Sailed on the “Uganda” back in the 70s as the cruise Chaplain. Lovely trip with a ship full of school children plus a few adult passengers. Sailed from Tilbury and went north to Bergen, Oslo and Copenhagen. Celebrated Holy Communion in a small lounge where the altar folded out from a beautifully made veered wall. The Uganda’s sister ship was the Kenya and they were unsurprisingly built for the East African trade. There was a lounge made to resemble a typical European farmer’s lounge up towards the Aberdare mountains. Big fireplace, leather armchairs and (controversially) elephant tusks. We were drilled in emergency procedures which would be announced by “a series of short blasts on the ship’s siren”. When this happened, one morning I grabbed my life jacket as briefed, got it on and speedily went up on deck. The children and teachers, all housed far below me, were neatly lined up in ranks in the “stand at ease” position – all calm and collected. I made may way to the adult passenger lounge and there was utter commotion with people struggling to put on their life jackets which they had obviously never looked at in advance.

As we went along lectures were given about the next port of call. They were very good, the result of many years of practice and we went ashore able to find our way around and appreciate what we were seeing.

I remember being up on the viewing area above the bridge as we went south along the Kattegat towards Copenhagen. The ship was travelling very slowly on a warm evening, the sea was millpond calm, and we could hear the voice of the Pilot issuing occasional requests to the crew, very politely, always ending with “please”.

The Uganda went to the Falklands as a hospital ship and then came home and was eventually laid up at Falmouth and then finally to be broken up. A sad end for a fine vessel.

About Ian

Retired Clergyman, and former RAF person. Lives in Kirkcudbright, SW Scotland. One wife. Two children, three grandchildren and two great grandchildren scattered across UK, Europe and the USA. Long time member of the European Movement, and latterly of the Scottish National Party. ""Here's to us; who is as good as us? Damn few, and they're all dead"
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