Raising a glass to U-boat hunter, Johnny Walker

HMS Starling
HMS Starling
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My recent mention here of the China Fleet Club and HMS Redpole prompted many memories for Doug Barlow, of Emsworth.

On promotion to Commissioned Boatswain in 1958 he joined Redpole’s sister ship HMS Starling, right.

Doug says: ‘It was my first ship with a cabin and bunk. It was bliss after some 12 years slinging my hammock, even ashore in the barracks, now HMS Nelson, where ABs’ have a cabin each.’

Redpole and Starling were both navigational ships attached to HMS Dryad, the navigational and radar training school

Doug adds: ‘Starling was a famous ship with an equally famous captain, Johnny Walker, who led his flotilla of U-boat chasers.

‘Jointly they reputedly sank 15 U-boats.

‘I often thought of Captain Walker when I stood on his open bridge in my soggy duffel coat in foul weather, but by then there was no longer the threat of a submarine attack.’

Doug says Starling and Redpole were often used as a double act or individually, training navigators in Scottish lochs or Norwegian fjords, wherever navigation presented a challenge.

‘I learned a lot from their endeavour,’ he adds.