Dusty Miller -
ex PO Seaman wrote on 29 January 2009
CARYSFORT 1966 -1969 COMMISION
is an old naval saying ďMy last ship was my best shipĒ Which
is true because you always remember the good times, and quickly
forget the bad, but in this case it is not true. CARYSFORT will
always be my best ship.
name is Dusty Miller I was a PO Seaman on the last commission
you will bear with me I will try to relate some of my fond memories
of this commission and I hope it will bring back some to you.
will start with the day we all assembled in the Drill Shed in Guzz
Barracks and marched down to the ship (that was the done thing in
those days) I was in the aft POís mess next to the greenies mess,
I remember thinking these messmates donít seem a bad lot.
Little did I know what I was letting myself in for!
had our commissioning ceremony in Guzz dockyard and some of the
families came on board. The Captain was Commander Bates and I think
it was a J.MEM who cut the cake with the Captainís wife.
I hope I can find a photo of this.
was our work up at Portland and of course the Torrey Canyon
What I remember of it is as follows.
It was a Sunday and one watch was on W/End.
Our Yeoman, Vic Cornwall had a mate on one of the other ships
whose birthday it was. He came over at lunchtime for a wet and we
made arrangements to go ashore that evening at 1900 (because in
those days that was opening time on Sundays).
I think it was myself, Jan Eddy, Tom Bristow, and the Yeo
went and picked up his mate and went into Portland.
By about 2100 birthday boy was getting a bit legless so we
decided to get him back onboard.
When we got to the dockyard gate we knew something was amiss
with so much activity going on.
We got him back to his ship and were told they were getting
ready for sea and we neednít laugh because we were going as well.
When we got onboard it was chaotic, with people joining from
The duty PO was one of the S&S department and they were
getting the upper deck ready for sea so I think he was very relieved
to see us. After a while we got it sorted out the best we could. The
Buffer and the rest of the seamen POís were on w/end.
Soon the pipe was made close up SSD then we realized the
Coxswain, Jock Cameron, was not onboard so I drew the short straw
and had to do it.
I hadnít taken a ships wheel for over 5 years and although
you donít forget how to do it, you donít want to be thrown in at
the deep end. The Captain then called down to say he wanted to be
first out of the harbour so he didnít want to waste time turning
inside. Instead he would go out astern through the harbour entrance.
I was told to keep it steady and he would tell me when were
I felt like saying ďdonít botherĒ. Anyway we made it
and were the first ship away. When SSD fell out we mustered all the
seamen on the Iron Deck to see who we had and who had joined from
the other ships.
We decided to chop them into 4 and said from left to right
first, middle, morning, and forenoon watch, now away you go and get
your heads down. Of course nobody knew who was who so when it came
to watch change over it was chaos again.
a few hours we were in the Lands End area and we were the first RN
ship on station.
We didnít know it at that time but we would be the last to
leave. One of the ABís who had joined from Osprey said to me the
next morning ďHow long do you think I will be on here because
Iím getting married next weekĒ I think he would have made it as
all the rest of our crew were bussed down to Falmouth within the
next couple of days.
We stayed around the area and had now been joined by other RN
ships maybe about 6 in all to keep the area clear of shipping and to
plot the oil slicks.
By now the air was full of the smell of oil and detergent.
IT WAS FOUL.
a couple of days it was decided to bomb the wreck to try and burn
off the oil in the tanks.
Prior to this, Commander Bates and our
- Lt Simon McCaskill, had gone over in our sea boat to have a
close up view.
We were stationed about 1 to 2 miles off while the bombing
took place on 28 March 1967.
The 1st pass was a miss but on the 2nd it was a success.
Buccaneer aircraft from 800 Squadron based at Lossiemouth were used and they
dropped 42 1,000lb bombs followed by RAF Hunter jets with drop cans
of aviation fuel.
