Encounter With The Enemy - Ships Nostalgia
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Encounter With The Enemy

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Old 9th November 2008, 12:03
BOB GARROCH BOB GARROCH is offline  
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Encounter With The Enemy

It was 1969, the Cold War was at its height and I had spent two years in trouble spots. Running the Rhodesian fuel embargo against the Royal Navy, Loading in Aden as Mad Mitch and the Argyle’s where fighting a rear guard action from the airfield. Then eighteen months in Vietnam.

My wife and I had been married four weeks and we had just boarded a Shell Tanker for a six month trip and we were heading for the most unusual evening we have ever experienced.

The USSR had deployed the Black Sea fleet (ESKADRA) into the Mediterranean Sea to protect Egypt from attacks by Israel. The fleet was approximately 20 – 30 ships.

Our destination was Alexandria with a load of Diesel fuel. As we entered the harbour we were greeted with the sight of the Russian fleet anchored. We tied up adjacent to a magnificent cruiser which was obviously the flag ship. I grabbed the opportunity and dashed ashore with my wife to have a closer look at her. As we walked past the cruisers gangplank, we were stopped by one of the deck officers who requested that we show a film for the crew that night. A little devil spoke into my ear. “Bob you have just the film to show these Ruskies.”

My generation had been brought up in the Cold war and lived under the threat of a three minute warning for Atomic War. I remember school air raid warnings. “Get under your desks put your head between your legs and kiss your ****’s goodbye” Was our Scottish school maths teacher refrain. So, we were understandably ambivalent toward Russians in those days.

I pulled out my best uniform put on my Vietnam Campaign ribbons, just to twist Ruskies tails. My wife put on her best low cut dress and soaked herself in heavy French perfume.
When we approached the cruiser we were met and saluted by a group of ordinary sailors dressed to the nines. (How the hell do you salute?)We were escorted on board to the rear of the ship to see the entire crew sitting at every advantage point to see the movie. They broke into song (As only Russians can sing) and some started Cossack dancing. I thought I was in Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore. The officers where waiting for us with drinks and snacks. After introductions to the crew I turned round and nearly fainted. All the fleet officers were there as well, including the Admiral. More introductions and Russian Vodka. (What a drink that is, when they offered me another glass, I said “no the bottle is fine thank you”)

I was now feeling very nervous about the film I was going to show. The crew had set up a projector and a large screen. They threaded the film and allowed me to (shaking fingers) press the start button. And the film “THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING” started.

The opening scene was greeted with howls of laughter (Russian submarine running aground near an American hamlet) Even the senior fleet officers were rolling around the deck. The film was stopped on occasions for translation by one of the officers. Then I had to show the entire film again. By which time I was suffering from Vodka overload. My wife was enjoying being surrounded by handsome Cossacks in uniform (Girls paradise). At the end of the evening they requested if I would show the film again the next night for other fleet ships crew members.

This has to be one of the most unusual experiences of my life and the least expected. Especially after being brainwashed by American movies and the British Government on how bad Russian people are. I found them to be just like you and me. And one hell of a sense of humour. A life changing experience. When we left the ship the crew waved goodbye with their hats waving. It moved me to tears...I could never hate Russians again.

Last edited by BOB GARROCH : 9th November 2008 at 12:21.
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