Thanks to ex EM Keith (Humph) Humphries for the following dit:                     

  I suppose September 8th 1959 dawned just like the millions of days before to the rest of the navy personnel but for 3 young EM2ís and 2 even younger REM2ís this was a momentous day indeed. Just after morning Colours we were detailed to muster outside the Crushers office at Collingwood, each with a kit bag, that was to see the light of day for the first time and a brand new tool box, the contents of which still had on them the manufacturers preserving grease.   At 0915 prompt a tilly arrived to take 5 bewildered and anxious souls (though nobody was admitting to such a failure) to a far off land called Pompey Barracks and then the following day to commission what was going to be for them the best ship in the fleet. After the joining routine of the barracks had been completed, we strolled over to the dockyard to view the finest ship since the Vanguard only to discover the fighting 25 propped up in dry dock with all her bottom showing, a bit ignominious for a lady.

    The following morning we were marched from the barracks, through the streets, to the dockyard and had our commissioning ceremony with the Chaplain and Captain D.  Later that day there was a slight lurch and then lo and behold we had water under our keel and were floating like a proper ship should.

   After a few days of banging ones shins on hatch combings and very gingerly descending ladders while facing them, we were beginning to feel like experienced hands, especially when on a run ashore in Pompey sporting a ships name on your cap tally rather than a shore base.

   After a couple of weeks alongside we at last set sail for delights of far away Portland and something mysteriously called sea training. The next 5 weeks were a succession of 0800 starts and midnight finishes, if you were lucky. Day shoots, night shoots, action stations, damage control parties, chasing submarines, what fun we had, it was quite a disappointment when it was all over. The wonderful day dawned when it was all over and we returned to Portsmouth and a weeks leave, before sailing for the Far East.  On the trip back to Pompey we new boys had one last ignominy to endure, something called typhoid, smallpox and yellow fever jabs. With forearms swollen and throbbing to the touch it was so pleasant to stand up in the corridor all the way to Waterloo, daring anyone to come within 3 feet.

   It never ceased to amaze me the sense of humour of the average matelot. We had a Coder on board who was one of the last national servicemen. Whenever we were alongside in the evening the tannoy would announce, Coder -------, shore telephone call. (lucky b----).

   Friday Nov 20th dawned, grey and miserable, the day we sailed for 18 months away from home. It was not a very happy day, everyone on a short fuse and as miserable as sin, then some wag cheered everyone up for bang on 0700 was heard, Coder ------, shore telephone call, and that after being at sea for 9 hours. Iíve often wondered if he went to the gangway to take it.

3 days later and with the temperature rising and the sea definitely getting bluer we docked alongside in Gibraltar and sampled the exotic delights of a first truly foreign port of call. A bit of a let down really, they were more English than we were.

   Then on to what can only be laughingly described as the flesh pots of Malta. 2 days in Valetta, first day I was duty and the 2nd day was a Sunday. Wow,  there was more happening in the local cemetery. This life of Yo Ho Ho and a girl in every port was a bit slow to get off the ground.

   A few days later, through the Suez Canal and on to Aden for a taste of Arab culture, a more awful, red hot, filthy, smelly, fly ridden dump it was difficult to imagine. Why did the government later ask Mad Mitch and the Argyllís to fight so hard to keep it? After 2 days there it was a pleasure to set off for the Indian Ocean and the long crossing to Colombo in Ceylon.

   I canít remember much about Ceylon other than a coach trip was organised to Kandy, the ancient capitol. The following morning, what was laughingly called a coach arrived at the gangway. The driver of which, ever determined to please with his constant beaming smile and his one word of English, which happened to be Yes. To say the man was a maniac was probably giving him the greatest compliment heíd ever received. He had about as much road sense as a flat rabbit. Donít remember much about the return journey, a bit difficult when you have your eyes closed and were reciting the 23rd psalm the whole time.   The coach itself could make smoke better than any world war 2 destroyer. The next day we sailed from Colombo and expected to reach Singapore just before Christmas. How wrong can you be, Britain was building a new RAF base on the island of Gan in the Maldives group and because a bit of local industrial relations trouble the light blues called for a bit more protection from the navy blues. The frigate Mounts Bay was on duty there and we were sent as reinforcementís to stop any inter island squabbles. We spent best part of a month there, over Christmas and New Year, generally lying around on talcum powder beaches, with the warm Indian ocean to swim in. Those who werenít there couldnít understand the trauma we suffered in those 4 weeks, the constant battle against sunburn, swimming and idleness was quite distressing.

