For instance, we slept in double decker bunks that had been fitted into what had been the ballroom. It was well ventilated, and as we had pillows and sprung mattresses we were quite comfortable once we were allowed to undress. It was africam about the worst time of the war to sail.
With the Battle of Britain won by the RAF and the miracle of Dunkirk behind us the Germans were now concentrating on destroying our shipping and thus starving us of food and armaments, and freedom to move troops. From April to Afriacn 6th we lost over 3, gross tons of shipping in the Atlantic. This is about ships.
To make matters worse the Germans were finding it profitable to have a pack of subs in the Freetown area which was our first port of call. As we left Liverpool on exxeter evening of November 11th we were told that we must only take off our tunics and must sleep with our boots on for a few nights at least.
This information was a real confidence booster. Our duty then was to stare hopefully but not too optimistically at the dark sea and try to spot any intruder submarines or other vessels. Actually I almost enjoyed it — the stars overhead, the rough sea, rain and cloud and the other ships grey and dim in the darkness.
Day time watch was much more prosaic, but still interesting. Curiously in all my war travels at exetee I never had even a suspicion of sea sickness. Perhaps my mind was fully occupied by other things. It took about a month to reach Freetown Sierra Leone by our round about route. And with constant zigzagging to make life more difficult for the enemy subs.
The journey seemed fairly afrocan with the usual rumour of submarines driven off or sunk — which may or may not have been true. Sporadic gunfire would be heard but it could well have been just practice. Even if we had been on the fringes of one of the great sea battles of the war, no one would have told us of course. Eventually, however, we put into Freetown Sierra Leone.
We anchored yards or so offshore and were refuelled and supplied by boats. No opportunity to go on shore, of course.
After 3 days stewing in the heat of Freetown Harbour and such mild amusements as watching the locals dive for pennies, we were on our way again. Our C.
Squadron Leader Landells — and our best pilot called us together and told us that our destination was Iraq. Incidentally, my criticism of our officers was not meant to include afrifan flyers, only the ground staff. A few days later December 7th came Pearl Harbour and with the entry of Japan into the war it seemed likely that our destination might be changed.
The Japanese Navy Zero fighter completely outclassed our Brewster Buffalo fighter which was slow, limited in climb and with a faulty interrupter gear on its fuselage guns. And the Japanese long range bomber normal operational height 20, —24, ft arican distance miles was far superior to our Blenheims. Totally absent from the Royal Air Force were any dive-bombers, transport planes, photo-reconnaissance planes and army co-operation aircraft.
There were few trained pilots and there was a fearful shortage of spare parts. Our fears were confirmed on our arrival in Durban December 20th where we spent five days. The transfer itself was an ordeal. Loaded with full packs and carrying two kit bags we had also to carry a rifle slung over our shoulders. This would have been child's play to any army unit trained to do it, but what a struggle it became as we made our way for over half a mile to our new ship, with the hot sun beating down.
The remainder of our short time in Durban was more or less our own. I had my photograph taken and then turned my attention to sorting out some way of re-establishing communications with home. Aftican was posted on the 22 December and oddly enough it got through so the people at home had at least some idea of my whereabouts. I particularly remember that the buses had two seats at the rear specifically for coloured people which were labelled unmistakably.
Portsmouth-based HMS Exeter destroyed four Argentine aircraft - eceter Skyhawks and two reconnaissance planes - during the Falklands campaign. The Type 42 destroyer was sent to the region from the Caribbean to replace its sister ship HMS Sheffield, the first major British casualty of the conflict.
It was also involved in the Gulf War ofemployed as an escort for a US battleship and mine countermeasures vessels off the Kuwaiti coast. In it inn part in the International Fleet Review to mark the th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. The Navy is replacing its ageing Type 42s with the far more capable Type 45 Daring class of destroyers.