HMS Eagle was initially laid down in 1942 at Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast as one of four ships of the Audacious-class aircraft carrier. These were laid down during World War II as part of the British naval build up during that conflict. However, two were cancelled at the end of hostilities, and the remaining two were suspended. Originally designated Audacious, she was finally launched as Eagle (the fifteenth Royal Navy ship to receive this name) in March 1946, after the Audacious class carrier Eagle was cancelled. By the time I joined her in 1969 she was getting a little long in the tooth. I can still remembering looking up at the huge rust streaked sides and wondering why after two years at the anti-submarine school at Portland as one of the staff. The draft section of the Royal Navy that erstwhile department that smacks round pegs hard into square holes, had decided to send me to an Aircraft Carrier, maybe the Russians were using low flying submarines. Still it was about the same time the Muppets in Sesame Street came to television.  So there I was with my kit at the bottom of this wet gangway about to add myself to the crew of 2,700, and approximately 10 million cockroaches.

 

 

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With no Satnav it took a while to find my way around such a large ship. In the beginning I had the best job I would have in the Navy, for simply being just so cushy. I was the Direction Officerís writer, this is of course in between flying stations where I was Fighter Controllerís 1 assistant. Later I would be promoted to leading seaman and the good life ended. Then I became a boat driver in all weathers, and all times of the day and night. The Royal Navy at this point in time remained unchallenged on the high seas. But once Eagle and its sister ship Ark Royal were gone a conflict like the Falklands was inevitable with the dying convulsions of the British Empire. Yet then the ship was full of characters, and real professionals.  A group  I would see less and less of as timed moved on. I could tell many tall stories but here is not the place to throw salt over my shoulder or swing the lantern. Just to say we did trials with the P.1127 later to be named Sea Harrier, an aircraft build by men with vision and destroyed by men who had none.  Dennis  Healey once commented     on  the  Aircraft     Carrier  when    he    was

Secretary of Defense in 1964. That to most ordinary seamen they were just floating slums and too vulnerable.  He later   scraped the proposed replacement Aircraft Carrier the CVA01, and effectively castrated the Royal Navy as a world sea power. This decision would later give the Argentine Junta  the chance to invade the Falkland Islands condemning young men to death in the cold  South Atlantic, whilst costing this country more than thirty times what one Aircraft Carrier and its attendant squadrons would have  originally cost. Still it never ceases to amaze me why this country always seems to award its idiots.

 

On a lighter note. Here are some of Tugg's famous cartoons from this commission.

Lieutenant Cecil Wilson MBE, affectionately known by the name of Tugg, will always be remembered by the crew of HMS Eagle. I know that in reproducing some of his masterpieces  I shall be  breaching the copyright, but I sincerely hope and trust that it will be permitted to pass as a sincere tribute to the man and his art. Onboard the old cockroach infested carrier a great many of us eagerly waited for the daily "Eagle News" and one of Tuggs cartoons.  Which was always spot on and so very funny. To those of us who were there, here is some more......From the very best of Tugg HMS Eagle 1969-1970

Thank you!  Tugg........