Former submariner, aged 95, returns to HMS Alliance in Gosport
SITTING on the bunk he once slept in, a 95-year-old former submariner reflected on what has changed in half a century on board HMS Alliance – now a popular visitor attraction in Gosport.
Known as Pip to his friends, Geoffrey Calvert, who was once the submarine’s first lieutenant, can still remember where the captain’s cabin was, as well as some of the intricate workings of the boat, despite his age.
The visit was arranged by his neighbours of five years, Diana and Norman Richardson, who drove him down from Cranleigh, near Guildford, for the day.
Guided by Second World War veteran Geoffrey, they were given a unique insight into life inside the vessel.
‘It’s marvellous to be back,’ he said.
‘It’s changed a lot though. It now has radar, the set up of the messes - where the sailors were - has changed a bit.
‘There used to be a lot of us in here.
‘It’s nice to see it in good condition.’
Geoffrey worked on the submarine in the early 1970s for around 18 months.
He adds: ‘I still remember my commander Dicky Tabbatts.
‘After working on there I worked as a training officer, training other submariners and showing them what to do.’
During the Second World War Geoffrey was posted to the far east on board HMS Suffolk, a cruiser which was built in the Portsmouth Dockyards.
‘I was there when the Japanese surrendered,’ he says.
Geoffrey also later worked on board a minesweeper in the Mediterranean and was stationed in Wales before resigning from the Royal Navy.
His neighbour Diana, 74, said: ‘It’s been really special to see him so happy and in his element.
‘We knew he served on HMS Alliance, we never hear him talk abut it at home so it’s been wonderful.’
Geoffrey has a wife Jean, three children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He has visited the submarine since serving on it, including on his 70th birthday.
HMS Alliance was commissioned in 1947. It was decommissioned in 1973 and used as a static training boat until August 1979.
It has been a memorial and museum since 1981, as part of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport.