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.
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.
you Shipmate John and we look forward to a long and
interesting mutual relationship with you as the RNA
John Nelson CF
Mercian, Episkopi Station & Roman Catholic Personnel
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).
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
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
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...
the seas be no more, we will remember them!"