couple of years ago after a distress flare from me, regarding finding
my birth parents (as I was adopted at 6 weeks of age), you kindly put
me in touch with some ex RMB’s regarding my birth father Ray “Ginge”
West. After many patient, protracted negotiations, we eventually met
my dad Ray and my ½ sister Stacey for the first time in March
Eric Hayward and his partner Jan were extremely influential in arranging
a welcome into the ex-RMB fold at the Adelaide 2009 reunion and again
for many years to come. Ray was going to attend in 2010 but he was then
81, not in the best of health and cancelled at short notice. Nevertheless,
Eric and Michael Hutton took time out of their busy schedule and made
a personal visit to his home, then near Melbourne, which really made
his day, prior to the 2010 reunion. After that we were in touch via
telephone every couple of weeks with dad and slowly building our relationship.
Now the West’s in the UK have been absolutely fantastic, Ray's
younger brother David [Dai] (and Eric Hayward) lobbied for many weeks
to get an initial ‘phone call and after protracted negotiations,
eventually, a personal visit.
After the 2010 reunion, Jan (my wife) & I flew to the UK and spent
all April in lovely spring UK weather and built further on our newfound
family. Constructing relationships with my aunt and uncle David (ex-Royal
Engineers, who has since passed away several days after dad, which is
very odd). My wife Jan & I were introduced to many extended family
members, which was very positive and uplifting.
I also visited the RM museum in Eastney and met John Ambler who then
was the curator / historian. Previously John helped me out with vintage
copies of ‘Blue Band’ in which Ray published photos and
accounts; a great day for me.
Now why am I writing all this? Well, I have slowly gleaned a lot of
photos, some of which have already been shared with other RMB’s
to add some names to faces, but memories have faded.
is to the far right as viewed.
Beare, (Bless him!), printed off the photos I sent via email and hot
footed around to poor old Joe Simms's, but he could not shed any further
light on this one (above). Believe photo was taken on the IoM circa
1944/5; Joe was in the same intake as Ray. Unfortunately, post stroke,
Joe was not at all well and his speech has deteriorated significantly
but his mind and writing skills were not a problem. Bloody shame, as
when I met him in 2009, he was overjoyed to meet Ray's son, while his
speech was not good then, his additional contacts and information assisted
in tracking down more old friends & ex-RMB’s.
Please see enclosed, I have recently added a few more too, so maybe
you could assist with posting these with a distress beacon for names
to faces and maybe a location confirmation to.
a Cricket club, location unknown;
Ray is next to the bar / drinks table far RHS as viewed.
Terror, circa 1957, Ray is centre.
HMS Terror, circa 1957, Ray is front centre
speaks for itself!
feel free to contact me if you have questions or information.
Thank you, thank you for your behind the scenes assistance from all
the ex-RMB’s, sadly many are no longer with us and congratulations
to Richard Valentine on a most wonderful web site.
P.S. Mum was a P.O. WREN, but passed away in 1991 before we could make
contact or meet. However other ex-work colleagues of mum have been in
contact and shared photos. Recently, I have been very lucky to engage
with mum’s family’ the Wetherill’s, they have been
very supportive and shared many personnel and “In-service”
photos. Many thanks to all concerned.
Thanks to the WRNS association in London, who published letters and
photos, I have since been put in touch with 4 Wrens who have now written
to me and shared stories & even more photos. One knew my dad and
shared a really rare photo of dad with then band corporal Jim Mason
in Malta. Who was to guess that Jim was later to become Lt. Col. Jim
Best wishes & regards
PL15 9NB United