"In all the years I have been reading "The Wren", I have hardly seen any reference to the Royal Navy Patrol Service - otherwise known as "Harry Tate's Navy". Those brave men, many of whom at the outbreak of war joined the Service from the fishing fleet, have their memories kept alive by the dedicated people who man the Museum at the Sparrows Nest in Lowestoft; the Museum staff also keep in touch with members of the Association by the regular Newsletter, and arrange the Annual Reunion and Service of Remembrance. .
'My memories of Lowestoft'
I arrived at the Headquarters of the RNPS (HMS Europa) in July 1944 as a newly-trained Wren, and was assigned to the Bedding Store, which before the war had housed the equipment for the bowling green. The Sparrows Nest was (and is) a lovely ornamental and pleasure garden which had a concert hall and various other buildings dotted about, all used for the administration of the Service. Seamen in the Patrol Service were, I believe, the only sea-going sailors to be issued with blankets. On coming into Port, two used blankets were exchanged at the Store for two clean ones, and a lorry-load of returned blankets was taken to the Laundry at Gorleston every Friday morning. Apart from handing over clean blankets when a draft arrived, my job was to keep a card index of all members of the Service, showing how many and when blankets were exchanged. Also in the Store was kept the "Story Book" - in which was recorded the reason why a sailor failed to bring his blankets for exchange. I imagine losses had to be paid for, and the reasons why blankets were lost, apart from the obvious one of having gone down with the ship, were sometimes colourful in the extreme!
things were done in the Store - such as the issue of life-jackets and
survivors' kit. It is hard to imagine just how these young men could
have been so wonderfully cheerful and so full of high spirits having
I was very keen to serve overseas and volunteered as soon as I arrived
at HMS Europa but did not succeed in getting a draft. After nearly a
year I exchanged places (I can't remember the intricacies of this) with
a Wren from HMS Excellent, hoping that this would be achieved from Portsmouth
Command. This proved to be so and in January 1946 I got a posting to
Colombo with the last-but-one draft of Wrens.