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Nene K270 - Decommission

End of Hostilities and Decommission - by George Newton

White Ensign
Reprinted from "Whispers From The Heads", a publication of the Windsor, Ontario Branch of the Royal Canadian Naval Association, 1979.

 

V.E. Day (May 10) on the Nene at Lisahally -Splicing the Main Brace (rum ration event)

George Newton recalls that the ship had received a signal to proceed to Sheerness for decommissioning. "We fell in line ahead, HMC Ships Port Colborne, Loch Alvie and the NENE in company with HMCS Monnow. Tired and worn out, these ships were bringing to a close the history of Escort Group Nine, part of the Canadian Naval Expeditionary Forces. I remember well that still morning when we left 'Derry for the last time; we let go fore and aft, took a last fond look at Jetty 9, and as we slipped away, said a last farewell to Ireland.

 

EG9, May 1945, probably the last tie-up together of Loch Alvie K428, Monnow K441 and Nene K270 - to the left is Waskesiu K330 of EG6, with sailor on stern of Coppercliff, a Castle class corvette - from the National Archives of Canada PA191026

I had the first watch and after leaving harbour took up my position as starboard lookout on the bridge. Overhead, a glorious sight, the Decommissioning Pennant, flew the length of the ship; below flew the White Ensign, a little ragged and not as white as we might wish, but still looking proud, as it should. We reached our last destination, anchored off Sheerness and sounded the death knell of a fighting ship: "Finished with engines." Here, I thought, was the end of the NENE, and a part of my life as well.

Remember mates? "Work party to muster on the quarterdeck." Not knowing where you might be next; engine room cleaning party, loading stores, or God knows where! Or those large cans of Cottage Brand jam that went out the ports lest they get into the wrong hands. A signalman suddenly appears with the Decommission-ing Pennant and tells us that we can have a foot of it as a souvenir. I bravely decline, but asked about the White Ensign, was it still flying? He says yes it was but I would have to talk to the flag officer. The next day I did just that and he said "NO" but if someone were to lower the White Ensign when no one was on the bridge, he doubted that anything would be said.

I laid my plans craftily. After the ship's company went ashore, I would nip up, nail it and have it safely stowed away in no time. As the last liberty boat pulled away, I made my way cautiously to the mast to claim my prize; alas, I was just in time to see the yeoman of signals hand my ensign to Leading Seaman Ross Newitt saying: "I shouldn't be doing this." There went my White Ensign! A few months later, we ended up in HMCS PEREGRINE for discharge."

Years have a way of passing by, and the past has a way of catching up sometimes. One weekend, not too long ago, our daughter and son-in-law came to visit and during the conversation, Roy mentioned that he knew a chap who had a father that knew me; but he would say no more about the subject except that the fellow he knew was on the Toronto Police Force.

Needless to say, on our next trip to Ajax. my son-in-law put me in the car and we drove to --- lo and behold, Leading Seaman Ross Newitt's house (he of the NENE!) We had a long and salty talk and as I was leaving, he said, "George, I have something you want." After 34 years, I got my White Ensign - right off the old frigate NENE! The Ensign, now framed, hangs proudly in the War Museum in Ottawa.

(Source: Nene Lives; ed Kenneth Riley, 1993, ppg. 37 - 38)

Webmaster: Dan Delong - Updated: December 12, 2002