Fortiter, Fideliter, Feliciter
Having just got used to finding my way around the Intrepid it was to take even longer to navigate the corridors and passageways of the Albion to find my way to the various Comms Departments, there was the Bridge Wireless Office, Main Signal Office, Lower Transmitter Room, Upper Transmitter Room, Flag Deck. A nightmare!
The Comms Branch messdeck (3D9) was situated near the fo'csle, nice and handy for the forward heads and showers but during rough weather (when the fo'csle was shut) it was quite a trek thru the main dining hall to reach them.
I enjoyed my time in the Far East and we had many pleasant runs ashore, visiting countless places, my favourite being Perth, Western Australia.
Alas, all good things must come to an end and the ship arrived back in Portsmouth in August 1969 to begin a six month refit in dry dock. During this period we had the pleasure of being billeted on HMS Centaur and I also visited HMS Mercury to take my RO2's exam (having failed it at RNWS KRANJI whilst out the Far East. Too much TIGER beer I fear!)
Having finished the refit it was off to Portland for a major shake-up followed by a few major exercises in the north of Scotland and a couple of visits to mainland Europe including Bremerhaven and Rotterdam. Then it was off to the Med for three months although the only places we visited were Gibraltar, Malta and Athens.
After nearly 2 and a half years onboard the Albion it was time for my first draft to a shore-base, HMS Warrior, Northwood.
A SHORT HISTORY OF H.M.S. ALBION
The H.M.S. Albion I served on was the sixth ship to bear the name since the first, a 74 gun 3rd rate ship of 1,660 tons, was launched nearly two hundred years ago and won battle honours at Grenada (1779) and Martinique (1780). The third Albion, also a third rate 74 gun ship, saw action in such varied parts of the world as Washington (1814), Algiers (1816) and Navarino (1827). The action on the Potomac River was the first in which an Albion was involved in a truly amphibious operation in support of land forces when she landed troops and sailors for the attack on Washington and the burning of the White House. This tradition was followed by the fourth Albion at Sebastopol in 1854 and the fifth, a first class armoured battleship with four 12 inch guns, at Gallipoli in 1915. The sixth (this ship) was the first to introduce the air element in the forefront of combined service operations.
The first landing by assault troops from helicopters was done by 45 Commando, Royal Marines from H.M. ships Ocean and Theseus at Port Said in 1956. So much did this new, highly flexible method of landing troops clear of the beaches stir the imagination of the naval staff that first H.M.S. Bulwark and later H.M.S. Albion were converted from their fixed wing aircraft carrier role to be specialised commando ships. Being much larger than Ocean and Theseus, and having learned many lessons from that early operation, they could carry many more troops and helicopters further and faster with many special features for mounting the military operation ashore.
848 Squadron, was first formed with Westland Sikorsky S55 helicopters in 1953. For their first four years they supported the Army in anti-terrorist operations in Malaya and from 1958 to 1960 were employed in internal security duties in Cyprus and Malta, working with Royal Marine Commandos on many occasions. Re-equipped with Whirlwind Mk 7 helicopters-whose load and troop carrying capacity was very limited-they embarked in H.M.S. Bulwark and in July 1961 landed and supported 45 Royal Marine Commando in Kuwait to restore law and order effectively and swiftly.
The history of the Royal Marines, dating back to 1664, is too long to elaborate here-Britain's sea soldiers" have fought everywhere. After the Second World War a number of Royal Marine Commandos were retained as highly mobile, tough and versatile units of about battalion strength and specially skilled in jungle, desert and mountain warfare. The battle of the Inchon Reservoir and the retreat which followed, performed by 41 Commando in the Korean War, is a classic in military discipline. 40 and 45 Commando served with distinction in internal security in Cyprus in 1955-56 and with 42 Commando in the Port Said landings. 40 and 42 Commando have played their full part in the Indonesian confrontation in Borneo from December 1962 until August 1966.
The Albion having served the Royal Navy with pride and distinction for nearly 20 years was finally paid-off
in November 1972. Sadly the Albion lay in Fareham Creek for over 7 months on the disposal list awaiting a buyer and on 22nd October 1973 she made her last departure from Portsmouth under tow. Arriving on the
Clyde she awaited her fate. This was soon decided as no buyer could be found and the proud old ship made her final journey to the breaker's yard at Faslane on 22nd November 1973, 29 years after her first
keel plates had been laid at the Swan Hunter's shipyard in Newcastle
FACTS & FIGURES
PENNANT NUMBER : RO7
CALLSIGN : GKXR
LAID DOWN : 23RD MARCH 1944
LAUNCHED : 6TH MAY 1947
COMMISSIONED : 26TH MAY 1954
CONVERSION TO COMMANDO CARRIER : 1961
DECOMMISSIONED : 1972
SOLD FOR SCRAP : 1973
LENGTH OVERALL : 737 FT
BEAM OVERALL : 128 FT
DISPLACEMENT : 26,118 TONS
DRAUGHT : 22 FT
ARMAMENT : 26 RADAR CONTROLLED 40MM BOFORS
MAIN MACHINERY :
TWIN SCREW. TWO SETS PARSONS GEARED TURBINES
SPEED : 28 KNOTS
COMPLEMENT : 1,400 (WITH EMBARKED SQUADRONS)
Recommended reading for all old 'ALBIONS' is the book entitled
'HMS ALBION 1944-1973 The Old Grey Ghost' by Neil McCart.
This book can be supplied by : MARITIME BOOKS, LISKEARD, PL14 4EL TEL: 01579 343663
HMS ALBION PHOTO PAGE
TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEAR FUTURE
LAST UPDATED - JANUARY 2000