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Chelsea Pensioners bring colour to Remembrance ceremonies in Bahrain

12 November 2018
Three Chelsea Pensioners brought some colour to the beige and grey surroundings of the RN’s principal base in the Middle East when they dropped in on the new UK Naval Support Facility and minehunter HMS Brocklesby ahead of WW1 100 commemorations.

The trio, dressed in their trademark redcoats despite temperatures in the high 20s Celsius, were flown 3,000 miles from their home in the Royal Hospital Chelsea to see the first new overseas RN establishment in more than 40 years.

The complex at Mina Salman is the 21st-Century successor to HMS Jufair, closed at the beginning of the 1970s.

The visitors learned about the heritage of the site and were shown images and artefacts from the old base – which allowed them to compare conditions then with the new air-conditioned facility with its en-suite individual cabins.

Remembrance Day is one of those periods of time to reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives for the country

Retired Royal Engineer John Griffiths

Personnel from the Fleet Diving Unit demonstrated their kit to their guests; one of the Pensioners was an accomplished scuba diver and was particularly interested in differences between the mine clearance dive sets and conventional scuba equipment.

Staff of the Forward Support Unit ran through the engineering and logistical support offered to the four minehunters permanently based in Bahrain, alongside mothership RFA Cardigan Bay and visiting frigates and destroyers such as HMS Dragon, currently deployed east of Suez.

Berthed nearby, HMS Brocklesby welcomed the Pensioners aboard for a demonstration of what the Hunt-class ship and her crew can do.

“It was a great pleasure to show three veteran soldiers around our ship and demonstrate how Royal Navy minehunters work and what we deliver on operations in the Gulf,” said Brocklesby’s CO Lt Cdr Paul Irving.

For the visitors, the highlight of the Bahrain visit was participating in November 11 ceremonies.

“Remembrance Day is one of those periods of time to reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives for the country,” said retired Royal Engineer John Griffiths, who’s been a Chelsea Pensioner for the past three years. “We don’t forget.”

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