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1972 Tug-o-war in Gib.

I have checked this with the household authorities and Mrs Mango can remember me telling her the tale when I returned home - not immediately you'll understand - there were other priorities after ten months absence, but it does confirm that it's not my imagination.

Returning from the FES in early 1972 we made our customary call into Gib in company with upwards of a dozen other ships, mainly frigates, but I think possibly a couple of GMDs as well, and some bright spark (rumour had it that it was our Jimmy) dreamed up the idea of a Guinness Book of Records type, inter ship, tug-o-war. Memories of the ground rules are hazy, but suffice to say that a sizeable length of man made cordage was laid out on one of the long jetties, ships' PTIs suddenly became very active, and a series of pull offs commenced.
Again, details have faded with time, but the idea was to use a large part of each ship's company, so I guess there was upwards of 60 on each side. Whether it was the first and only pull I'm not sure, but someone who should have known better failed to allow for the elasticity of the rope, and whilst the losing team were still laying back on the rope after being pulled over the line, the winners, or most of them, threw up their hands in a gesture of triumph, leaving the stretched cordage to return to it's original length in double quick time. This would have been fine if everyone had let go of the rope at the same time, but a couple of lads at the end, still attached, were propelled violently along the jetty, at least one of them into a stray bollard. One, a steward from one of the frigates, was so badly injured that the pusser flew his parents out to sit by his bed in RNH.

Things went very quiet all of a sudden. The Guinness Book of Records was never mentioned again. I believe that there was an inquiry, but have never heard the outcome. The incident was not, to my knowledge, reported in the Plymouth press, nor the Navy News, and I have never, so far, met anyone who was there or who remembers the occasion, but, I am sure, there will be someone on Rum Ration who can enlighten me.

Standing by to be enlightened.
We sailed through the Straight in '72 on the Bulwark & verily, fuelled there. We heard the story for real & we understood the guy actually died.

I remember the cider induced buffooneries that evening when ashore & when said acident came up that night the general concensus was that at least it was just a steward!

Looking back, it was probably in bad taste but the term "P.C." was not around & we hated 'fags' like we hated civvies ...... !!

The story was true Mango but details evade me ..... I just remember being on a testosterone fulled run ashore (to wit, NO women were in evidence .... save some hairy splits!!) ....... & stuff ....

Will be watching this subject big time .....

Thanks MOO,
You've partly restored my faith in my few remaining brain cells. Hadn't heard before that the lad had died. Coincidentally had been invited over for a wet that day by my opposite number in the ship involved, but, at this distance, both his name and that of his ship have disappeared from my radar screen. I can, however, remember the very subdued atmosphere aboard. We were only in Gib for refuelling etc., and, of course, everyone was gearing up for the arrival back in Home Port and general service leave , so the topic tended to get less of an airing than it merited.
I'm sure that some of the old and bold on this website will come up with the full story as soon as their New Year festive hangovers have worn off. Hope so anyway.
2badge_mango said:
I'm sure that some of the old and bold on this website will come up with the full story as soon as their New Year festive hangovers have worn off. Hope so anyway.

Well they didn't, so I thought now might be a good time to revive the topic, hoping that someone who's memory stretches back to 1972 might have joined the site since I first posted.
Granny :?: :D

Hi Mango

I have certainly heard of this incident before and I well remember edicts coming out afterwards banning mass tug of war competitions using man made fibre ropes. Was there a gathering in the Med called Springtrain in those days? It might of been the post Springtrain mass run ashore (which as I recall had a heavy emphasis on inter ship sport) in Gib that was the occasion for the Intership TOW that ended in disaster.

Fcuk me same thing happened in Copenhagen with CHARYBDIS and WHITBY in 74 fecking towing Hawser and Shackle took the legs off a couple of guys, blood everywhere - another good wardroom wheeze

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