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2019

Regarding the strong presence at Andrew 'Ossie' Osbourne's funeral, a quick update from our secretary.
 

Dear ladies and gents,

 

On behalf of the committee and members of the Liverpool branch of the PRA, I would like to express our appreciation for the magnificent turnout from his many former comrades together with representatives from several North West Region branches, including five standards. 

 

Ossie's daughter, together with other members of Ossie's family also wished to express their thanks to the "band of brothers" that attended Ossie's funeral in such large numbers.

 

Kind regards,

 

Arthur Cheetham,

Branch Secretary,

Liverpool Branch PRA.

Andrew 'Ossie' Osbourne

Further update on the funeral of Ossie.

From the branch secretary,

Further to my email dated 5th December, I have now received the below details of Ossie's funeral from Maj. Frank Boyle. The funeral will be followed by refreshments at Broughton House. In order to assist with the catering arrangements Broughton has requested that we supply them with an approximate number of persons who intend going to Broughton House after the funeral, and Maj. Boyle has asked if anybody attending for the refreshments would notify him on 07462074474, preferably by text message.

Service to take place on Tuesday 17th December at 12.00 noon.
St Paul's Church
Moor Lane
Salford
M7 3QH

Followed by cremation at 1.30 pm.
Blackley Crematorium
Victoria Avenue
Blackley
M9 8JP 

 

Arthur C

Liverpool PRA Christmas Lunch 2019

Hi All, just a quick update on the annual Christmas Lunch held at the Britannia Adelphi Hotel and once again it was an incredible success, it was very well attended, a wonderful time was had by all, several members of the committee received Airborne Soldier statuettes in recognition for all their hard work on behalf of the members, which so often goes unseen, but is very much appreciated by all of us.

Once again there was an abundance of prizes donated for the raffle, which raised funds for the branch. I must mention the Britannia Adelphi hotel they really did us proud, they put on a fantastic spread, the tables were dressed immaculately, and also worthy of mention was the entertainment, the lady singer did a superb job.

Well done to all involved.

There are some photos from the Christmas Lunch in the gallery.

Andrew 'Ossie' Osbourne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is with great sadness that I have to inform members that Andrew ‘Ossie’ Osbourne has passed away.

More details will appear shortly.

Ossie joined the Broughton House family five years ago and was a much-loved character in the home. He joined the Army when he was 17, as a soldier in the Parachute Regiment. He was trained at RAF Ringway (which is now Manchester Airport), at the time it was the base for No.1 Parachute Training School and the DZ was Tatton Park.
The Second World War had just ended and Ossie's battalion was sent to Palestine on a peace-keeping mission on the Gaza Strip.

 

Following Palestine, his regular unit was demobilised and reconstituted as a Territorial Army unit. Ossie then took on the role of a Lance Corporal Cook in A Company, 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment - 4 PARA. At one stage he was asked to change his cap badge to that of the Army Catering Corps, but he refused! In order to keep his cherished airborne wings, he would leave the cookhouse, jump and then go back and continue cooking the meals for his comrades.

 

Ossie served for 40 years, jumped hundreds of times and while at Broughton House he was visited weekly by his friends from the Parachute Regiment.

Through the 'Soldiers' Charity' (ABF) funding, many other Army veterans enjoy a full and fulfilling life at Broughton House. During his time there Ossie enjoyed going on various excursions, including going to Church and a local pub once a week. Ossie received weekly chiropody and physiotherapy. 'The Soldiers Charity' gave Ossie the opportunity to live his life with dignity, comfort and fun.

