The 1950 to 1952 Commission

This was the commission that my dad, William Henry Thomas, D/SKX852141, served on HMS Gambia as Stoker Mechanic.

The places HMS Gambia visited 1950 - 1952

The places HMS Gambia visited 1950 - 1952

Among the places visited on the 1950/2 commission were Gibraltar, Benghazi, Alexandria, Port Said, Beirut, Famagusta, Athens, Marmarice, Khyrosokon Bay, Kyrenia, Taormina, Taranto, Toulon, Marseilles, Golfe Juan, Anzio, Cagliari, Trieste, Malta, Dragomesti, Arancie Bay, Bizerta, Tunis, Aden, Berbera, Bahrein (this was a common spelling in the 1950s for Bahrain), Kuwait, Larnaca, Limassol, Suda Bay, Canal Zone, Karachi, Bombay, Cochin (Kochi), Colombo, Rangoon, Brindisi, Navarin and, of course, Trincomalee.

During this time the captain was V. D. A. Donaldson and the Commander was R. F. Phillimore, MBE, DSC.

HMS Gambia, speed trials off Plymouth, 1949 or 1950. Dad's photo albums HMS Gambia, 1950. Dad's photo albums HMS Gambia, Malta, 1950. Dad's photo albums HMS Gambia, Flagship of Admiral Sir John Edelsten, C in C Mediterranean, entering Marmarice Harbour, Turkey, flying the flag of the C in C. Mediterranean fleet summer cruise, July 1950, and on the Greek island of Skiathos during an exercise known as "Bandit". Imperial War Museums A 31692A HMS Gambia, flagship of Admiral Sir John H Edelsten, C in C Mediterranean, firing a Royal Salute on the occasion of the visit of HM The King of Greece to British Naval units at Athens. Mediterranean fleet summer cruise, July 1950, and on the Greek island of Skiathos during an exercise known as "Bandit". Imperial War Museums A 31690A HMS Gambia, 1951. Dad's photo albums HMS Gambia from motor boat, 1951. Dad's photo albums The Royal Navy anchorage at Grand Harbour, Malta around 1951. Vessels at anchor include Colossus class light fleet carrier HMS Warrior(foreground), United States Navy cruiser USS Des Moines (middle) and Fiji class cruiser HMS Gambia(background). My father would have been on Gambia when this photo was taken, but a year and a half later was transferred to Warrior. Imperial War Museum A 32043 HMS Gambia and HMS Kenya travelling at speed during exercises in the Indian Ocean. April 1952. Ships of four navies, UK, Ceylon, India, and Pakistan combined for exercises designed to strengthen commonwealth protection measures. Imperial War Museum A 32105 HMS Gambia. This image was on the original HMS Gambia Association website but all that it is known about it is that it was taken pre-1953. HMS Gambia. This image was on the original HMS Gambia Association website but all that it is known about it is that it was taken pre-1953 and is another version of the previous photo. HMS Gambia, 1952. Dad's photo albums HMS Gambia, Vanguard and two submarines, Gibraltar, 1952. Dad's photo albums This picture was sent to the HMS Gambia Association via Jan Birch from Stan Doughty. It is thought have been taken at the end of the last two and a half year commission as Gambia returned to Devonport on July 31, 1952


John Eilbeck reported in the HMS Ganges Association Gazette that sometime in 1949 to 1950 that some modifications were made to HMS Gambia for the comfort of the crew:

Three cruisers of the Royal Navy, the Swiftsure, Ceylon and Gambia had been refitted and a number of comforts and amenities fitted. All electric bakeries and galleys, refrigerated stowage for fresh fruit and veg, drinking water coolers and ice cream soda bars (the Goffa machine). Bathrooms updated, stainless steel wash-basins, each with a hot and cold water supply, and with shaving light and mirror over each basin. The Laundry extended (more space for ex-patriot Mainland China dhobymen), cinema and SRE provided.


"The Navy" of January and March 1952 published two short articles about HMS Gambia. "The Navy" was published by The Navy League, Royal Exchange Building, 54a Pitt Street, Sydney, N.S.W., Australia.

Mediterranean Fleet Manoevres with Greek Navy

Late in September. 1951, a squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet composed of the cruiser HMS Gambia, four frigates, two submarines and one submarine depot ship under the command of Vice-Admiral P. B. R. W. William-Powlett, C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O., carried out joint manoeuvres in the Aegean with ships of the Royal Hellenic Navy. The exercises, under Greek command, was watched by King Paul of Greece from the Greek flagship "Panther". The two forces practiced submarine and convoy evolutions, defence against air attacks and harbour defence in Suda Bay, Crete. The Royal Hellenic Air Force co-operated.

