Royal Navy 50 year reunion
12-14 September 2008

Tell-all videos from way back
by Tony Copple

So you've had a glimpse of some of your seafaring colleagues as they are in 2008. But what were they up to in 1963? As it happens, rare archive film still exists. The first item also happens to be the first movie film I ever took - in B & W to save money in case it didn't come out. Rob and I were members of a small group from Ark Royal in Singapore who visited the Batu Caves near Kuala Lumpur. We took the train through Malayan jungle, and after sightseeing in KL, went caving in this ancient attraction. Guano everywhere. It was the fist time I discovered how good iced Coke can be when you are far from home and it's hot. Of particular note is a cow with five legs.

 Video Sound: Miles Davis - "The Duke"

While visiting Hong Kong in Ark Royal, in which several of us sub-lieutenants were under training, Mike Clarke (left), Bill Ellison and I took the tram to the Peak where we engaged in a spoof Rothmans ad. At the time TV ads for certain cigarettes would suggest that all inter-personal difficulties would be solved by lighting up. Ark Royal was at a mooring some way from the point where runs ashore could commence, and much time was spent in small boats being ferried from and back to her. Bill was a year ahead of us in his naval entry. He was a star hockey player, playing for the Navy.   Video   Sound: Modern Jazz Quartet - "Vendome" from Pyramid

Flying stations on an aircraft carrier is always exciting and I was privileged to watch often (featured only on the first version of the video below). Back in Singapore, we enjoyed the delights of the wardroom in HMS Terror. I still savour one of the restaurant specialities, lobster thermidor. Rob Walmsley, an expert rock climber, tried out his art in the sandstone-like heights of East Johor. Tax free shopping was available closest in Sembawang, and my main interest at the time was in records. Guitar groups like the Ventures and the Hunters were hot, and the Kinks. I was asked to deliver an item of confidential mail to someone on the base, and because the Ark had sailed was flown back on board with the mail in a Fairey Gannet. Few "greenies" had the chance to land on a carrier so I was very excited and took my movie camera - with colour film! The Ark left Singapore for Aden laden with military equipment.
  Video with flying and original sound. Music: The Hunters.
  Earlier Video version   Sound: Count Basie - "Midnight Blue" from The Atomic Mr. Basie

The Ark went West with its army cargo, and our first landfall was Aden. For us young officeres this was a chance for relaxing on the beach - within the confines of the shark net. From there to Mombasa, and on the way replenishment at sea. You will see Rob Walmsley sunbathing during the replenishment. Bill Ellison reappears. We crossed the equator. This of course called for much hilarity as those who had not been hazed and hosed before were given our rights in a "crossing the line" ceremony. One of the spectators was the ship's Captain, Admiral Michael Pollock (also making movies). Mike de Malpas Finlay (right) sunbathed after the deck games. Physical training under the direction of a PTI on the bridge was the order of most days. Final scene: an emergency landing.      Video.    Song: Carole King

Returning to UK is always special for sailors. Once The Ark has squeezed into the Suez Canal we know we really are homeward bound. At Gibraltar, I joined a party visiting Tangier to help in an orphanage, and then went to a bull fight in La Linea, Spain. Beware: there's violence; may upset some. However one young matador looses the back of his trousers so there is also amusement, if unintended. The Bay of Biscay was rough, as usual, but in our cabin just beneath the rear flight deck, Rob, Bill and Mike are working quietly or relaxing, and I (photo left) am climbing into my bunk. Next day the sea is calm, the sky is blue and we glide into Guz.
  Video   sound: Santana plays Dvorak, Herb Alpert, Mike Oldfield from Tubular Bells 1.

If any other of my brother officers have similar archive films and can post them to YouTube, let me know and I'll add links and info on this page.

Dartmouth '58
Service Pals
Techical background to the process of transferring these films to YouTube