21st Birthday

E0702 KLENZE 9463

Acropolis by Leo von Klenze 1846

It was a short voyage from Istanbul to Piraeus, which is the port for Athens.  Once again I took advantage of the student tours and walked around the Parthenon overlooking Athens.

DSC04058rI took this photograph of Athens in 2015, the Parthenon was behind me.

Visiting the Parthenon was nowhere near as crowded in 1965 as it was in 2015, when Maureen & 1 and two friends visited.



How long will it be before the ruins have been worn away?


Naples, the port for Pompeii – 2018


A very interesting day with the students, and once again far less crowded than I experienced in 2015 ! The above photograph was taken in 2015.

From Naples our next port was Cagliari in Sardinia.  It was Palm Sunday, and the place was very, very quiet.

Cagliari 65

Piazza Repubblica in 1965.

I decide to go for a swim on Poetto beach, which was a beautiful beach of fine white sand, backed by white sand hills.


Part of the beach area – found this on the internet, which was taken in 1965.

I wonder if anyone else remembers this beach in 1965? Due to the removal of the cassoti (beach huts) in the 1980’s from the beach, and the failure to stop sand erosion, the beach had to be rebuilt using sand from dredgers.

Poetto cassoti

Cassoti or beach huts – picture from approx. mid 60’s.

The problem was that the new sand was not the fine white sand of old, but different coloured sand. I believe they are having the same erosion problems today and the ‘new’ sand is being washed away.


The beach today showing the encroaching cafes etc – downloaded from the internet.

After my swim I felt peckish and decided to buy a ham roll as I walked back to the wharf to re-join the ship.
I purchased my ‘lunch’ from a shop with a window full of different meats and bread sticks & rolls. My Italian was nil and the shop assistant’s English was as fluent as my Italian. I mimed and asked for a ham roll pointing at what I thought looked like ham. He handed me a dry bread roll with thin meat in it, all wrapped in paper. One bite and I realised it was not ham, but prosciutto. At that time, I had not yet come to appreciate this type of dry-cured meat.
While walking along the street from the beach I had been ‘adopted’ by a dog that wouldn’t leave me alone, so I thought why not give him the meat? It’d save it going to waste, because I didn’t like the taste of the meat, or the dry roll.
The dog sniffed the meat and bread & refused to eat any of my lunch. He looked at me, turned and trotted back towards the beach. Obviously, the dog had better taste than I did.

I arrived back on board to find a pile of mail waiting for me – I’d forgotten it was my birthday, and I had a number of cards from the UK wishing me Happy birthday for my 21st.

We sailed at 11.30 pm and three days later we sighted Gibraltar. This time I was going to make sure that I would have a look around.
I did manage to get ashore and check out the ‘Rock’, but would have liked longer; we sailed at midnight.


Gibraltar, captured from the Spanish in 1704, by Anglo – Dutch forces.

 Two days later we arrived in Vigo, after a rolling trip from the Atlantic swells as we sailed along the coast of Portugal. The ship’s movement kept most of the younger students very quiet.
We were only in Vigo, which is on the northwest coast of Spain, for a short stay.
Our next port of call was our last for this trip.

Southampton and the chat, yet to happen, with a certain father in Christchurch about his daughter’s visit in Istanbul.

We were alongside in Southampton by 8.00 am and wished everyone who was leaving a safe journey home – many of the students were in tears as they left the ship.

On the internet there are web pages created by ex-students, who have now reached retirement age, and their experience of the Dunera or one of the other school ships,  made such an impression that it stayed with them all their lives.

A later cruise in MV Uganda the link is a short five minute ‘we remember when’ of people who experienced a school ship cruise aboard M/V Uganda.


Above is M/V Uganda during her school ship period.

Dunera as a school ship is just over a minute, but it will give you an idea.


Each dormitory had a badge and a name, this one was Sir Edward Pellew 1757 – 1833, a very famous sea officer during the Napoleonic wars.

170px-Sir_Edward_Pellew  Sir Edward Pellew in uniform

The following day we were welcoming a new group of students, as we prepared to sail at 3.00 pm for Spain, starting with life jacket drill. . . . .



That’s Entertainment . . . . .


The holiday has started for some . . . the beginning of another cruise for us.

In addition to our normal duties on board, plus ferrying passengers ashore in the lifeboats, we were expected to help entertain the students in the afternoons, during sea days. Most afternoons were free for the students, lessons being held in the morning on sea days.


This photograph & the one below are thanks to John Coulthard

I made sure to stay away from the girls with hockey sticks, out of respect for my ankles.


I preferred frog racing – much calmer . .

In the evenings we were expected to be around in full uniform to dance with the students – always a pleasure to comply with certain orders.
Curfew for the students was 9.00 pm.

