I am, of course, delighted to contribute my part of a joint foreword to the Commission Book.
Memories are one of the very few things which improve with age-but like wine, the better the vintage the more rewarding the experience.
Over the years we shall doubtless each one of us recall different occasions and widely separate places-perhaps they will include the sun and sand of the West Indies, the visits to Oslo, Navy Days in Devonport, shock trials, the interlude in Portsmouth Dockyard, work-up at Portland, Torquay, Liverpool, sailing late for the Far East, Naples, the Canal, crossing the Line, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, the Coral Sea, Australia …..
A good “run” if ever there was one and a fine ship, always giving a good account of herself in your capable hands.
I count myself fortunate indeed to have commanded you and I wish you all good fortune in the days to come, afloat or ashore.
When I joined the ship in Melbourne on December 8th, 1965, she was halfway through the Australian visit and relaxation was the order of the day.
This soon changed on leaving Fremantle and from that time until arrival in Portsmouth, the ship was worked very hard, with the exception of a spell of fourteen days in Hong Kong in April. Highlight of the period included a successful sea and harbour inspection, a slick missile firing in Okinawa, the rescue of the crew of the S.S. “Carina” in the Sulu Sea, an important role in the SEATO. Exercise Sea Imp, and finally the winning of the Big Ship football cup m Singapore.
We have flown the flag of Vice Admiral P. J. Hill-Norton for a short time and that of Rear Admiral C. P. Mills for considerably longer and thoroughly enjoyed doing so.
I knew before I arrived that DEVONSHIRE was a fine ship with a very high reputation and the last seven months has shown me that this is indeed so.
There is no doubt that this ship and the others of her class are among the most impressive warships in the world today. Wherever we have been there has been comment from many quarters on the smooth lines of the ship and from the knowledgeable has come praise for the efficiency of the weapons systems.
It is the knowledge that we have had. such a fine ship in our care which has made all the hard work worthwhile and for my part it has been a great pleasure to command such a cheerful and efficient ship’s company.
Best of luck to you all.
The First Six Months
The Commission officially started in September, 1964. This marked the end of the I ria Is of the First Commission (literally and metaphorically) and the beginning of the refit. During the following five months the Ship languished either in dry dock or in the ta sin while the “natives” combatted the problem of avoiding the dockyard rush and the inhabitants wrestled with the problems of shoreside heads and bathrooms, heat, cold, night spraying parties, etc., etc.
The first refit of a G.M.O. presented many unknown and unforeseen technical and logistic problems to both the Dockyard and Ship’s staff. The main task in band was the removal and refitting of the gas turbines -involving the gutting of the Gas Turbine Room by the Dockyard and the manufacturers, and the removal of the bits through a hole cut in the deck where the starboard Seacat normally sits!
A new vocabulary was born; E.R.A.’s wandered around the Ship muttering darkly about PIG and POG, SIG and SOG-all eventually explained by the identifying marks made on all the bits and pieces.
Machinery “laid apart” was placed in railway wagons on the jetty (these were shunted along various far-flung branch lines of the dockyard railway system-without our knowledge!).
Meanwhile P.C.T.’s went on with gay abandon. Hardly a week went by without a band of men, led by an extraordinarily large number of officers, disappearing for a while to CULDROSE or PORTLAND or PHOENIX, DRYAD or VERNON-anywhere to get a few day’s rest from the noise of windy hammers, to keep warm or to have a bath.
However, all this yearning for knowledge was to be of great benefit to us all later when we really got going.
This particular refit was officially classified as “a clean refit”-what this meant still remains a mystery. Admittedly it did all start with a merry team of men covering all the tiled decks with hardboard and the “wall-papered” bulkheads with polythene, but main feed pumps still managed to get up ended in the Canteen Flat emptying oil which seeped everywhere, and the portable H.P. air compressor on the Flight Deck never did get out of the habit of “walking about” disgorging oil and water at frequent intervals.
However, we managed. The domestic services were provided (on a limited scale), everybody got to know the Ship and what was their job (although not necessarily how to do it), the rum queue sorted itself out in the correct order of precedence, evil looking run-ashore teams were established and all the while the Ship’s Football team was earning itself a reputation and a following that remained for the rest of the commission. The last match of their glorious run in the Navy Cup saw three coach loads and innumerable car loads of spectators heading east to Deal. The team were defeated after a gallant fight but the supporters won their match easily.
Of course refits are times during which nest, have to be feathered and every mess and department had hawk-eyed scavengers patrolling the dockyard looking for ships being placed on the disposal list. The Master-at-Arms prepared himself for a Far East Commission by having a new, larger regulating office constructed with a special observation window giving full coverage of the N.A.A.F.1. Canteen queue. From which Wardroom did the M.E.’s Mess Deck get their fridge, carpel and fireplace?
Extra-mural activities went on apace-outward bounders trekked over Dartmoor-a highly successful Ship’s Dance was held.
As the old year went and the weeks went bv the chaos seemed to sort itself out and everything did finally appear to fit back in the right places, with only a few odd unaccountable pieces left over, so that by the end of February the Ship began to look something like her old self again. A coat of paint all over and we were ready!
March 1st, 1965
This was the day when, after a final walk round by the Admiral Superintendent, we eventually became acquainted with “procedure ALPHA”, slipped … and proceeded. The next few weeks were testing as we organised ourselves into a sea-going ship again. Damage control exercises reared their ugly bead, full power trials were successfully accomplished, we had a fire in the boiler room, the Butcher locked himself in the fridge, the after heads were blocked and we had our first water shortage-gradually, however, we got organised and we were soon off to the Moray Firth for heeling and alignment trials. During this period we made our first “foreign” visit-to Rosyth. Runs ashore were generally led by ex “tiffys” who introduced their less well informed chums to the delights of Edinburgh.
As a result of the trials we were informed that we now had an operational Seaslug system-i-things were moving and following a post-refit inspection by the Commander-in-Chief Portsmouth, Admiral Sir Wilfred Woods, DEVONSHIRE was declared “operational” on April 8th, 1965. This enabled us to proceed to Portland to introduce ourselves to Flag Officer Sea Training and his staff, and to have a riot! The LS. platoon battled manfully with the ugliest looking mob we could muster, while the P.O.G.I. succeeded in getting himself blown up by a booby trap while demonstrating how to deal with them. Our visit was brief, however, and we returned to Portsmouth for the Easter Weekend.
We Fire the Beetles
Before getting down to the work-up(!) we made our way to Aberporth to carry out firings of both large and small missiles. These were highly successful (and expensive) until a damaged loader caused us to abandon the Last shot and sail to Devonport for repairs. However, it was at Aberporth that the Seacat aimers came into their own and the expert advisers lining the Ship’s side were first heard-“down a bit, left a bit, up a bit … ” Probably the most memorable sight that stays with us though was that of the Seaslug warhead round-a ball of fire, literally.
And so to Liverpool ….
. . . . for the Battle of the Atlantic anniversary ceremonies. We became the Flagship of Commander-in-Chief Plymouth, Admiral Sir Nigel Henderson, on arrival and our ceremonial guard were put through their paces while our platoon who marched through the streets on completion of the Cathedral Service did us proud. Liverpool will also be remembered for the fantastic reception given to the Liverpool Football Club team returning from Wembley-with the Cup. We had our first experience_ of being open to visitors (it is not true about the 992 Office.’) and with plenty of entertainment later on in the way of dances, brewery runs and expeds. to Snowdon ( ! ) we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
A brief stop was made at Devonport to pick up missiles before finally presenting ourselves at Portland lo the lender mercies of “The Staff”,
Memories are dimmed of went on during the next five to six weeks. We Casexed and Disexed, fired guns and missiles, replenished, towed and were towed, boarded and quelled boarders, we treated
infiltrators with realistic severity fought fires, dealt with l00 ft. gashes in the Ship’s side, received “Royalty”, and generally coped with the fiendish minds of the Staff Officers and Ratings-we even developed enough restraint to not ditch one or two during transfers at sea.
Time passed quickly-we were so busy-and it didn’t seem so long before we went to Torquay for Whitsun to rest just before the sea inspection. At last the great day dawned and for ten hours we were subjected. to every possible permutation and combination of disasters and exercises. Somehow we coped, and with relief we finally landed our tormentors and sailed for Portsmouth to give leave and carry out one or two minor adjustments.
Having all had a little leave we returned for Families’ Day and the delayed commissioning ceremony before a large gathering of Ship’s Company.
And so on Friday, 16th July, after the Commissioning Warrant had been read, the Ensign hoisted and the Commissioning Pendant broken, Captain WilIiams addressed us:
“Seeing that in the course of our dutv we are set in the midst of many and great dangers and that we cannot be faithful to the high trust placed in us without the help of Almighty God, let us unite our prayers in seeking his blessing upon this ship and all who serve in her, that she may sail under God’s good providence and protection, and that there may never be lacking men well-qualified to offer in her their work and skill for his greater glory, and for the protection of our realm and dominions.”
R.E.M. I. C. Powell Portsmouth, January 1965
J/Seaman M. J. Robbie Portsmouth, March 1965
P.O.S.A.(S) W. F. Cullum Labuan, March 1966
O.A. I W. E. Parker Okinawa, March 1966
Finally, on 22nd July, we made it. At 1845 we slipped away from South Railway Jetty and sailed out of the harbour, past a large crowd of wives, sweethearts and children waving from the ramparts of Southsea Castle, and we were on our way!
We were blessed with fine weather all the way to Gibraltar and in fact most of the bronzy, bronzy boys managed to lay a good foundation to their forthcoming endeavours. En route we learnt that our first visit was off! Noisy political demonstrations in Athens had deemed it inadvisable for the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean to pay an official visit flying his flag in DEVONSHIRE. The disappointment to the “first time outers” and the resigned look of gloom on the faces of “old hands” were dispelled when we were told that we would be going to Naples instead.
Full advantage was taken of our visit there to get around and about Pompei, Rome, Capri and Ischia being the favourite spots. A bus load of Roman Catholics went to Rome for an audience with the Pope, banyans were organised, and we held our first Official reception on board. On we sailed, past Malta (where we encountered units of the Russian Navy) and on to Port Said. While transiting the canal we were, of course, visited by a “gully gully man”-the tricks were the same as ever but no one could fail to be amazed at the number of chicks that could be persuaded to come out of Cook O’Brien’s pockets.
At Aden we met HMS LONDON who handed over to us the heavy responsibility of being the G.M.D. on the Far East Station. Midst loud cheers from all the customers (and the outgoing laundry crew) Mr. Shao and bis cheerful band of workers appeared on board and, as is their way, within twenty-four hours the sewing machines were humming and the fan and gash compartment looked as though it had always been a cobbler’s shop. We also took on board six students who were being given a lift to their island home of Socotra. Mention is made elsewhere of the problems that their luggage presented when they were eventually landed by helicopter but their gratitude was heartfelt as the following letter to the Captain shows.
Dear Naval Excellence,
May we, struggling students of the island of Socotra present and to all the employees serving in this magnificent ship to you our most heated thanks for your generosity, kindness and real assistance by braving the ocean weather to carry us to our beloved home, which for two years we have not seen .
On to Gan in a nasty South-west Monsoon swell-a quick fuel and we were off again-but we bad been noticed!
From: Equator W/T.
To: H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE. Info: Resident Mermaid.
The following message from King Neptune is for your action:-
- We consider it most presumptuous on your part for crossing the Line at approx. 1100 on Thursday, 12 August.
- Report why our permission to clear the Line was not requested.
- At this rate you wll be lucky to get anywhere.
