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rank 920
word count 50921
date submitted 28.03.2012
date updated 07.06.2012
genres: Non-fiction, History, Biography, Tr...
classification: universal
incomplete

THE ROYAL NAVY& ME

FREDERICK RODGERS

The adventures of a young sailor who joined the Royal Navy at the age of 15 and served for twelve years.

 

The story is told through the eyes of a young sailor who joined the Royal Navy in 1955 as a Boy Seaman 2nd class, the absolute lowest rank in the Navy. Follow his induction at HMS Ganges, the toughest boys training establishment in England, if not the world, and his first assignment to HMS Cockade in time to visit Australia for the opening of the 1956 Olympic Games. This is a thoroughly amusing tale,tempered with dark moments of despair as he visits islands in the South Pacific,tours Hong Kong,Korea and Japan, passes through the Suez Canal en-route to Malta and Gibraltar. Patrols Iceland during the Cod Wars, and plunges to crush depth aboard a submarine. This is a voyage not to be missed

 
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After Easter leave I rejoined the ‘spare crew’ at Dolphin, and I remained there until June without any more early morning awakenings, or sudden departures to sea.

In June I began a new radar course at the RP2 level, which ran for roughly ten weeks. Everything went well, and just as I was preparing to sit the final exam in late August I received a surprise draft notice. The submarine HMS Alcide was about to complete a major refit in Rosyth and they urgently required a radar operator. I was ordered to join her immediately on completion of the course.

My summer leave was cancelled and I was quite upset wondering how to go about making the necessary adjustments to my plans. In the New Year after Alcide successfully completed her sea trials she was due to sail to Canada. In the meantime I had to find a way to propose to Eleanor and explain the urgency of the situation. If we could arrange the marriage over Christmas leave then the Navy would allow Eleanor to follow me to Canada later. I left Dolphin on the 22nd August catching the night train to Edinburgh, and during the long journey I thought of a workable plan to propose and hopefully marry Eleanor within the time limitations. My solution was really quite simple. All I had to do was propose by telephone and explain the need for haste. But things are never as simple as they first appear. I didn’t know the phone number of Dan’s shop, and it was the only telephone available. I’d have to write home and ask for the number and explain why I needed it. Writing home and receiving a reply would take at least two weeks. Next I’d have to set up a time and day when Eleanor could be at the shop to take the call. I was sure Noel could arrange to have her there on a Saturday or Sunday morning at an agreed time. But that too would take the best part of another two weeks to arrange. Then another snag occurred to me, what if we were delayed at sea on the morning I was supposed to ring. While we were completing our trials in Scotland there was always a risk of delays or changes. The safe answer was to wait until we returned to Portsmouth in early November. The time remaining would be short but it could still work. I’d agree to any and all arrangement Eleanor made, I’d marry her in a church a registry office or anywhere else. The worst possible outcome would be a long engagement and a wedding when I returned from Canada. It wasn’t my first choice but not completely unacceptable either.

 

 

 

I arrived at Rosyth Dockyard the following morning feeling quite happy with my plans. Returning to Rosyth was in a strange sort of a way like a homecoming. As a little boy during the war I had lived in Rosyth for about a year, and though my memory of the place was vague many places felt familiar. One thing I did recall vividly was the Forth Bridge. I had been so impressed t as a child when we first crossed it by train. I remembered sticking my head out of the carriage window to get a better view and crying because I got soot in my eye.

I wasn’t surprised to find that the Alcide was a hive of activity when I arrived. That was the usual state for a submarine when she was nearing the end of a refit. The Head’s of departments would be getting anxious as they waited for essential parts to arrive, wondering if they could be installed on time.

No time was wasted in putting me to work. As a senior leading hand I was appointed Second Coxswain. I was quite pleased until I saw how much work still needed to be done. The Second Coxswain is responsible for the condition of the upper deck and the casing. That means everything from painting the casing and the fin to ordering and stowing of all ropes, hawsers and lines. I also needed a supply of paint, brushes, rollers and solvents to take with us. The most difficulty part was finding space to stow and secure everything. Stowing equipment in the cramped confines of a boat was an art in itself, and tripping over dockyard workers as they rushed around to finish up their work didn’t help.

I soon made friends with a Canadian shipmate named Bob Lamb who was nearing the end of his enlistment. He was leaving the navy in about a year’s time. I was amazed by a rather strange coincidence. Bob owned a new left hand drive Vauxhall and he was taking it home to Canada. It reminded me of my earlier experience in another Canadian owned Vauxhall.

However, telling Bob about my previous accident was a mistake because every time I rode with him he did his best to scare me. It wasn’t surprising that I often felt nervous in his car. Then came an even more bizarre coincidence, or was it fate? Returning to the dockyard one morning we rounded a sharp bend and drove straight into the path of a garbage lorry. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me again. We collided head on into the side of the lorry. The Vauxhall was a total write off.  Fortunately, apart from a few cuts and bruises, and in my case shattered nerves, neither of us was seriously injured. I vowed on the spot that I would never ride in another Vauxhall owned by Canadian submariner.

With the painting of the casing and fin completed, the submarine was gradually beginning to look shipshape. Then one morning as I was walking through the yard to collect some last minute supplies, I was surprised to bump into Michael Foster. Michael said that he was delighted to be based in Scotland, close to his wife and their home in Lochgilphead. As we resurrected some of our liveliest moments at Ganges and on the Taciturn, he asked if I’d heard from Irene. I told him I hadn’t heard anything in over a year and considered the relationship was over. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to stand gossiping for too long so Michael and I agreed to keep in touch and we moved off in opposite directions.

I thought no more about this brief encounter until we arrived in Faslane about a week later and received a letter from Irene. It didn’t take me long to realise that Michael had written to Marie, and she in turn had told Irene.

It was a glowing letter, telling me how excited she was to have found me again, and how excited Lorraine was too. She said everyone was looking forward to seeing me again and that I must visit the next time the boat came to Faslane.

Common sense told me not to go or even to reply to the letter. Unfortunately common sense wasn’t something that I had a lot of.

During the first week of September we sailed for Faslane and the West Coast of Scotland.  I stood on the casing as we proceeded down the Firth of Forth, and noted that I had now passed under as well as over the Forth Bridge.

The trip took a week and we tested the systems and the equipment as we went. Once we got to Faslane the real trials would begin. Six weeks of hard work with long hours and little rest. It was crucial training for the officers and the crew. Whether we were experienced or just out of training, it was vital that we learned to work together as a team. We carried out countless fire drills, emergency dives and emergency surfacing drills. The training honed our skills, whether firing a torpedo or alluding surface hunters.

The weekend was the only opportunity to relax, but that often depended on what repairs were required.

I was off duty on our first weekend at Faslane, and I decided to visit Lochgilphead. I felt guilty about Eleanor, but I convinced myself that it was just a harmless fling.

I rented a car in Helensburg and I was on the road early on the Friday afternoon. And when I arrived at suppertime I was greeted like I was the returning prodigal son. I was treated like royalty, with hugs and kisses, handshakes and pats on the back.

Irene appeared particularly happy to see me. We went to the usual bars, then on to one of those wild Scottish dances. But the previous long week at sea was taking its toll so I didn’t last long at the dance, and we were in bed before midnight. It wasn’t long before I was fast asleep.

I left at noon on the Sunday and returned the car to Helensburg. I didn’t want to be late getting back on board as we were sailing at 0500 hrs on the Monday morning. The weekend had been short but I had to admit it had been fun. Nevertheless, I made the decision that it would be my last visit.

On my return to Faslane the following weekend I received another letter from Irene. In it she said that it was imperative that I came to see her because she had something very important to tell me. I had no idea what it was but it sounded ominous.

