A collection of ‘dit’s, stories,

Memories and down right lies appertaining to the RN Submarine Service collected from other sources!

Published, if and when possible – Sept 2010


Re-issued September 2013



Ode to the tot

There once was a time in Submarines
When the magic hour had come
The leading hands of every mess
Prepared to collect the rum

The smell of Jamaican filled the “boat’
As the ritual began
A daily tot of Nelson’s Blood
Was a favourite to every man

When the (Rum) Bo’sun stood, his measure poised
To serve each man his tot
Two fingers  always  in the ‘ cup ‘
Making sure that the ‘Queen ‘ got her lot

The ‘ ticker off ‘ was there , of course
His pencil at the ready
With a sipper given from each man’s tot
His hand was no longer steady

The rum rat sat, his eyes aglow
His whiskers twitching well
He liked his rum so much it seems
He could get p****d on the smell

Sometimes the tots were passed around
As each man paid his debts
Favour, rubber, game of crib
Could cost a couple of wets

Then came the time to sup the ‘Queens ‘
“God Bless Her “was the toast
A watchful eye, as each man supped
So the Rum Bo’sun got the most

Once the rum had been consumed
And nothing left to pour
The dits began, as the ‘Grog‘ took charge,
Of favourite runs ashore

A feed, a fight, a couple of pints
Was part of a run ashore
A game of darts was in there too
Then all night in with a local w***e

No longer though, does the scent of rum
Pervade her Majesty’s boats
No more to sup Lord Nelson’s Blood

So to all who drank Lord Nelson’s Blood
And heard the klaxon’s blast
May old shipmates meet and share a wet
 Spinning dits of the good times  passed

A toast then to Horatio
And another to the Queen
And may we all, wherever we are
Remember where we’ve been!


Rum Rat

It is now exactly forty years ago, on the 31st July 1970, that the British Royal Navy sailors had their last traditional tot of rum.

For hundreds of years, Royal Navy seamen queued up in galleys from the poles to the tropics to receive their regulation lunchtime tot of rum. But 40 years ago, the tradition was ended.

On 31 July 1970, known in the Royal Navy as 'Black Tot Day', the sun passed over the yardarm for the final time and free rum was retired from navy life.

Black arm-bands were worn as the Queen was toasted. Tots were buried at sea and in one navy training camp, sailors paraded a black coffin flanked by drummers and a piper.

"It was a sea change. It was one hell of a change," says Commander David Allsop, who enjoyed the tot as a junior rating after joining the navy in 1955


. It was badly received. There was a lot of muttering below the decks."

The Admiralty took away the tot because they were concerned that a lunchtime slug of rum would hinder sailors' ability to operate increasingly complex weapons systems and navigational tools.

But by 1970 the rum bosun's daily doling out of an eighth of a pint (70ml) of rum at midday - diluted with water for junior ratings, neat for senior - was a reasonably gentlemanly affair.

"In my era it was a social occasion," says Commander Allsop. "You paid for favours quietly, you had friends come round to share the tot."

"It was just the same as going to the bar and having a pre-lunch drink. That's all it was, at the end of the day, a strong aperitif."

On the lash.
Sailors from the early 18th Century might have scoffed at the innocence of the 1970s tot.

Beer had been the staple beverage of the Royal Navy until the 17th Century, used as a self-preserving replacement for water, which became undrinkable when kept in casks for long periods.

But as the horizons of the British Empire expanded, the sheer bulk of beer - the ration for which was a gallon (eight pints or 4.5 litres) per day per seaman - and its liability to go sour in warmer climates, made it impractical to take on long voyages.

Wine and spirits started to take its place and when in 1655 the British captured Jamaica from Spain, the navy was introduced to rum.

Staggeringly, until 1740 the daily ration was half a pint of neat rum, twice a day, at a time before there were accurate methods for measuring the alcoholic content.

Sailors would check their rum had not been watered down by pouring it onto gunpowder and setting light to it, from where the term "proof" originates.

By volume, 57.15% alcohol has been calculated as the minimum required for it to pass the test.

Even keel
The onboard problems caused by a massive intake of incredibly strong rum had to be remedied, and in 1740 Admiral Edward Vernon, known as Old Grogram, from his preference for cloaks made from a fabric of the same name, issued his notorious order.

"The pernicious custom of the seamen drinking their allowance of rum in drams and often at once is attended with many fatal consequences to their morals as well as their health," it states.

"Many of their lives shortened thereby... besides stupefying their rational qualities which makes them heedlessly slaves to every brutish passion."


