it is testament to the Crew that this was achieved.

Before going into sea training, we sailed to Kyles through the Western Isles of Scotland, stopping at Tobermory to prepare for the upcoming assessment and shake off any 'tactical cobwebs' that had gathered during our time alongside.  The Crew were put through their paces with everything from fires and flood emergencies, to diving operations and mine hunting.  Although the Crew had spent several months alongside, they performed extreme!y well, meeting these challenges head on with professionalism and zeal. Indeed, as we head into our deployment I could not ask for a better team.

The Ship was also represented at Armed Forces Day in June in our home town of Grimsby [see second entry for 27 Jun 14 in News Archive 46].  A ten-strong contingent of the Ship's Company proudly marched through Cleethorpes before attending a memorial service at the Remembrance Gate.  It was a pleasure to be able to march through our affiliated hometown and the Crew were made to feel most welcome by the people of Grimsby and Cleethorpes.  Thank You.

As I write to you, the Crew have come back from their Summer Leave and have entered into the busy and demanding period of sea training.  I have no doubt in my mind that the Crew will approach this training with the same vigour and enthusiasm they showed during our own work up.  Once this formal period of assessment is complete, HMS GRIMSBY will set sail for the Mediterranean, joining the standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Task Group led by the Italian, Captain Giovanni Piegaja.

As we depart for home shores, I think it is fitting to say a heartfelt thanks to all for your continued support.  As Commanding Officer I am incredibly proud of my team and how much they have achieved in such short order, and I look forward to an opportunity in the New Year for you to meet the Crew, but until then I wish you all the very best from 'your Ship'.

William R C King
Commanding Officer
HMS Grimsby - MCM 1 Crew 6"


HMS Grimsby and FGS Wega of SNMCMG2 at Casablanca on 5 September 2014 to support

the NATO counter-terrorism Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR


6 Sep 14 - Death of ex-CPO(D) Albert Derek 'Ginger' Snell BEM


I have heard from Ginger's eldest son Derek that his father crossed the bar peacefully at about 2015 tonight (see entry for 25 Aug 14).  He had been readmitted into hospital late on Thursday with suspected pnuemonia.


I will publish funeral arrangements as they become available.  In the meantime, I know all members of our community will join me in extending our sincere condolences to his family and close friends.


From MCDOA member Bill 'Chippy' Norton on 9 Sep 2014:


"Dear Rob,


Sad news about Ginger.  I know that it was not unexpected  but sad nonetheless.  He was good lad.


I hope you received the copy pic of him in better times which I sent you.  I have written to Derek who, regrettably, I don't think I ever met (bad reflection on how separate the families were).


Grateful for news of the arrangements.


Yours Aye,




From ex-CPO(D) MIchael 'Shiner' Brassington on 7 Sep 2014:


"Dear Alex and family,


What sad news you sent.  Tomorrow I was looking forward to meeting up with my old 1953 buddy.


It is blessing Ginger did not have to experience a longer drawn out departue.  This is one funeral that I can get to in the car.  I'm sure you boys did your best for him.


I have two eye ops lined up in Gingers memory and this will help two more sightless folks to see.






From Ginger's son Andrew on 7 Sep 2014:


"Hello Rob,


Thank you for your kind words.


Please find attached a picture taken in recent happier times, May 22nd 2014 and I am sure before Ginge knew of his impending illness.  Please find fit to use as you wish.  He is joined in the picture by my son, his 18-year-old grandson Harry on a visit to Sizewell Power station where Harry recently began an apprenticeship.  He was immensely proud of Harry's achievement.  The picture sums up both a proud grandfather and a grandson who held so much respect and affection for his granddad.


Ginger and his grandson Harry on 22 May 2014


 Many thanks,


 Andrew Snell" 


5 Sep 14 - Bob Hawkins comes to town


It was delightful to rendezvous with MCDOA member Bob Hawkins MBE at Gunwharf Quays (formerly HMS Vernon) in Portsmouth last night.  I was his LMCDO course officer at HMS Vernon in 1982 and, as happens in our small and exclusive branch, our paths have crossed frequently ever since.


Bob Hawkins and Yours Truly


We were accompanied by Bob's 2* RAAF boss for whom he works as the Lead Maritime Planner at the Headquarters Integrated Area Defence System (HQ IADS) at RMAF Butterworth in Penang, Malaysia which executes the policies of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) (see entry for 13 Dec 12 in News Archive 40).  We were also joined by Bob's naval, army and air force colleagues from Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and the UK who are all in the UK for meetings at Joint Forces Command (JFC) Headquarters in Northwood.  JFC is commanded by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach KCB CBE ADC who was our guest of honour at the MCDOA's annual dinner in 2011 (see entry for 24 Nov 11 in News Archive 36). 


Off-duty IADS military staff


RN warfare officer Glenn Gorman, who is due to relieve Bob next summer, was present at our gathering too.


3 Sep 14 - NATO Summit in Wales


The BBC website contains this article announcing the arrival of NATO leaders, including President Barack Obama, at the Celtic Manor in Newport for the two-day summit on Thursday and Friday.  The Wales Online website contains this article (including a gallery of wonderful photos) describing the arrival of naval units in nearby Cardiff for the occasion including the Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan.


HMS Duncan being towed into Cardiff Docks yesterday


An EOD vehicle from Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) was parked near HMS Duncan's brow.