Our excuses were not accepted and on re-crossing the Line we were instructed to prepare for the arrival of King Neptune and his Court. Due ceremony was accorded and then the fun began-the Captain and Commander paid for their dreadful sins, followed by a wide selection of Officers and men. The P.T.I. and his gang of cut throats rounded them up. C.0.A. Clarke read the charges, Leading Seaman Janes did the barbering and the Bears, led by Chief E.A. Hughes, did the bathing. All the while King Neptune (Chief Buffer) and Aphrodite (Master-at-Arms)-what a couple-sat in regal comfort and watched the proceedings while the Chief G.I. (he was an ‘orrible looking mermaid) tittered with the other girls around the pool.
Eventually all dues were paid and we were allowed to proceed-to Singapore!
The Far East Station
Singapore, August, 1965
Our arrival on the Far East Station coincided with the Declaration of Independence by Singapore-whether the two incidents were related we never really did find out. Anyway, we had been at the Naval Base barely a week before we were on the move again. Exercise Guard Rail in the South China Sea was our first task-and our part in that was so brief that we barely had time to get organised. Hong Kong was our destination -in order to prepare for the forthcoming visit to Tokyo.
On the way from the exercise areas to Hong Kong the “Devonshire Sporting Cup” competition was held for the first time. This succeeded in bringing all manner of pale-skinned bodies up from the messes down below onto the upper deck and into sunshine. Spread over two days, it provided an enjoyable interlude for both competitors and spectators. The fearful sight of the C.P.O.s Tug o ‘ War team demolishing all opposinon will long be remembered, while the W & R. Department showed clearly why they always bold such a commanding position in the canteen queue by winning the sprint relay.
The evil mind of the P.T.I. was obviously behind the layout of the Obstacle race-a feature of which was “Posty” wielding a hose at the cross passage with fiendish delight. The eventual winners of the trophy, a beautifully designed piece of exquisite workmanship-made- out of an ash tray, a Bluebell tin, a coffee tin and sundry pieces of strip metal were the W & R. Department.
During this, our first spell at the Colony, the main occupations were those of reconnaissance-c making sure that the China Fleet Club and The Ocean Bar were still there, of acquaintance with the Hong Kong Hilton, and of parade training-the guard and street liners entertained us on the jetty at 0700 every morning.
Our stay there was rudely interrupted by the first of several typhoons which were to affect us during the coming months. We were instructed to leave in view of the threat of Typhoon Rose and spent 24 hours in choppy seas circumnavigating the storm. We departed from Hong Kong, plus a Royal Marine Band and minus 80 pints of blood (or was it neat Tiger?). The Band entertained us daily in the main Dining Hall en route to Tokyo-and many accepted the invitation to conduct the musicians with amusing results. We also learnt from the Band Sergeant, by means of a television interview, the opportunities to be offered by being a door to door brush salesman!
The Royal Visit to Tokyo
We barely had time to get alongside, hoist the flag of Vice-Admiral H. M. Norton, Flag Officer, Second-in-Command Far East, before we were off again! Typhoon Trix bearing down on Tokyo from the southwest caused us to leave for Tokyo Bay some two hours before the opening ceremony of the British Trades Fair-one of the main reasons for our visit. We anchored in Tokyo Bay, along with nearly 300 other vessels, to ride out the storm and spent an exciting night with wind speeds exceeding 80 knots at times and during which over 270 engine room orders were given-at anchor!
On return to our berth we got down to our heavy social and sporting programme. Despite warnings of high prices to be expected “the Ginza” proved to be a worthwhile run ashore. Some preferred to bound outward to Mount Fujiyama-others played soccer, cricket or rugby, but all thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Those in the know went to Yokohama for their runs ashore. The Peanut Bar appeared to be holding a DEVONSHIRE re-union most nights~ Then there was “The Red Shoes” and that sweet young thing who performed in the glass box …. As the days passed by the runs ashore moved from the Ginza area to outlying districts, to Shibuya-Ku and Shinjuku-Ku-never have so many baths been taken by so many men in such a short time! Sightseeing tours of Tokyo were popular too, as was the trip to Funabashi by special steamer-our go-kart team came back loaded with prizes.
Of course certain preparations were going on too-for the visit of H.R.H. Princess Alexandra. The many Japanese who constantly watched from Harumi pier must have been fascinated with our “dress” rehearsal with Lt.-Cdr. Jones representing H.R.H. accompanied by Cdr. Durnbreck and S/Lt. Martin as Comptroller and Lady-in-Waiting’
We gave enjoyment to others too-a children’s party for 100 orphans was a huge success, and the pirate tattle which concluded it was something to be remembered bv both children and pirates.
On the actual day of the Royal visit everything went well and, after a walk round the Ship during which many Ratings were presented to H.R.H., the Princess and Mr. Angus Ogilvy lunched in the Wardroom, being presented with a fine water colour painting of DEVONSHJRE executed by Lt.-Cdr. Jay. Despite the considerable confusion that had occurred during rehearsals we managed to get the drill right for Cheering Ship-and rousing cheers they were too as we had taken the Princess to our hearts.
Her Royal Highness again expressed thanks for the part played by the “street liners” who had so ably protected her from the milling crowds at the Trade Fair the day before-an event which had made headline news in the Press both at ·home and in Japan.
And so we sailed-exhausted-into a typhoon ‘ Eventually we made it back to Hong Kong-brightly decorated for the October 1st celebrations of Communist China-no leave on the day-but plenty of scope for photographers during our spell there.
It was there that we welcomed the new Commander-Commander Mills, and bade farewell to Commander Keate-off to the country estate near Petersfield. He must surely hold the record for the number of pints of beer bought by one man on one night at the China Fleet Club.
Unfortunately our stay there was curtailed by the discovery of a faulty “A” bracket and we had to return to Singapore and into dry dock-and night boat patrols.
The Flag and Exercise Warrior to Australia
Trials having established that our month in the dry dock had cured all our troubles we were all set for our long awaited trip south but we were in for a surprise. ARK ROYAL had had a fire in the boiler-room and wouJd be unable to sail for Australia-thus we would be Flagship! The first problem to be solved was one of accommodation. We searched for the “planned maintenance office” that KENT had used for the Admiral’s Secretariat but decided that we hadn’t got one so we converted the Routine Office instead.
Thus, on 7th November, we hoisted the Flag of F.0.2 again and sailed -minus several M(E)’s-what a time to be adrift! We settled down to being a Flagship quite well-the biggest worry was the Admiral’s car parked beside the starboard Seacat-would it reach Australia without being struck by a bucket of gash?
Having crossed the equator, stirred the Christmas Pudding and sent off all our Christmas cards we settled down to Exercise Warrior. This was being fought out between Capitalist Blue Forces Jed by Mr. Frenzies and the People’s Democratic Republic Orange Forces led by Dr. Meccano. We featured for both sides during the exercise which took place mainly in the Coral Sea but continued as we gradually progressed southwards off the east coast of Australia.
26th November was a glorious Australian summer day as the forces that had taken part in the exercise assembled outside Sydney harbour ready for the ceremonial entry. DEVONSHIRE led the way past the Heads, under the famous bridge, round Cockatoo island and finally alongside at our berth in Woollamaloo Bay.
It was good to get ashore in Sydney-s-we soon got used to the smallness of the schooners of beer. King’s Cross seemed familiar, the R.S.L Clubs made us very welcome and although the weather deteriorated after our arrival no opportunity was lost to visit the famous beaches at Bondi and elsewhere along the coast of New South Wales.
Our first experience of Australian hospitality more than came up to expectations, invitations started to roll in and many of the Ship’s Company “got their feet under the table” as a result of phone calls to the Ship asking for “two nice sailors to come and have a meal with us”. The local libraries became very popular although little reading was done. Our display at “Roselands”, the shopping complex in the Sydney suburbs attracted tremendous interest, particularly among the many immigrants from U.K. We had many visitors too-a beauty queen and the M.C.C. Touring team being given the greatest welcome. We had our problems -invitations to the official reception had been made on the basis that it would be held on the Flight Deck of ARK ROYAL-A and B Gundecks were packed to capacity even with EURYALUS alongside.
Finally it was time to leave-a last taste of oysters, a final raffle ticket at “The Rock ‘n’ Roll” and we were off. The helicopter and the landrover departed under their own propulsion systems to have adventurous trips to Melbourne. For those who went by sea the big complaint was that the trip wasn’t long enough-we barely had time to recover!
Soon after our arrival alongside Station Pier, Captain Leslie arrived and took over Command from Captain Williams, who left by air to London and M.O.D. Navy.
Although in many ways Melbourne was so different from Sydney the volume and generosity ~of the hospitality was the same. We had an excellent sporting day at H.M.A.S. CERBERUS and the wonderful facilities near Melbourne enabled the golfers, surfers and sunbathers to indulge to their heart’s content. “Australian modified Tropical Routine” helped to make the time pass all too quickly and on 15th December we sailed-into the teeth of a howling gale.
Although our passage across the Australian Bight was enlivened by exercises our thoughts were naturally enough turning towards Christmas and particularly to our families. A Carol Service was held on board led by our entbusiastic choir and this was followed by a programme of Christmas messages recorded on tape by our families in U.K.
We arrived alongside a day before “The Ark” due to further misfortunes that had delayed her departure from Singapore. One result of this was that at the barbecue organised by the local R.S.L. Club a call was made to the Ship for reinforcements-even DEVONSHIRE couldn’t cope with being so outnumbered by girls! Perth and Fremantle responded magnificently to the Local radio station’s appeal to “have a sailor for Christmas” and the invitations poured in. So much so that on Christmas Day there were few, other than the Duty Watch, to sit down to the fabulous Christmas dinner provided by the General Mess. Following the tour of the Messdecks by “Captain” Lightbody and other senior officers spirits were high, which resulted in one Junior Rating who shall be nameless, attempting to “borrow” the ensign from the Merchant Ship astern of us. He was apprehended by their vigilant gangway staff and it took two hours of negotiation and vodka drinking at top level to convince the Russian Captain that no insult was intended. The Captain and Commander missed Christmas Dinner as a result!
Christmas Day, Fremantle, 1965
Everybody has their own memories of Christmas Day-whether it was sailing on the beautiful Swan river, swimming in the sea in a shade temperature of 103° F. (only there was no shade) or doing the “Conga” on board in the heat of the afternoon sun-some may even have ventured to Rottnest island! All will certainly remember our departure when many hundreds of our newly made friends came to see us off. The jetty and harbour mole were packed with the crowds all waving, some tearful, car horns hooting. We left minus a dozen or so of the Ship’s Company for whom the welcome and hospitality received during our stay had proved too much of a temptation.
We were in company with Ark! A rare occurrence and the trip back was used to the full extent in exercising our proper role as a D.L.G. Due to the flying programme ARK ROYAL, now carrying the Flag altered the days of the week, which caused so much confusion that our navigator ‘s Yeoman had to explain it all in print:-
THIS WAS THE WEEK THAT IS ,,,,,,
.Monday was to have been known as Sunday. Sunday was to have been known as Monday but owing to the wind and rain Sunday was known as Monday and Monday was known as Monday also. Furthermore, Tuesday was known as Saturday and Wednesday which should have been Sunday was known as modified Sunday. Hence Thursday must be known as Monday-but Monday was known as Monday so Thursday cannot be Monday. Therefore Thursday shall now be known as Tuesday which was Saturday. This being so will enable Friday which should follow Thursday to become Wednesday, as Wednesday follows Tuesday -which was known as Thursday. So Friday will now be known as Wednesday thus enabling Saturday to be known as Thursday-which should have been known as Monday but as Monday was Monday then Thursday must be Saturday. Hence the saying “Never on Sunday” but as Sunday was to have been known as Monday ….
