The Chairman’s Message

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The Chairman’s Message
Dear Members
As I mentioned in the last newsletter, the Wallace Arnold/Shearings merger caused us a minor hiccup for our April reunion this year and I was unable to get any discussion with the hotel manager moving on prices, etc. for next year. The next reunion is booked for 7th - 9th April 2006 but that is provisional as Shearings won’t confirm it until we actually make the bookings. We have only just received the prices and conditions from Shearings but we now need to get a very accurate idea of the number who will be attending. Please read the item on Reunion 2006 and then return the card which will be enclosed with the newsletter. This is urgent.
As the Secretary reported in June, 109 of our members had not paid their subs for the current year. The reminder chit which was sent to them with the newsletter prompted quite a few to send theirs in but about 25 (both full members & associate members) had still not paid up in August. Several resigned. Subsequently, I spent a good deal of time, and of course your money, phoning the full members, our D57 shipmates, as I am only too aware that anything might have happened to them. All those that I was able to contact said that they will send their subs off immediately. Three have still not been received and regretfully we shall have to regard their membership as lapsed.
As far as the Associate members who have not paid, some of them are the widows of members who have died. We always give free Associate membership for one year to the widows but it is understandable that some will not want to continue. However, a wee note would have been appreciated. Other Associate members are relatives of those who served in L03 or D57 and who were given the privilege. We cannot spend a lot of time, etc. chasing them and we must therefore conclude that they no longer wish to belong. Nine Associate members are therefore considered as lapsed and removed from membership.
We are always very sorry to lose members, especially when they are our old shipmates. But needs must.
Membership Matters
Sad to say that two full members and one associate member have passed over the bar since our last newsletter. Their obituaries are given below.
We have also said farewell to five full members and 10 associate members who have either resigned or lapsed due to unpaid subscriptions.

During the same period we have gained one new members, whose details are given below, and who we warmly welcome:

S/M D. White Ldg. Sea. D57 1955-57
Membership now stands at 271, made up as follows:
Full/Life Members 179

Associate Members 86

Honorary Members 6

Total 271


Shipmate V.J.B. Durey
Vic Durey (L03 1938), who joined the Association in 2003, died suddenly 24th June 2005.
Vic joined as a Boy 2nd Class in May 1935 and eventually purchased his discharge from the Royal Navy in June 1947 by which time he was a Petty Officer. As a Seaman he naturally served a good deal of his time at sea and his ships included Royal Sovereign, Barham, Cossack, Emerald, Ness, Edinburgh Castle, Khedive and Formidable. The story of his naval times, “A Part of a Life” was serialised in previous newsletters.
Vic and 9 members of his family attended our reunion in April 2005 and it may be remembered that he won the door prize at our formal dinner on the Saturday.

Shipmate H.J. Spinks
Harry Spinks, who died on 7th September 2005 at the age of 79, had been a member of the Cossack Association since 1998 and a member of the 8th Destroyer Association before that.
He joined the Navy at the age of 16 in 1942 and became a Boy Telegraphist, serving at Whitehall W/T for the remainder of the war. After a spell in HMS Ramehead in 1946 he went out to the Far East and worked at Hong Kong W/T station for 2 years. It was on his return home that he met Irene who became his wife for the next 56 years.


Shipmate H.J. Spinks

After a shore draft to HMS Fulmar, he joined Cossack in 1951 as a P.O. Tel. for 2½ years. Other sea drafts included Superb and Loch Killisport. He left the RN in 1956 and, until his retirement, worked for a painting and decorating company named Cundys as a surveyor/estimator/rep travelling all over the country.
Harry lived for his golf and was known at his club as a very colourful dresser, particularly for his choice of plus-fours. He had a wonderful sense of humour and it was a delight to be in his company.
His funeral, the coffin being covered with our White Ensign, was attended by well over 100 people, including our members John Hastler and his wife Jean and Eric Eaton and his wife Alma.

David Hawkes
Dave Hawkes was enrolled as an associate member in 2001. He was a neighbour of George Toomey in Eastbourne and, when George moved away, volunteered to help out with any local requirements. He ferried George around when he went down to Eastbourne by train to sort things out with the hotel and did much carrying, etc. for the reunions.
Dave was an Army man who saw active service in Libya 1949-51 but left in 1955 to work for Securicor. He died on 27th July 2005 at the age of 73.



