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EXTRACTS FROM SIMON CUSENS' LETTERS RE THE

60TH ANNIVERSARY OF "OPERATION PEDESTAL" IN MALTA, 2002

    PART THREE: REUNION 2005





Last Update: 23 December 2006


To read extracts from Simon's earlier letters please go to Part One (BEFORE the 2002 Reunion) and Part Two: (AFTER the 2002 Reunion).






Subject: Reunion 2005
Date: April 20, 2004


Dear Veterans and Friends

As I write, the George Cross Island Assn. is in Malta enjoying its April 2004 Reunion and will undoubtedly continue to discuss its next 2005 Reunion. Other unaffiliated organisations are also working on a 2005 Reunion for Siege of Malta veterans. Yours Truly is not an exception. As you know, I too am working on this possibility and have been since last year.

It would make more sense to harmonise these efforts and energies, given that at least 3 separate entities have recognized the importance of seeing out Malta's LAST war related 60th anniversary.

So far, I assume the GCIA would continue plans to hold their next Reunion in April 2005 though this is only my presumption. This would need to be confirmed.

The other group called the 'Battle for Malta Reunion' are planning an event in September 2005 to coincide with the 'Merlins over Malta' Project that will bring over, for the first time in almost 60 years, a flying Spitfire and Hurricane and also to coincide with the Malta International Airshow.

My Event was planned for November 2005, to coincide with Her Majesty's and HRH's visit for the Commonwealth Summit to be held in Malta. I have been trying to get a Royal Audience for all participants of my Event. This would also coincide with the Royal British Legion's plans to bring a group to Malta under the Heroes Return Fund scheduled for November 2005.

Please be informed that during May 2005, I expect to have finished all discussions with the GCIA and the Battle for Malta organisation in order to decide which way to go with my Event and how to proceed. If my intentions are successful, the November 2005 will probably become a smaller, unofficial Event and the Reunion part of 'my' Event brought forwards to April or September 2005.

By the end of next May, I would expect to be in a position to announce dates and instructions going forwards for those intending to attend and in order for those eligible under the 'Heroes Return' funding to proceed with applying for the money.

God Bless and may this message find you in good health.

Simon Cusens
Malta GC




Date: Thursday, July 01, 2004
Subject: Battle for Malta 2005 Reunion


Dear Veterans and Friends

I have been approached by my friend Brian Essex, organiser of the aforeementioned Reunion scheduled for September 2005.

His Programme is of such worthy content that I have scrapped plans to organise another of my own and will instead, lend a hand to make his a great success.

The return of flying Spitfires and Hurricanes to Malta will truly be something special, even though barely 15% of our surviving population have ever seen them fly.

Visit his website by clicking on:

http://www.communigate.co.uk/bucks/prrbl/page11.pht ml

I may, from time to time, have more info on the Event and would update you accordingly.

Wishing you good receipt,

God bless
Simon Cusens
Malta GC




Date: Friday, October 15, 2004
Subject: Crossed the Bar- Tony Park, HMS Tartar; Douglas Bugler, HMML 126; Joe Tyler, HMS Foresight


Dear Veterans and Friends

Sad news that reached me of late about the passing of four more sons of Valletta:

Tony Park crossed on 5th March 2004

Douglas Bugler crossed on 18th March 2004

Dick Paffett crossed in September 2004

Joe Tyler crossed on 14th October 2004

Joe was a good friend who visited Malta on at least 3 occasions after the 2002 Reunion. We met up a couple of times on those occasions for a beer and I was glad to catch up. His loss was preceded by that of his wife before summer.

Dick Paffett had earlier this year asked me to send him a replacement Malta Souvenir plate to stand in for one he had at Home which broke.I did, and was pleasantly surprised to receive one back from his dear Isle of Wight…now enjoying pride of place at my Home. Thank you Dick.
“So will we guard us now

As sooner shall they drink the ocean dry

Than conquer Malta, or endanger us.

So march away, and let due praise be given

Neither to Fate nor Fortune, but to Heaven”

Christopher Marlow
( extract from ‘Grace under Malta’, 1943, by Sybil Dobbie)

May God Bless their souls and those they left behind. May they rest in eternal peace, Amen.

