1 H.M.S. Ajax & River Plate Veterans Association NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 2016 CONTENTS Chairman's Remarks Newsletter Editor's Remarks Standard Bearer Report Ajax Historic Wall Judi Collis Canada Trip Report Vice Admiral Squires Obituary News from the Town of Ajax Colleen Jordan Newspaper article Roy Turner Biber mini-sub article The end of the rum tot Ships bells Clive Sharplin Achilles Aircraft - Bruce Clements Membership Secretary's Report Archivist Update NEC QUISQUAM NISI AJAX
2 2. H.M.S. AJAX & RIVER PLATE VETERANS ASSOCIATION. CHAIRMAN/SECRETARY Peter Danks 104 Kelsey Avenue Southbourne Emsworth Hampshire PO10 8NQ Tel: ARCHIVIST/WEBMASTER/ NEWSLETTER EDITOR Malcolm Collis The Bewicks, Station Road Ten Mile Bank, Norfolk PE38 0EU Tel: MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY Mrs Judi Collis The Bewicks, Station Road Ten Mile Bank Norfolk PE38 0EU Tel: Mobile: COMMITTEE MEMBER John (Vic) Wilson 9 Ashleigh Avenue Egham Surrey TW20 8LB Tel: TREASURER/ STANDARD BEARER Alf Larkin Lime Kiln Cottage 2 Easton Lane Portland Dorset DT5 1BW Tel: CHAIRMAN'S REMARKS I hope all our members are keeping well and have found the hot weather to their liking. I have heard from many sources that the trip to Ajax to mark the 40th anniversary of the visit of the Frigate was an excellent occasion. Very many thanks to the organisers of this wonderful occasion on both sides of the water. I am really looking forward to reading all the articles. A message to those who went - it would be good to hear your stories - you have time to get them in for the December newsletter. The next event is our Reunion Dinner on the 1st October (See below*). Please let us know your views on the way ahead for the forthcoming year. It is important we hear from you as we discuss the date and venues for future reunions. Was this year's procedure of having a Service in April and a later Reunion what you wanted? I look forward to meeting new members at the Dinner which promises to be an enjoyable occasion at the Royal Beach Hotel. If you haven't booked, please do so as soon as possible. Telephone Number Application form on the Association web site. *2.30 Intrepid Suite - Talk on HMS Ajax by Alan Strachan MA Maritime History Associate Member 3.30 Questions with afternoon tea 4.30 Fearless Suite - AGM (Separate agenda sheet with this Newsletter) 6.30 The Ark Royal Suite - Up-spirits 7.00 The Ark Royal Suite - Dinner To include presentation of Danks Ridge Street and overview of Canada Trip Followed by Raffle (donations gratefully received) Midnight Bar closes
3 3. NEWSLETTER EDITOR'S REMARKS Life during this Newsletter period seems to have been taken up by working with Judi, Debbie Steer, Nigel Masters & Brenda Kriz (Ajax) to bring together the detail of the Canada trip. This edition is out later than I would wish in future but I thought I would hold off to get the trip report out. The report takes up a large chuck of the Newsletter so I've had to hold over some material but please do kept sending me any material you have, there will be lean times when I need it! Any idea that we would get a rest on our return from Ajax is yet to be realised! It really is hard work pulling everything together as things don't just happen so from me to my fellow planning committee members a very big thank you for all that you did - note to self, keep my hand down next time! I look forward to seeing many of you at the Reunion again things do not just happen and a big thanks goes to Peter Danks for his hard work organising the Reunion. STANDARD BEARER'S REPORT During this Newsletter period our Standard Bearer Alf Larkin has been busy with: 25th April - Anzac Parade Weymouth esplanade. 31st May - Battle of Jutland 100 years Portland Memorial 16th June - HMS Sidon Memorial Portland (a Submarine that blew up in Portland Harbour in 1956 when they were loading torpedoes) 19th June - Weymouth Veterans Parade Weymouth Seafront 1st July - Battle of Somme Service in Easton Church Portland 18th July Vice Admiral Squires' funeral Dorchester Standard not required. 26th August Ajax Ontario Wall unveiling 28th August Ajax Ontario March and Anchor rededication Although Alf lives in Portland, Dorset, he is happy to travel to commitments if at all possible, particularly to represent the Association at members' funerals it is always worth contacting as soon as possible to arrange. TOWN OF AJAX HISTORIC MEMORIAL WALL The first official function on our Canada visit was the unveiling of the Historic Memorial Wall at the Veteran's Point Gardens. Impressive doesn't begin to describe how fantastic it is with over 4500 names displayed. In the first wall there are all the names of those who served on HMS Achilles, HMS Exeter and HMS Ajax during the Battle of the River Plate with the end section listing those who visited on the Frigate in The second wall lists all those who served on HMS Ajax during the war with a few extras for pre and post war including my father-in-law Joe Collis who was on the first commission and Dennis Talbot who joined Ajax at the end of the war. Dennis was with us on this trip and several before. The compiling of the list for the '76 visit proved to be very difficult as the ship changed crew at least three times during that commission and there is no definitive list for those on the '76 visit and sometimes memories from other crew members have become confused with the passing of time. We realise that there are some errors on the wall and we know there are lots missing as on the newsreel we saw Captain Squires announced in his speech a ship's company of 260. I have agreed with Brenda Kriz from Ajax that we will work together to get as close as we can to an accurate list so that the names on that section can be rectified in the future. There are many pictures of the visit on display on social media and in your personal possession. Please Frigate members take time to look at them and identify as many people as possible. The pre and post '76 members may well recognise a face even though they were not on the visit. The wall now provides a point of reference for visiting veterans and families should they not have a town street in their honour. Contact or Judi Collis
