A Ghost Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

A short story about a ghost sighting at a naval base on Devon cliff

Submitted: September 12, 2017

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Submitted: September 12, 2017



A Ghost Story


Many years ago I was stationed at a small Naval base near the Devonshire town of Wembury, which went by the name of HMS Cambridge. This was a training base for gunnery ratings and so had young recruits on the base who had just completed their basic naval training and were continuing with their gunnery training.


I was employed during my stay there as a Quartermaster which essentially means I was manning the gate checking ID cards, making broadcasts etc .......customer service operative is probably the title now in these enlightened times.


One of the tasks of the quartermaster was to ensure that there were regular security patrols of the base especially during the silent hours. HMS Cambridge was a gunnery training base which meant (unsurprisingly) there were lots of guns, ammunition and explosives stored about the place which demanded a strict security protocol. Security was so tight in fact,that we had a stripey pole across the road to deter intruders who didn't get waved through on the double decker bus that came through the base regularly as part of a public bus service. This bus route serviced the row of civilian houses sited within the base perimeter between the three public footpaths that criss-crossed the base.....yes..security was tight. As long as the stripey pole maintained order, we and our stocks of WMD's would be safe. This base was definitely secure.


At the time, the IRA were still busy and though it was extremely rare for the IRA to bother the Navy (lets face it we were more of a threat to ourselves than anyone else) protocol demanded that the security patrols were carried out by armed men. However since we lacked a suitable number of those we gave some rifles to the young trainees and got them to do it...they felt like they were doing a worthwhile job and we got to sit on our backsides doing nothing...it was a win win situation


one dark evening I had just despatched a two man patrol......ok........I had just despatched two 17 year old lads with some guns on a routine patrol that, just like a film poster tag line,...was about to become anything but routine.


Just as I settled myself down with a mug of cocoa and a copy of Navy News, I was surprised by the actions of my recently despatched trainees. The door burst open and for once it wasn't the howling Atlantic wind blowing up off the cliff nor was it Mr De-ath the dining hall assistant with an "alternative lifestyle" who was also prone to bursting into the quartermasters office but for more humorous reasons than mere wind ..it doesn't seem possible I know...(more of him another time ).


The two trainees I had just sent out had in fact burst into the quartermasters lobby, forcing me to put down my mug of cocoa and copy of Navy News. The situation was clearly critical. This concerned me for several different reasons not least of which was that I had not even begun to read the underrated and highly comical antics of Jack the cartoon sailor by world famous comic strip artist Tugg, but more importantly one of the trainees was ...and I hate to admit this of the finest naval force since Jason and his crew took off on a quest for a yellow sheepskin....crying his eyes out..yes blubbing like...well...the kid that he was.


Alarmingly and deserving of my more immediate attention was the fact that I noticed that of the two sailors now stood before me only one was armed. I distinctly remembered they had left with two weapons which was enough for one rifle each.


Straight away I discounted the first theory that entered my head involving Blofeld, Jaws, several scantily clad females and an international black market for stolen military weapons. This was after all the Devon coast. At night. Scantily clad females would never have survived long enough to make it to the base let alone steal a rifle, although the blubbing acne ridden teen before me looked weedy enough to be overcome by a bikini clad woman, I knew from personal experience and hence disappointment, that bikini clad females just did not venture out to this base. Besides, as quartermaster I knew the names of all the officers stationed on the base and there wasn't a Commander Bond on the peg board.


I had to resort to a plan which though distasteful was necessary, for the defence of the realm was at stake. I spoke to the two of them. In between blubs (and those little sobs that make mothers say aaaaah when their babies do it) the two trainees told me that they had begun their patrol across the road where there were three, two storey accommodation blocks. These blocks were angled so that the long sides of the buildings enjoyed an unobstructed view of the sea (you can see where this is going right? ).


Both claimed that as they passed round the side of the foremost building they had looked in the windows and seen a ghost peering back out at them. I asked where the rifle was and seaman operator weepy stated that he had dropped the weapon in his panic as he ran from the building. Although I wasn't completely sure there was an immediate action drill for sighting paranormal activity I was confident that one of the steps would definitely not have advised dropping a weapon and running. If Bill Murray could face down a ghost armed with an embellished hoover, then a naval rating armed with the 5.56 calibre SA80 rifle should have at least been able to ask the ghost for its ID card. Captain Mainwaring would have had a field day and so would the Officer of the day at HMS Cambridge if she knew. Yes that's right..a female officer ...in charge...it was OK though as she was never scantily clad (to my knowledge) or bikini clad (to my chagrin) and since she hadn't shaved off her moustache, she didn't count as a female anyway.


I asked the Bosun's mate ( my less than caped assistant ) to telephone the duty Petty Officer and advise him of the situation. In the meantime I took the less hysterical of the trainees and made towards the building where slimer was alleged to have made his appearance. At the back of my mind I thought that since it was a leave period and the accommodation blocks were closed down then an intruder was possibly in the buildings or even the dreaded IRA (yeah right even the little voice in MY head laughed at that one )


On arrival at the scene of the haunting, I found the dropped weapon and picked it up, making it safe in the process (well I didn't make it safe to be honest but if my old chief gunner were to read that I hadn't, he'd have a fit ). As I suspected, there was no intruder present. However, every fifteen seconds,a light shone on the window. This light was coming from the Eddystone lighthouse twelve or so miles out to sea and the ghostly intruder the two trainees had seen and taken flight from was in fact the reflection of their own faces on the window, illuminated by the Eddystone lighthouse.


Somehow the notion that we would win any conflict with the Warsaw pact forces ranged against us in the Cold War, seemed pretty optimistic and I laughed out loud as Captain Panic and I returned to the Lobby; me to continue reading the hilarious adventures of Jack, the comical cartoon sailor whom I now believed had just carried out an unarmed patrol of the base and him, to change his underpants for a dry pair. As I approached my lobby, the rest of the duty watch were turning up in a hurry as called out by the duty Petty Officer....some of them were still getting dressed as they ran across the road.


I handed the weapon over to the duty Petty Officer and advised him that though the villain of the piece had not turned out to be old man Withers, the fairground attendant, we did appear to have resolved the mystery or "Security Alert" as he called it. I informed him that I was returning to my chair to bawl out the meddling kids of the piece and make some fresh cocoa. Perhaps the duty watch, now they were mustered, could split up and look for clues.



Who you gonna call? I sang quietly to myself as I sat down in my chair......somehow Ghostbusters seemed a more viable and trustworthy option.

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