SDU1 bomb disposal vehicle parked in front of HMS Duncan in Cardiff yesterday


Other naval units in Cardiff include the Latvian Tripartite class minehunter LVNS Viesturs (ex-HNLMS Scheveningen) whose arrival is described in this article published in the Penarth Daily News.  She is being joined by the Dutch Tripartite minehunter HNLMS Urk, the Hunt class minehunter LNS Kuršis (ex-HMS Dulverton), the French Georges Leygues class anti-submarine frigate FNS La Motte Picquet and the Norwegian Skjold class corvette HNoMS Skudd


LVNS Viesturs in Cardiff Docks yesterday


LNS Kuršis and HNoMS Skudd in Cardiff Docks today


Cardiff University's Royal Naval Unit (URNU) Archer class P2000 patrol boat HMS Express is normally based in the city anyway but she has been joined by her sister ship HMS Biter which belongs to Manchester & Salford URNU and is normally based at Liverpool:


HMS Express and HMS Biter at Cardiff yesterday


2 Sep 14 - HMS Quorn's homecoming


I was delighted to join AB(Sea) Martin 'Nev' Longbottom from Huddersfield on the Round Tower in Portsmouth this morning to help welcome back HMS Quorn (MCM2 Crew 3).  Nev, short for Neville, had left her in Toulon to return to the UK and pave the way for her return.


AB(Sea) Martin 'Nev' Longbottom


As chronicled in the MCDOA website's archives, HMS Quorn deployed to the Gulf in May 2011 and her current ship's company has been manning her since January this year.






I am sure all members of our community will join me in welcoming home all on board HMS Quorn and wishing them a thoroughly enjoyable time during their well-deserved leave.


Post script: The Portsmouth News has since published this article, including a video clip, and the RN website this article describing HMS Quorn's arrival in 2 Basin in Portsmouth Naval Base.  Both articles feature AB(MW) Greg 'Leroy' Learoyd.



1 Sep 14 - Royal Naval Reserves Diving Branch


The RNR Divers group on Facebook has published a set of photographs of a continuation training session on Horsea Island using half mask variant (HMV).  They have kindly allowed me to show these examples:


Divers in wetsuits from left to right: AB Standley, AB Barrett, PO Pearce,

PO Morton. LS Boyd in the background and WO Dello supervising




31 Aug 14 - HMS Quorn returns to Portsmouth on Tuesday


HMS Quorn (MCM2 Crew 3) is due to arrive at Spithead tomorrow evening and anchor overnight before entering Portsmouth on Tuesday morning (1015 ETA at Outer Spit Buoy).  She has spent the past three years based at Bahrain in the Gulf (see second entry for 8 Aug 14).  I am grateful to local photographer Daniel Ferro for this image of her at Gibraltar last Wednesday:


HMS Quorn at Gibraltar 27 August 2014

(Courtesy of Daniel Ferro)


30 Aug 14 - The late John Peel 



From the BBC website: 


John Peel remembered


This year John Peel would have been 75 years old.  To celebrate his birthday and to mark the 10th Anniversary of his passing, 6 Music remembers John with contributions from Steve Lamacq, Lauren Laverne, Annie Nightingale, Don Letts, Mary Anne Hobbs with a mixture of Peel sessions and extracts from his legendary Radio shows.


Members may recall that John Peel, an honorary graduate of Portsmouth University, died on 25 October 2004 (see entry for 27 Oct 2004 in News Archive 8) and your humble webmaster was quoted in this article in the Portsmouth News.  The last words John Peel ever spoke on his Radio 4 programme 'Home Truths' mentioned the MCDOA (see entry for 9 Oct 2004 in News Archive 8):


MCDOA 'Tie Clip' (wav file - 608 Kb)


This was the result of us responding to his request for a tie during a reference to the wartime evacuation of part of HMS Vernon to Roedean School in a previous programme (see entry for 5 Oct 2004 in News Archive 8):


Roedean Dit (wav file - 1.2 Mb)


29 Aug 14


HMS Ramsey home after three-year deployment


The Royal Navy website contains this article, the Navy News website this article and the Daily Record website this article describing this morning's homecoming to Faslane of HMS Ramsey (MCM1 Crew 2 commanded by MCDOA member Ash Spencer) after three years in the Gulf (see entry for 19 Aug 14 and second entry for 8 Aug 14).



RN photos by CPO(Phot) Tam McDonald (FRPU North)




The UK Gulf MCMV Force assigned to Operation KIPION currently comprises HMS Chiddingfold (2/5), HMS Atherstone (2/6), HMS Penzance (1/3) and HMS Shoreham (1/5).


SDU2 blasts ordnance found by dog walker on Shellness beach, Sheppey


The Kent Online website contains this article, including a video clip, describing yesterday's disposal of a piece of explosive ordnance on the Isle of Sheppey by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2).




28 Aug 14 - RN Diving & EOD Heritage: DEODS


I am grateful to former CPO(D) Perry Mason for these photos, including one of MCDOA member Tony Lumbard, of the RN training staff at DEODS (Defence Explosive Ordnance Disposal School), Chattenden during, I believe, the mid-1980s:


"I think Tug and John are in the uniforms originally issued to them.



Above and below: Trafalgar Night at DEODS

(Not sure who's wearing the moustache)



Tony's leaving run at DEODS."


Tony Lumbard (second right) leaving DEODS as OIC


27 Aug 14 - Long Service & Good Conduct Medal awards


Congratulations to CPO(D) Alistair Reilly on being gazetted for the award of a clasp to his LS & GC medal and to PO(MW) L Untulus and PO(D) C A Thomas on being gazetted for the award of LS & GC medals.  The relevant Supplement to the London Gazette can be viewed here


26 Aug 14 - HMS Bangor hosts Second World War veteran


The Royal Navy website contains this article describing a visit to HMS Bangor (MCM1 Crew 8) by David Russell who served in the anti-submarine trawler HMT Istria during the Second World War.  The visit took place while the ship was berthed at Pacific Quay in Glasgow during the recent Commonwealth Games (see second entry for 1 Aug 14).


