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London Branch December 2012

Written by London Branch | Posted on 13th December 2012

a very happy christmas and a very happy new year
Hello again, Having now recovered from the six months without any meetings in the early part of the year, due to the unfortunate closure of HMS Belfast, we now hopefully look forward to a much better year in 2013. Not everything will go our way, that is for sure. We cannot expect to have lots and lots of members at our meetings simply because we haven't got lots and lots of members who can come to our meetings. What we do have are many members who wish that they could come — but the passage of time dictates that it cannot be, due to mobility, chronic conditions — many reasons, you name it, we probably have it. So to those who are no longer able to get to the Belfast, we send our best wishes for the New Year, we hope that this newsletter serves a useful purpose, that it helps to keep in touch and provides information on the Branch and those within it. Just a reminder to those who can attend, the January meeting will be our AGM and the Branch Committee remains reasonably intact. John Williamson will be standing down for health reasons; Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer are willing to continue their present roles, as are other committee members. Any shortfall in committee numbers will be compensated, in effect, by the decision to absorb the committee meetings into Branch meetings, so there will be the opportunity for everyone to contribute and to express their views on whatever turns up. On other matters, most would agree that we should not let the year end without acknowledging the considerable amount of time and effort that has gone into the web site over the past twelve months, thanks to dedication of Kevin Costello and Ted Else, whose overriding aim has been to make the CFV web site the best there is. How well that has been achieved. Not forgetting the Branch, as those who received the minutes will know, Ted set up a projector at the last Branch meeting and showed clips from YouTube which, amongst other items, included impressive shots of e-boats at speed taken by German sources during hostilities. Our thanks to both of them for time spent on our behalf.

Nostalgia and a touch of misty eyes!

Whether it is of any interest or no, I feel I must tell someone, whoever. I built a model of MTB 655 (in fact it was in the exhibition at Alexander Palace) a few years ago. It was offered to the Coastal Forces Heritage Trust, but unfortunately they are not, at the moment, in a position to accept it. The father of my daughter’s friend runs a museum in Felixstowe (shades of HMS Beehive) who has willingly accepted the model. This was all a few weeks ago. The first thing he did was to put it on show in one of the shop windows in the town. Then the Legion had it on show in the Remembrance period. When I received photos of the lay-out, I must admit to getting a bit misty eyed.
model of mtb 655 in felixstowe museum
Photo ©Philip Owen. Model of Fairmile 'D' Dog Boat MTB 655 built by Bill Clarke and now on display at Felixstowe Museum
So, if any members ever get to Felixstowe, please go and have a look at the apple of my eye. Thank you. Sorry to say, though, none seemed to be interested in my model of HMS Victory! Bill Clarke

Memories of Lowestoft

In 1943, two previously "sheltered" nineteen year old girls joined the Royal Navy as V.A.D. (Voluntary Aid Detachment) nurses and were drafted to the Royal Naval Hospital 'Haslar' at Gosport for a very short training period. We both were then sent to Lowestoft to join two other V.A.D's and a Q.A.R.N.S. (Queen Alexander Royal Nursing Service) Nursing Sister to start a sick bay in a three storey house by Hamilton Dock, for HMS's Minos, Mantis and Martello. The Senior Medical Officer was a skin specialist, so we saw many skin conditions including Scabies, the treatment being scrubbing down with Benzyl Benzoate cream, then soaking in a bath of Permanganate of Potash solution which turned both bodies and bath a dark brown colour. There was only one bath in the building, so none of the other patients ever took a bath.
coastal forces crew with nurses at the sick bay in lowestoft
Vera Mitchell (front row, second left) with fellow nurses and Coastal Forces crew outside of the Sick Bay at Lowestoft
One of the other Medical Officers was an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist but he was convinced that "all Sailors were constipated" — hence the following, from a patient grateful to be discharged:-
I came to see the Quack one day I had a busted Ankle He put me to bed in the Sick Bay And so I said "I thank you" In came a nurse, so gentle and kind. She gave me a dose of Epsom Salts So since, I've changed my mind.
When VE (Victory in Europe) came, the Sick Bay was decommissioned and we were all dispatched to various other Drafts. After having had two years of many different experiences, happy, sad, exciting and fulfilling, we were certainly ’unsheltered' by this time. Patricia Brown ne Boffee And our own Vera Mitchell ne Hubband.

Not quite what the headline meant...

At the risk of lowering the tone of the newsletter, just a quick finish. We include this to merely point out that confusion can sometimes exist, and that initial reactions are not always amongst the most reliable ones. A situation appeared to stem from a leaflet put through the door of our correspondent, which had the eye catching title "Sex at 79" prominent. His reaction is best summed up in his own words:–
I have just taken a leaflet out of my mailbox, informing me that I can have sex at 79. I am so happy, because I live at number 73, so it is not too far to walk home afterwards. It is also on the same side of the street — I don't even need to cross over. Life does seem to get better as you get older.
Just in case you get one of these leaflets, London Branch members are advised to concentrate more on the multitude of pizza leaflets that also come through the door, rather than anything similar in nature to the above. Pizzas are considered to be far better and from the safety aspect and are to be recommended.