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Derek Lilliman

(My Story)

Joined the 'Andrew' in 1944 at HMS Royal Arthur, Skegness (ex Butlins Holiday Camp) to be 'kitted up' and finally to HMS Ganges at Shotley as an HO (Hostilities Only). Halfway through Basic Training as a Seaman, the 'conscripts' on the course where shipped away into the Army leaving only the volunteers. Another odd thing that happened was after completion of training and leave; we were kept back in 'Ganges' to act as labourers for the 'Riggers' from Chatham Dockyard to refit The Mast. It was stripped down to the stump (which incidentally is a steel tube not wood!) and every piece of rigging re-placed.

After this it was off to the Isle of Man to become a RP3 (Radar Plot) working a two-watch system, (early and late!). Marching from the Hotels on the sea front at Douglas, which was HMS Valkyrie to the Heads were the Radar School was, and back again each day. Followed by four weeks in HMS Collingwood, Fareham, Hants, 1944 to do the 'plotting' part of the course.

On completion it was off to Iceland just before Christmas 1944 along with thousands of Yanks on the Troopship 'SS Highland Monarch' to HMS Baldur, Reykjavik and thence on to the Arctic Circle to man a 144 Radar set Stationed on the top of a mountain to sweep the Denmark Straights for German Raider's who might sneak round the top of Iceland in 1945. As it was near the end of the war this was shut down and it was back to Chatham on the Troopship 'MV Tampia'

Chatham Barracks was unbelievable, grossly overcrowded with nowhere to sling your 'Mick' or stow your kitbag. I heard a 'buzz' that if you volunteered for Submarines you could get out of the place. This I promptly did and found myself on draft to HMS 'Dolphin' early 1945. Blockhouse was as bad as Chatham; Pactolus Block (i.e. The Shed's or Stables!) had hammocks slung everywhere you could imagine, even between the girders in the roof and the electrics were unbelievable. Bits of flex strung all over the place with bare lamps and no such thing as a Power Point!

After completion of the Submarine Course, which I found very confusing, doing classroom work on S Boats, did Sea Training on U & V Boats (Vox, Voracious & Umbra) and was drafted to a T boat as my first boat! On the Tactician in 1945 I quickly learnt how to become C&PO's Bathroom sweeper, steer a submarine, became proficient on the Fore Planes as well as operate a 291, 'handraulic' Radar Set with a double di-pole aerial with only an 'A' Scan and no PPI

Somebody in the hierarchy decided that Radar Ratings should do 'Asdics' whilst dived so I was sent inboard in 1946 to do a SD's (Submarine Detector) course. I didn't mind this as in them day's all 'third class rates' only got three pence a day whereas SD's got sixpence. A fortune in them days!

After this it was onto the Thermopylae for about four months to become an SDR (Submarine Detector Radar) where PO McNally taught me all I needed to know to be an Asdic Rating as well as polishing bright work in the Control Room.

About this time, Sept 1946 Long Weekends had just been introduced and one Friday getting ready to go on LWE I was told to report to the Submarine Drafting Office, which was on the Ship Titania alongside in Blockhouse, were I was told that I wasn't! As I was joining the Amphion (LCDR Gowan/LCDR Maydon), sailing for Hong Kong the following morning, Saturday (Pier Head Jump) During my time on the Amphion I became proficient as Tanky, stand in Chef and wardroom Flunkey with a side line of being the Sight-Setter on the 4' Gun. However whilst in the Far East I had my first visit to Australia working with the RAN, berthing on the Ship HMAS Platypus in Watson's Bay, Sydney. Being Best Man at a friends wedding, I thought the place was terrific and had a great months stay!

In Hong Kong I learnt a lot about sailing a 14' pussers sailing dinghy as the Jimmy, Lieut John Coote was a keen yachtsman at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Kellet Island and he used me as his crew This is when I decided to stay in the RN and signed on!

Two years later on return to Dolphin and Foreign Service leave I suddenly found myself doing a Torpedo Course on the HMS Maidstone in 1948 as, without a 'by your leave' I was made a TD3. Next it was to the Aeneas (LCDR Martin) where I quickly learnt to be an After End man, Opening and shutting the "After Trim Main Line Suction" at Watch Diving, polishing bright-work for two and a half years and suffering three 'Summer Wars'!

Next I was drafted in 1950 to the Sea Scout (LCDR Walters) where I became once again proficient as Tanky, Stand in Chef and Fore End-man with the added duty as Breach Worker on its 4' gun.

Realizing that now I was married it was time I pulled my finger out and got somewhere. I passed ET1 and qualified as a Killick. It was also about this time that I found out I was no longer a TD3 but a UW3, as opposed to a UC3, don't ask me why?

Having been rated Leading Seaman by CDR Nash in March 1952, I was drafted to Portland where I spent a happy month driving a Pussers Red Devil as Spare Crew Postman. This came to an end in 1952 when I was asked if I would like to be a Second Coxswain and sent to the Sleuth (LCDR Todd), a streamlined S class. This job taught me an awful lot about towing, streaming and recovering 'buffs' whilst acting as clockwork mouse for the Destroyers.

