Welcome aboard HMS Tetcott.  It's late 1943 and Tetcott is moored in Malta's Grand Harbour.  The ship is relatively quiet, her main engines are shut down and many of her crew are already ashore.  The Officer of the Day will be your guide on your visit around the ship so, with the formalities over let's begin...

We begin our tour on the upper deck, beside her single funnel. Facing forward, on the starboard side, ahead and above us rise the mast, bridge and rangefinder structure, and the raised forecastle deck.

Directly in front of us is a watertight door which would take us into the depths of the ship, though for this visit we'll remain above decks.  We mount the inboard ladder, and find ourselves up on the Forecastle Deck (1), immediately beside the small RF/DF Office (2).

Taking care not to fall through the open galley skylight, and ignoring the ladder up to the signal deck, we pass alongside the bridge structure itself, beneath the Oerlikon gun platform (3) on the signal deck above, and emerge beside the watertight door that gives access to the Senior Officer's cabins and other forward parts of the ship(4).

Entering, we find ourselves in a passage that runs straight across the ship. The two doors on the right, facing forward, are to the captain’s Day and Sleeping Cabins, with another two cabins on the left, divided by the ladder up to the next deck. At the far end of the passage, facing forward, is the ladder up to the Wheelhouse, and mid-ships, again facing forward, is a ladder down to the deck below.

Retracing our steps, we re-emerge and turn forward, onto the forecastle, and are immediately confronted by the after end of Number 1 twin 4" gun (5), also designated 'A' gun, standing behind its blast-proof breastwork, one of the distinctive features of a 'Hunt'. The deck rapidly narrows now, and beyond the breastwork, which acts as breakwater, stands the steam-powered capstan (6), used for raising the ground tackle, consisting of two 22 cwt Admiralty pattern stockless anchors (7) and their fathoms of cable, all secured and housed in the twin cable lockers two decks below.

All to be seen here are the chain ramps and pipes, the bollards and fairleads used to secure the ship, and the jackstaff (whilst in harbour, but not usually at sea), so we return to the bridge structure, re-entering via the same door into the Officers' cabin lobby. This time we mount the ladder up to the signal deck, emerging in the Wheelhouse, which extends the width of the whole structure. Tetcott’s wheel, main compass, and her engine room telegraphs stand before a central rectangular port flanked by two scuttles (portholes). To one side of the wheel is the Plot, the small office where the Navigating Officer, or 'Pilot', calculates and records the ship's course and position.

On the far, port side of the Wheel House, is a ladder down to the Officers Cabin lobby, and at the after end of the Wheel House is a sliding door giving access to a similar passage, with doors to the First Lieutenant's Cabin and the Chart House. Between the two is the ladder up to Tetcott’s open Bridge, but before we go aloft, we continue straight through the lobby and turn to face aft. We have emerged on the Signal Deck (8), which extends back towards the mast and funnel. On either side are mounted her two 20mm Oerlikon cannons (3) and their ready-use lockers. At the after end of the Chart House structure, the circular Range Finder Director Tower (9) rears up out of the deck, and abaft of the Tower is the Signal Deck itself, with its large locker, containing the 98 Signal Flags conveniently sited for Tetcott’s single, raked mast.  On the starboard side of the Signal Deck is the ladder up to the Bridge, and on either after corner are ladders back down to the Forecastle Deck.

Ever upwards, we now climb up to the Bridge itself (10).  Tetcott, like virtually all smaller warships of her time, was built with an open bridge. The open bridge, although uncomfortable in adverse weather, made iteasy to sight the enemy, easy to gauge the weather, and easy to watch for the Senior Officer's signals. Everybody shared any discomfort, and this went some small way to establish respect for each other. Bridges can be crowded places but in emergency, they are easy to evacuate and the war is full of tales of bridge personnel who only survived the loss of their ship by being blown straight into the sea.