However this didn’t prevent the arrival of 1966 on time and we went alongside in Singapore on 8th January to start the D.E.D. period.
The ‘Dead’ Period and After
On our return from Australia the ship entered Singapore Dockyard for the “Docking and Essential Defects” period. This entailed all living ashore and unfortunately a shortage of accommodation in H.M.S. Terror resulted in only a few Officers and the Senior Rates living there. The Commanders set up residence in the Guest House at J.B., other members of the Wardroom tried various hotels in Singapore while the bulk of the Ship’s Company settled down in Simbang.
For everyone there the change in surroundings-green fields and trees -was a tonic, only marred by the six mile bus journey to and from the Ship each day. The food was good and the excellent facilities provided by the Royal Marines were open to all. Mosquitoes were somewhat o~ a problem. They were big, quarrelsome and hungry and nets were a necessity but it was a pleasure to have a change from the air-conditioned atmosphere of the Ship.
This period was used to give station leave and parties went to Sandycroft and Frasers Hill while others took lower deck leave at Simbang-who wouldn’t with Lobster Thermidor on the menu! We took some time to settle down to “modified tropical harbour routine”-the broad idea being that if we worked hard all morning then we had the afternoon free to swim, sleep, play golf or indulge in some other energetic pastime.
Some were lucky enough to have their wives join them-and the “R.A.s’ rush” became an established routine. Others-the “airy fairies” flew back to U.K. to join their families at home-and returned as pale as the day we left Portsmouth!
Floodlit soccer matches were a big attraction during the evenings and our contribution to Exercise Millstream was to compete in Millsports.
Our entries in the “Non-standard Bolas heaving line competition” attracted some attention-particularly Lt. Wright’s infernal machine “The Ballista” which was officially recorded as having thrown the heaving line minus three feet!
Time passed quickly and we returned to the Ship at the end of February.
There was a lot to do in preparation for the busy programme ahead- Flag-showing cruise, missile firings, inspection-the mind boggled.
On Saturday, 12th March, after a week of trials following the D.E.D. period we hoisted the Flag of F.0.2 F.E.S. – now Rear Admiral Mills -and sailed for a whistle stop tour of Borneo.
Our first stop was near Kuching. We anchored at Sejinkat with the distinction of being the largest ship ever to go so far up river but we didn’t stay long for as soon as the Admiral had completed his programme of visits by helicopter we sailed on. At Labuan we went alongside to pick up 200 officers and men from Army and R.A.F. units stationed there for Exercise Sea-Day, during which we baffled them with the intricies of the Ops. Room and the M.C. R., fascinated them with a Witch’s Ride and horrified them with a rapid open fire exercise with the 4.5-in. The brief run ashore in the evening and indeed, the whole visit, was marred by the unfortunate death of Petty Officer Cullum.
Jesselton will be remembered for the Children’s Party to which we invited 80 little guests-about 300 turned up-and we managed to squeeze 180 of them into tea in the dining hall!
And so we steamed on – -Kudat, Sandakan (we could have done with more than three hours there) and finally Tawau. Our departure from Tawau was marked by a Naval Gunfire support exercise-the accuracy of which astounded the spotters ashore (and delighted the gunners on board). However, this had to be curtailed as we dashed to the aid of the S.S. “Carina” aground on a reef and in danger of being looted by pirates (still active in the Borneo-Philippines area). A boarding party established that the stricken vessel was held fast on the reef and too badly damaged to be salvaged and thus the main task was to transfer the crew, and all their possessions, to H.M.A.S. DERWENT who had joined us on the scene.
Again, time was pressing – we had to carry the flag on to Subic-and we left the vessel and its deck cargo of cattle as well as the pirates in the experienced hands of our Australian friends and steamed on northward.
We stayed a mere twenty-four hours but this was time enough for the Golfers to play a round and have a few drinks in the clubhouse-“no studded shoes on the furniture, please”-and for all to visit that outpost of the U.S. Colonial Empire-Alongapo ! It was with some regret that we departed, but we had work to do off Okinawa.
We carried out our successful Seaslug firings, described elsewhere, with the minimum of delay and thus had time for a brief introduction to “The Happy Hour” routine at Whitebeach before we left the range area and cruised round to Naha. There, the favourite occupations were Happy Hour, selling/swapping DEVNVSHIRE Caps, playing golf and preparing for the next operational visit-to Japan.
A little bit of America in Japan, seen in cherry blossom time-bitterly cold and raining most of tbe time! However, a most enjoyable staysome took the opportunity to re-visit Tokyo-others spent all their money in the “P.X.” -and others spent it in the usual places!
Back to Singapore
The trip back was one of frustration. We steamed through the T’aiwan Straits but the weather was so bad that the island was a dim outline through the rain when visible at all, and we called at Hong Kong to disembark the Admiral and his staff and to refuel, but didn’t get any leave-on Easter Monday, too!
It was a compensating thought, as we left, that we would be returning within a fortnight but there was much to be done in final preparation for ….
The Sea Inspection followed the usual pattern of gunnery firings, A/S exercises, damage control exercises and the like. AU the “funnies” were successfully accomplished-possibly the Chief M.A.’s interpretation of “An Alongapo Run Ashore First Aid Kit” was the most successful of all-it bad everything.’
Following the departmental inspections came the final crunch the Harbour Inspection. It was sweltering on the Upper during Divisions, and the hydraulics of the Whaler hoisting system went beserk durng the Admiral’s tour of the Ship, but we survived. We sailed for Hong Kong well pleased with ourselves following the receipt of a signal from Admiral Mills:
“Harbour Inspection completed. 1 was very pleased to walk round such a clean and smart Ship which reflects great credit on you all. Appearance at Divisions was good. Well done.”
And so to a well-earned rest. Everybody soon got themselves in_to the rout~ne esta~h~h.ed on earlier visits, although shopping was now high ~rn the hst of pnormes. Sport too was a favourite occupation-the D’?”.onshire Open Small Arms and Golf Meetinas were held and competmon was keen._ Hardly a day passed without a “banyan to the islands taking place but time passed quickly and soon it was time to leave. A last run down Wanchai, the final rabbits stowed away, and we sailed to join the SEATO Naval Forces assembling in Manila Bay.
Typhoon Irma caused us to take a circuitous route and after we had eventually anchored in the Bay we waited a day or two before the liberty boats could proceed inshore safely. However, when we did eventually get ashore we soon realised that Manila had its limitations and it “bucketed down” most of the time.
There was much to do-the organisation involved in getting an exercise off the ground is considerable at any rime but when it involves ships, submarines and aircraft from The Philippines, United States, Australia and Britain it is a major task at all Levels. One sbip that we were delighted to see was HAMPSHIRE-destined to take our place in the Far East Fleet.
Eventually all was ready and we steamed out of Manila Bay-into tropical storm Judy-later to develop into a typhoon and give us a few days “roughers”. During the following ten days we dealt with the usual submarine and air attacks, we replenished, transferred and manoeuvred -we even cleared the upper deck for a Fleet photograph!
The “war” was complex. We were reputed to have been .. sunk” once, we “shot down” everything in sight, civil or military, and the Flight Deck (despite the absence of the Ship’s Flight on Tidespring) was a hive of activity with one thing or another.
Finally it was all over-both sides won-and we steamed towards …
The trip up river gave us the opportunity to review units of the Royal Thai Navy-an interesting diversion.
Bangkok-the most enchanting name in the lists of runs ashore on the Far East Station-and probably the most disappointing. Nevertheless, the bars, bath houses and massage parlours did a roaring trade. Large parties toured the canals and visited the Floating Market or went on a Wat-run. Our stay was short and as soon as the post exercise conferences had been completed we were in a hurry … in a hurry to get back to Singapore.
There we had one frantic week-loading up the Ship with bicycles and rattan furniture. Our final farewells, last visits Lo the Blue Light or Paris Bar in Sembawang, some anxious hours with trouble down below but, on 17th June we made it. To the strains of a Royal Marine Band (we were so prompt that they almost didn’t make it in tirne’) we slipped from 7 berth for the last time, having our last view of the dockyard, the Terror Club, the golf course, the floodlights.
And so to Pompey
Probably the hardest worked department on the trip back was the Doctor and his staff-trying to get everybody fit to face the rigours of leave in the U.K. ! Stopping only briefly at Aden and again in the Red Sea, to render repairs to a Lighthouse, we made the transit of the canal without incident-apart from a swim in the Bitter Lakes. No doubt at some future date a wandering Arab will be puzzled at finding a few worn out “Winston 4” golf balls in the desert (just)-evidence of a variation (a successful one, too) in the old potato throwing contest.
And so we entered the .\1edJterranean-and on to Malta. A brief run ashore to old, familiar (but now rather different) places and on to Gibraltar. This bad changed too-a cable car to the top of the Rock and a Casino to extract the money one would have spent over the border in earlier days-and notices, “Servicemen welcome” in the bars-ob, for the days of a Combined Fleet Meeting!
The last “Leg” was uneventful. Everybody was wntmg out customs declaration forms and realising that 19 days’ leave wasn’t going to be much use if the Customs Officers took their full due. They settled for £6,000 at Devonport after a long and arduous day at the end of which we steamed slowly to Portsmouth having landed our ‘First Leave West Country Natives’.
The great day dawned-a salute to the Commander-in-Chief-a noisy Chinese firecracker display to let everybody know that we were backalongside-re-union-and Leave (for some)
At the time of writing we have yet to complete the commission. In the words of the Captain, “Our most important task is to come”. However, when we do enter Portsmouth again in October it will mark the end of a Commission which will have given us all many experiences and rnemories, good times and bad times, laughs and “drips”-and we will have established DEVONSHIRE as a successful operational D.L.G.even if we were known as “The Fairy Queen of The Far East Fleet!”
Marine Electrical Department
At the start of the commission we were all pretty “green” and. the smallest defect meant hours of soul searching. We very soon received our Baptism of Fire-at least that’s what F.O.S.T.’s smoke bombs looked like-and flood-remember the Gear Room flood?; in a dry dock of all places. We lost count of the number of times the Fresh Water Pump space forward got flooded but we became efficient-fast. Water troubles again when the evaporators raised their ugly heads and flushed their cloudy deluge over the evap. pump motors, once again proving that 440 V. and water are not really compatible. A little game of draughts was next on the agenda and this was woo by the M.L. section with a very crafty move-“K” run down pump to the washing-up machine. Take the washing-up machine motor to the flooded port evap, Remove the port evap. coil drain pump and the winning move was to fit the washing-up machine motor in its place.
Several little bitches were encountered during the commission, e.g., the engine protection circuits were an impossibility for the Chief E.A. (you really are too fat to get under that gearbox, Chief)-leave it to “LEM” Webb. Taff (**** the pump!) O’Brian found he couldn’t speak Chinese but after living with the washing machine in the Laundry for a few weeks got by quite well with his “French”. Then there was the time Hughie threw a fire pump at the starboard H.P. air compressor and had to _call on our No. 1 slinger for assistance (never did find out where he swiped those docky’s overalls).
We bad our share of runs ashore, after the old heave-ho with shore cables or making the Ship a dazzling display with floodlights or Awkward Circuits (should those names be reversed?) and when an attack of hangover or other allied endemic sailors’ diseases resulted, Chief could guarantee a cure by sending us into the Boiler Box “to lamp up”, he said.
The department had one or two “Black” patches like the first trip (that was the operative word as far as gas generators are concerned) to Hong Kong on High Speed Gas. Jt was disastrous. All took their turn to put those Allens on again. They’ve settled down nicely now, thank goodness.
A special mention, too, for our Switchboard Watchkeepers, a task which most of the juniors have had to do and carried out uncomplainingly and well. They’re the best tea-makers in the section!