 Sailors are often associated with a large intake of alcohol

Rum was henceforth mixed with water, at first at a ratio of a quart (two pints or 1.1 litres) of water to each half pint ration, and "grog" was invented.

It is not surprising that seamen through the ages had grown attached to their rum ration, even though the punishment for drunkenness until the late 19th Century was a public flogging, says naval historian Dr Pieter van der Merwe.

"They lived in conditions that nowadays would be considered intolerable," he says. "It was the one thing that made life bearable.”

were. Seamen were a race apart. They walked differently, they talked differently, and they dressed differently. They were built like oxen.

"They could take punishment, and they expected it. They knew if they got drunk they would be flogged, and they still got drunk."

It would be wrong, however, to draw conclusions about naval sea worthiness from the fact that for hundreds of years, navy sailors imbibed a huge daily dose of rum.

"You mustn't imagine that naval ships were sailed by crews of drunken sailors," says Dr van deer Merwe, general editor at the National Maritime Museum.
"Everybody drowns if sailors are drunk all the time."

RUM DICTIONARY Nelson's Blood - Slang name for rum, erroneously based on the story that Nelson was preserved in rum after being killed at Trafalgar. He was actually preserved in brandy.

Tot - Name for the navy alcohol ration
Grog - Mixture of rum and water, introduced to the Navy in 1740
Splicing the Mainbrace - The awarding of an additional drink on a special occasion



I’ll never forget the taste of your pasties chef...no matter how hard I try!



Keep this in mind the next time you are about to repeat a rumor or spread gossip.

In ancient Greece (469 - 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom.
One day an acquaintance ran up to him excitedly and said, "Socrates, do you know what I just heard about Diogenes?"

"Wait a moment," Socrates replied, "Before you tell me I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Triple Filter Test."
'Triple filter?" asked the acquaintance.

"That's right," Socrates continued, "Before you talk to me about Diogenes let's take a moment to filter what you're going to say. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"

"No," the man said, "Actually I just heard about it."

"All right," said Socrates, "So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about Diogenes something good?"

"No, on the contrary..."

"So," Socrates continued, "You want to tell me something about Diogenes that may be bad, even though you're not certain it's true?"

The man shrugged, a little embarrassed. Socrates continued, "You may still pass the test though, because there is a third filter, the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about Diogenes going to be useful to me?"

"No, not really."

Well," concluded Socrates, "If what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me or anyone at all?"
The man was bewildered and ashamed. This is an example of why Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.

It also explains why Socrates never found out that Diogenes was shagging his wife!!.

The continuing story by Mary Lee Coe Fowler to find more about her deceased Father.

In a 1943 newspaper interview, said he was so entranced that he failed to spot the destroyers approaching from behind until they fired at his periscope.

Diving to 150 feet. He ordered the crew to rig for silent running and depth-charge attack. This time they were pinned down even longer, with four destroyers pinging but, strangely not dropping depth charges. At last with little oxygen left my father prepared to surface in the face of the enemy. He ordered then- ensign Guy Cugliotta to pack the boat’s documents in a canvas bag for quick dispatch overboard, with some wrenches to weigh it down. As they were about to surface the sonar-man reported that the pinging receding. The sound died away and they surfaced to find the sea blessedly completely empty. My father in another newspaper interview speculated that the Japanese submarine they spotted earlier must have been the reason the destroyers did not drop depth charges.

Returning to Manila to refuel and stock up on torpedoes, they found the city and airfield and navy yard in ruins. S-39 received orders southwards in the Philippines and then proceed to Java, they made it to Surabaya, Java in February and were just getting crucially needed repairs under way when the Japanese bombed the port to rubble. Grabbing repair materials the crew of s-39 hurriedly put to sea. They were then ordered to look for a group of downed British airmen reported on the nearby island of Chebia but only found evidence that the Japanese had beaten them to the hapless airmen.

S-39 turned dispiritedly towards Fremantle, Australia a voyage of at least five days through waters reportedly heavily patrolled by the enemy. As they set out on March 4, 1942, they spotted Japanese ships and sank the tanker Ervin Maru. They paid for this with the most vicious depth-charging yet, with the Japanese calling in aerial bomber’s to join the destroyers. Misled by erroneous Dutch charts, S-39 was grounded on the muddy bottom and inadvertently churned up tell tale clouds whenever he tried to creep away. When the Skipper realized this S-39 was churning up mud, he ordered a sharp burst of speed to break her loose, took her up just enough to let the mud clouds dissipate, and crept away. Still it was seven more hours before the sound of the destroyers and plains faded away.

