Sunset and evening star
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar
When I put out to sea
But such a tide as moving seems asleep
Too full for sound and foam
When that which drew from out of the boundless deep
Turns again home!
Twilight and evening bell
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell
When I embark
For though from out our bourn of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar
(Alfred Lord Tennyson)
NEIL JEREMY “NOBBY” HALL RN
The following is a copy of the article published in the June edition of the Worthing Journal, and is reproduced with kind permision of Paul Holden, the Editor.
The widow of a Falklands War veteran says his ashes will be scattered at sea from a Royal Navy vessel.
Helen Hall made the pledge after her husband died of cancer at the age of 62.
Commander Neil “Nobby” Hall received a full military funeral at Worthing Crematorium.
The one hour, 40 minute service was attended by senior officers from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines including an admiral, rear-admiral, a commodore, several commanders, and a lieutenant colonel.
Cdr Hall’s cap and ceremonial sword were placed on top of his Union flag draped coffin.
Dozens of veterans, including ten standard bearers with flags bearing black mourning ribbons, stood to attention as the hearse pulled up outside the Kingswood Chapel.
He was ‘piped aboard” by fellow RN veteran Keith Durrant.
After a red, white and blue anchor-shaped wreath was taken into the chapel, six naval pallbearers carried the coffin inside as family, friends and fellow officers looked on.
In the chapel was a ship’s bell draped in the White Ensign and Royal Marines flag which at the end of the service was rung eight times to symbolically signify the “End of the Watch”.
A six-strong choir, plus a keyboard player, from the Royal Marines School of Music, in full ceremonial uniform, beautifully sang the hymns Eternal Father Strong to Save and Dear Lord and Father of Mankind.
The funeral, which began with a recording of Heart of Oak by the Band of the Royal Marines, was conducted by the Rev Alastair Mansfield, an RN chaplain.
Cdr Hall’s sister, Joanne Lawrence-Hall, read Harbour Bar by John Masefield, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, The Naval Prayer, and John Reed, Crossing The Bar, by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Cdr Bob Hawkins, who served with Cdr Hall in Tampa, Florida, gave a comprehensive eulogy charting every twist and turn of a distinguished career and brave battle against bouts of cancer.
His voice occasionally breaking, he said: “Nobby was the most inspirational person I have ever met on this earth.”
He noted that Cdr Hall had raised almost £100,000 for armed forces and cancer charities.
Wife Helen said he was a brave and remarkable husband who had such a zest for life and intended to live it to the full; a natural storyteller and born naval raconteur with a wonderful sense of humour.
He was Navy through and through, always in search of the next adventure, and an intelligent and well-read man, especially in the fields of naval and military history.
Cdr Hall served in 17 ships before “Crossing the Bar” - RN parlance for passing away.
One was HMS Fittleton, a minesweeper which sank in the North Sea with the loss of 12 lives following a collision with HMS Mermaid on September 20, 1976.
Cdr Hall had been due to sail on the ill-fated ship’s final voyage but was struck down by acute appendicitis shortly beforehand.
The service fittingly included the song Sailing by Sir Rod Stewart.
Cdr Hall was married to Helen for 28 years after they met on a blind date. She was a chief wren and he a lieutenant commander.
Born in Shoreham-by-Sea, he progressed from the sea cadets to the Royal Naval Reserve in 1975.
He joined the Royal Navy two years later and became an officer, serving all over the world and witnessing close up a series of conflicts, as documented in the following pages.
In 2001 Cdr Hall was posted to Cyprus and served for eight years there.
During that time he retired from the Royal Navy (though remaining in the Royal Naval Reserve) and joined Sovereign Base Areas Police as a direct entry inspector.
Cdr Hall then took up the post of assistant commissioner in the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force, fulfilling a two-year contract, but chose not to extend his stay.
He subsequently served for two years with Sussex Police in the specialist crime command intelligence branch, before, in 2015, being recalled to the RN and promoted to commander.
Cdr Hall’s final posting was to NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Belgium, where a memorial service was held at the same time as his funeral, and flags lowered to half-mast.
He was a former chairman of Worthing Royal Naval Association, and president of Worthing Veterans, attending various Armed Forces events, in full uniform, such as Remembrance Sunday (where he was the senior officer on parade), and Sea Sunday on the pier.
Cdr Hall proudly wore no less than eight campaign medals, including the Accumulated Campaign Service Medal.
In 1997 he commanded a Royal Marines band on the Navy’s Ocean Wave tour when a British flotilla visited 34 countries.
In a letter to Helen, Lieutenant Colonel Huw Williams RM said: “Many of us met Nobby for the first time in 1997 on HMS Illustrious.
We were naturally nervous to be serving at sea, many of us for the first time.
“Nobby took us all under his wing, showing us that whilst it was a serious business, sea time was something to embrace, to lean into, and there were always good times to be had.”
Cdr Hall’s funeral, handled by Worthing Funeralcare, concluded with two Royal Marines buglers playing Last Post followed by observance of a minute’s silence.
He is survived by his parents, Brian and Helena, and sisters Joanne and Nicola.
Cdr Hall’s family asked for donations in his memory to The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity. Please visit www.rnrmc.org.uk
The following was taken from an article first published by The Journal in October 2017 to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the Falklands War.
