Royal Navy and Maritime Book Reviews PROVIDED BY - Rob Jerrard

HMS Aisne - Battle Class Destroyer

My Service, HMS Aisne was 12th January 1966 - 11th June 1967 Photographs from that period

Phil Hadfield and Dennis Henley at the 1967 Singapore Grand Prix
Phil Hadfield and Rob Jerrard at the 1967 Singapore Grand Prix
At the Border with China Quartermaster at Hong Kong
Christmas at Sandy's Soldiers' Home Singapore

Commander W S Gueterbock, Royal Navy, assumed command of HMS Aisne in September, 1966. He had previously been commanding officer of HMS Rus­sell, an anti-submarine frigate, and HMS Wotton, a minesweeper. Commander Gueterbock joined the Royal Navy in 1949 and served throughout the world in ships ranging in size from a motor launch in the Rhine Squadron, to the cruiser HMS Kenya during the Korean War. The ship was originally Commissioned 6th May 1966 under the Command of Commander A Gray RN

Visitors Leaflet 1966 (Printed in Singapore)

The Commanding Officer, Officers and Men are pleased to welcome you on board HMS Aisne and hope you will enjoy your visit.

HMS AISNE is one of a large number of destroyers which were built between 1943 and 1948, all of which were named after famous battles. The first battle of the Aisne, from which the ship takes its name, took place on 13th September, 1914, and is remembered as the occasion on which a combined British and French force first checked the initial German advance on Paris.

HMS AISNE was built at Wallsend on Tyne by Vickers Armstrong's Naval Yard, and first commissioned in February, 1947. She completed five two-year commissions as a fleet destroyer before being placed in operational reserve at Chatham in 1956.

Between 1959 and 1961 extensive work was carried out on the ship to bring her equipment up to date and to fit her out as an aircraft direction destroyer. Her most prominent feature is now the large radar aerial on the top of the foremast which enables her to detect aircraft at a range of several hundred miles.

The ship's main task is now to act as an early warning radar station. She works on her own some distance from the rest of the fleet, so that she can give advance warning of the approach of enemy aircraft. As well as being able to detect the enemy at long ranges, the ship has facilities to control friendly fighters from aircraft carriers or from air­fields ashore, to intercept enemy raiders before they are able to get in range of their targets.

As the ship is designed to work on her own she has to be armed to protect herself against any type of enemy action. The four 4.5 inch guns mounted in twin turrets forward can be controlled by radar so that they can be used against aircraft or surface targets in any visibility by day or night. The Seacat surface-to-air missile launcher mounted at the after end of the ship can also be used by day or night, and adds considerably to the ship's anti-aircraft firepower.

For dealing with submarines the ship is fitted with sonar submarine detection sets and a triple barrel anti­submarine mortar. The mortar throws depth charges ahead of the ship and is controlled directly from the sonar equipment.

Although the modern equipment carried on board is demanding on space, the living quarters have been brought up to date, and all messdecks are air-conditioned. The two galleys operate on a cafeteria system and there is a wide choice of meals.  .

Since her modernisation the ship has served all over the world, on the Home, Mediterranean and Far East Stations. It would be tactless to refer to a lady's age, but 100,000 miles in the last five years is a tribute to the Tyneside workmen who built her over twenty years ago.


Length            379 feet

Beam   40 feet

Displacement            3,800 tons

Speed  30 knots

Armament four 4.5 inch guns

1 seacat missile launcher 2 20m.m. Oerlikons

1 anti-submarine mortar

Complement            14 officers, 220 men.

Pictures show (top) Ratings working on anti-submarine mortar and (below) a view of the forward end of the ship with the 4.5 inch guns and the large main radar aerial.

HMS Aisne was originally built as a battle Class Destroyer by Vickers Armstrong 12th May 1945. In 1959 she along with 3 others (Corunna, Agincourt and Barrosa) were converted to a Radar Pickets

HMS Aisne, Service

D22 Built Vickers Armstrong, Naval Yard, Walker on Tyne. Newcastle on Tyne. Keel laid down 26 August 1943. Launched 12th May 1945. completed January 1947. Launched by Mrs Morse, wife of Rear Admiral H.Morse A.S.C.B.S. Building time 2 yeas 7 months. The first warship launched in River Tyne after V.E Day. Commissioned 18th February 1947 and sailed for Chatham. Laid up temporarily in March 1950 for a year. 1951 in service with 4th DF/DS until 1957. Converted to Radar Picket ship at Chatham until February 1962. Joined 7th DS in Med. Early in 1963 transferred to New Escort Squadrons. Firstly 23 Escort Squadron then 30 E.S in 1/1964, with GSC 4/64 to 9/64 in the Med then 9/64 to 12/64 and 7/65 to 12/65 in Far East Fleet. Recommissioned January 1966 for East of Suez returning April 1967. West Indies station from December 1967 until March 1968. Paid off August 1968. Left Portsmouth for T.W.Wards, Inverkeithing, arriving 26th June 1970 to be broken up.

