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This November will be the 61th anniversary of the sinking of HMS BARHAM and the Dean of Westminster Abbey, The Very Rev'd Dr. Wesley Carr, has kindly agreed to our remembrance and wreath laying service being held on Saturday 23 November 2002.
As usual those attending the service should arrive at the West door and gather in the seated waiting area of the nave between 2.30 and 2.40 pm. To enable staff to identify members of the Association, medals should be worn and those having badges should wear them. I will bring a few badges to the service for anybody else who would like one. Abbey staff will direct members to the choir or the transepts for evensong.
This will be followed by our remembrance service around the nave altar. if you would like to lay the wreath please let me know. The book of remembrance will be open after the service. As the Abbey staff wish to have some idea of the numbers attending please would you complete and return the slip sent out with this newsletter. (not supplied on the internet - please drop me a line instead if you have not received the newsletter and it's accompanying slip by post)
We shall again ask the Union Jack Club if we can meet there after the service. For security purposes they need a nominal list so please print the names of all your guests on the slip. We had a successful Reunion dinner with 8 survivors present and a total attendance of 62. We were honoured to have both our President, the Earl of Gainsborough and Lady Gainsborough with us and were very glad that Lady Rosemary Griffin was also able to attend.
We also welcomed a newcomer to the dinner: John Nealon a survivor who was a Royal Marine at the time. He returned to this country in the Spring having lived in Zimbabwe for many years and has just joined the Association having heard of us through the internet. Also Paul Skinner and his wife who had come from Ontario. Paul lost his father Stoker P0 George Skinner in the sinking. Many thanks are also due to all those others who have very kindly made donations when returning their attendance chits.
George stated at our last annual general meeting his health was declining and in particular his sight was failing but his request for a volunteer to take over as chairman had not been answered. However the popularity of the dinner and remembrance service is such that he believed you would wish the Association to continue.
To enable it to do so would require our constitution be amended and so before the dinner an Extraordinary General Meeting of Survivors was held to consider proposals. Six survivors had given written replies. Our President and secretary were also in attendance. At the meeting it was agreed that the membership of the Association should be widened to include any member or the family of any member of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines or NAAFT who served in HMS Barham and associate membership should be open to all others who take an interest in the objects of the Association. As a consequence the name of the Association should be changed to the HMS Barham Association.
Amended copies of the constitution are available from the secretary. Our Annual General Meeting was held during the dinner. The Chairman thanked everyone for the support he had received over the years. Our President then thanked George for keeping the Association going so well. He proposed that I be elected chairman, which was carried.
Sidney who will carry on as treasurer said the funds were healthy. Ray Oliver has agreed to become secretary and George Elliott, Bob Woodgate and Cecil (Nobbie) Hall will remain on the committee. The result of both meetings has since been broadcast on our web page.
What are the objects of the Association?
There are now 45 survivors in the Association of whom a quarter live abroad. There are also 14 members who served in HMS Barham before the sinking. Following the new constitution there will be 196 members and 25 associates. Reading through the website guestbook I have spotted four survivors who have not been recorded as members for the last ten years. Jack Franklin was a gunner and lives in Leeds. Henry Mitchell who was an Ordinary Seaman at the time. Dennis Kitchen who was a Stoker 1 at the time lives in Leamington Spa. Percy Knott who was an AB at the time lives in Fish Hoek, Cape Town.
Congratulations to Chief Petty Officer Bob Woodgate who has recently been awarded the third clasp to his Cadet Forces medal for meritorious and long service and the Queen's Jubilee medal. He joined the Wembley branch of the Sea Cadets known as TS Barham in 1964 and has been a uniformed instructor since 1968 making a total of 38 years in the Sea Cadet Corps. In 1988 the Wembley branch was amalgamated with the Harrow branch which has retained its old title of TS Dundas. However much memorabilia from the days of TS Barham remains. Bob has been attending Association functions regularly since the 25th anniversary of the sinking in 1966.
It is with sadness that I have to list those that have died since the last newsletter. Four deaths were reported at the dinner.. William Caston died in February, he was a survivor and was an AB at the time. Eric Field died on 6 April, he served on board from 1938 to Mar 1941 and left as an AB.
Another survivor Eric Mundy who lived at Pietermaritzburg, Natal died on 23 April, he was an LSA at the time. And more recently Herbie Rawlings died at the end of April, yet another survivor, he was an Acting Stoker P0 at the time. Since the dinner two more survivors have died. Roy Penny in April, he was an ERA4 at the time and at the end of August Albert Smith who was a Royal Marine musician at the time.
He and his widow have regularly attended our dinners and remembrance services. I have just heard from John Dodds that Ernie Swinhoe has died. Both survived the sinking of HMS Duchess after a collision with HMS Barham.. and John is now the only one known to be living of the 24 original survivors from a crew of 146. Next year's Reunion dinner will be held on the Saturday 17 May in the Royal Sailors Home Club, Queen street, Portsmouth. Many thanks for all your letters and contributions.
| last updated:
13 July 2013