AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

Over £250k has been raised towards the erection of the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument in Gunwharf Quays to date but there is an irresistible strength of opinion to see the project completed sooner than currently envisaged. The Trustees have therefore sought and received unanimous agreement at a recent meeting to undertake a radical review.  You will be pleased to hear that steps are being taken to bring the monument to completion in a much quicker timescale than was previously forecast. 

Despite the sterling efforts of many supporters, sufficient money has not been forthcoming to pursue the original sculptor’s design and, as is quite usual in such circumstances, he is unwilling to surrender the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for his creation to be implemented by someone else.  The project’s legal position has been confirmed with an IPR lawyer and advice has been sought from a former president of the Royal British Society of Sculptors.  The upshot is that a modified design needed to be considered. 

To this end, a number of new sculptors were briefed that a mine and a diver, in keeping with the project’s original logo, were to be the essence of a new design for the sculpture. The outcome was that on Thursday 4 October 2018 four parties each presented a maquette and their proposals to a panel of our peers at Gunwharf Quays. The selection panel included members of MCDOA, MWA, AoRNFCD, RNCDA, and the TCA. The criteria included, amongst other things that the design should be suitable, representative of our wishes, fully viable, achievable in a reasonable timescale and be within or very close to our funds in hand whilst also allowing a contingency amount to cover any eventualities. 

At that meeting it was decided that we should ask one particular sculptor for a fully detailed and technically tested design with a detailed programme of production. This has now been done. Once this is accepted by all concerned a contract will be signed and the monument production should be underway. 

We will then announce the name of the sculptor and put out a proposed schedule for production and, in due course, installation. There is some fine tuning to be done on the design and once this is complete an artist’s impression will be put on the website. 

We anticipate that the likely installation date will be in the late winter or early spring of 2020.

 We are well aware that people very generously supported the monument by purchasing items from the shop on line that showed the previous monument design. These sales were all done in good faith and we are grateful for the support. These items are now part of the history of the Vernon Monument and should be cherished as such.

A celebration of the life of one of our keenest supporters

A memorial celebration of life has been arranged for Frederick ‘Tug’ Wilson, a former Royal Navy diver and bomb disposal expert from Brompton who recently died at the age of 77.  It is at the Plough & Chequers in Danes Hill, Gillingham, starting at 1230 on Tuesday 25th September.  

  Former CPO(D) Frederick ‘Tug’ Wilson

Former CPO(D) Frederick ‘Tug’ Wilson

Tug - who lived at Melville Court for many years - joined the Royal Navy at the age of 15 and served for 30 years, eventually leaving as a Chief Petty Officer Clearance Diver.

Tug spent the whole of his working life with explosives, and after leaving the Royal Navy he ran a gun shop on Medway City Estate.  Then he joined the staff of the tri-service Defence Explosive Ordnance Disposal School at Chattenden as a civilian where he stayed until his retirement.  

Tug was an enthusiastic member of the Chatham Branch of the Royal Naval Association, helping to bring the national conference of the organisation to the Medway Towns in 2003.  He was chairman of the Chatham Branch for a number of years and became Area Chairman with jurisdiction over RNA branches in Kent, Surrey and East Sussex until he was forced to step down due to failing health. 

In that role, he was involved in the plan to erect a monument to honour those involved in mine warfare, diving and bomb & mine disposal to be erected in the basin of the former HMS Vernon in Portsmouth.  Donations will be taken at the memorial event.

Anyone who knew or worked with Tug is welcome to attend and will be invited to say a few words.

Latest fundraising activity

Dart 10k Swim

The project to erect the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument has recently benefited from the fundraising activity of former CPO(D) David Bond and his daughter Suzanne who raised sponsorship money swimming the Dart 10k. This is only the latest of several contributions by David who has previously swum around Portsea Island, the length of the River Dart and off Blackpool and Slapton Sands.

David and Suzanne Bond Dart 10k.jpg

David and Suzanne can still be sponsored for their efforts via their JustGiving page here with 50% of the money going towards the Vernon Monument and 50% going towards Cancer Research:

Dart 10k Swim

Pickle Challenge

The project has also benefited from the sponsored circumnavigation of England and Southern Scotland via the Caledonia Canal by Geoff Goodwin in a Dawn Class 39 yacht called ‘Pickle’. Geoff completed this venture with his friend Ian, the yacht’s owner.

