Secretary Mr Harry Ley
Dear Shiprnate, JUNE 2009
Here is CFVA’s Anglian Branch second Newsletter. There’s quite a lot to include this month, so we have reduced the typeface, and printed on both sides to keep postage to a minimum.
Anglia Branch enjoyed Meetings in April and May, and the Meetings commenced with the observance of a minute’s silence for Shipmates no longer with us and those through ill-health, or other difficulties were unable to attend.
Our Chairwoman, Margaret Purser, had nothing to report, and the Treasurer’s Report on finances was provided and accepted. At our April Meeting, Secretary Harry Ley, had a deal of correspondence to discuss, and attendance is keeping up well. The HMS Mantis Coastal Force plaque was brought to the meeting and should he erected hack its original location by the time of this Newsletter.
At our May Meeting we had 15 Shipmates on parade. The usual silence was observed, before proceedings began with Chairwornan Margaret Purser, and our Secretary then going through the Meeting’s procedures. Information was provided about the two new CFVA plaques to be erected at Rarnsgate and Felixstowe. East Anglian members will be represented at Felixstowe (HMS Beehive), and possibly at Ramsgate.
Locally in Lowestoft, on 19th June there will be the awarding of Veterans medals to ex Merchant Navy personnel. This will be held on restored trawler Mikado, lying alongside, lying alongside Hertiage Wharf with a reception in the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club.
In this issue we include a photograph of the CFVA Memorial in Edwards Park, Oulton Broad This has recently been restored to pristine condition by George Lane, and Harry has forwarded the photograph, together with a letter expressing grateful thanks from East Anglia Branch.
Oulton Broad. Lowestoft. A boat that was built in Oulton Broad during the darkest days of the War, has returned to be restored to its former glory. The seaplane tender, 377 was built at Brooke Marine in l940. It served as an air sea rescue vessel during the war, and took part in the D-Day invasion The boat’s future looked bleak, until it was brought to Newsom’s Boatyard, last week, just a few yards from where it was built. It is currently undergoing a full restoration, and it is hoped it will eventually be used to give enthusiasts tours around Lowestoft harbour, and the Broads.
CFVA Annual Reunion and AGM
The Annual Reunion and AGM was held at Bracklesham Bay Holiday Resort in West Sussex, in early May. Once attended by ex-Coastal Forces members in their hundreds on these occasions, the numbers attending have been diminishing, for obvious reasons over recent years. Our Chairwoman, Margaret, together with Harry Ley our Secretary, and Buddy Crowe our Treasurer all attended, what was to be the Final CFVA Reunion. Our members met up with old friends, and reminiscences were the order of the day! Our Chairwoman’s comment was, “We all had a wonderful time”.
HDML 1387 Medusa
On the theme of restoration of Coastal Forces vessels, I can report that HDML 1387, (Medusa), on which some shipmates might have a post-war sea trip, with Mike Boyce, the original owner. Having had a successful Lottery Grant for restoration, HDML 1387 suffered fires in the sheds at Hythe in the process. Although the hull was spared, the two recently fully restored Gardner diesels were virtually destroyed and had to be sent away to Canterbury for dismantling. Recovering, the cost of the two engines is in excess of £70,000 which was hoped was covered by insurance. I have recently spoken to Mike, now part of the Medusa HDML Trust, and he informs me via the latest Newsletter of the Medusa Support Group, that, in fact they have finalised insurance at long last but, as complete restorations of this kind, vital items such as straightening metal rudders with all the attendant steering gear all take time, and as far as the prop shafts etc. are concerned, we’re talking thousandths of an inch! I have a feeling a number of us shipmates will be grateful we were not too aware of the complicated machinery under the upper deck! Our Treasurer Buddy Crowe and I spent a long time together on ML 194, and I have great respect for him keeping those Hall Scott’s going from well before D-Day and out to Singapore. We will keep you up-to-date with HDML’s progress, and hope to see her completed and launched in the not too distant future. Good to see MTB 102, moored on her pontoon at Newsoms Yard here.
STRIKE A CHORD ?
THE SPEECH MADE BY OLIVER CROMWELL WHEN HE DISSOLVED THE LONG PARLIAMENT.
