Profiles & Dits

Mr Robert Pitman with Dechaineux’s Commanding Officer, Commander Daniel Sutherland, RAN, during a recent visit to the submarine

 

Descending the ladder into a submarine was no trouble for Royal Navy veteran, 92-year old Robert Pitman, when the spritely nonagenarian visited HMAS Dechaineux alongside her home port in Western Australia recently.

A former wireless operator submariner in the Royal Navy, his submarine HMS Thorough operated out of Fremantle during the last 18 months of the Second World War.

Hosted by Dechaineux’s Commanding Officer, Commander Daniel Sutherland, Mr Pitman said seeing the submarine was quite a treat and he was impressed at how much space the modern submarine has in comparison to his old boat.
 
“These submarines are huge! Back on my boat space was very tight; people slept on tables and underneath them as well and only those that had been onboard a while got a hammock," he said.
 
“Sometimes you were in a hammock and got bumped as someone walked past, so you woke up, got dressed thinking it was your shake and went on watch, only to find out you were an hour or so early! I did it a few times,” he said.
 
Working in company with HMS Taciturn and two American boats, USS Bullhead and Snapper, Robert conducted patrols in the Pacific. It was a busy period and their task group ended up sinking 32 ships by war’s end.

The nature of the operations and confines of the submarine require a different type of sailor, and Mr Pitman thinks that the ability to get along with others is pivotal to enjoying a submarine career.
 
“Everyone was scared, so you just focused on operating your equipment and when the chips were down we were all scared but afterwards we laughed and joked and it was fine.

“Never mind the fear though, the biggest thing was to be able to get on with people. We used to say, ‘watch out you’re eating off my plate’, because we were crammed in so tightly,” he said.
 
His time spent in Fremantle was remembered fondly as he told the story to Commander Sutherland.
 
“When we were in port in Fremantle, posted in the mess were addresses of Australian families that would host you for the weekend, where they would come and pick you up and welcome you into their home. It was just brilliant,” he said.
 
It was the friendly nature of Australian people and the beautiful places that brought him back to live with his Canadian bride, two years after the war ended.

He lived in Jarrahdale initially and worked in farming, later studying and working as a social worker for decades before retirement. He warmly recalls his submarine service.
 
“It was the best thing I could have done,” he said.
 
Hosting submariners, says Commander Sutherland, is something that galvanises the crew.
 
“It has been a wonderful experience to listen to Robert’s stories and imagine his service during the war in some of the very places I too have sailed,” Commander Sutherland said.
 
After having tea in the wardroom and seeing the control room, where much of the same objects still exist, just in a more modern form, Mr Pitman bid farewell to the Commanding Officer.
 
“This has been the best. I do so appreciate you making yourself available to host me. This is a red letter day for me,” he said.

Lt. Kara Wansbury.RAN (author)

January. 2017.
IT is my sad duty to report the passing of Dockyard Joiner Kenneth Peach. Not a Submariner but none the less highly regarded and as close as one could get without actualy serving. During his time in the yard he worked on almost all of the Submarines based, or in for repairs at Plymouth Dockyard. Many will recall that he would quite often return to work in his owntime after clocking off. He formed numerous friendships, whether Admirals or men from the Junior ranks - as indeed I was when first met him. On no less than two occasions Ken came to sea by invitation of the respective Captains. He attended the 1977 Fleet review as a guest on a conventional Submarine. He also sailed with the the crew on a trip from Plymouth to Fas Lane aboard HMS/M Valiant during which time, I believe, he was awarded his Dolphins by the then Captain John Coward. Ken had been a guest at numerous functions, the most recent, which would sadly be his last, being HMS/M Valiants 50th Birthday in August 2016. Those who attended will recall that he was unexpectedly called upon to deliver a speech. Ken, unphased by this unexpected call to arms and despite having not had an opportunity to prepare nor rehearse, he addressed the gathered audience with aplomb. Further more Kens association with Submarines led to him visiting a trident boat - something which as a serving submariner of 22 years I did not manage to acheive.Oh well how could I begrurdge Ken that, as he was a true gentleman, willing to help and a man who clearly savoured the time and memories he had had with the boys.
Taff Hill.