The sea trials were going well and were almost completed, with only two weeks left.  We were looking forward to being declared operational and returning to Portsmouth.

The weekend of October 15th was my last chance to visit Irene and find out what was so important. She was at work when I arrived so I parked at the hospital entrance and waited for her to finish work.

When she eventually came out she seemed tense, looking like she would burst into tears at any moment as she climbed into the car. She asked me to drive to a quiet spot where we could talk. I started the car and drove down the lane turning into the Presbyterian Church grounds and parked under the trees. It was already dark with a light rain was falling, the ground was covered in fallen leafs

I shut off the engine and turned to hear what she had to say. Years later I’d look back on this moment as an award winning performance. Irene burst into tears, holding her head in her hands. I had difficulty hearing what she was saying. Through the sobs and the tears she told me that she was pregnant, and that she didn’t know what to do. She was too afraid to tell her parents. They had been bitterly angry when she fell pregnant with Lorraine, this time they’d probably throw her out.

“You won’t be able to help me, ” she sobbed. “You’ll soon be far away in Canada. It’s my own fault. I should have been more careful. I’ve only myself to blame. Oh Lord!  What will become of me? What will become of my poor wee Lorraine?”

I sat in utter silence, simply not knowing what to say. I was both stunned and surprised to learn that she was pregnant. How could it have happened? I’d always taken precautions. Irene said she’d been careful too, and then she burst into another fit of crying.

Through her tears she said that being careful didn’t matter because there was always a risk. She was going to great pains to assure me it was all her fault, telling me I shouldn’t feel guilty. But I was in turmoil, and my mind was spinning.

I couldn’t think clearly and didn’t know what to say. I was starting to feel the weight and responsibility of my actions. I saw myself as guilty, regardless of what Irene said. It never occurred to me to ask how she could be so sure she was pregnant after only a couple of weeks. She continued crying and sobbing and claiming her life was ruined. I was completely unaware of what was happening or where this was leading. I was too naïve to realise that pressure was being applied to push me into making a decision. All I wanted was this to be over, to start the car and leave this depressing place.

I desperately wanted to go for a pint and pretend none of this was happening. Irene was saying I shouldn’t worry. It was her problem. Somehow she’d work it out, maybe rent a small flat somewhere. She would raise Lorraine and the new baby by herself. When she went to work her sister Marie would probably look after the baby. Lorraine was starting school soon so she’d manage to cope.

But the 1960’s were a time when a man was expected to take responsibility for his actions. A time when a man was supposed to do the honourable thing. Those were the thoughts running through my mind as Irene relentlessly kept up the pressure.

I was struggling. Then, without any real conviction, I blurted out that perhaps we could get married. And immediately I realised I had just said what Irene wanted me to say. And now it was too late. I couldn’t take it back. In that instant the atmosphere in the car changed and I was smothered in kisses and hugs. Irene had successfully accomplished her mission.

By the time I returned aboard on Sunday evening the wedding plans were already well underway. She wasted no time in beginning the preparations. I was sent back with a list of things to do. I was to see the Padre on the depot ship and have him call the banns. I was instructed to let her know the minute I had my leave dates. She needed to book the church and the photographer, and send out the invitations etc.

I had to send her money to help with expenses. It was my job to purchase the rings. The Blarney Stone money was dwindling fast. I was caught up in a powerful surge of wedding plans. I was rushing headlong into something that a few days earlier I would not have even considered. Now it was impossible to stop, or even slow the momentum.

I tried to convince myself that everything was okay and I attempted to act like I was excited and happy. But I was hiding behind a mask of bravado while sinking in a sea of despair too ashamed to write to Eleanor. What could I tell her? How could I explain this sudden decision? I wrote to my family telling them the news and knew that Eleanor would know once my letter reached home. It wouldn’t take long for John or Noel to pass the latest news on in the street.

 

 

 

On the 26th November I caught the night train to Glasgow. I was on leave until the 10th December. The wedding was set for Saturday the 29th November at 2pm. Irene had arranged for her brother Angus to stand as my best man, and my sisters May and Anna travelled over from Belfast.

I arrived at the church about fifteen minutes before the ceremony was set to begin. The organ began playing the wedding march as I stood at the altar, and I wished I could just disappear. My head was spinning. This was something I did not want to do. As Irene approached down the aisle I was thinking of running out of the church. But my feet remained firmly rooted to the floor.

Ten minutes later I was married.

After the reception we were driven to the hotel in Minard, the same place Michael and Marie had spent their wedding night two years earlier.

On the Sunday morning we caught the bus into Glasgow. Irene had arranged for us to stay overnight with relatives as we were leaving early on Monday for the Stranraer ferry to Belfast.

I awoke the next morning to an empty house. The family had already left for work. When Irene appeared a few minutes later she looked pale and distraught. Tearfully she began to explain how she had miscarried while sitting on the toilet. She went on to describe the tiny body with its little arms and legs.  She said she had no choice but to flush the toilet.

I knew less about a miscarriage than I did about the female menstrual cycle, but I did have the sense to suggest that we should go to the hospital for her to be checked over. Irene said no she was okay. She added that the miscarriage was probably caused by the excitement of the wedding.

We arrived in Belfast that evening, and later that night we had intercourse. Incredibly I continued to remain ignorant of what had taken place. Irene’s deceitful scheme had worked better than she could ever have imagined. The only thing I actually noticed was the sudden change in her personality. Overnight she had become more assertive and confident, almost to the point of arrogance.

Of course, with hindsight, it was easy explained. The pressure she was under trying to maintain the pretence of being pregnant would have been horrendous. Once the supposed miscarriage took place and she was over that final hurdle, her confidence would have surged back.

Looking back, it’s so easy to see the obvious, but in 1963 I never suspected a thing. It was only later that I started to ask question and put two and two together. I know that if I had not been so naïve (perhaps a better word is stupid) I would not have walked into her trap so easily. But in those days it was too shameful to admit that you had put a girl in the family way.  I never mentioned it to my family or friends. Perhaps if I had things might have turned out differently.

All that was left for me to do now was to try and make the best of it. I had lost Eleanor, and there was no way back. I had just fallen for one of the oldest tricks in the book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The morning of January 4th 1964 was bleak, cold and miserable. A few people, mostly family members gathered on the jetty to see the Alcide slip her lines and silently move away towards the North Atlantic. They waved quietly to their loved ones who were lined up along the casing.

As we passed under Fort Blockhouse we came to attention for the salute. Then we proceeded south, leaving the Isle of Wight and the Needles astern. Our last sight of England faded into the mist as we turned away towards the grey open sea.

Our orders were to sail cross the Atlantic on the surface and to rendezvous with a Canadian frigate somewhere off Bermuda. Once there we were to engage in anti-submarine exercises.

During our second day out we ran into the foulest weather imaginable. Crossing the Atlantic in the middle of winter on board a large ship is, to say the least, an unpleasant experience. Crossing the Atlantic in the middle of winter on a submarine, however, is a completely different, almost indescribable, event altogether. The wind had reached gale force eight and the sea had waves that were cresting between thirty and forty feet. The watch keepers on the bridge were soaked through within minutes of going on duty, and the icy seawater constantly cascaded down into the control room to soak anyone unfortunate to be near the hatch. The boat rocked and rolled so much it became too dangerous for the chef to attempt cooking a hot meal.  For three days we subsisted on some dodgy soup and questionable sandwiches. Items that were securely stowed before we set sail suddenly broke loose, plates and cups flew off the table and smashed against the bulkhead.  Trying to get some sleep was all but impossible.

On a normal surface ship you could usually find a sheltered spot where you could stand outside and breathe some fresh air, but on a submarine that just wasn’t possible. So the stench of vomit, body odor and diesel fumes was something you just had to live with. Only the officer of the watch and the lookouts had the opportunity to taste the fresh air. It was hardly a privilege to be jealous of as freezing spray was continually drenching them. 

