Attracting attention: Our story about plans do bulldoze the Naval crests had people writing in from all over the world to share their memories of them. *Photo by Simon Jones
Attracting attention: Our story about plans do bulldoze the Naval crests had people writing in from all over the world to share their memories of them. *Photo by Simon Jones

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 12: Plans to bulldoze the historic naval crests at Dockyard have prompted widespread anger in Bermuda and abroad.

Former sailors and their families joined locals in expressing their sadness that the concrete walls in the South Yard would be levelled as part of the Albert Row development project.

The Bermuda Sun revealed last month that the naval crests, which date back to World War II, would be got rid when the WEDCO project to rebuild Albert and Victoria Row got underway.

The story attracted attention from across the world with readers writing in to share their own memories of the colourful murals in the West End.

An online survey conducted by the Sun revealed 80 per cent of the island ‘cared’ that the crests would be lost.

Nick ‘Smudge’ Smith said: “I helped Leading Seaman Jerry Barrett paint the HMS AMBUSCADE crest in 1977.

“What a dreadful shame that this very strong naval tradition for Bermuda is to go.

“The days when HMS Malabar junior rates bar, aka The Trap, was a great place to grab a ‘wet’ and the paintings of the ship’ crests are such a strong part of that memory for many, many sailors from across the world.”

While Kelly Holmes posted that she was ‘absolutely disgusted’ that the emblems would be removed.

She said: “They represent a part of our naval history...and not just British.

“There are well wishes painted on those walls from the USA and Europe as well.

“Surely school groups could adopt portions of these walls and keep them renovated. Shame on you WEDCO.”

Bev Lundahl added: “My father’s ship HMCS Quesnel from the Royal Canadian Navy was in Bermuda during World War II.

“HMCS Quesnel had a totem Thunderbird mascot that was seized from an Alert Bay Burial Ground in British Columbia, Canada in 1942.

“When in Bermuda in 2009 I scoured the seawall for the image of this emblem in my quest to solve a mystery.

Thrill

“It was a terrifically interesting visit for me and I am sorry to see the seawall destroyed.

“Happily though photos of the emblems have been archived. It was such a thrill to see the marks of these ships left behind in Bermuda.”

Elizabeth Simon de Montfort told the Sun: “How very sad. When my husband and I came to Bermuda, we spent hours wandering around looking at all the emblems wondering who initially painted them and thinking about the stories behind them.

“I hope they are still there next year when we return, as I certainly will take more pictures. What a shame for such a piece of history. But I am glad they are archiving them.”

Earlier this year the crew from HMS Montrose became the latest sailors to leave their mark on the walls of the South Yard.

Today there are around 200 badges, crests and mementoes left by not just warships, but also merchant ships from around the world.

Each crest and emblem has been recorded, photographed and archived in the National Museum.

But many readers said they were extremely sad to hear that the crests would be knocked down.

Colin George said: “It’s very sad. Once again a bit of Royal Naval history going down the drain.

“These ship crests mean a lot to us Royal NavyVeterans all over the world. “It’s a shame they are being destroyed.”

Mary Barnes, a tourist who has been visiting Bermuda for more than 20 years added: “If they can be restored please keep them and make the tourist aware of them, historically they are a part of Bermuda.

“Lacking finance or volunteers to restore them, they should be removed but as a tourist, I would hate to see that happen, surely money can be found to restore a valuable and colourful part of Bermuda’s history.

Derek Mitchell said: “It would be a shame to see these historic emblems sacrificed.

“The emblems are far more meaningful in real life for all to see rather than lost somewhere in an ‘archive’.

Dave Michie added: “What a sad end.

“The sight of the buildings with the ship’s crests on them always brought me a sense of home. HMS SIRIUS ‘71-’73. We will remember them.”