Other matters
Trafalgar 200
All those who asked for tickets for the Drumhead Ceremony on 29th June at Southsea Common received them. Alan Edinborough and I went down to the Veterans Centre there on the Sunday before (26th) to set up our display, which we hoped would attract new members. The erection and completion of the Centre was running late and it was not until the late afternoon that we were able to get in. There was still a lot of “completing” to do! However, we were told where our allocated space was and put the stand up and then had to leave. We were a bit disturbed by it all as there were big gaps in the side of this enormous “tent” with quite a breeze blowing through. However, we were assured that they would soon have the sides finished and we had no need to worry.
Peter Marchant and some friends went down for the Fleet Review the following day, went into the Veterans Centre and found our display flat on the deck! They were able to get it back up again though
The Drumhead Ceremony went off well and was quite moving, especially when HMS Illustrious steamed past with her deck manned.
Our Standard Bearer, Brian Hibbert, smartly paraded our Standard along with many others from other organisations. Bill Stone, our 104 year old guest of honour at our last reunion, took a very active part in the ceremonies. Although several of our members were seen at our stand, both before and after the Drumhead Ceremony which took place in the arena outside the Veterans Centre, most of those who had got tickets were not. From our point of view, the position we were allocated was less than ideal, being at the back of the Centre and away from most of the other stands.
As a recruiting drive it just didn’t work. Only one person showed interest and left his name and address in the box. A letter subsequently sent to him with an application form and a copy of our newsletter has so far brought no response.
BBC South Today did a special programme on TV covering the Trafalgar 200 celebrations. Whether it was shown in any of the other regions is not known. If anyone would like to borrow it please get in touch with the Secretary.
We have also received a communication from Captain D. Lombard, RN, the Director Marketing Project for Trafalgar 200, that an official DVD of the summer events and a commemorative Royal Worcester Plate are available for sale. No prices were given but to place an order or, I presume to get further information, visit their website on or phone 01903 810065.
Peter Harrison


End of WWII Commemorations
The MOD sent us a list of events being held in July to commemorate the end of World War II. These were for a Service at Westminster Abbey, a lunch to be held in a marquee in the Buckingham Palace gardens and an event on Horse Guards Parade. We were asked to nominate 2 for each of the first two of these and four for the Horse Guards Parade event.
Letters were sent out to members known to be WWII veterans. Since many of our members have still not sent in details of their RN service it is a bit difficult to identify all those who served during the war. However, as many as we could identify as such were sent the letter with details of the events and asked if they would like to attend any one of them. Eventually we had three members who put their names forward, one for the Westminster Abbey Service and two for the Horse Guards Parade.
In a letter to the MOD with the nominations we made a point of the difficulties and expense for the elderly attending such events. The Horse Guards Parade event was televised so many of you will have

seen it but no reports have been received from those who attended.

Visit to London by the King & Queen of Norway
Another request came from the MOD for members who had taken part in the Norwegian campaign during WWII to attend a reception at Buckingham Palace to meet the King and Queen of Norway on 25th October. This request came by an e-mail received on 7th September and details were required to reach the MOD by letter on 12th September! Since the 12th September was a Monday it didn’t leave much time to get hold of members and get a letter in the post. As usual there was a proviso - no financial assistance was available for travel and subsistence!
Frantic telephoning produced 5 names. Ken Robinson and David Broom, both of whom took part in the Altnark incident and the 2nd Battle of Narvik in L03, Harold Kirk who briefly served in Cossack but was in the Afridi during the Norwegian campaign in 1940 and subsequent evacuations from Namsos when Afridi was sunk. The other two were Larry Hazell and John Gritten, both of whom served in Afridi and are associate members.
We have since heard that Larry Hazell has received his invitation but don’t know whether the others have. We hope that in due course we shall get a report from one of them telling us how it went.


Please note the new address for our website which is shown at the bottom of the front cover page. Bill Bartholomew has done a wizard job in transferring it. Many thanks Bill for all the hard work you put into maintaining and updating the site. If you have access to the web, do take some time now and again to have a look. Bill is always on the lookout too for new material, so, if you’ve got something of interest, please let him know.


I was There! Where?

By Alec Kellaway

Part 4

Chapter Three - Portsmouth Barracks.

