December 12 2013 Latest news:
By Anthony Carroll
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
They were brave seafarers who risked their lives to protect the nation in its darkest hour.
But thoughts turned to lost comrades as about 60 former members of the Royal Naval Patrol Service (RNPS) gathered in Lowestoft to pay their respects to colleagues who made the ultimate sacrifice during the second world war.
A service of remembrance was held at the Royal Naval Patrol Service Association’s war memorial in Belle Vue Park and this was followed by a march-past and sunset ceremony in Sparrow’s Nest Gardens.
The annual ceremonies paid tribute to the 14,500 patrol service members who lost their lives during the war as they carried out vital but perilous minesweeping and anti-submarine patrols under the guidance of the organisation’s headquarters in Sparrow’s Nest gardens – HMS Europa.
As well as the 60 veterans and the association’s president, Commander Gary Titmus, of the Royal Navy, Saturday’s ceremonies were attended by civic leaders, including mayor of Lowestoft June Ford who paid her respects alongside members of the town’s Royal British Legion branch.
Cadets from 469 Lowestoft Squadron Air Training Corps also took part.
Leo Whisstock, national secretary of the RNPS association, was a standard bearer during the ceremonies along with a member of its branch in Hanworth, west London.
Mr Whisstock, whose father Joseph served in the RNPS on HMS Troup Head, said: “There were about 60 veterans there for the weekend and the service went as well as it could.
“Their numbers are getting fewer each year – originally 66,000 served in the Royal Naval Patrol Service Association.
“The patrol service did dangerous work minesweeping and carrying out anti-submarine patrols. It was a hazardous job.”
The service was led by the RNPS’s padre Jim Izzard and Tim Jenkins, of the Fishermen’s Mission.
And there were some nostalgic scenes for members as Margaret Dann, from Norwich, brought along a service sheet from the opening of the association’s war memorial in Belle Vue Park in October 1953.
Parts of the 60-year-old service were read out to those present.
Mrs Dann was in Lowestoft to remember her father, Bert Harvey, who lost his life while serving in the RNPS as a second hand on HMS Thistle. She was just a year old in 1941 when the vessel struck a mine and sunk just off Lowestoft pier.
The ceremonies were also attended by members of the Beccles branch of the Royal British Legion and Royal Navy Association, as well as members of the HMS Ganges Association and the Royal Anglian Regiment Association.
The weekend also saw the Royal Naval Patrol Service Association hold its annual meeting last Friday night at Lowestoft’s Hotel Hatfield.