HMS Cambridge Revisited

Visited the old site of HMS Cambridge near Wembury in Devon last year. It's now owned by the National Trust and I can see why. Have great memories of times spent there but was too young and busy to appreciate its beauty. A cracking piece of coastline now being cared for by the National Trust thank goodness. Glad that building developers never got hold of the site but I really wish that there was something of the old place left as some form of monument to its previous history.
Anyone else remember HMS Cambridge?

See HMS Cambridge Remembered in photo gallery.
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I had 3 drafts there between ships as maintainer for 4.5" Mk6 and Mk8.
Absolutely loved it. It was like having your 4.5 section on board ship but without any of the extra stuff - (magazine sprays, small arms, 3"RLS etc.).
Work was fun, so was the SR mess.
The view overlooking Wembury Bay from my cabin window was pretty good too :)
My first experience of the Flyplane 5 gunnery control system, fore-runner of MRS3, was as a cadet in the Type 12 frigate HMS Scarborough in the Dartmouth Training Squadron. During pre-deployment gunnery serials in the FOST exercise areas off Portland, I was entrusted with the TTB (Target-Triggered Burst) push. Closed up in the TS (Transmitting Station), I held this in my hand and, under the watchful eye of one of the infamous Mullen brothers, I pressed the button with my thumb (surprisingly often) as each TTB occurred, thus registering a mark on the records. Ah, Box 10 and the Tall Boy. Those were the days.

HMS Torquay had the same system and, as one of her midshipman the following year, I was made GDO(Vis) (Gunnery Direction Officer (Visual)) and sent to HMS CAMBRIDGE for the appropriate course. Standing on the GDP (Gunnery Direction Platform) perched on the draughty cliffs at Wembury, I shouted "Alarm Aircraft!" with the best of them as I peered at the aircraft-towed Rushton target through the 275 binocular sight. A fellow student expressed his concern to the G.I. that he might be rendered permanently unfit to procreate by the radiation emanating from the 275 radar director immediately behind us.

"Don't worry Sir. That's the receiving nacelle," came the reassuring response.
"So it could suck me in?" was my concerned colleague's reply.​

Whenever the range at Wembury was fouled, the supervisors gave the order, "Check, check, check! Train on the Mew." On one occasion when this order was given, the following exchange took place:

"State of guns?"
"Right gun empty, left gun half-cock."

We then watched in astonishment as a family appeared over the crest of the Mewstone and settled down for a picnic, oblivious of the fact that, a couple of miles away, a fuzed 4.5" 'brick' was up the spout and pointed straight at them.

I put my GDO(Vis) training into practice soon afterwards. As I stood on the GDP for hours on end in dismal freezing conditions, again in the FOST areas, the MEO took great delight in calling me on the sound-powered phone periodically to ask whether the pre-wetting was working effectively.

Torquay was the first ship fitted with CAAIS (Computer-Assisted Action Information System) DBA1 driven by a Ferranti FM1600B mainframe using punched paper tape. This afforded everyone with a JHA console access to the same action information. During a particular surface shoot, a FOST Staff Officer asked for the target's course and speed and was most put out when his question was answered by a LS(FC1) in the GDR (Gunnery Direction Room) corner of the Ops Room, instead of the Gunnery Officer. The age of computers and distributed information had definitely arrived but some people just weren't ready for it yet.
1960/61 after Ganges. Not long enough to appreciate anything except the NAAFI wagon bird in a sort of shed and a CPO who thumped me for not following the target on an outdated piece of crap. It didn't matter it was our first day and first time of seeing this huge cabinet. Anyway I told him next time he thumped me I would lay him out which seemed to satisfy him. Went back 1963 prior to joining HMS Diana, two weeks of fun. Sad to see it gone, but like Excellent ranges no need now we don't have any big bangy things.
I had 3 drafts there between ships as maintainer for 4.5" Mk6 and Mk8.
Absolutely loved it. It was like having your 4.5 section on board ship but without any of the extra stuff - (magazine sprays, small arms, 3"RLS etc.).
Work was fun, so was the SR mess.
The view overlooking Wembury Bay from my cabin window was pretty good too :)
I had just the one draft there between leaving a 21 and joining a 23 in build.
Red System (BFCT) maintainer.
During the summer we used to walk down to the local beaches on a lunchtime for a quick dip.
As said above by Ballistic, brills having your own section without all the extra rubbish to get in the way.
And yes, the SR mess was fun - even with a 5 mile drive (luckily the wife didnt drink in those days!)
Well I was thinking of the Cat Class cruisers, Darings, Battles, CA, CO class multi-turreted 4.5, 6 inch guns. I know times change but still sad that all we have left are a fraction of what once was It seems successive governments have watered down the navy, but hey-ho, all be the same in a hundred years.


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As a young man, yes even I was young once, I was the last Caterer of the Gunnery School in HMS Drake. When the School left for HMS Cambridge I stayed to help close down the Gunnery School. I then went to Cambridge prior to draft to HMS Lion. Later on I served on HMS Cavalier. She had Flyplane 5 with a Mk6m Director. I was the TS Sweeper. That was 57/59. In 1966, after qualifying as GI, my first draft was to HMS Cambridge. As no-one else had any experience with Flyplane 5 it was handed over to me. The RED system, tucked away at the end of the Control block. I was there for three years. I had a systems Officer who, when we first met, admitted that he did not understand how the system worked. He said to me 'You run it, I'll stand by the Check Fire Bell'. For me a very satisfactory arrangement. I next returned in 1971 as a CPOGI and took on Blue system. MRS8. In 73ish I took over as MRGPOGI, don't you just love initials, there I stayed until I retired in 1974. So you can see that HMS Cambridge is a memory of years of pleasure for me. It is sad to visit now, no longer a vital place in the RN. Hated by a few, but loved by lots . " When I blow my whistle you stand still and be silent".... (The Power :mad:) Still have that whistle, tried it on the wife, strange, it seems to have lost its power! I'll stop now before the tears flow.
As a WAFU I didn't know the place. However I got there when I left the RN and Joined BAe as afield engineer. Had a couple of trips when working with sea archer and GSA8
I was there early 70 doing the baby gunners course, back again for some reason in 73ish where I was informed I was a credit to the navy..the russian fekin navy! for pointing out that "check check check" could not be heard by the guns (4.5 Mk6) crew while wearing gas masks, happy days indeed.

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