RNB during working hours is full of activity even in peaceful times but now that the war had started the amount of personnel moving around the barracks had greatly increased. The shape of the barracks had changed since I left there in 1936, there were extra huts around, under the parade ground a large air-raid shelter had been built, all the mess rooms had been fitted with black out curtains, the mess floors had been cleared of all polished surfaces, because of fire risk. On arrival at RNB I had to present myself to the regulating staff to be put on the books for messing, entered either T (for Temperance) or G (for Grog) and added to the catering list for meals. From there I had to go to the engineering block for orders regarding the mechanical course. A quick visit to the medical room, strip off, present myself to the MO, lift my arms and pronounced ok. Following this a visit to the dental officer, which I knew, would be ok as on the Hood we had regular dental inspections. After this I was at a loose end until the following Monday when the course started.
It may be wise now to give details of the course. A once only chance of getting promotion; fail this course and there was no return. The outcome on the final day when exams were taken defined your chance of promotion. During the 3 month course you were given various tasks to do on which an assessment was made, points from these assessments were added to the written exam, in the end there could be four evaluations which affected your future. The two persons obtaining the highest marks were always rated PO right away. They would then go to sea to obtain their boiler room certificate and then be recalled to the training establishment at Plymouth for two years training to become Mechanicians. This is what we would all like to achieve but there were only two vacancies. Above a certain pass mark a candidate would be qualified for PO but their name would have to go on a roster which would mean that when their name reached the top they would be promoted. Likewise a lower pass mark would mean that the qualification would be for Leading Stoker only. A lower pass mark would mean failure; there was no chance of trying again. In the first weeks of the course a preliminary exam was held and from this the entrants were divided into two groups, A and B, With others I was in Group B, this is not saying that A is better than B but to equate the groups. I did very well in this test and it was thought that I would make Mechanician. A course member, Jacker Tee, even stated that I would be B group’s candidate, anyway as the course progressed Jacker did say to me that I would not reach the higher level and named two who would. This did not sink into me until later. It would appear that there was something akin to nepotism; in this case the candidates had senior rates who knew them and would give all assistance possible to help them. At the end of the course I qualified for PO and awaited drafting to sea
The course was very educational the subjects covered boiler maintenance, chipping and filing a rough cast steel cube then getting it as square as possible cut a key way, then make a key to fit. There was also furnace work heating metals and forging them into different shapes, as well as working with the coppersmith making oil cans and there were activities with electrical systems. The course was never dull and there were days when us candidates had to take charge of the class to assess our power of command. It was surprising how much information was given and how much knowledge was gained throughout the course.