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80th Anniversary of the formation of Airborne Forces and the establishment of No1 Parachute Training School​



Ladies & Gents,

 

With reference to my previous email dated 4th November 2019, I report that I attended an extraordinary meeting of the PRA North West Regional Committee at Fulwood Barracks, Preston, yesterday. The meeting was well attended by members representing their branches throughout the region. The purpose of the meeting was to set the ball rolling to organise how the region would commemorate the 80th anniversary of the formation of the Parachute Regiment and the associated airborne forces. As I mentioned in my previous email on this matter, the plan for commemorating the 75th anniversary presented a few logistical challenges that we did not want to repeat next year. Lt. Col. Dave Macaulay recommended that we should consider confining the event to Tatton Park as this had been the DZ for paratroopers that had undertaken their training at Ringway, and was a suitable venue for several events that he had in mind. He said that he had made some initial enquiries concerning erecting a marquee in the grounds, to be used for the catering. He had discovered that the cost for just renting the space would be in the order of £2,000 with a similar amount for renting the marque. In view of this, he said that he would make further enquiries regarding renting the banqueting hall and kitchen at Tatton Hall. There followed some general discussion on the matter and a number of suggestions were made regarding the catering arrangements. Col. Macaulay said that he had taken note of the suggestions and would make further enquiries regarding the catering and possible sponsorship from a local brewery.

 

It was stressed at the meeting that this would be organised as a family event and that members attending should be encouraged to bring their wives, girlfriends and families. In view of this Col. Macaulay said that he was in the process of organising a series of events that would be enjoyed by the children. These included a possible display by police dogs and he had been in touch with the RAF with a view to them putting on a display by the Falcons freefall team. He was also trying to arrange for the Regimental Museum to supply WW2 uniforms and kit to display and for serving members of the Regiment to display the modern uniforms, kit and weapons. It may also be possible for a parachute drop from a Dakota, with the parachutists wearing WW2 kit and uniforms.

 

The month of June was originally considered as a suitable period for this event to take place until it was pointed out that a number of military events would be taking place that month including the anniversary of the D day landings, Armed Forces Day and our own PRA National AGM. In view of this Saturday 11th July 2020 was decided on. One of the problems that we have in organising an event of this nature, is having a fairly accurate idea of the numbers that will be attending. We understand that it is sometimes difficult for people to commit themselves and members of their families so far ahead but 

it will be appreciated that although we are in the early days of planning this event we do need to have a fairly accurate number of persons likely to attend in order to negotiate prices and possible sponsorship deals. We anticipate that the cost of the lunchtime meal will be in the region of £25.00 - £30.00. It was agreed at the meeting that the bulk of the cost would be met from NW Region funds and that the cost to individuals attending would only be £5.00 and children £2.50. After some discussion, it was suggested that each branch should make a minimum contribution of £100.00. 

 

I will start a list at our next meeting for members wishing to attend, to put their names and of their family and friends wishing to attend the event. I should point out that anyone putting their names on the list will be considered as committed to pay whether they turn up on the day or not as the Region will be committed to pay for them. I will discuss with the treasurer whether the branch can provide or subsidise a coach for the event.

 

Regards,

 

Arthur C

Forthcoming Funeral:

I have been requested by Bruce Cargill, our chairman, to post the below details of George Melling, aged 93, a former member of the Regiment who, I understand, took part in the Rhine crossing during WW2.

The funeral details are as follows:

 

Deceased: George Melling,

Age: 93,

Funeral at 10.45 am, 14th November,

St Mark's Church,

Victoria Street, 

New T
Wigan,

WN5 9BN

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Joseph Mawdsley
The Borders Regiment
Arnhem Veteran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

05/11/2019:
It is with much sorrow that I have to inform all that one of PRA Liverpool Branch members, Joe Mawdsley, a veteran of the battle for Arnhem, passed away during the night.

The Funeral of Private Joe Mawdsley will take place at Christ Church, Aughton on Monday 18th November at 11:45 am, followed by a cremation at West Lancashire Cemetery & Crematorium.

People wishing to attend are invited to attend the funeral service at Christ Church, but due to restricted space at the Crematorium, the family have requested that this limited to Family, Close Friends and official representatives.

Following the Service, the family wish to invite everyone to a celebration of Joe’s life at Ormskirk Cricket Club from 12:30 onwards.

Family flowers only are requested, with donations if desired to The Alzheimer's Society.

Regimental and Association Wreaths are welcome and should be laid along the exterior wall of Christ Church for the family to view.

Monday 18th November at 11:45 am 
Christ Church
Long Lane
Aughton
Ormskirk
Lancashire
L39 5AS

Unfortunately, due  to limited space at the

Crematorium there is only room for family

and invited guests only.
However, everyone is invited to join the family in celebrating

Joe's life at  after the service at Burscough Cricket Club 

Ormskirk Cricket Club
Brook Lane
Ormskirk
Lancashire
L39 4RG

Regards

Phil Jennett

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The Liverpool Scottish Regimental Association Dinner. 