'Freddo', S.A. Australia Branch.

                      Memories of Royal Navy H Boats.

I went through the Tank at HMS Dolphin on my 18th birthday in November 1943.
I completed Submarine training in 1943 at HMS Elfin Blythe. I was drafted to HMS Cyclops a coal burning depot ship. I must be one of the few remaining WW2 S/M who can claim to have coaled ship. I joined my first Boat HMS H43 in January 1944 in Londonderry Ireland. I was green behind the ears with a lot of learning ahead of me about how to become a Submariner. On reflection a clapped out WW1 Boat was an ideal platform to learn the hard way. Something was always going awry. Engines compressors were often out of action with the Tiffies sweating their guts out to remedy things. The US Armed forces Radio network played a song in those days “Coming in on a wing & a prayer” We sang a parody to the music “Coming in on one engine & no air.”

As a fore-endman I recall that the tubes were loaded & flooded up ready for action. One tube remained empty this was used for practice water shots. My first experience of water shots was the boat losing trim because the TOT valve had to be shut by hand after firing. No one knew this including the trainee TI so we learned the hard way. Bow buoyancy was blown while Jimmy restored the trim. I soon learned that all valves were hand operated including main vents. My first diving station was No 2 main vent located in the Ward Room.

The fore planes were opened with a chain block this could be a disadvantage if the Captain decided to dive off the klaxon. POs & Artificers messed in the Fore ends while the seaman & stokers messed in the Motor room. Stripy Holmes a killick Stoker slept behind the Port engine (no ear muffs) He used to emerge looking yellow & spotted with oil. My first billet was on a mail sack in front of the galley stove. Ones sleeping arrangements improved as crew members were drafted. We did not have a Cook so it was a challenge to put on a good feed when one was called on to be cook for the day. I recall clacker was a favourite & a good way to get ones hands clean. There were absolutely no way of getting clean other than a bucket of water. The heads were located aft between the port & starboard compressors with no privacy screen. Not at all conducive to keeping one's bowels regular. At Tot time I always got sippers because I was under age my Boat mates were good to me.

H 43 was deployed with the Atlantic Anti Submarine fleet who in most cases were newly commissioned ships doing working up trials. The new secret weapon The Hedgehog was being tested. We actually collected one from the casing after a dummy exercise so there was no doubt that the German U Boat men would suffer later. This proved to be so because 1943 is generally accepted as the turning point in the battle of the Atlantic.

My lasting memory of H 43 was being elevated to diving Helmsman. As an OD I can never understand how this happened but I enjoyed the thrill being there. Pony Moore would be reporting the various locations ranges etc on the antiquated Asdic. The Captain giving orders for evasive action. Young Freddo with a solid brass 2ft diameter wheel to manoeuvre would respond to the best of my ability to orders. The steering was Rod Gearing which meant that 20 revolutions were required for every 5 degrees of helm. Starboard twenty the order would ring out. Starboard twenty Sir young Freddo would repeat. This entailed 80 revolutions of the wheel. Midships would be ordered which meant another 80 revolutions to restore the helm amidships. I began to realise how I got this unwanted duty. It entailed a lot of hard work but I enjoyed it.
Nothing was easy on H Boats working torpedos was dreaded. A torpedo would be craned onto the casing & supported while the War head was removed. Warhead & torpedo were lowered separately down the fore hatch then reassembled once in the fore ends. If you thought that you had a tough time in boats think of the H Boat crews.

“Lest We Forget”
Fred Bottrell. AB /ST. RN. HO.

Cox'n has the helm.--On Course.

                                    CPO,Cox'n SM. Derek Lilliman.

