Navy Day actually celebrates the US Navy, but I’d like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my late grandad, who served on numerous vessels as a Royal Navy submariner.

Harry Dale Adamson III was an able seaman that left behind a variety of personal belongings. Each offers a glimpse into the everyday life of a seafarer who spent long periods of time hundreds of feet underwater and hundreds of miles away from home. The picture above shows his boxed nautical compass (with examination stamps dating from the forties and fifties); a stitched leather and brass spyglass; his whistle, the Acme Thunderer A37; and a photograph of him and his wife, my grandma, Iris Adamson, on their wedding day.

My grandad loved the navy. He remained a member of SOCA, the Submarine Old Comrades Association, until his final days and received a funeral worthy of a gentleman who served for many years. I do wonder how long he would have remained in submarines if he hadn’t received an honourable discharge due to serious injury when he was around thirty; this was as a result of a pressure malfunction and ended with him using a walking stick from thereon. He was stationed in Malta at the time and returned to Hull with my grandma and mam (who was still a baby) shortly after. Would my brother and I still have been born if that hadn’t happened? Who knows.

What I do know is that I miss my grandad, but I remember him every time I see the objects above. He also comes to mind whenever I see a shed, an electric keyboard and duct tape – three everyday items that filled up many years of his life and added to his rich bank of endearing eccentricities.

If you lost someone who was in the navy, I hope you have similar objects to remember them by. I can’t imagine a life where a compass, spyglass and whistle would be necessities, but they helped my grandad get from one day to the next and serve his country at the same time. They carry his memory, and will continue to do so long after I’ve left them to the next generation.


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