P.M. Pays Tribute to Royal Navy's Work in Middle East

The importance of the Navy's work was acknowledged by the Prime Minister (Mr. Churchill) as HMS Gambia (Captain L. F. Durnford-Slater, R.N.) was returning to Malta on completion of a month's period of strenuous duty at Port Said. He asked the First Sea Lord (Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fraser of North Cape, G.C.B., K.B.E.) to compliment the ship on her good work. "I do so with pleasure, knowing how well the Royal Navy as a whole is getting on with its special tasks in the Canal area," the First Sea Lord signalled to Naval headquarters at Malta, and in passing the message to the Gambia the Commanderin-Chief, Mediterranean (Admiral Sir John Edelsten , K.C.B., C.B.E ), added the words "Well done."


This was on this commission that my dad, William Henry Thomas, D/SKX852141, served on HMS Gambia as Stoker Mechanic. Dad was born on October 21, 1930 and volunteered for 12 years service in the Royal Navy on February 3, 1948, he was accepted for Special Service and started training on May 13. Special Service meant he signed for seven years with the Fleet and five years in the RNR always on immediate call. Duncan Sands, the defence minister in about 1958 gave everyone in the RNR a voluntary discharge but placed them in another reserve, the only difference was that they didn't get paid the princely sum of one shillings and sixpence a week which they got in RNR.

From his Certificate of Service he trained on HMS Royal Arthur, Raleigh and Drake as a stoker, from there he went to HMS Wrangler as Stoker Mechanic in 1949, joining HMS Gambia in 1950 for two years. He became a Royal Navy Swimming Instructor in 1951 and got his first Good Conduct badge on October 21, 1952. In 1953 he joined HMS Warrior, becoming an Engineering Mechanic. He also spent nearly a year, between his time on HMS Gambia and HMS Warrior, at HMS Orion.

HMS Orion was originally a cruiser, but was scrapped in 1949. The name passed to the whole of the Reserve Fleet in Devonport dockyard and the operation was run from two ships berthed at the Saltash end of the dockyard. The monitor HMS Roberts was the administrative headquarters with HMS Dodman Point berthed alongside her for accommodation. Dodman Point was an old depot ship. Usually, a draft chit to the Reserve Fleet meant that sailors were waiting for another seagoing ship, or another foreign commission.

His time was spent with the Mediterranean and Far Eastern Fleet, as a result he visited most of the Southern European nations, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Sicily, Germany and Austria, the countries along the Adriatic coast - obviously not Yugoslavia (it was communist) but Greece, Crete and Malta. Through the Suez Canal to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Around the Indian Ocean to Pakistan and India, Ceylon (Sri Lankra) and Thailand. Into the Pacific and the Sea of Japan for Hong Kong, Korea, Vietnam and Japan. He also took the long way around Africa, Crossing the Line on the way round the Cape.

On July 20, 1955 received the UN Korea and Korean medals for his service there on HMS Warrior. Although he signed up for twelve years, defence cuts meant his service was reduced and he was discharged from service on October 21, 1955 having spent very nearly 7 and a half years in the Royal Navy.

The following photos come from the albums of his time on HMS Gambia, with some from other sources as illustrations and reference.

