PART 2

Story Line 68.

Do you remember Coders ? To a man they were National Servicemen. There were two types, a CODER [E] and a CODER [S]. The 'E' stood for EDUCATION and the 'S' for SPECIAL. Both were members of the Communications Branch and both were trained to carry out cryptographic duties, so what was the difference and why two sub-rates? The answer depends upon war time or peace time conditions as stated in this AFO. Have a read of this little text.

The Coder [S] on the other hand was employed continuously within the Communication Branch.

Story Line 69.

An intriguing story about the dangers faced by RN ships on the Far East station during the 1950's period, with details of their communications.

RN SHIPS IN THE FAR EAST 1950.pdf

Story Line 70.

THE DEMISE OF HMS MALABAR BERMUDA.pdf

 

Story Line 71.

All you need to know about the Persian Gulf Station, about its communications, its ships and shore establishments, its places and its temperatures, that's before the mad man Ayatollah took the Peacock Throne away from the Shah of Persia.

PERSIAN GULF STATION.pdf

Story Line 72.

At the start of Summer Term 1950 [after Easter Leave] New Entry Training in HMS Mercury began.  Before that time it had been conducted in other training establishments like Vicky Barracks in Portsmouth [down at the back of Clarence Pier next to the Duchess of Kent WRNS Barracks in Southsea and not RNB Portsmouth] and other outlaying establishments concerned with National Servicemen, St Budeaux Barracks at Devonport being one of them. In the following article, those not au fait with the terms SS, CS and NS, they mean Special Service [7 years in the RN and 5 years in the RNR totalling 12 years in all but on reduced pay], Continuous Service [12 straight years in the RN on full pay] and National Service men which over the years could have meant two years service, two and half years if you were unlucky and serving at the time of Korea, or later, just one year. Note the word ADULT before C.S.  All boy's joining the Service were recruited as CS engagements, and when their time started to count, from the age of 18, they were given the choice of opting for a SS engagement. See also this file CLICK HERE

Story Line 73.

HMS Mercury's Shooting Team in 1950. Three RN officers; One WRNS officer; Four CPO's; One PO; Four Junior Rates and Three WRNS Junior Rates, with either the Captain or the Commander [can't quite work out the number of stripes!]

Story Line 74.

With familiar scenes from the House of Lords of silly old duffers fast asleep [although understandably with the debate/discussion they have] and when not asleep, fiddling their expenses and ripping us off, the tax payers that is, it beggars belief that there are some subjects which will awaken them and stimulate them into lucid discussions, which to say the very least are of such little consequence to the STATE as to be farcical. This is one such event which is mind-blowing and it is about us, the RN Communicators. The change came about vide AFO 1690 of the 11th July 1958.

HOUSE OF LORDS.pdf

Story Line 75.

Did you ever know or hear about F.O.M.A. ?  No, it was nothing to do with the Fire Fighting School at Phoenix Horsea Island, but to do with the Far East Station.  It stood for Flag Officer Malayan Area. I ask, because this is the only thing that needs a translation in the following article.  At Story Line 67 in Part One of this file JUST_A_BIT_ABOUT_RN_COMMUNICATORS_AND_THEIR_THINGS I told you about Phoenix Park in Singapore. This article really continues with that story. It tells of the time when the C-in-C Far East came north, away from Singapore, to the Naval Base where, surely, he always belonged!

SINGAPORE 1958.pdf

The time line is 1958

Story Line 76.

ADEN MSO?....in 1958!

In addition to this file coming up look also to these files

http://www.godfreydykes.info/bits_and_pieces_volume_v.htm and click on Story 5 = Aden withdrawal; http://www.rnmuseumradarandcommunications2006.org.uk/ADEN%20WT.htm my second naval website.

Story Line 77.

Did you know that the old carrier HMS Bulwark was the first RN warship used to transmit a live BBC Radio programme. She went on to score a 'first' in Television also. Communications in those days were not sophisticated and this little snippet tells one how it was achieved.  See also Story Line 124 for another first for one of our carriers!

HMS_BULWARK_THE_FIRST_MEDIA_SHIP

Story Line 78.

Good gracious, story No 78 already, and no mention of our friends the Gollies!

In the fledgling years of the EW Branch, the Boss of training in HMS Mercury was called "R 1". Why, I am not sure? Probably because his remit was training ratings who only listened, ergo RECEIVED.  It could have also meant RADAR for that was the preoccupation of EW ratings at sea. Whatever. This article comes from The Communicator Christmas 1957 Edition, and obviously, in the new year, 1958, R1 changed to the more rational title of W1 clearly meaning WARFARE, that is of the Electronic type. Here then, the state of play 54 years ago come this Christmas. This article also covers the Telegraphist Special Branch, the TEL[S].

EW.pdf

Story Line 79.

Already in this file we have seen, and I hope enjoyed, things which kick the memory buds into action. However, none of them had an affect upon communicators, this time sparkers, and their bread-and-butter main and daily skill with a Morse key, than ship-shore working, only equalled {with a darn sight more stress and nausea I might add} by the continuous thumping of the keys of an Imperial Typewriter reading the various Area Morse Broadcasts at great speed. Men of post war years [1946 through to the mid-1960's when RATT became king] continued [but with a huge increase in traffic] where the men of WW2 and before had left off - same old Morse key, same old Ionosphere, same old interference and sun spots, in many cases, certainly in the 1950's, the same old transmitters and receivers. There were many shore W/T stations around the world either pumping out the Broadcasts or receiving traffic from sea, but the big daddy of them all for ship-shore working {and broadcasting to merchantmen only} was the GPO W/T Station at Burnham-on-Sea near to the city of Bristol, also proverbially known as Portishead Radio*.  It operated in every band [frequency] and the callsigns GKV, GKL etc had a special meaning if only that we knew we were 'talking' to somebody in England when we might have been in the Indian Ocean for example. Here then is a cameo of Burnham W/T

* Just like the navy where we had shore transmitters and receivers separated in every case Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, Ceylon, Singapore, Aden, UK, so too did commercial stations and in this case Burnham was the receiving station and Portishead, 20 miles away, was the transmitting station.

POST SCRIPT. 'Things' were not always well at Burnham and at one stage 'things' were degraded, although the GPO and the Admiralty would never admit it. In 1968, the Admiralty decided to reduce the number of naval telegraphists at Burnham from 26 to a mere 5, and where possible, naval operator's always took traffic from naval ships. 'Tis obvious to all except for those who do not want to see, that the service given to the RN would be degraded, and I for one, being a strictly Morse Code man in this period [in an old plodding diesel submarine] complained about the service we got [or more to the point didn't get] especially on GKL/8 MHz. These complaints led to Burnham, with Admiralty approval, issuing the following missive:-

BURNHAM MISSIVE.pdf

However, come the Winter of 1971 the Admiralty had pulled out of Burnham altogether.

Vice Admiral McKaig had been the Captain of the Signal School from April 1966 until April 1968. In 1995, as an Admiral, he was the President of the RNCCA [Royal Naval Communications Chiefs Association] and died on the 7th January 1996.

  Now read the story below.   BURNHAM WIRELESS STATION.pdf

Story Line 80.

THE_QUEENS_COLOUR

Story Line 81.

This snippet was put about by HMS Tamar in Hong Kong in 1957.

Today in 2011, flying time to Hong Kong [6052 miles] is just 11 hours 40 mins.

However, going back the the Tamar Communicator article, just for interest, I did some research in the webpage shown above and at the National Archives Kew.

YEAR DATE EVENT
1946 28th May London to Sydney - 63 hours
1946 1st August BOAC Flying Boat from Southampton [Hythe] to Hong Kong - 54 hours
1949 15th February Flying Boats withdrawn from Southampton
1953 3rd April BOAC Comet to Tokyo - Flight time cut from 86 hours to 33 hours
1957 29th June Bristol Britannia - London to Vancouver non-stop [5311 miles] in 14 hours 40 mins
1959 20th August Bristol Britannia - London to Hong Kong - [6052 miles] 30 hours

Story Line 82.

When does HOT really mean ? What about 150 F !

HMS Jufair was in Bahrain

BAHRAIN.pdf

Story Line 83.

Snippet. Simons Town MSO staff handed over the facility to the South African Navy [SAN] @ 0900 on the 6th March 1957.

Story Line 84.

Travelling in Spain - the Gibraltar dilemma! Gibraltar's MSO response to those about to be drafted to the Rock or visiting the Rock in a warship.

TRAVELLING IN SPAIN.pdf

Story Line 85.

If you ever need to be reminded of why you were proud to be in the Royal Navy in our time [1950-1980 period] and before certainly, just read this to refresh your memory!

THE QUEEN.pdf

Story Line 86.

Germany Calling.....Germany Calling !!

In addition to the pages mentioned above in Part One JUST_A_BIT_ABOUT_RN_COMMUNICATORS_AND_THEIR_THINGS and specifically to Story Line 56 - The Royal Naval Rhine Squadron - here are a few more German based shore stations with RN communicating in mind.

GERMANY CALLING.pdf

Story Line 87.

