Thread: The silent war.
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Old 14th Sep 2018, 16:12
  #20 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
From my Page 220, #4383 on "Pilot.s Brevet" Thread:
Danny samples Life (Under) the Ocean Wave (Part I)It seems that the Navy decided to extend the hand of friendship to these light-blue people come among them. HMS Vernon was selected to invite a small number (three or four, IIRC) at a time from Thorney, for a day's instructional "course" on torpedoes ! As we knew nothing (and had absolutely no need to know anything) about these, it is hard to resist the conclusion that this was just a "jolly", but no less welcome for all that.

Shortly after our arrival at Thorney, I was detailed as one of the first groups nominated for this, and went over to Portsmouth, as advised, in battledress. In the morning they told us all about the fearful things, but the little I recall is that they come in two sizes (18 and 21 inch dia) and hydrogen-peroxide torpedoes are a Bad Idea, and that shoehorning any kind into the subs is a tricky business.

The gilt on the gingerbread came after lunch: a trip round the bay in a submarine ! For this task they had selected an "S" Class 'boat', the "Subtle" . I gathered that she was an old vessel eking out her last days on odd jobs. Our Captain was a mere Lieutenant, and I think he had a Sub-Lieut and just a skeleton crew. We embarked rather apprehensively; but all managed to get aboard without disgracing ourselves by falling into the harbour or down any ladders.

First we were assembled together for a short instruction on the use of the Davis Escape Apparatus (gulp), and then the noisy diesels cranked up and there was much smoke and a lot of "Let go forrard" and "Let go aft" business familiar to everybody from the films. We had now been marshalled up to the conning-tower to see how things were done.

He didn't hit anything on the way out (although some ships did seem a trifle close), and soon we were chugging along, making for the open sea (Solent, actually). On the way, all hands not needed to work the ship (two men and a boy ?) were mustered on the foredeck for a touching little ceremony probably unchanged since Nelson's day.

At the top of a large bluff was a signal station: we would pass quite close under this. As we neared the spot, someone blew a whistle *, the troops came to attention, our Ensign was dipped, the Captain saluted: we all saluted, as clearly it was the thing to do. Far above us, a great Ensign slowly dipped and rose in acknowledgement. Obviously we were "booking-out". This procedure was repeated on the way back, so that a hue and cry could be raised if we didn't turn up on time.

And then we were running in open waters with the land receding behind us.

As this is rather a long story, I have chopped it into two, this is the natural break, the rest tomorrow - with luck.

* (tongue-in-cheek to tease Union Jack - of course I know it's the Boatswine's Pipe !)

Evenin', chaps,


Sun's over the yardarm !