It was night when they surfaced near a low, dark island, which seemed a good place to recharge batteries. But well before they finished, they heard a Japanese destroyer approaching. It shined a searchlight on one end of the island, and then started a précis sweep along the shore line in the direction of the sub. Trapped in waters to shallow to dive, S-39 could nothing but turn off all sound and reduce the silhouette by turning to face the destroyer. The men stood by the deck gun ready to fire as the light swept nearer. Some fortunate wobbliness or carelessness on the part of the sailor handling the searchlight suddenly sent the beam up to the treetops behind them. It hovered there a second then descended to shore level on the other side of the boat. The S-39ers stood there, hardly breathing, as the light swept on to the end of the island, and then the destroyer slowly turned and chugged out to sea.

Giddy with relief the S-39ersw fled towards the Sundra strait, where ,as crew man Charles Witt told me, Red Coe pulled them through hell that night, struggling to control the boat while a shift current 100 feet down swept them sideway’s and Japanese ships swarmed overhead. The exhausted voyage continued. Short of drinking water, the crew had to catch rainwater in a barrel on deck. Food was almost gone as well. Tropical heat prostrated the men and gave them painful whit blisters and skin rashers. The port engine blew and the boat lost three days trying to fix it before giving up and proceeding on one engine. With a worn out clutch to boot, the old boat  along at only seven knots, a sitting duck, for roughly ten days it took to reach Fremantle.

Moral at Fremantle was low. The submarine crews all had stories of defective torpedoes the brass bound brass blaming the poor results on improper set-ups by the skippers. The brass also blamed the skippers for lack aggressiveness, despite pre war training emphasizing daylight submergence and cautious approaches. Skippers now had to come up with offensive tactics on the fly or be ‘bilged’ out of submarines. My father escaped criticism because of S-39’s two credited sinking’s, a rare success for any S-boat. On March 28, only a week after reaching Fremantle, he was given command of the fleet-boat Skipjack (SS-184)

In his first patrol (Skipjack’s third) -, Red Coe sank four ships, the best single patrol so far in any theater. Aggressive and innovative he even made a mistake into a first successful “down the throat” shot. Misjudging an approach and getting to close to wait for a favorable track and gyro angle he had to shoot a spread from only 650 yards at the narrowest angle as the ship approached. The magnetic exploder of the Mk 14 torpedo functioned perfectly, blowing the bottom out of the Kanan Maru. But defects in other Mk14s ruined many attacks. Red’s patrol report pulled out all stops, describing how vapor from  torpedo wakes going all the way to a target as the torpedoes passed harmlessly underneath running too deep to detonate. What’s more, this occurred most often in runs of less than 1000 yards – wasting hard won attack positions. The patrol report recommended controlled tests at short ranges so submariners would at least know the torpedoes limitations. Rear Adm Charles Lockwood, Commander Submarines, southwest Pacific, had Skipjack run tests with the three torpedoes remaining from her patrol. Leading to the many fixes needed to make the Mk 14s reliable.

Red Coe received the Navy Cross for his high-scoring patrol in Skipjack and his work in s-39. But two more patrols and over two years continuous command left him exhausted.  Skipjack was badly in need an overhaul, limping into Pearl Harbour in December 1942 with the crew sick from bad drinking water. On the dock at Pearl was a mountain of toilet paper in belated response to the skipper’s June letter to Maire Island depot. Toilet Paper flew from masts and flagpoles, people meeting the boat had toilet paper ties, and the brass band had toilet paper unrolling out of their trumpets with every blast.                                                                                                                     More next issue

  Queensland Bush etiquette

           In General:
  1.       never take an open stubby to a job interview...
2.       Always identify people in your paddocks before shooting at them.
 3.       it’s tacky to take an Esky to church.
 4.       If you have to vacuum the bed, it's time to change the sheets.
 5.       Even if you're certain you're included in the will, it's rude to take your Ute and trailer              to the funeral.
Eating Out:
  1.       When decanting wine from the box, tilt the paper cup and pour slowly so as not to                   bruise the wine.
  2.       If drinking directly from the bottle, hold it with only one hand.
Entertaining at Home:
  1.       a centre-piece for the table should never be anything prepared by a taxidermist.
  2.       Don't allow the dog to eat at the table, no matter how good his manners.
Personal Hygiene:
  1.       while ears need to be cleaned regularly, this should be done in private, using ones                   OWN Ute keys.

