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Royal honour for museum stalwarts

PUBLISHED: 11:58 30 July 2010 | UPDATED: 21:59 01 August 2010

TWO former Royal Naval Patrol Service personnel have enjoyed a garden party at Buckingham Palace in honour of their hard work at the association's Lowestoft museum.

TWO former Royal Naval Patrol Service personnel have enjoyed a garden party at Buckingham Palace in honour of their hard work at the association's Lowestoft museum.

John R Street and Charles A Harris were invited to the Queen's London home in recognition of their membership with the museum in Sparrows Nest.

John, 92, and Charles, 89, both served at the RNPS during world war two and today continue to work tirelessly at the museum.

Alongside around 2,000 other ex-servicemen and women, they attended The Not Forgotten Association Garden Party. The two were chauffeured to the event by fellow RNPS members Alf Muffett and Paul Meadows, and amongst the people they met was forces' sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn.

Working hard to clear the Channel of mines, the Royal Naval Patrol Service (RNPS) played an important role in world war two.

Their fleet of vessels included many trawlers and drifters, but together the crews took on convoy duty of the Channel as well as the Atlantic, Arctic, Mediterranean and the Far East, as British forces struggled to stay in charge of the seas.

The RNPS first mobilised in Sparrow's Nest, in Lowestoft, August 1939. At the time this was a theatre, but its purpose was soon to change as the threat of war grew ever greater.

The depot known as Pembroke X and then HMS Europa, became the administrative headquarters for more than 70,000 men and 6,000 ships, including trawlers, whalers, drifters, MFV's (Motor Fishing Vessels), ML's (Motor Launches), MMS (Motor Minesweepers or Mickey Mouses), BYMS (British Yard Mine Sweepers) and numerous requisitioned vessels.

“Between 1942 and 1945 there were 1,637 ships manned by the RNPS. Around 260 of these vessels were lost in action and resulted in the loss of around 15,000 RNPS personnel. This figure included 2,385 RNPS seamen who 'have no known grave but the sea',” said John W Holmes, deckie learner and lifetime honorary member of the RNPSA.

The history of the RNPS is maintained in a museum in Sparrows Nest. The RNPS museum volunteers keep their 575 full members and associated members and widows up-to-date with latest developments. They also help people who are trying to find out more about loved ones lost during world war two.

The RNPS museum is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am-noon. Entry is free.

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