Steve Adkins meets Ray 'Ginge' West for the first time
Part II
 
 

Hi Richard,

Well there has been another recent development....

Today, Ray called me after receiving several photos that I had re-processed, printed and mailed over to Ray & Stacey and the conundrum of the ‘mystery lady,’ as he called my mum, has been found! Dad recognised her from the “Sweetheart” photo and the other “MaltaBar” photo my cousin Gary (UK based West) sent recently.

Dad has no other photos of her (Typical, always behind the camera!) and hopefully now his memory may recover further.

From my adoption papers, Jim Mason’s recollections of the time and now dad’s memory recalls that mum was Ray’s steady girl friend for ~ 7 months, but then, according to dad, she just “Disappeared.”

We will see if I can shed further light on this, but from mum’s RN service records, she arrived in Malta at HMS Falcon (Hal-Far Airfield) October 1951. They were pretty self contained on the air base and further basic data (among heaps of web sites) may be located here:

http://www.hms-vengeance.co.uk/falcon.htm

In fact mum was in Malta before dad, but she did not move to HMS Phoenicia on Manoel Island until February 1953 and subsequently left for HMS President (London, 16th September 1953) ~ 7 months in Phoenicia BUT almost 2 years on overseas duty... QED..... {WRNS in those days did a 2 year overseas posting and then returned home & immediately were given 2 weeks leave. I have been informed by other wonderful senior ex-WRNS that later overseas postings were reduced to 18 months, but that was after 1954}.

Mum’s ‘new’ office at HMS Phoenicia, the Base Supply Office {BSO} was apparently adjacent to the RM Band office, so, ‘Say no more squire, nudge, nudge, wink wink!’

Dad said yesterday she had not been in Malta long, but mum had, except not at Phoenicia / Manoel Island. So we will have to get our inspector Clouseau hat out again.

We are working on the other names, of course any further RMB assistance is sincerely appreciated:

See ‘Sweetheart Photo,’ L to R: unknown, Mac (long story here!), mum, dad & unknown.


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‘Malta Bar’ photo L to R standing: unknown, next maybe Eileen’s husband to be, flying officer Williams (RAAF De Havilland Vampire ‘jockey’) but it’s a big ‘perhaps’ until I communicate with Eileen, again the unknown RMB (he is also in the “Sweetheart” photo in civvies), seated: dad, mum, Eileen (from Malta Beach photo, but please do not publish this ‘beach’ one, as I will first seek permission. I only received this a week ago!), next wife of RM Drum Major, will confirm her name later, dad did tell me, but I was out in the shed when he called. Normally when I call him I always have a notebook to hand!) and Jim Mason, again location unknown. Bar maybe the Strand Palace or the ‘Movement Inn,’ other than that I have no idea. Nevertheless, I will pursue with dad once “The Ashes” are over (Dad is a Cricket Tragic, he called me during the cricketers’ afternoon tea break!!) I also have a copy to send Jim Mason this week too.

Dad was also a hockey fanatic, trips over to France supporting the Corp’s etc. See Hockey photo, I have no idea who any of the players are and the goalie has definitely been around for a while! Suspect this was taken in Deal mid to late 1950’s. Dad is back row, second in from far RHS

About a month ago, shortly before Gary West sent me some of these great photos, I was going through & scanning some other amazing Malta & Med Fleet photos that my Auntie Shirley let me have while visiting the UK. See enclose “Champagne Toast,” from Ray’s 24th Birthday, taken at the Strand Palace Hotel, Valletta. (‘Pop,’ Jim, Ray, standing, Isabel, Arch & Mac)

Now this photo (there are a couple of this celebration, but this is the best with dad in camera, instead of being behind camera!) has Jim, Archie, (Jim's brother) Isabel (Archie's’ wife) & ‘Mac.’ I sent out some hard copies to Jim and asked for further assistance. Archie is still alive, but like Jim, unfortunately both their wives have passed away. Anyway Jim “Fixed It for me!” .......and this is what he wrote :

“The photographs of Ray's birthday dinner were taken in the Strand Palace Hotel in the Palace Square in Valletta - the others are; my brother Archie ( a Leading Seaman) and his wife Isabel, the old boy with glasses (Pop) was the owner of the hotel - we were very privileged customers there, because Ray took all the publicity photographs for the hotel brochure, as well as family photographs of some of the staff.

The other -Mac- needs some explanation! He was one of a homosexual couple who ran bar on Lascaris Wharf on the side of Grand Harbour (They called the bar "THE MOVEMENT INN") a favourite haunt of bandsmen in those days, because it was just where the liberty boats came in.

Can you imagine - we had 8 bands in the Med Fleet in those days, based in Malta and about 60 bands around the world. Now only 5, and all based in England and rumour has it that they are going to lose another one in the recent Defence Review. How times change...”

There is also a story regarding the wedding too, as Isabel had no family available on Malta, so Jim was best man and Ray gave Isabel away.

There! OK now I have to get revising for Tuesday nights 3 hour electrical exam, but thank you so much, without all your kind assistance all this would not have been possible!

One thing I forgot and I need a big slap for this, for not thanking Bob Chumley. He personally welcomed me into the RMB fold at the 2009 RMB reunion in Adelaide.

I was nervous and not really knowing what to expect, but he firmly shook my hand and said to me “You may not have had much of a family in the past Steve but you have one now, you are RMB family.” I wept, and will never, ever forget that moment.

Bob lived in Tavistock prior to migrating and Michael Hutton was his band master in Plymouth. I worked in Ernesettle for many years from the early 1970’s and lived in Lydford and later Brentor, only a few miles away.

We always had an affinity with Plymouth, Stonehouse, Cornwall Beach etc. and both Jan (my wife) & I consider the West Country our ‘real’ home.

Best regards

Steve Adkins

SA 5158, Australia
Phone: +61-8-8381-7654
Fax: +61-8-8387-3025
e-mail: adkins_s@bigpond.com



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