Jenks, Brad and dad, 1950. Unfortunately I know nothing of dad's friends apart from the nicknames he gave them in the albums. Photo from my dad's albums. Dad and Taff, 1950. Unfortunately I know nothing of dad's friends apart from the nicknames he gave them in the albums. Photo from my dad's albums. Scouse, Chats, Cotty and Dad, 1950. Unfortunately I know nothing of dad's friends apart from the nicknames he gave them in the albums. Photo from my dad's albums. Dad, 1951. Photo from my dad's albums. Dad, 1951. Photo from my dad's albums. Lieutenant Hill as "The Professor" during the ship's concert 1950. This would be John Richard Hill who became a Rear Admiral. Photo from my dad's albums. Ship's concert, 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Christmas Day, 1950. This is 28 & 30 Seaman's Mess, all Radar men. John Harris, the only person who's name I know in this photo is in the tall hat on the left, next to "Gur" the Arab. Photo from my dad's albums. Cooling off in 1951. Photo from my dad's albums. HMS Gambia's crew in July 1952. There were many changes of individuals during this Commission, with Crew going from Ship to Shore or Ship to Ship, or returning to the UK for demob, especially the National Service Ratings and Midshipmen. Notice the Cock of the Fleet in the front. Photo from my dad's albums. Rum issue in 1952. The rum ration was stopped on July 31, 1970. Photo from my dad's albums. HMS Gambia Seamen's Mess, Christmas Day at Port Said, Egypt in 1952. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Andy in 1950. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Billy in 1951. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Bob in 1950. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Leading Electrical Mechanician Ken Booth, known as "General"in 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Bradley in 1950. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Bris in 1950. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Conny in 1950. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Conny in 1950. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is "Golfer" Cosgrove in 1951. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is "Explorer" Dyson in 1951. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is "Explorer" Dyson in 1951. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Jan in 1950. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Jaques in 1951. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Jenks in 1950 or 1951. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Jenks in 1950 or 1951. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Johnnie in 1951. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Joney in 1950. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Reggie "Fatty" Ford in 1950. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Reggie "Fatty" Ford in 1950. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Scouse in 1950. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Sweety in 1950. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. This is Taff in 1951. That's all I know about the photo. Photo from my dad's albums. Inspection by C in C, Admiral Burnett, HMS Gambia, April 29, 1950 at Devonport. Photo from my dad's albums. Inspection by the Governor of Malta, 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Inspection by the Prime Minister of Lebanon, 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Inspection by Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatton of Burma, 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Admiral Campbell CinC of the Canal Zone, 1952. Photo from my dad's albums. CinC Grantham on a jackstay. Photo from my dad's albums. Dad captioned this photo "Just the life". Photo from my dad's albums. Chucking up party, Fleet Ships Regatta, Marmarice, Turkey, July 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. 'Battle of the Chuckers Up,' Fleet Ships Regatta, Marmarice, Turkey, July 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Cock of the Fleet trophy won by HMS Gambia at Argustoli, Greece in 1952. Photo from my dad's albums. Royal Marines from HMS Gambia on assault training, 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Dragonfly helicopter delivering mail, February 13, 1951. The helicopter is from USS Newport News (CA-148 Heavy Cruiser). Photo from my dad's albums. Dragonfly helicopter delivering mail, February 13, 1951. The helicopter is from USS Newport News (CA-148 Heavy Cruiser). Photo from my dad's albums. USS Newport News in August 1962 in the Western Atlantic, she participated in NATO Exercise Riptide III, as flagship of ComStrikFltLant, the NATO role of Commander Second Fleet. Photo from NavSource 0414865 HMS Forth's motorboat after a collision with a launch. HMS Forth was a submarine depot ship. Thanks to Steven McAllister for identifying which ship this motorboat belonged to. Photo from my dad's albums. Submarine depot ship HMS Forth with the submarine HMS Sea Nymph at Holy Lock. Photo from Imperial War Museums FL 10203 HMS Gambia firing a torpedo on exercise off of Lanarka, Cyprus in 1951. Dad's photo HMS Gambia's motorboat being hoised aboard in 1952. Photo from my dad's albums. HMS Gambia firing a torpedo on exercise off of Lanarka, Cyprus in 1951. Photo from my dad's albums. This dog doesn't look too happy. Photo from my dad's albums. This cat doesn't look too happy either. Photo from my dad's albums. Notre-Dame de la Garde, Marseille, France in 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Marseille, France in 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Tiber River, Rome, Italy in 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. The Altare della Patria, also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, Rome, Italy in 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Kyrenia, Cyprus in 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Kyrenia, Cyprus in 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Mohammed Ali Square, Alexandria, Egypt, June 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Smoking in Mohammed Ali Square, Alexandria, Egypt, June 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. The Forces Club and Library, Benghazi, Summer 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Seafront, "Lungomare" (sea-walk) and Roman Catholic church, Benghazi, Summer 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Athens, Greece, July 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Athens, Greece, July 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Toranto, Italy, September 1950. The large building, centre, is the Italian Naval Academy. Photo from my dad's albums. Toulon, France, September 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Toulon, France, September 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Anzio, Italy, September 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Anzio, Italy, September 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Cairo, Egypt, 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Cairo, Egypt, 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Trieste, Italy, October 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Trieste, Italy, October 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Venice, Italy, 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Venice, Italy, 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Rest camp at Villach, Austria in 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Rest camp at Villach, Austria in 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. Dragomesti, Greece in January 1951. Photo from my dad's albums. Dragomesti, Greece in January 1951. Photo from my dad's albums. Gibraltar in February 1951. Photo from my dad's albums. Cabaret at the Universal Bar, Gibraltar in February 1951. Photo from my dad's albums. Cabaret at the Universal Bar, Gibraltar in February 1951. Photo from my dad's albums. Cabaret at the Universal Bar, Gibraltar in February 1951. Photo from my dad's albums. Lanarka, Cyprus in 1951. Photo from my dad's albums. Lanarka, Cyprus in 1951. Photo from my dad's albums. A market in Kuwait in 1951. Photo from my dad's albums. Catharge near Tunis, North Africa in 1951. Photo from my dad's albums. Rangoon, Burma in 1951. Photo from my dad's albums. Rangoon, Burma in 1951. Photo from my dad's albums. The rest camp at Diyatalawa, Ceylon in 1951. The rest camp was properly called HMS Uva but I've never seen it referred to by its offical name. Photo from my dad's albums. The rest camp at Diyatalawa, Ceylon in 1951. The rest camp was properly called HMS Uva but I've never seen it referred to by its offical name. Photo from my dad's albums. Brindisi, Italy in 1952. Photo from my dad's albums. Brindisi, Italy in 1952. Photo from my dad's albums. A seafront bar in St Pauli, Hamburg, Germany in 1952. Photo from my dad's albums. A seafront bar in St Pauli, Hamburg, Germany in 1952. Photo from my dad's albums. Bombay, India in 1952. Photo from my dad's albums. Bombay, India in 1952. Photo from my dad's albums. Bizerta, Tunisia in 1952. Photo from my dad's albums. Bizerta, Tunisia in 1952. Photo from my dad's albums. Rangoon, Burma in 1952. Photo from my dad's albums. Rangoon, Burma in 1952. Photo from my dad's albums.

