John Cory b.1952 of Dolybont was educated at Dinas Secondary School. His mother came from a family of mariners from Llanon, and she herself served in the Wrens during the Second World War. At fifteen, having already become interested in a seafaring career he joined the Royal Navy. He initially signed on for nine years and did his training on H.M.S. Ganges. His first seagoing voyage was on the frigate H.M.S. Euryalus, going to the Far East and Australia. John’s interest lay in communications. He was for a time shore based in Dorset on the H.M.S. Osprey, and became involved in what is known as the Electronic Warfare Segment… this was still in the time of the Cold War.
His next vessels were the H.M.S. Leander and H.M.S. Tenby. The latter vessel was essentially an officers training ship. In between trips, he attended college at Dartmouth to hone his skills in the field of communications. The result was that he became a Leading Hand within a few years. He was then recommended as a potential Petty Officer. This was against his own better judgment as he felt that he needed more experience in the man management side. However, he went for the examinations and passed, specializing in electronic warfare. There was a shortage of officers in his field at the time, and so at the age of twenty-one, his promotion came through whilst he was at sea, and he was told by the captain to change mess decks. Even his rank insignia had been forwarded to the H.M.S. Chrybis.
John was then sent to H.M.S. Raleigh, which was a shore based teaching establishment dealing with new Naval entrants. As he wryly recalls, before he could teach them sailing, he himself had to have a crash course in that particular skill. He taught a lot of classes of young recruits who had only just joined up. In a twenty-five year career, he considers this to have been the most satisfying period. At twenty-four years of age, he joined his first ship H.M.S. Pheobe as Petty Officer in charge of his own electronic warfare department. This vessel was involved in a six-week “work-up” off Portland; its purpose was to test the crew as a working team in given conditions. After due consideration, the Admiral of the Fleet gives a vessel the seal of approval.
John’s team did not do well; consequently he was demoted to Leading Hand, which proved that his initial doubts about his premature promotion were well founded. He then joined H.M.S. Devonshire, a guided missile destroyer, and spent a year escorting H.M.S. Ark Royal on her final voyage showing the flag in American ports. John’s next vessel H.M.S. Naiad, sailed to South America, where again he was recommended for Petty Officer. This time he confidently accepted, as he now felt more self-assured and experienced. He had in the meantime made sure that as he was in electronic communications, logistics and ship recognition, that he should learn some of the older skills such as Morse code and semaphore.
Around this time he married Sian, and they were living at Dolybont. He did another Portland “work-up” on H.M.S. Bacchante and this time passed with flying colours, primarily as he says, because it had a good crew. He was then posted to the Persian Gulf during the Iran/Iraq war, where the Royal Navy were playing the role of observers; showing the flag and protecting merchant shipping in the Straits of Hormuz.
In 1982 John did a six-month shore stint on H.M.S. Drake, looking after accommodations of all things; it was essentially a recreational posting. John would often come home to Dolybont during these shore-based postings. He met Stephen Brown of Borth, through the chalkboard messages that naval personnel left offering lifts all over the country. From that time Stephen provided John with regular transport back home on many week-ends.
John’s next vessel was H.M.S. Brazen, which was a newly built vessel with up to date equipment, so he had to go on a refresher course to cope with the latest technology. This was at the time of the Falklands War, and soon he found himself on H.M.S. Brilliant, which had returned from the Falklands campaign. So, with a new crew, they returned to the Falklands. It was a very edgy time, and the vessel was well prepared, just in case there would be a renewed Argentinean attack; to such a degree that the whole crew was instructed to write last letters home.
After returning from South Georgia, he returned to the shore based H.M.S. Osprey. During this time he received the news that he had been promoted to Chief Petty Officer. In that capacity he joined the H.M.S. Argonaut, which should have been scrapped after the Falklands, but it spent the next eighteen months on patrol in the North Atlantic. John finally left the Argonaut after twenty-five years service, and as he says “not bad for a lad with no “O” or “A” levels”. He very much did it his way, as his mother wanted to send him to H.M.S. Conway when he was around twelve.