The Brighton Sea Cadets

Fr Beau Brandie brought the Brighton Sea Cadets to the National for 36 years

Fr Beaumont Brandie MBE was well known as Chief Steward at the National Pilgrimage and for the party of Sea Cadets that he brought with him each year to provide both an Honour Guard and a construction and demolition team ... In the 2002 Pilgrimage programme he wrote a short history of the Guard, part of which is reproduced below: it was the 20th year of the Cadets' association with the Shrine and also the year in which the Principal Celebrant was Bishop Noël Jones, who had been Chaplain of the Fleet. Sea Cadets first came to form an Honour Guard for Our Lady of Walsingham at the Golden Jubilee of the Holy House in 1981 when they escorted her from the Parish Church back to the Shrine. All this came about because the Navy was unable to provide a Guard on this occasion. Shortly after the war Fr Colin Stephenson invited trainees from HMS Ganges in Suffolk to form just such a guard when it was heard that the Kensitites (the protesters of the era) were going to make an attack on the image. An attack actually took place, and the sailor lads closed ranks and 'repelled boarders'. The tradition continued during Fr Stephenson's life and Fr Roland Webb, a Clerk of the Holy House, remembers bringing various parties. By 1981, however, Ganges was closed and the Navy fully stretched and otherwise occupied. As a Chaplain in the RNR Fr Brandie was asked if he could provide any sailors to replace them. Because the RNR divisions were all on exercise that weekend he suggested bringing Cadets from his unit in Brighton, and so the tradition started. When Fr Brandie was invited to become Chief Steward in 1982 the Cadets joined him not only in providing an Honour Guard but also as part of the construction and demolition team from his parish that do the backstage work at the National Pilgrimage, without whom it would not be so easily achieved. Pilgrims saw them out and about helping around the Shrine in other ways during National Pilgrimage weekends. Not a pre-service organisation as such, many Sea Cadets go on into the Armed Forces. Sadly for us, a member of the initial Guard, Stephen Avey, was killed when he was knocked from his motorbike on his way home for his RN leave. A lamp burns for him and for the Brighton Sea Cadet Unit on the outside wall of the Holy House.
above: Fr Beau was appointed MBE in 2007 for services to Sea Cadets, and in 2009 the Shrine's Holt Road entrance archway was renamed The Brandie Gate in his honour in recognition of his work, particularly as Chief Steward at the National Pilgrimages 1982-2018 below: Our Lady's Guard preparing for the Procession
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ FR FRANK BURNETT 1907-1941 Fr Beau wanted the story of Fr Frank Burnett to be more widely known. He wrote this piece to be added to this website’s Reminiscences page, but for the time being we put it here, with Fr Beau and his Cadets. For me the story of the Norfolk-born and Mirfield-trained priest, Fr Frank Burnett, is poignant. He was one of the four deacons of honour who carried the Image as she was translated from the Parish Church to the Shrine in 1931. He was a curate at St Peter with St Julian Parmentergate in Norwich. His Vicar was Fr Paul Raybould who had been a curate at St Martin’s, Brighton, just after the First World War, and returned to help out there with Fr Gill in his retirement. Fr Raybould was also one of the clergy in the procession of priests on that October day. Priested in 1932 by Bishop Bertram Pollock, whose relationship with Fr Patten was famously fraught, Fr Frank continued to serve in this working-class area, home for the brewery workers, till the outbreak of war. In 1939 he joined the Navy as a Chaplain, and in the Eastern Mediterranean in 1941 he was chaplain of HMS Barham. This ship had been built in the First World War and served in the Battle of Jutland with successful gunnery on a day when the British Admiral growled “there’s something wrong with our guns today”! She was refitted and repaired on several occasions in the inter-war years, and served in various fleets during WWII till on the afternoon of the 25th November 1941 she was hit by three torpedoes from a German submarine at close range and heeled over to port. Eye witnesses recorded that Chaplain Burnett made it into a life boat with those in his care, but as some of them did not have life belts he returned to the obviously sinking ship to collect some for them. While engaged on this life-preserving mission the ship suddenly exploded, probably as a result of a fire in the shell magazines, and he died along with some 850 of the 1200 crew. He was just 34, and it was ten years and a month since he had carried Our Lady of Walsingham. The events were captured by a Pathe Newsreel Cameraman on a nearby ship (still available to see via YouTube), but the footage was not released till after the war. The shock to morale was probably second only to the loss of the “Mighty” Hood, so the whole story was suppressed, and the relatives were not informed till 1942 when Bletchley Park revealed that the German High Command now knew of their success. Even then they were asked not to share the news with any but the closest relatives. However, another Naval Chaplain wrote to Fr Raybould in February 1942 saying: “that splendid priest, the Reverend Frank Burnett....a staunch and courageous upholder of the Catholic Faith”. The 70th anniversary of his death was marked at St Julian’s in 2011, but, sadly, I was unable to be there. link to Fr Burnett’s Index entry photograph of Fr Burnett in the 1931 procession from Our Lady’s Mirror Autumn 1942 Number “So many pilgrims knew Fr Burnett. Twenty years ago he started to bicycle over for the pilgrimages from the other side of the country, bringing his food for two days, having with care saved up enough to pay for his bed. He said he often tried to ‘gatecrash’ at the time of the pilgrims’ tea, and not infrequently went hungry as he ate all his provisions on the first day of the pilgrimage! Still these difficulties did not deter him. His visits to the Shrine became more and more frequent and his great desire was to join the proposed College of Priests when he left the Navy. Alas, it was not to be. All who came across him in the Navy speak of him as a fine priest.” top of page