Just one way of keeping in touch.....in more ways than one!  Don't lose 'the touch' just because you at sea!

Story Line 88.

A pint of beer in England depends upon where you buy it. Have a look at this current [Dec 2011] list:-

 
The full list of how much a pint of beer costs around the UK:
  • 2.37 West Midlands
  • 2.41 Staffordshire
  • 2.41 Nottinghamshire
  • 2.48 Worcestershire
  • 2.50 Cheshire
  • 2.51 Lancashire
  • 2.53 Cumbria
  • 2.54 Derbyshire
  • 2.54 Shropshire
  • 2.58 Cornwall
  • 2.58 Herefordshire
  • 2.58 Yorkshire
  • 2.59 Warwickshire
  • 2.61 Northumbria
  • 2.61 Somerset
  • 2.63 Gloucestershire
  • 2.63 Devon
  • 2.65 Wales
  • 2.66 Dorset
  • 2.66 Northamptonshire
  • 2.68 Wiltshire
  • 2.68 Lincolnshire
  • 2.69 Leicestershire and Rutland
  • 2.69 Cambridgeshire
  • 2.71 Oxfordshire
  • 2.73 Essex
  • 2.74 Norfolk
  • 2.76 Hampshire
  • 2.77 Bedfordshire
  • 2.77 Warwickshire
  • 2.78 Suffolk
  • 2.78 Isle of Wight
  • 2.80 Scotland
  • 2.80 Kent
  • 2.81 Hertfordshire
  • 2.83 Sussex
  • 2.84 Buckinghamshire
  • 2.86 Berkshire
  • 2.89 London
  • 3.01 Surrey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I gave your 9.87 to spend how many pints could you buy [a] in the West Midlands, and [b] in deepest darkest upmarket Surrey?

The answer is [a] 4 = 9.48 with 39p change and [b] 3 = 9.03 with 84p change.

Now, in 1954 what could you have purchased for that same amount, or to be accurate, for 9.87p ?

Click on the glass of beer, and then wait a little while to find out.

 

Story Line 89.

After the war there was a great deal of turmoil in the communications branch and in the navy at large. It would be fair and proper here to mention the WRNS who, with their sisters in civilian life engaged in the war-effort manufacturing and food production, had more than pulled their weight in winning the war and needed to be treated with respect and appreciation. Fortunately they were, and unlike after WW1, they were kept on after WW2 as a permanent group. The turmoil effectively split the communications branch into three groups, 20% [one fifth] of the senior sparkers changed over to form the new Electrical Branch [Radio] leaving a short fall in telegraphists but shorn of their maintenance commitment, and a full complement of signalmen. In the early days, the Communicator Magazine carried a column called "Let's Talk Shop" which covered all these problems, uncertainties and grumbles of this turmoil.  The one I am going to show you comes from 1947. The Admiralty had many ideas on how to solve the problems which were very real. Two of the ideas you may find of interest, even today. The first was that buntings and sparkers should form into one branch called 'Communicators' each being trained and employed for both skills and that is covered in this file.  The second was to give the Communicators [once formed] special privileges one being that they would wear fore and aft rig in the same way that the S&S branch did giving them an edge over other executive branch ratings namely the common dabtoe. Neither one came about as we know.  Other "Let's Talk Shop" articles, too many to cover here, were really designed [although not stated] to avoid another Invergordon mutiny, or shall I say, misunderstanding about conditions of service which as always, covers pay, promotions and welfare. This very interesting document has something for all communicators.

LETS TALK SHOP.pdf

Story Line 90.

We all know what "Up Spirits" means but why don't we focus on the "Down Spirit" side of the ceremony ?

Have a look at this attempt to put things right.

 DOWN SPIRITS.pdf

Story Line 91.

It's now time for our girls, the WRENS. They wrote this and we are proud to have it onboard.

WRENS.pdf

Story Line 92.

Remember HMS Mercury and those who propped up the bar in the Scrumpy House, and the Pompey wanderers when Southdown Buses were able? But do you remember the ramblers club who explored the beautiful surroundings of the Meon Valley as far afield as Meonstoke and Soberton? If it is the latter, reminisce here with a story of pure delight, which, incidentally, my wife, children and I often did long after leaving the Service.

RAMBLES.pdf

Story Line 93.

Poor old Bunts. Take it from here me old pal.

Story Line 94.

How many time have we seen our Queen in a vessel with three masts flying her 'status' bunting proudly aloft? What happens when the Monarch decides to meet the boys and to travel in a "big hitter" with only one major mast, known as the main mast. Can all their status bunting be flown up top on that one mast? You bet as this picture shows.

 

that's July 1947, when HM The King took his family to visit units of the Home Fleet.

Story Line 95.

Now, who amongst you likes a noggin? I thought so. With your own personal habits in mind, think on on the words of this poem.

Story Line 96.

Nah!...couldn't be?

Story Line 97.

Do you remember this fine body of people? That's literally as well as being metaphoric!

They were the famous Bluebell Girls and Sunday Night at the London Palladium wouldn't have been what it was without their slot.

Do you know that HMS Mercury had an 'influence' on them?  Well, at least upon one of them, once upon a time!

Can you also remember that "strong", and yes, self opinionated little lady who ran HMS Mercury's civilian post office? She could be a handful and needed to be treated as though she were at least a WRNS First Officer. Well, her daughter Joy, was a Bluebell Girl in the mid 60's and her she is

Story Line 98.

Now for a very clever little poem

Story Line 99.

A cartoon of a submarine sparker [after buntings were taken out of boats]. Always nice to get 'up top' either on the conning tower or the casing for an unrestricted 'burn' [that's assuming one had a tobacco permit stuck into the back of one's pay book]. But here, on the conning tower, standby for flashing, semaphore {well, flag waving?}, dipping, piping, lookout, and once back under the oggin, back to being a telegraphist! Fine life?

Story Line 100.

Garbling, and thus low rates of ZBZ, can be caused by interference, mal function of equipment, poor frequency discipline on equipments, weak signals, precipitation and ice on aerials, sun spots, ionospheric storms and......... darn right finger trouble! It can also be caused when the operator on the far end doesn't have his mind on the job, at least, not on the job of communicating although no doubt he does on the 'job' sitting on his knee!

Story Line 101.

Three in one! Three dits from the comcens of Londonderry, Gibraltar and Rosyth

THREE IN ONE.pdf

Story Line 102.

Is this what HMS Dauntless used to call WRNS DRAFTING ?

Story Line 103.

Some people get all the luck! Cushy drafts to delightful places, Audie Murphy-type excitement and then a 'gong' to go with it.  Better than being buffers party in HMS Mercury!

Good luck to him and well done.

Story Line 104.

The word PARIS conjures up ideas of a romantic city in France, but to a sparker it had a second meaning, the word being used to adjust the speed of automatically transmitted Morse code. How did the use of this word work?

The word PARIS was used to control the speed of Morse code transmissions because it has exactly 50 dot's in it which = 1 word.  To work out the speed on an autohead, a paper tape was cut by a perforating machine with the repeated word PARIS followed by 7 basic units. The tape ends are then glued together to form an endless tape. The machine is started and the operator, armed with a stop watch, listens and counts the number of times the word PARIS is transmitted in 60 seconds. The count is the speed of Morse in wpm. The machine is adjusted accordingly to either increase or decrease the speed of Morse. Today of course, the tape is utterly incoherent.


A system was developed where both sides of the central guide sprocket holes were used for each and every character and symbol. The dot's were symmetrical placed in a North/South plane, and the dashes were off-set laying at a slant in a Northwest/Southeast plane.

 In the following diagram the dots [shorts] are in RED and the dashes [longs] in BLUE. You will note that there are 50 sprocket holes in the centre line.  A dot is the basic character, one Morse code dot = 1 basic unit. A dash is 3 basic units.  There is one basic unit between each character of the letter, figure or symbol being made, and 3 basic units follow the formed letter etc. At the end there is a gap of 7 basic units before the next word of PARIS begins. A PARIS test tape running at 25wpm can be heard on this java sound file PARIS.wav

O   O         O         O         O   O               O   O         O         O   O         O   O   O      
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
O         O         O   O         O         O         O         O   O         O   O         O   O   O
 
--------PAPA------------              --ALFA--               -----ROMEO---             -INDIA-          -SIERRA-

Story Line 105.

The First of June 1966 was not as Glorious as that date in 1794 when the very first sea battle of the Napoleonic Wars took place {the Glorious 1st of June}. It was a day which put the writing on the wall for the Buntings Branch because from that date all Semaphore training ceased as did the operational use of it at sea.

Story Line 106.

Naval communicators were to be found just about in every corner of the world, whether ashore or afloat.

THE NAVY ASHORE IN BORNEO.pdf written in 1966

Story Line 107.

Hi Jim [Jim Farley] if you are out there and watching. Hope all is well with you and yours. I relieved Jim on the seagoing staff of FOF2 in mid-1977 - we were both FCRS's.

Story Line 108.

A very modern Hong Kong communications set-up in the swinging 60's [1966] which I, in my submarine Auriga, based in the 7th submarine squadron at Singapore used to visit quite regularly.

