Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Naval Signal Humour

That old salt GaryA responded to my Korean War story with a dit of his own.  It was an excellent example of the dry humour the RN uses in communicating between ships.  This was once such a feature of naval life that the late Capt Jack Broome compiled a few anthologies of examples - Make a Signal and Make Another Signal.

OK, pour yourself a pink gin and enjoy these.  And I promise, no lighthouses!

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Submarine to Convoy Escort Commander... "In the event of enemy surface action, intend remaining on the surface"  Response from escort commander "So do I".

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HMS Cyclamen to Vice Admiral, Malta. (after sinking Allied Italian Submarine mistaken for a U-boat during World War I):
HAVE RAMMED AND SUNK ENEMY SUBMARINE. SURVIVORS APPEAR TO SPEAK ITALIAN

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From Flag Officer Gibraltar: "Small round object sighted 180 degrees 5 miles from Europa Point. Probably mine".
From Flag Officer Force H: "Certainly not mine".

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Between two Atlantic convoy escorts 1941:
-1st ship: "COMMENCE HOSTILITIES WITH JAPAN"
-2nd ship; "PERMISSION TO FINISH BREAKFAST FIRST"

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From submarine (returning from patrol) to base:
"EXPECT TO ARRIVE 1800 IF FRIENDLY AIRCRAFT WILL STOP BOMBING ME"

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A convoy was being shadowed day and night by German flying boats. The aircraft flew round and round the convoy, keeping low on the horizon and well out of range of the escort's guns.

"YOU ARE MAKING ME DIZZY...FOR GOD'S SAKE GO ROUND THE OTHER WAY."

The signal was acknowledged. The flying boat changed direction immediately.

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Destroyer Diamond has just collided with cruiser Swiftsure.
Swiftsure - WHAT DO YOU INTEND TO DO NOW?
Diamond - BUY A FARM

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Corvette to passing MTB: "Good luck".
Reply: "Thanks. Actually we rely on skill".

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A Soviet 'trawler' had been shadowing a NATO exercise for several days taking notes and gathering SIGINT.  As the ships queued up to refuel a British frigate signalled her: "Do you require refuelling?"
  Reply: "Not if your exercise finishes on time".

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Historically biblical quotations were popular:-

Hebrews 13:8 - Jesus Christ: the same yesterday, today and forever..

2 Kings 4:19 - And he said to his Father "My head, my head".

Exodus 2:14 - Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?

Signal about HMS Phoebe as she left to change commands: "Romans 16:1-2".  (I commend unto you Phebe our sister... that ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh Saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you; for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.)

Whenever  a ship collided with the jetty while docking: Proverbs 22:28 "Remove not the ancient landmark which thy fathers have set"

A couple for when ships aren't keeping station:-
Psalm 77:19 "Thy way is in the sea and thy path in the great waters and thy footsteps are not known"
Proverbs 4:26 "Ponder the path of thy feet and let all thy ways be established"

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HMS Sheffield approx 1990, on meeting the USS John F Kennedy while conducting flying operations (with both Lynx helicopters airborne at the same time). "I have launched my air group, request you launch yours."  Signal was acknowledged but no reply was received.

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Some USN examples -

The destroyer USS William D. Porter accidentally fired a torpedo at the USS Iowa... who had the President Roosevelt on board. Henceforth whenever the Porter was sighted her humorous colleagues would signal  "DON'T SHOOT! WE'RE REPUBLICANS!"

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Of course, not all great signals were humorous

"Have rejoined the fleet south of Woosung ...
No damage... No casualties....God save the King!"


11 comments:

  1. Lovely post Edwin, thank you.

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  2. I'll have to ask my Dad if he recalls any humorous signals from his time on HMS Loch Insh (he was Leading Seaman Coder)

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  3. Thank you, Edwin!
    That gave me a very good time, indeed.

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  4. All good stuff! Maybe the 'tradition' springs from the fact that the skipper originates so many of the signals? Good skippers are a law unto themselves 🙄

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  5. in peace or war The Humorist will always shine a light however dim the situation might be. BB

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  6. Lovely! You made me laugh!

    Greetings
    Peter

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  7. Funny stuff, I have to share that on the Naval Wargaming community.

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  8. Having sailed in the US Navy, we rarely were funny, on purpose

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  9. Very funny, is severed in the US Navy and were rarely funny on purpose

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