Naval History Net Link HMS Londonderry Badge

HMS Londonderry
1st Commission
1960 - 1962




Officers:- Commander I S Primrose,
Lt. Cdr. P C Bennett, Lt. Cdr. M J E Howard-Smith, Lt. Cdr. T M Bevan, Lt. Cdr. C L Salmon, Lt. Cdr. D J Salmon,
Lt. C H A Brewster, Lt. R G O Gatacre RAN, Lt. P S Leggott, Lt. C H Layman, Lt. C H D Cooke-Priest, Surg. Lt. A E Wightman, Surg. Lt. J M D Gallwey
Sub Lt. D.L. Rees, Sub Lt. R G Bridgeman, Sub Lt. Brewer, Sub Lt. A N Wigley. * Not all the officers served the full commission.

Cold Weather trials Davis Strait

A bakers dozen brave the upper deck during cold weather trials, Davis Strait, 1961.

It seems fantastic that we have known 24 officers this first commission. This includes two of each of the following:
Commodores, Engineers, Electricals, Second Electricals, and Medicals. The originals of the above categories went their various ways, with the exception of the Electrical Officer who stayed behind to check that the users really do do their tests.

Somewhere up in Smoke one will find a young civilian doctor, curled up in a chair, working hard, his leaving the Service has left the way clear for another Wine Caterer, but more about him later. There was an original Pay who briefly substituted whilst the Real One was doing an advanced course (his technique is very advanced).

Our first Chief, who built us from the keel up, had his achievement rewarded and became a "Sir" much to our joy.

The first "Baby L" had a baby, but this was coincidental to his leaving for instruction (in L, not in babies).

Finally of the originals, Commodore Shand, who loved the Caribbean so much that he thought it prudent to do a spell at home for a bit, but not before having bought a chunk of the Virgins for his later years.

In spite of so many officers coming and going we have remained 15 stalwarts throughout. This really warrants a Gunroom being formed, but we took pity on the youngest and made him an hon. member (many a true word spoken in jest). He goes on to become a rotary-winged pilot, but with him he should take a lot of experience gained from onboard.

Of all those who have boxed on from the start, none have boxed harder than the Captain. Whether it be whilst getting to windward of FOST's Staff, or on the shores of Malta - in Disneyland, or whilst being arrested on the football fields of Bermuda - in just going a little faster so that the helicopter could take a better ship's photograph, or in taking his own with the lens cover on - surely even the leading hands have not had a harder job?

Who said he would like to be QHM, English Harbour?

Speaking of photographs, the Medical Officer's sunsets have been out of this world. He too can be up and about at that time of day. Only once has he failed in his profession and that was when trying to make himself see contact lenses were just not on. But he has been a remarkable doctor, a friend of everybody, and his scoring at cricket has only been surpassed by our "embryo" Observer.

The latter recently donned a second stripe (following the boxing on tradition) and although being pressed into observing, he has also excelled as a sportsman. (Some of his sporting observations would not bear printing). At outdoor sports he has been in every ship's team except soccer: and the wardroom must not talk about that in case the ship's XI challenge them. At indoor sports, he has been - just that.

Banana Boat Song Band

Calypso Time in the Caribbean, 1962.

However, our Colonial has really run the games - haven't we noticed how much slimmer it has made him? Give him his way and he would have navigated us around the islands following every first-class cricket match going. Besides cricket and morning stars, he likes PXs, bourbon, and do-it-yourself baby kits: he does not like potatoes nor pipe-smoking. Just now he is worried about the ETA of his Coastal in Sydney - musn't finish up in Hong Kong.

Almost a Colonial, but really from Cornwall, NOT Trellew in Argentina, is the young bullet-bosun. He has kept us entertained in many ways throughout two years, and has also been seen swiping flour for use as starch in the laundry. Perhaps his entertainment highlight came in Esquimalt, BC (this was British Columbia, not BC as opposed to AD). There, by sitting at the end of a telephone, he organised 176 up-homers in one weekend, surely a record for a small ship. And now he is off to train up lots more youngsters to fill Excellent's books (or is it to be Dryad's?). We wish him well.