Commander Hall recalled: “None of us expected to ever have to fight a war.
“The Cold War was running but nobody thought we would see shots fired in anger.”
In early 1982 Cdr Hall, then a sub lieutenant under training, was appointed to HMS Andromeda, a Leander class frigate equipped with Sea Wolf missiles.
The warship was immediately deployed to the West Indies and eastern coast of America.
Then, on April 2, the Argentines invaded the Falklands Islands in the icy South Atlantic.
HMS Andromeda was ordered to steam from Halifax in Canada back to Plymouth, its home port, at full speed.
The vessel was rearmed, refitted and restocked with supplies ready for an 8,000 mile voyage to the Falklands as part of the Task Force’s second wave of warships.
They left Plymouth the day after HMS Sheffield was sunk, which focused shocked minds on the reality of what lay ahead.
Cdr Hall recalled the mood on board was very sombre but also sanguine.
He said: “The Argentine cruiser Belgrano had already been sunk so we knew the gloves were off.
“We realised this wasn’t going to be easy and we would need to get into a full scale war to sort it out.”
“Everyone was very professional and ready to get on with the job.”
HMS Andromeda paused at Ascension Island for 24 hours to take on more ammunition, then arrived on station, in the 200-mile exclusion one around the Falklands, on May 25 - the day HMS Coventry and the Atlantic Conveyer were sunk.
Cdr Hall said HMS Andromeda acted as a “goalkeeper” - putting herself between Argentine jets and major assets such as aircraft carriers and supply ships, without which the Task Force could not operate.
Soon the air raids started, although onboard it was difficult to keep abreast of what was happening in the wider theatre of war.
Possibly the most alarming moment came when an Exocet missile locked on to HMS Andromeda.
Cdr Hall admitted: “I wasn’t frightened; I was terrified.
“I was on the bridge at the time as second officer of the watch.
“A Super Etendard jet fired the Exocet from quite a long way off.
“One of our frigates put up chaff (strips of metal foil) as a decoy which deflected it away from the big ships.
“The missile then locked on to the next available target, which was us!
“I was watching it on the radar coming straight at us at just under the speed of sound.
“At that point we started firing decoys, turned to face it, and locked onto the Exocet with our Sea Wolf missiles.
“It would have been the first missile to missile engagement in naval warfare.
“I remember two things from that moment - if we don’t get it right I am going to die in less than two minutes; and how everybody around me was so calm and professional, especially the captain who was controlling the ship from the operations room.
“Fortunately for us about two miles out it disappeared from the radar. There was a huge collective sigh of relief.
“We reckoned it was fired so far out it ran out of fuel.”
During darkness, HMS Andromeda escorted convoys into San Carols Water, where ground troops went ashore.
She also gave anti-aircraft and anti-submarine cover to ships providing naval gunfire support to soldiers and marines fighting their way towards Port Stanley, capital of the Falklands.
On the night of June 12, HMS Andromeda was with HMS Glamorgan, bombarding enemy positions in support of 45 Commando Royal Marines.
They remained in action an hour longer than anticipated, and the decision proved fatal.
A land-launched Exocet slammed into the Glamorgan, killing 14 sailors, who were buried at sea.
Cdr Hall witnessed the explosion as the missile struck.
HMS Andromeda also picked up stores dropped into the sea by Hercules transport planes, and SAS troops who parachuted into the South Atlantic.
Cdr Hall said there were no celebrations when the Argentines surrendered, rather a quiet sense of relief at having survived.
HMS Andromeda escorted the cruise liner Canberra into Stanley to pick up enemy prisoners.
The frigate went first amid fears the approach had been sown with sea mines, for it was regarded as more expendable than the converted troop carrier.
Cdr Hall said: “After being the goalkeeper we were then designated as a one-time minesweeper, which made us think the admiral didn’t like us.”
On a voyage to South Georgia to re-supply the garrison, Cdr Hall said he experienced the worst storm in his 43-year naval career, with waves the size of tower blocks crashing down.
The galley could not be used so the crew lived on stale bread and water for three days until the tempest subsided.
HMS Andromeda returned to Plymouth on September 10, having spent 127 days at sea.
Cdr Hall said the homecoming was very emotional.
He recalled: “We thought we would be forgotten but the reception was rapturous, absolutely incredible, with HM ships cheering us, lots of little ships, fire tugs spraying water, fly pasts, and the band of the Royal Marines on the jetty where family and friends were waiting.”
Cdr Hall went on to serve in the Gulf Tanker War, the 1st Gulf War, Northern Ireland, the Balkans and Sierra Leone.
He now three times a year gives lectures on the realities of war to cadets at Britannia Royal Naval College.
Cdr Hall also organised a recent reunion of serving Falklands veterans, including the First Sea Lord.
Looking back on the war, Cdr Hall said: “During the whole time I never saw anybody crack or complain.
“People just got on with the job under the most difficult of circumstances, which is a great tribute to naval training.”
Sadly Vice Branch Chairman S/m Tony Charles Crossed the Bar on February 21st 2013
Tony fought hard to recover from an operation he had in February 2012 but after suffering many setbacks with infections and othr complications he passed away in Worthing Hospital with his family at his bedside.
Tony's funeral took place at Worthing Crematorium on March 11th attended by standards from around the area.