   When I was training at Collingwood, the morning ritual by our instructor, a Chief Electrician, consisted of a 10-minute brain washing about how important the mighty green empire was. Without the electrical department no warship could function he ranted and you are the cream, never forget that. Needless to say after this every morning for 26 weeks we believed every word he spouted. I and the rest of the class arrived on our first ships as the Fuhrer reincarnated. It didnít take long to have a little reality inserted between the ears. The object of this trip back in time is to set the scene for the following. While at anchor off the island of Gan, it was decided by the powers that be, that each department could have a Banyan on one of the deserted islands. The day for the electrical departments dawned bright and clear (just like every other day really). So about 25 souls out of a total complement of around 30, massed in the whaler, with the Electrical Officer in command. Dressed in sunglasses, flowered shirts and trunks for a long arduous day at the beach.  After a short while in the whaler it became noticeable that the ship and the whaler were getting further and further apart, at considerable speed, around 14 knots to be exact. This was clearly impossible as pussers whalers werenít designed to do water-skiing. Then the bow wave from Carysfort was spotted and that she was rapidly disappearing over the horizon - shades of Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian. Cast adrift in an open boat, things werenít too bad really- we did have half a crate of beer each. Apparently shortly after we cast off for our day ashore a signal was received to up anchor and meet up with RFA Tide Flow for a spot of refuelling somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Returning about 12 hours later and with three quarters of the department running around a deserted island like demented Tarzanís it was quite a shock to realise that the mighty green empire werenít as important as they thought they were. It took quite long time to live that one down.

   After surviving this hell hole for 4 weeks the day sadly arrived when Cavalier appeared over the horizon to take over the reins of guard ship, but unfortunately no amount of bribery would make them go back to Singers. Still every cloud has a silver lining, we managed to get a 5 day trip to Calcutta as a bit of R&D after the rigours of the Maldives. Had a wonderful time in Calcutta every where was larger than life, it was amazing to see buses with more people on the outside than on the inside

   Because of this little detour we had now missed our slot in Singapore dockyard for a 3 month refit and Caprice took our place instead. So naturally as normally happens in the navy, we had to take over her duties in the interim. Back to Ceylon and Trincomalee for a 3 week exercise with all the other navies in the area. Finally and with more and more parts not working, we returned to the base at Singapore and a long overdue refit. This necessitated the crew being transferred off and housed in Terror Barracks for a while. Every morning at 0700 we were bussed to the ship for a strenuous morning of trying to keep out the dockyard mateyís way and the Chief Elecís sight, before returning exhausted at noon to Terror for a well deserved kip in the cool. Its a hard life this mans navy is.

   Around the end of June with everything working as it should be we moved back on board and duly put to sea to give everything a thorough test. Returning a few days later, preparations were put in hand for a 4 month trip down to Australia and New Zealand. Leaving Singapore in the middle of August and cruising passed some of the islands of Indonesia we spent almost a week to get to our first port of call down under. Darwin turned out to be a quite a culture shock, no television, no regular cinema, only a couple bars selling chilled beer with strange sounding names in funny sized glasses, called midis and schooners.  One of the lads in my mess liked it so much he decided stay a little longer - like the rest of his life. Strange thing to do, considering everybody knew one another by their Christian names, also it was a thousand miles down to Alice Springs and then another thousand miles to anywhere else of any size.

   Next on the itinerary was the North Queensland town of Cairns, on arrival the first person to see was my rather subdued messmate handcuffed to a couple of burly Aussie cops. The town itself had a feel of the Wild West about it, with most of the buildings constructed of timber with verandas and boardwalks. The local brew was becoming a bit more palatable with practice. Youíve got to keep working at it havenít you? The locals, being mostly Brits or recent descendants, were great with their hospitality, getting a liking for this outdoor life and barbies.

   On to Brisbane, big city, lots to see and do, lots to drink and did. Only there for 2 days which seemed to pass in something of an alcoholic stupor. The next port of call was Auckland New Zealand, which was to be our base for the next 5 weeks. Putting to sea on a Monday morning for A/S exercises with the submarine Anchorite and a Kiwi frigate and returning on Fridays for a weekends jolly in Auckland. A submerged rock put a stop to the exercises when Anchorite managed to hit it and put her nose out of joint. Auckland Bay is a mighty big stretch of water but the sub managed to find the only bit that wasnít charted, shades of needles and haystacks.

