The Hutted Camp 1953 - 1963
into temporary huts and tents at Plas Newydd on Trafalgar Day.
This was announced in The Cadet as follows:
than in memory, the tents and mud of the summer term (see
1953 Tented Camp) were things of the past when tern began,
and Staff and Cadets alike were amazed to see the transformation
the builders had evolved during the summer leave. Ten dormitories,
a dining hall, a recreation room, additional classrooms and staff
accommodation had grown like magic in what had previously been
a paddock. All were ready for occupation when term began and before
such cool weather set in, as this un-natural term brought forth,
were centrally heated too! They had grown, not like a rash of
mushroom buildings, but like a miniature garden city; the fine
trees had been left untouched and broad walks intersected pleasant
squares of grass that day by day grew more lawn-like. A miracle
had occurred, and everyone recognised it and paid tribute to the
architect who had planned it and the contractors who had so speedily
followed his directions.
system of Divisions was maintained, two dormitories being allotted
to each top, one for port and one for starboard, with the Senior
Cadet Captains occupying cabins of their own at the entrance to
each of the dormitories. The pride taken by Cadets in their accommodation
is only equaled by the pride they formerly took in their decks
and though all without exception would gladly forsake the spaciousness
and convenience of life ashore for the cramped inconvenience of
the Ship, if she could again be restored, there are many advantages
in the present set-up.
There is a
well-known, saying that the last ship is always the best, and
this is a truth that all Conways will find if they follow the
sea as a career, and while we still have Cadets who commenced
their training on the old Ship it is not always easy to realise
the advantages thrust upon us, but nevertheless, they do exist.
The mid-day rush for classes being taught ashore but living on
board has gone, the light in the dormitories far surpasses that
on board with less resultant eye-strain, the long waiting for
a boat before and after games is no more, but perhaps the greatest
advantage is that the executive officers, instead of running the
Ship's routine, now have more time to exercise personal supervision
over Cadets in their divisions and to teach them the craft of
from a ship to a shore base has, meant many changes in daily routine,
not all of which have been as successful as anticipated, but faults
have been commented on and rectified as they became apparent so1954
should see a great step forward. Although all were bitterly disappointed
when the Admiralty decided to abandon the wreck of the old
she lies on the Caernarvonshire shore we were grateful to the
Old Boys for their generosity in having the figurehead removed
and transported to Plas Newydd for re-masting; grateful too, to
the shipwrights of Messrs Alfred Holt & Co., who undertook
the ticklish job of removing it from the wreck. At present it
is recumbent at the approach to the new camp, but before long
we hope to see it erect and inspiring as when in the bows of the
is close upon us, and it is to the future we must look. The year
that is drawing to a close has been an eventful one for everyone
in the Empire, but to most Conways, past and present, the wonder
of the Coronation has been dimmed by the loss of the Ship. A New
Year, however, is a time for looking forward, not for glancing
back, and it is with confidence we look ahead just now to the
new "Conway" emerging from the wreck of the old, sloughing
off the faults of the old system, but keeping ever bright the
glory and strength of our heritage."
Click image to enlarge
camp at Plas Newydd was established after the wreck of the ship
to house those cadets who would normally have been accommodated
on board and who had been living temporarily in tents. These were
cadets usually in their 3rd term onwards who, if on a 2 year course,
would therefore spend 4 terms at the camp.
The huts were close to the main road
just inside the estate boundary wall on the south side of the
driveway. They were laid out in a rough quadrangle with paved
pathways between grassed areas. Ten, army-type, wooden huts housed
about 200 cadets. Two huts per Division (Foc's'le, Foretop, Maintop,
Mizzentop and Hold) one each for Port and Starboard watches. There
were also huts housing some of the officers and teaching staff
in single cabins; a mess deck and galley; a games room with snooker
tables etc.; and a hut containing the Captain's office, the Gun
Room and the Duty Cadet Captain's guardroom where the logbook
was kept and where a messenger was on call. The figurehead and
ship's bell were mounted in front of the guardroom. There was
also a canteen housed in the old stone-built dairy (now the National
Trust cafe) where cadets could purchase tea, coffee, soft drinks,
snacks etc. Adjacent to the canteen were several classroom huts.
Additional classrooms were in the Kelvin Block down the driveway
next to the gym hall, science lab. and showers.
Click image to enlarge
The huts were very spartan and each
housed 20 cadets. A row of 10 iron bedsteads ran down each side
with each cadet's black, wooden sea chest at the head of his bed.
The sea chests were rented from the Sailor's Home in Liverpool
and had seen countless years of service. The cadet's name was
stenciled in large white letters on the front. The sea chest was
the only place to store clothes and personal belongings. There
were no curtains on the windows. Near the doorway there was a
small oilskin locker/cloakroom with a single toilet. On the opposite
side to the oilskin locker was a tiny, single-berth cabin for
the Divisional Senior Cadet Captain.
The huts in the camp were non too
warm in the winter. Remember ....every other window open and the
hot water pipe boiler turned off at 2100hrs. Just great big bundles
of oilskins, duffle coats etc heaped on top of cadets' beds trying
to keep warm for the duration of the night, waiting for reveille
and a very swift dash to the Kelvin Block to wash.
The camp was closed down and the
huts were removed following the opening of the New Block in 1963.
By the summer of 1964 there was absolutely no trace of the huts
- even the bases had been grassed over. One hut was relocated
next to the New Block as the chapel. The former camp area is now
occupied by the National Trust car park and cafe. The cadets'
lavatory is no more than a concrete base lost in the trees.
The Captain was housed in an apartment
in the Marquis's house. Extensive use was made of the dock. Gigs,
cutters and other sailing boats were moored on the Straits.
Click image to enlarge
||At the same
time a number of rooms were remained available as dormitories for
new junior cadets, sick bay, billiard room and staff accommodation
in Plas Newydd. There was, of course, also the Mess Deck where young
ladies would also attend Dancing Classes.
reveille at 0630 was by bugle call (who was that poor bugler ?)
followed by the Duty Officer going the rounds rousing everyone
out of their beds. Due to the lack of facilities in the camp,
morning ablutions were conducted in the shower/toilet area of
the Kelvin Block which meant a brisk run down the driveway and
back, winter and summer, rain or shine. The Duty Officer would
scour the huts to make sure no shirkers were left behind but there
were always a few who would escape the net and remain unwashed
for that day and probably several more.
I know that ' Newy' Kingsford was
in the officers cabins which made up one of the sides of the grassed
quad and was opposite the mess hall. Everyone else was in the
row of offices cabins.
