Lester's contribution (I remember him well) and the names he mentions
in his memoirs. One of the officers that he names certainly merits a
further mention. Sub Lt. Barry Lomas. Two incidents involving Sub.
Lt Lomas one of which was earlier recalled by another crew member
involves the 'lifeboat' which later turned into the rising moon. We
were, I think, in the Indian Ocean at the time. It was during the
middle watch and I was the duty signalman, Ginge may have been the
starboard lookout and Sub. Lt. Lomas was the OOW. It was a clear
night, sea like a mill pond. At approx. 2am the starboard lookout
reported an orange object off the starboard bow, distance uncertain.
raised to the eyes of the OOW, bosuns mate and signalman. Lo and
behold there was an orange object that appeared to be in the water.
Ops room contacted to check plot. Nothing on radar. Check radar on
bridge. All clear. Check signal office. No report of ship in
distress. Check orange object in water again. Getting larger as we
were drawing nearer. Sub. Lt. Lomas checks bridge radar. Nothing for
a hundred miles. We are all alone, yet there was this, what looked
like a liferaft, off the starboard bow getting nearer. Confusion
sets in. Slight panic. Will he call the captain or not? 'Liferaft'
drawing nearer. Orders stop engines. Calls captain from his slumber
to the bridge reporting that a liferaft is on the starboard bow.
(Should have made absolutely certain before rousing the skipper). Captain Gerking
shuffles up to bridge. This had better be urgent look on his face.
By this time the 'liferaft' was almost as big as the ship. The
captain listened to the OOW then took him to the chart desk, closed
the curtains and gave Mr Lomas a dressing down in no uncertain terms
just loud enough for the signalman, lookout and others to hear.
Curtains were pulled aside, skipper shuffled off to his pit and Mr.
Lomas looking somewhat embarrassed continued the watch in silence
muttering to himself how a liferaft should be a different colour to
The other incident involving the hapless officer was a man overboard
exercise. Again Mr. Lomas who I believe at this time was a Lt. was
again the OOW and I was the duty signalman. All was going well, the
dummy was thrown overboard, eight short blasts sounded, flag Oscar
hoisted. The duty swimmer was kitted out in his wet suit, flippers,
lifeline etc. The ship came round, stopped and the duty swimmer went
overboard. He reached the dummy. All went as it should. All we had to do
is pull the duty swimmer and dummy onboard. For some reason or
other, which even to this day, escapes me, Lt. Lomas orders the
engine room to move slow ahead. So the ship is moving ahead slowly
and the swimmer in the water is now belly surfing behind. On to the
bridge storms the skipper. Orders stop engines and the swimmer is
hauled onboard half drown. The chart table comes into play once
again as the skipper and Lt. Lomas disappear behind drawn curtains.
Only one voice is heard and it's not that of Lt. Lomas. Both
reappear one redder than the other. The captain orders that the duty
swimmer be brought to the bridge and he is duly done so where Lt.
Lomas is made to apologise to the poor bedraggled seaman to trying to
drown him. I don't know if Lt. Lomas ever reached the dizzy heights
of admiral or not, he left not long afterwards.
Ginge also mentions that we also know as the Fighting 101 and the
'Rubber Duck' came from the immortal remark made by one LRO(G) John
'Dolly' Grey when one day he said "you can't crack me, I'm a rubber
duck". Made probably when he was getting grief from some rank or
other. However the 'Rubber Duck' became the Yarmouth's symbol, and we
in the Comms branch (Flag wavers) made up a two coloured flag, black
and purple I think, with a large yellow rubber duck in the middle.
This was proudly flown during the Beira bucket games and at football
matches played at HMS Terror Singapore. I glad to see that the
'Rubber Duck' carried on.
The incident in
Australia where we could not take part in exercises due to being
unable to make fresh water was, so it was rumoured, because some
stoker had fallen madly in love with some local shelia and didn't
want to leave, so he inadvertently pumped salt water into the
freshwater tanks thus we had to remain in Sydney why the fleet
sailed on. Oh dear, how sad, never mind. If any one, especially from
the airy fairy branch from the late sixties can remember Lt.
'Whiskey' Haig and the dramatic rescue he and his flight crew made
when Yarmouth was typhoon guard ship in Hong Kong c1970. A ship was
in diffs. and the Yarmouth put to sea in a roaring typhoon, reached
the ship in distress.
The flight deck
crew in almost impossible conditions launched the wasp helicopter
and somehow he and his crew rescued the entire crew, about 13 souls,
from the stricken vessel. He was awarded a medal in recognition.
Anyway if they can recall this incident perhaps they can relate to
it. The 'Yarmouth Blues' 'our song' was sung and heard many times,
from the 'Gut', to Bougie Street. I wonder if like the 'Rubber Duck'
it was ever carried on.
This is the
newspaper cutting ref the incident when the Russian Kotlin warship
collided with Ark Royal during flight exercises in the Med. Yarmouth
was the plane guard. I had just finished my shift on the bridge when
I was piped back to man the cutter. The Russians had been buzzing us
all day during the exercise and taking some dodgy manoeuvres so the
accident waiting to happen did. The Russian warship swung into the
path of the Ark Royal as she was turning and went into the side of
her. 22 men went overboard on the Kotlin. We put out two boats and
the Ark put out a number. The Russians too. Spent 10 hours in the
boat searching for the Russians. Picked up three. The Arks boats
picked up a number. And the Russian also picked up some. Two
Russians were never accounted for. The Russian warship was in quite
a mess, and a very fragile international incident was brewing. I
think I have some press cutting from national newspapers somewhere
covering the incident. If I find them I will send them on.
In 1976 the BBC
brought out a 'Fly on the wall' documentary set on board the Ark
Royal call 'Sailor'. I'm sure most remember it. One of its stars was
the commander . None other than an old skipper of the Yarmouth.
Commander Cowling . Skipper of the 'Y' 1971 - 1972. He is mostly
seen in the documentary dishing out punishment from the 'table'.
Nothing changed there then. (I'm not certain, but I believe that
Commander Cowling has crossed the bar)
Click on a photo to enlarge