Royal Navy – Final Years

On our arrival home in England we settled in Harlow, Essex. We tried to get accommodation from the council, without any luck. Jess’s mum and dad allowed us to live with them for as long as was necessary. We decided to buy our own house and had to wait for it to be built. Dick (Jess’s dad) kept visiting the house and inspecting it when required. Altogether it took 12 months before we were able to move in to our new home. We were so excited to have our own “space” and home at last.

When my leave after returning from Malta finished I was drafted to HMS Venus which is attached to the Officers Training School at Dartmouth. My duties as the ‘Buffer’ Senior Non Commissioned Officer were to be responsible for all of the upper deck and mess decks. Officers under training were cadets and trainees from other Commonwealth countries were known as Midshipmen. On joining the ship at Dartmouth we carried out a number of exercises when the new 1
st Lieutenant was appointed - Lt. Commander Richardson (No 1). He sent for me and told me that he had not been to sea for a few years. He then asked if I would stand by him on all occasions and tell him what to say and do at both watches (detailing duties for all parts of the ship). He also said he had not touched NATO drills so would like all support when in operations. By placing so much trust in me I had the greatest respect for him and I willingly gave him my full support. Our commission was very good and I saw parts of the world I had not seen before and we gained very good results from all midshipmen and cadets that passed through the ship for instruction. While with HMS Venus we had duties to carry out that included Fishery Protection Patrol in the Iceland area. We were there about 3 to 4 weeks. The purpose of this patrol was to protect our fishing fleet, as Icelandic Gunboats had been cutting there trawling nets (at a cost of £4000 plus the lost catch a time). At one time the Icelandic Gun Boats came so close that we actually threatened to sink them. As a senior NCO, I and another did one day acting as crew members on the trawler. It was a very interesting time and we realised what a rough life it is for the trawler crew – gutting, cleaning and sorting fish, and icing down in their holds. During this time on HMS Venus we were never short of fish! We had fish for one meal a day, straight from the trawler, and the cook just selected the fish you selected, gutted it, cleaned it and put it straight in the pan for you. The cook said it would cook in its own fat and it was very tasty indeed! Weather wise the patrol was very rough. After our patrol we returned to our barracks in Portsmouth. Lt. Commander Richardson was away at the Admiralty being appointed to his own ship. As a result he missed the opportunity to say farewell to me so he sent me a lovely letter of appreciation, which I still have, thanking me for being his right arm during the period of his commission.

On arrival in barracks I was appointed as vice president of the Chief and Petty Officers mess that was in the process of transferring into a newly built mess block. This new section had all individual accommodation for each Chief Petty Officer and Petty Officer. The president CPO Richardson and myself completed the changeover in about 2-3 weeks. It was very well fitted out with a comfortable lounge, dining room, billiard room and bar. On the official opening of the Mess by the Commander in Chief (C in C) of Portsmouth and other dignitaries, I was in charge of seeing off the C in C when he left. On his departure I took off my medals and placed them somewhere where I thought they were safe but on my return they had disappeared. On applying for replacements I was told I could not have any as it was NOT an official meeting. Therefore I was unable to replace them at that time. It was infact many years before I managed to replace my lost medals.

My next draft was to HMS Lockinvar in Broughty Ferry, Scotland, a Fishery Protection Base. On arrival I was appointed as mess president and assistant to a Civil Servant of the Ministry of Defence (Housing). We worked together and visited all of the rented accommodation for the base staff. After about a year I was reappointed to Royal navy barracks in preparation for my discharge to civilian life.