Greetings for the Lunar New Year

The CamRuSS would like to congratulate our members with the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Wood Dragon, which begins on Saturday, the 10th of February. It is widely celebrated in Asiatic part of Russia, in the Buddhist regions in particular, as well as across Asian countries.

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Sid Frances Tiffin (1924 – 2023) Memorial page

It is with great sadness that we heard of the departure of Sid Tiffin, a Second World War veteran. Our thoughts are with Sid’s family, son Stephen, daughter-in-law Irene and their children and grandchildren.

Sid Francis Tiffin was born on the 23rd September 1924 in Kingston-upon-Thames, the youngest of five siblings. He went to St John’s Primary, and later to St Luke’s School, which he left at the age of 14 and started working at RG Whittaker’s factory that manufactured laundry equipment. When the war started in September 1939 the factory was repurposed for military production, fitting army tanks with extra fuel tanks. He worked 48 hours a week getting paid three old pennies an hour, but was too young for overtime, although he was paid five shillings for night-time fire watching at the factory.

In 1942 Sid decided to join the Royal Navy. His call-up papers and warrant arrived with a one-way train ticket to Portsmouth. He was underage by a couple of months but still was accepted. The three months’ training at HMS Collingwood that followed soon knocked him into Navy shape.

In 1942, after finishing his training on HMS Collingwood, Sid was sent to the naval barracks in Portsmouth. From there it took two days by train to get to the Scapa Flow fleet moored off the coast of Scotland. On that journey they were bombed and machine-gunned by German fighters. On arrival at Scapa Flow, Sid stayed at an old battle ship “Iron Duke”, while waiting for HMS Berwick to return from convoy duty. Sid served on the Arctic convoys delivering essential supplies to Russia. The winter of 1943 was horrendous with temperatures of minus 30C with storm-force winds of 80 to 120 miles per hour, and up to 100-foot waves coming over higher than the ship. Only lookouts and watch-keepers were allowed on deck.

His action station was in the main shell magazine, four decks below the waterline. When the armour-plated hatches were shut tight there was no escape; if there was a problem, it was like a tomb. During all the convoys the boats were under constant attacks by German bombers, fighters and submarines. Sid was then drafted to HMS Maidstone, in Perth, Australia, a depot ship for the S-type submarines of the Fourth Flotilla, a massive vessel. When they got aboard she was already loaded with stores, ammunition and torpedoes. Berthed in front of them was a Panamanian vessel. Although by then the Japanese had surrendered, their garrison in Hong Kong had no intention of doing so. On 27th August 1945 his ship sailed from Subic Bay in the Philippines to Hong Kong. They anchored just off the mouth of the Victoria River at dawn on the 30th August 1945 to go in and retake Hong Kong. When the island was secured about 500 POWs were taken on board. “What a dreadful sight! We all thought we had it tough not putting a foot ashore for 5 months, but these guys, poor devils, had been prisoners of the Japanese since 1941.”

After hostile actions ended, in his final months in the Navy, Sid was a tour guide on HMS Victory in Portsmouth Docks. After demob he returned home to his old job at RG Whittaker’s. In the 1950s he worked for Cooper Racing Cars in Surbiton and at Tiffin Engineering, then had a job at Hawker Siddeley, and in his retirement took a part-time job at Marks & Spencer in Kingston.

Sid met Jean, his future wife, during the war whilst on leave. They corresponded and, finally, in April 1948 they were married in Teddington, and lived happily for 68 years until Jean’s death in Feb 2016. They had a son, Stephen, who married Irene and they had two children, Joanne and Christopher. Sid and Jean were both extremely proud of their family.

Sid was very much involved with the North Russian Convoy Club, and, with Jean, had many trips to Jersey and weekend meet-ups on Hayling Island. He attended the Imperial War Museum for the Victory Day celebrations and the Royal British Legion Remembrance Day parades, always marching the whole route; his final one was in 2018 at the age of 94. Sid kept himself busy by corresponding with old shipmates around the world, bought the Navy News, often wrote in and had a few letters printed, and filled several photo-albums with his lifetime memories.