In sports we excelled. Our football team only lost to the Upper Deck in the final (the final of what we’re not too sure, but still, they’re good). “Ye won the Captain’s Cup twice at Deck Hockey but after that someone pinched L.E.M. Murray’s (Goalkeeper) glasses, we were “seen off” for winning the cup outright.
After the Gala at Simbang we thought of changing the name of Faraday’s Swimming Rule to Upward’s Swimming Rule. There is absolutely no truth in the rumour that he is fitted with fins and webbed feet.
Several of the staff excelled at indoor sports while others became T.V. personalities, such as Screaming Lord Latto, and we all remember how Dick Deadeye Webb scuttled H.M.S. “Pinafore” (at last).
All things considered (pressure of work, hangovers, heavy dates, Egyptian P.T., etc.) the department performed very well in the most of the Ship’s activities and had representatives in all the Ship’s teams. Our best sport was Golf where L.E.M. ‘s Mooney, McCarthy, P.O. Stirling and Lt. Webb all sportingly agreed to play in Div. 2 of the DEVONSHIRE “Open” so as not to cause embarrassment by beating the Captain or Cdr. Shand.
A very successful season was had in the advancement stakes. Almost all the division moved up a rate whilst the Ship was abroad, which was most gratifying to all concerned.
In conclusion it could be said that the “Moles” worked and played hard “but”-well they did, anyway. We had a lot of fun, tears and sweat and now some of us are away to new ships to start again.
We wish them all good luck in the future.
To maintain weapon systems requires skill and attention by the very best-we have bad both in DEVONSHIRE. Apart from leave and docking periods our weapon systems “have never closed”. We have been relatively “bug” free (stand fast the cockers) and have seldom faulted (not officially anyway).
Since March, 1965, we have fired over 2,000 rounds of 4.5-in. ammunition, 7 Seaslug and 24 Seacat missiles which, in terms of £ s. d. is about £500,000.
We came to life in March, 1965, after the refit period, for acceptance trials. Generally they followed a smooth pattern; we had our ups and downs, but the cobwebs soon blew away. The Queen’s birthday was honoured not by a gun salute, but by firing three Seaslug missiles. We would have liked to have fired more, had the Treasury and C.O.A. Clarke been willing. (It’s a bit much when a section C.P.O. fixes a long weekend by putting a spanner in the works )
Not to be outdone by big brother the Seacat system, impatient to show· its paces, hacked two drones out of the sky and many more had uncomfortably “near shaves”. Remember, despite the superb missile/system performance, once the trigger has been pressed success or failure depends entirely upon the aimer. Our three aimers, Foxall, Feeney and Stansfield, have all undergone “the plodzi” dome shrinking. This tightens certain nerve reactions from the brain to give the necessary aptitude.
We have to thank a certain organisation for their kindness in letting us make use of the sea areas around the Dorset coast during the early days. Also for their extended cruises which were arranged in areas Alpha to Foxtrot inclusive, Monday to Friday, 0745 until exhausted. We were given complete freedom to shoot at things above, on and below the sea, out of season. Regrettably we were asked to leave on 8th June-I think that both parties had reached the end of the road. The left “choke” of “A” had failed which meant a complete replacement. As the turret was lifted out some bright spark was heard to say that the resultant hole would serve better as a swimming pool!
On arrival on the Far East Station we abandoned weapon training and were led astray by the appeal of the cherry blossom. Nancy Sinatra’s “Boots” had nothing on the noise of 100 sailors “opening to distance ordered … etc.” as we trained for the Royal Performance at Tokyo.
This detail being successfully completed we returned on our Australian cruise-what an exhilarating feeling firing guns at 0600 every day-it’s a change from dinner time anyway! A bombardment (lasting four hours) off Fairfax Island and four successes against four boomerang-type Australian P.T.A.’s with Seacat, as well as countless Mirages “shot down” by the Seaslug acquisition team was our score during this period.
After the D.E.D. period “G” and “D” did a quick survey of Far East Airline routes on the pretence that they were “fixing” the forthcoming missile firings at Okinawa. Meanwhile the Seaslug system began to bum again to ensure that all was on top line for the big occasion. The “White” system were also busy-some outstanding A.A. runs, a bombardment of Balam Bangan, an engagement of operational targets off Tawau-all good stuff with excellent results.
The missile firings off Okinawa were a great success, two records in the book and looks of amazement and wonder from our American friends. The inspection, too, had its moments of glory with more Seacat and 4.5-in. firings.
And so to Pompey-with a quick bombardment off Malta just to show that we hadn’t let the end go.
A grand team-from the youngest to the most senior rate-all have played a vital part in keeping the fighting capability of the Ship at a high level-well done!
The “Four Fives”
Memories of early days in the commission are dim as we all indulged in P.C.T.’s of one kind or another, although C.A.(W) Downs probably remembers this as the time when he eventually discovered the difference between a communications foot push and a trigger! However, during work-up we worked so hard that we wore out “A” Turret and then had to give an extreme demonstration of repair by replacement-the turret being replaced by a spare during the five-week period spent in Portsmouth prior to leaving for the Far East. Many hours of overtime were worked during this period but we were well pleased with the result.
Since then much has been done with varied degrees of success. We did manage to finish as runners-up in the Far East Fleet A.A. Gunnery competition (how they worked this out we’ll never know!) which was reward for the many hours of work put in on the M.R.S. 3 and 4.5-in. system.
In the surface mode results were generally good but helicopter pilots have learnt to fly with care when “spotting”.
We have bad a wearing task down in the sick bay during this commission, so much so tbat our first two sick bay Petty Officers barely lasted a year between them. S.B.P.O. Devers left due to illness and his successor, S.B.P.O. Edmonds, stayed six months and then went to EAGLE (he likes Big Ships !). Since then C.P.0.M.A. Bowns and L.M.A. Mackay have carried on the good work with the help of Surgeon Lt.-Cdr. Blackstone, except of course when the “Flight Deck Doctor” wasn’t waving those coloured flags around. “Vampire” Mackay, if not in the prone position, was usually to be found around the flight deck dressed in a boiler suit and often awake. The Chief, if not fulfilling his 16-hour working day (he says), could be found with camera-travel, anywhere.
The department was kept on its toes with the usual medical routines, accidents and runs ashore but the end result has been satisfying and we trust that our successors will have an equally happy commission.
The Seaslug System
The system really splits into 3 sections, covering the length of the ship.
We like to think that during the last two years we have worked together as a team.
Despite what the secondary armaments, and other opposition factors think, we don’t just fire once a year and then have a M. & M. for the rest of the time. Like the “Windmill” we never close, and we are even going to have to fire again within six months of the last firing! On a more serious vein though, the system has remained at :five minutes’ notice throughout most of the commission.
After the rigours of H.A.T.’s and S.A.T.’s, at the end of the refit, there followed the Portland work-up and Liverpool visit. During this time most of the section acquitted themselves well, both ashore and afloat. We also managed to fire on the range at Aberporth, and were the first ship to get away not only one, but two missiles on the first day.
There was the pre-sailing spell at Portsmouth, and then the trip out to the Far East, and straight away the hardships of Singapore, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.
At Tokyo several of the section were introduced to H.R.H. Princess Alexandra, namely C.0.A. Clark, C.R.E: Urry, C.A.(W) Page, W.M. Felton, R.E.A. Heathman and R.E.M. Wrute.
After a spell back at Singapore we went to Australia and at this stage Lt.-Cdr. Ruffell wondered whether he still bad a section as most of them were ashore carrying out liasons with our Australian friends. However, after six weeks, which covered Christmas, all but one were present for the journey to Singapore.
During the D.E.D. period Lt.-Cdr. Ruffell went R.A. C.R.E. Urry got his knees brown, CO.A. Clark was seen swimming, C.R.E.A. Linfield got even browner, O.A. Tullet and C.A.(W) Johnson drank some “Tiger”, while R.E.A. Titman played tennis. E.M. Getgood learned to play golf and A.B. Caruana sometimes went ashore. Meanwhile R.E.A. Heathman took photos of all these goings on, and Lt. Kimber and S/Lt. King claimed they did all the work.
After the D.E.D. the next big event was the Okinawa firings, where we like to think we distinguished ourselves well. The Ship now holds the record for simulated “kills” on the highest and lowest targets there. At least the Captain recognised our worth and we can now call ourselves the “Champagne Boys”. On a serious vein though (again) we think that we have set an example of how a m.ixture of various characters and rates can work together on a modern system.
Things we will remember:
C.A.(W) Page and E.M. Smart on either end of the intercom, with Lt. Kimber using R.E.A. Titman as an interpreter.
C.A.(W) Page’s cries of “nothing seen”.
C.O.A. Clark’s cheerful tones on the missile control intercom.
C.R.E.A.’s Young and Linfield-being Frank and Curly when on good terms, but plain Chief at others.
E.A. White still trying for his station leave.
C.A.(W) Johnson taking up all the spare gear stowage with his camphor wood chests.
L.R.E.M. Best, at first our prize agitator, now taking charge as a leading hand.
Lt.-Cdr. Cumrnins+-Slops could not fit him out for gym shoes. He had to have a pair made to measure at a heavy cost for materials.
S/Lt. Balchin who would have a fire exercise anywhere.
Lt.-Cdr. Honey who was about sometimes.
O.A. Tullet-the worst deck hockey player we’ve seen.
R.E.A. Titman who sometimes took time off from sport to do some work.
P.0.R.El. Squire-enough said!
The Upper Deck
Difficult to say what we’ve done and achieved in two years really, apart from making a lot of yo-ho and other noises while we’ve been doing it, but perhaps it’s not quite as simple as that.
The Ship hasn’t looked too bad from the outside for most of the time and the drums of light-grey paint we’ve got through, although they wouldn’t reach half way to the moon like the Galley’s bangers, would have been enough to do the outside of 1,500 average-size houses!
We’ve replenished at most hours of the day and night and got on board 8,250 tons of Dieso, 240 tons of victuals and Naval stores, 50 tons of ammunition and 4,000 gallons of that blasted lub oil in 55 replenishments. We hold the existing records for “dead time” amongst the D.L.G.’s that have been East of Suez and the best transfer rate-and all, touch wood, without a single accident. All good sound stuff and we have to thank the Buffer mainly for that.
Whilst we’re on personalities, congratulations are due to ex-LS.’s Bird and Smith and ex-A.B.’s Lloyd, Athow and Cunningham for their advancement during the commission and hope that L.S.’s Hall, Miller and Wilkinson and Lloyd (again), and A.B.’s Anscombe, Johnson, Gardner, Griffin, Beynon, Baker and Stansfield who have passed for higher rate will come out of the hat soon.
Clubs has done us proud on the Sports side and the Department bas managed to keep the Captain’s Cup, and the Inter-part Cups suitably engraved from time to time-rather more frequently than M.U.D. would like as his canteen beer bill has been astronomical! Representation in and support of Ship’s teams has been well up, too. Floodlit matches at Terror will never be quite the same again without Clubs in the middle and Caruana entertaining the crowd.
As the commission comes to an end we are starting to get our Draft chits in. M.U.D. is off to DRYAD as the Head Gardener, Lt. Rhodes goes back to sea in TARTAR as the Gunnery Officer, Lt. Wright and S.Lt. Black also go to DRYAD to qualify “N” and “D” respectively. Lt. Bawtree has left the Ship already to get his leave in before going outside.
Petty Officer Kingswell and Petty Officer Cox are both away to ST. VINCENT where no doubt they will become pillars of the Establishment -and probably the “one round the corner”.
Watts, Middleton, Feeney, Spurling join Lt. Bawtree in civvy street and although that’s all we know so far. By the time this is in print, we should all know our various fates.
