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Newsletter September 2014
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2014 Reunion

 

Last call for all those that want to attend..


Copthorne Hotel Plymouth - 18th October 2014


The HMS Argonaut Associations 2014 reunion will take place in Plymouth on the 18th October.

If you are a former member of the Argonauts ships company or a family member then please consider coming along.

This year we have a great deal of interest from crew members that have not been before with particular interest from the 1988 - 1993 crew.

Cost is £30 per person and this will include a 3 course meal.

We will also be holding a raffle in aid of our memorial fund (tickets available online)

The Copthorne have offered special room rates:

£68.00 Twin including breakfast

£68.00 Double including breakfast


As well as 10% off all drinks at the Gallery bar.

 

Dont forget to book you meal via the HMS Argonaut website

 

DRESS CODE IS JACKETS AND SHIRTS

Buy Reunion Tickets

Memorial Fund Raiser


Friday 19th September from 19:30 at The Fairfield Arms, 92 Manchester Road, Audenshaw, Manchester M34 5GR.

Entry £12 (tbc) for disco and hotpot supper. 'Military' dress theme .. Raffle and spot prizes.

For Raffle tickets please contact Paddy Gallagher - rsg.gallagher@talktalk.net
 

Australia's start to the Great War 


At the moment the war started, the German-flagged steamer SS Pfalz was in Melbourne. Its captain was well aware of the impending crisis, and what it would mean to be in a British Empire harbour once the first shots were fired.
Little would he know they would be directed at him.
Captain Kuhlken had put his crew on immediate notice to leave. All he had to do was pass the Port of Melbourne’s Heads.
 
On board the SS Pfalz was 200 tonnes of coal. He knew this precious fuel would be redirected to supply the Pacific Squadron of the Imperial German Navy.
So too did the Australian navy.
In anticipation of the expiration of the diplomatic deadlines that marked the final days of peace, Victorian naval officers had manned an “examination centre” at the entrance to Port Philip Heads. Fort Nepean.
Captain Kuhlken set sail on the morning of August 5, 1914. He thought he had several hours to spare.
 
The German skipper was almost right. It took the Australian military several hours to receive and decode the official diplomatic traffic declaring Australia was now at war with Germany and her allies.
The sight of the SS Pfalz steaming out of harbour sent the Defence Minister and his staff into frenzy. Once urgent legal advice was obtained, they resolved:
Fire a shot across the ship’s bow.
 

WITH MOMENTS TO SPARE, THE GUNNERS OPENED FIRE

 
The soldiers and sailors stationed at Fort Nepean in Port Melbourne received their orders just as the German ship approached a line of fire which threatened to expose the suburb of Queenscliff to any stray shells.
With moments to spare, at 12.39pm, the gunners opened fire.
The six-inch gun hurled its 45kg shell at the steamer. A geyser of water went right over the ship.
A pilot boat rushed alongside: Pull up, or the next shot will be aimed right at you, came the shouted warning.
Captain Kuhlken knew he was defeated.
His ship — heavily laden, unarmed and unarmoured — stood no chance against the heavy guns of the fort.
By 5.15pm the SS Pfalz was tied up at the pier again and her crew detained.
She was the first German “loss” of the war.
And Fort Nepean had fired the first shot on behalf of the British Commonwealth.
 

AMBUSH IN THE DARK AND A CAPTURED CODEBOOK

 
Even as the SS Pfaltz settled back into the Melbourne docks, attention shifted to the scattering of other German vessels in Australian waters.
One ship, the SS Seydlitz, left Sydney on August 4, 1914 without receiving its Australian clearance papers, triggering suspicions that it would warn other German ships in the region about Australia’s involvement in the war.
The Royal Australian Navy’s attention turned to another German merchant ship, the unfortuantely named SS Hobart, which was still in Australian waters, on its way from Fremantle to Melbourne.
The priority was to ensure German ships were not able to communicate to each other, so the RAN hatched a plan to jam any potential telegraph exchanges by keeping up incessant telegraph traffic. The second part of the plan was to maintain the impression of Australian neutrality, and war-like defences were removed from the coast.
Late in the afternoon on August 11, the Hobart arrived off Victoria’s Port Phillip Heads.
Ship’s captain was wary: He knew tensions were high. But he had not heard any news — or received any signals — revealing the declaration of war.
He decided to stop his ship hoping to assess the situation before passing inside.
A boat approached, full of smartly dressed civilians. Perhaps they could offer some news?
 

