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Submariner Dave rallies Forces for ultimate fight against cancer

12 June 2018
A deathbed vow to his brother led to veteran submariner Dave Bathgate taking on his toughest challenge to date: beating cancer.

In a grim 18-month period, the warrant officer watched the disease take his uncle and aunty. But it was the death of his brother John, who worked in the cruise ship industry, which was the catalyst for Dave to act.

“From sitting having a beer and a barbecue in my back garden to John being in a coma on life support which he would never wake from was five hours,” said the senior NCO.

“It wasn’t actually cancer that killed him – he had cancer of the colon and his colon ruptured one afternoon spreading sepsis throughout his body.

“As we switched off his life support I promised him I would do all I could to ensure as fewer people went through what my family endured and are still enduring to this day.”

The result is Military vs Cancer – not a charity, but a massive fundraising effort involving all three Services under the banner ‘By Sea, Land, Air and All, together let’s make cancer fall’.

Dave’s set himself the goal of raising £100,000 for both cancer research and assisting sufferers and their families.

Although it’s been started by a submariner, this isn't the Submarine Service against cancer, nor is it the Royal Navy. This is the United Kingdom Military versus Cancer.

WO Dave Bathgate

Hence the pilgrimage around the UK’s military bases (e.g. Yeovilton and Culdrose) and environs (such as the Gosport ferry) which, coupled with online fundraising efforts, have so far brought in over £13,000.

“A friend once said: ‘Think big, aim high,’ and that is what I intend,” Dave adds. “Although it’s been started by a submariner, this isn't the Submarine Service against cancer, nor is it the Royal Navy. This is the United Kingdom Military versus Cancer.”

The reasoning being if you can beat Boney, Kaiser Bill, Hitler, the Argentine junta and Saddam Hussein (inter alia), you can beat cancer – Britain’s military has a proven track record of victory.

Much of the fundraising has been carried out by personnel giving up their time to rattle tins – you’ll see them in their bespoke Military vs Cancer hooded tops, paid for by the crew of HMS Vigilant during a deterrence deployment.

Collections at Faslane, HMS Excellent, RAF Scampton and Waddington are next up.

But Dave has also received donations of a submariner’s Breitling Watch, a sword from Crown Swords, cushion from the Company of Makers, a £200 voucher for body art from Black Sails Tattoo Studio and an Oath of Allegiance courtesy of the Sandbag And Lamp Veterans – all of which are being raffled: tickets are £10 for the watch, £5 for the sword, £3.50 for the tattoo or oath of allegiance.

And the submariner has one eye on a marathon field gun run… from John O’ Groats to Lands’ End “but as you can imagine, this will take some planning”

To buy raffle tickets for the items listed above visit and you can get involved in the campaign via and

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