Meals were eaten on the mess deck
in one sitting. 200 hungry cadets plus officers and resident teaching
staff seated at trestle tables. "Cooks to the galley" was sounded
about 15 minutes before each meal as a signal for designated cadets
to proceed to the mess deck to lay out the tables, collect water,
tea, food etc. Seating on each table was strictly in order of
seniority. Food was passed down the table from seniors to juniors
with the inevitable shortage at the foot of the table. Galley
staff were employees of Alfred Holt's shipping company with a
few locals. Food was mediocre in quality and not very appetising
but every last scrap was eaten. Three full meals per day were
provided plus "supper" (glass of milk and a piece of cake) just
before turning in at 2100.
On weekdays morning "Divisions" were
held in the quadrangle area in front of the huts. The Chief Cadet
Captain would report to Eric who was present and who was not;
the Padre (Rev. Turner) would lead the prayers and hymns; each
Divisional Officer would inspect his cadets drawn up in files
of three and the band would lead a short march-past during which
the salute would be taken by Eric or "Brookie" in front of the
guardroom. Following Divisions, cadets were dismissed to attend
school lessons or join other activities. On Sundays a full reefer-uniform
Divisions was held followed by a church service in the temporary
chapel set up in the gym. The full ship's complement could not
fit inside the gym so every Sunday a different party of about
40 cadets would march 2 miles down the road to Llanedwynn church
to join the Marquis of Anglesey. The Welsh lady organist, dressed
in a long, sheepskin coat and woolen hat (winter and summer) would
entreat cadets to sing up by raising her hand palm upwards. Cadets
would start to bellow at full volume and she would frantically
try to quieten things down again only to be met by whispering
voices. One cadet was detailed to hand pump the organ often with
drastic consequences - either a force 10 or a flat calm.
The Conway band plus marching cadets
were in great demand at this time. Parties of cadets would be
sent to Liverpool for the annual Battle of the Atlantic commemoration
parade; Lord Mayor's day in Bangor; investiture's at Bangor Cathedral;
visits by dignitaries to local towns such as the Duke of Edinburgh's
visit to Holyhead etc. The band was very smart and professional
in spite of its reputation amongst cadets for being full of "shags"
(untidy, lazy fellows).
All cleaning, painting, minor gardening,
path-sweeping etc. in and around the camp was carried out by cadets
plus the usual scrubbing and polishing of decks and cleaning windows
etc. Everywhere, including all the boats, was inspected on Saturday
morning "Captains Rounds". Cadets would stand in fear and trembling
alongside their area waiting for Eric to run his glove over the
surfaces. Hold Division cadets operated an incinerator at the
back of the huts nearest the road. This was a big wire cage for
burning leaves, garbage etc. with a standing area for dustbins.
The Menai Bridge Council bin lorry once caught fire after collecting
Conway bins from the camp causing acute embarrassment to Eric
who meted out severe punishments to everyone in sight.
At one time there was a system of
"duty signalers". One stationed at the camp, one near the "cromlech"
and one at the dock. There was also a new-chum signaler on the
ramparts of the Marquis"s House. In theory it was possible
to send a message by semaphore from the camp to the dock via the
House or vice-versa but in practice it was quicker to send a runner.
The longitudinal bed for the JCC
was on the port side of Port Hold as you entered. I can still
see in the mind's eye the Clout can just inside on the starboard
side too. I thing the JCC was at the door end to keep an eye on
any potential night time departures (although of course the heads,
as has been pointed out, were off the little entrance lobby so
going out and back that way was a necessity and must have been
a real pain to the JCC). In our time lead seals and wires were
instituted (all same H.M. Customs bond style) on the fire door
push bars at the far end of the huts. Unscrewing the eyelet screw
on the doorframe that the wire went through did however allow
a few nocturnal escapades as QB's without the need to break the
seal. But more of that another time!
Talk of sleeping arrangements and
the CCC reporting Round to Eric reminds me of all those nights
where we waited for the Duty Officer to make his way towards the
hut for evening Rounds. Being in Port Hold you could see him progress
up and down Starboard Hold (usually) with his small entourage
and then there was a last minute scramble into bed to lie to attention
(did we really do that!!) as through the stillness one heard the
muffled voices as the CC reported the Hut (x present, y in sick
bay etc or all present and correct) and a shout from the doorway
of 'Rounds'. Then the advancing loud footsteps as the team marched
the full length of the hut. I think we all learned to use the
full powers of our peripheral vision to try to see who and what
was going on, particularly if the footsteps stopped. The frozen
moment in case it might be something on your shelf that had been
spotted that shouldn't be there on view. The sigh of relief when
it turned out to be someone else who was for the high jump once
the Duty Officer had departed. This was, as we all remember, followed
by that brief period of relaxation before the sound of the Last
Post drifted across the Camp, and then, precisely on the last
note, all the hut lights were switched off (by, I think, always
the Chum in the bed next to the entrance door) in unison. A certain
amount of whispering (reading with a torch under the bedclothes
- a punishable offence) before the JCC exerted his authority with
a few judicious shouts down the hut and then silence descended
and sleep ensued.
Show at Plas Newydd (a report from th Cadet magazine)
"Zzzip go the Stars" (or
"A 'Master's' Dilemma"), a multi-act phantasy portraying
a rocket journey to Mars and other planets in the Universe, was
presented in the gymnasium at Plas Newydd on the 13th and 15th
of December. This confection was written, produced, and acted
in by Mr. Miller and a band of Cadets, and they are to be congratulated
on the performance they gave.
The theme of the play was the story
of an expeditionary force of "Conway" personnel setting
out in a rocket to visit Mars. On arrival there they meet a mysterious
character called "Mastermind" who has been broadcasting
pseudo-scientific information to Earth, some of which has been
overheard by members of the expedition. "Mastermind"
reveals himself as a notorious "Conway" I character
banished to Mars for persistent inexactitude in mathematics and
expresses his pleasure in their company by providing each with
equipment to aid them in their further exploration of the Universe.
A navigational miscalculation lands the party at the Pearly Gates,
where St. Peter is on watch and maintaining the heavenly routine.
St. Peter is of little assistance-he directs them by way of the
First Point of Aries, but they have lost the formula for restarting
their rocket and, while they search for this, the Devil himself
tries to seduce them from the path of rectitude. Eventually the
formula is found in a Scotsman's sporran and the party express
satisfaction at the prospect of going home for Christmas, before
the fourth finally lands in the cutter, to be commandeered by
the strokes. The Cadet Captain falls into the sea between the
cutter and gangway, and although suffering multiple fractures,
climbs into the stern sheets.
To write, produce and stage such
a complex show was a most ambitious project considering the limitations
of time, space, materials and personnel, and it is to the credit
of the producer and his cast that the show went off so well. More
scenery would have been a distinct advantage, but again limitations
of time and material made that impossible. Mrs. Moore is to be
congratulated on her design and tailoring of the costumes. The
artistes' make-up was ably looked after by Mrs. WiIliams and Sister
Szumska, and the stage lighting by Mr. Oliver and his staff of
Mention must also be made of the
staff contribution to the Concert. This took the form of a sextet
singing such vintage songs as "Silver Threads among the Gold,"
"In the Twi-twi-twilight," and "T'was only a Beautiful
Picture." The three "ladies" were tastefully dressed
in the height of late-Victorian fashion while their partners wore
white flannels, blazers, straw boaters and Dundreary whiskers
with full cavalry moustaches. This act received vociferous cheers
and counter-cheers, but an encore was impossible as the sextet
had rehearsed only the bare minimum of pieces.
