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Action Stations

Apr 23, 2024 | Tales from Asia

 

‘Sailors are the only class of men who nowadays see anything like stirring adventure; and many things to which fireside people appear strange and romantic, to them seem as commonplace as a jacket out at elbows’.

‘Typee’, Herman Melville 1846

 

Chris ‘Spider’ Webb was born during the Second World War, joined the Royal Navy after school and retired in 1984. He saw active service during the Indonesian Confrontation (1963 – 1966) and has been in the Philippines for over 40 years. Chris lives on a hill above Puerto Galera overlooking the Verde Island Passage. I first met him in the Big Apple Dive Resort enjoying his fish and chips. The geisha tattoo with ‘Hong Kong’ scroll on his left forearm and palm tree with ‘Malaya’ on his right said there was a story to be told.

Action Stations is an announcement made aboard a naval warship to signal that all hands must go to battle stations as quickly as possible.

 

Chris you’ve sailed the seven seas and travelled to 68 countries. I’m interested in your stories about the Far East because that’s something most sailors won’t experience now.

Yeah it was a different navy then, great times. We had a Far East fleet based at Singapore from the 1950s until 1971.

What was your childhood like before you joined the navy?

I was born in Islington North London during the war and evacuated to Scotland with my mum and older sister. Dad was a policeman at Tottenham. When the war broke out he tried to join the navy but was rejected because he was in a reserved occupation. Lucky really, all his classmates joined up and every single one died on the Atlantic convoys.

When I was nine Dad got rated sergeant. They sent him to Feltham Magistrates Court and we moved into a brand new police house at Sunbury on Thames. Yeah, good days, not a lot of money but at least he had a regular job. We never went hungry

I was always interested in the navy and when I was twelve I joined the Walton & Hersham Sea Cadets. They taught us an awful lot but for me the most important was morse. Douglas Reeman the famous author of navy stories was my teacher, a really nice guy. When I joined up the rest of the class at HMS Ganges spent six months getting to the speed I was at.

When did you join the navy?

RNRECRUITINGYou could leave school then at 15, but I had to get my parents to sign the papers. I told my teacher Mr Fields at Kenyngton Manor that I was going to join the navy as a radio operator. He’d been a radio operator in the war. He said you don’t know trigonometry no chance! I never touched trigonometry all the time I was in the navy!

I wasn’t academic at school. My favourite subjects were geography and history that’s why I joined up. You learn about all these rivers in Africa and I wanted to see them. I failed the entrance test by two points. The old chiefs at the recruiting office said you’re a sea cadet and it’s always been your dream to join the Royal Navy? I said yeah absolutely I can do morse twelve words a minute. Then they said oh and your fathers a sergeant in the police – in you go son!

I was 15 years 4 months old when I went to HMS Ganges shore establishment for training. The place was hard as nails worse than being in prison my Dad said. Most did 9-12 months but 18 months for radio operators. Probably the best branch, the more intelligent got in. I was there from June 1959 to September 1960.

At school I mucked around but not at Ganges not the way they taught you. If you did something wrong like fighting or stealing you got ‘cuts’ – whipping just like in the old days aboard ship The doctor examined you then they used a very thin cane on your backside – cruel, very cruel, yeah they could do what they bloody well liked then.

I was a good swimmer but those that couldn’t swim just got thrown in the deep end and fished out with a pole till they could. We had boxing three minutes each round. I’d fought before in the Sea Cadets and won the first two. That was stupid I had to go a third round with a big lad from Scotland. I got on alright actually, didn’t get bullied kept my mouth shut and learnt what they taught us.

Your first ship was the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious out to the Far East. How was that experience?

When we passed out our chief says right this is what we’ve got; a ship down in the West Indies wants two sparkers, there’s another one in South Africa, three in the Mediterranean want such and such and an aircraft carrier wants four. It all sounded so wonderful and I said where’s the carrier going? oh probably around the world. Put me down then and I got it! I joined HMS Victorious in December 1960 and we sailed a week later. We’d only done one week of sea training at Ganges and I was 16 years old.

HMS VICTORIOUS

HMS Victorious, Hong Kong 1961 (Source: Imperial War Museum)

Down at Portsmouth I got on the wrong aircraft carrier before finding Victorious. There was nowhere allocated to sleep so I grabbed a bunk. At 0600hrs I got a shake from the owner who was very helpful and sorted me out. The message from the chief said report to the bridge wireless office at 0800hrs after breakfast. My first time on a carrier couldn’t find the bridge! got there about ten past nine. The chief said got lost did you son? he was alright.

The Communications Department was 72 hands. The Chief Radio Supervisor had four Radio Supervisors all Petty Officers, one in the office with the chief, one in cryptography – radio encryption, one for Ultra High Frequency (UHF) and one High Frequency (HF). Our first port was Gibraltar, then Cape Town delivering new currency for the South African Government, Mombassa, Trincomalee then Singapore. The ship needed a month’s maintenance and refit. I had nothing to do onboard so went to RAF Changi as a Junior Radio Operator.

Onboard ship you watch keep; four watches if there are no problems in the world, two if there’s something going on. Singapore was fantastic we were on tropical routine; seven in the morning till twelve then off for the day.

Singapore was a lot wilder then nothing like today?

Yeah we used to go the Britannia Club run by the NAAFI opposite Raffles Hotel. Everyone started off there and sometimes stayed, they had a great bar and swimming pool. Anyhow a fight broke out, someone was taking the piss out of the French sailors with red bobbles on their hats. Next thing someone put a rattan chair over my back. I hobbled out and got a cab to the dockyard. The drivers then were all Sikhs. I was in the back and just outside Nee Soon camp he stopped and said you ok? just want to check you’ve got your money, can you show me? next thing he went boom, boom punched me in the face, pulled me out of the taxi and chucked me down a monsoon drain. I got picked up by a Royal Navy shore patrol. Welcome to Singapore! I think that was my first night in town.

BUGIS ST

Sailors mobbed in Bugis Street, Singapore. (Source: David Ayres flickr)

Outside the dockyard was Sembawang village – a strip of bars and cafes like the Melbourne and the Nelson which is still running. I stopped there to get my big eats, they did a good egg and bacon banjo. The ‘Vill’ we used to call it, ask any Far East sailor. Two older killicks (Leading hands) took me downtown to the winky wanky bar somewhere near Arab St and Bill Bailey’s on Collyer Quay – the famous old guy who never went home.

Bill Baileys

A run ashore. Bill Bailey’s Coconut Grove once had five bars and three dance floors. According to Bill the famous song about not going home was written in the 1870s long before he was born.

We had some local leave and the Leading Radio Operators cleared it with the chief to go hitchhiking around Malaya. It was just after the Malayan Emergency and we had to report to a police station every day. I remember riding on the back of a flower lorry and sleeping on straw mats in a Sikh temple. We only got as far as Malacca before heading back.

My first time to Hong Kong I was working in the crypto office when we sailed into Victoria Harbour. I had the morning watch and decrypted a SECRET signal from The Ministry of Defence – ‘HMS Victorious will not enter Hong Kong. Diverted forthwith to Kuwait’. I went for breakfast and all the lads wanted to change their money before going alongside. I thought no you’re bloody not! That’s why they say always get the buzz from the sparkers! We turned around and did thirty knots all the way to Kuwait.

Kuwait had just got independence but it was still a British protectorate and this Iraqi General was threatening to invade. Operation Vantage it was called. In all the heads they had pictures of Russian planes for recognition. Our planes were doing day and night bombing runs. We did about 6-8 weeks. When it calmed down we sailed to Mombassa.

Then I finally made it to Hong Kong. You ever seen the film ‘The World of Suzie Wong’? it looked just like that. It was a busy time, a lot of radio traffic but we had some good runs ashore. Bumboats took us to the China Fleet Club. They had accommodation, cheap beer and a great steak, egg and chips. I was underage then not allowed overnight shore leave, had to be onboard by 2359 hrs. For the rum ration ‘tot’ you had to be twenty but it was still served until 1970. That visit we didn’t have much money for sightseeing just stuck to the fleet club with a few trips down the Wanch.

CFC (1)

The China Fleet Club, Hong Kong located at 38 Gloucester Road, Wanchai from 1933-1982. (Source: David Ayres flickr)

Hang on I’ve missed something out. Before Kuwait we sailed into Subic Bay for a big exercise with the yanks called PONY EXPRESS. They were playing enemy and 6000 SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organisation) troops ‘assaulted’ British North Borneo supported by all the ships and aircraft. The chief said you’re going on attachment to the USS Ticonderoga. We sailed out of Subic and that was a real eye opener, the yanks couldn’t believe what I knew. They had a different person to send morse and receive it, unbelievable and I said yeah I can do cryptography and I’m cleared to SECRET level. I was still only seventeen.

