I would like to thank the many people who have written to
me to say how sorry they are to hear of Percy's poor health.
He has asked me to circulate the following letter:
George, After it was announced in the last newsletter that
I had given up the chairmanship of the Association because
of ill health I received a number of sympathetic letters from
members. Unfortunately I was too unwell at the lime to reply
to them. I would, therefore, like to take this opportunity
to thank all those who wrote for their kind wishes and thoughts.
I was able to attend the dinner and thank many of those there.
I am still "under the weather" but hope that my condition
may improve with treatment, sufficient to allow me to meet
everyone at the next dinner. Yours sincerely,
had a very successful Reunion dinner with 19 survivors present
and a total attendance of 63. Our President, the Earl of Gainsborough,
graced us by his presence and we were also honoured to have
Lady Rosemary Griffin with us. Lord Barham spoke of the great
work Percy Cullum and Len Homer have done for the Association.
He made a presentation to Percy to thank him for his 40 years
as its Chairman and gave a bouquet to Phyllis for her unfailing
support. Percy thanked Lord Barham and said what a pleasure
it had been to see so many present. Lady Griffin spoke of
her husband's death 7 months before and said she was so pleased
that members of the Association had attended services for
him at Bosham and St Martins-in-the-Fields. Percy Cullum was
then asked to present CPO Bob Woodgate of the Sea Cadet Corps
with a second bar to his Cadet Forces Medal.
This medal is awarded by authority of the Queen to those uniformed
instructors of the Cadet Corps who complete 12 years meritorious
service. A bar is awarded for every eight years meritorious
His medal was awarded in 1980 and his first bar was presented
to him by the late Admiral Sir Anthony Griffin at the Association's
reunion dinner in 1988. It is always the request of the Captain
of the Sea Cadet Corps that the medal or bar is presented
at a suitable occasion and Bob could think of none better
for the presentation of his second bar than this year's annual
dinner, the 25th one he has attended.
It was proposed and carried that I should be elected as the
chairman of the Association. Sidney Petherbridge was proposed
and elected as its treasurer and Michael Stratton- Brown as
its secretary. Ted Sibley volunteered to continue as a committee
our annual letter of loyal greetings to the Queen was late
being sent off and her reply was only received shortly after
the dinner. Sidney Petherbridge read out a list of those who
had asked to be remembered
He thanked Peter Yuile for his marvelous donation to which
everyone concured. Pincher Martin also wished t&thank the
kind person who had given him a free dinner. Many thanks are
also due to all those others who have very kindly made donations
when returning their attendance chits. The Dean of Westminster
Abbey, The Very ReVd Dr. Wesley Carr has kindly agreed to
our next remembrance and wreath laying service being held
on Saturday 22 November 1997.
usual those attending the service should arrive at the West
door and gather in the waiting area of the north aisle 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
hai'ing badges should wear them. Abbey staff will then direct
members to the choir or the transcepts for evensong. This
will be followed by our remembrance service around the nave
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 attached slip.
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.
John Cross spent
most of July as the only passenger aboard "Kairo", a container
ship making a round trip from Felixstowe to Hamburg, Rotterdam,
Antwerp, Tunis, Mersom, Dikaila, Alex, Beirut. Tartous, Izmir,
Salerno, and Felixstowe. The voyage was absolutely wonderful.
All the officers were German and although John was warned
beforehand not to mention the war they did.
He asked the Captain how near the ship would get to 32-34N
26-24E where HMS BARHAM was sunk to be told within 5 miles.
But he then said he would take John to the spot. When they
were near the Captain switched off the computer and asked
John to take the helm to the position. He jumped at it with
the Captain keeping an eye on him. They arrived at 4.30 am
and went down to the upper deck. There he was very moved to
find the whole ships company assembled for a short service
organised by the Captain.
The Captain said a prayer for all those who had perished,
one for for all the survivors and then a short prayer for
U331, its Captain and crew. John dropped a pair of Barham
cuff links, a Royal Marine cap badge and a sailors Barham
cap Tally over the side. The Captain took John back to the
bridge, sounded the ship's siren 6 times and showed him the
sonar. There on the screen were two bleeps; either two ships
had been sunk in this position which was thought to be unlikely
or HMS BARHAM had broken in two.
One half, perhaps more watertight, could have descended more
slowly, drifting the 114 mile the echos were apart. John was
very moved to be right over her after all these years.
Scofield, whose father A/SPO Robert S Craig was lost when
the ship sank, has written to say that her mother died on
12 May. Among her effects she has found a print of a painting
of the ship. It was painted by Leslie Kent and depicts her
leaving Crete in 1941.
anyone would like a copy I will ask her if she could have
One of our Royal Marine survivors, Derek Cutting who went
to live in Australia has been in England during the summer.
He got in touch with Percy Cullum, who in turn put him in
touch with the other RM survivors, Dave Ritchie, Alf Smith
and John Cross.
the time of going to press Percy is hoping to see Derek before
he returns to Australia. Harry Wickens, who has attended the
Abbey service, has written to ask if anybody knew his brother
Stoker William (Bill) Wickens who died when the ship sank.
Those who served Britain in the Armed Forces in South Africa
in WWI formed an association in 1927 called the "Memorable
Order of Tin Hats", and those who served in WWII also became
members proudly wear a miniature "tin hat" in their buttonholes
as a sign of their membership. The Secretary of the "Pillbox
Shellhole" in Richmond, Natal has written to say that they
are proud to have two of our survivors, Eric Mundy and Fletcher
Evans among their members. Both, he said, enjoy good health.
Terence Herrick who was the Commanding Officer of HMS
HOTSPUR when she picked up our survivors, has written a book
of his life in the Royal Navy entitled "Into the Blue".
book costs £14 and can be obtained from Parapress Ltd., 12
Dene Way, Speldhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 ONX. Please
mention HMS BARHAM Survivors Association when ordering.
is with sadness that I have to list those that have died since
the last news letter: Brian Lister died in April. He was a
great supporter of the Association and helped us when he was
President of the CPO & P0's mess in HMS PRESIDENT where our
reunion dinners were held. He attended many of our memorial
services in Westminster Abbey. Mrs Vera Archer, an associate
member, who attended the memorial services has died.
lost her brother Ord. Sig. Alec Alexander when the ship was
sunk. Her husband John wishes to continue the association.
Stan Mead who left the ship as an LSA in 1940 has just died.
He lived in Southampton.