The 1946 to 1948 Commission

The following was sent by Chris Beresford who was an Able Seaman on the commission.

The 1946-48 Commission was the first after Gambia was returned to The Royal Navy after serving in the war as a Unit of the Royal New Zealand Navy. When we took it over it still had about 30 Boy Seamen onboard, all New Zealanders and they came with us as part of our crew on the commission. The Captain was Baker Creswell, who had a distinguighed war career, and the Commander was Maitland-McGill-Crichton.

We sailed in October 1946 and made our way to The Far East via, Gibraltar, Malta, Suez Canal, Aden, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Singapore and Hong Kong.

We took our place in the 5th Cruiser Squadron, British Pacific Fleet and for a short time we were the flagship of 5th Cruiser Squadron carrying the Flag of Rear Admiral 'Scouse' Woodhouse.

For the next twelve months we spent our time in Japan with short breaks in Hong Kong. We also visited Shanghai and Chinwangtao in China. Altough the Chinese Civil war was taking place it had not yet reached the coast.

Whilst in Chinwangtao many of the Crew took the opportunity to visit The Great Wall of China. For some reason I did not go and have regretted it ever since.

We visited most of the larger ports in Japan and my most vivid memory is taking a short train journey to Hiroshima. Although it was 18 months after the Atom Bomb had dropped the place was still completely devastated and the people living in very poor conditions. One could not help but pity them.

Gambia was a happy ship and I think that most of the Crew would have been content to serve the three years out in the Far East that we expected. However, like a bombshell, came the unexpected news that the Government had decided that all "Hostilities Only" personnel were to be demobbed as soon as possible. Many of the regular ratings onboard were transferred to other ships and replaced by 'hostilites only' ratings. We then sailed for the U.K. manned almost entirely, by 'hostilities only' ratings. However, many of these ratings had much experience having served during the war. Most of the Officers and Senior Crew stayed with us.

The voyage home was enlivened when trouble broke out in Aden and we were instructed to proceed at full speed in order to help quell the trouble. When we arrived we found that the trouble had been contained and all that was necessary was to march around the town with bayonets fixed in order to give a show of strength.

Arriving at Devonport on 6th January 1948 those of us due for demob said 'Au Revoir' to our friends, and went into Guzz Barracks. After a spell of leave we returned to Portsmouth where all the formalities of demobilisation were completed. We then all went our separate ways with our new civvy suits in a cardboard box. I personally had enjoyed my time in the Andrew but was looking forward to renewing my civilian life.

Chris Beresford. November 2003.


I think that most of the following images were sent to the original HMS Gamabia Association website by Robert T. Bretherton.

HMS Gambia, Yokohama, 1946
HMS Gambia, Yokohama, 1946

HMS Gambia, The Bund, Shanghai, 1946
HMS Gambia, The Bund, Shanghai, 1946

China Daily Tribune May 1947

This clipping from the China Daily Tribune of either the 4th or 6th of May, 1947 reads:

Adm. Woodhouse Arrives Here On HMS Gambia

Rear-Admiral C. H. L. Woodhouse CB, Flag Officer Commanding the 5th Cruiser Squadron, British Pacific Fleet arrived in Shanghai yesterday afternoon on board HMS Gambia (Captain A. J. Baker-Cresswell, DSO, RN)

Rear-Admiral Woodhouse is on his first visit to Shanghai, coming from Japan via Chinwangtao

HMS Gambia was accompanied here by H. M. Indian Ship Godavari (Commander O. G. Karmaker, MBE, Royal Indian Navy.)

Picture shows the two naval ships now moored of he Bund. (China Daily Tribune Photo.)

HMS Gambia on Empire Day, 1947

HMS Gambia on Empire Day (May 24), 1947

Robert Bretherton Robert Bretherton Robert Bretherton Robert Bretherton Robert Bretherton

Robert T. Bretherton. Unfortunately I do not know where or when these photos were taken


HMS Gambia, wearing the Flag of the Flag Officer Commanding, Fifth Cruiser Squadron, arrived at Kure, Japan at 1400hrs, April 9, 1947.


While in Japan, Doug Reynolds got these images of Nagasaki and Hiroshima after the atomic bombs had been dropped on them. I think they were probably postcards.

Nagasaki after The Bomb Hiroshima after The Bomb Hiroshima after The Bomb


These scans were among the materials given to the site by Bill Hartland in August 2017. The scans are not that great but they are annotate. I do not know where they originally came from.