SubicbaybaseSubic was the biggest honky tonk town in the world, absolute wild west. Three British carriers Victorious, Centaur, Albion, the Australian carrier Melbourne and five American carriers were there plus all the cruisers, destroyers and frigates. The bars started across the shit river where the kids dived for pesos. They were mixed bars and we drank with the Filipinos. They wore sombreros and had bolo knives and guns on their belts. They used to hang the gun belts outside. Saturday nights there were shoot outs but no one got killed – the guns were all homemade. I thought I could live in this country one day! it reminded me of over the Mexican border in those Clint Eastwood movies. It was just like that. I didn’t notice any racial segregation then but was told later the US carriers had no go areas. The yanks create their own problems. We never had any racial problems on any ships I served on.

A year away then we sailed home for Christmas stopping at Mombassa, Aden, Suez, Malta and Gibraltar. Mum and Dad came to meet me, I had a pocketful of money. It was a lovely feeling to be home.

After leave I was drafted to the Admiralty in Whitehall. There was a big Communications Centre (COMCEN) where the Churchill War Rooms are now. That was a horrible job working all night. We never stopped, messages coming in from all around the world.

How did you get back to sea?

I put in to go back to the Far East then got a draft to HMS Mercury, RN Signals School, to do the Radio Operator 3 to Radio Operator 2 course. Then I joined HMS Lion a light cruiser in Plymouth. Me and a mate were in a pub in Brighton when it came over the news that all personnel from HMS Lion were to report immediately sailing for an unknown destination. This was the Cuban missile crisis. We were mucking around in the Atlantic thinking there was going to be a war with Russia. When Khruschev backed down we sailed for the med.

I was in the bridge wireless office, my job was listening out on 500 kHz the international distress frequency. The FM12 receiver was mainly used for navigational direction finding but could be used to get a bearing on a ‘target’ including a vessel in distress. A radio operator could go fifty years without receiving an SOS – three short, three long, three short but I picked up the SS Canberra whose engine room had caught fire and needed assistance.

In the Red Sea I received another SOS! from a merchant ship that we ended up towing for ten days. That got us out of an exercise in the Gulf and I was a hero to all the lads – good old Spider!

In Singapore the ship was in refit so I asked the chief to put me down for the Leading Radio Operator’s course at Kranji even though I was only nineteen. Most of the others on the course were around twenty four. There was no communications work onboard during the refit so I went to HMS Simbang (naval airfield) near HMS Terror (accommodation barracks) as the Chief Petty Officer’s messman. I had to cook breakfast, had all these eggs in a saucepan didn’t know which was which soft boiled or hard boiled. When there was no comms work you sometimes got good jobs.

The second time in Hong Kong I was old enough to get a room at the China Fleet Club. Woke up once, nice day a bit windy, someone said they were looking for you last night the ships sailed this morning. A typhoon was rolling in, can’t remember the name. I saw a block of flats collapse in a mudslide once as we sailed in. I went over to HMS Tamar and the officer on duty said do what you like, report when your ship’s back. Wonderful time in Hong Kong!

LIBERTYCUFFS

Liberty cuffs or South China sea dragons. A navy tradition of sewing embroidered patches under their uniform cuffs that were turned up on leave.

After that we went to Nagasaki, Japan on a goodwill visit. We could sail straight to any emergency in the area, policemen of the sea really.

I was in uniform and these kids came up in their sailor suits about ten years old – Excuse me sir can we practice English? we learn your history I can tell you all the Tudor Kings and Queens, Henry VIII’s wives and all that. The Japanese felt they had a lot in common with the British; island nation, royal family and their navy was based on ours.

In Kobe a bartender tried to cheat me and my mate said we hadn’t paid for a bottle of vodka. There was nearly a fight so I called a policeman and we ended up in night court. Said our bit through the interpreter and the magistrate ruled in our favour. The navy police said what are we going to do with the vodka? Lets drink it now before going onboard. The interpreter said good idea that’s a nice drop of Russian vodka so we all went up to roof of the magistrate’s court. The magistrate was very friendly knew my dad was a policeman, we had a good laugh and a joke.

After Japan we sailed for Australia through the Sunda Straits that separate Java and Sumatra. The Indonesian President Sukarno said HMS Lion will not pass, if she attempts it we will blow her out of the water. Our Captain – McGeogh was his name had one eye and been on submarines during the war. He said ‘I’ve only got one thing to say lads – let them bloody try!’ He was a real warmonger, loving it. We went through at night nothing happened.

The Vietnam War was escalating during this period. How did it affect you?

