Pete (Scurs) Whellams wrote in 2004:
My memory isn't what it used to be and I can recall but a few
of our Ships Company. POEL Dave Miles rings a bell as does Ch.
Elect. Bill 'Trapper' Culf, who used to clean and repair watches in
his spare time. He also had a motorcycle with sidecar and would give
a bloke a lift as far as Acton, for 10/-.
I remember joining Carysfort at Glasgow. The ships company
travelled en masse on the night train from Kings Cross. Left at 2200
and arrived Glasgow Central around 0800 on a dull rainy, typically
Glasgowish day. Kit
bags, hammocks and tool boxes at the short trail. Most of the junior
rates stood in the corridors all the way. It was not a pleasant
journey, by any means. I can remember but a few of my messmates,
LREM Groombridge-Harvey, LEM 'Perry' Mason, EM 'Archie' Brough
and EM Hulbert
Archie hailed from Tunbridge Wells where his parents owned
or ran a hotel. He said the girls in Tunbridge were the best
so we wrote to the local paper challenging him to prove it. We
were inundated with hundreds of letters from the ladies of Tunbridge
looking for pen friends or something more romantic Archie's parents
invited us to visit and stay at the hotel for for a free weekend
'up-homers'. Great!!! This was before we started the GS
part of the commission.
Greenies were in the after 'L' shaped messdeck.
(Forgotten the number). We had the short port side mess and
the Junior Seaman were accommodated in the main fore to aft
Stbd side mess. We lost one of those youngsters during an
exercise. His name was J/S Peter Seed. He had lost his father, a
Merchant Seaman in the war and Peter was an only child.
I can't remember the name of the exercise but the weather was
atrocious, upper deck out of bounds and safety lines rigged over the
tops. The ship was blacked out, of course.
Peter had the last dog in the ACR and we saw him
getting into his foul weather gear at 1745, wellies, oilskins and
sou' wester. He went up the ladder from the mess and that was the
last we saw of him. He must have considered his clothing too
cumbersome to negotiate the vertical ladder to the Squid deck and
went through the starboard screen door instead. The Petty
Officers mess was the next mess fwd to the J/S mess and
they heard a heavy bump on the main deck above them at around 1750.
Just before 1800 he was piped to report to the ACR. Shortly
after 1800 he was piped to report, again, this time 'at the rush'.
At about 1815 ships company were piped to search the ship for J/S
Seed and Carysfort was brought into the lee. I was duty LEM and rang
the bridge for permission to switch on upper deck lighting. The
answer was 'Certainly not!
We are at war. Ship will remain blacked out'. After a
fruitless, time consuming search in darkness, we were advised
that permission had been obtained from Captain (D) to detach and
reverse course to our estimated position at 1545. After 20-30
minutes steaming we arrived and spent 10 minutes or so using the
20" searchlights and 10" sig. projectors to no avail, of
course. The lad was long gone. I have often wondered if things might
have been different if the ACR controller had considered the
fact that especially, a Junior Seaman, would not dare to be absent
from his place of duty. It would probably have made no difference,
but a lot of time was wasted in my opinion, getting back to the position
where he was lost.
On the trip back to UK we had a 'Sale of Kit'. And this was a
fantastic affair. I had been present at a couple of these in the
past and the sum raised was usually of the order of £20 or so. But
not this one. Oh No! Peter was a popular lad and we all knew his
widowed mother had now lost her only child. Jimmy the One
conducted the auction a
nd I believe the first item was Peter's housewife. The Captain
bid up to £29, and then tossed it back for resale. A bunch of
pencils reached £6 then someone said '£6 for one'. Everything
was bought and returned for re-sale and eventually 'Jimmy' said it
would have to stop. No more throw backs. We raised the
magnificent total of £642 something, a tidy sum by any standards
and a fortune in 1957. The News Chronicle splashed it all over their
front page reporting how 'a fantastic sale took place on HMS
Carysfort as she battled her way home, in stormy
seas'. Wish I still had a copy of that! It was said that
Peter's mother commented 'Is that all?' when she was
ceremoniously handed the proceeds of the sale. I believe she
apologised when told what these sales of kit usually raised and the
financial sacrifices many of his shipmates had made.
Carysfort had her gunnery system converted from the tried
and trusted MRS 3 to the latest Fly.5 anti-aircraft installation.
On arrival Malta we went on a gunnery exercise. First we
decimated a towed drogue target, proving the system worked.
Next we were invited to try our luck with a Buzzbee, a small
pilotless aircraft that had confounded all gunnery systems in the
past. Target was duly acquired, 'A' gun fired ahead, 'B' gun fired
astern and 'Y' obliterated it. We received a highly
complimentary signal from Malta congratulating Carysfort for being
the first ship to shoot down a Buzzbee. However, when we
repeated the exercise exactly as before a week or so later, 'Y' gun
again doing the business, we got a reprimand, being told in words of
one syllable that; Buzzbees are expensive (£2000 a time) and are
not to be shot down. "Aim off in future. You've
made your point".