2.       Even if you live alone, deodorant isn't a waste of money.
 3.       Extensive use of deodorant can only delay bathing by a few days.
 4.       Dirt and grease under the fingernails is a no-no, it alters the taste of finger foods and if you are a woman it takes attention away from your jewelry.
Theatre/Cinema Etiquette:
  1.       Crying babies should be taken to the lobby and picked up after the movie ends.
 2.       Refrain from yelling abuse at characters on the screen. Tests have proven they can't hear you.
  1.       Livestock is a poor choice for a wedding gift.
 2.       For the groom, at least, rent a tux. A tracksuit with a cummerbund and a clean                       football jumper can create a tacky appearance.
 3.       Though uncomfortable, say "yes" to socks and shoes for the occasion.
Driving Etiquette:
  1.       Dim your headlights for approaching vehicles, even if your guns loaded and the roo's in            your rifle sight.
 2.       When entering a roundabout, the vehicle with the largest roo bar doesn't always have              the right of way.
3.       Never tow another car using panty hose and duct tape.
4..       When sending your wife down the road with a petrol can, it's impolite to ask her to                  bring back beer too.

A dit from DerekWhilst I was qualifying as a Cox’n in 1957 the victual ling part was held in HMS Victory (RNB) and the Regulating part in HMS Excellent, Whale Island.One day I was notified that I was”Petty Officer of the Day” the following Sunday. Now being submariners for many years I hadn’t the foggiest idea what a “Petty Officer of the Day” had to do?

Enquiring I found out that I had to be present and witness the opening of the Rum Store at 1100  and the issue to the Chiefs and PO’s messes, also the rum to be made into Grog at in the main cafeteria at  1145 . I was also informed that after this I was free to go as I was not required at the ‘miss musters’ at 1700.Appearing at the appointed hour on the Sunday dressed in my best bib and tucker (gold badges, negative medals etc) along with the rest of the staff awaiting the Officer with the keys to the Rum Store. Eventually this ancient  thick ring commissioned Bo’sun appears saying ‘Open up’ .when the SA’s started to pump up the rum he said ‘Stop, that barrel has been open for several days now PO, it may have gone off!” and promptly produces a whisky glass out of his jacket pocket, fills it and takes a good swig. He then offers it to me saying “what do you thing PO?” now not being backwards in coming forward I also took a good drink. “Seems alright to me Sir  I said” Proceed said the Officer.

After the Chief and PO’s where issued the Bariico (pronounced ‘breaker’) was filled for making into grog and carried off to the Cafeteria. Promptly at 1145 I mustered in the Cafeteria where the rum was mixed with water to make ‘two & one’ as per QR&AI’s. The same Officer said “Only mix half of it as it is Sunday and half of them won’t turn up for their Tot’ but insisted on sampling it again in case it had gone off!  And would you believe when the second half was watered we went through the same routine again!In consequence in the space of just over an hour I had three tot’s of Pussers neat rum. In those day’s I could only afford a push bike  and had to pedal down Queen Street, over on the Gosport Ferry and all the way to Rowner  Married quarters, were the wife promptly put me in the ‘dog-house’ for breathing rum fumes all over the place and falling asleep on the settee and the three ‘ankle biters weren’t impressed as they wanted to play cricket!     So much for Petty Officer of the Day.

The Epic of the Seal                                   By E.R.A. Ernest Trueman

Our troubles started on May 4, 1940. Up till then we had experienced a peaceful patrol, operating in the Kattegat as a mine laying submarine.

At 0200 on May 4 we were lying on the surface having charged our depleted batteries, waiting for dawn and diving stations. At 0215 we dived and as we submerged so came a German aircraft, one of its bombs landing uncomfortably close to us. We sustained no damage and received no more "eggs," so the daily round commenced once more.

Between 1000 and 1100 we were in position and laid our full complement of mines, hoping that Gerry would find them when he least expected or desired it. Then it was "About turn" and homeward bound for another load. At 1830 I was on watch in the control room when a flotilla of enemy "E" boats were sighted right ahead of us. The captain decided that our best plan was to stop all machinery, and in total silence, rest on the seabed till the danger had passed. Accordingly the steering motor and all auxiliary pumps, etc., were stopped and Seal slowly sank to the bottom.

The time was 1905 and as I was due to be relieved at 1900 my thoughts turned to supper. Owing to the previous action, however, this meal was late, and so was my relief. As these thoughts passed through my mind there was a terrific explosion and everybody

___ w_o~ndered what had happened. All ears  were anxiously listening for the next one, everybody assuming that we were being depth-charged by the "E" boats. However none came and the hydroplanes could detect no surface craft in the vicinity.

