...between the USS Density and the mv Galaxy

Click on the photo for a larger view

Density crew member, Frank Gazafy, kindly sent us this photo of a great model he built of the ship during her 'grey period'. Frank says:

"It really is something how all this came about. We always said at the reunions, 'Wonder what happened to the Density?' A lot of this class ships were sold to other countries, in fact there were four of this class that I saw in Mexico, and they used them as patrol craft.

I was in the ship's commissioning June 1944 in Tampa, Fla and out of commission in August '46. The Density was painted navy grey from the original camouflage before we sailed from the east coast to the Pacific. I believe I was probably the longest on board. I was in the US Navy November '40 to Jan '47 and the US Coast Guard Aug '47 to July '76."

The 2003 Branson Reunion was the 11th Frank had attended.

From Ron:

Hello Mary and Chris,

What a wonderful job you have done to bring the news so fast. Thank you, thank you....... You presented me in such a marvellous way. I will spend the next couple of days to go through it again, time after time.

Tanya promised me a surprise and I did get it last week. She and the crew members had Russell DuPuis make me a special clock. I knew Russ had a hobby making clocks because he mentioned that while we were sharing the table at dinner with Tom.

The clock is shown on the picture. It is not a very clear photo but I am just trying to get around with my recently-bought digital camera.

(Right: The presentation clock and its maker, Russell DuPuis. Click on the clock to see a larger image.)

The face of the clock has a detailed 'Mighty Little D' emblem on it. Russ has also had done a great job with old manufacturing styles as made in Boston by an old company and Government-owned property. In the middle there is a picture of the Density in war style. At the bottom Tanya had an engraving of appreciation and special thanks from the crew, with my name on it .

I appreciate it very much and it already has a prominent place in my apartment. I didn't have a clock yet that suited my taste in the living-room, this one is just perfect! It will be a true piece of remembrance of all of the shipmates.

Hans Knot called me from Groningen we have been on the phone for more than an hour. He is a very nice person and all of the things he could tell me or correct me with was just as amazing! Love, Ron

Feedback – reactions to the story

From Hans Knot (also in the Netherlands):
Just to say that the update I've seen today is one of the nicest ever done! I've been in contact with Ron for the first time yesterday evening and from minute one it was if we knew each other for years. Greetings, Hans

From Martin van der Ven in Germany:

Great news! It's on my site now.

Some weeks ago, I had an interview with Hannibal (German DJ on RNI from the Mebo II in 1970), who told me some interesting details on the MV Galaxy in Hamburg during 1968/69. In autumn 1968, Hannibal was a member of the DJ crew, planning to broadcast from the Galaxy off the German NorthSea coast. At this time captain Buninga was still on board the vessel in Hamburg harbour. Klaus Quirini was senior DJ and told the other colleagues to DELETE the comprehensive collection of original Radio London tapes containing countless shows plus all the jingles. "We should have empty tapes to be able to use them for own purposes..." Unbelievable!

For details see the interview with Hannibal. Despite it being in the German language, it contains many pictures and press cuttings (some including Captain Buninga) plus several airchecks.

(Webmasters' note: Peter Messingfeld has also compiled a photofeature, which tells part of Hannibal's story in English.)
From Radio London DJ, Duncan Johnson, who has some more info concerning the Galaxy logbook which was still on board the ship in 1965, and covered the ship's post-wartime activities:

The log was still on board when I joined the MV Galaxy in February 1965. I thought one of the captains claimed it but, on reflection, it could well have been Denis Maitland of Radlon Sales Ltd, who was in charge of ship operations and supplies.

From what I can remember, the ship was commissioned after the end of the war and sailed to one of the islands in the Guam area under orders to sweep for loose mines that were still drifting in the area. They found several but were only able to detonate 2 (I think), the rest were sunk somehow.

The main entry in the log was about the victory party for the locals. It was specially noted that they consumed 40 gallons of ice cream. The only casualty in an otherwise very successful day, was Rosa, a local who suffered from swallowing sea water after falling, in an unguarded moment, from the tender returning her to land. It was thought the effects of the sea water would wear off before the effects of the other liquids she had consumed. That is the gist, and not the actual words, of the entry. I know that the captain had written in very factual terms, but also a bit tongue in cheek, as I'm sure that Rosa should not have been on board! More than that I cannot remember.

