|Lt Cdr Donal Scott McGrath RN (2 May 1925 - Jan 1926)
Lt.Cdr. Michael Wentworth Ewart-Wentworth, RN (15 June - 10 Oct 1939)
Lt.Cdr. John Malcolm Rodgers, RN (10 Oct 1939 - 5 Jul 1940)
situation in Europe was becoming rather volatile. Germany had already
began rearming at an alarming rate and was producing U-boats as fast as
possible and also producing bomber and fighter aircraft, all contrary
to previous international treaties and conditions and so led to my
introduction to the V&Ws.
about 0200 on a Saturday in September 1938 I was sleeping in my hammock
in 5GG mess R.N.B. Chatham when I was aroused by someone switching on
the lights. It was an R.P.O, who was calling out a list of names
and asking each one "Can you ride a Bike?" On receiving an affirmative,
he was instructed to report to the main gate where he would be sent
round on a bicycle delivering call up messages to reservists in the
Medway. One wit, hoping perhaps to avoid the task replied "No", only to
be told to report to the main gate where he would have to walk round
delivering call up messages.
switching off the lights the R.P.O. informed us that, due to the Munich
crisis the Fleet was being mobilised, and that most of us would be
drafted to ships that day. So much for the short week end leave that I
was expecting. That day in the barracks was one of watching and
waiting. Watching the huge notice boards that had been placed in the
drill shed and trying to find out which ship you had been sent to. I
eventually found my name, I was posted to Whirlwind,
a V&W destroyer. It was then a question of waiting, waiting until
about 1600 hrs when, after much hanging around, we were marched to the
dockyard to join Whirlwind. I was then an AB SG and was allocated to
number two mess, top division, trainer of 'B' gun, and "Captain of the
Heads" (toilets), a very privileged job, or so I thought until I saw
them. They were in a terrible state and to put it crudely stunk! The
ship had been in reserve for many years and I do not think that any
work had been done in the heads during that time.
first night we stored ship and the following day went to Shore Reach to
ammunition. We then went to Portsmouth and spent the next few
days at sea doing all the commissioning exercises. Whenever
possible I worked in the Heads, and got them up to a reasonable
standard to satisfy myself and the chief of the mess decks. One bonus
was that I had my own "Caboosh". There were two toilets marked, C.&
P.O's and a third one with no marking. I decided that this one was
spare and I rigged up a nice little den for myself with photographs, a
line for my dhobying and other personal items. I had the best caboosh
in the ship. Alas it came to an end one day whilst at sea when the
Captain appeared in the galley flat and asked where his sea heads was.
It was my caboosh. He naturally exploded when he opened the door and
saw my dhobying hanging there. That was it for me. I lost my Captaincy
and was back working part of ship.
The commission only lasted for about a month, following Neville Chamberlain's return from Munich waving a piece of paper saying "Peace in our time". We paid off and it was back to R.N.B.