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The Elusive Shovel

Some of this tale is true and some not, you must be the Judge. Below are the details currently available regarding the Shovel history, but the trail ends in 1993, or do you know otherwise?

The Elusive Shovel
"From The Museum"



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 travelled many thousands of miles.
Like a piece of favourite 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.



The Submarine Shovel and my involvement with it.

By your own Bomber Queen, Tim Greensides.

Whilst serving and in the post of the O.I.C. UKSUBCAMS in Northwood, in the year of our Lord 1992, I was about to take my yearly trip to visit my American Submarine counterparts in Norfolk Virginia, USA. On this occasion I was joined by my Radio engineer Dave Bird WO (REL) (Skimmer), before leaving for this very important and arduous duty, I was contacted by the then President of the CPOs Mess in HMS Dolphin, who I regret his name currently escapes me, asking me if I would pop round the CPOs Mess in the Navy Base in Norfolk, and nick a shovel out of their display case, and bring it back to him. Well never being a person to piss off his Diesel Dinosaur colleagues, I thought that is the least I could do, especially when he mentioned there could be a Bottle of Pusser’s Neaters in it for me! So after briefing my travelling colleague Dave, not mentioning the Rum of course, we agreed when we went to the Mess, he would set up a diversion, and I would nick the shovel, brilliant plan after 10 Vodka and Tonics. I suggested to cause a diversion, he might set fire to their Mess, or which, would cause more confusion and disruption buy everyone a drink, well after much consideration he decided to torch the Mess. (Tight Git). Well after our high level discussions with our US counterparts, we breezed round to the CPO’s mess in the Norfolk Navy Base, which we had visited before, and what a shock, no Shovel and no Mess, it had been shut down due to lack of interest, or something, Defence cuts probably. I initially thought they had put that paint on they paint their Stealth Fighters with, so the Brits could not find it. Well both being a bit hacked off, Dave with a can of Petrol, looked a bit suspicious so distancing myself from him, I pounced on a US Navy Chief, who was passing and enquired about the Shovel, he reported to me in a very Seamanship manner, that the USS Bergall who had actually been the Submarine who had relieved Dolphin of it, had taken it back on Board, well of course I was flabbergasted as this broke all the rules of the Shovel (See below), nicking it out of an inboard Mess is one thing, but carrying out a Covert operation on a US Nuclear Submarine, is not what I signed up for, well maybe for 2 bottles of Rum, I might consider it. My skimmer oppo is now loosing the will to live, and his famous and regular statement, “What the hell have you now got me into” came forth. So we did what we always did under these types of circumstance, went off and got pissed. (Takes quite a while, with the Americans excuse for Beer). Any how next day, with a fresh mind, I had to revert to Plan B, bearing in mind Plan A was fairly unrealistic, I made contact with the USS Bergall, and spoke to the C.O.B. (Chief of the Boat) for you diesel boys. And told him outright, he was in total infringement of the Law of the Shovel, and it would just not do, after some dialogue regarding my Fathers birth rite, and something about a “Limey B******), we agreed that Dave and I could visit his little Submarine, with Trot sentries carrying Semi-automatic weapons, at our leisure, and they would gladly hand over the said Shovel, after a drinking competition, well that was interesting as they are dry, good old Dave a professional Coffee Drinker, gave them what for, I do not think he has been to sleep since. Any rate they handed over the Shovel, at to the booing of the entire crew we left. So with operation complete, I checked in at Norfolk International Airport with Shovel in hand, being informed that I could not take it on the Aircraft as it was an offensive Weapon, well now its my turn, this guys Mother got a mention, I cannot really remember now but she was involved, in my outburst. Any how British/American diplomacy now came into play, and they gave me a Box to put it in. Subsequently we nearly missed the Plane, and when I got home to Gosport, I discovered the hire car keys were still in my Pocket. The President of HMS Dolphin Chiefs Mess lived up to his promise and gave me a miniature bottle of Rum, which I shared with all my friends, but not Dave. Some of this tale is true and some not, you must be the Judge. Below are the details currently available regarding the Shovel history, but the trail ends in 1993, or do you know otherwise?

