A fitting tribute to Ray as memorial to be unveiled for war memorial campaigner
PUBLISHED: 09:06 19 March 2014 | UPDATED: 09:06 19 March 2014
A memorial bench honouring a Norwich naval hero who also campaigned for the refurbishment of the city’s war memorial will be unveiled today.
Raymond Self, a Royal Naval Association veteran, served in the Second World War and on his retirement dedicated his time towards a 20-year campaign to have the war memorial turned round to face the City Hall.
Reopened in 2011 after a £2.6m refurbishment, the war memorial was repositioned so that he and fellow veterans could salute it as they paraded past on Remembrance Day.
Known as a family man with a great sense of humour, Mr Self died last year aged 87. A memorial bench honouring his achievements will be fitted outside the St Peter Mancroft Church, facing the Forum, and a service for the opening of the memorial was due to take place this afternoon.
Keith Smith, honorary secretary of the Royal Naval Association, said: “The bench is a thank you to Ray for his long service to the Royal Navy and to his great fight in getting the war memorial restored.
Raymond Self, who was known as ‘Ray’, moved to Norwich with his family when he was 12.
He dreamed of becoming a naval serviceman from a young age and joined the Royal Navy aged 16, having lied about his age, before enlisting in 1942 as a home guard.
He served in the Far East during the Second World War and was involved in the Normandy landing. A series of war memoirs by Mr Self have been turned into a book, Sainfoin’s War, The Story of HMS Sainfoin, 1944 to 1946, which was published in 2007. The book helped to reunite old comrades and has seen an increase in demand since his death.
After the war, he became a lorry driver for Leveridge Brothers and then worked for SPD for 36 years. Mr Self lived the rest of his life in Norwich and was one of the leading figures in a 20-year campaign to have the Norwich War Memorial reinstated, living to see the reward of his efforts when the memorial reopened in 2011.
Married to his wife Rhonda for 63 years, he was a devoted husband and father. His funeral was well attended by well wishers and family members who fondly remembered his life.
“The memorial has been organised and paid for by the Royal Navy Association, with small donations from Norfolk and Norwich’s combined services.
“Plans for the memorial have been in place since before Christmas, but we had to get permission from the council and then there was trouble fitting the bench.
“It will be a short service, taken by his brother Cliff, and a fitting way to remember his life.”
Mr Self spent two years with HMS Sainfoin in the Far East and was based in Singapore when it fell to the Allies. He was involved in a successful two-day operation in October 1945 to save more than 1,000 former prisoners of war, ships crew and nurses when their steamship Takliwa caught fire, and survived a near-death experience when he opened the breach of an anti-aircraft gun too early, rupturing his spleen.
Mr Self was a founding member of the Norwich Royal Naval Association and regular community figure who made time for all, giving talks at schools and raising money through collections.
Of the memorial, Mr Self’s brother Cliff said: “It will be an excellent service. Family and friends will be present and hopefully people can find the time to attend and remember Ray’s life.”
Visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk for pictures from the service.
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