Chapter Four - H M S COSSACK

On the 30th April 1940 I was told to get a medical - drop trousers and cough - then collect my belongings as I was drafted to HMS Cossack arriving in Portsmouth that day. I was joined on this draft by another stoker, C. Delara, who was to be a good mate of mine. He unfortunately was lost when the Cossack was torpedoed.
Cossack was a destroyer that had been badly damaged during the second battle of Narvik. The Cossack’s motorboat met us at the dock and conveyed Cecil and me aboard. The first sight of the ship astounded me. About five heavy shells from German destroyers had hit her, which had damaged her steam system and with the engines temporarily out of action she had run aground. However the engineering staff with the help of some Norwegians - one of whom was Olav Rothli who was later captured by the Germans, I met in April 2001 at our reunion - managed to get things working and the Cossack returned to Portsmouth under her own steam. Olav was sent to a prison camp for being in possession of a radio but had it been known that he had assisted the Cossack he would in all probabilities have been shot.
Cossack was lying on a buoy and was discharging her ammunition, as she had to be dry-docked for extensive repairs. I presented myself to the Chief Coxswain who handed me over to the Chief Stoker and he, on getting my details, allocated me to number three boiler room for day work and watch keeping duties. I then found out to my good fortune that Cossack was going into the hands of J I Thorneycrofts at Southampton for repairs, which would take several weeks. This was a bonus as I lived at Eastleigh, four miles away. There is very little for a crew to do while a ship is in dockyard hands for repair, so on reaching Southampton half of the ship’s company was given leave. I being a newcomer had my leave later. It was decided that as extensive repairs had to be carried out the remaining half of the crew would be accommodated on the Sterling Castle, a Union Castle Liner being fitted out as an armed cruiser. This was excellent as the ship was very spacious and the meals were superb. One evening there were only two of us for supper and with the meal we were given a very large portion of cheese - the ration for about sixteen . The two of us decided that as we were going out for a few beers we would take the cheese with us and this proved fortunate for us as the Landlord in the first pub gave us our beer for the evening in exchange.
In the early days at Southampton night leave was given to the non-duty watch with leave expiring at 8.00 am. However there were numerous ratings returning after 8.00 am which meant that there were many defaulters. The Commanding Officer, Commander Sherbrook, who later won the V C while attacking a German cruiser when he was Captain of H M S Onslow another destroyer, on investigating these late arrivals realised that there were transport problems. He cleared lower deck of the remaining crew and said he appreciated the transport difficulties and would extend the leave until 8.30 am but God help anyone who was late. This cured the problem very well.
While under repairs there was an uproar in the stokers mess because one of the stokers was a communist and was handing out communistic literature. This did not go down well with his mess mates for at this time there was a Russian German alliance and it so happened that feeling in the mess got to the stage where there could have been a serious incident. The stoker in question was taken before the senior officer on board and warned that he must keep his views to himself.
After about four weeks the repairs were getting near completion, the crew returned to the ship for accommodation and storing and general cleaning was started. Eventually all repairs were completed and after trials Cossack proceeded to Scapa Flow. Cossack being a Fleet Destroyer was normally found escorting ships of the main battle fleet.
At times there were convoy escorts to be done; this was a vital duty protecting merchant ships from German U-boats. It was not long after returning to the fleet that Cossack took over leadership of the flotilla. Captain Philip Vian, who had previously taken Cossack into a fjord and rescued the British Merchant Sailors imprisoned on the German supply ship Altmark, returned to Cossack and relieved our commander. Captain Vian had just lost his destroyer, the Leader, Afridi sunk by German dive-bombers.
On one operation Cossack in company with two cruisers and other destroyers left Scapa to try and assist one of our submarines, which was in difficulty having been attacked by German escorts. As we neared the rescue area two Bristol Blenheim aircraft that were giving us air cover were shot down, the crews managing to land in the sea. A rescue operation was made and the airforce men were recovered. I was told that during the rescue two German fighter planes circled the area but did not come into attack until the airmen were safely on board. After a while the Germans left the scene, perhaps out of ammunition or short of fuel.
It was realised that we could not save the submarine and the ships returned to Scapa. On our arrival Scapa was fog bound, so the Admiral decided to carry out fog exercises. During this exercise HMS Imogen, a destroyer, was rammed by a cruiser, and eventually sank with several of her crew. Search was made for survivors and after several hours the ships entered Scapa after a very unsuccessful operation.
Operating out of Scapa the Cossack often seemed to run into foul weather, some of the most mountainous seas possible. This proved a boon to the crew as the ship was at times severely damaged and had to be dry-docked for repairs, which in turn gave us a few days home leave.
These mountainous seas could prove fatal to some crew members. On one occasion a small motorboat stowed on deck broke loose. Three Seamen POs ran to secure it, at the same time a heavy sea hit them and they were washed overboard. Two of the POs were swept away but the third was washed back in board. A search was made for the two POs in the sea, but alas the heavy seas made this impossible and the two were lost. On another occasion the Captain’s steward was taking a meal to the Captain - who had a small cabin on the ship’s bridge, as the ship’s captain never left the bridge while at sea during war time - when the ship had to alter course and turned the lee side of the ship into the weather side. A huge wave swept into the ship and unfortunately the steward was lost over board.
Shortly after joining Cossack I was to be promoted and had to attend Captain’s request men. On being called to the table the Coxswain read out that First Class Stoker E. A. Kellaway was to be rated Temporary Acting Leading Stoker. As our Captain had not heard of a temporary rate, it was explained to him that the temporary rate was a war time measure and I could be reverted to 1st Class if the war ended before my permanent rate came through. Captain Vian on hearing this said, ‘That’s pretty disgusting, request granted.’ I was rated up.
I now took on new duties mainly in the engine room, day work and watch keeping. Watch keeping in harbour consisted of looking after the turbine generators, evaporating plant and the auxiliary condenser system. Watch keeping at sea meant looking after the above and assisting the Engine Room Artificer in operating the controls to the main turbines driving the propellers. A continuous log of events had to be maintained during heavy manoeuvring leaving harbour and during action stations, the Chief ERA would man one throttle and the duty ERA would man the other. I would record every order that came from the bridge telegraph to the split second. In a destroyer these telegraph movements could be numerous.
