Friday, 19 August 2011

Memories Are Made of This - Dean Martin

It has been a full 38 years since I have seen my dear shipmate Michael John (Huck) Hutley, so no wonder soon after arriving at his place we were down the road for a drink. Having driven through the torrential rain of yesterday afternoon, which forced the cancellation of the Bouremouth International Air Show, I was glad to reach the village of Four Marks in Hampshire and start an endless succession of reminiscing with Huck.

At the newly opened Windmill pub we were joined briefly by one of his long time friends Laurie, and several others who bought a new dimension to our evening.

The weather today was in sharp contrast to yesterday with bright sunshine, a warm feel to the atmosphere and barely a cloud in the sky. Huck was most interested to show me the new Sports Club recently built in Ropley, his village of birth, built almost totally on public subscription.

Next we wandered down to the Ropely Railway Station, an integral part of the Watercress Line

where everything look positively Edwardian and pristine in every way.

The credit for all of this has to go to the legion of volunteers, including the Station Master, who keep this beautifully British institution going.

It was now time to start our own reminiscing as we drove down to Gosport and to the gates of what was Her Majesties Ship St Vincent.

Today is just 16 days short of 50 years since we both arrived at this gateway as 15 year olds about to embark on a career in the Royal Navy.

This complex has. for most of its existence, been a military installation but now serves as a collage.

Our fondest memory of this edifice was on the occasions we would march through the central arch led by the Bugle Band, with 'twin drum majors' tossing their batons over the smaller side arches catching them on the other side.

Unfortunately, the Museum was closed but even if open we would have needed an appointment, so maybe next time.

Most of the original buildings have now been demolished, but we were still able to recognise the Drill Hall and

the School Building where, even though we had left proper school, there were still lessons in Maths, English, Geography etc.

With the new collage buildings now all around us, it was interesting to note this AC14 pattern anchor still serving as ornament,

but more unusual, even though it was manufactured in Sunderland

it bore a swastika mark????

We next made way for HMS Dolphin but there was a delay as we encountered this road accident. The vehicles had impacted with such force that the front off-side wheel of the van was completely detached.

The Submarine Museum there brought back a wealth of memories for me in particular, as I was in the service for nearly 6 years, while Huck was content to hear we only ever considered there to be 2 types of ships at sea - Submarines and Targets!

The Holland 1, the Royal Navies first mechanically propelled Submarine.

Huck taking command of Holland 1

Holland 1 Engine Room

The 100 foot Submarine Escape Tank at 'Dolphin' a part of training every crew member had to undertake.

Looking further afield we could see the Spinnaker Tower on Southsea Common far away across Portsmouth Harbour.

It was now time to visit the old A Class boat HM S/M Alliance, particularly as I served in her 'sister ship' HM S/M Alcide for over a year.

The conning tower known in the service as 'the fin'.

The Seaman's Mess, accommodation for 60 men on a rotational basis.

The Wardroom (or Officers Mess).

The Control Room

The Navigation position with the 'attack periscope' running up the right side of the picture.

Communication Shack

The only washing facilities onboard. It was not unusual to undertake a 6 to 8 week trip without ever removing your clothing, and only what was referred to as a 'bird bath' by way of washing!

The Engine Room and

looking down one of the stern Torpedo Tubes.

The Memorial to all Submarines and their crews lost since the service began.

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