I am sharing my late father’s navy memoirs.
By the beginning of the second week there was a 12 inch snowfall and a couple of days were spent snow-clearing. Before the fortnight was up we had been knocked roughly into shape as a squad who could march more or less in step, had been taught how to salute officers and how to distinguish some of the various ranks so that we didn’t salute Petty Officers and Chief Petty Officers.
We were about ready for our next move although we were not told where that would be. There was still a war on and posters all over the country said “Careless Talk Costs Lives” although how vital the information would be to Hitler that a hundred or so matelots with two weeks experience being moved from A to B would be I don’t know.
Before the move were were to get paid. Throughout the Navy pay parade for “other ranks” was more or less on the same lines. Men were lined up in an order known only to the Payment Officer and when each man’s number was called he stepped forward to the pay table, saluted the paying officer, removed his cap and placed it on the desk when his fortnightly pay was placed within it. Take up the cap, remove the money, place cap on head, salute the officer and turn away back to the ranks. Sailors were paid 3 shillings a day the equivalent of the present 15p. Thus fortnightly 42 shillings. However it was a compulsory requirement that of this amount one third had to be allocated to the next of kin whether a man was married or single, thus a man’s actual pay every fortnight was 28 shillings. The Navy sent 14 shillings per month to Mother. Additional to this each man was paid sixpence per week kit allowance.
The issue of kit mentioned earlier was the one and only issue throughout a man’s service. The only exception to this rule was if climatic or working conditions required a man to have additional clothing. Whatever official issue of clothing a man had he had thereafter to replace at his own expense. This applied whether an item of clothing was worn out, lost or stolen. Once again there was an exception and that was if an item of kit was lost or damaged during enemy action.
Thus unlike the Army or the Air Force who received replacement kit if the original wore out the men in the Navy replaced items themselves. Most shore depots had what were known as Slop Stores (kit was known as Slops) which were open at certain times and where a man could purchase replacement kit.
Theft was a serious offence and in general did not take place but nevertheless each man kept all his kit secure in his large kit bag which was capable of being padlocked. It was also an offence to be in possession of kit bearing another man’s name, hence the requirement to name-stamp everything in one’s own kit. It was of course an additional means of identifying a drowned sailor.
No opportunity had been given for any of us new recruits to leave Royal Arthur during the fortnight we were there.
We therefore scrambled on the last day carrying out own kit and were lorried to Skegness Station to board the troop train in which we remained for the next 19 hours.