HMS GANGES ASSOCIATION
Newsletter No 63
November and December 2018
Welcome aboard everyone,
First things first, Merry Christmas to everyone from us all here in sunny Queensland
And yes its bloody hot!!!
Secondly, I want to thank everyone who has donated to Charlie’s Time – the GoFundMe page aimed at getting Charlie Greensmith the required chemotherapy he so badly needs, I have had emails from all over the world, and as of today (16DEC18) you have donated $3780 which is a great effort – but more on that later.
Now a tale (probably as tall as Ganges mast was) from one of our members – Mr Frank Chadwick
Recent trip to the UK taking in Ganges, by Frank Chadwick, Collingwood 43 Mess 1961 and his son Shane.
Wed 19 Sep – Cathay Pacific Flight 104 out of Melbourne for Hong Kong and London. The trip was suddenly upon us. I’ll pace myself this trip I said to myself in respect of my soon approaching 73rd birthday. Then I met my 36 year old son Shane at the airport he had already set up two irresistible, cold pints of Fifty Lashes, an all day breakfast and a big slap on the back reassuring me that everything would be just great. After all, we’re on holiday Dad, nothing can go wrong, go wrong..
Ten hours later, we were at the airport bar in Hong Kong downing a couple of equally irresistible, cold pints of San Miguel at $25 a pint, could you believe? I was reassured again by my son Shane that everything indeed would be alright – “we can sleep on the plane” he said. His wisdom was spot on. There was Severe Clear Air Turbulence for quite a long part of our crossing of the Gobi Desert of which I had no recollection. As the old song went “San Miguel, Chop Suey too – You’ll see thing that make you Sp**”.
Thu 20 Sep – Landed Gatwick. Whatever you do guys, avoid Gatwick at all costs, it’s full of very strange and foreign people and the duty free shop is a big disgrace – No Pussers!!! Fortunately, the immigration officer turned out to be a good bloke. Once he heard we were there for a Reunion of the EAGLE Communictions Division, he got all friendly, told us he was a ‘Bootneck’ and sent us quickly on our way to find our Motor Home which was to be our accommodation for the next 15 days.
Our drive from Heathrow (where the Motorhome was parked) to Lincoln (where the reunion was) was nothing but hair-raising. Rumbling through the narrow, congested streets of Greater London full of blokes in turbans, was nothing short of seat of your pants scariness. Shane did a great job of driving while I did the navigating with my eyes shut tight in the left hand seat.
Fri 21 Sep. The reunion was off to a swift flowing meet and greet at the beautifully genteel Woodcocks Inn just out of Lincoln. It had the air of a nice Country Club that had been besieged by a bunch of Rowdy Septuagenarian Teenagers to the amusement of the locals. The worse the language got, the bigger their smiles became and the louder they turned up the music on the jukebox. The main corps of Naval stalwarts were of course made up on Ganges Boys:-
Pincher Martin who organised the reunion. Ganges circa 62 Famous for his straight left to the chin, on the EAGLE. A massive effort on all fronts to organise such a memorable event
Dave Brighton. Ganges 61, Famous for leaving a perfect Pusser’s Iron brand on the bum of one Craig Thompson who was hassling him to get moving with the mess iron.
Chris Child. Ganges 62, Green Mansions and one time captain of the Ganges Rugby Team. When Chris talks, you listen respectfully. Now a true English Gentleman.
Chris Howard. Ganges Exmouth 323 class. 61. Quiet at Ganges, but did everything on the EAGLE including getting banned from the bridge by the captain for spilling a huge bag of peanuts all over the compass platform during the middle watch.
Alan Keenes. He visited my in Townsville years ago and when I rang him the night before to ask him what sort of beer he preferred, “Free” came the instant reply. A highly trained smooth talker who went on to become Ganges President, South Australia until they had to deport him back to the UK.
Dave Knott. Ganges circa 61-62. Rolled through his twelve in the navy with great ease making great mates wherever he went. Still the same.
Alan Langler. Ganges circa 62. Known as “Odd Job” on the EAGLE around the time of that James Bond movie because he looked kind of deadly dangerous. Still the same.
A few others, I suspect, but they have not replied to my email question about Ganges. I’ll take responsibility for having my arse kicked if necessary.
Pincher Martin took myself, Shane and Bungy Williams (Raleigh) for a two day cruise of the Orwell, from Fox’s Marina in Ipswich to Shotley Marina aboard his beautiful yacht ‘ Kiah’ Pincher and his wife had lived on the boat in the past for eleven years, so he knows what he’s doing at sea.