4 CANADA TRIP REPORT Malcolm Collis 40th ANNIVERSARY of the visit of HMS AJAX to the TOWN of AJAX Day 1 Tuesday 23rd August After all the trip planning the departure day finally arrived. Alan & Diane Styth were already there on part two of their honeymoon and Lee & Elizabeth Hayward along with Elliot &Jake had gone out the day before to stay with friends. The main group, Alf Larkin, Mike Fox, Dan Sherren, Doug Harris, Nigel Masters, Dennis Talbot, Judi & I along with ten year old grandson Joseph, mustered in Terminal 2 at Heathrow for our on-time 1205 Air Canada flight. Glyn Seagrave was flying later the same day from Manchester. Ajax visits Toronto 1976 (Alan Phillips) With the time difference we landed mid-afternoon to be met by Debbie Steer and the hired 12 seater mini bus that thankfully had a very large luggage space for all our cases; the way to go next time. A relaxed trip from the airport to Ajax on the tolled Freeway 407 was in stark contrast to fighting through the permanently congested 401 last time and we arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn, where we stayed in 2014, in good time to unpack and freshen up before Debbie collected us to take us to Councillor Pat Brown's house. Many of you will know Pat who has been a staunch supporter of the Association and once again she had laid on an informal garden reception for us. The Mayor Steve Parish and wife Rose where there along with Councillor Colleen Jordan and other Town staff and it was particularly lovely to meet up with dear friends Cherry and Reid Sevigny and Jackie Lumsden who again many of you will know from old they were away early next day on holiday so it was great that we could catch up. It was Pat's birthday the next day and Nigel presented flowers and card signed by all along with a rendition of Happy Birthday. It had been a long day so we departed at a sensible time. At Pat Brown s (centre) HMCS Haida at Hamilton Day 2 Wednesday August 24 Any thoughts that we were on holiday were shattered when the alarm went off early to allow a quick breakfast before mustering at 0800 for departure to Niagara Falls with Debbie. Richard and Ron also offering their services as drivers to give everyone a little more room. We stopped off at Hamilton for an organised tour around HMCS Haida, the last remaining Corvette that served in the Royal Canadian Navy 1943 until 1963, which the sailors amongst us in particular found very interesting. Lunch in Grimsby followed. Interestingly many of the towns around are named after English towns and we mused whether when they were choosing a name they turned to one of the workers and enquired where they came from! Arriving at Niagara we off-loaded at the Keg Fallsview Hotel where we were dining later, with the added attraction that they parked the vehicle for free as we had a reservation. Down the nearby inclined funicular railway took us to the top of the Falls and saved a walk. The Falls were spectacular, as always, as most made our way along to catch the Hornblower boat that takes you up close to the Falls. Nobody volunteered to go on the zip wire! Queueing for the tickets I got the exact money ready, $19.95 each, only to find it was somewhat more: the refrain 'not including tax' became a standing
5 5. joke for the rest of the week. The queues moved quickly and we soon boarded with past knowledge coming in handy to get a spot right at the front. However, as we set off we drifted backwards and confusion reigned when I asked for confirmation from the sailors present that we were at the sharp end; we were! It was a really hot day so getting soaked, even in our supplied capes, was refreshing. Back at the Keg Fallsview the group formed one large table for dinner with a backdrop of the Falls lit up by coloured lights as darkness fell. We arrived back late at Ajax after a long, tiring but most enjoyable day. Niagara Falls from the inclined railway On board The Hornblower Day 3 Thursday 25th August We knew that the week's programme that Debbie, Nigel, Judi and I had put together was going to be a busy one so my alarm was set early to allow Joseph and me a swimming session, sounds very energetic but I actually spent much of the time in the spa! 0900 Debbie arrived for the first duty of the day, taking Judi, Joseph & me, along with two of Debbie's children, Greg and Julia, to the Go station for us to catch the scenic train in to downtown Toronto. The rest travelled with Debbie in the mini-bus and we all met up at the Mariposa quay for a cruise on Lake Ontario. We joined up with the group just as the excitement died down; Glyn Seagrave had recognised Gerry Francis, former England Football captain and a photo call was arranged leading to the now famous inadvertent photograph of a pair of Gerry's legs plus one of Nigel's. The story was to be re-told many-a-time, embellished exponentially to the beers consumed: I won't even begin to repeat Glyn's story of why he didn't take the England manager's job but it involves racing pigeons! L(R) to R(L) to R(R) Allegedly: Gerry Francis, Gerry Francis; Nigel Masters CN Tower from the Lake Cruise with (L to R) Judi & Malcolm Collis; Alan & Diane Styth
6 6. The CN Tower The Rogers Centre from the CN Tower Back on land the next organised trip was around the Steam Whistle Brewery at 1500 allowing the group to do its own thing in the meantime. Greg, Julia, Glyn, Judi, Joseph and I opted for the CN Tower. Joseph initially had said he wouldn't want to go but had mellowed but still said he wouldn't go on the glass floor. Off we went up the very fast elevator to the first observation platform at 346 metres; as we exited the lift operator pointed out to Joseph that he had been standing on the glass floor section of the lift! We all managed to walk out on the glass floor section, me for a lot longer than the last time and my bribe must have worked because Joseph even laid down for his photo call. However, he wasn't too keen when we went up to the top platform at 447 metres. From here the views are stunning especially as we could look down to the platform where we had been below and see the daring/mad people below who had paid $195 + tax to be hung over the edge face down for a few seconds: Glyn was musing aloud that he would have like to have done it but The Brewery tour involved free samples so most were happy especially as Steam Whistle had become the beer of choice. We