On the morning of our seventh day at sea I’d just finished my breakfast when my name came over the tannoy to report to the bridge. I threw on an oilskin and climbed the conning tower ladder. The weather had improved by this time and the high winds had subsided, but there was still a heavy sea that caused the boat to pitch into the troughs then rise back up on the high crests.

When the Skipper saw me he just pointed over his shoulder. I followed his finger and immediately saw the heavy hawser trailing about fifty feet over our stern. It had broken loose from its stowage during the storm and was now an obvious danger to the boat because the rope could easily snag on the rudder or the screws.

Immediate action was required, and the Skipper asked me if I was okay about going out on the casing to cut the line.

Naturally I said yes. It was my responsibility. I could hardly ask anyone else to do it. The biggest danger was that each time we rolled into a trough the stern became momentarily submerged. We didn’t carry such a thing as a wet suit so I bundled up in a sweater and an oilskin trousers tucked into my sea boots. I tied a towel around my neck to keep water from running down my back, and I buttoned up the oilskin coat over it.

Around my waist I had my belt and a sharp knife attached to it by a lanyard. If I dropped the knife whilst on deck I wouldn’t lose it. Next I put on a safety harness and an inflatable life jacket. I felt very restricted wearing so much gear.  I decided against wearing gloves. I wouldn’t be able to work with then on in any case. If I took them off I would probably loose them over the side.

The Skipper promised to do his best to keep the boat steady and he warned me to just cut the rope loose and not to try and retrieve it. He also told me to be quick as the water was extremely cold.

I climbed onto the forward casing through the small door at the front of the fin. It was difficult moving along the narrow side of the fin to the stern section. With only a handrail on the side of the fin I couldn’t use the safety harness until I reached the after casing where a steel cable ran the length of the deck attached to stanchions that were spaced roughly ten feet apart. At each stanchion I had to unhook the harness from the cable and snap it back on again on the other side.  Seawater constantly washed over the deck as I slowly moved aft.

In order to cut the rope I had to go inside the casing, but first I had to open the deck plates above where the rope was stowed and climb down. It was about four feet down to the pressure hull and almost immediately I was up to my waist in water that was so cold it caused me to gasp with the shock. The icy water instantly seeped through every part of my clothing.

I had to judge the moment when the stern rose up before I ducked under the casing. I located the end of the rope and began furiously cutting at it. The rope was thoroughly soaked and this made it difficult and slow to cut through. I felt the stern begin its slow descent and my fingers were unbelievably cold as I desperately hacked at the last few strands. I was racing to finish before the water flooded in to fill the casing. I lost the race. I just managed to take a deep breath before I submerged under the wave of icy water. It took so long for the stern to rise again I thought I’d either freeze to death or my lungs would burst.

When it did finally rise and the water rolled away from me I spluttered and gasped for air. My body was totally numb by now and trembling uncontrollably. My chattering teeth echoed in my ears. Then just as the cold had almost completely sapped the last of my strength I cut through the last strand of rope. To my extreme relief it parted neatly, slithered away over the side and was gone.

Climbing back out of the hole and securing the deck plates into place seemed to take forever. I could barely feel my hands anymore, they were so cold and numb, and my legs and arms were so heavy and unwieldy that picking my way back to the fin took an enormous effort. I wasn’t even sure that I’d have the strength to hold on when I had to go around the fin. If I couldn’t grip the handrail I would surely be washed overboard.

Fortunately someone on the bridge could see the state I was in and when I reached the fin a shipmate was waiting to grab me and haul me safely back inside the boat. My wet clothing was stripped off immediately, and I was dried with towels and wrapped in a blanket. The coxswain handed me a glass of rum, which I swallow down in one gulp. The rush of heat as the alcohol coursed through my body was a wonderful feeling. I was ordered to turn in and allow my body temperature to return to normal. I had no sooner climbed into my bunk and wrapped myself in several blankets when I fell sound asleep. By lunchtime I was fully recovered, and very hungry.

 

 

 

The waters around Bermuda were much warmer as we rendezvoused with a Canadian anti-submarine frigate. It was time for the exercise to begin. Diving stations sounded throughout the boat and the main vents were opened.

Then suddenly, with the fin still visible on the surface, an alarm sounded in the control room. The after planes were not responding. They appeared to be jammed.

The dive was quickly aborted and we returned to the surface to find that the after planes had actually suffered some shaft damage during the storm. There was nothing left to do but head for Halifax.

On the 18th January the Alcide sailed into Halifax Harbour and berthed just below the Angus. L MacDonald Bridge. We must have looked a sorry sight. We were supposed to be operational and ready for duty after an extensive refit. But in fact we weren’t able to dive, and couldn’t even provide our own lines to secure alongside. 

Our arrival on the shores of Nova Scotia caused me to ponder on a few very obvious questions. One of the first things we needed to replace was the crockery, which was mostly destroyed during out voyage out. The Royal Canadian Navy supplied us with an issue of unbreakable stuff. It made me wonder why the RN hadn’t thought to issue such crockery to us in the first place.

Next on my list of requisitions were some new hawsers and lines, but the weather was so cold that before we could go and get them from the bosun’s store we had to borrow some heavy winter parkas from our hosts. It was rather embarrassing seeing RN crewmen walking around with RCN stamped in large white letters across their backs.

When you think that various Royal Navy submarines had been stationed in Halifax since 1956, it surely begged the question why the crew were not better prepared for a Canadian winter. Our winter kit consisted of a light raincoat, wool gloves, wool scarf and boots or shoes. Suitable clothing if you were walking about in an English winter. But we had nothing that came even close to being suitable for wearing outdoors in a Canadian winter. And this contributed greatly to the failure of our first attempt to visit the city. Long before we even reached the dockyard gates our feet were soaked and our ears were frozen stiff. It really was very difficult to understand. For years the Royal Navy had routinely issued its sailors with tropical clothing as part of their kit. So why the Admiralty did not consider that her sailors might also sail into Arctic waters was beyond me.

Grumbling aside, it didn’t take the crew very long to adjust, and within days we were sporting a wonderful range of Canadian winter apparel. Over shoes, boots, fur lined parkas, plaid lumberjack shirts and even long wool underwear.

When we were in harbour only a duty watch remained on board the submarine. The rest of the crew were provided with accommodation in the RCN base at HMCS Stadacona in an old wooden two-storey building known as “C” block. It had probably been erected during the war and was located as far from the main gate as one could get. But no one complained because being out of sight and hopefully out of mind was all right with us.

Anyway, it was not destined to be my home for long because we got word that our wives and families would be arriving sometime in early March. This meant that it was time to look for a suitable apartment to rent.

The boat was eventually repaired ten days after our arrival. Once we were operational it was once more back to sea. We spent a lot of time during February working with Canadian anti-submarine frigates. The brief weekends that we had in harbour became a frenzy of apartment hunting.  I eventually settled for a two bedroom at Lakefront Apartments in Dartmouth. Next I had to set about finding and purchasing the necessary, and affordable, furniture to fill the apartment.

With several of my shipmates doing exactly the same thing, we were able to compared notes when we got back on board. This helped us to decide on the best places to shop and where to find the best bargains. Someone had discovered a cheap and cheerful furniture store called Glubes down a Dartmouth side street. For the modest sum of three hundred dollars I was able to completely furnish the apartment. The purchase included a living room set, bedroom set and chrome kitchen set. I also bought a single bed and small bureau for Lorraine’s bedroom.

Without curtains on the windows or pictures on the walls the place still looked rather bare. But apart from that it was still by far the nicest place I’d ever lived in. The standard of living in Canada was certainly much better than it was back home. In the kitchen there was a full size fridge and a modern electric range. I’d never had a fridge before, let alone a full size one.

