Memories of Warsash - David Southworth 1958/59 (Junior term commenced April 1958)

Ketch Halycon under sail (click photo to load full size)

It was late in the afternoon when I disembarked from the bus only to be met by my JLC to be who was waiting earnestly by the guard house as I think I was the last to arrive that day. His name was SPUD TATUM. I understand his father was a man of the cloth. I was hastily escorted to starboard 9, the sun was high the windows were on full trim and the view across the Solent was a picture.

I was introduced to my fellow cabin mates, there were six of us in total however I can only remember the other two juniors who were MIKE LIDBURY and ALAN COOKE. Spud immediately had us out of our dress uniforms and into dungarees and proceeded to instruct us in the art of table polishing, pitting us one against the other .Unfortunately for him COMMANDER PIERCE the divisional commander happened to walk by the window and SPUD was dressed down for being over zealous .The remainder of that day is a bit of a blur but I remember being introduced to the formal bow tie for the first time in my life and eventually coming to grips with how to tie it before the pre dinner inspection.

Next morning reveille sounded and Alan Cooke and I were on the car park before the last note sounded. I seem to remember also that we were the first ones home. Spud liked this so that there would be more time for us to complete the chores in the cabin

The formality of DIVISIONS fascinated me as BILLY BLIGH introduced us to parade ground discipline bugle calls and flag raising. Turns, wheels and the basic marching steps with a report on each Division. Being 'present and correct Sir' was to become part of our daily routine whatever the weather. All I could think of was how do they remember all this stuff. But as time went by the muddy waters became clear and pure white cap covers, soaped creases in your trou and bulled footwear became a daily routine.

Within the first week I was rostered on to be duty boatman which still seems ludicrous to me because at the stage the only boat that I had rowed was on a lake at the local park back home and once across Lake CONISTON on a school camping trip. However I was given lots of advice by my colleagues and I proceeded in boating rig to the end of the pier. Not forgetting to call in at the boathouse for the oars. It was a baptism of fire for me and eventful to the extent that I had to take Capt Stewart and a group of senior students to SOUTHHILL for RADAR instruction. To say the least Capt STEWART was not impressed with my repeated attempts to come alongside on the fast ebbing RIVER HAMBLE.

On my second day I was caught wearing a gold signet ring that my girlfriend back home had bought for me. It was a very tight fit and I just happen to have very knuckly fingers, there was no way that it was going to come off with soap so BILLY BLIGH sent me down to the shipwrights workshop and it was cut off without ceremony using a pair of sidecutters. I still have it in my bits n pieces.

Juniors doubled everywhere and saluted senior ranks. They also did a million other things Junior brush me down… Junior bull my boots… Junior press my trousers… They were seen and not heard at the refectory dining table and had to sit bolt upright with a clear space of about 4 inches between their spine and the inside back of the dining chair.

Signals lessons on the seaward gun platform were another very new subject except for a passing interest I had had during my time in the boy scouts and I well remember struggling in the early stages with messages and block tests but as with most things practice and application were the way to succeed.

One afternoon I was rostered on bridge watch [The bridge was somewhere by the ante room] and after logging a few passing ships I received a telephone call from Capt Wakeford. I do not remember the contents of the message now however it was to be passed on to another staff member. I listened carefully and answered in the affirmative thinking that I had done OK and to my surprise endured a game of what seemed like .twenty questions re message protocol. The point that he was trying to make was that he expected me to repeat his message and thus confirm that I fully understood what was being said and could repeat it without error. From that time on I have always followed the procedure, particularly now that I am in my late sixties and suffering a little deafness

Life was interesting and although the lot of a JUNIOR CADET initially seemed harsh there was a certain challenge before you every day. Playing the piano in the anteroom was a pleasure, knots and splices with BOSUN KULHMAN was salty stuff . Sailing in gigs at the weekend instead of going on shore leave was a great time out.

The lie in on Sunday morning followed by brekkie and church parade and maybe some shore leave to SOUTHHAMPTON made for a good day. Some of us used to go down to the docks to see the big passenger liners alongside. On one occasion I distinctly remember getting lost on a CUNARD LINER after having conned the master at arms to allow us on board for a look see. This was a good source of souvenired writing paper with an impressive ships name embossed at the top

Very early on in the piece I went into Southampton by myself and after having eked 10 shillings from my previous pay issues went to a photographers studio to have a photo taken that I could mail home to my family whom I knew were missing me. The guy did the job and I paid and got my photo and posted it home. What I did not know was that the photographer liked it and put a copy in his window. My JLC happened to see it whilst he was in town and gave me a dressing down for about half an hour.

Fortunately or not I had a very strong Lancashire accent and I was continually encouraged towards the Queens pronunciation of English by Spud who more than once had me recite the tea pot song and other elocution exercises in public..

I gained personal satisfaction from the junior term. It was hard at times but I completed it thinking that I had done OK and was happy to tell my parents that next term I would be a JLC. I enjoyed my leave at home and then headed south once more by BRITISH RAIL