The actual flames were about 150 ft high at least, and we had
a grandstand view of this. Later
on Sea Vixens from Yeovilton and Buccaneers from Brawdy as
well as more RAF Hunters with napalm joined until the wreck was
declared free from oil. In the days that followed all the RN ships returned and we
stayed on to take charge of the mop up at sea We managed a
couple of runs ashore in Falmouth and one in Newlyn (Penzance) then it was back to Guzz for a
cleanup and back to Portland to finish off the work up.
then started our 1st home leg of our commission.
There are a few things that I remember.
First being our visit to Kiel for Kieler Woche (Kiel Week)
and the trip along the Kiel canal.
Kiel week is the German equivalent of our Cowes week and we
were berthed at Tirpitz mole along with around 6 different nations
Each day we were invited to different functions. The two that
come to mind were the visit to Berlin to see the wall and the last
About 20 members from each
ship were invited and it was held at the Town Hall.
If I remember correctly we all mustered in the ante room for
drinks. After a while we realized the numbers were getting less and
then it was only Carysfort left.
We were then escorted on to the stage in the main hall and we
had to sing for our supper. We gave them a rendering ofĒ My body
lies over the oceanĒ which always seemed to go down well with the
The meal was good and the drinks kept flowing.
When we left Kiel we visited Stavanger which was a quiet run
then carried out Guardship duties at Cowes which was not up to the
Kiel standard. After
this we then carried on as Guardship for the Royal Yacht, an old
ship of mine so I had done this trip before.
When I did it the last time Prince Charlesí B13 for Prince
of Wales had just come through so we called into Cardiff to get him
rated up, but this time I think we called into St Marys Isles of
Scilly for half a day then on up to the Western Isles before
dropping them off at Aberdeen for Balmoral.
Next we did Guardship duties at Dartmouth Regatta, again
still not up to Kiel standard.
When we left Dartmouth we were to be one of the attractions
of Devonport Navy days - a ship entering harbour.
The Captain decided it would be a good idea to make it a sea
day for the families. A coach was ordered to bring them up to Dartmouth from
Plymouth but somehow the driver got lost on the way and was a few
hours late getting to Dartmouth so the sea day out for the families
was a quick dash down to Devonport but at least they got into Navy
we had Guardship duties at Gib.
I think we had a mess banyan W/end to Tangier by MFV, and
then back to Guzz for leave before we deployed for the Far East.
Far East employment started well.
we were about 24 hrs from Gib we were ordered to increase speed.
We arrived after dark and anchored in the bay.
We woke up the next morning to find half the Spanish navy
anchored on their side of bay and we stayed like this for a couple
days just watching each other before we were able to go alongside.
An MFV was provided and manned by a duty crew.
I think it was 1 officer 1 seaman PO a couple of seamen a MEM
and a chef.
We had to live on board for 24 hours.
We were stationed in the dockyard and had to go out and cross
the bay every 4 hours.
I think this is when Smokey Joe came about but I may be
Smokey Joe (real name Nervion) was the small Spanish boat doing the same thing as
us on the Spanish side of the line and black smoke was always
gushing out of his funnel when he was underway ,we use to wave to
each other when we passed.
Our main armament was one 303 rifle. I donít know what he
had maybe he was thinking he could make enough smoke so we could not
We stayed in this position for some time which covered the
I know our mess found a good watering hole in the RAF Sgtís
mess down on the Airfield.
Gin was 2d old money but the tonic was 6d!
back across the Airfield many times after midnight.
I donít know how it came about but our mess was talked into
taking part in a Boxing Day swim by the Dockyard Club for charity.
You think not a problem!
A swim in the Med,
but I donít think I have ever swam in such cold water.
Mind you we were well replenished with Rum to make up for it.
sailed from Gib mid January and called into Freetown for a couple of
hours to refuel and pick up mail but didnít get ashore.
We then carried on down to Simonstown.
On the way we had our crossing the line ceremony.
I think Ken Beales had something to do with this if I
He was a big lad.
I hope I still have a photo of this, if not maybe somebody
stayed in Simonstown for a few weeks and I think everybody had a
I know the ship had a shooting match against the SA Navy.
