THE CHRISTENING OF WESTPOINT III
During the 29 October 2006 service at St. Herbert with St. Stephen Anglican Church in Carlisle, England, a trio of young gentlemen were baptized. The christening of eight-month-old HARRY THOMAS WESTPOINT WARD was witnessed by his proud parents, grandparents, other family member and friends... and, at least spiritually, by a large number of Honourary Godparents
- collectively, the United States Navy Crew of the USS WEST POINT.
The Reverend Alan Jones explained to the congregation the reasons why young Harry's name included Westpoint, and why he has so many Honourary Godparents as Grandfather Peter Westpoint Leslie Sheldrake listened approvingly. Also in attendance that day was Harry's older cousin, Caspar, whose full name likewise includes the appellation Westpoint.
Peter was born at sea onboard the USS WEST POINT on 4 February 1942, when the entire world was at war. His parents, Edith and Leslie Sheldrake, along with almost two thousand other British subjects, had been spirited away a few days earlier from the Gibraltar of the East - Singapore - and the clutches of an invading enemy.
In appreciation for their rescue, and for the care provided to Edith by the ship's commissioning crew, the Sheldrakes decided to honor the ship and her crew by including Westpoint in the newborn's name.
Once safely back in England, the story of their experiences was reported widely, and often included this image of Peter, his parents, and an engraved silver cup and spoon that were the crew's parting gift when the original Westpoint debarked from his floating namesake birthplace.
Years later, both of Peter's daughters, fondly remembering the story they heard so many times from Grand Pa Leslie, opted to further honor their own Father - and his unusual place of birth - by including Westpoint in the name of each of their firstborn sons.
Following Harry's christening, family and friends gathered at a near by hotel to celebrate the occasion, and a little later this picture was created, showing Harry, his Mother Nicola and his grandfather Peter. Included in the picture is that treasured cup and spoon, which easily captured Harry's attention. Apparently, he already understands its significance.
Dynasties often use Roman numerals to designate different individuals with the same name. While the Sheldrake clan undoubtedly will call them Peter, Caspar and Harry, those who served in WEST POINT, and those who follow the ship's history, will perhaps refer to them
as Westpoint I, II and III, respectively. At least, I know that I shall do so.