Cyprus Patrol. Why did we never get a medal for that? I got one for
a six week stint in Borneo in '62.so why not Cyprus? Ah well. Se la vie. We
had a fortnights exchange arrangement with the army, some of
the Pongoes joined Carysfort and some of us went ashore to Kykko
Camp, not far from Nicosia. We got the better deal. The army lads
were apportioned to the deck p.o.s and spent much of their stay
aboard cleaning and painting. I went shoreside and as a junior
nco was accommodated in solitude in a comfortable tent. We had
one spell of military service, if you can call it that. We went
on a patrol up the Troodios Mountains, armed with sten guns,
ostensibly looking for Col. Grivas but actually to sample some
of the local brews in the odd hostelries, in the villages en
route. From the top of Mount Olympus we had a marvellous view of
miles of unspoilt, untenanted white sandy beaches. We couldn't
wait to get back down and make use of them.
As we were due home for Christmas I decided to get a bottle of Keo
brandy before returning aboard. As soon as boarded from my sojourn
with the army I went straight to the Cox'ns office and handed over
the bottle for safe keeping in the Officers bond, till we got back
to the air-conditioned streets of the UK. Bad move! I guess those
fly so and so's in the wardroom fancied a drop of the local hard
stuff. In any event i was piped for to report to the Cox'ns office. The
Cox'n was somewhat apologetic when he said I was in the
rattle for bringing spirits aboard without permission. OOD and
Jimmy's table and 7 days stoppage of leave. The brandy to be cast
into the sea. I guess it was too, via the officers heads then
flushed through their 'heads!'
there's a place for a run ashore if you want horrific excitement. At
least it was in '57. I was in the rig, of course and sported a
reasonable 'set' with waxed moustaches. I was on a rabbit run,
shopping for my fiancee. (I got the 'Dear John' a week or two
later). Anyway, there I was wandering along the main
thoroughfare, window shopping and stall bargaining and
noticed that everyone appeared to heading in the same direction,
like a crowd of football fans. So I tagged along out of curiosity.
Came to a large square where hundreds of people were crowding round
two sides, which were roped off. The other two sides comprised the
walls of a large building which transpired to be a prison. In the
centre of the square was a tripod of three poles and a block at the
apex with a rope through it. The rope had a noose on the end. As I
reached the outskirts of the crowd, people turned and then opened a
lane for me to reach the ropes. I later learned that hirsute men are
highly respected, if not venerated in Turkey which is why I was
afforded pole position!
My mind was
telling me I was about to witness something terrible but logic
dictated this just does not happen in today's society. A pair of
large doors opened and a cortege of officials came out in two lines.
Halfway down, between the lines was a youngish man wearing a neck to
feet smock and around his neck hung a kind of sandwich board. Beside
him was the epitome of the executioner, all in black with a mask
over his head and eyes. There was a lot of writing on the board. I
could only recognise the numbers which were obviously dates. I
One of the officials had a scroll and he read from this.
As he read, the crowd reacted with hisses and screams, especially
the women, I noticed. Then, charges read and sentence declared
the man was led to the noose and the executioner hoisted him just
high enough for his toes to just touch the ground. He was not
wearing a hood and his facial contortions were indescribably
horrible. The crowd cheered and I was violently sick which
seemed to amuse some of the women closest to me. I didn't wait
to se him expire but eventually wandered to the Blue Mosque.
Here I was approached by a senior policeman who spoke excellent
English. He told me he was the Chief of Police and that I had
witnessed the last public execution that will ever take place in
Turkey. I asked what the man had done and was told he had
raped and killed a little girl. That accounted for the women's
reactions I guess. It also mollified the horror I had
experienced. Not your usual "entertainment" on a
"quiet" run ashore.
I asked about the date and the CoP said 1948 was when
he committed the crime. I asked why so long before the sentence was
carried out and he said that under Turkish jurisprudence, the
date of your trial is the date sentence is carried out. This man had
committed a particularly abhorrent crime so must be made to suffer
for it. Once incarcerated he would be left for days, weeks or months
before he would be told his trial would be held on a specific date.
He then knew that was the day he would be put to death. As the day
drew nearer he would suffer great fear and agitation, then a day or
so before the due date he would be told the trial had been postponed
and another date would be set at some later time. This routine was
repeated time and again until the prisoner had been subjugated to
total resignation of his fate and would welcome the sentence. At
which time there was no point continuing with this
form of torture. Fancy a game of hangman? Nah! Bridge or