HMS Mercury in 1965
Written by Louis Providence
As the Class Leader, and one of only three Blacks among several thousand trainees in Mercury, we had to march everywhere, all the other courses were addressed by their class number, not our class, I addressed them as "White Trash". Imagine the look on the new Officers faces when we were marching past the and they heard the command from this black class leader, "White Trash eyes right", they always turned and listened for the eyes front, and yes it was "White Trash eyes front". But those were the good old days before Political Correctness. More soon.
HMS Mercury in 1973
Written by Mark Jenkinson
Like every communicator, I have mixed memories of Mercs, and it has to be said that the vast majority are of happy & enjoyable times. One of the most amusing is of when I was Ship´s Company whilst waiting to join HMS Juno. I´m sure that there are many comms rates out there who´ll remember that the bulk of the ratings employed on camp security at this time (1973) were WAFUs. I don´t know why, perhaps a couple of Air Squadrons or a Carrier had been paid-off and the personnel couldn´t be gainfully employed on Air Stations, but anyway a load of them ended up at Mercury.
Amongst these was a Naval Airman called Scouse M*****, who I think worked in the main galley, and it was he who one day had the gross misfortune to be pulled over for a vehicle spot-check just before leaving the camp. The RPO in charge of the check-point rummaged through the boot of his car and gleefully started pulling out various foodstuffs that had found their way into Scouse´s possession. Not having an acceptable answer as to how & why the food got there, Scouse did not pass Go, did not collect £200, but DID go directly to jail, spending the next couple of days in cells while his warrant was prepared.
Come the day, Lower Deck was duly cleared and his warrant was read in the Drill Shed in front of about 100 freezing cold matelots & wrens, mainly Ship´s Company & staff from the Admin Block. Even the Buffer´s Party´s gash cart was there. The trouble was, none of us were prepared for what was about to be read out. Scouse took his one-pace-forward, minus cap, and it immediately became apparent that the dastardly deed had been committed at or just after breakfast time, because the warrant went into the absolute minutest details of the contents of Scouse´s swag-bag: Eggs, trays of 36, 2 in number; Sausages, Pork, uncooked, 10 in number; Sausages, Pork, cooked, 16 in number; Bacon rashers, back, uncooked, 20 in number; Bacon rashers, collar, cooked, 22 in number; Baked beans, tins of, 5 in number; Pudding, Black, large, 2 in number; Bread, loaves, sliced, 2 in number; Bread, slices, toasted, 2 in number (must´ve been Scouse´s egg & bacon sarnie), etc etc etc. The list seemed endless. As can be imagined, the sniggering & giggling didn´t take long to get underway, and it spread pretty rapidly. Ever-alert Reg staff standing behind the miscreant gave steely stares and made mental notes of who found this thievery of H.M. victuals amusing, with a view to giving them a chance to explain what´s so funny at Jimmy´s Table the following day. I´ll always remember one of the girls in the wrens platoon who´d turned red and whose tears of laughter had made what little make-up she was wearing run. How she´d managed not to laugh out loud I´ll never know.
However, at the end of the warrant, with Scouse himself still smirking despite his pending 28 days as a guest of Her Majesty, all the platoons marched out at a pace that would´ve put the Light Infantry to shame and dispersed in double-quick time. Back in the mess we collapsed onto our pits in fits of laughter......it truly was one of those ´you had to be there´ moments!!
* I´ve not given Scouse´s surname as a matter of courtesy!!
** Thinking back, I´m not sure why there were Wrens present at the warrant reading, because in those days they weren´t subject to the Naval Discipline Act (remember that, historically, the purpose of reading a warrant in front of the Ship´s Company is to remind them of what can happen if they step out of line.....It´s intended to act as a direct threat). I can only conclude that they were there just to make up the numbers.
HMS Mercury in 1942
The first time I visited HMS Mercury I was horrified. Apart from the Main House and the cinema everything was made from Nissen huts and the only heating was tortoise stoves which we were not allowed to light until 1600. Each hut had to collect a bucket of coalfor starting the fire then we could have as much coke as we liked to keep it going. From the middle of the afternoon the woods were busy with matelots searching for dry sticks and branches and scrap paper was at a premium. Still some how we all seemed to manage.
The place seemed to be run by the communications branch including a few coders and a sprinkling of other branches. I laways weemed to finish up as quartermaster (watchkeeping again!). Oh those long lists to be piped at Stand Easy of people being drafted. I did spend some time in the V/S Stores working with ex Chief yeoman Spaz Chambers marking backwards Biffers.
Mercury waas the only establishment to have a public road runing through it and it was not closed until late 40.s when they built the first brick accomodation block on the Crescent for th Chiefs of course then followed on with blocks for PO.s. I left the Service before the remainder of the blocks were built
One unusual facility was the .22 rifle range behind the Main House which was available to anyone interested. I was never very good at it but I spent many a happy half hour banging away there.
Another incident comes to mind when the local Hunt held a meetfrom Mercury. We had horses and hounds all over the place and that evening we recovered three hounds who had lost themselves and kept them in a spare strore until the huntsman could come and collect them.
I suspect that most of my contemporaries have fallen by the wayside but if there are any about, how about getting together some time?