Local folk

Photo:M1136 HMS Curzon/Fittleton

M1136 HMS Curzon/Fittleton

Image from the private collection of Tony Drury

Hove Sea Cadets in the 1960/70s

By Mike Hearn

I was a member of the Hove SCC unit from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, when the unit was based at the HMS Sussex RNR HQ at Maxwell's Wharf. The unit met twice a week, typically Tuesdays for band practise and Fridays for class instruction. The unit was originally based at the former RNR base adjacent to the King Alfred swimming pool.

I recall that the C.O. was Lieutenant-Commander Harvey and the 1st Lieutenant was Lieutenant Hayward. There were a number of instructors, Petty Officer Naylor, who left during the early 1970s, Chief Petty Officer Robertson, and later 2nd Officer Trevor Cox joined the instructors from the Merchant Navy.

Other names I can recall are: Keith Parker, NickForest, Kim Siddal, Jim Kavenagh, Steve Flowers, Sullivan, Johnson, David Miles, Duncan McKenzie, Jeff Hart, Crump, Mocket, Heaton, Norris, and Stoner. Interestingly a number went into the RN via HMS Ganges, the boys training establishment. NickForest and Jim Kavanagh I knew because we were pupils at De La Salle College in Hove. In the early 1970s it was renamed Cardinal Newman, and later Newman. Some of us undertook the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, with a number of unit members attaining the Bronze, Silver and Gold awards.

Periodically, the Minesweeper HMS Curzon, M1136 (later reverted to her original name HMS Fittleton in 1976), was berthed at HMS Sussex. She was one of the "Ton" class minesweepers and not a sea tender. She enabled the RNR crews to participate in a number of fleet exercises over the years as part of one of the RN Mine countermeasures squadrons. Indeed, some of the unit members would also join the Sussex Division RNR when they were able to.

HMS Fittleton was lost in 1976 lost when she was in collision with HMS Mermaid during replenishment at sea. A small number of her London Division RNR crew died. She was re-floated and salvaged and later was sold for breaking at Sittingbourne. Interestingly the reasons why this incident occurred were explained to a number of us in a class when I was a Midshipman Officer in Southampton University Royal Naval Unit, in the late 1970s, whilst I was at college in Portsmouth.

Over the years whilst I have been away from the south east, I would periodically meet old unit members, often by chance. NickForest was a PE teacher for a time at OakmeadsSchool in Burgess Hill. Kim Siddal plus son, I met at LindfieldPark. Crump I met at HMS Vernon the TAS school, when I was on a CCF course there in 1972. I met Sullivan, when we were working in a local manufacturing company in Portslade, in the 1980s. Jeff Hart, who played the cymbals in the band, I met in The Lanes and later again, by accident, when he was a drummer in the RAF band playing at Hurlingham in the early 1980s.

In 2003 I moved back to Sussex after some years away, I often wondered what had happened to Hove SCC with the disbanding of the Sussex and Solent RNR Divisions in the early 1990s. I joined the South Coast Branch of the World Ship Society, and there I met up with Trevor Cox, now a retired teacher from Newman school who was for a time the units C.O. in the mid 1970s. He was able to let me know about what had happened to the unit over the ensuing years and I was pleased to hear that it is still functioning albeit at a different location. I look forward to the unit reunion in November 2007.

This page was added on 02/09/2007.
Comments about this page

I am the Jeff (sic) Hart mentioned by Mike. I remember him meeting up with me as mentioned at Hurlingham Club in London where I was playing drum kit with the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, a gig we did every year. My early foray into the world of military music started at Hove SCC where I played cymbals in the parade band. We used to partake in competitions every year against other such bands. I recall having some photos of one such competition, in Guildford I believe, which I will have to dig out for this page. A number of the people above are in the photos. The PO at the time I was there was Neville Witten who I met in later years when I was 1) performing with the Staff Band of the Royal Marines ,which I joined on leaving the cadets in 1971/2) later at Shoreham Airport when I had transferred to the Central Band of the Royal Air Force when we played a concert on the airfield one summer's evening. (No planes flying at the time!) I have continued my musical career since leaving the RAF in 1999 as a WO1 Percussion instructor in the Band of the Royal Air Force of Oman based near Muscat in Oman in the Middle East. This was such a surprise to see my name and Mike's as I have been trying for some years to trace him since we met at Hurlingham sometime in the 80's. If you read this Mike, or anyone else of the many that I was with in the above list, please contact me at ghart@blueyonder.co.uk it would be great to hear from you. I also have a website at www.geoffhart.eu

By Geoff Hart (04/01/2008)

Hello Geoff - Good to hear from you after all these years and thank you for your comments and details, and I will be contacting you.