For his wartime service, Sid was awarded the 1939-1945 Star (the highest British military honour for the RAF in WWII), the Arctic Star, the  Pacific Star, the Atlantic Star,  and the War Medal 1939-45.  To acknowledge the bravery of the Royal Navy crew serving during the Second World war Russia presented a few commemorative awards to mark some VE day anniversaries. In 2014 Sid received the Medal of Ushakov in the Russian Federation Embassy in London.

After Jean’s death he continued to live in their flat until 2022 when he moved into Linwood Care Home in Thames Ditton. He settled in and enjoyed his surroundings in his own way. His only requests were to have his daily paper, a banana and plenty of Word Search books. Sid passed away peacefully on the 12th July at the care home.

Sid Tiffin featured in our VE-75 presentation in May 2020 (p. 10) and in the brochure Remembering the Second World War (pub. November 2020, p. 16).

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Edwin Philip (Ted) Cross (1925 – 2023) Memorial page

It is with great sadness that we learn of the departure of Edwin (Ted) Cross. Another Second World War and Russian Arctic convoy veteran “crossed the bar”.

Ted Cross was born at Erith in Kent on 11th July 1925, the older of two with his sister Sally. He left school at the age of 14 and had several jobs before volunteering for the Royal Navy six months before his 18th birthday to avoid being conscripted into the Army.

After his ten-week basic training course at HMS Collingwood at Fareham in Hampshire Ted decided to be an RDF Operator (radar) – and trained at HMS Valkyrie on the Isle of Man. A new technology called RDF, or Radar, could track submarines when surfaced while ASDIC, or Sonar, tracked them when submerged so there would be “no hiding place” for German U-boats. After completion of the course, Ted joined HMS Westcott at the start of her final commission, in June 1943. HMS Westcott was at Londonderry after her conversion to a Long Range Escort (LRE), then, in September, joined the 4th Escort Group at Liverpool escorting Atlantic Convoys but soon she was transferred to the 8th Escort Group based at Greenock on the River Clyde escorting Arctic Convoys to Northern Russia. In 1943, aged barely 18, Ted embarked on the first of his seven Arctic convoys, escorting ships ferrying weapons, food and supplies to Russia during the Second World War.

There were six RDF Operators on HMS Westcott: two on duty at a time for each of Red, Blue and Green watches. It was impossible to maintain one’s concentration to the flickering screen for an entire four-hour watch, thus two men were required. At the end of a watch operators had four hours off before going on watch again. Ted was also RNR officer’s servant to First Lt Ernest Quarrie, tidying his cabin and bringing him tea when in harbour. Ted spent his time off-duty sleeping and eating on his mess deck three feet beneath sea level which could be reached via a hatch and a vertical ladder.

There was no official British medal for veterans of those convoys until the Arctic Star was announced in mid December 2012. The institution of the medal, nearly seven decades after the end of the Second World War, was the result of a 16-year-long campaign by Commander Eddie Grenfell, Lieutenant Commander Dick Dykes and Merchant Navy veteran Jock Dempster, who stressed that service in the convoys north of the Arctic Circle was entirely different from those in the Atlantic, for which the Atlantic Star had been awarded, with different aims and different conditions. From 1941 to 1945 1,400 merchant vessels sailed with naval escorts from Britain, Iceland and North America to the Soviet ports of Archangel and Murmansk. 85 merchant vessels, 16 Royal Navy warships and more than 3,000 sailors were lost.

Ted Cross, 87 at the time, felt honoured to visit Number 10 Downing Street and be rewarded after a 70-year wait since he first went to sea on the convoys. “It was my first time at Downing Street and the last time I think. We are getting the medal at long last but it’s unfortunate for those who aren’t around any more.”

