Naval History Homepage and Site Search



Dedicated to T/S Implacable, the Sea Cadet Unit of Southend-on-Sea
and the RNVR Officers and Volunteers who ran it in the best traditions of the Royal Navy

Sea Cadet lapel badge (click all photographs to enlarge)

return to post-war, 1945 on

"Those who could, did!  One of those who couldn't, ended up running a website!"

I never did join the Navy, but I did spend a thoroughly enjoyable five and a half years in the Sea Cadets in the 1950's - learning seamanship, rifle drill, pulling whalers, sailing, rifle shooting at Bisley, spending time at HMS ST VINCENT,  PEMBROKE, on board fast A/S frigate TEAZER and Ton-class minesweeper MERSEY,  visiting others, especially when they moored off Southend in the Thames Estuary, such as MULL OF GALLOWAY and US heavy cruiser BALTIMORE, but also including HMS UNICORN in Devonport.

In the process, I took some photographs - well "snaps" - and although they hardly measure up to modern digital images, may be of interest to visitors.

This is also my way of thanking the Sea Cadet Corps, which taught me a lot, and not just about the Navy. The only officer whose name I can remember is Lieutenant Bush RNVR, and whose wife did a lot of  admin and other work. I would also like to extend my best wishes to the modern Corps and to hope their members - girls and boys - have as much fun and dare I say excitement, as we did.

Gordon Smith




Most of the following photographs are self-explanatory, the French battleship RICHELIEU less so. I was fortunate in that a family friend used to drive us to France on holiday. That was when British drivers actually waved to each other. I must have bought this postcard on one of these occasions and as it in my ancient photograph album, could not be left out.

RICHELIEU in the South of France, 1950's


Devonport Dockyard from Torpoint Ferry, fast A/S frigate,
ex-destroyer VIGILANT in centre. Possibly 1955
At anchor in Spithead - navigation training ship, ex-sloop REDPOLE

Tankers at Fawley refinery oil jetty
Steam coaster POOLE RIVER in Southampton Water

Alva Steamship Co tanker at Fawley
Liner QUEEN MARY  in Southampton

Ferry carrier UNICORN in mothballs, probably 1954
Battleship VANGUARD with Daring-class destroyer

Visiting UNICORN when she was still in commission, I met one of her officers who knew my father but had left HMS CHARYBDIS just before she was lost in October 1943.

I always thought battleship VANGUARD was a handsome ship. Not beautiful like the HOOD, but good to look at.


Fleet carrier ARK ROYAL with VANGUARD astern
Fast A/S frigate TERMAGANT, sister to TEAZER (below)

Passenger & cargo liner LARGS BAY in Thames Estuary. She
sailed in six WS, "Winston's Special" convoys during the war
Excursion passenger ship
QUEEN OF THE CHANNEL came from a line of good-looking ships. We took numerous family trips on her and her sisters from the end of Southend Pier - the "Longest in the World" - to such seaside towns as Margate and Ramsgate.

Inshore minesweeper depot ship MULL OF GALLOWAY
anchored off Southend-on-Sea in the Estuary
Postcard of BRITANNIA Royal Naval College,
Dartmouth on the River Dart

Fast minelayer APOLLO, carrier WARRIOR astern

Quad tubes on CAVENDISH
Carrier CENTAUR and Isles-class trawler

CENTAUR and submarine SELENE
...... and fast patrol boat GAY FORESTER


As a 14-year old, I had the privilege of spending two weeks on her as one of about 20 Sea Cadets. As this was the time of the build-up to Suez, I remember all of us wanted to go. Just imagine, especially as the first time a Bofors was fired, the shell landed 20 yards from our own side.

TEAZER was an RNVR Training Ship and sailed to Gibraltar, spending quite a few days in port. On our way out from Devonport, we were joined by minesweeper MERSEY from the Mersey Branch of the RNVR, and she accompanied us for the rest of the time. On passage, the two ships engaged in various manoeuvres which were obviously thrilling for young teenagers - night action stations on the torpedo tubes in my case.

For some reason, I ended up on MERSEY going into Gibraltar, and after scrounging some whites, proudly stood on her forecastle going in.

One of the other cadets, Kirk "Charlie" Church was also from the Southend unit and happened to have an uncle in Gib with "pull". He was captain of the ferry MONS CALPE which sailed between Gibraltar and Tangiers, got permission from our captain for us to take a day off, and took us over for a trip. As there was painting-ship that day, we were not popular.

Some visitors may remember a film about that time with Alec Guinness as the ferry captain who had a staid English wife in Gibraltar and a second one, quite the opposite in Tangiers. Charlie's uncle was not like that. Charlie went on to join the Merchant Navy.

Again the rest of the photographs are mainly self-explanatory.

The arrival of the USS GAINARD led to a couple of treats - the USN always seemed generous. One was the handing out of ice-creams (unless that was in another US destroyer visiting Southend). The other was our crew on TEAZER'S forecastle watching a movie on GAINARD'S fantail.

In about 1961, I was in "digs" in Reading, Berkshire, studying to be a mechanical engineer. It turned out the boyfriend of the daughter of the house had been a regular, serving on TEAZER at the same time.

In closing, the Sea Cadets provided often exciting and challenging experiences before badges were awarded. The Shooting badge after a lot of .22 and some .303 competition shooting including Bisley. The Electrician's badge after a two week course in Chatham at HMS PEMBROKE including combat courses and an MFV trip out to the sunken ammunition ship RICHARD MONTGOMERY. And the Petty Officer badge following a weekend at HMS ST VINCENT, Gosport, training and drilling the new recruits there.

I obviously enjoyed myself.


Guard of honour from Southend-on-Sea Unit, T/S Implacable,  for
Admiral Nore who was opening a Ship Exhibition on Southend Pier, 1956

Destroyer TEAZER following limited conversion to fast A/S frigate (Navy Photos)
Two views of TEAZER, with the Captain peering from the bridge
in the left hand one - that was scary for a 14-year old

Ton-class inshore minesweeper MERSEY accompanied TEAZER.
This is sister-ship NORTHUMBRIA (Navy Photos/Mark Teadham)

MERSEY abreast
TEAZER's whaler returning from her - off Portugal

Gibraltar dockyard from the summit with TEAZER marked
One of the Rock Apes

Moored ahead of TEAZER - Battle-class destroyer BARROSA
and US Sumner-class GAINARD
MERSEY alongside

Old Portuguese gunboat in the distance, possibly DIU, ZAIRE, IBO or MANDOVI, built 1911-1929, c400 tons, 2-3in
USS GAINARD departing

US oiler , which came in with eight destroyers
Admiralty tug after assisting the oiler

Kirk Church and his Aunt and Uncle
(introduced in text)
Postcard from Tangiers

Tangiers harbour and oil depot
The classic shape of Gib, seen on the return from Tangiers

North side of the Rock from the airfield. Note the heavy security!
Gibraltar's one and only runway extending into the water

Fast patrol boat GREY GOOSE entering
Returning home

Steam pinnace alongside outside Plymouth
Plymouth breakwater

Coming to anchor in Devonport, carriers not known
One of the other Sea Cadets with sister-ship TERMAGANT
behind him

For the record, some of the Sea Cadet badges in the 1950's

 return to post-war, 1945 on
or to Naval-History.Net

revised 10/7/11