Below is listed the plaques and the Person's responsible for removing it from the different locations.

Some of the dates and people may not be correct, so if anyone has information in these areas.

Plaques Fitted On The Shovel Starting Date Sept. 1961

             
 
26/1961
10 APRIL 1963
17 OCTOBER, 1963
 


CHIEF & PETTY OFFICERS MESS

HMCS STADACONA

SOD TURNED

BY

CMDRE .M.A. MEDLAND R.C.N.

 

MISAPPROPRIATED BY

THE SODS OF

H.M.S/M. ALDERNEY

 

RE-APPROPRIATED IN '63

BY THE SODS OF

"ATHABEE"

HMCS ATHABASKAN

 

8 NOV 1963
10 SEPT. 1964
10 Sept 1964
RETURNED TO PROPER

OWNERS AND STOWAGE

"INDIANS OF STAD"

STOWED BY

CDR. JOHNSTON

RE-MISAPPROPRIATED

BY THE 'KIPPERS' OF

AURIGA

 

Unaccounted for from

10 Sept 1964

to

9 Jan 1969

9-1-69
9 Jan 1969
JUNE 1971

NICKED FROM THE DINKS OF PLATYPUS

BY THE POMMS OF SPARE CREW

AND TRUMP

R.I.P.


Unaccounted for from

9 Jan 1969

to

June 1971

NICKED FROM THE

DINKS OF PLATYPUS

BY THE BULLS OF

OXLEY

21 JULY 1972
21 July 1972
1975
LIFTED FROM

THE AUSSIES

USS SALMON SS 673


Unaccounted for from

21 July 1972

to

1975

STOLEN BY THE SODS

OF HMS/M ODIN

FROM

CHIEFS MESS HMAS PLATYPUS

AUSTRALIA

5 JUNE 1973
28-6-80
NOV. 1980

 

CAPTURED BY

THE S.O.D.S. OF OKANAGAN

FROM

CPO'S MESS HMS DOLPHIN

 

REMOVED FROM HMCS OKANAGAN

BY GEORGE GALLEY ON

RETURNED HOME 28-6-80

TO WOs & CPOs HMS DOLPHIN

 

REMOVED TO HALIFAX

AGAIN

NOV. 1980

FORE ENDS - ONONDAGA

DECEMBER 1980
MAY 1981
20 SEPT 1982

 

RECOVERED BY

2 AIR MOVEMENTS UNIT

AIR MOVERS

OF THE WORLD

 

REMOVED FROM HALIFAX

AGAIN

FORE/ENDS HMS/M OPPORTUNE


RE-RE-APPROPRIATED BY

CPO1 G. SULLIVAN

FROM PO'S MESS HMS DOLPHIN

 

1983
SEPTEMBER 8, 1985
MARCH 1986

 

INADVERTENTLY

REMOVED FROM

CANSUBRON ONE

BY AUSSUBRON PERSONNEL

 

 

'FILCHED' BY THE ROYAL NAVY'S

SPECIAL BREED OF BIRDS 'THE WRENS' FROM HMASPLATYPUS

ASSOCIATION OF WRENS SYDNEY BRANCH AUSTRALIA

 

FETCHED

FROM HMAS PLATYPUS

BY

OKANAGAN COMMAND TEAM

JULY 1986
1 NOV 1986
18 JUN 87

ONE FOR ONE

CAN'T BE BAD

OPPOSUM

 

RAN AWAY TO CANADA

FROM DOLPHIN MESS WITH BOB P. ROD L. JOE H. AND SPUD T.