 

Friday 25th October 2019:

Members of the Branch were in attendance at The Liverpool Scottish Regimental Association Dinner last Friday, the Dinner was well supported by two tables taken up by the Liverpool PRA, music was provided by The Liverpool Scottish Regimental Association Pipes and Drums and a great night was had by all.

Photos were taken by Major Roy Bevan.

        There are more photos in the Gallery 

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Arnhem 75th Anniversary Commemorations

A group of Liverpool PRA members lead by Col Joe Harkon, along with members of the Combined Cadet Force, Army Section, affiliated to The Parachute Regiment lead Major E. Overend, attended the Arnhem commemoration. Here is a short slideshow of the trip.

Jersey Air Show 2019

Liverpool PRA member Alfie Brennan has recently visited the Jersey Air Show Sept 2019 and would like to share some of his photos as they may be of interest to other members.

This is the Nord Noratlas nicknamed the “La Grise” or “Nora”. The Noratlas was a dedicated military transport aircraft that served with the Armée de l'air (French Air Force) between 1953 and 1989.

During its service life, the Noratlas was initially operated in its cargo-carrying role; however, 10 had been fitted out, as ordered, to facilitate performing passenger operations as well. However, following the conclusion of the Algerian War of Independence in 1962 and the conclusion of French military operations in that theatre, many aircraft underwent conversion work to perform additional secondary roles. Of the various post-delivery customisations and modifications made to the Noratlas fleet, the eight Nord Gabriel’s, which were used in the electronic warfare role, was perhaps the most useful as well as being the longest-serving aircraft. During 1989, the final Gabriel was finally phased out of operations with the Armée de l'Air, marking the complete retirement of the wider type as well. It is believed that this Noratlas (F-AZVM/ 62-SI) is the only aircraft that is still airworthy.

More photos are in the gallery page two

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75th Anniversary Commemoration
of
Operation Market Garden

Liverpool Parish Church of Saint Nicholas

15th September 2019:

 

Once again the annual service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving was held at the Liverpool Parish Church of St Nicholas, this year we commemorated the 75th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden, the occasion was very well attended, with a terrific turn out from the PRA Liverpool Branch, there were various dignities in attendance such as the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside Mr Mark Blundell, High Sheriff of Merseyside, David Steer Esquire QC DL,  Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Ms Anna Rothery, the Polish Consul Leszek Rowicki and Honorary Dutch Consul Chris Shirling-Rooke, along with many Army and RAF Cadets. However, the guest of honour was none other than our very own WW2 Arnhem veteran Joe McAllister. Sadly our other Arnhem veteran Joe Mawdsley was not too well and was unable to attend and we send Joe our very best wishes for a speedy recovery.

We would also like to thank The Revd Canon Dr Crispin Pailing and The Revd Fergus Butler-Gallie, for the wonderful service, not forgetting radio personality Roger Phillips who gave an excellent reading.

 

Photos from the day were taken by Major (Ret,d) Roy Bevan and are available to view in the gallery.

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Honorary Life President Glyn Williams

The Parachute Regiment

President. Lt Col Dave Macaulay VR.

Chairman Arthur Cheetham

Vice-Chairman Ken Cooper MBE

Vice Life President L Long

Secretary. J Hardicker                                                                                                           Treasurer. J Hardicker

                                                                                                                                                  22nd August 2019

80th Anniversary of the formation of Airborne Forces and the establishment of

No1 Parachute Training School

 

Gentlemen,

I propose that the North West Region hosts a regimental day over the weekend of 27-28th June 2020 to commemorate the significant anniversary of the formation of Airborne Forces and the establishment of No 1 Parachute Training School.

Many of you will remember the excellent event we held at Tatton Park in 2015. My intent is to replicate that event but make it a regimental day to which families are also invited. There is a precedence for this in the North West as the region held similar events in 1973 and 1975.

