H.M.S. Euryalus. 'SUMMER CRUISE' 17/6/1948 - 29/7/1948
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Daily diary of an eighteen-year-old R.M. Bandsman - sent to his parents

Thursday 17th June. (Leave Valetta)

Left our Bighi Bay moorings at 0915hrs and followed the fleet aircraft carrier HMS Triumph out of Grand Harbour, Valetta. Outside we met up with the two destroyers and three frigates who are accompanying us on this cruise. I heard that some subs were to be with us but didn't see any. Perhaps they're already hiding or we are to meet up later.

P.m.. We carried out various fleet formation exercises after which we stopped and hands were piped to bathe over the port side. The sea was an almost unbelievable blue and clear right down until it is only the darkness of the depth that prevents one seeing any more. Not sure of the depth but the nearest land is straight down!

Prior to the ship stopping and bathing commencing, the 'heads' (toilets) on the side designated for swimming are supposed to be closed - for obvious reasons. However, some dimwit always seems to ignore that particular instruction (and it's our theory that it comes from the blunt end i.e. officer's quarters) so suddenly, 'Admiral Brown usually with his barge' (a turd and toilet paper) appears in amongst the swimmers. You can always tell, as the cry goes up and everyone swims directly away from it like ripples from a stone! There is always a boat of some sort patrolling just to seaward of the swimmers in case anyone gets into difficulties.

Friday 18th June.

We are bound initially for Cyprus. Limasol to be exact. Whilst this is the capital it is not very large and has only a small port. We are due to arrive there early on Monday. Triumph is flying its aircraft on and off, presumably for exercise in flying aircraft on and off! The weather is glorious, blazing sun and a cool breeze generated by our passage through the water. Apparently our ecs (economical cruising speed) is 18 knots which is probably what we are doing. Having hitherto had to 'blanco' our belts etc., 'marching order' a military khaki colour, we are now ordered to clean all that off and to use black boot polish instead. It's a messy job getting it into every nook and cranny (such as under the finger nails), but when well worked in and then polished it does look good and will be easier to keep that way than that horrible dusty blanco stuff. The NAAFI shop must have just about sold out of black boot polish, as it is not only the Band but the RM detachment as well who are doing it.

We exercised taking Triumph in tow and I should have got some good photos - if they turn out O.K. Hands to bathe again at 1530 and it was, if anything, even better than yesterday, or perhaps it was because I had been looking forward to it more. I found later that I had got rather sunburned across my shoulders and back - it's sore now!

Saturday 19th June

Last evening we had a 'night action stations' exercise. Triumph, ourselves, two destroyers and three frigates. We fired a few 'star shells' and created a pretty, fireworks effect on the horizon.

This morning we have had 'dummy runs' with a submarine and we were twice 'mock torpedoed'. On both occasions our so-called escort was miles away. We'd have been swimming or dead if it had been for real.

At the moment we are passing Crete but not closely. It has an interesting skyline with its higher mountains protruding through the heat haze. No swimming overside today, for which I am very sorry as everyone looks forward to it (except the non-swimmers). Rig of the day is now just shorts and shoes which is a sensible rig for the weather conditions. We are to lose one hour's sleep tonight - curse it!

Sunday 20th June

Another beautiful day, or it would have been if it hadn't been our busiest day! I've just returned from Divisions and Church and the sun was burning through my uniform onto my already tender back. It has been slightly unusual today in that we must be following a dead east-west course as the sun was straight ahead first thing, is now almost exactly overhead and will set dead astern.

At 0630 we oiled a destroyer whilst still steaming at 14 knots. An 'old hand' (a pre-war regular) told me that the drill for that was honed to a fine edge during the war.

During the afternoon we were ferociously attacked (more practice fortunately) by RAF aircraft based in Cyprus. No B---- swimming again

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