Peter ‘Ginger or Dinah’ Shore MBE.
Ginger qualified as a CD in 1955 on course. Here are some pictures and a brief story of his career. He is also mentioned in the Chronicles of a Clearance Diver – The Suez Crisis about Yorky Wilkinson. Personally it was a pleasure to get to know Ginge. I met him at home in Bristol as I wanted to ask his permission to use several extracts from the meticulous diaries and records that he kept and with a flare and interested in writing can tell a story far better than me. He is quite possibly the only diver to have dived in the Korea War, the Malaysia Emergency and the Suez crisis. That’s quite a list of diving locations for anyone. Here is just a little information on his remarkable diving career not to mention his work with the Scouts and other volunteer work which earned him a MBE. Ginge wrote a book called Shifting Shore. His story will be told in a later chronicles about ‘Big EOD Clearances. His death was not caused by the virus. It was a pleasure to know him. 5 bells.
Ginger Shore MBE
Peter ‘Ginger/Dinah’ Shore recollections; I had joined as a Boys Seaman October 1949 at H.M.S. St. Vincent the Portsmouth Boy Seaman training establishment. After passing out there I was sent Devonport to await allocation to a ship. Hundreds of us would muster every morning in the Drill Shed and await allocation to a daily duty ranging from dockyard street cleaning, spud peeling and window cleaning. The Drill Officer giving the jobs out on nearing me shouted “can anyone swim?”. My hand shot of up and being virtually under his walking stick he noticed me and shouted that I was to report to the Chief up at the Dockyard swimming pool.
Once there I was detailed off to clean the toilets! There was a SWD course going on and as one of the candidates did not like being underwater, lo and behold I was called over and given a length a rope to hold. I quickly found out there was a diver on the other end. After some time the chief in charge shouted “haul them up and change round”. You can imagine my horror, so panicking I shot my hand up and so was questioned by the chief as to my concern. After hesitantly explaining I was only there by accident/chance I was told “not to matter, you have got knickers on haven’t you?” Bewildered, I nodded. I was on course now apparently. Thus after some weeks or so I became a qualified ship’s diver! We used, if my memory is correct a slightly modified piece of Submarine Escape Equipment which had a small limited time oxygen tube and a cartridge of CO2 absorbent powder. The name DSEA always rings a bell.
Ginge qualified as Clearance Diver in 1955 on course number 14 and served in Malta which also saw service in the Suez crisis in 56. He was awarded one of the few Mine and Bomb Disposal medals for EOD work on the Malta team. He played Rugby for the Navy and that’s when we had a big Navy and it was all officers in the team. In the early days the first 8 weeks of CD course was done in the home ports of Devonport, Portsmouth and Chatham. Portsmouth and Chatham were running alongside us with a dozen people and more starting from each location. A total of 57 started course number 14 from all three units.
From Dinah Shore diaries;
Toward the end of the 8 weeks we were given an interesting challenge which was to attack the local Esso petroleum storage tanks and blow them up. For this exercise, the complex right on the river would be guarded by Royal Marines and the TA and we had a window of 24 hours in which to attack it and place our so-called bombs. Observers would be on site to keep the rough stuff to a minimum and comment on the outcome. We divers were divided into pairs and allowed to make our own plans.
Well I played Rugby with some of the Marines and didn’t think they would understand anything about keeping the rough stuff to a minimum so devised a strategy for myself and my partner Yorky Wilkinson to do it our way. I knew a girl in Torpoint whose father was a painter and decorator and persuaded him to lend us his work van and two sets of white overalls and a long ladder. Suitably dressed we screeched to a halt dead on 12 pm the start time of the exercise and in panic mode begged the Marines to be let in for a paint job that needed to be finished. After vaguely flashing our home-made work passes we were shooed in with cusses and threats to get the job done quickly. Oh, we did that alright and went straight around to the unwatched fuel tanks and liberally painted ‘BOMB’ in secluded but very pertinent and vulnerable spots. Some 15 minutes later we drove out with our equipment and shouting grateful thanks to the sentries.
Returning to the dive School not one hour later we reported that we had completed our mission and placed our bombs. In fact, our other course members were still getting their suits and dummy limpet mines ready. Our Boss rather smugly rang the RM observer and explained that one of his teams had already successfully completed its task and was it really worth sending in the others just to rub it in. Naturally, there was an argument but we won the day as the task had been to blow up the target, not how, where, why or what, just blow it up, and we did. Of course, they were expecting a night-time attack from the sea. Clearance Divers 1 – Royal Marines 0
Several of my course was drafted to Malta at the same time at the start of 56 where we would be working hard but playing even harder. Jock Adams, Donkey, Yorky and myself. Much of our day to day work was, of course, salvaging and identify numerous items on land and in water, survey, checking out virtually every suspicious reported object. The dockyard cranes, fishermen would dredge up dozens of items that would of course need to be examined, for many ships had been sunk or bombed in the many harbours. Then there was an new influx of holidaymakers with snorkels who would also be exploring lesser-known rocky inlets and would come across projectiles any weird object would be reported to the local police who would then alert us. Readers must remember the size of our area was throughout the Med. Measuring some 2000 miles long and over 500 miles wide with some 20 countries with ports and coastline to worry about and we always wanted NOW (even sometimes yesterday! especially if money was involved!)
One notable trip to survey the seabed of a bay at Benghazi, Libya prior to laying an oil pipeline out to a moored buoy. It turned out to be a German Type ‘C’ Magnetic/Acoustic Influence mine with a type 34A fuse was 1 Ton & 10ft long. So it was a case of all change, big rethink, and signals to Head Office. Action was instigated with the police to secure not only the immediate site but to half evacuate the dock area being 90% an oil distribution complex! My job was comparatively easy for I had to man the phone to ensure all moves and steps, tools and tea-breaks taken by Boss II, the submerged MDO (Mine Disposal Officer) were recorded for posterity/training and research. This was a wise precaution in case the thing blew up; if so, at least someone (the UK boffins) would know where we went wrong! One small drawback was that I was manning the phone at the pointed end as I was only a few feet above the mine handing tools al la medical operating surgeon! Sometimes it felt awfully lonely! All ended well.
Ginge left the Navy in the late 50’s. Whilst traveling through Nepal with his wife set up a charity over there which he continued to support throughout his life.