Taff Richards, who recently turned twenty, was now old enough to receive a daily tot of rum. ‘Tot time’ was usually when our messmates regaled us with numerous stories about their adventure aboard their last ships. Most of the stories were greatly exaggerated and usually dismissed with a huge pinch of salt. It was on one of these occasions that Taff decided to tell us a story about his last ship.
His story would be remembered for the duration of our time on Cockade.
It started when someone commented that a small tramp steamer had failed to dip its ensign when passing us that morning. Merchant ships traditionally lowered their flag when passing a warship as a salute, or a mark of respect.
Taff immediately began relating a story about his last ship, a Mediterranean based destroyer. He was working on ‘B’ gun, just below the bridge, when a merchant ship passed and didn’t dip its ensign.
The Captain was furious at the show of disrespect and ordered the ship to turn around and go after the miscreant freighter. As the destroyer over took the merchantman the skipper leaned over the bridge and shouted down to Taff.
“Put a shot across her bow, Mr. Richards”.
This outlandish tale went well beyond the most exaggerated of tot time stories. No sane captain would ever fire on a merchant ship, and certainly not for so minor an offence.
Poor Taff certainly made a name for himself that day, for the next two years he was known as ‘PASAHB,’ an acronym for ‘put a shot across her bow.’
Alas those wonderful and amazing tot time stories are no more, however, this particular one should go down in the annals of Tot Time History.
God Bless and keep reading