I watched a TV documentary recently titled “The Thirteen Most Dangerous Days in the History of the World” it was about the Cuban Missile Crisis. Almost forgotten today, but it was indeed a time when the world was facing Armageddon in a nuclear holocaust. The USA and USSR stood poised to press the button releasing the third and final world war. I was serving aboard HMS Taciturn a world war two diesel electric submarine. Naturally we had little or no details of what was happening across the world. Yet it was clear something was up, leaves were cancelled and the fleet preparing to sail. We stored the boat for a long patrol, every nook and cranny was stuffed with food supplies. we had a full load of live torpedo. We sailed at dawn and before we were out of the harbour our pennant numbers were painted over. Some of the crew guessed we were going on what we called a mystery tour, spying along the Russian coast line. However, we headed out into the North Atlantic in the opposite direct. The minute we reached our patrol area we dived maintaining total radio silence. For the next five or six days we remained dived only coming to periscope depth at night to snort and recharge our batteries. Rumours abounded throughout the boat, it seemed everyone had a theory as to what was going on. Yet not one of us knew the facts, only that whatever the facts were they were very serious. Some crew members had heard snippets about the missile crisis and it was soon the focus of the whole boat. This rumour quickly escalated to a possible nuclear war between the USA and USSR. Of course that involved us as an ally and NATO member. While the tension in the White House and Kremlin must have been extreme until the Russian ships turned back, it was equally tense aboard the Taciturn not knowing what was happening above the waves. When we finally surfaced with orders to return to harbour we could breath easy again. Until we broke the surface we had no idea if the world was at war, or indeed if the world still existed. This was without equal the thirteen most dangerous days in the history of the world. It was also one of the most frightening times of my young life. Probably made even worse by the fact only weeks earlier a finished reading Nevil Shute’s book “On The Beach”!!!!!!!
God Bless and keep reading.