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
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
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.
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.
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
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)
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.
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
(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.