Any Photos of Aisne or any Battle Class Destroyer welcome. I would particularly welcome any of AISNE in 1966/67. For some reason I took very few photos during this period.

The Fate of the other 3 Radar Pickets - CAN you fill in any details? Can you detail any Commission?

HMS Agincourt

1946 Home Fleet, 4th Destroyer flotilla 1959 taken in hand for conversion to radar picket, 1962 - 66 served on various stations with 5th Destroyer Squadron, 23 Escort Squadron and 27 Escort Squadron, also Nato Standing Force Atlantic. 1974 broken up at Sunderland.

HMS Corunna

1948 Home Fleet, 4th Destroyer flotilla 1959 taken in hand for conversion to radar picket. 1974 towed Portsmouth to Sunderland for breaking up, but delayed. 1975 towed to Blyth and broken up

HMS Barrosa

1948 Home Fleet, 4th Destroyer flotilla, 1950 to reserve, 1953 Home/Mediterranean fleet, 4th Destroyer Squadron, 1959 In collision with CORUNNA. 1959 taken in hand for conversion to radar picket. 1962 Far East, 8th Destroyer Squadron. 1968 paid off. 1974 used as stores hulk in Portsmouth. 1978 broken up at Blyth.

The Fourth Destroyer Squadron/Flotilla Association: HMS Agincourt (Captain D), HMS Aisne, HMS Barossa, HMS Corunna, HMS Jutland, HMS Dunkirk, HMS Alamein, HMS Matapan.

The Fourth Destroyer Association is looking for former ships' companies of HMS Agincourt, Aisne, Barrosa, Corunna, Jutland, Dunkirk, Matapan, and Alamein, 1946 - 1978

For the newly formed Association. Contact Terry Parker, 54c Cheriton Road, Folkestone, CT20 1DD Tel. 01303 249242

Remembering HMS GABBARD, A Battle Class Destroyer. Harold Scott-Douglas

Here is Gabbard’s first commission as remembered by Harold Scott-Douglas, from 1946-1948. Commissioned 21st. May 1946 / 0800hrs at Swan and Hunters shipyard Wallsend - on - Tyne.

Moved to Newcastle - on - Tyne Quayside to take part in the Victory celebrations (we lead the parade as the senior service)

Return to Swan and Hunters for repairs to steam turbine casings which were

Towards the end of 1946 we joined the Home Fleet at Portland.

February 1947 sailed on spring cruise to Gibraltar for exercises and showing the flag at Tangier, Oran, and Lagos (Portugal). Return to UK.

Summer cruise 1947 was to Scandinavia. Visiting Oslo (Norway) Aarhus and Copenhagen (Denmark), Gothenburg and Malmo (Sweden). While in Malmo we were in collision with a ferry, after temporary repairs, we returned to Chatham for permanent repairs.

Winter cruise was to Invergordon (Scotland) where the RN had playing fields, the fleet sports were held also gunnery competitions both AA and surface using towed targets.

HMS Gabbard on her speed trials 8th January 1947. Photograph provided (Copyright) Harold Scott-Douglas

Denis Sherringham's first ship in 1948 was HMS Aisne, in his book, "Swing the Lamp, Jack Dusty, So I Joined the Navy" he devotes 3 chapters to Aisne. He served on Aisne, Savage, Truelove, Armada and, Delight.

The Royal Navy had just endured the arduous labours of five years of World War 11. It had gained some splendid victories but it had also some wounds to lick. Its pride had been badly hurt in incidents such as the joint loss of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse in a single Japanese air raid at sea.

The future of the pride of the British nation was in doubt was sea-power to be made redundant in the face of the development of air supremacy? On top of air-power there was the advent of nuclear weapons. The dangers from nuclear fall-out, which would make most of our fleet obsolete, were just being recognised.

The terrible cost of the war confronting the newly elected Atlee administration meant that strict economies would be forced upon the nation. Could the British public accept a vast reduction in its main symbol of world power and see the Royal Navy reduced to the size of a navy run by a third-rate power? The answer was, perhaps, a typical fudge. Our ships would not be scrapped but would be preserved in "mothballs". Few, however, would ever see service again.

