DATE LINE 24th AUGUST
THIS PAGE HAS NOW BEEN CHANGED AND DIVIDED INTO TWO SECTIONS. SECTION 'A' SHOWS THE ORIGINAL PUBLISHED PAGE OF EARLY 2005 IN WHICH I PROMISED TO KEEP YOU ALL INFORMED. SECTION 'B' IS THAT PROMISE FULFILLED. THEREFORE, PLEASE READ SECTION 'A' KNOWING THAT THERE IS A HAPPY ENDING !
Greetings AND A WARM WELCOME TO ALL WINNERS OF A HERBERT LOTT AWARD.
Before you can make a decision [and therefore act] on this subject, can I politely ask you to read the following page
As you will now know, despite Herbert Lott's expressed wish, he was buried without a head stone in a grave which is completely unmarked and manifestly uncared for.
I have asked the Managers of the Herbert Lott Naval Trust Fund [HLNTF] if they would ask the Trustees of the Fund to pay for a grave marking and a head stone suitably engraved, and I understand that the issue will be discussed at the May 2005 Trustees Annual General Meeting to be held in HMS Excellent.
The Fund Managers have told me that they are not allowed to spend money on such things, even for Herbert Lott, but that they are allowed to fund the provision of a standard Commonwealth War Graves Commission [CWGC] head stone. These ubiquitous head stones are white to off-white in colour, bear the Service of the deceased, and where known, the name, rank and Service number. The majority of them also bear a badge or symbol depicting their Service or Regiment.
Whilst that would be better than the status quo, I am not sure as to whether it is fitting that Herbert Lott, a civilian throughout his life and never a combatant, deserves a head stone associated with "sacrifice", and there are many hundreds of people who died as the results of enemy action [bombing] etc, who didn't receive the 'ultimate' head stone.
Nor am I sure that a fitting inscription could be engraved onto such a relatively small surface area as on the CWGC head stone. In my mind, I have a more fitting head stone [the alternative] which can be found in their millions throughout the UK's civilian cemeteries, of white polished marble [or marble substitute], large enough to allow a generous amount of engraved text telling of the association this man had with the Royal Navy, as well as his name and date of birth/date of death.
To fund this alternative [to the HLNTF suggested CWGC head stone] would of course cost money, not just for the provision of a head stone, but for the preparation of the grave [which currently is sadly neglected] to receive the new head stone.
It is pointless costing the alternative for it is not my intention to pay for the proposed work from my own funds. It is also premature in that the HLNTF Trustees may ignore the rules and agree to pay for the alternative. However, assuming that they do not and offer the CWGC head stone, should that be accepted, or should the alternative be more fully explored?
The OBVIOUS people to ask are those who have a close bond with Herbert Lott; those who, through their own merit, have received cash sums from the Fund he himself set up so many years ago. I believe that there are enough of us to fund the alternative with ease, demanding a one-off contribution of between £5 and £10 each [and perhaps less], the amount remaining on completion being given to a suitable naval charity, when the fund raising would be 'put-to-bed'. If I get enough support and the project comes to fruition, then the names of all who donate would be published here, and I would forward them on to the Managers in Whale Island.
Given that the alternative would be desirable, would you be willing to commit yourself to pay an amount of up to £10 [tenpounds sterling] which in whole or in part, would, when added to other likewise donations, be used to "build a PROPER grave" for Herbert Charles Lott in Wallignford Oxfordshire?
If you would, perhaps you would be kind enough to email me and give your commitment [not your money - yet !]. If enough interest is shown [and commitments made] from this web site and other media, and the alternative is necessary, then, and only then, will I make costing enquiries in the Wallingford area. I will keep you all informed ON THIS PAGE
When you email, please tell me your personal details with a short description of when your award was made, for how much and for what reason[s].
Section 'A' above does indeed have a happy ending, so much so, that the outcome can be called generous. Almost from the beginning in early 2005, the Royal Navy Charities Co-ordinator, Commander Stephen Carter Royal Navy., took on the job of bringing this website story to the attention of the Trustees of the Herbert Lott Naval Trust Fund. The Trustees were enthusiastic, and after much debate and consultation, they approved a plan of action and a sum of money to finance that plan. That plan gave approval to Commander Carter to do two things. Firstly to address the desire to place a suitably engraved stone on Herbert Lott's grave in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, and simultaneously, to revere Herbert's name for all posterity in a relevant naval environment. Stephen Carter and his secretary Mrs Helen Wise, despite being under-staffed and trying to overcome the shock of a premature death of a very recently retired member of staff, integrated this extra task into their work-load and set about finding the answers and solutions to a myriad of questions addressed to civilian authorities as well as to naval authorities whose answers would take many months to co-ordinate.
Graves per se, for good and obvious reasons, are protected by many and various rules and laws, issued by such authorities like the Church and the Council [County, Local or Parochial] responsible for the cemetery, and of course, Parliament, involving searches of several records. Additionally, the next-of-kin [where known] must be consulted, and the whole administrative process, which takes some time to conclude, must be finalised before the stonemason is consulted.
