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NAVY NEWS, DECEMBER 2007 21
in brief
news
■ AS a last farewell before HMS
Authentic to
Endurance departs, Anchor the
Bear – a gift from Manor Fields
Infants School in Basingstoke
– paid a fl ying visit to the school
in one of the ice-breaker’s Lynx
helicopters.
The ship’s CO Capt Bob
Tarrant wanted the bear to say
goodbye in style, and arranged
the Corps
the visit as part of the helicop-
ter’s routine training exercise.
Anchor is the longest-serving
THIS month two Royal Marine Commandos set out to
sailor on board the Red Plum,
recreate the daring mission of 65 years earlier, when the
which is on a long 18-month Cockleshell Heroes set out to mine enemy ships in Bordeaux
deployment to the southern Harbour.
hemisphere. On a cold wintry December ager Simon Murray said: “The
Follow the ship (and the bear) morning, exactly 65 years later, apprentices don’t normally get to
online at www.visitandlearn. Marine Lee Hanmore and Cpl build boats so this has been good
co.uk. Richard ‘Reg’ Melia will recreate experience.
that heroic voyage, using canoes “They have also learned about
■ Sgt Christopher ‘Taff’ Hunter specially crafted to the original one of the most daring commando
RM – quite literally – dropped in design and wearing the clothing of raids of World War 2 and come to
to see his beloved football team their predecessors. appreciate the bravery of the men
Swansea City. Lee said as Navy News went to who carried it out.”
Taff, part of the Royal Marines press: “The training is going really It’s not just the kit that’s right,
Commando Display Team, well. We’ve been down at Poole the two Marines are even taking
abseiled into Liberty Stadium training. rations that tally with those of
before his team’s home-match “Next week we’re doing two the day.
against Hartlepool. back-to-back night paddles at “The raid wasn’t very well doc-
Club mascot Cyril the Swan roughly the same distances, then umented because of the nature of
accompanied the 28-strong RM we’ll be laying up during the day, the operation, so we’re not entirely
team in their dramatic arrival, hiding in a bush or something. sure what they had, but we know
although it’s not entirely clear “The canoes are holding up what was around in 1942.”
if Cyril also joined in with the really well. They’re surprisingly Lee concluded: “The training
unarmed combat display at half- good in the water. But we are has been a real eye-opener. We had
time... finding the same problems as the a pretty good idea of what they got
original guys had – they’re very up to. But it’s quite amazing what
■ The mountains of Spain proved unstable when you’re not moving. they managed to achieve. They
a highlight for 12 personnel from “And because they have no rud- knew the risks they were taking
771 NAS at RNAS Culdrose who der they’re difficult to steer when and went ahead.
headed out to northern Spain for the tide waves are behind you. “This row isn’t about me and
a taste of mountain environment “The kind of strokes you can Reg, it’s about the guys who didn’t
and adventure training, organ- do are very limited. It’s a bit like come back. To highlight this mis-
ised by Lt Elizabeth Leckey and trying to paddle an oil tanker. It sion because people need to know
CPO Steve Houghton RNR. doesn’t turn very quickly. more about it – it’s a major part of
Nine complete novices and The question of comfort the Corps’ history.”
three experienced instructors brings one definite response: Incidentally sharp-eyed read-
scrambled up peaks of over “Horrendous. Absolutely ers may recognise Cpl Melia as
2,000m in the Pico de Europa horrendous.” our ghillie-clad sniper on the
range, negotiating precipitous Apprentices Ellis Gordon, Neil frontpage of our November issue
cliffs in the clouds while vultures Dagens, Lucy Jones and Reggie – which has proven a particu-
circled overhead. Smith at FSL in Portsmouth Naval larly popular cover for downloads ● Cpl Richard Melia in the foreground (you might recognise him as our coverguy last month) and Mne
Base constructed the canoes from from our online e-edition at Lee Hanmore recreate the challenge of the Cockleshell Heroes
Picture: LA(Phot) Dave Griffiths
■ RENOWNED Naval aviator, wood and canvas. www.navynews.co.uk (a shame-
and author of Wings on my Sleeve, Joinery production man- less plug for e-edition – Ed).
Capt Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown was
welcomed to Belfast by the Ulster
Aviation Society, the Royal Aero-
nautical Society (Belfast branch)
and the Royal Naval Assocation.
Capt Brown gave a talk on
board historic light cruiser HMS
Caroline and signed copies of his
book.
The veteran began his fly-
ing training with the RN at the
Elementary Flying Training
School Sydenham, near Belfast.
■ THREE for the corps – straight
from Gordano School in Port-
ishead, Christopher Derrick,
Christopher McCallum and
Joshua Davis have all begun
their new lives together as Re-
cruits at the Commando Training
Centre Lympstone.
Christopher Derrick follows in
his father Roger’s footsteps, and
his example is strong among the
youths.
Christopher McCallum said:
“I always wanted a career in
the military, and specifically the
Royal Marines as they are the
best of the best. One of my
dad’s friends served with the
Royal Marines in the Falklands
● Simon the cat held in the arms of one of HMS Amethyst’s crew in
and I grew up listening to all of
July 1949 (centre, back row)
his stories.”
WO Neil Hodgson, the careers
adviser in Bristol, said: “The fact
Simply Simon
that they are friends means that
they will be able to help each
THAT famous cat Simon has the crew’s limited food stores from
other through the hard training
been remembered with a cere- rat infestation, despite having
that is to come. But it will be
mony at the Ilford PDSA Animal been badly wounded by shrapnel
worth it.
Cemetery. himself.
“To qualify as a Royal Marines
Simon, the Amethyst cat, is the Once the siege was ended,
commando and to earn the right
only cat among the 62 animals to HMS Amethyst returned home on
to wear that exclusive Green
have received the PDSA Dickin November 1 1949 – Simon died
Beret means that they will be
Medal, the animal equivalent to weeks later in quarantine.
top of their game.”
the Victoria Cross. His funeral at the PDSA animal
PDSA’s director general cemetery was provided with full
Marilyn Rydström said: “There is military honours.
■ SAILOR Jamie Hawken and his
brother Joe were nominated for
no doubt that Simon was special On the anniversary of the ship’s
the Carer of the Year title by their
to the crew of HMS Amethyst. return, Lt Cdr Stuart Hett laid a
father for the care they have pro-
“The fact his name and story wreath on his shipmate’s grave.
vided to their mother who suffers
live on helps ensure that the men He said: “Simon’s company and
from neurological disease Freder-
who sadly lost their lives in the expertise as a rat-catcher were
ics Ataxia.
incident are also not forgotten. invaluable during the months we
Although the two were pipped to
“The power of animals to sup- were held captive.
the top title at the Pride of Britain
port and sustain morale in times “During a terrifying time, he
awards ceremony in London, they
of conflict can never be underes- helped boost the morale of many
scooped the regional prize in East
timated. young sailors, some of whom had
Anglia following a public vote.
“Simon’s story is an enduring seen their friends killed.
example of this fact.” “Simon is still remembered
Simon was credited with sav- with great affection.”
ing the lives of crew members on PDSA is the UK’s leading vet-
in brief
news
board the Amethyst during the erinary charity, providing free care
Yangtze Incident in 1949. for the pets, visit www.pdsa.org.
The feline guardian protected uk.
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