It is high time I put an end to your sitting in this place which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue and defiled by your practise of every vice; you are a factious crew and enemies of all good government; you are are pack of mercenary wretches and would, like Esau, sell your country for a mess of pottage and, like Judas, betray your God for a few pieces of. Is there a single virtue now remaining among you? Is there one vice you do not possess?
You have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you has not bartered your conscience for a bribe? Is there a man among you that has less care for the good of the commonwealth? You sordid prostitutes, have you not defiled this sacred place and turned the Lords’ temple into a den of thieves by your immoral principles and wicked practices?
You are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here to get grievances redressed; are not yourselves become the greatest grievance? Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House and which, by God’s help and strength he has given me, I am now come to do. I command you therefore upon the peril of your lives to depart immediately out of this place........Go. Get out, make haste, ye venal slaves. Begone! So take away that whining babble there and lock up the doors.
In 1945–46, I was coxswain of HCDML 1105, based in Hong Kong, carrying out anti-piracy duties and promoting goodwill on the island and New Territories, recently occupied by the Japanese. We made many trips to Macau, (then Portuguese territory), and the Pearl River nearby. In those times, Chinese Communist rule had not reached that far, but I thought Shipmates might be interested in this article culled from "Navy News" last autumn. I am sure they won’t mind as its Coastal Forces!
A young sailor decorated for his bravery in a clash with Chinese communists more than 50 years ago has died at the age of 75. At the time of his death on October 28, Gordon Cleaver was the Chairman of the Hong Kong Flotilla Association. That Association had every cause to look to their Chairman with pride, as S/lvl Gordon embodied the spirit of the Royal Navy. On September 9, 1953, Gordon, then a Leading Seaman, was part of he 11 strong crew of HDML 1323, which was on patrol at the mouth of the Pearl River off Hong Kong - waters in which the People’s Republic of China also claimed primacy. In mid-afternoon, the captain of the launch, Lt. G.Merriman, ordered the launch to close with a Chinese vessel in order to take photographs, but, shortly after, the Chinese opened fire.
The British ship was struck immediately, and within minutes the captain had been mortally wounded, and the coxswain and three able seamen were dead, as was an Army officer who had sailed for familiarisation. As another seaman tried to gain control of the launch, he too was killed by a shell.
With the deck awash with blood and sagging on to the failing engines, L/S Cleaver, aged 2l, assumed command. He rigged the cumbersome emergency steering gear and ordered the course to be followed, helped two survivors put out a fire raging in the engine room, comforted a seriously injured sailor, and tried to ease the suffering of his dying captain. Cleaver, and another man, cut away the mast which was hanging over the side, and in a rising wind and rough sea, he nursed the stricken HDML, and her five survivors back to safety. Gordon, who later pursued a career in engineering management, was awarded the BEM for his actions. He is survived by his wife Jean.
There are no roses on sailors graves,
Nor wreaths upon the storm tossed waves,
No last post from the Royals band,
So far away from their native land,
No heartbroken words carved in stone,
Just shipmates lying there alone,
The only tributes are the seagull sweeps,
And the teardrop when then a loved one weeps.
From our Secretary. Very true.
In our local press this week, I noticed the following.
Ganges tea is tasty, Ganges tea is fine, it’s good for cuts and bruises and tastes like iodine
Ganges buns are tasty, Ganges buns are fine,
But one fell off the table and killed a mate of mine.
I read on, and am pleased to inform you that the Ganges Association has published the Sods Opera Blue Book (Volume l). They’re all there. The Ball of Kirremuir, Abdul Abulbul Emir, and of course the girl who stood on the bridge at midnight! Anyone interested should get in touch with the Association. I had hoped to have in this issue, a photograph of the HMS Mantis Plaque back in its original location on the wall of the Bethel Chapel. We’ve had some problems, so it will appear in our September issue.
Now, CFVA members, wherever you are who read this, not necessarily East Anglia Branch, but who have some interesting or, perhaps funny news item that would go down well with your shipmates, you are welcome to contact S/M Don Tucker, [Address will be made available - Use ‘Contact Us’ page on main Web Site]
Thanks a lot ..... we will publish it, in order to keep our band of shipmates together for as long as possible.
I do hope this venture with a quarterly Newsletter from East Anglia Branch will continue to keep all shipmates in touch with news, stories, funny or factual. Keep sending in any news, and we can get it into print. Next one DV, September.
Don Tucker CFVA 2548
[Some images connected to this are [HERE]