A Salute at a Naval Review

I was tempted to post this at "To salute or not to salute....." Are midshipmen to be saluted? At http://www.navy-net.co.uk/Forums/viewtopic/t=29476.html

but then decided that it merited a place here rather than risk it becoming lost amongst the crayonning there.

A salute at the Torbay Queens Colour Presentation Review

On the eve of this Review in '69 our Cinderella leave expired at Haldon Pier Torquay where a pair of Fleet Tenders were parked to ferry the returning libertymen to their vessels at anchor in Torbay.

Earlier that evening the wind had increased, naturally inducing not an inconsiderable swell. So coming alongside each ship became increasingly fraught; but all of the skimmers, and eventually the conventional submariners too, were decanted safely back aboard.

Not so for those on the Tender trying to return us to Warspite & Valiant, our two SSNs being anchored off furthest – ‘Nuclear Safety’. Despite several valiant efforts (please forgive that irresistible pun) the Tender skipper had to wrap it all in and returned us to the harbour pier. (Some of us were fortunate enough to slumber fitfully on the bench seats aboard the Tender but others just had to crash out in sea-side deckchairs; exposed to the elements at the adjacent pavilion).

At daybreak on the day of the race the Tender ferry service resumed for the other RN vessels but it was still unsafe to come alongside the SSNs and here this salute story cuts in:

In between these early morning trips our small group of submariners (still in Nos. 1s, but by then looking somewhat unkempt and unwashed/unshaven) were milling around at the seaward end of the pier. In the distance we espied a pair of Midshipmen, all pink & shiny, marching towards us in step (well I remember that at least one of them was in step). As they drew nearer we had already decided ‘Yes! - Chop ‘em one off!’ So in unison, we sprang to attention, chorussing a polite ‘Good Morning, Gentlemen’.

But, as they passed us by, our nearest submariner to them was this tall, rubbery-limbed, two-badge specimen of a fore-endy. Being of the S/M specialisation he had long been sheltered from untoward exposure to these youthful Adonai - although apparently he recalled that some formal gesture was the rightful due of this strange, white-patched tribe. He therefore decided to venture far beyond that basic mode which had always been the preference of those long-forgotten, stiff-necked, red-faced, whistle-blowing Parade GIs from somewhere in his distant past.

Anyway, Badges smartly removed his cap and laid it out as an offering before these Middies. He then proceeded to prostrate himself at their feet: Down low on his knees, arms outstretched, he raised and lowered them many times - All the while wailing loudly, but humbly, his personal tributes to these vastly superior beings.

Having been delivered of the best salutes ever offered by those assembled, (albeit from the scruffiest bunch of S/M JRs & SRs) those two poor virgin Middies did indeed return them; self-consciously blushing and farting throughout as only those of their ilk are able.

Hey Ho - They probably retired as full Admirals and are still dining out on this story even today.

Should anyone here know of a finer display of respect I would be delighted to hear of it and hence suffer the inevitable visit of the dreaded black cat.



The Review? What Review?

We couldn’t get back aboard at all that forenoon so we dispersed ashore then saw Her Majesty review our Fleet, (minus us) all the time cheering gleefully, on the Torquay sea-front Pub’s TV.

We finally returned aboard that evening, well merry and just in time for TOT Mismusters AND Splicers; we then later received subsistence alowance for our overnight inconvenience and time spent ashore. Tough or what?

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