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London Branch February 2013

Written by London Branch | Posted on 25th February 2013

Secretary's Report

Optimism expressed in the November newsletter for a happy start to 2013 was dashed by the weather that descended upon us in time for the January meeting in London. The decision to cancel was made several days before the real onset of the bad weather, but on the strength of pretty positive weather forecasts, it had been decided to notify members of the intention to cancel. In the event, this proved to be the right decision at the right time, and undoubtedly saved many problems arising.

So with apologies for cancellation: The January meeting would have been our AGM, and it is with some irony that we remember that last year, the January AGM was similarly cancelled due to the closure of the access way serving the Belfast and that this closure extended for a period of several months.

The January meeting is normally a busy time for payment and collection of subscriptions. Any interruption tends to result in delays in the issue of an updated Members List. The Branch Treasurer will be taking subs. at the March meeting as normal, but members who are unable to attend are asked to send subs. direct to him, using the envelope enclosed with this newsletter (though not included for those who have already paid) so that cheques are received before the end of March. The updated Members List will then be sent out with the April newsletter.

Some time before Xmas the Branch Secretary received a mail from Steve Borne, Chairman of the Parents and Supporters Association (PASA) on the Belfast, enquiring if the Branch wished to have arrangements made for a social aboard later this year. It was intended to talk about this at the January meeting. After consultation with the Chairman, the Secretary has put forward the July meeting date as a possible one but this, at the moment, is only a suggestion and is dependent on the ability of PASA to fit us in. Members will be kept informed of any decisions that are made.

On a sad note, the news that two of our members recently suffered the loss of their partners became known. Doug Elliott phoned to say that his wife Annette had passed away, and more recently, Peter Bickmore had the same sad message to send about his wife Doreen. Our thoughts and sympathy go out to them both. Many things in life knock you back. This is one of the worst.

RML 526

Ted Else recently passed to the Branch an enquiry received by the web site concerning a possible presentation on the restoration work that has been carried out on RML 526 by the trustees of the boat and as part of the visit, the opportunity to talk with veterans and/or families with a view to recording memories to be used in a future planned exhibition. This was another item for the January meeting, and rather than wait for the March meeting, if we have members wishing to participate please contact the Secretary, who will take it from there. Ted has, on many occasions, endeavoured to get memories from members for inclusion on the CFV web site without a great deal of success.

There have been lots of stories about Coastal Forces and the best of them may have already been told, or are viewed as happenings that are better not talked about — except between those in the same boat. Included with this newsletter, members will find a donation form for the project 'Buy a plank fund' that Peter Webster, Chairman of Project 718, outlined at a previous meeting. It is a start to raise finance to cover the cost of acquiring the 36,000 linear feet of Scottish larch in plank form which will be required to build the hull and upper deck of the project’s replica 718 'D' boat.

It is emphasised that no pressure is being brought to bear on members to contribute, and any involvement is entirely at their own discretion and the form, if not used, can be disposed of. It is for a project that, in its entirety, would be a triumph, if brought to completion.


After We Left

We used to keep an eye on the de-mob group numbers as they came nearer to the time when we and the Royal Navy were destined to part company. Mixed feelings, anticipation, quite a few memories.

Because of our exit, any knowledge of post war Coastal Forces is, at best, hazy and incomplete with little knowledge of developments, happenings and events that took place in the late 40s and mid 50s.

On the web site, there is an item well worth our attention, which gives a reminder, if one is necessary, of the (known!) perils of the 100 octane fuel that used to slop around in our tanks at sea, and focuses on the premature end of P 1023. P 1023 was a Vosper 'short boat', originally MTB 523, completed in July '45.

With flames engulfing the starboard side of HMS Gay Archer, P1023 begins to settle.
With flames engulfing the starboard side of HMS Gay Archer, P1023 begins to settle

It is an interesting article. For those who do not have access to the internet, consult sons, daughters or grandchildren and ask them to let you have sight of it. There are additional pictures (of impeccable quality) which accompany the article — see them, and read the story at

How Are They Doing?

Enquiries about those who are not in the best of health and circumstances…

Edna and Wallis Randall are keeping reasonably well coupled with the move to Witham. Edna said that they had even hoped that, with their daughter driving, they might have made it to the January meeting — but the snow intervened. We hope that there will be other times to come.

Doug Elliott is adjusting to coping by himself — not so easy without Annette, the wife recently and sadly lost. He said that Social Services have arranged for a very nice young lady carer to come in each evening and whose final task is to ensure that he is safely in bed by eight o‘clock — yes, eight o'clock. No burning midnight oil there!

Bill MacAngus's problems do not go away. In a sequence of events Pat, his wife, went to see if an elderly neighbour was alright, not having seen her for a while. The lady was in trouble and Pat gave assistance that was badly needed. On leaving the house she slipped heavily to the ground and suffered a broken wrist and an inability to get up again In spite of her calls for help, nobody heard her. Eventually a passer by saw her lying there and raised the alarm. Arrangements to cover Bill’s needs on a temporary basis had to be made as he is not in a position to look after himself, and Pat needed hospital attention. And we think sometimes that we are a bit hard done by!

To all those members who undoubtedly have problems of their own, we hope that they may be eased and that there are better times not too far away.

Did You Take Part?

70th Anniversary of the Dodecanese Campaign.

There is to be a 70th anniversary service and bench dedication at the National Arboretum, with a provisional date of 8th September, 2013. Those who were involved in this campaign during the autumn of 1943, or anyone connected with it, would be more than welcome to attend. Full details can be obtained from one of the organisers, Pauline Bevan who can be contacted on 0118 934 2563 and who will undoubtedly be very pleased to hear from you.

Battle of the Atlantic 70th Anniversary Commemoration Programme

Lt Oliver Sander RN is working in the project team at HMS President seeking veterans involved in the BoA. Whilst Coastal Forces had some RMLs in Northern Ireland there are probably quite a few Coastal Forces members who also had General Service time and could fit the bill. Lt Sander is seeking information about experiences connected with the Battle of the Atlantic and could have you on film if you were willing to do so. He can be contacted by email using