|Stoker 2nd Class||Stoker 1st Class||Petty Officer|
Robert McCarron's experience on the Brinmaric are best expressed in his own words in a note to me:
"I was called up to serve in the Navy in July 1942 and after about 3 months training at a shore establishment, HMS Duke in Herefordshire, I was sent to HMS Victory. From there I was drafted to HMS Brinmaric in Weymouth. You can imagine my feelings as a lad of 19 yrs of age, who had never been away from home or aboard a ship before (apart from the Mersey ferry-boats), full of apprehension, misgivings and a sense of awe as I first set eyes on my first ship.-she looked marvelous!
Brinmaric was crewed by about 20 people of which I was the youngest and lowest rank, Stoker 2nd class.! My immediate superior in the engine room turned out to be a saxophone player in one of the big bands of the day, -'Geraldo' I think.
I regret to say that the mists of time have dulled my memory somewhat but some of the things still stick.--like the first time we went to sea, an event that proved that I was not a good sailor, a failing that was to stay with me for the whole of my Naval service (four and a half years)! I must mention here that our cook -a guy from the Newcastle area, - did not have a large variety of breakfast menus,- Baked Beans were the main order of the day. Anyway, off we went in the morning and our routine was to patrol up and down the English Channel for 24 hours and return to port for 24 hours.
Within half an hour of clearing the harbour entrance I started to feel sea-sick As I was working in the engine-room there was no chance of heaving- up over the side so I made a dive for the engine-room porthole. As the ship rolled heavily to starboard I had the exquisite pleasure of watching my breakfast beans rolling down the ship's side. The 24 hour routine didn't give me a chance to get used to the ship's motion so I had to go through the same experience time after time. I have never been able to face baked beans since then!
Talking of food aversions, our skipper and some of the crew were fishermen in peacetime and had rigged up a trawl net which was lowered into the water whilst we were on patrol and picked up at the end of the run. The resulting catch contained all kinds of varieties of fish, crabs, lobsters etc. which were a welcome addition to our rather boring diet and any surplus was donated to a local good cause.
After a while however, I got tired of it and on a rough day at sea I disliked the idea of having my dinner twice in one day - once down and once up! So that's another of my pet hates.
The crew consisted of quite a lot of Londoners, with a sprinkling of Scotsmen and a couple of Yorkies and Lancs. I was the only scouser aboard and I struck up a friendship with a guy from Manchester whose nickname was Blondie. I must admit to a bad memory for names because I can't recall any. However I'm almost sure that the picture of the crew shows me, 2nd from the right on the back row, (next to the laddie with his hand on his hip, and some of the faces seem to ring a bell. I wasn't aboard the Brinmaric long enough to get to know them all very well but they were quite a pleasant lot.
A couple of them were quite good at making cigarette lighters out of bullet shells and other metal toys and artifacts. One of the Scotsmen, who came from Stornoway was a brilliant player of chess and drafts and some of the lads had their own special little talents, like the tubby little Scot who had the bunk on the mess deck next to mine who, when climbing out of his bunk in the mornings used to noisily break wind and continue to do so until he got to the toilet which was about 12ft. away!--a feat of which he was quite proud. Needless to say, not everybody appreciated it - especially those downwind of him!
Generally speaking, apart from the seasickness, life aboard the Brinmaric was quite pleasant and bearable and after 7 months I was drafted to HMS Europa in Lowestoft to take a course in diesel engines and to begin a new episode in my Naval career in M.L.s"