Here are my Dad’s memories of joining the Navy.
On the 10th January 1945, my maternal grandfather Benjamin Morgan died. The funeral was on 15th January the same day that I reached 17 and a half and that very day a letter marked OHMS arrived through our letterbox. I opened it excitedly and read that I had to report for duty at Leeds on 29th January.
I showed this to my father whose firm instructions were that it was the wrong day to acquaint my mother of this and “You had better say nothing for a few days until she gets over the funeral”. I managed to contain my feelings for a day or two but it was my father who broke the news to my mother. It was obviously a further upset for her that the inevitable was upon us and that I would be leaving home to face goodness knows what.
Another week passed and the morning of 29th January 1945 found me in my best (and only) suit with a small case containing change of shirt, socks and underwear (and also a cake baked by my mother) on my way to the Railway Station at Dewsbury with my father accompanying me to see me off on the 9am train.
I had never had any talk from my parents on the “facts of life” and I suppose I was no more or less knowledgeable that my contemporaries in that respect but no doubt my father had had instructions from my mother to put that right before I left. At any rate on the station platform, Dad blurted out “Think on. Keep away from red lamp ‘oles and with that sex education I boarded the train for Leeds and waved goodbye.
On reporting at Leeds and joining some 30-odd other would be sailors we were placed under the supervision of a Petty Officer and joined a train to an unknown destination which turned out to be Skegness in Lincolnshire. When we arrived at Skegness Railway Station, it was a wet and foggy night (and of course the country was under blackout which meant that no lights of any description were showing) we walked until a number of canvas backed lorries arrived which we boarded and stood up in the back which then transported us to the Butlins Holiday Camp a few miles along the Skegness Coast and we passed the guardroom at the barbed wire entrance and alighted from the lorries.
We had now arrived at HMS Royal Arthur and a new phase of life commenced.
We were formed up into threes in squads and marched through the camp to a dining hall where a meal was waiting for us. Given the minimum time to eat a main course and a pudding, we were formed up again and matched to another part of the camp where we were allocated a chalet number and to ld to be up washed, shaved and dressed for breakfast for net morning at 8am.
By about 10pm, still finding our way in pitch darkness and the wet fog, we managed to locate the appropriate chalet, each of which accommodated six men, chose a bed and fell asleep.
Morning came …
Wakey wakey – accompanied by Reveille played full blast on a bugle.
This was my first introduction to the coarse humour of the Royal Navy
Wakey, wakey, rise and shine
Hands off cocks, on socks
the sun’s scorching your bleeding eyes out!
This was a common wake-up call sometimes with variations.
And so my life in the Royal Navy began,