Memories of Warsash - David Southworth 1958/59 (Senior Term)

School of Navigation Guard of Honour (click load photo full size)
Parade Ground

Last term BING KOUROUNIS and I had become firm friends and we were both JCCs. In all honesty I can't remember a lot of what happened that first day back apart from us preparing rotas for various duties but I do remember DOUG POTTER the CCC getting annoyed with BING and I for not taking the job seriously enough…. Sorry Doug. I was allocated a cabin with MATT HARGER upstairs in the port watch and as I remember it we had a pretty good time of it with not much stress.

School continued and the days rolled on. We did some interesting things like a visit to the training ship TOVARISCH when it was berthed in Southhampton and similarly another to the MAGGA DAN .

We completed a voyage on the PO LINER CHUSAN from London to Southhampton. Food was great, beer was good. It was a great little familiarisation trip and its may be the reason why in those early days that I thought all cadets who went into PO were destined to become great passenger liner captains. Lascars were painting the bridge front using mutton cloth…. This was boatswains manual stuff..

A week at Whale Island PORTSMOUTH was another little adventure to be enjoyed. And one would have to compliment the school on their ability to have us sample this other way of life. Gunnery practice on the 4.5 s and the bofors in the sky dome. Rifle range shooting, quelling oil fires, VICTORY tour over Nelsons flagship, crawling through submarines and parade ground drill for the C in C Portsmouth which was to be held on Friday. Here petty officers had to call us SIR and it was on one of these practice drills that we were called to the SHUN! and I disgraced myself by dropping my rifle onto holy ground. And the CPO did his block!

During the final part of this term we made application to the various shipping companies with whom we wanted a career. My 1st choice was NZS CO and I was accepted. Some senior cadets took delight in wearing their newly acquired cap badge after dinner before lights out , the next stage of their life at sea was about to become reality.

The final talent show was an enjoyable evening Jim Mac and I teamed up with a clarinet player and played a couple of ragtime numbers and HUGH SHERIDAN gave a wonderful rendition of THREE BLIND MICE played in about ten different modes from playschool to Rachmaninoff. The resident comedian was PETE HOPE and he told the joke about a large West Indian who was prowling about outside this ladies caravan in the middle of nowhere. She feared for her life and he had such big fat lips.

I think that the third term must have been too easy and not demanding enough because although I worked hard at classes I was looking for a piece of daring do… something different where one could push the boundaries and walk the fine line. It happened one night when DOBBER DAWSON and I were walking back from the village after shore leave in Southhampton. We happened to meet a couple of local ladies and the four of us decided to have some fun. It was dark at the time and I m guessing the time was about 1930…..or 2000 hrs. The four of us took the short cut through the woodland area on the far side of the parade ground down past the refectory to the boat house. This was real mission impossible stuff. Once on the river side of boat house Dobber gave me a leg up and we managed to uplift a pair of oars which were leaning on the wall just inside and beneath a little high window which just happened to be open. It was a moonless night and in the shadows we crept as quietly as possible to the end of the pier.

We boarded the duty boatman's dinghy and rowed up stream in the dark until we found a suitable craft. It was a sloop rigged yacht about 35 feet on the waterline. The four of us clambered aboard I went forward to the vee berth and dobber with his companion stayed in stern sheets. We petted for a short while checked our watches decided that we could just get home and into the bunk before lights out. We replaced the oars split with our feminine companions and dossed down before evening rounds. No one was any the wiser and until this day the story had never been told.

I have only one very serious regret about Warsash and that is the day that I issued Dave Page half an hour's drill. I don't remember the details but I know that it developed out of something and nothing. At this stage of my development I did not see shades of grey and despite being lobbied by the divisional commander to let it go, I stuck to my guns on the basis that once committed there was no turning back. My own conscience later told me that it was the wrong thing to do and I watched somewhat ashamedly from the shadows when the drill was performed. To this day I have regretted this action. I think we were given too much authority without due guidance from the establishment. If ever you read this Dave you have my total public apology I did the wrong thing. I trust that you are well and enjoying retirement and will accept this apology.

The final term came to an end and Jim Mac and I were part of the final guard detail lowering the flag for the last time, Later after the ceremony I headed up the road to SOUTHAMPTON on the school bus for the final time as a WARSASH cadet and felt well prepared for anything that the British Merchant navy could throw my way.

Dave Southworth passed out March 1959