This is page TWO

Hello and a warm welcome to this page and its several sub pages, which are designed to be read in cascade i.e. page after page with internal navigation. A special warm welcome goes to all of you, from many parts of the UK and from foreign parts too, who contact me with enquiries about loved ones, many of whom have passed on, who did their boys training at Shotley - not to mention an in-tray of requests for those trained elsewhere including WW1 and WW2 hostilities only [HO's].  This page consolidates what I have already told some of you and might answer other questions yet to be asked.  Keep on asking !

The page is written for those new to the subject, or, if not new, as something that you always wanted to know but you didn't have the courage to ask !

For those of you who are already devotees of the HMS Ganges Association or the Ganges Museum, you will already know all the story, or so you think, and reading this might offend the knowledge you already have which is based on a great deal of lamp swinging, copious amounts of bullshit, and a total lack of research.  Whilst not a member of the Association, I do have a "loyal leaning" towards the Solent Division who have proved themselves to me to be a good and diligent group of people, actively honouring the name of  HMS Ganges and all that that means. I was a member of that fine group before re-locating to live in Suffolk.

What follows is based on FACT.

On this site there is a page called the GANGES COMPENDIUM.  To get a fully rounded picture of HMS Ganges you should read the contents, which are rather voluminous.   I suggest that you click here now and put the page into your FAVOURITIES, ready to be got at when you have finished this page  GANGES COMPENDIUM. 

In addition to highlighting the Compendium I also want to say this. HMS Ganges today, above all else, is a group of old boys remembering their youth.  Like all organisations it has a few sacred icons around which the ex-boys rally and these are obviously the ships crest, the ships motto, the mast, the national standard, Mylor and the alma mater itself, the establishment at Shotley.  Six must have icons which help to bond fraternal associations and memories.  However, we used to have seven, and the seventh one was {is} by any measure [at least to me] as important as any other. All military organisations [be they army, navy or air force] are rightly and justly proud of their VICTORIA CROSS holders and we used to Celebrate OUR VC holders knowing of THEIR names and of THEIR Citations.  With an Association web site change in February 2009,  that seventh icon was discarded as being of no consequence, an action of incomprehensible dereliction of duty toward revering THEIR names for all posterity. The new web site was designed to correct the faults in the original site and to rid the latter of unwanted/unnecessary functionality.  Unfortunately, those responsible for the new web site 'threw the baby out with the bath water'.  So here, right at the beginning of my new story, I take it upon myself to reinstate the relevant page from the old web site which the original web master had held in high esteem. However it needs to be updated to add the following detail.

In August 1918 the Royal Flying Corp and the Royal Naval Air Service were combined to form the Royal Air Force. Until that time the Victoria Cross was issued with two different coloured ribbons.  The Navy had a B L U E ribbon and the Army, a W I N E   R E D ribbon. McKenzie won his VC during the naval Zeebrugge  Raid in April 1918 and therefore won a VC with a BLUE ribbon.  However, by the time he  received his cross from HM King George V in the late summer of 1918 the blue ribbon had been abandoned and all wore the wine red ribbon. McKenzie died just a few weeks later in October 1918 from the flu whilst in RNH Chatham recovering from the wounds sustained at Zeebrugge aged 19.  The papers on this matter are very interesting and are part of my extensive library.  They can be viewed at the National Archives under the file ADM 116/1811.


 

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Victoria CrossAlbert McKenzie VCOf all the thousands of boys and men that trained in the shore establishment HMS Ganges from 1905 until 1976, only two are believed to have been awarded the Victoria Cross.

Able Seaman Albert Edward McKenzie of HMS Vindictive, was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the British and Commonwealth armed forces, following the Royal Navy's famous Raid on Zeebrugge in 1918. This award was given under the rules of Clause 13 defined as follows:-

Original Warrant, Clause 13: Thirteenthly. It is ordained that in the event of a gallant and daring act having been performed by a squadron, ship's company, or detached body of seamen and marines not under fifty in number, or by a brigade, regiment, troop or company in which the admiral, general, or other officer commanding such forces may deem that all are equally brave and distinguished, and that no special selection can be made by them, then is such case the admiral, general, or other officer commanding, may direct that for any such body of seamen or marines, or for every troop or company of soldiers, one officer shall be selected by the officers engaged for the Decoration, and in like manner one petty officer or non-commissioned officer shall be selected by the petty officers and non-commissioned officers engaged, and two seamen or private soldiers or marines shall be selected by the seamen, or private soldiers, or marines engaged, respectively for the Decoration, and the names of those selected shall be transmitted by the senior officers in command of the Naval force, brigade, regiment, troop, or company, to the admiral or general officer commanding, who shall in due manner confer the Decoration as if the acts were done under his own eye.