Ted said about his service as a radar operator on HMS Westcott from June 1943 to May 1945, making seven return trips to the USSR across the freezing Arctic Ocean: “It has just gone on and on and on. The cold was bitter and the ship was covered in ice at times. That had to be got rid of because too much ice could capsize a ship with the weight. We were in the Navy, we were on a ship and there’s nothing else we could do. I don’t remember anybody being scared. Maybe they were, maybe I was, but that was what you had to do. You couldn’t say ‘I’m not going’. That was life.”.
He has often thought about the risk he and his fellow seamen ran after some material dragged behind the ship to distract U-boats was blown up by a torpedo on one occasion.

At the ceremony on June 16, 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron praised the convoys as “essential in the war effort to defeat fascism and Nazism.” He was joined by the President of the Russian Federation who awarded Mr Cross and his fellow seamen the Medal of Ushakov a Russian Navy award, for their efforts, adding, “We remember you and we believe you are heroes”. The British government had previously blocked Arctic convoy veterans from accepting the Ushakov medal.

On the 11th July this year Ted marked his 98th birthday. He passed away peacefully at home on the 28th July. At this sad time, our thoughts are with Linda and Jane, Ted’s daughters, and their families.

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Bus tours and excursions for the whole family by Karina Tour Travel Club

Karina Tour Travel Club specialises in organising bus tours and excursions for the whole family, including five free trips for children who have received a code from the NAF (Holiday Allowance Fund).

With summer approaching and the long-awaited children’s holidays, parents are now wondering how to spend their time wisely:

  • Go to the seaside and bask in the sun.
  • Explore interesting places in England.

During the summer vacation period, several exciting trips are planned:

25/7/2023 – Tuesday: Hampton Court. 

03/8/2023 – Thursday: Warwick Castle. 

09/8/2023 – Wednesday: Knebworth House. 

15/8/2023 – Tuesday: Headingham Castle Knight School.

 23/8/2023 – Wednesday: Woburn Safari Park.

 

8/07/2023 – Tewkesbury Medieval Festival, held annually since 1983 to commemorate the historic Battle of the Red and White Roses.

23/7/2023 – Rye. 

28/7/2023 – Cromer. 

30/7/2023 – Oxford. 

04/8/2023 – York (Jorvik). 

12/8/2023 – Windsor/Legoland. 

13/8/2023 – Greenwich. 

18/8/2023 – Southend. 

19/8/2023 – Dover Castle. 

01/9/2023 – Seven Sisters.

To book your trip and to find more information, please visit our Telegram channel.

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Frederick (Vic) Bashford (1920 – 2023) Memorial Page

It is with great sadness that we learnt of the departure of another dear member of our community – a Second World War veteran, Frederick Vic Bashford of Ramsey, Cambridgeshire. We first met in 2016 when, together with other Arctic Convoy veterans, Vic was visiting IWM Duxford, and shared memories of his war experiences. Mr Bashford was a member of the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA).

Victor featured in our VE-75 presentation in May 2020 (p. 6) and in the brochure Remembering the Second World War in November 2020 (p. 8).

Frederick (Vic) Bashford was born in Portsmouth on 28 December 1920 into a family of a Naval officer, Frederick Victor Bashford (1897-1977). He was the eldest of three children.
Vic volunteered for service with the Royal Air Force in December 1938, trained as an electrical fitter and was deployed to France in December 1939. He was based at RAF Kenley at the time of the Battle of Britain. Vic was involved in operation Force Benedict, a secret mission to protect the northern Russian port of Murmansk, which was a crucial lifeline to the Soviets.

The first 39 aircraft, of the nearly 3,000 Hurricanes supplied, were transported in August 1941 by the Aircraft Carrier HMS Argos and the RMS Llanstephan Castle in the first Arctic Convoy between the UK and Russia. This was known as Operation Dervish.

Vic was posted to the Middle East from late 1942 – to Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and Greece – until he was demobilised in January 1946.