Returning to heavy seas, at Christmas 1940 Cossack was ordered to leave Scapa and carry out some task. As we cleared Scapa we ran into some very severe weather. On the day before we sailed we had taken on some new Second Class Stokers for their first ship. Now on destroyers provision for meals was the canteen messing system. The food and ingredients were issued by the ship’s supply ratings. This consisted of dry tea, sugar and evaporated milk. Rations of butter, bread, potatoes and fresh veg when available were purchased through the stores and NAAFI, for which an allowance of money per man was supplied by the Navy. From these purchases and supplies each mess would prepare its own meals and the ship’s cook would do the necessary cooking.
On the day we left Scapa it was decided that steak and kidney pie was to be our main meal. After breakfast the Stokers off watch would peel the potatoes and prepare the pie with pastry top. This was presented to the ship’s cooks for cooking. At half past eleven the meal was brought from the galley, plates were laid to enable the twelve o’clock watchmen to get their meal on time. On cutting into the pastry a terrible smell escaped from the dish. This was caused by the kidneys on being prepared and cut into diced pieces had not been washed and still contained traces of urine. The new Stokers had never been involved in canteen messing and really did not have experience of providing meals. What with the heavy seas running and the smell from the pie there were more seasick stokers than usual.
It is surprising that seasickness will always be with some people and yet they endure it and carry out their duties, I raise my hat to them. Anyway after a day at sea the Cossack was recalled to Scapa as it appears that a cruiser should have been sent on the operation and not a destroyer.
On one occasion Cossack in company with other destroyers was escorting a battleship into the Atlantic when during the hours of darkness action stations was sounded. Every one went to their respective action stations. It was reported to us that two large ships had been contacted and we were to intercept and attack if necessary. There was quite a heavy sea running and the destroyers with Cossack in the lead made as much speed as possible towards the two unidentified ships. All the time we were approaching these ships the Captain was giving the crew a report of events over the tannoy system, such as speed of approach, distance from unidentified ships, challenge by lights identify yourselves, challenge again, no answer, prepare to fire torpedoes and stop action. The two ships were the battlecruiser Hood and the battleship Barham. How close were they from a torpedo attack and how near were we from being blown out of the water? All things returned to normal.
During one period at sea the Cossack developed an electrical problem and while the artificers were rectifying this it was left to the Engineer Commander and myself to man the engine room. This we carried out extremely well considering there was no ventilation owing to the electrical fault. The Commander and I stayed at this until the electrics were repaired. We were then relieved and were very thankful after the heat we had endured which was very intense. On reaching the upper deck we stood gasping in the fresh air with a sigh of relief. The Commander said to me, “That was a job well done, come to the Wardroom for a drink”, which I gladly accepted.
Once while at sea which was exceedingly rough with the ship being thrown all over the place, I had gone to the stores to collect the dry stores for the mess, tea, sugar and tins of milk. These commodities were put into a tin chest for safe storage. As I carried this chest along to the mess I had a job to stay on my feet because of the erratic movement of the ship. On reaching the mess deck hatch I lowered myself onto the ladder and called to the men below to steady me down. I then progressed about two rungs down when the ship gave a violent jump, which threw me off the ladder, and the tin chest passed me by after slicing my nose. Apart from having three stitches in my nose no other damage was done.
The Cossack was transferred from Scapa to Rosyth for operational duties. On one operation we left Rosyth on a mission using secret intelligence reports from the Admiralty. Cossack with three other destroyers sailed from Rosyth under the Forth Bridge on this assignment but as we cleared the bridge on line ahead the last ship was damaged by an acoustic mine and had to return to Rosyth. The three remaining destroyers with Cossack in the lead proceeded towards Norway reaching a channel that had been swept by German mine sweepers and at about twenty minutes to midnight we went to action stations, as we expected that about midnight we would meet a German convoy of about three transports and two escorts.
My action stations as a Leading Stoker was on watch in the engine room, off watch with the air compressor in number one boiler room, longest off watch in the tiller flat for emergency steering control. When action stations were called I went to the tiller flat as I was the longest off watch. The Cossack and her companions were steaming in line ahead and then turned to fire torpedoes. The Cossack heeled over so much that the first torpedo struck the ship’s side followed a course aft of the ship and hit our rudder putting the steering out of action - a self hit - lucky only minor damage was done. Our main armament of 4.7 guns were engaging the convoy when my relief Leading Stoker Slinger Woods took over in the tiller flat. I left through the bulkhead door and Slinger reported by phone to the bridge that he had taken over from me. As he held the phones to his head a piece of shrapnel struck his upper arm and sliced it through to the bone. By this time the destroyers had rounded the German convoy and escorts, finally sunk them and at 00.21 the three destroyers were on their way back to Rosyth without further incident. It had taken twenty minutes from the start to finish, the action over giving us a buckled rudder, self inflicted, and one injured Leading Stoker who, after several weeks in hospital, returned to the Cossack. Slinger had only been back a few days when I was recalled to Portsmouth to go to Coastal forces.
At one time in harbour Captain Vian did a crew inspection and on looking over the stokers department tapped me on the shoulder saying “get your hair cut I do not like woolly bears on my ship”. It was lucky for me that the inspection was informal as on a formal inspection I would have been put on a charge.
During my time on the Cossack I had only visited Portsmouth, Southampton, Scapaflow, Rosyth and Reykjavik in Iceland. Not many places for nearly a year on board although I did endure many stormy seas and much experience was gained although my boiler room work had not advanced at all. I had been recalled to RNB to join coastal forces because earlier I had volunteered for service in motor torpedo boats. I left Cossack on 17th April 1941. While in transit to RNB my confirmation to permanent Leading Stoker had come through so I had not only lost my temporary but my acting rate. I was now a full-blown Leading Stoker.
To be continued in the next newsletter