If we extended our stay in port, while at anchor, we would have a ‘regatta’ – teams of students would man the lifeboats and ‘row’ them around the ship in a race. The only difference is that they didn’t use oars, because the lifeboats had ‘Fleming Gear’, which is a handle by each seat so that the passenger pulls the handle back and forth and a shaft drives a propeller.


The above shows the white bars, which are ‘jacked’ back and forth to drive the propeller.


The race is on . . . we cadets would dress up as pirates and shout at our ‘rowers’ – a popular film at the time was Ben Hur, which has a number of scenes of slave rowers, rowing to the beat of a drum.
So we tried this to get everyone in time . . . sometimes it worked, but . . .

On one particular cruise it was a Catholic school cruise with many younger students – ten or eleven to fourteen years old, and the teachers were the nuns. The nuns used to take part in many of the games and also the boat race. I had three nuns in the bow of my boat and my ‘crew’ were finding it hard to move the boat fast enough with the dead-weight in the bow. As a pirate I used to carry a whip, which I could crack while shouting pirate slogans such as ‘Row you swabs! faster, faster!’ and other such niceties.

The nuns, dressed in their black habit ‘uniform’ and a smaller version of the cornette, the traditional nun’s head gear, (something like the headgear in this picture),nun

were enjoying the sail until I cracked my whip and shouted for them to ‘Row, sisters!’
I was quite surprised when all three bowed and grabbed a handle and started jacking it backwards and forwards. We increased speed, but not enough to stop us coming in last.
Later I was called to see the Captain and ‘asked’ not to become too enthusiastic when shouting at the nuns, because they were also on their holiday. I could take a hint.

Also during sea days we were expected to give half hour talks about the happenings on the bridge while at sea, these talks were to both first-class passengers and students. They began at 9.30 am and went on until 4.00 pm, with a short break for lunch. The groups were quite small because we couldn’t allow too many at one time, because this would interfere with the operation of the bridge. In today’s world one would not be able to get anywhere near the bridge.

This part of our duties was nerve racking until you had your patter down to a fine art. The jokes always raised a laugh, the questions were nearly always the same, and it became enjoyable being able to speak to so many people from all walks of life.


All BI deck & engine room crews came from India. The catering staff for the Europeans were from Goa, because they were mostly catholic, which helped, because we didn’t have the religious food restrictions due to pork or beef.

I found the above photograph on the internet to give an idea of a ship’s bridge in 1965 compared to today.
Today’s bridge is all enclosed with repeater computer controls at the centre, and on each bridge wing.
In 1965 we didn’t have computers, satellite communications, and we definitely didn’t have Satnav or GPS. We used our eyes, and took bearings of prominent points of land. A bearing of the right-hand land mass and another on the left, and where they cross on the chart that’s where you were . . . this system has worked very well for centuries.


We did have primitive RADAR – compared to today’s RADAR – and an echo sounder, and a lead line for obtaining how deep the water was close to land. At times we used the echo sounder, and then cross checked with the lead line!

The Dunera had the ability to go forward or astern, plus the experience of the Master in taking her alongside without the help of thrusters – perhaps a tug to nudge her alongside.
How times have changed, the Dunera bridge wings were open to the elements, whereas today the bridge is air conditioned, and you don’t need wet weather gear to go on watch.

Today the officer on the bridge controls the engine, whereas we used to use a telegraph to communicate with the engine room.


We moved the lever to what speed we wanted. This action was mirrored by the repeater in the engine room, and the duty engineer would acknowledge the order by working the engine room repeater telegraph and mimicking the order back to the bridge. A simple system that worked well.

I digress, during the bridge chats with the students and passengers I was nearly always asked how we found our way around the ocean. Light heartedly I used to refer to the log that was streamed aft, which was used to estimate our speed.

The idea was that the ‘rocket’ shaped item, which is called a rotator, would be towed behind the ship and spin so registering our speed. The rotator would be spinning below the surface on the end of a rope. It did look as if the rope was running out from the ship in to the water. Passengers had been shown or told of how the system worked.
So, tongue in cheek I would say that the end of the rope was tied to the quay in Southampton, and when we wanted to go home, we just hauled the rope in until we reached home. Most people just laughed, or at least smiled – except one elderly lady believed me, and later was speaking to the captain about how we found our way home . . . . . I was called up by you know who, and told to change my punch lines.

The student dormitories were male or female and we had security staff that patrolled the ship at night. The head of security was called Master at Arms, who wouldn’t stand for any messing about from the students, or anyone else.

The students ranged from eleven years of age, to late teens and early twenties. I did sail with a Swiss school cruise where some of the students were a little older than me. The Swiss cruise sticks in my mind because the Swiss girls bought all the Old Spice after shave from the ship’s shop thinking it was perfume.
For me it was very disconcerting to dance with an attractive girl smelling of after shave. I had to remember to use a different brand of after shave for myself, just in case she thought I was using perfume!

Old spice

The one thing I can say about my time in Dunera, is that I was never board . .


Istanbul or Constantinople?


Once again my fellow cadets and I joined the excursion ashore to see this time the sites of Istanbul.

We visited St Sophia’s  (pictured above) – the first church on this site being built in 360 AD, the second church was built in 415 AD, the third church was opened in 537 AD and remained a church until 1453 when Constantinople (Istanbul) fell to the Ottomans, and St Sophia’s became a moscue.
In 1935, thanks to Kemul Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, the building became a museum.
St Sophia might be better remembered by many people, because it was used in the making of the James Bond movie ‘From Russia with Love’, you can watch the scene from the film.

We also visited the Blue Mosque, which is not blue on the outside,


but due to over 20,000 blue tiles inside the mosque.apc9vvdlhlr11Beside the historic sites of old Istanbul, the one thing that does stick in my mind about my visit to Istanbul was that I nearly sold one of our passengers.

The coach party that I had joined was given free time to enjoy whatever we liked as along as we were back at the coach meeting place at a certain time. We were warned not to wander off on our own, but to stick together in little groups.
Angela, one of the girls on the coach had taken a shine to me (it must have been the uniform), and she had made sure that she was in my small group.
I asked what they wanted to do and Angela, who was I think eighteen, wanted to see the Grand Bazaar, but she was reluctant to go on her own. The coach party had already visited the bazaar, but my small group consisting of myself, another cadet, three girls, and a male student, wanted to return to purchase souvenirs.
The bazaar was crowded – as it nearly always is – so one had to be careful with our wallets and bags, and also of a number of strange characters.
DSC01610-Istanbul-Grand-Bazaar-crowds-HHolter-618                                    Found this on the internet, so it’s not from 1965.

The girls found the leather area, and started to try on various jackets and to chat to the stall holders.
While at one of the stalls, a middle aged man came up and started to squeeze Angela as if she was a piece of meat, using just two fingers. He squeezed her arms and around her waist.
I moved forward and told him to stop what he was doing, at which point he asked me in broken English, how much. It dawned on me that he wanted to buy her! I thought he was joking, but he wasn’t!
At this point I stated that he must be joking and called the stall holder to help translate. He spoke to the ‘buyer’ sharply in Turkish and pushed him away with much waving of arms.
Fortunately, Angela laughed off the whole episode as a joke, but I think she was glad that she was part of a group, and not on her own.

As foot note to the story – some weeks later, after Angela had flown home, we docked in Southampton, and in the mail waiting for me, I received an invitation from her to a birthday party at her father’s home. Her family lived on a converted MTB on the Avon River in Christchurch.


There were a number of converted MTB boats (see picture above), all converted after WW2, perhaps the owners were history buffs. Both above and below pictures are from the internet.
The picture below illustrates the MTB being converted, but it was not the boat that I visited.


I arrived on board and was introduced by Angela to her father. As we shook hands he said to me – ‘I believe that you had the opportunity to sell my daughter in Istanbul?’

I tried to apologise and say how sorry I was to put Angela in to such a situation.

At the end of my babbling he leaned forward and whispered in my ear, with a ‘smile’ in his voice – ‘The next time you have the opportunity to sell my daughter, take her mother as well!’

I was lost for words as I tried to look shocked, at the same time I could not stop laughing.

We planned to sail from Istanbul in the early evening. Lines ashore were singled up, the pilot was aboard, and the order was given to raise the anchor. We had dropped it during the manoeuver of going along side. If the wind had strengthened it might have inhibited our efforts to leave the wharf, so by hauling on the anchor this would assist us to move clear of the wharf, regardless of the wind’s effort to keep us alongside.

The clank, clank, of the links being hauled through the hawse pipe could be heard on the bridge as I updated the log book.

Suddenly we heard shouts and two strikes on the forecastle bell indicating a light on the port side. The Captain moved quickly to the port wing of the bridge, followed by the officer of the watch and the pilot. I picked up my log book and stood just inside the door of the bridge, on the port wing. I could see a very large well-lit vessel getting closer and closer. One glance was enough, it was a floating restaurant, heading towards us, but the problem being that the restaurant didn’t have power.

What had happened was that our anchor had fouled the restaurant’s under water moorings, and we were dragging the restaurant towards us by raising our anchor. It took some time for us to leave the wharf and sail very slowly towards the restaurant paying out our cable to allow the restaurant to easy back to her normal mooring position. Once our anchor cable was vertical it was easier to slowly gently haul in our cable link by link. Fortunately, we were able to raise our anchor as well.

Farewell Istanbul, as we sailed for Piraeus, which is the port for Athens.

