Signing On

Roy Jones
5th February 2015, 14:59
Hello all, My name is Roy Jones in 1949 I joined Glasgow Hawke
sea cadets until , 1954 when I joined the RNVR ( HMS GRAHAM )
CLYDE DIVISION . In 1958 I left the RNVR to join the Merchant
Navy as an engineer with Port Line and spent 4 happy years at sea.
I am 77 years old and like many seniors have a keen interest in the
sea and ships . Looking forward to using the site .
Roy Jones

5th February 2015, 16:31
Hello Roy,
Good to hear of another RNVR from that period. I was at HMS Graham until 1957 when I left to join the Merchant Navy (RFA) as a J/Engineer. I remember trips on HMS Blackburn, HMS Dubford and HMS Clyde and the winter maintenance weekends at Greenock. CPO Harry Hoskins, a regular RN Gunnery Instructor was the chap who drilled us during our 6 months training to Ordinary Seaman before going on to our respective branches. Commander Walkinshaw usually commanded Blackburn and I think the unit was commanded by a Captain Dobson.

5th February 2015, 18:49
Hello Roy,
Good to hear of another RNVR from that period. I was at HMS Graham until 1957 when I left to join the Merchant Navy (RFA) as a J/Engineer. I remember trips on HMS Blackburn, HMS Dubford and HMS Clyde and the winter maintenance weekends at Greenock. CPO Harry Hoskins, a regular RN Gunnery Instructor was the chap who drilled us during our 6 months training to Ordinary Seaman before going on to our respective branches. Commander Walkinshaw usually commanded Blackburn and I think the unit was commanded by a Captain Dobson.

Did you come across John Walkinshaw? I do not know if he was related to the Commander. He was at one time on FOSNI Staff.

5th February 2015, 20:37
Hello Chadburn,
No, I can't recall a John Walkinshaw but Iíve just googled Cdr Walkinshaw and found this link to his obituary which may be of interest:

6th February 2015, 15:28
Greetings Roy and welcome to SN. Bon voyage

6th February 2015, 15:29
Thanks for the info Wheelspanner, sounds like he was one of those people that would have been an asset to know. I see he had a brother called John.

6th February 2015, 16:41
Herbert Aubrey Walkinshaw and brother John Percy Walkinshaw were both involved in Glasgow shipping.
Herbert joined the board of Lyle Shipping in January 1960 after being associated with the management of the firm since 1950
John Percy Walkinshaw joined the board of H.Hogarth and Sons in 1963.
Both were instrumental in the two companies joining to form Scottish Ship Management (SSM) in 1968 and were members of the SSM board, Herbert being the first Managing Director.
SSM managed the joint fleets of the two companies which had adjacent offices at 40 and 48 Buchanan Street, Glasgow.

6th February 2015, 18:05
Thanks Old Salt.

7th February 2015, 21:54
A warm welcome aboard from the Philippines. Please enjoy all this great site has to offer

Roy Jones
10th February 2015, 16:59
thanks to all for welcoming me to the site , wheelspanner I remember all the names you have mentioned well and like yourself was on all the ships at one
time or another . I think we probably met at some time as I used to attend the
winter working weekends at Greenock etc. Cdr Walkinshaw was a fine officer and made everyone feel part of the team. I cannot remember John Walkinshaw
I sailed on HMS Blackburn often and thought she was the best sea ship of the
group with a large easy to handle engine room . My memory say's she was single screw with one engine but I did see someone saying she was twin screw
I was involved with marine engines for many years and the Blackburn was the
only ship where at start up when she had been lying for a few days . The CPO
usually chief Blackie would put a small explosive charge into No. 1 cylinder .
( looked like a small firework ) this was put in through a screw valve on top of
the cylinder head , A sure way of making sure she started . I read in Sea Breeze
or Ships Monthly an article about Blackburn after the navy had finished with her
She was taken over by someone who mounted a caterpillar type crane on her
and used her to salvage wrecks . Later she was listed as belonging to a firm called Gardiners .
Roy Jones