                       My Story as a Submariner, etc

 

Joined the ‘Andrew’ (Royal Navy) in 1944 at HMS Royal Arthur, Skegness (ex Butlins Holiday Camp) to be ‘kitted up’ and finally to HMS Ganges at Shotley as an HO (Hostilities Only). Halfway through Basic Training as a Seaman, the ‘conscripts’ on the course where shipped away into the Army leaving only the volunteers. Another odd thing that happened was after completion of training and leave; we were kept back in ‘Ganges’ to act as laborers for the ‘Riggers’ from Chatham Dockyard to refit ‘The Mast’. It was stripped down to the stump (which incidentally is a metal tube not wood!) and every piece of rigging re-placed.

 

After this it was off to the Isle of Man to become a RP3 (Radar Plot) working a two-watch system, (early and late!). Marching from the Hotels on the sea front at Douglas, IOM, which was HMS Valkyrie to the Heads were the Radar School was, and back again each day. Followed by four weeks in HMS Collingwood, Fareham, Hants in 1944, to do the ‘plotting’ part of the course.

 

On completion I thought I would be drafted to a ship, but no, I was off to Iceland just before Christmas 1944 along with thousands of Yanks on the Troopship ‘SS Highland Monarch’ to HMS Baldur, Reykjavik and then further north to the Arctic Circle to man a 144 Radar set stationed on the top of a mountain to sweep the Denmark Straits, between Iceland and Greenland for German Raider’s who might sneak round the top of Iceland. In 1945, as it was near the end of the war with not many German ships left this was shut down and it was back to Chatham on the Troopship ‘MV Tampia’

 

Chatham Barracks in Kent UK was unbelievable, grossly overcrowded with nowhere to sling your ‘Mick’ or stow your kitbag. I heard a ‘buzz’ that if you volunteered for Submarines you could get out of the place. This I promptly did and found myself on draft to HMS ‘Dolphin’, Gosport, Hants, the submarine base early 1945. Blockhouse was as bad as Chatham; Pactolus Block (i.e. The Shed’s or Stables!) had hammocks slung everywhere you could imagine, even between the girders in the roof and the electrics were unbelievable. Lengths of flex strung all over the place with bare lamps and no such thing as a Power Point! ‘Canteen Messing’ was an eye opener too! Each mess providing its own “cook of the mess’. He having to prepare all the food for the chef’s to cook in the galley

 

After completion of the Submarine Course, which I found very confusing, doing classroom work on ‘S’ Boats, did three days Sea Training on ‘U & V’ Boats (Vox; Voracious & Umbra) and was drafted to a ‘T’ boat as my first boat! On the ‘Tactician’ in 1945 I quickly learnt how to become C&PO’s Bathroom sweeper, steer a submarine, become proficient on the Fore Planes as well as operate a 291, ‘handraulic’ Radar Set with a double di-pole aerial with only an ‘A’ Scan and no PPI.

 Somebody in the hierarchy decided that Radar Ratings should do ‘Asdic’ whilst dived so I was sent inboard in 1946 to do a SD’s (Submarine Detector) course. I didn’t mind this as in them day’s all ‘third class rates’ only got three pence a day whereas SD's got sixpence. A fortune in them days!

After this it was onto the ‘Thermopylae’ for about four months to become an SDR (Submarine Detector Radar) where PO McNally taught me all I needed to know to be an Asdic Rating as well as polishing bright-work in the Control Room.

About this time, Sept 1946 Long Weekends had just been introduced and one Friday getting ready to go on LWE I was told to report to the Submarine Drafting Office, which was on the ship ‘Titania’ alongside in Blockhouse, were I was told that I  was joining the ‘Amphion’(LCDR Gowan/LCDR Maydon), sailing for Hong Kong the following morning, Saturday (Pier Head Jump) During my time on the ‘Amphion’ I became proficient as Tanky, stand in Chef and wardroom Flunkey with a side line of being the Sight-Setter on the 4’ Gun. However whilst in the Far East I had my first visit to Australia working with the RAN, berthing on the Ship HMAS ‘Platypus’ in Watson’s Bay, Sydney. Being Best Man at a friends wedding, I thought the place was terrific and had a great months stay!

