(The forgotten years! 72/74)
The words you are about to read are my recollections. They are made up from the truth, the whole truth and nothing but a blurred memory. All names, dates and other points of fact are given in good faith and should not be taken to seriously.
When I was told of my draft to the Llandaff, I was on the 4th day of a Seacat Aimers course. (2 weeks, I think) Great I thought, Chatham based, refit period, just the job. Then I found out she didnít have a Seacat!! Fearing that if I passed the course my draft would be changed, I proceeded in my quest to fail the course!! At the beginning of the second week I was ďsummonedĒ to the old mans office and asked if I had lost control of all my senses because the scores I was getting indicated I was brain dead! (At this point there is no need for any of your responses to that statement.) After I explained the situation he assured me all would be well with the draft, I completed the course and passed by a full 1% above the fail mark!! Now along with the other badges we wore with pride I had a flying dildo on my right arm (I think).
I joined the Daff in Chatham on the 22nd May 1972. Over the next couple of months we were in and out of Chatham on exercise and trials. We called at places that you can only dream about, such as Harwich, Sheerness, Dover, Pompey and best of all Margate!! My hometown. For those who donít know Margate it has a harbour, the problem is it dries out at low water, so the plan was to lie at anchor at the end of the jetty for 2 days. In this time the local mayor and his cronies would visit and the families of the local crewmembers could come on board. This would be carried out using the ships boats. 1 whaler and 1 cutter. At this point I should point out that I had been in the mob for 5 years and no member of my family had been on a R.N ship or seen me in uniform. The day after anchoring with the Daff looking pristine after a session of paint it or dump it, we are ready for the ships boats to collect visitors. But no, a hooley blew up, ships boats re-called and all visits cancelled!!! All was not lost as shore leave was granted to locals later in the day.
Eventually we returned to Chatham for the refit. A lot of crew had new drafts and the remainder were transferred to Pembroke, Iím not sure of the actual numbers left but think it was only 30/40. Then began a period in limbo, the poor old Daff was swarming with civvies and an AMP crew from Pembroke. A few names of people who were NOT crew but were about at the time are, Dusty Miller (AB) Dusty was a 2 badge man at the time, and he later went to the Falklands, on the Fearless I think. He tragically died in a motor accident when shore based in Pompey leaving a wife (Wendy) and two children. Chats Harris (Dave) L/S TAS and Tex Templeman CPO (Tiffy) and also Tony Braybrook L/S. During this time we had a couple of quiet runs ashore, 1, to the Whitbread brewery in London (who can forget a pint of ďTankardĒ) this was a rig run which helped, I remember waking up on Victoria station about 5 am, looking around and seeing 4/5 other lads looking as bad as I felt!! The other run was to Margate (by coach this time) great run ashore, started in my local then went to the town, we were ďaskedĒ to leave a couple of pubs because we were to noisy, when you think about it, Jack must of invented Karaoke! Still, it was a great run ashore.
Time went by and the refit came to an end. The problem now is I canít remember the timing of events in the second half of 73, so you will have to give me a bit of leeway. !! Time to get back to sea. New lads joined and we finally had a full ships company. Sea trial, sea trials and guess what, more runs ashore! Williamshaven (Germany) and yes, in one of those moments, while having a quiet bevy in one of the better parts of Hamburg I did say to a Red Cap ď sprecken ze EnglishĒ he responded as only a Pongo could. It was frustrating as I was trying to justify our case for being ďremoved from a strip clubĒ as totally innocent parties. We did our bit for queen and country on a couple of exercises. I remember freezing my whatsits off (on the GDP) for a time off Denmark, but things did warm up in and around Gib. Home for Christmas. For Christmas we received the dates for the Portland Workup!!
Portland and winter, go together like nothing else on this earth, or do they? Even workup can bring back smiles. Like going on the NightEX with the landing party, Yorky Grice and I had brought a bottle of Southern Comfort, (Yorkyís choice), which we dispensed into our water flasks for the evenings fun, it worked wonders. We even caught a bootneck, made him take his boots off so he couldnít run away and took him into the camp as a prisoner. Later we got a bollocking because it was cruel to do that to a poor little booty. Also during the workup I did have a little misunderstanding with the MAA, Number 1, Old man and the Local C in C.!! But thatís another story.
Spring 74, Iíve got my discharge date for November so itís time to start my RDP. From Chatham to Pompey to ammunition ship. Next stop Gib, many a happy hour in the Horseshoe bar and others. Also itís time for Yorky Grice to say his farewells as he is off to re-join civvie street. From Gib itís of to Lagos, interesting place but donít go alone! Down to Simondstown. By this time Iím in the Greenys mess, well someone had to try and raise their standards. We went through a bit of a storm and the mess deck got flooded, canít remember why, but Iím sure someone will. I enjoyed South Africa, not the politics though. I can still taste the local brandy and it was handy to pass the time with on the train to Cape Town. Nothing lasts forever, so itís of on Biera Patrol. Time to refresh the batteries and top up the tan. Deck games, swimming, uckers, life was such a bummer!!† Itís now September/October And Iím entering the autumn of my navel life, aaaaah. ! Before the final push in Mombassa we have to go to the Seychelles, this really is too much, another week of sun, beer, messing about in boats it just goes on and on and on. Does anyone remember the Englishman who lived on one of the islands near by? We used to swap butter and marmalade from the Daff for beer, seemed like a good deal to me. A spot more Biera Patrol and finally of to Mombassa. Three weeks AMP and each day counted as part of the RDP.† Nowís the time for leaving the Daff for the last time. (with Jan and about a dozen others) As she slipped her moorings, and headed for sea part of me did look back (but not for long) We then had the misfortune to have to go to Nairobi for 5 days in a classy hotel with extra V/A in the form of cash, it was hell, but someone had to do it!
Thatís it, over 30 years ago, bugger the bad times just think of the good ones, and there were plenty. None would have been possible without people like Jan Delleur, Yorky Grice, Omar Sheriff, Jimmy Riddle, Gos Gosling, and Al? and so many more, to my shame the names have gone but they can all be called ďshipmatesĒ