SNOSC (SC for Stann Creek) - who is he? Snosk has lived in a frustrating burrow, typing and logging away at all hours of the day. He has been seen to come up for air in, obviously Stann Creek, and again to pronounce the end of the world whilst crossing the line (remember those arms), yet again to hide from anti-Fidelities, and he was seen in King City. Out from his methodical mind have come our previews of places yet to be visited: and from his library have come most of the better books going around the ship (One mess take note). This latter quite formidable side line is a hard one, but later commissions will yearn for "missile magazines" and paperbacks.

The second "Baby L" arrived in Bermuda, and on his very first hot day was scurrying around on a football field like a young rabbit. Perhaps "Big L" will not read this until it's too late, but the little 'un has also turned into a fine OOD.

That just about exhausts the list of young officers oh no, young Guns. Do you remember him as Captain of Patrica off Belize? That was the Navy he joined for, sending his intentions by signal, and nobody being able to deny him them "because we could not receive." The only shame then was that he neither had a saluting gun, nor guard, nor a shell hoist - these would have made him ecstatic with joy. And he would have us believe that his healthy glow comes from being Cable Officer in high winds - I think it's the worry about which anchor to use when he is told it will be either port or starboard!

And now the old 'uns. Dad and Son, Good and Bad, Grade I and Grade II, call them what we will (no, not quite), we cannot separate our two namesakes. Whilst the one is generating squiggly chips, the other is supplying sea-store fut-futs. Again whilst one looks after the guns, the other looks after the bridge - it's a topsy-turvy setup. But there is no doubt about it, that whatever has been going on in the ship, one of them has been bound to have a finger in the pie, and we would all be the worser off without them. Some finger, some pie!

Bermudan Banyan

Bermudan Banyan

Chief - that black marker of the upperdeck. But has he not sometimes remained flashed up just so that we can have water in our bubbly? We would never do without water. So don't let's be beastly to Chief. He remained native almost right up to the end and, in passing, he was number three of the three semi-permanent natives who planned his schedule on a production line basis. At the time of writing dare we say a full-power trial is due on the way home?

But before we go home we say farewell to Commodore Martin and his staff. Poor fellows, we are always ready to criticise authority but, by jove, they have given us some splendid runs for our money, have worked much harder and played equally hard. They also know what goes on in the Wardroom much better than we do, so 'nuf said. If any of you in the second commission read this, you are in very good hands in the West Indies.

Who is missing? Who kept us awake in the early days by sitting on the "fantail" throwing noisy things over Londonderry II's side? Who surveys the scene with arms akimbo and an angry scowl?

Some call him TT (short for a more endearing title) - remember how he knocked us all into shape at the final Kingston QBP. He also has a mighty boot on the football field and has organised party after party for the Wardroom on a fabulous basis. It has only been when he, in league with the Command, has organised party-games in the Ops Room - "Port 30, increase to 24 knots, midships, Starboard 30, where were we?" - that he got into the hair of Jim.

Jim's been trying to find hair to get into for years now. The trouble with him is that he fraternised with the natives so much whilst building that he forgot to include a barber's shop. But to his lot falls the unenviable task of making vaguely executive decisions and we are still ticking along - no more said. At any rale why must he be jealous of all our hair styles? I'm going to slap in to see someone at 0910.

Commander I Primrose The Captain's foreword to the HMS Londonderry end of commission book.

This is the tale of the first commission, our own personal log. It is a difficult job to try and condense two very full years into a few pages of print, and I would like to thank all those who have contributed to this task. Inevitably there is much more to tell, but the episodes concerned are the yarns that are best spun over a foaming tankard, yarns that improve with the telling as the years go by. It was ever thus.

It has been a successful commission. A commission as it should be, one that has had plenty of hard going, plenty of laughter, and packed with variety. As good as any ship could wish. May the "Derry" have many more.

Thank you all for making it such a success and taking a pride in whatever we have taken on. By all, I also include our wives who have had the hardest job of all, holding the fort at home until our return.

Au revoir, God bless, and may I wish you every happiness and success in the years ahead.

Ian Primrose
27th April, 1962

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