HONG KONG IN 1966.pdf

Story Line 109.

I knew it....I just darn well knew it!  Clearly I joined the wrong damn Navy.

Altogether now....Cossy wassy do.  Jealousy/Envy comes to mind!

Story Line 110.

Another old buddy of mine, Lofty Henley [were we Chief RCI's together in the Technical Division of HMS Mercury] unbeknown to me, in 1966, designed this badge for the Branch as a whole.

I am not too sure 'cos I much prefer our 'old' badge - sorry bunts: it is just a tad biased that I will agree

 

Story Line 110.

Did you pick-up on that the Mediterranean had two 'Rocks', the famous one in Gibraltar, and the slightly less famous one in Malta? In 1966, the "Rock of Malta" was recognised and rewarded, justly so.

With a surname like that and she being a spinster, one has to be careful with the name MISS FITT - she was anything but!

Since we are on to two places in the 'Med with 'rocks', did you know that the 'Med had another set of two places for the same word? It was 'The Gut'. Malta's Gut is either "famous" or "infamous" depending?  The other 'gut' is still there, very much so and in still in the dictionary, but the word is rarely if ever used today in that context. The very centre of the Gibraltar Straits is so deep and therefore totally safe for navigation,  that it is difficult to sound. For two hundred and fifty years, mariners have steered down the middle and avoided the treacherous near-shore areas of Spain and North Africa which are subjected to vicious tides of 5 mph. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the Royal Navy always called this the 'Gut of Gibraltar' and always lured ships [the Spanish from Algeciras] and Muslim ships from Tangiers from a position of strength in the middle of it. Another 19th/very early 20th century saying was "going up the straits". which is no longer used. Any ship setting out from the UK to be stationed in the Mediterranean [specifically based on Malta] was said to be "going up the straits" - of Gibraltar - using the word like we say we are going up to London irrespective of whether we are bombing down the M1 from the north, or flogging up the A3 from the south.

Story Line 111.

What the RF frequencies bands were called in 1913

 
ROYAL NAVY INTERNATIONAL
FREQUENCY RANGE TITLE ABBREVIATION FREQUENCY RANGE TITLE ABBREVIATION
Below 100kc/s Low Frequencies L/F Below 30kc/s Very low frequencies VL/F
100-1500kc/s Medium Frequencies M/F 30-300kc/s Low Frequencies L/F
1500-6000kc/s
Intermediate Frequencies
I/F 300-3000kc/s Medium Frequencies M/F
6000-10000kc/s High Frequencies H/F 3-30Mc/s High Frequencies H/F
No equivalent n/a n/a 30-300Mc/s Very High Frequencies V.H/F
No equivalent n/a n/a 300-3000Mc/s Ultra High Frequencies U.H/F
Above 30000kc/s Very High Frequencies V.H/F 3000-30000Mc/s Hyper High Frequencies H.H/F

Note that the RN called a frequency band an IF, whilst in our day, an IF was a fixed frequency inside a superhet receiver.  Note also that the RN went from 10 MHz [10 Mc/s] to 30 MHz and above with no provision to operate in the frequency band 10MHz to 30MHz. What today we call the SHF band they called H.H/F [High High Frequency]

Story Line 112.

How, in 1907, the W/T Branch was formed.

W/T Operators - Entry and Training of W/T operators into the Royal Navy.
Operators will be entered as boys and this will be an Average Telegraphists Career.
Boys between the ages of 15 and 16 will join their training ship - HMS Impregnable - as follows.

There were several boys training ships, Ganges and Impregnable, but others of fame included the Lion and the Formidable.

Half the boys would come from Post Office sources and the other half from boys who, assuming they had been diligent scholars, had been left school for nearly two years and had had some form of meaningful employment.  Boys in my time came straight from school when aged 15. 11 months training and Boy 1st class after 6 months. Boys go to sea having been examined in Morse at speeds from 15 to 20 wpm as Boy Telegraphists for 7d per day [2.92p]. Failure at these speeds meant reversion to Boy or to Signal Boy. At 18 advanced to Ordinary Telegraphist @ 1s 3d [6.25p].  After 6 months at sea examined for AB [Able] Telegraphist.  When a TM [trained man = able bodied, an age qualification of 18] advanced to AB Telegraphist, pay, 1s 1d [9.17p]. Failures in the exam for AB set them man back several months before retakes. Qualification for Leading Telegraphist was 25 wpm [of interest we left HMS Ganges at aged 16 with that same qualification]. Could be rated Acting Ldg. Tel by C-in-C if two years sea time. HMS Vernon and the ratings Depot [drafting authority; many of them at that time] maintained list for confirmation as a full Ldg. Tel.  Pay, acting or confirmed, 2s 1d [10.42p], 2s 3d [11.25p] after 3 years, 2s 5d [12.08p] after 6 years service. Two years sea service as Ldg.Tel or Acting Ldg.Tel and having passed the Naval Educational Test, opened the door to HMS Vernon and the 80-day Petty Officer [PO] Telegraphist course/examination. Ldg. Tel with 3 years experience and a pass in the PO. Tels course was rated by their Depot, but a C-in-C could rate Acting PO.Tels on a station or into his Fleet. Pay, 3s 6d [17.5p] on rating, 3s 9d [18.75p] after 3 and [20p] after 6 years service.
3 courses per year for PO.Tel.  Mandatory re-qualification exams for PO.Tel to be conducted not later than every four years after qualifying.
Chief Petty Officer [CPO].Tel after 4 years at sea as PO.Tel. Pay 4s 4d [21.7p] on rating, 4s 8d [23.3p] after 3 and 5s [25p] after 6 years.
PO.Tel with C.W. Papers raised [Commissioned and Warrant Officer] for potential promotion after 1 year service in that rate, underwent a course lasting 110 days for Warrant Officer [WO] Telegraphist at HMS Vernon.  1 course per year with a maximum of six students. Examination should be STRICT.  "The object of a Warrant Officer is to obtain the brains of the Branch.  It should not be possible for a man of only average brains to rise to the rank of Warrant Officer.
Promotion to the Warrant Rank by Admiralty when names come to the top of the list.  One years Acting time before confirmation.  Two Lieutenants Commissions to be open to the WO.Tel. 
W/T operators are not electricians, but when not in the W/T office they should be employed with electrical parties.

HMS Vernon training Programme.

Turning-Over!  Men already in the navy, of whatever branch or rating, who want to change over to the new W/T Branch - Training recommended.  PO's of other Branches [e.g. PO.Stoker] to be rated PO.Tel [Old Style] and to attend a course for PO.Tel in HMS Vernon as soon as possible.
No PO.Tel [Old Style] can become a CPO.Tel or WO.Tel without first having attended HMS Vernon.
Leading Seamen [Ldg.Sea], AB Seamen and Ordinary Seamen [and their equivalents] to be examined locally by a Fleet W/T expert at 10 wpm and on general W/T equipment, and if successful rated Ldg.Tel [AB.Tel, O.Tel] to be knows as Telegraphists [Old Style].

 

 

Story Line 113.

The word incomparable has a profound connotation and in certain circumstances can mean unique. I would only have to mention Captain Scott of the Antarctic and you immediately understand my thread. However, we too {HMS Mercury} had our very own 'Scott of Leydene' and in his field, he was certainly incomparable. His charm, grace, commitment, reverence, pleasant disposition, down to earth persona radiated not just to the personnel of the Signal School, but to Petersfield and to many villages across the Meon Valley.  He repeated this package of qualities wherever he went, and after leaving HMS Mercury it was the turn of HMS Sultan at Gosport to benefit from having this man onboard. This was THE incomparable Reverend John Scott R.N.

This snippet comes from the book 'SIGNAL' by Captain Barrie Kent R.N., deceased.

 

John was the quintessential pastoral carer and never rested, putting himself, and in a very subtle way his calling, into every aspect of Naval life. He didn't sit and wait for Christian folk to come to him or to the Church, but appeared in classrooms, on the sports pitches, in messes, indeed everywhere and was often seen with a pint glass in his hand which as many time as not, he had paid for along with drinks for those nearby. You could talk to John about anything and unsurprisingly, because of his career and experiences, he had a good grasp of life and its ups and downs exuding great wisdom on many topics. In a 30 year career,  I never met a "sky pilot" like him and I defy anybody not to admire him and take HIS calling seriously. John received the OBE in the New Years Honours List of 1968.

Another 'sky pilot' with a lovely naval family  to be proud of.

Story Line 114.

A snippet telling how the Chinese Navy came to HMS Mercury in 1948 for training!

HMS_AURORA_A_SAD_END

Story Line 115.

Another snippet of relevance! For many years, the 1914-1918 Telegraphists Association held its annual general meeting and dinner in a nondescript hired hall in London. On the 20th October 1968, all that changed. From that year until these dear old men were too old to meet anymore, the Commanding Officer, London Division of the Royal Naval Reserve allowed the more appropriate ambience of HMS Chrysanthemum to be used and the old men were deeply grateful for this kindness.

Story Line 116.

