Slow learners.

When British troops were introduced into one city after another in Northern Ireland, what turned out to be a solution to the problem became a very large part of the problem. Several attempts were made to establish a power-sharing governments, most notably in 1974 following the Sunningdale Agreement, but all were opposed or thwarted, by Republicans and loyalists alike, until 1998 the Belfast – aka Good Friday Agreement: ‘Sunningdale for Slow Learners’ as Seamus Mallon, the inaugural Deputy First Minister of the Legislative Assembly dubbed it.

Thinking of this reminded me of sitting in the classroom with the instructor trying to teach us navigation. As the morning session drew to a close, and lunch break becond the instructor ended his lesson by asking the class,

“If I were to tell you to meet me for lunch at fifty-three degrees, thirty-five minutes north and zero point zero four degrees west, where would I be?”

After a long silence a voice pipped up,

“Eating alone.”

Slow rescue,

The Royal Naval Ancillary Fleet, had two boats stationed at Rosyth Royal Dockyard, their main task was the removal of ammunition from the naval ships before they entered the dockyard for re-fit and the re-storage of them when they departed the dockyard. Other duties included collecting and delivering ammunition from depots in and around The UK. One other important duty was to dispose of obsolete munitions at sea. One such dumping grounds was an area three miles due east of the May Island in the estuary of the River Forth.

Our story finds ‘Enfield’ on such a journey and once on station the crew rigged a set of rollers from the hold, along the deck that continued three feet over the port bow. Boxes of torpedoes were being unloaded and sent along the rollers. The crew waited until the boat rolled to port then they gave the heavy boxes a good push, sending it on its way to Davy Jonha’s Locker. Timed right it would take little effort for them to go cascading over the side.

As one of the boxes was sent on its way, a freak wave caught the box as it entered the water and smashed it against the bow with such force, that the box broke open and the torpedo exploded on impact blowing a gaping hole in the side of the ship, and just on the waterline. Crash mats were quickly dropped over the hole and the force of water entering the ship did the rest forcing the mat tight against the side of the ship and over the hole, this helped reduce the flow enough for the ships pumps not to be overwhelmed.

An SOS was sent from the ship to Rosyth, ‘Eveready’ would steam to their aid. Although ‘Enfield’ was listing badly and down at the head, she made slow passage back up the Forth. As she entered the breakwaters at Rosyth dockyard ‘Eveready’ – now renamed by the crew of ‘Enfield ‘Never-Ready’ coming to their rescue.

There’s a large milky ball in the sky tonight,

Surrounded by a hallow of pure burning light,

Not a whisper of cloud to darken her face,

Only stars in accompaniment,

As she tracks across space.   

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