Watts Naval Training School, was it that bad? Vest thought so. During his five year spell as a student

CHAPTER 7 Watts Naval Training School
I don’t remember how I got to WNTS, but I was very pleased to be back with my brother after a year of separation. Christopher seemed changed. He was in Class 2B when I arrived on 16 December 1936. I was exactly ten years and five months of age. Christopher was in Seven Company and I was in Six Company, each company having about forty-five boys between the ages of eleven and fifteen-and-a-half. I had two days of schooling before the Christmas break, when I was told I would be in 1A not the 1B class. (The Headmaster had obviously read the letter from Mr Thompson.)
Watts Naval Training School was a charity school with a nautical theme run on militaristic principles. The estate was located in the Norfolk rural countryside far from the outside world. It was situated on the edge of a plateau that sloped west to a valley near the river Wensum where the school farmed the land.
WNTS had a population of a large staff and about three hundred students between eleven and sixteen years of age. The students were allowed to take two three-week vacations each year during the summer and at Christmas. All other holiday periods were spent at the school. Students without guardians never left the school. Students had no access to the outside world, arbitral access, or personal rights. Discipline was strict. Hunger and fear of punishment were constant. Love and affection were non-existent. All communication to and from the school was censored. Those boys who never left the school on vacation became conditioned to their surroundings and were probably happier at the school than those of us who had occasional release from our incarceration.
On the 20 December 1936, having been told by my brother that he was going home again to *Auntie Pullen,[*with whom we were previously in foster care] I raised the roof and said, “I should go, too!” I was told, “No money, no ticket, no permission. Sorry, you’ll have to stay”. Like bloody hell, I thought. Then the bugler sounded the action stations call and the lucky ones – about half the population of the school – marched to the North Elmham Station.
Two or three hours later, I was on a train that had stopped at a large station. My friend, Ernie Brooks and I had no idea where we were going and must have looked conspicuous. The ticket bloke and staff at the station locked us up. Soon after, we were back at WNTS.
Living in a dark cloud of rejection, I was totally at odds with that place. I wondered how much more I would have to suffer.
22 December 1936
My brother had arrived in Chalgrove. Meanwhile, I was confused and in a state of apathy. Ernie and I were in serious trouble. Having only been at this place for six days, I was to get six cuts of the cane. Having no one to turn to for help, I was wretchedly homesick. It was suggested by a few teachers that because it was so close to Christmas we should be forgiven, but our Capt. Superintendent replied, “Peace on earth and goodwill to all men applies only on Christmas day.”
The remaining population of the school gathered to witness our punishment. A box horse for us to bend over was produced, plus the biggest rattan cane – even bigger than the one at Chalgrove School. Ernie went first. It seemed like a bloody execution – minus the knitting hags, the French National Anthem, and a basket for our heads. Ernie was brave but white as a sheet after his six, and had to go to the sickbay. I later learned he had received a testicular injury.
Ernie going first made little difference, as another instructor, ‘Gunner Marten’ was to be my tormentor. I felt bloody awful. My thin trousers barely hid the bleeding welts across my buttocks. After the six strokes, I shouted in agonising pain, “I hope you die, you rotten cruel sod!” and got number seven. Gunner Marten died during the war about four years later. I was unmoved.
Christmas in WNTS was over. Our total excitement had consisted of two church parades, an apple, an orange, and cake. Where was Charlie Dickens? What a pity he missed out on this place.
January 1937
Christopher returned from his Christmas holiday and was visibly unhappy, as were most of the ‘lucky’ holiday kids.
During the next six months or so before I turned eleven, I learned a great deal – from forced reading programs to basic parade drills and every conceivable rifle drill movement that was in some sort of military manual. This training was done with an ancient side-loading Winchester repeater lever action rifle that was circa 1850. Fortunately, bayonets were not included, maybe in case of a student revolt. I later learned that when the school was demolished in 1949 after a serious fire, all of these valuable historic, well-kept firearms were broken up and buried without cash-strapped Dr Barnardo’s ever benefiting from their antique value. How stupid!
About this time in 1937, Ronald Goucher, my friend, who was a year older than me but smaller in stature and who slept in the next bed to me; died overnight of a brain problem. Ronald’s suffering from constant headaches had been totally ignored by the school authorities. Little Ron was only eleven when he passed away. I was terribly upset. He was so young, and there were so many elderly persons at the school that I thought God, in his wisdom, should have taken first.