Brian Keegan and David Livingston. Hong Kong, 1947 Brian Keegan, Ian Sutherland, Peter Cantlon, and Harry Hodge. Hong Kong, 1947 Kings Birthday Review. Hong Kong, 1947. Officer: Sub Lt. Nash. Front: Leading Seaman Tyack, Peter Cantlon Kings Birthday Review. Hong Kong, 1947. Front rank: Leading Seaman Bryce, Vic Corrin Kings Birthday Review. Hong Kong, 1947. Leading file: Frank Brimblecome, Laurie Blaken, Peter Cantlon. 2nd file: Doug Reynolds Front: Frank Taylor, Dennis Holland, Canteen Assistant, Bill Dale. Back: Gerald Rich (Swifty - the slowest boy on board), ? Kyoto


HMS Gambia in Hong Kong on April 26, 1948

HMS Gambia in Hong Kong, April 26, 1948

The photo above was supplied by Chris Beresford or his family. I think the one below was supplied by Mike Pickard or his family.

HMS Gambia in Hong Kong, April 26, 1948


Nation of Gambia presents cheque to HMS Gambia

This cutting appeared in the The Daily Mercury of November 18, 1946. The text reads:

PEOPLE OF GAMBIA PRESENT CHEQUE TO H.M.S. GAMBIA:

Picture shows - The Lord Mayor of Plymouth (Mr. Isaac Foot) presenting the cheque to Captain A. J. Baker-Cresswell, D.S.O., R.N., Captain of H.M.S. Gambia.

Captain Addison Joe Baker-Cresswell DSO (February 2, 1901 – March 4, 1997) was a Royal Navy officer, aide-de-camp to King George VI and High Sheriff of Northumberland. He is noted prominently for his role as the commanding officer of HMS Bulldog during the capture of U-110 which an intact Enigma cipher machine was seized. He commanded HMS Gambia from 1946 to 1948.


The following images came from that mine of information Julian Best who served on HMS Gambia for the 1955 to 1956 commission:

1947 Christmas card. Image from Julian Best. Provision price list from Jim Irish and Sons, Port Said, December 23, 1947. Image from Julian Best. Provision price list from Jim Irish and Sons, Port Said, December 23, 1947. Image from Julian Best.

The Christmas card would probably not be seen as very politically correct nowadays and reads:

HMS Gambia - 5th Cruiser Squadron

Velly good Chinaman,
number one me
No makee steal um no talkee lie,
Allo time pidgin must wantchee do,
Velly Melly Klistmas, my sendee you.

Season's Greetings
Hong Kong, China
Merry Xmas 1947

The provisions list that Julain sent is dated December 23, 1947 and is from Jim Irish and Sons, El Hag Saleh Bey Selim [which is Turkish for Mr. Saleh Selim El Hage], British Navy Contractors, Hull Blith & Coy, Port Said (Egypt), Teleph. No. 368, R. C. Canal, No. 1002. It is addressed to the Ward Room Mess, HMS Gambia.

It reads:

Dear Sir,

I beg to enclose a list of fresh vegetables, fruits, eggs, nuts, etc., which you may require for the Ward Room mess.

If the ship is not stopping at Port Said, this can be delivered alongside the ship while they changing the pilot at port Said.Pyment will be paid by Rupees or other money.

Hoping to see you well,
Yours Truely
Jim Irish & Sons.

List of fresh local provisions for Ward Room Mess

Cauliflower at 5d per lb
Fresh tomato at 5d per lb
Veg Marrow at 4d per lb
Beetroot at 5d per lb
Fresh Eggs at 16/- per 100
Local orange at 11/- per 100
Tangerine at 11/- per 100
Bananas at /1- per lb
Limes at 8/- per 100
Peanuts at 1/- per lb
Walnuts at 3/3 per lb
Almoonds at 3/3 per lb
Hazelnuts at 3/3 per lb
Fresh prawns at 1/3 per lb
Carrots at 5d per lb
Grapefruit at 7d each


Unfortunately the Internet Archive did not capture all the images from the old HMS Gambia Association website. All I could retrieve were these thumbnails.

