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34 NAVY NEWS, JUNE 2008
Reviewing the
reservists’ role
DEFENCE Secretary Des of subtle but constant change
Browne’s review into the
– one minute it is principally
Reserve Forces is welcome
about training (indeed the units,
news for the Royal Naval
for many years, became Reserve
● The landing of the prototype P1127, which later became the Sea
Training Centres) then another
Harrier, created quite a stir in HMS Ark Royal in 1963 Reserve.
Photo by courtesy of the Imperial War Museum
it is mainly about recruiting, or
There is no doubt that the RNR
providing a ‘one-stop shop’ for
has, in the last decade or so, made
Debut debate
great strides in aligning itself with
all a reservist’s administrative
the RN.
requirements, or even lending a
Men and women of the
visible RN footprint in areas far
RNR have made distinguished
from the sea where otherwise the
contributions to operations
Navy is seen rarely.
None of these arguments
THE landing of a Harrier proto- As a matter of interest, where
in theatres such as the former
is wholly convincing, as the
type on HMS Bulwark in 1966 we hold our Legion meetings here
Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan,
shifting sands of unit existence
was not a fi rst. Three years previ- in the Munster Bar in Waterford
as well as to vital HQ and other
demonstrate.
ously on February 7 1963 P1127 there is an original photo of motor
support work in the UK.
The real advances in the RNR
landed on Ark Royal in the Eng- torpedo boats tied up in Waterford
The recent removal of marks
have come, not from trying
lish Channel. Harbour circa 1905, and another
of distinction – the ‘R’ in the curl
periodically to re-invent the
The aircraft was piloted by point of interest, the last Royal
for officers, shoulder flashes for
RNR units in the vain hope of
Bill Bedford, a civilian test pilot. visit to Ireland was to Waterford
ratings – is yet further evidence of
securing their long-term survival,
Photos are in the commission in 1904.
this growing integration.
but in moving its branches and
book for the 1961-64 commis- – Dominic Dunne, Waterford,
So too is the establishment of the
specialisations closer to the
sion. Ireland
Commodore Maritime Reserves
operational requirements of the
– George ‘Pincher’ Martin, The Harrier prototype did indeed
organisation, and the growing
RN.
(Quartermaster on that commis-
first land on HMS Ark Royal in
role of RN capability managers
Here RN capability managers
sion) Morecambe, Lancs
1963.
in administering, training and
have already played a key role,
However, reference books dis-
directing RNR branches and
...BARRY Lazenbury was not cor-
integrating relevant branches
agree about the date, with HMS
specialisations.
rect – the fi rst landing was on Ark
and specialisations within their
Ark Royal IV, Britain’s Greatest
Yet, as Mr Browne’s review
Royal on February 7 1963, while
managerial structures.
Warship, giving February 7 and
will surely discover, there is still a
landing trials for Buccaneer were
But there is evidence now,
Three Ark Royals by Neil McCart,
considerable way to go.
also being undertaken in Lyme
in some areas at least, that this
giving the date of February 8.
The Sunday Times, anticipating
Bay.
The ship’s log contains the
the review, referred unkindly to
process is beginning to falter as
I think the civilian pilot was
following entries: 13.48 Hawker
Reservist ‘weekend warriors’,
the thorny issue of ‘who owns the
senior test pilot Mr Bedford.
P1127 approached ship and
those happy to wear the uniform
reservist?’ comes ever more into
– Bob Hufflett
started flying backwards. 13.51
but resistant to stepping outside
the open.
...I SERVED on Ark Royal from Hawker P1127 hovered over the their cosy drill night comfort zones
Put simply, there is a
1959 to 1963 and was privileged ship and landed vertically abreast to work more closely alongside
contradiction-in-terms in the
to witness the fi rst landing of such the island. their Regular colleagues or be
way that the RNR is configured,
a successful fi ghter plane. Both books agree that it was mobilised for operations.
structured, equipped, located and
I believe that P1127 was fea- Bill Bedford, Hawker Siddeley’s In reality, there can be few
trained.
tured in a quiz a year or two ago chief test pilot, who made the who fit this scathing stereotype.
If the RNR is to realise its full
here in Waterford, Ireland. historic landing. But there is evidence of resistance
potential in meeting the UK’s
to change, and in the RNR
defence needs, the units should
Questionable
individuals can be confronted
be closed and RNR branches and
by divided loyalties – between
specialisations brought entirely
● A Reservist on Above Water Force Protection duties in HMS
the demands of their RNR unit
Chiddingfold in the Northern Arabian Gulf
within the managerial competency
Picture: LA(Phot) Chris Winter
and the expectations of the RN
of their relevant capability
use of colour
capability manager.
with the RN. reservist.” managers.
There is also in some quarters
In 1992, transferring across to This appeared to work well If Mr Browne has any doubt
a lingering nostalgia for the days,
the RNR after a career in the RN, enough but, I thought, where in about this, he might look to the
FOLLOWING your article on has a crimson ribbon, which can not so long ago, when the RNR
I was assigned to one such unit this intimate symbiosis was there
experience of the Royal Australian
L/Cpl Walter Parker RM VC be seen at the Royal Marines nurtured and guarded its separate
and, not unreasonably, I asked room for the RN itself?
