Contract signed

Talented sculptor Mark Richards has been awarded the commission to design, create and install the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving monument and a contract has been signed with a “Ready for Installation” date of 1 March 2020. 

Mark’s one-and-a-quarter scale structure will take the form of a British Mk 17 moored mine complemented by two divers wearing equally iconic CDBA (Clearance Diver Breathing Apparatus). Respectively, these elements will represent members of the mine warfare & diving community and celebrate their work - past, present and future.

The sculpture will stand proud of the surface of Pool B which is the middle of the three basins leading from the main gate in Gunwharf Quays, the residential, retail and marina development in Portsmouth. This was previously occupied by HMS VERNON, the Royal Navy’s alma mater of mine warfare & diving and base for mine countermeasures vessels. Here, it will be seen by a footfall of 8 million visitors per year. An artist’s impression of the monument in situ will be released shortly. 

It is intended to dedicate the monument next spring in the presence of a VVIP. In the meantime, fundraising continues for Phase 2, the means by which everything the monument signifies will be explained to the public.

Mark Richards has started publishing a blog to update supporters on his progress which will be available on http://vernonmonument.blogspot.com.

Other examples of his work can be seen at: www.markrichards.eu.

Pool B at Gunwharf Quays

Pool B at Gunwharf Quays

RN Minewarfare Heritage: New book now available

'Nightraiders', the second volume of the trilogy that started with 'Home Waters', is now available to order from the American publisher, Heritage Books, at a cost of $80 ($40 plus $40 p&p to the UK). This equates to £63.82 at the current exchange rate.

Alternatively, signed copies are available via the website’s Shop for £30 (including £4 UK p&p) with £10 going towards Project Vernon.

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Nightraiders: U.S. Navy, Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy, and Royal Netherlands Navy Mine Forces Battling the Japanese in the Pacific in World War II. Cdr. David D. Bruhn, USN (Retired) and Lt. Cdr. Rob Hoole, RN (Retired).

As war with Japan was imminent, the British laid minefields off Hong Kong and Singapore; the Dutch in the Netherlands East Indies; and the Australians off New Zealand and Australia, in an attempt to prevent enemy invasion. Ships hastily converted to this task were referred to as “night raiders.” Duty aboard a “floating ammunition dump” was hazardous enough; missions carried out under the cloak of darkness increased the odds of survival in enemy waters.

As MacArthur, Halsey, and Spruance’s forces advanced toward Japan, minesweepers worked with “night raiders”—clearing waters off landing beaches, while minelayers strove to deny the enemy freedom of the sea. Australian seaplanes (“Black Cats”) flew long, perilous night-missions to mine Japanese harbors, and British submarines and planes joined in the attack on shipping. Late in the war, USAAF bombers ringed the Japanese home islands with thousands of mines.

When hostilities ended, war-weary “sweep sailors” remained in Asian waters—ridding the sea of “shipkillers.” The little-known efforts of these valiant men are illuminated in this rare look into history. One hundred and forty-four photographs, maps, and diagrams; appendices; and an index to full-names, places and subjects add value to this work.

'Home Waters', the first volume of the trilogy launched last year, contains a foreword by MCDOA past-President Rear Admiral Paddy McAlpine CBE and a section describing the history of HMS VERNON. Signed copies are still available from the website’s Shop at the same price (£30 including £4 UK p&p) with £10 going towards Project Vernon.

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Home Waters: Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and U.S. Navy Mine Forces Battling U-Boats in World War I - David Bruhn and Rob Hoole.

In WWI under a crippling naval blockade of its North Sea ports which ultimately resulted in the starvation of thousands of its citizens and as land warfare in Europe drags on, Germany endeavours to counter-blockade Britain via U-boat attacks on shipping and by mining waters round the British Isles.

Hundreds of fishing vessels from every port and harbour in Britain are pressed into minesweeping duties and minelayers sow fields to restrict and destroy German vessels. Their efforts allow the powerful Royal Navy to hold the German Navy in port — except for occasional skirmishes, including the Battle of Jutland. American destroyers hunt U-boats in British waters, while minelayers create a barrier between the Orkney Islands and Norway, to try to deny the enemy entry into the Atlantic.

Desperate, Germany mounts a U-boat offensive off North America in the summer 1918, to induce the U.S. to bring her destroyers home. Although nearly one hundred vessels are sunk, this action fails. Germany surrenders in late autumn 1918 and allied vessels are left with the deadly task of removing thousands of mines laid in the war. One hundred and fifty photographs, maps, and diagrams; appendices; and an index to full-names, places and subjects add value to this work.

The third volume of the trilogy, titled 'Enemy Waters', will deal with minewarfare (minelaying, minesweeping and naval bomb & mine disposal at sea and on land) against Germany and Italy during the Second World War. It is due to be released next year.

Latest Fundraising

Many thanks to Jess Owen for placing the winning bid of £150 for this original framed painting of HMS Brinton, complete with banana and Fishery Protection Squadron funnel badge. The painting, signed and dated (1977) by R.G. (Bob) Hales, was donated to the Vernon Monument Project.

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A generous donation of £1,000 has been made by one of our own who wishes to remain anonymous. You know who you are - very many thanks on behalf of all of our supporters.

A very kind donation of £500 has been made by Chris Thompson who reminded Project Manager David Sandiford that he was in HMS Cottesmore while David was in HMS Chiddingfold.

A very handsome donation of £1,000 has been made by Mrs Eunice Viney, widow of the late CPO(D) Richard Viney, in Richard's memory. Very many thanks from all involved with the Vernon Monument.

Please note that every single penny collected, plus 25% Gift Aid where applicable, goes towards the campaign to design, install and maintain the Vernon minewarfare & diving monument. The project is a registered charity and all staff are unpaid volunteers.

News about our Merchandise

The Shop no longer sells items that displayed the previous design image. It is early days with the new design and once the finer details have been agreed it is anticipated that further merchandise, including clothing and miniatures of the new monument design will be offered for sale.

Keep an eye on the website and if you have ideas as what items you think should be offered for sale then fire them in via the ‘Contact Us’ page.

Click on the ‘Important Update’ below to find out why.