This group of photos were contributed by Chris Beresford or his family:

L to R: Bill Bobsin (Bodsin?), Spike Holtham and Brummie BeresfordL to R: Bill Bobsin (Bodsin?), Spike Holtham and Brummie Beresford
HMS Gambia dressed for Trafalgar Day (October 21), 1947HMS Gambia dressed for Trafalgar Day (October 21), 1947
All Matelots from HMS Gambia, following first exercise in SingaporeAll Matelots from HMS Gambia, following first exercise in Singapore
Jenny's Side PartyJenny's Side Party
Hiroshima in 1947Hiroshima in 1947
Hiroshima just after the bomb was dropped on itHiroshima just after the bomb was dropped on it
Aden 1947, showing some strength!Aden 1947, showing some strength!

This set of photos were contributed by the grand-daughter of Raymond Clarke:

L to R: Les, Steve, Nobby and Ray, Plymouth, 1946L to R: Les, Steve, Nobby and Ray, Plymouth, 1946
Mess 58, HMS Raleigh, March 1946Mess 58, HMS Raleigh, March 1946
Ray & Brenda, September 1946Ray & Brenda, September 1946
Berthing and Messing CardBerthing and Messing Card
Working hard, apparently on the 4" guns, October 1946Working hard, apparently on the 4" guns, October 1946
HMS Gambia, Malta, October 19, 1946HMS Gambia, Malta, October 19, 1946
Malta 1946Malta 1946
Ron, Ray and elephant, Colombo zoo, Ceylon, November 1946Ron, Ray and elephant, Colombo zoo, Ceylon, November 1946
Some of the lads from HMS Gambia, Colombo, Ceylon, November 1946Some of the lads from HMS Gambia, Colombo, Ceylon, November 1946
St. Pauls Bay, Malta, November 1946St. Pauls Bay, Malta, November 1946
Suez Canal from the top of B gun turret, November 5, 1946Suez Canal from the top of B gun turret, November 5, 1946
China Sea, 1947China Sea, 1947
The Great Wall of China, Nankou Pass, May 1947The Great Wall of China, Nankou Pass, May 1947
The first Atomic Bomb fell on Hiroshima, and this shows some of the after effectsThe first Atomic Bomb fell on Hiroshima, and this shows some of the after effects
Ray Clarke and his Big Eats, Japan, November 1947Ray Clarke and his Big Eats, Japan, November 1947

These two photos were contributed by Ken Cole:

The crew of HMS Gambia, 1946 - 1948 commissionThe crew of HMS Gambia, 1946 - 1948 commission
Close-up of part of the crew of HMS Gambia, 1946 - 1948 commissionClose-up of part of the crew of HMS Gambia, 1946 - 1948 commission

This group of photos were contributed by the son of Ernest William Parkes who was a Stoker Mechanic:

Stoker Mechanic Ernest William ParkesStoker Mechanic Ernest William Parkes
Christmas menuChristmas menu
This is a copy of the cruise itineryThis is a copy of the cruise itinery
Diary dates part 1Diary dates part 1
Diary dates part 2Diary dates part 2
HMS Gambia in Aden, YemenHMS Gambia in Aden, Yemen
HMS Gambia in Aden, Yemen. This is the same photo submitted by Chris BeresfordHMS Gambia in Aden, Yemen. This is the same photo submitted by Chris Beresford
HMS Gambia in Aden, YemenHMS Gambia in Aden, Yemen
42 Mess42 Mess
Parkes, Scouse and GeordieParkes, Scouse and Geordie
Parkes and WallyParkes and Wally
Unknown, Parkes and WallyUnknown, Parkes and Wally
On Watch, Kure, Japan, April 1947On Watch, Kure, Japan, April 1947
Christmas CardChristmas Card
Christmas Card interiorChristmas Card interior
Christmas Card, another view of the interiorChristmas Card, another view of the interior
Landing party in SingaporeLanding party in Singapore
Yokohama, March 1947, Ernest Parkes holding barrelYokohama, March 1947, Ernest Parkes holding barrel
Suez CanalSuez Canal
Valetta Grand Habour, Malta, October 19, 1946Valetta Grand Habour, Malta, October 19, 1946
HMS Gambia in Shanghai, 1947HMS Gambia in Shanghai, 1947
Jim MacQuire front row right, and Rowing TrophyJim MacQuire front row right, and Rowing Trophy

This group of photos were contributed by Helen Perry. There was a Reg Perry on the 1946 - 1948 commission, but I do not know how they are related.

