H.M.S. Euryalus. 'SUMMER CRUISE' 17/6/1948 - 29/7/1948
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Monday 21st June. (Arrive Limassol)

0745hrs. We are now cruising up or rather, along the south coast of Cyprus, some 10 miles offshore and have just entered a thick fogbank, the first I've seen since Rosyth.

We 'entered harbour' in true naval fashion and pomp with the RM's and ourselves on the quarterdeck. Actually there was no harbour for us as such and we anchored about ¾ mile offshore. I spent the afternoon sun-bathing and dozed off. When I awoke - was my face red? Yes it was!

I went ashore at 1800hrs in the motor cutter (or gasoline gig, as our Yank friends call them). The sea had become choppy and I got drenched in the process, still I soon dried off as it was very hot once ashore.

After a whole four days without anything to drink (apart from their daily rum issue) a lot of the crew got very drunk, mostly because the local brandy was considerably cheaper than beer! I tried one glass of it and it was certainly quite strong. There also lots of ripe apricots which were fat and a lovely flavour. Quite a lot for a few piastres (9 piastres to 1/-) Went to an open-air cinema that was showing 'Forever Amber' but had to leave before the end in order to catch the 'liberty boat' back at 2330.

Tuesday 22nd. June.

I arrived back on board last night to discover that I had the morning watch (0400 to 0800) and I was furious that I had not been told before, as I wouldn't have gone ashore had I known. As it was I only got a little sleep. That brandy was certainly potent stuff. Evidently there were three sailors in strait-jackets last night.

Swimming over the side again today, just before dinner, and it was nice and warm although I have noticed that the sea is as calm as a millpond until about 1200 when a strong wind gets up and makes going ashore a somewhat damp journey! It drops again soon after sunset. Must be a local phenomenon.

I 'crashed my swede' this p.m. as the saying goes, or in other words got my head down to catch up on my lost sleep. We have a programme tonight and it's better that I don't doze off in the middle of it. Whilst we were playing one of the band received a telegram letting him know that he was now the father of a daughter!

It was your Silver Wedding Anniversary today. Hope you got the telegram. I thought of you.

Wednesday 23rd June.

Yet another lovely fine day. Don't think there's been a cloud in the sky for about a week now! Just like England eh??? Band practice this morning for another programme tomorrow and (having checked to make sure that I was not going to be on duty) I went ashore at 1300 as it was a 'make and mend'.

It had been a market day on Monday and the town was crowded. The smells are terrible, worse than Malta, and that's saying something! I went for a wander round the town and found a nice park shaded by trees. There was a constant chirruping of crickets, much like in England but magnified about a thousand times.

All the Cypriot children seem to be able to say 'Hello' in English, but that's all except that some of them know 'Chocola' and 'Cigarette'. Ignorant little blighters. (Mind you I can't even say Hello' in Greek!)

Thursday 24th June

Nice and sunny yet again. Usual start to the morning. Colours at 8 a.m. Then it was all aboard the motor boat to go across to Triumph to practice for a 'Beating Retreat' ceremony tomorrow evening when there is to be a cocktail party for all the local 'big-wigs', British officers, officials and their wives.

Their Flight Deck seemed enormous after Euryalus, although the edges seem a bit dangerous, as for obvious reasons there are no railings to stop you going over the edge (wouldn't do if they also stopped the planes from doing so!). However, there are nets waiting to catch you - but I'd prefer not to! Triumph is classified as a 'light' fleet carrier. Nothing like the size of the much bigger wartime carriers such as Victorious, Illustrious, Indomitable etc., Triumph is about 14,000 tons, which is about three times our displacement. From the flight deck Euryalus looks ridiculously small and more like a destroyer. Anyway, we duly did our 'exercises' marching to and fro up and down the flight deck, trying to miss the 'tie-down' fittings that are recessed here and there and used to lash down the planes kept on deck whenever it gets rough. As far as I can make out they are carrying Fireflies and Seafires, although here at anchor they are down in the hanger.

The Band mess-deck was enormous - on its own it was about the size of our entire RM messing area. We were green with envy as there was enough room for their whole band to breathe in at the same time!!

Just to be awkward, the afternoon strong winds decided to arrive at about 1030hrs so that in our exposed position we were buffeted about and then got covered in spray on our way back to the ship afterwards. It must have known we would be available for a wetting! We tried to keep our brass instruments sheltered from the spray as the salt water doesn't do the shiny brasswork any good at all, but it didn't work, which meant another session with the Brasso and cloths!

Friday 25th June

Went over to Triumph again at 0930 hrs to polish up and add the finishing touches for this evening. Fortunately that wind behaved better today and we got there and back without a wetting. The afternoon was spent in 'spit and polish' to make sure that we are at our immaculate best for the do.

We went back to Triumph yet again at 1930 and the performance went off very well. The bands came up on the forward aircraft lift, stepping off in a slow march at the exact moment it reached deck level. As usual the finale was the 'Last Post' when the flag is hauled down to the sound of a solo bugle with the bands playing the 'Jimmy Green sunset setting'. It caused many a tear to run down a wrinkled cheek (and that was just the women.) Seriously, that setting really is a beautiful piece of writing and a real sentimental tear-jerker for those on duty in 'furrin parts'. Then we marched off smartly and still playing disappeared from view back down on the lift, demon king style. One disconcerting thing was that whenever the lifts are moving a loud warning bell clang, clang, clangs - and it wasn't in tune with us!

Have I told you the story about a band on another carrier where the band was arranged on its hanger lift with its bandmaster conducting it when someone 'downstairs' decided to test the lift? The bandmaster was in front just on the deck conducting as the band slowly disappeared from sight - only to reappear some minutes later, not having missed a beat!? It is supposed to be true and I suppose it could have happened. Makes a good tale anyway.

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