Only one rule aboard while the boat is underway – No Drinking – but oh my Christ, once she’s tied up alongside….. As we sailed the Orwell, it all looked unfamiliar. The port of Felixstow was totally unrecognisable, full of overstuffed container ships the size we never dreamed of back in the day of pulling those Whalers and Cutters up and down the river. The port of Harwich looked a lot quieter.
In the stream were moored a few of the old Light Ships quietly rusting away. The buzz is that they are hoping for a buyer to make them into floating restaurant’s one day. In the distance the old Mast hove into view. At that distance it looked like The Mast we all knew. Something inside said “Steady boys, steady.” As we lined up to enter the lock into the Shotley Marina, you could see where the old boat wharf used to be, but is no longer.
It’s all been sold for development and is just sitting alone waiting for that to happen right now. The Shotley Marina is now the home to the boats of a newer generation of people who have been lucky to have moved on from those austere days. Plenty of brass in some of them there boats, for sure. The old pubs that we were never allowed in along the foreshore are still there and doing a very good business by the looks of things. The people we talked to in the area all knew about GANGES and spoke with a fond respect of its history, achievements and of it’s passing into our memories.
We walked past what’s left of the steps Faith, Hope and Charity, round the corner to the Main Gate. Everything is locked and fenced with unfriendly warning signs telling all to get back or else. Security cameras everywhere, so you aren’t game to just leap over the fence for a quick shuftie, or you’ll wind up in the slammer.
The Mast is looking lonely and forlorn over the screening trees between, but you can still sense that powerful effect that it has had on all of us. The Mast might eventually disappear from the landscape, but those memories will stand forever in our minds.
We called into the pub on the way back and the local opinion ranged between, “It’s a national disgrace and they have to rebuild it’ to “Those developers don’t give a stuff and as soon as it gets to be a danger, they’ll just have to pull it down.” Take your pick. It’ll be one or the other.
One things for sure – It really is a national disgrace. The following morning, we visited the GANGES Museum where we spent a lot more time than we thought we would just looking at all the stuff from way back. The two blokes on duty were just great (forgot their names sorry). It really made you feel that you had lived a fortunate life to have had that stamped on your brain that would never go away no matter what you did in between.
My son Shane was awed by the movie they had of the Manning of The Mast. He watched it twice. Couldn’t believe we really did that. Especially to see the “Button” that they have in the Museum is actually that small and that our oppo, Pincher had actually stood on it as Button Boy and saluted to the minions below with only his balls gripping the lightning conductor in fear of his life.
We bade farewell to the guys at the Museum after buying stuff that you can’t get anywhere else in the world. We’ll wear it because we know it. Fortunately, the pub was only a short walk away where the locals were still giving us good wishes and good vibes when we spoke of GANGES. Gone, but not forgotten.
Sat 6 Oct. Landed Hong Kong via Cathay 252 for three days at the old YMCA Kowloon. It’s still run by them, but as a really good hotel these days. The view from our room was straight across the harbour to our old Naval Base, HMS TAMAR. The Red flag of the Chinese Military now flies over the old Commodore’s Block. My old home doesn’t look so friendly anymore. I lived there for two years 1970-72 when there were only 4 million people there. The city has exploded and looks to be three times the size of when I lived there. I don’t know how many people there are now, it’s busting at the seams. So it might be a good idea to get your grandchildren to learn Mandarin if they want a job in the new world in which they will have to live.
With best wishes to all you Boys from those Ganges days,
Drinking rum out of mugs in Shotley Marina
Bungy Williams (Raleigh) myself and Pincher Martin outside Ganges Main Gate with the crumbling remains of The Mast in the background.
In closing I’d like to mention what these fine men have done for the GoFundMe project that is currently underway for Charlie..
Frank donated (on behalf of Pincher Martin, Bungy Williams and CMDR Gilchrist (HMS EAGLE 1964 – 1966) a total of $134 AND footed the GOfundMe commission bill of $13.40 himself, Frank you and your UK shipmates are top blokes in my book, especially given that Pincher or CMDR Gilchrist have never met Charlie…
So in closing, on behalf on the entire GANGES Queensland Division, allow me to wish you and your families a very happy, merry Christmas, and a huge thank you to all the servicemen and women where ever they are this Christmas – stay safe until next year.
For those wishing to renew their membership the following details were provided by the Treasurer
Account is H.M.S.Ganges Association Queensland.
Westpac Capalaba 034080 380466.
Members $20.00. Associate members $5.
To contact Scotty
1 Harlequin Court
BURRUM HEADS Qld 4659
P.S. If you no longer wish to receive newsletters from sunny Queensland, please advise and I will remove your details from the list. Until we meet again, fair winds to you all..