With the joyful permission of my Committee I took a holiday covering the May Branch meeting. In that fortnight I was surprised to realise how much I felt cut off from my shipmates. This reminded me of our members who are unable to get to our meetings, largely through age/health or distance problems, and it reinforced my feelings of regret and sympathy for those who find it impossible/difficult to get to HMS Belfast and enjoy the banter and comradeship at our meetings.
I show a list of those shipmates, with apologies if I have left names out, (bigger apologies if I have put names in), mis-spelling, and all the other faults that I’m good at committing. On behalf of we fortunate ones I send greetings to them all, and their spouses, and thank them for their continuing interest and loyalty.
Andy Banger, Alan Benson, Jack Brown, Don Campbell, Nick Carter, Ted Childs, Bill Clarke, John Crabb, Colin Dean, Douglas Elliott, Gerald Fenner, Ken Forrester, Ted Harper, Eric Hemsey, Albert Hughes, Bill McAngus, Mac MacDonald, Ron Metcalf, Eric Miles, Bob Montgomery, Tom Morgan, Dennis Reeve, Ken Speed, John Trehearne, Brenda Cox, Mark Davis, Heather Hazael, George Phillips.
Once again, I plead with them to ask a friend or GtGrandchild to look up our web site (below) and see dozens of constantly updated pages (with photographs) of interest to Coastal Forces veterans. And, if they wish, they can join in with comments, stories, photos.
Our Social Secretary is beavering away trying to keep us Social. His latest effort was to arrange our very successful ‘Social’ on HMS Belfast on 19th April. As usual, the Sea Cadets Committee kindly provided a plentiful variety of ‘big eats’ and the bar was kept busy too. Some canned music was provided but we seemed to prefer to do the chat rather than the Cha-Cha. Perhaps it was the incoming tide. Thanks Bill.
Branch members will receive Pam’s excellent Minutes of our meeting containing, inter alia, detail of our finances given by John, our Treasurer But suffice to say that we do not show the full detail of our finances in the Newsletter which is forwarded to all surviving Branches However I am happy to say that our financial situation remain very satisfactory. Thanks, John for ensuring that we keep afloat. (Move over, Darling ?.)
On 23rd April several Branch members attended the bi-annual luncheon at Cooden, organised by Ralph Kirby of the ‘South Group’ (Not the CFVA Southern Branch). Besides us, those attending included the Mayor of Hastings and both the Chairman and the Director of the Coastal Forces Heritage Trust. So you can see it was an illustrious meeting. Director Trevor Robotham informed me that, in addition to their professionally produced bi-annual Newsletter, the Trust’s updated web site is now up and running (and much improved it is too). So now CF has two lively web sites). It was an enjoyable and interesting gathering and Ralph is to be congratulated in keeping the CF flag flying in his neck of the woods. I look forward to the next one in April next.
In response to our rapidly issued notice to all our members I was pleased to learn that several members have already applied for the Heroes 2 grant from the Lottery Fund. It is still a mystery to me that so little media notice has been given to the scheme. Perhaps I read the wrong paper.
Since our last Newsletter there have occurred two other important CF functions. First was the popular re-union at Bracklesham Bay, organised by Southern Branch and, more recently, was the plaque installation ceremony organised by the CF Heritage Trust at Ramsgate. As Wallis attended both I will leave it to him to include information in his Report below
Our web site, under the control of Ted Else, continues to grow in content and interest. He reports that we are averaging 1,000 ‘hits’ a month. In addition to our respected and successful service of answering enquiries from relatives and others of veterans, you will see within that Ted is running, monthly, extracts of John Parfoot’s manuscript entitled Gosport’s Navy.
In addition, following a response to an enquiry by a group of amateur divers, Ted invited them to give an account of their successful discovery and identification of the wreck of SGB 7. This was one of six Steam Gunboats built and put into service in 1942. SGB7 was sunk in an action off the French Coast. The account of the divers’ find makes a very interesting story and is now on our web site. I am pleased to learn that a few of these divers have agreed to give us a talk on their interesting ‘hobby’ at our September Branch meeting. Somehow I don’t believe they will attract many recruits though.
We were pleased to receive Reports from two of our surviving Branches. We have evidence that others, be they veterans or not, are interested in seeing these Reports and it is regretted that other Branches do not take advantage of this Internet opportunity to let the world know of their existence. The Reports, from both the South London Branch and the East Lancashire Branch are included below.
I draw your attention to our latest issue of War-time Stories. Before ‘printing’ these selected stories I attempt to contact the author for permission. Usually I am unsuccessful but this time fortunately, (for him and us!) Peter Rendle is still alive, and he had not changed his address. It was a delight to exchange a few words with him, receive his blessing, and, of course, acquaint him with our web site address. I do hope he can get a computer-literate friend to let him see our Internet efforts to ‘keep in touch’.
Vice Chairman’s Message
I have just received notification from The Queenborough and District Naval Ensign Assoc. Their annual Parade and Memorial Service will be held on Sunday 13th September 2009, this relates to HMS Wildfire II and the Patrol Service. Wildfire II was a minesweeping base during WWII with many Coastal Forces ML Flotillas being based there. For more information on the Service and parade, contact Janet Flew (Secretary) by telephone. (The number will be given if contact is made to the web site).
The Annual National Service for Seafarers will be held in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on Wednesday 14th. October 2009 at five pm. Those wishing to attend should notify me through the web site. The London branch usually makes a donation to this service for the tickets, but we won't charge you.
I attended the unveiling of the plaque at Ramsgate and it was a very happy occasion. The RNA Ramsgate put on a very good show and afterwards there was a reception at the Royal Temple Yacht Club (where they also unveiled a brass Plaque).
On Saturday 13th June 2009 I shall endeavour to attend the unveiling of a plaque at HMS Beehive at Felixstowe. After that, there is a reception to be held at the Felixstowe Museum. (There were about 50 of us vets at Ramsgate).
Take care Wallis