Mast manning prompts memories at St Vincent

Les Amos, eighth from the left, in the second row from the top
Les Amos, eighth from the left, in the second row from the top
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Hidden signage revealed after sixty years''.

NOSTALGIA: What on earth did this mean?

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Recent memories on this page of the Royal Navy’s famed mast-manning exercise have reached Queensland, Australia, and prompted Les Amos to get in touch.

It was pictures of lads performing the routine at HMS St Vincent, Gosport, which fired his memory.

In 1956, when he was 17, he was completing his sea training in HMS Ocean. Les said: ‘When we got to Portsmouth we were instructed to show the army how to sling a hammock as they were on their way to the Suez crisis.

‘We were then moved to St Vincent to finish our training and I climbed the mast regularly and had no problems with it except when I’d done something wrong and had to take all my kit to the top.

‘I can’t remember how many trips up and down I had to do.’

Les, 71, who now lives in Aldershot, Queensland, and still puts to sea in his fishing boat, said he was at St Vincent from August 9, 1956, to December 2, the same year. ‘We thought we were special because we kept our cap tallies of HMS Ocean on all the time we were there.

‘I later joined HMS Protector heading for Port Stanley [in the Falklands] and Antarctica. It was a wonderful life,’ added Les who is eighth from the left in the second row from the top in his company photo.

He would love to hear from any other lads. If you get in touch I can pass on his details.