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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.


 

 

Officially adopted by the MCDOA, AORNFCD, MWA, TCA and now the RNCDA.  We have even received a $500 AUS grant from the RANCDA.  Join our Facebook group here:

 

Project Vernon - The Mine Warfare & Diving Monument

 


17 Feb 18 - SDU2 kept busy

 

These images have been tweeted showing members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) dealing with projectiles and shells found at an aggregate yard in Shoreham yesterday.  The items were destroyed in a controlled explosion.

 

 

 

On completion, the team was due to attend another incident in Southsea.

 


16 Feb 18 - A coffee with our past-President

 

Your humble Webmaster had a delightful chat with MCDOA past-President Paddy McAlpine over a cup of coffee this morning and passed him a copy of Home Waters for which he was gracious enough to provide this foreword.  I was also charmed by Paddy's wife Janette.

 

     

 

I have ordered a consignment of books from the USA for sale in the UK and am awaiting delivery.

 


14 Feb 18 - SDU2 is a hot topic

 

Today's Portsmouth News contains this article about the work of Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) featuring MCDOA member Jonny Campbell (OIC SDU2).

 

 

Other recent items include:

 

Portsmouth divers called to help as London airport shut after Second World War bomb is found

 

IN PICTURES: Portsmouth divers attend unexploded bomb incident at London City Airport

 

Safety fears delay Royal Navy’s bid to destroy bomb at London airport

 

Navy’s ‘unsung heroes’ risk their lives every week destroying bombs

 

UPDATE: Operation to destroy London bomb to resume

 

MCDOA member Del McKnight, CO of the Fleet Diving Squadron (FDS), being interviewed at the scene of the recovery of the Second World War German 500 kg SC bomb in the KGV Dock adjacent to London City Airport.

 

 

STOP PRESS! The deed has been performed:

 

Portsmouth News: Specialist navy team from Portsmouth blow up 500kg wartime bomb

 

Daily Mail: Moment Royal Navy detonates 1,100lb WWII bomb which forced closure of London City Airport after a mammoth 72-hour operation to tow it out to sea

 

 


13 Feb 18 - Gentlemen Who Lunch

 

The MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio of Barlow Holloway and Hoole gathered at the Sussex Brewery in Emsworth today with fellow traveller Lez Howard. 

 

It being Shrove Tuesday, my next door neighbour Lez and I availed ourselves of some very tasty savoury pancakes filled with cod, salmon and prawns topped with a Mornay sauce.  Barlow said he wasn’t that hungry and just asked for two sweet pancakes with syrup instead of the standard portion of three (with a discount, of course).  These hardly touched the sides and he ended up ordering yet another portion of two pancakes because he still wasn’t hungry enough to eat three (if you see what I mean).  This left the chef with two spare sweet pancakes which Lez and I were more than happy to polish off.

 

 


12 Feb 18 - Funeral of Lt Cdr William Brian Norton RN

 

It was a full house at The Oaks Crematorium in Havant yesterday for the funeral of MCDOA member Bill 'Chippy' Norton (see entry for 22 Jan 18).  The minewarfare & diving community was represented by MCDOA members Jon Cox, Mike Kooner MBE, Jon Riches, Jim Sykes and Yours Truly as well as former CD1s Colin 'Scouse' Kidman QGM, Mick Fellows MBE DSC BEM, Don Green, Mike Handford, Chris Jones BEM, Willie Owen, Ray Ramsay and Brian 'Troy' Tempest,  The HMS Ganges Association and Freemasons were also well represented and, of course, there were many members of the family including Bill's widow Gunhild.

 

 

     

 

 

Towards the end of the service, I rang '5 Bells' on the RNCDA's travelling bell commissioned by Tony Sexton thanks to an anonymous donor, a Royal Marines bugler sounded the Last Post and Reveille and Shep Woolley, Chairman of the Ganges Association, piped the Still and Carry On.

 

Click on this image for a scanned copy of the Order of Service:

 

 

Bill's family composed this eulogy which was delivered by the Revd Derek Reeve:

 

William Brian Norton (Bill) was born on the 23rd of December 1935 in the small Northumbrian village of Ponteland to parents William and Edna Norton.  He was the elder of two children, being the brother to Richard known as Syd.  He became the man of the house at the early age of 7 following the death to TB of his father.  He was raised and educated in the County and as a boy William was especially proud of his achievements during the school holidays working on a local farm with Italian Prisoners of war.  He took to farm work so well he found himself facing the choice of full time farm work or entering an apprenticeship in Vickers shipyard which had been arranged by his uncles.

 

William however, confounding everyone, decided to join the Royal Navy and at 15 joined HMS Ganges as a Boy Seaman 2nd Class in 1951.  One particular account of many salty tales was, when as a young sailor, he was in the middle of the ocean learning navigation by the stars, he pointed out an object passing across the sky, which no one could identify, and how special he felt to later find out that the object he had identified was Sputnick.

 

He progressed through the ranks as a rating, firstly as a Gunner, but a change of career to the diving branch came about due to the Suez crisis, qualifying as a Clearance Diving Instructor along the way.  After being selected for officer training, he graduated from the Royal Naval College at Greenwich as a Sub Lt.in 1965,  He then served in a variety of appointments afloat and ashore as a Seaman Officer, specialising in Mine Warfare including Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Deep Diving operations.  His last appointment was as the Officer-in-Charge of the RN Saturation and Diving Trials Team where he was a leading pioneer in the development of diving to extreme depths.

 

After retiring as a Lieutenant Commander in 1979, he commenced a second career with Royal Dutch Shell as a subsea operations specialist, originally in the North Sea but latterly on an International basis from the head offices in The Hague.  This included three years in Nigeria and eight years in Norway.  It was during his time with Shell that he met, fell in love with, and married his beloved wife Gunhild.

 

He finally retired to a small plot of land on the Costa Del Sol in Southern Spain in June 1996, where he and Gunhild shared very happy times.  For some, simply having time to grow avocados and citrus would be a dream come true, but not so for William.  He now had the time to also dedicate himself wholeheartedly to the advancement and promotion of Freemasonry in Spain, and to his mother Lodge here in Portsmouth.  He did this with his typical single-minded determination, and derived great pleasure from seeing the results of his tutelage.

 

Unfortunately, ill health forced a return to the UK from this idyll, and after an ongoing illness he sadly passed away on the 5th of January.  William has three children, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.  Although saddened by his passing we can rejoice in the fact that he still lives on through them.

 

William Brian Norton

(23 Dec 1935 - 5 Jan 2018)

 


11 Feb 17 - STOP PRESS: Second World War bomb causes closure of London City Airport

 

The BBC News website contains this article announcing the closure of London City Airport owing to the discovery of an unexploded Second World War bomb in the adjacent King George V Dock.  Members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) are on the scene.

 

The most recent previous find was only a year ago (see entry for 20 Jan 17 in News Archive 57).

 


11 Feb 18 - Latest Rope Signal 

 

The latest issue of the Historical Diving Society (HDS) newsletter 'Rope Signal' can be accessed via this link:

 

Issue 1(2018) of the Historical Diving Society Newsletter  

 

 

I was particularly saddened to read of the death of Ray Sutcliffe, seen second left here during an HDS UK/HDS Italia working equipment weekend on Horsea Island (see entry for 29 Apr 07 in News Archive 18) and will miss our engrossing conversations.

 

 


10 Feb 18 - Steve Window installed as a Liveryman

 

Congratulations to MCDOA member Steve 'Steamy' Window (third left) on being elevated to a Liveryman of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners.

 

 

Steve informs me that he has just resigned from Simwave in Rotterdam where it was wonderful assisting in bringing Europe’s most advanced simulator centre into service.  He is returning to the UK next week and is planning to move back into mainstream maritime education.

 


9 Feb 18 - Awards of LS&GC and clasps

 

Congratulations to PO(D) Gareth 'Buffs' Buffrey on being gazetted for the award of a clasp to his Long Service & Good Conduct medal and to PO(MW) Andy 'Mickey' O’Rourke, LS(MW) Dan Baker and LS(MW) Andy Broomfield on being gazetted for the award of the Long Service & Good Conduct medal.

 


8 Feb 18 - Gentlemen Who Lunch

 

For a variety of reasons, I was the only member of the MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio available to host ex-RN CD1 Dave Humphreys for lunch at the Fox & Hounds in Denmead yesterday but we had a thoroughly enjoyable meal nonetheless.  Jackie, the establishment's landlady, provided us with a sumptuous dish of freshly-made chicken & ham pie which we washed down with a couple of pints of Doom Bar. 

 

Dave is visiting the UK from Lugarno near Sydney in Australia where he moved 20 years ago.  We are fellow members of the RNCDA and each had our challenge coin ready to produce on demand.

 

 


7 Feb 18 - RN Minewarfare Heritage: New book now printed and available to order

 

'Home Waters: Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and US Navy Mine Forces Battling U-Boats in World War I', written by your humble Webmaster in collaboration with prolific American author David Bruhn, a fellow MCMV CO in the Gulf, has now been printed and is available to order (see entry for 21 Jan 18).  I will be donating all my proceeds towards Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a monument at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth to celebrate the minewarfare & diving heritage of HMS Vernon which previously occupied the site.

 

Home Waters: Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and U.S. Navy Mine Forces Battling U-Boats in World War I

 

They Opened the Seaways by Richard DeRosset portrays a mine detonation off the port quarter of USS Richard Bulkeley.  The wooden-hulled minesweeping trawler was sunk with loss of life while participating in post-World War I clearance of the North Sea Mine Barrage stretching from the Scottish Orkney Islands to Bergen, Norway.

Book Description
In WWI under a crippling naval blockade of its North Sea ports which ultimately resulted in the starvation of thousands of its citizens and as land warfare in Europe drags on, Germany endeavours to counter-blockade Britain via U-boat attacks on shipping and by mining waters round the British Isles.  Hundreds of fishing vessels from every port and harbour in Britain are pressed into minesweeping duties and minelayers sow fields to restrict and destroy German vessels.  Their efforts allow the powerful Royal Navy to hold the German Navy in port—except for occasional skirmishes, including the Battle of Jutland.  American destroyers hunt U-boats in British waters, while minelayers create a barrier between the Orkney Islands and Norway, to try to deny the enemy entry into the Atlantic.  Desperate, Germany mounts a U-boat offensive off North America in summer 1918, to induce the U.S. to bring her destroyers home.  Although nearly one hundred vessels are sunk, this action fails.  Germany surrenders in late autumn 1918 and allied vessels are left with the deadly task of removing thousands of mines laid in the war.

 

Click here to read foreword by Dwight A. Messimer

 

Click here to read foreword by Rear Admiral Paul Ryan USN

 

Click here to read foreword by Rear Admiral Paddy McAlpine RN (MCDOA past-President)

 


6 Feb 18 - A tweet about our President

 

This photo was tweeted today by MCDOA member Justin Hains, the Commander of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG2) embarked in the survey vessel HMS Enterprise and shows him with MCDOA President Roger Readwin (Captain Mine Warfare and Patrol Vessels, Fishery Protection and Diving):

 

MCDOA member Justin Hains with MCDOA President Roger Readwin on board HMS Enterprise

somewhere in the Black Sea

 


4 Feb 18 - RN EOD Heritage: A new book from Chris Ransted

 

My old friend Chris Ransted is the author of several magazine articles and books about EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) including Bomb Disposal and the British Casualties of WW2 and Disarming Hitler's V Weapons: Bomb Disposal - The V1 & V2 Rockets.

 

Chris has just published his latest meticulously researched contribution to the genre.  Bomb Disposal in World War Two covers all aspects of this topic including the work of HMS Vernon-trained RN, RNVR and RANVR bomb & mine disposal personnel who amassed 23 George Crosses (the UK’s second highest award for gallantry) and at least 134 George Medals (including 16 bars) during operations at sea and on land throughout the UK and further afield.

 

     

Front and back covers of Bomb Disposal in World War Two

by Chris Ransted

 

Here is the flyleaf blurb:

 

For this book, Chris Ransted has researched some of the lesser known events and personalities relating to the early years of Explosive Ordnance Disposal in the UK.  Daring acts of cold blooded bravery, and ingenuity in the face of life threatening technical challenges, are recounted throughout the book. 

 

Included are numerous previously unpublished accounts and photographs that describe the disarming of German bombs, parachute mines, and even allied bombs found at aircraft crash sites. In addition, the book contains the most comprehensive account ever published of the Home Guard's role with the Auxiliary Bomb Disposal Units, and details of conscientious objectors' involvement with unexploded bombs.

 

This is not only a valuable research tool for serious researchers already well read on the subject, but also a fascinating read for those with no previous knowledge of wartime bomb disposal at all, and of course a must read for anyone interested in the subject.

 

Chris dedicates an entire chapter to mine disposal operations and even mentions the MCDOA in the acknowledgements:

 

     

 

This book is not only a highly recommended read but is also a useful reference source for anyone interested in our bomb & mine disposal heritage.  Less expensive copies are available to order online here..

 


2 Feb 18 - RN Diver EOD training at DEMS

 

The Forces Network website contains this article, including an informative video, describing the training of RN divers in Elementary Underwater Explosive Ordnance Disposal at the Defence EOD, Munitions and Search Training Regiment (DEMS) at Bicester in Oxfordshire (see entry for 17 May 15 in News Archive 50).  The article and video feature LS(D) Ed Maddy, AB David Kerrigan, AB Euan Wallace and AB Jamie Trickett.

 

 

 

 

 


1 Feb 18 - Calling old JUFAIR hands

 

 

Members of this group will be aware that the new UK support facility in Bahrain is to be re-commissioned as HMS JUFAIR.  The UKMCC (Maritime Component Command) HQ, which will have responsibility for the move into JUFAIR and the running of the facility, would like to combine the old with the new ensuring that the rich history of the previous HMS JUFAIR is fully recognised in the new establishment.  However, making contact with those who served in the old HMS JUFAIR has proved difficult.

 

If anyone has any memorabilia or photos they would be willing to gift or stories to share from their time there, please email Cdr Ceri Marsh, the Legal Advisor to UKMCC & CMF, via this address.  She will take copies of photos, etc., and return them to the owner if preferred.

 


31 Jan 18 - Former WO(MW) Terry Briggs becomes a Beefeater

 

Congratulations to Terry 'Basher' Briggs on his installation as the 408th Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London as reported in this article on the Royal Navy website.

 

 

Terry joins former CPO(MW) Garry Burridge who was installed as a Yeoman Warder last year (see entry for 14 Aug 17 in News Archive 59).

 

 


30 Jan 18 - Recent Tweets

 

Click on the linked dates for all associated photos:

 

Capt MFP

 

30 Jan 18 - Congratulations to newly promoted Warrant Officer (Mine Warfare) Cashman of MCM 1 being presented his new rank slides by MCM 1 Chief of Staff Lt Cdr Mabbott.  Richly deserved & recognition for the many years of dedication & leadership in the Naval Service.

 

MCDOA member Keith Mabbott presenting WO(MW) Brian 'Cash' Cashman

with his new rank slides

 

HMS Middleton

 

26 Jan 18 - Marine Engineer Dept presented with a Herbert Lott Efficiency Award by COMUKMCMFOR for their superb teamwork in 2017 from regeneration of the unit to refit and keeping the ship 'on task' through the run-up to live ops in the Arabian Gulf.

 

26 Jan 18 - Commander COMUKMCMFOR presents Able Seaman Barlow with his new epaulettes on his promotion to Leading Seaman (Mine Warfare).

 

LS(MW) Barlow being presented with his new rank slides by COMUKMCMFOR in Bahrain

 

24 Jan 18 - UKMCC Chaplain Martin Evans visited MCM2 Crew 2 for the final time, on board HMS Middleton, prior to handing over to Father David Conroy in Feb 18.

 

15 Jan 18 - After 7 months, Lt Cdr Anthony Pimm (MCM2 Crew 4) hands over Command of HMS Middleton to Lt Cdr Daniel Morris (MCM2 Crew 2)

 

MCDOA member Dan Morris taking over Command of HMS Middleton from Tony Pimm in Bahrain

 

HMS Penzance

 

22 Jan 18 - Today Crew 1 moved back to PENZANCE and have begun to prepare to return to sea.

 

18 Jan 18 - We have now completed our handover to Crew 8 and Lt Cdr P Ware RN has assumed command of RAMSEY.  Crew 1 will return to PENZANCE and prepare her to go back to sea in the coming weeks.

 

17 Jan 18 - Proud to be flying our Fleet Efficiency pennant as we handover RAMSEY to Crew 8.

 

HMS Blyth

 

15 Jan 18 - Lt Cdr Ben Evans assumes command from Lt Cdr Will Blackett of HMS BANGOR with (MCM1 Crew 2) relieve (MCM1 Crew 6) after a 7 month deployment.  MCM1 Crew 2 will be working hard on ops in the region before sailing HMS BANGOR home later in 2018.

 

Lt Cdr Ben Evans taking over Command of HMS Bangor from Lt Cdr Will Blackett in Bahrain

 

HMS Pembroke

 

26 Jan 18 - What a view - team PEMBROKE get to take part in RNWSA ski championships.  MCMVs really do get to go where others don’t!

 

25 Jan 18 - Some members of Crew 5 have been experiencing skiing and snowboarding as part of the Royal Navy championship.  Great views, great opportunities, life without limits!  There are many ways to keep Navy fit!

 

NATO Maritime Command

 

18 Jan 18 - Welcome to Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 HMS Cattistock!

 


27 Jan 18 - SNMCMG2 hosts British Ambassador in Turkey

 

Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG2) is commanded by MCDOA member Justin Hains embarked in the survey vessel HMS Enterprise.  It has tweeted these images of Justin greeting Sir Dominick Chilcott KCMG, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Turkey, for lunch and discussion with local officials on board HMS Enterprise alongside at Sinop in the Black Sea today.  Other guests included our Defence Attaché.

 

 

(SNMCMG2 photos)

 

 


26 Jan 18 - Funeral of ex-CPO(D) Len Smith

 

I am grateful to MCDOA member John O'Driscoll MBE for this message following his attendance of Len's funeral in Bodmin yesterday (see entry for 8 Jan 18):

 

"Hi Rob,

 

I attended Len's funeral as discussed.  A very simple and moving occasion with a good turnout from the Branch.  Dave Forsey was in attendance along with about eight old friends.  Brian 'Bill' Cornick was co-ordinating and took a variety of photos which he will send along with a more detailed account.

 

All the best.

 

Yours aye,

 

John"

 

CD1 Course BCD 15 1965

(Courtesy of Alf Slingsby)

Back row: Bob 'Tug' Wilson, Mike Handford, Noddy McGrath, Smudge Smith, Dickie Radford, South African, Alf Slingsby

Front row: John Cobb, Len Smith, Instructors, Ken Blaylock, Tom King, Bill 'Chippy' Norton, Brian 'Bill' Cornick 

 

 Jan Johns has kindly sent me the Order of Service.  Click on this image to open it.

 

 


From Brian 'Bill' Cornick:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

Len's funeral was well attended by family and friends.  A number of his old lodge friends were there and Gillian was supported by family.

 

I am very glad to say that the branch supported well and the following were there:

 

Dave Forsey* and his son Paul

John O'Driscoll*

Tom Norman

Spike Wheeler

Cris Ballinger

Jan Johns

Mick Kester

Rocky Stone

 

[* MCDOA members]

 

(Photo courtesy of Helen Forsey)

 

It was wonderful to see Elsie Alderton there too.  Spike read the eulogy.  Even though he was very nervous, he did the branch well in all he recalled.

 

We all went back to a pub to see him off afterwards and I left them all drinking his health (though in tea for some of them).

 

I would personally like to thank all who attended as indeed would Gillian.  A special thanks to Nigel Davies who could not make the service but is popping in on Saturday to see Gillian.

 

The bugler was a chap called Paul Uzzell who played the Last Post very well indeed.  He can be contacted on 077 9885 5385 and is very willing to assist if anyone needs him.

 

Best Regards,

 

Bill Cornick"

 


23 Jan 18 - SDG divers on bow of QEC carrier

 

I am grateful to MCDOA member Sean 'Central' Heaton, CO of Southern Diving Group (SDG), for allowing me to publish this image of members of his team standing on the bulbous bow of one of our two new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.

 

 


22 Jan 18 - Arrangements for the funeral of Lt Cdr William Brian Norton RN

 

The funeral of MCDOA member Bill 'Chippy' Norton (see entry for 6 Jan 18) will be held at 1215 on Monday 12 February at The Oaks Crematorium, Havant with a reception to follow at the Royal Naval Club and Royal Albert Yacht Club (RNC & RAYC) in Pembroke Road, Old Portsmouth. 

 

Family flowers only but donations to Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a monument at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth to celebrate the minewarfare & diving heritage of HMS Vernon which previously occupied the site, are requested in lieu. The monument will act as a tribute to personnel involved in such operations - past, present and future including Bill himself - and be a fitting memorial to those who have lost their lives undertaking such hazardous duties.

 


21 Jan 18 - Another minewarfare book in the offing

 

'Home Waters: Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and US Navy Mine Forces Battling U-Boats in World War I', written by your humble Webmaster in collaboration with prolific American author David Bruhn, is currently at the printers.  Advance orders are being accepted online but I will be taking orders for copies, inscribed if desired, when I receive my first consignment, thus saving the cost of postage from the USA (see entry for 16 Nov 17 in News Archive 60).

 

The cover of Home Waters shows 'They Opened the Seaways' by marine artist Richard DeRosset.  It depicts a mine detonation off the port quarter of the British-built Mersey class minesweeping trawler USS Richard Bulkeley.  The wooden-hulled vessel was sunk with the loss of her Commanding Officer and six crew members while engaged in post-First World War clearance of the North Sea Mine Barrage stretching from the Orkney Islands to Bergen, Norway.

 

 

'They Opened the Seaways' by Richard DeRosset

 

David and I have now started working on 'Night Raiders: US Navy, Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy, and Royal Netherlands Navy Mine Forces Battling the Japanese in World War II'.  As before, the cover art has been produced by Richard DeRosset and it is called “Mining the Tokyo Express”.

 

'Mining the Tokyo Express' by Richard DeRosset

 

The painting depicts the minelaying destroyers USS Tracy, USS Montgomery (shielded from view by the Tracy) and USS Preble laying mines off Guadalcanal on the night of 1 February 1943 in an attempt to prevent an approaching force of 19 Japanese destroyers from evacuating enemy troops from the island.

 

As before, I will be donating my proceeds towards  Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a monument at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth to celebrate the minewarfare & diving heritage of HMS Vernon which previously occupied the site.

 


12 Jan 18 - HMS Cattistock deploys for NATO duties in the Baltic

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting yesterday's departure from Portsmouth of HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew 8 commanded by MCDOA member Charlie Wheen) to join Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) as part of a three-month deployment to the Baltic Sea.

 

 


10 Jan 18 - NATO Maritime Groups

 

An informative graphic showing the various activities of the four NATO Maritime Groups, including Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Groups 1 and 2 (SNMCMG1 and SNMCMG2), during 2017:

 

 


9 Jan 18 - A reunion with Allan Rankin

 

Mrs Webmaster and I enjoyed a leisurely afternoon tea at the Queens Hotel in Southsea yesterday with Allan and Marie-Louise Rankin (visiting from Australia), Martyn and Ann Holloway and Colin and Jo Welborn.  We blokes were all single MCDO 'livers-in' together at HMS VERNON during the 1970s.

 

 


8 Jan 18 - Arrangements for the funeral of ex-CPO(CD1) Len Smith

 

Brian 'Bill' Cornick has informed me that Len's funeral will take place at 1230 on Thursday 25 January at Bodmin Crematorium (see entry for 1 Jan 18).

 


7 Jan 18 - Diver discovers Royal Navy submarine graveyard off Tabarka, Tunisia

 

I am grateful to MCDOA past-President Colin Welborn for this message:

 

"Dear Rob,

 

Happy New Year to you and L.

 

You have probably seen this article:

 

The Times: Diver discovers Royal Navy submarine graveyard off Tabarka, Tunisia

 

Regards,

 

Colin"

 

The Times article is behind a paywall but this article on the Daily Mail website contains the same story:

 

Belgian amateur diver believes he has discovered the wrecks of six Royal Navy submarines in a Second World War graveyard off the Tunisian coast

 

It describes how an amateur diver may have found the previously undiscovered wrecks of six British submarines (TALISMAN, TIGRIS, TURBULENT, UTMOST, USURPER, P48 and P222) and a seventh believed to be Italian, all lost during the Second World War.  They are suspected to have been the victims of mines.

 

 

As shown in this detail from Volume II of 'British Mining Operations' 1939-1945, the area to the east of Tabarka was mined extensively by the British and Axis Powers during the Second World War:

 

 

 


6 Jan 18 - Death of Lt Cdr William Brian 'Chippy' Norton RN

 

I have just been informed by MCDOA member Bill Norton's wife Gunhild that he passed away last night.  I published this photo showing him as a Petty Officer on CD2 course as recently as 7 Dec 17 but you will find many more references to him if you type "Norton" into the search box on the website's Home page:

 

CD2 Course DCD 14

Back row: Bob Fraser, Anthony 'Charlie' Charlwood BEM, Instructor Bernard 'Donkey' Bray BEM*,

Roy 'Blondie' Rees and Vern Gibbons

Front row: Brian 'Ben' Gunnell, Bill 'Chippy' Norton, Pete Lumbis and P 'General' Booth

 

Bill was an old style 'Steamer' (standard diver) who qualified as a D3 at the RN Diving School in Chatham in the 1950s.  He was a Ldg Seaman (D2) in HMS Victorious in 1960/61 and converted to CD* as an Acting Petty Officer in 1962/63.  Commissioned in 1966, he undertook the MCD conversion course in 1968 before relieving MCDOA member John Coggins MBE as EODO of the Far East Fleet CD Team in Singapore until 1970.  Originally nicknamed 'Chipping' Norton after the town of the same name, this was misinterpreted as 'Chippy' so often that it stuck. 

 

Bill left the Royal Navy as an Honorary Lt Cdr in 1978 after running the Saturation Diving Team among other jobs.  He pursued a second career in the offshore gas and oil production industry and met Gunhild while working in Norway.  On finally retiring, he and Gunhild lived in a villa in southern Spain for several years although he retained a pied-à-terre in Portsmouth. 

 

In November 2006, Bill commissioned a replica set of medals awarded to the then recently deceased MCDOA Honorary Member Lt Cdr Robbie Robinson MBE.  He presented these, together with a framed photograph and biography, to fellow MCDOA member Chris Lade, the then CO of the Defence Diving School, in the wardroom at HMS Excellent so they might be displayed in the school as an inspiration to staff and trainees.

 

     

 

In October 2007, Mrs Webmaster and I had the privilege of spending time with Bill and Gunhild at a Trafalgar Night dinner hosted by fellow MCDOA member Jon Cox and his wife Karin at their nearby villa in Spain.  The following day, we all visited Cape Trafalgar on the 202nd anniversary of Nelson's final battle.

 

Trafalgar Night Dinner - Spanish Style     Trafalgar Night Dinner - Spanish Style

Trafalgar Night Dinner - Spanish Style

 

Jon Cox, Rob Hoole, Joe Isaacs and Bill Norton at Trafalgar Bicentenary Monument     Joe Isaacs, Rob Hoole, Jon Cox and Bill Norton at Cape Trafalgar 21 October 2007

Left: Jon Cox, Rob Hoole, Joe Isaacs and Bill Norton at Trafalgar Bicentenary Monument

Right: Joe Isaacs, Rob Hoole, Jon Cox and Bill Norton at Cape Trafalgar 21 October 2007

 

In July 2011, Bill was present for the formal unveiling of the Reclaim conference room at Fleet Diving HQ on Horsea Island:

 

 

MCDOA members Bob Lusty, Rob Hoole and Bill 'Chippy' Norton at unveiling of Reclaim

conference room at Fleet Diving HQ on 26 July 2011

 

In November of the same year Bill escorted Kate, the widow of former Superintendent of Diving Guy Worsley OBE, plus his son Mark and daughter Claire, for a presentation of memorabilia in the Reclaim Room at Fleet Diving HQ on Horsea Island.  