To sum up: its been an interesting commission-we’ve worked and played pretty hard, had some fabulous and also some pretty dreary runs ashore, exercised, ceremonialised, socialised, and with it all, managed to keep our sense of humour and a smart and clean-looking ship.
The Communications Department
Herewith an action packed article on the extra-activities of the highly efficient Comms Department.
I am not going to dwell on matters of shop, far too uninteresting for the average reader. Let it suffice that we have been kept extremely busy within the communications set up during this very eventful commission, what with “Guardrail”, “Warrior” and “Sea lrnp” and carrying F.O. 2 F.E.S. and all. Having dealt with all commitments satisfactorily we find it most refreshing to come home to a month’s quiet loaf alongside at Portsmouth.
Most of the Managerial staff found the runs ashore rather too hectic for them in the Far East and consequently reliefs were provided.
Our leader, Lt.-Cdr. Whitehead (the mad inventor) left for MERCURY expeimental section (to avoid paying R.S. Colbourne six double whiskeys) and has been relieved by Lt. Carver.
C.C.Y. Dodsworth (Regulator Extraordinaire-some vandal has shredded my cap) left our merry band, being relieved by C.C.Y. Crouch. C.R.S. Ireland has since departed being relieved temporarily by C.R.S. Bavington and now by C.R.S. Parlett the forerunner of the new commission. On the (W) side of the fence C.R.S. Sanders’ position has been filled by C. R.S. Sawyer (who has incidentally gone grey).
The field in which the department has excelled, other than communications, is sport. The Inter-part teams invariably did well in all activities. }he latest trophy being added to our collection after winning the local Olympiad’ (DEVONSHIRE sporting cup).
The Ship’s soccer team would of course be at a loss without the services of R.O.’s Wilkinson (top goal scorer), Ibbotson and Overton, with Love and Cutts being on band in case of an emergency.
Other sportsmen were L.R.O.’s Brown, Notley and Gibson (Hockey).
R.S. Colbourne (laughing at the grass again), R.S. Hall and R.O. Carr (Rugby). C.Y. Doan and R.O. Simpson (Water Polo) and R.0. Cutts (Basketball).
. While on the subject of the more energetic pastimes, a hard-core of intrepid expeders has emerged ably Jed by L.R.O. Brown. They have been seen laden down and trudging over the horizons in Japan, Australia and Hong Kong and The New Territories.
The guitar-playing fad passed through the messdeck but the only pl3:yer who made the big time was R.O. “Florrie” Ford, now of “The Tarriers R:N.” fame. His one dark moment in an otherwise star-spangled commission was when he returned on board at Singapore with distorted features, having been heavily bludgeoned about the bead. Rumour has it he was filled in by music lovers.
To round off we would like to wish all the best of luck in your new drafts. A thousand curses to Yeoman Doan who originally wrote the article for the Ship’s book but sneaked off on leave without informing anyone where he had secreted it. The upshot of which was, poor me, a relatively illiterate type had to dash this article off in a couple of hours.
Supply and Secretariat
No one has said, “Well Done”. There have been no champagne parties.
Thats fact has been our greatest testimonial. Success after success has not surprised anyone enough to comment.
No one seriously criticizes DEVONSHIRE food. A D.C. Exercise?
No water? No electricity? No steam? No lights? But of course there are three hot dishes and an array of colds-and on time!
In spite of currency changes, pay rises, new allotments, changing L.0.A. and extra paperwork, the pay was always there. Very few people know that the
DEVONSHTRE’ S ledgers and tax returns had an extremely le w number of errors, perhaps even a record.
The stores serviceability of the ship and her helicopter has been very high. The constant care and hard graft which produces such results is rarely noticed. Tons upon tons of victuals have swung precariously over deep waters on their way from store ships to DEVONSHIRE’S provision room-only to be humped all the way up again to the galley day by day to satisfy the Ship’s Company’s .. inner man”.
Hundreds of bigwigs from Liverpool to Tawau and from Tokyo to Sydney say how hospitable are the British in general and DEVONSHIRE’S officers in particular. Jt is quite likely they do not realise how big a part in the success of the parties was played by the cooks and stewards in the background.
Piles of paper are “pushed.”, meal records kept, stores and provisions are used and replenished. Meal after meal appears and is promptly eaten. The ship moves, the radars work, the chopper flies, everyone puts on weight, everyone can pay for his run ashore.
On the sports fields, we have had our moments of glory. Camilleri and bis intrepid nine-Dymond, Godwin, Churchill, Keeble, O’Brien, Lipp, Hempstead, Wilson and Rands won fame by taking part in every event in the DEVONSHIRE Olympics ’65 and winning the championship against the best teams that other departments could find. Jumper Collins winning the tug-‘o-war (almost l) single handed in both Olympics will be remembered.
The S. & S. Deck Hockey teams (Portland Deck Hockey Shield, the Ship’s League Cup and the Captain’s Cup) swept all before them. They then tactlessly failed to lose their t\VO matches against the Supply Officers’ Team:
The Department has also been well represented in Ship’s teams as will be seen elsewhere. The most spectacular was probably the P.O. Chefs in their Go Karts, but most of the department have pulled their weight at some time and the results have been good. Well Done.
The Diving Team
Of all the Ship’s Company, perhaps the happiest to be in the Far East were the Diving Team. ln the warm seas around Singapore and Australia the possibility of encountering a shark was considered far preferable to the chill of English waters. Even better was the Mediterranean, where, on the passage out, we spent a pleasant day searching for Roman remains off Pausilippo in Naples Bay-though we found nothing except some possible foundations. Our several fishing trips around Hong Kong and Freemantle were equally enjoyable and just as unsuccessful-the total catch for the commission being two fish, four octopus, a number of crabs and a deck chair. Even an underwater demolitions exercise in Port Shelter failed to produce the rich haul we had hoped for. ·
In other respects, however, we have had a successful commission.
Most of our diving has been routine training and inspections of the ship’s bottom, and on one of these dives P.O. Jamieson discovered serious damage to one of the propeller shaft bearings. The diving team worked continuously for 36 hours to make temporary repairs, enabling the ship to sail on time and steam the 1,500 miles from Hong Kong to Singapore, where a two-week docking was necessary to put right the defect. There has been a variety of smaller tasks, from the inevitable retrieving of objects lost overboard-including the recovery of a Quarterdeck heaving line from the starboard propellor-to the extraction of parachutes from the main inlets and providing guinea pigs for the Flight’s helicopter rescue training. We like to think that as well as making nuisances of ourselves, we have been useful to the Ship from time to time.
Since we assembled at the beginning of last year we have carried out about 200 dives, a total of 180 diver-hours under water. If all our dives were added together we should by now have descended to 7,660 feet, but in fact our deepest dives have been to 120 feet, the maximum permitted for a Ship’s team.
Now a number of our divers will be leaving us. A.B. Smith and A.B. Hamley will shortly be going to start the Clearance Diver course, and A.B. Rose hopes to become a S.A.R. diver. We wish them luck.
The fir cones strategically placed port side of the lower bridge have worked many hours of overtime during the commission-and not without effect. The Met. Department (both of us) earned an unsavoury reputation during the early months following the refit for producing wind and rain (and often drizzle) whenever the Ship put to sea. This reputation was by no means enhanced by the weather encountered on the way out to Singapore-the south-west monsoon blew strongly all the way across the Indian Ocean. However, we really made our name on the various cruises on the station. To encounter two waterspouts, no less than six typhoons (and to have to Leave harbour because of two of them) and two fine examples of a southerly “buster” is a record that all seaweed bosuns will envy, while the sight of the famed Bondi beach in midsummer with only four visitors, dressed in overcoats, was one which baffled the Australians and appealed to our sick sense of humour. The real explanation of all this came with the change in Captain! Since then we have been blessed with beautiful bronzsy, bronzy weather (apart from typhoons Irma and Judy).
Apart from this, and because it is unlikely to be acknowledged elsewhere, we should point out that our special services section produces the quickest and most accurate BALMET in the Fleet and that nuclear fallout predictions are second nature to us. We pass on one O.K. slogan to all spectators of our activities on tbe bridge wing-it’s not a model racing car, whirling thing or a rain machine-it’s a clockwork aspirated psychrometer Mk. IH !
We depart to new forecast areas. N.A.(Met.) B. K. Higgins, with over l ,500 Met. observations during the commission behind him, goes to Portland, and Inst. Lt.-Cdr. L. A. Bailey goes to a country estate called DRYAD-take your holidays abroad!
The battle to sell T.A.S. to a Gunnery Ship bas been fought with enthusiasm by our small and select company-with what success only the Gunners can say! We have been helped by a string of exercises that by accident or design have been predominantly anti-submarine, starting at Portland, where G.M.D.’s are considered to be “lmproved-improvedtype 12’s”, and ending with “Sea Imp” where we were so carefully screened that we never got a sniff of an “unterzeeboten”. We also remember the other “jollies”, like “Guard Rail” and “Warrior”, between the miseries of Tokyo, Hong Kong and Australia! After the horrors of these places it was a great relief to get back to the old “one-in-three” again!
The strain of keeping gunnery in line has proved too much for Petty Officer Kingswell, who is off to recuperate at ST. VINCENT and whose reply, when asked if he wished to become a T.A.S.I., is unprintable! Another casualty is LS. Elmes, who hung around the Flight more than was good for him, and has been seduced into Aviation. Do they make long, thin helicopters?
The terrible twins, Bardoe and Beynon, who kept VERNON traditions alive by supporting the whole W.R. Department between them, have at last been separated and the “Greenies” haven’t looked the same since. However, we have been ably supported by our technicians, Led by S/Lt. Ashurst, who, with string, shackles, and glue (no joking.’) have kept it all working without failure. They even turned the dome into a diving bell on one occasion!
The Ship’s Flight
A gleaming blue and yellow, noisy object came out of the sky one day and planted itself 011 the fiat piece of deck between the trelliswork construction and the rotating lollipop. It was the l5th July’, 1965, and the Flight had arrived. The month before, on 14th June to be exact, a little ceremony had taken place at the Royal Naval Air Station, Portland, and 829 DEVONSHIRE Flight was formed.
Although we had our own views on what our duties on board would be the ones that mattered were soon made clear to us. In order of priority, they were:-
(a) to collect the mail;
(b) to deliver the mail;
(c) to cease all work on the helicopter when the Flight Deck was required for Sports;
(d) to give R.E.A. Godwin as much leave as he wanted, to represent the Ship at soccer and to further his aim of looking more like a native than a native.
After settling down and weathering the storms of abuse from the “fish heads”, we “airy fairies” were allowed to get on with the job. As soon as we bad fulfilled our commitments described above, we were permitted to take part in anti-submarine, search and rescue and navigation exercises, passenger carrying (including those seven from Socotra with their heavyweight baggage: the former weighed a total of700 lbs. and the latter well over 1,000 lbs.), spotting for Guns, simulating a missile target for the W. & R.’s, photographic sorties, “roughing it” on Tidespring and Tidepool, and a host of other tasks too numerous to mention.
The first of many disembarked periods at R.N.A.S. Sembawang occurred on the 18th August, 1965, when the Ship arrived at Singapo.re. It was always a pleasure to disembark there, for the welcome was like the climate, always warm.
Operationally, this Flight has been more fortunate than most having the opportunity to participate in so many exercises. There was “Guard Rail” with ARK ROY AL “Warrior” without ARK ROYAL, “Mill Stream”, when we were embarked in R.F.A. Tidepool while the rest of the .Ship’s Company got “browned off” at Singapore during the D.E.D. period, and finally, the SEATO Exercise “Sea Imp” during which the Flight operated from R.F.A. Tidespring.
