Jim 'Guns' Cannon -The First of the Few - by Ginge Fullen
Jim Cannon - Intro
The first of the few - Copper helmet to Copper's helmet
This photo book is about the Royal Navy Clearance Diving Branch, but also perhaps as much about one man who was there from the very beginning, the first of the few. A man who saw the inaugural Admiralty Order calling notice for Clearance divers in March of 1952 hot off the printing press and immediately volunteered.
So this is really Jim’s Cannon's story, a story that covers a life time in diving, from passing one of the earliest Clearance Diving Courses in 1953 to the last time he donned a standard diving hard hat on at the age of 65 nearly 40 years later. In those early years amongst many experiences, he was blown up, set on fire and crushed at eight 'Gs', albeit he was unconscious at the time for the latter. It was a hell of a ride that he seems none the worse for. Then Gym was involved in diving trials in the 1950's, as the Navy and diving in general sought to pursue the extremes of what man and his equipment could do. It was cutting edge and well before the advent of the health and safety processes that we know today. There were unknown dangers and there were inevitable deaths. It was the era of Buster Crabbe and deep diving world's records as well as new diving gear and new diving roles.
Onwards in his career, this time outside of the RN, there were no Police diving teams when Gym joined the police force in the 60's and again pioneering work was undertaken in this field, with new practices developed that sometimes saved lives, and sometimes didn't. This is just a glimpse into the Royal Navy Clearance Divers' history. All of us who have had the honour to wear the diver's badge on our arm are privileged to be a part of a very special and unique band of brothers that number just a few thousand. When I heard these words I realised that Gym speaks for many of us;
“If only you could start it all again I would not change a thing. I thank my lucky stars that I picked the job as a Clearance Diver as it never seemed like work to me at all.”
Jim Cannon – 2017