The bathroom had a shower with a constant supply of hot water, and it was an absolute luxury. On the kitchen wall there was a telephone, which was something else that I’d never had before. And even though the Lakefront Apartments were quite old and probably considered down market, to me it was a palace.

The next item on my list was of course, a car. Everyone in Canada seemed to own a car. A few weeks before Irene and Lorraine arrived I bought a 1956 Chevrolet four-door sedan. It was a bit rusty in places but I was still very impressed with its fancy dash and automatic gearbox. I remember the car salesman giving me the strangest look when I asked him to explain how to drive an automatic. Like the fridge and the phone an automatic car was another first for me.

While waiting for Irene to arrive I paid a visit to my old friends, Michael and Betty Chislett. Michael had left the RN had moved back to Canada with his family, once in Halifax he enlisted in the RCN. Now they were living in a new and modern married quarter near Shannon Park.

When I told them that I’d married Irene I spotted a moment of disappointment flash across theirs faces. I pretended not to notice and let the awkward moment pass. Michael had warned me so many times, yet here I was, having done the very thing he advised me against.

Irene, Lorraine and the other families landed at Pier 21 on the 14th March 1964.

We had asked our wives to bring with them as much stuff for the home as they could manage; items like bedding, curtains, crockery and such. My shipmate, Pete Evans was renting an apartment in the building next door to me so together we rented a half-ton truck to carry the luggage. When I saw how much we had to load into the truck I knew it had been a wise decision.

I only had a few days with Irene before we sailed out into the wild Atlantic once again. But I have to admit that coming back to port for the weekends with a home to go to was a nice feeling. And the first few months of married life was not too bad. It was nice to have home cooked meals, and it was wonderful to relax in a hot bath while Irene did my laundry.

I began to think that if Irene had a baby it might strengthen our marriage. Every time I returned from the sea I would ask if she was pregnant yet. She’d tell me not to be so impatient, it usually took two months before one could be sure. This struck me as odd, because before we got married she had apparently known in only two weeks.

It was at this time when I first began to have some serious suspicions. I began listening more carefully when shipmates talked about wives or girl friends. It was a common topic of conversation in the mess, especially at tot time. The usual and constant worry for many a young sailor was getting a girl pregnant. This same concern often applied to married men as well, especially if they already had a large family. And these casual discussions around the mess table were often a wonderful font of knowledge in all matters sexual. I listened to stories about pregnant wives or girl friends giving birth or having miscarriages.

I still wasn’t absolutely certain that I’d been hoodwinked into this marriage, but the more I heard the more suspect I became.

In July, though, I forgot all about that when Irene told me that she was pregnant. The wonderful news turned my whole life around, and now I had a special purpose. I was excited and impatient all at the same time, which made the summer days drag on so slowly.

Bob Lamb was leaving the Navy soon, and he was waiting for an interview with the Dartmouth City Police Chief. Unfortunately we were unaware that the Chief of Police had decided to visit Bob at home on the same Sunday we had planned a celebration for him in the Stadacona canteen.

We all gathered in the canteen and as usual hauled all the tables together breaking the club rules. Members were supposed to sit four to a table, with no more than two glasses of draft beer in front of them at any one time. By pulling the tables together this was the first rule we disregarded.  Next everyone put two dollars in the kitty, ordered the beer and told the barman to just keep them coming. When confronted by twenty or thirty submariners in urgent need of a good drink, the bar staff discreetly pretended not to notice our indiscretions.

An hour later, after a lot of singing and copious amounts of beer, it was time to go to Dartmouth to watch our team playing soccer. Six of us clambered into Bob’s Pontiac and headed for the main gate. The sentry at the gate stepped out and signaled for us to stop, but encouraged by all the beer we’d consumed, we challenged Bob to keep on driving.

He did, and we roared through the gate with an inebriated cheer of defiance while the startled sentry scattered out of the way. But even in his moment of confusion the sentry still managed to get the licence number of Bob’s car and he called the Halifax Police Dept.

We had no idea that the Halifax Police Department was looking for us, but fortunately we crossed the bridge to Dartmouth and out of their reach without being spotted. At the field we began cheering our team on.

Within minutes Bob’s wife Margaret arrived looking for her husband. She was in a panic having just received a phone call from the Chief of Police to say he would drop by around three-thirty that afternoon to have a chat with Bob. We wrongly assumed that it had something to do with our escapade at the Stadcona main gate. It suddenly looked possible that Bob might find himself with the City Police sooner than expected, only this time he’d be in their jail.

I decided we should tell Margaret exactly what happened. She wasn’t best pleased but she insisted we took him back to the gate to make a groveling apology to the duty officer. After the reprieve and the cancellation of a police hunt we turned Bob over to Margaret. She proceeded to pour lots of strong black coffee into him before ordering him into the shower.

Surprisingly everything went according to plan and turned out okay. Bob became a police officer a few weeks later, and went on to serve with honour for more than thirty years. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapters

11

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Slings 'n' Arrows wrote 59 days ago

This is a thoroughly enjoyable read delivered with great humour and a nice level of detail which really lets the reader understand the experience. I found it very thought provoking, one minute thinking 'Yes this is exactly what young people these days need a bit of!' and the next being dismayed by the suppression of the individual and the casual brutality. I think you show both sides of this very candidly. Its great to get an insight into the sort of experiences members of my own family would have had in their military days. Enjoyed the account of the trip to Melbourne very much and was chuckling out loud at the nervous jeep ride. That's where I'm up to so far. This is a very well written account of personal experiences and I think anyone will find something to enjoy in this coming of age account regardless of whether they have an interest in military history.

Temulkar wrote 61 days ago

Hi Frederick, I read the pitches and dived straight in. I thought the LP could do with some white space just to break it up for casual skim readers but both engaged.

Your descriptive prose is very strong indeed, although the first chapter I wanted more dialogue to drive the pace forward and to show the action. There is a really strong narrative voice but it for me needs interaction.

I read a book many years ago called we joined the navy which this reminds me of quite a bit. The humour is well drawn and it has a great coming of age focus. I didnt notice any grammar or punctuation issues(although mine is awful so Im not sure thats a recommendation)

I did actually really enjoy this and found myself reading up to C4. Ive given you high stars

Regards Jemahl.

irishrover wrote 78 days ago

Thank you so much, yours is without doubt the most generous review of my work, even humorous "Well done Rock" indeed!!! You asked about Naval radar aboard Cockade-Eastbourne etc. Contact me off authonomy at my email address -irishrover1@live.com and I will do what I can to answer your questions.

M Conrad wrote 78 days ago

Conclusion.

Once I started reading I could not stop, the ultimate sign of a good book!

It is a fascinating journal of life in the post war Navy with lots of personal annecdotes that lifts it above a simple journal to a human interest story. The author holds up a clear mirror to himself and at times what he records is savagely honest. I would like to have read the same kind of technical detail given on submarine service to the surface ships the author served on in his earlier career, but that is where my personal interests lie.

I often found myself sympathising with events and mishaps, and laughing over some of the characters as they evoked strong images, I particularly loved the Three Badge Old Dog "Red" who drip fed himself cider on the train!

I thought the post script into civilian life a really nice touch, and again a painful subject for any ex serviceman, and the inevitable "What ifs..."

The incident of the dive held me riveted, I wonder if that was actually in the infamous triangle where so many have come to mysterious grief.

A book I would absolutely add to my large library on Naval History.

Purely to feed back the formatting often falls apart which makes reading disjointed in places, nothing worse than being immersed in a book only to find the lines breaking up and paragraphs jumping to another page. But that is just a presentation issue.

