Tuesday 8th May 1945    V E DAY --  SPLICE THE MAIN BRACE!

Celebrations and onwards - what next?

 

 Rod's log for Tuesday the 8th of May records:-

 

Normal routine - fell in the crew for clean ship and upper deck. Leave piped - Make and Mend. Ordered DRESS SHIP OVERALL Breakfast in the Pier Hotel and then odd jobs as necessary. Coffee with Fish Salmon and Shadders looked a bit weak but it came out of a teapot. UP SPIRITS piped & Splice the Main Brace - a tot of rum (neaters) for all including the Officers. Parties on board - Gin Pendant hoisted PT - TL - FL G (The Gin pendant is a small flag of large importance in the Navy. It has white vertical band in the middle flanked on either side by a green band - it stood for the letter "G") After lunch zizzing and about 1800 I remember coming to, with Barrie and I in the same bath - partly clothed - there was water in the bath.

After a few snifters on board it was a run ashore - The Orwell. Rumours reached us that the fireworks which had been taken from us were going to be used for a grand pyrotechnic display at the dockside (Felixstowe). The whole base-staff and Officers dance all the way down to the dock. It was a free-for -all with the fireworks and I was busy lighting rockets on the ground and observing the panic of the gathering coping with horizontal rockets!

 

Wed 9th May

I heard that the Assistant AVGO was trying to find the idiots who were igniting the horizontal Distress Rockets and Flares last night. I managed to avoid him!

 

 

 

 

Wed 16th May

VICTORY PARADE AND MARCH PAST

This had been arranged to take place on the concrete apron in front of the hangars in the RAF base. The newly promoted ADMIRAL OF THE FLEET LORD TOVEY OF NORTH CAPE was to take the salute and inspection. The best boat in the base had been selected MTB 482- to embark the Admiral at HARWICH and bring him over to FELIXSTOWE.  Preparations were commenced at once. I drew from pussers stores new white submarine frocks and white plimsoles and as much paint, cotton waste, rags, bluebell etc as I wanted. Paintwork was re-done or cleaned, brass-work was polished for the first time ever and I went round scraping and discovering new brass-work under coats of grey paint. Inside of vents were painted red and green as appropriate. The upper radar aerial on top of the mast was removed to make way for short mast for the wearing of the Union Flag and lowering of our commissioning pendant as befitted the etiquette of embarkation of an Admiral of the Fleet.

 

About two days later we crossed the Orwell with me on the focscle with the "tiddley" crew fell-in. His Lordship was properly piped aboard as the Union Flag was broken out and the commissioning pendant was lowered. We slipped and turned to sail across to Felixstowe. This time it was different, every HM Ship within range cheered and piped the Admiral and as we returned the salute I "about turned" the crew to try and face the correct direction - it was most muddling but most impressive.

 

We came alongside on the dock and Dudley (my CO) invited the Admiral to inspect the upper deck. The Admiral drew me aside and in a whisper enquired the name of the forward gunner. He inspected the gleaming and shining 6 pounder and praised the amazed AB - "Well done Gillespie". Some few weeks before Gillespie had been awarded the DSM for action on the 7th April.

 

 

 

 

Thurs 24th May

As a PR exercise we commenced giving trips to sea for various organisations etc. We took parties of WRNS, ATS, WAAF & ENSA to just beyond the Cork LV and showed off our speed and manoeuvrability weaving around at high speed and beating up the other boats. Terry and I narrowly averted a head-on collision.

 This was also due to an order given to the Flotilla to use up the thousands of gallons of high octane petrol we had in our tanks still there after refuelling from the previous operation. It could not safely be taken off by any other means. Ammunition also had to be disposed of so we were firing the 6 pounder, Oerlikon 20mm, and 303 Brownings. Also for disposal was the strong acid in the Chemical Smoke Apparatus (CSA) right down aft for smoke screen purposes. I went out in 449 with Terry (Mills) and I was venting my wrath on the twin Oerlikon- really going mad - an exhilarating experience when the PO MM had an accident with the CSA. We hung on to his feet and dragged him along in the water half submerged upside down to neutralise the acid whilst Terry tried to stop the boat - we pulled the half drowned PO onto the upper deck. Terry headed for home as fast as possible ignoring the Harbour speed restrictions whilst I called up on the RT for an ambulance to be ready on the dockside. He was rushed to hospital & subsequently discharged that day and appeared rather red in the face - but without any permanent damage.

 

Friday 1st June

Glorious First of June - Official Flotilla Jag.

Met up in London at "Shepheards" then on to the "Roundhouse" and another pub in Wardour Street. First taste of Chinese Chop Suey at "Ley On's" (see autographed menu). We continued on to "Miranda's Club", this was followed by dancing Ring-a-Roses round the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Square joining the thousands of people celebrating. The square was packed  - it was a memorable and impressive sight. I later discovered that Joyce (Rod's sister, a Nursing Sister in the QAIMNS) was also there celebrating.

 

Various clubs were visited including the "Swallow Club" during the rest of the day to keep the alcohol levels topped up as befitted the occasion! I think that most most of the Flotilla managed to find their way home that evening, Terry did not!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 8th June

The entire coast line of Kent had been protected from invasion in 1940. Tank traps, concrete blocks, steel pipes and anti-landing devices had been placed and erected along all the proms. Land mines were not used (at Sandgate) as the sea swept right up to the wall. The Army from Shorncliffe Camp started to organise bathing "Parades" and opened up a hole in the barbed wire just beyond Brewers Hill. All we had to do was produce our identity card and we were allowed in. The hole was only kept open for official parades. Tony (Halstead) and I had a good swim and walked along to "Holcombe" - his house.

 

Friday 15th June

Went up to Town - London to office of ADMIRAL COMMANDING RESERVES at Queen Anne's Mansions to find out my future movements, it is OK for the wedding and honeymoon for a week but appointed to HMS King Alfred Hove for "General Service" course on the 1st July.

 

On Saturday the 23rd June 1945 Rod and Jean were married at St Pauls Church Sandgate. The Best Man was Tony Halstead and the Matron of Honour was Dorothy Layzell. It was a beautiful and hot day. The reception was at 2 Rosemary Villas Sandgate Jeans home. The celebration was liberally reinforced with Duty Free liquor from the 35th MTB Flotilla. Rod recalls:- We had both got First Class Railway Warrants but the destination was wrong so Tony altered the forms to Monmouth and countersigned as appropriate. We left the jollifications & festivities and caught the train up to Charing Cross which included a long detour around Redhill and then taxied to our pre-booked stay at The Mount Royal Hotel in Oxford Street. In the evening we walked in Hyde Park and watched the Baseball. The next day it was over to Monmouth by train for our stay at The Kings Head.

 

After the honeymoon was over Rod returned to Sandgate with Jean. The next day he was off to HMS King Alfred at Hove. Also on the course were Peter Warren, Pete Irvine, Dickie Barlow and Terry Mills.

 

Tues 3rd July

Dinner at "Jimmys" with Dickie - we could get a Lobster dinner for 3/6d. (Three shillings and six pence equals 17 and a half pence in decimal money!).

 

Thurs 5th July

First post war ice-creams 6d each! (2 and a half pence). You had to supply your own plate! (from cabin in Hotel).

 

On the 18th July Rod was appointed to the Far East - HMS Mayeena. Another chapter in his Naval career was soon to unfold.