  In 1968 new rules were issued about the examination for the rate of RO2. Did that affect you?

Story Line 117.

A Royal Prince, A Communicator and An Aviator ?

ADMIRALS_OF_THE_FLEET

Story Line 118.

CHARLES AND DIANA - The day they came to HMS Mercury

In July 1981, just after his engagement to Lady Diana Spencer, HRH The Prince of Wales, visited HMS Mercury.  His visit, arriving in a helicopter of the Queens Flight, which he himself piloted, was to have been private.  However, much to everyone's SHEER delight, he sat the helicopter down on the broadwalk adjacent to the wardroom's rose garden, and guess what?  Yes, he had brought Diana with him.  Mercury was on a great high anyway, but to bring his future wife really was 'icing on the top of the cake'.

Although the day went well and was a qualified success, one thing puzzled me, and does to this very day, over thirty years later .  It had long been tradition in the Royal Navy, that when a senior officer or a VIP visited the ship/established, the Captain would trawl the ships company to find out if any of its members had previously served with the visitor. Those that  had,  would be re-introduced either in a group, or individually when being inspected or during a walk-round at their place of work/duty.  On this occasion, for some inexplicable reason it didn't happen, this, despite that Mercury had several officers and men who had served with the Prince.  I was one of them, having been with HRH in a classroom, at sea in HMS Jupiter and at Lord Mountbatten's funeral. 

The Prince and Lady Di, as she was affectionately known in the early days, had several functions to attend that day, and one of them was a visit to the Warrant Officers Mess to meet an invited audience of senior ratings and their wives.  Beryl and I attended that event which was conducted in a large square room in which the Prince walked clockwise and Lady Di anticlockwise, talking with members of the mess as they passed.  The Mess President was Leslie Murrell MBE and he was the host attending upon the Prince introducing personnel and answering the Prince's questions. Leslie had had the honour of being in charge of the coffin bearers at Lord Mountbatten's funeral when laying him to rest in his grave within Romsey Abbey, at a ceremony attended by the whole of the Royal family.  The events of those years were still very tender for us all, and in particular, for the Prince who had lost a Great Uncle.  I think that Leslie too, had been a little upset about the breaking of tradition on ex-ship introductions, and as the Prince came nearer to my position, Leslie leaned over to the Prince and forewarned him of my presence.  In great anticipation I awaited his presence, and whilst still a few walking paces away, the Prince uttered in a raised voice "Mr Dykes, how nice to see you again."  Whilst I was concentrating on the Prince and his questions about my service career and my on coming retirement, I was very conscious that Leslie was happy now [as I was] that we had, after all, got to meet HRH personally:  the Prince knew that, we knew that, and all around, including the officers who had broken with tradition, knew that.  HRH chatted to me and to Beryl for some time and remembered me well [how could he not especially when HMS Jupiter was doing her Basic Operational Sea Training {BOST} at Portland when I was the ship's 'Comms Sea Rider and the Prince was the SCO and of course the recent funeral] from our previous service together.  I was extremely proud and very grateful to Leslie who had 'engineered' the meet!  Lady Di, coming her way around, also spoke with us for some time.  On returning home that day, Beryl wrote down the conversations to record for posterity.

Here is the visit programme. 

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               HMS MERCURY DROXFORD ROAD KNICKER PATROL!!!!

I have just tweaked the plan of Mercury [penultimate picture above] - see tweaked picture below -  to add in a few details of the 'old days' at Leydene.  My tweaking goes back to the late 1950's and adds [or complicates whatever your view] to this plan which omits the SCU buildings [behind the drill shed] possibly for security reasons. It is interesting to note that when I did my petty officers course in the late 1950's, south camp, i.e., all below the main Droxford Road, was almost barren having just the following buildings of substance: Mountbatten Block/Bungalow/Old Garage block with training classrooms and the Main House.  Over to the right of the picture where the 'new garage block' is was South Camp training area, a collection of Nissen huts stretching from Droxford Road to where I have put "civilian bits", to the Church, and down into the area between Droxford Road and Main Drive Road heading towards the Main Gate Sentry Post.  Even in 1969 when I did my Radio Communications Instructor [RCI] course, we were instructed in Automatic Telegraphy [AT] in a Nissen hut adjacent to the 'old' Sentry Box, which by that time had been pulled down. Nissen huts were very basic and so were the amenities within - seats, tables etc. They were products of utility, manifest in the shortages caused by the second world war which touched our daily lives in almost every way.  They were unheated but had a stove and chimney.  The policy of whether they were lit or not was left to each Section [cryptography, organisation, wireless telegraphy procedure, AT etc] and their instructors.  However, I can remember being detailed to light them and to fetch and thereafter maintain, a stock of fuel [coke] but it was a great [and dirty] effort for little reward.  Mercury seemed to attract cold weather and the stoves were inefficient and virtually useless - they achieved their maximum heat output just as instructions were finishing.  Fortunately, our messes were in the newer blocks sited along the Crescent Road and they were centrally heated.  In harsh winters, we used to race back to our mess just to get warm.  Incidentally, as I have stated below, Crescent Road blocks have been used to accommodate all types of personnel over the years, with, at one time, seniors rates, albeit for a short period.   They were essentially messes for ships company male junior rates, and the New Entry trainees lived in blocks where the supply block is now. That same little area housed the camps post office.  The post mistress, an elderly civilian lady, was an oracle and knew everybody in the Clanfield/East Meon areas, including all the admirals and captains.  It was well known in the camp that there were certain people who you didn't upset, service and non-service, and she was one of them.  The plan of the camp below, for ease of reference only, assumes that the top of the picture in north.  The plan is complete to its northern, western and southerly borders [except for the captain's house and its supporting sites [it had its own sewage farm], but is incomplete to the east.  The land area where I have marked "Old OOW" became narrower and narrower the further east one travelled, until it virtually disappeared and the Droxford Road met the Main Drive Road, at which point, the main gate to HMS Mercury was sited.  Just across the road from the Main Gate and to the right, was the Hyden Wood complex .  In this area there was a large sports pitch area which was boxed-in by the Droxford Road, the Hambledon Road [to the famous cricketing pub the Bat and Ball] and the main road running between Clanfield and East Meon.  Behind it, and neatly tucked-in underneath a clump of trees, was Hyden Wood married quarters, the MQ's for senior officers.  Other officers lived in MQ's distant from the camp, and the nearby village of Lovedean provided MQ's for ratings.  However, towards the end of my career in 1983, the vast majority of officers and senior ratings where living ashore in their own homes in local areas, thereby, taking the pressure off our MQ's Officer, dear old Arthur Shreeves, an erstwhile communicator.  Before I finish, I want you to look at Dreadnought Block, which was the 'modern' area for training sparkers whilst North Camp was the 'less modern'.  To build it, they knocked down a WRNS junior rates block which ran parallel with Droxford Road, and which together with the Bungalow to its immediate south [WRNS senior rates], and a live-in floor on which  WRNS stewards [junior and senior rates] plus WRNS sick bay staff lived to the 'deep' south in the Main House/wardroom mess, formed Mercury's WRNS quarters. These were ships company WRNS [cooks, stewards, writers, drivers etc] and not communicators, who lived in the village of Soberton [Soberton Towers].  They were bused to and from Mercury each working day, a round trip of about 10 miles.  After Soberton Block commissioned, all WRNS came to live in Mercury or if already in Mercury were re-messed; the Bungalow was decommissioned and reassigned, and Soberton Towers was shut down, sadly for the proprietor of The Pinky, the pet name for the pub across the road from the Towers, who for many years, had profited from the many matelots who had come-a-courting!  It was a long walk between Mercury and Soberton, and I have to admit that I did it more than once. Now I am not a man given to be crude especially in print, but I want you to remember [those of you who are my age] and to believe [if you are younger] that young ladies of those far off days didn't do what [I am told] young ladies of today do so willingly, and therefore a walk to and from Soberton from East Meon [approximately 10 miles] got you a necking session, or, at best, a grope of the upper body only.  How we have all grown up since?  Click here to see a map and distance of the treck  Click to enlarge.  Anyway, back to the reason I started to mention  all this, namely what stood where Dreadnought block was erected which opened at the beginning of Summer Term 1965.  The WRNS junior rates mess was so close to Droxford Road, that when their windows were open, a person innocently walking in the road, could not but fail to see inside the building.  This became a source or annoyance to some of the girls, but to others, it became a tease.  On more than one occasion, the windows of their drying room, bedecked with knickers and bra's, were opened to their maximum, the hinges straining against the wall of the building.  Whilst Droxford Road was always a public road and regularly used by vehicles transiting between the local villages, it was equally used by sailors marching across it [north camp to south camp] or along it [south/north camps to messes] where "eyes left or right", depending upon direction of travel was ordered when adjacent to the drying room windows.  Pedestrian traffic increased many fold along this road where other routes around the establishment were quicker, easier and certainly less boring than Droxford Road, not to mention less dangerous because of the road traffic.  Men from the accommodation blocks in Crescent Road, especially from the nearest blocks like Kempenfelt etc., took 'recreational' walks along the road from roughly where I have shown OOW [at road side of the Admin Block]  to the beginning of Mountbatten block, failing in their duty to walk on the side of the road facing the oncoming traffic, slowing their pace, and increasing the zoom function of their eyes, to stare upon those scanty panties on passing the windows.  Clearly they couldn't be so audacious and overtly stop to have a better than average view: or could they?

