Transcription of a booklet issued to the Ship's Company at the end of the America & West Indies Commission 1954/55
H.M.S. SUPERB, 1954 - 1955
The commission really started in Portland. We had all been ashore for the last time and made our last long distance telephone calls, caught the last bus back from Weymouth and the last boat back aboard, and in the morning we left England for twelve months almost to the day. The crossing was rough in places, and we saw, for the first time, bodies lying curled up between the after Boiler Room intakes and “dog-watch” sailors lying prostrate in the Rec. Space, wishing they had never been born.
One new experience for all of us was Morning Divisions. It became so much part of us later on, that we can hardly remember how diffidently we sang, “He who would valiant be”, and of course, in those days, we had only one trumpet and nobody liked singing so early anyway.
We came fairly far to the south and after a week at sea we suddenly realised we were uncomfortably hot at 8 a.m. and we were in tropical rig from then on.
And so, eight days later, the first sight of Gibb’s Hill came up. We could just make out the mast of the Sheffield in the dockyard and, shortly, we came close enough to see the Sheffield’s Ship’s Company - all dressed in shorts and all equally tanned crowding on the upper deck and superstructure. This, naturally, was in sharp contrast to us - we were all “fallen in for entering harbour” - having heard for the first time the magnificent piping of the Chief Bosun’s Mate !
All hands out of the rig of the day......” We have heard it many times since, and everybody aboard recognises the Chief Bosun’s Mate’s piping.
Then the Sheffield cheered - a ripple only at first; and then a full throated roar as we came alongside, almost with a screech of brakes.
We had arrived. Then, for two frantic days of turnover, the white mingling with the almost black, in a profusion of storage parties and official turnovers and rapid private turnovers like “Try the Quarry Bar” and “The Windsor Dive’s O.K.”. On Sunday morning we watched the impressive transfer of the Queen’s Colour. Our Captain became a Commodore. We had taken the weight. And it was our turn to cheer as the Sheffield pulled away playing “Auld Lang Syne” with our Bandmaster getting his own back with “Will ye no come back again?”.
Gradually we found our way around. To us, fresh from England, swimming in October was a novelty and there was a constant stream of watchkeepers off-watch, and anybody else who could make it, parading along the old jetty just outside the harbour.
So we came to know Bermuda, with its hot sun and its withered cedars.
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