My story Follows
. It was on the wedding day, of Princess Elisabeth and Prince Phillip, November 20 - 1947, When at around 9AM Myself and hundreds of another navy men were leaving Portsmouth England for the Mediterranean aboard HMS Illustrious an Aircraft Carrier.
There was no transparent theory other than we were expected to solve the problem of replacing the time expired Navy personnel on several different ships serving in the Mediterranean.
Ten days later I joined HMS Mauritius at Valletta in Malta. Then less than 24 hours later myself and others about 20 in all and All about my size and age, were sent to a training barracks where a very large but amicable Royal Marine Sergeant enlightened us to why we were here.
The sergeant explained he would take us under his wing for the next two weeks and there would be no drinking or smoking and any loot like tobacco or booze would be confiscated; and when you leave here you will be the fittest guys on your ship, maybe some of you will resist but in the end you will benefit.
The sergeant explained we had been selected for boarding parties, the task for your ship was to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the British mandate territory of Palestine, then take them to Famagusta in Cyprus where eventually 1,000 souls each month on a first come first to enter the promised land( The reason for this being the Palestinian infrastructure could not cope and as a result which most migrants were blind to would be they would starve to death. should they arrive en masse
We went through a gruelling programme of physical fitness and instruction on how to use batons and pistols. and were suitably dressed for the occasion with boots and gaiters plus shin and arm pads, not forgetting the leather backed helmet and the necessary cricket box to protect our manhood.
We looked and were a tough bunch and Our training served us well, however never was there an occasion where we had to use force it seemed our presence was enough. Plus onboarding we were given packets of cigarettes to hand out to the unfortunate people aboard these boats and ships; who came to realise we had a job to do.
As a result from all of this malarky, the unarmed combat instruction Came in handy and provided with a great deal of confidence particularly when I was confronted with a large Irish guy who for some unknown reason wanted to get me during a drunken stupor He was given the surprise of his life, but oddly Paddy Slavin became in later years an Irish heavyweight Boxing champ(true)
After boarding several vessels including the Pan Crescent with 7,000 souls We finally and thankfully left Haifa on May 14 -1948 amid small arms fire when the ship HMS Mauritius sailed for England.
Vest Daily Gaggle.
I am pictured middle left