   Had a great time in Auckland, the people were terrific, took a bit of getting used to having the pubs close at 1800 but it didnít take long to learn the routine - buy a 6 pack like everyone else and soon the invitations to parties appeared like magic. We managed to get a weekend in Tauranga during our stay in NZ. Lovely place, lovely people, when the ship was open to visitors on the Sunday it must have been the social occasion of the year, 6000 crammed together on the upper deck, made sardines feel quite lonely.

   All good things come to an end and the day dawned when our stay in New Zealand was over and we sailed for Sydney in company with a damaged sub. The sea was up a bit and Anchorite was shipping a bit too much water for safety, so around we turned and arrived back in Auckland for one last unexpected run ashore. Things calmed down a bit, so we tried to get across the Tasman Sea again. After 4 days of nursing the sub we finally docked in Garden Island, the Aussie naval base in Sydney, We were due to be here for about 4 weeks, some of the time was spent in dry dock, astern of their carrier, Melbourne.

   Some of the crew managed to get a weeks leave, whilst there. myself included. Spent a pleasant week ashore seeing all over the town in company with John Vernall, He drove me mad, all the time he never stopped talking about his girl back home.

   Our wonderful 4 months away from the heat and humidity of Singapore was rapidly coming to an end, so we had to say farewell to down under and the now familiar places like Kings Cross and Circular Quay and head back up the east coast to Cairns and Darwin and eventually Singers.

   When we arrived back, the dockyard was full to overflowing with ships of all sizes. It appeared that Lord Louis was retiring and going to do his final farewell by reviewing the fleet from his barge. All crews had to line up in best whites on the starboard side and give 3 cheers as he sailed by. After a respectful period and when he was out of sight we were stood down.  Louis, liking what he had just seen wanted to do it again, so he had the barge turned round and came back again. Their was one hell of a scramble to get back to the upper deck before he drew alongside. Iím sure the old fart did it on purpose.

   Christmas was rapidly approaching, so Carysfort along with 5 others ships sailed for Hong Kong.  It was one hell of a shock to go from the heat of Singapore to finding slush on the jetty as we tied up in H.K.   6 weeks we were there in total and I think every part of the area was visited by at least someone from the ship - a fantastic time was had by all.  I had a suit made, it cost me 150 Hong Kong dollars (£7-10s) and was ready in 2 days, best suit I ever bought.

   Returning back to Singapore in early February, the days to the end of the commission were being counted down eagerly, with just about a hundred to go. We soon found ourselves back in the thick of things and a return to Trincomalee in Ceylon for Jet60 - 2 weeks of mayhem to spoil the running down period. On the way back the ship anchored off Penang for a few days swimming and relaxing before the hectic final 2 months. After a couple of weeks alongside in the dockyard we sailed for what was to be our last visit, a 5 day trip to Bangkok. Had a great time in Thailand but the end of the commission was on everyoneís mind by this time. After arriving back at the dockyard a constant stream of matelots heading for shops in Neesoon amd Sembewang, buying up everything that could be carried home on the plane with us.

   May 10th turned out to be the longest day that ever was.  We sat in Terror barracks all day waiting for our flight, which was to take off at 1930 for the trip back to Blighty.  Eventually time passed and 100 of us clamoured in to lorries to be transported to Singapore Airport for what was to be for the vast majority, our first flight. Squeezed into a Vickers Viscount we took off and headed into the night for the first refuelling stop at Bombay. Pitch black when we arrived and as hot and humid as Singapore. Soon up in the air again for another 7or 8 hours before landing in Istanbul for some more juice. Off once more, soon crossing the Alps and before long the final approach and landing at Stansted. When the wheels touched the ground the collective sigh from 100 passengers was very noticeable. Finally we were home and introduced to what was to become a very familiar thing in the future, waiting for baggage.

    Put onto coaches and dropped off at various rail terminals in London. I had a while to wait for my train from Euston, so I had a wander outside to a pub and had my first taste of English beer in 18 months. Standing at the bar, I was deeply aware of suddenly being on my own, where were all the familiar faces that were a constant reminder of navy life, gone to the 4 corners of the country. One moment you are laughing and joking on the plane and coach and the next not a soul to talk to.  Although I was excited about being home and was impatient for my train, I remember feeling a sudden loss.

So, if there is anyone out there who reads these ramblings of a geriatric ex-matelot, why donít you come to the Spa Centre in Scarborough the first  weekend in September every year, youíll be sure of a warm welcome.

  Humph