From March 18, 1968 to February 16, 1970 placed aboard the cruiser HMS. "The Seven Provinces".
During my placement on board, the cruiser sailed alone and not in a Squadron. These are a group of ships that operate together.
The advantage of sailing alone is that the commander is really in charge because then as a commander you don't have anyone directly above you, such as a Squadron commander who you then have on board because you are the largest ship (flagship) of the Squadron. Then life for the crew on board is always a bit smoother.
I have had various functions on board. Like mutator of the spare parts administration at the Supply Office (playing around with the card indexes, because there were no computers then). I was also manager of the consumables warehouse there. It was in the bow, spread over two decks. There I was assisted by two warehouse managers. My last function was manager of the classified technical books of the Terrier battery (the missile installation).
The equipment logistics team on board consisted (as far as I remember) of the following persons. The boss, the head of the logistics service, was the LTZA1 Roodenburg (later he was relieved by the LTZA1 Hermanus). Chief of the supply office was Sergeant-Major warehouse manager Piet van Hout, who was later also relieved by Sergeant-Major Kramer. The sergeants I can remember were Sergeant Paardenkoper, Sergeant Tommasoa and Sergeant Pascoud. My colleagues Corporal were: Piet Bakker, Tom Meissner, Rinus Vogelenzang, and one Stevens (who was still a youngster). The first and second graders, as far as I can remember, were cousins Jos and Fred Barbillion, Joop Dumont (always recognizable by the potato he had hanging around his neck against seasickness) and last but not least Rob Visée. At one point he saved my life. I am still grateful to him for that. We now meet each other
regularly at the warehouse managers' reunion.
Life in terms of accommodation on board the cruiser is no longer comparable to today's ships. Nowadays people sleep in cabins of four or six people and depending on your rank even in one or two person cabins.
I then slept in quarter "Zuid-Holland" (all sleeping accommodation on board had a province name), which was a "cabin" of 110 people and was located in the bow. I believe this was even the largest quarter on board. Because the wardrobes were placed in that room in a certain way, it looked like they were all small huts with two or three rows of beds (up to three high). You had some privacy in this setup.
During my placement I visited the following countries: Great Britain, west coast of America, Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria, Norway, Spain and Morocco. In those countries we visited the following ports: Plymouth, Dornoch Firth, UK; Norfolk, Virginia USA; Rooseveld Roads, San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, Sint Maarten NA; Willemstad, Curaçao NA; Oranjestad, Aruba; Las Palmas, Gran Canaria; Stavanger, Norway; Cadiz, Spain; Casablanca Marocco.
During the trip to America and the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba we visited Norfolk twice. During the first visit, an excursion was organized to Williamsburg, a historic town in Virginia. When you walk around there you imagine yourself in the 17th and 18th century. Everything there is still done by horse and carriage and the old crafts are still practiced there. The second time we visited during this trip was on the occasion of NATO's 20th anniversary. We had to be present for a major naval review off the coast of Norfolk. Navy ships from 20 countries participated. All NATO leaders and the government representatives of all NATO countries were gathered on the USS "Saratoga", then one of America's largest conventional aircraft carriers. All NATO ships had to sail in front of it (that's called steam-past) while firing with all the conventional weapons they had on board. That was a great sight. And a huge noise. Shots were fired at targets in the air and at sea. It looked like war.
The day before we first entered Norfolk we ran into a severe hurricane that we first thought we could avoid. But he suddenly changed course and we ended up right in the middle of it. We knew that too. The ship was almost demolished. Everything on deck (fixed or lashed) went overboard. The fireplaces and sloops on G-deck (one deck higher) were heavily damaged. We nearly capsized as we were a bit top heavy due to the guide weapon radar antenna. This had to break off automatically at 15 degrees list by the breaking bolts with which it was mounted. That was a built-in safety otherwise the ship would certainly capsize, but that did not happen. Then it became quite exciting on board and everyone sat with their buttocks squeezed. Eventually the bolts broke off anyway, but only at a greater angle and could the ship right itself again and we could breathe a sigh of relief again.
The next day when we moored in Norfolk we were able to lick our "wounds" and emergency repairs were made with the help of the Americans so that we were at least seaworthy again.
At one point we were anchored off Puerto Rico because we had to fire our Terrier missiles on the range nearby. We would spend the night there. But suddenly at night we noticed that the whole ship shook and vibrated as if we were going at high speed. In the morning when we woke up we were anchored off Sint Maarten and it was announced via the ship's broadcaster that the landing detachment (which I was also in) had to urgently put on combat gear and get weapons and live ammunition in the armory, after which Antillean money had to be withdrawn from the Kas desk and collected at half past six on the half deck, which is at the rear of the ship near the Terrier battery. There we were spoken to by the commander that we had to stand by to support the Sint Maarten police for possible infiltrations from the island of Anguila (British) nearby. A revolt had broken out there and people on Sint Maarten were afraid that infiltrations might take place from that island. We lay there on standby until a day later the station ship from Curaçao arrived with a company of marines on board. They took over from us. Three weeks later, when the danger of infiltration had passed, we picked up that company. We were told that they had actually been on holiday for three weeks. They had built their bivouac on the beach and only occasionally had to patrol the beach. When we heard that afterwards we were a bit jealous of those men because we wanted to do that too.
