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Messages - stokerstan

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Naval History / Re: The National Memorial Arboretum
« on: February 27, 2021, 11:47:02 AM »

  Nice one Dave, here's to the Reunion (in the sun shine). Thanks for keeping an eye on the bench and tree, See you soon.

A run ashore / Re: Gib 60-62
« on: February 22, 2021, 08:20:34 PM »

   Good one Dave. I had heard about the Gib NAAFI club, but never saw it. The pictures are not stokers.
 The first visit  Cath and I went to Gib, we were there for a week, there did seem to be some army and RAF people about. We were out in a small boat, suppose to be looking for dolphins (or something), when a Vulcan bomber took off over our heads. It was a very noisy experience, and the "spiv" who promised to show us the whales and dolphins which we never saw, explained that the bomber scared all the wild life away.  Didn't get a refund either. We did get to the top of the rock however, we went up in dangling basket affair, Cath did not like it at all, and was insisting on going down by road in a taxi. Unfortunatly, there was taxi strike on so she had to go down in the basket, but was not at all happy !!
  Still worth a visit. Keep Gib British.

A run ashore / Re: A run ashore at Vigo
« on: February 22, 2021, 05:31:24 PM »
   I have often said, that visiting the great places we remember from our youth, later in life, too often is not a great idea. In the early seventies my wife and I visit Malta, had been a place of magic in my mind for years. However, Malta was going through much change at this time, and whilst it was a pleasant place, it wasn't very exciting. ! Blue skies still there, shiny blue Mediterranean, but oh so many tourist, and nice cafes, and in the words of the great Stanley Holloway," No wrecks and nobody drowneded, fact nothing to laugh at all".
  Gibraltar was much the same really, nice hotel, but no sailors on the street, and the Winter Garden Hotel, scene of many minor riots, if it was still there, i could not find it!
         However, trogging round Spain on a SAGA trip a couple of years ago, we were offered a chance to make a boat trip across the Vigo estuary, and a chance to have a look at the city of Vigo.
That's for me I said, great place Vigo, good wine anyway !
 The boat trip was made on a rather grubby ferry boat, and when we got off, I was positive it was where the jetty I had walked had been. The old fishing jetty from my last visit with the pub. Long gone. Vigo it seems is now one of the largest fishing ports in Europe. It has major Canning factories, and freezing facilities (E.U financed) everything handled in bulk. Factories everywhere !!
Never saw a fisherman, and when I complained about the destruction of my dreams, to the dragon of a guide we had, she just grunted that it had changed a bit in the past sixty years.

A run ashore / Re: A run ashore at Vigo
« on: February 22, 2021, 03:14:47 PM »
 Six stokers in a bar in Vigo Spain, the bar sold only red local wine. The Landlord insisted that our first drink was on the house, in case (our friend said) we did not like red wine.
The wine was served in rather chipped glasses, holding about the same as a tot glass (about a third of a pint). Being the purse holder of our group , I was obviously concerned to ensure we could afford more wine, (it was all agreed very nice tipple). The price of a "Little Bricky" brown ale in Pompey at that time was about one and sixpence (old money), our very good wine I remember was about four or five pence a glass! We settled down for the evening. There was a dozen or so locals in the bar, it seems that they were inshore fishermen, some new law it seems had required them to purchase a licence to fish, and it was currently only being issued to families of men of a particular political persuasion, at a price. They were out of work, One of the toasts made later was not complimentary to Franco !!
   Cribbage was being played in one corner of the room, two stokers joined in, a rather complicated form of dominos was started, again invitations to play were extended to us, half an hour, and
and stokers felt they were learning a foreign language. Vino Tinto. At those prices our kitty was awash with money, and drinks all round sealed life time friendships. However our duty free
 cigarettes, and the twenty five packs of Senior Service were viewed as luxury items, and passed round all night. Probably my most vivid memory of that little friendly bar, was the squid. Partway through the evening some small dishes came out with a wooden chopping board. A squid was taken out of the water,(wrapped round the land lords hand), its tentacles, chopped off and diced ,sprinkled with salt and vinegar and eaten.  With lots of red wine, they tasted great. Not so sure next day though. I was duty next day, but donated fags for smuggling to our bar. 

