who could, did! One of those who couldn't, ended up
running a website!"
I never did join the Navy, but I
did spend a thoroughly enjoyable five and a half years
in the Sea Cadets in the 1950's - learning seamanship,
rifle drill, pulling whalers, sailing, rifle shooting at
Bisley, spending time at HMS ST VINCENT, PEMBROKE,
on board fast A/S frigate TEAZER and Ton-class
minesweeper MERSEY, visiting others, especially
when they moored off Southend in the Thames Estuary,
such as MULL OF GALLOWAY and US heavy cruiser BALTIMORE, but also including HMS UNICORN in Devonport.
In the process, I took some
photographs - well "snaps" - and although they hardly
measure up to modern digital images, may be of interest
This is also my way of thanking
the Sea Cadet Corps, which taught me a lot, and not just
about the Navy. The only officer whose name I can
remember is Lieutenant Bush RNVR, and whose wife did a
lot of admin and other work
I would also like to extend my
best wishes to the modern Corps and to hope their
members - girls and boys - have as much fun and dare I
say excitement, as we did.
WATER, DEVONPORT, THE THAMES and ELSEWHERE
Most of these are
self-explanatory, RICHELIEU less so. I was fortunate in
that a family friend used to drive us to France on
holiday. That was when British drivers actually waved to
I must have bought this postcard
on one of these occasions and as it in my ancient
photograph album, could not be left out.
Visiting UNICORN when she was
still in commission, I met one of her officers who knew
my father but had left HMS CHARYBDIS just before she was
lost in October 1943.
I always thought battleship
VANGUARD was a handsome ship. Not beautiful like the
HOOD, but good to look at.
Excursion passenger ship QUEEN OF
THE CHANNEL also came from a line of good-looking ships.
We took numerous family trips on her and her sisters
from the end of Southend Pier - the "Longest in the
World" - to such seaside towns as Margate and Ramsgate.
BACK ON HMS TEAZER
As a 14-year old, I had the
privilege of spending two weeks on her as one of about
20 Sea Cadets. As this was the time of the build-up to
Suez, I remember all of us wanted to go. Just imagine,
especially as the first time a Bofors was fired, the
shell landed 20 yards from our own side.
TEAZER was an RNVR Training Ship
and sailed to Gibraltar, spending quite a few days in
port. On our way out from Devonport, we were joined by
minesweeper MERSEY from the Mersey Branch of the RNVR,
and she accompanied us for the rest of the time. On
passage, the two ships engaged in various manoeuvres
which were obviously thrilling for young teenagers -
night action stations on the torpedo tubes in my case.
For some reason, I ended up on
MERSEY going into Gibraltar, and after scrounging some
whites, proudly stood on her forecastle going in.
One of the other cadets, Kirk
"Charlie" Church was also from the Southend unit and
happened to have an uncle in Gib with "pull". He was
captain of the ferry MONS CALPE which sailed between
Gibraltar and Tangiers, got permission from our captain
for us to take a day off, and took us over for a trip.
As there was painting-ship that day, we were not
Some visitors may remember a film
about that time with Alec Guinness as the ferry captain
who had a staid English wife in Gibraltar and a second
one, quite the opposite in Tangiers. Charlie's uncle was
not like that. Charlie went on to join the Merchant
Again the rest of the photographs
are mainly self-explanatory.
The arrival of the USS GAINARD led
to a couple of treats - the USN always seemed generous.
One was the handing out of ice-creams (unless that was
in another US destroyer visiting Southend). The other
was our crew on TEAZER'S forecastle watching a movie on
In about 1961, I was in "digs" in
Reading, Berkshire, studying to be a mechanical
engineer. It turned out the boyfriend of the daughter of
the house had been a regular, serving on TEAZER at the
In closing, the Sea Cadets
provided often exciting and challenging experiences
before badges were awarded. The Shooting badge after a
lot of .22 and some .303 competition shooting including
Bisley. The Electrician's badge after a two week course
in Chatham at HMS PEMBROKE including combat courses and
an MFV trip out to the sunken ammunition ship RICHARD
MONTGOMERY. And the Petty Officer badge following a
weekend at HMS ST VINCENT, Gosport, training and
drilling the new recruits there.
I obviously enjoyed myself.