Floating school – HMTS Dunera


M/S Dunera in Malta

After a four month voyage in MV Chilka to East Africa, I was allowed ten days leave before the telegram arrived that I as to join MS Dunera in Venice.


Three days later I flew with Alitalia from London to Venice, via Milan.

Fortunately, ALITALIA didn’t live up to her acronym Always Late In Transit and Late In Arriving – we arrived on time, and I was met by the Company’s agent and taken to Dunera – she was moored alongside St Mark’s Square.


Large passenger vessels are no longer allowed to berth alongside St Mark’s Square.

The above shows MSC Fantasia, at 137,936 gt, with 3,300 passengers –
MS Dunera was 12,620 gt with 834 students, in dormitories, and 194 first class cabins.
Is it any wonder the authorities put a stop to large cruise ships berthing alongside St Mark’s Square.
I think that berthing at St Mark’s Square was stopped in 2014, when the new cruise terminal opened. Now they are talking of banning large vessels in the Venice lagoon altogether, because of the vessel’s wash, even when moving very slowly, is causing damage to the buildings.

MS Dunera was a troop ship for the British Government, having been launched in 1937. She trooped to the Middle East, South Africa, Singapore and Australia between 1939 and 1941. In 1942 she took part in the Madagascar landings during Operation Ironbark, which has a link to me. During this operation my father was involved in the landings as a sailor aboard another Company troop ship named Karanja. It was only many years later that I found out about this long link of six degrees of separation.
MS Dunera was also the headquarter vessel for the US 7th Army during the invasion of Southern France in April 1944.


HMT Dunera, as a troop ship.

In 1961/2 the British Government decided to suspend all sea going trooping and only to use air, which left several troop ships unemployed.

B.I.S.N.C had experienced operating school ships in the 1930’s, so they thought that they would reintroduce the concept in the early 60’s, and convert their troop ships to becoming ‘school ships’ – ships that specialised in taking school children on educational cruises.
In its first year as a school ship, Dunera carried over 10,000 school children around Europe to famous historical sites.

Once I’d stowed my gear in a cabin that I shared with three other cadets, I spent some time familiarising myself with the ship.

We sailed the following evening with a full compliment of British school children who had been flown out by chartered aircraft from the UK.

Our first day at sea was instructing the students about lifeboat drill, and how to put on a life jacket, which were different, but similar to today’s jackets. The main purpose in the ’60’s was to force ones head above water,. The current jackets do the same thing, but in a more ‘friendly’ fashion.





Just a  little bit of trivia – the first life jacket was created in 1854 by Captain Ward who was  a British Royal National Life Boat inspector. He created it so that his lifeboat crews would have a better chance of surviving, considering that most of the time they only put to sea in bad weather, to rescue crews of stranded vessels.

The next job for the cadets was not as pleasant as chatting to the passengers and showing  them how to wear a life jacket – it was to chlorinate the swimming pool, before it could be used.


Picture thanks to John Coulthard, who also sailed in MS Dunera as Staff Second Officer in 1965. He joined MS Dunera the day I left.
As you see the pool was nothing like the fancy pools on offer by today’s cruise ships. I never heard of any complaints though, particularly when it was hot.

Our first port of call was Corfu – the photograph below was taken in 1965.



MS Dunera anchored off Corfu, or Keykyra in Greek.

The island didn’t have the facilities even for such a small (in comparison to today), cruise ships, so we anchored off and the motorised lifeboats were lowered, and it was the cadets job of coxing a lifeboat each full of passengers, and take them ashore. There was a small pier that we used to discharge the passengers safely. The ferrying began at 9.30 am and it wasn’t long before all of the passengers were ashore.


Once again I am indebted to John Coulthard for the above two photographs.

As you see the ‘tender’ boat, (lifeboat) taking passengers ashore was nothing like the tender boat (lifeboat) of today, see below during our cruise earlier this year.


A Diamond Princess tender ferrying passengers ashore in Nha Trang,  Vietnam.

At each port that we visited coaches were waiting for the students, with an English speaking guide, and the students were shown around the main sites, and had talks on the history and culture of each place visited.
The students knew that they had to pay attention, because they had essays to write, either during ‘lesson’ time on-board, or when they returned to their schools.
The big plus for the cadets was that we could board one of the coaches and visit the location for free. I took advantage of this facility in each port, because I knew I wouldn’t pay to return.
I was wrong, because fifty years later in 2015, I did return to some of the places that I’d visited while in Dunera.

When ever we took advantage of the free tour we had to make sure we were back in time to man the lifeboats for the return trip to the ship. The return trips in Corfu began at 3.30 pm the last boat from the shore was 5.45 pm and we sailed at 6.00 pm, for Itea.


Itea and once again the passengers were ferried ashore.
Today they have a jetty that can take larger cruise ships.


Both of the above were found on the internet – royalty free.


Life on board to follow . . .

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