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ISBN: 9780857041272
AUTHOR: The TON Class Association with a foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales
Last of the Wooden Walls
Last of the Wooden Walls
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At the end of the Second World War it was generally accepted that the emphasis on mining had shifted from deeply laid moored mines to ground mines laid in the shallow approaches to ports and harbours. A design team was formed in Bath in 1947 and by 1949 had produced two designs of an advanced concept for inshore and coastal work.

The onset of the Korean War and discovery of new, highly sensitive, Russian magnetic mines accelerated production of the non-magnetic Coastal Minesweeper. The result was a very sturdy and flexible craft, with a double mahogany hull over an aluminium frame, with nonmagnetic fittings, capable of undertaking ocean passages, and able to sweep both moored and ground mines.

Upperworks and many of the fittings were constructed from light aluminium alloy and other materials with the lowest possible magnetic field, to achieve optimum safety when sweeping for magnetic mines. The ships were protected from pressure mines by their low displacement and the threat from moored mines was greatly reduced by their shallow draught.

The ships were originally to have been named after insects, perhaps recalling the gunboats on the China Station in the 1920s, but in 1952 this proposal was dropped and the TONs were named after villages ending in “…ton” e.g. Coniston, Ashton, Houghton, Wilkieston, Fiskerton etc. They were the last wooden warships to serve in the Royal Navy and were also its most numerous class. 118 TONs were built and the design was adopted by other navies.

TONs saw action at Suez (twice), Cyprus, in the confrontation with Indonesia, the Persian Gulf and in Northern Ireland. In addition to minesweeping and mine hunting, they carried out roles as diverse as patrol craft for fishery protection duties and to counter piracy, illegal immigration, and terrorist gunrunners.

They acted as gun platforms and diving tenders and were the mainstay of the Royal Naval Reserve. Crew members, of all ranks, held responsibilities far beyond their years and many a future Admiral had his first experience of sea command in a TON minesweeper. HRH Prince Charles commanded HMS Bronington in 1976/77.

Last of the Wooden Walls has been produced to mark the 25th Anniversary of the TON Class Association. It aims to provide a brief history of the TON Class of Mine Counter Measures Vessels, together with highlights of some of the principal campaigns and deployments in which they engaged, plus milestones in the growth of the Association.

It has taken over three years for the Editorial Panel to assemble, assess, select and edit contributions from a wealth of material from ships’ logs, personal diaries, reminiscences and the odd unprintable ‘dit’. The panel comprises: Peter Harrison, Rob Hoole, Peter Down, Bob Dean, Jeremy Stewart and Rik Furnival.


I was privileged to end my career in the Royal Navy in command of HMS Bronington in 1976. It was certainly the most challenging of all my appointments, but also the most rewarding. My lasting impression of Bronington and the Ton Class minesweepers is of the crew's professionalism and jaunty informality; their comradeship and sense of humour. We made the most of that humour within the ship, the squadron and all the Ton Class based in Rosyth and I am very pleased that one of my fellow commanding officers at that time is the Association's current President...

Imprint: Halsgrove. ISBN 978 0 85704 127 2, hardback, 297x210mm, 160 pages. Published March 2012. Reprinted June 2015.

National Service 50 Years OnNational Service 50 Years On - £19.99
This fascinating and richly nostalgic book by Berwick Coates will provide insights into National Service for those too young to have experienced it and will bring a host of memories for those who went through the apparently endless round of square-bashing and spitting-and- polishing, sometimes with endurance and surprisingly often with enjoyment.
Web Price: £24.99
28.96 EUR 31.24 USD 40.93 AUD

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