 In Hong Kong I learnt a lot about sailing a 14’ ‘pussers sailing dinghy as the ‘Jimmy’, Lieut John Coote(deceased) was a keen yachtsman at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Kellet Island and he used me as his crew This is when I decided to stay in the RN and signed on!

Two years later on return to Dolphin and Foreign Service leave I suddenly found myself doing a Torpedo Course on the HMS Maidstone in 1948 as, without a ‘by your leave’ I was made a TD3. Next it was to the ‘Aeneas (LCDR Martin)’ where I quickly learnt to be an After End man, Opening and shutting the ”After Trim Main Line Suction” at Watch Diving, Helm’s man and Lookout on the surface and polishing bright-work for two and a half years and suffering three ‘Summer Wars’! Whilst on this boat I took 14 day’s ‘End of War’ leave and married Dorothy my wife,  (Everybody who served during WWII was granted an extra 28 days end of war leave in 1945)

Next I was drafted in 1950 to the ‘Sea Scout’ (LCDR Walters) where I became once again proficient as ‘Tanky’, Stand in Chef and Fore End-man with the added duty as ‘Breach Worker’ on its 4’ gun.

Realizing that now I was married it was time I pulled my finger out and got somewhere. I passed ET1 and qualified as a 'Killick’ (Leading Seaman). It was also about this time that I found out I was no longer a TD3 but a UW3, as opposed to a UC3, don’t ask me why?

Having been rated Leading Seaman by CDR Nash in March 1952, I was drafted to Portland where I spent a happy month driving a ‘Pussers Red Devil’ as Spare Crew Postman. This came to an end in 1952 when I was asked if I would like to be a Second Coxswain and drafted  to the ‘Sleuth’ (LCDR Todd), a streamlined ‘S’ class. This job taught me an awful lot about towing, streaming and recovering ‘buffs’ whilst acting as clockwork mouse for the Destroyers.

‘Scratcher’ (2nd Cox’n) of the ‘Taciturn’ (CDR Mitchell) followed, in 1953 my first stretched ‘T’, then a draft out to the Mediterranean on the C-in-C’s Staff for two summers, 1953/54, diving and underwater fishing with Admiral, The Earl Mountbatten, returning to S/M’s during the winter, qualified for PO on the ‘Forth’ and finished the commission as ‘’Scratcher’ of the ‘Sanguine’ (LCDR Tait, later Admiral) in 1955. A most enjoyable time, the boat visiting numerous ports around the Mediterranean Sea. Although I did have the dubious privilege of having to change the press wire on the Attack periscope, not a very easy or pleasant task nor carried out by many 2nd Coxswains that I know!

 

Arriving in Dolphin after my Foreign Service leave in Oct 1955, I found my B13 for Petty Officer waiting for me, got rated, moved into the PO’s Mess, the old No 6 Mess down in the Fort where on the very first night somebody ‘nicked’ my Burberry. After suffering the PO’s Divisional Course at HMS Royal Arthur, Corsham, I was drafted to Guzz to commission the ‘Thule’ (LCDR Derrick) as Second Coxswain on which I spent an agreeable two years in 1957 as Training Boat running from Dolphin and having carried out Cox’n’s Duties on several occasions was recommended for the Cox’n’s Course.

