TS Gallant pays it’s respects in Malta
On the 10th January 1941, HMS Gallant, part of the Malta Convoy, hit an Italian mine and lost 59 men (others subsequently died of their injuries), she limped into Malta and while being assessed was bombed and deemed beyond repair, she was towed outside the Maltese Island of St Pauls and sank as a deterrent to enemy submarines.
Over 70 years later, late in 2012, TS Gallant, Westerham Sea Cadets paid their respects to the last survivor of off that ship as he joined his fellow shipmates. The day was one of great pride and sadness as we who had got to know Petty Officer Stoker Cyril Edwards said our goodbyes.
It was during the service that it was mentioned he had never returned to Malta, always saying he wanted to go and pay his respects to his shipmates, therefore the idea was born when a cadet asked ‘why can’t we do it for him?’
That comment was the start of a year of hard work, raising money at every opportunity that came along, whether it be a band gig, boot sale, village fete, pyjama night, nothing was too big or small for us to attend and tell everybody and anybody who would listen what we were doing and why.
During the year, Cadets managed to raise just over £10,000 to make the trip possible.
So February half term 2014, we were off, it was incredibly to think that all the hard work had made an ex- navy PO’s dream a reality.
A memorial service was held in Valletta, led by our District Padre Douglas Perkins, where wreathes were laid, a two minute silence observed and all the names read out by the cadets, making it a truly inclusive occasion. The memorial of ‘The Man at Rest’ was our chosen point having spent many months researching all the memorials in Malta. The day was rounded off by a boat trip, unfortunately we were unable to go out to the island of St Pauls due to the time of year, but we were able to throw 59 poppies into the sea outside the harbour wall.
We were also fortunate to spend two evenings with TS Paul unit based in Malta and the cadets were inspected by the Naval attaché from the United States of America.
HMS Daring was also in Malta, so along with Maltese Cadets and Royal Marines we spent a couple of hours being given the grand tour. Our trip also included a visit to Mdina (the silent city), as well as experiencing the 5D experience, some retail therapy in Bugibba and Valletta. No trip would be complete without a trip to Popeye village where cadets took part in team building exercises as well as making a DVD.
It was an honour to be able to lead a group of cadets on such an amazing journey, their conduct throughout the week was exemplary, they were and are a credit to themselves, TS Gallant, Westerham Sea Cadets and to the Corps.
None of this however would have been possible without the support of all the staff, Committee, parents and everyone involved with TS Gallant Westerham Sea Cadets.
For more information on the Sea Cadets please visit http://www.sea-cadets.org/