The following has been received from Tim Holt son of the late David John (Tim) Holt who served in Carysfort  1956-58 commission.  Tim (Junior) and his sister visited HMS Carysfort with their father whilst the ship was alongside in Auckland in 1968.




In late 1956, about 150 sailors were milling about the platform ready to board the night express to Glasgow.  Order was gained by petty officers' shouts and, with kits and hammocks stowed in the guard's van, we were off.  Some men were with old shipmates, many others hadn't spotted anyone they knew and, among them, were youngsters like me fresh from 6 weeks training and a couple of weeks in Pompey Barracks - hardly used to navy routine.

The Royal Navy is the best club in the world and, it wasn't long before men were comparing notes on past ships, old shipmates and ports of call.  We ODs or ordinary seamen, were soon absorbed into the crowd and, when the train arrived in Glasgow next morning, we'd learned a little about seamanship; how to play cribbage; which were the best pubs in town and a few new words.  No-one worried that our collars were dark blue, while the collars of old hands were Air force blue.  We would work on washing out the colour quickly, then no-one would know how green we were on our trips ashore.

To keep the men happy - feed them.  First, load all the kits and hammocks onto trucks and us into buses to a handy naval air station for breakfast and a wash and shave.

Driving through the suburbs, past the shipyards, it seemed very grey.  The Clyde was not an appealing place at all.  Occasionally someone would point out some place of interest and, I think, we were all a little surprised to see the aircraft carrier, HMS Illustrious, towering over the sheds of the yard where she was being rebuilt.

We turned off the road into the Yarrows shipyard.  At the time, I had never heard the name, but I now know that it was one of Britain's foremost destroyer builders.  Out of the bus and into the noise -  metal cutting, metal drilling, riveting and cranes grinding along tracks.  The noise must have been far worse when ships were riveted throughout and not welded.  We had to be careful where to walk as there were so many things to trip the unwary - look down at your feet, look up for your head.  Great plates of steel were being swung through the air above us, all fashioned and cut to shape for a ship on the stocks. 

We marched round the end of a shed to the water's edge and just a few yards up the wharf of the fitting-out basin was what looked like a brand spanking new destroyer.  In actual fact she had just been rebuilt and modernised.  She had originally been built in 1944 by Samuel White, the famous racing yacht designer.  It was reputed that all the ships he built for the Royal Navy, were finished to the same high standard.  Lucky us.

I'm sure the sun shone on her for a minute, even the pussers grey seemed to shine. 

This was HMS Carysfort and she was everything I had ever thought one of Her Majesty's destroyers should be.  I knew she'd be a good ship.  We all trooped aboard and a rating at the end of the gangway asked each for name and number - Holt PJ 966217.  Righto Tim, along you go under the break, then right forrard to 3 mess.  For the rest of my time in the Navy I was Tim.

Once one found the mess deck it became obvious that space was at a premium.  When you found a bit of room, you either sat on it or slung your hammock in it.   We had 3 messes in the focsle and here 31 men would relax, eat and sleep until the commission finished.  The allotted space per man used to be 18 inches square but whether or not we had a bit more I'm not sure.  The leading seaman, the killick, got us all sorted.  Our killick, a chap probably not much older than me, gave everyone a job to ensure the mess area was always clean and tidy.  Even the old 3 badgemen who knew all the dodges had to pull their weight.

After a few days, in which we were sorted and put into watches, day jobs, etc., the commissioning warrant was read to us.  This was the first time we'd all gone into divisions in our No 1 uniforms.  Next day, we were off down the river towards the sea.  Since the season was early winter, it was pretty chilly.

We were based at Greenock for our working up.  The guns blew bits off the Isle of Arran, frightened tugs towing targets for us to hit, shot holes in drogues being towed overhead and brought down several unmanned drones.  While this was going on the inclement weather sorted out the weak tums.  It can turn quite nasty in December in Scotland - sleet, snow, gales and fog.  We had them all.  It was a relief to fire torpedoes in a nice quiet loch.  It kept the boat's crews busy towing back the spent weapons.  After chasing submarines and trying to sink them, we berthed alongside the depot ship HMS Maidstone for Christmas and embarkation leave.  Well, most had leave but a quarter of us had Christmas amid ice and snow.  We had our leave later over the New Year while those back from leave took the ship down to Portsmouth to prepare for sailing south - Suez - we heard.

The Channel and the Bay of Biscay gave us a parting shot,  but the ship behaved like one of the builder's racing yachts.  It was always nice to hop into your hammock just to save having to hang on to something to stay upright.  A bit like a demented lift, which changes its movement while unexpectedly corkscrewing.  Gibraltar was a welcome sight.

Gosh, the sun, hot sun in January.  Hard to believe.  Fantastic place.  So much crowded into a small area and shops selling things we'd never heard of in England.  Outdoor cafes with Spanish ladies dancing on the tables and that great big rock towering over everything.  It didn't look much like a lion until a day or two later when I looked back as we steamed towards Malta.

That's how I remember meeting the ship I spent most of my time on in the Royal Navy.  She took us on a wonderful paid Mediterranean cruise.  We called it the cruise of the Carysfort.