By 1939 when I (Ritchie) returned to England the Admiralty had at last
recognised that custom‑built ships were best suited for surveying and
four Halcyon class minesweepers had been completed as surveying
vessels with modem echo sounders both onboard and in the boats. I
served for a few months in the early part of the year in one of these
ships ‑ JASON under the command of Alun Jones, a slightly pompous but
rather shy Welshman.
I recall an incident in
JASON that occurred early one morning when the captain and I
were alone on the bridge as we sailed down the Bristol Channel after
week‑ending in Avonmouth. Commander Jones, rather short in stature,
was on the 'monkey's island' whilst I, as navigator, was at a lower
level at the chart table. The captain had recently acquired one of the
new‑fangled electric razors and was describing to me their efficacy.
'Feel the smoothness of my chin,' said he as he bent down towards me.
I was perforce obliged to comply, and as my fingers touched his face I
saw beyond him the leading signalman, who had joined the ship that
very weekend, mounting the ladder onto the open bridge. His jaw
dropped and, wide‑eyed, he turned about on the ladder and descended
out of sight. Presumably he was off to the mess deck to enquire as to
what sort of a ship he had joined where the officers stroked each
other, before breakfast!
Source: No Day Too Long, G S Ritchie