UPDATED – The wreck of HMS URGE has been found off Malta read more.
Recently Mrs Bridget Dickinson daughter of Lieutenant Commander E P “Tommo” Tomkinson DSO**, and her son, Mr Francis Dickinson, visited Fort Blockhouse to view the historical artefacts connected with her late father, Commanding Officer of HMS URGE which was reported missing with all hands on 6thMay 1942. We are grateful to Committee Member Mike Bates and Charlie Hayward, an Alliance and Fort Blockhouse Guide, for hosting the visit. To read more click here.
We also hope to publish a short history of HMS URGE written by Francis in due course.
On Friday 25 October, the RNSM hosted the Hampshire launch of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal 2019. The highlight of the launch was meeting 97-year-old Polish Veteran, Colonel Otton Hulacki. Colonel Hulacki and Commodore Bailey, Portsmouth Naval Base Commander, exchanged poppies in the Garden of Remembrance under the 120-year-old olive trees funded by the Friends of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum. Attendees at the event included local school children and representatives from the Friends and The Gosport Branch of the Submariners Association. The Commodore is pictured with a small number of veteran submariner bikers who were also present. The event even made it into the Portsmouth News!
On 28 September, Jock McLees, Guy Sitwell and Peter Christmas manned a stall at the annual Michaelmas Fayre in Alverstoke, raising the profile of the Submarine Museum and, of course, The Friends. As well as taking £63.50 by selling books and pictures from various sources, the stall elicited quite a lot of interest from all sorts of people, including at least two unprompted requests for information on joining The Friends. The stall-holders’ apparently eccentric dress-sense was as a result of being asked by the organisers to dress in 1920s’ style. Well – they tried!
Our Christmas Cards are on sale again – this year in mixed packs containing our designs from past years and the two new designs featured above. We are very grateful to the artists who all gave their work for free: Artwork contribution (free) from Tony Steiner, Andy Tuohy, Barry Robertson (2 designs) and Sarah Herman.
Eric Thompson’s book ‘On Her Majesty’s Nuclear Service’ has proved to be a great literary success. Thanks to Commander Rupert Best’s unsolicited nomination of it to the Maritime Trust, it was voted runner-up in the Mountbatten Best Maritime Book Awards 2018. It has also been given an hour long rave revue on US radio. In March, Eric was invited to appear at Glasgow’s Aye Write Literary Festival where he enjoyed a ‘full house’ audience. He will also be appearing at the Berwick on Tweed Literary Festival in October but more immediately will be giving a talk at the Friends’ AGM in September.
Of the many complimentary messages, Eric has received since publication, he particularly treasures two from university students who informed him that the book had inspired them to join the Navy and volunteer for submarines. The President of the Admiralty Interview Board has now proposed that it should be recommended reading for applicants. He also appreciated the following comment from Admiral MH: ‘….among other things,I have seldom seen such a clear exposition of why we won the Cold War.’
Other thoroughly rewarding feedback came from the most unexpected direction of Major General Patrick Cordingley OBE DSO FRGS (Commander of the Desert Rats during the First Gulf War):
‘I have just finished reading ‘On Her Majesty’s Nuclear Service’. This might seem slightly surprising as I am a retired Army officer and also active in anything to do with getting rid of our nuclear deterrent! A submariner friend suggested I might find the book instructive. I had only intended to read the chapters dealing with the deterrent. However, as I found it so well written I decided to read the whole book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The author has not changed my mind (about nuclear deterrence) but I felt at the end I knew more about submarines in general than I did before.’
In view of the title of the book, the ever bashful Eric forwarded a complimentary copy to Her Majesty, pointing out that as no member of Her family had served in submarines, She may find it informative. Her Majesty graciously replied.
My name is John Bradbury, retired SSBN submariner, founder of the charity We Remember Submariners and part time artist.
I have created this painting which I will be going to the Senior Rates Mess HMS Neptune, in commemoration of the 50 years continuous at sea deterrence. The painting is is acrylic and ink and features the eight crests of the R and V Class SSSBN submarines around the outside, along with HMS Neptune crest, recognising the alongside support given. It also features our Submarine Dolphins and the Gold and Silver Patrol pins. The middle shows a near stationary V boat being passed by an R boat, both shown in some detail. There is also a rigid raider full of Booties to show the contribution of Commachio Company.
The painting is 4ft wide and 3ft 6 inches high. Prints will be available in both A2 and A3 size and will feature CASD50 and Commemorating 50 years of Deterrence in printed writing. All prints will be signed and numbered by myself.
The model of a torpedo presented to Lieutenant “Jimmy” Launders DSO*, DSC* Royal Navy, Commanding Officer of HMS Venturer which sank U-864 on 9 February 1945, was formally handed over to Alex Geary one of the submarine archivists with the National Museum of the Royal Navy by Jock McLees, Vice Chairman of the Friends’ committee. The model was bought at auction by the National Museum for the Royal Navy Submarine Museum funded by a donation from the Friends of the RNSM. This artefact is of particular significance as it marks the only occasion upon which one submarine sank another while both were submerged.
Nick Hewitt, NMRN Head of Exhibitions, writes:
“I am so very grateful to the Friends of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum for supporting this important acquisition, which commemorates a unique event: the only time in history that one submarine, the Royal Navy’s HMS/M VENTURER, sank another (U-864) from a submerged position: an achievement which involved skill, persistence, courage and surely a little luck! NMRN is committed to collecting material which helps us tell the story of the Submarine Service, but this opportunity came along at an awkward time in the financial year for our purchasing budgets, so without the help of the Friends we would have lost this wonderful object. Thank you!”
The Museum hosted a special visitor on Saturday 6th April on the occasion of his 94th Birthday. Gerald Lloyd-Williams, a WW2 X-Craft Veteran arrived with six family members in support, to tour the Museum. Gerald’s health is somewhat fragile nowadays and he needs a wheel chair to get around, however, with the assistance of Museum Staff, two Members of the Friends and his family, he visited X24 (obviously!), where he showed excellent recall of his days in these craft
and told a number of stories recalling people and places from his past. The party then went up to the upper level where they spent time at the VC display where, again, Gerald recalled the people celebrated there and recounted tales about them from personal experience. The next port of call was the Jolly Roger display where the family learned about the origins of submarines flying such flags, before finishing with a period of reflection in the Memorial Garden, where the whole family expressed delight at the improvements the Friends have facilitated. The family expressed their gratitude to the Museum and to the Friends for assisting them with their birthday tribute to Gerald.