Some Egyptian factions merely tolerated the English and other Allies in Egypt during WWII. After the war was over feelings began to change towards the Allies and although the Egyptian Royal family remained friendly towards Britain, the Government didn't. In 1952 things came to head when the Prime Minister, Nahas Pasha, repealed the 1936 treaty which gave the British control of the Suez Canal. King Farouk dismissed the prime minister, starting anti-British riots which were put down by the Egyptian army.

In November 2001, Ray Holden very kindly sent me this email :-

I served on HMS Liverpool the Flagship of 1st Cruiser Squadron in the Med in 1951. Gambia was another ship in our squadron and we very often worked together on exercises. In early 1952 HMS Mauritius was on her way back to UK from the Far East and the troubles in Egypt blew up as she was going through the Suez Canal. She was retained at Port Said to protect Navy House. She was relieved two weeks later by HMS Liverpool and it was our job to protect merchant ships who sailed through the canal in the form of boarding parties, our marines guarded Navy House. After a three month stint we were relieved by HMS Gambia.

Rioters under escort, Port Said, Egypt in 1951 or 1952. Photo from my dad's albums. Brits Go Home! Port Said, Egypt in 1951 or 1952. Photo from my dad's albums. We'll Be Back! Port Said, Egypt in 1951 or 1952. Photo from my dad's albums.


The Canberra Times of Thursday, September 28, 1950 describes the visit of the Mediterranean Fleet to Turkey and Greece.

Canberra Times Thursday 28 September 1950

The text reads:

Fleet's Summer Cruise

Visits to Turkey and Greece

The traditional series of courtesy visits and social occasions punctuated this year's summer cruise of the Royal Navy's Mediterranean Fleet. King Paul of Greece visited the British warships during their stay in Greek waters and the Fleet's annual regatta was staged in the Bay of Marmarice during the visit to Turkey.

The Commander-in Chief, Admiral Sir John Edelsten, flew his flag in HMS "Gambia". Rear Admiral C T M Pizey was in the ciuiser "Phoebe" and Rear-Admiral G Grantham in the 13,000-ton light fleet carrier "Glory"

The Aegean and The Levant

While in Greek waters among islands which the classically-minded do not hesitate to call the most beautiful m the world British and Greek warships took part in combined exercises The Turkish Fleet, its flagship the elderly battle-cruiser "Yavuz", was already in the Bay of Marmarice when the Mediterranean fleet steamed in. The background of tree-clad hills, the tiny white buildings, and the deep blue water made a picture little changed since the time St. Paul sailed this Asia Minor coast

One of the exercises during this year's cruise was a beach landing called 'Exercise Bandit'. Supported by the guns of the Fleet, a Royal Naval landing party attacked and reduced an eminence given as occupied by bandits.

[The images are not good enough to reproduce but the text to them is:]

(Above) H M S Phoebe (backgound) and the light fleet carrier Glory enter the Bay of Marmarice for the Fleet s annual regatta

(Below) The Turkish flagship Yavuz fires a salute as the Mediterranean Fleet enters Marmarice during the 1950 summer cruise

A radio operator maintains communication between the ships and the landing patty during "Exercise. Bandit".