I have engaged with RHQ and I intend to apply for funding to help deliver the event in an appropriate manner. I have gained the support of a small number of PRA members who have kindly agreed to form a committee to ensure the planning is given due diligence and the event runs smoothly.

I will update members as we develop the plan but for now, my intent is to deliver the following:

• A single one-day regimental commemorative event in June 2020

• Location-Tatton Park, Cheshire

• Attractions for families as well as PRA members

• Support from RHQ in the form of the regimental mascot Pegasus

• A senior regimental figure

• If available, a military band

• Equipment displays by serving members

• A lunch and beer tent

I trust all in the region will rally around and support this significant milestone for our beloved regiment.

Yours

Lt Colonel Dave Macaulay

President North West Region PRA

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8th September 2019: The Liverpool Pals are holding a service to mark the Centenary of the Pals return from Russia and their subsequent disbandment on Sunday 8th September at 2.00pm in Liverpool Parish Church (Our Lady and Saint Nicholas)

Standards are welcome and should be in attendance at 1.00pm for rehearsal.

 

All guests attending should be seated for 1.30pm. Standards are welcome and should be in attendance at 1.00pm for rehearsal.

 

All guests attending should be seated for 1.30pm

Funeral of John Speechley:
WW2 veteran John Speeeley's funeral took place on 16th June 2019, in Blacon, Chester. Members of the PRA Liverpool Branch were in attendance.
From left to right.
James O'Connell, President:-Colonel (Ret,d) J. Harkon MBE TD. DL, Andy Speechley (the grandson of John Speechley), Jolyon (JJ) Walker ex 216 Signals, Branch Secretary Arthur Cheetham.

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John Speechley's funeral:
John’s son Andy and his Daughter Maureen would like an attendance if possible, details below.

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Bold Guard 45 Memorial Service

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                    Memorial stone and plaque located in the                                                                                                         town of Sehestedt Germany
Captain Gerard Muir                   - A    Company 15 Para
Officer Cadet James Cooper       - C     Company 15 Para
Sergeant Richard Tomkins          - B     Company 15 Para
Sergeant Elliot Leask                   - SP   Company 15 Para
Lance Corporal Brian Bett           - SP   Company 15 Para
Private Edward Beach                 - A     Company   4 Para

 

Saturday 07 September:
 

11.30hrs Memorial Service Glasgow Cathedral conducted by the former 15 Para Padre the Rev Jim Smith.

As long as he is fit enough, the address will be given by Col Jim Burke, who commanded the Battalion on the exercise. The Training Major General Sir Mike Jackson and the Adjutant Chris Johnson have said they will be there along with the RSM Mick Edney.
 

Members of the families of Office Cadet James Cooper, L/Cpl Brian Bett and Private Edward Beach have indicated that they will be present. If anyone can identify members of the families of Captain Gerry Muir and Sergeants Elliot Leask and Richard Tomkins we would be very glad to issue them with invitations.

The Band of the Parachute Regiment will be playing for the service.

Dress code is smart. Blazers or suits with the appropriate ties will be fine plus red berets. If you have medals please feel free to wear them.
 

After the service, there will be a reception at the Strathclyde University Technology and Innovation Centre at 99 George Street, Glasgow. It should be no more than a 10 or 15-minute walk away downhill. A small group from the Regimental Band will be playing. The reception will end at 15.00hrs.

The names of those who have already indicated that they will be coming have been passed to RHQ for invitations which will be issued electronically. If any more indicate that they would like to be at the service and the reception the information should be forwarded to the Chief Clerk at RHQ Rob Airey at Robert.Airey100@mod.gov.uk

Alasdair Hutton

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2nd July 2019:                 3 Para Fallen - Ride of Respect 01-05 July 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

 

A huge thank you to Ex Major Paul Moore RE, he and his colleagues from,
“3 Para Fallen - Ride of Respect 01-05 July 2019”
The group is made up of Airborne veterans led by him. Paul is a veteran of the Falklands conflict and came up with a unique idea to ride in convoy to the graves of the fallen from 3 Para and their attachments who were killed during the Falklands war, in particular, those killed during the battle for Mount Longdon.
This is his way of paying his respects to the men he had fought with during the campaign and also to raise money for the charity SAMA82 which has helped many Falklands veterans and families of those who paid the ultimate price.
Next year he will be honouring the fallen from 2 Para and their attachments.

