An old shipmate sent me an email relating the Last Cockade reunion that took place in England on the weekend of Sept 25th-27th 2019. How sad the emotional feelings that swept over me, such wonderful memories and such nostalgia. I could almost feel the tears welling up thinking about that long ago time. What an amazing adventure for a young seventeen year old sailor joining his first ship in the Royal Navy. I had served sixteen months at HMS Ganges, Boys Training Establishment before being posted to the Cockade. She was a CO class destroyer stationed in the Far East, part of the China Fleet. Our main base was in Singapore but we also spent a great deal of time in Hong Kong. I still to this day consider Hong Kong the most fascinating place I ever had the good fortune to visit. I served aboard Cockade from August 1956 until April 1958 when we brought the old girl home to Plymouth for the final time. Soon after her arrival she was moored in the creek and spent a couple of years gathering dirt and rust before being tow off to be scrapped. In my years aboard I saw most of the World. From China to Australia, New Zealand to the Pacific Islands, Korea, Japan, French Indo China and Malaya. Sailing for home we stopped in Ceylon, passed thru the Suez Canal, visited Malta and Gibraltar. I recall alongside in Valletta Harbour we tied up outboard an American destroyer, emblazoned on her bridge the words ”Second to None” our signalman hoisted the flags ‘None” I have often wondered but never knew if the yanks caught on? That was 60 years ago, a lifetime ago and yet I’m still filled with such a vivid memories. I could fill pages with the extraordinary adventures/misadventures whilst aboard that marvelous old ship. Hmm, come to think about it I did in my book “The Royal Navy & Me”. At this the last reunion a few days ago, the ranks were thin, just fourteen sailors in total from all commissions on Cockade. From my commission only eight, some I remembered well others so well. There were a few widows, wives and family members to make up the numbers. Nevertheless, the small turn out caused me to wonder where the lads had gone. Many would have crossed the bar by now. The old salty three badgers, career Able Seamen like, Red Devil, Epy and Jock! how many others shipmates have we lost? Maybe its better not knowing. We were so young so carefree and sometimes so very foolish and that is perhaps how we should remember them. We must also remember they were always proud sailors sailing a proud ship. You are all missed but never forgotten.
God Bless and keep reading