"A CELEBRATION OF HMS TETCOTT"
6-8 October 2006
Originally envisaged as a small-scale reunion to coincide with and compliment the launch of the book 'Tetcott - the thrill of the chase', the reunion became a most memorable event to all who attended the weekend. Here we present a brief overview of the weekend - A Celebration of HMS Tetcott.
Held over the weekend of 6th to 8th October, A Celebration of HMS Tetcott became a memorable event for all those present. Not surprisingly, most of the veterans who were able to attend the reunion had not seen any of their shipmates for over sixty years! The event tiggered many emotions -for the ten veterans who were present, and also for their families and the families of former shipmates some of whom had travelled from as far afield as Scotland, Kent and South Wales.
From Left to Right: Ken Belcher, 'Mick' Smith, Bob Stowell, Joe Wilson, Tricia Lee (representing her father 'Vic' Mills), 'Taffy' Locke, Jim Adams, Bill 'Crash' Hawksworth, Norman Docker, Neill Taylor, Francis McCall
Many took their first opportunity to meet up on Friday evening when authors and Holsworthy Museum hosts, Shawn Dymond and Janet Mason, had invited all to the museum. Although most of the veterans had not met before (even whilst on Tecott most had served in different parts of the ship or at different times) it was not long before the museum was full of the sounds of laughter and relaxed chatter as the veterans began to retell and share stories, remember former comrades and greet new found friends.
For many of the family members, this was the first time they had had the opportunity to discover what their father, grandfather and (for some of our guests) great grandfather had experienced throughout the war. By the close of the evening all present returned to their homes and hotels looking forward to the events organised for the following day...
Saturday 6 October dawned bright and clear - a good omen, if one were needed, for the success of the day. By 10:00am our guests had assembled outside Holsworthy Museum, joined by an ever-growing crowd of well-wishers, many whom were to make the journey to Tetcott.
At 10.30am Deputy Lieutenant of Devon and former First Sea Lord (2001-2002) Admiral Sir Nigel Essenhigh GCB arrived and, after being introduced to Shawn, Janet and Holsworthy Museum members, all proceeded to Tetcott church where, with the backdrop of the beautiful Tetcott Manor, the veterans – under the command of Commander Charles Crichton RN OBE – formed up, in readiness to be greeted by Admiral Sir Nigel Essenhigh and Sir William Molesworth-St Aubyn.
On the word of command 'Ship's Company....Attention!' the years seemed to slip away from the ten men (whose average age was 85) as they stood in the mid morning sun, waiting to be greeted Admiral Essenhigh. With the formal introductions completed, the veterans and their families were welcomed to Tetcott by Sir William Molesworth-St Aubyn Bart, before a little time was given to allow everyone to enter the small church to take a look at the white Battle Ensign which had been brought to the church in March 1942 by Captain Rycroft and a contingent of the ship’s company.
To read about HMS Tetcott's Battle Ensign click HERE.
To bring to a close the visit to Tetcott, the veterans moved back outside the church and into the Manor grounds just some few yards from the church and manor, where, after a blessing by the Rev. Debbie May, an English Oak tree was ceremoniously planted by four of the veterans, followed by the unveiling of a plaque - by Admiral Sir Nigel Essenhigh - marking the visit to the village.
A little after mid-day the assembled veterans and familes made their way back to Holsworthy for the continuation of the days events...