On arrival in Kristiansand (Norway) on 27th May 1945, I received the startling news that I was to be relieved and was to take command of the TETCOTT, a fairly new Hunt class destroyer, evidently destined for the Japanese war.  My relief, Humphrey Barbary, arrived on 1st June, not really very pleased to be taking over an old ship, no matter how efficient, which was obviously bound for the scrap yard ere long.  Perhaps Their Lordships thought he needed a rest, though they hadn’t given me any!


So, after mustering the Confidential Books, signing some papers and giving a farewell party, I left ‘Lucky Loo’ and embarked in the VIVIEN for passage to Rosyth on 4th June.  After a night in Stavanger we arrived home on 6th June and I embraced my waiting wife, made some farewell calls on dignitaries from Admiral Whitworth downwards and set off for Portsmouth.


The only echo from VALOROUS was a plaintive letter from Naval Stores asking for an explanation why twelve pairs of sea-boot stockings had been stowed in the boiler room, when we had written them of as destroyed by shellfire, together with a few other items we were short of. I never replied.


I assumed command of TETCOTT on 12 June 1945.  She was a very trim Hunt class destroyer, about three years old, and had served in the Mediterranean towards the end of my time there.  She had a good record and an interesting motto which read “Faythe hath no fear”.  It was somewhat appropriate to my already long-suffering wife, but hardly accurate in the present context.  In those days, the first Captain of a ship with a new name had a say in such things as badges and mottoes, and I believe this one stemmed from Richard Rycroft.  I remember sending a splendidly wild suggestion for a badge for the SAVAGE, designed by a girl friend, but it was not accepted.


We were due to sail on 29th June for the East and the war with the Japanese, and the expectation was that we’d get there in time for the projected invasion of Malaya.  I discovered that the landing would have been at an island with the easy to remember name of Phucket.  So it looked like a long separation from our families.  We all had a couple days leave, but otherwise things were pretty busy storing, ammunitioning and so forth.  Faith came to dinner on the evening before sailing and we said farewell.  Rather disconcertingly she re-appeared a little while before we did sail, having talked some boat coxswain into it.  I was on my dignity, thinking it not proper, especially as we were out at a bouy and nobody else’s wife could pay a farewell call.  So we parted coolly - might it have been for the last time? 


Actually, it was going to be a while anyhow before TETCOTT got back into the war because it had been decided that we should stop in Gibraltar dockyard and, among other things, fit some extra light automatic weapons to repel Kamikazes.  These included a 40mm Bofors right on top of my day cabin.  Somehow all this turned into a fairly major refit, and I was anxious that we might miss the invasion.  I would have liked to help kick the Nips out of anywhere – but was also feeling the separation of a newly married sailor.


It never came to that, and my command of this fine ship turned out to be another of life’s anticlimaxes.  We were still in Gibraltar when the Bombs were dropped on Japan.  We remained there for VJ Day, the surrender and for several weeks after that, there now being no urgency to get us to sea while decisions were awaited as to our future.


Eventually it became clear that we were not to go East, but complete a full refit and return to the UK.  This was sad professionally but most welcome personally.  So we were not to be separated for long after all, and survival seemed likely.  The waiting period in Gibraltar was tedious in one way, but fun in another.  We moved out of the ship, which had become very hot in the dock, and took up residence in New Camp, a RAF establishment near the Pens.  It was badly run, discipline was at a low ebb.  The airmen didn’t care about anything but the date of their return home.  When I was told that I had to ask a rather rat-like corporal for permission to get a boat across to one of the ships I nearly exploded!


Not long before I left, there were some army sports at which the General Officer Commanding got three ‘boos’ instead of three cheers after the prize giving.  That was the tedious side, but Jack Cox of the LEDBURY (our chummy ship, in a like situation), and I had a wonderful rest, swimming, sailing, playing tennis and visiting the Wrennery for cooling drinks.  I have always liked Gibraltar.


It wasn’t until 16th October that after a few days at sea for trials in gorgeous sunny weather, that we set sail at last for home.  It was an odd feeling steaming at night with scuttles open and all lights on.  A whole new life seemed to lie ahead.  After a nice landfall at the Lizard, we steamed through the Needles Channel and arrived at Portsmouth dockyard at 08:00 on 20th October 1945. 


There wasn’t much of a hero’s welcome – half-a-dozen wives and a handful of scruffy dockyard mateys, but who cared?  The war was over for me.