Martin 'Nobby' Clarke AB(S) 1977-1979
I was given a small Pink Elephant with ginger hair. I had it dangling on a string above my pit. He was called “Ruffers”. If he was banking about if meant that the sea was rough so if I could I stayed in bed!
Anyway, when we were alongside in Brest, Bored, skint and fed up, we set of on a mission to “Zap” another ship, that is to say deface her ships side. As RFA Green Rover was also alongside she seemed a good target. I, Steve Close and a few others rowed the motor Whaler alongside the Green Rover and set to work with some Pink paint and painted a Pink Elephant on her stern. Then giggling like schoolgirls we rowed back to Ambuscade. Next on the list was the Blake, she was easy, we got her in Cartagena.
In Longbeach we did RFA Tidespring we also Zapped all her Perry Buoys and Name plate. It was becoming an art form! In San Francisco we had a field Day, Birmingham, Leander, and the other RFA Resource (I think) all got hit. The wafoos lent a hand by making a stencil and zapping any helo’s that landed on our deck.
In Acapulco we were alongside. However, the swell was so great that it was damaging the Ships side, so we slipped and went to anchor in the bay. Most of the fleet was at anchor so there were lots of boats running around. Here we managed to Zap the Submarine Conqueror right on her rudder, Juno was next. We did her on the way ashore with Richard Baker in the Boat! Just to cause confusion we even did our own ships side. So, suspicions lay with Hermione as she was the only one not yet hit.
Hermione was a daring adventure!! We were alongside her in Nassau harbour, I went over the side on a bosun’s chair in broad daylight, with Steve tending me and acting as lookout. I had a pot of Grey, pot of Black, pot of White and a pot of Pink. We were pretending to touch up our own pennant numbers, instead we managed to zapp her in the top half of the 8 in her pennant number F58.
As we sailed Uncle Tom Sunter (the jimmy) spotted it and over the intercom told everyone on deck not to point or laugh. We got away with it until, on the way back across the Atlantic, we had a signal from Hermione ( the squadron leader) saying how displeased Captain F was that the “Canteen boat” should deface her squadron leaders side, and that the perpetrators should receive 10 Days 9’s! or make a bell-rope for the captain F5. Steve and I opted to make the bell-rope (who wouldn’t). When it was finished we showed it to Uncle Tom who then arranged for a heaving line transfer. Before we put the bell rope in the transfer bag we cut off the tassels on the bottom of the bell rope and attached Ruffers!! You should have seen captain F’s Face! The Bell rope and Ruffers went for a float test as Capt F had a sense of humour failure. So they are now both at the bottom of the Atlantic.
Green Rover was very proud of their Elephant as they used to re-paint it sometimes. They did get Revenge a while later though, as the Bosun of Green Rover changed ships to the Grey Rover and when we were both Alongside in Oslo he wrote “The Black Cat Rules OK” in 6ft letters using a roller and black boot topping all down our Starboard Side. As luck would have it someone spotted it in the early hours, so as the lads from Grey rover came up to take the piss, Steve and I had already painted over it.
I hope my little meandering will raise a smile and maybe a memory.
Below is a pink elephant as drawn on the ship's sides.