Celebrating ARNO’s Centenary in 100 Words – Contributions from Our Members


Seize the Day

ARNO surely merits a motto after a century of service on behalf of we that go down to the sea in ships.

I consult my lockdown mate.  What does ARNO mean to her?  Oh, history, legacy, friendship, memories, support, champagne.

How about Animo et Fide?  Courage and Faith?


I reflect that we arrive in this world with nothing, we leave with nothing.  It’s the adventurous bit in between that’s up to us – spend your life writing your obituary.

Carpe Diem then, that’s it.  Seize the day.

Thank you ARNO, and here’s to the next 100 years.

From Commander John Lane OBE




At Sea

We are all at sea.

We are all about the sea.

Some run away to sail the seven seas.

Big ships.

Small ships.


Underway. Miles of water.

Nautical miles of water.

White horses. Huge swells.

Battered by storms.

Shudder up the waves. Shudder down.

Every bolt and rivet stressed.

The whole crew straining.

Sinews taught. Muscles cramped.

Fighting the sea.

Praying for calm.

Needing the shore. Foreign shore.

Exhilarating. Bars. Girls. Drinks.

Noise. Music. Happy sounds.

A siren call that lifts your spirits.

Back on the street. Minus money.

Back to ship. Crash.

Back to sea.

No explanation.

No regrets.

By Lieutenant Commander Mick Monaghan MBE




Our First Washing Machine

In 1958, I was a Flight Deck Engineer Officer in HMS Bulwark. We were returning home from the Far East, when two tankers collided in the Persian Gulf.

I was put aboard “Malika” with a few others. There was a fire with vapour cloud explosions amidships.

After a week, the fire was out, the generators running and Bulwark had towed the vessel to Muscat. We returned home for Christmas.

Eighteen months later, I received salvage money, (double whacks for those on the tanker) having just married the Naval Nursing Sister at HMS Raleigh.

We spent it on an automatic washing machine.

They were rare and expensive in those days!

From Commander Peter Leggott





ARNO in Retirement?

Selling Maritime Books a few years ago I was only 72 so it certainly wasn’t time to slide into slippers and daytime TV. Having led ‘naval educational tours’ from Hawaii to Moscow it was difficult to stop.

I took a gamble and chartered a fabulous 19 cabin ‘millionaires’ yacht’ off the Croatian coast, advertising to ARNO members. What a fabulous group attended that first cruise, from a retired Admiral to a ‘Midshipman RN Rtd’… it has degenerated somewhat into a ‘fully relaxed holiday’!

Three cheers to the ARNO guys and gals. See you soon when this virus is past.

From Mike Critchley, Maritime Heritage Tours




Swiftsure in Lisbon – Cocktail Party

 “Man Overboard, Man Overboard”. Actually, it was a lady, a local dignitary’s wife! Swift action by the Casing Party and OOW enabled the lady to be rescued and brought down below. Safe but wet and bedraggled, she was taken to the Captain’s cabin and dried off. Her clothes were put into the tumble dryer and an hour or so later she came to the Control Room and greeted with a massive round of applause. A very gutsy lady.

CO, Don Mitchell. OOW, Mark Stanhope. I hope Sir Mark will amend any errors in this dit!

By Lt Cdr Brian Higginson




Morning Stars

HMS Dido. 1979. Indian Ocean.

Alarm clock rings. 0515.

Shirt, shorts, sandals. Go!

Charthouse. “Morning Yeo”.

Sextant, chronometer, notepad.

Out to starboard bridge wing.

Still dark. Emerging eastern horizon.

“What’s our first star?” “Betelgeuse, Sir”.

Approximate bearing 105, elevation 38.

Set the sextant. Search. There she is.

Bring her down to the horizon.

Adjust, adjust, she’s moving fast.

Swing gently, got to kiss that horizon.

“OK, standby … now, now, NOW”.

Time: 0528 and 19 seconds.

A second of time is a mile of sea.

Elevation: 37 degrees, 54.2 minutes.

“Next star? Mmm … Smell that bacon!”

Commander Nigel Smith




Night Maintenance

Naval Party 1910, South Atlantic, 1982. Middle watch. Ship blacked out.

Marisat’s down again. On foulies. Hammer and bent Pusser’s torch, reddened out with marker pen, in pocket.

Out of Bridge, grope way to ladder, climb up to Monkey Island, hugging rungs and praying as the ship slams into another trough.

Blunder blindly, canon off the mast, find another short ladder then reach the satellite dome. Cling on, push hatch open.

Satellite dish is buzzing like a trapped bee. Reach up with hammer.

Clang! Once, twice, third time lucky. Dish swoops up. Close hatch, return to Bridge. Until next time.

Brian Bilverstone

Lt Cdr (SCC) RNR (Rtd)





On Beekeeping

No land required – bees fly – 3 miles or more – so routinely monitor 28 square miles –

but further if necessary.

