By Gordon W. Stead
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Extra resources for A Leaf upon the Sea: A Small Ship in the Mediterranean, 1941-1943
The Rock reflected down upon the town and harbour the sun's sub-tropic warmth to emphasize our change of climate. Even in the crisp white shorts of summer kit, we felt the heat at first. There was warmth also in our welcome to the 3rd, the more so as our slow passage had set off rumours that we had had some trouble. There were reunions for the crew and John's conviviality drew to 126 a stream of officers to check out the new CO. 30 A Leaf Upon the Sea My new colleagues were a mature but exuberant lot, earnest about their work at sea and given to sports and rousing parties when in port.
These affairs invariably ended with a vigorous rendition of the German national anthem, "Deutschland Uber Alles," accompanied by the ship's Royal Marine band, followed by thunderous "Sieg Heils" — the Nazi victory hail to Hitler — which we all thought hilarious. There was swimming under the precipitous cliffs of the Mediterranean side of the Rock, movies in the town, dinner in good restaurants, and army sunset ceremonies in the old colonial style. With periodic parties in ML wardrooms, where I soon became the song leader, there was no occasion to be bored or lonely.
Only after reaching port did I discover that the senior destroyer officer's navigator was an RNVR sub-lieutenant with the same King Alfred course that I had had. I had no need to feel an amateur. Three hundred miles off Portugal the flotilla altered course south-east to close the coast. The weather had improved as we came south, and by now all boats were running free. We made the land at night to find the lighthouses at full brilliance, the lights of habitation all along the coast and, round about us, the glow of fish-attracting flares from innumerable fishing vessels.
A Leaf upon the Sea: A Small Ship in the Mediterranean, 1941-1943 by Gordon W. Stead
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