Recorder letters: Major Allan H Beckett RE, Brexit and Silvertown explosion

PUBLISHED: 12:19 01 February 2017 | UPDATED: 12:19 01 February 2017

The blue plaque to commemorate Major Allan Beckett (Picture: Andrew Baker)

The blue plaque to commemorate Major Allan Beckett (Picture: Andrew Baker)

©2016 ANdrew

I refer to the excellent article printed in the Newham Recorder on the blue plaque commemorating the late Major Allan H Beckett RE, writes W M Moncur Major RE (Rtd), Camberley, Surrey, full address supplied.

I am not a citizen of your borough, but the article was drawn to my attention by a friend who knew of my friendship with Allan Beckett. I would simply like to correct one statement that might just give the wrong impression of the reality.

Your headline states ‘He might not have fought on the beaches, but Allan Beckett’s role in the D-Day landings cannot be underestimated’.

Indeed so, however, there is a possibility that this might imply to your readers that Allan’s inventive genius had been effected solely from the UK homeland base. This would be far from the truth.

Allan was especially posted to accompany the Construction Units to the far shore in order to apply his special design knowledge of the equipment to the Sappers who had had very little opportunity to train before their committal. Indeed he was assigned as special adviser to the Commander of Mulberry B, Brigadier A E M Walter.

He decided to accompany an inexperienced tug crew towing a string of six whales (codename for 80 ft bridge dections) through enemy infested sea and nursed them all the 100 miles to Arromanches.

Many never made it and succumbed to waves en route. There he worked on the mine-ridden beaches, assembling all the components as they arrived. The battle was near at hand and sniper action was present. Overhead 16-inch shells were flying from battleships offshore in support of the battle a mile or so inland.

Allan Beckett also transitted dangerously overland to give assistance to the Americans at Mulberry A at Omaha Beach.

Above all, his presence at Arromanches was instrumental in ensuring that all the precautions taken regarding the anchoring of Mulberry ‘B’ before the Great Storm, saw it survive to support the continuation of the ongoing battle.

I hope this provided some useful additional background.

Change land designation

Thank you for the good news conveyed in the articles and editorial comment that the plans for the cement factories by the London Olympic Park have been abandoned, writes Peter Knight, Unex Tower, Stratford.

I am so pleased.

But, I now learn that this particular site is designated as “strategic industrial land”. Why? Who made that decision? In other words, please change the designation to something more appropriate to its surroundings!

I repeat: change the designation!

Please could I ask your readers to lend me their help and make their voices heard? writes Syed Kamall, Member of the European Parliament for London.

It’s seven months since Britain voted to leave the European Union. And I’m conscious that while we are hearing a great deal about what Brexit might mean to politicians, few people are asking what it means to those who really matter: the electorate.

It seems their views – indeed, their voices – are being drowned out by the growing cacophony from the Westminster village created by political commentators, analysts, forecasters and the rest.

I want to create the opportunity for everyone’s voices to be heard.

Whatever your readers’ thoughts on Brexit, or however they voted in the referendum, I want to hear their views.

I want to know what is important to them over the next few years. What information do they feel they need about the European Union institutions that they are not getting? What are their priorities regarding Britain’s future relationship with the EU? What do they think those involved in this process need to consider?

I would really appreciate it if people would take two minutes to fill in my survey to help people get the answers they need – and, importantly, to make sure we understand what they are saying.

They should go to to be part of this important project. Their views really matter to me, even more so at this important time.

It is obviously right to remember the working class families whose lives were ripped apart in the Silvertown explosion, writes John Plant, Clova Road, Forest Gate.

However, some of the responses recently voiced fail to show that lessons still require to be learned. The official investigation led by Sir Ernley Blackwell found that the factory’s site was inappropriate for the manufacture of TNT.

Management and safety practices at the plant were also criticised: TNT was stored in unsafe containers, close to the plant and the risky production process. The report was not disclosed to the public until the 1950s. Not surprisingly.

Lessons were not learned, and major chemical factory disasters continued, best known examples being Flixborough (1974) and Seveso (1976). In all these cases the killed and injured were the victims of capitalism, of the never ending drive to cut costs regardless of the consequences.

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