We were unable to get the second part of Ken Satterthwaite’s dream in the last newsletter. It was worth waiting for.
A Sailor’s Dream – Part 2
In the first part of this tale I shared with you my hopes & dreams, not actually being shattered, but altered by drafty as I took my journey to a new experience. I left you having spent my first day being inducted into the ways of the ‘Survey Navy’. As I said earlier, you the reader must be tolerant with me, as names and specific dates elude me, though some of the events are as clear as if they were yesterday. So now ‘to continue’.
For the next few weeks we were running from Harwich. I settled into the very lax navy routine, though it was quite hard work in some ways and in others could be monotonous, especially sitting on a wooden step in front of the echo sounder in the well of the bridge reporting the depths continuously. These depths were used in connection with fixes on the shore undertaken by the SR’s with sextants so that they could be recorded and placed on the charts that were being compiled, you dare not miss one, as a it meant another sweep along that line which did not go down well with the SR’s, let alone the Skipper. Apparently we were helping to compile new navigation charts of the Thames Approaches for eventual use by the yachting fraternity, so most of our work was going to be in shallow water, which later on in this tale will have some significance.
The survey work was Monday to Friday with the weekend alongside at Harwich where it was usual for the Skipper, PO’s and those weren’t required for onboard duty and had families went long weekend (W/E). Those who stayed onboard had the throbbing nightlife of Harwich to contend with.
I took the earliest opportunity to go W/E so that I could take the majority of my kit home and get some civilian attire. No.8’s & submarine sweater was the continuous rig for day and night, so along with the tropical rig, blue suits etc., had to be stored at home. Civvies was the run ashore rig for all, which was a luxury for junior rates in those days, as in general service we could only wear uniform ashore. In actual fact sometimes we went ashore in No8’s if the pub was adjacent, or for victuals from local shops etc.
Car ownership was not common in those days, although the coxswain had a motor-bike on which I rode pillion for some weekends. The skipper had an open top three-wheeled Morgan. The weekend I took home my un-needed the kit, which was the majority of it, was another experience, which involved this car.
The skipper would take passengers in his car, not purely for the good of his heart but for the good of his pocket, as he would expect us to contribute towards the petrol, thus giving him a free journey. Though I hasten to add it was a saver in time and money for us so we thought it only right and fair, and a trip by train from Harwich was not a straight or easy journey. By the time we were ready to travel on a Friday evening we would have to catch a late train which would not arrive at Liverpool Street Station, London, until the earlier hours of Saturday morning then, if you had to travel on and depending on your destination, it would be well into Saturday when you arrived home. Then Sunday morning you would have to start back to catch the irregular slow train to Harwich in order to be back, ready for an early morning start on Monday. The reader must bear in mind that this was still the days of steam trains, so as you can imagine not many weekends were taken, and you can appreciate even sitting in the cramped back seat of an open Morgan and paying for the privilege was still the preferred option.
Getting back to the W/E in question, as my parents where living in South Norwood at the time and, as the skipper’s route was via North West London, he dropped me off at Leytonstone underground station, from where I made my way home using this latter form of transport. The return trip would be the same route in reverse, though he would pick me up at midnight on the Sunday from where he dropped me, his leaving remark being ‘don’t be late’ as he could not afford to wait. Using this method ensured I got home Friday night and I would not have to leave until Sunday afternoon.
We set off from Harwich with three of us in the Morgan, me in the back with my kit bag full of items not required for use onboard, which I can tell you was quite full, thus making it very cramped in the back.
I arrived home safely at a reasonable hour where mum was pleased to see her son and heir. A good weekend ensued and I left Sunday afternoon, much the lighter in load, wearing civvies and carrying my newly acquired holdall with some of mum’s goodies in it. I caught the train to London, which arrived on time at its destination. I then had to catch the underground back to Leytonstone. That was when things started to go wrong, as trains were late, so I missed connection etc., arriving at my pickup point at about 12.20am (0020 for those nautical readers). This was also the last train that night so as I left the station the lights went out.
I was alone and assumed my transport back to the ship had long gone. I had therefore approximately 85 miles of open road to travel by 0800 that morning. At this stage I must remind you, the reader, that this was 1958, cars were not commonplace, motorways were still on the drawing board, and most people on a Sunday night were tucked up in their beds. With that in mind the road ahead looked daunting and dark, but there was no other solution but to start walking. The A12, the road on which I started to walk on was ill-lit and as I left suburbia and entered the countryside it became pitch black, a vehicle’s lights could be seen for miles and I can assure you there were not many of them. As I was not familiar with the area and was not sure which road to take I had to rely on road signs and the very occasional lift I did get. Road signs were not like they are today, they were at the top of sign posts with small lettering pointing the way to the destination, therefore on a number of occasions I had to clamber up them, which was like climbing a greasy pole I might add, in the dead of night. As my journey took me North and then East, past Chelmsford, Colchester, then onto the Harwich road, which was even quieter than the A12. Dawn started to break, the world was waking up and I was getting tired and worried I would be late, but I think my guardian angel was looking after me, not a lot I may add, as I arrived on board at about 7.30am just as the chef was cooking breakfast - was I relieved! I slept well that night after having to subsequently work all day.
We operated from Harwich for the next few weeks and my turn for chef dawned; it was certainly a ‘baptism of fire’. As I had to be first up in the morning and light the cooking range that was, as I said earlier, ‘coal fired’. Getting that alight was an art in it self, if the coal was damp it would create black smoke which would fill the galley and messdeck where all my compatriots were sleeping and they did not take kindly to be woken coughing and spluttering and no cup of tea. Also every one needed hot water to wash, so you had to be up early enough to get the cooker going, tea and hot water ready, especially for the skipper and senior rates who had cabins down aft. At the start I think I must have got up for the start of the morning watch, but with time and experience I got it down to fine art?
The senior rates ate with us, but the skipper got steward service from the duty chef. After the hands had been called breakfast had to be prepared; this was normally eaten on the way to the survey area in rotation. Once on station coffee, teas etc., were required, lunch was usually a sandwich, taken with a short break and then it was time to prepare the main meal of the day for when we got alongside. Also during the day the duty cook had to do all the washing up and keep the mess clean. Another part of the duty was to discuss with the coxswain the menu for the week and get the shopping at the weekend, prior to your turn as chef. Healthy diets were not part of the life style then. “It was all go.” Luckily this only came round about every six weeks. It was not all bad news. As I got more experienced the work was done quicker and I would therefore have some spare time on my hands. This enabled me to improve my skills and also spend sometime just lazing around on the upper deck, if it was nice, soaking up the sun. When you were chef you did no other duties. At weekends it was much more relaxed, so everything was done later especially if the skipper and the coxswain went W/E, which was more often than not.
I vividly remember one incident when I was duty chef. We had made friends with a local North Sea fisherman who went out daily for a living; he used to supplement our menu from time to time with fresh fish of the day. On this particular occasion it was Saturday afternoon we had been ashore for a pint or two after lunch and it was siesta time. I was laying on my bunk dreaming of nice things when I slowly awoke feeling a damp sensation on my chest and a clicking sound in my ears. As I slowly opened my eyes I looked down and to my horror there was a live lobster laying on my chest with its claws snapping shut, heading towards my nose. In the background I could see the fisherman and my shipmates grinning from ear to ear. You have never seen me move so fast out that bunk. The good news was that he, that is the lobster, was on the menu for dinner that night. That was the first and last time I cooked a lobster live.
We left Harwich about late August and moved to Lowestoft. Then it still had a large sea-going fishing fleet, of course, and it was also a holiday resort - and we were to be there in the summer! Holidays abroad were still a thing of the future for the average family. They came with all their family, daughters as well, so it was quite a lively place, though better times were to come the following year.
We undertook some work at the entrance to Lowestoft harbour and also off Aldeburgh but by this time late autumn was upon us and all three boats returned to Sheerness, as they did not operate in the winter months. Here we would remain for the whole of the winter. The first thing was to all move into HMS Wildfire, the barracks within the Dockyard. Being in barracks was a change in routine, although it was a pretty relaxed compared to Pembroke or Victory (HMS Nelson now) barracks.
The next thing was to de-store the boat and put it in a lay-apart store in the basement of the barracks, where we could refurbish such things as danbuoys and other rigging items. I never could figure out how so much could be stored in so small a vessel. The boat was then handed over to the Dockyard for refitting and we would not be responsible for it until early spring the following year (1959).

