HMS Dryad was the Navigation School for the Royal Navy between 1906 and 1943.  After radar was fitted in the fleet during the Second World War.  It quickly became clear that fighting a sea battle from the bridge of a ship, was a thing of the past. For Radar gave  the position of enemy combatants well beyond the visual horizon.  So from a bomb torn Portsmouth, the navigation school was moved to Southwick village just outside the city. There with the threat at sea now  coming from all three dimensions, surface, subsurface and air and with very little time to react especially from enemy  aircraft .  It was decided to create a Radar branch where ratings and officers  would be trained to plot and correlate raw electronic data from various radar sets, and present an accurate picture of the real time situation around the ship to the Captain.   And so the RADAR and Direction branch were formed. 

I really enjoyed my time at HMS Dryad, even my basic Radar Plotting course.  Inside Fort Southwick,   a place of massive underground tunnels.  I was shown how you start up a 965 P Band Air Search radar, all at the order starting with one.  Today over fifty years later I can just remember the huge Bakelite re-ostat.  It was pure Second World War indoctrination.  To tell you the truth I never did get to turn the huge wheel.  It apparently needed someone more highly trained to remember which way was clockwise.  There were the paper plotting tables, straight out of the ‘Battle of the Atlantic’. To give you the idea how lucky you were when the new technology took away the drudgery, of smudges and bad handwriting. However; it did give you a work of art at the end of the exercise- on  how you sunk or were sunk in colours of red, blue, black, and green.  In truth I could have spent my entire time in the Royal Navy there.  Still I needed some salt on my shoulders, the faded collar, and some pull up a bollard and let me bore you with an old sea story.

HMS Dryad 1964 (RP3)
HMS Dryad 1967 (RP2)

In the photo you can see our instructor looking  for divine inspiration.  None of which he needed.  He was a fine teacher  and we all passed without any problems.  I was now qualified to take charge of a safety plot at sea.  A start lets say.  A small step for me, and nothing for Navy.

HMS Dryad 1970 (RP1)

A great bunch of guys to be with, some with a wicked sense of humor, again our instructor was first class. At this point with a young wife I was seriously missing her, however at this moment I really thought I would make the Royal Navy a full time career. I suppose it was 'the happy times' for me. Even today with more memories overlaid from later in my life I still have fond memories of my time in HMS Dryad, and the people I met and worked with.

HMS DRYAD (Last Chapter)

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DAVESBITS 1963-1964 1964-1967 1967-1968 1968-1970 1971 1971-1972 1972-1974 HMS Dryad   Shrinking Navy