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In March 2020, Amanda Dalton, the daughter of Leading Telegraphist John William Holmes Aire who served on HMS Gambia for her 1955/56 commission, very kindly sent me a lot of photos and a biography.
Leading Telegraphist John "Jock" Aire on left front, Ordinary Telegraphist Harold Geoff Beestin, Telegraphist G. "Jock" Redpath. Front right, holding the phone is the leading hand of the watch, who is anonymous, looking at the back of the head of Ordinary Telegraphist Nev Blockley.
Amanda wrote of her father...
My Dad, John William Holmes Aire (Jock/Jackie) was born in Glasgow on the 21st May 1932. He was orphaned in 1941 and joined the Royal Navy (RN) in June 1948 as a boy telegraphist. He remained at the shore establishment HMS Ganges until September 1949. I know that he was involved in the manning the mast ceremony at some point during his time there. He transferred to Devonport (HMS Drake) in September of that year.
His first shipboard posting was HMS Euryalus (a Dido-class cruiser) in October 1949 as an ordinary telegraphist. He then went on to serve on HMS Tyne (a Hecla-class destroyer depot ship) in Malta on January 1951 for a year. He returned to Devonport for 4 months before joining HMS Flint Castle (a Castle-class corvette) based at HMS Osprey (Portland) from May 1952 until January 1953. He returned to HMS Drake in January 1953 and on to another shore establishment HMS Hornet (Gosport) July of the same year. During this time I think Dad also spent time on HMS Porchester Castle (another Castle-class corvette, HMS Loch Scavaig (a Loch-class frigate) and at HMS Hornet, HMS Gifford, a Ford-class Seaward defence patrol boat.
In November 1953 he was promoted to a leading telegraphist and joined HMS Gambia in January 1955 for the 1955-56 commission. He was put in charge of cryptographic duties whilst serving on the Gambia. He returned to HMS Drake at the end of that commission and married my Mum, Pearl Ivy Lough on the 29 December 1956. His Royal Navy service culminated as i/c of CRR at RNAS Yeovilton (HMS Heron) on the 28 March 1957.
During his time in the RN he was an active and enthusiastic sportsman, representing his ship/division/mess in football, rugby, cricket, swimming and rowing. He also took part in the Royal Navy Field Gun competition representing Devonport.
He joined the Mid Anglia Constabulary (now Cambridgeshire police) in June 1957 serving in uniform and subsequently in the CID and as a Scenes of Crime Officer. He left the force in October 1966 and became a private detective and subsequently worked for several firms of Solicitors in Peterborough as a legal executive. He died in February 1978 at the very young age of 45.
HMS Gambia's Communications Division.
Leading Telegraphist John Aire is third row, 8th from the left.
Petty Officer Telegraphist S. "Tubby" Jackson is 2nd row, 11th from left.
Ordinary Telegraphist Nev Blockley is front row, 6th from left.
The Christmas 1955 menu