did, however, end up with a few more beers for as we went to leave the heavens opened and were forced to retire back to the bar to try and sit it out. The clouds shrouded the Tower and skyscrapers and the thunder rattled off the buildings and we all got wet making our way later to the nearby Rogers Centre for the Toronto Blue Jays baseball game against the LA Angels; fortunately the roof was closed. Ian Darbyshire made the game having just flown in. The Canadians with us understood what was going on whilst the rest of us just took in the atmosphere and theatre of it all. We must have jinxed them for although they are heading up the league they lost 6 3. A dry journey home was a bonus. Blue Jays game filling up Unveiling of the Town s Historic Wall Day 4 Friday August 26 We lunched at Port Perry meeting up with Ian and Mandy Cunliffe and Mandy's mum Mary Hodges. Mandy's dad had been Al Hodges the Town Clerk who had been involved in the original Frigate trip 40 years ago. Ian was then a young Ajax sailor who fell in love and later married Mandy and by great coincidence today was their 38th anniversary. Back to the hotel to get ready for the first event of our
7 7. three official days where we met up with Lee & Elizabeth Hayward and Elliot 4 & Jake 1 who had transferred to the hotel the evening before. Everyone was very smart as we travelled to Harwood Veteran's Point Gardens where a wall containing over 4500 names of all those who had served at The River Plate, as well as the names of those who had served during the war in Ajax, plus those who were on the Frigate for the 1976 visit, was unveiled. A great honour for all those mentioned and I was particularly touched that my father, Joseph Collis (after whom grandson is named) who had served on the first commission, was a special inclusion as was Dennis Talbot. I was also delighted that our chairman Peter Danks appeared on the list for the Frigate even though he was an earlier commission; they had explanatory asterisks. It was my pleasure to present to the Town on behalf of the Association a bench near to the wall. The bench was later put to good use by Pokemon hunters! Nigel Masters then presented The Tubby Squires Award to the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Harwood, accepted by Lieutenant (Navy) Ross Mounsteven. Nigel had personally commissioned the award following the recent death of Vice Admiral Squires who had been the '76 Ajax Captain, The Hercules C130 was bang on time for its fly-pass. An informal picnic allowed time for all to circulate and socialise. 'Magwyers' restaurant was spelled a little too differently to Joseph's'McGuire' for even Glyn to try and get a free meal that evening but we all enjoyed the food and company that included Mayor Steve Parish, Pat Brown, Colleen Jordan and another supportive Councillor, Joanne Dies. Day 5 Saturday August 27 Today was street dedication day so down to the Town Hall to board the Town bus. First stop was a visit to Collis Lane to show Joseph his great grandfather's street that had been dedicated in 2014, before moving on to London Lane. Many of you will know Jim, HMS Exeter River Plate, as he unveiled the NMA memorial in 2014 and also helped out at this year's NMA service in April. London Lane was in the very early stages of construction so the Mayor presented Jim's street sign in the sales office, received by Dennis Talbot who read out Jim's acceptance speech. Larkinly Lane (Alf Larkin) and Masterson Lane (Nigel Masters) were next but as their streets were still fields again the presentation of street signs was also performed in that sales office. Foxtrot Lane (Mike Fox) and Coates-of-arms Lane were nearby but not yet at the sales office stage so these two signs were presented under a gazebo with Nigel Masters accepting Fred Coates' sign and reading out a message from Fred. Refreshments at the Kinsman Heritage Centre included 'special announcements', the presentation of street signs to those who are to get streets but not yet allocated. Seagrave Street, Stythinson Street (Alan Styth), Cunliffe Street and Danks Ridge Street (Peter Danks); were presented (the 'street' ending may change should the developer chose to do so). I accepted Peter's sign and read out his message. Next stop was rather special; there was already a Hunter Drive, unbeknown to Stuart 'Jock' Hunter who had crossed the bar some years ago and now grandson Lee Hayward, a serving CPO, was there to dedicate it. Lee contacted us a few weeks ago and hurriedly joined the Association and arranged for the family to visit and I think it is fair to say he and Elizabeth were bowled over by the experience, especially when friends and a large group of residents gathered to join proceedings. Last stop of the day was to dedicate an existing street, Darbyshire Court in honour of Ian Darbyshire. Again a group of residents appeared and one in particular stepped forward and asked to say a few words. Vanessa Falcon delivered a heartfelt thanks to all that served and expressed her pride at living in a street with such a close connection to HMS Ajax especially at the rather mature tree stood in her front lawn. She then invited us to take cold refreshments. For me this final act of the day epitomises the warmth and regard shown by all Ajax residents towards the HMS Ajax's crew: I was to refer to this kindliness several times in later speeches.
8 8. Dennis Talbot receiving Jim London s sign from the Mayor Mike Fox receives his street sign R to L: Lee & Elizabeth Hayward with Jake; Elliot in front of tree with friends left Nigel Masters & Alf Larkin proudly pointing out their streets Alan Styth, Ian Cunliffe & Glyn Seagrave proudly show off their signs along with Peter Danks The Mayor with Ian Darbyshire Evening entertainment was in the form of a BBQ at Debbie's with son Terry cooking great tasting beef and chicken. Steve made Joseph's week by taking him in his Dodge Charger stopping off at the local classic car gathering in a nearby parking lot. Ian Darbyshire produced a bottle of Pusser's Gunpowder rum for all to have a tot and at 54.4% proof it lived up to its name! A great time was had by all and some of the lads entertained us with some sea shanties. The busy schedule was catching up on some and we drifted back to the hotel by various forms of transport.