Vic shared his thoughts: “We left Russia at the end of November 1941, and my trip home was aboard HMS Kenya, with a captain who enjoyed giving the Germans a bloody nose… instead of a straight passage as escort to the returning convoy (QP3), we spent some exhilarating moments bombarding the German coastal installations at Vardo… Never a dull moment! That’s why I joined the RAF – for a quiet life!… that convoy experience is the part of my life that is truly unforgettable.”

For his service, Vic was awarded the 1939-1945 Star (the highest British Military honour for the RAF in WWII), the Arctic Star and the Africa Star, the War Medal 1939-45, the Defence Medal and, later, also the Medal of Ushakov, the highest Russian Naval award. After the end of the Cold War, Vic visited Russia on a couple of occasions. He returned to Russia in 2016 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Operation Dervish convoy and was overwhelmed by the reception given by the Russian people.

Vic, who celebrated his 102nd birthday last December, passed away peacefully at home on 18 April 2023. He was a knowledgeable engineer and a man of great wit with an excellent sense of humour. He also loved sports: as a young man he played cricket and, later in life, he took up golf. He is survived by his three children, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him. Our thoughts are with Vic’s children, Cylla, Andrea and Anthony, and their families.

You can read Vic Bashford’s memories of No. 615 Squadron (recorded in 2020) and watch his interviewDealings with Russians” on Memorial Marathon. World War II Veterans Stories.

 

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Ernest (Baden) Hall (1925 – 2023) Memorial Page

It is with great sadness that we heard of the departure of a dear member of our community – Baden Hall, a Second World War veteran, who visited us in Cambridge several times over the past decade.

Baden took part in the “Evening of History and Memories” at Churchill college in 2015, where he shared memories of his wartime experiences together with other Arctic Convoy veterans. He met with a group of veterans from Russia during their visit to Cambridge in May of 2016, and was one of four veterans interviewed by local students in 2017 as a part of The Arctic Convoy’s documentary filming project. We also had the pleasure of Baden and Eunice Hall’s company at the CamRuSS 20th anniversary concert The Splendour of Russian Music in Cambridge in October 2019. Baden also featured in our VE-75 presentation in May 2020 (page 5) and in the brochure Remembering the Second World War in November 2020 (page 7) 

* * *

Baden was born on 1st June, 1925 in Deanshanger, Northamptonshire, the eldest of four children. He attended the local school until he was 14, found a job as a gardener in the next village, and, at the age of 15, took up an apprenticeship at Wolverton Carriage Works working on a variety of trains including the Royal Train.
He was called up when he was 18. He famously said to the recruiting officer at the desk “I don’t want to join the Army, I want to join the Navy” to which came the very blunt reply “Get in there!”. So Baden was enlisted in the Royal Navy and received his basic training in Phywelli, Wales. His first posting was at Portsmouth Barracks, which served as a hoofing post, until a permanent place was found. He was there for only six weeks and was then sent to a seamanship training course on HMS Revenge in Faslane, Scotland. After completing it, he was sent to Southampton to join HMS Zodiac, a Z-class Royal Naval destroyer which took part in the Russian Arctic convoys during WW2. This ship became his home for the next 3 ½ years. They sailed either from Loch Ewe or Scapa Flow out into the North Sea, to make their way to Murmansk, Arkhangelsk (Archangel), and Polyarny in the north of Russia. The purpose of these convoys was to transport goods in merchant ships to Russia which were protected from enemy attacks by Royal Navy boats during the perilous journey. Each convoy took 10 days, weather permitting, and then spent 10 days in Russia before making the homeward voyage, bringing the now empty merchant ships back home. Baden spent VE-Day in Denmark and received many awards for his service.

Baden left the Navy in November 1946, and returned to complete his apprenticeship at the Wolverton Carriage Works. Not long after this, he met a young girl called Eunice at a dance one evening and, after 10 happy years of courtship, they got married at Holy Trinity Church in Bedford on 5th April 1958. Baden and Eunice celebrated their Diamond wedding anniversary in 2018.