Well done, "Rock"

M Conrad wrote 78 days ago

CH 11

Ah dude! If they gave out medals to every matelot duped with that line we would all be heroes! Brutal honesty and writing straight from the heart. Nice one, took guts to bare that, I know.

M Conrad wrote 79 days ago

Ch 2

I would have liked to have read more of the sudden return to family life, even after just three weeks. I was in the same situation and I found it an astounding culture shock, jumping to attention when spoken to by my father particularly sticks in my mind! And my mother bursting into tears when I would not let her iron my uniform.

It represents a unique and unused opportunity to tell the reader about the profound pyscological changes that take place in Basic, and are only really recognised when exposed to the old life.

I think to the unexperienced also you have not given any idea of just how long those three weeks were to you! Not meaning to be negative but I feel like I was just pushed impatiently past an exhibit in a gallary I wanted to pause to take in.

M Conrad wrote 79 days ago

Nice flow and narrative. A little bit of wry angst that here we go to Ganges again, makes me wonder if there was ever an RN tale that does not trip by that wonderful boy grinder; but you cannot control where you served I guess.

But seriously: Pyjamas? Brown Hatter's Overalls?? Surely not for the hard men of Ganges!

You have me hooked anyway and looking forward to reading on.

nautaV wrote 124 days ago

Dear Frederick,
The Royal Navy & Me is a very precisely described piece of the life gone. We lived there.We remember it. Nozzers from the Annex, their sewing and laundry experiences, 'Spithead Pheasant' and 'Shit on a Raft', the peculiarities of traveling in British Rail old carriages, the first love and the accuracy of the saying 'He who hesitates loses' - all these are given in such a manner that it comes directly to the reader's heart. Well done, Frederick!
Trying to be helpful, I'd pay your attention to:
Ch.1
1. '...we each had a pair of smoked kippers.' (As far as I know, the definition of a 'kipper' is 'a gutted, salted and cold smoked herring' Thus, the word 'smoked' looks unnecessary here.)
2.'...mugs of kye, (cocoa) bread...' ( '...mugs of kye (cocoa), bread...'?)
Ch.10
1.'I blushed as I clumsily apologized and explain...' ('explained'?)
2.'I made a mental note of the date...when I (a gap) got back to Portsmouth.' (A broken sentence,possibly due to formatting.)
3.The same is with: 'Gospel meetings (a gap) were not my style.'
4.'I was already guilty of their first three sins'(a missed full stop ?)
5.'...before joining an NATO...' (should be 'a' not 'an'?)
6.'In no (a gap) time at all we were clear...'
7.'...he asked me to pop in and see it she needed ...' ('if she needed?)

These few typos are easy to correct. But the book is great! Six stars and be backed soon.

Valentine But
Escape

Alan O' Dowd wrote 164 days ago

IR:

I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable read. I am currently on Ch. 3, and so far, the writing is engaging and accessible. I like how direct and colloquial your language and descriptions are; this is key in ensuring that this memoir-styled book is accessible to the public. Your description definitely thrust the reader into the cultural context, and everything seems culturally sound (though I am not an expert in history, so I cannot provide too much feedback there). One aspect I enjoyed was the exposure of the darker side of the military life; the boy's humiliation mirroring the "stripping" of the glory and "prestige" or war/combat. The invasive nightmares and rigid routines work well in conveying a sense of bleakness and despair, making your character human and sensitive, a stark contrast to the brutality of his surroundings.
High stars (and hopefully shelved once space frees up!) Its watch listed for now :D
Good luck!

irishrover wrote 257 days ago

thank you Elizabeth for your kind words and interest in my book, HMS Ganges was indeed a rough introduction to the Royal Navy, but perhaps not as bad as being hunted by a bear!! I have starred and WL your book, and hope you will consider doing the same for my book.

Elizabeth Kathleen wrote 257 days ago

This is such an interesting recollection. It's nice to see the things you've written about. I had several uncles in the navy and it's nice to read some about your experiences in the British navy. How exciting, scary, amazing and adventurous it would be the join the navy at any time, but especially when one is 15!
God bless you!!!
Elizabeth Kathleen
"If Children are Cheaper by the Dozen, Can I Get a Discount on Six?"
"The Sticks and Stones of Hannah Jones"

irishrover wrote 263 days ago

Hello Cait how do I begin to thank you for the amazing amount of time you have given to my book. I'm so please and indeed flattered at your interest. I appreciate all your comments, too many weres and wases. You are right of course and my only excuse is my education. This is my second book, Lily & Me was my first and covered the first fifteen years of my life. This book takes up where the first leaves off. I wont go into too many details, my mother died in 1939 when I was eleven months old, my eldest sister Lily adopted me along with her English husband. It was an unhappy childhood where I attended a total of 15 schools before leaving at the age of 14. Probably what lead me to joining the Navy a year or so later. Anna is also a sister, sorry I didn't explain that properly. I have self published both books so unfortunately I'm unable to make the changes you have suggested, I can and will do so on my EBook copies though. I did have both books up on the site, but with two the chances of reaching the desk was much less. I removed Lily & Me a year ago. I have Keedy on my WL and hope to see you in the top six next month, if you need more support let me know. You words have inspired me to write a blog today on my Ganges time. Thanks again Cait and good luck at the desk. I appreciate you having me on your Wl too.

Cait wrote 263 days ago

THE ROYAL NAVY AND ME - Revisited: July 28, 2013

Fred, had another thought about The Royal Navy and Me. Have you ever considered writing this in present tense as though it is actually happening? See what you think of what I’ve done below.
~~~
Tuesday, the fifteenth of March 1955

I inhale a deep breath of the northern Irish sea air and board the Belfast to Liverpool steamer, one of six new Royal Navy recruits en-route to HMS Ganges.

Crossing the Irish Sea from Belfast is unusually calm. Perhaps it has something to do with the misty overcast weather. Still, I’m grateful for a flat sea, it will be embarrassing if I’m seasick on my first day as a sailor. Not that other passengers would notice, to them I must appear as just another silly young boy.

During the last hour of the crossing I stand alone, daydreaming, at the ship’s guardrail. I imagine myself on the bridge of a warship. A stalwart seaman, feet firmly planted on a pitching deck, binoculars at the ready, searching for an enemy fleet.

The ship’s foghorn sounds overhead, breaking my salty reverie. The ship slows as it nears the wharf at the Albert Docks. My five companions join me on deck and we watch the Liverpool skyline gradually materialize through the fog.

Twenty minutes later the gangway is in place and passengers disembark. Six young Jolly Jacks finally set foot on a Liverpool jetty, thus ending the first part of our epic journey.

Our next task is to find the seaman’s mission where we will spend the night before travelling on to London the following morning. The address is clearly listed on the sheet of instructions given to us by the recruiting officer in Belfast.

After asking a dockworker for directions we set out on foot to find it. Having no luggage to carry, we decide to walk and save on bus fares. I almost regret this decision because on leaving the dock area, I spot a line of trams parked in front of a huge building which I assume is the City Hall. (but I later discovered that it was the Mersey Port Authority Building.) If important, you can fit this in later?

The sight of the trams rekindle fond memories of the old Belfast trams no longer in service since 1952. They have for years been my favourite mode of travel. The Liverpool trams are the same familiar Chamberlain models but in their drab green paint they don’t look nearly as grand as my Belfast trams.

Now isn’t the time to reminisce about the past. I have far greater priorities on this important day.

We continue down the main street, taking in the sights and sounds of the unfamiliar city. Ten minutes later, on the opposite side of the street, we spot the mission sign on a two-storey red brick building.

One of the boys notices a cinema a couple of doors down. The feature film is George Orwell’s ‘1984’. “Hey, how about us all going to the pictures after supper?” he says.

"I'm game," I say, and the others follow suit.

At the mission we’re assigned beds, issued with pillows, blankets, towels and soap. The menu for tonight’s supper is bangers and mash, tea and rice pudding.

“Supper won’t be served until six o’clock,” someone (add so-an-so’s name here) tells us.

Having an hour or so to kill, we decide to test our bunks and rest up before eating. We smoke cigarettes, talk and laugh at silly jokes.

We’re nervous, anxious and impatient to move on to the next stage of our adventure. We agree after supper that we will go to the cinema. “It’ll help pass the time for us,” I say.

It’s a strange film about an imagined world some thirty years in the future that I don’t particularly enjoy. I have little interest or comprehension in such a futuristic world. 1984 is just too far in the distance to think about.

Cáit

Cait wrote 264 days ago


THE ROYAL NAVY& ME: July 28, 2013

Fred, sorry for the long delay in reading this for I’m way behind in my return reads.:o(

So far, I’ve just read your first three chapters, and was pleasantly surprised to discover how much I really enjoyed them. Also, I do envy the amazing memory you have! Impressed with the detail you’ve provided from all these years ago.

This is funny in places but also heart-breaking in places, the way some of the recruits were treated. My heart went out to poor Trevor in chapter three. I found it difficult to read as I was imagining either one of my two sons or four grandsons going through this humiliation. How cruel a punishment in the open, he had.

In the same chapter, you mention Anna, and maybe you already mentioned her before this but I couldn’t recall it. If you didn’t, perhaps add a few lines to let the reader know who she is? Also, wouldn’t it be something if Carol read this and saw her address in print?

Your writing is very good, and it will be even better when tightened a little. I have a few picky nits, and I hope you don’t mind. Do a search for your ‘wases’ and ‘weres’ and try to rearrange their sentences to make them more active. Just a sample of several, below.

I’ve only had time to make a few notes on the first chapter. If I make it through the desk, I’ll have time to do a bit more line-edits if you’re interested.

For what they’re worth, here’s a few suggestions for chapter one. Doesn’t mean I’m right, though, and I won’t mind if you disagree. ;o]

Hope they make sense.

