Subj: HMS Protector (Auxiliary Ships Wheel)
I celebrated a special birthday in 2016, reaching the age of 70 on July 20th. I received from my wife a very special present, a ship’s wheel. (something I’ve wanted for many years). The wheel is the auxiliary steering wheel from HMS Protector. It has been kept in storage since the ship was broken up in 1970.
I have spent many an hour, lovingly refurbishing the wheel, outside in sunny weather and then in doors, for final finishing touches. During all this time I felt the happy vibes that are mentioned when describing the mood of the ship’s company, while serving on board.
I am attaching some pictures showing me receiving the wheel and going through stages of refurbishment. The last one is of me explaining the history of the wheel to one of my grandsons. It looks very good displayed on my living room wall, dressed up as it is at the moment, with Christmas lights. I hope you like what I have done?
The Bear-napping of Yogi
[No gorilla in this pub]
The Bear-napping of Yogi from The Horse and Groom was carried out by members of a very highly trained and usually very intoxicated Bootneck snatch squad in the summer of 1964 whilst Protector was in Thorneycroft’s prior to our summer season down the ice. This took place at the end of what had been a bad day in the lives of the Bootnecks which had started with the Dockies informing Johnny (TC) Sutcliffe, Taff Bishop & Dave Wallis that they had no right to be wielding chipping hammers and splashing Pusser’s grey over everything they could reach (not a lot in the case of T.C as he was only 5’4″). I think it was Taff who informed the Dockies that it was within Royals rights to toss them over the side which was not really appreciated by them as we were still in dry dock. They then walked off the ship and the three Royals were given a tongue in cheek bollocking by the Detachment Sgt. Major, Bobby Blunden. From then on the Royals day just went downhill.
|That night was one of those English summer nights you normally only see in Films. Blue skies, warm, dry and just right for a group of Booties to take a stroll through nearly every bar in Southampton eventually ending up in The Horse and Groom.|
The Royals found themselves in a fairly largish room with only two other occupants. On a rather oldish bit of Mutton dressed as Lamb and wearing an imitation fur stole who was sitting at the bar close to the door. The other occupant, standing alone on a wooden plinth in the corner of the room was about 6 foot tall, had big brown eyes, nice white teeth and nails badly in need of a manicure; and wearing a moth eaten, real fur coat. This was YOGI, a six foot something Canadian Grizzly.
|On our travels we had been joined by more members of the Ship’s R.M. Detachment so we now numbered about ten. These highly trained, fast moving, slow thinking green bereted killers all appeared to have the same train of thought in an instant (unusual I know, but it happened). The thought was that bear was going out the door and down to the Bootnecks’ Mess.|
|Bootneck training then came in to the fore which was to make a quick appreciation of the situation. We really tried to do that but at this late hour the bodies were full of beer and a few tots and the brain drain really was happening. So, rather than try to drink any more immediate action was decided upon.|
|We noticed the barman spent most of his time talking at the other end of the bar so myself (Rob Roy) Barry Grosse and Russ Russell decked the bear (even our slow thinking brains realised that a nearly 7 foot bear and plinth would not fit through a 6 foot doorway) so along with T.C and Jim Yeoman we moved it towards the door. Terry Whitehouse and Ivor Jones lifted the bit of mutton, stool and all, further down the bar as she was right in the way as we had to do a sharp right turn to get the bear through the door and onto the street.|
Now picture this: Yogi is flat out on the deck with his feet and plinth halfway through the door and two Bootnecks are on the deck with him pulling like hell. Two more Bootnecks are sat on the deck with their backs to the bar with their feet firmly on Yogi’s shoulders pushing like hell. One Booty is holding the door open and all of them are doing the “two six heave” routine. And Yogi is slowly going to the Bootnecks’ mess. While all this is happening below bar level our bit of mutton is quietly trying to attract the attention of the barman.
|Suddenly Yogi is clear; brought into the upright position and pointed in the direction of the Ship. Now, from what I remember The Horse and Groom was on a road sloping down to the Town Centre and we found that Yogi’s plinth had four castors attached to it. That bear could smell freedom and it was moving off before we had all cleared the pub. We tried to stop it but it was not going to be held back now.|
T.C. and I, along with Ivor Horn jumped aboard the plinth and the rest of the lads were haring alongside us, trying to stop this great hunk of Grizzly who by now really was building up a rate of knots.
Suddenly someone shouted “Traffic Lights” – but it was too late; we were through them and levelling out. Just beyond the lights, on the left, was a largish store and as we approached it T.C. disembarked and proceeded to throw up all along the full length of the store window.
Just as we were coming to a stop a car with a couple of bar staff in it pulled up and stopped in front of us, on saying “all right lads, you’ve had your laugh, now give us back our bear”. We duly obliged and set off back to the ship, bear-less and wondering if: had it all gone to plan would our “Joe”, Captain Pat Troy, really have believed we’d found him standing in a bus shelter?
Roy Jones, Ex-Bowman Captain’s launch ’64/65.
P.S. Does anyone know where Yogi is now?
It would appear that a descendant of Yogi’s turned up at the Bristol reunion 2016. Please meet Marine S Deasy (Stan to those who know him)