In the fierce Mediterranean sun, a landing party from H.M.S. "Chivalrous" advances along the beach against a position held by "bandits"

Inspection by Rear Admiral Pizey, 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. King Paul of the Hellenes inspecting the ships Stokers Division in Athens, Greece in September, 1950. Photo from my dad's albums. King Paul of the Hellenes with the CinC of the Mediterranean Fleet in Athens, Greece in September, 1950. One of Alan Goodwin's photos, submitted by his grandson, Steve McAllister. King Paul of the Hellenes inspection in Athens, Greece in September, 1950. One of Alan Goodwin's photos, submitted by his grandson, Steve McAllister.


Alan L. Clements (Clem) was born in 1921 and joined the Royal Navy as a boy-apprentice at Fisgard from the Royal Hospital School in 1936 but was drafted to HMS Caledonia, Rosyth in 1937. The apprenticeship was shortened on the outbreak of war and he went to HMS Defiance at Devonport before getting HMS Duke of York as his first ship. He got into missiles in 1952 and went to Woomera, South Australia to continue R&D with GEC on Seaslug & Seadart. Alan served 22 years and was pensioned in September 1961 when he moved to Adelaide.

These images come from Alan who was an Electrical Artificer on the HMS Gambia's 1950/2 commission:

Christening of Brain Clements before leaving Guzz (Devonport Yard, Plymouth), 1950. C.E.A. Don Marr, Bob Hope, E.A. Clements. Photo from Alan Clements. Christening of Brain Clements before leaving Guzz (Devonport Yard, Plymouth), 1950. Photo from Alan Clements. Tiffy's (Artificer's) Dance at the Vernon Club, Valletta, Malta. E.A. Algy Longworth, O.A. Les Buller and wife, O.A. Pete Oughton and E.A. Clements, E.A. Barry Partridge, C.E.A. Pete Sawyer and Pete's wife, having some strange effect on O.A. Jack Sturges. Photo from Alan Clements. Tiffy's (Artificer's) Dance at the Hotel Phoenicia, Valletta, Malta. O.A. Arthur Boydell and wife, with Jack Sturges gyrating again, O.A. Viv Say and Shipwright Frankie?. Photo from Alan Clements. Tiffy's (Artificer's) Ball at the Hotel Phoenicia, Valletta, Malta. L to R: Commander (E), W.O. Mr???, W.O. Ordnance Rip Gladding, E.A. Clements, Mrs R Gladding, W.O. (Radar)???, Mrs and W.O. (Elect) Mr Wannicott. Photo from Alan Clements. Ship's Dance. Electrical Artificer Alan Clements with Reverencd Bob Pope and wife. Chief Writer Taff Evans in the background. Photo from Alan Clements. Open Day on HMS Gambia. O.A. Viv Say and new borm, Mr Wannicott, Connie Say, O.A. Bullen, Mary and Young Bullen, Wife and E.A. Algy Longworth, O.A. Hilton?, O.A. Hilton? O.A. Boydels wife. Photo from Alan Clements The Mediterranean Fleet gathered at Marmarice, Turkey for The Regatta, 1950. Photo from Alan Clements Chucking up boats at Marmarice, Turkey. Photo from Alan Clements HMS Gambia's soccer team on their way to Corradino, Malta. Photo from Alan Clements CEA Pete Sawyer and EA Algy Longworth at Corradino, Malta. Photo from Alan Clements EA Alan Clements and EA Algy Longworth at Corradino, Malta. Photo from Alan Clements Marmarice Canteen, Turkey, 1950. Photo from Alan Clements A run ashore at Famagusta, Cyprus, June 1950. Photo from Alan Clements Artificers ashore at Famagusta, Cyprus, June 1950. E. A Clements, O.A. Sturges, E.A. Longworth, R.E.A. Symons. Photo from Alan Clements Electrical Artificer Alan Clements baby sitting Reverend Bob Pope's children, Patrick and Hilary. Photo from Alan Clements Electrical Artificer Alan Clements with guest on HMS Gambia in Port Said. Photo from Alan Clements. HMS Gambia