at Aqaba we were back in business with ceremonial work. We were
there no doubt to try and impress Transjordan's Crown Prince
Talal, and their army under the command of the legendary 'Glubb
Pasha', so we were kept busy. A main event was a revue of the
troops in the nearby barracks. Jock Dyer and I had permission
to photograph the event and on landing were taken by jeep to
the parade ground. The pair of us were sitting side by side
on the back seat and it became the only time we ever had the
soldier at the gate present arms to us. We returned the salute
with due aplomb. It was obviously the first time the poor fellow
had ever seen a RM uniform. Next day the Crown Prince was taken
afloat to witness the efficiency of the RN. The Submarine did
an impressive snap surface/bang off three rounds gunfire/submerge.
Then it was back to Malta. We witnessed several interesting
exercises on the way. Standing on the extreme stern of a destroyer
at full speed is very impressive, as the frantically vibrating
stern at that speed is well below sea level. At one stage a
practice torpedo was fired - and then retrieved. Many will know
that such torpedoes possessed a flotation head with a pick-up
ring on the end plus a carbide device that emitted smoke to
show its position. Then a whaler was lowered for the retrieval.
At least that was the theory!
also experienced the old destroyer anecdote where the Captain
on the bridge is alleged to turn to his Jimmie One and say "What
are the hands doing now, Jimmie?" On receiving the reply
that they have just gone to dinner the Captain continues "Oh
goody. Coxswain. Hard-a-port" Whereupon everything on the
mess tables slides to the floor! The crew of Cheviot were doubtless
very pleased to see us and our equipment return to Forth, as
the full band crammed into the crew's mess-deck had made us
about as welcome as a tray of pork pies at a Bar Mitzvah.
Bandmaster 'Joe' Dixon who had also transferred to Forth, having
previously been with the 3rd Commando Brigade was now 'time
expired' and departed to be replaced by 'Nazzer' Bone. One of
my last trips in Forth was to Tripoli in what was then the kingdom
of Libya. Forth was moored nose to harbour buoy and stern to
the quayside. One evening there was to be a boxing tournament
between Forth and the British Army based there. A full-size
elevated boxing ring had been erected in the well deck and prior
to the start the band was having a 'bout' in it. It started
to blow quite hard at just about the time we started - and grew
steadily stronger, until despite our best efforts our sheet
music starting disappearing overboard. Shortly afterwards the
wind rose to Hurricane force and the entertainment was abandoned.
Forth spent the night steaming full ahead in order to avoid
being blown into the harbour wall. By morning it was calm and
fine again. But 2-1/2" awning stanchions were bent at 90
degree angles and the awnings themselves were possibly somewhere
over the Persian Gulf! We were told later that 2 of the 3 heavy
mooring cables to the buoy we had been moored to had parted,
thus taking Forth very close to disaster.
Tripoli Hurricane turned out be the interesting finale to my
time in the Mediterranean, as after three years away, I too
had applied to return home. Soon after returning to Malta, my
relief turned up and shortly after that I took passage on HMS
Triumph, which was on its way back to Portsmouth after service
in the Korean war. I arrived back in England on a foggy November
evening and went to Deal (for the first time) to be processed
prior to a nice long leave during which I got married. After
that I returned to Deal and an entirely new life on land. But
I'll keep that for the fourth and final batch of my 'Memories
of the old RMB'.
tuned . . .