It is my great regret that I did not take any photographs during my time in HMS Mercury, the Royal Naval Signal School at Leydene in Hampshire, now sadly closed down as a result of the irrelevance (?) of Morse Code as the principal method of Naval Communications.  However, I suppose change was inevitable with the improvement of satellite communication and the ease with

which the Fleet Commander could communicate with the Admiralty which was demonstrated fully in the Falklands war.

I had relinquished my Acting PO Tel rating on leaving Ark Royal in 1958 and so arrived at Leydene as a Leading Telegraphist once again.  On my first "going ashore" dressed in civvies, I stood apart from the other ratings (as was customary) when liberty-men were piped to fall in.  A gunnery Petty Officer, whose name I forget, was PO of the day and instructed me to "get fell in!" which I duly did.  Then realising he may have made a mistake asked "Are you a leading hand, then?" and when I said I was, he said "get fell out, then!"

When I was promoted to PO Tel shortly afterwards and became an Instructor, we would often meet in the Instructors' Rest Room and I would tease him at his treatment of me that day... rather over egging it, of course!

Before purchasing a second hand car, I recall the trip from Portsmouth or Southsea to Clanfield on the warm green Southdown buses.   If I timed it right it took me right up to Leydene, but late night buses terminated at Clanfield, necessitating a walk from there to Mercury.  On a dark winter’s night it was difficult even to see the road.

Just after purchasing my car I took pity on, and stopped to pick up, a sailor from the camp.  I was, of course, swanking it a bit!  To my horror as I tried to do a hill start I found that the break would not hold and it was only with great difficulty that I managed to get going again.  So began a series of visits to the local garage, repeated bills and unreliability.  I was glad to sell it on to a Manchester University student for £14 including tax and insurance.  He had the cheek to ask me if it would pass the MOT Test which was about to be introduced!  I told him if it only took him to Manchester, it would have paid for itself.  I wonder if he ever got there.

I also recall my occasional spell of duty as P.O. of the Guard and my responsibility of maintaining the security of the Navy’s prime signal establishment with nothing but a stick, white gaiters and belt and a NP arm band, and doing the rounds several times during the night.  It was very much during the ‘Cold War’ and often thought how easy it would really be for spies of the Soviet Union to have got in.  Still perhaps they knew about everything anyway.  The one consolation of being P.O. of the guard was being able to have a nice fry up in the early hours of the morning, thanks to the generosity of the duty cooks.

Although I can still see some of the faces of the classes of trainees I was responsible for, I have no class photographs (I don't know why), and the only person I remained in contact with after leaving the Navy, although not actually in my class was Dennis O'Hare who is now a Christian Missionary in Perpignon in the South of France.  Being an instructor did have its advantages as I used to have my class detailed to give my old car, which was after all only a 1935 Austin 10, a bump start on a cold winters day!

HMS Mercury was a shore establishment of the Royal Navy, and the site of the Royal Navy Signals School and WRNS Signal School.  The WRNS were house in separately at Soberton Towers.

The pictures on this page show; Top Left: Leyden House used as the Wardroom, I believe; and bottom left HMS Mercury from the air.  The cinema is shown on the extreme right bottom of the picture.  (Pictures culled from he Web).

A Day in the Life of...Me.