Sea Trials in Scotland
Soon after discharging our passengers we sailed up to Scotland's River Clyde, to anchor in the Gareloch, which was to be our base. In the vast loch there were landing craft, also submarines, escort vessels etc. I even had the pleasure (?) of demonstrating the American radar (which our Captain was now very proud of!) to a Rear Admiral (lots of gold braid) as we sailed up the Clyde. The Rear Admiral was quite impressed, and must have told our Captain, who changed his attitude towards me and was almost pleasant. But not to his own officers though, and he was still a loner, and didn't eat or mix in the Wardroom with them.
During our stay in the Gareloch, several demonstrations of 'sinking' our dock about 20 feet were given to high Army and Navy personnel, who seemed most impressed at the entry and then the 'dry docking' of LCI's and LCT's. All this activity meant the now strong Allied war effort was gathering momentum every day.
It was warm enough some days to swim in the loch from over the side of the ship, or in our own 'Olympic' dock swimming pool when full. We played football against nearby ships, went by train to Glasgow and spent some pleasant evenings in the big city, but Ted, the plumber, and I had a shock when we stayed at the 'Union Jack' Club (one shilling, 5p). We found bugs in the beds, and we never went there again. Returning next morning on the 7am train to Gourock we met Petty Officer Clack, our gunnery messmate, and asked him if had had a good 'run ashore'. He pulled a condom out of his pocket and said "Marvellous thank you!" with a grin as wide as the Mersey. Well you know what sailors are!
Our next move was just up the coast to Tobermory, a port on the Isle of Mull. It was there that we tried out our invasion manoeuvres under the watchful eyes of several Allied war chiefs, it was even said that Winston Churchill was there. At the time the sea had a moderate swell. This was too rough for the LCT's entering our filled dock (where the water was even choppier) for repairs, and to our amazement they were dashed against the sides of the dock. No ropes could restrain their movement in this rougher water in the dock. The 'catwalk' was all smashed by these quite heavy vessels hitting the inside of the dock. So under their engine power they were quickly taken out to sea again.
All this damage and confusion put a different complexion on what our task would be in most likely a rough sea offshore on an invasion coast. So it was immediately decided that in future, we would carry from a sheltered place, troops and their landing craft to the scene of action. So that was another brilliant idea knocked on the head.