Morgan O’Connell – HMS Walrus

During my time in Blake and Walrus I was a Surgeon Lieutenant RN. I was supposed to have put my pussah’s grip on Artemis – but she went glug glug alongside the wall in HMS Dolphin (1971), hence my first experience of submarines was Walrus:

Having been ‘around the world’ on the cruiser HMS Blake, playing rugby, drinking beer and chatting up blondes, I thought I knew about the Navy. However, I was to find that submarines were totally different.

Everything was for real – there appeared to be no exercises until proven otherwise. We had been two days at sea, and were exercising with the RAF – who had to be home ‘in time for tea’- in the middle of the Atlantic. Morley Stephens, our Captain, suggested I stand behind him in the Control Room and observe. Two hours later, when things calmed down, I said to him: “That was dramatic, at one stage I thought we were out of control, heading towards the bottom.” He replied: “We were!”

We got into Nassau early for my flight: Morley decided that I should miss it, as he wanted a Surgeon Lt at the bottom of the ladder welcoming the guests on board for the cocktail party, rather than a horny sailor.

Getting home, I had to leave everything outside the back door, including the clothes I stood up in, I smelled so!

My total time in “the Andrew” (a term of endearment for the RN going back over centuries) was 31 years, followed by some 10 years with Combat Stress which led to setting up VOS.

Morgan O’Connell