Scratcher'(2nd Cox'n) of the Taciturn (CDR Mitchell) followed, in 1953 my first stretched T class, then a draft out to the Mediterranean on the C-in-C's Staff for two summers, 1953/54, diving and underwater fishing with Admiral Mountbatten, returning to S/M's during the winter, qualified for PO on the 'Forth' and finishing the commission as Scratcher of the Sanguine (LCDR Tait, later Admiral) in 1955. A most enjoyable time, the boat visiting numerous ports, around the Mediterranean Sea. Although I did have the dubious privilege of having to change the press wire on the Attack periscope, not a very easy or pleasant task!

Arriving in Dolphin after my Foreign Service leave in Oct 1955, I found my B13 for PO waiting for me, got rated, moved into the PO's Mess, the old No 6 Mess down in the Fort where on the very first night somebody nicked my Burberry. After suffering the PO's Divisional Course at HMS Royal Arthur, Corsham, was drafted to Guzz to commission the Thule (LCDR Derrick) as Second Coxswain on which I spent an agreeable two years in 1957 as Training Boat running from Dolphin and having carried out cox'n's duties on several occasions was recommended for the Cox'n's Course.

Qualifying Cox'n in 1957 and doing my Part Three on the Seneschal it was back to Guzz to commission the Tabard (LCDR Merriwether/LCDR Pogson) and after running up in Scotland, out to the Mediterranean once again for another two and a half years, getting rated A/CPO. During this time we were the first boat to be fitted with a periscope with a built in sextant and also the first fitted with a w/t 'ALE'. The Tabard, eventually leaving Malta, for Australia without me as I was nearing the end of my time abroad. I relieved Tex Golding on the Tapir in 1960 so he could become the Regulating Cox'n on the Depot ship 'Forth & Narvick' and for a short time was Cox'n of the Miner VI (torpedo recovery vessel)

Returning to Dolphin I was Cox'n in charge of Dolphin II from 1961/64 The Submarine Training School for two years were I organized the Training Division and then due to a character in the Tank losing his Chief's rate, I suddenly found myself as an Instructor in the Submarine Escape Training Tank for eighteen months and then two and a half years as Escape Cox'n for the 4th S/M division based on HMAS Penguin (that was my primary job, but the most important one was as Bar Manager and Vice Pres. of the Chief's Mess) Also being made a confirmed Chief Petty Officer, Cox'n during this time from 1964/66! Also during this time the division went down to New Zealand and I took passage to Auckland on the Trump to give escape lectures then travelled to Gisborne to return to Sydney on the Taciturn doing the same thing.

On return to UK in 1966 during my Foreign Service leave I had to join HMS Excellent to complete a MAA's Course as I was being drafted to the Repulse Port Crew (CDR Wadman), building at Barrow. Another bright idea from the hierarchy, Cox'n's joining the Polaris Programme should be qualified Master at Arm's!

I would have quite happily stayed on the Repulse forever as I only had the three "R's" to worry about (Rum, Rattle Sheets & Railway Warrants!) but the Family wanted to emigrate to Australia and seeing as I was nearing the end of my 'fifth five' with no hope of signing on for a sixth, I resigned from the RN on 14th May, 1969 after 25 years and emigrated to Australia.

I settled in Sydney in 1969 and the joined the RAN, I was asked to join their S/M's but after a 'Nuke' I didn't fancy going back to sea on a conventional again, so opted for the Naval Police. I won't dwell on my sixteen years in the Royal Australian Navy, enough to say I started at the bottom again and left as a Warrant Officer with the rather grandiose title of 'Deputy Officer in Charge, Naval Police Security Section, Garden Island' which amounted to sitting on my backside in an office and watch the RAN stuff up. However, at one stage I was in charge of the Transport and Fire Department and organized a fire fighting demonstration team, which competed with other non-professional fire fire-fighters, and they won several trophies and acclamations for which I was awarded a Flag Officer's Commendation (RADML MARTIN RAN, Deceased).

Leaving the RAN in 1985, after sixteen year, from 1969 till 1985 I worked on Garden Island Dockyard, Sydney as a Clerical Assistant, before becoming the 'Technical Assistant' to the Curator of the Naval Historical Collection (A passed over LCDR) on Spectacle Island in Sydney Harbour. This consisted of a jumble of artefacts collected over the years from various 'Paid Off' ships and I began to organize it into some semblance of order and display.

I enjoyed this very much but the Curator and I did not see eye to eye over various things which I won't comment on and I decided to resign and move to Queensland where most of my family where living. Buying a house on the Gold Coast!

Supposedly having retired, I don't know who drove who up the wall, my wife or me but eventually I had to go out and get a job This, I did and became the Store Manager and Salesman for a Danish Firm selling deep sea fishing gear to the Commercial Fishing Fleets all around Australia. This was a great job; I enjoyed very much travelling around the country and building it up from a gross of $60,000 a year to over 2 Million when I left at the age of 67.

As my Family and Grand Children had all grown up in Queensland by then? My wife and I decided to move to WA were we could be with our youngest son and Grand Daughter and watch her grow up like the others. My family having bought me a computer and becoming fairly proficient on it I began to enjoy life as a retiree also having found out about the existence of the Submarine Old Comrades WA. Which I joined, and this is when I became involved with the Submariners Association, Australia Branch.


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Lieutenant Douglas Ramsden Attwood, DSC, Royal Navy ReserveBill Morrison