IT WAS a rough and choppy night when HMS Wave ran aground on the south west coast.
The ship began to flood, endangering the lives of all the crew members on board and people from St Ives rushed to take part in a two-hour rescue.
Ron Shepherd, 82 of Beauchamp Avenue, Bridgemary, Gosport, and Hugh Daly, of The Boltons, Purbrook, Waterlooville, remember it well.
And they seized the chance to thank members of the community in Cornwall for their help at a plaque unveiling.
Ronald, 82, a stoker mechanic, was 20 when the minesweeper ran aground in September 1952 and unveiled the plaque.
He said: ‘The night was rough, very rough. There were gale force winds and we were anchoring. The anchor chain broke and the ship got badly damaged.
‘It began to flood and the water was covered with oil as the tanks had ruptured.’
The RNLI attended and local residents assisted with the rescue with the aid of the breeches buoy.
Ron added the chance to go to St Ives was ‘wonderful’.
He said: ‘It was a wonderful opportunity to say thank you.’
A few days before the grounding the ship had been of the coast of Guernsey and Ron saved a woman from drowning.
HMS Wave was brought to shore safely and the ship itself was salvaged and returned to use by the Royal Navy.
Fellow sailor Hugh 85, also a stoker mechanic at the time, added: ‘I was asleep when we became grounded – two crew members woke me up.
‘I’d been on watch from midnight until 4am. It crashed at 5.30am – I went to bed at 4.30am.
‘You don’t panic. I got up and had a look what it was like, it was blowing a gale. I went back in and got dressed. We were only on sand at the time.
‘Once the high tide came in, it pounded us against the rocks.
‘Locals rigged up breeches buoy in terrible conditions.
‘The road they were on was a slope and slippery. They took us to a hotel and got us cleaned up.
‘We got some clothes sent over from HMS Culdrose. The next day we set about work to get it in a floatable condition again.
‘The plaque was nice. It was not only for us getting of the ship, but to thank the people for all the effort they put it.’