Keith F. Connew

Keith was a Regulating Petty Officer on HMNZS Gambia and recounted this amusing story which was published in an article named "As I Remember" edited by Kelly Ana Morey, along with the story from Able Seaman Victor Fifield. I do not know where the clipping came from, or where it was originaly printed.

Gambia went to the Azores. We allowed one watch to go ashore, and they were to go ashore from midday until 4 o'clock, and the other watch was to go ashore from 5 o'clock until about 8. Jack Cameron and I said, "Well we won't go ashore first, we will go second and we will see what the place is like from others".

We never got the chance. Somehow or other they got on board, they were that drunk, we went and collected boatloads of people from the jetty and brought them on to the ship. We had people from other ships in our cells. The Captain sailed the ship at 8 o'clock the next morning and out of the way. Our watch never got a chance to go ashore.

That evening some young sailor came around the corner from somewhere and hit me on the nose. He's never been able to explain why he did that, but he was full of grog and so were many others. I will never forget when we left the Azores, we had Captain's defaulters on the quarterdeck and I think I had about 400 bottles of spirits as evidence.

Each one had a name on it and these were the spirits that had been smuggled aboard that previous night. They were charged in front of the Captain with each offence and I had to produce the evidence. Then to my horror the Captain said, "Throw it over the side", because by this time we were at sea and I had to go to the guard rail and throw these bottles one by one over the sea.

I will never forget, I had come against one chap who had smuggled a magnum of champagne. When he had come on board he looked like the hunch back of Notre Dame. Because he came up and this thing was placed up the back of his jumper, and we took it off him, put his name on it, and all the Officers at the defaulters watched me throw this magnificent bottle of champagne over the side.

The following comes from the National Museum of the Royal New Zealnd Navy:

Lieutenant Keith Connew B.E.M., M.I.D. joined the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy as a Seaman Boy in 1934. After a year of basic training at HMS Philomel, he joined the cruiser HMS Dunedin for a little over a year before being posted to the cruiser HMS Achilles in early 1937. While onboard that ship Connew, by then an ordinary seaman saw action at the Battle of the River Plate and consequently was Mentioned in Despatches. Apart from a brief time in the armed-merchant cruiser HMS Monowai he remained with HMS Achilles until early 1943 when he joined HMNZS Gambia which was based out of Ceylon, remaining onboard until the end of World War II.

Having joined the regulating branch in 1942, Connew was Master at Arms in HMNZS Philomel at the time of the 1947 mutiny and provides some insight in to this incident. Apart from a year in the cruiser HMNZS Bellona, he was ashore at various establishments notably HMNZS Philomel, HMNZS Tamaki and HMNZS Cook in the Regulating Branch. In 1954 he became a recruiter for the Royal New Zealand Navy, a job he performed admirably for many years.

Keith Connew retired in August 1971 having attained the rank of Lieutenant.