We would like to express our appreciation
to Mr. Miller and those Cadets who took such an active part in
the production of the Concert. It would be invidious to single
out individuals when all played so well, but we note that there
is a wealth of talent in the junior terms which will still be
available next year."
many of the post 53's remember the song:
you ever go across the Straits to Conway,
be it at the closing of your days,
will hear old Laurie on the gangway, saying
that bloody cutter out of here"
We had a class with Brogue one Thursday
afternoon, and for some reason or other he marched us off to the
tennis courts and soon had us marching back and forth like chocolate
soldiers. He then revealed his great plan, namely to teach us
how to make quarter turns, while marching. Indeed you sometimes
see demonstrations of such things on television on grand occasions
like the Queen's Birthday. However, I don't think we were particularly
receptive and he eventually had us doubling from the tennis courts
to the Kelvin Block and back. After a while of course we got fed
up and started chattering to each other. It was all right for
him as he was following on his old black boneshaker. Anyway as
we were going back to the tennis courts for the umpteenth time
I was saying something like "How long's the silly old bugger
going to keep this up?" When I glimpsed a movement out of
the corner of my eye and ducked. The result was moderately hilarious
as Brookie failed to connect with the back of my head, lost his
balance on his bike and fell off. We of course not observing anything
just doubled up to the tennis courts turned round and got back
to the Kelvin Block in time to be dismissed by a slightly dusty
It wasn't only the cadets who suffered
- we did a fair old number in mental torture on poor old Cupid
(maths teacher, can't remember his real name) which in retrospect
was a pity, as he wasn't too bad a bloke. Amongst some of our
finer stunts were...
As each cadet stood at his desk to
get a project marked, the cadet would surreptitiously insert a
drawing pin through his gown and into the wooden floor. The end
result was spectacular, as Cupid finally arose from his chair,
he reached the end of his gown tether, and with a resounding ripping
noise crashed over the back of his chair. Similar spectacular
results were achieved at a later date (after the dust had settled)
when between lessons, an intricate web of black (near invisible)
cotton was wound to and fro from the desks at either side of the
centre aisle at a height of about six inches above the floor.
Poor old Cupid strides into the classroom, books under arm, and
immediately staggers around dropping books, entrapped and dragging
desks like some kind of scholastic ball and chain amongst an appreciative
uproar. I'm afraid he gave up on attempting to teach us in the
end, which is entirely what we deserved.
Our classroom in the Kelvin Block
was adjacent to the gym, and another spontaneous idea between
lessons, came when an unlucky cadet was demonstrating his prowess
on the wall bars. He proudly hung with arms outstretched halfway
up the wall, whereupon his wrists were immediately seized and
lashed to the bars. All hands then retired to the classroom leaving
him in situ. The poor lad lasted to about twenty minutes into
the next lesson before his howls of pain had the teacher gasping
in disbelief through the windows at his predicament. We were young
then.....seemed like a good idea at the time.
Once, when coxing No 1 power boat
and coming alongside one of the cutters, the bowman was a tall
thin new chum and Frank Bolton (engineer)yelled "Jump - you'll
make it in two!" The poor lad jumped but hadn't noticed that
the painter was snagged. I shall never forget the look of astonishment
on his face as his forward trajectory changed to a vertical descent!
'Happy' Bateman the stern man came rushing out of the fore cabin
at the splash (and laughter) but didn't remember to take the cigarette
out of his mouth until after we had completed the rescue - fortunately
no one noticed.
When towing other boats back to
their moorings it was not done to let the other boat pick the
buoy before slipping the tow line. One approached the mooring
at full power and depending on tide etc, the line was slipped
short of the buoys. There was a lot of hooting and jeering (at
the power boat cox'n) if the other boat had to get out oars or
be picked up for a second attempt!
remember a prize giving day in the mess hall in my last term,.
The guest of honour was an old boy, Douglas V. Duff, a famous
author of (healthy) adventure stories for boys. He began
his speech by saying Capt and Mrs Hewitt, distinguished guests,
members of the staff and gentlemen of HMS Conway. This was
greeted with raucous laughter. He went red in the face and
threw his notes down on the table, and proceeded to give us a
twenty minute lecture on the theme that we would emerge from the
Conway as gentlemen, whether we liked it or not.
was the last but one day of the summer term 1955 and
Lt Frankyn (an RNR officer on a year's secondment) , found
his car wouldn't start - there was a cupful of sugar in his petrol
tank. That evening at divisions in the camp Eric said that if
the culprit didn't own up then summer leave would be delayed from
1000 to 1800. Nobody owned up, and nobody split so we were all
held back. There must have been a dearth of national news that
day and the Daily Express (or perhaps the Liverpool Post) ran
the headline "Silent 200 gated for 8 hours" with lots
of pictures and journalese! We all assumed that the culprit was
one of my term who had been punished by the oficer a couple of
days earlier but he denied it even though we kicked his backside!"
“The chap who
actually did it was in my term (a very untrustworthy character!)”
An Encounter With A Steam Train
In The Tubular Bridge A group of us had been climbing Snowdon
for the weekend and on our return to the Rectory in Llanberis
learned we were snowed in with little prospect of return to Port
Dinorwic in time to catch the launch back the Conway on Sunday
evening. We agreed to walk back via Caernavon and Menai Bridge,
a distance of 21 miles. We set off on Sunday evening and all went
well until about 2 am when tiredness and the bitter weather were
beginning to tell on some of the group. By this time we had reached
a position on the road adjacent to Uffa Fox’s estate and
faced with the conditions, tiredness and the distance ahead, decided
that a short cut through the tubular railway bridge might ease
all these difficulties.
Having cut across the estate we stood
in the moonlight facing the tunnel entrances where a choice had
to be made. Which tunnel should we take, the left or the right?
The stillness was suddenly broken when from the right hand belched
forth a train heading towards Bangor. Mistakenly, albeit at the
time, the choice of which tunnel was made, the left hand one!
We split into three groups, the lead off group as they approached
the halfway point in the tunnel would flash their torches to indicate
that all was well. The sight of the torch flashes set off the
second group who would follow the same procedure. I was with the
third group who once again set off on seeing the flashes from
the second group. For the first few yards, at both ends of the
tunnels, the two tunnels inter-connected, thereafter they singled
up into their own tubes. It was pitch black inside with no light
whatsoever and all there was to guide us through were timber planks
running alongside the rail track. It was an eerie and claustrophobic
atmosphere, the rhythmic sounds of feet upon timber planks and
the sensation of someone in front or behind, as we moved at the
double. After what seemed an age there was a sudden change in
our rhythm and a pressure on the ears; there was a train in the
tunnel behind us!
