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June 2019


All members of the RNA Cyprus wish a sad but fond farewell to Shipmates Eric and Vivian Freeman who have been loyal and regular attenders at all our meetings for so many years. They have chosen to settle in Shropshire and we wish them a long and happy retirement, good health and happy memories of the adventurous life they have enjoyed serving their parishioners all over the globe.

RNA Cyprus would now like to welcome our new Chaplain, Father John Nelson (yes, yes we noted the link with his name) who has kindly agreed to be the Padre for our Association whilst he is serving here on duty in Episkopi Station. His CV is attached below and you will note his many tours of duty in recent operational theatres on Active Service. The Padre's contact details are also attached.

Welcome to you Shipmate John and we look forward to a long and interesting mutual relationship with you as the RNA Cyprus Padre.

Padre John Nelson CF

2 Mercian, Episkopi Station & Roman Catholic Personnel

I was born in London, the eldest of four children.  Our family moved to north Hampshire when I was ten.  I began studies at the Venerable English College in Rome in 1978 and was ordained a priest in 1984.  Returning to Rome I completed a Master’s in Theology in 1986.  My first appointment was as Assistant Priest at English Martyrs, Reading (1986-89).  I then had a three year stint as Bishop’s Secretary and Diocesan Chancellor before heading to Ottawa to complete a Master’s Degree in Canon Law (1992-94).  On my return to the Diocese, Bishop Crispian Hollis appointed me as Judicial Vicar and then as a Vicar General.  For twenty four years I held a variety of diocesan appointments and in 1999 was nominated a Prelate of Honour (Monsignor) by Pope John Paul II.  I combined these diocesan commitments with service as Parish Priest in Wash Common on the south side of Newbury (1994-99), Abingdon (2001-06) and then back in Reading where I’d started (2006-14).  Following a Sabbatical Year, my most recent appointment (2015-18) was as Parish Priest based in Eastleigh which encompassed six church communities spread between Bishop’s Waltham and Romsey (previously four parishes).

I was commissioned into the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department in 1990 as a TA Chaplain with 308 Evacuation Hospital.  This morphed into 306 Field Hospital and then 306 Hospital Support Regiment, part of 2nd Medical Brigade based at Strensall near York.  During those years I deployed to Kosovo in 2001, Iraq in 2004 and 2006/07 and then Afghanistan in 2011 and 2014.  In September 2018 I transferred from Reserve to Regular Service to enable me to fill my current post as Chaplain with 2 Mercian, Episkopi Station and to Catholic military personnel based in Cyprus.

Fortunately, with a sister in Queensland, Australia, and a brother on the South Island in New Zealand, I enjoy travel! 

Contact:  +357 99479464     Email:  2MERC-HQ-PADRE@mod.gov.uk



July 2017

Rev. Eric Freeman

At our June meeting, I was reminded of a very important event – this year is the one-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Women’s Royal Naval Service – the lovely Jennie’s, who over the years have rendered such sterling service to their country – and certainly deserve all the encomiums of praise being heaped on them at various events throughout this anniversary year.

Wrens were formed in 1917 during the First World War.  . One of the slogans used in recruiting posters was "Join the Wrens—free a man for the fleet."  This certainly informed naval thinking of the time, for the first Jennies were to employed in shore based duties.  However, that did not last long.  On 10 October 1918, nineteen-year-old Josephine Carr from Cork, became the first Wren to die on active service, when her ship, the RMS Leinster was torpedoed. By the end of the war WRNS had 5,500 members, 500 of them officers. In addition, about 2000 members of the WRAF had previously served with the WRNS supporting the Royal Naval Air Service and were transferred on the creation of the Royal Air Force. The WRNS was disbanded in 1919.


The WRNS was revived in 1939 at the beginning of the Second World War, with an expanded list of allowable activities, including flying transport planes. At its peak in 1944 it had 75,000 people. During the war there were 100 deaths.  This time their service was fully recognized and there was no talk of disbandment!

In 1990, falling R.N. recruitment raised the need for Wrens to go to sea. The first 20 volunteer Wren Officers and ratings joined HMS BRILLIANT.

Finally, in 1993 the Women’s Royal Naval Service was disbanded and 4535 women were integrated fully into the Royal Navy and able to serve on HM Ships at sea, at all ranks and rates.  In their newly expanded role of seagoing members of the Royal Navy the ladies have continued their sterling service to our country – fully justifying the decision of the Admiralty of 1917 to form the first WRNS.

We have a typical example from our own family story.  Just before we came to Cyprus 13 years ago, our son-in-law was serving as Weapons Officer on board one of the mine hunters and he told me that his First Officer, the Navigating Officer, the Doctor and the Master at Arms on that vessel were all ladies, as were several other members of the crew!  Well done them!

As an amusing footnote, not long after that conversation, I heard a radio broadcast in which that lady doctor was interviewed about her life and role aboard.  At one point she laughed and said that whichever ship she served on, she always had to have the assistance of the most experienced male sick berth attendant – because none of the male members of the crew would come to her for help!

Then, in possibly the most significant development yet, Three RN Lieutenants, Maxine Styles, Alexandra Ollson and Penny Thackray, earned their ‘dolphin’ clasps as qualified members of the Submarine Service, the first females to do so since the service was established 110 years ago.



As we always say...

 "Till the seas be no more, we will remember them!"   



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