IT’S a stirring photograph, illustrating what is still, today, sometimes a necessary seaborne operation for the modern Royal Navy.
On the left is the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Tideflow, which is refuelling three other vessels – the frigates HMS Berwick and Dido (the latter not in the picture) and the cruiser HMS Tiger, centre, during a demonstration at sea off the Tyne 50 years ago.
What a day! There were guns, helicopters, refuelling at sea, jet attacks – the works. I was so impressed I made up my mind there and then to join up.Gazette reader
The occasion was Navy Week in 1965, which we’ve been recalling recently.
But it’s actually another snap of the occasion that we’re on the hunt for today.
A reader, you see, was thrilled to see the recent photo spread that recalled the squadron’s visit to the river.
It turns out that it had a big influence on him.
“I had just turned 13,” he says, “and had been in the TS Collingwood Sea Cadets, based in Wapping Street, for exactly a year, when I was selected, along with a few other cadets, to take part in the ‘Day at Sea,’ on July 28, with the whole Navy task force – aircraft, submarine etc – involved.
“We were led by our officer, Lieut Jim Bays.
“We joined HMS Tiger, berthed at Newcastle Quayside (it had to be towed backwards from so far up the Tyne, because it was too long to turn in the river).
“We were allowed to go below decks for our dinner, by which time we were just leaving the river to commence the forthcoming exercise.”
He still remembers the impact it had on him. “What a day! There were guns, helicopters, refuelling at sea, jet attacks – the works.
“I was so impressed I made up my mind there and then to join up.
“I went on to join the Royal Navy at 16, did 10 great years, became a disciplined young man, learned a good trade, and saw over 60 countries to boot.”
But here’s the rub. It seems that the Shields Gazette took a picture of the Sea Cadets standing near the rear turret with Lieut Bays.
Might we still have it? Not as far as I can tell, sadly. Is it possible somebody out there has a copy of the picture in question and could let us see it?