I always let myself be assigned to the landing detachment wherever possible. Because then you came somewhere, also abroad like that time we were in Stavanger. Then we made a march of 15 miles as the crow flies through the mountains with the landing detachment. That was a wonderful trip despite the climbing and scrambling. We even rescued a few sheep that had become completely entangled in the barbed wire. What struck me there was that you could walk quietly through and across the farmland without a farmer coming at you with a shotgun. That happened to us a few times during exercises in Holland. For example, we spent fourteen days in Doorn with the marines with the landing detachment. There they tried to make us a little marine, but they didn't succeed. But all in all we did a nice exercise there.
During our visit to Willemstad in Curaçao, when we moored at the jetty, I saw two acquaintances standing there. They were Sanny and Toon de Nijs and had been posted on Curaçao for three years. I went to primary and secondary school with Toon and later we both went to the Navy, but as far as I know we never served together anywhere. We did go on FLO as OVA (Officier Van Administratie). I was pleasantly surprised to find them there. Somehow he knew (he was a writer for that, of course, and was on the staff in Curaçao) that I was on board the cruiser. I remember his wife Sanny from the drum band of the gymnastics association of which I was a member and was also in the drum band as a drummer and she led the band's horns. I was immediately invited to spend a weekend with them. That was convenient because I didn't have guard duty that weekend. I then had a wonderful weekend with them. They showed me a lot of Curaçao.
During the second visit to Norfolk I had an car accident that fortunately ended well for me. All I had was a fat lip with my teeth through because I hit the dashboard with my face. I was boarding the base with a buddy when we were offered a ride by a US Sailor who was on the cruiser USS Springfield. We were looking for a certain address, and he knew the way. Once we were on the road, I quickly realized that the man had had a nice drink, because he drove pretty fast. I sat next to him and my buddy sat in the back. At one point we crossed a railway yard and something went wrong. There had been roadworks just before that railway yard and it was not well signposted. As a result, we saw too late that there were no longer any road plates between the rails that should have been there normally. As a result, the car was more or less launched by the speed and only came to a stop on the fourth track. So I hit my head against the dashboard and I think I was unconscious for a moment. My buddy got his head slammed against the side of his door in such a way that he was moaning quite a bit. The American next to me screamed that he was going to die. I wanted to get out because we were in the middle of one of those large rail yards in an industrial area just outside Norfolk. Of course you never know when a train would arrive, even in the middle of the night because the accident happened at about half past four in the morning. However, I couldn't open the door on my side, so I kicked it open with great force, tearing my pants completely out of the effort. But I was out and I helped my buddy out of the car who sat right on the rails with his head between his hands and he was moaning like crazy. He had quite a lot of pain in his head and chest. I just couldn't get the American out of the car, he was much too big and heavy for that. There was no one to be seen in the immediate vicinity. I then started walking down the road to a crossroads. I stood in the middle of it and waited for someone to show up. (We didn't have mobile phones then) and there was no telephone box in the area because it was in the middle of an industrial estate. Suddenly I saw a police officer driving up a few intersections and by waving I was able to get his attention. With the help of that agent I was then able to get the American out of the car because we simply unfolded the door on his side. Then I also smelled a cone of booze on that guy and the cop noticed it too. In the meantime, he had called his colleagues and in no time there were a number of police cars at the railway tracks, as you sometimes see in American police films. The agent who helped me took the three of us to a nearby emergency hospital. In the agent's car, the American began to lament that he hadn't driven and that he was going to die. The officer looked at me and his eyes spoke volumes. Later I heard from that officer that his driver's license was going to be taken away and that he only had two broken fingers and nothing else. My buddy turned out to have suffered quite a bit of injury, such as a double jaw fracture and a heavily bruised ribcage. As a result, we were both taken to the Naval Hospital on the base. I was then looked at the inside of my upper lip. My buddy was admitted right away because he needed surgery. After the doctor on duty looked at my upper lip, it was found that he could not and was not allowed to do anything about it because he was not specialized. So, wait for the specialist. He arrived after about an hour of waiting. He said that the wound could not be sewn up because the mouth flesh is too soft and the suture would not hold. So the wound had to heal. That eventually happened. Then I had to wait for our ship's own doctor. I eventually went back on board with him and spent two more days in the sick-bay for observation because I hadn't reacted to the accident in any way at all. I then walked with a thick lip for about a week before it was over. My buddy has been in the hospital for about six weeks. He did not come back on board during that trip, but it was ensured that he was back in the Netherlands earlier than we did with the ship. When we came back to Den Helder, he and his wife were waiting for us on the jetty. He still had his jaws in the braces. I later heard that, as a result of that accident, he was disqualified for drumming because he was a corporal marine/drumman. That was very sad for him. But when I was in The Hague after this placement, I met him again, but then in an army suit and he was sitting at the Royal Military Band. He could blow there.
All in all I had a very nice time aboard this cruiser.
With the landing detachment we were on exercise on the Leusderheide near the Marine Camp in Doorn, where we had a week of shooting bivouac and a week of tactical bivouac.
A "landing detachment" consisted mainly of marines supplemented with logistics, nautical and technical personnel from a ship or Naval Barracks. Its task was to act by force on shore. Later I believe it was called "security group" and today, if I'm not mistaken, it's called "boarding team". Our son was a member of such a team when he was in the Navy.
For the next two photos I received an honorable mention at a photo competition entitled "After ship's time", organized by the Department of Development for Sport and Relaxation in Den Helder in the autumn of 1968.
If the Terrier was fired for practice, it had to be done with the target offset so that your target ship/aircraft was not damaged. But that sometimes went wrong!!! (the antenna of the small target ship is damaged)