Being in a shore base brought better accommodation, but we also had to be more ‘dress conscious’ so back came a lot of the kit I had taken home. Furthermore, as far as certain privileges were concerned we lost out, as when on the boat we had a duty free privilege of 500 cigarettes a month, in barracks it was 300. Also the junior rates got one & one tot of rum a day whilst on the boat, in barracks it was two & one and they had to queue for it. The latter did not effect me, as my 21st birthday was yet to come, April the following year.

The other two boats in the squadron paid off and were put up for disposal as three brand new vessel were to join in the New Year. They were converted inshore mine sweepers the Echo, Enterprise & Egria. state of the art boats at the time, ( they are long gone from the navy, though two are still around apparently belonging to the Maritime Training Establishment, one being renamed the ‘Jonas Hanway’ and the other the ‘Earl of Romney’, and used for training Merchant Navy Cadets). Though this was some months ahead and we had a winter to suffer at Sheerness. The one good thing was, although it was the end of the line as far as the railways were concerned, it was an easier trip to get to London than Harwich .was. In the first place it was electrified and secondly you only had to go to Sittingbourne and change for a fast train.
The time passed uneventfully other than that everybody had to get all their unused leave in. The rule was that during the survey season, March to October no leave was allowed other than W/E or compassionate, so Easter, Summer, Christmas & New Year leave had to be taken whilst in barracks. One of the crew had also to provide assistance in the barracks cafeteria, as I was the newest and youngest at the time, guess who drew the short straw. A couple of the crew went on draft including the skipper and the killick I had first encountered at Harwich, replacements were to join towards the end of the refit.