Probably the most memorable flight this commission was after exercise ‘.’Warrior” when we flew from Sydney to meet the Ship at Melbourne, its next port of call. H .. M.S. EURYALUS’S Wasp accompanied us on that epic flight and caused quite a panic when it made a precautionary landing at the now famous resort of Roval Naval Air Stauon UlladuLJa about 80 miles south of Sydney; and then failed to start for the last leg the foUow111g day! Whilst this eventful trip was taking place our tame U.C. was also having his “moments”. It was his doubtful privilege to accompany the Ship’s Shop Window Display from Sydney to Melbourne In a three-ton lorry driven by one of those Digger fellows. They hadn’t reached the outskirts of Sydney before the Aussie proposed that they should partake of a “drop of the hard stuff” and Petty Officer Davies’s protestations (never happen) were ignored. It was a very tired U.C. that arrived in Melbourne a couple of days later having driven most of the way with this drunken Digger asleep alongside him.
On the social side, it would be true, and to be on the safe side. suffice it to say that we have had some successes, some more than others! With Naples, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Ulladulla, Melbourne, Perth, Singapore, Pulau Tioman, Singapore, Borneo, Alongapo, Okinawa, Yokosuka, Singapore, Hong Kong, Manila, Bang Kok, Singapore, and the 14 1/2_ Milestone-Sembawang Road behind us it would not be prudent to claim that the Flight had led a sheltered commission. Who’d believe us anyway?
Although the Flight is more or less a self-contained unit we do rely upon virtually every department in the Ship to help us mainta.in a high state of operational efficiency and this book provides the ideal opportunity to offer our gratitude. It would take too long to mention by name all those concerned and a few would inevitably and wrongly be omitted, but the efforts put in by the Firesuitment, Controllers, Stores and Catering personnel, Refuelling parties, F.D.O.’s, Lookouts, Sea Boat crews, Met. men and many others have not gone unnoticed and helped to make this a very happy and operationally successful commission for the Flight. Thank you.
The Ops. Room
The purpose, sense of harmony and spirit the expertise and team work necessary to run the complex and sophisticated Operations Room in a G.M. Destroyer is only achieved after many hours of pre- and postcommissioning training. lt entails individual training at all levels in the training establishments near Portsmouth, finally culminating with a week’s Command team training at DRYAD and VERNON. We commissioned in the. Autumn and the courses followed shortly after, this meant after training that there was a gap of 3 months or so before we could start working at the coal face. The training was kept up, however, by “lending” to. establishments our part-trained teams to help work up other ships passing through.
Then to sea for trials, hours of tracking aircraft from the F.R.U. at Hern who always seemed to be able to provide “just one more sortie” very often too when runway conditions were appalling-they had touching faith in our ability to control them! After working the aircraft off the lsle of Wight~ and down towards Land’s End and proving the radio and radar equipment It was necessary to go north to the Moray Firth for the acceptance trials of the Seaslug system. A fast passage was necessary and the surface team of the Ops. Room proved just how valuable their earlier training had been-particularlv when with visibilitv less than 500 yards off the Goodwin Sands, a large Greek tanker doing 18 knots turned the wrong way towards us when only a mile away!
Portland was a bit of a disappointment_ in some ways-we spent about two hours every day transferring Staff instead of staying at sea over night-the question that faced us daily was “Is it Mr. Pro-Symbols or Mr. Anti-Symbols today?” However, teamwork was much improved after the Portland Work-up and we began to feel that the effort was at last achieving results.
In the Far East our first big task was “Warrior” a combined R.N., U.S.N. and R.A.N. exercise. A last minute allocation as Flagship meant extra staff in the Ops. Room which, already crowded, now resembled an ant heap with the atmosphere thicker and the temperature higher. However, in spite of the difficulties the crews coped well, working long hours cheerfully. Australia, after the exercise was a very welcome break and the highlight of the commission.
The missile firings off Okinawa were very interesting. The U.S.N. had not controlled a drone target at the heights and patterns that we required and were a bit dubious about the feasability of it. This difficulty was overcome by their tremendous desire to help and the “try anything once” approach of White Beach and Naha Control. With the Met. Officer predicting gaps in the clouds, an F.8 looking for them and we down below keyed up waiting, an anxious time was had for a while. However, a gap appeared, the drone flew well, the missile took flight and the first run, a low one, was successful.
The drone, normally picked up by a U.S.N. helicopter, bad to be picked up by the Ship due to a lifting hook failure. We were also advised that if we managed to get the parachute we could keep it-D.2 promptly put in a strong bid for it-the ideal material for a children’s tent. However, despite the efforts of most of the Wardroom, the Watch on Deck and some of the Ship’s Company we failed-it was about 70 ft. across! The drone itself was then lowered gently into the sea again, much to the disgust of R.E.A. Godwin who had just washed it down with fresh water to preserve the electronics, and picked up by another helicopter. The second firing, also a success, completed a most interesting morning on the range.
Following a successful Sea Inspection we ventured on “Sea Imp”. DEVONSHIRE was, by force of circumstances, the headquarter’s Ship with a Staff of sixteen-allocated mainly to the Ops. Room. However, it was most interesting meeting our guests who ranged from an Australian Anny Officer to a United States submariner-and they were useful interpreters on the voice nets! Other members of the team were Officers of the Philippine and Royal Thai Navies.
The trip home was uneventful and as we near the end of this commission we shall all be moving on to different ships and different shipmates but we shall remember our days in DEVONSHIRE and the lessons we have learnt-they will prove of value on other “coal faces”.
Marine Engineering Department
After the refit in the autumn of 1964, the new year commenced with the trials period which is inherently a difficult and frustrating time for the engineering department of any ship and we were no exception. We were required to learn and understand strange new terms like “pecker motor”, “T max.” “integral action”, “carboblast”, and “servo-manual” in order to operate this complicated G.M.D. machinery. Naturally we made mistakes, other people’s compartments became converted into fresh water tanks over night, water found its way inexplicably into fuel tanks, machines mysteriously tripped, and there was invariably a cloud somewhere. However, we learnt by our mistakes, and survived without too many tears through the Portland breakdown drills which were immense practical value to us, and the Staff.
On the day we should have sailed for the Far East, one of the main circulators disgraced itself and we were late sailing; rumours of bribery by Portsmouth natives were in fact groundless. The passage out was uneventful apart from some anxious moments over miscalculations of rn.p.g. as we approached Aden.
Life for the Engineering Department whilst the Ship was in the Far East had to follow the principle of “work hard, play hard”. Much hard work and overtime was put into maintenance periods to ensure that we were always ready to “Obey Telegraphs” as and when required. Boilers had to be cleaned, evaporator elements had to be changed, leaky head exchangers had to be plugged, thermal units required cleaning, and there was the perpetual requirement to maintain the hotel services of airconditioning, fresh water, ventilation, and electric power. We rarely seemed to have enough time or enough people, but, to everyone’s credit we have always (well, nearly always) managed to keep it all functioning.
Our efforts were often hampered by factors beyond our control, and many of our mysterious clouds are probably attributable to dissolved bodies which had been fed to the sharks in the main feed tanks by Guts Ostler or Spanner Hale. We have proved beyond doubt that all the polythene bags in the world have a compulsive urge to migrate to Hong Kong where they breed profusely.
Typhoons invariably seemed imminent just after we had entered harbour, shut-down, and started our maintenance.
We have learnt many interesting facts about a G.M.D.’s engineering c~aracter too. It takes two to tango on a run-away spill valve. Radio visors are not transistorised crash-helmets. You can drink beer in the bar at the top of Hong Kong Peak Railway and still be deafened by the Ruston. You will get an instant sun-tan if you take the cap off of the Huntress radiator when the engine is hot. We have also learnt that a G.M.D. drinks 50-60 tons of fresh water per day and that it is essential to have a “Fresh Water Fred” to tune the evaporators, and an expert tea1?1 of water-babies to steam them. The P.O.M.(E)s learnt how to achieve good results in the machinery spaces when using Chinese contract labour, probably because many of the employees were female.
Work has not limited our sporting prowess, and we were fortunate to have Bob Boardman as the M.E.’s Sports Representative; and whilst the Ship’s soccer team always played conventional local military opponents the M.E.’s invariably organised matches against local universities and suchlike, who usually proved themselves excellent hosts. Basketball was so keenly played that one M.E.’s team landed in Singapore and failed to return in time to sail for Australia. Bob Bruce established himself as a boxing champion, and the Engineer Officers distinguished themselves as useless deck-hockey players, having been soundly beaten each time we went to sea by the C.E. R.A.’s.
All in all, despite technical difficulties, overtime, approximately 250,000 manhours spent watch-keeping and no sugar for the “Lirners”; the commission has been a unique and memorable experience.
The battle between these two started in the Naval Stores Office and roamed all over the ship-each thrilling episode that appeared in “The Buzz” held us spell bound. Below is one such episode.
The story so far:-Guts Ostler, evil cabbage-smelling leader of the Black Gang is dragging lightly bronzed, highly polished, glamorous, young Mike Spanner towards what looks like certain death in the chip machine.
Can Jasmine and Fine Old Horsehoof Polish-smelling Mike Spanner escape from the grips of Ancient monument Guts Ostler? Will the brutal murder of Double-o-Bese Bond be avenged? Read on:-
The chips were down. it looked as if I’d had it. Guts stopped sawing my foot off and turned his bland oriental face on me. “You’re finished”, he said. “A little co-operation on your part now will save me a great deal of trouble. Now if you will kindly get up and throw yourself in the chip machme you will save me the bother of writing the next episode.” I attempted to rise but it was no good. “I’ve bad it, Guts. You finished me when you sawed rnv foot off,” I grated. With a snarl Guts leapt over, I saw my chance and took it. Into Guts’ throbbing stomach I delivered the most deadly of all Karate chops, “The Five Fingered Spread”. Without waiting to see the results of this strategy I hurled myself into a corner of the Galley and hid myself in a pile of disused catskins.
The pain hit me. I slept. I awoke many hours later to the strains of the Hallelujah Chorus. Outside the milling swarms of happy, smiling, singing Middle Watchmen were making their way back to their stations. With an effort I managed to call one of the smiling simpletons over. In his broken pidgin English he explained that he would get his local practitioner to see me. Four hours later two shadowy figures appeared leading a third. The third man I knew must be the Doctor by the straight jacket he was wearing. His bearded face lit up in a snarl. He flung two codeines at me and then the strange trio disappeared into the mist. Hastily I ate the two pills, within two minutes a new foot had grown. Now I was ready for Guts.
Without thought I made my way to the Wardroom where I secreted myself on a shelf full of Aerosol Artificial Sweat sprays. Within the hour Guts Ostler entered, slowly I raised my Seaslug Launcher and drew a bead on the bald spot on the back of his head ….
The measure of success in the sporting activities of any Ship is not merely one of results-although by this standard alone we have done extremely well-it is in the degree of participation and enjoyment by the Ship’s Company as well-and in this we have excelled. A large proportion of the credit for this is due to “Clubs”, LS. Roy Wilkinson. His cheerful enthusiasm and organisation as well as his own personal ability will be DEVONSHIRE’S loss but VERNON’S gain at the end of this commission. The secretaries of the various teams also share some of the credit, for without their endeavours, particularly when there is much “going on”, games would be cancelled or not arranged and interest lost.
The Flight deck has been a boon during the long sea passages and there have been few occasions during the dog watches, flying programme permitting, when there hasn’t been some activity going on, be it a deck hockey match between “The Captain’s Five” and “The Three Badgemen”, P.T. for the soccer and rugby teams or the two-day event for The Devonshire Sporting Cup. Probably the only complaints have come from the House of Lords-No. 3 Chief Petty Officers’ Mess, who constantly had their afternoon sessions of Egyptian P.T. disturbed by the clatter of sticks on the deck above their Mess.