At the same time servicemen's pay was very low, hardly encouraging the kind of recruitment that would be needed to replace the thousands of Hostilities Only and National Servicemen leaving the Royal Navy in droves in the summer of 1947.

This tale of life below decks begins at that time and spans the period 1947-1954. It is a fascinating account of life in the navy and provides eyewitness accounts of some of the final occasions that the Royal Navy took to sea in full might It describes life in port when the big ships were in "mothballs", and explains everything naval from "sippers" and "gulpers" to "prick" tobacco and "Jack Dusty".

About the author

Denis Sherringham was born in Southend-on­Sea, Essex, in 1929, an only child and the son of a tram driver. He received his primary education in five local infant/junior schools as his parents frequently moved house to better their rented accommodation. His secondary education was completed at Westcliff High School for Boys which he attended from the autumn of 1940. At the time the school was forced to share facilities with the Herbert Strutt School in Belper, Derbyshire. Evacuation to Derbyshire had taken place in June 1940, and, the author had been fostered to a family in the beautiful village of Ambergate. The school returned to Westcliff-­on-Sea in October 1942.

After obtaining matriculation in 1945, he joined Barclays Bank as a junior clerk on the day after the national holiday declared on VJ­Day, August 1945. He left the bank in June 1947 to enter the Royal Navy as a Probationary Stores Assistant Returning to Barclays Bank in July 1954, he pressed on with obtaining his banking qualifications. He retired in February 1989, having reached the position of Business Centre Manager of the Basildon complex of Barclays' branches.


Alongside HMS Ocean shortly after the Korean War

HMS Aisne, 1966 and all that.By Captain Richard Duffield RN

IF YOU HAVE ANY Photos you can scan please forward to me.

Reproduced with the kind permission of the Author and the Association of Royal Navy Officers. 1st published in the ARNO Newsletter Issue No.2, July 2010.
Editor's Note: Richard Duffield, an ARNO member, was Weapons and Electrical Officer on HMS AISNE during this ill-fated deployment

It was in the late summer of 1966 when HMS AISNE left Portland under a cloud. A nominal seven week work-up under the direction of the Flag Officer Sea Training had not gone well indeed, it had lasted for some fourteen weeks, including two weeks' leave, and seen the departure of the Commanding Officer. The new Captain had relieved the Marine Engineer Officer, and there had been a number of other setbacks, albeit of a lesser nature. And the weather, too, was foul.

As might be expected, the Ship's Company was unenthusiastic about the manner of the ship's sailing from the UK for a nine-month deployment to the Far East, which would include a Christmas away from home. Gibraltar, the first port of call, seemed a good place to let off steam, to the dismay of the locals and the displeasure of the Authorities. Another cloud-covered departure.

To set the scene for the rest of the voyage to Singapore, it is necessary to glance back at the preceding few months. The ship had been subjected to what HM Dockyard, Chatham, lightly described as "a refit". That yard had a well-earned reputation for delays during refit work, and for indifferent workmanship. A new General Manager sought to address part of the problem by directing that HMS AISNE would meet her Completion Date - regardless.

In this decision he was, in part, helped by the knowledge that the ship was due to be scrapped at the end of the next commission, and so corner-cutting was not unacceptable in the eyes, at least, of the Dockyard. A Machiavellian observer might also think that the arrival of a new and relatively inexperienced Commanding Officer would allow such moves to pass unnoticed. In fact the deleterious results became apparent quite rapidly, initially in the weapons field where, for example, the fire control director training auto follow circuit was found to be connected into the air conditioning unit. A very tiresome trials period followed - the requirement to lock in and out aggravating all other problems. Neither the Medway nor the Thames estuary was ideal for the testing of evaporators, the firing of guns or the lowering of sonar domes. The weapons problems were in themselves more easily solved than those which time revealed had been embedded within the marine machinery world, in particular where the production of fresh water and electricity was concerned.

The ship had two sets of steam powered evaporators and four generators, two diesel and two steam driven. By some design quirk, one of the latter, sited in the engine room, discharged its exhaust into one of the main engine condensers, preventing its use in harbour when that main engine was shut down. The other steam driven generator, sited in the for' d boiler room was, by the time the ship reached Gibraltar, proving to be particularly unreliable, requiring one of the diesels also to be running, lest the ship be operating at sea with a single generator. Diesels require maintenance every so many hundreds hours of running, but continuous use with nearly one hundred hours totting up every four days, soon uses up these hours.