Simon Cusens
Malta GC




Date: Thursday, February 03, 2005

Subject: Hope you are keeping well


Dear Veterans and Friends

It has been a while since I last wrote. Reasons mainly being work or family related. Very very busy 'dog eat dog' times !

Just wanted to show you all I am still here and still working with the Battle For Malta September 2005 Reunion Committee. Once again, for details I recommend you visit the website (those of you with Internet Browsing capabilities). You will find it by clicking on :

www.battleformaltareunion.freeservers.com

The website is complete with available details and the Registration form to be forwarded to Project Director Brian Essex at the Malta address on the form.

Thought you may be happy to know that I am still discovering 'new' Malta WWII veterans and that the former Minister of Tourism Dr Michael Refalo LLD has been appointed Malta High Commissioner to the United Kingdom succeeding the very popular George Bonello Dupuis who I believe shall be retiring.

Do let me know whether any of my WWII friends are no longer with the living. I am dreading to see how many emails bounce right back when I press the 'Send' button but such is life and it was a great honour to have known them all.

Hoping to meet with as many of you one more time next September 22-29th for a truly UNMISSABLE Event that will long be remembered. The Programme is such that I expect it to have a huge impact on the lives of those who will be blessed to make it over. This is no understatement. I wish I could say more but in due course.

Those of you who may not make it into the main group due to oversubscription, are still welcome to be here during those dates where those with proof of Malta WWII veteran status, if known to Mr Essex beforehand, would still be eligible to certain priviliges reserved especially for them.

I am truly chuffed to have been invited to be part of the organisation for the September Event.

Best of health and God's Blessings

Your friend
Simon Cusens
Malta GC




Date: Monday, February 14, 2005
Subject: Crossed the Bar- David Reid RN, HMS Furious


Dear Veterans and Friends

Another Valletta son has crossed to the other side. I produce excerpts from an email received from his son Jeff today:
"Sorry to inform you that my dad passed way on 12.02.05. He had just had a cancer op which seemed to have gone well. After five days he had a lung infection developed which he couldn't overcome. He and I (as his helper) were looking forward to the Sept 2005 Malta visit but it was not to be. He had also been invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace and had lots of plans for events in his classic MG during 2005.

Thank you for all you have done for the veterans of the Malta Convoy. You and the residents of Malta made my dad very welcome on all the events. He enjoyed them all and always spoke very highly of you all. "

Yours
Jeff Reid"


It has been a privilige for me to have personally met David Reid in September 2002:

Sixty years ! He's old and out of sorts
But still he smiles to see them on the screen,
The lads they were, tin hats, enormous shorts
As big as bivouacs. Full magazine,
One up the spout, going in at the high-port
Through smoke, a newsreel shot in Black and White;
A fake for civvies, so he'd always thought,
It wasn't cameras shooting that first night.
And then live interviews-well, just about-
Old men, false teeth and medals, pretty toys
Dangling from their ribbons, Gaunt or stout
They wheeze or croak. Fade out, He hears the noise
Of Bugle's rhetoric; then words; 'Lest we forget',
He snorts, then wonders why his face is wet,

Vernon Scannell, private soldier
51st Highland Infantry Division


To Jeff and family, my sincere condolences.

God Bless him. We think of him at this time and may he forever rest in peace.

Simon Cusens
Malta GC




Date: Thursday, February 17, 2005
Subject: Dive on S.S. Glenorchy

Dear Veterans and Friends

The message below is from my good friend Simon Bennett in the UK who is a Diver and with whom I share the common interest of acknowledging and remembering our wartime heroes who helped turn the tide of the early dark 1940's.

I felt his message below would interest most of you.

Those interested in more information may reach Simon Bennett by writing to his email address:

TekMed@btinternet.com

For your information the Frederick Treves he speaks of, is the famed british actor who, during Operation Pedestal, was a young seaman aboard the doomed Waimarama Freighter that was to sink with most of its hands lost in the most terrible of ways after a massive explosion following a torpedo strike. He was one of only 19 who survived and appears in the Convoy Documentary screened by Channel 4 in the early 90's giving a harrowing account of the shipmates he was able to save and those he was unable to.