Navy and the way it manages its
(Heroes of the Royal Navy, May) Museum in Southsea. corporate identity as a ‘club’
about the relationship between an Since 1992, as demands for
Reserve cadre.
the museum noted that the Ten VCs have been won by the outside the bounds of the regular
RNR member and his/her unit. closer integration have become
– Cdr Philip Payton RNR,
Victoria Cross was shown with Royal Marines, and the museum RN.
The answer was straightforward: more insistent, RNR units have
Bodmin, Cornwall
a blue ribbon. is home to all of them. As Mr Browne will find, it is the
“The task of the reservist is to had to face up to such questions. See pages 22-23 for a feature
Although when originally They are proudly displayed in RNR unit that poses the greatest support his or her unit, and the Consequently, the raison d’etre about a Big Bang in the world of
issued (and up to August 1918) our recently refurbished Medal obstacle to still further integration role of the unit is to support the of the unit has been the subject the Maritime Reservists.
Victoria Crosses bore crimson Room, which houses the major-
ribbons for Army recipients and ity of the museum’s collection of
blue for Navy recipients, crim- 8,400 medals.
son became commonplace for For more information and the
all services, following the forma- Medal Room, and the museum in
tion of the RAF in 1918. general, visit the website www.
A carrier fit for a king
Ribbons could be freely royalmarinesmuseum.co.uk.
changed to crimson at any time – Sandy Wilson, Marketing
by naval VC recipients. As a Manager, Royal Marines WHEREAS I can understand bottom of the sea and designated However, there appears to be George VI, the Queen’s father and
result, L/Cpl Walter Parker’s VC Museum, Southsea, Hants and accept the decision to name as a war grave. some inconsistency on the part a man who, as King, selflessly
the fi rst of our new carriers Queen Nevertheless, in the past, this of the Navy. I doubt whether we devoted the last 16 years of his
Speaking loo-sely
Elizabeth, I remain unconvinced does not seem to have discouraged will ever have another ship called relatively short life to this country.
about the second carrier being the Navy from naming its ships Hood, Barham, or Glorious, It is high time he was suitably
named Prince of Wales (Letters, after those previously sunk in because the public should not honoured.
Referring to Gordon Thompson’s ...THE Royal Navy pronuncia-
May). action. be reminded about the disastrous So please let us drop the name
letter (May) one wonders in which tion is le, in the Army lef and the Once the present Queen has The predecessor to HMS naval engagements in which these Prince of Wales (for all time) and
Navy he served and when exactly term loo is for the American passed on, her son will cease to Invincible was sunk at the battle ships were sunk. instead name the second carrier
were his ‘days?’ forces, any good dictionary will be the Prince of Wales and will of Jutland with heavy loss of life. Although I appreciate that the HMS King George VI.
Throughout ‘my’ time – 1942 confirm this. become King Charles III. In time, HMS Edinburgh’s predecessor, Navy lost many hundreds of ships Quite apart from any other
to 1946 – lieutenants were always I was in the RN for 42 years and Prince William will no doubt loaded with gold, was sunk on her in two World Wars, I do think that factor, the name has a much better
leftenants and we were only ‘award- never have I heard officers called become the next Prince of Wales. way to Murmansk. war graves should be respected ring to it than Prince of Wales.
ed’ the lootenant pronunciation lootenant. But my main objection to the And in recent times, the Navy and alternative names found, Anyone disagree? I can
when we encountered fellow offic- I cannot comment on the Royal
use of this name is because there is named a new Type 22 frigate rather than perpetuating names guarantee that the Queen would
ers in the United States Navy. Air Force.
already a Prince of Wales, namely after HMS Sheffield, the Type 42 from our glorious past. approve.
– Mike Alston, Maidenhead, – Alan Clifford, Queen Camel,
the battleship sunk by the Japanese destroyer sunk in the Falklands No Royal Navy warship has – C J A Cope, Political Editor,
Berks Somerset
in 1941 and presently lying at the War. ever carried the name HMS King Warship World magazine, Devon
opinion
THE role of the Royal Navy reservist has changed hugely in huge success, regularly deploying to the Gulf and allowing
Leviathan Block, HMS Nelson, Portsmouth PO1 3HH
the last 20 years. Gone are the days when the RNR had its ships’ companies to concentrate on other tasks while they
June 2008 no.647: 55th year
own fleet of 12 minesweepers, manned entirely by reservists. take on the security of the ship.
Those ships went in the 1990s and with them the popular The Strategic Review of the UK’s Reserve Forces, which
Editorial Business
tradition of the Naval Reserve as a separate force. Now the was announced in March, will be crucial to the future of the
Editor: Subscriptions 023 9273 4448
policy is integration, and not since the Second World War Maritime Reserves. Decisions must be made about what the
Sarah Fletcher e-mail: subscriptions@
have the reserve forces been in such demand. Armed Forces, and the country, want from our reserves, and
Deputy Editor: Mike Gray navynews.co.uk
The RNR and Royal Marines Reserves combined have the resources they need.
Assistant Editors: Accounts 023 9272 0686
only 2200 members but in the support they offer to current Much work has already been done on the RNR and RMR
Richard Hargreaves Advertising 023 9272 5062 or
operations they punch well above their weight. Up to 15 per and how best to recruit, retain, train, and support them, but
Helen Craven 023 9275 6951
cent of Marine strength in Afghanistan comes from the RMR, the policies have not always been long-term and strategic –
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while the RNR’s Above Water Protection Force has been a this review might prove to be the turning-point.
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