Before I begin, this is a story about a very famous gun carriage which today, is very rarely seen.  Now, it could be argued that that is a good thing because it might be a pointer to fewer people dying, but that is not the case. It is rarely seen because few people do not require its use, opting instead for family private funerals with conventional funereal trappings.

In addition to the files below, a missive and a photograph to add to the story.

First the missive. Our greatest Admiral in and post WW2, was undoubtedly Admiral of the Fleet Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope. On the 12th June 1963, he was sitting in the House of Lords when he was taken ill - he was 80. He was rushed by taxi to the nearest hospital, St Thomas's, literally opposite Victoria Tower in the Houses of Parliament on the opposite side of the river, but died in the vehicle shortly after transiting  Westminster Bridge. His body lay in the Chapel at RNB Portsmouth [HMS Victory] guarded by four lieutenants keeping four hour watches before being embarked [on the 18th] in the destroyer HMS Hampshire for a burial at sea off the Isle of Wight in a near gale force conditions. On return back to Portsmouth from the NAB Tower, it was too rough for Hampshire to enter harbour, so the mourning party and the mourners had to be transferred at Spithead onto a tug which by all accounts was a hairy and near dangerous operation. Many of the elderly Admirals who had been peers of Cunningham were in attendance which included Admiral Sir Casper John First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Wilfred Woods C-in-C Portsmouth, Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Creasy and most of the Board of the Admiralty. Also in attendance was Lieutenant J.C.K Slater RN, Cunningham's great-nephew who went on to become the First Sea Lord.  Because of his initials, he was always known as Jock Slater.  He was a popular and well liked officer.

Second the picture, one of several for this gun carriage.   The funeral of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fraser of North Cape at St Barbara's Church HMS Excellent 1981 using the gun carriage now kept in HMS Collingwood. Slayer of the Scharnhorst [Boxing Day 1943] and the officer who took the Japanese surrender on behalf of the British on the USS Missouri, Tokyo Bay 1945, his body was cremated and his ashes were committed to the sea from the destroyer HMS Sheffield.


Now continue.

First a PDF File which explains what the page title is all about, and then this little photograph album.

Don't get too maudlin will you.

HMS COLLINGWOOD is the keeper of a very.pdf

The Gun Carriage.pdf

then, read what follows - unrelated but yet related!

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Army Beats Navy At Own Game (Field Gun)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Source: MoD News




Army Team makes history beating the Navy at their own game.

A team of Army engineers from Wattisham airfield, near Ipswich, Suffolk, made history at HMS Collingwood on Saturday 18 June 2005 when they became the first non-Navy team ever to win the prestigious Royal Navy Field Gun Competition in its 98-year history.

The 18-man crew plus trainers from 7 Air Assault Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (7 Air Asslt Bn REME) was "euphoric" after outgunning its hosts and beating 17 other teams to win this prestigious Navy competition,

In a intense final, which saw the favourites from the earlier heats, Devonport Naval Base, finish last, the 7th Air Assault Battalion REME team romped home, with the Navy's Collingwood A team coming second.

They completed the final in one minute and twenty-two point three seconds taking the Brickwood Trophy, a solid silver reproduction of a 12-pound field gun and its crew of 7 sailors.

With typical inter-service rivalry, the Army team was particularly pleased to have achieved victory in the same year the Navy celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

Field Gun Officer Major Julian Pemberton-Pigott led the challenge.  He said the whole crew were "euphoric" after its success and paid tribute to the team members.

"In the final no-one could touch us and we ran home in a blistering pace.  I'm hugely proud of the whole crew for their dedication, devotion and sheer effort.  To win in the 200th anniversary year of Trafalgar is fantastic."

The 7 Air Asslt Bn crew, part of Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade, was the first Army team ever to be invited to participate in the competition when it took part in 2002.  Since then they've learnt quickly and were leading the field going into the final race in the 2004 competiton, only to finish sixth.

This year the crew had no such problems.  After seven runs, 7 Air Asslt Bn were in second place going into the final, where the 18 teams competing were whittled down to the best six.  Maj Pemberton-Pigott said:

"The pressure was more on the Navy crews.  They knew full well what we could do and what we did last year.