Running concurrently with the requirement of the grave, was the requirement of choosing a suitable naval environment in which Herbert Lott could be remembered as a naval benefactor. Foremost in Stephen Carter's mind was that this was a one-off spend and that no finances would be forthcoming in the years ahead to maintain either of these memorials. It is a regrettable fact of life that from the day a stone is put on a grave, it starts to deteriorate, and unless lovingly cared for, can have but a limited finite use as a visual effect. Thus, since one memorial would be exposed to the ravishes of mother nature, it made good sense to put the second memorial [a plaque] indoors, which, even if the building into which it was originally integrated were to be demolished in time, the memorial could be salvaged and re-positioned none the worse for wear. Three venues were discussed, two naval and one 'naval'. The two naval sites were St Ann's Church in Portsmouth's naval base [often referred to as the Navy's Cathedral] and St Barbara's Church in HMS Excellent: the 'naval' site was St Martin-in-the-Fields, in Trafalgar Square, London [known as "The Naval Church"]. St Barbara's Church was selected even though this area is off limits to non-naval personnel [and therefore to ex-naval personnel who might have been awarded a Herbert Lott prize and wish to view the memorial] and probably also to those in the navy not currently serving on Whale Island. Why was it chosen? St Barbara is the Patron Saint of gunnery, and gunnery was the then pre-occupation of Herbert Lott and the prime reason for his giving of his first instalment of money. His intention was that the money should be spent on encouraging better and more proficient gunnery in the Royal Navy. St Barbara's Church stands in the naval establishment which was once the alma mater of the navy's Gunnery Branch - the famous [or infamous depending upon ones personal view] Whale Island and HMS Excellent. Today, HMS Excellent is just one part of Whale Island, which plays host to the Fleet Headquarters.
Now came the second stage, where the grave stone and the memorial plaque had to be designed and the wording agreed before they could be manufactured and subsequently fitted in-situ. Wise and sensitive decisions had to made for the outcome was for all posterity, not to mentioned that Stephen Carter had to make some shrewd commercial decisions to get the best products commensurate with his given budget.
Finally came the problems associated with running a diary especially for two events : where and when? - who should be appointed to lead the dedications? - who should we invite? - can they make the dates? - a difficult and time consuming task to say the least.
However, Stephen Carter and his able staff have been able to pull all these stages together and we are grateful to them for their planning and detailed staff-work. Moreover, we simply asked for a grave stone, but in return, because of the Trustees' generosity and Commander Carter's efforts, we have got two memorials. Thank you, and we are grateful to all who have made this possible.
The dedications for these two separate memorials will take place as follows.
For the plaque, in St Barbara's Church, HMS Excellent, Whale Island, Portsmouth. Holy Communion will be celebrated at 1200 on Thursday 7th September after which the Chaplain of the Fleet, The Venerable John Green QHC., will dedicate the memorial to Mr Herbert Lott.
For the grave stone, in Wallingford's Church [new cemetery] Oxfordshire. The grave stone, now erected upon Herbert's grave, will be dedicated at 1100 Wednesday 4th October by the Fleet Chaplain Operations.
POST St Barbara's Church dedication. Two things to record for naval history happened today in the confines of Portsmouth Harbour and its immediate surrounding areas. The first, that of the blessing and dedication of the Herbert Charles Lott Memorial Plaque on Whale Island, some 59 years after his death, and secondly, the naming of HMS Clyde, the first ship build in Portsmouth since the late 1960's when HMS Andromeda [a Leander Class frigate] was launched. Clyde is a patrol boat destined for almost permanent deployment to the Falkland Islands, and was named during the evening of this day, Thursday the 7th September 2006. This is a picture of the plaque to Herbert Lott dedicated today. It is a highly polished wall brass plate which reflects a great deal of light when photographed with a camera using a flash. Therefore I have posted a large jpeg so that when it is opened, you can easily see the wording on the plaque.
I am also pleased to see that the Trust Fund now issues a Citation with an Herbert Lott award. It is a piece of card 6 inches by 8 inches and on one side is the Citation stating the named person and the reason for being awarded a prize at the bottom of which is the Royal Navy logo. The reverse of the card shows the following HERBERT LOTT CITATION CARD.jpg
As the final act, the Royal Navy paid its respects to, and dedicated the grave of Herbert Lott, on Wednesday the 4th October on what turned out to be a glorious Autumn day in Wallingford. The Service took place at 1100 and was led by the Reverend Martin Poll Royal Navy [Fleet Chaplain Operations] and formally attended by Captain Paul Quinn OBE., Royal Navy and Commander Stephen Carter Royal Navy, both of whom were resplendent in their uniforms and wearing medals. As a tangible mark of respect, both saluted as the Padre blessed and dedicated the grave stone. Also in attendance were Mike [Charlie] Challinor - a many times winner of a Herbert Lott prize - with his wife Rita; Preston [Tugg] Willson and his wife Brenda [no strangers to the grave as the story above shows], John Eilbeck, sadly without his wife Val, who was too ill to travel from Dibden Hampshire, my wife Beryl and myself. We are all ex navy. We were delighted to be joined by Donald Pyne, also mentioned in the story above, who, in 1949, two years after Herbert's death, moved with his parents to the house in which Herbert Lott lived and died, and still lives there to this day. Here are five photographs taken by my wife.
The wreath and card are symbolic of the gratitude universally shown to Herbert Lott for his encouragement and generosity over many long years. Its colours of red, white and blue represent those to be found on the White Ensign of the Royal Navy in which he was so interested. Picture three shows, L-R, John Eilbeck, Donald Pyne, Tugg Willson, and me shaking hands with the Rev Poll. Picture four, L-R, shows Rita Challinor, Brenda Willson, Tugg Willson, Commander Carter, Charlie Challinor, Captain Quinn, John Eilbeck, me and the Rev Poll. Picture 5, L-R, Tugg Willson, Commander Carter, Charlie Challinor, Captain Quinn, John Eilbeck, me, the Rev Poll and Donald Pyne.
RIP Charles Herbert Lott
© Godfrey Dykes 2006.