Shipshape and Bristol Fashion is the story of the ship Porlock Bay in which Roger Smith served as an able seaman for one and a half years in the immediate post war period. During this commission the boat travelled to Bermuda, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Newfoundland, Quebec and Texas, enabling the young Smith, who came from land-locked Warwickshire, to see some of the most beautiful places in the world and meet some extremely interesting people. His experiences onboard stayed with him throughout his life and led him to form an association for the ship's alumni, whose members meet every year for a get-together. Interestingly, the ship was sold to the Finnish navy in the 1960s and re-named Matti Kurki so w the two associations meet up together to discuss life on board their old ship. Smith has fond memories of his seagoing days and so has written this account as a legacy of that time.They headed first for the West Indies and docked at Bermuda, which, although a beautiful place, was t to be enjoyed by Smith and his colleagues as they soon found that their very low wages of 15 pence a day would t go far in this millionaire's playground. Their entertainments, therefore, were confined to the ship's canteen and the occasional stay ashore at Aggie's boarding house, which didn't provide a great deal more comfort than the ship's mess. Having just got used to the tropical weather, Smith was concerned to discover the ship was w cruising to Newfoundland, Canada and all the sailors on board were appreciative of the knitted hats and scarves that the ladies of Porlock, the town after which the ship was named, sent religiously to keep the crew warm. This wasn't the only act of kindness bestowed upon the young sailors - whenever the ship docked, British residents would greet the ship and offer the young matelots tea at their houses, making the sailors feel very welcome.On arriving at Newfoundland, two such 'up-homers' accosted Smith and a friend and invited them back for tea and cakes, impressing such kindness upon him that he corresponded with them for forty five years until their deaths, and remains in contact with their daughter to this day. Such was the good reputation of the British navy at the time. From Newfoundland they sailed on to Quebec, where they found that the money situation was by means improved, in that six week's pay would t suffice for two nights' bed and breakfast at a chateau and so had to make do with the YMCA instead. The situation was very different for the American sailors who were on a much higher rate of pay, but there was generally little animosity between the two navies. The Autumnal cruise over, Porlock Bay returned to Bermuda for Christmas and Smith was in for a treat.As the most junior rating he was entitled to be captain for the day, according to Navy customs, and so was loaned the captain's second-best suit, complete with the ribbon of Distinguished Service Cross, and Jubilee and Coronation medals. This he wore to accompany the captain on his rounds, during which he was given 'sippers' of the crew's drinks, and ended the day a little the worse for wear! However, life on board ship was t all fun and games and Smith often found himself doing the most boring jobs imaginable, including night watch, polishing and scrubbing, and the almost endless task of repainting the ship's sides, on one memorable occasion whilst several sharks were swimming just feet below!Smith was eventually de-mobbed the following year on New Year's Eve, and celebrated his homecoming surrounded by his family. Although civilian life took a little while to get used to, Smith eventually settled into a career in town planning and duly got married. He never forgot his old ship however, and went to visit it in Finland in 1975 where it had recently been de-commissioned from the Finnish Navy, and was w re-named Matti Kurki. He was very sad to learn that the ship was due to be scrapped and decided to form an association for his ol
Roger Smith was born at 62, The Parade, Leamington Spa, a site which is now occupied by Woolworths. His parents moved to a house in Warwick where he now lives and has, in fact, lived since 1929.He was educated at Warwick School, leaving at the age of seventeen to join the Navy, under the Y Scheme, and training as a Radar Control Rating, serving later in HMS Porlock Bay.On leaving the Navy he studied Accountancy buy left that profession to become a trainee Town Planner. He duly qualified and subsequently was elected a Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute, retiring as Principal Planning Officer to Stratford-on- Avon District Council.He now lives in retirement in Warwick where he busies himself with the HMS Porlock Bay Association, of which he is Chairman, and with the liaison with the FNS Matti Kurki Association of Finland. He is also an active member of the Old Warwickian Association, taking photographs, inter alia, for the Portcullis Magazine as well as his unique Ship's Association. In addition, he is at present the Vice Chairman of the Royal Leamington Spa Branch of Probus, and next year he has been invited to become Chairman of the Warwickshire County Council Retired Members' Association. A committee member of the Warwick branch of the Royal Warwickshire Regimental Association completes his retirement duties, although he still had to make time for gardening.