As time went by, the authorities started to clamp down on this behaviour, where it could be argued that the girls, or some of them, were the protagonists, egging the men on with the big tease.  The windows were still opened, but were mechanically restricted to about 45, and the hedging plant planted between the grass verge and the side of the building proper, was allowed to grow.  All was now under control, though the men's minds were not necessarily so, and the road returned to its former role as a boring non entity.  Then one night, a sailor, or a group of sailors, decided to revisit the now slightly open windows of the proverbial drying room, to reach in and to take as many pieces of lingerie as time would allow, and then make off with them as trophies.  Whilst the plan was probably conceived with fun in mind, its execution put the fear of God into the minds of the WRNS because if a hand could come through a window into a common area, surely one could come through into a bedroom,  bathroom or other private area, and anywhere in their block, even away from the road side.  The idea of having personal clothing paraded as spoils of war was also non too pleasing, and joking apart, did much to offend our fellow female sailors, damaging their morale.  Something had to be done once and for all.  As so many pranks do back-fire, so too, did this one. The authorities decided that there would be a DROXFORD ROAD PATROL, and set about creating an unpopular extra duty watch task which would see a sailor patrolling part of the road outside instructional times Monday to Friday, and during Saturday and Sunday, and in all weathers.  That patrol was maintained right up to the girls being re-housed in their new mess, Soberton Block, and it became known as KNICKER PATROL throughout the camp.  Why Soberton Block changed things remains a query.  I do remember quite vividly the effect of having Soberton Block on the men, many of whom were in my division.  It did their morale a power of good.  Mercury was a 'normal' place during the working week because it had lots of young females going about their business be it under training or in support services. But at teatimes and for the whole of each weekend, they disappeared, visibly affecting the men's attitude to the camp.  Without a car, they were very restricted.  Men liked the former but hated the latter. The former, whilst they couldn't touch, was natural and pleasing: the latter was unnatural, unpleasant and made them want more than ever, to touch!  Me and my type were what the men called "good kids" because we were at home with our families. So, having girls around twenty four hours a day, touch or not touch, pleased the men and Mercury 'came to life'.

 

Story Line 119.

Now I believe that all communicators with a knowledge of Morse Code and of 'biffers' can follow my simple story below and understand my drawing - by the way it is not a cockroach but a PO Telegraphist. If you can't, don't worry, it is not a 'Brain of Navy' quiz and there is plenty to see in other story lines.

First then, what is a BUZZER system and why do we use the letter 'V' in idle moments of a circuit and why do we call a 'biffer' a 'biffer ?


You will readily recognise it in two ways, first of which is arriving at the front door of a house and pressing the buzzer.  The buzzer is connected to an audio device which sounds an alarm [or signal] to which a response is required. Most of these buzzers will be connected via a battery  - a DC system - but if not, via the mains which will transform the house mains voltage down to a low level of AC and then rectify it to change it to a low level of DC.  Imagine what you would think if the caller started to send Morse code on your buzzer system! Now, safely inside the house, you switch on the lights and there is a click heard on the radio. This click comes from a tiny electrical spark within the switch which emits energy and specifically radio energy.  If that energy could be maintained [God forbid] your light switches would turn into buzzers. The front door bell  emits tiny amounts of radio energy all the time it is pressed and a suitable receiver would pick this up as a signal [not interference]. That is exactly what the Royal Navy buzzer transmitter started out as. Let us have a look at a block diagram of the early system of 1910. By the way, in those days, the Spark and ARC transmitters could, and did, deliver lethal voltages around the wireless office and to protect the operator, he sat in a SILENT CABINET which is shown below.

 

Note the buzzer aerial is a jury rig and placed very near to the main receiving aerial.  To use the system, the operator pressed the bell push with one hand and tuned the receiver to the buzzer high frequency with the other. Almost noddy ?  Then invariable he would send a series of V's [a letter 'V' is a measure of 10 basic units, a basic unit being a dot [a short]:

short space short space short space long space Morse Symbol 'V'
1 1 1 1 1 1 3 1 Basic Unit Count

and that is how it all started;  later on we sent V's using our Morse key and for the same reason. The buzzer lent itself to "biffers" local to the ship and before WW1, sending and receiving small Morse Code exercises was known as "biffing the button" and that is where the word "biffer" comes from. 

"Biffers" today [that's our day!] are operators exercises in receiving and transmitting any or all of their core skills, so they could be flag-hoists, flashing light, Morse reception and Morse transmission, typing or teleprinter skills. In 1910, whilst in harbour, operators would sit in front of receivers and the PO Tel would use the buzzer transmitter and its tiny jury rig aerial to transmit local exercises. Later, they up-rated the circuitry of the buzzer and gave it more power and an external proper aerial of its own so that it could send signals around the harbour out to a range of a mile or so.  If it could do that, it could do more, so they 'grew' the buzzer system by up'ing its constituent parts and aerials which went on to achieve a range of 20 miles with very little stress on the W/T Installation.  Eventually, they could use the buzzer as a source to drive the spark transmitter to achieve much greater ranges, and in this case the buzzer replaced the magnetic key.

Story Line 120.

The first British submarine to be fitted with W/T equipment in 1912.

Submarine Installation - the first submarine so fitted was the B5 - This was called the Type 'X' Fit. The 'B' Class consisted of 11 boats all of them obsolete by the start of WW1. The characteristics were as shown below and here is a picture of the B4 [but without a main roof aerial] her sister boat, with apologies for not having a picture of B5The W/T fit was the same as the Type 4 Destroyer kit but with some basic alterations to the circuitry.  At all times in a submarine there is a very real danger of a battery explosion.  Like all batteries, they "gas" and give off hydrogen.  Sparks and hydrogen are not good bed-fellows unless fireworks are the order of the day. Hence, many of the modifications were addressing the problems of sparking and brushing.  Airtight boxes have been used for The two-knob Morse key [completely boxed in unlike the surface version] and have had their respective key-bars extended and each protrudes through an airlock also to avoid sparking.  Platinum contacts have been used in lieu of silver. Submarines were given a Tune of 600 feet = 1.64MHz to transmit on and a suitable receiver with additional tuning so as to receive her own waves plus that of destroyers and Harbour Defence sets. Just like a surface ship, the boat had a W/T office and within, a silent cabinet wherein the operator sat - it was very tiny!  The aerial was enormous and consisted of a four-fold roof type, which could be lowered from the conning tower. The strength of a submarines pressure hull not only depends upon the material used [shape, metal, welding etc] but on the fewest possible holes being made in it.  When W/T was introduced into boats, a 'deck tube' [to connect the communications equipment to the aerial] having a diameter of 4 inches was cut through the pressure hull.

Story Line 121.

The Royal Navy's very first Crypto Machine.

Now I did try to let you down lightly in story line 119 above about the Buzzer transmitter, but on this one, you really do need to concentrate if you want to understand how it worked.  It is easy, be assured, but keep focused!

The Teletyper or Mechanical Cypherer {very first crypto machine}.  Automatically codes and decodes by a simple transposition of letters.  The word 'teletyper' has been chosen so that each of the several manufacturers of the kit won't know what the part they are manufacturing is really for, the machine being the sum of its parts. 12 sets ordered so that sea trials can be carried out. 
How does it work - a help with the explanation!
Two ordinary Service type typewriters are connected together side by side [Left and Right] which includes their respective rollers connected as one roller controlled by the Left typewriter keyboard which is called the PRIMARY.
Over the top of the Primary keyboard is placed another type of keyboard with 26 spring loaded Plunger keys a la  as shown in the following diagram Note the grey coloured key cover which is the same as an ordinary typewriter keyboard key which you press down. This action concertina's the spring and the little yellow button on the very bottom extends and depresses the typewriter key immediately below it. Here I show just five of the 26 spring loaded Plungers which are called the PRIMARY SWITCHES connecting A with A, U with U, L with L, B with B and C with C.

 For ease of drawing, in the picture below, I have shown 25 keys only {I have had to crop one letter, the 26th, letter 'J' from my list to fit the picture in with the text} the 25 keys of the alphabet {each with a second function depending upon the shift for upper or lower casing} are shown for the Primary Keyboard {in red} 9 on top row A to I, 9 on middle row K to S and 7 on bottom row T to Z. Of course, the same pattern exists for the bottom keyboard, the original typewriter keyboard {in black}.

The diagram to the left shows the PRIMARY KEYBOARD sitting above the left hand ORIGINAL TYPEWRITERS KEYBOARD so that if the letter 'A' is pressed on the primary it MECHANICALLY presses the letter 'A' on the typewriter keyboard immediately below it and PRINTS the letter 'A' on the left hand roller. It also sends an ELECTRICAL SIGNAL to the Magic Box which I have shown {in a most exaggerated manner} as a simple switch and the primary key NOT yet pressed; when it is, that switch closes and completes the circuit.. The right hand TYPEWRITERS KEYBOARD prints ELECTRICALLY on the right hand roller [which is directly connected to the primary roller] the transposed letter of the alphabet [which represent 'A'] dictated by the Magic Box  - let us say for this pressing of the letter 'A', the letter from the magic box is a 'Q'.

