FEB 2024


Captain Reginald (Reg) Hann is honoured on his 100th Birthday

The South Wales WW2 veteran and former Commanding Officer, HMS Cambria was delighted to be presented with a congratulatory letter from the First Sea Lord by Cambria’s current C.O. Carolyn Jones

Captain Reginald (Reg) Hann will be of interest to many of our members who served in   HMS CAMBRIA.

In addition to the First Lord’s letter Reg received a card from HM King Charles and at his birthday party in Cwmbran on 10th February was surrounded by many relatives and friends.

Reg was a founder member of HMS CAMBRIA in 1947 and in WW 2 served in the Royal Navy on Arctic convoys. He was present for the D Day landings and was mentioned in Despatches for his service there.

Reg was Commanding Officer of HMS CAMBRIA from 1970 to 1974 and commanded the RNR Tenth Mine Counter Measures Squadron on numerous occasions. He went on to serve as Senior Naval Officer Severn before retiring from the RNR.

Antarctica mysteries to be mapped by robot plane

24 FEB 2024

Windracers Drone

A team of scientists and engineers have landed in Antarctica to test a drone that will help experts forecast the impacts of climate change.

The autonomous plane will map areas of the continent that have been out of bounds to researchers.

It has been put to the test in extreme weather around Wales’ highest peaks.

Its first experiment will survey the mountains under an ice sheet to predict how quickly the ice could melt and feed into global sea-level rise.

Scientists want to understand Antarctica better but they are limited by the existing technology.

Strong winds, below-freezing temperatures and sudden storms are common. These dangerous conditions, as well as dark winters and the need to transport pilots and large amounts of fuel, put limitations on use of traditional crewed planes.

The British Antarctic Survey developed the new drone with UK company Windracers to be easily repaired if something goes wrong.

The drone was tested in Llanbedr, Eryri in north Wales – a stand-in for the difficult weather and terrain of Antarctica.

During a practice run in strong winds with rain lashing the airfield, engineer Rebecca Toomey explained that the drone can fly to remote areas without concerns for pilots’ safety.


Spirit of Adventure Award Winner 2023, John Bathgate, will be the guest speaker at the Spring Lunch on 12th April 2024

John Bathgate with local villagers in San Lorenzo

Our previous update reported on John and team mate Ian Roberts encounter with Peruvian pirates that forced them to return to the U.K..

We are pleased to announce John Bathgate is on the road to recovery and planning a return to the Amazon in 2024 to complete the Summit to Sea Expedition.

Prior to the team’s return to the Amazon John has confirmed he will be travelling to Cardiff from Scotland to deliver his report on the expeditions achievements to date.

This event is bound to be well subscribed so early booking is advised.



JUNE 2024

Those who attended our Centenary Return Dinner in 2013 will need no introduction to Dr David Wilson our guest speaker for this year’s event.

With over 15 years experience on Expedition cruise ships, David is in great demand both as an ornithological field guide and polar historian.

He boasts numerous explorers and ornithologists on his family tree, which add a uniquely personal flavour to many of his talks.

Not least amongst these was his great uncle Dr. Edward Wilson who was on both of Captain Scott’s Antarctic Expeditions and famously led the “Worst Journey in the World” to Cape Crozier in search of penguin eggs.

With a vast range of topics the committee is currently finalising the title of David’s talk.

Booking details for the annual dinner will be in the Events section soon. 


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6 SEPT 2023

Vivian Fuchs Youth Award Winner Katie Grieve Reports back from her Expedition to Egypt

Katie returned from the Red Sea on 17th July and has provided this interesting report on her expedition which was split into 2 projects:

  1. The first project was a diver impact study on small black and white damselfish called humbug dasycllus (dascyllus aruanus) which live in colonies on Acropora or Pocillopora coral.
  2. The second project was on the territoriality/bold-shy behaviour of freckled Hawkfish.

On her days off from project work, the team conducted debris dives/snorkels and beach cleans in several locations, including the house reef near our accommodation, the local town beach and the nearby mangrove forests. In some cases, they were joined by other resort guests and a local environmental organisation comprising of children aged 15-17. They also created and delivered talks on the importance of conservation and management efforts in the Red Sea area to the children, covering topics of climate change, plastic pollution, the human impact on the climate and respect for ocean life specifically focusing on sharks.

Katie says:

Overall, I am immensely grateful to have been given the chance to be a member of this expedition and develop these skills and experiences. I feel like I have become much more independent and confident in my abilities as well as been exposed to the realities of research and fieldwork. Over the 6 weeks, I have learned so much about Egyptian culture and the marine world, I have gained first-hand experience with plastic pollution and how these problems are dealt with, I have had a taste of what a career in research and biology could be like and overall, I have achieved something I never thought I would have been able to do.

You can download the entire report here.



An original portrait photograph of a famous Arctic explorer, taken shortly before the doomed Franklin expedition, will be auctioned in London next month.

Capt Francis Crozier and 13 other senior officers were photographed in May of 1845. The complete set of 14 portraits will be auctioned by Sotheby’s.

Two images in the set, including Crozier’s, are missing from the only other original collection of these portraits known to exist.

Sir John Franklin’s expedition to find a Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic became one of the best-known maritime mysteries of all time after the ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror disappeared without a trace in the summer of 1845.