 

 

SKIMMED FROM

CANSUBRON 1 MESS

BY "IROQUOIS RENEGADES"

 

17 Jan 1988
JANUARY 17, 1988
14 MARCH 1988

 

Unaccounted for from

18 June 1987

to

17 Jan 1988

 

EASY COME, EASY GO

BACK TO CANADA, I DID GO

R. MILES M. DESPATIES

R. MACDONALD J. CLAHANE

DOLPHIN CODE 22 26A

 

 

SEIZED THRU TRICKERY & DARING

BY FLYNN & RILEY, CPO'S OF

USS SKIPJACK (SSN 585)

US SUBMARINE BASE, GROTON, CT

 

             
APRIL 04, 1988
1988
02/10/88

 

SHOVEL STOLEN BUT NOT

FORGOTTEN CPO2 BYZEWSKI

STOLEN BACK FROM ROTTEN GROTTEN

 


"MOUNT BATTEN NIGHT"

IN THE PRESENCE OF

H.R.M. PRINCE CHARLES

AT WO AND CPO'S MESS

HMS DOLPHIN

 

SET FREE TO RUN

BACK HOME TO CANADA

FROM DOLPHIN BY

THE TRAMP (PO2 YEMEN)

 

 
MARCH 1985
OCT 88
15th OCT 89

 

STOLEN BY

MSS NORFOLK

DUE TO THEIR CARELESSNESS

RETURNED BY STICKY & DES

THE SAME DAY

 

 

ITS OURS NOW

WITH EYES AGLEAM

TWAS STOLEN BY OTTAWA'S

"O" BOAT TEAM

W. BROYDEN B. CARBRAY

HMCS OTTAWA


TAKEN AWAY ACCROSS THE BROW

AND SO I REST ON WARSPITE NOW

D. KINGSTON 15th OCT 89

DECEMBER 1989
2 NOV 90
23 MARCH 1992
"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."

NDHQ OTTAWA

CPO1 GEORGE SULLIVAN

 

PRESENTED BY

CPO'S AND PO'S MESS

HMS ONYX

 


SWIPED FROM HMS DOLPHIN

CPO'S USS BERGALL

ALEXANDER GENERALLY SIMONS

AND AN UNKNOWN FEMALE

"MAKE YOUR OPPORTUITY

AND SEIZE THE MOMENT"

MAY 1992
APRIL 93

 

WO TIM GREENSIDES&

DAVE BIRD UKSUBCAMS

SPIRITED OFF USS BERGALL

FOR HMS DOLPHIN

 


HOME AGAIN

JIM HEWITT

DAVE VROOMAN

 

 
26/1961
10 APRIL 1963
17 OCTOBER, 1963
 


CHIEF & PETTY OFFICERS MESS

HMCS STADACONA

SOD TURNED

BY

CMDRE .M.A. MEDLAND R.C.N.

 

MISAPPROPRIATED BY

THE SODS OF

H.M.S/M. ALDERNEY

 

RE-APPROPRIATED IN '63

BY THE SODS OF

"ATHABEE"

HMCS ATHABASKAN

 

8 NOV 1963
10 SEPT. 1964
10 Sept 1964
RETURNED TO PROPER

OWNERS AND STOWAGE

"INDIANS OF STAD"

STOWED BY

CDR. JOHNSTON

RE-MISAPPROPRIATED

BY THE 'KIPPERS' OF

AURIGA

 

Unaccounted for from

10 Sept 1964

to

9 Jan 1969

9-1-69
9 Jan 1969
JUNE 1971

NICKED FROM THE DINKS OF PLATYPUS

BY THE POMMS OF SPARE CREW

AND TRUMP

R.I.P.


Unaccounted for from

9 Jan 1969

to

June 1971

NICKED FROM THE

DINKS OF PLATYPUS

BY THE BULLS OF

OXLEY

21 JULY 1972
21 July 1972
1975
LIFTED FROM

THE AUSSIES

USS SALMON SS 673


Unaccounted for from

21 July 1972

to

1975

STOLEN BY THE SODS

OF HMS/M ODIN

FROM

CHIEFS MESS HMAS PLATYPUS

AUSTRALIA

5 JUNE 1973
28-6-80
NOV. 1980

 

CAPTURED BY

THE S.O.D.S. OF OKANAGAN

FROM

CPO'S MESS HMS DOLPHIN

 

REMOVED FROM HMCS OKANAGAN

BY GEORGE GALLEY ON

RETURNED HOME 28-6-80

TO WOs & CPOs HMS DOLPHIN

 