A cold feeling of fear gripped us.
I stumbled and fell across the railway track striking my head
upon something hard. Momentarily I lost all consciousness and
with it all sense of foreboding. In those few seconds I lay there,
then I saw this bright light bearing down on me and a loud rumbling
sound. I threw myself sideways and lay perfectly still, the wheels
of this the 3 a.m. Holyhead express, passing within inches of
my head. Seconds passed, I raised my head and saw the reed lights
of the last carriage in the steam and smoke which outlined a silhouette
of the tunnel exit within yards of where I lay. I went to raise
myself, placing my hand on a warm and moist object. Cadet X had
been in front of me and for one horrendous moment I thought it
was him without his head! I moved to lift him and found to my
relief that it was a kit bag with warm engine oil at the neck
of the bag. I remember running from the tunnel and jumping over
a wire fence and rolling down the embankment where I rejoined
the others. There were as many as 15 of us. We arrived back at
Plas Newydd exhausted just after 4 a.m. on Monday morning.
This short cut was still in occasional
use in the 60s. I wonder how many Cadets traversed that tunnel!
“We were definitely
spoilt by having a very nice tarmac road leading from the huts
to the washrooms. It was also a hell of a lot closer! The central
heating in the huts though was something else. We had about a
3 inch circ pipe running around the hut which was filled with
luke warm water. During the winter months when every other window
had to be open, I used to sleep on my stomach with hands wrapped
around the pipe. I have never to this day complained about central
“I have never been
very keen on camping, and after reading all the reminiscences of
the time before the huts, I can see why! Give me the cold dry huts
anyday, although many a day I used to wake up covered with a fine
blanket of snow - bliss! Maybe that's why I am not to keen on skiing
Two new identical gigs were built
by Dickies Yard of Bangor and completed in the summer of 1956.
They were towed in tandem from Bangor to Plas Newydd by the pinnace
with a crew of cadets from Hold Division under the watchful eyes
of officer Howard-Davies. The existing gigs continued for a few
more years but were in a very bad state. The new gigs were eventually
transferred to Indefatigable before being rescued by The Friends
Of The Conway (see Relics).
Our signals instructor was M.H.(Lawrie)Lawrence
who retired in Dec 55. He used to enter the mess deck (at the
House), say nothing but start flashing away reciting his mantra
of "E-I-S-H-T-M-O" to get us into the swing of things.
The other Warrant Officer I remember
was "Charlie" Skinner. He was the PTI and would also
cut your hair on a Saturday morning for a bob! He had a cheerful
sadistic streak using the tannoy, "Wakey, wakey, rise and
shine, middle of the day and the sun's burning your bleeding eyes
out!" This at Zero Crack Sparrow Fart on a January morning
with the horizontal sleet coming down the Straits and we had to
do the morning run from the House up to the Figurehead before
having a shower!
Charlie Nicholson was the Chief
Engineer who taught Ship Construction and engineering. There was
a poem in the "Cadet" entitled "Conway through
the Alphabet". I don't remember all the verses but "C"
went: C is for Charlie with his Massive Slide Rule, Everybody
agrees it's the Biggest in School! He had a slide rule about 3
feet long which he used to carry on his shoulder like a rifle!
During my first term at the House
there was a big stink (and quite rightly so) as the bullying by
some QBs was really bad. The details escape me, but I think it
was a QB hanging by the arms from a beam in one of the huts on
to a prone Chum's chest which I believe caused (not surprisingly)
some broken ribs and it brought the matter to a head. This was
the extreme, but there was some other bullying. The story was
that it was a game of chicken which went wrong. The idea I think
being that the QB would open his legs sufficiently wide just before
landing for the feet to miss the petrified chum who had been made
to lie there and not move for fear of some form of unofficial
I suppose a degree of QB tormenting
of Chums in the huts could also qualify as bullying today, but
that seemed part of the way of life back then. I can just about
remember the joy of the power I felt as a new QB of shouting `’CHUM`’
down the length of the hut and the last one to arrive (sliding
on clouts of course) ended up with some shoe spit and polishing
to be done. QBs didn't clean there own shoes if it could be avoided.
Very often it was the same rather slow reacting Chum who ended
up with most of these tasks. I suppose we all thought, well we
had to do it as a Chum so they can too. How good it felt when
you were in your second of your term's up at the camp and the
shout of CHUM no longer applied to you.
There was a fair bit of bullying
by certain sadistical QBs - one in particular, who I suppose should
remain nameless, returned to visit after leaving the ship. Unfortunately
for him, his victims were now QBs themselves, and he encountered
loud and vehement slanging wherever he went - I remember Lt.Cmdr
Hutchinson looking on from the porch of his quarters with a wry
grin. The QB in question was even, "offered out" by
one of his previous victims, but he declined and slunk off. There
was also some fairly inventive forms of cadet, "torture"
- I recall one poor cadet from a different "Top", who's
crime was not asking for, "hut" before entering a rival
top. The poor victim was seized, hands tied behind back, stood
on an upended yak bin, a noose made up, put around his neck, and
the end thrown over the hut beam above him and made fast. He was
then blindfolded, someone played, "The Last Post", and
at the last note, the yak bin was kicked out from under him. The
line had been let go after his blindfolding, but the terrified
cadet didn't know that. To our young minds, QBs were all powerful,
and if they felt like a bit of hanging - so be it! The entire
hut thought it was a great joke - but no doubt the poor victim
wandered off suitably emotionally scarred!
One aspect of bullying was being
" Put in the Derby" This was organised bullying arranged
by the QBs in the form of a race. Various obstacles were set up
on the sports field at Plas Newydd a tradition supposedly from
the hold on the Ship, over and under which you had to crawl while
the QBs beat you with sticks, knotted towels interspersed with
well placed kicks. To get around the course could take some 10
mins in the process of which you got mud on your SB's which was
a logistical problem as you had no change of clothes. Then if
you didn't perform in the " Derby" well enough or if
their appetite was not satisfied, they put you around again presumably
to ensure that you moved at a greater speed. When you were knocked
flat they closed up and beat you on the ground to motivate you
to continue. This was all accompanied by frenzied blasts on the
bugle to encourage the fainted hearted in this very organised
affair. To be told by a QB that you were "In the Derby"
for some imagined infraction to his dignity was sufficient to
create the utmost dismay in the recipient. When I was Deputy CPO
down at the House later on Hewitt received a letter from the General
Botha school in South Africa as they were seeking his advice on
the subject of "Organised Bullying." He therefore called
a meeting at which Brookie attended and I was invited in my official
capacity. Hewitt asked me what bullying was going on to my knowledge
and I was able to explain the shenanigans of some 3 terms earlier.
