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A run ashore / Re: 2021 Reunion Fleetwood
« Last post by stokerstan on May 06, 2021, 10:21:29 PM »

   Have met with our friend Dale Gibson today. Dale is the person who makes our Victorious cakes for the Gala dinner nights. The last cake he made for us was at the start of the
 Pandemic, I explained that as with everything else we could not have the meeting, and as he had already made the basic fruitcake, I offered to pay him for it. He would not take any money,
 and he cut up the cake at Christmas time, and delivered it to his elderly neighbours, I got a piece and it was good. He is still very keen to make us a very special cake this year, it is to have a Vic crest, and a Fleetwood badge. He is waiting like all of us for the GO! Dale is well retired, and I am hoping he and his wife might join us for the reunion, when we may show him a real thank you.
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A run ashore / 2021 Reunion Fleetwood
« Last post by stokerstan on April 27, 2021, 08:35:59 PM »


    An update from the manager of the North Euston Hotel advises me that he has staff returning to their posts. His chefs are producing lunches that are allowed to be served outdoors.

  The manager assures me that in the near future I will be able to meet up with him, and confirm a date for the Reunion.

   I will circulate all details as I get them established. The manager advises me that all the stall are keen to get us there, and we are going to make it a very special reunion.

    Stan. M.
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A run ashore / A run ashore in Singapore
« Last post by stokerstan on April 27, 2021, 08:23:30 PM »
 Victorious arrived at Singapore on 29th March 1961. The ship had been to this place many times, but for me it was a first. The ship had had done some exercising on the way,and taken on stores and fuel oil on the trip from from Aden. I see from my 60/62 commissioning book, that we had steamed 21,375 mile in 117 days at sea. Impressive statistics, but my first impressions of Singapore I seem to remember, was rather disappointing. From my vantage point on the starboard for'ard gun deck, the dockyard looked a lot like a very hot Pompey dockyard, except that all the dockyard matey's seemed to be working, and their lunch seemed to get  delivered by a chap on a three wheeled trike with a box on the back.
 I got to know Singapore very well in later years, but that first run ashore, was a magic experience for me and an adventure, that rates highly in my feel good memories.
Garbed in completely unsuitable tight fitting white uniforms, falling in at the gangway, liberty men seeking shore leave. We were  advised that returning back onboard in any manner that might bring the uniform into disrespect, would be regarded as an heinous crime. Drunkenness could lead to dangerous results, particularly if ladies of a certain occupation,(or well disguised men) promised to give us a good time, we could end up outside the sick bay, in embarrassing circumstances. The officer of the day inspecting and warning us, I remember, also advised that we retain bus fare money to get back to Sembawang on the last bus. Being adrift was tantamount to desertion ?? I remember this good advice because, not wishing to be court-martialled for desertion, I secreted a five dollar note in my sock. It had worked down into my shoe by the time we got back onboard. There was indeed interesting persons in the city, but not on our pay rate sailor !! The five dollar note was a real loss, worn to a pulp.
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A run ashore / Re: A Run Ashore at Aden
« Last post by stokerstan on April 11, 2021, 10:23:08 PM »

  I have no fond memories of Aden at all. We had decided to visit Crater City,(against sensible advice) mainly I suspect because there seemed to be no where else to visit, and the name "Crater City"
does sound like a place worth a look. Wrong. The approach road to the town as I remember it, was memorable only by the number of beggars that lined both sides of the road. The town main square that we arrived at had very young children, begging mutely. Many of then had open sores and disfigurements, many of which which must have been inflicted by adults.
    I remember Crater city as being the hottest place I had so far encountered, it was located in a huge extinct volcano, and the heat seemed to have remained trapped in its centre. A shop seemingly selling cold drinks seemed useful, but as we approached it, we noted that many of the men who had been sat around the  shop frontage, suddenly seemed to wake up. We were obviously not going to be be made welcome, and remembering throat cutting warning! we retired out of the town and back to the Club House. I certainly learned a lesson that day, and I think we probably where quite fortunate, maybe if it had been cooler the locals may well have taken more energetic action.
    My Evap Plant had been shut down, and I was looking for a nice period of "day work" We had been topped up with shore supplied water, and I was wondering if it was worth risking taking a dip within the shark net area. No chance, back to dogs middle and forenoon. The water supplied was good only for washing, and you could not get any lather with it, and and it certainly was not drinkable. Worse still, the boiler water had to be even more pristine!  We pumped tons of Aden water back into the Gulf.. I did not like Aden.
   