However, we have had some enjoyable and amusing times either playing or watching-often more dangerous than playing. (Chippy Hathaway now watches from a distance as a result of a couple of stitches inserted following excessive back-swing by an enthusiastic hockey player!)
Apart from the organised games reported on below DEVONSHIRE has also done well in darts matches, beer drinking competitions, ten pin bowling, etc., etc. A team from the Wardroom led by Captain Leslie actually won the Far East Fleet Officers’ Skittles Championship on one occasion after several near misses. All in all an excellent sporting commission.
The soccer programme in the Ship can be split into two periods. The European spell between September 1964 and July 1965, and the Far Eastern section up to July 1966. Throughout we chased one cup or another.
The early stages gave us our wonderful Navy Cup run in 1964. When terrific support and a fighting spirit carried us through to the zone final. After defeats of EXCELLENT, 3–0, and Royal Marines, Eastney, 6–0, after a 0–0 draw we met the other “Bootnecks ” at Deal.
With the Ship laying empty in No. 15 Dock, the Ship’s Company by coach, train and car trekked to Kent. There, after being 0-3 down early in the second half, the team were roared on to fight back and only a post prevented our equaliser in the last minutes.
A remarkable feat for a ship of our size, great credit must go to our supporters and their leader of those days, LS. Janes, D.C.I. 1133/65, who complete with pram, cycle and foghorn could be heard everywhere. That team is worthy of mention-0.S. Ford, R.E.A. Godwin, S/Lt. Weightman, A.B. Spurling, LS. Wilkinson, L.E.M. Hayton, M.E. Sant, A.B. Johnson, R.E.M. Greenwood, Wtr. McCullum and R.O. Ibbotson.
We lost Ginge Greenwood, our goalscorer and Navy centre forward, Hayton and McCullum before Christmas but the quality of their replacements was such that we finished the European season without a loss and only 5 draws in 21 games.
The first game of the Far Eastern “Tour” was in Aden where we beat H.M.S. LONDON, 6-0. The defeat of LONDON, the China Shield holders, promised great things for our supporters who featured a new song, “We’ll be running round singas with the Cup”. But they had some 10 months to wait for the big cheer.
Our first visit to Singapore spelt out the strength of the opposition when we went down 2-3 to TERROR in a tough match, and 2-4 to the Dockyard.
After visiting Hong Kong and Japan we got our first crack at the “Big Ships’ Cup”. Great hopes were held, but we disappointed and Lost 1-3 to TRIUMPH in October.
A way we went again to Australia where the hospitality outshone the football and we lost two out of three games down there.
Back to Singapore for our D.E.D. period. That elusive cup win again escaped us in, first, the China Shield, when 40 Commando put us out in the quarter final. Next the Millstream Five-a-Side Tournament saw us lose the final by one goal. And our two attacks on the Big Ships’ Cup finished in 1-1 draws. Against TERROR, with 10 men from half-time on, we battled through extra time but couldn’t get the winner in a thri1ling match. The other game was frustrated by a floodlight failure.
Off we went again, around Borneo and Japan, before Singapore set the stage in April for our Cup win. TERROR again were the opponents and at last our terrific support was given something to cheer about. Two goals before half-time and tbe winner in the closing stages climaxed a thrilling game. “EE-AY-ADIO DEVONSHIRE WON THE CUP”.
Our record in the Far East showed 19 wins, 9 draws and 11 losses. ‘We bad Navy and Combined Service players in Roy Wilkinson and Dereck Godwin. Jim Ibbotson plaved for the Navy as well, a just reward for bis continued 100~~ effort for. the team.
Players who carried DEVONSHIRE through these two years of football were-0.S. Ford, E.M. Coulthard, A.B. Waby, A.B. Johnson, L.S. Wilkinson, R.E.A. Godwin, R.O. Overton, R.O. Love, A.B. Spurling in Defence; while forwards were R.Mech. King, L.St\vd. Allen, R.O. Wilkinson, S/Lt. Weightman, A.B. Goode, R.E.M. Cope, R.O. Ibbotson and R.O. Cutts.
We have enjoyed our rugby on DEVONSHIRE over the last two years-and been successful too-only two or three defeats have not been avenged.
Whilst in Portsmouth, with thirty or more players to choose from, we played a different team every match until our 1st XV had selected themselves and we finished our time there with a run of 13 matches without defeat. The first practice game in the humid beat of Singapore was murder and several of the older/larger players thought “their time had come”. However, less than two weeks later, they along with the remainder of the team were playing the game of their lives against ROYALIST 2nd XV in Hong Kong.
Our next game was billed as “International Match-Royal Navy versus Japanese Self-Defence Forces”. Held at Camp Matsudo, near Tokyo, before a large crowd it was a memorable match. we lost 27–8 against a side which claimed to be the best in the Japanese Army-they won the Cup final the next week!
Back in Singapore for a month we really got down to practice and were undefeated during this period. However, sea time and the Australian cruise Iimited play for the next two months and we had to wait until the D.E.D. period before we got down to a regular programme of games. Despite station leave and other diversions we managed to field reasonable sides and had some excellent runs ashore. The Sergeants’ Mess at R.A.F. Tengah is still trying to trace Petty Officers (?! ?) Spence, Weightman, Jones and Kirkland. During this period we won the Small Ships’ Cup, but although considered one of the best sides in the tournament we lost the Millstream Seven-a-Side Tournament to the eventual winners- 43 Commando.
During the Borneo cruise we beat Labuan Combined Services comfortably, lost narrowly to Jesselton (but had a splendid party afterwards I) and finished with a good win against the Planters on a pitch hacked out of the jungle near Tawau. This was good preparation for what was probably the best match of the commission-against the Japanese Naval Academy at Yokosuka. An extremely fit, young side set a tremendous pace which we did well to hold. With excellent teamwork we gradually got on top but failed to achieve the success we deserved and drew 8-8. Our final spells in Singapore and Hong Kong enabled us to renew our rivalry with the Australians from VAMPIRE and DERWENT-we always had to field our best team to beat them.
Among our younger players Worthington, Pope and Fleming have developed their game considerably while the sustained efforts of “Old” Bill Bean, Twiggy Branch and Fred Cox were invaluable. But rugby is a team game and our team of thirty or so from which the sides were picked did well.
The Ship’s cricket team have had rather a disappointing season, having played 14 games, winning 4 and drawing the last game of the season.
A very promising start to the season was made in England but this was very quickly changed when we became an “International Touring Team”.
Our series of losses can be directly attributed to the inflatable elephantlike mascot that two of the players found necessary to bring to every game. Not once did it do the trick but when they eventually stopped bringing it we did have success with a fine victory.
One of our more memorable games was in Japan where the team were entertained by local English businessmen at the Yokohama Country Club. We started off playing good cricket and at Lunch had the better of the opposition. This they quickly rectified by giving us a tremendous lunch during which our glasses were rarely empty. Of course, they were being the perfect hosts but it was definitely not cricket. When play was resumed there was a very different tale to tell, the end of play bringing crushing defeat.
Although we were not a really strong team, all players were very keen and showed the correct approach to the game. Sometimes major distractions made it difficult to keep one’s mind on the game.
During the trials game in Sydney we bad a group of attractive females on one side of the field doing various physical exercises aod a Kookaburra seemingly laughing its head off on the other side.
While at Sydney we acted as hosts to the M.C.C. who were playing New South Wales at the famous Sydney Cricket Ground. After a tour of the Ship the team autographed a cricket bat, which was later raffled in aid of the Ship’s adopted orphanage, and joined the Ship’s cricket team in a few glasses of beer.
We had two very good games against PENGUJ/V and CERBERUS and although we lost both games, we were at the time playing quite a good standard of cricket, our weakness being the lack of batsmen. Fielding was generally of a good standard although over enthusiasm got the better of the Slip Fielders once or twice, since they would make l.b.w. appeals for balls that were almost wides; this did at least prove they weren’t asleep.
Despite the lack of success a good season’s cricket was enjoyed by all and let’s hope that “victory will soon come our way” in the coming season.
The team was generally selected from-Fletcher, Beynon, Trivett.
Marks, Hathaway, Higgins, Bowns, Peart, Clayton, Ashurst, Smith:
Rides, Young, Prothero, Janvrin and Spoor. Umpire-Webb.
Tennis and Squash
The over all results reflect plenty of enthusiasm, but only an average standard, which is not altogether surprising as we have not had a tennis team as such. Because of lack of practice, matches have been a sociable means of taking exercise, rather than an exhibition of tennis skill.
During both visits to Aden, several of the Ship’s players braved the climate and other difficulties to take some exercise, but the excessive heat tended to make the games rather static.
Our first Knock-out Competition was in the docking period during October. No less than 30 players entered, and after much cajoling and several walkovers the last 4 players were Captain Williams, Cdr. E., Lt.-Cdr. Ruffell and Lt. Crombie. Lt.-Cdr. Ruffell went on to beat Lt. Crombie in the final just before we sailed for Australia.
Our best achievement in Australia was the Sports Day in Melbourne when EURYALUSand ourselves combined to play H.M.A.S. CERBERUS. In delightful surroundings, playing to the sound of the Kookaburra, on freshly mown grass courts, we lost to our Australian hosts, but despite the score there was plenty of lively tennis.
A second Knock-out Competition was held during the D.E.D. period, but this time there were only 16 participants. Progress was slow, initially due to people going on leave and also living ashore in different establishments. However, the 4 players to reach the semi-finals were Captain Leslie, Lt.-Cdr. Bailey, Lt. Crombie and R.E.M. Geach. With infinite tact, Lt.-Cdr. Bailey beat the Captain in the final after a lively but exhausting game.
Other matches during our time in Singapore were against H.M.S. EURYALUS (Wardroom) which we narrowly lost, and the Millsport Tennis Competition. We beat Simbang in the first round, but lost to Kranji the following day, after a 3-hour battle in the forenoon. Our team consisted of Lts. Redman and Crombie and Midshipman Janvrin.
Most of our squash was played in the steamy heat of Singaporeeither at the Terror Club or at H.1\1.S. S/!vfBANG. Our standard wasn’t high enough to support many matches although we had some keen contests among ourselves and several of the newcomers to the game made good progress. Lt.-Cdr. Bailey and Lt. Bawtree represented the Naval Base in the Singapore Island League on several occasions.
Inter-Part Swimming Gala
This was held at H./1.1.S. Simbang at the end of the D.E.D. period, and provided a very enjoyable and exciting afternoon, for both competitors and spectators. This, despite the fact that after 10 minutes, a tropical downpour started, which lasted for the remainder of the afternoon. Great credit is reflected on the officials who kept the Gala running.
It has since been claimed by the P .T.l. that the whole thing was organised by the Wardroom, so that they could win at least one inter-part competition. Looking at the results, this is probably true, for the Wardroom were clear winners with 43 points. Runners-up were the Ops. with 29 points, while the C.P.O.’s and W. & R. tied 3rd with 27 points. The Wardroom success was due mainly to the efforts of Lt. Rhodes and Mid. Macdonald- Watson, supported by Lt. Kimber, Lt. Edwards and Lt.-Cdr. Bailev.
Other highlights were the swimming of E.A. Upward, who seemed to appear in every event, the very good diving of R.O. Nash and LS. Knight, the efforts of the P.T.l. to win himself a “gong”, and the smooth Wardroom boat-race crew. In the Veterans· race it was not possible to handicap Lt. Edwards, who because of his age had an unfair advantage over the Buffer, Chief Shipwright, and the C.E.A.! The Underwater swim produced one of the most exciting results, for after E.A. Roberts and E.A. Upward seemed to have the whole thing buttoned up, and competitors were preparing for the next event, up popped the head of R.E.M. Jones, who stayed underwater for an incredible time.