 

Qualifying Cox’n in 1957 and doing my Part Three as Cox’n on the ‘Seneschal' it was back to Guzz to commission the ‘Tabard’ (LCDR Merriwether/LCDR Pogson) and after running up in Scotland, out to the Mediterranean once again for another two and a half years, getting rated A/CPO. During this time we were the first boat to be fitted with a periscope with a built in sextant and also the first fitted with a w/t ‘ALE’.  The ‘Tabard’, eventually leaving Malta, for Australia without me as I was nearing the end of my time abroad.  I relieved Tex Golding on the ‘Tapir’ in 1960 so he could become the Regulating Cox’n on the Depot ship ‘Forth & Narvick’ and for a short time was Cox’n of the Miner VI (torpedo recovery vessel)

 

 Returning to Dolphin I was Cox’n in charge of Dolphin II from1961/64The Submarine Training School for two years were I organized the Training Division and then due to a character in the Tank losing his Chief’s rate, I suddenly found myself as an Instructor in the Submarine Escape Training Tank for eighteen months and then two and a half years as Escape Cox’n for the 4th S/M division based on HMAS Penguin (that was my primary job, but the most important one was as Bar Manager and Vice Pres. of the Chief’s Mess) Also being made a confirmed Chief Petty Officer Cox’n during this time, 1964/66! Also during this time the division went down to New Zealand and I took passage to Auckland on the Trump to give escape lectures then traveled to Gisborne to return to Sydney on the Taciturn doing the same thing.

 

On return to UK in 1966 during my Foreign Service leave I had to join HMS Excellent to complete a MAA’s Course as I was being drafted to the ‘Repulse’ Port Crew (CDR Wadman), building at Barrow. Another bright idea from the hierarchy, Cox’n’s joining the Polaris Programme should be qualified Master at Arm’s!

 

I would have quite happily stayed on the ‘Repulse’ forever as I only had the three “R’s” to worry about (Rum, Rattle Sheets & Railway Warrants!) but the Family wanted to emigrate to Australia and seeing as I was nearing the end of my ’fifth five’ with no hope of signing on for a sixth, I resigned from the RN on 14th May, 1969 after 25 years and emigrated to Australia.

 

I settled in Sydney in 1969 and joined the RAN, I was asked to join their S/M’s but after a ‘Nuke’ I didn’t fancy going back to sea on a conventional again, so opted for the Naval Police. I won’t dwell on my sixteen years in the Royal Australian Navy, enough to say I started at the bottom again and left as a Warrant Officer with the rather grandiose title of ‘Deputy Officer in Charge, Naval Police Security Section, Garden Island’ This amounted to starting at the bottom again and working my way up through the various ranks and departments of the Naval Police, like walking the beat and manning The Radio information room on Garden Island then in a Patrol Car, following being the Regulating Officer and then in charge of the Fire and Transport department However, at one stage whilst I was in charge of the Transport and Fire Department I organized a fire-fighting demonstration team, which competed with other non-professional fire firefighters, and they won several trophies and acclamations for which I was awarded a Flag Officer’s Commendation (RADML MARTIN RAN, Deceased)).

 

Leaving the RAN in 1985, after sixteen year, from 1969 till 1985 I worked on Garden Island Dockyard, Sydney as a Clerical Assistant, before becoming the ‘Technical Assistant’ to the Curator of the Naval Historical Collection (A passed over LCDR) on Spectacle Island in Sydney Harbour. This consisted of a jumble of artifacts collected over the years from various ‘Paid Off’ ships and I began to organize it into some semblance of order and display.

I enjoyed this very much but the Curator and I did not see eye to eye over various things which I won’t comment on and I decided to resign and move to Queensland where most of my family where living, buying a house on the Gold Coast!

 

Supposedly having retired, I don’t know who drove who up the wall, my wife or me but eventually I had to go out and get a job, this I did and became the Store Manager and Salesman for a Danish Firm selling deep sea fishing gear to the Commercial Fishing Fleets all around Australia. This was a great job; I enjoyed very much traveling around the country and helping them to build it up from a gross of $60,000 a year to over 2 Million when I left. But carrying heavy bags of shackles etc became a bit too much for me at the age of 67 so I retired for the last time.