~~~
KIPPERS reminded me of my brother, who loves kippers for breakfast. He was in the Merchant Navy in the Fifties so maybe they were on the breakfast menu also. :o)

So having an hour or so to kill COMMA we decide to…etc
We smoked cigarettes COMMA talked and laughed at silly jokes.

I had little interest or comprehension in such a futuristic world. 1984 was just too far in the distance to think about. – I remember back in the Fifties wondering what the world would be like in the Eighties. I couldn’t understand how people could actually talk to other people all the way from England, through telephone wires! I thought it was pure magic. And I didn't know what a television was!

~ a clock was chiming the hour – a clock chimed the hour?

~ the dinning area – dining

the four other recruits were already in line waiting to be served. -…the four other recruits stood waiting to be served,

We had ample time; the London train didn’t leave until 8.30am.

Blank space here between these sentences. Bring bottom text up.

The next leg of our journey began with a five-hour train ride to Euston Street Station in London.

In the fifties, British Rail – In the Fifties

Of course, in desperation, one could always use the window. – haha!
~ known as getting your own back. – Good one!

~ just as I was being served the whistle would blow, signalling that the train was leaving.
…just as I was being served, the whistle blew. – No need to tell us what it meant.

In an orderly fashion we (were) loaded into the vehicles

Once we were formed into three ragged lines, - Once we’d formed into three ragged lines?

So that’s who these guys in the white gaiters were, Instructor Boys. - Present tense here.
So that was who these guys in the white gaiters were, Instructor Boys.

By the time everyone’s name was called we’d formed three separate groups. ‘Formed’ is used several times. Use other word?

By the time everyone’s name had been called we’d assembled into three separate groups?

Only one of the six lads from Belfast was in my group.
Only one of the six lads from Belfast remained in my group.

Things were moving too rapidly. – Things moved too rapidly.

The buildings were formed evenly – The buildings stood/grouped evenly?

Once inside, we were told to, - instructed to, as ‘told’ is a bit overused, I think.

and told us to stand at ease. - The Petty Officer who had called out our names entered the block. “At ease,” he said. “My name is…etc.

I was beginning to wonder – I wondered why…

Instructor Boy Moss told the boys on the left to turn right and follow him in single file.
Those of us remaining were told to sit on the long bench…

Instructor Boy Moss faced the boys on the left. “Turn right, and follow me in single line,” he said. “Those of you remaining, sit on the long bench in the middle of the mess.”

By the time our letters were completed, the other group was returning.
By the time we had completed out letters, the other group had returned.

We marched in single filed… - single file

“Strip! Everything off, underwear, socks, the lot! Put everything on your mattress, and stand by you beds again.” - I can just imagine how humiliating this must have been! Would something like this happen nowadays in the Navy?

…by you beds again.” – your beds again.

Twenty-seven red face boys – red-faced boys

Within two minutes we were (clothed) in our work uniforms,… Or, Within two minutes we had donned our work uniforms?

On that first day we were told to gather… - On that first day, we had to gather, etc.

stack of one page letters… - one-page

Those remaining were told to march in single file to the washrooms, wash our hands then fall in three deep outside the mess hall. - “The rest of you march in single fine to the washrooms, wash your hands, then fall in three-deep outside the mess hall,” said whomever?

It was now almost 1900 hrs as we (were) marched into the mess hall for supper.

~ mugs of kye, (cocoa) bread, margarine, cheese and jam. – mugs of kye (cocoa), - Comma needs to be to the right of the brackets.

When the meal was over it was back into three lines to march back to the accommodation block where we were told to strip again! Two ‘backs’ here.

When we’d finished our meal, and back into three lines, we marched to the accommodation block, and ordered to strip again! - Gets rid of one ‘back’ and two pesky ‘wases’.

I was learning that there was neither modesty nor privacy in the Navy.
I soon learned that neither modesty nor privacy could be had in the Navy.

Lots of Donegal stardust sprinkled over this and on my 'For Backing' list.

Sláinte,

Cáit ~ Keedy ~


BeeJoy wrote 302 days ago

I loved this. I have read a few chapters actually last night. I loved the hook you started with. The submarine parts I loved. It was gripping and I couldn't put it down. I really have nothing negative to say. Rated 5 stars from. Excellent job

irishrover wrote 312 days ago

Thank you so much for W Listing my book and for your very kind comments. Yes Belfast is indeed a grand old city be it we still have a few idiots running on the Falls and Shankill. Talking of Armalites, in 1986 I took my 9 year old daughter home with me , we were stopped by a British army patrol near the top of the Shankill, I fumbled to find my passport while an 18 year old soldier boy held me at gun point. Sad times and have never understood why the protestants have such fear and hatred of the Catholics. I'm a protestant but more than that I'm proud to call myself Irish. I love all of Ireland and all the peoples both North and South. I believe the root cause is the lack of Irish history being taught in the public schools, I never knew anything about 1916 or James Connolly et al. But enough about Ireland, your book is hilarious and so entertaining, I only had time to read the 1st chp. Sorry my shelf is full at present but I have added you to my W'L and starred.

Otter wrote 312 days ago

"Kippers for Breakfast" - a wonderful evocative opening.

I really enjoyed your opening chapter, it certainly invites the reader to follow these young boys on their adventure.

Watch listed and may even back when i have read a lot more.

I remember the Belfast of the mid sixties, for a small town west of ireland lad, the rows of red brick buildings were a world apart. The famous cranes of H&W, the quays, for three summers, I holidayed in Belfast and have fond memories. All that changed when the Armalites took to the streets. I remember smell of fear as we walked the Shankhill road and a bomb exploded in the distance.

