Memories of Warsash - David Southworth 1958/59 (Intermediate term)

Parade ground (click photo to load full size)
Parade Ground

I think it true to say that as a junior I was much more impressionable and the memories are stronger and tended to be more chronological. Therefore what remains are a series of experiences I am describing they are not necessarily in the correct chronological order.

Back on deck for the summer term JLC STARBOARD EIGHT. This was at the seaward end of the main building and situated directly through the bulkhead from the Divisional Commanders accommodation… a basic 4 berth cabin with no views. Imagine when I discovered that the only non ranking senior cadet in the cabin was no less than SPUD my old JLC. Mike Dempsey was a fellow intermediate and there were two juniors POP RAWLINGS who went into the PORT LINE I think and JERRY REESE WEBB who I think went into the ELLERMAN GROUP before joining the UNION STEAM SHIP CO OF NZ LTD and later flying with NATIONAL AIRWAYS CORPORATION AND AIR NEW ZEALAND

Life in starboard 8 was a pretty routine affair which wrapped itself around you like a blanket. Capt PURSEY did the rounds one morning and subsequently called me over to his office pointing out that the bunk boards required more shine. It was also very hard to clean the windows to a satisfactory state. I really was not convinced the polishing was inferior, however what Capt Pursey said was law and we did them again.

Wally and Pearl did the right thing by us with their table training dinners and rule of etiquette up at Salterns and the associated paper work in the form of acceptance and invitation etc. Their advice on what not to discuss at the dinner table and which wines were appropriate to the moment was new and informative and stood me in good stead for the future.

The 21st [or was it 25th ] anniversary ball was a lavish affair and boat cloaks with mess kit were the rig of the day. I can still feel the taught canvas over the lawn laden with talcum powder, hear the strains of the band and be impressed by the attractiveness of some of the ladies present. As each guest or guests arrived at the top of the stair they were formally announced before making their Grande entrance. Tonight dancing classes would pay off. I was lucky in that I had learned to dance before arriving at Warsash. However I was only any good as a leading male and I remember being completely bamboozled when we attended our first lesson. Fortunately Alan Cooke could take off the ladies part brilliantly and we always from then on practised together.

This triggers another memory of Alan. JIMMY NOICE and his unarmed combat classes.
I think it was the second lesson and the fall for the night was the cross ankle trip. We followed the instructions and practised a few throws and suddenly Alan was lying on the floor crying out in pain. By a fluke I had thrown him directly onto the end of his right collarbone and it was broken. I felt terrible but Alan bade me no ill will. Last time I saw him he was second mate on the HAPARANGI in Auckland that would have been about 1968. I understand that he came ashore in NZ and worked for ACT in the container control division

Remember the weekly health checks by SISTER, weight height. chests and waistlines. And what about when Cpt Pursey had us all come up with a revolutionary
Bunk design for the newly proposed accommodation building during ship construction.

It was steady as she goes in the classroom this term and command training became a more important part of the curriculum. I guess because in the scheme of things we were to shoulder more responsibility. This was to ensure that the men under our command could complete a route march in the rain and if on the parade ground in fine weather have them march such that they could do so under complete control without tripping over a canon or hitting the radar tower. The highlight of rifle drill was to be able to do 22 movements with your three o three on one command and the more zealous of us would have great debates on how the Yanks did it.

Capt Coombes from the Clan Line paid us a visit one day. He had been responsible for rescuing crew members off the MOYANA when she had foundered in the channel. He officiated at the launching of a new gig built in the shipwrights shop which was named after himself.. I remember him summing up his speech by saying that if you can handle small boats you will handle the big ones

I did my first trip on the HALCYON to WEYMOUTH it was great weather for such an occasion and as I polished the brass fairleads aft I noted myself feeling very peculiar. It was a fine day, flat calm and the NEEDLES were pretty as a picture. The sails were full and the vessel was scending easily. I was violently seasick for the rest of the voyage and told in no uncertain terms by BOSUN NICHOLSON? To be sick on the Lee side. He also had this thing about sweeping decks and companionways into the dustpan gently and by the brush to avoid creating more dust. When we hit dry land I distinctly remember rolling along the pier towards the boat house. Like the drunken sailor of yore.

Work continued on the hand dredging of the channel to the boathouse on Wallys KON TIKI he was a great opportunist for cheap labour in the name of character training. Similarly SOUTHHILL was careened on the beach up towards the RISING SUN hotel.
And another good day was had by all in caps, boiler suits and gumboots.

Sometime in my intermediate term a ceremony was held at WARSASH. On a dull morning about 1100 hrs WALLY called together his full complement of officers and gentlemen and spoke gravely of unbecoming behaviour as he dropped his monocle from his eye to his waistcoat pocket. The perpetrator was one BARRY CORK who had unfortunately been caught fraternising with a stewardess from the refectory staff. He was told publicly in no uncertain terms as to how and why he would be treated. His badges of office were lightly attached with cotton and at the culmination of his dismissal from the school his badges were torn off with great ceremony. Then he was ordered to walk out the gate. I can still see the tears in his eyes and felt very sorry for him. (I wonder to this day if it was justified, but rules were rules). I understand from a work colleague of mine that he secured an apprenticeship in PSNC and they enjoyed some time together

The term ended and once again home leave was a welcome respite it still felt good to be attending WARSASH. Next term I was promoted to JCC signals and had to go back a day early from my leave for the CHIEF CADET CAPTAIN'S administrative briefing.