9 9. Ready for Inspection Dennis Talbot & Mike Fox lay wreaths at the Frigate anchor Dennis Talbot & Doug Harris in their Jeep Terry Michaels receives his Legion de Honour Day 6 Sunday August 28 The final day of the Town events saw us down at the Town Hall for a tour before joining the public ice cream social prior to the march. The visiting able sailors lined up behind Alf with the Association's Standard, amongst the marching bands, for inspection by the Mayor; he also inspected Dennis and Doug in their private carriage, a military Willys Jeep. The squad gave an eyes right for the saluting party & later they gave eyes right to the group of young bomb girls! The march ended outside the Royal Canadian Legion building where the Frigate anchor lays. The short re-dedication ceremony concluded with Mike Fox and Dennis Talbot laying two wreaths. The Town invited me to present the French D-Day Legion de Honour to Terry Michaels Ajax River Plate who lives in Pickering. The Legion provided a formal lunch followed by a short display of cutlass prowess by a small group of Sea Cadets to whom I presented Battle of the River Plate first day covers. Following a few words by the Mayor he presented the Association with a Town flag. I thanked the Town for their tremendous support and friendship both past and present and donated items from Gordon Humpleby and Robbie Robinson with Nigel Masters presenting his signed '76 cap and tally. Lee Hayward presented his grandfather's cap tally and 'crossing the line' certificate. Alf Larkin had managed to obtain from the family a rather splendid silver vase presented to Captain Squires by the crew when he left Ajax, which he now donated to the Town. Ian Cunliffe had commission a superb painting of the Ajax from his professional artist brother many years ago but now thought its rightful place was in the Town Hall; he also handed out to the Association Visitors smaller versions of the painting produced by a graphic designer, another brother. Ian Darbyshire and Nigel Masters presented a magnificent inscribed carriage clock, with batteries, to the person who had made it all happen, Debbie Steer. Mike Fox thanked the Legion for their usual generous hospitality and presented them with various items and Ian Darbyshire presented his CPO uniform. Dan Sherren also made presentations to the Legion and Sea Cadets.
10 10. Day 7 Monday August 29 Whitby Yacht Club had generously offered to entertain us today. En-route we stopped off at Talbotshire Street for a quick photo shoot before continuing to the club. The boys gather in Talbotshire Street We were welcomed by Ken Armes, who had arranged the day, and the Commodore and shown around the club grounds. Back in the club house we were each allocated one of the three boats, Lost Buoys, Mad Hatter & Don't Ask, before making our way over to the pontoons to climb aboard. We cruised along Lake Ontario to Oshawa where Ajax had docked in '76. Whilst the surroundings may have changed the actual quay looked as if it hadn't and many happy memories were brought back as those that had been here before, reminisced. The Rev. Deacon Derek E. Skelton on board Mad Hatter delivered a short memorial service over the radio before Alf Larkin laid a wreath on the waters of Lake Ontario. The Oshawa quayside where Ajax docked in 1976 Alf Larkin laying wreath on Lake Ontario waters Back in the clubhouse we were wined and dined at the conclusion of which Alf thanked the Club for putting on a splendid day enjoyed by all. The presentation of the Frigate pencil drawing, HMS Ajax plaque and HMS Whitby plaque and cap & tally by Alf was particularly pertinent as his first ship was HMS Whitby. I presented the three skippers, Jim, John & Frank with River Plate ties. Day 8 Tuesday August 30 Despite the packed itinerary the week had flown by and it was with heavy hearts that we mustered for the final time in the hotel foyer with our cases. Debbie was there by midday and a private presentation was made. The first consignment of later fliers were deposited at Debbie's house while the two earlier ones, Glyn & Nigel were taken straight to the airport where Nigel bumped in to his footballer friend again. Well done to Judi who had made a superb job of wrapping up the street names that wouldn't fit in suitcases (most of them) together with the Standard saving us the additional expense of another excess bag. We all checked in electronically and the street names and standard thankfully went through the x-ray machine without challenge it had so much duct tape around it and would take an age to unwrap for inspection. Our flight was on time as we took off to the spectacle of the lights of Toronto heading home. I'm sure I speak for everyone who went; we all had a brilliant time and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and were overwhelmed by the warmth of our reception. As I said to the Mayor, plenty of forthcoming anniversaries can be engineered so expect a return trip in the not too distant future. Thank you Town of Ajax. Malcolm Collis
11 11. Vice Admiral Robert 'Tubby' Squires Captain of HMS Ajax (Daily Telegraph) Vice Admiral Robert Tubby Squires, who has died aged 89, helped to commission Britain's first nuclear-powered submarine. In 1960, when he was appointed first lieutenant of Dreadnought, there were no nuclearqualified submariners, and Squires, two doctors, a constructor officer and Dreadnought's future captain, Peter Samborne, began their training in the newly created nuclear physics department of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. There, Jason, a small nuclear reactor, was installed in the cellars of the 17th-century former royal palace in south London. Next, Squires attended the US Navy submarine school. Admiral Hyman G Rickover, the autocrat in charge of the USN's nuclear programme, had ruled that no British officer was to set foot in one of his submarines, but Squires and two chief petty officers briefly joined USS Skate in 1962, shortly after she returned from having surfaced at the North Pole. Squires moved on to USS Swordfish for a happy and instructive nine months while the submarine deployed from her base in New London, Connecticut, through the Panama Canal to Pearl Harbour. Squires made many friends for life among his American contemporaries. Returning to Britain, he stood by Dreadnought while she was building at Barrow-on-Furness. She was the seventh ship of her name and was powered by an American S5W reactor, a design made available as a result of a US UK Mutual Defence Agreement. Her launch by the Queen, symbolically on Trafalgar Day, October , owed much to the drive of the First Sea Lord, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and his relationship with the US Navy's Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Arleigh Burke, who had overruled Rickover. The successful sea trials of Britain's first nuclear-powered warship, and its commissioning on April , owed much to loyalty, efficiency and reliability of Squires, and to his leadership, tact and cheerfulness. A soldier's son, Robert Risley Squires was born at Farnham Royal on February , and educated at Summer Fields, Geelong Grammar School and Eton College. He entered the Britannia Royal Naval College, then still at its wartime home of Eaton Hall in Cheshire, in 1944, and was awarded the King's telescope on passing out. He underwent training in the destroyers Wizard and St James and battleships Anson and King George V, joining the last of those in Tokyo Bay on the evening of the signing of the Japanese surrender. He saw the Far East, Australia and South Africa, and, while a midshipman, was recognised as an outstanding young officer. In 1948, attracted by the prospect of early command in a small unit, he volunteered for submarines and was fortunate to be taught his trade over the next two-and-a-half years in the submarine Tabard by several war-experienced and much-decorated submariners. They, in turn, recognised him for his brains, initiative and energy. He was not so lucky in his next boat, spending what he called a formative year with a captain with whom I could agree almost nothing. Squires passed the Submarine Command Course (the perisher ) in 1955, and his first command was the submarine Aurochs, the mantle of command falling easily on his shoulders. Aurochs was long overdue for refit and dogged with engineering problems, and Squires' task was to steam his boat to Singapore, where, he recalled, she sank thankfully on to the blocks of the floating dock.