 

Mark Atkinson (then MCDOA Chairman & SofD) receiving an album of lists, hand-written

 in copper plate, of deep divers who qualified on board HMS Reclaim from Kate, the widow

of Guy Worsley OBE (SofD 1971-82) while Rob Hoole and Bill 'Chippy' Norton look on

 

In August 2012, Bill visited the Historical Diving Society's museum (founded by MCDOA associate member John Bevan) at Stokes Bay where he was reunited with his old friend and colleague John Dadd BEM:

 

Bill Norton with John Dadd at the HDS

Diving Museum on 25 August 2012

 

In August 2013, Bill visited the Historical Diving Society's museum again and was reunited with his old friend and colleague Dusty Miller, another of the volunteer guides.  As before, he donated a significant quantity of books and other memorabilia to the HDS museum and its associated library in Gosport.

 

Ex-CD1 Dusty Miller and Bill 'Chippy' Norton at the HDS Diving Museum

on 25 August 2013

 

Bill and Gunhild returned to the UK in 2015 after Bill, who had already survived throat cancer, fell ill again and required major surgery.  I took this photo of him at the time:

 

Bill Norton at home on 2 October 2015

 

Bill was not only an active member of the MCDOA but he was also a keen supporter of Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a monument at Gunwharf Quays to commemorate the minewarfare & diving heritage of HMS Vernon which previously occupied the site.  This will also act as a fitting memorial to those killed in the course of their duties and celebrate the achievements of RN and other personnel involved in minewarfare, diving and explosive ordnance disposal - past, present and future.  Despite being confined to a wheelchair, Bill even brought his family to support my sponsored abseil down the Spinnaker Tower to help raise funds for the Vernon Monument in August 2016.

 

The Norton family at Gunwharf Quays on 28 August 2016

 

This photo shows Bill in August last year in the Old Customs House pub at Gunwharf Quays (formerly the Captain's offices in HMS Vernon) after the funeral of MCDO John Hendrick.  The group includes John's son Jon, a former Lt Cdr (S) submariner.

 

Left to right: Chris Jones, Bob Lusty, Jon Hendrick, Jim 'Tommo' Thomson, David Hilton,

John Dadd and Yours Truly (Rob Hoole) with Bill 'Chippy' Norton sitting front and centre 

 

I am sure all members of our community will extend our deepest sympathy to Bill's wife Gunhild and their family, particularly Bill's son Bill Jr and daughter Vivienne.  I will publish funeral details as and when they become available.

 


From MCDOA member Jon Cox:

 

"Rob,

 

Thank you for passing the very sad news of Bill Norton’s death.  He was a former Boss and, more lately over the past ten years or so, a good friend living just an hour from us in southern Spain.  I spent many very enjoyable evenings with him and Gunhild over the past few years.  After lighting the fuse, I would sit back and listen to the stories regarding all the greats of the branch.  He was always generous in his praise and admiration of his fellow stalwarts.

 

Please let me know when the funeral will be as I shall make every effort to be there to pay my respects.

 

Yours,

 

Jon"

 

My photo of Jon and Karin Cox hosting Bill and Gunhild Norton at their villa near Cadiz in southern Spain in October 2007:

 

 


From former CPO(CD1) Alf Slingsby:

 

CD1 Course BCD 15 1965

Back row: Bob 'Tug' Wilson, Mike Handford, Noddy McGrath, Smudge Smith, Dickie Radford, South African, Alf Slingsby

Front row: John Cobb, Len Smith, Instructors, Ken Blaylock, Tom King, Bill 'Chippy' Norton, Brian 'Bill' Cornick

 

Alf's course photo shows him standing far right with recently deceased Len Smith (standing back row centre) and Bill 'Chippy' Norton (sitting second right).

 


From MCDOA member Ralph Mavin:

 

"Dear Rob,

 

It is with very great regret I received the news of Bill’s death.  He was my course officer when I qualified as a CD Basic before doing the long MCDO Course in 1972.  He was always very supportive during my time as IOMCD particularly when I was assisting over at RNPL.

 

After I left the Service and joined DofEN we met on many occasions, not always on the same side but, always with good humour.  Bill was a true gentleman, with great dignity and will be sadly missed by many.

 

My sincere condolences go to his family.

 

 Regards,

 

Ralph"

 


From MCDOA member Peter Waddington:

 

"Rob,

 

I was very sad to hear of Bill Norton's passing.

 

I first met him when we were fellow students on the MCD Conversion Course in the Autumn of 1967, and he worked under me in the Diving Section when I was I Diving and subsequently MCD Training Officer in Vernon in 1970-72.  We got on very well together, and I was pleased to be able to "unblock" his long overdue promotion to Lieutenant, for which he expressed his gratitude.

 

I don't know his wife, whom I have only met very briefly, but please convey my sincere condolences.

 

Regards,

 

Peter"

 


4 Jan 18 - Bomb disposal squad detonates mortar bomb on Norfolk beach

 

The Eastern Daily Press website contains this article and the Great Yarmouth Mercury website this article describing today's disposal of a mortar bomb washed up on the beach yesterday at Winterton-on-Sea in Norfolk.  Neither article identifies the EOD team involved but MCDOA member Andy Ward advises me it was Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2).

 

Mortar bomb discovered on Winterton beach

(Picture: HM Coastguard Gorleston) 

 


2 Jan 18 - Funeral of former CPO(CD1) Donald Albert Bray

 

This morning's Thanksgiving Service for the life of Don 'Donkey' Bray was a low-key affair bereft of any hymns or personal readings.  The Eulogy was delivered by independent officiator Deborah McGregor who also said Prayers and performed the Committal.  Acompanying music comprised Home Away from Home by James Galway, There You'll Be by Faith Hill and South of the Border by Dean Martin.

 

The CD Branch was represented by Tony Candler, John Dadd BEM, Chris 'Paddy' Doonan, Mick Fellows MBE DSC BEM, Don 'Jimmy' Green, Mike Handford, Rob Hoole, Colin 'Scouse' Kidman QGM, Mike O'Meara, Eric Piper, Ray Ramsay, Ted Setchell and Brian 'Troy' Tempest.

 

Mick Fellows, Mike Handford, John Dadd, Rob Hoole, Don 'Jimmy' Green,

Colin 'Scouse' Kidman, Ted Setchell and Mike O'Meara

 

  

Left: Don's daughter Liz Blanksby with her foster son Josh

Right: Don's daughter Liz Blanksby flanked by her sons Josh and Matt

 

After the service, a reception was held at the Lee-on-the-Solent Conservative Club.