There are few better ways to banish every worrying thought from your mind than a bee

inspection on a pleasant sunny afternoon – until they swarm.

And then there’s the honey, the wax and the propolis.

Lt Cdr Jeremy Quinlan

Master Beekeeper




Singapore Snapshot

I joined ARNO on recommendation of Cdr John Prichard of the Naval Club, London. Links with the RN began with the Colonial MRNVR (Singapore Division). In 1963, on transfer to RMN, I was mobilized during Confrontation. Attached as RMN (VR) Naval Support Officer to 42 RM Cdo, Tawau Assault Group, I was awarded the GSM Borneo and a SAF GSM for service during hostilities.

My active service imbued my civilian life, as Adjunct University Lecturer and Cross-Cultural Negotiation Consultant. I edited Naval Reserve in Action: WW II (Far East) and Confrontation (1963-1966) – legacy of the Far East Colonial RNVR Divisions.

Lt Adrian Villanueva, Colonial MRNVR (Singapore Division) 1960s





First hurdle – applying during the national postal strike.  Solution – careers office and RN courier.

First Gosport Ferry crossing, Pneumonia Bridge, imposing Georgian frontage of the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar, smart sailors on guard, vast mahogany table, fearsome senior medical officers, penetrating interview, supper in the Mess, silver service, white jacketed staff, convivial evening, medical in the morning.

OHMS letter, 5 year commission offered – and taken, Official Secrets Act signed, Surgeon Sub Lieutenant.  Must pass Finals!

49 years later – still one stripe (but broader), outgoing chairman of ARNO and RNOC.  Who could have predicted that?  Not me!


Surgeon Commodore Jim Sykes, Chairman




From Barnsley to Bermuda

If it hadn’t been for the Miners’ strike I wouldn’t have been in Barnsley. If it hadn’t started raining I wouldn’t have entered the RN Careers office.  If it hadn’t been for CPO Orchard I would probably have joined as a chef. If it hadn’t been for mates saying I wouldn’t stick it I would probably have left. If it wasn’t for Instructors Taff Pugh, Dennis O’Keefe and John Mchale I wouldn’t have passed out of HMS Pembroke. Without doubt if wasn’t for the fantastic opportunities and brilliant people I wouldn’t have loved my 32 years.

Born in Barnsley, made in the Royal Navy.

Commander Mike Goldthorpe, Director





Action Stations, Air Raid Warning Red, ANDROMEDA steams up threat full ahead.

Racket detection whistle makes its shrill sound, Enemy aircraft are confirmed to be inbound.

HANDBRAKE is the code that makes us fret, For now we have an Exocet threat.

Zippo One is our modern day Battle Cry, We fire chaff rockets to fill the sky.

Sea Wolf has acquired the track,

We’re seconds from engaging, no going back.

But the incoming missile’s fuel runs dry, As it splashes with relief we sigh.

We stood firm, saw our Goalkeeper Mission through, Now fall out and assume NBCD Condition Two.

Cdr N J ‘Nobby’ Hall RN





Teachings from an Old Seadog

Being an SD officer had its advantages. A young Lt was the CPO’s President, and sought my advice on looking at the mess books regarding amounts of drink recorded. Having been President of the PO’s mess in an earlier life I knew some of the tricks!

It was recorded that two pints of Courage Sparkling beer had been drunk on a Sunday by all three guests. Nothing unusual. Being OOD on that Sunday I had seen the guests, and suggested to him that it was unlikely that a Mother Superior and two nuns would have drunk that amount!

Lieutenant Bill Ritchie




The Snotty and the Battenberg

“The midshipman will change station using the Battenberg”, announced our visiting admiral. As 2nd OOW, my first thought was to ‘leg it’ but, with the help of the OOW and NO, I eventually found the instrument gathering dust at the back of the chart table. Having fiddled with the pointers and rotated the centre, the OOW and I were none the wiser and the NO had by now wisely disappeared. Meanwhile, probably realising our predicament, the captain diverted the admiral’s attention to more pressing issues, and we got a crafty course to steer from the ops room. Bacon saved.

Commander Rob Scott





In 1967 HM ships Arethusa and Lynx paid a visit to Rio. A ball was planned, but regrettably the President of Brazil died beforehand. The British Ambassador invited the ships’ officers to an embassy dinner instead. The trouble started with the sweet; a meringue bombe with cream, strawberries and crowned with an eggshell of burning brandy. At the Ambassador’s end, people helped themselves from the bottom: the column fell and brandy set alight the waiter’s jacket. Our Captain beat out the flames. At Mrs Ambassador’s end, it collapsed and a six-foot flame shot down the table. Rio was a great run-ashore!

Commander Simon Fraser




“You’ll Never Walk Alone” …

… A new park bench plaque along by the River Thames, commemorating a member of the London Fire Brigade, who lost his life at Hillsborough.