Suddenly there was pandemonium from aft, and the news passed through that we were taking water rapidly in the mining compart­ment right aft. Those on the spot quickly shut this section off but not before a lot of water had found its way into the mess deck and motor room compartments. It was deemed necessary to evacuate these compartments and all watertight doors were closed up to the engine room.

Conjecture now arose as to what had happened and it was finally decided that we had selected the one spot on the ocean bed to sit on a submerged mine. As soon as the explosion was heard we had started to blow our ballast tanks, but this order was countermanded when only two tanks forward had been partially blown. This had given us an alarming angle up by the bow, stern at 110 feet, bow at 50 feet, length of boat 300 feet, an angle of one in five – most uncomfortable. It was then decided to wait for darkness before attempting to surface in case the enemy should still be in the vicinity. For two hours we lay doing nothing and at 2200 diving stations were called. Every effort was made to lighten the boat. The drop keel was released and auxi-tanks blown, but still we did not move in the desired direction. These actions had taken us the best part of three hours and by 0100 on May 5, things seemed pretty hopeless.

It was decided to investigate the possibility of entering the motor room, so the Engineer Officer and the C.E.R.A. made tests and finally gave us the O.K. for entering the motor room. The after DSEA door was then tested and firmly shut, the C.E.R.A. working waist deep in water. It appeared that our stern had sunk into soft mud and was holding us down, so as a last resort all hands, except five of us, were ordered to move right forward. Then orders were given to blow all main ballast tanks and to go full ahead on both motors. We did! Would she rise or would she stick? Seconds seemed like years. At last with a shudder and a jerk and a shake she freed herself from the clutches of the mud and slowly the angle came off and she leveled at 60 feet. Here she hung in the balance seeming neither to rise nor to sink. They were anxious moments, as we now had used our last HP air and if she slipped back we were finished. Game to the last, however, Seal gradually rose, until at 0145 she had reached the surface. The conning tower hatch  was opened and great gulps of air were the order of the day.

Now our position was this. We had our engines in working order but our steering gear, being in the flooded compartment, was useless. Our bows were pointing in the wrong direction, towards Denmark and Gerry, so our only hope was to go astern towards Sweden, which we could see about ten to fifteen miles distant. This, however, was denied us, as our engines finally seized up owing to the fact that our lubricating oil pumps had decided on a sit-down strike. There we were, helpless, and at 0400 we were sighted by a German seaplane who proceeded to give us the works. At about 0500 we surrendered, and the seaplane took off our captain and one petty officer, telling us they would send assistance.

At 0700 a German trawler came alongside, and so we entered our period of Gefangenshaft on May 5, 1940. Five officers and 48 men of H.M.S. Seal for whom. As the Germans informed us, "the war was over for you." So ended the most anxious hours of my life. 

Would you believe.

Jack walks into a pub - gets a schooner - sits at a table and pulls a small 10 inch piano out of his pocket and puts it on the table. He then pulls out a very little man from the same pocket and places him on the table by the Piano.

The little man starts playing the piano.

 Another chap comes over and says "That's great - where did you get it?" Jack say's "From my Genie" and pulls the Genie from his pocket. After the usual "Ooohs!! and Ahs!!" Jack invites the chap to try it out.

 The chap then says to the Genie "I want a million bucks"

With that, the bar doors burst open and thousands of ducks pour in to the bar.

 The chap says to the Jack "I think that your Genie has a problem with his hearing".

 Jack replies "I know that - do you think I asked for a ten inch Pianist!!"


That’s all for this month Gents, the remainder of ‘Red’ Coe’s Saga next month, all things being equal.


Derek Lilliman 



 Towel Heads

 Recently I received a warning about the use of political incorrect terms, so please note: We all need to be more sensitive in our choice of words. I have been informed that the Islamic Terrorists, who hate our guts and want to kill us, do not like to be called “Towel Heads’ since the item they wear on their heads is not actually a towel, but in fact. a small folded sheet. Therefore, from this point forward please refer to them as “Little Sheet Heads” Thank you for your support and compliance on this delicate matter.



Pasta had not been introduced.
Curry was a surname.
A takeaway was a mathematical problem.
A pizza was something to do with a leaning tower.
Bananas and oranges only appeared at Christmas time.
All crisps were plain; the only choice we had was whether to put the salt on or not.
A Chinese chippy was a foreign carpenter.
Rice was a milk pudding, and never, ever part of our dinner.
A Big Mac was what we wore when it was raining