 

Donald Albert Bray

(11 Feb 1929 - 10 Dec 2017)

 


1 Jan 18 - STOP PRESS! Deaths of Don 'Donkey' Bray and Len Smith

 

Not the best way to start the New Year but I have only just heard from Eamon 'Ginge' Fullen QGM that ex-CPO(CD1) Don 'Donkey' Bray passed away on 10 December.  His funeral will be held tomorrow (Tue 2 Jan) at 1115 at Portchester Crematorium.

 

Don 'Donkey' Bray (second left) with John Bevan, John Dadd BEM, Mike O'Meara and Chris Crask

at the RN CD Branch's 60th Anniversary reunion dinner in March 2012

 

To make it a truly sickly season, Brian 'Bill' Cornick has informed me that former CPO(CD1) Len Smith (aka 'Nautilus') passed away on Saturday night.  More details to follow.

 

I am sure that all members of our community will join me in expressing our deepest condolences to the families and close friends of Donkey and Len.

 


From MCDOA member John O'Driscoll MBE:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

I hope the New Year has started well for you.

 

I will be attending Len Smith's funeral on the 25th at Bodmin.  I knew him well when he was serving.  A very special man who had been paralysed from the waist down by a bend whilst diving with Tony Phipps on a helicopter.  He fought back to fitness to pass his CD1's course and went on to run his own diving centre in Falmouth.

 

All the best to you and yours for the coming year.

 

Yours aye,

 

John"

 


28 Dec 17 - SNMCMG2 flagship in dry dock in Malta

 

I am grateful to local photographer Anthony Vella for allowing me to publish these images of the survey ship HMS Enterprise arriving in Malta on 21 December.  The second and third photos show her sister ship HMS Echo in the background.

 

HMS Enterprise has been acting as the flagship of MCDOA member Justin Hains in his role as Commander Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG2) (see entry for 26 Nov 17 in News Archive 60).  The ship is currently in Palumbo Shipyard's No.5 Dock in Grand Harbour, Valletta.

 

 

     

 

 


25 Dec 17 - Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our followers, particularly those separated from their loved ones over the festive season including our ships and other forces currently deployed in the Gulf on Operation KIPION.

 

 

 

 


24 Dec 17 - Paul Jones visits HMS Queen Elizabeth

 

MCDOA past-Chairman Paul Jones has been visiting the UK from Cyprus over Christmas and took the opportunity to look over HMS Queen Elizabeth thanks to MCDOA member Bob Hawkins (QNLZ's First Lt) and Trish Chatfield (QNLZ's OOD on the day).

 

 

 

 


23 Dec 17 - Yule the Waves greetings from ships in the Gulf

 

The following Facebook videos contain seasonal greetings from MCMVs deployed in the Gulf on Operation KIPION:

 

Merry Christmas from HMS Ledbury (MCM2 Crew 7)

 

 

HMS Middleton Christmas Messages (MCM2 Crew 4)

 

HMS Bangor Christmas Messages (MCM1 Crew 6)

 


22 Dec 17 - Forthcoming resurrection of HMS Jufair

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article describing the final preparations for the re-commissioning of HMS Jufair as an RN base at Mina Salman in Bahrain (see entry for 14 Nov 16 in News Archive 56).

 

Cdre Steve Dainton CBE (Deputy Commander Combined Maritime Forces (DCCMF) and

Commander United Kingdom Maritime Component Command (UKMCC)) showing Defence

Secretary Gavin Williamson around HMS Jufair's accommodation and welfare buildings

 

The original HMS Jufair was commissioned at Bahrain on 1 January 1943 as the base of the Senior Naval Officer Persian Gulf until paying off on 31 August 1946.  SNO Persian Gulf was then embarked in the sloop HMS Wild Goose until moving back ashore on 30 August 1950.  HMS Jufair, the new shore base, was in commission from 7 November 1955 until 15 December 1971 and was home to the 9th MSS (Minesweeping Squadron) from April 1963 to October 1971.  The site has since been home to the US Navy's Central Command (CENTCOM).

 


21 Dec 17 - Neil Marriott receives LS&GC

 

Congratulations to MCDOA member Neil Marriott who has been presented with his Long Service & Good Conduct medal and clasp at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa by Lt Gen Alain J. Parent CMM CD MSS, Vice Chief of the Canadian Defence Staff.

 

 

Neil is currently serving in Ottawa as the British Naval Attaché.

 


20 Dec 17 - HMS Ramsey awarded MCMV Fleet Effectiveness Trophy

 

 

Congratulations to HMS Ramsey (MCM1 Crew 1) on being awarded the the MCMV Fleet Effectivness Trophy for 2017 in recognition of her hard work and extensive time deployed away from home. 

 


19 Dec 17 - RN Diving Heritage: Disposal of Herman bomb in Malta

 

I am grateful to former FCPO(D) Dave 'Mona' Lott BEM in Australia for this message:

 

"G’day Rob, my honourable webmaster,

 

Rob, I was hunting among some of my old paperwork and came across the attached photos of the German ‘Herman’ bomb that the Med Fleet Clearance Diving Team recovered from the torpedo jetty 25th May 1960.  This is the bomb that we had trouble disposing of (see pages 86/87) of my scribbling's in “A Corkheads’s Chronicle”.  You can clearly see the steel bars that bent under the weight of the bomb.  Also depicted in the photo are Lt Jackie Rea, in his best suit minus jacket (improperly dressed), CPO Ernie Foggin CD1, L/Sea Ron Hartshorn, and ABs Chris Jones (with unlit cigarette) and Peter Power (top of head).  I was the team’s photographer armed with a “Pussers” Leica Camera and therefore do not appear.  

 

 

This may, or may not be, worth space on your website however it was unusual for us to go more than a day without dealing with wartime explosives.

 

 

Sadly with the passing of time there are only a couple from those times in the Med Fleet Clearance Diving team from those days that are still around to view the photos.  

 

Sincere regards and have a Happy Christmas and and a Good New Year.  Many thanks for your website.  It often revives pleasant old memories of a great branch of which I am proud to have been a member. 

 

Dave L (Mona)

Eden, NSW, Au."

 

Copies of Dave’s book are available via Amazon here:

 

A Corkhead's Chronicle: Experiences of a Royal Navy Clearance Diver 1955 - 76

 


18 Dec 17 - MCM2 Crew 3 takes over HMS Brocklesby

 

MCM2 Crew 3 has taken over HMS Brocklesby from MCM2 Crew 2 (commanded by MCDOA member Daniel “Doc” Morris) at Portsmouth and is preparing to deploy to the Gulf in 2018.

 

 


17 Dec 17 - Jason White visits Japan

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article describing a recent visit by MCDOA member Jason White QGM, CO of the Portsmouth-based Fleet Diving Group(FDG), to Japan to to join the Maritime Self Defence Force on a minewarfare exercise.

 

 

 

 


16 Dec 18 - Gulf mine forces link up for final workout of 2017

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article and the US Navy website this article describing how the Royal Navy's entire Bahrain-vased Middle East minewarfare force of five ships (HMS Bangor (MCM 1 Crew 6), HMS Blyth (1/8), HMS Ledbury (2/7) and HMS Middleton (2/4) with their mother ship RFA Cardigan Bay) and a command team linked up with American robot boats and the minehunter USS Gladiator to conduct the final joint Mine Countermeasures Exercise (MCMEX) of the year.