10th February 2015, 21:12
Hello Roy,
From memory, Blackburn was a twin screw (2 x Crossley diesels). Do you remember the gun on the stern, it may have been a Bofors gun, the engine room was usually given 5 minutes notice prior to firing so we didnít jump out of our skins with fright.
Yes, Cdr Walkinshaw was a fine officer. I recall an incident on Blackburn after a Saturday night run ashore, it may have been Campbeltown, when two of us tried the local brew. Unfortunately, the other chap got drunk and we made a lot of noise as I tried to get him down to the mess deck. Cdr Walkinshaw came down to see what was going on and helped me get matey into his hammock and gave me instructions to make sure he stayed on his side in case he was sick - and that was the end of the matter. You donít forget such things.
Sometime about 1955/57 HMS Graham was presented with the bell from HMS Vimiera and I was part of the guard of honour. I used to have a few of the official photographs of the occasion which disappeared during a house move. Would you know where the unitís photo collection ended up as I would like to get copies, the Mitchell Museum and the Clyde Division Old Hands have been unable to help.

Roy Jones
16th February 2015, 15:11
Wheelspanner, You are of course right the Blackburn was twin screw and I did remember the Crossley diesels which I think were six or eight cylinder, you are right it was a Bofors gun on the stern. I do not remember being aboard when it was fired , I have a photo of myself messing about on the gun . On one of the weekends when the wrens were aboard for training the gun suffered a bit of damage , The Clyde and Blackburn were at sea together with the wrens doing some of the jobs , we arrived back at Great Harbour with the Blackburn tying up first the Clyde came in after us and we felt a bit of a bump. The Clyde had ran into our stern and as the barrel of the Bofors protruded over the stern and the bow of the Clyde was higher the bofors took the force of collision . There was nothing to obvious to see but the deck was a wee bit warped. We were told
that the wren who was doing the telegraph in the wheelhouse had put in a ahead movement instead of an astern . I think a decision was taken at that time
that the gun would not be used again but that may have been changed after she had her overhaul. Your tale of Campbeltown sounds familiar I was there a few times and it was that kind of place . I have some photos from those days just taken by myself or mates . The only official one I have was taken when the Admiral did an inspection and we were all mustered in divisions alongside the RMVR hall. The best place I can think of to find the photos you are looking for would be Glasgow University who have a great collection of ships and information regarding Glasgow and I believe are very helpful . Hope this helps
and will chat some more later.

16th February 2015, 15:38
Welcome onboard to SN and enjoy the voyage

19th February 2015, 16:42
Hello Roy,
Thanks for the info about the photos. Glasgow University responded with a link to the National Archives but any RNVR references appear to be long before our time.

Some memories of the 3 ships kept at Greenock:
Blackburn was my favourite and although the hammocks were a joy to sleep in, the downside was having to lash them up in the morning and stow them in the rack. I too remember our WRENS going to sea on her, they lived in the hold which had been converted into accommodation of sorts. I have a feeling that the hold was forbidden territory when they were aboard. The stokers mess on Clyde was directly under the seamenís mess with the one and only shower being right up in the bow next the paint store. I didnít care all that much for Dubford, she had 3 screws, the outers driven by Paxman diesels and the centre by a Foden. She looked quite sleek and fast but I only sailed on her a couple of times and that was in very calm conditions.

Clyde (M1124) was part of the 101st minesweeping squadron and in the summer months we sometimes exercised with Kilmory and two others from Liverpool and Bristol. Great times were had at Douglas, especially at the start of the holiday season as many Irish girls went there for seasonal work in the hotels. Holyhead was another port of call. I recall being sent to the engineering school at Sultan and at another time to Portsmouth for steam training but ended up on Gavinton at Vernon. A wee bit of a disappointment but pleased that Gavinton was fitted with Mirrlees engines and not the noisy Deltics.

Were you by any chance at the dance hall above Burtonís the tailor in Greenock one Saturday evening when an American cruiser was lying off the Tail of the Bank. I have a vague memory of one of our chaps, his name may have been Gifford who objected to his girlfriend dancing with one of the Americans, so he went out onto the dance floor and punched him. There could only have been ten or so RNVRís in the hall and I donít remember the outcome for I was probably first down the stairs and running very fast down to the harbour and the safety of Blackburn.