Maybe its high time, I walked the Shankhill road again.

Norman Morrow

http://authonomy.com/books/53181/the-con-father-brennan-book-1/

bannism4 wrote 317 days ago

Hi Frederick,
your writing style is very much like mine so of course I loved it!!
Kind Regards,
Mick Bannister (Gibbous Moon).

irishrover wrote 348 days ago

Hi Fredrick
Having no naval nor any forces (for that matter) background to relate this to I found it rather hard to follow. Your memoirs are something for you to cherish, but I can see why you wanted to share them. I can see this going down well though, with ex military or naval personnel, who would have more in common with it than me. Sorry if this disappoints you but this is my opinion and I like to be honest on here. It is only my opinion so discard it if you want.
Hi Brian am I to assume from your comments that you did not return my support???
Cheers.
Brian.

Brian G Chambers wrote 349 days ago

Hi Fredrick
Having no naval nor any forces (for that matter) background to relate this to I found it rather hard to follow. Your memoirs are something for you to cherish, but I can see why you wanted to share them. I can see this going down well though, with ex military or naval personnel, who would have more in common with it than me. Sorry if this disappoints you but this is my opinion and I like to be honest on here. It is only my opinion so discard it if you want.
Cheers.
Brian.

Seringapatam wrote 419 days ago

Frederick, This is wonderful and intelligent piece of writing and I enjoyed it very much, Nice pace Nice flow. Well done.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage

irishrover wrote 420 days ago

Thank you Lynn glad you enjoyed, I will get to your book soon.

Lyn4ny wrote 420 days ago

Great Story. I enjoyed it! I wish the best of luck with it. High Stars!

-Lyn
Forty-Four Footprints Following Me

ShirleyGrace wrote 425 days ago

Thank you so much for your comment. I read and backed you a long time ago. I enjoyed your book. Maybe I can back you again soon.
ShirleyGrace

irishrover wrote 495 days ago

Thanks Catherine, I appreciate your comments. took a look at your book, great opening and I didn't notice any editing issues???but I know what you mean its a tough job and no matter how many times I check and recheck I still manage to miss things. Merry Christmas, I have starred and added you to my WL

Cathy Hardy wrote 495 days ago

Fab story. 6 stars x

patio wrote 500 days ago

I read part of this story some time ago and commented. I read a bit more and opinion still the same. Its a great story. Max stars

Brendie wrote 506 days ago

An excellent story that will awake some wonderful memories in all the old salts that served in the Royal Navy - or any other Navy, for that matter. Told with style and humour, it really captures the mood of those times.

Software wrote 526 days ago

A very personal and convincing story invoking remembrances of the work the work of Nicholas Monsarrat. Real life always provides the best baseline material for adventure yarns, and this draws heavily on the authors experiences. Skillfully crafted, backed and stared highly.

Clive Radford
Doghouse Blues

irishrover wrote 539 days ago

Hi thank you for taking the time to read my book, glad you enjoyed it. I have taken a quick look at your first chapter and will offer you this advice. Although you should keep in mind I'm no expert!!! I found your first chapter heavy going and wasn't clear where your story was headed, it was also very long. I have always believed the first chapter is the most important chapter, if it doesn't grab the reader they will probably not read further. I have starred and add to my WL. I wish you luck finding that elusive publisher, you might consider self publishing, it seems to be the way to go these days, also have your book as an E book, gives you much wider coverage.

irishrover wrote 539 days ago

Hllo
the first day o Naval career is interesting to read. I like everything about you wrote. Most of them was the cinema of 1984 by George Orwell. common men, that is one of my great mentors. that shows you are bringing literature into your writing. dont change that style. ofcus memoir sounds very interesting and you created it well here. it tells us how young boy in Naval was trying to be responsible man. high stars from me.

will you kindly look at mine also. it is title Animals In Paradise

Isoje David wrote 539 days ago

Hllo
the first day o Naval career is interesting to read. I like everything about you wrote. Most of them was the cinema of 1984 by George Orwell. common men, that is one of my great mentors. that shows you are bringing literature into your writing. dont change that style. ofcus memoir sounds very interesting and you created it well here. it tells us how young boy in Naval was trying to be responsible man. high stars from me.

will you kindly look at mine also. it is title Animals In Paradise

Maevesleibhin wrote 539 days ago

The Royal Navy and Me
I am really not a big reader of memoirs, and have frankly read more on this site than anywhere else. The main issue with memoirs is that they rarely follow a clear trajectory - of course, life is rarely so coherent as to follow a plot arc. So many memoirs come out as being a bit episodic.
I read to chapter four and really found it quite interesting. Just not gripping. It reminded me of hearing stories from my dad. They are fascinating anecdotes, but only held together by my interest in him. I feel that in order to engage me as a reader you need to give me a goal, be it a direction or a theme. I felt that you missed several opportunities to do this. For example, when you talk about the boy who was a mess, whose whites were ever grey and whose mother asked you for help.(sorry, I am rubbish at names).
It seemed a good opportunity for character development, even if the relationship does not flourish. I also felt that you eluded some great possibilities to have rich descriptions. The airplane trip seems like a phenomenal experience, as does the incident with the shoe shining urchin and even the laundry experience. But, again, they come across as a bit rushed to me, like you are anxious to move on to the next anecdote. I feel this is a shame, because you have a great deal of interesting stories, and I think the story wants to be told.
I would humbly recommend that you consider giving me a goal. Towards which we can work. It might be starting at a later moment in your life, where you can talk philosophically and maybe even comically about your past. That or start with some fabulous description that will grab hold of me.
As with all less-than-rosy comments, this is just my opinion. Follow your guts.
Best of luck with it,
Maeve

TPN wrote 568 days ago

A fascinating story! Reminds me of those wonderful old Jack Hawkins movies--the dark sea roiling and salt spray lashing at one's face, only this time Mr. Rodgers was in a submarine. Rodgers really evokes the gritty atmosphere of life below the waves as well as the ups and downs of the life of a sailor offshore and on. An enthralling read!

irishrover wrote 568 days ago

Thank you Jesamine, that was probably the nicest review I have received to date. I'm pleased you enjoyed my adventures/misadventures??? I have often thought of Trevor and still feel some guilt, wondering if I could have done more. Trevor really wanted to succeed and become a sailor, he simply didn't have the capacity to cope with the harsh training. I have often wondered what became of him.



ThaQUOTE] Realclub review.

This is a charming and impeccably written tale of a boy becoming a man in the Royal Navy. It flows so well that you feel like you're following him through his journey.
The first day and following weeks you realise how much these new sailors are just small boys. They're excited and frightened and unaware of what awaits them.
Little accurate descriptions make this more than a story that could be fiction. The kidneys on toast sounds revolting. The needles being sterilised on Bunsen burners and used over and over, blunting them makes you wince with the pain that this caused these naïve boys.
I really felt sorry for Trevor. Some people just can't ever get anything right and he seemed to be one of them. I couldn't help thinking that maybe he wasn't as useless as he made out and really he just didn't want to be there.
I liked how you showed us the transformation from naïve boy to responsible individual. When being taken advantage of in the streets (by the older sailors) you realised the seriousness of your own actions and took control of the situation.
Once the basic training horrors were out of the way, the story goes down a fantastic path into a trip to Australia (during the Olympics), the ideal job and the freedom to have some fun.
The part where the two of them are hiding like frightened rabbits under the girl's beds and making their escapes out through the bedroom window made me chuckle. They truly sound like happy times.
The boyish jokes and tricks, like shaving off half of Reds beard, shows us how things haven't really changed that much over the years.
The references to sayings was interesting and I hope these continue throughout the story.
It is very well written, edited and polished. I did spot a couple of tiny edits that you might want to change.
...and made put a wet wool sock in his mouth...and made to put...
...for any unhappy lad to attempt desertions......maybe that ones ok, but lads or desertion would make it sound better.
Great story Frederick, I'll have to read more another time. I'm sure there'll be harsh times too and a lot more fun to go with it. Highly starred. Backing to follow when I have space.
Jesamine.