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A run ashore / A Run Ashore at Aden
« Last post by stokerstan on April 06, 2021, 05:11:05 PM »

    Seventh of March, 1961, we arrived at Aden. Members of the mess who had been to Aden before advised us not to get excited. An understatement of the first order. I remember I was double banking on Evaps. Tricky job making fresh water that is good to drink, and good for the boilers. I had got the hang of salinity testing, and maintaining a vacuum to keep a steady boil, I was becoming highly trained!  Shore leave had been announced, and i was quite looking forward to my first run ashore in Africa. There was a golden beach quite close to our berth, and some of us proposed we went for swim before we headed into town,so with togs and towels we trooped to the beach. We noticed that there was a structure some sort of netting bounding an area of the sea, with a big sign saying, "No swimming outside the Net "and in foot high letters the word "Sharks, a passing soldier assured us it was true, the area was full of sharks, and he said that the net had not been fixed for months ! We passed on the swimming, and went to an R.A.F club. We had been told that the club sold Tiger Beer, and San Miguel, so having never tasted either we ordered both.
Tiger Topps became my tipple for the commission, but not keen on the San stuff, but told it was better in Hong Kong. (I was felt I was  becoming an expert on beer as well). The club seemed less than exciting, and the couple of members assured us that it was as good as it got. There was a duty sergeant playing darts, and someone asked him  where was the best place to go for excitement. He said your at it, unless you fancy getting your throat cut, in which case go out of the base to Crater City, about a fifteen minute walk.
                 It was agreed that we had numbers to sort anything out, and we went to Crater City with visions of adventure.
   
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A run ashore / Re: A Run Ashore at Cape Town
« Last post by stokerstan on April 06, 2021, 03:38:05 PM »
  Cape Town should have made much more of an impression on me, and today I do regret not making the effort to see some of the country. I have a snap shot of a cable car  going up to the top of the Table Top mountain, but i have no memory of making that ride. Perhaps it was after I had discovered the charm of Brandy. I do remember that Cape Town had two famous beaches, one on the Atlantic coast, where the water was very cold, and the second a few miles away on the Indian ocean side with pleasant warm water. Politics' was probably the reason that Victorious made her visit, but whilst the British government was demanding all sorts of change for the country, I was enjoying my first ever Bar-B-Q. I remember very well, having slices of roast pork, cooked over a charcoal fire, and tasting my first glass of South African brandy and fresh orange. I had no idea how much brandy and orange cost to buy, but having previously been employed on a pig and poultry farm, I had a fair idea that a whole pig would not come cheap. Our hosts sent us back onboard in style, and I have always had fond memories of South Africans of all colours.
  The black gentleman who had been to Blackpool in his youth, left me with some good advice that I have often remembered. He did not express his political beliefs, directly, but he assured me that Evolution within a country is preferable to Revolution, and we should not always believe what is printer in News papers Looking back, I feel he had the truth of it. My mentor some month later asked me what i thought about the man, I said he seemed a very clever chap indeed. The chief had recently received some mail from the chap, and said he not only owned the bar, he also served on another bar, as a barrister. I was even more impressed ! Another point I remember the man making quietly, South Africa was the only country in Africa that needed border patrols, to stop people flooding into the country,
it certainly was not all bad.
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A run ashore / Re: A Run Ashore at Cape Town
« Last post by stokerstan on April 05, 2021, 02:47:13 PM »
 The chief was as good as his word and four or five of us accompanied him into the town to a rather smart bar. I believe it was in the forenoon. There was only a few people in the place, but we did seem to raise some interest, particularly with the bar man, who appeared to inspect us in some detail. I of course assumed it was our smart appearance, but as it turned out, it was more to do with the bar being usually only used by locals with better sun tans than we had. The chief had a word with the bar tender, and a tray of beer was sent over, and a couple of minutes later, we were joined by a very impressive black gentleman, very smartly dressed, who obviously knew our mentor, and there was much laughing and back slapping. It transpired, if my memory serves me correctly, that the gentleman in fact owned the bar. We were introduced, and told we were very welcome, and more beer supplied. Much of the details of our conversation I have now forgotten, but a couple of items, I well remember. After a couple of beers, the chief was telling, light hearted stories concerning our inadequacy's as stokers, and he pointed me out as needing elocution lessons. The chief claimed I had only recently emerged from the depths of Lancashire, and did not have a great grasp of the  English language. Our host immediately asked me where I was from, and I told him Blackpool (I did not think he would have heard of Fleetwood).
 He told me that some of the best days of his life had been spent on holiday in Blackpool, in his student days. He knew Fleetwood well, and was an admirer of the Blackpool/Fleetwood tramway.
     The gentleman made a lasting impression on me.
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A run ashore / Re: A Run Ashore at Cape Town
« Last post by stokerstan on April 04, 2021, 03:06:26 PM »
 
