Incidents and case studies ashore 9 - Alcohol abuse in the Navy

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Peter Okey RNH Portsmouth 1953Peter Okey

Service: 1953 - 1979

Rate: Sick Berth Attendant

Peter joined the Royal Navy in 1953 having been an apprentice Dental Technician before joining as a Sick Berth Attendant (SBA) to complete National Service. He ended up serving for 26 years both in the United Kingdom and abroad. He served in Royal Naval Hospitals in Portsmouth, Chatham and Plymouth and spent two and a half years as the lone SBA onboard HMS Zest.

Peter recalls his experience of having to deal with alcohol abuse as an SBA.

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Extract Text (Duration1.39)

Alcohol abuse was certainly recognised.  Hmmm, my memories of it were that it was quite expect... not expected but nobody was too surprised when Jack went ashore and came back blind drunk.  Hmmm, so long as he could walk up the gangway and get onboard without exciting too much attention, hmmm, if he was obviously falling down drunk, and drunk and incapable, he would be put in cells for the night and the sick berth staff would be called to go down at regular intervals and examine him.  But there were signs of... obviously the Navy is a microcosm of life in general and so there were people that drank to excess.  I can remember one chap that I'd known for years.  I was duty one night and I went into the bar for a drink and I was talking to this chap who fell flat on his back.  He'd been ashore and he'd obviously been ashore and had a few drinks but he was talking perfectly reasonably and all of a sudden he was just gone, out like a light, and I expressed surprise and they said, "Oh, yes, he often does that."  Hmmm, in those days I can remember blokes who never thought they'd been ashore unless they'd had 14 pints inside them and...

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