 

 

 

As my Family and Grand Children had all grown up in Queensland by then? My wife and I decided to move to Western Australia were we could be with our youngest son and Grand Daughter and watch her grow up like the others. My family having bought me a computer and becoming proficient on it I began to enjoy life as a retiree also having found out about the existence of the Submarine Old Comrades WA. Which I joined, and this is when I became involved with the Submariners Association, Dolphin Branch. I also Joined the DEE WHY sub-Branch of the RSL when I emigrated with the family remaining a member ever since and am now regarded as a Life Subscriber 638/20630

 

 

 

Derek (aka Pensioner, COB, Scratcher, Tanky and even “you old b******d” by some of my friends)

 

 

 

(When two Captain’s names, were mentioned in this Story it only means the change of Command. i.e. LCDR Gowan on the Amphion took us out to HK and LCDR Maydon brought us home!)

 

All this information can be confirmed with my original Service Certificates (S-549), a copy of my Divisional Officers Report (S-264’s) and a copy of my Submarine Index Card provided by Gus Britton, of the Submarine Museum, many years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          

 

 

                                              

                                       

 

                                          REAR ADMIRAL JOHN WEALE OBE

        FLAG OFFICER SCOTLAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

REAR ADMIRAL SUBMARINES

                                   ASSISTANT CHIEF OF NAVAL STAFF SUBMARINES

 

John Weale was born in Glasgow and educated by Benedictine Monks at St Augustine’s College, Thanet, Kent before studying Life Sciences (Biochemistry) at Westminster University, London. Post a rugby tour of the Far East with London Scottish; he joined the Royal Navy in 1985 for initial training at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. A volunteer for the Submarine Service, he joined HMS SOVEREIGN for Part III training in 1988 and HMS OPPORTUNE as the Sonar Officer in 1990.

Appointed the Operations Officer to HMS TRENCHANT in 1992, a busy 2 year period of operations followed in both the Arctic and Antarctic prior to selection for Submarine Command Course in 1994. Appointed as the Executive Officer to HMS SPLENDID in early 1995, further deployments to the North Atlantic and the Adriatic followed, prior to inaugural UK trials for the introduction into service of the TOMAHAWK cruise missile system (TLAM). Post a busy XO tour he served on exchange with the United States Navy as the Force Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer to SUBLANT in Norfolk, Virginia (1997-1998).

On promotion to Commander in 1999 John assumed command of HMS TRAFALGAR, for deployments to the South and North Atlantic, and introduced TLAM into the T Class submarine. In late 2001 he was appointed to Fleet Commitments where he contributed to the planning for OP VERITAS, the second Gulf War. Appointed to the Naval Staff in the MoD in 2003, he was the Desk Officer for naval relations with AUS, FR, RUS and the US, responsible for revitalising the FRUKUS engagement. Successfully completing a Masters degree in Defence Administration from Cranfield University, he was appointed to the Maritime Battle Staff in 2006.

Joining HMS ILLUSTRIOUS as the Operations Officer for the AQUILLA deployment to the Near East, he was consequently the lead maritime planner for OP HIGHBROW, the evacuation of entitled personnel from Lebanon. Appointed as the Chief of Staff for the UK command of CTF158 in 2008, from where he was awarded an OBE and selected for promotion to Captain and Command of FOST North.

 

Working with industry to bring HMS ASTUTE out of build and through sea trials, he was subsequently seconded to the staff of Director Submarines to establish and lead the Submarine Training & Education Programme (STEP) from where he was selected for promotion to Commodore and appointed as DFOST in 2012. Following promotion to Rear Admiral, John assumed the role of Assistant Chief of Naval Staff Submarines (ACNS(SM)) and Flag Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland (FOSNI). On the 15 October 2015 Admiral Weale was given the role of Rear Admiral Submarines (RASM).