The passage from Gibraltar to Malta saw the firmer establishment of these two problems of intermittent electrical power from the boiler room generator and a shortage of fresh water. One of the diesels was running nearly all the time and the introduction of fresh water rationing was narrowly avoided. By chance, just inside the breakwater of Grand Harbour, a conspicuous saturated steam leak occurred, such that the after-most part of the ship appeared to be wreathed in smoke. A somewhat emotional WRNS Officer, watching from St Angelo, thought that the ship was listing and that the whole scene reminded her of Nicholas Monsarrat's book " HMS Marlborough will enter harbour".*

HMS AISNE leant against Palatorio jetty while the local dockyard, reinforced by some Fleet Maintenance Unit personnel from Chatham, wrestled with the problems. However, the beer was cheap, the sun shone, and the ship's company settled down to life in Malta, making full use of the local sports and other recreational facilities. When the authorities pronounced themselves satisfied with the repairs, it was with a feeling of some reluctance that the ship sailed for Suez.

In fact neither problem had been truly solved, and the water crisis dictated that the ship went alongside in Alexandria to take on local so-called fresh water and give the engine room staff some time to attempt repairs. But this stay proved to be short lived. Not unnaturally the locals regarded the ship with deep suspicion it was, after all, only ten years since "Suez" and there was another immediate problem. Berthed at the head of the canal, the ship was exposed to considerable pressure and suction waves as large vessels passed close by; each passage caused substantial movement and in many cases, parted wires. It was clearly not a place to linger, and nor was Aden, the next port of call in the middle of the violent activity, which preceded the British withdrawal.

Banished thus into the Indian Ocean, the ship headed for Gan for refuelling. This small island is not the easiest to find, but the navigator was helped by the daily VC10 over-flight into that island which gave him a bearing check. Electrical supplies became more problematic as the two diesel generators "ran out of hours" and water rationing had to be introduced. Gan provided no relief quite the opposite, as lying just off the Equator the demand for domestic fresh water inevitably increased. Leaving the island and heading for the top of the Malacca Straits, the water problem became acute. The pursuit of one heavy tropical downpour, was directed unsuccessfully as it happened, by a naked and soapy First Lieutenant standing on the top of 'B' turret. A signalled request to Singapore for salt water soap was received with a mixture of incredulity by the Staff and embarrassment among the stores suppliers.

A major steam leak, venting precious feed water, occurred just off Penang necessitating immediate anchoring, alas on top of the main underwater telephone cables connecting Malaya to India. There was some local displeasure, but fortunately the anchor did not bring anything untoward to the surface, and the troubled voyage continued on one boiler at reduced speed. The decision by the Singapore Dockyard Admiral Superintendent to send a tug to meet the ship off Changi proved remarkably foresighted, as one of the main engines ceased to function when rounding the Southernmost part of Singapore island.

And so the deployment drew to a close as the Far East Fleet received its latest reinforcement or liability, according to viewpoint. The final indignity was the discovery of flooding in the port side lead ballast compartment. Perhaps that WRNS Officer had been right all the time.

*“Trawlers ahead, sir,' said the signalman, breaking in on thoughts.

The Captain drew a long breath, conscious deep within him of enormous satisfaction. 'Write this down, and then send it to them. “Flag Officer in Charge, Londonderry, v. Marlborough. HMS Marlborough will enter harbour at 1300 today. Ship is severely damaged above and below waterline. Request pilot, tugs, dockyard assistance, burial arrangements for one officer and seventy-four ratings." Got that
'Yes, sir.'
'Right. Send it off. . . . Bridger!' 'Sir?'
'Ask the surgeon-lieutenant to relieve me for an hour. I'm going shave. And wash. And change. And then eat.'

HMS Marlborough Will Enter Harbour, Nicholas Monsarrat, first Published in 'Depends What You Mean by Love, 1947

I would like very much to add to the above article and to be able to compile a complete list of all the ship's movements in 1966 and 1967. I believe we visited Iloilo (ello, Ello)in Visayas Region in the Phillipines. If you can assist please contact me Rob Jerrard

HMS Aisne Last Commission 1966-68 3rd Reunion, 13th/14th April 2012. Will be held at the Maritime Club, Portsmouth. Anyone interested please contact Nigel Jest on 07531546185 or email

DISCLAIMER Publication in "Royal Navy & Maritime Book Reviews" does not necessarily imply that opinions offered are those of the Editor, Associate Editors or of the Publisher.The Website does not accept any liability for the accuracy of any comment, report or other technical or factual information. Efforts will, however, be made to ensure that all opinions, technical comment, factual report, data, figures, illustrations and photographs are accurate insofar as it is within its abilities so to do. "Royal Navy & Maritime Book Reviews" reserves the right to edit, abridge or omit material submitted for publication.