My First Career, Plus an Improvement in my Quality of Life

My First Career
On 5 January 1942, I went to Shotley Royal Naval Base for a medical examination, which I passed despite being under the height requirement of five feet. I was four feet ten and a half inches, six stone six lbs (42.3 kg), and fifteen years, five months and twenty days old. I was an under-sized, under-aged piece of ‘cannon fodder.’ The school received a twenty-five pound Sterling bounty payment upon my delivery to the Royal Navy. My body was sold for approximately 55p or Aus $1-15 a Kilo or 30 cents U/S per lb.
After a gruelling train journey to Fleetwood (near Liverpool,) I embarked in the early morning on the Isle of Man steam packet, ‘Rushen Castle’. It took four hours to get to Douglas, the capital and main port on the Isle of Man. I hadn’t been at sea for four years.
Looking piteously at the first-timers berleying on the boisterous Irish sea, I was reminded of my first experience of sea sickness on a Portsmouth to Isle Of Wight ferry in 1938 the ‘Lorna Doone,’ a coal burning paddle steamer that smelled of beer, egg sandwiches, and tarred rope. I believe it was put to good use evacuating soldiers from Dunkirk (Dunkerque) France in June 1940.
The Bible in my possession said, ‘To John Leonard Spencer on the Feast of the Epiphany, 7 January 1942.” It was signed by the Rev. Harling. I often wonder if the Rev. Harling ever made it to heaven.
Some of the other entrants who wore sailor’s gear like mine were from other navy schools. Some wore civilian clothes. It was Wednesday, 7 January 1942. I was now a boy, 2nd Class RN. The Americans had beaten me to this war thing by thirty-one days, but I was better prepared than most for my next encounter with a new type of authority.
January 1942 – HMS St. George – Douglas, Isle of Man
This Royal Navy training establishment was formerly ‘Cunningham’s Holiday Camp’ but the happy camper syndrome had long since disappeared. Being in the New Entry Division involved attending lectures, basic drill, and sewing our names on clothing with either red or black embroidery cotton in chain stitch. A bloke called Ian Cox finished first, but his smile vanished when he was given the task of helping poor little James Henry Morgan-Smythe.
Although the food was not to the liking of some recruits who had supposedly eaten better, they were surprised at my willing acceptance of it. To me, it was of a quality and quantity that was far better than I had previously experienced.


Anonymous said…
it is all relative
the quality of life

all that u spoke of about your miserable childhood (which is now history)
still happens to poor children in india

it is worse for the girl child.
But what is surprising is that these children can still smile

but the hoardings and the glamorous life styles as depicted in bollywood movies will create a resentment in the poor

one day there is going to be an uprising in India as the mobs will loot and kill the rich folk who eat cake when there is no bread

but then religion is the opium of the masses

and indians are religious, believing in karma and accepting their karma
Vest said…
Anonymous, don't think for one moment that I am unaware of the misery and deprivement of the masses in mis-managed countries like India. more is the pity that the Masses of OVER privileged persons don't get off of their fat bloated bums and contribute to the under privileged who have made them rich. The profits from the sale or hire of documentaries depicting the woes of the under privileged rarely get returned to those participating in the film.
Anonymous said…
It makes me wonder about that saying 'The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer'. It does have an element of truth to it, doesn't it?

As ever Vest, well written.

Jim said…
INDIA is not a mis-managed country
u pompous British ass

u guys have set the roots for our administartion, our political structure, our elections

But u guys did good too
the Indian Railways

but u cud have tot us football instead of lousy cricket

the defence services still folow your traditions
like wetting ypur spurs,etc

most of all i hate u guys for making us wear boots, suit and tie in dis fucking hott humid land
Keshi said…
Vest since u were a sailor, is that true that they dump all the garbage into the sea?

Vest said…
Jim: your Indian associate Anonymous has deemed India a mis managed country by his remarks, you should take up these; your home grown issues with him.
Yet it could be answered by your own alter ego which manifests itself on occasions like this when your BP syndrome takes control, as you have suggessted it has done in the past. please call back when you feel less pragmatic; or when your fog lifts.

jd's rose: Thanks for your compliment, X

Chris: Test What?

Keshi: It is some time since I have been to sea, however the practice of dumping into the sea when far from shore was commonplace. Foodstuffs bottles cans and non floating identifiable rubbish was cast overboard, as was the sewage system discharged into the ocean on clearing harbour, all identifiable rubbish was either incinerated then dumped or stored until an acceptable arrangement could be found for its disposal.
These were probably the rules as laid down in the Admirality Fleet Orders, but I can assure you they were not strictly adhered to, x
Anonymous said…
nEkMM6 write more, thanks.

Popular posts from this blog

OPEN FORUM. This is a new concept in blogging.

Contiued from previous post.