by Mike Hall R693816

It was Monday 11th August 1958. I was at home in Maidstone with my parents and sister, on a nice sunny day, when the postman arrived with a letter for me. it was instructions to report to the royal group Docks in London for my first ship to sea.

It was only a few months before that I received instructions and a rail warrant to report to the National Sea Training School in Sharpness. after the six weeks training and nearly a week off, I was on my way to my big adventure. My father decided he would take me to the royal group Docks in London in the family car via the Woolwich ferry, with my sister. My mum stayed at home. it was a pleasant journey, even though I was a bit nervous, as I did not know what to expect. it quite exciting going on the Woolwich ferry, I knew that I would be on a bigger vessel quite soon. on arriving at the dock gates, dad asked the policeman where we should go, and as we drove into the docks, there she was right in front of us alongside the Royal Albert, dry dock, the Tyrone of the avenue Shipping Company. Dad was able to drive the car onto the dockside. along the side of the ship, then with my small suitcase, me, my dad and my sister made it up the gangway to the main deck, where the watchman led us to the Chief Stewards cabin. after a few introductions, I was taken to my shared cabin (with the galley boy). I was the new pantry boy. after getting changed I went back to the Chief Steward’s cabin, where I said goodbye to my dad and sister – it would be over eleven months before I saw them again. I went to the gangway and saw them off the ship, and waved goodbye. I was still excited so there were not really any tears shed. 

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