   On arrival at Cape Town, my watch was duty !! I had listen to mates returning from a run ashore waxing lyrical about golden beaches full of girls, and millionaire gripose, who queued up
along the jetty waiting to take jack for a run round the town. I was particularly vocal when I found out that my mentor had been given special leave to go ashore as soon as we got alongside.
I presumed it was Chiefs and P.O.s first as usual, but was advised it was not the case. I was assure that it was a case of special leave for several of the ships company who were deemed to be
 "Cape Coloured,", it was in fact the first time i had ever heard the term. I later asked the chief what it was about, and he said something to the effect that they were a select people chosen to have
a "Golden" tan all year round. I remember he went on to explain that "Honky Northerners" (like me) were doomed to be white except for the odd occasion when they turned into boiled lobsters then peeled off all their skin !! He was correct about the skin,I remember the Irish stoker who fell asleep on a gun platform. He was flown off Victorious in a Wessex, then eventually shipped back to U.K.
   The chief was indeed Cape Coloured, I was a bit sceptical about the matter, truth be known I had always thought he might have been Maltese, several senior stewards were from Malta, but my mentor spoke with possibly a Pompey accent. He had he  assured me just visited a grandmother and several aunts and uncles who lived in Cape Town, and if we smartened up, he would give us a run round the town. Which he did.
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A run ashore / Re: A Run Ashore at Cape Town
« Last post by stokerstan on April 04, 2021, 02:32:44 PM »
 
Thanks for the photos Dave, I do remember our Cape Town escorts Lynx and Blackpool. I had some mates on Lynx, and how could I forget H.M.S. Blackpool, having been brought up (almost in sight of our tower). I do not remember the S.A. vessel, but hey I was always too busy on ten deck to browse passing vessels ! ???.
    What I remember most, is going ashore, and walking up the main street, where everything seemed to have been built out of some sort of white stone. I had been swotting a lot for the axillary watchkeepers ticket, and I had as a mentor a Tiffy, who was in charge of my watch down the centre boiler room. I had made him many mugs of tea and coffee, and (sticky buns when available), and  in return, the chap made me spend hours crawling through bilges tracing valves and pipework systems. We were issued with a pad of graph sheets, and had to draw a system showing valves
and connections, and the chief checked them.  Sounds easy  now, but I do remember mixing up a fresh water main with a fire main, and missing out a main steam stop valve or two. The chief had a sharp wit, and as i still had something of a Lancashire accent I remember well, being asked in front of the watch if I could clog dance, replying no, he said that he was not a bit surprise, as it was probably more difficult than find a bleeding great stop valve.
       With the benefit of hindsight I later realised that my mentor did me a great service with his firm schooling, I can still remember that our very large freezer rooms down in the bottom of the ship, functioned by utilizing "latent heat". and how an evaporating and distillation plant must operate with a clever vacuum that boiled salt water at a lower temperature. He also took his watch stokers ashore in Cape Town.
   Today I have problems remembering which bath tap gives me hot water . ???
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A run ashore / Re: A Run Ashore at Cape Town
« Last post by Dave on April 01, 2021, 11:04:37 AM »
Part of  that Exercise,  with   the Vic   HMS Lynx,  HMS Blackpool,   SAS Vryystaat
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