A plaque in memory of a Royal Marine who lost his life in a diving accident was unveiled in Gibraltar at the end of August.
Corporal Johnny Stanworth, from the Royal Marines, lost his life in 1971 at the age of 22 while diving on Europa Reef. An extensive search by RN Clearance Divers, several RN vessels as well as Spanish Naval vessels and helicopters took place, but sadly was unsuccessful.
More than 30 family, friends, veterans and guests gathered at Europa Point for the special memorial ceremony, which was held exactly 50 years ago to the day he died. The project to dedicate the memorial to Johnny has been two years in the making, thanks to the determination of former diving buddies Tony Ward and Pete Wilkins.
Tony has spent the last two years getting permission from Gibraltar Government officials, family members and military bosses, and working through COVID-19 challenges, to get the green light for the memorial.
Tony, 74 from Northampton, said: “In 1968 I was on the same swimmer/canoeist course as Johnny and I had a lot of respect for him. He would have gone far in the Royal Marines. Johnny was awarded the Kings Badge at the age of 18 in his Royal Marines Commando training.
“Back in 2019 his friend Pete Wilkins mentioned that there is no grave or memorial for Johnny on the Rock.
“We agreed that it was about time something was done to rectify that, and, perhaps a memorial plaque in Gibraltar might be appropriate.”
A group of teenagers got an insight into what life is like as a soldier thanks to an outreach programme at the Ministry of Defence.
During the two-day event, 12 teenage boys and girls got to grips with weapons, bomb disposal robots and visited various military locations around the Rock.
Organised by the Royal Gibraltar Regiment and the Gibraltar Youth Service, the Youth Outreach Programme is designed to encourage youngsters to join the local regiment.
On the first day, the youngsters were given a presentation about life as a solider, before being shown weapons, bomb disposal equipment and then enjoying a visit to the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron.
On the second day, they visited the Buffadero Training Camp, where military personnel showed them how an Observation Post works and the Dismounted Close Combat Trainer – an indoor electronic firing range.
An MOD spokesperson said, “The kids really enjoyed themselves and were very excited throughout. They enjoyed the more hands on activities like the observation post and command tasks. However, their favourite part was the Dismounted Close Combat Trainer as they saw it as a computer game.”
Warrant Officer Michael Sanchez, Royal Gibraltar Regiment, added, “The main aim is to show them what we have to offer and what a cracking career the Regiment is, because it is, and then they need to decide for themselves.
“I have literally done 19 years and the way I see it, even during the bad times I have found good times. I’ve found times when I’ve been going through a bad patch on exercise, but I’ve still found the fun side.”.
As opposed to setting individual challenges for the cadets to complete, the Squadron’s Officer Commanding, Flt Lt Ivan Caward, decided to use various locations across Gibraltar to provide a unique way of completing the 80 miles.
The challenge commenced with a walk around the Rock, supported by the Gibraltar Defence Police (GDP). This was followed by a tunnel tour through the Great North Road and a FOD Plod (collection of rubbish and debris) the length of the runway, with the latter providing a great help to RAF Gibraltar’s Air Safety Team, who are always keen to find ways to make the Airfield even safer.
On completion of the event, cadets from the Squadron had the following to say:
“It’s the first time I have walked around the Rock; you notice details that you have never seen before. I didn’t realise how steep Dudley Ward Tunnel as I have only driven through in a car! It was also good to get out and walk in a group of friends.” – Corporal Catlin Fitzgerald.
The tunnel tour was amazing, and I would have never guessed that there was so much hidden within the Rock. The history was really brought to life by our guide and Squadron Warrant Officer, Paul Llanelo.” – Cadet Jasmin Jarman
“It was a pity that the fog covered the runway and we missed out on the unique views of the Rock on the day, but we had a great time anyway. Before we started the FOD Plod, the Air Safety Manager and Airfield Ground Support Unit Manager gave us a talk about what FOD is and why it is so important to ensure that the Airfield is kept clear. It was frightening to see what damage a small piece of metal can do, but thankfully I’m happy to report that we didn’t find anything other than feathers and fish bones.” – Corporal Merrick Kent
For more information on the Air Training Corps or if you are interested in joining, please contact Flt Lt Ivan Caward firstname.lastname@example.org or +35054005832.