Veteran David Russell with HMS Bangor's CO Lt Cdr Mike Carter Quinn (left)

(RN website photo)


25 Aug 14 - Update on ex-CPO(D) Albert Derek 'Ginger' Snell BEM


I have been sent this announcement (see entry for 2 Aug 14):




It was so lovely for all the family to see the posting on the 2nd August 2014.


If anyone who knows Dad (Ginger Snell) wants to be remembered to him, please email your details to this address.  He is back home and quite comfortable but poorly with carers, family and friends popping in.  He is really not able to answer letters or phone calls so please contact us by email.


Derek Snell

(Eldest son)"


From former FCPO(D) Dave 'Mona' Lott BEM on 30 Aug 2014


"G’day each and all,


Just to keep you in the picture...


Prior to starting this e-mail I had not long put the phone down after speaking with my old mate Ginger (2215 Oz time and 1315 London or Norfolk time).  We gassed on for a short while before Ginger needed a rest.  He did say that he was delighted that someone from his old branch had been in contact and we also had a few laughs.


Ginge stated categorically that his mud running days were definitely over.  He also gave me further stick regarding travelling in my draughty sidecar, especially on top of completing 90 minute endurances in a well frozen Horsea Lake.   We caught up on the health, or total lack of it, mentioning many old mates that Ginger hasn’t heard of in many a year.


I have promised a return call sometime next weekend.


Regards to all,


Dave L (Mona)"


From former FCPO(D) Dave 'Mona' Lott BEM on 28 Aug 2014:


"Derek, Alex, Andy, Ginger, Rob and Shiner,


I thank you for keeping me in the loop, and I trust things are remaining stable.


I went back through my photo albums and found this shot of Ginger, Dave Audoire and myself with an unremembered RAF Officer from 1963 when at Horsham Bomb Disposal School as DEODS was then known:


Albert 'Ginger' Snell, unidentified RAF officer, Dave Audoire

and Dave Lott at Horsham Bomb Disposal School in 1963


I thought it might bring back some happier memories from those times.  I don't know where our 4th class member Gerry 'Pincher' Martin was... perhaps he was still confined to the bomb hole that we were digging!  


Derek and Alex - I used Google Earth to do a flyover of your Dad's pad.  Lovely spot, and my Gt Gt Grandfather Samuel Chalker was born not far away in 1847 at Alburgh, in the District of Depwade.  


Dave L (Mona)


P.S. I would much prefer the image above to reflect back at me from my mirror these days!"


From former FCPO(D) Dave 'Mona' Lott BEM on 28 Aug 2014:


"Firstly many thanks to Rob Hoole, the MCDOA’s "Webmaster Extraordinaire” for conveying messages re Ginger and without whose input this unfolding sad event would have remained unknown.  


Next to Derek and Alex and many thanks for your update on your dad’s current state of health.  I did try twice to phone your dad but got the message bank and left quick messages.


Finally to my old mate Ginger last seen in 1976-77 running diving classes in a flooded brick quarry when I was doing the rounds of old ex RN Diving branch mates in the Norfolk area...  Mate I can’t begin to say how sorry I was to hear of your current health status.  When I hear of any of my old mates my mind reflects to a picture of when I was in their company.  However when I see the bloke who is reflected back to me via the bathroom mirror (quite ghastly!), I have to tell myself that I can’t be the only one who features have changed over the intervening years...


CD1 course photo in 1963 showing Ginger Snell standing centre rear 


A lot of water has passed under the bridge since we were on CD1's course together.  It was the worst winter (Jan 1963) in the UK for over 100 years and we were using suits and underclothes never designed for such conditions while completing 90 minute endurances in Horsea’s thickly frozen Lake.  Or carrying out extra long mud runs right around Horsea Island under the 'kindly guidance' of Taff Roberts. 




Horsea Lake during the winter of 1963



It is nice to relate that we four survivors of that course are still around although none of us are as fit as we were then.  Pincher still lives on the outskirts of Portsmouth, Dave Audoire is somewhere in Spain and I came to Eden, NSW Australia in 1991 to escape any more possible bad winters.  I doubt if you have forgotten your trips in my dad’s decrepit old motorcycle sidecar in our weekly trips travelling to and from the Horsham Defence Explosives Disposal Unit and you nearly leaving via the rusted out sidecar floor when trying to brake before I did?  Yes, we had some laughs.  




Ginge, I’d just finally like to say that I do wish you all the best whatever the outcome.  I’m sure that your family and friends will stay close and give you their required and much needed support.  


All the very best Mate (friend).


Dave L (Mona)"


From MCDOA member Bill 'Chippy' Norton on 17 Aug 2014:




Further to our telecom and the sad news about Ginger's health, I worked with him in the FEFCDT [Far East Fleet Clearance Diving Team] between 1968 and 1970.  He never lost his Norfolk/Suffolk accent and was always smiling.  This photo shows him with Charlie Charlwood [author of 'Tread Lightly into Danger - International Experiences of a Bomb Disposal Expert'] and Graham Shaw when he received a CinC's commendation for EOD work during the 1967 Hong Kong leftist riots.