I must confess that after watching that video and reading the Peter Shankland & Anthony Hunter book Malta Convoy (London: Fontana, 1989 ISBN 0006329640), I was inspired to do the September 2002 Malta Commemoration. Destiny has, last year, put me in touch with the Executive Producer of the Documentary to whom I am eternally indebted, as she decided to donate all the Production's raw material, about 200 video tapes containing countless hours of edited and unedited Survivor Interviews to my Museum initiative.

Simon Bennett's message:
"Simon I hope to make it in September for the reunion and I am also heading back to the wreck of HMS Manchester in August we also intend to dive and film the Merchant ship S.S.Glenorchy whilst we are there.

We intend to place a plaque on the wreck site and I have been given a Red Ensign flag to fly over her decks this is where we shall leave it, I thought it was about time a merchant shipwreck got some kind of remembrance by us divers like we did with Manchester.

I was wondering if you would be able to inform any Merchant Men that may still be with us of our trip and intensions and if any of them would like us to take floral wreaths out there to place over the site we would be more than delighted to do so, I have been given a small prayer to read out by Mr Frederick Treves."


Wouldn't it be great if some of you could write to your local papers asking for SS Glenorchy survivors to contact me or Simon Bennett should they wish to be present for this salute to their sunken vessel somewhere north of Tunisia that was on its way to Malta during Pedestal in August '42?

God Bless

Your friend

Simon Cusens
Malta GC
E-mail Address: scusens@technoline-mt.com




Subject: Crossed the Bar, John 'Jock' Crawford RN - HMS Wilton, ex Operation Pedestal
Date: March 21, 2005


Dear Veterans and Friends

A sad message from Jane Byron, grand daughter of John 'Jock' Crawford:


I would like to thank you for all the messages and e-mails that you have sent my Grandfather over the past few years.

My Grandad, John "Jock" Crawford from HMS
Wilton sadly gave up his final fight last night in his favourite place in the world, his beloved Scotland.

After searching for details on his ship and his "escapades" and finally getting in touch with you, he was never happier than when he received his certificate arranged for all the Malta vets - thanks again! Please continue sending news as my grandmother will take comfort in that I am sure.

Thanks again for everything

Jane Byron



May this 'Valletta son' now reap his greatest reward of all time and may his family and his HMS Wilton shipmates find solace in knowing that Jock has stood to be counted when it mattered and that Jock has indeed left an indelible mark on the great history of my beloved George Cross Island -a Country that has only recently begun to appreciate again the contributions of Jock and his type so that we all could live in the freedom we now take so much for granted. Thank you dear Jock and may your soul abound in the Heavens above. Your work is done and your Mission accomplished!

The People of Malta will always be grateful to you.

God Bless

Simon Cusens
Malta GC




Subject: Crossed the Bar- John Nixon, RN, ex HMS Ledbury
Date: 12 Apr 2005


Dear Veterans and Friends

A sad message received about my friend John Nixon, from his son Andrew, last with us at the 2002 Reunion:

Dear Simon

It is with sadness that I have to report that my father (John Nixon HMS
Ledbury) passed away last Friday evening 8th April, after a short illness.

It was very peaceful and he had seen and was surrounded by all his children. Whilst preparing to write this to you I have looked at many previous such notifications and observe a very similar wish of those who have gone before him, to remain active and as full of self determination for as much of their time as possible. This my father did until the last days of his life and was very proud of his daily walk and active participation in the lives of his children, grand children and great grand child.

I was privileged to accompany my father to the Re-union in Malta in 2002. He enjoyed meeting again many of his comrades from H.M.S.
Ledbury, and attending the services for his Captain Roger Hill and the private service for his great friend Anthony Hollings who had died very shortly before the re-union. Perhaps however it was a greater reflection of my father's outlook on life that after meeting his old Ledbury pals his main interest in the Malta re-union was to explain and pass on to me the concern and respect he had for all the Merchant seamen, and the brave and vulnerable roles that they played on the Malta Convoys and the Russian convoys that my father was also on. He always said that they were the ones who really deserved the credit; this view he always maintained, perhaps reinforced by the many seamen that he had to treat in his role as Doctor on HMS Ledbury.