I donít think we outshot them but we won the drinking match
Wally the Seal use to visit the ship around the stern every
I think it was just to make sure we were still there. We had
shore runs into Capetown but apartheid was still in force
so you had to watch what you were doing ie sitting in the right
compartment on the train. While we were here we were asked to take
out the ashes of an expat to sea for burial.
The ashes were in a wooden box and Jim Greer the Shipwright
had to drill holes in the box and put some lead pellets in to make
sure it sank and not stay on the surface.
In the end it went off OK.
then sailed up the East coast of Africa to carry out our turn of
Not very exciting.
I donít think we ever saw any ships so not much chance of
I think I remember a couple of sods operaís on the
I suppose the most exciting thing was doing a RAS for stores
I think we were there for about 3 weeks then we then had a
trip to Mauritius for the Independence day on 12th March
All I can say about Mauritius is very nice beaches and if
anybody says they are going there for a holiday you can say ďBeen
there done that
and got the T shirtĒ
We called into Gan on our way to Singapore. I have a feeling
we then had a SMP and we moved into Terror so it was tropical
Work on the ship during the forenoon, back up to Terror for
lunch and a couple of pints of Tiger Tops then out on the golf
course to do a Tiger Woods or whoever it was at that time.
Not a bad life. I think Commander Bates left the ship at this
time and Commander Chapman joined I think we were all a bit sorry to
see Commander Bates leave but Commander Chapman did a good job.
We did a big
exercise with the Americans off Subic Bay after this we were on our
way for a visit to Japan and Hong Kong when the signal came for us
to detach and make our way independently to Tonga for the signing of
the 100 year Friendly Treaty. We
were all a bit sad at first for missing out on our run ashore in
Japan but what followed made up for this.
We didnít have to be there for a couple of weeks so we made
our way slowly calling into numerous islands on the way.
Two memories come to mind. The first was we had anchored off
an island and it must have been a weekend and we were staying for 24
hrs so one watch was allowed to go ashore in the morning and the
other in the afternoon for a swim on the beach.
I went in the morning with a dozen or so. After we had a swim we thought it may be a good idea to have
a look around so we followed a track and noticed some empty Fosters
beer cans at the side. We
then came to 3 totem poles so carried on a bit more still seeing
beer cans. We then walked into a clearing and saw a native village
and to one side was a village shop run by an Aussie and he sold
Fosters beer so of course we tucked in. The beer was warm but we
drank it anyway. I must
admit it was just like you see in the movies.
When we got back on board the news got round so more than
double went in the afternoon but we had more or less cleared out his
stock in the morning so they dipped out.
The second thing that comes to mind is we were off another
island and the Captain went ashore on a courtesy call.
Iím not sure if it was a hospital or an orphanage run by a
religious order. Anyway they asked him if about 20 of the crew would like to
come ashore late in the afternoon for tea.
It was nearly a detail off job to get enough people to go.
We were dropped off by boat on the beach.
The place was staffed by Aussies, both male and female.
After a while all the nuns and monks disappeared and it was
ďup spiritsĒ. Out
came the Beer and Spirits and it was drink what you could for an
hour or so. I
know we had a job getting some back into the boat.
Shortly after we called into Fiji for a few days
then it was on to Tonga.
I remember the main watering hole was The International
Dateline Hotel. I
donít think there were many other places to drink but I remember
there was a small bar but it didnít stay open very late.
My memories of that one was we were in there all dressed in
our whites. I
canít remember who it was (one of our mess) went outside to look
for the heads. He couldnít find them but there was a pigsty full of pigs.
He leaned on the gate which gave way and then fell in face
first. We all had
a good laugh before the barman gave us a hose to wash him down.
I also think we had a Rugby match against the locals.
Donít remember the score but Iím sure we didnít win. We
then went back to Fiji for a few more days.
I remember having a good meal in a Restaurant on the beach.
Cost a fortune but it was very good.