 

     

 

 

     

 


15 Dec 17 - HMS Atherstone and HMS Quorn paid off

 

The Forces Network website contains this article reporting yesterday's private decommissioning of HMS Atherstone and HMS Quorn in the Ship Hall in Portsmouth Naval Base (see first entry for 13 Nov 17 in News Archive 60).  Several former COs were present including Rear Admiral Paul Bennett CB OBE, a former CO of HMS Atherstone, who read a valedictory.

 

HMS Atherstone

 

HMS Atherstone's bell

 

HMS Atherstone

 

HMS Quorn

 

Images courtesy of Richard Pethybridge, another former CO of HMS Atherstone.

 


14 Dec 17 - SDU2 awarded 'Millie'

 

Congratulations to Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) on being awarded The Sun military award for the 'Hero At Home: Unit' category last night as reported in this article on The Sun website, this article on the Royal Navy website and this article on the Forces Network website.  The group in the first photo includes MCDOA members Sean 'Central' Heaton (CO SDG) and Jonny Campbell (OIC SDU2),

 

Countryfile’s Anita Rani and rugby player Jamie George presenting the award to SDU2

 

Lorraine Kelly with members of SDU2

 

Hollyoaks actress Jorgie Porter with members of SDU2

 

PO(D) Toby Jones was nominated for a Millie in the 'Hero at Home: Individual' category for his actions while serving in HMS Tyne as described in this article (including video) on The Sun website but the award went to Lt Jared Bambridge, the off-duty Army officer who gave first-aid to the victims of the London Bridge terror attack.

 

 

PO(D) Toby Jones with HMS Tyne

 


12 Dec 17 - Lunch on board HMS Cattistock

 

 

Your humble webmaster enjoyed a splendid lunch on board HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew 8) today with fellow MCDOA members Charlie Wheen (her current CO) and Pat Gale (her first CO).  The ship was alongside in No.2 Basin in Portsmouth Naval Base and we were escorted from Trfalgar Gate by Sub Lts Oscar Klappholz and Tom Adlam.  Thanks, guys.

 

 

After nattering with Charlie in his cabin for a while, we were given a tour of the ship.

 

 

We were particularly impressed by the enthusiasm and friendliness of those we met including PO(MW) Jimmy Green (ORS), seen here:

 

 

Other key MW & Diving figures on board include PO(D) Jim Craker (Coxswain), PO(MW) Jay Buckley (Boatswain), LS(D) Karl 'Ackers' Atkin (Diving Storekeeper) and LS(MW) 'Pinky' Perkins (CBM).  We were then invited to lunch in the wardroom courtesy of Bob Stone-Ward (XO) and enjoyed an excellent three-course meal prepared by Ldg Chef Emmanuel Craig and served by Std 'Charlie' Drake.  I was seated next to Lt Justin Magalas (OPS) on exchange from the US Navy and much enjoyed his observations.

 

 

James Silcock, the Navigator, was called away on duty when the above photo was taken but I managed to capture him on his return.

 

 

After lunch, we were blessed with the company of newly installed MCDOA President Roger Readwin (Capt MFP) and MCDOA member Del McKnight (CO FDS) who had ceremonially rowed the outgoing Commodore Portsmouth Flotilla (COMPORFLOT) across No.2 Basin in a gig.

 

     

 

At a 'Clear Lower Deck' on the forecastle, Pat was honoured to be invited to present a Herbert Lott award to Ldg Chef Emmanuel Craig for his leadership of a team catering for HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH's inaugural arrival in Portsmouth and I presented the ship with a copy of the TCA's publication 'Last of the Wooden Walls - An Illustrated History of the TON Class Minesweepers & Minehunters'. 

 

 

 

     

 

 

     

 

Before we left, we watched HMS Brocklesby arriving to join HMS Cattistock, HMS Hurworth and HMS Chiddingfold alongside in No.2 Basin.  HMS Atherstone and HMS Quorn are in the ship hall and will be decommissioned on Thursday ready for disposal.

 

     

 

Pat and I were made to feel truly welcome by Charlie and his entire ship's company.  A huge thank you to one and all.  You and your ship are a credit to the Service.  Merry Christmas!

 


10 Dec 17 - Latest Rope Signal

 

 

The latest issue of the Historical Diving Society (HDS) newsletter 'Rope Signal' can be accessed via this link:

 

Rope Signal issue 18 dated 10 December 2017

 

 


9 Dec 17 - Annual MCM Conference

 

I have just stumbled upon this photo of MCM Conference delegates tweeted by Capt MFP (MCDOA President Roger Readwin) on 28 November.

 

 

Capt MFP's accompanying caption stated:

 

"Annual RN MCM Conference - superb to share ideas & explore opportunities to sustain our MCM output into the 21st Century.  BZ to all the speakers - much food for thought on current & future MCM issues."

 


8 Dec 17 - RANCDA Magazine

 

I was privileged to receive my second issue of the Australian Navy Diver magazine yesterday.  It is published by the RAN Clearance Divers' Association (RANCDA) and is very impressive in every way.  The RNCDA is to be congratulated on its professional quality and the brilliant articles it contains.

 

     

 


7 Dec 17 - Former CD1 Roy 'Blondie' Rees

 

I received this message earllier in the week:

 

"I have been trying to do a bit of research on my father Roy Evan Rees or “Blondie” as he was known.  He retired from the Royal Navy in 1971 but was a CD class 1 and an instructor at HMS Drake.  He is on the right of the picture of George Wookey being prepared for his record deep dive [see 'HMS Reclaim - A World Record-Breaker' in the website's Dit Box]

 

 

Sadly my father died several years ago.  It would be great if you could remind any veterans of my father as he was latterly an instructor at HMS Drake.  He loved HMS Reclaim and regaled me with many tales.  We were in Singapore for two years 1967-69.

 

Kind Regards,

 

Alastair

 

Alastair R Rees MA (Hons) FSA Scot MCiFA"

 

I was notified of the death of Roy 'Blondie' Rees by his daughter-in-law's brother Clark Christie in 2008 and publshed an announcement at the time (see entry for 15 Aug 08 in News Archive 23).

 


From former FCPO(D) Dave 'Mona' Lott BEM:

 

"G’day Rob and Alastair,

 

Firstly, Alastair, may I express my sincere belated regrets on my previously unknown passing of your father, he was a great character who always wore a warm smile, and was genuinely enthusiastic about life.  

 

I dug around among my old diving memorabilia and found this photo of your father (an ex-Steamer/Copperhead) on course for Clearance Diver 2nd class in the Corkhead’s Branch.  Sadly there are only a couple from those lined up in the photo that still remain.  Fraser, Charlwood, Booth and Bray are also departures and the only two that I know that are still surviving are Gunnell and Norton.  In fact there are generally major losses from all of those from around that vintage.

 

CD2 Course DCD 14

Back row: Bob Fraser, Anthony 'Charlie' Charlwood BEM, Instructor Bernard 'Donkey' Bray BEM*,

Roy 'Blondie' Rees and Vern Gibbons

Front row: Brian 'Ben' Gunnell, Bill 'Chippy' Norton, Pete Lumbis and P 'General' Booth

 

I can’t give you a date for this photo but a date of qualifying on your dad’s diving documents for qualifying should give you an indication.  