 

Married to Julie, they have four children and live in Cornwall where they run a smallholding.

 

Arthur Melling. (JonSuper)


 

 

‘When I made a decision, aged 16, to apply for entry to Dartmouth, it was only 10 years from the end of WWII, two years from the end of the Korean War,  National Service was still in force and bookstalls were still full of war-time stories. I could not think of anything more exciting than to join the Senior Service. 

                                                                                                                                I was right. The Cold War became very “hot” for the submarine service in which I was to spend nearly my entire naval career.


I first went to sea in HMS Appleton, a coastal minesweeper. I then joined HMS Chichester which was an air defence frigate destined for the Far East station but the 1961 Kuwait/Iraq crisis intervened and we were dispatched to the Gulf.  My career path changed completely after four months because my Captain had decided that my character and skills were well (better?) suited to the submarine service and I was to start training in September 1961. This was a bit of a surprise but sounded exciting. In any case there was no room for objection – once you received the Queen’s shilling you did what you were told!                                                                                              I was landed in Mombasa to make my own way to Nairobi to catch an RAF trooping flight home a week or so later.
The training school was located at Gosport in Fort Blockhouse, originally built during the Napoleonic wars. It became the home base for submarines when the first RN submarine, Holland 1, entered service in 1901.                 It is now a museum.


My first submarine was HMS Auriga (March 1962) attached to the 6th Submarine Division in Halifax, Canada. HMS Auriga had just completed a refit in UK so the first few months were spent “working up” in the Clyde, Scotland, before deploying to Halifax. Nova Scotia.                       Nonetheless I managed to find time to get married before we sailed.


This period marked the real start of the Cold War. The stand-off between the USSR and USA over the installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba occurred just before we sailed across the Atlantic. It was to affect all our lives from then on.  During the two years of being based in Canada we would regularly go north to practise patrolling beneath the arctic ice where the Soviet submarines often operated.


1965 to 1968 was spent serving in HMS Sealion based at Faslane in Scotland, taking a specialist sonar course in Portsmouth and then back to Scotland on S/M Staff, responsible for the operational efficiency of all submarines. With Russian ships and submarines passing our front door, so to speak, every day we were very preoccupied in tracking their movements around the Atlantic seaboard.

 

In 1968, after barely a year in Scotland, the family (two children by now) and I had to pack our bags to fly to Singapore because I had been appointed as the 1st Lieutenant of HMS Cachalot. These were the dying days of Empire before the services pulled out of their East of Suez bases. Although the Indonesian Confrontation had ceased three years previously the emergence of the Chinese Navy as a major force gave us new intelligence tasks.

 

In 1969 I was selected for the Submarine Commanding Officers’ Qualifying Course - aka “The Perisher”. This six-month course is a prerequisite for command of a submarine. Failure means your submarine career “perishes”.                                                                                                  I was appointed in command of HMS Alliance in January 1970 at Devonport.  One’s first command is a daunting experience but we were too busy chasing Russian submarines or practising attacks against our own forces for me to have much time to think.


Bigger and better Russian ships and submarines were appearing in the Atlantic every year. Our task was to track them so that we could counter-attack immediately if hostilities started. We therefore spent a lot of time trailing very closely behind them wherever they went to observe how and where they operated; this included such exciting manoeuvres as passing under Russian ships’ hulls to take periscope photographs of propellers and other underwater equipment.
At the end of my command time I was sent to a desk job in the Ministry of Defence (July 1979).

 

Everyone has to do their penance time here and I was no different.
While I found it interesting, I was fretting to get back to sea but my chances of doing so were going to be much reduced because the Navy was about to lose a large number of ships; and so I decided to opt out before it became a sad place to be.

In January 1981 I stepped “ashore” for the last time as a serving officer and embarked on a commercial career which led me to Ferranti, Racal and Westland before retiring from corporate life in 2000.

  ______________________________________________________________     ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Darryl Manzer