Oh I missed out Saigon! We went to Saigon on the Lion, fly the flag, show some support for the yanks. Saigon was a beautiful city, very French, nice food. We were part of SEATO and everyone was shit scared of communism at that time especially the yanks. The policy was they would stop communism coming down in Thailand and Vietnam and we would clear it in Malaya and down south. It was ruled the British and Commonwealth would not be involved in Vietnam but then it was; ‘All the way with LBJ!’ Mr Holt was Australian Prime Minister and the Aussies and the Kiwis ended up going. They should never have been there.

Anyway we went to Saigon and got fired on going up the Mekong delta – bang, bang, bang! my first time under fire and it was the bloody yanks! ha! ha! friendly fire. They were river patrol boats two of them, didn’t hit us. We hoisted our flag sharpish. I remember out in the middle east the Royal Marines would never ever call in American air support never, bunch of amateurs!

The President of South Vietnam was called Diem and he came on board the Lion for a cocktail party. He wasn’t married so he came with his sister-in-law. I was waitering and got chatting to him. He said what are you doing lad? I told him I was really a radio operator. I asked him why can’t we dance? because at the time dancing was banned in Vietnam and they weren’t allowed to play the Beatles or Rolling Stones. He just grinned and wagged his finger. Seemed a nice enough guy I know something happened to him later.

MADAMNGHU

President Diem was unmarried and a staunch catholic who became increasingly unpopular with the Buddhist majority. His sister in law Madame Nhu became the de facto first lady of South Vietnam. The CIA gave the green light for a coup and Diem and his brother were assassinated on November 2nd 1963. Twenty days later President Kennedy was assassinated and Madame Nhu was exiled. (Source: Larry Burrows, Time Life Pictures via Getty)

That time in Saigon was called the hand grenade throwing phase quote, unquote. The Viet Cong used to lob grenades into cafes from the back of a motorbike. We wore uniform ashore and most of the time hung out with the yanks at their PX, much safer, great facilities. They had the donut dollies, American girls working for the Red Cross. You had to buy US scrip dollars to spend there. I remember one of our sailors collapsing in a bar in town. The mamasan came out and put ammonia under his nose. He woke up straight away, never seen that before.

CHOLONNAVYPX

The main Saigon PX (Post Exchange) in Cholon had an adjoining commissary store selling foodstuffs and a snack bar. (Source: manhai flickr)

At the time President Kennedy’s stated policy was to send military advisers like the Green Berets and they denied regular troops were engaged in fighting.

What they say and what really went on are two different things. They said they were only military advisers but there were regular troops there as well.

They put on a coach tour for us to the Laos border to see a bit of the countryside. We saw this convoy of yanks all smoking weed playing rock music, supposed to be elite ha, ha. Those we saw weren’t, really opened my eyes. I thought how unprofessional they were. Even early on there were troops who didn’t want to be in Vietnam. The PX was full of them drinking beer every night.

We sailed home – Aden, Suez, Malta and were in Gib November 1963 when we heard Kennedy had been shot. We all thought Christ there’ll be a bloody war before Christmas.

Our families were brought out by tugboat and we sailed into Portsmouth together. My Dad was thrilled by that. It was a freezing cold winter that year. I couldn’t stop shaking been away so long.

Easter time I was drafted back to Whitehall and nearly got arrested by the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, MI6). I came back with a pocketful of cash and bought a MG TF sports car bright red, post office red, fantastic.

MGTF

MG TF roadster.

I was living with mum and dad, used to drive to work and park at Horse Guards, had a special pass. This was during the Christine Keeler, Profumo affair. It was all spies and James Bond, everyone was jittery.

People were poking their nose in. How come this twenty years old working in a secret communications centre is driving an MG sports car he paid cash for? So one morning I came off night watch drove out of Horse Guards to go down the mall. A car pulled out behind and followed me. He was still there when I went down Cromwell Road and the Great Chertsey Road. I was living in Shepperton. We went down the A3, this bugger’s following me! So I’ll lead him somewhere I can confront him. I came off the A3 went into Walton on Thames railway station. Are you RO2 Webb? well they said certain people are looking into your affairs. I sat with them for about half an hour until they were satisfied with my story. My mate, a BEA steward, lived opposite and got pulled in for twenty hours questioning about me. It was all a bit iffy those days if you worked anything to do with secrets.

How did you get back to sea?

I was in Whitehall about six months, the chief called me in one morning and said pack your bags you’re off to Singapore tonight 2200hrs. I had to leave the car for my Dad to sell. My girlfriend was on the same watch as me, I didn’t have chance to say goodbye. For 50 years she thought I’d done a runner.