 

The small service took place on Tuesday 2nd July at 12.15 pm at Rake Lane cemetery, Wallasey;
Members of the Liverpool PRA were in attendance led by Col Joe Harkon.
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and Paul Moore gave very moving tribute to the memory of Cpl Stewart McLaughlin, which included a touching harmonica solo played at the graveside.

All photos were taken by Liverpool PRA member Alfred Brennan.

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22nd June 2019:
Parachute Regimental Association Annual General Meeting.
Regimental commemoration.
National Memorial Arboretum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again a wonderful day at the National Memorial Arboretum, around twenty plus members of the Liverpool PRA were in attendance, with approximately 250 branch members from around the regions. Joining the Liverpool Branch on the day was Norwegian veteran Øyvind Kili and his friend Nina.
The Band of The Parachute Regiment lead the way, closely followed by the Standards and over 180 members of the Association. It was pleasing to see an increasing number of Airborne Forces from the Royal Hospital Chelsea, including our own branch member WO1 John McNaughton, sadly our other RHC pensioner WO1 Tug Wilson did not make it due to ill health.

The sun was shining for the veterans as Lt General Sir John Lorimer, Colonel Commandant of The Parachute Regiment and President of The Parachute Regimental Association took the salute on the march past.
 

Major E Overend: (Combined Cadet Force, Army Section, affiliated to The Parachute Regiment)
 

Peter McCombe and I attended the National Memorial Arboretum – as well as attending the Regimental Commemoration, we went to the Burma Star Memorial to lay a poppy wreath for Sgt Tommy Bunn and went to visit the Chindit Memorial and to see Philip Hayden’s bench, also with us were members of The Liverpool PRA who came to pay their respects. The Chindit memorial is in a beautiful part of the Memorial garden - it was lovely to spend a few quiet moments thinking about our beloved veterans who are now with us in spirit.

 


 

 

Kohima Epitaph.

"When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today"

To view images from the day click on the button.                                   
Photos were taken by Major Roy Bevan, Alfred Brennan and Major Elaine Overend.
If you require credit for a photo used on the site, please contact me, James O'Connell.
Email: phelmets@aol.co.uk

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6th June 2019: Normandy, 75th Anniversary of D Day:

                                                             

 

 

                                                               BANNEVILLE-LA-CAMPAGNE WAR CEMETERY

What an occasion, it is hard to find the words to describe such an event, many of the last surviving veterans from Operational Overlord gathered in France to honour the sacrifice of those who died in the D-Day landings; they shed heartbroken tears at memorial services for comrades who fell on June 6, 1944.
 

The day began with a lone piper playing on the Mulberry harbour at Arromanches in Normandy, France, as British Army personnel mark the exact moment the first British soldier landed on Gold Beach 75 years ago.

Wreaths were laid, a minute's silence was held and veterans linked arms and sang, before watching an RAF flypast.

Many world leaders attended ceremonies honouring the Allied forces that fought in the largest combined land, air and naval operation in history.
 

Mrs May said she was humbled to be able to mark the moment with veterans, who belonged to a "very special generation, a generation whose unconquerable spirit shaped the post-war world. They didn't boast. They didn't fuss. They served," she said. "And they laid down their lives so that we might have a better life and build a better world, If one day can be said to have determined the fate of generations to come in France, in Britain, in Europe and the world, that day was 6th June 1944."
 

President Donald Trump called former US soldiers "The pride of the nation," and added "You are among the greatest Americans who will ever live. You are the pride of the nation. You are the glory of our republic and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts."
 

Mr Macron said: "This is where young men, many of whom had never set foot on French soil, landed at dawn under German fire, risking their lives while fighting their way up the beach, which was littered with obstacles and mines."
 

 

Branch members Alfie Brennan and James O’Connell were in Normandy.

There are more photos are available to view in the 

 

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6th May 2019:

Norway: Liberation Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following the recent trip to Norway in March 2019, the branch received another invitation for two members to join Norwegian veterans marking ‘Liberation Day’, which takes place on 8th May.
This day marked the end of Norway’s occupation by Nazi Germany during World War II.
Representing the branch were Col Ret,d Joe Harkon and Alfie Brenan.

