Captain Morrow

Captain HMS Mercury Sep 1988 to 1991

Written by Godfrey Dykes

© RN Communications Branch Museum/Library

  These, to say the least, are wonderful pictures of the Wardroom [Main House] HMS Mercury which compliment and add to my story. They were supplied to me personally by Commodore Anthony MORROW CVO Royal Navy and for the purpose of this web site and web page, the Copyright for them belongs to the Commodore. Enjoy them certainly, but please do not copy them. Thank you.

  First off, picture one of two of the Leydene House grand staircase, originally owned by Lord and Lady Peel. A must to behold. Stunningly beautiful and shown as a large picture on purpose to do it justice. Whilst the centre iconic part of the wardroom, only officers of lieutenant commander and above could use it as a thoroughfare. However, it wasn't always the case as this little story, taken from the Communicator Magazine of Easter 1949 clearly shows.

Wardroom Notes

In this picture, notice the 'honour boards' in the passage way on the upper floor and the pictures of officers who had either served in the Establishment or who had been connected with it - the name Lord Louis Mountbatten comes to mind for example.

  Next comes two stunning pictures of the Main House complex which at one time housed the wardroom, the sick bay, the dentist, accommodation for WRNS [Stewards], all senior officers offices whether executive or training appointments, lesser offices running the training administration, the pay office, and the Captain's Office [secretarial]. Because the Captain had his own office in the complex, all requestmen and defaulter musters were also held here. The setting is nothing short of idyllic. Centre stage is the Main House and Wardroom showing the well known and resplendent rose garden and the patio which led down to it from the Wardroom. The mast and ceremonial pond [or pool] is clearly visible and over to the left, under the part of the building clad in ivy, is the fire suction point, the STATIC WATER TANK. Before the swimming pool was built in front of Mountbatten Block, this [painted blue] tank was used in the afternoons [sunny ones that is] for females and backward swimmers [both genders] and in the dogs for males. These pictures were taken in the summer of 1958.

  Note in the picture above [taken in the dogs] two very large masts. Well the one at the back [to your right] stopped a low flying private small plane in its tracks and of course prematurely brought it down to earth. This was on Friday 25th July 1958, when a Tiger-Moth [callsign G-AMHI] en route to the Isle of Wight was in collision killing the aircraft's passenger, one Brian Shersby. HMS Mercury's fire and emergency party were the first on the scene. The other mast was taken down as a precaution. The only mast in Mercury that the majority will remember, was at the top of the steps leading from the front entrance to Mountbatten Block up to Droxford Road, opposite the Post Office, itself an integral part of the Supply Block which replaced the buildings used for the New Entry Division. This mast was directly associated with the ICS Wing part of Dreadnought Block onto which wire MF and HF broadband aerials were mounted. Over the top of the trees [looking north] are the fields of the Meon Valley with the tiny village of East Meon nestling in the folds of the valley below and off screen. The two green roofed Nissan huts you see upper middle left form the Establishment Church. Virtually all of the buildings beyond it are owned and used by the PSA or the DOE civilians on site, except that somewhere in that lot is an indoor .22 shooting range.

  Here is a good close-up of the patio I mentioned above. I can just imagine stepping out of that open double door with a good stiff G&T going off to smell the Roses, which Arthur, the head gardener, for so many years lovingly tended. In the Summer months being in and working in Mercury was a joy, but in the Winter months, well, let's just say it wasn't as good. Note in this picture the white post on the grass and shrub bank [which is a loudspeaker in disguise]. Well just in front of it and to its right is the saluting dais, used throughout the week either for New Entry Divisions or less frequently for Ship's Company Ceremonial Divisions. The parade commander stood on the dais, forward of the steps leading to the mast, adjacent to the pool/pond. I'll wager that the lone sunbather got a shock when this photographing helicopter hove into sight. Can you spot her? Look to the second block, to above the two sets of wide white doors to the verandah above, left hand edge. The only other living person in sight is the RPO stopping vehicles which might upset the Commander: he is framed between two conifer trees on the top road. This little snippet tells of the progress made in the Wardroom Mess.

The following two pictures are of groups taken at a time when Commodore MORROW was the CSS at HMS Mercury and a text snippet.

The above photo is of a mixed group of senior officers, junior officers, warrant officers, senior rates, junior rates, WRNS and civilians taken in the entrance hall of the Main House. Occasion was in the period 1988-1991 when the CSS was Captain Anthony Morrow [who kindly loaned this picture for this web page] but the reason is not known - yet!

Awaiting occasion. CSS, Captain MORROW, seated front row third from right [who kindly loaned this picture for this web page]. A group of mainly senior officers, some from allied navies [NATO ?] and taken during the period 1988-1991. I am researching the name of the Admiral of the Fleet. From my calculations, there were eight Admirals of the Fleet alive in this period {see Admirals of the Fleet } and because I believe this group to be communication officers, I will go for Admiral of the Fleet Sir Edward Ashmore!

  And finally, a little snippet from 1949, about the progress being made to make the Wardroom Mess a more fitting place for Signal Officers.