Sea Pie by Horace Willie - Royal Navy WWII History and Service life

4 obeisance with your offer of two and one. His eyes will melt and the sparkle will comeback to him for he will have the benefit of his own tot and of yours and ashe sips away he will touch you on the shoulder and say “Thanks pal youre a good old bastard”. It is a term of endearment and is the highest acclimation he can bestow upon you. He might even leave sippers in the bottom of the glass for you. “Commence hostilities against Japan at once” was the pipe that hurried us out of dock. A day or two later we were out to sea on the way to Scapa Flow. The ship was in a topsy-turvey state the dockies had left it dirty and untidy baulks of timber and chunks of metal were everywhere lockers were out of place and wire and rubbish everywhere. The process of coaling ship had ensured that dirt and dust would find its way into every nook and cranny. On the boat deck were large steel armoured deckplates already cut and drilled for fitting. This work was not completed before we sailed and the plates were left loose on the boat deck. The ship by the way was oil- fired the coal was used only in the galley. We left Liverpool about noon in November 1941 in raw damp misty weather. We passed the Isle of Man during the night where many searchlights were working and on the following day saw the red cliffs of the North Scottish coast in bright sunshine. It was a pretty sight indeed. There were many big ships at Scapa where we carried out gallery exercises and checks to all gear. The 15 inch full calibre shoot did much to shakeout the dust and dirt that had ingathered between ledges and pipes and which had escaped the cleaning parties labour and the eye of the Commander for the ship had been cleaned up by this time. The weather was cold with strong winds. One day when the steam picket boat was being lowered, the wind caught it and heed it against the ship but no damage was apparent until it was lowered into the water when a considerable leak immediately showed itself. The pump carried on it was insufficient to hold down the leak and it was decided to lash the picket boat to a drifter which was also alongside. It was hoped to make repairs whilst in the water and so save the trouble of hoisting and lowering but someone made an error of judgement for the picket boat holding much water agave sudden wrench which brought Stokes up from his hole and over the inside one leap. It was very lucky for him that he got out for the wrench pulled the capstan out of the drifter, which also went over steeply and broke the after lashing. Thus freed the picket boat sat down slowly and gracefully on the bottom of Scapa Flow. One picket boat lost. I rather think that the Commander was delighted to swap it for the very nice replacement launch soon delivered. We left Scapa escorted by destroyers in one of which The Wheatland was palmy Bill Stiles whom I never had the luck to meet again. We went up the Clyde to Greenock up and down the river several times testing steering compass-swinging, etc. The weather was sunny and the beauty of the Scottish scenery was a joy to see. Dunoon was particularly attractive. I remember going ashore at Greenock but as there wasnt much of interest went onto Glasgow. It appeared to be untouched by war. I saw no bomb damage at all and the shop windows were dressed as in normal times. As we left Greenock the first fall of snow was settling on the Scottish hills a prelude to the exceptionally hard and severe weather that the British Isles was to have in the winter of 1941/1942. We had a slow trip to Milford Haven where we oiled. Milford was avery quiet harbour then and a cemetery for ships. The masts of several vessels that had been bombed stuck out of the water a visible reminder of what could happen. But the sun shone upon us that afternoon a good omen for us as we left homeland for foreign service. We went straight out into the Atlantic with accompanying destroyers to join up with a convoy. The weather was bad the seas were heavy at times and waves washed
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