19th February 2015, 18:48
The 'Ford' Class would have been a lot better if they had been fitted as envisaged with the Deltics on the wings and the Foden on the centre shaft. Being norrow gutted the would have speeded around the Anchorages like mini Destroyers. They were the first vessels designed with a sound proof booth in the Engineroom because of the envisaged noisy Deltics being fitted. As it was the first 'Tons' were retro fitted with them.

Roy Jones
21st February 2015, 22:02
Hello Wheelspanner and Chadburn, I agree with you both about the Dubford she
looked fast and powerful with her two funnels alongside and streamlined body and I had heard about the Deltics not being fitted which may help explain this incident which happened around 57/58 . I was down in Great Harbour on one of the other ships when the Dubford returned from an exercise . The lads who were on board Dubford were dying to tell us what had happened . They had dropped a depth charge but the ship was going to slow and her stern was lifted
up out of the water leading to most of the electric light bulbs on the lower deck
blowing also some electric fitting being damaged . It may be nothing to do with
the engines and more likely to with the officer in charge getting things wrong.
This is the only time I remember depth charges being dropped by Dubford but others may remember more occasions .
The weekend of the battle in Burtons . The American Cruiser was part of a NATO
fleet on exercise in the area. It was also the weekend before Britain and France invaded Suez . Regards the fight I was at the far side of the hall with a young lady and was unaware there was a problem until it erupted on the other side of the room and fists started flying . You were lucky that you were near the exit door as I was about as far away as you could get and the only door I could see was the toilet , I decided to try and avoid the fight and headed for the toilet but (the best laid plans of mice and men ) I came across one of our blokes in a fight with two Americans , I waded in to level things and my mate decked his opponent and got ready to tackle the other who took off. Do you remember McGuigan I can't remember his first name but we all just called him McGuigan .
He was a big well built bloke who loved to fight and this was the mate I had stopped to help. He was looking around to see who to tackle next, when I told him to come with me and headed for the toilet he followed and we got in with
out any more fights . I just opened the toilet door and there was an American Marine sitting on the wash hand basin with a leg trailing and his head against the tiled wall . There was two Norwegian Sailors and he was spouting off to them about " the whole trouble with the Limey's is they are scared to make a move unless we are there to back them " I just thought **** ! This was to much for McGuigan and he said something like " Where were you at the start of the war you B------ " Then hit him a hard thump , the guy's head was against the wall , there was blood everywhere and it was obvious his nose was broken . McGuigan was still challenging him to fight. The two Norwegians were amazed but did not try to leave. The marine was on the floor sobbing . I was wondering what do when McGuigan picked up the marine and threw him out the door.( not
a good idea ) This alerted the Americans outside as to our whereabouts. They were not pleased and tried to force the door open while we on the inside did our best to keep it closed ( including the two Norwegians ) The crowd outside were going mad and we were having a job keeping the close. McGuigan said let them in one at a time and i'll sort them out but I was not keen on that and we held the door until it went quieter and we thought we might be ok. Just then a loud hammering started on the door and after a bit we were told that the American Shore Patrol had arrived and you B------ds had better surrender in a strong American accent. McGuigan told them to f--- off and more hammering with there sticks went on. I could not see away out of this the Shore Patrol said they were going to get axes and smash the door in . McGuigan told them we would be be waiting for them . I could not see any way out for us when a Scottish voice came through the door asking if we were ok and to wait for a bit until they got things sorted out . The Greenock Police had arrived and we could hear an argument going on outside the door , eventually the police told us to open the door and about ten Greenock Police were waiting to escort us to the police van. The only people in the hall were American sailors and shore patrol
The Scottish sergeant told the Americans he would take us back to the station
and question us and they should do the same with there people . We got to the police station and McGuigan told the sergeant the other side had started it and
the sergeant said he knew which made me feel better . The sergeant organised
a cup of tea for us all including the Norwegians who seemed to have enjoyed the whole thing. We were asked a few basic questions then the police took us back to our ships . Sometime in the early hours.
A few weeks later McGuigan was in a fight outside Burtons where he threw a bloke through the plate glass window and ended up with the police looking for him to answer questions. McGuigan decided against this and joined the Royal Navy as a regular.