HMS GambiaHMS Gambia
HMS Gambia entering Grand Harbour, Valletta, MaltaHMS Gambia entering Grand Harbour, Valletta, Malta
HMS Gambia in Grand Harbour, Valletta, Malta, October 1946HMS Gambia in Grand Harbour, Valletta, Malta, October 1946
The 1946 to 1948 commission itineryThe 1946 to 1948 commission itinery
Reg PerryReg Perry
Reg, upper deck sunbathingReg, upper deck sunbathing
Reg, in overallsReg, in overalls
Reg Perry is second from the right in this groupReg Perry is second from the right in this group
"We Three" ... but who are they?"We Three" ... but who are they?
This commission diary was written by an unknown crew memberThis commission diary was written by an unknown crew member
1947 Christmas menu1947 Christmas menu
1947 Christmas menu insert1947 Christmas menu insert
Unusually, this group are in mixed dressUnusually, this group are in mixed dress

I think this group of photos were contributed by Mike Pickard or his family:

Captain Baker-Cresswell and Commander Maitland Makgill CrichtonCaptain Baker-Cresswell and Commander Maitland Makgill Crichton
The Quarterdeck Division, 1946 - 1948The Quarterdeck Division, 1946 - 1948
George Hickingbottom and Oppo, who remains un-named, Shanghai, 1947George Hickingbottom and Oppo, who remains un-named, Shanghai, 1947
Ordinary Seaman George Hickingbottom, 1946 - 1948Ordinary Seaman George Hickingbottom, 1946 - 1948
George Hickingbottom in later yearsGeorge Hickingbottom in later years
Georges MagteGeorges Magte

This group of photos were contributed by Doug Reynolds or his family:

Prior to leaving for England July 1946, Doug is pictured just by those Milk Churns in the foregroundPrior to leaving for England July 1946, Doug is pictured by those milk churns in the foreground
Leaving for England, July 15, 1946Leaving for England, July 15, 1946
Black Prince asternBlack Prince astern
1946-1947 Christmas card1946-1947 Christmas card
1946-1947 Christmas card. The inside shows HMS Theseus in background1946-1947 Christmas card. The inside shows HMS Theseus in background
The picture in the 1946-1947 Christmas card. HMS Gambia with HMS Theseus in the backgroundThe picture in the 1946-1947 Christmas card. HMS Gambia with HMS Theseus in the background
Doug Reynolds as an AB. He was upgraded from Boy during the commissionDoug Reynolds as an AB. He was upgraded from Boy during the commission
Doug Reynolds is one of the men leaning on the rail of B gun deckDoug Reynolds is one of the men leaning on the rail of B gun deck
HMS Gambia leaving Kure, JapanHMS Gambia leaving Kure, Japan
Captain Baker-Cresswell and Commander Maitland Makgill CrichtonCaptain Baker-Cresswell and Commander Maitland Makgill Crichton
Captain's Barge alongside. Darwin, August 1946Captain's Barge alongside. Darwin, August 1946
Doug Reynolds with HMS Theseus in the backgroundDoug Reynolds with HMS Theseus in the background
Willy Bodsin 17 Mess HMS GambiaWilly Bodsin (Bobsin?) 17 Mess HMS Gambia
"We're a couple of Toffs!""We're a couple of Toffs!"
Chitty showing written permission for Doug Reynolds to wear a White Cap Ashore!Chitty showing written permission for Doug Reynolds to wear a White Cap Ashore!
Room Ticket for the Union Jack Club in ShanghaiRoom Ticket for the Union Jack Club in Shanghai
Doug Reynolds' Tobacco Ration Card while in the Australian NavyDoug Reynolds' Tobacco Ration Card while in the Australian Navy
Newspaper cutting. The headline reads "Naval Ratings had some Thrills"Newspaper cutting. The headline reads "Naval Ratings had some Thrills"
Procedure notice to relativesProcedure notice to relatives
Crossing the Line, Neptune's HelpersCrossing the Line, Neptune's Helpers
The captain awaits his turn to be dunked by Neptune's HelpersThe captain awaits his turn to be dunked by Neptune's Helpers
In you go Skipper!In you go Skipper!
Royal Marines band dance programmeRoyal Marines band dance programme
Brian Cheeseman and Doug Reynolds at the Yosaka Jinsha Shrine, Kyoto April 1947Brian Cheeseman and Doug Reynolds at the Yosaka Jinsha Shrine, Kyoto April 1947
Dominion of New Zealand voting noticeDominion of New Zealand voting notice