The Inter-Pan Cup, and individual prizes, were presented by Mrs. Mills, wife of the Commander.
Our scars are honourable ones, we did not have an impressive record but we did try to play good hockey and enjoyed most of the games. The first teams we played in the Far East impressed with speed, stamina and stickwork on the sand pitches. Not until after the Australian cruise, during the D.E.D. period, did the hockey team become acclimatised and begin to play really well. One of the main regrets is that, due to weather and confrontation, opponents were difficult to find.
Those who have carried the big stick at various times were S/Lt. King, O.A. Tullet, P.O. Champ, C.E.R.A. Pateman, L.E.M. Mc’Garthy, C.£.A. Humphries, Lt. Shorthouse, L.R.O. Brown, Lt. Wright, C. R.E.A. Rides, C.E.R.A. Wakely, A.B. Smith, P.O. Greig, R.E.A. Carine, LR.O. Notley, P.O. Jamieson, E.M. Getgood, C.P.0.M.A. Bowns, C. R.S. Bavington. Whistlers for the team-C.0.A. Clark and P.O. Joyce.
We started off the commission on a high note when the Commanderin-Chief Home Fleet instructed DEVONSHIRE to represent and captain the Home Fleet sailing team in the 1 nter-Command Ratings’ Service Whaler trophy competition. H.M. Ships ROTHESA Y and LYNX were nominated to complete the team. To the surprise of everyone except ourselves the Home Fleet team won the trophy (the first time that a sea-going command has wrested a major sailing trophy from the shore commands), mainly due to 3 firsts, a second and a third in five races by the DEVONSHIRE crew. 0.S. Mead was helmsman with a crew from
- R.O. Pingel, M .(E) Cox, O.S. Maton, Std. Pascall and O.S. Prior.
While at Singapore all boats (bosun’s and minisails) were landed at Red House during the D.E.D. period and an enthusiastic nucleus took part in most of the Fleet sailing activities. P.O. Bird did sterling work in keeping the boats in good shape and organising their use. Captain Leslie distinguished himself by having his minisail sink under him on his first outing (we thought that be had forgotten to put the plugs in!).
Apart from our own boats we had a variety of experiences in Australia and Borneo either in friendly racing using Club boats or cruising in ocean racers. The rninisails have proved their worth, particularly in Singapore where the light winds (and warm waters!) are ideal. Apart from a sail from Naples to Capri and in the trophy competition already mentioned, the Whaler had little use-it always seemed to be in dockyard for repairs or used as a diving boat! However, a good commission’s sailing enjoyed by all.
The sight of individuals leaving tbe Ship with a bag of clubs draped over their shoulders has become increasingly familiar during the past two years. To say that we formed a club in January, 1966, with twelve members, played eight “Open” championships and grew to a twenty-five-strong group of fanatics is but half the story.
Those of us who were in at the beginning will not forget Rowlands Castle, Wardroom versus Senior Rates or our Secretary in those days, Commander Bridle, and bis “wiggle” before driving off, or The Royal, Liverpool-the first of the Royal courses we as a Ship played.
In July we moved from the rough at Rowlands, and Weymouth to the jungles of Singapore and the Island Club. It was there that we discovered we had a “shark” amenest us and where we Jost our Secretarv-rurnour has it that the Black shark got him! Cdr. Shand took over, made himself President and formed a committee to organise things. He presented the prizes at the end of each meeting, usually to himself.
Although the Terror course was probably the worst one that we p1ayed it was there that interest was sustained following the Australian cruise where tbe craze started. Who, of those lucky enough to disappear into the bush on the Royal at Sydney, Melbourne (Ugh!) or Fremantle will ever forget those beautiful courses.
January, Terror and the first “Open”, closely followed by four more.
John Shand with two wins and two seconds was certainly in the moneyso too was “small course wizz” C.E.R.A. Young. Poor old L.Std. Bill Murchie-you could have bought his clubs for 5/- during this period. In March we all went to the Sime course to see Peter Thompson and Hideyo Sugimoto show us how it should be done.
April and Hyama Kokusai, a dream course on a mountain top complete with escalators from tee to green and Japanese-type girl caddies-who was that schoolmaster lost in the rough with his caddie? May and out of the jungle, 450 balJs after he arrived on board, came Chippy Weightman to win the Big Course Championship at Fanling-a brief interlude from his endeavours to kill off that third tree on the right at the 6th at Terror.
What will the Far East be like without the Likes of Getgood, Latta or McCarthy with their crys of “Fore!” or was it “13 shots I’ve b*****y well taken!” Standby Rowlands, look out Hayling the thunder of the jungle is heading for you. Replace your divots!
P.S.-To the oily tribe: That certain Chief you lost in January? We found him in the sand at Terror-he’s been swinging a club ever since! Well done C.E.R.A. Roy Sheldon-our most improved player.
Results:-Played 35, Won 13, Drawn 2, Lost 20.
The first matches played by the team were during tbe refit, and some good results were obtained. However, it was not possible to play at Portland, and tbe remaining game in U.K. was against B.R.N.C. DARTMOUTH, where we were beaten, but, nevertheless enjoyed the trip down to the College. At this stage also, a Jot of good swimming talent was spotted, in Torquay harbour!
After sailing for the Far East, games were played at Aden, Singapore, and Hong Kong, but our lack of water-fitness showed, and the results were disappointing.
Australia followed, with games against R.A.N. teams at Sydney and Melbourne, and for the games at Sydney, DEVONSHIRE provided most of the R.N. Squadron team. The two games at Melbourne were the most enjoyable, the first being against H.M.A.S. CERBERUS, though we still maintain that the hospitality before the game was a crafty move on the part of our opponents. The other game was the highlight of the water polo commission for us, for we were invited to play at the 1956 Olympics Pool, against a Melbourne area R.A.N. team. It was a tremendous thrill to play in this magnificent Pool, and the team did well to hold the strong opposition to a 5-2 score. Jn 1956, what has been described as the best and dirtiest game of water polo, was played at this Pool, that between Russia and Hungary. We would like to think that our game, which received Press and T.V. coverage, did not compete for the latter title.
Then followed games at Singapore, where we ended our losing streak, and a successful spell at Hong Kong. Here we twice beat our friendly rivals from Hong Kong Y.M.C.A., who had thrashed us when we first arrived on the Station.
At Bangkok we played the Sporting Club, with two Thai internationals in their team. Though they beat us 6-4, we easily beat them in the singing and beer drinking that followed, as they could not compete with the P.T.l., LS. Knight, and R.O. Simpson.
The final game at Singapore brought out our best water polo, with an exciting 6-5 win over H.MS. FORTH.
To finish, a mention should be made of the team captain Lt. Kimber, for succeeding on most occasions in getting the P.T.1., R.0. Simpson, and E.A. Upward to turn up at the right time, on the right day. Also of C.Y. Doan for all the goals he has scored, and for being selected for the R.N. Singapore team, of the P.T.l., Mid. Macdonald-Watson, and Lt. Rhodes for consistent good play, and of E.A. Upward, our most improved player.
Those who represented the Ship were-LS. Wilkinson, A.B. Veal, S/Lt. Martin, Lt.-Cdr. Cummins, Lt. Rhodes, Lt. Kimber, R.0. Simpson, E.A. Upward, S.A. Stevenson, A.B. Hamley, L.S. Knight, C.Y. Doan, Mid. Macdonald-Watson, Mech. Archer, L.A.M. Jury, E.M. Bailey, and C.A.(W) Johnson.
Basketball was only a skylark on DEVONSHIRE until the team entered for the Portsmouth Command Championship 1964, expecting to Jose their first match and therefore go on long weekend early-but the)’. didn’t lose their first match-or the next-and ended up in the Semi Finals to lose against the giants, H.}.;f.S. COLUNGWOOD. On this achievement the Commander put in an immediate order for a complete new strip-Maroon with Yellow of all colours. From then on there was no stopping us, we thrashed the small teams and put up a good performance against the big ones.
On leaving Pompey we had a much improved record and this continued until we1e found that the heat and lack of practice, coupled with “runs ashore”, had a wearing effect on our play. Consequently most of our port visit games were lost but this was to be expected when there were more attractive things abroad to draw men than Basketball.
Our longer stays in Hong Kong and Singapore produced belier results, one of them being our showing in the Singapore Millsports when we reached the semi finals out of a total entry of about 30 teams. We were considered to be one of the best sea-going ships’ teams to hit Singapore for a long while and several of our players were called upon to represent the Navy against the R.A.F. and Army teams.
Our most ignominious defeats were against American teams who never failed to thrash us by at least 50 points-C’est la vie!
The team has consisted of various combinations of the followingR.E.A. Shergold (Capt.), R.E.M. Barker (Vice-Capt.), A.B. Baker, R.O. Cutts, A.B. Emrnens, R.E.M. Francis, E.M. Kirkland, LS. (now Mr.) Janes, C.R.E.A. Linfield, £.A. Roberts, E.A. Marks, L.S. Walker, S/Lt. Weightman, C.R.E.A. Young, R.S. Colbourne.
Our Most Important Task
Earlier in this book it was said that our most important task was yet to come. As the book goes to print that task is all behind us-our eventful cruise as Flagship to The Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, Admiral Sir John Frewin, was a fitting climax to this commission.
Following our leave we sailed on 23rd August for Devonport where, despite the inclement weather, we had 22,000 visitors during Navy Days. At 0030 on Tuesday, 30th August we slipped, made our way up Channel, where the Admiral embarked and steamed through the Kiel Canal, having been involved in a minor collision with a tanker in thick fog at the entrance to the canal-our destination Leningrad!
We were the first R.N. Ship to visit the Soviet Union for over ten years and from the beginning of the visit it was apparent that we were very welcome. The salute to the Commander-in-Chief from the Russian Fleet based at Kronstadt was a memorable sight as we steamed up the Neva River in the gathering dusk. Nowhere else in the world have we aroused such interest ashore! It was a common sight to see groups of two or three members of the Ship’s Company ashore surrounded by forty or fifty curious citizens of Leningrad plying them with questions. Our hosts of the Russian Navy looked after us well. Sightseeing trips were the order of the day (!) However, the visits to the Hermitage and Winter Palace and the Summer Palace at Pedrovoret were unforgettable. There was much vodka bought for us and by us and it was with some regret that we departed after a few fascinating days. Official opiruon bas since declared the visit a great success-Britain’s finest ambassadors have done it again!
Helsinki was a disappointment in a way-an expensive run ashore and there was some reluctance on the part of bar owners to serve men in uniform. However, beer was drunk, sauna baths were taken and we even played cricket!
Our final call was to Gdynia where the welcoming ceremony by units of the Polish Navy was an indication of how well organised the preparations had been for our visit.
Gdynia will be remembered for the excellent runs ashore, for the vast numbers of “four stripers,” for the fascinating way in which the old parts of the towns have been rebuilt as they were many years ago and as the time when DEVONSHIRE re-wrote the dull book for wreath-laying ceremonies!
We returned to Home Waters proud to have been Flagship to the Commander-in-Chief for his series of important visits and talks and taking satisfaction in a job well done. Successful firings now completed we await the start of the refit in Portsmouth-this commission officially ends on the 19th October-may the next one be as interesting and enjoyable!
Many thanks to Steve Mathews for the loan of his dad’s copy of the end of Commission Book that the above was taken. Not forgetting those that put the whole book together.
Steve’s father was a TASI of 737sqn and a founder member of the Aircrewmans Association