wilkinson-sword-2

 

 

The Wilkinson Sword of Peace was instituted in 1966 by Messrs Wilkinson Son Ltd.  Each year the company sponsored the award to the unit of each of the armed services that had been judged to have made the most valuable contribution towards establishing good and friendly relations with any community, at home or overseas.  As part of the Naval Service, Royal Fleet Auxiliaries have received a number of these awards, sometimes individually, sometimes shared with other units.

wilkinson-sword-2

 

 

The Wilkinson Sword of Peace was instituted in 1966 by Messrs Wilkinson Son Ltd.  Each year the company sponsored the award to the unit of each of the armed services that had been judged to have made the most valuable contribution towards establishing good and friendly relations with any community, at home or overseas.  As part of the Naval Service, Royal Fleet Auxiliaries have received a number of these awards, sometimes individually, sometimes shared with other units.

ennerdale

RFA Ennerdale (2)

 

RFA Ennerdale 1970

 

 

The first Royal Fleet Auxiliary to win this very prestigious award was RFA Ennerdale, a mobile reserve tanker that was diverted from her normal tasking to refuel the South African destroyer SAS Simon van Der Stel, en route to Gough Island in the South Atlantic to search for two missing meteorologists.  Once the South African ship had reached Gough Island, RFA Ennerdale steamed to Tristan da Cunha to collect a 12 man volunteer search party to assist in the search.  Although the South African Navy had had many men ashore before the Tristan’s arrived, on setting foot ashore the Tristan’s moved off in a different direction from that taken by the original search party.  The Tristan’s party returned to the command centre with the bodies of the two meteorologists by noon of the same day.

 

The Wilkinson Sword of Peace was presented to RFA Ennerdale during 1970, shortly before the ship was lost on an unchartered reef in the Seychelles.

 

RFA_Sir_Galahad

RFA Sir Galahad (2)

 

RFA Sir Galahad (2) 1995

 

In 1995 RFA Sir Galahad (2) shared the award of the Wilkinson Sword of Peace after providing assistance to the UK elements of the UN Stabilisation Force at Lobito, Angola, following years of civil war. 

Capt RR B1

Captain Roger Robinson-Brown RFA accepts the Wilkinson Sword of Peace from Rear Admiral David Snelson CB

 

The ship was deployed on Operation Chantress as this deployment became known from the 6 April to the 21 August 1995.

 

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RFA Black Rover

RFA_Sir_Tristram

RFA Sir Tristram

 

RFA Black Rover and RFA Sir Tristram 1998

 

 

In 1998 the award of the Wilkinson Sword of Peace was shared by two RFA vessels, RFA Black Rover and RFA Sir Tristram who brought humanitarian aid to Nicaragua and Honduras following Hurricane Mitch, which proved to be the most powerful hurricane of the 1998 season.  This hurricane attained maximum sustained winds of up to 180 mph and was classified as a Category 5 hurricane, the strongest on the scale.

 

When the hurricane eventually struck Central America on the 29 October 1998, huge amounts of rain fell on Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua, triggering catastrophic floods which claimed the lives of over 19,000 people across this region, with thousands of others reported as being missing, before heading towards Florida four days later.  RFA’s Black Rover and Sir Tristram were part of a worldwide humanitarian effort following the destruction caused by hurricane Mitch.

 

RFA_Fort_George

RFA Fort George

 

RFA Fort George 2000

 

 

Between February and March 2000, heavy rain caused catastrophic flooding in Mozambique.  The heavy rain lasted for five weeks and caused a number of rivers to burst their banks flooding hundreds of acres of farmland and killing up to 20,000 cattle.  The flooding killed 800 people and left large numbers homeless.

 

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The Commanding officer of

RFA Fort George sharing the Wilkinsword of Peace with

the Commanding Officer of 820 NAS

 

RFA Fort George, with her embarked flight from 820 Squadron NAS supported the International relief and rescue mission.  The ship distributed around 530 tons of much needed food, water and other essential equipment to help.  Fort George shared the award of the Wilkinson Sword of Peace with 820 Squadron.

 

 

Sir_Galahad_at_um_Quasr

RFA Sir Galahad (2)

 

RFA Sir Galahad 2003

 

 

RFA Sir Galahad in the spotlight of the world’s media made what was probably one of the most dangerous sailings of her career, when on the 28 March 2003, sailed along the Khwar Abd Allah waterway, proceeded by a British Minesweeper to

deliver a load of 650 tons of humanitarian aid to the newly captured southern Iraqi port of Um Qasr. 

 

The ship was presented with the Wilkinson Sword of Peace at a ceremony in the Sea Mounting Centre, Marchwood on the 23 September 2004.

 

 

RFA Largs Bay 2010

 

largs-bay-haiti

RFA Largs Bay at Haiti

RFA Largs Bay was sent by the British government after more than 230,000 people were killed in the Caribbean territory of Haiti in January 2010. 

At a ceremony in Portland on Wednesday 7 December 2011 the Royal Navy’s Commander in Chief Fleet, Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, said Largs Bay’s efforts had saved lives.

He said:

“There is no doubt in my mind at all that the teamwork and sheer determination displayed by the Ship’s Company of RFA Largs Bay saved many lives and your help continues to make a difference to the people of Haiti.” 

The vessel was on an operational exercise in the Arctic Circle when the hurricane struck. She was rapidly reconfigured to provide humanitarian disaster relief and sailed from Southampton.

When she arrived at the capital Port-au-Prince, RFA Largs Bay combined the ship’s ability to position close to shore with the skills of 17 Port Maritime Regiment to drive landing craft from the ship over the final stretch of water to the beach.

Working with American personnel RFA Largs Bay delivered 430 tonnes of supplies and 165 tonnes of rations which equated to 389,000 meals.

Meanwhile engineers worked ashore to repair generators and to rewire key administrative and public service buildings.

In the midst of this the ship’s company also managed to raise £10,500 for the disaster emergency committee by running the distance from the UK to Haiti on the ship’s running machines.

The presentation of the Firmin Sword of Peace was made by Tony Kelly, Sales Manager for Firmin & Sons Ltd to Admiral Soar.

Admiral Soar said:

“It’s a great privilege for me to be here to hand over the Firmin sword of peace, and I’d really like to thank Tony Kelly for Firmin’s sponsorship of this prestigious award which was established in 1966.” 

Captain Ian Johnson, Commanding Officer of RFA Largs Bay said:

"When I consider the previous recipients of this award and their fantastic achievements I feel extremely honoured to accept it on behalf of all who served on RFA Largs Bay during the Haiti relief effort in 2010."

The award is made for valuable contribution to humanitarian causes by developing and strengthening good relations with the inhabitants of any community whether in the UK or overseas.

Footnote: The Firmin Sword of Peace replaced the Wilkinson Sword of Peace after Wilkinson’s ceased trading in 2005.  Firmin and Son have supplied the Armed Forces with swords for over a century and every year the award goes to the unit in each service that has made the best contribution toward good communal relations at home or abroad.

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 Christopher J White

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