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21 Monks Way
1 September 2013
AUTUMN 2013 NEWSLETTER
The Very Reverend John Hall, Dean of Westminster Abbey, has very kindly given permission for us to hold our Remembrance Service at the abbey and unusually this year it will be on Saturday 30th November. This is due to a wedding booked for after evensong on the 23rd. Survivors, members and guests are advised to enter the abbey by the west door no later than 1430 and proceed to seating as directed by the abbey staff. Prior to Evensong the abbey staff will direct us to seats in the choir stalls for the service.
On completion of Evensong we will retire to the nave seating for our service in memory of all those who died in HMS BARHAM and we also remember all those survivors and Association members who have passed away during the year. It starts with the laying of the wreath which Pat Picket has again volunteered to make. If any member or members of the Association wish to lay the wreath please let me know. After the service the book of remembrance will be open for inspection.
Some members have planned to meet at the Methodist Central Hall restaurant for a light lunch and get together before the abbey services. Last year I visited the newly opened Cellarium cafe just off the Abbey cloisters (cellariumcafe.com). The Union Jack Club has again kindly given permission for members and their friends to use the club’s bar and restaurant after the Remembrance service. The Union Jack Club is in Sandell Street on the east side of Waterloo railway station.
The guestbook on our website has a steady stream of entries from members of families of those who served in HMS Barham but for whom the Association had never before had any contacts. We would welcome any of them and any others who wished to come to the Remembrance service.
Last year the abbey organisation was changed and those who attended evensong were shown directly to their seats in the choir and abbey transepts. The service was sung by the lay vicars of the abbey.
We then retired to the nave for our service which was attended by 58 people. The service was conducted by the Canon in Residence Dr Bob Reiss. Two survivors Jack Nealon and George Knott supported by Bob Woodgate laid the wreath on the 71st anniversary of the sinking of HMS BARHAM. As ever our wreath was made and donated by Patricia Picket assisted by her husband Alan who brought it to the Abbey. Many thanks yet again. I read the Tennison poem “Crossing the bar”.
Sadly Edward Harry (Ted) Clow died on 5 December 2012 aged 93. At the time of the sinking he was an Acting Able Seaman and picked up by HMS Hotspur but was taken to the 64 Field Hospital in Alexander and subsequently invalided out. His last reunion dinner was in 2006 and he was at the dedication of the memorial stone at the National Memorial Arboretum. He leaves a son Andrew and two grandsons.
Mrs Doreen Thompson’s brother Ronnie Beacon a Boy Seaman who was killed in the sinking has sent me a copy of his CV and correspondence. She was 10 when he was killed and their mother who was devastated spent months contacting the Swiss Red Cross in the hope that he had somehow survived. Their father at sea in the Merchant Navy had no idea that his son was in HMS Barham until he was granted compassionate leave. Consolation for her came when Mrs Constance Cooke, the Captain’s widow entered her life and devoted herself to the families of those who had lost loved ones and had reunions at her London apartment.
Sadly George Parker died on 22nd July he was an Ordinary Telegraphist at the time of the sinking. After Len Horner died in January 1989 George joined the Committee of the HMS Barham Survivors Association as its Treasurer and Archivist. He worked with Don Young a son-in-law of survivor Bill Gidley to have the HMS Barham Survivors Association Standard made and became our first Standard Bearer after it was presented to the Association by John Groot (another of Bill’s son-in-laws) at the annual dinner on 18 May 1991. Due to ill health he resigned from the committee and as Standard Bearer in Jul 1996.
Without a Secretary and due the ever increasing cost of postage I shall only be sending hard copies of this newsletter to our survivors. If you know of anyone without access to the internet who wishes to keep in touch about our activities please tell them about this year’s service. Please warn them that this year’s remembrance service is on the 30th November.