At the after end of the Bridge is the Range Finder (9), atop its tower. Access to the very restricted platform is only for the younger and fitter, so we will leave that experience for another time, and leave the Bridge, passing the twin searchlights (11), and return to our starting point via the Signal and Forecastle Decks by means of the three sets of ladders provided. Standing again beside Tetcott's funnel, we will continue along the port side of the Upper Deck (12), down to the stern.

All along the deck are small lifebelt lockers, rafts, skylights, vents and wash deck lockers, so be careful! The first structure we pass is the Pom-pom Platform (13). Mounted upon it is Tetcott’s main Anti-Aircraft weapon - the QF 2pounder Mk VII (14), a four-barreled rapid fire machine gun, firing 2lb shells, at a rate of 115 rounds per minute and called the 'Pom-pom' by all and sundry after the noise it made.

Access to the platform was by one of two ladders; one at the forward end doubled as access to the siren platform on the funnel, and the second was provided at the after end on the port side. Beneath the platform was a structure built round the No2 boiler room vent and the engine room skylight, known over the years as the 'Engineers' Bridge' (15), useful for Stokers and ERAs to pop up for air before resuming duties below. A good spot to stow spare gear, for avoiding the worst of poor weather, and providing rudimentary under-floor heating to the pompom position.

Moving on, and ducking inboard to avoid the Whaler (16) - the 25' Motor Cutter is stowed on the port side - we pass the vegetable lockers, beef screen and potato locker, and come to the small deckhouse (17) under the searchlight platform and secondary steering position. By 1943 searchlights were being phased out and replaced by Type 271 Radar, which Tetcott received in 1944. On the platform itself are the searchlight (18), a repeater compass, engine room telegraph and a second ship's wheel.  Beneath, there is access to the machinery spaces, and the escaping heat enables any spare space to be used as a drying room.

We are now over half way along Tetcott.  Structurally, she consists of 157 equidistant frames to give her a length of 282 feet. Her Number 1 Boiler Room starts at Frame 56, and Number 2 at Frame 69. Her Engine Room then starts at Frame 80 and runs to Frame 97. Her Gearing Room then runs to Frame 105 where the after accommodation starts. We are coming to the next and final structure on the upper deck, which commences at Frame 105, and that is the After Deckhouse (19). This is a relatively large, single storey structure, on which is mounted the Number 2 (or 'X') Gun (20). Inside is a large space which provides services to the crew at the after end of the ship, and gives access to the decks beneath where 63 crew members mess.

At the very forward end is the emergency generator house (21), which also gives access to the forward end of the deckhouse. The deckhouse does not extend the whole width of the ship, and gangways are provided on both sides to give access to the crowded quarter deck, or stern area. Mounted above these gangways, port and starboard, are two Carley Floats (22) - a distinctive feature of the design

There is no access into the deckhouse from the starboard gangway, as that side of the interior is taken up with a range of wash places and WCs (Heads) for the various ranks. The rest of the compartment is an open lobby, with the gun support amidships, and in the after corner the ship's canteen, effectively its ‘corner shop’. In the forward corner is the crew's galley for those messing at the after end, and between the two compartments is the main access via a watertight door. A ladder leads down to the messes on the lower deck, and mounted outside are Tetcott’s highly polished nameplates.

We emerge again onto the congested quarter deck (23), immediately before us is Tetcott’s aftermost twin 4" gun (24) (No 3 or 'Y'), with its breastwork and ready-use lockers.  Beyond, the clutter becomes even more marked, with two depth charge rails at the very stern (25), DC throwers (26) - with two more amidships, ammunition davits and stored DCs, as well as smoke canisters, bollards, fairleads, navigation and sailing lights, all combine to make a very dangerous working environment for the crew. The final piece of equipment, the Ensign Staff (27) on the furthest part of the stern, marks the end of our tour around the upper works.

Hopefully, your whistle-stop tour of HMS Tetcott has at least given you a greater understanding of the equipment and armament carried by our lucky ship. 

The whaler - already full of men eager to get ashore to sample the delights offered in the streets of Malta  - is waiting for you, and won't wait for too long, so let's say our farewells and hurry and get aboard...

 Adapted from the original published by Alan Galinski at www.hmshurworth.co.uk