Effect on loved ones at home 1 - Navy as mistress

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Pat FishPat Fish

Pat met her husband Roger in 1966 when he was an Officer's Chef on HMS Londonderry. Following their marriage in 1967 they had two sons. Like most naval wives Pat often had to spend periods bringing up the children alone when Roger was away. When her son David died in infancy the couple found the lack of support from naval welfare, which kept them apart, made coping with their grief even harder.

Roger retired from the Navy in 1986 but their son Paul decided to follow in his father's footsteps and joined the Navy in 1989. When Roger died in 2003 Pat found the support the Navy provided her and Paul a complete contrast to her experience in the 1970s. Pat remains proud of her association to the Navy as well as the achievements of both Roger and Paul.

How did Pat feel about the Navy during her married life?

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Extract Text (Duration 1.38)

P Fish:  I felt that the Navy was Roger's mistress and when she said, "I need you," he was gone.  You feel like a second citizen, you know, you feel like you're the other woman.  The Navy was his number one mistress and although you was his wife you were the one that took a back seat.

Interviewer:  Mistress in the sense of boss or mistress in the sense of other lover?

P Fish:  Mistress in the sense of other lover.

Interviewer:   Oh.  Then didn't you feel resentful and jealous?

P Fish:  Sometimes I did.  When I was very first married to Roger I did, but then as time went on I realised that this was Roger's life before he met me, this was his career, his chosen career, and you come to the point that if you love this man, which I did, then you've got to respect his wishes, that this is the life that he's chosen, and when the Navy said, "I want you, we're off," you've got to come to terms with it and you do come to terms with it, even though you do resent it.  Because, when you've got a summer night and you see people out with their husbands enjoying themselves with their children and all this and that, and summer days, and where are you?  You're at home with just your own family minus your husband, you do get a bit resentful, yeah.

Supporting wife's naval career

0.48 mins - mp3 File

Exchange draft to Australia

1.36 mins - mp3 File

Saying goodbye before long deployments

1.23 mins - mp3 File

Dealing with partner's first trip to sea

1.47 mins - mp3 File

Coping with son's death

2.18 mins - mp3 File

Difficulties in satisfying needs

1.44 mins - mp3 File

Maintaining uniform

2.17 mins - mp3 File

Christmas on HMS Eagle

mins - mp3 File

Coping with long absence of husband

0.45 mins - mp3 File

Family tensions during leave periods

1.28 mins - mp3 File

Tensions before deployment

1.16 mins - mp3 File

Discussing mortality

2.08 mins - mp3 File

Effect on son of daddy being away

1.10 mins - mp3 File

Navy as mistress

1.38 mins - mp3 File