We haven't got to the right hand typewriter yet, so if you have followed that we are both doing well !

Over the keyboard of the right hand typewriter there is another keyboard but this time with hands-free electrically operated switches {they too are plungers] each key having its own - so again, 26 in number. Each one is connected to that Magic box.  If the magic box CODES the letter 'A' as the letter 'Q' [as in our example] the Magic Box will send an electrical signal to the letter 'Q' switch which will strike the typewriter keyboard letter 'Q' to PRINT the letter 'Q' on the right hand roller. To DECODE the operator types the received code into the primary, there is a mechanical action on its roller, the electrical signal is sent to the Magic Box and the Magic Box sends the transposed decoded letter to the right hand typewriter, and it, via electricity, prints the plain language on the right hand roller.

By now, those of you with TYPE X/CCM or KL7 experience will be shouting out easy-peasy, let's have more !  For the rest of you it is easy going eh?

Now, all we have to do is to understand what the Magic Box does and then we have cracked it: pardon the pun.
I am wearing my BLUE PETER hat so you know what that means ? First we are going to learn how their [1912] key card worked which they called a CODE CARD or a CARD SWITCHBOARD.
First take two sheets of A4 paper, marry them together, measure 8" from the top, draw a line and cut off the smaller remaining sections thereby make two squares. Leave one of the squares blank. On the other square, pierce three good sized holes at random anywhere on the square. Turn the square over and cut or tear off the pushed-through torn paper. On one side mark it TOP then North South East and West, turn over and mark the other side BOTTOM and again N,S,E and W. Place the marked square over the unmarked square so that the word TOP is uppermost and North to the top. Using a pen or pencil mark through the holes you have made leaving a mark on the clean bottom square. Turn the top square through 90˚and again mark the bottom square through the three holes. Continue turning through 90˚, then turn over so that the word BOTTOM is uppermost and repeat through 90˚.  From those simple three holes you have made a generous pattern on the bottom sheet. Now imagine that you had made 26 holes.  That one square with 26 holes has eight days of different code depending upon the orientation of the card.  Thus four such sheets of dissimilar holes would cover a month of crypto.

Ok, but how do we use it?

Imagine 26 wires coloured blue laying on a flat surface each uniformly separated. Above them but not touching  are another set of 26 wires this time coloured red laying at right angles.
The wires can be made to touch each other creating a permutation of 26 x 26 = 676 choices of connections at their cross-over points. If we were to put a kind of switch for each possible junction we could switch on or off at will for that cross-over point. This they did by using a spring loaded plunger and when the card [which we have just made in our Blue Peter session] was not in place all the plungers were proud and sticking up. An analogy here is an openly running autohead  RATT or CW where ALL the peckers are un-hindered and are allowed to cycle without a paper tape forcing them down. Once the card was placed in the switchboard ONLY 26 of the spring loaded plungers were allowed through the holes in the card and a plunger proud was a switch switched on. These switches sent the necessary transposed letter to the electrically operated keyboard on the right hand typewriter printing that letter on the right hand roller. To reverse the processes, the Magic Box had a change over switch marked CODE and DECODE. 

Today it is a "noddy machine" but to men of those far away days it was state of the art stuff.  However, comments were made as follows. It was thought that with such a simple code the system would be vulnerable to crypto-analysis and thus objections were raised.  The objections were not considered to be serious as applied to this apparatus because of the changing code card and the unlimited codes available.  In practice it could be arranged for the code card to be changed at stated times and frequent intervals, or, as an alternative, the number of the code card used could be quoted at the beginning of every message.  Owing to the large number of different combinations available it would be possible to issue complete sets of new code cards from time to time especially if it was feared that any of the card had been stolen.  {Clearly we adopted their ideas and procedures}.  This didn't please all and HMS Vernon designed a system of changing the code after every letter had been transposed.  The end product was abandoned as unreliable and the code card theory prevailed and the Navy's first stab at a crypto machine joined the fleet. In the end there was only one problem caused by such a machine and that was that it produced a lot of code which kept the ether extremely busy, whereas, using the ordinary Service three letter coded groups direct from books was much quicker - though obviously a lot less secure.

If you have successfully followed all that, I will recommend that you be made an Honorary RCI forthwith.

Story Line 122.

Now relax and lets get back to something easy!       First let's try E=MC....No, only joking.

LIST OF WARSHIPS AND THEIR CALLSIGNS FROM THE 1970'S

{NOTE THE ARK ROYAL's PENNANT NUMBER - the current Ark Royal is R07}

 

CALLSIGN

NAME OF SHIP

TYPE OF SHIP

PENNANT NUMBER

19 in number

Small vessels used by universities and by Royal Naval Reserve [RNR] units.

12 minesweepers
5 patrol vessels and 2 auxiliaries

Various

GAZZ

PHOEBE

Frigate

F42

GBIZ

SIRIUS

Frigate

F40

GCCH

AVENGER

Frigate

F185

GCZU

SEALION

Submarine

-

GDBA

WALRUS

Submarine

-

GDBE

ODIN

Submarine

-

GDBU

LOWESTOFT

Frigate

F103

GDCA

RHYL

Frigate

F129

GDCE

ASHANTI

Frigate

F117

GDCH

OLYMPUS

Submarine

-

GDCU

BRIGHTON

Frigate

F106

GDDA

OBERON

Submarine

-

GDDE

ORPHEUS

Submarine

-

GDDH

YARMOUTH

Frigate

F101

GDDU

BERWICK

Frigate

F115

GDFA

PLYMOUTH

Frigate

F126

GDFE

ESKIMO

Frigate

F119

GDIH

NEWCASTLE

Destroyer

D87

GFXU

FALMOUTH

Frigate

F113

GFYA

GURKHA

Frigate

F122

GHFW

DEVONSHIRE

Destroyer

D02

GHFX HAMPSHIRE Destroyer D06

GHFY

KENT

Destroyer

D12

GHFZ

LONDON

Destroyer

D16

GHGA

ONSLAUGHT

Submarine

-

GHGB

NUBIAN

Frigate

F131

GHGC

TARTAR

Frigate

F133

GHQW

LEANDER

Frigate

F109

GHQX

MOHAWK

Frigate

F125

GHQY

ORACLE

Submarine

-

GHQZ

OTTER

Submarine

-

GHRA

ZULU

Frigate

F124

GHWA

DIDO

Frigate

F104

GHWL

AJAX

Frigate

F114

GHWM

PENELOPE

Frigate

F127

GHWN

OCELOT

Submarine

-

GHWP

OTUS

Submarine

-

GJLH

AURORA

Frigate

F10

GJLU

GALATEA

Frigate

F18

GJLW

EURYALUS

Frigate

F15

GJLZ

OPOSSUM

Submarine

-

GJMA

OSIRIS

Submarine

-

GJME

VALIANT

Submarine

-

GKBH

GLAMORGAN

Destroyer

D19

GKBU

FIFE

Destroyer

D20

GKCA

OPPORTUNE

Submarine

-

GKXA

ARETHUSA

Frigate

F38

GKXS

ARK ROYAL

Aircraft Carrier

R09

GKYD

BULWARK

Landing Platform Helicopter [LPH]

R08

GKYQ

FEARLESS

Landing Platform Dock [LPD]

L10

GKYU

NAIAD

Frigate

F39

GKZL

HERMES

Aircraft Carrier

R12

GLXH

INTREPID

Landing Platform Dock [LPD]

L11

GLXU

ONYX

Submarine

-

GLZM

BLAKE

Cruiser

C99

GMLU

CLEOPATRA

Frigate

F28

GMWE

RESOLUTION

Submarine

-

GMXE

WARSPITE

Submarine

-

GMZU

MINERVA

Frigate

F45

GNAF

TENACITY

Patrol vessel

P276

GNID

AMAZON

Frigate

F169

GNIE

APOLLO

Frigate

F70

GNIG

SABRE

Fast training boat

P275

GNIH

SWIFSURE

Submarine

-

GNUD

SHEFFIELD

Destroyer

D80

GNUL

ARIADNE

Frigate

F72

GNZH

ARGONAUT

Frigate

F56

GOGH

JUNO

Frigate

F52

GOTW

WILTON

MCM

M1116

GPAB

SOVEREIGN

Submarine

-

GPAD

ANTELOPE

Frigate

F170

GPAE

ACTIVE

Frigate

F171

GPBA

HECLA

Survey ship

A133

GQCA

HECATE

Survey ship

A137

GQDA

DANEA

Frigate

F47

GQEN

BIRMINGHAM

Destroyer

D86

GQIA

AMBUSCADE

Frigate

F172

GQIB

ARROW

Frigate

F173

GQIC

ALACRITY

Frigate

F174

GQID

ARDENT

Frigate

F184

GQIG

COVENTRY

Destroyer

D118

GQIJ

GLASGOW

Destroyer

D88

GQIK

SUPERB

Submarine

-

GQIL

SCEPTRE

Submarine

-

GQIM

HERALD

Survey ship

A138

GQRZ

BEACHAMPTON

HKS

P1007

GRCA

REPULSE

Submarine

-

GRDE

REVENGE

Submarine

-

GRGE

HYDRA

Survey ship

A144

GRTE

ANTRIM

Destroyer

D18

GRYN

HERMIONE

Frigate

F58

GRZU

ABDIEL

Mine countermeasures vessel [MCM]

