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George Carter  ‘A Naval Officer’s Career ‘

Mr Carter gave a humorous account of the circumstances surrounding his joining the Royal Navy & his subsequent full & varied career.George was born of upper working class parents, who took the Daily Express.  Next door took the Times.   Although he loved Rupert Bear, Biggles and Dick Barton, the writer with most influence over him was Joseph Conrad. A morbid writer but he loved his sea stories.  His sister fell in love with a Navy man.   Then the paperboy got the paper deliveries the wrong way round.   George looked at the centre pages on Court life but underneath was an announcement on applying to be a Navy Officer; he sent for the papers, passed the interview at Dartmouth; the tests on mechanical aptitude & did a 5 minute presentation on Joseph Conrad.  

He knew that he was in before the results were given when the Bond St. tailor, Gieves, ‘for Nelson and the Navy’, arrived to measure him.  This was 1949, & the syllabus for 2 years as a Cadet included etiquette,manners, conversation; history of art and music; seamanship and navigation; leadership and officer -like qualities; theories of government systems; diplomacy and sportsmanship (no soccer or rugby league).

George’s first Ship, Barnard Castle (pronounced Baynard) had a constant shudder; she was a cheap escort ship with a constant smell of diesel oil.   Then he was promoted to Midshipman on HMS Eagle, an aircraft carrier with a complement of 2000.   He decided to be a pilot when the ship went to the Mediterranean equipped with Attacker aircraft, the first in the Navy with jet engines.   He was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant & played rugby for Tiverton Services but only lasted 5 minutes before injury put him into hospital for a month.  The results of eye tests showed that he could not become a pilot & he decided to be a Navigator. Instead, however, George was sent to Cambridge University as one of 10 elite personnel to train as engineers. The Navy was trying to modernise its old fashioned ideas about engineering.  He passed his exams and went to The Royal Naval College at Greenwich where he met a girl from Dartford PE College, they are still married today with four children. His eldest son joined Navy without telling him, as he had done to his father.

He served on HMS Carron, a destroyer, then on HMS Troubridge, as First Engineer for nearly 3 years during the Cod Wars.   Following this he went to the Navy ‘Appointer’ in the Admiralty & asked for the West Indies but was posted to HMS Dreadnought to solve nuclear reactor problems & where he trained the crew in nuclear management.   Again he went to the Navy ‘Appointer’ & asked for the West Indies but was sent to Singapore because HMS Diana had problems.  

His next move was to weapons design & his last ship posting was aboard HMS Eastbourne, training Midshipmen to be Officers.  His ultimate visit to the Naval Appointer

resulted in being promoted to the Design Office in Bath.   Finally, he left the Navy to enjoy family sailing holidays on luxury hired yachts, as his wife had come into an inheritance.

A vote of thanks was proposed by David Houston