After several years working at the Carriage Works, Baden took up employment at Vauxhall Motors in Luton, where he remained until his retirement at the age of 55. He returned to his favourite pastime, gardening and doing odd jobs, usually for ladies who lived on their own, and made many good friends over this time.

In recent years, Baden joined the Kennington Russian Arctic Convoy Club and, with his wife Eunice, went to Russia on many occasions (at least four!), visiting St Petersburg, Murmansk and Archangel. Baden was awarded the Medal of Ushakov along with other Arctic Convoy veterans. He loved making annual trips to London on Remembrance Sunday and joining in with thousands of other veterans in the march past the Cenotaph. Baden also enjoyed attending the Royal British Legion meetings. His lifetime’s hobby was music, so he spent many happy hours in the Corn Exchange at concerts. He was a man of great wit and artistic talent, and his cross-stitching embroidery pictures won awards. He liked to laugh, have a joke and enjoy life.

Baden, who celebrated his 97th birthday last June and was looking forward to celebrating his 65th wedding anniversary with Eunice in April this year, passed away in Bedford hospital on Tuesday, 21 March. His funeral took place on 12 April and it was attended by family, friends and members of the local chapter of the Royal British Legion, Clapham, Bedford chapter.

He had a long and wonderfully fulfilling life, and he will be missed immensely by his family, but his spirit will live on in the wonderful memories that they hold dear. He is survived by his wife Eunice, daughter Alison, son-in-law Chris, granddaughters Hannah and Emily. Our thoughts are with Eunice, his widow, and the family.

Dear Baden, rest in peace now that you have crossed the bar.

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We are recruiting: join our team as an Administrator

We are recruiting! Please join our team as an Administrator. We are looking for someone to help us with coordinating and advertising our events, and communications. Working remotely, 10-15 hours a week, minimum hourly wage (£10.42).

The successful candidate will have an excellent knowledge of English and Russian (written and spoken), access to a computer and smartphone, knowledge of Microsoft Office, image editing and social media, and most important – a desire to contribute to the further development of our charitable activities.

Detailed Job Description can be downloaded herePlease send your CV and cover letter by midnight 24 April 2023 to us at camruss1999@gmail.com.

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Anti-war Protest in Cambridge: 26 February

Dear Friends,

Please join the group of activitists on Sunday 26 February from 14:00 to 15:00 at an anti-war protest that will take place in Cambridge, King’s Parade (next to St. Mary’s Church).

We, Russian-speaking residents of Cambridge, stand for the immediate cessation of the fighting and withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, and would like to demonstrate our anti-war position.

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Support Ukraine: 24-26 February 2023 Events in Cambridge

On 25 February Cambridge4Ukraine organises March of Solidarity with Ukraine “March4Ukraine” that will start at 13:40 at Hills Road War Memorial and will continue to King’s Parade till 16:00.

On 26 February, 14:00-15:00, local Russian-speaking volunteers are organising an anti-war protest at King’s Parade in Cambridge, CB2 1ST.

Later on that day, at 16:00 there will be a special service “Prayer for Ukraine” at Great St Mary’s, The University Church, Cambridge. Join the events to support Ukraine, Ukrainians, global peace, and democracy. 

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CamRuSS for Ukraine

On 16 February we talked about grants for initiatives supporting Ukrainian refugees. Please find useful links below:

Please join our next CamRuSS for Ukraine volunteer group online meeting that will take place on Saturday, 25 February 2023 at 17:00. Registration is open here.

On 16 March from 12:30 to 13:30 we will hold an online meeting with Attorney Andriy Koval, head of the Legal Center that regularly and successfully assists its clients in all visa and immigration matters and categories of British and European immigration law. Participation is free, registration is open here. Andrey will talk about the possibilities of switching from a Ukrainian sponsored visa to other types of visas. Please send your questions in advance – follow the link to fill out this form.

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