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W3696 Able Seaman Alexander Deryck Barron – Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
 
Alexander Deryck Barron was born 29 November 1919 son of Harold Stephen and Fanny Borthwick Barron of Lower Hutt.[i] Alexander was known by family and friends as Derk.
 
The Barron family took their holidays at Plimmerton and the family were involved in local yachting as members of the Plimmerton Boating Club.  The Barron Cup was presented by the family to the Plimmerton Boating Club in 1931. This cup was for competition between Plimmerton and Paremata Boating Clubs sailing Rona-Jellicoe class boats.[ii]
 
In 1938 Derk sailed with crew member Arthur Henry Edginton
competing in the Cornwall Cup. The Plimmerton crew won the
regatta and retained the cup for the club.[iii]
 
 
‘Smile of Victory’
Derk (Left) and Arthur with the 1938 Cornwall Cup 
 
In 1938 Derk was working, in Wellington, as a shipping clerk for
the New Zealand Shipping Company Limited. At this stage he
joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (Wellington - NZ Division) as a cadet seaman with the service number W/3696.
With the outbreak of World War Two, New Zealand Reserves were
mobilised. Derk was called up, reporting to HMNZS Philomel as
Able Seaman Barron on 18 April 1940. He was in the first batch of
New Zealand Naval Reserves, to be ‘Lent Royal Navy.’[iv] The loan
of these Reserves was in response to the British Admiralty call to
the New Zealand government for more sailors to man the
increasing number of warships being bought into service. Derk’s service record note he arrived England on 1st  May 1940. Able Seaman Barron was initially attached to the shore training establishment HMS Victory then to HMS Phoebe, finally to HMS Neptune in September 1941.
 
It was intended that New Zealand would provide a crew for HMS Neptune and this Leander-class light cruiser would serve alongside the New Zealand squadron, HMS Achilles and HMS Leander. HMS Neptune was originally due to sail for New Zealand in May 1941 but the loss of cruisers during the Crete campaign meant HMS Neptune was attached to the Malta based Force K.[v]
 
While HMS Neptune was in Alexandria, Egypt, she was visited by a unit of the New Zealand National Broadcasting (NBS) on 13 November 1941 when messages from the officers and men on board were recorded.  Only 10 percent of the crew were selected, by ballot, to record messages to their friends and families, Derk was one of those selected. These messages were recorded onto discs to be sent back to New Zealand for broadcast in a weekly programme called ‘With the Boys Overseas.’[vi]
 
Hello Mum, Dad & Pat
Just here to say I am OK and hope all the same back in New Zealand
Cheerio to June and all the best for Christmas, won’t see you this one folks but maybe next.
Have two letters the other day and a fiver which is a bit of OK Dad.
Cheerio to Dunedin and Joy in Auckland.
So long for now.
Love
Derk
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
HMS Neptune leaving Alexandria Harbour
 
The HMS Neptune messages were timed for Christmas 1941. It is possible that none of the messages would have been heard by the families at home because on the morning of 19 December 1941, HMS Neptune hit enemy mines off the
coast of Libya and sank. Only one of the crew of 764 survived this incident. The loss of the HMS Neptune was New Zealand Navy’s worst disaster with 151 of the crew being from New Zealand.
 
Three of the New Zealand contingent were from the Hutt Valley, Wellington all went to the same High School; Deryck Barron, Selwyn West & Brian White.
 
At the 1948 Annual General Meeting of the Plimmerton Boating Club
it was resolved "to acquire a suitable boat with engine for pick-up and
general rescue work". This rescue boat was built by Shetland Islander,
Jock McCallum, of Abel Smith Street, Wellington, the design based on
an original lifeboat. Named the Deryck Barron, the rescue craft was
launched 19 November 1949, crewed originally by Frank Newman,
Fred Jobson & Fred Sellens.[vii]
 
The launch of the Deryck Barron 1949
 
The Deryck Barron was later modified adding a small part deck.
The vessel remained in service until 1972 when it was replaced by a
new Rescue Jet.
 
Notes
Arthur Henry Edginton also served during World War Two see story 
 
References
NZ BDM Online
Paperspast Online
New Zealand Defense Department Archives W3696 Able Seaman Alexander Deryck Barron
NZ History Online
Plimmerton Boat Club website (History)
 
Photos
Smile of Victory Barron and Edgington – Evening Post
HMS Neptune - NZ History Online
Launch of the Deryck Barron - Mary Casey
 
[i] NZ Defence Files W3696 Alexander Deryck Barron
[ii] Barron Cup, 30 December 1931, Evening Post
[iii] Smile of Victory - Barron & Edginton, 1st January 1938, Evening Post
[iv] NZ Defence Files W3696 Alexander Deryck Barron
[v] NZ History Online – HMS Neptune
[vi] Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Nga Taonga Korero – 1941 HMS Neptune
[vii] Plimmerton Boating Club website history
 
 
HMS Neptune leaving Alexandria Harbour 1941
 
Stirling bombers in formation