The remainder of the story is restricted in this original version,there are many reasons for this, although most persons involved would have passed on by now. Quite a few people reading this will have read the pseudo copy where a lot of name changes were involved, this is available in published book form, the original script is not.

There were probably more establishments of this kind in our so called civilised world during the past century, hopefully this practice has ceased now.
A child should be allowed to lead the life of a child until he is no longer a child.
Vest Daily Gaggle, Have a lovely day.
Google; (Watts Naval Training School).For more info on beatings of children.


Jim said…
why do u go back to bad memories !
tell us how you lost your virginity

got it
Jim said…
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
God is a Salami Sandwich

I once began writing a book called God is a Salami Sandwich.
That would have been a very good book. I gave you that inspiration. Why did you not write it?
It felt like blasphemy. Or at the very least, horribly irreverent.
You mean wonderfully irreverent! What gave you the idea that God is only "reverent"?

God is the up and the down. The hot and the cold. The left and the right.The reverent and the irreverent!

Think you that God cannot laugh? Do you imagine that God does not enjoy a good joke? Is it your knowing that God is without humor'? I tell you, God invented humor.

Must you speak in hushed tones when you speak to Me? Are slang words or tough language outside My ken?
I tell you, you can speak to Me as you would speak with your best friend.

Do you think there is a word I have not heard? A sight I have not seen? A sound I do not know?Is it your thought that I despise some of these, while I love the others?

I tell you, I despise nothing. None of it ;s repulsive to Me. It is life, and life is the gift; the unspeakable treasure; the holy of holies.I am life, for I am the stuff life is. Its every aspect has a divine purpose.

Nothing exists - nothing - without a reason understood and approved by God.

Posted by Jim at 5:50 AM 2 comments

Saturday, May 05, 2007
Anonymous said…
Just recd your book

looking forward to reading all the naughty things u done in your youth

vest@dailygaggle.com wrote:
sent noon monday 30-4
Jay said…
If it's not one thing, it's always another.
I've learned that.
Everyone winds up having crosses to bear.
Vest said…
Below is an extract from a letter sent to the 'Old Boys Assoc of W N T S in 2003

Hello everyone. My name is Lxxxxx Jxxxx Xxxxxx. I am a former student of Watts Naval Training School and my number was 117 I was In six and three companies, my instructors were Fizzy Spain, Killer Stark, Bert Busby and my head master Hugh Wallace Hoskins. My favourite teachers were Mr stokes and Mr Phillips who were more Humane and with whom I felt more comfortable with. My time at WNTS was between 16-12-1936 and 7-1-1942. After which the school received a gratuity of 25 pounds sterling (British Currency) on my induction into the British Royal Navy. At age nearly 79 (2003) I still have vivid memories of the school; most of which I must truthfully state were not to my liking. Reading various stories of former people at the school, the school had its good points, but these were not reflected by the actual students; whose creature discomforts were at a very low point compared to that of the staff, to state the obvious I was rarely happy at WNTS. I having seen better times before my arrival there.
I now live in Australia since leaving the Royal Navy on Pension in the late sixties.
On reflection, no child in this informative day and age would put up with the type of abuse and shit that we did at that F^#*+^(G place.

Friday, 11 May 2007 11:36:00 AM EST


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Keshi said…
David Copperfield had more fun I guess. This is sad!

Vi said…
This reminded me of what my mum had to put up with in a boarding school with nuns majority of her childhood. They can be JUST as brutal!
Anonymous said…
i liked the part when u met Sally and her mom and made your way into their hearts

stop complaining
u had bad times and good times too
S.M. Elliott said…
Yeek. Sounds almost as fun as a convent.
Anonymous said…
Your too right SME, NUN of his life was fun at wnts he had NUN and got NUN.
Anonymous said…
shJqcs The best blog you have!
Anonymous said…
xdNDAj write more, thanks.

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