N21

GSCK

GAVINGTON

MCM

M1140

GSCR

LALESTON

Diving training ship

M1158

GSCV

SHOULTON

MCM

M1182

GSMU

NORFOLK

Destroyer

D21

GSPS

LYNX

FSS

F27

GSPX

SALISBURY

Frigate

F32

GSQB

TORQUAY

Frigate

F43

GSQG

HARDY

Frigate

F54

GSQQ PELLEW Frigate F62

GSRD

GLASSERTON

MCM

M1141

GSRK

HUBBERSTON

MCM

M1147

GSRM

IVESTON

MCM

M1151

GSRP

MONKTON

HKS

P1055

GSXU

ANDROMEDA

Frigate

F57

GSYA

JUPITER

Frigate

F60

GSYG

BICKINGTON

FPV

M1109

GSYJ

ALFRISTON

MCM

M1103

GSYK

POLLINGTON

FPV

M1173

GTDD

PORPOISE

Submarine

-

GTGF

SHERATON

Fishery protection vessel [FPV]

M1181

GTGP

STUBBINGTON

FPV

M1204

GTJK

WASPERTON

Hong Kong Squadron [HKS]

P1089

GTJR

WOLVERTON

HKS

P1093

GTJS

WOTTON

MCM

M1195

GTJT

YARNTON

HKS

P1096

GTSY

FINWHALE

Submarine

-

GTWB

LINCOLN

Frigate [Standby squadron] {FSS}

F99

GTWT

SOBERTON

FPV

M1200

GUCN

KINGFISHER

MCM

P260

GUCP

CYGNET

MCM

P261

GUIK

WAKEFUL

Support vessel

A236

GUVE

CUXTON

FPV

M1125

GUYV

JERSEY

FPV

P295

GUYW

GUERNSEY

FPV

P297

GUYX

SHETLAND

FPV

P298

GUYY

ORKNEY

FPV

P299

GUYZ

LINDISFARNE

FPV

P300

GUZA

BRECON

MCM

M29

GWPE

BACCHANTE

Frigate

F69

GWRA

CHARYBDIS

Frigate

F75

GWWD

DREADNOUGHT

Submarine

-

GWWL

EGERIA

Survey ship

A72

GWWM

ENTERPRISE

Survey ship

A71

GXBH

BEAGLE

Survey ship

A319

GXBU

BULLDOG

Survey ship

A317

GXCA

FAWN

Survey ship

A335

GXCE

FOX

Survey ship

A320

GXDE

SCYLLA

Frigate

F71

GXKE

RENOWN

Submarine

-

GXRH

ENDURANCE

Ice Patrol Ship

A171

GYFE *

BRISTOL

Destroyer

D23

GYFH

CHURCHILL

Submarine

-

GYJU

CONQUEROR

Submarine

-

GYQG

ACHILLES

Frigate

F12

GYQN

DIOMEDE

Frigate

F16

GYZY

COURAGEOUS

Submarine

-

MMWS

TIGER

Cruiser

C20

MOJF

SCIMITAR

Fast training boat

P271

MOJG

CUTLASS

Fast training boat

P274

MQDZ

BRINTON

FPV

M1114

MQKY

BILDESTON

MCM

M1110

MRCP

BERETON

FPV

M1113

MRYY

BRONINGTON

MCM

M1115

MSGC

KIRKLISTON

MCM

M1157

MSVP

RECLAIM

Diving trials ship

A231

MTMP

SHAVINGTON

FPV

M1180

MTSY

CRICHTON

FPV

M1124

MTXG

EASTBOURNE

Frigate [training ship]

F73

MTXL

BOSSINGTON

MCM

M1133

MTXY

JAGUAR

FSS

F37

MTYF LEOPARD Frigate F14
MTYG LLANDAFF Frigate F61

MTYM

MAXTON

MCM

M1165

MTYQ

NURTON

MCM

M1166

MVRB

TRIUMPH

Heavy repair ship

A108

MXJS

ECHO

Survey ship

A70

MXRT

LEWISTON

MCM

M1208

MXRV

LONDONDERRY

Frigate

F108

MXRY

ROTHESAY

Frigate

F107

MXSD

WOODLARK

Survey ship squadron

M2780

Not assigned

CARDIFF

Destroyer being built

Not assigned

Not assigned

SPARTAN

Submarine being built

-

  * HMS Bristol, still in use in 2010, now uses the radio callsign of 2AIT7

CLICK HERE IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE LIST OF SHIPS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER

CLICK HERE IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE LIST IN SHIP TYPE/TASK ORDER

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE LIST OF ROYAL FLEET AUXILIARIES [RFA]

Story Line 123.

Continuing the theme of ships callsigns, CLICK HERE to see those many more assigned to ships which were in commission in 1952 and from there, well into the future.

Story Line 124.

Which was the very first ship in the world designed and built as an aircraft carrier?

AIRCRAFT_CARRIERS_THE_FIRST_ONE

Story Line 125.

I am putting this article here for general interest, and for specific interest to our ladies who lived in Whitehall Mansions Malta many of whom were communicators.

So, yet another of my stories about that lovely Island of Malta.

Most of you lovely ladies will remember Msida Creek being filled [almost] by the presence of HMS Forth and her submarines with the Torpedo Jetty walkway link on the other side of the creek leading up to Pieta and onto into  Floriano, and then up to Valetta. But if I were to give you a list of names for you to complete, what would be your answer in the sequence:-
Forth, Narvik and.........................?,and would they all be in Msida Creek................?  Fortunately, men and  women do share certain characteristic, and one of these is the old memory buds, so the women do not have an advantage in this challenge!

The answer is Ausonia and no, not in Msida Creek but in Lazaretto Creek off Manoel Island.

So, for some memories, have a look at this file MALTA_AND_HER_SUBMARINES

Story Line 126.

Staying on Malta - which I know you all like, learn, or, perhaps reminisce, by glancing at this page MALTA_JUST_A_FEW_PICTURES_CORRADINO_ETC

Story Line 127.

Commcen Whitehall Message File and Retrieval System [MRFS] from the late 1960's

MFRS.pdf

Story Line 128.

   DCI [RN] 857/69 was the catalyst for a major change in the training of the Communications Branch which came into effect on the first training day of 1970.  Fleet Boards were to be abandoned,  course introduced for the Leading Hand rate, abolition of sub-spec courses. A major change indeed! Did it affect you?

COMMS TRAINING1.pdf

Story Line 129.

In this file [and in Part 1] we have seen TARE, MRFS, STRAD so now let's look at AMRAD, note, not Amstrad, also a computer, which was Alan Sugar's company. AMRAD like MRFS in Story Line 127 above, was also a product of the later 1960's.

Automation of the Defence Communication Centre [DCC] London

AMRAD.pdf

Story Line 130.

Now whilst all the subjects mentioned in Story Line 129 above, which are foreign to me because I was a sea-goer and not a shore station wallah, they must have had an interface somewhere along the line, sending traffic received in RATT [ACP 127 format] from ships at sea into the overall AT system. So, I am going to include a system with which I was 100% familiar  whilst the RS/CRS/RCI of HMS Rothesay [F107] Far East, Beira Patrol [Indian Ocean] Mediterranean and UK waters in 1970/71, namely RATT Ship-Shore.

RATT SHIP SHORE.pdf

Story Line 131.

Dwell a pause now just for me to say this.

Some of what I publish gets stolen; copied, and displayed elsewhere, either on the internet as other people's pages, on Forums, or in Association Magazines and certainly in social media pages. Whilst I delight in showing you these articles and stories, I must insist that they are for viewing on line only. These thefts spoil it for everyone else.  Why?  Because I have bucket-loads of general naval information ready to put one line but I am loathed to do this as things stand.  If you see any of my research work in other places, please tell me. Many thanks.

Story Line 132.

A Naval story only half told.

Imagine a very busy Waterloo Station in the evening rush hour with everybody 'fighting' to get home? Then, all of a sudden a passenger falls to the floor with a heart attack and subsequently dies. This was the scene on the evening of the 14th April 1970 and the man who died was a former R.N., Communicator [Long Course - 1943 Second Course of that year] - and was the Best Man at The Queens Wedding in 1947 being a best friend of Prince Philip. He was the Marquess of Milford Haven OBE, DSC, CEng, Lieutenant R.N., Rtd and he was just 50 years of age. He left the navy in 1948.

A picture is always worth a thousand words, so here is a family tree so that you can follow the story properly.

