Former sapper Bob Aslett is trying to assist a former RE Corporal Tom Pierce who now lives in Canada.
Tom is very ill and only has a short time to live and is desperate to find his old friend Lance Corporal Neil Sutcliffe.
Any help in locating Neil Sutcliffe would be most gratefully received. If you can help, please contact the REA Controller.
The following information was received at HQ REA on 29th September and should be of some use in helping trace Neil Sutcliffe:
Good afternoon, Colonel
My ex – sapper colleague and friend Bob Aslett has asked me to reply to the email you sent him this morning (see below). Bob hails from Exmouth, Devon and I from Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.Like Bob I’m an REA member (Newcastle branch : Col. Lawrence McLeman, president) so let me firstly thank you for your very helpful input to date.
Yes, Tom Pierce – whom Bob and I met at a British Nuclear Test Veterans Association reunion in 2008 – is far from well and it would be totally special were it possible for Tom to be able to speak with Neil Sutcliffe. Whilst they’ve only met once since they were close buddies on the Pacific atoll of Christmas Island during Britain’s build-up to the detonation of the 1957 and 1958 megaton bombs,urgent efforts are being made to try to ensureTom hears from Neil soon.
Tom and Neil served together in Plant Troop on that outcrop from March 1956 to August 1957, their work being to maintain the airstrip. Tom left the island in August 57 for demob in September that year whilst Neil stayed on ‘The Rock’ some further weeks. In 1958, after Neil had finished National Service and Tom was working in his hometown of Brighton (by the sea),Tom travelled up to Kingston to briefly renew his friendship with Neil. That appears to be the last time they met.
Tom, a 6ft 5in tall full corporal, seems to have been office-based and have had quite a responsible supervisory role, especially after other more senior NCOs were repatriated back to the UK. I’m guessing, but both Tom and Neil could have been part of 28 Engineer Regiment (I went out later early in 1958 as a lowly lance-jack in 73 Christmas Island Squadron, 38 Engineer Regiment). Neither Bob Aslett nor I know of any nickname which Neil may have had.
At the outset, fair-headed Neil was a young 18 year-old National Serviceman whose home back in Blighty was somewhere in Kingston upon Thames. His father was chief works engineer at the town’s waterworks at that time and I believe the family lived in ‘the big house’ attached to/within the plant itself. Thus Neil is likely to be about 73/74 years old right now though whether he and the family moved after 1958 we simply don’t know or seem not to be able to find out.
So, Colonel Jordan, this is about all we know about Neil and whilst it’s not at all comprehensive, we’re hoping against hope that somewhere along the line Neil Sutcliffe can be located and put in touch with Tom Pierce. My email address is naturally shown above and my tel. no. is 0191 4147886. These details can be published in any way you and the REA can possibly allow. Obviously, the many people who know of the search for Neil Sutcliffe, the better. My and Bob’s repeated thanks for any assistance you and the Association may be able to give.
Ron Taylor (23349676)