Newsletter No.13

By Vic Lander

East Brighton Bygones Local History Society


Issue No 13 July 2009


It is with great pleasure that it can be announced that our chairman, Bob Cristofoli has had his dedication and commitment to the Brighton community officially recognised. Recently Bob was invited to the House of Commons to receive a Contribution to the Community Award. The award recognises Bob's unfailing efforts in community affairs over many years. I am sure you will all join me in congratulating Bob on this prestigious award and hope that perhaps higher reward will be made in the future.

News of members

The date for the presentation of Fred Netley's M.B.E. has been set for the 15th July. The Lord Lieutenant of the County, Peter Field, will make the award in the Mayor's Parlour. Fred will be joined by his family. The Chairman and editor have been invited to attend but have had to decline as the date clashes with our visit to Singleton.

Bob and Betty Nutley will be going from France to Amsterdam to visit their younger son and his wife. They will be there for the birth of this son's first child. Their eldest son Phillip will be appearing on BBC2 for a short series of programmes starting on July 15th. The programmes entitled 'Home for Life' will deal with improving your home.

General news

Hazel Bradley has produced some updating information for the membership booklets. These take the form of stick-in pages giving details of new members. The pages will be available at the July meeting.

A correction is needed to some information given at last month's meeting. The date of the school remembrance service was given as Wednesday 4th November. This should have been Friday 6th November. As you will remember we have all been invited as V.I.P. guests but we will need to inform the school how many of us will be turning up.

Recent activities

On Saturday 25th June we were involved in the Whitehawk Primary School Summer Fete. We had a stall displaying some of our photographs of the estate as it used to be. We also handed out contact sheets giving information on how to contact us. We had a very good response with several people showing great interest in joining us.

Charlie and Sheila Coverdale conducted a tour of the air-raid shelters, and then assisted on the stall. Marion Brooke also came along to give support. Everyone attending agreed that it was a most enjoyable occasion. The school thanked us for our support.

There were several stalls, some selling refreshments. One stall, in addition to selling other tasty offerings, offered beef burgers in a roll. On purchasing one of these the editor was chastised by the Chairman. Later the Chairman returned from the same stall clutching two hot-dogs which he proceeded to consume. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

Our invitation to be involved with the fĂȘte demonstrates once again the high regard with which the community are beginning to develop towards us.

Our speaker at the June meeting was our very own Norman Foord who extended his earlier talk on his National Service days. He amused everyone with his time abroad and the rigors of life on a troopship.

Seven members attended the June 'Char and Chat' afternoon. Discussion was wide-ranging with some most interesting information coming from members. One particular inclusion was a wonderful poem which Molly had written and which she recited. This was on the subject of hop picking and was so well received that she has been bullied into repeating this at a full meeting in the future. Another person with an interesting story was Yvonne who, similarly to Sheila Coverdale and other members, had used the school air-raid shelters for their intended purpose during the war.

We were asked by the Whitehawk Crime Prevention Panel to provide a local history item for inclusion in their regular newsletters. The first appears in the current issue and deals in general terms with our aims and objections. Copies of the newsletter, which receives wide circulation, are available to those who would like a copy.

Forthcoming events

Whitehawk School celebrates its 75th anniversary this year and we have suggested to them that we cannot let this milestone pass without some sort of recognition. We have offered our support and any assistance they may need. They have suggested including an item to coincide with the remembrance service on 6th November. What this item will include is yet to be decided, but could involve putting old pupils back in touch with old friends.

The outing to the Downland's Open Air Museum at Singleton is confirmed as 15th July. Final numbers of those wishing to attend will have to be agreed at the July meeting.

Members' Stories

Trouble at Sea by Pam Piercey

My brother-in-law was a Shell Sea Captain on Oil Tankers. In the Second World War he was torpedoed twice. He eventually became one of Shell's six Senior Masters in charge of a huge Supertanker.

At regular intervals the ship's lifeboat equipment was replaced and the crew, often brought the old articles destined for the bin, home. This was how my sister had in her possession, among other things, two hand-held Distress Flares.

One dark winter's night, encouraged by me and her five-year-old son, she let off one of the flares into the sea facing the back garden of her house in Ovingdean. None of us were prepared for the sudden dazzling bright pink light that lit up the neighbourhood. She could not put it down nor could she stop it. She just had to hold on for what seemed like an interminable period until it eventually died out. Our one great fear was that some well-meaning soul would call out the lifeboat. Fortunately this did not happen or her husband would never have forgiven her.

Rescues at sea in mid-Atlantic were far beyond the R.N.L.I's limit of one hundred miles. Should a "May Day" call be received wireless messages went from ship to ship to ascertain which was the nearest vessel able to respond and go to the rescue. On one such occasion a distress call was received;-

"Crew Mutiny. Captain held at gunpoint.

Essential maintain radio silence".

Quickly it was decided which ship should attend. After several hours steaming to the rescue the stricken vessel was sighted and a radio message sent. The reply back was:-

"Fail to understand concern. Proceeding to nearest port to land mentally ill Radio operator".

That was a false alarm but there was an occasion when help was really needed and my brother-in-law's ship was the nearest.

A horrendous hurricane storm was raging in the Atlantic and a small Finnish ship had lost its steering gear and was drifting helplessly out of control. Once on the scene my brother-in-law navigated his huge tanker alongside the tiny vessel to give enough shelter for the crew to get out on deck to carry out the necessary repairs. Had he failed and rammed that little ship it would have meant the end of his career as a Master Mariner with Shell.

For his skill Finland awarded him the highest honour of becoming a Knight of the Order of the White Rose of Finland. My sister was quite unaware of all of this. She was simply told to buy a new hat, as they had to go to London. They were escorted to the Finnish Embassy by the Shell Scandinavian Representative who cheered up the rater serious occasion by remarking as he pointed to the Embassy's front doors day and night bell:-

"I will ring the day one you can ring the night one because you are the Knight"

Subject and date of next meeting

The next monthly meeting will be held on 12th August 2009 at the Whitehawk Valley Social Centre in Whitehawk Way commencing at 2 p.m.

Owing to a backlog of members wishing and waiting to present short items the afternoon will be devoted to these.

And finally ......

A 54-year-old woman had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital. While on the operating table she had a near death experience. Seeing God she asked "Is my time up?"

God said, "No, you have another 43 years, 2 months and 8 days to live."

Upon recovery, the woman decided to stay in the hospital and have a face-lift, liposuction, breast implants and a tummy tuck. She even had someone come in and change her hair colour and brighten her teeth! Since she had so much more time to live, she figured she might as well make the most of it.

After her last operation, she was released from the hospital. While crossing the street on her way home, she was killed by an ambulance.

Arriving in front of God, she demanded, "I thought you said I had another 43 years? Why didn't you pull me from out of the path of the ambulance?"

God replied: "I didn't recognize you!"

This page was added on 29/07/2009.