Accordingly I was delighted to be present at the chance meeting between my father and Doug McDonald (whom I remember as being the Radio operator on the
Melbouurne Star) at which, 60 years on, Doug was obviously pleased to have the opportunity to thank my father for his medical treatment of the injured from SS WAIMARAMA and those injured from Doug's ship SS Melbourne Star. To me this was a fitting reciprocation of my father's respect for the Merchant Seamen.

My father would have wanted me to pass on his thanks to Robin Owen (HMS
Ledbury), whom he thankfully met three weeks ago,for his role in maintaining the contact between the remaining "Ledburys", and for his friendship over many many years. Theirs was a bond the origin of which few now can understand.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Nixon

Dear Andrew,

I cherish the memory of your father and dedicate this poem to you. Rememberance Day for you is now every day of the year:
Remembrance Day, As Seen By A Child

What does it mean to me so young,
These tales of battles told or sung.
Or places we must not forget,
Where rows of soldiers lie there yet.

They say remember at all cost,
But for whom -- the ones who won or lost?
Should I be proud, or should I be sad.
I found the answer with my Dad.

We went, he said, because of pride
For something we could feel inside
'Twas worth the chance of death or pain,
To stop forever a tyrant's gain.

It was our time, with a job to do,
Now we pass this heritage on to you
He said, remember those who died,
Be they ours, or those on the other side.

Feel sadness yes, but still be proud
And never fail to shout aloud
Freedom is Ours! - and now I know,
That those who died, helped make it so.

- Ronald Tee and Robyn Dowsett
(Written with his Daughter Robyn in 1975 when she was 12.)


God Bless you and all his loved ones and may he rest in eternal peace.

Simon Cusens
Malta GC




Subject: Crossed the Bar- Michael McHale RN, ex HMS Furious, Operation Pedestal
Sent: April 20, 2005



Dear Veterans and Friends

A message received from Pauline, daughter of our dear friend Michael McHale, currently on his final voyage to eternal life:

It is with great sadness that I have to tell you of the passing of my father, Michael McHale, after suffering a stroke earlier in the year. He battled courageously but gave up his fight last Friday, surrounded by his family, as he would have wished. He was immensely proud of the recognition he received in his final years, of his wartime efforts and the certificate you sent him had pride of place on his wall. We will treasure it for him now that he is gone. He loved to hear of the plans for the reunions and to see the photos. May I thank you for all your good wishes over the years. Please pray for the repose of his soul. The debt we owe to him and others like him cannot be underestimated. Thank you for all you do, and have done.

Pauline Campbell
As for Michael's last thoughts, haing been most likely bed bound with time to ponder his life, I found this verse most apt to describe what was probably going on through his head:

That Something

It's funny, how one can lie,
and remember things of days gone by.
And in perhaps one short minute,
recapture a past year and all thats in it.

It's funny, how a quiet room, gives chance to ponder,
sending our thoughts back through time to wander
Perhaps a tune, or even a funny phrase,
will recall something that happened in by-gone days.

Everyone stores up things that have past,
some are forgotten, others will always last.
But a soldier who has been to war,
has in life's memory book, something more.

"Something" that can only be,
in the memories of men, like you and me.
"Something" that is born midst shot and shell,
develops and grows in times of bloody hell.

This "comradeship" as it is known by us,
of which we never make much fuss.
Is this "something" which in our minds was set
in lands where many are lying yet.

And so I remember from the start,
the lads I knew, now far apart
my soldiering is finished, I leave it all behind,
but that "something" comes with me in my mind

- Ronald A.Tee 56th Reconnaisance Regiment


God Bless Michael McHale, another Valletta son.

We thank the Lord for the likes of him and ask the Lord to embrace him and to console his loved ones by His love.

May perpetual Light shine upon him and may he rest in peace.

Simon Cusens
Malta G.C.




Date: Tuesday, May 3, 2005
Crossed the Bar- Albert Hitchcocks, ex HMS Ledbury and Allan Savage, ex HMS Penn


Dear Veterans and Friends

The Times of Malta today carried a feature reporting the passing of Allan Edward Savage on March 31st, last interviewed by the paper in early 2002. I know that Allan had suffered a stroke in the recent months. Thanks to the Interview of 2002, I had managed to make contact with Allan and he subsequently made the trip later in September 2002. Mr Savage was cremated and his ashes will be scattered off the Isle of Wight according to The Times.