12 12. From he commanded Warspite, the Navy's third nuclear submarine, which he steamed to the Far East and back. In 1969 Squires attended the Joint Services Staff College, then spent two years in his only desk job, as Assistant Director of Naval Warfare in Whitehall. But his strong preference was for the sea, and in 1973 he took command of the frigate Hermione, in which, briefly, one of his officers under training was the Prince of Wales. Two years as captain of the Third Submarine Squadron at Faslane was followed by commands of the destroyer Bristol ( ), the frigate Ajax ( ) and the 8th Frigate Squadron ( ). In August 1976, Ajax sailed for Canada, taking part in NATO exercises. The ship visited St John's, Halifax, Ottawa, and Oshawa on Lake Ontario, some 350ft above sea level and more than 500 miles from the sea. Oshawa was the port for the town of Ajax, which had been named after the cruiser of Battle of the River Plate fame. The frigate received the freedom of the city and two of the ship's company wooed and won Canadian wives. Squires was promoted to Rear-Admiral and appointed Flag Officer, First Flotilla, in 1977; from 1978 to 1981 he served as head of his profession as Flag Officer, Submarines. Promoted to Vice-Admiral in 1982, he became Flag Officer, Scotland and Northern Ireland, before retiring in He loved Scotland and the Scots and returned to Edinburgh to enjoy the debenture seats at Murrayfield bought by his wife. He was delighted when she was invited to launch Tireless, the third Trafalgar-class nuclear submarine for the Royal Navy. Squires was not inclined to waste words and at first meeting could seem a little forbidding, but he had a well-tuned sense of humour, was innately kind and interested in others. He was a modest man who eschewed honours, even the knighthood offered him at the end of his career. He retired to the Isle of Wight, where he was a Deputy Lieutenant. Squires married Sue Hill in She died in He is survived by their two daughters. Vice Admiral Robert Tubby Squires, born February , died June Although not an Association member many of you will recall that he attended our 2011 Reunion at Chatham. The funeral took place in Dorchester on 18th July with several members of the 1976 crew joining the 200 congregation Reunion L to R Nigel Masters; Ian Darbyshire; Fred Coates; Alf Larkin; Mike Fox with Vice Admiral Squires' daughters, Annie & Jane.
13 13. #HMSAjax40 celebrated 40th anniversary of 8th HMS Ajax visit in 1976 Colleen Jordan Regional Councillor Town of Ajax The Town of Ajax proudly commemorated the 40th anniversary of the 8th HMS Ajax visit with three full days of events. On August 26 an historic memorial wall was unveiled at Veterans' Point Garden. The wall honours over 4,500 veterans who served on HMS Ajax, HMS Achilles, HMS Exeter and 8th HMS Ajax. This is the first time in history all names are located on one memorial wall in both Canada and Britain. The ceremony featured a fly-past of a C130 Hercules of the Canadian Air Division. The following day on August 26, street dedications were held, including London Lane (Jim London), Larkinley Lane (Alf Larkin), Masterson Lane (Nigel Masters), Foxtrot Lane (Mike Fox), Coates-of- Arms Lane (Fred Coates), Hunter Drive (Stewart Hunter), and Darbyshire Court (Ian Darbyshire & P. Darbyshire). In addition, future street names were announced and signs presented to Peter Danks, Glyn Seagrave, Ian Cunliffe and Alan Styth. To conclude the celebrations, on August 28 a special parade and ice cream social was held at Ajax Town Hall. Over a thousand residents lined the streets and watched the re-enactment of the th HMS Ajax visit parade - which featured original crew members and over 10 marching bands. The parade ended at the anchor of the 8th HMS Ajax in front of the Royal Canadian Legion, Ajax, Branch 322. An anchor rededication ceremony was held and Malcolm Collis presented Terry Michaels, a crew member of HMS Ajax during the Battle of the River Plate, with the National Order of the Legion of Honour which is the highest French order for military and civil merits, established in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte. It is awarded to those that took part in the D-Day landing. Afterwards, a reception was held at the Legion where guests were surprised with original footage from the 1976 visit and the association presented several items to the Town of Ajax Archives. The Town of Ajax and community were thrilled to celebrate this historic milestone and look forward to future visits from veterans, association members and their families.