This seems a natural place to break, so if my one and only reader is still out there I will continue to steer you through in the next issue.

To finish, here are some puzzles, funnies, etc. sent in by Bill Bartholomew.

The Smith-Jones-Robinson is a classic. In a group of 240 people trying it only 6 found the solution. There is no catch in it, and many people have worked it out in 10 minutes. Every fact is important.
On a train, Smith, Robinson and Jones are the ticket inspector, guard and engine driver, but NOT respectively. Also on board the train are three businessmen who have the same names: a Mr Smith, a Mr Robinson, and a Mr Jones.
1 Mr Robinson lives in Manchester

2 The guard lives exactly half-way between London and Manchester

3 Mr Jones earns exactly £8,000 a year

4 The guard’s nearest neighbour, one of the passengers, earns exactly three times as much as the guard

5 Smith beats the ticket inspector at snooker.

6 The passenger whose name is the same as the guard’s lives in London

Answer on page 30


The Truth about Diets

For those of you who watch what you eat...Here's the final word on nutrition and health, and it's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting medical studies:

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the Canadians, British or Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the Canadians, British or Americans.

3. The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the Canadians, British or Americans.

4. The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the Canadians, British or Americans.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats

and suffer fewer heart attacks than the Canadians, British or Americans.

6. Ukrainians drink a lot of vodka, eat a lot of perogies, cabbage rolls and suffer fewer heart attacks than the Canadians, British or Americans.

Conclusion: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.



In the late 1700's many houses consisted of a large room with only one  chair.  Commonly, a long wide board was folded down from the wall and used for dining.  The "head of the household" always sat in the chair while everyone else ate sitting on the floor.  Once in a while an invited guest would be offered to sit in this chair during a meal whom was almost always a man.  To sit in the chair meant you were important and in charge. Sitting in the chair, one was called the "chair man." Today in business we use the expression or title "Chairman."


When you take a long time, you're slow.

When your boss takes a long time, he's thorough.

When you don't do it, you're lazy.

When your boss doesn't do it, he's too busy.

When you make a mistake, you're an idiot.

When your boss makes a mistake, he's only human.

When doing something without being told, you're overstepping your authority.

When your boss does the same thing, that's initiative.

When you take a stand, you're being bull-headed. When your boss does it, he's being firm.

When you overlook a rule of etiquette, you're being rude.
When your boss skips a few rules, he's being original.

When you please your boss, you're apple polishing.

When your boss pleases his boss, he's being co-operative.

When you're out of the office, you're wandering around.

When your boss is out of the office, he's on business.

When you're on a day off sick, you're always sick.

When your boss is a day off sick, he must be very ill.

When you apply for leave, you must be going for an interview.

When your boss applies for leave, it's because he's overworked.


A friend is someone who thinks you're a good egg even though you're slightly cracked.


GEORGE BUSH: When you rearrange the letters: HE BUGS GORE

DORMITORY: When you rearrange the letters: DIRTY ROOM

EVANGELIST: When you rearrange the letters: EVIL'S AGENT

PRESBYTERIAN: When you rearrange the letters: BEST IN PRAYER

DESPERATION: When you rearrange the letters: A ROPE ENDS IT

THE MORSE CODE: When you rearrange the letters: HERE COME DOTS

SLOT MACHINES: When you rearrange the letters: CASH LOST IN ME

ANIMOSITY: When you rearrange the letters: IS NO AMITY

MOTHER-IN-LAW: When you rearrange the letters: WOMAN HITLER

SNOOZE ALARMS: When you rearrange the letters: ALAS NO MORE Z' S

A DECIMAL POINT: When you rearrange the letters: I ' M A DOT IN PLACE

THE EARTHQUAKES: When you rearrange the letters: THAT QUEER SHAKE

And for the grand finale: PRESIDENT CLINTON OF THE USA: When you rearrange the letters (with no letters left over and using each letter only once): TO COPULATE HE FINDS INTERNS



The guard, who lives halfway between London and Manchester, also lives near Mr……?, who earns three times as much as he does. Mr ………? Can’t be Mr Robinson, as Mr Robinson lives in Manchester. He can’t be Mr Jones, as Mr Jones’s £8,000 a year isn’t divisible by three. Therefore the guard’s neighbour must be Mr Smith.

The passenger whose name is the same as the guard’s lives in London. He can’t be Mr Robinson as Mr Robinson lives in Manchester. He can’t be Mr Smith, as Mr Smith is a neighbour of the guard, who lives halfway between London and Manchester. Therefore he must be Mr Jones.
Therefore the guard’s name is also Jones.
Smith beats the ticket inspector at snooker so the ticket inspector must be Robinson.
Therefore the engine driver is Smith.

That’s it folks. Be careful out there.

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