 

I have a copy of the deep diving record-breaking photo on HMS Reclaim that you mentioned; a great ship, and I spent many Experimental Diving trial periods on board her.

 

I served in the RN between 1951 and 1976 and am now a resident of Australia.   I have also seen a photo of your dad helping George Wookey to get dressed prior for his record dive but I cannot recall where I saw it.  The ageing brain is not what it was.  

 

Any questions then please ask further.

 

Regards to you both,

 

Dave (Mona) Lott

Eden, NSW

Australia"

 


From former WO(D) Colin 'Scouse' Kidman QGM:

 

"While serving in the Far East CDT, I lived across the road from Blondie in Johore Bahru.  We stayed with him and his family for a couple of days when I was about to fly back to the UK.  A real gentleman."

 


From former CD1 Eddie 'Scouse' Kerr:

 

"He was my Ships' Diver course instructor in 1967.  I was his second dickie then straight on to CD2’s course.  Good man."

 


From ex-CD Jim 'Tommo' Thomson:

 

"Yes!  In the mid-1960s, Blondie was the Cox'n of MFV 1527, the Plymouth CD Team's diving tender.  He was a very quiet and popular member of the team.

 

RIP.  I will remind a couple of the team with whom I am still in contact.

 

All the best,

 

Tommo"

 


6 Dec 17

 

HMS Pembroke back home today

 

From the Twitter feed of HMS Pembroke (MCM1 Crew 5):

 

 


HMS Brocklesby Road Trip

 

Spotted in Waterlooville today:

 

 

 

Any other MCMVs 'on the road'?

 

Postscript: Spotted a few days later in Waterlooville:

 

 


5 Dec 17 - TCA Christmas Lunch

 

MCDOA members Doug Barlow, Martyn Holloway, Bob Lusty and Yours Truly (Rob Hoole) attended the Portsmouth area Ton Class Association (TCA) Christmas Lunch in the Royal Maritime Club today.

 

 

      

 

We are hugely grateful to TCA Stores Officer Laurie Johnson for organising such an enjoyable event. 

 


4 Dec 17

 

Peter Davis meets Dan Snow

 

MCDOA Honorary Treasurer Pete Davis met Dan Snow today when the historian and broadcaster visited our new aircraft carrier QNLZ (Queen Elizabeth) in Portsmouth Naval Base.

 

 

 

Pete's fellow MCDOA member Bob Hawkins MBE is also serving in QNLZ as her First Lieutenant.  The ship is due to be commissioned on Thursday 7 December.

 


News from HMS Cattistock

 

Lt Cdr Charlie Wheen, CO of HMS Cattistock

 

I am grateful to MCDOA member Charlie Wheen, Commanding Officer of HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew 8), for this newsletter which I have received via the Ton Class Association (TCA).  I write a column titled 'MCMV News' for the Associaton's bi-monthly newsletter 'Ton Talk'.

 

"Following seven months (December 2016 - July 2017) deployed on operations in the Middle East, it is with great pleasure that we, Crew 8, return to HMS CATTISTOCK.  And after the dizzyingly regular Crew swaps, I am delighted to report that we will be remaining in CATTISTOCK for over a year.  The impact of the Crew rotation on our affiliates is not underestimated and I hope that this period of stability will provide the opportunity to reinforce our important relationships.  Last week I was very pleased to be able to support Remembrance Day events in Poole and in Cattistock (Maiden Newton) with a good number of the Ship's Company, as well as an evening with the Lilliput Sea Scouts, and I look forward to much more of the same over the coming months.

 

Crew 8 took over in CATTISTOCK in late September and our efforts since then have been singularly focussed on preparing the ship for a NATO deployment in early 2018.  We will be joining the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) in January and will spend over three months with a number of other NATO mine hunters, conducting exercises and operations around NW Europe.  It promises to be an exciting period and represents a welcome change from our regular operations in the Gulf.  In the context of a resurgent Russia, and against the backdrop of BREXIT, the UK's relationship with its NATO allies is more important than ever and our deployment to SNMCMGI is a clear demonstration of our commitment here.

 

Having completed the necessary husbandry and maintenance to prepare CATTISTOCK for the rigours of the North Atlantic, we are now conducting the necessary work up and training for the crew, such that we can most effectively operate and fight the ship.  Throughout this work up period we are also contributing to homeland security and, as I write, CATTISTOCK is in the North Sea where we have been tasked to locate a suspected 5001b German bomb in the vicinity of a large gas pipeline.  A Dutch trawlerman dragged the device up in his nets before (sensibly) lowering it carefully to the seabed!

 

I hope that this short summary of our current and future activity gives you a flavour of the contribution that your ship is making in support of UK defence objectives. We are hugely proud of the ship, and our affiliations, and I look forward to strengthening our ties during another exciting year.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Charles"

 


3 Dec 17 - RN Minewarfare Heritage: HMS Vernon's Experimental Mining Department

 

I am grateful to Richard James for this image from his late Uncle Bernard's collection.  It shows the mechanical staff of HMS Vernon's Experimental Mining Department in 1917 and must have been taken on board one of the hulks before HMS Vernon moved ashore in 1923.

 

 

This image, courtesy of the Australian War Memorial museum, shows a public display by HMS Vernon's Mining Department in 1911.

 

 

Richard still has copies of his late Uncle Bernard's autobiography, 'On the Road to Normandy and a Little Beyond - A Sailor's Life Story', available for purchase and I thoroughly recommend it.  Lt Bernard Upton MBE RNR survived the sinking of the Bangor class minesweeper HMS Cromarty when she was mined in the Straits of Bonifacio in the Mediterranean on 23 October 1943 (see entry for 7 Nov 17 in News Archive 60).

 

         

 


2 Dec 17 - Oh yes it is!

 

This photo shows former MCDOA Chairman Paul Jones in his traditional role as the pantomime dame near his retirement home in Cyprus.

 

 

Paul adds:

 

"Yet again roped in to play the Dame (that's my excuse anyway) for the Royal British Legion Christmas Panto (Robin Hood).  Three shows in a packed theatre here in Kyrenia.  Lots of fun / friendly banter but all for a good cause and lots of money raised and no... I don't get to keep the frocks!"

 


1 Dec 17 - Mystery object

 

I have received this intriguing enquiry from the National Secretary of the RNPS Museum at Lowestoft:

 

"Hello Rob,

 

At the Royal Naval Patrol Service Museum in Lowestoft, we have been made aware of a couple of items coming up for sale which supposedly originated from HMS Europa, our WW2 base.  The first item, the minesweeping torpedo is confusing us as we are not aware of anything like this and the remnants of orange paint and the yellow nose and tail seem to indicate a more modern item. 

 

 

Here is the link to the lot on the auction house website:

 

A scarce WWII RN mine sweeping torpedo float used for cutting mine cables

 

Have you any thoughts on this?

 

Kind regards,

 

Leo Whisstock"

 

Can anyone help identify this object? 

 


 

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