The Navy Days

I escaped up the mast for a smoke or down the shooting range (naval marksman).

I joined up, as a junior, on 6 October 1959 at HMS St Vincent; six months later recategorised as Artificer Apprentice(The Boys)at HMS Fisgard S39 entry.
1960 Basic training, workshop practice, specialised in electrical branch and a lot more.
On completion drafted to HMS Collingwood, the Royal Navy Electrical Engineering School in Fareham/Gosport and was my home from 1961 until 1964. Specialised  Radio Electrical 1961-1964.
Promoted to Radio Electrical Artificer 3rd Class(REA3) and drafted to my first ship HMS Falmouth; a Rothsay Type Frigate.
 Swiftly promoted to REA2 (Petty Officer); the sonar department kept me busy.
My daughter, Paula, was born in December 1967.
Countries visited during my time in the Royal Navy included Norway, Sweden,Germany,Belgium,Denmark,Holland,  Spain, France, Guernsey, Gibraltar, Malta, Morroco, Cyprus, The Azores,Senegal, South Africa, The Maldives, Italy, Sardinia, Sicily, Turkey, Kenya, Singapore, Malaya, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, The Phillipines, Thailand, Canada, North America, Nova Scotia, Puerto Rico, Nassau.
Off the coast of Iceland during The Cod Wars. Sufferred a fractured skull during a storm Xmas 1975.
Ships served on: HMS Falmouth, Diana, Triumph, Sirius, Andromeda and Battleaxe. Shore Establishments: HMS St Vincent, Fisgard, Collingwood, Cambridge, Royal Naval College Manadon, Fleet Maintenance Group Devonport. Mothballing: HMS Lion and Tiger.
Since retirement(in 1984) I have visited France, Germany, Spain, Brunei, Singapore, China, Taiwan,Italy
A short time spent at HMS Cambridge, the Gunnery School, then on to HMS Diana, a Daring Class Destroyer which was falling to pieces- bloody hard work keeping it all working.
The food was terrible and I sufferred from bleeding piles and went down to my lowest weight ever!
Had an awful time with my boss, as did most of the department, who was the most incompetent Electrical Officer and worst Divisional Officer to affect me in my whole career.
Escaped with a draft to HMS Triumph, maintenance support ship in Far East Station. Promoted to REA1( Radio Electrical Artificer First Class) As a Chief Petty Officer gained the rank
of Local Acting Chief REA. Buttons kept through to retirement in 1984.Left as a Charge Chief Artificer and have never really settled down to a conventional life. No regrets.
Before flying out to Hong Kong to join the Triumph (married accompanied draft) a couple of months were spent in UK on updating courses and even managed a little time at home where my son, Michael, was concieved.
The Triumph was based in Singapore at Sembawang shipyard.Served two years. Travelling in from Johore Bahru, on the Malay mainland, where we lived in a bungalow in Kebunti Park.
Mike was born in Singapore in October 1969 with two birth certificates, Singapore and British High Commission.
Sad to say at the end of 1970 suffered a breakdown and was medivacced to the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley near Southampton.
Teaching posts at HMS Collingwood followed, whilst living in Gosport for a year, then bought our first house in Ivybridge and spent months commuting every weekend; mostly driving on the dreaded vallium.
Back to sea on HMS Sirius, closely followed by a draft to HMS Andromeda. Standing Naval Force Atlantic Nato Squadron.
Promised a 4 year post at the Naval Engineering College at Manadon, Plymouth,the Navy reneiged and sent me back to a teaching post in HMS Collingwood (on-line cryptography). The final death knell for my marriage- little survives such constant separation!
I insisted on a draft to a Devonport based warship and lo and behold got one. Last laugh on me; standing by and setting to work HMS Battleaxe (Type 22 Frigate) as the Seawolf Missile Engineer.
Naturally the Ship was in Glasgow; even further away from home with over a thousand mile return journey by rail or car.
So I spent a year living in Glasgow which turned out to an interesting one. Sharing a house in Scotstown. Did a bit of teaching in a pottery class; had an idea to be a potter on retirement. Funny as it turned out I was influenced by the late great Henry Moore and became a stonecarver.
My final two years were spent as the Charge Chief of a maintenace group (FMG) in Devonport dockyard.