Having concluded that one mostly walks alone in life, and that companions join one now and again and different paths are followed (as in Robert Frost’s poem), one is pleased that one has the odd good friend left, whom one may not have seen for years. (As a fellow Wren once said, “We may not have seen one another for a long time, however one just takes up where one left off.”)

Christine Pike (2/O WRNS retired)



What Were You Doing 38 Years Ago?

There was I, less than four months out of Dartmouth as a Probationary Third Officer WRNS, sweating away at circuit training in HMS Daedalus’s gym, trying to keep up that hard-won fitness level (not to mention weight loss), when my Petty Officer came up and tapped me on the shoulder. PO: “Can you come back to office now, please, Ma’am?” Me (in disgruntled voice): “Can’t you see I’m busy? What’s so urgent?” PO: “We have to find 10 men to go on the QEII tomorrow to sail to the Falkland Islands.” Needless to say, I haven’t been circuit training since!

Susan Lacey





It was interesting to see ARNO’s bell pictured in the Yearbook 2020, but of course she lived and died before the Association was founded. I became acquainted with her story when I was NA Rome in the mid-80s: the Italian Navy knows all about her, and proudly tells you that she is the only foreign-built warship every purchased by the Royal Navy.

She was being built in the Ansaldo yard in Genoa for the Portuguese Navy when the R.N. took her on, presumably to help make up for an acute shortage of escorts in the Med. She was of course named ARNO after the river on which Florence stands. She was lost in collision in the eastern Med in March 1918.

Captain Richard Channon




The majestic, brooding, Edinburgh castle. Pre-tattoo dinner, sitting on the hostess’s right hand – two down from her husband the General – Commanding.  He briefed me beforehand that his lovely wife is deaf but refuses help.  The  hubbub increases as the evening develops and conversation with my hostess is increasingly difficult.  I marvel at their youthful appearance and comment on the same.  I ask “what is your secret”?  Mine hostess, in a voice which could only be described as “proudly booming” stops the whole table’s conversation dead!  “Sex!  Plenty of Sex”!  The OC smiled weakly with a rather red but happy flush!

Bob Love, Rear Admiral (Rtd)



In response to the tale of the Salvage Money for the Malika

Newly married to a WRNS officer we were grateful to serve in HMS Drake together. Being under 25 we could not afford a washing machine, but TLs had provided an alternative. When on duty, my wife did our ‘dhobeying’ in the WRNS wardroom machine and thence to their drying room. All went smoothly till a surprise ‘rounds’ by the Chief Officer who, apparently, needed smelling salts on discovering gentleman’s underpants in the Lady Officers’ quarters. The tale generated much humour amongst the male officers – from the Commodore down.

Commander Mike Peters


Life goes on as normal – Belfast 1981

West Belfast 1981. Hunger strikes; riots; shootings; bombings: mayhem.  Patrolling; watching; waiting; listening; vigilance: always on edge, ready for instant action and reaction.  Suddenly, yet again, sound of smashing glass nearby. Everyone takes cover and looks for source. No one hit: no sign of bottle.  Then someone notices a nearby broken window.  Protective mesh on outside, but broken glass inside: gin bottle resting on inside window ledge. Hand reaches from inside room. Retrieves gin bottle. Good to be reminded that everyday domestic life in Belfast continues as normal.

Brigadier Ian Gardiner


Greenies Vs Droggies

Survey ship at sea surveying.  After re-starting the echo sounder it rotates clockwise instead of anti-clockwise, shreds the paper and bends the stylus.  Change the stylus, re-set the paper – start again. Same thing happens. Call the WEO. Scratching of heads, long screwdrivers and pusser’s torches. The sounder refuses to rotate correctly. Captain mightily frustrated at the lack of surveying progress suggests the fuse is in the wrong way round. WEO diplomatically instructs the fuse be turned round.  “See” says the CO as the stylus rotates correctly and produces a good trace, “I told you the fuse was in wrong.”

Lieutenant Commander John Partington


The Last Imperial

The Admiralty decided to end the Imperial era of ‘schoolboy’ entry into the officer cadre with the last entry in January 1955. I failed the entrance exam in June 1954 but passed the exam in October. The interview in Dartmouth was in November. Commander Aylan – the Engineer – noted I was already a county player and offered me an 8-year ‘contract’ to play representative rugby if I changed my selection from X to E – I did. There were six final successful candidates of this supplementary final tranche – I was the very last of the last of the Darts!

Commander David Price



Near Miss

Final commission. Conducting Sea Slug missile firing jettison trial without radar guidance beam to replicate action in event of major onboard fire. First missile prepped for firing; launched; ballistic profile; ditched a few miles off port beam. Second missile launched un-prepped; shot skywards; ditched a couple of miles to port. Urgent cry from Gunnery Direction Platform: “Missile re-emerged and heading towards ship!”. OOW takes evasive action; Captain and Admiral on bridge wing observing incoming missile with bated breath! Ship under attack from own missile with no command override! Missile runs out of fuel and ditches a few cables away. Relief!!!

Commander Ian Crabtree