While we were in Fiji on one of the mess runs ashore we were
in one of the local bars and Tom Bristow got talking to the locals
who suggested we try the local brew called Kava. It should have been
firewater. Anyway it
came in an enamel like washing up bowl with a tin cup.
It looked just like Pussers cleaning paste in water.
The ritual was you all sat round the table and took turns in
drinking it. You had to
clap your hands, dip the cup into the bowl and get it down in one,
then pass the cup on to the next person.
The more it went down the bowl the thicker it got.
I think the idea of clapping was to make sure you were still
alive. That night on our way back to the ship we saw some frogs
crossing the road - the jumping kind not our friends across the
channel. It must have
been the Kava because I was sure they were the size of Kangaroos.
I never want to try that again.
the good news came not to go back to Singers but to go down to
Auckland and work with the Kiwis in preparation for a joint exercise
which was coming up.
On the way to Auckland we called into Nelson on the South
Not a bad run ashore.
I think we drank the British legendary (or what it is called
in New Zealand) dry.
When we came to leave Nelson we did not have much room to
manoeuvre so the Captain
said he would come astern slowly on the back spring and when
the stern was clear of the jetty to hold it so the bow would swing
out to port. The Buffer came down to the QD to see me and said watch
it because if we come astern too quickly we would not be able to
Of course he was right.
We could not hold it so I gave the order to drop the wire and
clear the QD but we were lucky. As the eye of the wire ran down the
deck it caught over an eyebolt
in the deck and held the ship just long enough for the bows
to move to port before the wire parted.
I suppose we did what was wanted but we were lucky no one was
We arrived at Auckland and were alongside in the dockyard in
Devonport. We started work with the kiwisí who knew how to do it.
We used to go to sea on Tuesdays and back in on Thursday
afternoon so they could go on W/end on Friday. We stayed doing this
for a few weeks and didnít get over to Auckland very often as we
had a job getting passed the watering hole by the ferry terminal.
Canít remember the name of it? We drank many jugs of beer
in there and it was very easy to stagger back to the ship. We then
had a trip over to Sydney.
While we were there we got free tickets to see a football
match between Cardiff City who were on tour and NSW.
Donít remember the score but think NSW won then it was back
This is when we ran into the storm in the Tasman Sea and it
was a good one.
I donít think anyone was able to get from forwíd to aft
on the upper deck.
For 2 days we lived on ships biscuits as it was too rough to
cook in the galley and anyway we wouldnít have been able to get
scran from there.
Eventually we got back to Devonport and a reporter came
onboard from the local newspaper because
everyone was talking about it.
He got hold of one of our mess members, Rip Kirby who was a
I know he maintained the nav radar and was always getting
called out. He
used to blame it on Jan Eddys operators and Jan would blame the
This went on all the time so we got used to it and it passed
the time away.
The Reporter asked Rip how tall the waves were Rip replied
ďyou see that mast well they were twice that highĒ I know they
were tall but not as tall as Rips stories.
He didnít live that one down for months.
last it was time to leave Auckland and we had another trip over to
Lucky for us, the Tasman was calmer this time.
From Sydney we went north and called into Townsville.
All I remember of Townsville was it reminded me of a town in
a western film all wooden sidewalks and dusty roads.
We then carried on up north. For part of it we were inside
the Great Barrier Reef.
What a sight.
I have never seen so much sea life and we were getting it all
No wonder the tourists pay a fortune to see it.
Next stop was Darwin.
Hot and dusty.
The seamen and the stokers did not have a very good time here
as the tide drop was over 50 feet at least so the duty watch of
seamen were up on deck every hour either letting out or shortening
in the wires and the engines had to remain flashed up. On the way in
I was closed up on the bridge.
We saw a native in a boat with what looked like a rifle. The
Captain asked the Pilot who was bringing us in what he was doing and
he said shooting crocodiles so that put off any thought of swimming.
then started our trip back to Singers.
We had a few stops on the way.
New Hebrides, New Caledonia, and Efate to mention a few.
I think Efate was governed half by the British and half by
the French so everything was written in English and French.