AUSTRALIAN BOARDING PARTY SENT IN DISGUISE


Instead it was full of Australian naval officers. They were a boarding party sent to seize the ship.
In bowler hat and overcoat, his pistol in his pocket, the raiders’ commander — Captain John Tracy Richardson — only revealed his true identity when he faced the SS Hobart’s captain.
Taking off his overcoat to expose his naval uniform beneath, Captain Richardson formally took the ship and its crew as prisoners of war.
But Captain Richardson wanted more.
So he let the German skipper roam the ship. Captain Richardson hoped the man would attempt to recover — and destroy — any secret documents.
Hiding in the captain’s cabin, Captain Richardson waited. Sure enough, in the early hours of the morning, two men crept into the darkened room and opened a secret compartment.
Captain Richardson, flicking on his torch and raising his gun, quickly took them in hand.
One of the documents proved particularly vital: A secret codebook known as HBV which allowed German merchant ships to communicate with German warships.
Now it just needed to be understood.
 

CRACKING THE CODE AND A VICTORY AT SEA


The book was the only copy in British hands and so all German codes the Admiralty intercepted were sent to Melbourne to be decoded.
Cracking the code fell to Frederick William Wheatley, a former Royal Australian Naval College instructor and a fluent German speaker.
It was a complicated code, involving 450,000 possible four letter groups. Its use was often confined to routine announcements between vessels, although the allies did not know that.
In the chaotic opening weeks of the war, the value of such intelligence was hard to gauge. But Wheatley believed any advantage over the enemy was priceless.
He became consumed by the task, working on the puzzle for three days and two nights, filling “thousands’’ of foolscap sheets of paper with letters, checking and cross-referencing.
On Melbourne Cup Day 1914, an exhausted and dispirited Wheatley decided to step away from his desk to go to Flemington to watch the race.
Maybe it was the inspiration he needed — back at his desk by 6pm, Wheatley had cracked the code.
“These messages…were all from the German Pacific squadron and gave their itinerary through the Magellan Straits, up to the Abrolhos Island off Brazil, …and then to West Africa,’’ Wheatley wrote.
Copies of the decoded books were sent to the Admiralty, and there is a view that the decoded messages enabled the British fleet to race to the south Atlantic where it defeated the German Pacific Squadron at the battle of the Falkland Island on December 8.
Although the war would drag on for four more years, Australia’s role was already cemented.
HMS Argonaut 1982 (Keith Boldy)

Limited Edition Prints (NOW ON SALE)


Keith Boldy (brother of Ian) has kindly donated 10 limited edition prints of HMS Argonaut in San Carlos Bay.

Keith has drawn the Argonaut as a donation towards the memorial fund. The original will be raffled at this years reunion while the other will be available from the HMS Argonaut web store once the reunion is over priced at £36.99 with 100% of the profit going towards the memorial fund.

HMS Argonaut Association & friend as raising money to erect a permeant memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives while serving onboard the Argonaut in peace time and at war.

Only 10 prints will ever be available and they are all numbered and signed on the back. 
Buy Now

Ascension Island
 

Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, around 1,600 kilometres (1,000 mi) from the coast of Africa and 2,250 kilometres (1,400 mi) from the coast of South America, which is roughly midway between the horn of South America and Africa. It is governed as part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, of which the main island, Saint Helena, is around 1,300 kilometres (800 mi) to the southeast. The territory also includes the "remotest populated archipelago" on Earth, the sparsely populated Tristan da Cunha archipelago, some 3,730 kilometres (2,300 mi) to the south (about thirty degrees of latitude) and about halfway to the Antarctic Circle.

The island is named after the day of its recorded discovery, Ascension Day, and is located at 7°56′S 14°22′W: 7°56′S 14°22′W, about as far south of the equator as tropical Venezuela is to its north. Historically, it has played a role as an important safe haven and coaling station to mariners and for commercial airliners during the days of international air travel by flying boats and during World War II was an important naval and air station, especially providing antisubmarine warfare bases in the Battle of the Atlantic and throughout the war. Ascension Island was garrisoned by the British Admiralty from 22 October 1815 to 1922.


The island is the location of RAF Ascension Island, which is a Royal Air Force station with a United States Air Force presence, a European Space Agency rocket tracking station, an Anglo-American signals intelligence facility and the BBC World Service Atlantic Relay Station. The island was used extensively by the British military during the Falklands War. Ascension Island hosts one of five ground antennae (others are on Kwajalein Island, Diego Garcia, Colorado Springs and Hawaii) that assist in the operation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) navigational system.


