Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A letter to the Navy News

(Above) The gun crew of HMS Sapphire

A valued friend of mine, Hedley Crago often sends me some wonderful letters written in good humour and full of insight into the everyday life of a sailor serving in the RNPS (Harry Tate’s Navy). This week’s letter was no exception and he also included a copy of an email he sent to the Navy News.

I have included Hedley’s email to the Navy News editor below:

Sir

I read with interest the plan to paint warships grey/green instead of Pussers 'CrabFat'. I was in the Royal Naval Patrol Service during the 1939/45 war and served on an armed Asdic fishing trawler, escorting convoys. Many of these trawlers were requisitioned along with their crews, and fishermen are probably the most superstitious group you will ever meet.

The colour green was a particular no-no. If somebody brought back from leave a lovingly knitted pullover, hat or scarf, it would mysteriously disappear. Nobody would wear anything green or allow anything to be colourd green.

Other superstitions were - sailing on Friday, mentioning rabbits (let alone eating one!), passing salt from hand to hand, whistling, passing a mug through an open window, allowing women on board, predicting an event (it would never happen), and sleeping head to stem. On my first night on board HMS Sapphire the only space I could find to 'sling' (my hammock) was head to stem. Howls of protest and prophecies of doom! I ignored them. That night there was an air raid on the port. A bomb dropped in the sea by the side of the ship. No harm was done, but it was my fault. They warned me - didn't they? I had very nearly got all of them killed. But I got my sling in a good place the next night.

(Crab Fat - the colour of an ointment used for a genital complaint).

Hedley Crago (ex Telegraphist)
Hemel Hempstead

2 Comments:

Blogger Boabbie said...

HI NICK I WOULD LOVE TO READ MORE OF HEDLEY'S EPISTLES. I HAD A LOOK ON HARRY TATES BUT NO LUCK. SO GET CRACKING EVEN EDITED HIGHLIGHTS WOULD BE GOOD.

Thursday, 16 August, 2007  
Blogger Nick Clark said...

Hedley has some great stories and he’s also the press officer for the Royal Naval Patrol Service Association which means that through his efforts the history of the RNPS wont be forgotten

Hedley is an intelligent men as well as a good writer but quite humble when it comes to his own story. Needless to say I’ve tried to get him to add his own memories to the Harry Tates web site and I haven’t given up yet!

I'll be adding some more snippets from servicemen soon. Over the last six or so years, I have had the privilege to meet several gentlemen that served with ‘Harry Tates Navy’ of which some I can now call my friends. However, none of them of course are getting any younger and it was only last June I lost my good friend, writer and broadcaster Jimmy Brown. He left me some great articles and letters and always told me I could use anything of his so watch this space….

Thanks for your interest.

Nick.

Thursday, 16 August, 2007  

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