Electrical Division, 1950 - 1952. Front Row L-R: EA3 Algy  Longworth, EA3 Alan Clements (Clem) CEA Pete Sawyer, Next Unknown, Lt  McGowan, Commander Lock, Mr Wannicot, C Elect??, PO Elect Conner?, PO Electr??? Acting PO elect. Second Row: 3rd right EA4 Barry Partridge, far right PO Elect. Bell, under flag EM Hartland?. Photo from Alan Clements The Champions: Electrical Division Cricket Team. Front L to R: P.O. Elect:? Comdr Lock, C.E.A. Pete Sawyer, Mr Wannicott, E.A. Algy Longworth. Back Row L to R: E.M Harland, E.A. Alan Clements, E.M.? P.O. Elect Bruce? Acting P.O. Elect? E.A. Barry Partridge and E.M. Little. Photo from Alan Clements Shipwright Department? Front Row L to R Soapy Hudson, Vic Hammond and others? Photo from Alan Clements Lord Louis Mountbatten inspects the Division. Lt Elect McGowan behind Lord Louis, Comdr Philamore, C.E.A. Sawyer, far end, Mr Wannicott nearest with P.O. Elect Dinger Bell next to him. Photo from Alan Clements Christmas Day 1950. Electrical Senior Rates invited to the wardroom for drinks. Mr Wannicott clowning around, Moe Symons less jacket, Comdr. Elect with his relief Comdr Lock to Alan Clements' right, Barry Partridge and Bruce? Photo from Alan Clements Valletta, the capital city of Malta. Photo from Alan Clements The Barrakka Lift or Lover's Leap, Valletta, the capital city of Malta. Photo from Alan Clements Refuelling tanker, Grand Harbour, Valletta, the capital city of Malta. Photo from Alan Clements Going ashore at Valletta, the capital city of Malta. Ordnance Artificer Jack Sturges, Electrical Artificers Algy Longworth and Alan Clements with a little friend. Photo from Alan Clements Moe Symons, Electrical Artificers Algy Longworth and Alan Clements at Mellieha Bay, Malta, 1950. Photo from Alan Clements Mosque at Benghazi, Libya, 1950. Photo from Alan Clements A run ashore with Electrical Artificer Algy Longworth and writers who shared a taxi for the day from Kyrenia, Cyprus, 1950. Photo from Alan Clements Château d'If in the Bay of Marseille in southeastern France, 1950. It is famous for being one of the settings of Alexandre Dumas' adventure novel The Count of Monte Cristo. 'If' is the French word for the Yew tree. Photo from Alan Clements Château d'If in the Bay of Marseille in southeastern France, 1950. It is famous for being one of the settings of Alexandre Dumas' adventure novel The Count of Monte Cristo. 'If' is the French word for the Yew tree. Photo from Alan Clements Electrical Artificer Alan Clements with Ordnance Artificers Hilton and Sturges on The King Victor Emmanuel Monument, Rome. Photo from Alan Clements A view from the King Victor Emmanuel Monument, Rome. Photo from Alan Clements A view from the King Victor Emmanuel Monument, Rome. Photo from Alan Clements A view from the King Victor Emmanuel Monument, Rome. Photo from Alan Clements St. Peter's Basilica, St. Peter's Square, Vatican City, Rome. Photo from Alan Clements Venice from HMs Gambia, 1950. Photo from Alan Clements Gondolas moored at St. Mark's Square, Venice, 1950. Photo from Alan Clements The Campanile in St. Mark's Square, Venice, 1950. Photo from Alan Clements We hired two water taxis for a trip down The Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge, Venice, 1950. Photo from Alan Clements We hired two water taxis for a trip down The Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge, Venice, 1950. Photo from Alan Clements Saint Mark's Basilica, Venice, 1950. Photo from Alan Clements Sailing off Nettuno Beach, Italy. Photo from Alan Clements Sailing off Nettuno Beach, Italy. Photo from Alan Clements