Throughout my explanation Brookie said repeatedly that no bullying
had ever existed either on the Ship or at Plas Newydd until Hewitt
told him not to politely to shut up. It was my belief at the time
as it still is ( now perhaps to be shattered) that in my 6th term
there was no bullying per se going on, as I kept a close watch
to head such hysterical behaviour off at the pass. However, I
was the DCPO at the time and maybe care was taken by some to hide
such goings on from my eyes as the ethic was not to report anything.
I was a Hockey and Gym team activist. I couldn't get into a Rugby
team so went after a while to Mr. Fozzard's Hockey to try (successfully)
to make any team and escape Conway for a bit on away match days.
Junior Leader's Tonfannau (near Tywyn, later a hostel fro Ugandan
Asians, now closed) was a bit tough (asphalt pitch I seem to remember
and the food was not dissimilar to Conway grub), Bangor Normal
College (Ladies,) boy they took no prisoners, and RAF Valley with
Vulcan bombers doing touch and go landings (runway too short for
landing / takeoff) alongside the hockey pitch stand out. The highlight
of the Gymnastics team year was an exhibition display at the Llangefni
summer show. There were real people, especially young ladies in
close proximity which made a pleasant change form the cloistered
world of Plas Newydd. I joined the Snowdon Group as an escape
tactic too. The Friday evening motor boat to Port Dinorwic and
then off by bus to Llanberis Youth hostel with our Peak cigarettes
was a real joy. I even followed the Beagles (Mrs Hewitt's hobby)
once or twice for a chance to get out on other occasions. It also
provided some smoking opportunities which was a very important
challenge for me and quite a few others back then. Come to think
of it all the books I had read before going to Conway about prisoner
of war camps and what the inmates did for escape and evasion tactics
stood me in good stead during my couple of years.
Cross Straits Swim
There was a major jelly fish problem
that year, also. Several swimmers were badly stung – one
Harris from Hold got into so much trouble, he was hauled out,
brought to shore and rushed to Bangor Hospital. He was in severe
shock and could not easily breathe, which was, of course, a real
concern. I did not swim that year. Next year I did and mercifully
encountered no jelly fish.
The swim across the straits and back
was okay once you got started. Usually swum at slack water on
the low tide. I remember getting back to the slip and finding
it difficult to believe how heavy my legs felt when getting out
of the water.
One Saturday afternoon, I was on
First XV stretcher party at the top rugby pitch and was gripped
by considerable abdominal pain. I ended up being carried to the
sick bay at the House on the stretcher I was supposed to be helping
to man. Medical methods at the sick bay were somewhat limited
and Sister gave me laxative tablets (on the assumption I presume
that any pain in the lower body region was bound to be due to
constipation) which exacerbated my condition into peritonitis.
I actually didn't get sent off in an ambulance to Bangor C&A
until the Sunday morning, after the Doctor had seen me and had
become somewhat concerned at my condition. By then it was a matter
of some urgency. My absence from the school was extended beyond
the expected fortnight with a stay at the Caernarfon Cottage hospital
due to there being a chicken pox and scarlet fever epidemic 'onboard'
which was knocking people down like nine pins at the time. When
I did eventually (after a month) return I had a magic note, signed
I think by Eric, which excused me from all games, all doubling
(white doubling posts marked out the spots between which cadets
always had to double i.e. run), and best of all, all punishments.
Boy, did I enjoy that brief interlude, but then made up for it
Two cadets borrowed Hutch's motorbike,
visited Bangor and acquired 75 pairs of shoe laces and a window
latch - this led to a magistrate's court appearance and subsequent
Extract: 'At the police station xxxxx
admitted taking the motor-cycle for a dare. In a statement he
said he was a fifth term cadet at H.M.S. Conway and added "At
Conway it is a tradition to do things that have not been done
before and I suggested that we should borrow Commander Hutchinson's
motor-cycle, but that was meant more as a joke then. At about
11 last night we took the motor-cycle from the cricket pavilion
and we pushed it for about two miles before starting the engine."
At the back of the High Street they admitted to stealing the shoe
laces through an open window and the window latch through a broken
The lawyer said on their behalf in
mitigation that "They are subject to impersonal discipline
and naturally look for an outlet for their vigour and spirit.'
I can identify with that, having participated in forays across
the fields to the back door of the pub in LlanfairPG after lights
out amongst other illicit adventures. One had to have a little
We were punished by Hilliard one
weekend. He had us carrying the rifles off the rifle range around
the courtyard in the Kelvin Block. The only thing was that we
had to walk in a squatting position and hold the rifle above our
heads. We did this for about 10 minutes and then he dismissed
I remember a murder down Beaumaris
way - she was 21 year old Margaret Hughes and over 2000 males
were fingerprinted and palm printed. She was sexually assaulted
and strangled ( which was first I don't know) but it had to have
been committed by someone strong enough to move the body - I think
from outside the house to inside her bedroom or something like
that - from memory they caught a Dutch seaman in Liverpool and
he was charged with her murder. As to the outcome of his trial
I don't know - does anyone else know the outcome - I am not sure
if the death sentence was still in force at that time - swinging
Albert from Oldham would have remembered - ( I am referring to
Albert Pierpoint) who ran the "Help The Poor Struggler"
beerhouse in Manchester Road, Albert had the distinction of being
the last official Public Hangman. All the cadets were fingerprinted
- they returned the prints to us after they'd been checked - I
kept mine for a few years, then lost them (the same fate as some
of my brain cells).
Many of the Cadets came from overseas
or they were UK born and their parents lived overseas. The cadets
would then be flown home for leave etc and many used BOAC (now
British Airways) and many of the bookings would be made by Capt
I was on leave around ' 65 and went
to a club in Liverpool ( called The Gas Light if anyone knew it
at that time) which was owned by the Uncle of a friend of mine.
This blood connection allowed us to get into the place without
being members. They were very strict on membership criteria and
they charged like a wounded bull to gain access. One evening we
met a couple of girls etc etc and eventually I married one of
them (Maureen). It was some time before it came out that she was
the main contact for Capt Hewitt at the BOAC office in Liverpool.
He would ring to make various bookings and would always ask to
speak to Maureen and it was her responsibility to get the Conway
cadets ticketed, booked etc and when required, an escort - the
younger cadets in the airline industry were called UMs - Unaccompanied
minors. The escort may have been the Chief Steward on the aircraft
or a Ground hostess, to make sure the Cadet was on the correct
plane etc. Maureen tells me that our beloved Captain was very
demanding as he cared that BOAC would be doing the right thing
by his Cadets. She liked dealing with him as he knew what he wanted
and appreciated the effort she made for the Cadets.
Don't forget that at this time the
B 747 hadn't arrived and the main stay of the BOAC fleet was the
B 707 & VC 10s on the intercontinental runs. After leaving
the sea I ended up working for BOAC at Manchester Airport in their
I know there was considerable pressure
to do the swim, but I also know that only a few from my hut (Port
Foretop) went. I reckon that there were between 40 and 50 swimmers
although I agree that all the splashing looked very impressive.