History - João da Nova, sailing for the Portuguese Crown, discovered the island in 1501 and named it Ilha de Nossa Senora de Conceição, but the discovery was quickly forgotten. In 1503, the Portuguese navigator Afonso de Albuquerque sighted the island on Ascension Day (which fell on 21 May that year) and named it Ilha de Ascensão after this feast day.[Dry and barren, the island had little appeal for passing ships except for collecting fresh meat, and was not claimed for the Portuguese Crown. Mariners could hunt for the numerous seabirds and the enormous female green turtles that laid their eggs on the sandy beaches. The Portuguese also introduced goats as a potential source of meat for future mariners.


In February 1701, HMS Roebuck, commanded by William Dampier, sank in the common anchoring spot in Clarence Bay to the northwest of the island. Some sixty men survived for two months until they were rescued. Almost certainly, after a few days they found the strong water spring in the high interior of the island, in what is now called Breakneck Valley (there is a much smaller water source, lower on the mountain, which was named Dampier's Drip by people who probably misinterpreted Dampier's story).


It is possible that the island was sometimes used [5] as an open prison for criminal mariners, although there is only one documented case of such an exile, a Dutch ship's officer, Leendert Hasenbosch, set ashore at Clarence Bay as a punishment for sodomy in May 1725. British mariners found the Dutchman's tent, belongings and diary in January 1726; the man had probably died of thirst or suicide.


Organised settlement of Ascension Island began in 1815, when the British garrisoned it as a precaution after imprisoning Napoleon I on Saint Helena to the southeast. On 22 October the Cruizer class brig-sloops Zenobia andPeruvian claimed the island for His Britannic Majesty King George III. The Royal Navy officially designated the island as a stone frigate, "HMS Ascension", with the classification of "Sloop of War of the smaller class".


The location of the island made it a useful stopping-point for ships and communications. The Royal Navy used the island as a victualling station for ships, particularly those of the West Africa Squadron working against the slave trade. A garrison of Royal Marines was based at Ascension from 1823.


In 1836 the Beagle voyage visited Ascension. Charles Darwin described it as an arid treeless island, with nothing growing near the coast. Sparse vegetation inland supported "about six hundred sheep, many goats, a few cows & horses", and large numbers of guineafowl imported from the Cape Verde islands, as well as rats, mice and land crabs; he agreed with the saying attributed to the people of St Helena that "We know we live on a rock, but the poor people at Ascension live on a cinder". He noted the care taken to sustain "houses, gardens & fields placed near the summit of the central mountain", and cisterns at the road side to provide good drinking water. The springs were carefully managed, "so that a single drop of water may not be lost: indeed the whole island may be compared to a huge ship kept in first-rate order." In commenting on this, he noted René Primevère Lesson's remark "that the English nation alone would have thought of making the island of Ascension a productive spot; any other people would have held it as a mere fortress in the ocean.” 


In 1843, botanist and explorer Joseph Hooker visited the island. Four years later, Hooker, with much encouragement from Darwin, advised the Royal Navy that with the help of Kew Gardens, they should institute a long-term plan of shipping trees to Ascension. The planted trees would capture more rain and improve the soil, allowing the barren island to become a garden. So, from 1850 and continuing year on year, ships came each depositing a varied assortment of plants from botanical gardens in Argentina, Europe and South Africa. By the late 1870s Norfolk pines, eucalyptus, bamboo, and banana trees grew in lush profusion at the highest point of the island, Green Mountain, creating a tropical cloud forest. 


In 1899, the Eastern Telegraph Company (now part of Cable & Wireless Worldwide) installed the first underwater cable from the island, connecting the UK with its colonies in South Africa. In 1922, letters patent made Ascension a dependency of Saint Helena. The island was managed by the head of the Eastern Telegraph Company on the island until 1964 when the British Government appointed an Administrator to represent the Governor of Saint Helena on Ascension. 


During World War II, to supply and augment extensive amphibious aircraft antisubmarine patrol operations ongoing from the early days of the war, the United States built an airbase on Ascension Island, known as "Wideawake",after a nearby colony of sooty terns (locally called 'wideawake' birds because of their loud, distinctive call, which would wake people early in the morning). The airbase, which was under construction by the 38th Combat Engineer Battalion of the Army Corps of Engineers, was unexpectedly visited by two British Fairey Swordfish torpedo planes on 15 June 1942. According to one of the pilots, Peter Jinks, the planes were fired upon before being recognised as allies. The Swordfish had to land on the unfinished airstrip, thus becoming the first land-based aircraft to land on Ascension Island proper — which had long served as an ASW base for Catalina (PBY Catalina) flying boats. The event was later commemorated with a postage stamp 15 June 1982.


