Saturday, July 01, 2006
HMS Dido sails once more
Over the last year or so, an old shipmate of mine from my first ship (see above) has been attempting to track down as many of our messmates for a reunion. Now what started as a possible meet somewhere in the middle of this sceptred isle for a few bevvies and sea stories, snowballed into a full blown bash with formal dinner and cabaret et al.
During the second world war, those fine citizens of Bolton scraped together enough dosh to build the light cruiser of the same name which fought in WW2. Subsequently, when the Leander class frigate was built in '63, the town took us under their wing and basically adopted the ship.
1971 was the year I joined what was to be the best ship I served on. Great bunch of lads and the officers weren't bad either. In '73 we visited Bolton via Bootle docks and the local populace welcomed us with open arms, especially the ladies of the town. There were a few broken hearts and several friendships were formed. We were given the freedom of the borough, which entitled us to march through the streets with bayonets fixed. Stirring stuff eh? A dance was laid on at the Palais where the girls outnumbered all of us sex starved matelots. Boy, did we have fun that night.
I digress. So a reunion was planned at Bolton last weekend. It was great to once more 'swing the lamp' with some of my old oppo's. We even managed to track down our old skipper and first lieutenant. Accomodation was provided at the Holiday Inn. What a rip off. Here was I thinking that by going oop north, that the ale would be cheaper. £3.5p a bloody pint!!!! As we were captive customers within the hotel, you didn't have a choice to go to the nearest boozer. Note for next reunion....
A reception and tour of the town hall was arranged followed by a dinner and entertainment by an old blast from the past, Shep Wooley. He was a serving sailor in the seventies and gained quite a reputation as a singer/comedian around all the local pubs in Pompey at the time. All the old favourites were blasted out and great fun was had by all. A special mention to Bolton council who did a splendid job in organising everything and ensuring the whole weekend ran like clockwork - well almost.
We formed an official HMS Dido Association and hopefully we will manage to contact some more shipmates for next years do which is taking place in Pompey (Portsmouth). A bit closer to home for us down south.
So, if anyone out there knows of any ex-shipmates of either of the HMS Dido's, get them to log on to our website.