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Good times and bad at sea; VIEWPOINTS.

AS a national serviceman, I served aboard HMS Eagle in 1954. She started off with bad luck at Belfast during construction when a gangway collapsed killing several workers. At sea in the Med we lost several aircrew, mainly through pilot error.

Some time later en route from Malta to Naples, at early morning the captain broadcast telling us that a Comet airliner had crashed near Stromboli in the Lipari Islands.

All our planes immediately took off and the Eagle was virtually aquaplaning. We arrived at the scene in the afternoon to see bodies and debris everywhere. Our sea boats were launched with midshipmen in charge, picking up bodies and evidence.

The chief sail-maker and his assistants were given unlimited rum as they performed the gruesome task of serving up the bodies. We arrived at Naples to be met by a fleet of ambulances.

At this time the Eagle had no angled flight deck. The Eagle and Ark Royal were not popular drafts as each with a crew of 2,600 cleared out all the barrack stanchions. We were badly overcrowded but the food was good. National Service made boys into men and should be reintroduced.

BD Mably Pyle Bridgend
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 24, 2009
Words:199
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