We didnít stay very long in Singapore before we started on
our way home via Beira. Before we left, Tom Bristow who was now Mess
Pres and Jeff Jeffery who was the Bar Manager (could do wonderful
things with figures which could confuse anyone the mess officer
didnít stand a chance) decided we needed to get on some extra
cases of beer to complement the draught beer because it was a long
Our beer was stowed in the gland space below the mess.
We never had any proper Beer storage spaces in those days.
All was well to start with but it was very damp down there.
OK for the metal barrels but not for the cans in cardboard
After a short while the damp got into the cardboard and all
the beer cans were down around the prop shaft.
The ship had to stop engines for about an hour while we went
down to retrieve them.
We were not top of the pops for some time.
second Beira Patrol was like the first. Nothing to write home about.
We had a couple of Race meetings on the iron deck and the
after POís mess decided to record a programme to broadcast over
the ships SRE. It was all done in good fun.
We tried to take the wee wee out of as many people as we
Nobody was spared.
The first ditty was about Nutty Nutcott (may he rest in
peace) I canít think what it was about but I know the first line
went ďNutty Nutcott up in oneĒ.
Jimmy Green who had been rated up to PO and been moved into
our mess gave a rendering of his party piece WORMS!
I canít remember the words I should do;
he used to sing it every time he had 2 pints.
Sorry Jim it was 3.
What a character, you could never forget him.
The S&S Department of PO Wtr John Willis and POSA(S) Don
Loveridge did a sketch of the Captain and his secretary giving and
The punchline was ďRight Sec now get off my lap you are
creasing my trousersĒ. Tom Bristow and PO GI Sticky Leach did one
of the Jimmy and Buffer - not sure how it went. The POSA(V) Shady
Lane did one on the weather forecast.
Canít remember it but I think it was a good laugh.
Myself and Jan Eddy gave a rendering of our party piece
ďUnderneath the archesĒ. The whole programme was about half an
hour long I think.
It went down well and I know we had a great time making it.
our Beira patrol we went south to Simonstown for about a week then
started on the way back to Guzz.
Once again we called into Freetown.
Some members who had not got their rabbits took the
opportunity to buy some from the Bum boats who came out.
The main ones were Bongo Drums but within a couple of days
the Drums were playing themselves.
The hide on the top was full of insects and they had to be
ditched over the side.
We called into Gib for a couple of days and some were
able to replace the ones that had gone over the side.
I think the Carysfort pub in Gib was the London Bar.
We arrived back in Guzz for leave which took us over the
Christmas and New Year.
only visit I think we had after that was to Liverpool.
We berthed on the south side of the Mersey at Port Sunlight.
This was coincidental to me because I did the last commission
on HMS Comet in 1957 and the last visit was Liverpool and we also
berthed at Port Sunlight. I think the ships company had a good run
ashore then it was on our way back to pay off.
On our last Channel night the mess made a cardboard coffin.
We took it up to the Wardroom and invited the Officers down
to the mess for a drink.
We had 4 pall bearers to carry the coffin, with us all
following on behind including the wardroom.
Shady Lane POSA(V) was the Vicar leading.
I canít remember why we didnít ditch it with reverence
over the stern but we did it down the gland space in the mess with
the words - ASHES TO ASHES,
RUST TO RUST, IF THE NAVY WONT HAVE HER ,THEN THE SEA MUST.
I finish I must relate the tale of the Gnashers I will not say
whoís they were but someone in the CPOís mess had to have a new
set of gnashers.
Somehow the old set came into our mess trophy case and it
became a ritual whenever we had a visitor, after the second drink
they always ended up in the bottom of their glass.
think that is all I can put to paper only to say I was very sorry to
hear of the death of my old bosses the Gunnery Officer, Billy the
Kid - I didnít mind his whistling- and the Buffer Jerry Knott.
didnít know about seamanship was not worth knowing.
My oppo Jan Eddy died of a heart attack while playing Squash
hope my memories have brought some back to you
to you all.