Admiral Sir William Donough O'Brien KCB DSC (CINC Far East Fleet) with

PO(D) Anthony 'Charlie' Charlwood BEM, Lt Cdr David Shaw OBE RN

and PO(D) Albert 'Ginger' Snell BEM


This scan shows images from the same period after which MCDOA member John Coggins was appointed an MBE for rendering safe a device attached to the TV/Radio mast while dangling from a chopper:


FECDT IED disposal work, featuring PO(D) Davis and

 AB(D) Clutton, during Hong Kong leftist riots in 1967


I was in HMS Bulwark getting my watch-keeping ticket at that time and we relieved the 'Siege of Hong Kong' by bringing up 40 Commando from Sembawang.  I later relieved John as the EODO in the team, intially with Graham, such a gentleman.


Yours Aye,




23 Aug 14 - David 'Jimmy' Bond to swim River Dart in aid of Vernon Monument


Artist's impression of the Vernon Monument

in situ at Gunwharf Quays


On Sunday 14 September, ex-CD David 'Jimmy' Bond plans to swim the 10 km stretch of the River Dart from Totnes to Dartmouth in aid of Project Vernon, Frank Water and other service charities.  If he can find a suitable companion, preferably female, to carry on with him, he will swim the extra 6 km all the way to Dartmouth Castle at the mouth of the river.


As chronicled in the MCDOA website's News Archives, Jimmy has previously swum for Project Vernon and other charities off Blackpool Sands in Devon, around Portsea Island and in Lake Windermere. 


Jimmy Bond (second left) with fellow Round Portsea Island swimmers

at Gunwharf Quays (formerly HMS Vernon) in July 2011


Support his latest aquatic endeavour on his Virgin Money Giving page and don't forget to register for Gift Aid which adds 25% to your donation:


David (Jimmy) Bond's fundraising page


22 Aug 14 - Funeral of ex-PO(D) Andy Frowley


I joined several other members of the Diving Branch at Portchester Crematorium on Tuesday for a Thanksgiving Service for the life of Andy Frowley (see entry for 31 Jul 14 in News Archive 47).  Other MCDOA members present included Martyn Holloway (Andy's old boss in the Saudi Diving Training Section) and it was good to see Don Crosbie and Mick Beale wearing uniform.


The casket was placed on the catafalque surmounted by an ensign, floral tributes and Andy's cap.  Mourners entered the chapel to a recording of 'Free Bird' by Lynyrd Skynyd before Chris Ahern, a lay preacher, welcomed those present.  Andy's daughter Sarah then read John 14:1-6 (In my Father's house there are many dwelling places) before a poem was read by his sister Jeanette. 


Ex-CD Andy 'AJ' Lasckey was wearing his Fire Service uniform.  He was one of Andy's fellow students on CD Basics' course in 1985 and described something of his character including the exploits they later shared in Hong Kong.  Andy's nephew Michael then said a short prayer before the congregation paused for reflection to the sound of 'Handbags and Gladrags' by The Stereophonics.  After more prayers, the Commendation, Committal and Blessing, some attendees went on to raise a glass in Andy's memory at Portsmouth Rugby Club.


Andrew David Frowley

(11 Mar 1961 - 27 Jul 2014)


21 Aug 14


HMS Ramsey at Gibraltar


As ever, I am grateful to local photographer Daniel Ferro for this image of HMS Ramsey (MCM1 Crew 2 commanded by MCDOA member Ash Spencer) at Gibraltar today.   She is returning to Faslane after a three-year deployment in the Gulf.


HMS Ramsey at Gibraltar 21 August 2014

(Courtesy of Daniel Ferro)


SDU1 called to Hallsands Bay


The Plymouth Herald website contains this article describing a call-out for members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) to Hallsands Bay in South Devon to deal with a suspected explosive device which transpired to be a discarded fridge motor.


20 Aug 14 - Clearance Divers perform mobile phone ruggedness trial on BBC's One Show


RN Clearance Divers were shown on The One Show on BBC TV yesterday assisting Dominic 'Dom' Littlewood perform a ruggedness trial of various mobile phones.  The first phase of the trial was conducted at the RN Leadership Academy (RNLA) at HMS Collingwood where certain students, including PO(D) Bungy Edwards, had a phone strapped to their arm while tackling the obstacle course.

















The second phase of the trial was conducted in another venue familiar to CDs, the 100ft deep Submarine Escape Training Tank (SETT) at what was formerly HMS Dolphin.









The final phase of the trial was conducted at Fleet diving headquarters on Horsea Island and involved a 7 ton bomb wagon being driven over the phones.





All else having failed to destroy or disrupt the NGM Explorer mobile phone, the show's presenter, Dom Littlewood, decided to take more drastic action in Horsea Lake.






This episode of The One Show can be watched again here on BBC iPlayer until 25 August.  The relevant sequence is between minutes 16:43 and 21:43.


19 Aug 14 - HMS Ramsey in commemoration of Operation DRAGOON


The Royal Navy website contains this article and the Navy News website this article describing the participation of Faslane-based HMS Ramsey (MCM1 Crew 2 commanded by MCDOA member Ash Spencer) and the survey ship HMS Echo in a sailpast off Toulon to mark the 70th anniversary of Operation DRAGOON, the Allied invasion of southern France.  Warships from France, the USA, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia also took part in this commemorative event in the presence of the President of France and the First Sea Lord.  The articles feature AB(D) Scott Hulme.



HMS Ramsey is on passage back to the UK after her three-year deployment in the Gulf.  She has been manned by MCM1 Crew 2 for the past seven months.


