Memories of Warsash - Julian Lillico 1957

I joined as a cadet in January '57. It was quite an eventful year for the School. First of all HALCYON was purchased and brought round from Camper & Nicolson's yard. She had been owned Monsieur Renault of car fame and I think had been lying idle since before the War. She was in a very sorry state. She really had to be gutted. It took up a great deal of our time and it would have been nice to have learned some practical sailoring besides washing her down, scrubbing interminably and getting rid of old varnish! As punishment for losing a canvas bucket over the side I was given the task of using the Duty Boatman's dinghy to transport lumps of pig iron ballast from the main jetty to the fitting out mooring off Hamble. It was the day of the mid-summer ball and the idea of the punishment was clearly so that I would be late! I wasn't! It was of course a dumb thing to have done but frankly to have to go and see the Captain Superintendent about it was, like so much of the punishment doled out out by Stewart, really somewhat over the top! (The winning crew of Moyana had been given so much punishment during the race that they were not allowed to go to the ball in Lisbon). We finally got HALCYON operating in the Autumn term of 1957.

Next there was the drowning of Geoff Whittle, our port watch term tutor. He went over the side of Halcyon in the Solent one afternoon. He grabbed the log line and got pulled under. After letting go of the line, the air trapped in the back of his oilskin held him down and he drowned. It was pretty devastating and I shall never forget him. He was very popular with us cadets and taught us so much of PRACTICAL value. About once a year in the summer leave period he would get away to sea just to see what was being done in the real world. It showed!

Following that horrific event we had the Asian influenza epidemic. Most of the cadets went home but a few of us stayed on. I took one of the gigs round to the Beaulieu river which was a great day out. Moored behind the yacht belonging to Neville Duke of Hawker Hunter fame. There we chatted to him while we ate our sandwiches! Actually, there was a bit of a nausea from the Hampshire County Council about the fact that we couldn't get to the heads or showers under cover. Shelters were hastily built!

Others I remember with affection were Billy Blyth the CSI, and the boatswains Kuhlman and Bawler. Boatswain Bawler had been bosun in MOYANA and, during my hours of punishment, would tell me how and why she foundered. I spent so much time in my Intermediate term on overtime that I practically had a different life down in the boatsheds! But I learned heaps of wire splicing and rope work. Certainly much more than my term mates.

The "judo" instructor, Jimmy Noice, was someone we could have all done without. However he got thrown out of a ground floor window by one of my term and broke his arm. Great merriment!! His antics used to make Mrs Monk, the nursing sister very annoyed as he provided a continuous stream of customer for the sick bay! She was a character too!

Other memories include taking the motor boat HAWK off her moorings on Saturday nights, going up to Hamble, buying a few bottles of Brown Ale, and returning to SON to drink it in the air raid shelter with a few mates. All after lights out of course. I have had some worrying moments picking up her moorings again in pitch dark! Goodness knows what would have happened had we been caught. I don't think our spirit would have been appreciated under the Stewart regime!