I particularly remember this as in the next term, when I was pressured
to join in the boxing tournament, which I disliked (being no good
at it and having a large hooter), I successfully pointed out to
several non-participants keen to get me into the boxing that they
had chickened out of the swim. Needless to say this did not make
me popular, but it kept my nose intact.
QBs & Bullying
Bullying in 1960 was a part of the
'culture' and when I joined Conway, along with a few others who
were largish in size, ( and some of us from Merseyside) it started
to die out. I remember a mini riot one evening as an attempt was
made to turn a few of us into 'slaves' or what ever they called
it at the time. After we had thumped a couple we were hauled up
in front of the CCC and labelled Liverpool Teddy Boys and they
(the CCs) were going to sort us out. I remember getting six cuts
across the backside with a ropes end (had the bruises for sometime
even after wearing additional clothing as protection) and the
person giving it really enjoyed himself and I then had to shake
his hand as a 'no hard feeling' gesture. It was unfortunate for
this CC as he was in the 2 nd XV and the following Saturday. He
was in the team to play against the 1st XV for a hard practise
match for both teams. Let's just say I had a good match in the
scrum. It is funny but the Liverpool Teddy Boys were never bothered
again – we also had Wake (Joe) Simpson, who was always a
gentleman from Down South, and he was big enough for me to hide
I like to think that as the 1960
intake grew in seniority, we stamped out most of the bullying,
but unfortunately it appears to have returned after the new building
A great place - a group of us would
take a gig on a Sunday for 'practise' rowing, and row down to
Slash Creek which was on the Anglesey side of the Straits. Pull
into the 'creek' which was a sandy inlet. The gig would be grounded
in the creek, and it would be out of site of the House or anyone
across on the mainland. Swim, sit in the sun, chew the fat etc
etc - row back in time for tea. A great afternoon on a hot summers
The Haig Trophy
I have in front of me as I type the
September 1960 Cadet magazine with a one and a half page report
on that summer's Haigh Trophy, which I participated in for Hold
Division. I still remember it well, it was a scorching hot day
and we had no water with us. Although, according to the report
in the magazine, it took place on Saturday 2nd July and 'the weather
was near nearly perfect' . Maybe it was for the officers at the
bases, but not for us going up hill and down dale. The few mountain
streams had to suffice for quenching our thirst when we found
them and then luckily we found a milk bottle which we took, filled
as opportunity arose, along some stages with us. I am sad to say
that despite our sterling efforts Hold ended up with the lowest
score of 50.6 points, Forecastle were first with 78.8.
Apparently the task at Base A set
by Geoff. Drake, was 'to remove a heavy boulder from the body
of "Charlie" without further damage to his anatomy.'
I expect we killed the poor dummy.
At another base the report shows
our attempts were not too impressive "Hold arrived at 1155,
but planning beforehand was not a noticeable feature. Turner climbed
up one tree quite well but had no clear idea of what he was to
do when there'. As Turner and I were used to climbing the tree
between Port and Starboard Hold for a smoke, we could have put
it to good use that day if no officers had been around!
But after all, being in the Haigh
Trophy was not just about winning, it was the taking part. At
least that's how we consoled ourselves to the bottom position
in the final scores, even after the House who had a team. Still
having a day out from school was worth the effort.
He apparently had high connections
in, "White Russia" (as he used to describe where he
came from) he used to get the Michael extracted fairly regularly
though, and as you say, had the knack of always getting things
wrong. It's just as well he took it all in good heart though,
as he was a bit of a gentle giant, and if he'd gone ballistic,
I'm sure he could have hospitalised a few of us. I remember when
he became a bugler - his renditions were atrocious, and it was
a bit like, "guess the command" when he was duty bugler.
He'd roam the musical scale looking for "G". To his
credit, he totally ignored all jibes, and stuck with it, 'til
you could eventually at least make a good guess at the calls.
One memorable day, when he was the bugler in the morning "colour
party", someone had stuffed a rag up his bugle. The division
that held those in the know, rippled with suppressed laughter
as the party marched out to the flagstaff, Galitzine blew furiously
into his sabotaged bugle as the ensign was raised, only to have
a confused cadet who was hoisting the ensign stop in mid hoist,
whilst Nicholas removed the offending rag. His red face was visible
even at a distance. Fortunately, no action was taken on the incident.
They probably thought it was just Galitzine forgetting that he'd
stuffed a cleaning rag up his bugle, and left well enough alone!
From time to time a duty part of
the Duty Top (e.g. Port Hold) was designated to march out from
the Camp on Sunday morning via the main gate, turn left (smartly
of course) and onwards to the Marquis's private church/chapel
on the edge of the walled estate. Left again down the road (I
think) to Moel-y-Don ferry. It was quite a tiny church and I suppose
not more than a dozen of the Marquis's family and retainers present,
making for a congregation of about thirty in total. I can only
remember going twice but perhaps the following would explain why
I might as well confess to my being
pretty much converted to an agnostic/atheist by the then padre
Rev. Turner. I am not particularly proud of the fact, but some
of his discussions moved me to make a rather disparaging remark
towards the Padre during a Religious Instruction (R.I.) lesson.
I was sent for by the Headmaster TEWB and put on a warning as
to my behaviour. There was for a brief period somewhat of a cloud
over me and then my parents were summoned to the school some days
later. After an apology from me it was agreed that I would be
henceforth excused from all Sunday Services and R.I. lessons (extra
physics in the hut on these occasions). This non-appearance for
Church and R.I. was the envy of many of my mates, as you can imagine.
My only contact from then on with
the Padre was at the handing out of pocket money, was during Prep
(was it on a Friday?). As all will no doubt remember, he brought
it round a lot of loose change in a small blue cloth drawstring
bag, tightly clutching the pocket money account book under his
arm. How precious that shilling (or maybe two for the better off
ones) was for the canteen; a slice of buttered toast or two, beans
on toast and maybe a Murphy, but that only for a special occasion
or to ward off real hunger.
Roman Catholics & Muslims
During morning Divisions at the Camp,
R.C.s fell out at prayers and stood in the doorway of either Hold
or Mizzen huts, I cannot remember which, together with the cadets
on sick parade. (Unable to march) At the end of prayers, RC's
fell in again for the march past. It caused consternation I remember
at the beginning of one term because Syed Abu Bakar and Suhaimi
bin Su who had just joined were Muslim and they stayed put for
prayers as the order did not state 'RC's and Muslims Fall out!'
The situation was soon rectified.
you remember the culture shock of the first few weeks in the ship?
The sea of unknown faces, the confusion of where to be or where
to go, the sounds of amplified orders, bugles and whistles!!!
