The Annual Telegraphists Air Gunners Association (TAGA) Memorial Service was held at the Fleet Air Arm Memorial at Lee-on-Solent on Sunday 20th May.
Telegraphist Air Gunners operated in Fleet Air Arm aircraft from 1922, from aircraft carriers both large and small. 3000 personnel were trained as gunners and provided Morse code communications, in the branches 28 year life span, which was disbanded in 1950.
In this period 495 were lost to enemy action, the majority during World War II. From this positively small number of brave people there were an impressive 299 awards given for their service ranging from two CGMs and 20 MBEs through to three Members of Order of Australia.
The TAGA was started to remember those fallen branch members, however sadly, at their AGM held on October 2010, there was an overwhelming majority of TAG members present who voted to’ wind up’ the association, which had been formed 63 years earlier.
Time had taken its toll, where there used to be many there are now only a few, old age being the culprit.
The roles and principles that the association stood for has now been taken on by the Fleet Air Arm Association and the Memorial Service continues on a yearly basis.
This year an unarmed guard platoon of Junior Ratings from the Royal Naval Air Engineering & Survival Equipment School attended to show their respects. In support of the guard the Blendworth Brass Band provided an excellent musical accompaniment throughout.
The service was conducted by the Reverend Peter Sutton, Vicar of St Faith’s, Lee-on the-Solent, assisted by the Reverend Ralph Barber Royal Navy from HMS SULTAN. HMS SULTAN’s Gunnery Officer, Warrant Officer Simon Cox Royal Navy ensured the proceedings went off with true military precision, in luckily overcast weather conditions.
At the end of the splendid service in memory of the TAGAs, Rear Admiral Tom Cunningham Royal Navy Rear Admiral Fleet Air Arm with Commander Nick Bowser Royal Navy representing HMS SULTAN both laid service wreaths. Also laying wreaths were representatives of the former Telegraphist Air Gunners Association, Fleet Air Arm Association and the Aircrewmans’ Association.
On completion of the main service, all attending military personnel were able to show there respects and had the opportunity to meet a number of members of the mentioned associations.
Lieutenant Roly Lane, HMS SULTAN Guard Officer said, ‘‘It was excellent to see that so many members of the public took time out to support this memorial.
“The parade also allowed new trainees a chance to show their respects to past members of the Royal Navy and Fleet Air Arm, whilst also gaining an understanding of the history behind the Fleet Air Arm.’’
Naval Today Staff, June 13, 2012; Image: Royal Navy