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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 distinguished 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. Although 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 'hostilities 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 am very grateful to Julie Roberts, the daughter of Leslie Edwin Martin, who sent the following information in January 2021.
43 Mess, HMS Gambia, September 30, 1947, Shanghai, China
Leslie Edwin Martin is second left in this photo and was aged just 16.
The rear of the photo mentions the nicknames Dutch, Taylor, Cheery, and Surfly? and signed by G. C. Rich, W. F. Hatherley and P. E. Holland, F. G. Taylor from Great Malvern?
Julie wrote that her father was born on October 17, 1930. He joined the navy a little before he was 16 and was still less than that when the above photo was taken. "He left the navy around 1955 and came to settle back in Bath with my mum (who was a wren and they had met in Gosport) and eldest sister who was actually born in Malta in Feb 1954. He joined the Bath police force then although he had wanted to join the fire brigade really."
John Armitage was a Stoker 1st Class on HMS Gambia for the 1946/48 commission. He became a founding member of the HMS Gambia Association but passed away in September 2011.
In February 2021, I received an email from John's daughter-in-law, Caroline, that included this clipping from the Manchester Evening News dated Saturday, July 16, 1994...
John Armitage is 3rd from the left on the front row
Bill Davies is 3rd from the left on the front row
The text reads:
Hello, me old Chinas! Remember Shanghai, 1947?
These were all naval ratings from Manchester and Cheshire who joined HMS Gambia between 1945 and 1948.
Bill Davies from Heaton Moor brought the picture in (he's on the back row, third from left).
He'd love to have the chance to see some of his old shipmates again, but he can't remember any of the lads snapped here with him. He'll also be able to tell them about the HMS Gambia Association, which is based in Leamington Spa.
If you can give Bill Davies any information about anyone on this picture, contact him at 40 Green Lane, Heaton Moor, Stockport SK4 3LE; Tel: 061-431-3785.
I think that most of the following images were sent to the original HMS Gambia Association website by Robert T. Bretherton.
HMS Gambia, Yokohama, 1946
HMS Gambia, The Bund, Shanghai, 1946
This clipping from the China Daily Tribune of either the 4th or 6th of May, 1947 reads:
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 (May 24), 1947
Robert James 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.
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 annotated. I do not know where they originally came from.
HMS Gambia in Hong Kong on 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.
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:
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.
Hong Kong, China
Merry Xmas 1947
The provisions list that Julian 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.
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. Payment will be paid by Rupees or other money.
Hoping to see you well,
Jim Irish & Sons.
List of fresh local provisions for Ward Room MessCauliflower 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
Almonds 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
Some of these images were submitted by multiple people:
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:
This set of photos were contributed by the grand-daughter of Raymond Clarke:
These two photos were contributed by Ken Cole:
This group of photos were contributed by the son of Ernest William Parkes who was a Stoker Mechanic:
This group of photos are about William "Bill" Geoffrey Baker who served on HMS Gambia's 1946/48 Commission. The photos were contributed by his daughter, Helen Perry.
I think this group of photos were contributed by Mike Pickard or his family:
This group of photos were contributed by Doug Reynolds or his family: