Half a Century!
Exactly 50 years ago today, I arrived at HMS Conway, in the grounds of Plas Newydd, on the Anglesey side of the Menai Strait and close to the infamous village of Lllanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, or Llanfair PG as we preferred to call it.
This was where I completed the final five years of school education. There is so much that I could say about my time on board that “concrete frigate,” but a lot has been written already by much greater writers than myself, including poet laureate, John Masefield, who also attended the same naval school. Before any of you are cheeky enough to ask, the answer is, “Yes. He was before my time!”
Many other famous officer cadets preceded me on board that famous training ship, including Captain Matthew Webb, the mysterious Lionel “Buster” Crabb, Vice Admiral Sir David Brown, Lt Cdr Ian Fraser VC, Onedin Line actor, Peter Gilmore. Contemporaries of mine included Iain Duncan Smith (one year above me) and Sir Clive Woodward (same years: 1969-74).
Here I am with four other ‘new chums’, on our first day, in front of the figurehead, which now stands by the gates of HMS Nelson in Portsmouth, and in front of the main building.