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The Voyage to Norfolk Virginia

On the 29th May 1950 the Broadsword left Chatham destined for America Norfolk Virginia Naval Base. Cruising at about 14 knots the journey took about 9 days of which time was utilised in gun manning drills and different types of exercises, etc.

One exercise comes to mind, of hands to bathe over the side. Being a hot day, I think most of off duty crew took up the option of cooling down. Lookouts were posted and just as the command was given of hands to bathe sharks were sighted.

No one took up the option. Instead, shark fishing took over, and every type of method one could think of was used, cables and ropes with different types of hooks with fresh meat on the end. Even the Gunnery Officer with his Lugar having pot shots at them. Never the less we failed to catch a single one (the one that got away).

This didn’t put off a certain Officer though... The boys Div Officer

Lt. Smedley (some say related to the renoun Jam makers), decided to put a cable over the stern with a rabbit on the hook, trailing it behind us hoping to make a catch.        

The following evening with the weather getting hotter, several hands decided to sit on the quarter deck up top to cool off, say no more. It didn’t take long for some joker to come up with the idea of making a shark of our own. Pieces of canvas, sticks and broom handles were mustered and ships grey paint. It was wonderful .What a creative piece of art was formed, with the final touch of “BIG EATS FOR BUNTER” in white paint on the side.

The cable was hauled in minus the rabbit, and the man made shark hooked on the end. It looked so realistic, leaping in the air going from side to side. No one was to laugh or grin and the announcement was made over the tannoy from the quarter deck “WE’VE GOT A SHARK, WE’VE GOT A SHARK”.  Lt  Smedley of somewhat portly proportions came bounding down from the Wardroom. “HAUL IT IN “he shouts and so they started to haul it in and in their exuberance made the shark jump even higher. Needless to say it came off the end and got away, to all our dismay. Again, the one that got away.

I wonder if Lt. Smedley ever knew and what he would have done if he had known. Never the less, the cable was completely hauled in again and meat of some kind fixed on the end and finally when hauled in before entering harbour, a pussers boot was found to be fixed on the hook.

What an initiation to the Royal Navy for an innocent Boy Tel of 16 years.

Tommo (Derek Thomson)