14 14. DAILY POST ARTICLE ON ROY TURNER On-line version of an article that appeared in the Daily Post by Gareth Hughes Former Rhyl Mayor Roy Turner was on board the HMS Ajax when it was deployed on a controversial mission in 1947 which he described as "distasteful and unfortunate" A Rhyl pensioner involved in a highly controversial episode in the history of the Jewish nation has told his amazing story. Retired businessman Roy Turner is one of the few surviving members of the crew of HMS Ajax which played a key role in halting a bid by over 4,000 Jews from across Europe to settle in Palestine in Now 88, he has been recalling the short but crucial episode in an interview for a documentary being made the German TV channel NDR. Roy, a former Mayor of Rhyl and the town's first Freeman, attends the annual reunion of the River Plate and HMS Ajax Association but only six or seven of his ex-crewmates still survive. In July of the 1947 the ship was sent to the Mediterranean to intercept Exodus 1947 a converted pleasure steamer carrying 4,500 Jews hoping to establish a new homeland in Palestine. The whole thing was very distasteful and unfortunate but it had to be done, said Roy, who left the Royal Navy in 1948 and later set up an upholstery and flooring business with his father in Rhyl. We had been receiving lectures on the political situation in advance so we knew what the whole thing was about, he said. It was a no-win situation but we were serving members of His Majesty's Forces and so had to follow orders. The Jews, who had converged on the South of France from camps around Europe, were determined to press ahead despite warnings that they would not be allowed to land in Haifa. The British government had forbidden them from settling in their promised land but they carried on with the illegal operation in the hope of highlighting their plight and gaining international sympathy. Their vessel, formerly known as The President Warfield, was renamed Exodus 147 and the operation was later the subject of the book Exodus by Leon Uris, later made into a film. After official warnings were ignored the Exodus was intercepted off the coast of Palestine and boarding parties were sent from the Ajax under cover of darkness. A bitter struggle ensued with resulted in three passengers being killed and over 200 injured. In his memoir Captain Brian de Courcy, captain of the Ajax, later wrote: It is very difficult to board a ship at sea and gain control over a mob of several thousand people. The landing having been halted, the migrants were then transported back to France but when they refused to disembark they were then taken on to refugee camps in Germany from which many of them had originally fled. Most of them remained there until 1948 when the state of Israel was founded. Andreas Schmidt, producer of the German TV documentary, said he believed that relatively few people in Germany were aware of the episode and its significance. It led to an international scandal but it is not one that many people today seem to realise, he said. He said he appreciated Roy Turner's co-operation and willingness to talk about the incident as some survivors, both Jews and crew members, were reluctant to do so.
15 15. Roy had a colourful career on the Ajax. During the WWII Roy, whose family had moved to Rhyl from Stoke-on-Trent in 1938, joined the Air Training Corps. After graduating at the age of 17 he was accepted for pilot training with the Fleet Air Arms, but on the cessation of hostilities was transferred to the Royal Navy in November, 1945.He trained as a radar plot operator and in December 1946 joined HMS Ajax. The town of Ajax, in Ontario, Canada, was named after HMS Ajax which played a key part in the Battle of the River Plate. The name was chosen because it had previously been a military plant. Streets in the town have been named after members of the HMS Ajax crew and in 2010 Roy Turner visited the town for the naming of Turnerbury Avenue in his honour. BIBER ONE-MAN SUBMARINE Malcolm Collis During a recent visit to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford I was wandering through the several hangers of fascinating exhibits. Whilst I did pause at most, time meant I couldn't read all the information, but for some reason I did so for this particular one and I'm glad I did the plaque read: Biber (Beaver) German one-man submarine Bibers were the smallest submarines in the German navy during the Second World War. The type was designed in 1944 to meet the threat of an Allied Invasion, and to attack coastal shipping. th This vessel, Biber No. 90, was found sinking 49 miles to the north-east of Dover on 29 December Its crewman, twenty year old Hans Langsdorff, was dead inside. A later post mortem examination revealed that he had died from carbon monoxide poisoning, having failed to close the engine exhaust system properly. He was the son of Captain Hans Langsdorff who committed suicide after the loss of his ship the Graf Spee in The craft was recovered and examined by the Royal Navy. A note in a bottle was found inside. It was described by the officer who examined it as A document in English which, romantic as it read, appeared to have some bearing upon the capture of the submarine, and possibly the explanation of why the pilot had met his end. No further record of what this note contained has been found. Bibers were first used operationally on August 1944 against ships of the invasion fleet in the Bay of the Seine. These attacks were not successful. Although 324 Bibers were delivered, they never posed a real threat to the Allies. They had several technical flaws and the crews were poorly trained.
16 16. THE END OF THE RUM TOT Thanks to Eddie Greenslade, Frigate 1979 for sending in these photographs. Eddie, far right, at Armed Forces Day Eddie, no shirt, on Fife with broken arm, smashed in Pompey Dockyard before they sailed to the States July Chatham dockyard, end of rum issue Ajax. LSA Michael Johns on right. Editor This photo got me thinking; we all know the rum tot ended but I realised I didn't know too much about it. I recall that my father, Joseph (First commission of cruiser) told tales of his rum ration when he was CPO when he received his tot; he would drink half and save half for taking back to his father who kept a pub in Wiltshire as he said, it was good job he wasn't caught! A quick Google came up with this Wikipedia information: Black Tot Day, 31st July 1970, is the name given to the last day on which the Royal Navy issued sailors with a daily rum ration, the daily tot. In the 17th century, the daily drink ration for English sailors was a gallon of beer. Due to the difficulty in storing the large quantities of liquid that this required in 1655 a half pint of rum was made equivalent and became preferred to beer. Over time, drunkenness on board naval vessels increasingly became a problem and the ration was formalised in naval regulations in 1740 and ordered to be mixed with water in a 4:1 water to rum ratio and split into two servings per day. In the 19th century, there was a change in the attitude towards alcohol due to continued discipline problems in the navy. In 1824 the size of the tot was halved to a quarter pint in an effort to improve the situation. In 1850 the Admiralty's Grog Committee convened to look into the issues surrounding the rum ration and recommended that it be eliminated completely. However, rather than ending it the navy further halved it to an eighth of a pint per day, eliminating the evening serving of the ration. This led to the ending of the ration for officers in 1881 and warrant officers in On 17thDecember 1969 The Admiralty Board concluded that the rum issue was no longer compatible with the high standards of efficiency required now that the individual's tasks in ships are concerned with complex, and often delicate, machinery and systems on the correct functioning of which people's lives may depend". This led to a debate in the House of Commons on the evening of 28thJanuary 1970, now referred to as the 'Great Rum Debate', lasting an hour and 15 minutes closing with a decision that the rum ration was no longer appropriate. 31st July 1970 was the final day of the rum ration and it was poured as usual at 6 bells in the forenoon watch (11am) after the pipe of 'up spirits'. Some sailors wore black armbands, tots were 'buried at sea' and in one navy training camp, HMS Collingwood, there was a mock funeral procession complete with black coffin and accompanying drummers and piper. The move was not popular with the ratings despite an extra can of beer being added to the daily rations in compensation.
