Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Going home

We spent what seemed like ages stuck in the South Atlantic after the war.  It was actually just over two months but seemed like two years.  My log book just shows routine flying.  At one point ARFA had a problem with his Flight Control system and we spent a week in Invincible flying her Lynx to keep current.  Also our Senior Maintenance Rating 'Mitch' had to go home on compassionate leave and as I was a qualified Air Engineer I took on the role of SMR as well which is probably the only time a flight pilot has also had responsibility for maintaining his own aircraft.  We were flooded with bloody stupid questionnaires the daftest being one from the medics asking us to detail day by day, our stress and sleep levels.  That went straight over the side.  I met a doc some years alter and asked what they had got from it and his answer was only an analysis of why almost everyone had ditched it like me!  It was frustrating to see other ships going home.  We gave them a send off as they steamed past - mainly consisting of throwing potatoes and setting the fire hoses on them.  For some reason they didn't seem to mind.
I hope our First Lieutenant isn't reading this because I have a small confession to make.  A certain well known UK entrepreneur who had a 'night club' in Soho and produced gentlemen's magazines had been sending large quantities of adult material down to us all for free - Bless him.  However our No1 didn't take kindly to this and banned it from the ship.  A conspiracy started with me and the ship's Master at Arms in the lead.  We would bring the contraband over from Invincible which would then be 'impounded'.  He would then ditch it over the side while the First Lieutenant watched.  At the same time I was dishing the real stuff out to the messdecks from my cabin.  The title of 'Ship's Porn Officer' is not one many can claim to have had. Also when No1 was on the bridge on watch he may have wondered why there was strange blowing noise on the ships intercom.  This was to inform the ship that the latest edition of 'Naked Jelly Wrestling' was about to start on the ship's video system, which he couldn't see, being on watch!  Many years later, when working in MOD, I was having lunch in a SOHO restaurant and saw said entrepreneur, so I went over to thank him.  He seemed truly grateful as his efforts had largely been ignored.  He should have got an OBE in my view but I'm not sure what the Queen would have said!!
All good things come to end and eventually we set off home.  People were all starting to act slightly oddly by this stage.  It's hard to quantify but I'm sure a psychologist would have had a field day.  However one person who had to be placated was King Neptune who we had ignored on the way down and he wasn't happy.  So we had to have a special re-crossing the line ceremony to compensate - photos below.
Next stop Plymouth.

The weather could be a bit horrid!  This was taken the week we spent in Invincible and is in a genuine Force 12.  Bear in mind that the bridge of this ship is over seventy feet up and you get a good impression of how big the waves were.

Avery cross King Neptune comes on board.

His staff meet out due punishment to those who haven't been in his realm before.

The court of King Neptune

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