The saddest time came with the Argentine invasion of The Falklands. During the subsequent war a number of my friends lost their lives. I will never forget them especially Andy Eggington who died on HMS Sheffield ; the happiest man I have ever known and Rodney Heath who died on HMS Coventry.


Hawke Division HMS Fisgard  1960                                            London 1960 with Jan Richards                  HMS Royal Arthur 1967                                                   Paybook cover 1960                          
Bailey Merrall Lancaster Windsor Blanchard Ellicott Flannagan
Poyner Hoskins Mason Vincent Bradley

top row: ?Terry Brooks, John Vincent/bottom row: Pete Marriott,John Wrightson,Jim Addo, Jim White
Jackson Division HMS Collingwood
Bonfire night 1962. Tichfield, Hants. Jim White,Brian,Jon Wrightson,Alan,Sam,Ding,Kev Hart,Geof Angel,Vince
3rd row down, 3 from left Derek Garner

John Vincent 1960Jon Wrightson, Collison, Vince, Jim White 1960
Edwin, VinceJan Richards, Dave Fenchurch, Vince

    Memory is getting poor.
Above: Kiwi , Me, Stan Collins
            John(Dolly) Witt ( He wrote 'The Little Red Fire Engine and Other Stories
and played the Ocarina) , Pete Holden                                                                  Dipped back to this class from S39 Not in order
                                                                                                      John Garlick, Fordham, Rex Jeffery(my Best Man), John(Dolly) Witt (Played the Ocarina), Dave Martin,
                                                                                                      Dave Markham, Jim White, Taff Greatrex,Stan Collins, Me, Rice,Tony Morris  and others .Memory may return!

Exemouth Division S39
Kay Searle's dog at show 1960S39 Exemouth Division 1060HMS Battleaxe/HMS Brilliant on trials
HMS Battleaxe 1980HMS Diana Weapons Electrical BranchHMS Diana
Dave Ellis on HMS Battleaxe 1980Dave Ellis

Ray                              Yorkshire Dripper
Andy Andrews on TV 1961

HMS BattleaxeChiefs mess HMS BattleaxeDitto
Mess DinnerChiefs messMalaya 1969
The PulpitPrekestolen Norway 14 July 1980The Pulpit
Mess Undress, Nassau, bridge to Paradise IslandSailing around the Western Isle. Nicholson 55. 1979
In Oslo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Dave Ellis and me at retirement party 1984
     Petty Officer Apprentice 1960's                Sailorboys 1959                                              Pete Waldron and Me in Florida 1981
Falklands War Memorial on Plymouth Hoe. So many of my friends died; they will not be forgotten.

Stanavforlant 1974 Newport Rhode Island

       At Talybont on Usk 1963
       ?, 'Daisie May, Adrian Curnow, Alan Warner( died 1993),?,?                               Railway House Talybont on Usk                                                Adrian Curneau, Me, Alan Warner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Talibont on Usk 1963                                        Exped HMS Royal Arther 1967?

Nostagia is a thing of the past. The Boys (Naval Apprenticeship) was a formative time when I made good friends. Sadly lost contact with most of them. If anyone recognises any of them please e-mail me:
Especially John Wrightson, Alan Warner( died 1993), Jim White, Stan Collins, Daisy May,Dolly Witt, Rex Jeffery, Derek Garner(contact 24July2017) and Robin Gallagher, Roberts(S40). Anyone from Jackson Division and Fisher Section HMS Collingwood 1961-64, HMS Fisgard 1960 or from any of the ships mentioned 1964-1984.
Lost my copies of CAM Collingwood Apprentices Magazine 1961-1964. Any one got  ideas where I can obtain copies?
Artificer training ended in 2010. Tiffs are no more!!Who services the technical stuff now?

Updated  12 December 2017