From Radio London Programme Director, Alan Keen:

Many thanks for updating me with the story the Galaxy's bell. It's wonderful news – and 'what a happy ending!'.

I've been looking, once again, at your excellent website throughout the past hour, and have been recapturing so many happy memories. You may be interested to know that on the afternoon of the 14th August '67, I was the last person to get on to the trawler alongside the Galaxy, having erased all of the commercials left in the studio. As we sailed for shore, for the very last time, I said to everyone, "it's a sad day, but let's now look to the future. It's a new beginning for us all, and nobody's going to remember Big L, three months from now." How wrong I proved to be!

Very best wishes to you and your team Mary, Alan.

(Webmasters' note: During the presentation of the bell, Chris played the shipmates a clip of Alan saying those very words about how quickly Radio London would be forgotten!)
From Tanya Baugus, Density Reunion organiser and daughter of crew member LaVerne Bailey, in Texas:

I just read your story, and even though I was there, I was almost teary-eyed again at the wonder of it all. What a ship that was, to mean so much to so many people. I know I'll always be grateful to it, because it brought me so many wonderful new friends such as you, Chris and Mary, and Ron, Tom, John, the other crewmembers and their families... the list keeps growing.

Thank you for taking the time to put the story up on your website. I'm so glad you were all able to make it. I can't wait to see you all again in a few years' time. Love, Tanya

From Char and Russ Anglebrandt (daughter and son-in-law of deceased Density crewmember, Frank Smalldon) Russ and Char always take Char's mother, Alberta to the reunions.):

We received both of your e-mails and are glad to hear that you made it home safe and sound. I've spent most of the last two hours or so going though the Reunion albums on your web page and have shared them with several of my co-workers.

We had a great time and enjoyed the time spent with you and Chris. Hope this e-mail finds you both in great health. Sincerely, Russ & Char

From Caroline's Steve Young:

My, you two have been busy!! Exciting news about the Density bell..... congratulations, you must have made a lot of people happy! :-)

Well, I hope you can now sit back and relax for a while before the next round of busy stuff hits you.

(Webmasters' note: not much chance of our doing that, Steve!)
From Radio Scotland's (and numerous other stations) Tony Allan:

Chris & Mary, Well done for getting the bell! Hope all is OK with you. Keep in touch. Luv, Doris.

From Radio Caroline's (and numerous other stations) Paul Rusling:

Mary and Chris, Just a line to say well done on that fabulous repatriation of the Density's bell. I can only imagine how thrilled those old guys must have been to see a lump of their ship again.

I never set foot on the Galaxy, as we know her, but did see her from the quayside in Hamburg. She was an impressive sight even then, even after being laid up for 2 years. I can see why people are still such Big Lil fans.

Anyway, well done the two of you. Best regards, Paul Rusling.

From Chris Dannatt:
Nice story about the Galaxy bell...I bet that brought a lump to a few throats... Good to hear it's returned home after all these years.... Chris.

From John D Sales:

Many thanks for this, it's a "Wonderful" story! I think I'm going to cry, I feel so very moved! Love and Best Wishes, John.

From Mike Terry:

Great stuff Mary, excellent! Mike.

From Geoff Tyrell:

I was reading your piece about the Density/Galaxy/Captain Buninga and that bell. After all these years, it is really amazing how things suddenly come together. I do remember the captain's name being mentioned on air and hearing him speaking too. Geoff.

From Ray Andrews:

Hi Chris/Mary,

What a fantastic story on the Radio London site about the Galaxy bell! A really moving story.

I used to climb the stairs in a block of flats near to my home to improve the signal of the stations in the 60s with my friends and all the great music coming in from them. I bet a lot of the listeners must have some great stories to tell of their offshore memories. Keep up the great work - very much appreciated!

(Webmasters' note: listeners' memories will continue to be added to Big Lil's Sixties Scrapbook.)
From John Preston (Australia)
Chris & Mary, Good to read the report about the ship's bell. Sounds like everyone had a great time and it was a nice thing to do. Keep up the good work! John.

The fantastic story of the Density Reunion and Bell Presentation!
Many more pictures of the combined USS Density and Radio London family!
Ron Buninga's Presentation Speech plus 'wonderful' feedback from reunion guests

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