Robin Owen of HMS Ledbury wrote in with this piece today:
Sad news about Old Ledbury Leading Seaman Albert Hitchcocks. Doreen Rawlings phoned us yesterday to say he had died on 1st May after being taken ill suddenly the previous evening. He had been in rather poor health for several months and had a mild stroke about three weeks ago which she thought she had got him through. She was a good and loyal friend of his old age and was very distressed. She is to let us know about the funeral arrangements and we shall go if we can.


HMS Ledbury and HMS Penn played a significant role in assisting SS Ohio into Grand Harbour. Two more witnesses and contributors to that historic Mission have now received their eternal Prize.

The following Poem was originally dedicated to Britain's wartime outstanding woman flier, Amy Johnson and was written the night she died. Not as internationally known as her friend Amelia Earhart, but in Britain her name was a household word. Songs were written about her exploits. She was killed in January 1940 . An aircraft she was ferrying for the R.A.F. crash landed in the English channel. The Captain of a convoy escort (the Haslemere) dived in to save her but died in the attempt:

"When the last all clear has sounded over these ravaged lands,
and the victory parades follow the sound of marching bands.
You will not be there.
You will be lying here asleep,
in England's all protecting keep,
and the ever moving waves will wash gently oe'r your grave.
In such honourable company.
In the years that follow, on each remembrance day
the mourning multitudes will stand silently to pray.
The plaintive notes of the last post will echo through the land,
and the waves will sound your threnody over the golden sand.
Then you will be there. "

Harry Hargreaves
When Ron Bird, a good friend of Allan, asked about Allan's exploits, Allan modestly replied "Well someone had to do it!"…………….Well Allan, if they ask me why I wrote this piece, I would say someone HAD to do it and am ever so happy to do this for both of you,dear Albert and Allan.

I salute my two friends. Their autographs and thoughts recorded in my Autograph Book in 2002 will remind me of their cherished acquaintance and the honour to have known them. May eternal Light shine upon them and may they rest for ever in peace,

Simon Cusens
Malta G.C.




Date Thursday, May 5, 2005
Subject: Crossed the Bar, Charles McCann, ex MV Melbourne Star


Dear Veterans and Friends

Tara Kelly, daughter of Charles McCann writes:

Dear Simon

My beloved Dada passed away 17 April 2005. I would like to thank you for your patience and help in getting his Certificate last summer. His last wish was to have his ashes thrown in the sea of Malta.We shall honour this wish in October.

Many Thanks

Tara Kelly


Even in death, Malta's Heroes pine to be returned amidst their beloved George Cross Islanders, who, though starving, ravaged by disease and physically and morally drained, did not fail to make a life lasting impression on their heroes by their gratitude and compassion and with nothing else to give.

Theirs was an unbreakable bond sealed by an understanding of a seemingly interminable saga of sweat, blood and tears. Charles's wish does not surprise me.

Charles McCann aboard the MV Melbourne Star in Pedestal, was lucky to survive the MV Waimarama inferno that blew the latter ship just ahead and almost all its crew to smithereens. Many aboard the Melbourne Star, engulfed by the flames of the Waimarama, thinking it was their own ship that was on fire, jumped to their deaths in the flaming oily seas below them.

Charles survived all this and had the joy of receiving his triumphant Heroes Welcome into Grand Harbour by the thousands of Islanders lining the ramparts entertained by the sounds of a military brass besides the fort of St Elmo.

I will suggest that his ashes be scattered in this area inside the Grand Harbour of the great city of Valletta, the city that christened Charles as one of its glorious sons.

May his family stand proud amidst their grief and be consoled that they were part of God's plan for Charles to outlive those dark days, cheat death more than once and go on to bring a family of loved ones into this world to enjoy him and to tell the world of him.

God Bless Charles McCann and may he rest in peace.

Simon Cusens
Malta G.C.




Date: Thursday, May 19, 2005
Subject: Crossed the Bar- Albert Knight RN , ex- HMS Nelson , Operation Pedestal


Dear Veterans and friends

A message today from Michael Knight, son of Albert Knight:

Dear Simon,

Thank you for the letter we received today regarding my father Albert Knight, sadly my father passed away after a long period of illness after suffering a severe heart attack on the 3rd of May 2005, he was cremated last week on the 13th of May and on Monday the 23rd of May at 2:45pm his ashes will be buried with his mother in Manchester Southern Cemetery.