We flew Britannia Airways – Zurich, Istanbul, New Delhi, Singapore about forty hours total. As we were coming into Paya Lebar the navy guy who’d been sitting next to me hadn’t come out of the toilet. Passed out from drink. They had to take the door off to get him out. The captain wouldn’t land unless everyone was seated.

The Indonesia – Malayasia Confrontation was an armed conflict from 1963 to 1966 originating from Indonesia’s opposition to the creation of the state of Malaysia from the Federation of Malaya. Malaysia was formed by a merger of the Federation of Malaya (now Peninsular Malaysia), Singapore and the British crown colonies of North Borneo and Sarawak (now East Malaysia). Most clashes took place between Indonesia and East Malaysia on the island of Borneo but the Indonesian strategy included lower intensity incursions on the Malay peninsula and Singapore. Up to 80 Commonwealth ships mostly patrol craft, minesweepers, frigates and destroyers were deployed to patrol the coast line and intercept Indonesian insurgents

We were bused straight up to HMS Terror and assigned to a ship. I was Leading Radio Operator on the seaward defence boat HMS Tilford. Joined the ship the following morning and that night we were in the middle of a gunfight, bullets flying everywhere. My job was really in the radio office but if one of my guys was on watch I couldn’t disturb him. I took over his position as the port bridge wing bren gunner. On a small ship like that we had to double up duties. There were patrol areas designated in the Singapore Strait off Keppel Harbour. Every night each ship had its sector, about ten ships out. I thought Christ forty eight hours ago I was sat on the London underground reading the Evening Standard.

HMS TILFORD (1)

HMS Tilford (Source: maritimequest.com)

Our mission was to stop and board sampans to arrest Indonesian infiltrators. They were desperate, sometimes they fired back and chucked grenades at us. We had plenty of firepower; the pom pom gun, twin Vickers and the whole ship’s company armed with Sterling sub machine guns. They didn’t stand a chance, got ripped to pieces in a firefight.

We were at Action Stations nearly every night. The navy probably saw more action than any time until the Falklands War. One night out then into Telok Ayer basin, try to sleep during the day and back out. We caught a lot and handed them over to the Singapore Police. They didn’t muck about – all hung on monday mornings. The Indonesians were in plainclothes and carried a lot of money which we kept – the ship’s fund was enormous.  We took off the 150 HP outboards and sank the sampans. They had a mixture of weapons – rifles, sub machine guns all old stuff. They weren’t coming out to fight us but to infiltrate Singapore. We didn’t know till months later they were hung, probably forced into it, they looked drugged up.

It was a dangerous job for my buffer Terry Davenport he led the boarding parties, a very brave man. He backed me up on Facebook when the guys said you were only a sparker you couldn’t have fired the bren gun blah, blah, blah. Still talks to me every day.

One time we had a big night out up at Changi. We used to follow this group around called ‘The Misfits’. They were a really good rock and roll band all RAF guys. I was driving a hire car along Tampines Road and forgot there’s a section where the camber goes the wrong way. The British POW’s built it on purpose during the war.

I went round too fast and flipped over. I was underneath. My two mates were Dave Evans and Len Nash. Len’s shouting get the car off me. Dave was thrown from the car. He was alright lifted it right up and pulled us out. Must have been the adrenaline. I was a bit bruised up and got five days ashore for observation. I was going out with the daughter of the RSM of Nee Soon garrison, later my wife. Walking on the front at Queen Elizabeth walk we heard firing and I thought it was my ship being blown up because I knew the sectors. Later found out it was HMS Woolaston a mine sweeper. They lost seven guys that night.

Another time our crew on the Tilford got invited up to a Malaysian army mess somewhere over the causeway. I was on duty and couldn’t go. They came back pissed as puddings and like zombies from sleep deprivation. One Able Seaman, fat guy, hard as nails from Newcastle he had it in for me. There were loaded weapons stored everywhere at that time. He grabbed a Stirling and let off a few rounds towards the officer of the day and me on the bridge.

I shouted get down! Three of them had grabbed guns. After the shock some of the lads managed to round them up. The captain ordered them locked in the paint locker, hot as an oven and we sailed on patrol. That was the end of the matter, wasn’t worth the trouble. We needed all hands. Loads of funny things went on that aren’t talked about.