At his funeral in September 1979, the TV Company televising the funeral procession, overlaid the video with a sound track in which Lord Louis told of his career and his achievements.  In this audio presentation, Lord Louis mentions "his much more brilliant elder brother George as a naval officer" and demeaned himself into a subordinate position. His brother George was renown for his brilliant mind and abilities and he was an accomplished mathematician. He was a Captain R.N., a gunnery officer, who tragically died from Cancer of the Bone when aged 45 in 1938. This is an early picture of him.

This is the wedding photograph in 1947

and this is a close up of George 3rd Marquess of Milford Haven, the best man.

George was educated at Dartmouth and HM Signal School Leydene.  He served in destroyers in WW2 and in 1942 was awarded the OBE for his "coolness, leadership and courage" in taking the destroyer KANDAHAR through a minefield to the rescue of the cruiser NEPTUNE. In the following year, he received the DSC for valour in Malta convoy operations and was also mentioned in dispatches.  He was the Flotilla Signal Officer in HMS QUILLAM, Staff Signal Officer to Admiral Commanding Carriers British Pacific Fleet and as Air Signal Officer.

At the Royal Wedding of 1947, the groom had his uncle, Lord Mountbatten as a mentor, and Lord Mountbatten's nephew was the best man. 

Story Line 133.

 And yet another 'device' to add to Story Line 129 above, which would assist in the right officer getting the right signal to action and to execute.  Yes, the introduction of the DIG - Delivery Indicator Group.

DIG.pdf

Story Line 134.

Can your remember MRIT'S?

You can't.......well that is good to hear, because they really were a pain in the butt for all involved. I hated them so much and would have willingly served an extra few weeks on board in the tropics rather than to have to go through this routine. Briefly, the ship would communicate, using all equipments, and monitoring teams would assess the amounts of interference within the ship on other equipments. For example, by keying TX 1 on an F1/850 circuit, did the forward 4.5" Gun swivel to port and then elevate to skywards, and worst still, did it fire a round of HE?  The event took 'years' - or so it seemed - to make sure that all events marked as recordable serials, got the magic 'tick'.....or not!  MRIT stood for Mutual Radio Interference Trials, and in my ship, increasing the output power on TX 1 to 600w PEP, resulted in the best browned toast ever seen in the junior rates dining hall. Enough of that.

Story Line 135.

HMS Mercury's Chief's Mess in 1971.

Many of these men may have touched your service life.  Now is the time to "stick pins in their image".

Who were they?  Note, I am only showing you this 'cos I was there!

Story Line 136.

SINGAPORE_RUN_DOWN_1971 - the run down of the RNCC and the sending home of the WRNS; goodbye Suara and Kranji.

Story Line 137.

Just a filler building upon Story Line 135 above;  nostalgia touched with melancholy!

This was HMS Mercury's 'T' Section in 1971 ['T' meaning Technical and not Tactical. In earlier times the Buntings Boss was called T1 but was changed to F1, corresponding with Fleetwork].

T1 was Lt Cdr Nick Hill-Norton who later acquired the rank of Vice Admiral. His father, Admiral of the Fleet Lord Hill-Norton, had, just like Mountbatten, his own TV show extolling the virtues of naval big gun theory and practice. He was often shown in his bath tub!

It is sad to reflect on those who have crossed the bar, some of them many years ago. Gordon Laws - Jock Arbuckle - David Caless - Bob Lomas, all outstanding experts in their profession. Bob of course was an RCI and not an RIC, and Mick Oxborough was also an RCI, a title we all held with great pride.

I had just joined from sea [from HMS Rothesay] and became the Chief Instructor also taking through two RCI 'Q' courses.  After 3 years in the Section, I went to Portland, to FOST [Flag Officer Sea Training] as a Sea Rider. Promoted to FCRS in September 1975, I rejoined the Signal School as K6, a New Entry Divisional Officer with my names sake Lt Cdr John Ewart Dykes as K1 - John ended his career as a Captain RN.  From there I went back to sea, this time as a Sea Rider on the Staff of FOF2.

Looking back, a very hectic part of my career having spent many years at sea in operational and running submarines in various squadrons around the world, then to general service as a New Entry Instructor, an RCI 'Q' Course [1969], HMS Rothesay Far East and Mediterranean, thence as above, all-in-all, with my face tight up to the "coal face" totalling non stop, approximately 18 years, which came to an end when I went back to the Signal School as the Standing OOW, a potentially stressful job in itself. However, apart from Lord Mountbatten's Royal Funeral and having the privilege of working with the very first WRNS Officer appointed as the First Lieutenant of a major Fleet Establishment [dear Rosie Ball] it wasn't at all stressful and I was much relaxed but not "switched off" to professional matters [not my style!] but enjoying my 'executive job'   Things were to change though, and the Training Commander [TC] often referred to as 'Top Cat', in league with the SIO - Senior Instructor Officer - [a Commander Schoolie] argued with The Commander of the Establishment, that I should be back doing Branch duties and not Establishment duties.  TC and SIO won the day, and my last three years were as the TAO [Training Assessment Officer] before leaving to pension on the 27th June 1983. 

Story Line 138.

In my story 'Captain's of the Signal School', I have listed the photographs and a potted histories of 25 Captain's, and yet only 10 of them lived in the Captain's House.

It seems strange that an Establishment which started in 1941, waited nigh on 30 years before it built a separate on-site dwelling for its Commanding Officer and his family.

This is it, looking at the south side of the property, and as we view it here, the Main House is some way in the distance beyond the tall trees.

It might not look very inspiring, a modern box-building of the 1970's, but it was well appointed and given over to entertaining.  The whole of the ground floor at the back [southern side] could be opened into one very large room, the equally large windows giving a lovely distant view of the sea and the Isle of Wight over the well manicured rolling lawns.

The first incumbent was Captain Barrie Kent and his wife, and they moved in on the 18th December 1970. Whilst it could not compete with the Main House in aesthetic terms, it was infinitely better than the Siberia Building which sat between the Main House and the new Captains House, although the latter was hidden away in a private setting having as its nearest neighbours, the senior officers married quarters at Hyden Woods. Captain Kent and Mrs Kent had a house in Petersfield which overlooked the Lake and daily he would travel in his Staff Car driven by a WREN MT to and from  HMS Mercury. His last appointment [after 32 years in the Navy] was as the Commanding Officer of Mercury.  When it was time to say goodbye, the officers in Mercury dragged his Staff Car up to a point past the Main House and then the engine was started and the Wren driver took over talking Captain Kent to his Petersfield home, only the long way round!  Meantime, Mercury's senior officers dashed to Petersfield's lake side in an RN tilly where several small boats of the rowing kind had been assembled. The Wren driver brought Captain Kent to this spot and to his great surprise the Commanders and Lieutenant Commanders rowed Captain Kent across the lake to a point quite close to his home.  At this point, Mrs Kent joined in with the celebration and all toasted Captain Kent in Champagne.

This picture shows Captain Kent and Mrs Kent with the Establishment's Commander, Commander Harland and Lieutenant Commander Daubney.

Siberia, a long row of single story huts painted white in full view for all to see, was on the edge of the Broadwalk on the far side of the Wardroom rose garden, which was the accommodation and private study area for Sub Lieutenants on Course in HMS Mercury.

When Mercury closed, that end of the Broadwalk had many beautiful houses built on it, some with thatched roofs, and the Captain House was pulled down and replaced by an architect-designed luxury house.

Story Line 139.

In my garage block I have a naval museum which also sports a pool table and a dart board.  The centre piece of my Museum is a fine big cased model of HMS Bristol as first built, with all her original weapons and shows a Wasp helicopter on her after flight deck. The following brief and interesting article comes from The Communicator Magazine of Winter 1972 and was written by Mike Emmett, a Long Course [C] officer and at one time my boss in HMS Mercury's New Entry Division [Kelly Squadron] when he, as a Lieutenant Commander, was KI and I was a FCRS as K6, Divisional Officer for the Norfolk Division.

HMS BRISTOL.pdf

Story Line 140.

Do you remember SMOPS in 1974? It changed our lives tremendously, and put the Captain's of HMS Excellent, HMS Vernon and HMS Mercury on the back burner, whilst giving a lead role to the Captain of HMS Dryad.  It was the start of the "OPS BRANCH" and we Communicator's plus Gunner's, TAS Men and RP's had to learn new routines, habits and relationships. The Gunnery world fared less well than we Communicators did and within 10 years, all gunnery training in Portsmouth had ceased, with the Fraser Gunnery  Range on the sea front at Eastney  moving to HMS Cambridge at Wembury in Plymouth. In 2001, HMS Cambridge was sold to the National Trust and all Gunnery training was transferred to HMS Collingwood, whilst all naval military training was transferred to HMS Raleigh.

SMOPS.pdf

Well that's a further 70 stories for you to read making a total of 140 in all in Part One and Part Two.  This page is now too big and beginning to get unmanageable so its time to STOP.  Want some more ? OK!, go here JUST_A_BIT_ABOUT_COMMUNICATORS_AND_THEIR_THINGS_PART_THREE