Alick Lavers

Alick Lavers' recollections of his time in the Royal Navy

In July 2020, I received an email from Alick Lavers. Alick wrote that:

I was serving at RNAS Yeovilton in 1955 when I first met Wilfred John Hughes, who was to be my lifelong oppo. John had just left Warrior and joined Yeovilton after his leave period. We were to serve together again after that and we met up many times after we had both left the service. John’s full name was Wilfred John so some called him Wilf and others called him John.

He served onboard Warrior, his first ship, as a Scribe in the Pay Office. We both served together again onboard Eagle and later he was drafted to Surprise while I was serving ashore in Malta at the NATO HQ. His wife joined him in Malta and they moved into a flat just around the corner from me so we were together again. During that time in ‘59 I was temporarily drafted to Surprise and spent another three weeks with John.

When John and I were onboard Eagle in early ‘56 we went onboard Warrior, which was in a drydock in refit in Guzz. Not a sign of life, no power and only the odd light powered by cable from ashore. Dark, dangerous and dismal but we wandered around in our lunch hour to give him a nostalgic time before going back to the dynamic Eagle. Over the years John told me about his time onboard Warrior and was usually the only one on Divisions wearing the Ruban de l’Amitie (I think it was called) and was always asked to explain what it was and why by the inspecting officer, which John was always proud to do.

He sadly crossed the bar something like 20 years ago. I have never seen a photo of John then or since but I shall never forget my old oppo.

We were both selected to be candidates for advancement to officer rank when we were serving at HMS Heron (RNAS Yeovilton) and both decided to cancel the once in a lifetime opportunity at the end of Eagle’s commission after the Suez war. We were young and silly at the time and disillusioned with events. I left the Navy in ‘66 while John stayed on and took his commission later, finishing as a Lieutenant which meant that he automatically retired as a Lieutenant Commander on leaving the service.

All I can find about John Hughes is his death notice in Navy News of August 1996. That simply says "Lt. Cdr. Wilfred John Hughes. Ships: Warrior, Eagle, Surprise."

John was a talented man. Alick later emailed me and said that he had amazing handwriting and their boss, the Captain’s Secretary on the Audacious-class aircraft carrier HMS Eagle asked him to draw the charts for the ship's 1955/56 commission book...

HMS Eagle chart drawn by John Hughes
HMS Eagle chart drawn by John Hughes

Alick served on the Audacious-class aircraft carriers HMS Eagle and Ocean, and the two CA-Class destroyers Carron and Carysfort. Alick left the Royal Navy in 1966, but as he says, "it seems hundreds of years ago now but once Navy always Navy."

HMS Eagle. Photo: Imperial War Museums HU99666 HMS Eagle. Photo: Imperial War Museums HU99669 HMS Carron. Photo: Imperial War Museums A28779 HMS Carysfort. Photo: Imperial War Museums A28779

Alick grew up in Plymouth during WWII and wrote some of his memories from that time on the Family Tree site.

Alick is a great supporter of the HMS Carysfort website and was an active member of the HMS Eagle forum on World Navy Ships.

This page created January 1, 2021, last modified January 2, 2021