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April 11th 2019:

I am posting this notice on behalf of ex-Major Paul Moore, he is visiting the grave sites of members of 3 Para and their attachments who were killed during the Falklands war.
We have local hero Cpl Stewart McLaughlin who is buried in Rake Lane Cemetery Wallasey CH455DE. It would be nice if anyone in the area could attend, Paul Moore will be there on Tuesday 2nd July at 12.15 hrs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Major Paul Moore

For those who do not know me, I am Maj (Retd) Paul Moore previously of 9 Para Sqn RE and 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment.  I served with 3 Para in the Falklands in 1982 as a young LCpl and my Section Commander – Cpl Scott Wilson – was killed during the battle for Mount Longdon.
I intend to visit the known gravesites of members of 3 Para who were killed in the Falklands conflict of 1982.  I am taking this on as a personal pilgrimage, but also in order to raise funds for the South Atlantic Medal Association (SAMA) in recognition of the good work they continue to do with, and on behalf of, all Falklands Veterans.

The motorbike ride will start in Durham on Monday 01 July and move around the UK in an anti-clockwise direction, ultimately ending up in Aldershot Military Cemetery on Friday 05 July where the majority of Airborne Forces fallen lie.  (The advantage of these dates is that it puts me in the right place for the unveiling of the Airborne Statue the following day on 06 July)  It will be kept simple.  All I intend to do at each grave location is to place a simple named wooden cross and have a few quiet moments of reflection. We hope that family members can be present.

On the return journey north the following week I also intend to visit the graves of Sgt Michael Willet GC, 3 Para and WO2 Peter Fenty 9 Para Sqn RE.  
I am hoping that other members of the Airborne Riders will join me at certain parts of the route or locations, and possibly offer some overnight accommodation on the couple of nights where overnight stops are required.  I’ll have a tent so camping is fine.

 

Day 2: Tuesday 2nd July

 

12.15 hrs Wallasey CH455DE – Stewart McLaughlin 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment

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Cpl Stewart McLaughlin.

Killed in action 12th June 1982.

Falkland Islands, Mount Longdon.

 

March 2019: Norway visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six members of Liverpool Branch PRA had the opportunity early in March of visiting the sites undertaken by those members of the SOE in WWII through a connection with Alf Brennan and Norwegian Veterans Organisations. It was four days of  hectic activity, including  viewing a Dakota which was being repaired ready to take part in the 75th Anniversary of D Day, followed by an exciting 38-kilometre ski-mobile trek over mountains across deep snow and frozen lakes to reach the Drop Zone of Operation Grouse, where we paid our respects at the memorial. We also visited the museum at Vinje which has a lot of information about the raids and to the heavy water plant itself and the very room where the machinery was demolished and finally to the lake and the ferry where the last of the heavy water was on its way to Nazi Germany, however, it was sunk by the Norwegian Resistance, in all an amazing trip and many thanks to Øyvind Kili the coordinator, Hotel Haukeli and the Norwegian Veterans who made the whole experience something to remember and very special, am sure there will be a follow up!

 

The Heroes of  Telemark.

Operation Grouse, Freshman and Gunnerside names were given to plans to destroy the heavy water plant in the Telemark area of Norway.

The Norwegian heavy water sabotage was a series of operations undertaken by Norwegian saboteurs during World War II to prevent the German nuclear weapon project from acquiring heavy water (deuterium oxide), which could have been used by the Germans to produce nuclear weapons. In 1934, at Vemork, Norway, Norsk Hydro built the first commercial plant capable of producing heavy water as a by-product of fertilizer production. It had a capacity of 12 tonnes per year. During World War II, the Allies decided to remove the heavy water supply and destroy the heavy water plant in order to inhibit the German development of nuclear weapons. Raids were aimed at the 60 MW Vemork power station at the Rjukan waterfall in Telemark, Norway.
 