A run ashore / A run ashore at Vigo
« on: February 21, 2021, 05:00:41 PM »
 March 1962, Victorious visited the Spanish port of Vigo. I cannot remember whether we anchored off or went alongside, but I do remember several of us stokers, pooling money for a drinks kitty, and I held the cash. There was a good sized jetty that we walked down, but it was evening, we had no idea of where friendly locals might be found. I remember that orders of the day had advised liberty men, not to get into any form of trouble, as the countries leader, General Franco, did not like Brits, did not like the Royal Navy, and wanted Gibraltar. I now wonder why we went there in the first place.
 We seemed to have walked the length of the jetty, and were about to walk back, when an elderly chap stopped us, and asked in reasonable English if we were Royal navy, we were all in the rig.
He seemed pleased, and told us he had served in the Merchant Navy during the war, sailing out of Liverpool, and seemed very excited to find one of us was a Scouse. He assured us that whilst Vigo was quite a big place, it no longer had anywhere exciting that we would find entertaining, there was a heavy police presence in the place, and a "shortage" of electricity ! no idea why. We cheered up
when the chap told us that he was off to his local bar, and we would be welcomed to join him, warning us, that it was not like the "Maggy Mays" Liverpool bars, but the host would make us welcome.
Nothing to lose, we followed our new found friend to a row of what looked like old cottages, and through a door into a smoke filled room. The place was lit by paraffin lamps hanging down from the ceiling,
and there was various bar games being played with some laughing and shouting. The room became silent as our presence was noticed, but things resumed as our guide made some sort of introduction to
 a little portly chap who we learned was the landlord,  had emerged from one of the card games. He spoke no English, but our guide advised us that we were welcome, six glasses of red wine, were set up for us on the bar. The bar was two big barrel stood on end with planks spanning them, a small barrel at one end contained (we were told) local red wine. and at the other end of the bar was a
biscuit tin half full of salt water and live squids.

The lighter side / Re: How to get through lock downs.
« on: February 20, 2021, 05:03:24 PM »
  re- reading the torch item, a happening involving a stroppy young stoker and a crusty old killick sprang to mind.
  The ship was alongside somewhere,(not sure where) on a Sunday afternoon. It was probably a not blank week because the mess was very quiet. The Killick of the mess was in his top bunk,
reading his educational Sunday news paper, (probably The News of The World). Two very young and stupidly naïve junior stokers were playing a board game at the end of the mess.
  The stokers commenced to argue about some rule of the game, noisily, and the killick without putting down his paper growled at them to "keep silence". The voices did subside, but one of them,
probably with more mouth than brains, said in a voice just loud enough to be heard, advising the mess, that he lived in a free country, and had the right to talk. There was an air of expectation, the paper was slowly lowered, a hand reached up to the deck head fan trunking, and a Pussers torch shot  across the mess and bounced off the stokers forehead.
    He was taken up to the sickbay to have a couple of stiches in a nasty cut. The S.B.A. doing the stitching asked how the cut occurred, the slightly wiser lad repeated exactly what he had been advised to say.  "I was talking when I should have been listening, and I am on 40 mess, and Yorky Pearson is my mess Killick."  No more said except, lucky it wasn't a wheel spanner !!

A run ashore / A Light at the End of a tunnel ?
« on: February 19, 2021, 05:10:30 PM »
  Just to let members know that I have quite given up guessing dates for the Reunion, but in no way have we given up on having the 2021/plus 2020 do. Rather the opposite, we are more than ever
committed to having the best reunion ever put together by anyone anywhere in the world !! (We have had a lot of time to plan). I am aware that at our time of life, waiting about is not something we
want to do, but rest assured everything is in place when the flag goes up, and we will out of the blocks like the proverbial greyhound.
 There has been a number of occasions recently on the television, when half wits have assure us that the light is at the end of a tunnel, and there has not even been a tunnel. However, when I learned
that Brian Tennick had been given his vaccine injection (in Doncaster), I felt that we may be starting to see the New Dawn Breaking. I have mentioned in the News letter, that our hotel booking still holds good, I have spoken to the manager, and he is positive that all will be good.
   I fear that one of the casualties of this pandemic will be the loss of veterans associations. I am aware of a couple of associations who have pulled down their flag. I suspect that depression created
by the lockdowns and miserable media coverage, has a grinding effect on many, but it is a real loss for veterans who will now lose contact with mates who speak the same language as them about events they all remember.
Well Victorious is alive and kicking, we will be there to watch the sun come out again.
        On a serious note  >:( , I need to get out soon. I have re-read Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander series, (21 volumes) and have obtained the 11 volumes of Foresters Hornblower series, and have only one and a half books to go.