He was chosen by his shipmates to be awarded the VC and it was presented to him by King George V at Buckingham Palace during the Summer of 1918.
He had almost fully recovered from his wounds when he caught flu in the epidemic which swept across Europe at the end of the Great War. He died at Chatham Naval Hospital in October 1918 aged nineteen.
An excellent website telling the story of Albert, his award and the Zeebrugge raid, researched and created by his great nephew Colin McKenzie can be accessed at: http://www.mckenzie.uk.com/zeebrugge/index.htm

L/Sea Magennis VCLeading Seaman James Magennis was the only boy trained at HMS Ganges to be awarded the highest British medal for valour in world war two. Boy Seaman Magennis of Belfast, Northern Ireland joined HMS Ganges in June 1935 and on completion of training served in HM Ships Royal Sovereign, Dauntless, Enterprise, Hermes and Kandahar. Before being drafted for wartime service in HM Submarines and volunteering for special duties in midget submarines.

His medal citation read: "The King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the Victoria Cross for valour to Temporary Acting Leading Seaman James Joseph Magennis, D/KX144907.
Leading Seaman Magennis served as diver in His Majesty's Midget Submarine XE3 for her attack on 31 July 1945 on a Japanese cruiser of the Atago class.


Owing to the fact that XE3 was tightly jammed under the target the diver's hatch could not be fully opened, and Magennis had to squeeze himself through the narrow space available.
He experienced great difficulty in placing the limpets on the bottom of the cruiser owing both to the foul state of the cruisers bottom and to the prominent slope upon which the limpets would not hold.
Before a limpet could be placed therefore Magennis had thoroughly to scrape the area clean of barnacles, and in order to secure the limpets he had to tie them in pairs by a line passing under the cruisers keel.
This was very tiring work for a diver, and he was moreover handicapped by a steady leakage of oxygen which was ascending in bubbles to the surface.
A lesser man would have been content to place a few limpets and then to return to the craft. Magennis, however, persisted until he had placed his full outfit before returning to the craft in an exhausted condition.

Shortly after withdrawing Lt. Fraser (Skipper of XE3) endeavoured to jettison his limpet carriers, but one of these would not release itself and fall clear of the craft.

Despite his exhaustion, his oxygen leak and the fact that there was every probability of his being sighted, Magennis at once volunteered to leave the craft and free the carrier rather than allow a less experienced diver to undertake the job. After seven minutes of nerve racking work he succeeded in releasing the mine carrier. Magennis displayed very great courage and devotion to duty and complete disregard for his own safety."

 
magennisbook.jpg The book 'MAGENNIS VC' 'The story of an ex HMS Ganges boy (1935)
JAMES (Mick) MAGENNIS who was awarded the VICTORIA CROSS'

by George Fleming ex HMS Ganges 1957.
Mick Magennis was the last RN Rating decorated with a VICTORIA CROSS.
The book can be purchased from the HMS Ganges Association online slops room. Paperback £11.95, hardback £22.50. Signed paperback copies can also be obtained direct from the author. Please send £11.95 (Sterling) (Inc. P&P) Along with your own address to:
George Fleming, 545A Lisburn Road, BELFAST, BT9 7GQ.
Telephone. 02890 664629  Email. <george9.fleming@ntlworld.com>

 

In September 2016, my wife and I combined a "TROUBLES" HISTORY TOUR of Northern Ireland with a two week holiday in the province following Northern Ireland's National Trust trail. The "Troubles",  a  euphemism for the the carnage, murder, mayhem caused by religious bigotry, manifest in the actions of the various so-called armies, forces, fighters  etc.  We covered many aspects and areas throughout the Provence, popping into the Republic to see Mullaghmore in County Sligo [the site of Lord Mountbatten's murder] walking the Bogside route in Derry and the Falls and Shanklin roads in Belfast. Whilst in Belfast, we visited City Hall to see the Memorial to James Magennis which is erected on the grassed area immediately in front of the Hall, itself, a worthwhile tour. I have included the details with pictures of his splendid Memorial and also [not to be left out - there are so many murals to see] his huge mural painted on the gable end of a block of flats.  To view these please click here BELFAST N.I. An Enigma but a REAL R.N. Hotspot.htm  Remember to click on your back button after viewing the Belfast page to return to this story about HMS Ganges.                                  

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