As a family we are extremely proud of the honour of Honary Citizen of Valetta bestowed on my father by the Maltese government and people, the certificate has pride of place on the wall above the fireplace and the minister spoke of my fathers role in operation Pedestal at his funeral. Unfortunately my father could not accept the invitation in 2002 to Malta for the celebrations, but I hope to be able to visit one day.

Strange Islands

I have seen strange islands rising from the sea
Like fingers through a shining lake of silver.
Great mountains, such as shy giants, hiding their heads in vapour,
And gentle spring meadows, spreading green aprons in the drying sun.
Flying spray torn into mist by strong sea winds
And fiery sunsets tamed by waveless wastes of water.
All these I have seen, and stranger still, but yet,
I live for just one glimpse of beauty still more fine


...and the finest sight Albert Knight now sees as those who love him mourn his passing.

Farwell and God Speed dear Albert.

Malta thanks you and salutes you and may you forever rest in eternal Peace.

Simon Cusens
Malta G.C.




Date: July 18, 2005
Subject: Crossed the Bar- Neville Wynne Rogers RN, ex HMS Furious (Operation Bellows in support of Operation Pedestal-Aug '42)


Dear Veterans and Friends

I am informed today that my dear friend Neville W. Rogers RN is dead. He passed away some days ago.

We last met in April during the GCIA annual Reunion over at the Preluna Skylounge in Sliema, Malta during which time we caught up on past, present and future affairs.

To his dear wife Joyce and in Neville's memory, I dedicate this piece:

The Last Voyage

Some time at eve when tide is low,
I shall slip my moorings and sail away.
With no response to the friendly hail
Of kindred craft in the busy bay.
In the silent hush of the twilight pale.
When the night troops down to embrace the day.
And the voices call, and in the waters flow
Some time at even when the tide is low.
I slip my moorings and sail away.
Through the purple shadows that darkly trail
O'er the ebbing tide of the Unknown Sea.
I shall fare me away, with a dip of a sail
And a ripple of waters to tell the tale
Of a lonely voyager, sailing away
To the Mystic Isles where at anchor lay
The crafts of those who have sailed before
O'er the Unknown Sea to the Unseen Shore.
A few who have watched me sail away
Will miss my craft from the busy Bay:
Some friendly barks that were anchored near.
Some loving soul that my heart held dear.
In silent sorrow will drop a tear.
But I shall have peacefully furled my sail
In moorings sheltered from storm and gale
And greeted the friends who sailed before
O'er the Unknown Sea to the Unseen Shore.


Malta mourns his passing but his contribution did not go unoticed and therefore, he shall not be forgotten!

Neville Rogers needs no introduction to those who follow WWII Veteran related issues because he is well known having rendered great service to the George Cross Island Association over in the UK, where in his last assignment, he chaired the GCIA's North West Branch until just before his death.

He will be missed by his many friends in Malta especially one Maltese family I helped put him in touch with in 2002- Both families now grieve at their common loss but their friendship and bond and many pleasant, vivid memories will live on within their children and grand children going forwards.

My dear friend Neville! Your work is finished. It is done and you may report before your Heavenly Master with pride and a sense of accomplishment.

May perpetual light shine upon you and may you forever rest in peace.

Simon Cusens
Malta GC




Date: July 20, 2005 Subject: John 'Jonny' McCaffrey REME -- RIP

Dear Veterans and Friends

A sad message received today from John Matthew McCaffrey's daughter Marian:

I am the grand daughter of John Matthew McCaffrey REME. Known to us as Mattie but his Maltese friends as Jonny. My grand father was due to attended the celebrations in Malta in September but had to cancel his trip to due illness. Sadly he passed away peacefully on the 7th July in hospital. I know he was very disappointed that he couldn't make it to Malta one last time as I know Malta held a very special place in his heart.

He returned to Malta many times during his life and had some very dear friends: the families who looked after him during the war and their children (and grand children). I travelled to Malta with him 12 years ago where he received his George Cross Medal from the palace and also 9 years ago after he lost his wife, my grand mother Edna. I saw how special the island is and how wonderful the Maltese people are. I am hoping to visit Malta with my brother who has not experienced the wonder of Malta later on in the year. He was to accompany my grandad in September and we hope that the journey will be a fitting tribute to a wonderful man who loved Malta and his people so much.

