Dad's Navy Days

Dad's Navy Days


There is a far more comprehensive site about HMS Gambia that I also write.

These pages were started in 1999 and were originally of the photos from my dad's photo albums. I started getting information from other people and that was also included. In 2003, Bill Hartland of the HMS Gambia Association contacted me about helping to start their own site. The site that Bill put together disappeared in 2014, so in 2016, I decided to remake it.

"Dad's Navy Days" is still being updated but anything new about HMS Gambia, unless it concerns the content already here, is being added to the HMS Gambia site.

In March 2001, I received an email from It appears that "Our editors have selected your site as one of the best military sites on the Web. recognizes your website as a valued resource for the military community. We salute you and your efforts. In appreciation, we would like to present you with our Distinguished Military Site Award." award

When I was a child every now and again we (my sisters, brother and I) were allowed to look at our dads collection of photos taken whilst he was in the Royal Navy. He died on 13th July 1994 and the collection came to me. Looking through them now I realise that they are important documents, both in terms of what they show and what they stand for. They were important to dad in the fact that these are the only photos that he kept as a collection. Even photos of us, his children, are now scattered around the family or lost, but the "Navy Days" pictures, several hundred of them, are still complete and in their original albums nearly 50 years after they were taken.

All of the photos cover the period he spent on HMS Gambia (1950 - 1952) and HMS Warrior (1953 - 1955). I've split them roughly into three for both ships:- the ships, his mates and other personalities and the places they visited. For HMS Warrior I've also included a section on the planes - some of the photos of which are truly amazing.

Apart from small notes in the albums none of the photos are documented or even dated. Where possible I've included some background information as to what is happening.

I can't thank the people who have contributed to these pages over the years enough. Without them, these pages would not be what they are.

In November 2000, I received an email from Mr. Tony Pearce who was one of the two meteorologists on board HMS Warrior during the Korean cruise. He supplied me some very useful information about the cruise and also told me of the two official photographers, Kingsley Jones and Norman Ford, who were also on board and took many of the photographs. I also received an email from Mr. Carlos Rufino from Argentina, who gave me information and photographs of ARA Independencia.

In October 2001, I received an email from Mr. Steven McAllister. His Grandad Alan "Striker" Goodwin served on HMS Gambia from 30th December 1949 to 29th September 1952. My thanks to Steven for permission to put the information and photographs he provided onto these pages.

In November 2001, I received an email from Mr. Ray Holden, he served on HMS Liverpool and provided a picture of HMS Kenya as well as some very useful information. Ray also provided the information for the Spithead 1953 and HMS Chevron pages.

In January 2002, I received an email from Mr. Des Johnson who had information regarding the sinking of the Breconshire. I also received an email from Mr. Paul Stanley who kindly the supplied the photograph of the "Stirring of the Christmas Pudding" from 1955, and which can be found on the Gambia Crew pages.

I can't thank Mr. Vic Flintham enough for naming the aircraft that appear on the HMS Warrior pages. Vic writes the Post-war Military Aviation site.

In January 2003, Mr. Victor Driussi of Argentina sent me more photographs of ARA Independencia.

In november 2019, Taff Webb sent some nice photos of HMS Warrior's 1954 cruise.

HMS Gambia Association - This site ran from 2003 to 2014 and was a great resource. Most of it is still available on the Wayback Machine Internet Archive. I have rewritten that site and that can now be found at HMS Gambia.

Dads Royal Navy Service:

Dad was born on 21st October 1930 and volunteered for 12 years service in the Royal Navy on 3rd February 1948, he was accepted for Special Service, whatever that was, and started training on 13th May.

In November 2001, Ray Holden very kindly sent a photograph of HMS Kenya (which appears on Other RN Ships) and the following information:-

"If your father was Special Service then he signed for seven years with the Fleet and five years in the RNR always on immediate call. Duncan Sands the defence minister in about 1958 gave everyone in the RNR a voluntary discharge but placed them in another reserve the only difference was that we didn't get paid the princely sum of one shillings and sixpence a week which we got in RNR."

Ray also introduced me to the Kemble Kollection, a site about the Royal Navy and WWII which now be found at 39-45 War (Internet Archive).

In May 2012, Paul Plumley kindly sent the following information...

Firstly, the S. S., If that was part of his official number, then it meant short service. Not that seven years is a short time. It meant that you signed on for seven years with the Fleet and five years with the Fleet Reserve. For example, I joined the Service at the age of 15 as a Boy Seaman. But I had actually signed to complete 12 years with the Fleet from the age of 18. When we reached the age of 18, we were given the opportunity to change our signing on period to the short service period. I took advantage of this, not with any particular wish at that time to leave but as a possible "get out" if you like. When I joined, I was allocated to the Devonport division, so my official number read, Devonport. J X 123456. This indicated that I was a junior rating. Once I changed my contract my official number changed in the middle to Devonport SSX 123456. When I left the Service at the age of 25 I received a letter shortly after de-mob telling me that the Admiralty was overborne in the Leading Seaman category and that my services would not therefore be required. This was a bit of a blow at the time because the retainer was if I remember correctly, £100 a year with two weeks annual training, for which your employer had to release you, in addition to your holiday entitlement the time served as a Boy Seaman was not counted towards the man's service. But, I can tell you Ray, as far as I'm concerned it was 10 years service.

The HMS Orion your father referred to Ray, was by the time he served there, the Reserve Fleet. You are quite correct in believing the original HMS Orion was a cruiser, but it was in fact scrapped in 1949. The name was taken to apply to the whole of the Reserve Fleet in Devonport dockyard and the operation was run from two ships berthed at the Saltash end of the dockyard. The monitor HMS Roberts was the admin headquarters with HMS Dodman Point berthed alongside her for our accommodation. Dodman Point was an old depot ship. Usually, a draft chit to the Reserve Fleet meant that you were waiting for another seagoing ship, or indeed another foreign commission. In my case, I came back from 18 months on the South Atlantic Station in a frigate, working out of Simonstown naval base. We return to Plymouth in August of 1956, but instead of paying off and being distributed around the Fleet, our ship HMS Magpie was sent to Harwich to star as HMS Amethyst in the film "Yangtse Incident." So I joined Orion about December of 1956 and by August 1957 I started another 18 months foreign commission in the Mediterranean.

From his Certificate of Service he trained on HMS Royal Arthur, Raleigh and Drake as a stoker, from there he went to HMS Wrangler as Stoker Mechanic in 1949, joining HMS Gambia in 1950 for two years. In 1953 he joined HMS Warrior, becoming an Engineering Mechanic. He also spent nearly a year, between his time on HMS Gambia and HMS Warrior, on HMS Orion, but I've got no information on this at all except that like HMS Gambia she was a cruiser.

His time was spent with the Mediterranean and Far Eastern Fleet, as a result he visited most of the Southern European nations, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Sicily, Germany and Austria, the countries along the Adriatic coast - obviously not Yugoslavia (it was communist) but Greece, Crete and Malta. Through the Suez Canal to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Around the Indian Ocean to Pakistan and India, Ceylon (Sri Lankra) and Thailand. Into the Pacific and the Sea of Japan for Hong Kong, Korea, Vietnam and Japan. He also took the long way around Africa, Crossing the Line on the way round the Cape.

He became a Royal Navy Swimming Instructor in 1951, got his first Good Conduct badge on 21st October 1952 and on 20th July 1955 received the UN Korea and Korean medals for his service there.

Although he signed up for twelve years, defence cuts meant his service was reduced and he was discharged from service on 21st October 1955 having spent very nearly 7 and a half years in the Royal Navy.

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