Prior to the German invasion of Norway on 9th April 1940, the Deuxième Bureau (French military intelligence) removed 185 kg (408 lb) of heavy water from the plant in Vemork in then-neutral Norway. The plant's managing director, Aubert, agreed to lend the heavy water to France for the duration of the war. The French transported it secretly to Oslo, on to Perth, Scotland, and then to France. The plant remained capable of producing heavy water.[1] The Allies remained concerned that the occupation forces would use the facility to produce more heavy water for their weapons programme. Between 1940 and 1944, a sequence of sabotage actions, by the Norwegian resistance movement—as well as Allied bombing—ensured the destruction of the plant and the loss of the heavy water produced. These operations—codenamed Grouse, Freshman, and Gunnerside—finally managed to knock the plant out of production in early 1943.
 

In Operation Grouse, the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) successfully placed four Norwegian nationals as an advance team in the region of the Hardanger Plateau above the plant in October 1942. The unsuccessful Operation Freshman was mounted the following month by British paratroopers; they were to rendezvous with the Norwegians of Operation Grouse and proceed to Vemork. This attempt failed when the military gliders crashed short of their destination, as did one of the tugs, a Handley Page Halifax bomber. The other Halifax returned to base, but all the other participants were killed in the crashes or captured, interrogated, and executed by the Gestapo.
 

In February 1943, a team of SOE-trained Norwegian commandos succeeded in destroying the production facility with a second attempt, Operation Gunnerside, later evaluated by SOE as the most successful act of sabotage in all of World War II.[2] These actions were followed by Allied bombing raids. The Germans elected to cease operation and remove the remaining heavy water to Germany, but Norwegian resistance forces sank the ferry carrying the water, SF Hydro, on Lake Tinn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L/R  Michael Hurst / Neil Platt / ​Øyvind Kili

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St. Mary's honours Father Gerry Weston:

 

February 22nd:

St. Mary's College has paid tribute to a former pupil and priest who died during the Northern Ireland Troubles.

We unveiled a plaque earlier this week to honour the life and work of army chaplain Father Gerry Weston, who was killed by a bomb in February 1972, and is buried close to the school at SS Peter and Paul Church on Liverpool Road.

The event was held to tie in with our annual Patron’s Day Mass at the church. Following the service a wreath was laid at Father Weston’s grave, before guests returned to St. Mary’s to see the new plaque unveiled under the school’s World War Two memorial. The wooden mount for the plaque was designed and made by Mark Ireland, Head of Design and Technology at St. Mary's College. The ceremony was attended by Father Weston’s brother Paul and senior British Army representatives including Lt. Col. Andrew Jackson, a former pupil of St. Mary’s College, and Lt. Col. Andrew Wareing, both senior officers in the Parachute Regiment; former colleagues and members of St. Mary’s Combined Cadet Force (CCF). They were told about the remarkable achievements of the chaplain who served in Germany, the Persian Gulf and Kenya before being posted to Northern Ireland.

During the height of the Troubles, he frequently entered the difficult areas of Turf Lodge and Ballymurphy alone, talking with local people in an attempt to reduce tension. This placed him in considerable personal danger, especially as a rumour had been circulating saying that a soldier was involved in military activities disguised as a priest. For his own safety, his commanding officer eventually ordered his withdrawal. However, his actions were officially recognised when he was awarded the MBE for gallantry on February 15th 1972. Just seven days later, Father Weston and six civilians were killed when a huge bomb exploded outside the Officers’ Mess of the 16th Parachute Regiment in Aldershot. He was just 38 years old.

The Official IRA claimed responsibility for the attack, in retaliation for Bloody Sunday three weeks earlier. However, public revulsion at the bombing was in part responsible for the organisation calling a ceasefire three months later, and it subsequently disbanded.

St. Mary’s College CCF Contingent Commander and Head of History, Niall Rothnie, who has written extensively on military matters commented: “This plaque will be a permanent memorial to the remarkable life and tragic death of Father Weston, one of the school’s bravest sons who tried so hard to promote peace and reconciliation at the height of the Troubles.

“We are delighted that his brother and British Army representatives were able to attend to pay their respects, honour his legacy and also remember the other victims of one of the worst atrocities of the whole Northern Ireland conflict.”

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Father Gerry Weston

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