One night we were sailing into Singapore and I was on the bridge with the captain. We saw a RAF VC 10 being fired on from the Indonesian side; their islands are really close to Singapore. The next morning the captain and me went to see the Admiral, the Commander in Chief. The captain briefed him and said Webb will verify. He said leave this with me. It was our short leave but at midnight we were woken up and ordered back to our ship. They said we aren’t  going on patrol but have a job to do. On board were a couple of Gemini rubber boats and a bunch of funny looking guys dressed in black. We dropped them off at an island picked them up next morning. I asked one what’s going on? And he said you saw them firing at that plane didn’t you? Well they won’t be anymore!

I remember my 22nd birthday very clearly – we were on a R n R trip in Penang staying at a place called Silver Sands. I went swimming and had a sea snake around my neck.

Another time they sent us to the hill station at Frasers Hill where there was a Royal Navy training camp – a bit of a jolly. We went on the train to Kuala Lumpur then on lorries wearing jungle greens. The overnight train was so slow you could get out and walk along the track. The instructors there said they had six guys from HMS Hermes one time who just disappeared. The jungle was so thick helicopters couldn’t find them. They told us stories about man eating tigers too. I said bollocks so that night the local guides put sand out around our huts. Next morning they showed us paw marks.

RNTC

The Royal Navy Training Camp at Frasers Hill. ‘More of a holiday camp than a training camp.’ (Source: David Ayres flickr)

By October 1966 the situation had improved and we all went home. I was staying at my mum’s bungalow in Shepperton but couldn’t sleep, just lay there in bed. It was like being in another world.

In those days Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) existed but hadn’t been clinically defined. Losing your father, a car accident, sleep deprivation, the climate and stress from constant patrolling must have contributed.

Yeah there was no debriefing or counselling then. The navy doctor said it was stress. He says here’s some Valium and Amitriptyline – green and black bombers. Take a few of these with a couple of pints and you’ll be fine. I was hooked on Valium for twenty years. The military kept prescribing it. Took a long time on my own to get off it by cutting down the dosage.

After the Radio Supervisor course I was back at Whitehall for four years until I was twenty seven. When you’ve done twelve years they ask if you want sign on for another thirteen to get your pension. HMS Endurance was our ice patrol vessel down in Antarctica. I said if you can get me on her I’ll sign. The Duty Officer said at least you’re straight with me and I got it!

Did you have any more postings to the Far East?

I did two and a half years on Endurance and was at HMS Northwood operational headquarters in Northwood, London. My chief said fancy going to Hong Kong? I said yes but my wife’s pregnant and the baby’s due. He said that’s alright they can follow you later.

WEBBTAMAR

CRS Chris Webb, HMS Tamar Hong Kong 1976. (front row third from left)

I went out on a VC 10 from Brize Norton and reported to the Communications Centre at Victoria Barracks living across the road at HMS Tamar. When my wife arrived they put us in a private flat near the Excelsior Hotel in Causeway Bay, that was in 1974. It was stinking hot. I worked nights and they were pile driving during the day. Used to get a little yellow bus to Stanley and sleep on the beach. I went to the Housing Petty Officer and he moved us to Harcourt Place in Happy Valley. Loved it, me and a mate used to go to work on the tram in uniform. My old fleet chief was going home so I volunteered to stay and relieve him. The Communications Centre moved down to Tamar and I became chief of station. Had nothing to do really. I got my promotion to Chief Radio Supervisor and my guys were so experienced it was a doddle.

It was a great life then plenty of time for sightseeing, sailing and army and navy parties.  My mum was staying one time and I took her to a dance at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club which was officers only. My Commanding Officer said and what are you doing here Webb? I said my boss is a member and he invited me. Are you a member? The Governor danced with my mum and she said he pinched her bottom! I said don’t worry he’s known for it, did it to my Mrs as well. Hong Kong was great. We left in 1976. That was my last trip out before I retired in 1984.

Thanks Chris let’s stop here, too many stories! We didn’t have time for HMS Endurance, undercover in Northern Ireland, the three wives, five kids, Australian citizenship or forty years running bars, restaurants and hotels in the Philippines!

SPIDERSWEB

 The spider’s web.

Stairs

The steps up to spider’s web.

Stationdito

Station dito. Like a modern day ‘Lord Jim’, Chris used to sail his banca round the headland to pick up supplies. These days he pays the local kids to carry his groceries up and rides into town on a habal-habal.

 

About The Blog

About Blog In March 2020, after 28 years in Hong Kong, I moved to Penang as a base to travel in the region. The Covid 19 pandemic ended that plan and I spent much of the time re-reading books I had collected over the years. The only new book I bought was ...
Palm Hand Draw

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