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London Branch April 2013

Written by London Branch | Posted on 19th April 2013

Hello to all

After the cancellation of the January meeting due to the snow and ice at the time, it was with some relief that we were able to hold our March meeting on the appointed day, together with the delayed AGM Branch members will find the minutes of the AGM enclosed with this newsletter.

A reminder that the issue of minutes for normal Branch meetings is being discontinued by agreement with members present at previous meetings, as a step towards bringing in a more informal approach to our meetings — fewer procedures, more chance to chat.

The Secretary said that the Sea Cadets (PASA) have confirmed that they will be able to arrange buffet facilities to cover our July meeting, as they have on previous social occasions. It would be great if we could make this an occasion when special attention could be placed on efforts to assist members with mobility and disability problems by inviting close family members to accompany them on to the Belfast and make it a bit of a re-union. More nearer the date.

For those who do not already know (and many do not appear to) we now have a Heroes Return 2. Exactly the same as Heroes Return 1, and even if you went on the first one, you can go on this one! Full details on line – go to Heroes Return 2 and you can download an application form. If you are fortunate enough to be in a position to go, it is worth a thought or two. For those who served in the Med the sum of £880 is available for a qualifying individual travelling alone. Facilities for spouses and carers are also included in the plan. A qualifying individual plus spouse or carer (two people) can get £1,570, individual plus spouse and carer (three people) can get £2,420, individual plus carer and spouse plus carer can get £3,140. All for the Med. Other qualifying destinations either nearer or further have their own level of awards. Check it all online!

During the meeting the future of the Branch was discussed. The subject was raised by the Secretary, since this is one matter that we all have a share in. His objective in bringing it to the fore was to ensure that we continue to be in business for a considerable time to come. Over the past year or so, changes in the attendance pattern for our meetings has resulted in a reduction in what — for want of a better word — we may call 'hard core' members, those who turned up come rain or shine, every time.

Because of this, a new dimension in our affairs has become apparent. We are in a situation where the overall number of Branch members remains constant but the numbers who can attend, has fallen considerably. It is only necessary to mention just a few names — Wallis Randall, Jim Barnes, Peter Bickmore, Ken Gadsden, John Williamson, John Judge, Doug Elliott, Dennis and Sybil Reeve — all the stalwarts of old, they all continue to pay their subs, they all want to remain part of the Branch but general health and other reasons prevent them from coming aboard.

So the balance is shifting. How many do we need at the meetings to keep going? We don't really know, but we can say with safety, that it is a lot less than the number we have at present. It was pointed out that much will depend on how many CF Veterans can continue to attend — there will come a time when it is a deciding factor, but we are fortunate that this is not an area causing concern at the present time.

Bearing in mind the foregoing, what should we do to make the future of the Branch secure? This is what we all seem to want. The Secretary proposed at the meeting that our aim should be to keep the Branch healthy and functioning for, at the very least, another year. The year would end in March 2014 and it would represent a marker which needs to be reached and then surpassed. And it can be done if we discuss the things that stand in our way. At the moment we don’t talk about them. And that may be a mistake on our part.

No need to put the CFVA ties away in a drawer just yet…

Peter Webster gave a little chat on the latest happenings regarding the 718 'D' Boat Project. He had received, so far, around £16,000. A promise of brand new radar equipment f.o.c. had been offered by an American company in the UK. Talks were proceeding with the Totnes boatyard — build time was estimated at 18 months. As Peter freely admitted, the main problem now lies in raising the 1.9 million pounds necessary to secure the full EU grant. There can be no disagreement about that! But from small beginnings …

The meeting ended quite happily with refreshments. Ted Else set up his projector and screen and showed clips from You Tube which included one from the Canadian Coastal Forces Trust. Basically aimed at the Canadian general public, it was an appeal for funds to restore a wartime boat that still exists in the UK and is now being used as a houseboat. They are still around!

Proposed Boat Trips — David Carter

HDML Medusa at Gosport

At the last meeting, some members enquired about the possibility of a visit to, and/or trip on HDML 1387 (Medusa). I am now one of the crew and have asked my colleagues for a list of suitable dates for when this might be a possibility. Medusa is normally moored in Haslar Marina, Gosport. It would be necessary for us to get there as I do not expect the boat will be coming to London this year.

harbour defence motor launch medusa at her moorings
HDML Medusa at her moorings

Would those of you who would like to visit, please contact me and give me dates when you would not be available. Could you also tell me if you can get to Gosport easily (either driving yourself or with a friend/family member bringing you). Depending on numbers and your location, it may be possible to arrange transport for those who do not drive.

Motor Launch Raven on the Thames

I now have a small motor boat, which I keep on the Thames in Teddington. It is just upstream of Tough's Boatyard, famous for its role in preparing the small ship for the evacuation from Dunkirk.

I can take 5 passengers in it at a time, and a days cruise could range between Richmond and Weybridge (depending on how many boatyards and/or pubs we stop at).

motor launch raven at her moorings on the river thames
The motor launch Raven at her moorings on the River Thames

I should be delighted to take up to 5 members and friends on the boat, as it will give me a chance to get to know you better. There are several railway stations near the boat (Teddington, Kingston, Surbiton). As the boat is open, albeit with a small cuddy, you may prefer to wait until the summer. Please contact me if you would like to join me.

To contact David about boat trips, please use the email address listed at the bottom of this page.


I was pleased to meet my namesake Nick Carter at the last meeting (even though he 'nicked' my pen!). This led me to think about nicknames people received in the services. My father was known to his crew as 'Nick'. This led to confusion at home as his brother and two of his cousins were also in the Navy and similarly named, one even christened his son Nick as well. I was aware of other names, e.g. 'Dusty' Miller, 'Chalky' White and so on. What other nicknames were used? What were you called? (are you even prepared to admit it?) Let me know — best answers appear in the next issue of this newsletter.

To contact David 'Nick' Carter about boat trips, or tell him of your nickname, please email him at [email-obfuscate email=""]