18 Aug 14 - Funeral of Lt Cdr David Peter Ronald Lermitte RN


David Lermitte on his wedding day


I represented the MCDOA today at the Service of Thanksgiving for ex-MCDO David Lermitte in the ancient Church of SS Peter & Paul in Godalming, Surrey (see first entry for 27 Jul 14 in News Archive 47) and was pleased to see fellow MCDOA member David Burstall with his wife Jane among the familiar faces.  Several other ex-RN and ex-RM personnel were present as well as family members and friends.  Sadly, David's widow Sue is seriously ill and was unable to attend but other relatives included his son Robin with grandchildren Mia and Guy and his daughter Julia with grandchildren Alice and James.  The casket was borne into the church to the sound of 'Swinging Safari' by Bert Kampfaert.  The officiating priest, Canon Mervyn Roberts whose father had served in submarines as a naval officer, opened the service with a brief allusion to Winston Churchill before reciting Psalm 107:23 - 42 (They that go down to the sea in ships). 


David's son Robin began his tribute to his father by explaining that the music on entry had been the family's theme song while David was serving in Singapore.  It was family lore that David had been born backwards into a bucket with a head shaped like a rugby ball and red hair.  He had joined the Royal Navy in 1945 at the age of 13 and served all over the world.  He had married Susan in the very same church in Godalming on 1 August 1959 and left the RN in 1971.  Adapting to the vagaries of civilian life had not been easy but he applied himself to gardening among other purrsuits and eventually took early retirement to run Westway Care Home in the 1980s and early 1990s.  He performed many of the maintenance tasks and could often be seen in filthy cords tied up with string or, in the summer, swimming trunks with wellies.  Although he was a practical man, he sometimes needed rescuing like the occasion he was stuck up a tree after sawing away his only escape route.  His love of birds encompassed having a jackdaw while in the RN and later possessing a magpie and doves.  Labradors also featured highly in family life.  He made sure the family was well-travelled with time in France, Africa, India and Sri Lanka.  Robin made the telling point that he hadn't appreciated what a fine job David had made of being his father until he became a father himself.


David's daughter Julia and granddaughter Alice then read alternate verses of 'When The Last Hand Comes Aboard' by Richard John Scarr:


No more a Watch to stand, Old Sailor.

For you are drifting on an ebbing tide.

Eight Bells has rung.  Dog Watch is done.

A new Berth waits you on the other side.


Your Ship is anchored in God's Harbour.

 And though his sailors are of equal rank.

there'll be Shipmates on the deck to greet you.

And Pipe, as you ascend the Plank..


Her boilers with full head of steam.

Cargo stowed and Galley stored.

 Just waiting to get underway.

When the last Hand comes aboard.


Look sharp! That Hand is you, Old Sailor.

 And you'll be sailing out on Heavenly Seas.

So may the wind be ever at your back.

Fair weather. And God speed!


Revd Roberts then gave the Address and said prayers before the congregation paused for reflection to the accompaniment of Mozart's 'Ave Verum'.  We then said 'The Lord's Prayer' before the Commendation and Blessing.  The casket was borne from the church for private burial in the presence of the family to the sound of 'Eternal Father' and 'Bread of Heaven'.  One or two of us couldn't help but join in.


A reception was held in the adjoining Octagon where photos of David and his family were displayed including some showing him as the CO of HMS Abdiel as his penultimate job in the RN in the late 1960s.  He had previously taken over Command of the Far East Fleet Clearance Diving Team, based in Singapore, from David Burstall when he produced these reports about the first surveys of the Second World War wrecks of the battlecruiser HMS Repulse and the battleship HMS Prince of Wales.  I took the opportunity to pass on the condolences of the Association and the Branch at large to his family.


Lt Cdr David Peter Ronald Lermitte RN

(18 May 1932 - 19 July 2014)


17 Aug 14 - Update on eligibility of HMS Brecon and HMS Ledbury personnel for South Atlantic Medal


The third entry for 1 Aug 14 reported the decision and reasons behind extending the qualifying period for the award of the South Atlantic Medal without the Rosette from 12 July to 21 October 1982.  This will bring into entitlement members of the ships' companies of HMS Brecon, HMS Ledbury and the old RMS St Helena which didn't arrive off the Falklands until early July 1982.  The islands had been liberated on 14 June.


The following has now been 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


16 Aug 14 - SDU2 deals with 20mm shell on Isle of Wight


The Island Echo website contains this article describing the removal on Friday, presumably by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2), of a 20mm shell handed in at West Wight police station near Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight.


15 Aug 14 - Project BUSTER: Naval Charity Dinner in aid of Project Vernon


Artist's impression of the Vernon Monument

in situ at Gunwharf Quays


An announcement by MCDOA member David Hunkin OBE:


"In support of Project VERNON, Chris Baldwin, Keith Broughton, Dave Hunkin, Al Nekrews and Soapy Watson have organised an amazing charity dinner in HMS VICTORY.


To be held on Sept 11th, it is being supporting by an incredible guest list including our Guest of Honour, Admiral of the Fleet the Lord Boyce KG GCB OBE DL (former First Sea Lord and later Chief of the Defence Staff), Guest Speaker Sir John Scarlett KCMG OBE (former Head of MI6) and Admiral Sir Jonathon Band GCB DL (former First Sea Lord) as Master of Ceremonies.


Former Bonhams auctioneer Simon Morgan will hold a charity auction with some incredible ‘money can’t buy’ prizes.  Add to this a private tour of HMS VICTORY followed by a champagne reception, Royal Marines band and a traditional Naval Mess Dinner on the Gun Deck of HMS VICTORY and one has a very special night ahead indeed.


