Sam Stanley BEM - The Lochinvar Divers - by Ginge Fullen
Sam Stanley BEM - Intro
The Lochinvar Divers - One of the First Instructors
Who was the very first Clearance Diver? It’s a question I find very intriguing. For us to know that we have to determine when the branch first started and do we indeed include the first instructors. After all who were the men who trained the first Clearance Divers and what experience did they have? These are the questions that are asked in the following pages. I don’t presume to have got it 100% right and I am very open to corrections but this is a very important and interesting period of the early Clearance Diving branch and one I wanted to try and get down on record whilst some of those very first Clearance Divers are still with us. I found it to be a rich history with the early instructors coming from the ‘P’ Party’s, Standard Divers and an RN Commando who landed on D-Day in the very first hours and some of the early diving officers served on the Charioteers and Midget Submarines in the war and one was a frogman from the Landing Craft Obstacle Clearance Units (LCOCU) who were all again, rather select groups of men.
Before the CD branch officially started on the 7th March 1952 there was from the 3rd December 1948 what was known as Clearance Diver (Diver (C)), all trained divers of wartime experience or Standard Divers who qualified at HMS Lochinvar in Port Edgar on the east coast of Scotland. Many or all of these divers started the first Clearance Diving teams. It is this period of four years or so between December 3rd 1948 to October 9th 1952 when training moved to HMS Vernon in Portsmouth that these Chronicles covers. As we will see in these Chronicles Clearance Diving teams had already been established well before the creation date of the CD’s given in the Admiralty Fleet Order of 1952.
I'm lucky; privileged even to have met three of those Lochinvar divers who will be mentioned later in these pages and I felt it important to record their stories and some of those who followed just after who knew the first instructors. In particular Chief Sam Stanley who instructed most of the early Clearance Diver courses. Sam’s navy records show he had been a Standard Diver during the war undertaking work with the charioteers, salvage and deep diving. All his reports read of him having plenty of energy and being a highly efficient diver although one stated he was inclined to be quick-tempered and bombastic. His instructional capabilities were identified very early on and one can’t help to think he was the best person for the job to train the new diving branch. On the 7th March 1952 he was made a CD1 (PO Diver) and would have been one of the highest-ranking Clearance Divers at the birth of the new branch. Already earning a MID (Mention in Dispatches) in 1940 he would be awarded the BEM as a Clearance Diver for his EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) work on the Malta Team.