23rd February 2015, 22:34
Hello Roy,
After reading your account of the battle of Burtons, I thank my lucky stars that I managed a quick get away. It also brought back another memory of that particular night on Blackburn after we got into our hammocks and finally went to sleep. We were awoken by noises and the messdeck light being switched on and there in the doorway stood a sailor wearing an American white pork pie hat. For a few seconds we thought the Americans had found us and boarded the ship until we heard the familiar voice of one of our own come from under the pork pie hat, it turned out he had met an American sailor and the two of them had spent the evening touring Greenock pubs then swapped caps as they parted company. After we recovered from the shock he was subjected to much verbal abuse for scaring the hell out of us - of course he wasnít aware of the Burtons incident.

The photos I lost had names on the back but I canít for the life of me remember any of the chaps now. I must have known you back then and McGuigan too and especially with his reputation! What branch was he in? It would be interesting to know what the strength of the Clyde Division was back then with the RNVR, WRNVR & RMFVR contingents. There was also a RNVR air squadron based at RNAS Abbotsinch which flew Fairey Fireflies.

During these maintenance weekends we would meet up for half an hour or so with a few local girls in a cafť near the Great Harbour (probably during the Saturday dinner break) and then meet them later on in the evening at the dance hall. That was all very well until the Americans arrived and then we got the cold shoulder and Iím sure thatís what started the trouble in Burtons that evening.

Do you remember our small pipe band run by an SBA which sometimes played at parades. I had been taught the bagpipes in the Boyís Brigade and played in the band from time to time. I recall a lot of excitement at HMS Graham during the Suez Crisis, did they mobilize some of the medical people? A Greenock pub which we sometimes used was called the Royal Artillery Club.

Do have a look at the following link where you will find a lovely painting of HMS Blackburn:


Roy Jones
27th February 2015, 12:08
Hi Jim ,
You are right for sure we have been on working weekends and probably sailed together, I did HMS Sultan course and I took the opportunity to go on most courses that looked interesting . Part of the attraction was the actual course it's self but there was the added benefit of being an apprentice engineer with Barclay Curle North British Engine Works who kept your wages going while you were away and counted the time as part of your apprenticeship and the navy gave you a small wage as well . It also like a wee bit of a holiday as it gave you a change of routine . I remember meeting the girls at lunch time and later on at Burtons. I also remember the pipe band and I am sure we had a brass band which took part in most of the parades ( Remembrance day etc. ) You were asking about what branch McGuigan was in, he was an apprentice draughtsman in one of the yards and I think he was in the seamen branch. The period we are
talking about the national service was still on with lots British servicemen about
and friction with Americans in dance halls was not uncommon .Jim I had a look
at the RFA site and when I saw your name I recognised it, I had a look at your photo and think I recognised you but it is a long time ago

Roy Jones
27th February 2015, 12:13
Jim senior moment sent that one off before I had finished . I will finish off now and come back with more memories soon.

Bill Forster
25th June 2016, 09:23
Hello Roy,

Sometime about 1955/57 HMS Graham was presented with the bell from HMS Vimiera and I was part of the guard of honour.

I have been contacted by the nephew of Reg Harris, the cook on HMS VIMIERA in 1942 who was killed when she detonated a mine in the Thames estuary and sank with the loss of most of the ship's company.

He has asked for my help in locating the ship's bell which was in HMS GRAHAM, the Clyde Division of the RNVR, until its closure in 1993. See attachment.

The son of Roger Hicks, the CO of VIMIERA in 1940, would also like to know what has happened to the bell his father bought & presented to HMS GRAHAM.

For more about the sinking of HMS VIMIERA see:

Bill Forster

Bill Forster
19th December 2016, 13:30
On 13 December this year the Glasgow HERALD carried a feature article about the bell of HMS VIMIERA presnted to HMS GRAHAM in 1957 as a memorial to the men who died on 9 January 1942 when VIMIERA detonated a mine in the Thames estuary and sank with a heavy loss of life.

Old Graham hands like Roy Jones and Wheelspanner will remember the presentation but can anybody tell us where the bell is now? We want to find it before the 75th anniversary of VIMIERA sinking on the 9 January 2017.

The CO of HMS GRAHAM and the Training Officer both served in VIMIERA and can be seen with their former CO, Capt Roger Hicks RN in a photograph on this page:

Please contact me if you know where the bell is now or remember the presentation. And if not please pass on this appeal to former shipmates.

Bill Forster
V & W Destroyer Association
venomous at