The lighter side / Re: How to get through lock downs.
« on: January 17, 2021, 03:50:55 PM »
 Anyway back to really important things.
I have completed my re-reading of Patrick O'Brian's brilliant Master and Commander series of novels. He completed 20 volumes, and was part way through the 21st when he crossed the bar.
  Not being a great fan of most modern authors, I decided to have a look at C.S. Forester's Hornblower's series. I remembered reading his early book, "Mr Midshipman Hornblower", and found a rather battered copy in a charity shop. It is good. and on checking I found he had written ten volumes of the Hornblower series. The original books are not easy to find, but my better half has  found that a company is in the process of running a reprint edition, so that is me sorted for the lockdown.
  Patrick O'Brian crossed the bar in 2000,aged 85.  C.S. Forester left us in 1966 aged only 66.
     Both for me brilliant authors ! but they really should have started their story lines much earlier, and written lots more books.

The lighter side / Re: How to get through lock downs.
« on: January 16, 2021, 09:01:55 PM »

  Just read this reply  >:( >:( >:( >:( Turner, you shock me. Suggesting ways to cheat ?? Have you NO pride sir. This sort of thing would never be countenanced on the
 Stokers Mess. We were Gentlemen. !!!!!!!

A run ashore / Re: Belated Reunion 2020
« on: December 22, 2020, 03:47:14 PM »


   I am investigating the possibility of having a Trafalgar dinner on first evening, Reunion second evening, and third evening a quieter celebration to mark the passing of the virus.

       Take Care out there.. stay safe.

Odds and sods / Re: December 2020
« on: December 20, 2020, 08:45:13 PM »

   Thanks again for good stuff ! Have a good Christmas mate, and fingers crossed for a real "New Year"
        Take Care, and stay safe. S.

A run ashore / Re: Belated Reunion 2020
« on: December 20, 2020, 08:40:55 PM »
 Well we are about to fall into Christmas!! the Virus is still swilling about, making old folks ill, and television not worth switching on.
    Brexit does get a mention occasionally, but now we have some smart new patrol boats, and a nice British vaccine, all we need to concentrate on
is ensuring that the hotel is working fully charged when we arrive for our reunion. I feel, we will be entitled to three days of celebrations, Post Virus, Post Christmas,
and a first time Summer Reunion.

       It will come to pass, as it was once said   "All things come to those who wait".
 No idea who said that, answers on a post Card .

Naval History / Re: Nelsons Navy.
« on: December 20, 2020, 08:24:16 PM »

   Have managed to obtain two of C.C. Forester's Hornblower books --- My Midshipman Hornblower, it has been reissued by Penguin Books in 2017(the original came out in 1950)
More difficult to get is the second book of the Hornblower novels,"Lt.Hornblower". The book is actually the seventh novel, but the story line has been designed to follow on from Hornblowers early years, and he is still a Midshipman. The book is in a rather poor condition, and was published in the U.S.A. It was written in 1951, and Forester claimed copyright in 1952.

    It seems we are to be kept indoors a while longer by the pandemic, so i may have to seek out more "Hornblowers" to help me through it. Its a rough old life, so off we go back to sea. ;D ;D

Lost Oppos / Royal Tournament 1960
« on: December 06, 2020, 04:48:36 PM »
   Stan Mclellan, was a member of the rope climbing and Window ladder display team in 1960.I was a "Swallow".
   I have some pictures of the training and the whole crew outside Earl's Court, and some snaps of member,(sixty plus men).

      I can be contacted on the Victorious web page, or by Googling HMS Victorious. or direct

    Love to hear from anyone.

Naval History / Re: Nelsons Navy.
« on: December 03, 2020, 09:52:02 PM »
Books I have been browsing in the Lockdown.
Bryan Perrett's "The real Horn Blower"-- The life and times of Admiral Sir James Gordon GCB
Bernard Ireland's "Naval Warfare in The age of Sail. War at sea 1756-1815".
T.A Heathcote "Nelson's Trafalgar Captains and their Battles".
Robert Harvey "Cochrane The life and exploits of a fighting Captain"
Admiral Lord Cochrane "Memoirs of a Fighting Captain"
I have just completed a second reading of Patrick O'Brian's brilliant (Master and Commander Jack Aubrey series).  20 novels, mostly paper back editions, mostly charity shop purchases .I was thinking of reading some Horn Blower books. I have seen odd ones in the charity shops. However, I noted that in America recently a set of first edition Hornblower sold for £2000 !
 Keep your eyes open !! 

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