"Going into the final the guys knew exactly what they had to do and the final sprint back to the finish line was absolutely immense.  When we came in for the final run home we broke the track record for the last 40 yards in 5.5 seconds.

"People watching said three different crews set up for the run home together and it all went silent as the Army crew disappeared like it was on fire.  The other Field Gun crews were great with people saying, 'Well done, you should have won it last year.'"

Commodore Adrian Nance OBE, Commodore of the Maritime Warfare School and Commanding Officer of HMS Collingwood said of the event:

"I am delighted that the Army and RAF were able to take part in this historic Field Gun Competition again this year.  The fact that the Army won is a reflection of the courage, stamina and teamwork that is encouraged in all of our Armed Forces.

"However the Army should make the most of that winning feeling because the Navy will be back in force next year!"

Brigadier Ed Butler, Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, said:

"This is great news and thoroughly well deserved for 7 Air Asslt Bn after all its hard work.  This is an excellent example of the Brigade's ethos and its ability to rise successfully to any challenge.  Winning the competition clearly demonstrates the agility and mental and physical robustness of all my soldiers and officers.

"No doubt 7 Air Asslt Bn will defend their hard won title next year.  Perhaps in 2006 it should be renamed the Army Field Gun Competition?!"

Devonport's field gun team achieved the fastest time and managed to obtain 6th position in the final with a time of one minute and thirty four point two nine seconds.  The 18-stong team took home the Powerful Trophy for the fastest single run at one minute and twenty point nine four seconds and the Powerful Cup for receiving the least amount of penalties in the competition.

The Devonport team, which was made up from volunteers around Naval Base, was also awarded the Powersport Cup for the best aggregate time over the seven competitions.  They also brought home the Devonport Command Trophy for being the fastest Devonport crew beating teams from HMS Raleigh, Britannia Royal Naval College and HMS Seahawk.

Another surprise in the competition was the Abbey Wood Field Gun Crew's performance, which was way above expectation as they eventually ran out as as winners of the Plate 1 final.

The team's First Trainer Lt Paddy Carbery RN of Abovewater Warfare Systems (AWS IPT) said:

"Abbey Wood are considered to be the 'non-league' outsiders of Field Gun due to the difficulties in availability of personnel and track facilities."

18 teams took part in the competition that involves moving and firing a field gun and carriage with the weight equivalent to a small car.  It also includes a series of precision moves including two wheel changes.  Due to safety reasons the obstacles, traditionally part of the event, have been removed from the course.

The competition was once part of the Royal Tournament with the objective to haul a 2,000lb field gun and limber (ammunition case) along an 85-yard course, fire 6 rounds and return in the shortest possible.

The first competition was held on 28 August 1907.  In 2001 HMS Collingwood set the present record of 1 minute 18.88 seconds.

The competition originated from an action during the Boer War in 1899 which prevented the British garrison town of Ladysmith falling to the Boers.  As Boer troops advanced an urgent message was sent requesting that Naval field guns be rushed to Ladysmith from HMS Powerful which was moored more than 100 miles away at Durban.

The guns were transported by train where a Naval Brigade of 280 men unloaded and manhandled them to the front just in time to check the advancing Boers.  The town was besieged for four months but held out until its relief in February 1900.  The feat caught the public imagination and the tournament was established.

The final results of the Filed Gun Competition were as follows:

1st - 7th Air Assault Battalion REME
2nd - HMS Collingwood A crew
3rd - HMS Heron
4th - HMS Caledonia
5th - HM Naval Base Portsmouth
6th - HM Naval Base Devonport

Though the strength and stamina of the Forces' crews in the Field Gun Competition wowed the thousands of spectators who had travelled from far and wide to HMS Collingwood to witness this spectacle, an action packed day of activities were also on offer.

Further attractions at this year's event were the Raiders Parachute Display Team who opened the day by literally falling from the sky in an outstanding display of courage.  Other key events included the displays by the Honda Imps motorbike team, Goshawks Gymnasts, Tigers Motorcyclists, together with the Royal Marines Band and the Volunteer Cadet Corps' very own Field Gun Competition.

With a wide variety of other stalls, attractions and side-shows, it is hoped that Collingwood will again be able to make generous contributions to charities within the local community.

See also FUNERALS involving the ROYAL NAVY and The Ceremonial Funeral of Lord Louis Mountbatten of Burma