Geoff and Ian set off from Weymouth on 2 July and their eventful voyage (their ensign, ensign staff and fittings were carried away in rough weather the first night) took them anti-clockwise via Brighton, Harwich, Lowestoft, Grimsby, Hartlepool, Whitehills, Inverness, Oban, Craighouse on Jura, Port Ellen on Islay, Bangor NI, Dundalk Bay NI, Port Oriel in Eire, Howth near Dublin, St Bride’s Bay, Falmouth and Dartmouth until arriving back at Weymouth exactly five weeks after their departure.

Geoff can still be sponsored for his ‘Pickle Challenge’ via his Virgin Money Giving page here with all proceeds going towards the Vernon Monument:

Sailing Around England and South Scotland

Pinta’s Farewell

The Project has also received the proceeds of a raffle and auction at a formal dinner held on board HMS VICTORY to say farewell to CPO(MW) Antony ‘Pinta’ Beer on leaving the Royal Navy. Thank you, Pinta, and the best of good fortune in your ‘retirement’.

Pinta Beer dining out on board HMS VICTORY.jpg

Sales of Home Waters

Since the launch of ’Home Waters - Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy and US Navy Mine Forces Battling U-Boats in World War I’ in April, sales of signed copies have enabled two donations, each of £500, to be made towards the Project with more expected.

Home Waters author signed front cover med.jpg

If you would like your own copy of ‘Home Waters’, signed by Rear Admiral Paddy McAlpine CBE (the Royal Navy’s highest ever ranking Minewarfare & Clearance Diving Officer who penned one of the the forewords) and co-author Rob Hoole, email rob.hoole@vernon-monument.org. The cost is £30 (including P&P) of which £10 will be donated towards the Vernon Monument.

‘Home Waters’ is the first volume of a trilogy. The second volume is titled 'Night Raiders' and will cover RN, RAN, RNLN and USN minewarfare against Japan in the Second World War. It is due to be published late this year or early next year.

The third volume in the trilogy is titled 'Enemy Waters' and will cover RN, USN, RAN, RCN, RNoN and French Navy minewarfare against Germany and Italy during the Second World War. It describes HMS VERNON's central role in the design of mines and mine countermeasures and in the development and execution of minelaying, minesweeping and bomb & mine disposal. The postscript contains a description of the role of the 'P' Parties as the forebears of today's clearance diver branch. From their inception in late 1943, the ‘P’ Parties were formed by the Admiralty’s Director of Minesweeping, under the auspices of HMS VERNON in Portsmouth. On 1 October 1944, all Royal Navy diving, including the ‘P’ Parties, was transferred to the Admiralty's Director of Torpedoes and Mining (DTM), also under the auspices of HMS VERNON. 
'Enemy Waters' is due to be published late next year.

Co-author Rob Hoole’s proceeds from all three volumes will be donated towards the Vernon Monument.

Vernon Monument to benefit from new book

Home Waters cover (2).jpg

Home Waters – Royal, Royal Canadian and US Navy Mine Forces Battling U-Boats in World War I
Available now to help mark the end of the First World War.  Co-author Rob Hoole will be donating all his proceeds to the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument. 

The richly illustrated 428 page paperback 'Home Waters - RN, RCN and USN Mine Forces Battling U-Boats in World War I', containing a foreword by highest ever ranking RN MCDO Rear Admiral Paddy McAlpine CBE among others, is now available here from Heritage Books in the USA at a cost of $74.99 (currently about £53) including overseas P&P.
Alternatively, email Rob Hoole at rob.hoole@vernon-monument.org and he will send you a copy, inscribed if desired, on receipt of £30, including UK P&P.  He will donate £10 towards the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument for each copy purchased.

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Prince Harry attended the Reception prior to Vernon Monument ‘Falklands 35’ Charity Dinner in July 2017

  Prince Harry at the Defence Diving School in October 2007

Prince Harry at the Defence Diving School in October 2007

Prince Harry attended the reception for Project Vernon, the campaign to install a monument dedicated to the heritage of HMS Vernon, at Trinity House on Wednesday 19 July 2017.  His Royal Highness is Commodore-in-Chief, Small Ships and Diving, Royal Naval Command.  The reception took place ahead of the Vernon Monument ‘Falklands 35’ Charity Dinner, which marked the 35th anniversary of the Falklands War and was be attended by a number of our Falkland veterans.