Thank you for the help you gave my grandad and email updates.


Dear Jonny (as you were known here)…I may not have known you but am sorry to have missed your acquaintance. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to shake your hand to say 'Thank You' first hand even after all this time, for you know dear Jonny boy, I am too young to have been there with you but if it wasn't for you and your kind, I would not be here writing an epitaph for you.

I likely would have never been born at all, for my dear Grandads and Grandmas may very well have been herded off on some horrid cruise to a dubious destination.

I am therefore very grateful to you dear Jonny, for this opportunity to be writing about you and I promise you I have already begun to tell my kids about your type so that they will know about you and be grateful for your existence and life contributions too.

Hopefully, they may match your record in touching so many lives as you have done three generations on and boy oh boy, would Daddy be so proud of them too!

A grateful Maltese,

Simon Cusens
Malta GC




Date: Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Subject: Battle for Malta Reunion


Dear Veterans and Friends

This is my last piece before I meet up with the approximate 360 WWII veterans joined by an additional circa 300 relatives and family friends travelling to Malta to commemmorate the 60th Anniversary of the end of the war with us. The bulk of our dear visitors will arrive tomorrow.

On Thursday evening at 1800hrs, the sounds of two Merlin engines will be heard flying over Grand harbour for the last time in history as a WWII Spitfire and Hurricane arrive on an unrepeatable visit from Duxford to be part of the celebrations.

I will be there to watch in awe and admiration accompanied by my dear grandfather, formerly with the 7th HAA Royal Artillery regiment (1940-1945) and Dunkirk veteran who seldom speaks of the war, but at which moment, no words should be uttered nor would any be necessary.

My thoughts today are with all those amongst you who wished very much to be here with us, but due to various sad reasons, were unable to make the trip.

Our thoughts will be with you all again on Sunday 25th when we solemnly mark and remind of all those not present at the War Memorial during which moment, the Spitfire will fly overhead again and drop 10,000 poppies…one for every victim in the defence and gallantry shown for my beloved Island of Malta.

Thinking of you all at this time and may God Bless you all and bless Malta G.C. whom you have so selflessly served and so successfully, that we shall always remember your valour and endurance till the end of time.

God Bless you and your families and may they stand for ever proud in your memory when it is time.

A grateful Maltese

Simon Cusens
Malta G.C.




Date: Tuesday, January 3, 2006
Subject: 'Go in Peace' song- a tribute to WWII Veterans


Dear Veterans

Jan Larsen, son of the late Fred Larsen, a highly decorated 'Yank' for his role aboard the SS Santa Elisa in Operation Pedestal, has sent me this great weblink for your enjoyment. Just click on the link below but you will need Broadband connection, Internet access and sound to appreciate the video clip and song:

www.managedmusic.com/beforeyougo.html

It does have an american slant due to its being produced in the States but you will notice many images of Commonwealth War veterans in the pictures.God bless and enjoy. You deserve all the praise and tributes within and we are all so honored to know you,

Simon Cusens
Malta GC




Date: Tuesday, January 3, 2006
Subject: Crossed the Bar- Tom Chapman RN, Ex HMS Lookout, Operation Pedestal


Dear Veterans and Friends

Some sad passings just before Christmas…

A dear friend, Tom Chapman (see picture of him signing my Book last year ), who I had the pleasure of meeting quite recently here in Malta.



Also, Reg Coaker (HMS Bramham, Operation Pedestal) and Allan Shaw (SS Ohio, Operation Pedestal) are in my thoughts due to the recent demise of their most dear Spouses and soul mates for so many years. Theirs was the first 'Christmas' without their dearly loved ones since the war itself.

My thougths are with them at such time.

For Tom Chapman, a Poem:

Virtue

By Wallace Stevens

Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright!
The bridal of the earth and sky—
The dew shall weep thy fall to-night;
For thou must die.
Sweet rose, whose hue angry and brave
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,
Thy root is ever in its grave,
And thou must die.
Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie,
My music shows ye have your closes,
And all must die.
Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
Like season'd timber, never gives;
But though the whole world turn to coal,
Then chiefly lives.