To me it was quite head spinning and only stabilized partly by
the relative sanity of the classroom but mainly as some of the
faces became people with names which happened first in my house
dorm "Nestor". Two of the new names belonged to quite
memorable characters. There was Cyril who would entertain us after
lights out with exotic stories of life in what was to me very
far away Northern Rhodesia (a little different from my life
in Altrincham) and Johnny who with his amazing repertoire of enjoyable
stories ranging from humorous to ghostly would help us all to
forget our homesickness and relax us into deep sleep. Does anybody
remember Johnny?? He was a Liverpudlian and very proud to have
met the Beatles in the cavern!! Anyway I think I owe a lot to
Cyril and Johnny for making the first few weeks bearable and even
fun and it would be the latter word that applied to the rest of
my days in the Ship.
I don't recall my antics with any
great pride, but it was fun at the time. I remember one teacherl
actually taking a swing at me from behind his desk as I stood
in front of him imitating his collar pulling, jaw moving, idiosyncracy
to his face. I also remember spending hours hollowing out a new
piece of chalk and filling it with match heads. It was Cupid who
managed to set it off when writing with it on the blackboard !
His reaction was priceless. A puzzled expression came over his
face when confronted with a piece of chalk erupting like a roman
candle. Then it dawned on him that he had been had, just as it
went out. "Yes ! Very clever", he said, "Now can
we get back to Pythagoras". I also managed to pin Cupid's
gown to his chair while he wasn't looking, and set off a penny
banger in his desk. The bits of plastic set squares in the heating
elements of the class fan heaters used to give off vast amounts
of black smoke too. God, he was a good sport, was Cupid. He always
took it in good part. I think I am marked down for some terrible
karma at the hands of school boys in some future life ! The"soft
mark" teachers must have dreaded classes I was in, along
with Cyril. As a typical coward, there was no way I would have
dared try these stunts with Hutch or Geoff Fozard.
mind all the winter memories what about six in a gig rowing down
to Slash Creek on a Sunday afternoon pulling the boat on to a
sand bank and just sitting in the sun. Yellow sand and warm water
is a fond memory. A spot of paddling or a quick swim - all out
of sight of the dock and the house. But we had to be back for
tea at 4.00 pm so as not to miss the cake. I remember some of
the group who used to row down there - Pete Nesfield, Jo (John
Cuthbert), Mike Maunder, Arthur Wood, Nick (John) Champion, Mike
Mitchinson and John English.
I was in charge of the dock one day
when the phone rang. I picked it up and said, "Yahaa ! Lt.
Commander Parry here" in excellent imitation of him. The
reply came back, "That's damned funny ! Lt. Commander Parry
here, too". And it was !!! I put the phone down, and started
worrying. By the time I saw him later in the day he just gave
me a long hard look. Another good sport ! He never ever mentioned
Parry did have a sense of humour
alright, I went out the back gate one day and donned my Yellow
jumper and blue jeans to meet my girl friend who picked me up
in her motherœs car. We went into Bangor and collected her dog
and went for a walk. Blow me away Parry walked up the main street
towards me. He looked me in the eye and he turned away up a lane
way very quickly, I went the other way up another street, I thought
thatœs it I'm gone here !!! Monday morning in class he bounced
in and drew his hankie from his sleeve and asked whether we had
all had a good weekend. He said the weather was lovely ideal for
taking ones dog for a walk. He looked at me and that was it. Everyone
else thought he was off his trolley.
Visit To The House
In ' 62 we were offered the chance,
for a shilling, to view the mural paints by Rex Whistler in the
Marquises area of the House. I thought I'd better go, although
I was not one for art unless it was the Reveille. The mural, of
the view over a village looking down on to the harbour has stayed
with me since then. The 3 D affect of the steps with the cigarette
smoldering, which had been left on the step, gave one the impression
that it could be picked up and smoked. The Greek columns looked
so real that we ran our finger across the columns in an expectation
of feeling the sculptured design. It was pointed out to us that
if we looked at the sky we would see the impression of a sailing
ship which had been painted over by the artist and was to be finished
on his return from the war, but sadly he was killed at D Day.
The Haig Trophy
What was it called when we used to
climb about three or four of those hills and have to complete
various exercises - such as diving in to ice cold water to place
a panel over a hole and then pump out the water. Supposed to be
a submarine which had sunk and the idea was to see if we could
work out how to raise the 'sub'. Also had to build a bridge across
a small river / stream or build a raft from 45 gal oil drums and
float your team across. Four in a team I think. At each point
where we had to do one of the 'challenges' there would be a very
cold officer or teacher waiting to make sure all teams played
the game and to allocate points etc. The day would start very
very early - by coach to starting point - and it would be well
after 6 or 7 pm before we got back to camp. Did we all have bars
of Kendal Mint cake (like a chocolate bar & bought with our
own money) to eat for sudden input of energy. It was either at
Conway or I was daft enough to do hill climbing with someone else
and we ate the cake then - help me out ! I feel tired out thinking
of those mountain days - but great fun even at the time.
I remember taking part in the Haig
Trophy one year. One of the tasks I recall involved Geoff Drake
standing beside some deep Snowdon pool, and you were required
to work out how deep it was using a bit of kit, (who's name escapes
me), had a glass tube fitted to a length of line, just above the
weight, a tube was fitted, which was coated with a chemical inside,
that changed colour when it was in contact with salt water, so
you determined the depth by how much of the tube changed colour.
The problem was that this particular pool was fresh water, and
the trick was to ask Geoff for some salt to smear over the bottom
of the tube, at which point Geoff would produce some Saxa from
a pocket, Tommy Cooper like.
I think I was in that same group
with you - trying to determine the depth of that pool. Then I
think we went on to climb a mountain into the mist and didn't
we come across the remains of a plane crash? Then to get down,
I remember us climbing down some very steep "chimneys"
- very scary!
I remember that a bonfire had been
built for Guy Fawkes night. The event had been rained off and
the following day our class had Geoff Drake. As I seem to remember
that the works on the new block had already begun it was probably
November 1962. Anyway the bonfire was totally waterlogged and
Geoff Drake sent two of us down to the dock with instructions
to bring back two buckets of TVO each. Once we got back we were
allowed to pour two buckets of TVO over the bonfire. He lit a
newspaper and stuck it in the bonfire, which of course started
Once the fire took hold he told one
of us to chuck one of the remaining buckets over the bonfire,
which was done immediately. The result was a colossal black mushroom
of smoke and flame. Fortunately we were upwind of the fire, but
maybe he'd thought of that... The second bucket went on too, but
we were already getting blasť about it.
Cross Strait Swim
Jelly fish were a problem every summer
but the summer of '62 (Sounds like a song title?) was the year
of the Portuguese Men O'War and cries of 'Je-ee-e-ll-eeee Fishhhh'
could be heard frequently. I believe the participants were almost
all from those that had started into the 2 year course; with the
exception of those chosen for their prowess in skiving who acted
as coxes/strokes etc for the rescue boats which were manned mainly
with junior cadets. It was a grey day ( Low water slack) and there
was nothing at the other end in the dock except a towel and uniform
and a swift double up the hill to the camp. (Doubling after that?)
