Royal Navy pals reunited in Sunderland after nearly 40 years

Russell Briercliffe, left, and David Swift.
Russell Briercliffe, left, and David Swift.
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A pair of Royal Navy pals sailed straight back into friendship after almost 40 years.

The last time David Swift and Russell Briercliffe saw each other was when they parted ways in 1977.

But, thanks to the power of social media, the pair were recently reunited in Sunderland.

David and Russell met when they were both serving on board mine hunter, HMS Gavinton.

David, who lives in New Herrington with his wife, Michele, 57, said: “We were really great mates and had some brilliant times.

“Friendships are different when you are serving together, you become very close because you are with each other all day, every day.

“Anyone who has been in the forces will understand. You are like family.”

After six months of serving together, David as a radio electrician and Russell in the gunnery, the pair were sent off to different ships.

David, 58, who served two stints in the navy, totalling nine years, said: “I had tried to find him before, but had no luck.

“Then I went on my wife’s Facebook page and looked to see if there was a page for the ship, and that’s when I found his name and got in touch.”

Russell, 60, who lives in Derbyshire, said he was delighted when David got in touch.

He said: “David sent me a message through Facebook. After a few messages I said I would have to come up and see him.”

The pair met at the Chilton Country Pub and said once they started talking it was like old times again.

Russell said: “It was brilliant meeting up again. I walked in and we just knew each other straight away”