The annual Fleet Regatta took place during at this time. The Cock of the Fleet, which was a silver statue of a cockerel, and the prize for the best ship in the regatta was won by HMS Eagle. After lights out it was tradition to try and retrieve this trophy by any means. All ships in the fleet had the same idea and they all put out small boats to tour the ships and generally create havoc. This was a recognised procedure after a regatta. The motor boats were armed with fire extinguishers, sacks of potatoes picked up from the jetty waiting to be delivered to the ships and anything that could be thrown. One boat went alongside a darkened HMS Cumberland and as they drew alongside to board all the lights were switched on and the marines were on deck with fire hoses and swamped the boat. The Commander was shouting his orders from the deck at the same time as firing his véry pistol. Naturally, no one managed to get the 'cock' but everyone had some excitement and quite a few had minor injuries and black eyes including yours truly. The ships companies were on dried potatoes for sometime afterwards and some ships had to send working parties to other ships to clean writing (now called graffiti) from the hulls.
Regatta - the finishing line
Perhaps a Viking Vanguard
We sailed for Rosyth on 10th November to give some of the urbanites a taste
of the neon, the nylon and the nightlife and left the following day for the frozen far north. For a time all we could get were weather reports of snow and ice in 'Pompey' and we found it hard to come by a decent icicle. It soon arrived though and frosting was the order of both day and night. On 19th November we crossed the Arctic Circle and of course we had the Crossing the Line Ceremony. Neptunus Rex, Ruler of the Main and Aurora Borealis, Queen of His Majesty's Pallid Polar Regions came aboard to conduct the cermony.We were all awarded aBlue Nose Certificate.
We were all issued with extra warm clothing and I remember struggling into a pair of half inch thick long johns which came up to my chest. The furthest north we reached was to the north of Jan Mayen Island which is about 200 miles northwest of Iceland and is just off the coast of Greenland. I also remember that at one time we were about 150 miles from the explorer Eric Shipton who was leading the British North Greenland Expedition. Daylight arrived at about 11.3Oam and darkness fell at about 1.0 pm. The air was so cold that when on the upper deck each breath was like drinking a tot of rum - the cold air travelled up the nose, across the top of the head and hit the back of the head like the kick of a horse. When we reached the ice-pack and could travel no further north we turned and headed south for Portsmouth. We passed a few small icebergs on our journey and early one morning we had the wonderful sight of Iceland, all pink and white and glowing like a Christmas cake in the early morning sun.
Neptune and his Queen
Moments in the Life of HMS Vanguard
Diary of Events for 1952
The Commander is initiated
Crossing the Line ceremony when Admiral Creasey met King Neptune