REMOVED TO HALIFAX

AGAIN

NOV. 1980

FORE ENDS - ONONDAGA

DECEMBER 1980
MAY 1981
20 SEPT 1982

 

RECOVERED BY

2 AIR MOVEMENTS UNIT

AIR MOVERS

OF THE WORLD

 

REMOVED FROM HALIFAX

AGAIN

FORE/ENDS HMS/M OPPORTUNE


RE-RE-APPROPRIATED BY

CPO1 G. SULLIVAN

FROM PO'S MESS HMS DOLPHIN

 

1983
SEPTEMBER 8, 1985
MARCH 1986

 

INADVERTENTLY

REMOVED FROM

CANSUBRON ONE

BY AUSSUBRON PERSONNEL

 

 

'FILCHED' BY THE ROYAL NAVY'S

SPECIAL BREED OF BIRDS 'THE WRENS' FROM HMASPLATYPUS

ASSOCIATION OF WRENS SYDNEY BRANCH AUSTRALIA

 

FETCHED

FROM HMAS PLATYPUS

BY

OKANAGAN COMMAND TEAM

JULY 1986
1 NOV 1986
18 JUN 87

ONE FOR ONE

CAN'T BE BAD

OPPOSUM

 

RAN AWAY TO CANADA

FROM DOLPHIN MESS WITH BOB P. ROD L. JOE H. AND SPUD T.

 

 

SKIMMED FROM

CANSUBRON 1 MESS

BY "IROQUOIS RENEGADES"

 

17 Jan 1988
JANUARY 17, 1988
14 MARCH 1988

 

Unaccounted for from

18 June 1987

to

17 Jan 1988

 

EASY COME, EASY GO

BACK TO CANADA, I DID GO

R. MILES M. DESPATIES

R. MACDONALD J. CLAHANE

DOLPHIN CODE 22 26A

 

 

SEIZED THRU TRICKERY & DARING

BY FLYNN & RILEY, CPO'S OF

USS SKIPJACK (SSN 585)

US SUBMARINE BASE, GROTON, CT

 

             
APRIL 04, 1988
1988
02/10/88

 

SHOVEL STOLEN BUT NOT

FORGOTTEN CPO2 BYZEWSKI

STOLEN BACK FROM ROTTEN GROTTEN

 


"MOUNT BATTEN NIGHT"

IN THE PRESENCE OF

H.R.M. PRINCE CHARLES

AT WO AND CPO'S MESS

HMS DOLPHIN

 

SET FREE TO RUN

BACK HOME TO CANADA

FROM DOLPHIN BY

THE TRAMP (PO2 YEMEN)

 

MARCH 1985
OCT 88
15th OCT 89

 

STOLEN BY

MSS NORFOLK

DUE TO THEIR CARELESSNESS

RETURNED BY STICKY & DES

THE SAME DAY

 

 

ITS OURS NOW

WITH EYES AGLEAM

TWAS STOLEN BY OTTAWA'S

"O" BOAT TEAM

W. BROYDEN B. CARBRAY

HMCS OTTAWA


TAKEN AWAY ACCROSS THE BROW

AND SO I REST ON WARSPITE NOW

D. KINGSTON 15th OCT 89

DECEMBER 1989
2 NOV 90
23 MARCH 1992
"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."

NDHQ OTTAWA

CPO1 GEORGE SULLIVAN

 

PRESENTED BY

CPO'S AND PO'S MESS

HMS ONYX

 


SWIPED FROM HMS DOLPHIN

CPO'S USS BERGALL

ALEXANDER GENERALLY SIMONS

AND AN UNKNOWN FEMALE

"MAKE YOUR OPPORTUITY

AND SEIZE THE MOMENT"

MAY 1992
APRIL 93

 

WO TIM GREENSIDES&

DAVE BIRD UKSUBCAMS

SPIRITED OFF USS BERGALL

FOR HMS DOLPHIN

 


HOME AGAIN

JIM HEWITT

DAVE VROOMAN