Today has been absolutely amazing, the training facility is out this world. An amazing experience.

Alec Tongue

Among those veterans attending was 89 year old Alec Tongue from Brixham, the oldest former naval engineer visiting HMS Raleigh on the day, joined the Royal Navy in 1945.

Mr Tongue joined the Royal Navy as an artificer, the name given for skilled workers in the military and spent the first part of his training at HMS Fisgard, the Royal Navy Artificer Training Establishment in Torpoint. 

HMS Fisgard was commissioned in 1946 and closed in 1983, when initial training for engineers transferred literally across the road to HMS Raleigh. 

Alec went on to serve with the Royal Navy for 24 years which included two years as a Naval Officer in HMS Raleigh before leaving the Service in 1969.

Alec retained his naval ties by then joining the Royal Naval Reserves (RNR) and got involved with the Navy Sea Cadets, coming back to HMS Raleigh for various courses during that time.

Alec said: “ Today has been absolutely amazing, the training facility is out this world. An amazing experience. We have been treated brilliantly today, I don’t think the Navy has altered in man power, same keenness.”

Also in attendance for the day was Andy O’Brien who travelled from Taunton in Somerset. Joining in 1973 as an artificer at HMS Fisgard, he is also a current committee member of the Official Fisgard Association whose aim is to bring together those engineering veterans who spent their most formative years at  HMS Fisgard, or in Fisgard Squadron, HMS Raleigh. 

Mr O’Brien who specialised in Marine Engineering during his time in the Royal Navy said: “ Today has brought back memories seeing old friends and meeting people that I haven’t seen for many years, a great day.”

Today, recruits for all branches of the Royal Navy complete their initial training side-by-side at HMS Raleigh.  Engineers move on to HMS Sultan or HMS Collingwood in Portsmouth, appropriate to their specialisation as Weapons, Marine or Air Engineers. 

The Royal Navy also offers a number of advanced entry schemes to fast-track engineers using the qualifications they’ve already gained at schools, colleges or universities.

Warrant Officer 1 Pete Simpson, who organised the event at HMS Raleigh, said:  “As the majority of Royal Navy engineering ratings since World War II started their careers in Torpoint we were keen that HMS Raleigh marked this significant year to naval engineering.  We welcome the engineers back to inspire todays’ recruits and for them to see how training has moved on.”

The Year of Engineering is a government campaign to increase awareness and understanding of engineering careers.

Engineering Technician (Weapon Engineering)

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