Availability is very limited but a small number of places are still available should any MCDOA member or their company wish to take them at £400 per head.  Please contact any of the organisers above to reserve your spaces.  Places are on a strictly first come first served basis.   


Help us reach our target to finally get the monument taking pride of place in Gunwharf.


Many thanks,




David Hunkin"


Here is the accompanying brochure in PDF format:


Naval Charity Dinner and Auction


I am sure all members of our community will join me in expressing our appreciation to the above-named MCDOA members for their independent fundraising initiative in aid of Project Vernon.


Post script: As of 22 August, all previously available places have been taken.


13 Aug 14 - COMPORFLOT commendation for HMS Hurworth chef


The Portsmouth News website contains this article and the Royal Navy website this article describing the award of a commendation to Ldg Chef Graeme Murdoch of MCM2 Crew 7, currently manning HMS Hurworth, for his commitment and professionalism while the crew was manning HMS Quorn during a six-month deployment in the Gulf last year.  He was presented with his award by MCDOA President Cdre Paddy McAlpine CBE ADC in his role as Commodore Portsmouth Flotilla (COMPORFLOT).


Cdre Paddy McAlpine presenting COMPORFLOT Commendation to Ldg Chef

Graeme Murdoch in the presence of Lt Cdr Ellie Stack, CO of MCM2 Crew 7

(Royal Navy photo)


12 Aug 14 - Long Service & Good Conduct Medal awards


Congratulations to WO1(MW) Pete 'Bomber' Mills and WO1(D) Dave Merridue on being gazetted for the award of clasps to their LS & GC medals and to PO(MW) D Brain and LS(MW) P J Mayer on being gazetted for the award of the LS & GC medal.  The relevant Supplement to the London Gazette can be viewed here.


11 Aug 14 - SDU2 deals with Second World War shell in Old Portsmouth


The Portsmouth News website contains this article describing the removal, presumably by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2), of a Second World War shell from Old Portsmouth.  Roads were closed after the shell was found in the building area where yachstman Sir Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup bid headquarters is being constructed.


Post script:  On 12 August, the Portsmouth News followed up the story with this article including a video clip.


9 Aug 14 - SDU1 deals with mortar bomb at Whitsand Bay


The BBC website contains this article and the Plymouth Herald website this article describing Wednesday's disposal of a mortar bomb* on Tregantle Beach in Whitsand Bay, Cornwall by members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1).  The articles feature MCDOA Honorary Treasurer Peter Davis, OIC of SDU1.


*Note to journalists: A 'mortar' is a high angle muzzle-loaded smooth-bore weapon that fires a projectile known as a 'mortar bomb'.  It is not the projectile itself.


8 Aug 14


HMS Penzance arrives in Bahrain


The Royal Navy website contains this article describing the arrival of HMS Penzance (MCM1 Crew 3) in her new base port of Bahrain after a seven week transit.  Her passage covered 6,850 nautical miles during the Monsoon season.  After her 47-day journey, she relieved HMS Ramsey (MCM1 Crew 2 commanded by MCDOA member Ash Spencer) and her 40-strong ship’s company has now started to carry out the work the UK MCM force is renowned for, working with partners to ensure the security of sea lanes in the Gulf.


HMS Penzance in Bahrain

(RN photo)


HMS Quorn and HMS Ramsey arrive in Malta


HMS Quornn(MCM2 Crew 3) and(MCM2 Crew 3) and HMS Ramsey (MCM1 Crew 2 commanded by MCDOA member Ash Spencer) were captured arriving in Valletta today.  Both ships are heading back to the UK after their three-year deployments in the Gulf.  They are expected to sail from Malta on Monday 11 August.


HMS Quorn in Valletta Harbour


HMS Ramsey in Valletta Harbour


7 Aug 14 - New lease of life for HMS Middleton


The Royal Navy website contains this article announcing the emergence of HMS Middleton (MCM2 Crew 8) from refit as the second Hunt class minehunter (after HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 5)) to have her Deltic diesel propulsion system replaced with Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesels.  The article also features MCDOA President Cdre Paddy McAlpine CBE ADC, Commodore Portsmouth Flotilla (COMPORFLOT).


HMS MIddleton

(RN website photo)


6 Aug 14 - HMS Atherstone welcomes her new ship's company


The Royal Navy website contains this article describing MCM2 Crew 2's handover of HMS Atherstone to MCM2 Crew 6 (commanded by MCDOA member Simon Pressdee) in Bahrain last month.  The new crew will spend seven months in the Gulf region on Operation KIPION.


Simon Pressdee (left) accepting Command

 of HMS Atherstone from Andy Smith

(RN website photo)


5 Aug 14


HMS Chiddingfold remembers in Crete


The Commanding Officer and members of the ship's company of HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 5) have laid a wreath at the war memorial in the Commonwealth Graves Cemetery in Souda Bay, Crete while on passage to the Gulf.



Lt Cdr Richard Rees RN, CO of HMS Chiddingfold, with members of the ship's company

at the CWG Cemetery in Souda Bay, Crete

(Photos courtesy of the Commanding Officer)


SDU1 deals with Second World War 'bomb' at St Erth


The Cornishman website contains this article describing the disposal last Sunday, presumably by members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1), of the head of a Second World War device handed in at the recycling centre in St Erth, Cornwall.  Hayle police are looking for "...a white male approximately 60 years old with a bald head and grey beard" so I suppose I'd better turn myself in.