By Mike Hearn (12/01/2008)

I was probably the Johnson mentioned by Mike Hearn in his article posted in September 2007 which one of my younger brothers sent me last week. I joined Hove SCC in 1966 and fondly remember all the names mentioned in the article and several others. Both my younger brothers Brian and Adrian were sea cadets and we all played in the Hove SCC band. I left in 1971 after receiving a scholarship to the School of Navigation in Warsash, Southampton and became a Navigating officer in the Merchant Navy. I returned to live in Brighton in 1978 and worked at Brighton Marina for a number of years. During that time I joined the Sussex Division RNR and spent 5 enjoyable years as a seaman. The RNR wanted me to be an officer but I preferred to get my hands dirty on the sweep deck. Most of my weekends and holidays were spend on naval exercises aboard HMS Curzon (previously named HMS Fittleton) and her replacement HMS Kellington after HMS Curzon was lost in the accident mentioned in Mike's article. 13 seamen lost their lives in the sinking of HMS Curzon in 1976 including one of my mates Charlie, an electrician who worked as a photocopy engineer in Hove. During the 80s I became interested in sailboat racing and moved to Cowes and worked for various sail-making companies in the south of England to enable me to compete at the highest level. I competed and won many National and International regattas and won two World Championships. In 1990 I retired from full-time sailing to get a "proper job" as a sales executive for the British liferaft manufacturer RFD. This work took me to many parts of the world on business including most countries in Europe and the Middle East, China, Korea, Japan, Russia, USA and South America. By this time I was able to speak several foreign languages and spent time living in France, Israel and the USA. I finally settled in Buenos Aires, Argentina were I have lived for the past 10 years. I have my own business consulting in Latin America for international marine equipment manufacturers. I have my offices in Buenos Aires and Miami and I am frequently travelling on business but I always visit the UK twice a year to see my parents and brothers and their families who all live in Hove. During all this time I was only able to go to one Hove SCC reunion which was held in the HMS Sussex RNR building prior to its closure. Not many people attended but I do remember talking to Dick Naylor. Mike's article reminds me that we all have interesting stories to tell from threads which stemmed from a common past. All those names leapt off the page when I read them. I would be curious to hear of any Hove SCC reunions in the future. Although I cannot promise to attend I am sure my brothers would like to know. I can be contacted if anyone is interested at kcjohnson@btinternet.com

By Ken Johnson (02/10/2008)

The name Keith Parker rings quite a large bell. If it's the same man he's an old, old friend I met at Raven's Ait (then TS Neptune). His family lived in Brighton and Keith worked first at Raven's Ait and then at the ILEA Sailing Base in the old Surrey Docks at Rotherhithe. I lost touch with him during the mid 1970s when he was living just off the Fulham Palace Road. I'd love to find him again. I can be reached at tim.trent@gmail.com, or via http://www.trent.karoo.net

 

By Tim Trent (07/07/2009)

Interesting to come across this page. I was an ordinary cadet at HMA King Alfred in about 1969 (I think) and I don't think I spent all that long there. I do remember PO Naylor, a happy decent fellow I think. I remember one evening they were bringing down the colours, or whatever the terminology is, and the light block and tackle the flag was attached to came away from its eye connected to the ceiling with an excessive tug - and just about missed MR Naylor's head. We also went to HMS Collingwood which was supposed to be our first real taste of life in the Navy - it was hysterical. After lights out somebody came into our mess - in the pitched dark - and kicked every one of the brass rubbish bins down the middle on their way to the exit at the other end of the block. They just got out the door when we all burst into fits of hysterical laughter (we were like silly little girls really) and the door banged open again - next thing we knew was that we were doing several laps of the parade ground in our pyjamas - those that wore them. Although I was proud to wear the uniform, I always found pressing my bellbottoms a real struggle and eventually joined the Guards Brigade!! I didn't know about the incident with HMS Curzon and was sorry to hear about the loss of life - not that I ever went on her - mind you the whole thing was like being involved in the Navy Lark with Lesley Phillips and Bill Pertwee - but, happy days!

By Paul Edwards (21/10/2009)

Trevor Cox. If he was a maths teacher, then he taught me maths back in the late 70s at Newman. He would spend hours talking to us about his time in the merchant navy (may have been the navy). I just remember it was much more interesting than maths.