At the request of Sir John’s wife Jane, Lady Franklin, at least two sets of 14 daguerreotypes, or early photographs, were taken on board HMS Erebus in the days before the ships’ departure. The portraits were made by the Beard Studio, founded by pioneering photographer Richard Beard.

One of the sets is currently held by the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) in Cambridge, but it lacks images of Capt Crozier, commander of HMS Terror, and Robert Sargent, a mate on HMS Erebus. To date, historians have only had access to copies of these two men’s daguerreotypes.

Franklin researchers had long speculated as to whether the second, complete, set of original daguerreotypes survived.

The 14 portraits that have now emerged for auction were owned by Franklin’s descendants.

The sale is estimated to fetch between £150,000 and £200,000.

All of the daguerreotypes will be exhibited in public together, for the first time ever, at Sotheby’s this September.

“These images are absolutely astonishing, the clarity is wonderful,”

says Michael Smith, biographer of Captain Crozier. He notes that Capt Crozier was the only crew member from HMS Terror to be photographed and that this daguerreotype is the only known original photograph of him in existence.


16 AUG 2023

Former Royal Marines fight off gun-wielding pirates using paddles – with one of the Brits shot twice in the brawl – while travelling along the Amazon River

John Bathgate and Ian Roberts attempted to travel the length of Amazon river but have been attacked by pirates close to the Colombian border and John was shot. They still managed to overpower pirates with nothing but their rowing oars!


  • A pair of former British Royal Marine commandos on a heroic expedition along the Amazon river somehow managed to fight off gun-wielding pirates with nothing more than their paddles – despite one of them being shot in the scrap.
  • John Bathgate and Ian Roberts were attempting a world first – to navigate 3186 miles of the Amazon River from its highest point, Volcán Chimborazo in Ecuador, across the South American continent to the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of  Brazil.
  • But their incredible ‘Summit to Sea’ adventure took a turn for the worse when, as they were approaching the Colombian border in their rowing boat, the former commandos were ambushed and held at gunpoint by two Peruvian pirates.
  • Facing down the barrel of a gun, and armed with only with their rowing oars, Bathgate and Roberts sprang into action, launching a desperate and fierce assault on their would-be captors.
  • Bathgate sustained two gunshot wounds in the tussle, but despite being completely outgunned the brave Brits overwhelmed the bandits, disabling their craft and making a stunning break for safety.
  • Sharing an update on their progress on social media, Bathgate and Roberts explained how the terrifying ordeal unfolded.
  • ‘Unfortunately, we’ve had to postpone Amazon Summit to Sea. Last week, in a remote part of the river, close to the Colombian border, we were attacked by two pirates.
  • ‘In a fight where we used paddles against pistols, we fought them, disarmed them, disabled their craft, and then managed to get ourselves and our equipment to safety.
  • ‘Unfortunately, John sustained two gunshot wounds, but due to Ian’s care and our bootneck attitude, he was comfortable and stable by the time the cavalry arrived…
  • ‘The Peruvian and Brazilian Navy and Marines arrived with an Armada of support and whisked us back to Iquitos, showing incredible care and professionalism. The quick actions of friends in Iquitos, family in the UK, and Garmin emergency response meant that we received the highest of care, and the ordeal didn’t develop into a life-threatening situation.’
  • Despite the attempt on their lives, Bathgate and Roberts are steadfast in their desire to return to complete the daring expedition within a year.
  • ‘We are now on our way back to the UK. However, we intend to return within 12 months and finish what we started,’ they continued.
  • ‘This minor hiccup certainly won’t keep us from finishing, and the actions of two individuals do not define Peru, a country whose people we have grown to love.
  • ‘We’re both fine and will be in the UK by Wednesday to plan our return and get it done.’


The Spirit of Adventure Award 2023

Our adjudication panel met on the Tuesday 4 th April to consider the six finalists selected from a total of 36 applications.

After careful consideration this year’s award goes to John Bathgate and The Amazon, Summit to Sea Expedition.

The aim of the expedition is to travel the length of the Amazon River from its highest source the Volcan Chimborazo glacier in Ecuador all the way to Belem in Brazil where it thunders into the Atlantic Ocean. The journey will be split into four stages starting in May and finishing in November 2023.

The expedition will have some incredible challenges along the 3000 mile route and there is a vast amount of information contained in the expeditions’ website www.summittosea.org.uk


The Sir Vivian Fuchs Youth Award for 2023

Our adjudication panel met on Tuesday 4 th April to consider six finalists from a total of 57 applications.

After careful consideration this year’s award goes to 18 year-old Katie Grieve for her marine expedition to Egypt to survey the effects of scuba diving on coral, reef fish and the impact of micro plastic in the Red Sea.


This year’s batch of applicants once again contained a vast spread of character building enterprises and challenging expeditions and this society is heartened by the fact that young and older people still want to break out of the routine of everyday life and experience fulfilling adventures.

Best wishes to you and all your colleagues in your forthcoming endeavours.


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16 JUNE 2023

David Bathgate receives award cheque on behalf of the Amazon Summit to Sea Expedition.

Winners of the Spirit of Adventure Award 2023

David Bathgate receives cheque from Expedition Secretary and went on to describe how the British Andean Expedition tackled Huandoy back in 1968.

David’s adventure inspired his son John Bathgate to follow up on his father’s adventure and tackle the Amazon from source Chimborazo in Ecuador to outfall in the Atlantic at Belem.


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