Coronation memories: Seaman watched Queen sail past

A young seaman watched the Queen sail past to celebrate her coronation on one of his first days on the ship.

WHEN Peter Burgess left school at 15 to become a seaman, he had no idea his career would start with a sail-by from the Queen.

But on June 15, 1953, just three days after Peter joined passenger ship Pretoria Castle, the world’s fleet gathered at Spit Head to watch the Queen sail past.

The royal event marked the Queen’s coronation, and her diamond jubilee will be celebrated this year.

Peter, now 75, said: “There were ships from all over the world present, from Germany to Australia.


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“Both merchant ships and navy ships had gathered in the sea between the Isle of White and Gosport to watch the Queen sail past.”

Three days later, the Pretoria Castle sailed to Durban in South Africa, marking the start of Peter’s three-year career sailing around the world.

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But when he turned 18, Peter was faced with the choice of staying on the ships until he was 26, or signing up to do national service, so he joined the Parachute Regiment. Peter now lives in Westward Ho! with his wife of 54 years, Iris.

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