What a Marvellous Weekend
What a marvellous weekend! Full of so many memories, pageantry, meticulous timing of every event and the pre-planning of every detail completed. The meeting of so many friends, amidst a beautiful sunny and happy atmosphere, is it any wonder that the members of the Gosport Branch of the Submariners Association felt privileged to attend such an event.
Members present were Mr And Mrs Bird, Mr And Mrs Cubitt, Mr and Mrs Hall, Mr and Mrs Ramsden, Mr and Mrs Stanyear, Mr and Mrs Willson, Mr Don "Rattier" Morgan (who paraded the Standard), Mr and Mr K Leither (Senior & Junior) and Mr "Taff" Seamark.
Although we travelled in separate modes of transport, journey times averaged about 6 hours, except Bob and wife who went the scenic route! Approximately 324 miles from Fareham all arrived in brilliant sunshine on Friday afternoon.
The Royal British Legion, Barrow was the arranged venue for meeting, which is the home patch of Barrow SA. We, amongst other shipmates and wives were welcomed to Barrow by Chairman Ken Collins, assisted by John Houlding, Ron Hiseman, John Hart, Ted Budgen and other members of the committee. We had the weekends itinery fully explained with a computer aided "moving" parade state - very moving.
All this in the company of the S/M service two heroes, Ian Fraser VC and Nat Gould VC, plus an introduction to WO Snowdon, OIC of parade. Poor old Don Morgan was quaking in his shoes.
So after a long drive a most entertaining evening and lots of liquid refreshments and off to our respective B & B's.
Saturday morning arrived too quickly, but Barrow was again bathed in light, clear skies. Guess FOSM must have sent a signal "upstairs".
The Town Hall was the first venue, with Standards flying, Guard of Honour and Royal Marine Band playing. We were welcomed to such an historic event - Freedom of the Borough upon the Royal Naval Submarine Service. The Mayor of Barrow, the Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria and FOSM Rear Admiral Stevens, were all in excellent voice with FOSM's acceptance of this honour reminding us of his last time in Barrow, as CO of HMS Torbay, having to tend to letters of apology to the said Mayor regarding misdemeanours of his boats company run ashore.
Again with Standards flying, Guard with bayonets unsheathed and RM Band playing, we all marched through the streets of Barrow, down into the shipyard of BAe, Vickers, as we knew it. There we fell in with other units - cadets etc - on the parade site, under the command of OIC Rear Admiral Tony Whetstone, our esteemed President.
Prior to the inspection of the parade, FOSM presented Percy William Butters, an X Class WWII crew member, with his Second World War medals. The Barrow Standard was consecrated in a most moving celebration by the drum and bugles of the RM Band. On conclusion the parade was dismissed and smartly moved off, with several changes of step and motions!
The Royal Marine Commandos then gave us the most breathtaking parascending display without any injuries! Then followed by a junior cadet field gun run using the very special gun carriage made by BAe for the occasion.
Next it was off to Craven Park, Barrow's Rugby League ground, in readiness form the formal parade with FOSM again being the VIP celebrity, with the traditional closing of the day by the full RM Band and "Sunset" (as only the RM's can complete) This was followed by a daylight firework display.
The very full day then concluded with VIP's and Honoured Guests plus Ken Leather + Son + Taff Seamark (how did they get in?!!) attending a formal dinner at the Town Hall with a social held at the Forum 28 Club, where we were superbly entertained by Yvonne Paterson & Co until the wee small hours.
On Sunday an interdenominational service was held to celebrate the Centenary of the Submarine Service and to remember those who could not be with us. It was held at St James Church and conducted by the Rev Barry Hammett RN, Staff Chaplain to the C-in-C Fleet. All Standard Bearers duly presented their Standards with Barrow's newly decorated Standard recovered from dedication. Rear Admiral Tony Whetstone read the first lesson and FOSM the second. The address was given by the Rev Barry Hammett.
On conclusion of the service and after all the dignitaries had left, Standards and members of the SA, led by the RM Band, marched and returned to the RBL and concluding ceremonies, where Ken Collins thanked all concerned and in return we all thanked him and his committee for such a wonderful and dedicated weekend.