Some of the photos mention the Vernon Club in St James's Bastion, Valletta, Malta. Only the outer facade of the building now survives. When Malta gained independence in 1964, the Maltese Government decided to establish a central bank, and in July 1968, the Bank acquired the Vernon Club on St James Bastion in Valletta. The outer facade was kept, but the inside of the building was redesigned, gutted and rebuilt. The new building opened in February 1971. The Central Bank of Malta website has a history of the building.

The Barrakka Lift is an interesting structure. It was built in 1905. The original lift closed in 1973 and was dismantled in 1983. In 2009 plans were drawn up for a new lift and building started in 2010 and it was opened in 2012.


Alan 'Striker' Goodwin served on HMS Gambia from December 30, 1949 to September 29, 1952. His grandson, Steve McAllister, very kindly sent the following photographs.

We think this is Commander R. F. Phillimore, MBE, DSC., commander of HMS Gambia. One of Alan Goodwin's photos, submitted by his grandson, Steve McAllister. Christmas 1950. Alan 'Striker' Goodwin is pictured on the far left of the middle row. Ken Booth very kindly sent a list of the others in the picture. They are: Top left to right: Tony 'Al' Murray, Tony 'Boxer' Scammell, not known, LEM Jock Collins, and two not knowns. Middle left to right: Alan 'Striker' Goodwin, not known, Alan Speakman, Scouse Edwards, Gordon Ross. Front left to right: Fred Harling, Albert Howard, not known, John Stevenson. Tony Scammell was known as 'Boxer' because he was so good at it! One of Alan Goodwin's photos, submitted by his grandson, Steve McAllister. Alan Goodwin is on the left in this picture which was taken in the Upper Barracca Gardens in Malta in 1951. The man on the right is Fred Harling from Banbury. Ken Booth remembers he was sent home from the commission early with T.B. One of Alan Goodwin's photos, submitted by his grandson, Steve McAllister. Christmas 1951. Ken Booth identified the people in the picture. Top left to right: Alan Goodwin, two not knowns, Tony Murray, Geoff. Walkden, not known, Gordon Ross (with the staring eyes). Front Left to right: John Stevenson, Albert Howard, three not knowns, Fred Harling. One of Alan Goodwin's photos, submitted by his grandson, Steve McAllister. Union Jack Club - Karachi - Feb 1952. Steve wrote his grandad is the one center left with the dodgy beard. Ken Booth, that mine of information, says that the man to Alan's right is Danny McAlinden and the one next to him is L.E.M. Gordon Ross. One of Alan Goodwin's photos, submitted by his grandson, Steve McAllister. Steve McAllister said this was his favourite photo of his grandad Alan Goodwin. Steve thought this was taken at Colombo but Ken Botth thinks it was taken at Dyatalawa. HMS Gambia was in dry dock at Colombo which could accont for the confusion. Ken wrote that the train trip between Colombo and Dyatalawa was not to be forogtten. "I still have the marks from the seats!" One of Alan Goodwin's photos, submitted by his grandson, Steve McAllister.


Denys Powell served on HMS Gambia from 1949 to 1952 as a Stoker Mechanic. In December 2002, his daughter, Anita Neads, very kindly sent these photos to me.

Denys Powell on June 26, 1949. Photo from Denys Powell, kindly submitted by Anita Neads. Denys Powell served on HMS Gambia from 1949 to 1952 as a Stoker Mechanic. Photo from Denys Powell, kindly submitted by Anita Neads. Three of Denys Powell's friends on HMS Gambia one Christmas. Unfortunately I do not know their names or the year. Photo from Denys Powell, kindly submitted by Anita Neads. Vice Admiral Lord Mountbatten's Inspection, 1950. Denys Powell is 4th from right. Photo from Denys Powell, kindly submitted by Anita Neads.


There was a lot of rough play during the Fleet Regattas for the Cock of the Fleet trophy. Bernard Mouzer, OBE RVM, served on HMS Phoebe during her 1948-1951 commission and sent me the following letter about the 1950 regatta he sent to his wife.

The Regatta this year is being spread over two days with the small ships competing on the first day. The two New Zealand ships win most of their races. With their Maori rowers they are very formidable opposition. But the main contest is on the second day between the bigger ships, Forth, Gambia, Glory and ourselves. Although we are the smallest of the four, with the smallest complement to choose crews from, we fancy ourselves to win the Cock. In the evening before our race I go to the cinema in the waist to see "Under Capricorn."

Wednesday 12. 7.50 is probably the most memorable day of the commission. Phoebe wins the Regatta and is the Cock of the Fleet. We are already looking forward to steaming into Grand Harbour with the huge plywood cock in its prominent place on B turret and of course the Skipper receiving the silver cock trophy from the Admiral.

Phoebe wins quite comfortably. Out of the 8 Seamen's boats we come fourth and our A whaler comes first. So as well as a sore bottom and horny hands I now have a certain amount of satisfaction. Times are faster than last year and the competition keener, encouraged by the New Zealanders.

They (the New Zealanders) are different to us. It can be said for them that they are tremendously high spirited and good humoured and that they go all out to enjoy themselves. However, because of their high spirits they run away with themselves and become hooligans. They're excused a bit because amongst the hooliganism there is nothing but good humour. They don't get nasty. But by nature they're rough and physically they're big, well developed and extremely healthy.

Imagine therefore the consequences when foraging parties from the New Zealand ships come in the black night to pinch our Cock. The wooden one illuminated on B turret. There were also parties from other ships, notably Gambia and Forth. The Captain himself piped "Stand by to Repel Boarders" and when we got up top he was standing on the quarterdeck, drenched to the skin, clad in formal dinner attire, heaving spuds and shouting, "Rally round Phoebes!" All the hoses were going, all the officers were drenched and mostly drunk – spuds, red lead bombs, paint, buckets of gash, and still the Kiwis came. Up the gangway, up the anchor cable, up the booms and in through the ports. They were beaten, drenched, painted and then chucked over the side only to shout back in defiance, "We'll be back you jokers" and back they'd come.

