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Token - Gone Fishing

By Bill Dalton

This happened onboard the HMS Token tied up to the jetty at HMS Dolphin Submarine Base, we were day running with a destroyer who was training some "ping" ratings. The routine was, after tying up the duty watch would provide a "trot sentry" who's job it was to stand watch on the casing dressed in gaiters and webbing belt and look as if he knew what he was doing.

The trot sentry was a Stoker, he came from the West Country somewhere in Cornwall so his name was Jan, Jan was a good bloke a great oppo for a run ashore, always ready for a joke but his ambition was always to have a shot at the wardroom. If he could put one over the officers it would make his day. He never tried anything that would endanger anyone and some times the officers never knew that they had been had.

Onboard Token we had an Engineer Officer who was one of those people when dressed in a suit and it always looked as if the suit was trying to get away from them. The shirt which five minutes before was crisp would suddenly become wrinkled, the tie would creep around the neck, the trousers would start to hang down and the shirt would fold over the top of the trouser waist band, (a right bloody scran-bag). In white overalls he looked like an officer, but in a suit not a chance.

This was at a time when only Officers were allowed ashore in "mufti" (civilian clothing) the lower deck had to wear uniform ashore, and the clobber that the EO chose didn't enhance his appearance. He appeared up on the casing in a pair of sagging corduroy trousers a jumper three sizes too big with leather patches on the elbows to stop his elbows showing through.

He proceeds across the gangplank and heads for the Dolphin main gate leaving Jan shaking his head after the apparition he had just seen.

Half an hour later the Jimmy comes along the jetty and stops at the gangplank but doesn't cross it, he sings out to Jan "Trot sentry is the Engineer officer on board?" Jan answers, " No sir, he has gone ashore fishing". This puzzles the Jimmy and he says half to himself and half to Jan, "I didn't think he was interested in fishing", to which Jan replies, "Well sir by the clothes he was wearing he wouldn't be going any where else".

Now thoroughly confused, the Jimmy can just stare at Jan and finding no further help forecoming turns on his heel and walks away leaving Jan well pleased with his latest tilt with the wardroom and anxious for his relief to take over so he can tell the rest of the duty watch all about it.

Next day there was no exercise on, so we were all at cleaning stations each with a tin of Bluebell in one hand and a wad of cotton waste in the other shining up the brightwork. Into the donk room comes the Chief Stoker, beckons to Jan and informs him to get his cap and would he be so kind as to meet the Engineer Officer in the control room. Now we knew that the EO would'nt put anyone in the rattle, so after a short while we sneak for'ard to see what was happening in the control room. There the EO was giving Jan a right rollicking, Jan was leaning right back on his heels the EO was about six inches in front of him wagging his index finger about an inch from Jan's nose.

When Jan came back into the engine room he was still wearing his insuppressible grin and when asked what had happened said, "He wants me to go ashore with him to Greenburgh's the Naval Tailor to help him pick out some good gear" and then disappeared in board.

Next the Chief Stoker came in and told us that the EO had told Jan if he didn't stop being a smart arse he would be back in Chatham Barracks on D/B (double bottom bilge's) cleaning party for the rest of his time in the RN and as he knew so much about dress sense, get himself in board to the Token messdeck where he would find the Jaunty from the Dolphin Regulating Office waiting to give him a kit muster.

This was indeed a masterstroke by the EO, the Regulating office in Dolphin and the Jaunty who were General Service didn't think much about these Submariner ratings who thought they were better than anyone else and thought they could wander around in their own rig of the day. The Jaunty's eye's would have been flashing and he would have been licking his lips at the prospect.

Jan survived the ordeal and two days later he was asking the Wardroom Steward if he could get the officers birthdates as he had a plan to enrol them in a Children's Club sponsored by one of the daily newspapers


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