Latest donations

During the past week, Project Vernon funds have been boosted by donations totaling several hundred pounds from Cdr John Grattan OBE RN, Andrew Bailey (son of wartime diving officer Lt Bill Bailey CBE DSC GM & Bar RN), ex-TON class 'Sparker' David 'Bagsy' Baker and former CDs Chris 'Paddy' Doonan and Alex Peters. Sales of signed copies of books via the website's shop have added several hundred pounds more.

Thank you all. Please keep it coming.

Recent donations

Recent donations include £500 from a particularly generous but untraceable benefactor and £215 from the collection box in Gunwharf Quays.

The Project has also received £325 as a result of the latest 11th MCM Squadron reunion in Hull. Every year since 1982 the City of Kingston Upon Hull holds a Festival of the Sea weekend to commemorate the contribution the city made to the Falklands conflict.  This is recognised as those ships that were taken up from trade (STUFT) for the conflict that included the North Sea ferry MV Norland that survived AAF bombing while landing 2 Para at the San Carlos beachhead and then returned later to land elements of 5 Infantry Brigade having collected them via the 5 RN manned Hull minesweeping trawlers Cordella, Pict, Northella, Junella and Farnella in South Georgia from QE2.  The trawlers then operated around both East and West Falkland supporting SF operations as well as a 'guinea pig’ exploration for influence mines in a designated NGS area.  Following the surrender of Argentine forces, the trawlers swept the routes into Port Stanley and then cleared the declared moored minefields.  The ocean going tugs Yorkshireman, Irishman and Salvageman operated between South Georgia and the Falkland Islands in the Tug, Repair and Loitering Area.

Some of the attendees at the recent 11th MCM Squadron reunion in Hull

Some of the attendees at the recent 11th MCM Squadron reunion in Hull

The weekend is well supported by the good people of Hull who make welcome many former servicemen who took part in the conflict. The South Atlantic Medal Association (SAMA), is well represented as are those formerly of 2 Para, the 11th MCM (Trawler) Squadron and merchant seamen who manned the tugs and the Norland.  The guests of honour this year included the Lord Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire the Hon. Dame Susan Cunliffe-Lister, Admiral Lord West of Spithead, former Commanding Officer HMS ARDENT and Lady West, Major General Julian Thompson, former Commander 3 Commando Brigade and Commodore Michael Clapp, formerly COMAW/Commander Amphibious Task Group Falklands.  Lunches were held, a Church service fllled Hull Minster followed by a parade and receptions at various hostelries.

To help the weekend flow smoothly the Yorkshire Brewhouse brewed a significant quantity of  ‘5 Trawlers Amber Ale’.  Profit from the sale of 80 bottles plus a contribution from a raffle held by former 11 MCM Squadron members totalled £252 that has since been donated to the Vernon Monument Project.

Next year’s gathering will be held on the weekend of 25/26 April 20 and apparently hotel accommodation is already scarce.

Sales of books via the website's shop are also reaping a useful return.

Newly published trilogy covering minewarfare operations during the First & Second World Wars

Newly published trilogy covering minewarfare operations during the First & Second World Wars

Thank you one and all.

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.