Diplomacy rules the waves for Portsmouth warship’s commanding officer – Nostalgia

Commander Walwyn with Sheikh Khalife Bin Zayed. Picture: Gordon Walwyn
Commander Walwyn with Sheikh Khalife Bin Zayed. Picture: Gordon Walwyn
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Back in January I featured Captain Gordon Walwyn RN Rtd., who was the man in charge of the 1977 Silver Jubilee Fleet review at Spithead.

He has now let me borrow a photograph album of the two years he commanded the frigate HMS Falmouth (1972-1974).

HMS Falmouths gunnery crew who claimed the title Sharpshooters of the Fleet in 1972. CPO Les Storr, of Copnor, holds the trophy.

HMS Falmouths gunnery crew who claimed the title Sharpshooters of the Fleet in 1972. CPO Les Storr, of Copnor, holds the trophy.

On a Middle East tour in 1972 the ship called at Abu Dhabi for a two-day stopover and Gordon was invited to an audience with the Crown Prince and prime minister Abu Khalife Bin Zayed.

He says: ‘When an RN ship visits a foreign country it is co-ordinated by the Commander-in-Chief Fleet in liaison with the Foreign Office. Formalities are exchanged and sometimes include gun salutes.The British representative ashore arranges calls on the powers that be and these are usually done immediately on arrival.

‘In visits to Gulf states the head of state is the sheikh who is very much the ruler. Sometimes they wish the visiting captain to call, sometimes not. On this occasion, coffee was served and the ruler snapped his fingers and a large model of the future extension of the port of Dubai was wheeled in and I was asked to comment. Since then the port and the whole state of Dubai have been transformed by new buildings and facilities.’

I’ll be including a few other photographs of this event in coming days.

On July 20, 1934, the Co-op in Fratton Road, Portsmouth, was destroyed by fire. I believe this picture shows that event.

On July 20, 1934, the Co-op in Fratton Road, Portsmouth, was destroyed by fire. I believe this picture shows that event.

• In October 1972 Falmouth’s gunnery crew claimed the title Sharpshooters of the Fleet but not with small arms and rifles. It was for their proficiency on her 4.5in guns, an indication that although the missile age had arrived guns were still important.

Falmouth also won the unofficial ‘top gun’ prize because, as well as the bombardment award, she took third place in the surface shoot and anti-aircraft contest. The gunnery instructor was CPO Les Storr, of Copnor, who is in the centre of the picture on the facing page holding the trophy. If anyone can name names please get in touch.

• On July 20, 1934, the Co-op in Fratton Road caught fire, it is thought, by sun shining through a roof window causing waste paper to ignite. No one was injured but shoppers were later treated to a fire sale. I was sent this photograph by Mrs PM Hadley, of Field Place, Havant, who lived in Garnier Street, Fratton.

Here Portsmouth Fire Brigade members are looking along Fratton Road from the junction of Garnier Street. Behind the engine is the Dog and Duck and after that I thought would have been the Troxy cinema, but it did not open until 1936.

These Portsmouth women are wearing a uniform of some kind but can anyone recognise who or what these girls might be? Picture: Rosemary Hutchins.

These Portsmouth women are wearing a uniform of some kind but can anyone recognise who or what these girls might be? Picture: Rosemary Hutchins.

• Finally, these straight-laced women from Portsmouth are wearing a uniform. Does anyone know any more?