The airfield was used by the US military as a stopping point for American aircraft crossing the Atlantic Ocean on the way to theatres of operation in Europe and Africa. American bombers based at Wideawake were engaged in the Laconia incident. After the end of World War II, and American departure, the airbase fell into disuse.


The only local military action during World War II occurred on 9 December 1941. At around mid-day, the U-boat U-124 approached Georgetown on the surface with the intention of sinking any ships at anchor or shelling the cable station. A two-gun shore battery at Cross Hill, above Georgetown, fired on the submarine. The guns scored no hits but the U-boat submerged and retreated. The battery remains largely intact to this day, together with its guns, BL 5.5 inch Mark I naval guns removed from HMS Hood during a refit in Malta in 1938.


With the Space Race and the Cold War, the Americans returned in 1956. Wideawake Airfield expanded in the mid-1960s. The runway, with its strange hump, was extended, widened, and improved to allow its use by large aircraft, and later to act as an emergency runway for the Space Shuttle, although the Shuttle never had occasion to use it. The United States Air Force uses the island as part of its Eastern Range. NASA established a tracking station on the island in 1967, which it operated for more than 20 years before closing it down in 1990. A joint Government Communications Headquarters and National Security Agency signals intercept station was also established on Ascension during the Cold War. The island retains a role in space exploration: the European Space Agency now operates an Ariane monitoring facility there. The BBC Atlantic Relay Station was installed in 1966 for short-wave broadcasts to Africa and South America.


In 1982 a British task force used Ascension Island as a staging post during the Falklands War, though according to Matthew Parris, "...at the start of the Falklands conflict Washington at first refused Britain permission to use the USA-operated airfield facilities for refuelling RAF jets. Only after Mrs Thatcher intervened with Ronald Reagan did the Americans reluctantly concede." The Royal Air Force deployed a fleet of Vulcan bombers and Victortankers at the airfield. Vulcans launched the opening shots of the British offensive from Ascension in Operation Black Buck. The RAF also used the base to supply the task force. Because of the increase in air traffic during the war, Wideawake was the busiest airfield in the world for a short period. The Royal Navy's fleet stopped at Ascension for refuelling on the way. Following the war, the British retained an increased presence on the island, establishingRAF Ascension Island, and providing a refuelling stop for the regular airlink between RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, and RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands.


As of 2004, it was reported that the Composite Signals Organisation, an arm of GCHQ, continued to operate a signals interception facility on Ascension. As of 2007 NASA continued to list Ascension Island as a "downrange site" used for range safety instrumentation. In particular, the Post-Detect Telemetry System used to acquire launch vehicle telemetry includes a station on Ascension. 


In 2008 British diplomats requested sovereignty, at the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UN CLCS), over 77,220 square miles (200,000 km2) of submarine territory around the island. This would enable exploration into new reserves of oil, gas and minerals, though none are thought to exist. 
 

Memorial Raffle Tickets


Memorial raffle tickets are available online from the Argonaut web store priced £2.00 per ticket.

The association are looking for prize donations for the raffle so please contact me if you have anything you wish to donate. 
Buy Memorial Tickets

Meet the Members

 

Ian “Vic” Feather


Date On-board: 
 
13 Feb 1981- 19 July 1982

Rank:
 
WEM (R) 1

Trade:
 
Weapons Engineer

When did you leave the RN:
 
20 March 1988

What was your last ship or establishment:
 
HMS Boxer

Did you do any resettlement course and if so what:
 
None

Where did you first live when leaving the RN:

Launceston, Cornwall

What was your first Job on leaving the RN:
 
Foreman of an Animal Feed Mill

What was your greatest achievement after leaving the RN:
 
Meeting and marrying my wife Toba

Where do you live now:
 
OSHAWA, ONTARIO , CANADA

What are you doing now are you still working or retired:

I am now a ” Process Superintendent” in a beverage can plant , responsible for maintenance of plant support equipment, boilers, vacuum pumps, compressors waste treatment, all chemicals and coolants etc.  Celebrate 27 years with same company “Ball Packaging”, this month.

What would you still like to achieve:
 
Travel to the Falklands, stay healthy and retire when I’m young enough to enjoy travelling.

Who would you like to meet up with from the Argonaut:
 
Any one from the Greenies Mess from 81-82

IWM London

Curiosities of War


See some of the more unexpected objects from our collections. Items on display range from a section of the bar where the Dambusters crew used to drink, through to a sofa which troops in Afghanistan made out of HESCO bastion fencing.

Discover people’s stories of modern war and conflict through these intriguing and thought-provoking objects.
 

IWM North

Women and Industry in the First World War


Exploring how the First World War changed the society we live in today, this new photographic display reveals images of women working in industry during the conflict.

As IWM builds towards a major programme of events and displays commemorating the First World War Centenary, six images by official First World War photographer G P Lewis will be enlarged to fill huge, 5 metre high frames, outside IWM North, on the Quays in Manchester.

Lewis, an official photographer of the home front, specialised in documenting heavy industry and photographed women workers in the glass, vehicle and food industries.

Taken from IWM’s renowned Photographic Archive, the images were jointly commissioned by IWM and the Ministry of Information, demonstrating the wide range of roles performed by women during the First World War.
 

Falklands Veterans Foundation 


The Falklands Veterans Foundation (FVF) was the first UK based charity for Falklands Veterans and their immediate families and is committed to providing a network of support and direction for those in need. 


The FVF works in partnership with all other Service Charities and organisations providing assistance for Falklands Veterans and their families. 


The FVF is available to point you in the right direction whether it is financial or to assist with any difficulties you are encountering. Please contact us at: info@falklandsveterans.org.uk.
 

Liberty Lodge


The Falkland Island Government leased the land at Rowlands Rise to the Falklands Veterans Foundation (FVF) at a ‘peppercorn’ rent to enable them to build a place of residence in Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands, for Veterans of the Falklands War of 1982 and their families, NoK of those killed in action and present day service personnel who are serving in the South Atlantic when the Lodge is not in use by Veterans and their families. 

The Stewart Milne Group, Aberdeen, Scotland, produced the timber framed building. The company liaised with local Scottish companies to supply all the fixtures, fittings and utility equipment required and it was all shipped to the Falkland Islands from Marchwood in Southampton. 

Ian Stewart Construction Limited, based in Stanley, FI received the containers on behalf of the FVF and started construction in October 2008. 

The naming of Liberty Lodge came about when all the school children in Stanley took part in a competition to choose a name for the building. This was very successful, lots of children took part and the name of Liberty Lodge, which was proposed by John Perrens, was chosen. 

Liberty Lodge is a self-catering facility with 3 twin rooms, all with en-suite bathrooms and a self-contained twin bed flat. At full capacity the Lodge can sleep up to 12 people. 

The Lodge boasts a large communal kitchen/diner to prepare and enjoy your meals, utility room and a spacious lounge, which overlooks a beautiful view of Stanley Harbour. It is maintained to the highest of standards. 

The Lodge has been fully utilised since opening in February 2009 by Veterans, families and serving members of HM Forces.
 

Booking Accommodation at Liberty Lodge


To book accommodation at Liberty Lodge please send your request to fvf@libertylodge.co.fk. All booking enquiries must be made via email. You will need to inform us of the dates you wish to be accommodated at the Lodge. You will receive an email confirming your booking if space is available at the Lodge. Upon receipt of this email you may use the address of Liberty Lodge for the duration of your visit to the Falkland Islands. 

The allocation of accommodation at Liberty Lodge is on a ‘first come first served’ basis. Please be aware that you would be sharing an en-suite bedroom if the Lodge is at full capacity and each room can sleep up to three guests. 

A laptop is provided for communal use and Wi-fi is available. Wi-fi and telephone cards can be purchased from the Lodge Manager. Towels and all bedding are provided. 

All guests are asked to take into consideration that Liberty Lodge’s running and maintenance costs are paid for by charitable donations. The CEO and Trustees of the Falklands Veterans Foundation would be extremely grateful to receive any donations at the end of your stay. 

Bookings can only be made on an individual basis.
 

Concessionary Flight Scheme


The MoD have kindly agreed to continue the Concessionary Flight Scheme which allows holders of the South Atlantic Medal 1982 to fly on the Falklands Airbridge at a cost of £275. This makes travelling to the Falkland Islands so much easier and affordable. If you would like an Application Pack please apply to: 

The Secretary
SAMA82
Unit 25 Torfaen Business Centre
Panteg Way
New Inn
Pontypool
Gwent NP4 0LS 

Tel: 01495 741592
Email: secretary@sama82.org.uk 
Website: www.sama82.org.uk

PLEASE NOTE:
If you fly via the Concessionary Flight Scheme you will be notified approx. 2 weeks prior to your flight date.
 
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