17 17. MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY'S UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2016 Wow! We've just got back from a very busy fun packed week in the Town of Ajax; we are all overwhelmed with the generosity from everybody we met there. My personal thanks to you all. Crossed the Bar Sadly I have to report the deaths of one member and two associates since the June newsletter. nd Reginald Austin Baker served on board the cruiser from He crossed the bar on the 22 June.The Association was represented at his funeral service by Margaret Lees and Joe and Marion Stokes. Reg was great friends with Margaret's dad the late 'Poopdeck Pappy' Bill Empson. We received the following account from Mick Cox, Secretary of the Margate Branch of the RNA. Shipmate Reg Baker was buried this afternoon; a short service took place in the cemetery chapel prior to his internment. There were 4 standards present, Margate, Ramsgate RNA, East Kent submariners, and Margate Royal British Legion. A side party from Margate RNA and FAA lined the entrance to the chapel. We then marched in front of the funeral party to the graveside where the last post and reveille were sounded and the exaltation spoken. As Margate secretary I don't think we could have done any better. I felt proud of our members and I'm sure Reg would have appreciated it. Family members were well impressed and Reg's eldest son Ralph thanked us all. A wake followed in The Rodney, Garlinge, Reg's local for many years. I sincerely believe your old shipmate had a good send off, and may he now find safe anchorage. Peggy Gregory Was the widow of Alf (Ginger) Gregory who served on board Ajax in 1940 and crossed the bar in Peggy had been an associate member since before I took over the records. I had chatted to her several times before and she said she enjoyed our newsletters.their son Mike joined us as an Associate member last year. I came across the following on an internet search: GREGORY - GRACE (Peggy) of Hutton, passed away peacefully at Clarence Park Nursing Home on July 5th, 2016 aged 91 years. Dearly loved mother and grandmother. She will be greatly missed by all her family and friends. Funeral Service (took place) at Weston-super-Mare Crematorium on Thursday July 21st at 10.30am. Gloria McCrea Large cared for and then married Albert Large who was on board Ajax during the th Battle of the River Plate. Albert crossed the bar on 20 February 2012 which was Gloria's birthday. They lived in Burlington Ontario,and many of you will remember Albert and his first wife from the 1999 and subsequent visits to The Town of Ajax. After Albert's death Gloria sent several s and a card thanking us for our support and notifying all the members. Losing Albert has and will take a lot of time to mend. Just knowing the suffering has ended is what we
18 18. have to look forward for. I am pleased that you will keep me on your members list and looking forward to receiving your quarterly Newsletter electronically. Wishing you well. Meanwhile God bless you and take care of you. Gloria I came across the following on the internet: Gloria McCrea - February 20, May 15, 2016 McCRAE, Gloria Marie-Paule Passed away at the Joseph Brant Hospital, Burlington on Sunday May 15, Gloria was predeceased by husband Albert Large.Cremation has taken place. New members I am pleased to report several new members who served on board the frigate and also new associate members. You are all so important to us to keep the Association a viable option to continue in future years. Lee James Haywood lives in Littlehampton and is the grandson of Stewart (Jock) Hunter who served on board Ajax from Lee joined us on the 28th June following an to Malcolm and then managed to arrange to join us in Canada along with wife Liz and two young children Elliot and Jake. Lee resplendent in his naval uniform, he is a serving CPO, was proud to attend all the official ceremonies in the Town,especially poignant was the street dedication for his grandfather. We look forward to seeing Lee and family at future events. Ian Cunliffe lives in Barrie Ontario and joined us during our visit in 2014 to catch up with old shipmates that he hadn't seen for several years. He officially joined our Association this year.he has a strong naval family history. Ian was an Able Seaman on the Frigate from In August of 1976 HMS Ajax sailed into Oshawa, Ontario as guests of the Town of Ajax. It was a week of fun and celebration for the officers and crew of the ship. For Ian it was a life altering experience as this was where he met his beloved wife Mandy Hodges, then still in high school. His plans for spending 25 years in the navy were forever changed. Mandy and Ian were married on August 26th They along with Mandy's mum Mary joined us for their 38th wedding anniversary this year and took part in all the celebrations. Ian received his street sign for the road yet to be built. Mandy's father, at the time of the ship's visit, was Clerk to The Town. We saw him reading out the declaration of the freedom of the Town on the original film of the ship's visit, when we were at the Canadian Legion for dinner following the re-enactment of the parade. Previous to joining Ajax Ian was a crew member for two years on board the assault ship HMS Intrepid, alongside his brother for a year. He then served on board HMS Laymoor at Gourock in Scotland spending most of the time replacing huge mooring buoys and cables in the Scottish lochs. Dan Sherren is another Frigate boy living on Portland. He officially joined us at the beginning of August and also arranged to go to Canada with us at even shorter notice. He didn't visitwith the ship in 1976 as he served on Ajax from