By Neal (01/02/2010)

My name is John Mallinson and was not on the original post by Mike but I remember him and all the others and although a few years have past now, I have kept track of a few. Kim Siddal and family (wife and daughter) were last happily in Scarborough and he carving a career for himself as a teacher. I am hoping to catch up with him next April 2011 although he does not know that yet. Nick Forrest has remained in Sussex and is now a very well known and highly respected opera singer. Nick also had and occasionally still has outings with the very entertaining all-round band Wilbury Jam of which I was a part in the early days (mid-1970s). Steve Flowers was also last known to tbe living in Sussex, having qualified as a college lecturer and was writing books about business studies and accounting. Kim and Steve both went to university together in Northern Ireland. I last came across Keith Parker in the early 1980''s after he was taking a rest from his sail training. He was living back at home with his mum and getting involved in prymamid selling. PO Neville Whitten fell to disgrace when he was convicted for something like fraud at work and was sent to prison. David Miles I believe went into the Merchant Navy as a cadet officer. "Brad" (Dave Braddock - remember him) joined the Royal Navy. PO Dick Naylor also went into teaching. Good to hear he is still around and at a reunion. I kept in contact with Jim Kavanagh for some years, he married and was working at American Express for years. I remember the names Mocket and Crump and have some faces in mind but that is all at this stage, sorry. I also remember the name Copp and recall reading in the early 1980s that he committed suicide. Also a chap David Braden who lived near Nick Forrest in Princep Road, Hove. And Ken (Johnson) and family, I remember you so well and am delighted that you have done so much and so well in life. I can remember the line-up of side drummers now, you, Kim and someone else (was it Brad?) and then with Nick Forrest at the front as Drum Major. It was also great to read Geoff's (Hart) words as the very rewarding career path he has followed. I have loads of photos of everyone including Geoff with his cymbals and great cheerful smile. My role in the band was usually second row tenor drum and for a while, base drum which had previously been Brad although I remember he played a fantastic side drum solo at one SCC band competition we went to. Do you all remember me in the back of the coach with my ukele banjo getting all the signing going? That is what led onto Nick learning to play ukele then guitar and me the same plus 5-string banjo. I'm thinking of the D 0f E trips we made and one particular long haul to Lancaster station then the railway side line to Windermere around Easter time 1971. Also the trip to the Channel Islands on the little fleet tender Arnmouth. As for me, I've done OK. Trained as a Probation Officer in the late 1970s and then got posted to Falmouth in Cornwall where I have remained based since and looking over the beautiful summy harbour now as I write this. I've been with my wife Christine since 1980 and we have a daughter (14). I went with Chris to Germany when I was selected for a 3 year secondment to the Army/RAF 1990-93 as a Probation Officer working in the Court Martial system and the military equivilent of a Magistrates Court for the service families. Since returning in 1993, I have been a Family Court Practitioner within the Family Justice system working with children and families when the parents separate, ect. I'm 55 now (we are all about that age I guess) and will do that now until retirement I expect although with the public sector cutbacks looming, who knows. My mum now lives nearby after moving from Hove when my dad died. She is 86 and going strong. May I take this opportunity to wish everybody all the very best and have to say that those years at Hove SCC (Submarine Coastal Command as we would sometimes say in pubs to the old boys when trying to drink underage on the Channel Islands or in Portsmoth or Plymouth on courses) were character forming, very happy and a big part of our characters. It would be fantastic to meet up again sometime if it was possible. Anyone who would like to contact me - jmallinson@live.co.uk

By John Mallinson (12/09/2010)

Hey, I love this site. I was at Hove at HMS Sussex, for a couple of years in the late 60's early 70's before leaving for Ganges. I managed a weekend or two in Curzon and will never forget her hull number. Sailed in the Mirrors and remember an amazing summer where we took the boats out on a sailing camping exped and got into trouble with the currents off of west wittering. Served in Hermes, Blake, Gibraltar and then moved to Canada. Got commissioned in Canada and recently retired as a Lt. Cdr. Have been looking for links back to Brighton recently and was glad to find this.

By Andrew Deacon (17/05/2011)

i knew Charlie. I served on Curzon, went to Gib and many other trips. Would love to have a picture of us all on the forecastle around 1970. Baggy Baker, Roger Bladder, Cat Bros all there. Here's hoping.

By Mike Stone (24/02/2015)

My grandfather, Duncan Mackenzie, joined HMS Ganges in '46-'47

By Rebecca Hay (23/02/2016)

Remember most of you, nice to hear you are all well. After I left the unit I spent two years in the R.N.R as a Leccy. My most endearing memory of the Curzon was when she ran aground in Falmouth Harbour. We spent some time in dock there getting repaired, going ashore carousing and not freezing our bits off sweeping. I joined the R.N in 1974 where I served 22 years in the Submarine service (P&O Boats). Now living in Gosport with my wife of many years. Good luck and fair seas to you all. 

By Bob Braddock (12/06/2016)

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