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The Legend of the Shovel
On the 26th of September 1961, Commodore M.A. Medland turned the sod on the new Chief & Petty Officer's Mess at HMCS Stadacona, a naval base in Halifax. Since it was a ceremonial occasion, someone thought of mounting the shovel on a wooden board and hanging it up in the mess as a reminder of the event. A nice little tally plate was added to the shovel, informing everyone of its significance - and there it stayed. For a very short period of time.
During a stay in Halifax, some submariners from Her Majesty's Submarine Alderney thought they would like to rabbit the shovel as a souvenir of their time in our fair city. They found it all too easy to detach from the wall of the mess and it was spirited away on the 10th of April 1963. Had they left it at that, though, things might have ended there - but someone added a little tally plate of their own. This normally insignificant event was all it took to start a tradition that has endured for decades. This poor little shovel has encircled the planet several times and has traveled many thousands of miles.
Like a piece of favorite luggage, it has collected nameplates from nearly everywhere its been, and they make for entertaining reading. Over the years a series of rules have evolved in order to minimize disputes and keep the tradition going.
The rules were simple...To perpetuate
the tradition of the shovel the following conditions should be adhered to:
The shovel should be prominently mounted in a military mess in a manner which will minimize damage when it is inadvertently nicked, appropriated or otherwise removed. The appropriator should, at the earliest opportunity, inform CFB Halifax C&PO's mess, and other interested messes listed on the shovel, who has the shovel and where it is mounted. The shovel should never become a personal trophy.
Of import to the USS Bergall are listed these two events:
On the 23rd of March, 1992, three CPO's from the USS Bergall (Chuck Alexander, Isaac Generally and Joe Simmons, with an unknown female accomplice) purloined the shovel... Hopefully the story of it's return will come up later.
In May of 1992, Warrant Officer Tim Greensides and David Bird (UKSUBCAMS) spirited the shovel off the USS Bergall for the HMS Dolphin. (Hmmm, wonder who the guys were that grabbed it?)
From our own MMCM(SS) Joe Simmons:
In December of 1990, I relieved MMCM(SS) Brad Nelson as Chief of the Boat and served onboard Bergall through December 1993. "The Shovel" is a true artifact and has been referred to as the "Mountbatten Cup" of the submarine community....lol. In an effort to set the record straight I think that it is finally time for the UNKNOWN FEMALE, who assisted us, to receive credit for her efforts. Her name is Valerie Williams....she was our CPO Mess Hostess while we were visiting HMS DOLPHIN....to set the record straight, she did not assist in the procurement of the property of CANSUBRON ONE, but did unknowingly aid our escape with the purloined shovel....the old bait and switch routine....it works every time... ;).
By the way, this episode was not my first encounter with "The Shovel"....My first, occurred approximately three years earlier while I was serving aboard the USS Norfolk SSN-713...if you are interested, e-mail me, and I will be happy to share the gory details with you.....lol.
Joe Simmons email@example.com
For it's record, please visit the site and click on it's many plates that explain it's exploits... (click on the shovel or see below!)
Here's a quick list of the travels as noted by the plaques:
CHIEF & PETTY OFFICERS MESS HMCS STADACONA SOD TURNED CMDRE M. A. MEDLAND, RCN 26 SEPTEMBER 1961
MISAPPROPRIATED BY THE SODS OF: HMS/M ALDERNEY 10 APRIL 1963
RE-APPROPRIATED IN '63 BY THE SODS OF "ATHABEE" HMCS ATHABASKAN 17 OCTOBER 1963
RE-MISAPPROPRIATED BY THE KIPPERS OF AURIGA 10 SEPT 64
NICKED FROM THE DINKS OF PLATYPUS BY THE POMS OF SPARE CREW AND TRUMP 9-1-69 R.I.P.
LIFTED FROM THE AUSSIES 21 JULY 1972 USS SALMON SS 573
STOLEN BY THE SODS OF HMS ODIN FROM THE CHIEF'S MESS, HMAS PLATYPUS AUSTRALIA 1975
CAPTURED BY THE SODS OF OKANAGAN 5 JUNE 1979 FROM CPO'S MESS HMS DOLPHIN
REMOVED FROM HMCS OKANAGAN BY GEORGE GALLEY ON 28-6-80 RETURNED HOME TO WO'S & CPO'S HMS DOLPHIN
REMOVED TO HALIFAX AGAIN NOV 1980 FORENDS ONONDAGA
RECOVERED BY 2 AIR MOVEMENTS UNIT AIR MOVERS OF THE WORLD DECEMBER 1980
REMOVED FROM HALIFAX AGAIN MAY 1981 FORENDS HMS/M OPPORTUNE
RE-APPROPRIATED BY CPO1 G. SULLIVAN FROM CPO'S MESS HMS DOLPHIN 20 SEP 1982
FILCHED BY THE ROYAL NAVY'S SPECIAL BREED OF BIRDS "THE WRENS" FROM HMAS PLATYPUS ON SEPTEMBER 8TH 1985 ASSOCIATION OF WRENS SYDNEY BRANCH, AUSTRALIA.
FETCHED FROM HMAS PLATYPUS BY OKANAGAN COMMAND TEAM MARCH 1986
SKIMMED FROM CANSUBRON 1 MESS BY "IROQUOIS RENEGADES" 18 JUN 87
"MOUNTBATTEN NIGHT" IN THE PRESENCE OF HRH PRINCE CHARLES AT WO'S AND CHIEF'S MESS HMS DOLPHIN 1988
EASY COME, EASY GO BACK TO CANADA I DID GO. JANUARY 17, 1988 R. MILES M. DESPATIES R. MACDONALD J. CLAHANE DOLPHIN CODE 22 26A
SEIZED THRU TRICKERY AND DARING BY FLYNN & RILEY, CPO'S OF USS SKIPJACK (SSN 585) US SUBMARINE BASE, GROTON, CT. 14 MARCH 1988
SHOVEL STOLEN BUT NOT FORGOTTEN BY CPO2 BYZEWSKI STOLEN BACK FROM ROTTEN GROTON APRIL 24 1988
ONE FOR ONE CAN'T BE BAD OPPOSUM JULY 1988
TAKEN AWAY ACROSS THE BROW AND SO I REST ON WARSPITE NOW D. KINGSTON 15 OCT 89
IT'S OURS NOW WITH EYES AGLEAM 'TWAS STOLEN BY 'OTTAWAS' "C" BOAT TEAM W. BROYDEN B. CARBRAY HMCS OTTAWA OCT 89
"CONNED" FOR THE PRIME MINISTER'S SIGNATURE "SUBRON" WILL ACCEPT ANY OLD STORY TO GET THE SHOVEL A LITTLE MORE GLORY HOWEVER, AS MUCH AS I REALLY DID TRY THE OLD PRIME MINISTER JUST WOULDN'T COMPLY. DECEMBER 1989 NDHQ OTTAWA CPO1 GEORGE SULLIVAN
SWIPED FROM HMS DOLPHIN 23 MARCH 1992 CPO'S USS BERGALL ALEXANDER GENERALLY SIMONS AND AN UNKNOWN FEMALE "MAKE YOUR OPPORTUNITY AND SEIZE THE MOMENT".
WO TIM GREENSIDES DAVE BIRD UKSUBCAMS SPIRITED OFF USS BERGALL FOR HMS DOLPHIN MAY 1992
(Hmmm.......wonder how and when it got back to CANSUBRON ONE?)
INADVERTENTLY REMOVED FROM CANSUBRON ONE BY AUSSUBRON PERSONNEL 1993
HOME AGAIN JIM HEWITT DAVE VROOMAN APRIL '93