19 19. Dan's service history is: HMS GANGES JOINED 12 SEPT 1961 HMS DRYAD JUNIOR SEAMAN MARCH 1962 HMS DUCHESS JUNIOR/ORDINARY SEAMAN HMS WIZARD ORDINARY/ABLE SEAMAN HMS CENTAUR ABLE SEAMAN HMS NUBIAN LEADING SEAMAN HMS DRYAD HMS ARGONAUT LEADING SEAMAN HMS DRYAD PETTY OFFICER HMS DIOMEDE PETTY OFFICER HMS AJAX CHIEF PETTY OFFICER CINCFLEET INT CORPS CPO CINCFLEET INTELLIGENCE OFFICER FLAG OFFICER SEA TRAINING STAFF CPO FLAG OFFICER SEA TRAINING CINCFLEET INT OPS WARRANT OFFICER FLAG OFFICER SEA TRAINGING STAFF WARFARE OFFICER CINCFLEET INT OPS SUBMARINE ANALYST DISCHARGED 1996 Dan is The Vice Chairman of the Portland Branch of the RNA and his wife Maureen is the membership secretary. They are both Public Relations Officers for the No.4 Area. From Dan's stories in Ajax this keeps them both busy. Dan and Maureen are joining us for the reunion on October 1st. Graham (Lottie) Brayshaw We met Graham and his wife Brenda at the bar in the Hilton Garden Hotel in Ajax, they were at the end of their Canadian holiday- it's a small world. Graham served on board the Frigate for its 2nd commission as an ME2 and recognised several names on my membership list. He has joined the association, whilst sitting at the bar, and is going to send me more details of his service now we are all home. They live in Lancaster,sadly are unable to join us at the reunion as they are already booked for a Crushers reunion but hope to come next year. Richard and Lorrie Cooke are our latest associate members, they live in Field Crescent, Ajax. Richard gave up a great deal of his time to help Debbie ferry the group of us around during our visitboth official and unofficial. He works in IT and so his expertise was also called upon in that field on several occasions when technology got the better of some of us. On his application form he's listed himself to being chauffeur to Glyn Seagrave. We hope for a reunion in the UK in the future. Malcolm reported how everybody in the Town of Ajax, from the Mayor, the Councillors, the organisations and all the residents who live in many of the streets named after crew, gave us a tremendous welcome and nothing seemed to be too great a task for them to help in any way. Thank you Richard for your part and we welcome you and would welcome any other town resident to join the association if they wish. Happy Birthday to the following Members who have birthdays in this Newsletter period(june - August) incl. Martin Roland Frigate on 5th June John Galway Frigate on 6th June Bob McMorran Frigate on 18th June Peter Danks Frigate on 20th June Allan Lorriman Cruiser on 21st June Peter Buckingham Cruiser on 26th June Eric Dover Cruiser on 28th June Mark Sheldon Frigate on 4th July Vic Wilson Frigate on 14th July
20 20. Roy Blowers Cruiser on 16th July William Parker Cruiser on 17th July Fred Coates Frigate on 26th July Dan Sherren Frigate on 28th July Alf Larkin Frigate on 4th August Roy (Topsy) Turner Cruiser on 5th August Alan Styth Frigate on 10th August Richard Llewellyn Cruiser on 14th August Robert Taylor Frigate on 14th August Donald Birrell Cruiser on 16th August Wilbert Curran Frigate on 31st August Happy birthday to all our Associates; because of the numbers and space I don't individually list you but Henry Harwood reached the grand age of 90 on August 25th. Henry has not enjoyed good health since he joined us for the 75th celebrations at the NMA and Portsmouth. There are lots of impressive dates here. Many congratulations to all of you and best wishes for a happy and healthy year ahead. SUBSCRIPTIONS Many thanks to all of you who have sent subscriptions either to me or paid by electronic means by bank transfer or using the 'subscribe' or 'donate' buttons on our website. Bank details: HMS Ajax and River Plate Veterans Assoc Account no , sort code There are still a few outstanding so please rectify this as soon as possible. Drop me an or call if you are in doubt. We've just discovered a problem with the website the current design is the desktop version and the mobile version that comes up on phones and ipad etc. doesn't always load all the features for example, the electronic joining forms do not load up; any problems please contact us. Our busy year will end with the reunion this year in Portsmouth on October 1st, please let me know ASAP if you wanted to go but are unable to do so, due to day, venue or any other reason which will help us decide events for next year at the AGM. I hope you all are enjoying the newsletters, either by hard copy or . It's our means of keeping in touch with each other so another plea - to family members reading this please contact me with any change of address or circumstances. I've recently discovered that a lot of the next of kin details on original forms are now out of date (hardly surprising as many of us have moved house several times!)i will endeavour to send you individually a slip with the details I have either with this newsletter or the next. I would appreciate you letting me know changes or confirmation by a quick , message, text or phone call whichever is easiest for you. I cannot issue a full list as with all the information on it there are many pages and totally against data protection. I didn't get any feedback regarding producing a Christmas card so have not progressed this idea from one of our members. I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible at the reunion. We will spend some time thinking of all of you unable to join us. The next newsletter will be in December so Christmas will be round the corner! Please send me anything you would like included in my membership update. Take Care. Judi Collis Membership Secretary , for texts (land line best for calls) The Bewicks, Station Road, Ten Mile Bank Norfolk PE380EU