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Bell tolls
in Malta
THE annual battlefield tour
by part-time sailors from
HMS President saw the
Londoners pay homage on
some of the Navy’s most
hallowed ground.
A group of 31 reservists
from the Royal Naval Reserve
unit on the Thames headed to
Malta, the island at the eye of
the Mediterranean storm in 1941 ● AB Euan Ogg
and 1942 especially as Hitler and
Birthday boy
Mussolini tried to defeat British
forces in North Africa.
The efforts of the Royal Navy,
THE celebrations at his passing-
above and below the waves, and
out parade must have been par-
the bitter Malta convoys, coupled
ticularly good at HMS Raleigh
with the islanders’ resolve,
One of the first sailors to train at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall when
for Warfare Specialist Euan Ogg
narrowly kept the enemy at bay.
it opened in 1939 returned to his old proving ground after his
who turned 18 on the day of the
The reservists’ visit to the
daughter arranged a surprise visit.
Mediterranean island coincided
Arthur Walker, now aged 88, with his wife Milli watched the
He said: “My 18th birthday is
with the 65th anniversary of the
latest generation of Naval sailors celebrate their passing-out
certainly an added bonus to the
award of George Cross to the
end of my training.
Maltese for their steadfastness
Mr Walker said: “I couldn’t believe it when I heard we were
“It only hit me about three
in the face of the Axis Powers’
coming to Raleigh. I said to my daughter: ‘How did you man-
weeks after I started that I would
age that?’
be passing out on my birthday. It’s
The President men and women
“When I arrived here in 1939 it was just a field and a couple
two good things in one day.”
laid wreaths at Kalkara Naval
of wooden huts – nothing like it is today.
Euan’s tenure at Raleigh contin-
Cemetery and the Royal Naval
“It’s beautiful here. I wish I could come back.”
ues as he now moves into the RN
Memorial, and also at the Siege
After leaving Raleigh, Mr Walker’s first ship was the aircraft
Submarine School at the Cornish
Bell, where fallen comrades and
carrier HMS Furious. He took part in the Russian convoys and
establishment to learn about life
fallen Maltese were honoured while
trained as a diver.
beneath the waves.
the bell itself tolled hauntingly for
A veteran of the Normandy landings, he was involved
three minutes.
in clearing the wreckage from Omaha beach after the main
Newly-appointed RNR chaplain
Rev James Francis was invited to
preach at the Anglican cathedral
in Valletta during the Sunday
service on the very day of the
George Cross anniversary; after
the service the reservists, all in
uniform, chatted with locals.
Throughout their four-day stay
on the island, the sailors were
hosted by the Maltese Armed
● Reservists from HMS President in London at the Siege Bell in
Forces, who gave them a tour of
Malta during their battlefi eld tour
their naval base and patrol craft. National War Museum. the people of Malta during those
The visitors crammed in a host “It was a privilege and an turbulent years is an example to
of historic sites and museums honour to be part of this very us all.
during their brief stay, including special and moving occasion,” said “Being there on anniversary
the Lascaris War Rooms, the Lt Tony Scott who organised the day with my colleagues was an
Malta at War Museum and the battlefield tour. “The bravery of experience I will never forget.”
● Coxswain Joe Shields
Busman’s working day
Sea daddy
GEMMA Fox is usually employed
by the Mary Rose Trust in Port-
101-year-old Doris Caterer stole the show when she (and 22
members of her family) visited Britannia Royal Naval College.
FROM the fresh-faced Euan
smouth and her days as S/Lt Gem-
ma Fox RNR can see her deployed
With only a two-month gap between them (the college is the
(above) to the old and bold: Cox-
around the world.
younger), the pair have one thing in common – Doris said: “I’m
swain Joe Shields is the longest
But the Reservist (pictured left)
not too old to admire an officer in uniform.”
serving rating in the Royal Navy
has found a way to make use of
Cdre Tim Harris, the commanding officer of BRNC, welcomed
and the celebrations for his 41
her training days closer to home
his centenarian visitor – one of his last as he left the college two
years in the Senior Service have
on board HMS Victory.
weeks later to be replaced by Cdre Martin Alabaster.
been capped off with the Com-
Her museum and history quali-
THE mixed blue and green of life
mander in Chief Fleet’s Commen-
fications are being put to good use
in 847 Naval Air Squadron proved
on board the Navy’s oldest com-
too much of a distraction for Na-
Since signing up aged 15 in
missioned warship.
val man AET Aaron Byrne.
1966 as a Junior Radio Operator,
Gemma said: “It is a great
With Royal Marines and
Joe has served in ships, shore
opportunity to combine my inter-
Royal Navy knocking shoulders
bases and submarines, including
est in maritime history with my
every day within the Commando
Devonshire, Dolphin, Resolution,
Naval reserve time. I am looking
Helicopter Force, it’s no surprise
Onyx and Opossum.
forward to meeting all the visi-
that Aaron was tempted to try for
Joe has seen out one of his rivals
tors and to being able to talk with
the green beret of a Royal Navy
for the longest-serving rating title
them about life in the RNR.”
as WO1 Ian Tidbury, another vet- Commanding Officer of HMS Among the 90 gathered for
eran of 41 years, has received his Victory Lt Cdr John Scivier said: the All Arms Commando course,
farewell certificate of Valedictory “It is a good chance to promote Aaron stood alongside ten other
on board HMS Victory from the RNR amongst the many visi- Navy men (four from his own
the First Sea Lord Admiral Sir tors that come and see us in squadron), and a crowd of Army
Jonathon Band. Portsmouth.” lads, Dutch marines and just the
one RAF officer.
The gruelling ten-week course
Have you been Mis-Sold an
ends with ‘test week’ – endurance
courses with obstacles across coun-
try, the Tarzan assault course 30ft
above the ground, speed marches
carrying 21lb of kit and rifle, and
We have successfully helped a number of naval personnel win compensation
a 30-mile speed march across the
for being mis-sold endowment policies.
uneven terrain of Dartmoor.
“At the beginning of the
course,” said Aaron, “11 Royal
Navy personnel started, on com-
For example; Naval Officers sold endowments whilst cadet training at
pletion of the 30-miler I was the
only one left.”
Naval personnel inappropriately sold endowments as mortgage
It is only once the 30-miler
is complete that successful par-
Betty Hockey, wartime entertainer and long-time supporter of
ticipants are awarded the coveted
the Navy, celebrated at the rededication of HMS Ark Royal with
Call us today to see if we can help YOU!
green beret, welcoming them into
Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, First Sea Lord. Betty maintains a
the elite band of Commando-
lively contact with captains and crews of Naval warships and
01404 46943
trained troops.
has a particularly soft spot for our aircraft carriers.
But it was not just a green beret
waiting for Aaron at the end of
the punishing 30 miles, the AET
also received the Parker Trophy
as the most improved student on
the course.
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