ShirleyGrace wrote 569 days ago

Frederick:
I have read three chapters of your work. Due to the subject matter, I didn't think I would be able to get into it but I did. It's well written and I felt bad for the guys being forced to put up with all that s#it. What don't kill us makes us strong? I guess but I did not envy you. ..Laughs. I thought it was well told and good reading. High stars from me.
Shirley Grace
The Devil's Stepchild
Realclub review

Tod Schneider wrote 572 days ago

Great job of showing us what life was like for a new recruit! Your writing is very clean, and you capture details well.
Critique-wise, if there was one thing I might tinker with it would be to look for ways to spice up chapter one with more dialogue, and if you can come up with a hook that would be good -- something to grab the reader and say "oh no, what happened next?" But overall, really very clean and solid.
Best of luck with this!
And if you have any interest in children's literature, do drop in on the Lost Wink.
Thanks!
Tod
http://authonomy.com/books/40646/the-lost-wink/

jack hudson wrote 575 days ago

The Royal Navy and Me is an error free memoir that moves along at a fast pace and seems to improve as it unfolds. From the failure of Trevor, through marital difficulties with an unfaithful wife, a harrowing uncontrolled descent in a submarine, and the aftermath after the end of a navy career, the diary-like narrative unfolds. My only suggestion is to consider starting the story with the tense event in the last chapter and telling the story through a" my life unfolds as I am about to die" flashback to hook the reader and start with a bang before getting back to the eventual resolution of the uncontrolled dive event late in the book. High stars. jack hudson

Neville wrote 640 days ago

The Royal Navy & Me.
By Frederick Rodgers.

A good description of the night at the Mission before travelling down to London, I enjoyed the scene.
I had to laugh though about the train with no toilet facilities and the way it was managed to overcome the problem…good job you never had the kippers at breakfast!
Quite a shock when you arrive at HMS Ganges, all the commotion and activity.
Chief Petty Officer, Bermingham with his welcome tone of voice, ha, ha.
Such a shock from ‘civvy street’ I would have thought!
You’ve written this very well, I can almost feel that I’m there, in the cold shower, wondering what’s next to come, what you’ve got yourself into!
I love the carefree way you write and I found no errors as I moved along—it’s all good!
I will have to come back again, Fred as I’ve only got past your first day but already like the book.
You look very smart in your sailor’s uniform—something to be proud of!
Well starred and I’ll be back!!

Kind regards,

Neville. The Secrets of the Forest – The Time Zone.

…Check the heading- THE ROYAL NAVY(&) ME (The Royal Navy & Me)… Space!

Shelby Z. wrote 647 days ago

This is very interesting.
The realistic plot really draws the reader in with interest.
You do well by starting right into things.
The words flow well as the story develops.
Good work!

Shelby Z./Driving Winds

P.S. Please take a look at my pirate adventure Driving Winds.

Silvia Gambia wrote 649 days ago

Interesting. The book says 'biography', but isn't this autobiography?

grahamwhittaker wrote 658 days ago

I'm giving this a read Fred because we share things. I too went to Ganges at the age of 14 and nine months. Drake 40 Mess and became a Sparker. Went into EW on Phoebe and all that stuff. I haven't gone through it as such yet but I certainly will. It's an interesting biog and there is a decent market for good biogs. BTW if you are not already there visit www.forcesreunited.com and register. You will qualify and it's where we all keep up with one another. Take care and I will give you may opinion now that the book is on my WL
Graham Whittaker The Girl From Kosovo

David Price wrote 680 days ago

Frederick, I've just finished the first two chapters, and I now know why I never wanted to become a sailor! This is very well-written and well-remembered, but I guess there was a reason for that. I will read on, but just want to let you know my thoughts for now.
Some of your imagery is wonderful, for example: 'a scene of lost curls and locks with occasional traces of blood' and 'shit on a raft'.
It's possible I missed this, but I would like to know how old you are on the day you set off on the steamer from Belfast to Liverpool. This will help the reader identify with you, and care more about you from the beginning. I also wondered if you made any friends - on the train down to London, or in your first 24 hours as a sailor? If you didn't make any friends, it would be helpful to know that too, because once again, it will give us an insight into your character. By the way, it's not Euston Street Station but Euston Station (which is on Euston Road). (Unless they've changed the name in the last 50 years, which is possible!)
Not really knowing anything about a sailor's life, I didn't quite understand what 'double smartly across it' and 'an hour of doubling' signified exactly. Perhaps you might want to consider expanding a little on these terms.
Finally, I noticed a few typos you may want to fix - all in chapter 2 I think. '...empting blankets and bodies onto the deck' - the 'y' is missing in 'emptying'. 'I doubt any of them wouldn't have been hired to shear sheep.' I think you mean '...would have been hired..'.
But overall, I think this is a very genuine account of a sailor's life, written with care and affection. A place on my watchlist for now, and five stars.
David
MASTER ACT: a memoir

irishrover wrote 683 days ago

Thanks Lenny I appreciate your comments and hope you might consider backing my book

Lenny Banks wrote 683 days ago

Hi Frederick, I read chapter 6. I found the recount of your journey very interesting, especially the stop when you bought the momentos. Some of the chapters in my book follow an hour or a day in the life of my characters, this chapter accounts for weeks of your life, I am sure you have many interesting stories and accounts of events you could have included. You have led an interesting life and it is a great shame the forces have been scaled down depriving many of the adventures you experienced. I wish you luck with your book, it is very intersting.

Kind Regards and Best Wishes
Lenny Banks
Tide and Time: At the Rock

Camac wrote 688 days ago

I was a member of a school cadet force and made several trips on Irish Sea ferries - albeit at a later time than you - so your opening chapters brought back memories of my own youth. This is an extremely well-written account and your recollection of events back in the '50s is astonishingly clear. The training undergone by teenage RN recruits will seem Spartan by today's standards - not so back then when caning was allowed in schools and capital punishment one of the laws of the land. I can visualize your book in shop windows in towns with a RN tradition, so I sincerely hope that you will go on to finish it. High stars!

Camac Johnson
Hemingway Quest

jasonronin wrote 690 days ago

A well written trip down memorie lane. The adventures of the boy that would become a man, at times I felt I was walking close behind in your footsteps. A great insite into the salty sea dog life of a sailor from back in the day.

irishrover wrote 707 days ago

I appreciate that you took the time to look at my book, sorry it didn't hit the mark for you,. We all have deferring opinions of what is good or bad. I don't necessarily agree with your comments, indeed I have had some very positive remarks about the book from readers not of a Naval background. I have especially received positive comments from other Ganges boys saying how my story brought back so many memories. I do agree they were good times, sadly now long in the past. Yours Aye Irishrover

Pretzki wrote 707 days ago

Unfortunately this work fails to hit the mark, less told through the eyes of a boy, more the man who has difficulty expressing the true emotion felt all those years ago.
I did the same, wrote a memoir of my time in the Andrew and where yours is too late, mine was too soon, dripping with jack speak, so much so that no one outside of the mob could understand.
They were good times, but the only people who'd ever understand them, are the ones we served alongside and more often than not we missed that opportunity

Mr. Nom de Plume wrote 709 days ago

The "mild and bitter" is a new one. The "sweet and sour" notations always amused me. This work is extremely well written with humorous situations neatly included, e.g. "None" as a signal flag hoist. Backed, I was never in the RN but this work is informative and entertaining. Well Done. Chuck

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