was built by Cook, Welton and Gemmel, Beverly and was laid down on
Wednesday 30th May 1951. She was launched on Thursday
19th March 1953 and completed on Friday 4th June 1954. Immediately
renamed Humber and served with the Royal Naval Reserve until the
Humber Division of the Reserve was disbanded in 1958 when she reverted
back to HMS Bronington. During 1965 she was converted to a minehunter.
The hull is constructed of mahogany with a combination of aluminium alloy and non-magnetic materials to provide maximum safety against magnetic mines.
The main armament was fitted on the fo'c'sle, a single barreled 40/60mm Bofor gun.
Bronington's main role was hunting for mines by using the high definition sonar. Once a mine was found the Clearance Divers would then make them safe by either using explosives or bringing them inboard and defusing them. Bronington could also sweep for mines by towing minesweeping gear which would cut the moored mines loose or by towing acoustic/magnetic influence sweeps which could imitate the characteristics of larger ships and set the mines off harmlessly.
Bronington was open to the general public on the Manchester Ship Canal until the summer of 2002. At 04:00 on the 11th of July, dressed overall, she was then moved by a couple of tugs down the Manchester Ship Canal. Estimated cost was £5,000. Her destination was Birkenhead, home to HMS Plymouth, Onyx, LCT 7074 and the German U-boat U-534, all owned by the Warship Preservation Trust, where they are all on display and open to the public daily from 10:00. Phone 01516 501 573 for details.
The Bronington illustrates how the sailors lived and worked in hunting and clearing mines, fishery patrols etc. Well worth a visit.
Jack of all Trades as well as Master of One
Every sailor in the Royal Navy specialises in a particular branch (trade) of the navy. The branch I chose when I joined up was Communications and I sub-specialised as a Radio Operator (Tactical), otherwise known as a "bunting tosser" or bunting for short. There were generally only two Communicators onboard each "Ton", a bunting and a sparker. On some "Tons" that were used as Patrol vessels there were just two sparkers. The sparkers main duty was to send and receive morse code by radio. My job was to look after the visual signaling side of things (light, voice, flags, coding) as well as fleetwork, typing and distributing the messages onboard etc. Besides the normal duties to do with processing signals we were also required to do duties other than these.
The bunting was also required to be the ship's postman. Whilst taking the hand-messages ashore to the Communications Centre the outward mail would be taken to the base Post Office and the incoming mail would be collected. As soon as it was brought onboard, the mail would be sorted and distributed to the crew. The other requirement was to be the Secretary for the Welfare Committee. This wasn't my forte trying to remember who and what was said and then having to type out the minutes afterwards, so I came up with the idea of purchasing a cassette tape recorder and recording the minutes on tape. The tape recorder would be in the centre of the wardroom table and left on, afterwards I would play it back whilst typing the minutes out.
When in Hong Kong I also had to do several stints in the Royal Naval Patrol Headquarters, keeping a log of the messages (and drinking many cups of coffee to stay awake) as well as occasionally being required to go on patrol in Wanchai. Not the best of jobs.
I quickly learnt how to use the cinema projector and used to show movies onboard, usually on the fo'c'sle, with the Bofor barrel holding the screen up. In inclement weather we'd show the film down the forward messdeck. On Thursday 25th December 1969 I showed "The Sand Pebbles" with Steve McQueen at least 3 times non-stop in the messdeck. Whilst the film was being shown we'd all be drinking and celebrating Christmas Day.
There was also a requirement to do 'gangway' duty whilst in harbour. Dressed in our best 'blues' or 'whites' we would guard the ship by being the Quartermaster. In the middle of the night we'd just wear our No 8's (working rig) as we would also be required to do other tasks as well. During the middle watch we'd often peel the spuds and maybe at the same time watch a movie in the wheelhouse with the screen door open to keep a watchful eye on the gangway. During the morning watch, if we were going to sea that day, we would then probably have to go down into the engine room and turn both Deltic-Napier engines one full revolution each. Other tasks would be to record details of dials etc in the log book.
At sea, when clear of the harbour and things were quiet, I'd often volunteer (as did others) to steer the ship. The helmsman would shout up to the bridge "Permission for RO Axford to take over on the wheel sir!". The Officer of the Watch would then shout his consent down the voice pipe. I would then shout up the voice pipe " On the wheel sir, course to steer xxx, both telegraphs full ahead, revolutions xxx".
I mostly enjoyed these various jobs as they were so different from anything I'd normally be doing on the bridge or in the wireless office.
|A ditty from Doug Valeriani,
former member of crew on
the Bronington in 1959.
|A ditty from Stan Hudson,
former acting ships keeper on
For further details on Bronington as well as the
See what life onboard another "Ton"
class minehunter was like
Historic Warships at Birkenhead