On Sunday the 25th August, 2013, a plaque was unveiled in the museum to commemorate Cpl Bill Sparks D.C.M., by local dignitaries including the Mayor of Castle Point. Many local councillors were in attendance.
Bill Sparks was one of two survivors, alongside Major ‘Blondie’ Hasler, amongst ten men who embarked on ‘Operation Frankton’. These commandos set out with collapsible canoes to plant mines on German ships in Bordeaux, canoeing through miles of water, in the black of the night, to the dock. Many canoes capsized, leaving the men to swim as a death sentence, whilst others were caught and executed by Germans. Only one canoe reached the target containing the two survivors. However, the men were only told what this suicide entailed after they had embarked on the HMS Tuna with the canoes on board.
Bill Sparks retired to Canvey Island in 1971, during his later life, because it was near the sea so he could practice canoeing, which had become a hobby of his. He lived initially in a council estate down Maple Way.
Training in the waters around Canvey for his re-enactment in 1983
(courtesy of CanveyIsland.org)
From Sunday 12th of August onwards, BeyondthePoint.co.uk (creators of this website, who research and explore local historical remnants) are displaying an exhibition on Canvey’s history, through time. However, it focuses on what’s left of our history, and what you can go and see yourself. Covering everything from Upper Horse Island – a Roman Fort, to nuclear and wartime bunkers, even covering the illusive history of Canvey’s oil refinery which could have been, covering one fith of the Island’s land-mass. Featuring archeological finds, intricate models, and plenty of information and images, this new look on your island is an unmissable exhibition. The Museum is open every Sunday, with the display located to the left of the upstairs balcony door, so come and see it for yourself.
A plaque has been placed in the museum to remember the extraordinary and daring pilot Norman Lees, who served with some very important feats. He died in a spitfire crash at the Goodwood festival twelve years ago. Below is an image of the plaque to the left of the museum entrance, and an image of the Castle Point Mayor Jackie Govier unveiling it. A display of memorabilia dedicated to him can be seen in the museum for a short time too.
The old website, http://www.the-bay-museum.co.uk, is soon to be replaced by this new site which will feature regular updates and new content, from past and upcoming events, to pictures and videos, and even historical information. As soon as the old website is taken offline, this current one at thebaymuseum.wordpress.com will take on the previous http://www.the-bay-museum.co.uk web address.