H.M.S. Liverpool

 In the aftermath of the Falklands War Great Britain maintained a fleet of ships and aircraft and
a large contingent of Army to protect the 1800 inhabitants of the God foresaken Islands. During
my stint down there we had 5000 British troops deployed either at sea or on the Islands and in
most cases personnel were replaced after a 4 month tour of duty. The Navy, of course, had their
own rules and when they were replaced on station they would enjoy all their normal activities
on the way home.

The Ministry of Defence had spent a lot of high priced time “twinning” Ships with Squadrons and
Army Regiments and so one day while I’m still the Boss of 64 Squadron I get a signal from the
Captain of HMS Liverpool to send 2 officers to join the ship in Jacksonville Florida and then
experience the trans Atlantic crossing on a Warship.

HMS Liverpool had done her time and when released she had sailed round the Cape come up
Chile, stopped at various exotic ports, slipped through the Panama canal and then over to Florida
where she was berthed for 2 weeks.

I announce the details of the invitation to all and amazingly there is zero interest! Station
Commander tells me WE ARE TO send 2 officers and thats that! My good friend Grant Taylor is
volunteered and as no one else will play ball. I tell the Station Commander I would go but feel
a bit guilty about it. The word is GO!

Grant and I have to get a whole load of special ceremonial uniforms at RAF Brize Norton before
leaving at some ungodly hour for America. We duly arrive at Dulles and after waiting fruitlessly
they announce they can’t find my luggage but they will send it on when the flight comes back
from Belize….. thanks!

Onward down country on another flight and the Navy pick us up and take us to the ship.
Introductions all done and cabins allocated we discover that most of the ship’s company is away
on holiday while they are docked and of course the usual “you should have been here yesterday
when we had the official cocktail party”

HMS Liverpool in Jacksonville Florida…. our home for the next 3 weeks

We blunder around the ship falling down companionways and banging our heads on bulkheads
and other assorted nautical hardware. So it’s pretty much free time for the next week with a few
outings the crew have organized to amuse us. Clearly we need transport so we hire a Ford
Escort and that takes care of that.

The introduction to Bud!

Two days on the beach drinking with visits to “fun bars” and then we decide to do the Disney
thing. About a 400 mile round trip to Orlando and one thing that stands out in the memory was
zero bug smash on the windscreen and a constant smell of insecticide. Also a lot of “hard”
roadkill in the form of possums.

A walk on part for Grant

Disney was great fun, Space Mountain, something else and incredibly clean throughout. The
queues were fun as a fantastic “con trick” always made it look as though you were nearly at the
front only to come round yet another corner and find a 10′ line to the next turn….. very, very

…. and then of course it came onto rain….BIG Time!

We take in Gators and Turtles

……and next a beach bar-b-q. We are told to go to Daytona Beach and look for a red Ford
Mustang which we naively do. Follow the instructions and pull onto the beach……huummmmm!
4 rows of cars, one down close to the Atlantic, two in the middle and one more on the slightly
higher ground before the sand dunes……. a red mustang you say ?……we creep on ……mile
after mile, and still no red mustang and thousands of cars, eventually with the Ford Escort’s
lamentable air conditioning at overstretch we decide we are hot and thirsty and this is getting
nowhere and it must be time for a beer. So having covered 7 miles down the beach and seen
nothing I turn round and start back.

We haven’t gone more than 200 yards when I hear some sirens and looking in the mirrors I can
see an emergency set of lights hurtling down the beach in a sandstorm, I ease over and this
black and white pulls across my nose and out jump two policemen holding their sticks and guns.

Hands on wheel, wait…….

“What der f*** d’ya tink ya doooin?”
“Excuse me ?”
“Ya going der wrong way Pal”
“Licence and registration”
Grant fumbles in the glove box and supercop tightens his grip on his side arm.
I gingerly open my wallet and extract my old Pink UK drivers licence.
Supercop notes it’s a hirecar, maybe the Hertz was a giveaway, but is having trouble with the
British licence, so now it’s Passport time and he sees “Govt Service” in occupation so maybe
assumes we are MI5.

“OK, OK, so yer Brits? I should giv’ya de citation and it’s a big fine”
“What exactly have we done wrong”
“You’se goin der wrong way on a ONE WAY BEACH 

We of course can’t contain the laughter and after wiping eyes I ask the officer how I get off
his ONE WAY BEACH, so he points south to Miami and says,
“Ya goes down der beach for about 3 miles then hang a right”
Well I guessed it wasn’t LEFT”
“Don’t get smart with me A*******”
“Thank you Officer”

….. and on that happy note we left southbound and eventually regained the road. The story was
relived many times…..ONE WAY BEACH INDEED!……. only in America!

So the visit comes to an end and the ship get ready to put to sea………to be continued…..

Squadron Leader Tony Down with Flt Lt Grant Taylor on HMS Liverpool

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  • 3/14/2008 8:55 AM Outlaw Dave wrote:
    Ah! Yes, Daytona – I remember my first visit back in 1976 – waiting for our luggage at the Airport dressed in quilted jackets, while everybody else was wearing shorts & tank tops. ! – We had just flown in for Speed Week in March. – Still Cold in Canada at that time of the year. – By later that afternoon we all looked like red lobsters, having spent the time soaking up both the sun and the local beer around the hotel pool.
    Reply to this
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