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HMS Albion

Having received orders...... off to the Mediterranean

HMS Albion
Now then, isn't she a beautiful Lady? H.M.S. Albion completing her sea trials prior to going to 'my war' Suez. We had completed the catapulting of dead load (simulating aircraft take off) the ammunition was loaded and off we went to sea. Of course we were three inches lower in the water because we had to paint 'her' overall.......again.

Signal from C.- in C. Home Fleet.

To Albion,

" I know that in preparing your fine ship for service, officers and men have had to postphone leave and work long hours. I am happy that all demands have been met with great cheerfulness and a fine spirit. Albion has made a splendid start to her commission. I wish all on board good luck, success in your forth coming duties and a happy return."

And

Signal from First Sea Lord

To Albion,

"Congratulations on the speed and manner in which Albion has been prepared for further service."

With four squadrons on board (800/802 squadrons Seahawks) and (809 squadron Sea Venoms) and (849 C Flight Skyraiders) we entered the Mediterranean. There were more signals, "Welcome back to the Mediterranean Station" from C - in- C Med. "Thank you. Delighted to join the First Eleven" from Albion. This of course was all 'upper deck chatter and 'old boy' stuff. We were just glad to be out there in the sunshine. A chance to get our knees brown for when we got back.

Then all hell broke lose, Israel invaded Sinai!! Operation Musketeer was aimed at securing the Suez Canal and entailed a very heavy effort by carrier-borne aircraft, first to destroy the Egyptian airforce and then to prepare the way for and support the landings of our airborne and amphibios forces at Port Said. The Carrier Task Group consisted of H.M.S. Eagle, Bulwark and Albion. For the Albion, the operation and its aftermath entailed 31 days at sea and a lot of that time we were closed up for action stations. Which for me was in the ammunition holds way down in the bowels of the ship.

Meanwhile............... aircraft were flying off and we were being targeted by Egyptian MTB's. Several tried to bteak through the screen and were promptly dispatched. One rumour that I found amusing at the time was that of a ship lying just ouside the screen and the Albion Captain signalled, "Are you for us or against us?" The reply came back, " We are American, we are just watching." The Captain then signalled, "P*** off or I'll sink you." The vessel then hightailed it for the horizon. We made a swift call into Malta for stores, refuelling and restock on ammunition then back to the Port Said area to cover the withdrawl from the Canal and hand over to the U.N. Emergency Force.


Albion in Valetta Harbour.
Albion in Valetta Harbour.
Job done (for now) it was time to party and ask any of the girls, a sailor knows how to party. First in the mess then ashore in Valetta, Malta.
Mine's a Triple Watsit with a twist of Rum
Mine's a Triple Watsit with a twist of Rum
The Three Cabaleros
  The Three Cabaleros

 

Homeward Bound via Gibraltar
Well playtime was over and we set sail for Gibraltar our last port of call before we headed for home. We exercised for a while in the Mediterrean with some of the NATO navies and generally it was a cooling down period after our Suez campaign. Gibraltar hove into sight and we were soon tied up alongside and into our daily routine. Gibraltar being the last port it was also our last chance to get some 'rabbits' (souvenirs) to prove that we had indeed been abroad. No, we did not go in for any of your 'genuine' Arabian carpets or yashmaks for the 'mother in law', no it was more jewelry and watches and believe it or not the odd parrot.
Damage to stern H.M.S. Albion  
We were well into our daily routine and things were going fairly smoothly when, 'Wall....lup! We were smacked up the ar..... fter end by a Portugese frigate... (yes, that's what we all said, frig...ate). The frigate had steamed in to berth astern of us and had not secured her land lines. She ripped a dirty great hole in our stern quarters, actually they were the Admiral's quarters. Take a look at this................
  The Portugese Man o' War (frigate)
View from inside the Admirals cabin "Right! Did anyone get that B******number?"

Now, being the quarters of an Admiral there was no shortage of hands to set to and make good the damage albeit temporary. Talk about matelots around a rum fanny, there was more damage control and 'scrambled egg' around that apeture than.......... well that's another story.

Needless to say our delay in sailing for home was shortened by willing hands. Then at last a patch over our 'humiliating' encounter with a Portugese Man'o War ( a jellyfish?) we set sail for Portsmouth and home....... you don't know how good that feels, we were going home!

 

We meet again......... only to say farewell!
There was a full programme of engagements for the Queen an the Duke of Edinburgh on May 28th 1957 the second day of their three day visit to the Home Fleet which had gathered together in the Cromarty Firth.Between 0900 and the middle of the afternoon Her Majesty and Prince Philip visited six ships and inspected the companies of the remaing ships of the Fleet. However it was a far cry from the Spihead Review. Her Majesty and Prince Philip visited six ships and inspected the companies of the remaing ships of the Fleet. However it was a far cry from the Spihead Review
Her Majesty being presented with a bouquet by the ship's company's youngest rating

As I mentioned earlier we would never see the like of that again. On this occasion there was no more than eighteen ships and submarines assembled for the Royal Tour of Inspection. At 1800 hours the Queen and Prince Philip entertained officers in the Royal yacht and a little later entertained to dinner the C-in-C of the Fleet and his flag officers also in Britannia. All sipping and supping done they came over to H.M.S. Albion, which they had visited and inspected earlier in the day. Over two thousand men were on parade and the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh carried out their inspection in a Land Rover, in which the circled the deck four times.

 

There was a lot of 'spit and polish' to be admired. Her Majesty's second visit to Albion in one day was to attend a Royal Command performance, an evening of entertainment by the ship's company of H.M.S. Albion. A concert arranged and performed by officers and rating alike. The concert entitled 'Wet & Dry' included a ballet and calypso, performed by officers and three 'skiffle' groups, numerous comedians and scetches with a distinctive naval flavour.

Above we have Her Majesty being presented with a bouquet by the ship's company's youngest rating. On the right we have Her Majesty and all the VIP's comfortably ensconced in the forward hanger awaiting the requisite overtures and the show to begin.

Her Majesty and all the VIP's comfortably ensconced in the forward hanger awaiting the requisite overtures and the show to begin.
Strange how fate is.. Her Majesty left us at midnight and returned to Britannia.... our paths were never to cross again. Even though I see Her from time to time on T.V. and memories are rekindled I wonder if she ever reflects upon that time when she looked deep into my eyes and with that Mona Lisa smile on her lips said, "You are standing on ones dress!"

 

P.S. I just can't leave you without relating at least one sea story........

An old sea-dog puts on his old uniform and heads for the docks once more for old times sake you understand. He engages a prostitute and she takes him up to her room. Before long (and before any foreplay) he's giving her what for' well as good as he can for a guy of his age, but needing some reassurance, he asks, "How am I doing?" The prostitute replies, "Well old sailor you are doing about three knots." "Three knots?" He asks, "What's that supposed to mean?" She says, "You're knot hard, you're knot in, and you're knot getting your money back, Admiral!

 

Go_Navy ............... Now this is one you would not like to miss.....

Earlier we looked at the Navy of my Yesterday.... this is your

NAVY of TODAY!

     
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Copyright 2005 David Burt , all rights reserved
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