The bridge was teeming with them. One of them was thrown off the flag deck onto an awning and then over the foc'sle. A couple were taken to sick bay but thanks to good providence nobody was seriously hurt. One cheeky b climbed in through a port, put all the plugs in the officers bathroom, turned all the taps on, took all the tap tops off and stowed them in a wine box. All the cabins in that region were flooded. What a laugh! One of them pinched one of the Captain's brass dolphins ( huge things) dived over the side with it and put it in his boat as booty. How he managed to swim with it I don't know.

At the height of it all the Captain had "The Cease Fire" sounded and everything stopped as suddenly as it started. A bedraggled officer from another ship still in his formal dinner dress, dragged himself up the gangway from where he had been heaved over the side and said, "Now I can go ahead with the social call I came to pay!" On the other side of the ship, in Hawea's boat a New Zealander in trunks, covered from head to foot in black paint, wiping himself on our tiddly cotton duck gangway screen said, "Three Cheers for Phoebe. We'll be back about three!"

Well not much happened after that except to pick all the blokes out of the water, and this morning we cleared up the mess. There were spuds, red lead, paint and in big black letters painted on the stern, "Gambia." Now we are shipshape again and it's all over. I know that it is all foolish hooliganism but I can't help admiring the Kiwis for their good humour and gameness. It helped to pass the time and no harm has been done except to the Instructor Lieutenant who has got a black eye. I am so pleased. (He is the man who upset me by being so unhelpful about my request for a correspondance course).

Ken Booth wrote in November 2002

The Gambia was waiting in Bombay in February '52 to go across to Mombassa to escort Princess Elizabeth and Phillip to Australia after their holiday in Kenya, but when the King died they flew home. We then became permanent members of the East Indies fleet until we sailed for home via the Med. where we took the trophy "Cock of the Fleet" as we passed through. It was hard work for those competing boats crews though.

Cock of the Fleet trophy won by HMS Phoebe at Marmarice, Turkey in July 1950. Photo from Bernard Mouzer. Bernard Mouzer is in 4A, in white shorts, turning round to look forward. Marmarice, Turkey in July 1950. Photo from Bernard Mouzer.


I'm not sure if this is the correct year, but it seems to fit here as well as anywhere else as Walter (Tom or Tommo) Thomas remembered the collision with HMS Phoebe on Monday, October 16, 1950.

In July 2002, I got an email from Karen Thomas who provided some information about her grandad Walter (Tom or Tommo) Thomas. She wrote that:

He served on as a Royal Marine with 40 Commando from May 1946 to February 1960. His service number was PO/X662.

He served aboard the Gambia for around 2½ years. Whilst he was on board there was another Marine killed. His name was Paddy Bray and he was squashed. Also, whilst he was aboard the Gambia it ran into a ship that was passing mail. The mail ship pulled ahead in front of the Gambia and they collided. She had to go back into dry-dock in Malta for repairs.

He was aboard the Vanguard for around 14 months. 1948 - 1949 approx. The Vanguard was due to take King George VI to Australia but the plans changed at the last minute as he became ill.

He had a particularly friend, Ronald (Tex) King, who left at the same time as Tom. Tex bought himself out and was last known to be planning to live in Australia.

Walter Thomas is center, second row from the back in this photo which was kindly submitted by his grand-daughter, Karen. Walter described himself in this photo as "the miserable looking git!". Walter Thomas. This photo was kindly submitted by his grand-daughter, Karen. Walter Thomas. This photo was kindly submitted by his grand-daughter, Karen. Karen thinks this photo was taken in Malta.

The collision Karen mentions would have been the one HMS Gambia had with HMS Phoebe on Monday, October 16, 1950.

I didn't think anything of it at the time, but recently did some research. Royal Marine E. T. Bray did not die on HMS Gambia but on HMS Vanguard. Returning to Grand Harbour, Malta on October 21, 1948, Bray was crushed between a 5.2 inch gun turret and another part of the ship. Bray was aged just 20 and his mother, Mrs Margaret Bray, lived at School House, Monkstown, County Durham. Bray is buried in in Kalkara Naval Cemetery, Malta.

There have been eleven ships named HMS Vanguard. Some of the ships had some nasty accidents. The 8th HMS Vanguard was sunk on August 27, 1875 after a collision with her sister ship, HMS Iron Duke. The 9th, suffered a magazine explosion on July 9, 1917. She sank almost instantly, with the loss of 843 of the 845 men aboard. The 11th HMS Vanguard is a nuclear-powered Trident ballistic missile-armed submarine. On February 4, 2009, the submarine collided with the French submarine Triomphant in the Atlantic.