4 Aug 14 - RN Minewarfare Heritage: 100th Anniversary of the start of the First World War


Today is the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.  The first British (and Allied) naval loss occurred in the early hours of the third day of the war (6 August 1914) when the new 3,500 ton light cruiser HMS Amphion was sunk by a mine laid off the Suffolk coast by the German auxiliary minelayer Königin Luise Königin Luise had been pursued by Amphion and destroyers of the 3rd Flotilla and sunk by HMS Lance the previous day (5 August 1914), thus becoming the first German naval loss of the war.


HMS Amphion sinking


German Auxiliary Minelayer Königin Luise


Given the date, I thought it appropriate to repeat this excerpt from the entry for the RN Minewarfare Branch in the Branch History section of the website:




Responsibility for Royal Navy minewarfare was first vested in the Gunnery Branch but this was divested to the Torpedo Branch on its formation in 1876.  Henceforth, Torpedo officers and seaman (later to became members of the Torpedo & Anti-Submarine (TAS) Branch) conducted minesweeping and mine-laying operations in regular RN vessels until 1975.  Their training was undertaken at the Mining and Anti-Mining Department of the Torpedo School at HMS Vernon in Portsmouth where mines and mine countermeasures were developed throughout both world wars.  Paradoxically, the Gunnery Branch retained responsibility for naval diving until this, too, was divested to the Torpedo Branch on 1 October 1944.




In 1907 Admiral Lord Charles Beresford was Commander-in-Chief of the Home Fleet.  After a visit to ports on the east coast of England, he was the first to recommend the use of Grimsby trawlers for minesweeping duties.  He wrote:

"Our fishing fleets, in war, will be rendered inactive and will, in consequence be available for war service.  Fishermen, by virtue of their calling, are adept in the handling and towing of wires and trawls, more so than are naval ratings.  Small naval vessels, if used in minesweeping, will be used at the expense of other urgent war requirements." 



Admiral Lord Beresford's prescience eventually led to the formation of the Royal Naval Reserve (Trawler Section) - the RNR(T).  The Trawler Reserve was instituted with approval for 100 trawlers to be mobilised during any period of strained relations and for the immediate enrolment of 1,000 officers and ratings to man these vessels.  This brought a new rank, that of 'Skipper' RNR, into the Navy List and the first officer (Peter Yorston) enrolled at Aberdeen on 3 February 1911.  By the end of 1911, 53 skippers had joined.  In 1912 a further 25 enrolled and the Trawler Section of the Royal Naval Reserve consisted of 142 trawlers manned by 1,279 personnel.  Thirty-one more skippers joined before the war started in August 1914 making a total of 109.  Three hundred and fifteen more volunteered by the end of the first week in October.  By the end of 1915, the Minesweeping Service employed 7,888 officers and men.


Within the first week of war, 94 trawlers were allocated for minesweeping duties and dispersed to priority areas including Cromarty, the Firth of Forth, the Tyne. the Humber, Harwich, Sheerness, Dover, Portsmouth, Portland and Plymouth.  The groups were commanded by naval officers, some from the retired list, who had received a brief training in minesweeping.  Apart from the skippers, officers were also required to supplement the handful of naval officers of the existing minesweeping service.  Most of the trained pre-war RNR and RNVR officers had already been called up for service in the Fleet.  For the new minesweeping and auxiliary patrol flotillas, officers and civilians were obtained from the Merchant Navy and given temporary commissions in the RNR and RNVR.  To bolster naval discipline, various Royal Fleet Reserve and pensioner petty officers were distributed among the vessels.


When the Armistice was signed at the end of the war, the Trawler Reserve comprised 39,000 officers and men of whom 10,000 were employed in minesweepers and the rest in the auxiliary patrol.  The 10 ex-torpedo gunboats available as minesweepers at the outbreak of the war had been replaced by purpose-built ships including 72 Flower Class single-screw fleet minesweeping sloops of the Acacia, Arabis and Azalea types, 107 Hunt Class and Improved Hunt (Aberdare) Class twin-screwed minesweepers, 24 'Class of 24' fleet sweeping sloops, 32 Ascot Class and Improved Ascot Class minesweeping paddle-steamers, 13 Grimsby Class general purpose sloops and 10 Dance Class 'Tunnel Tug' inshore minesweepers. Total RN minesweeping forces included 762 ships stationed at 26 home ports and 35 foreign bases.  Two hundred and fourteen minesweepers had been lost during the four years and three months of the war.


Post script: It is good to see these follow-ups among many others:


Daily Telegraph 7 Aug 2014: The army prepares for war, but the Royal Navy loses its first ship

BBC News 6 Aug 2014: HMS Amphion was first British warship sunk in World War One

Royal Navy 6 Aug 2014: Centenary of the first Royal Navy casualties in World War 1

Navy News 6 Aug 2014: Centenary of the first Royal Navy casualties in World War 1 remembered

ITV News 5 Aug 2014: Cannon fire marks 100th anniversary of 1st WW1 shot


3 Aug 14 - Mystery EOD team deals with suspected Second World War bomb in Wales


The Wales Online website contains this article and the South Wales Evening Post this article, including some interesting comments, describing last week's removal of a shell fragment from the beach at Rhossili on the Gower Penninsula, allegedly by an RN EOD team.


By MCDOA Honorary Treasurer Peter Davis, OIC of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1):




I have contacted HMCG Swansea and checked with JSEOD Ops Centre after reading the articles published in the South Wales Press.  My Unit was not involved in any such task and certainly does not go around cultivating such a worryingly nonchalant impression on the general public.   


At present HMCG are unable to confirm who the spokesperson might be or provide me with an incident record for the report, but I can assure you that this has nothing to do with the professional standards maintained by Southern Diving Unit 1 (Plymouth).


Yours aye,




2 Aug 14 - Ex-CPO(D) Albert Derek 'Ginger' Snell BEM seriously ill


I have been advised that Ginger Snell has been admitted to hospital in Gorleston, Norfolk, originally with a suspected mini-stroke.  It has since been confirmed that he has lung cancer and a tumour on the brain.  Neither are treatable so he will be sent home as soon as care is arranged.  He is fully aware of his condition and has asked for old friends to visit so he can say his goodbyes while he is still able.


Ex-CPO(CD1) Michael 'Shiner' Brassington recalls being Ginger's pump 'number two' as a Boy Seaman in the cruiser HMS Swiftsure in 1952 when Ginger was a 'steamer' (hard hat diver).  He hopes to visit him at his home in Lowestoft soon.


Former FCPO(D) David 'Mona' Lott BEM in Australia remembers qualifying CD1 with Ginger, Dave Audoire, Peter Barrett, Curly Burrows, Gerry 'Pincher' Martin, George Robbie and Dave 'Tilly' Tyzack in 1963 under the guidance of the late Taff Roberts.  Page 128 of Mona's book, A Corkhead's Chronicle - Experiences of a Royal Navy Clearance Diver 1955-76, contains this photo of the course at HMS Vernon:


CD1 course photo in 1963 showing Ginger Snell standing centre rear


Ginger was awarded the BEM in the 1972 New Year Honours.  Mona last saw him while touring the UK visiting old diving mates in 1976 after leaving the RN.  He was teaching civilian divers in an old flooded brick quarry.


Ginger has asked for cards from anyone who cares to send one and I can supply his address on request.  I will be sending one in the spirit of branch solidarity.


1 Aug 14


FDU2 Divers in RIMPAC 2014


The Royal Navy website contains this article describing the participation of divers from Portsmouth-based Fleet Diving Unit 2 (FDU2) in the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014 off San Diego with other divers from the US, Royal Australian, Royal Canadian, Chilean, Japanese, Royal Netherlands and Royal New Zealand Navies (see entry for 23 Jul 14 in News Archive 47).  They have been taking part in night dives to find and remove mines.



More RIMPAC 2014 photos here.


HMS Bangor to the rescue again

The BBC website contains this article including a video showing HMS Bangor coming to the aid of BBC Breakfast weather presenter Carol Kirkwood when she experienced technical problems with her weather forecast graphics.



HMS Bangor (MCM1 Crew 8) is currently berthed at Plantation Quay next to the Science Centre in Glasgow (see entry for(MCM1 Crew 8) is currently berthed at Plantation Quay next to the Science Centre in Glasgow (see entry for 29 Jul 14 in News Archive 47).


Eligibility of HMS Brecon and HMS Ledbury personnel for South Atlantic Medal


From a written Ministerial Statement to the House of Lords on 29 July 2014:to the House of Lords on 29 July 2014:


Military Medals




The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): The Prime Minister appointed Sir John Holmes in April 2012 to conduct an independent review of the policy governing the award of military medals.  He issued his report in July 2012, which concluded that the existing guiding principles were reasonably based but that there should be greater readiness to review past decisions.  Sir John was therefore commissioned to review independently a number of cases which had been brought to his attention as possible candidates for changed medallic recognition.  The aim was to draw a definitive line under issues which in some cases had been controversial for many years, ensuring that consistency and fairness were respected as far as possible, in a context where the judgments are often difficult, but need to be clear and July 2012, which concluded that the existing guiding principles were reasonably based but that there should be greater readiness to review past decisions.  Sir John was therefore commissioned to review independently a number of cases which had been brought to his attention as possible candidates for changed medallic recognition.  The aim was to draw a definitive line under issues which in some cases had been controversial for many years, ensuring that consistency and fairness were respected as far as possible, in a context where the judgments are often difficult, but need to be clear and defensible.


This substantial and complex piece of work is now complete.  Each of the reviews has been subject to detailed discussion by the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals and its conclusions submitted for Royal approval.  All will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.


The outcomes where detailed reviews were carried out are listed in the Annexe to this statement.  Where medallic recognition has been agreed, the Ministry of Defence will issue guidance on how individual claims may be submitted...


The relevant Annex to the Ministerial Statement contains this passage:to the Ministerial Statement contains 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 following website provides the background to a campaign, first reported in the entry for 26 Jan 07 in News Archive 17, for the ships' companies of HMS Brecon, HMS Ledbury and the old RMS St Helena in 1982 to be awarded the South Atlantic Medal negative Rosette:


FORGOTTEN SHIPS OF THE FALKLANDS CAMPAIGN: The case for the award of the South Atlantic Medal (Without Rosette) to HMS Ledbury, HMS Brecon & The RMS St Helena


Unrelated to the South Atlantic, the Ministerial Statement also included this passage about a possible National Defence Medal and the future award of the LS&GC Medal to officers:


...Sir John also reviewed the case for a National Defence Medal.  An options paper produced by the Cabinet Office will also be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.  The Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals is not persuaded that a strong enough case can be made at this time, but has advised that this issue might usefully be reconsidered in the future.  In such circumstances, the criteria for the award of a medal would need careful consideration, including length of service, good conduct and the possibility of retrospection. In the meantime, Ministers have agreed that the eligibility requirements for the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, which is currently awarded only to other ranks and not to officers, should be harmonised for the future.


Watch this space for further developments.



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