May God provide the fortitude and strength to those left behind the loss of a loved one and may they notice more and find consolation by being inspired by their loved ones' goodness and life's achievements that is in the air and all around them.

May they forever rest in Peace and our prayers are with them.

Simon Cusens
Malta GC




Date: Thursday, February 16, 2006
Subject: Crossed the Bar Andrew Forrest, ex HMS Penn Operation Pedestal


Dear Veterans and Friends

Today we salute our dear friend Andrew Forrest who was aboard HMS Penn on the morning of Saturday, August 15th 1942 -- which ship, together with HMS Bramham and HMS Ledbury helped steer SS Ohio and her cargo, priceless to the GC Islanders, to her journey’s indomitable end.

Our thoughts are with Doug and Andrew’s family at this time. May he rest in Peace.

(Emails of support and sympathy may be sent to his son Doug’s email address Dougcforrest@aol.com)
16.02.2006

Dear Simon,Peter and Sam,

Bad news I am afraid. Dad died in the early hours of yesterday morning (15th February) in hospital from pneumonia.

On behalf of my family I would like to thank you for your efforts with regard to supplying the ms to Sam's book and all things related to Malta and the convoy.

He was very proud of his involvement in Operation Pedestal and I know Malta had a special place in his heart and he was so happy that he visited for the celebrations last September.

Thanks again guys.

Regards

Doug Forrest
From: Simon Cusens
Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2006 12:20 PM
To: 'Dougcforrest@aol.com'
Subject: RE: Andrew Forrest

Dear Doug

Your dear Dad has lived a life that matters. ...

It is now your job and my job to tell the world of him and his like.

I am proud to have known Malta’s Hero and Valletta Son, Andrew Forrest, and I promise him and you that I will continue to fly ‘his flag’ with both the pride and the privilege to do so.

It will be my great honour to tell my kids of him and that I knew him and God willing, their kids too, so that his valour that gained me and my kids our Freedom will never die but continue to live on in our hearts.

God speed Andrew Forrest and we will always remember you.

A grateful Maltese from the invinceable George Cross Island of Malta.

Simon Cusens
Malta GC





Date: Thursday, December 21, 2006
Subject: Christmas Greetings


Dear Friends of Malta,

This is just a short note to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happier New Year full of Life’s blessings.

For those of you who may not be in the best of health, my thoughts are with you at this time.

The following Sons of Valletta will not be sending out Christmas cards this year for they have crossed the Bar during 2006 and since my last communication several months back. With the exception of my Kiwi friend, I had met them all in 2002 and I salute them from here -- my dear Island of Malta:

J H McGregor Cocks of Ontario, Canada – Ex HMS Manchester

Allan Walker of Saxilby, Lincoln, UK – Ex HMS Manchester

Albert Hitchcocks of Shipley, West Yorks, UK – Ex HMS Ledbury

Fred Silk of Cantebury, Kent, UK – Ex HMS Phoebe

Anthony Westwood Worth of Auckland, NZ - Ex HMS Bramham

Robert Roberts of Alton, Hants, UK,- Ex Ithuriel ( the last known man alive from this ship)

Ron Hall of Liphook, E. Hants, UK – Ex HMS Manchester

Douglas McDonald of NSW, Australia -- Ex Melbourne Star


For all those amongst you who rendered service to my beloved Island under siege during those dark days between June 1940 and 1943, my appreciation again and it truly is a great honour to count you amongst my friends.

May your loved ones continue to be proud of you, as are all the grateful George Cross Islanders of Malta and all their fellow Maltese.

God Bless you always

Simon Cusens
Malta GC


CONTACT INFORMATION FOR SIMON CUSENS:

Tel: +356 21 344345 (office)
Fax : +356 (21) 343952 (office)
E-mail: scusens@technoline-mt.com





Return to Simon's Earlier Letters Part One (BEFORE the 2002 Reunion) or Part Two (AFTER the 2002 REUNION).


Simon Cusens' E-mail: scusens@technoline-mt.com
Tel: +356 (21) 344345
Fax : +356 (21) 343952


Go to Danny Omara's website Malta Convoy August 1942


To go to "Allied Merchant Navy's" TABLE of CONTENTS Please Click Here.


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