I lived in Cyprus at the time and had become a reasonable swimmer
(No racing snake but could at least manage the distance.) I came
in shortly after the first group of super fit chummies like Fish
Simpkins, who if I remember actually was in first?
I remember the last swim over from
the dock Summer term 62 - it seemed to take a heck of a long time
( not a very fast swimmer on long distances) and then wade ashore
and do it all again - the problem was that we had to contend with
a large number of ( I think) Portuguese man of war jelly fish
with huge tentacles. The boats were out picking up people who
either got stung or were just tired out. By the time I got back
to the dock thinking I was the last one, the tide had changed.
I looked back over the Strait there were groups of cadets still
in the water trying to avoid the jelly fish. The disturbance caused
by a group seemed to keep the jelly fish a bay. I didn't enjoy
that day one bit.
"The cross strait swim was something
I had totally forgotten until it was raised the other day –
however things come back and your recollection of the day matches
mine - cold and grey! I don't know if it was everyone although
quite a few took part but I think there was some element of choice
involved. Was it not the senior few terms only? Laughably our
"training" for the big event of course took place in
the pool, only available after high water 'cos o the leaks, which
I feel was not the old ships most successfully planned match between
training and the real thing all I ever did was try to make the
biggest splash. I can't remember where I came in the actual race
although I think by the sound of it I probably finished ahead
of your good self! One of those things that at least when you
had done it gave a sense of achievment no matter how long it took.
I think I must have missed the jellyfish on the route I took as
I don't remember being stung. As far as nostalgia goes I make
no excuses. I hated school before I went to Conway and I only
ever had the best of recollections from there both in terms of
enjoyment and what it gave us and made us as people. I believe
that it was a tremendous training for the start of out adventures
at sea and certainly left me with lasting standards and attributes.
I also loved the sea and still do even though I left the MN a
long time ago. So long live nostalgia no matter the comments of
the women folk (who as I point out to mine haven't got the faintest
idea what we're on about anyway, so no change there)! I remember
the jellyfish thing. That summer a chap dived off Bangor pier
stright into a jellyfish and died. I think we had to swim round
one of the rowing cutters on the other side of the strait. If
I remember rightly it was rather a grey day. Upon getting out
of the water we were all chivied up to the seamanship room to
dry off and change back into uniform. You'd have thought they
would have given us a warm cocoa or something. I think I came
in at an inglorious 28th having breast-stroked it there and back."
"I think I got back in time
for tea - just. I think I started all style and cross channelish
and ended up after about 100 yards, doggy paddling there and back.
It was a grey day and I think it was a Sunday afternoon as I seem
to remember doubling up from the dock to keep warm for tea &
cake. As far as I can remember the whole school took part ( or
those considered fit enough) - from memory there were a lot of
us in the water at the start all full of vigour and churning the
stuff to white"
"I seem to recall that each
Divisional Officer had to assess the capability of the cadets
to do it and if in doubt, as I was in the first summer, had to
do a trial in the pool. I obviously passed the trial as I was
probably too scared of the consequences of failing. I believe
that there were no consequences for failure in the straits swim
as putting in the effort was considered satisfactory."
"One of the big things that
sits in my memory was the training for rugby. Every winter morning
at 0600 hr double down to the wash area in the House and then
training with Mr Bayliss cold & wet for the start of the day.
If it was heavy rain then we were allowed to sit in a room in
the House area and we would discuss tactics. The best part was
the breakfast - thick slices of fried bread and eggs - very none
PC in today's world but it was great. More training at 1600 hr
and matches Wednesday, Saturday & sometimes on Sundays - I
got to see a lot of the country via the local coach company and
I can even remember all the Elvis songs we would sing on the coach.
The funny thing is, since leaving Conway and going to sea I have
grown to hate sport."
"I left in May of '63 and was
on the I XV for about a year and a half before that - got capped
in the Autumn of '62. I remember Chris Gilbert was a wing and
could out run almost any opponent"
"The buses were fun. I rented
them (2) - twice a term - for 2 guineas (is that how you spell
them) each and charged one and three pence for each cadet to travel
to Bangor. I could cram over 50 cadets on both upper and lower
levels, so you can see the return on investment was considerable.
The ship only hired buses to bring us back from Bangor - so to
get there was a very long and tedious walk/hitch hike. Guess they
didn't provide the buses to dissuade us from going. This went
on for 3 terms 'till the staff started asking who had actually
made the arrangements. Eric lambasted me when he found out that
I was making a profit out of my fellow cadets - and the deal was
day in the early summer he took it into his head to give us parade
ground drill on the tennis courts. I cannot for the life of me
remember why, but as far as I can remember the entire 5th term
took part. Anyway we spent what seemed like hours on the boiling
hot asphalt of the tennis courts trying to learn how to execute
quarter turns, and then move off on the diagonal. As you
can imagine the whole process was chaotic. And we gradually became
increasingly bolshie. With people deliberately getting it wrong.
After a while Brookie turned red and eventually got angry, which
of course is what we wanted. He marched us single file out of
the tennis courts and made us form up. We then spent the next
half hour doubling up and down to the Kelvin Block with Brookie
monitoring affairs from his bike. Well of course there was a fair
bit of muttering in the ranks and I remember imitating his voice
and ordering "Qua-orta TURN" as we were doubling back
towards the dock. There were a fair few giggles at that, but suddenly
I had a sense of impending doom, and ducked to miss its swoop.
Brookie's hand whizzed over my head, making my cap drop off, but
which I caught and quickly restored as we doubled along. However
as we pulled away from we became aware that Brookie's mad swing
had caused him to lose his balance, landing him in an ungraceful
heap at the top of the Marquis's lawn. We doubled back down to
the Kelvin Block and back to the top, where we were dismissed
by a slightly disheveled Brookie for the rest of the day. Not
a word was ever said again about quarter turns.”
doing Rule of the Road.
“What's a rapid
ringing of a bell followed by a white light followed by a red light??
Of course we all knew the answer but kept quiet and then said What
sir??? The famous Brookie grin would appear he would give the answer
“Me passing by on my bike at night.”
New Chart Room
of the gear previously in the ship's Chart House was now kept
in the Seamanship Room on the dock. There was also some rather
antiquated electronic equipment (Loran presumably) that I never
saw being used. The Kelvin depth-sounding equipment with its many
fathoms of high grade steel line was set up on the side of the
dock. I am not sure if my memory's playing tricks or not, but
as far as I can remember the binnacle with its brass cover was
in the seamanship room and there was another less impressive binnacle
set up outside so that you could fit an azimuth ring to it to
practise taking bearings. There was also a dry card compass set
up diagonally opposite Eric's office in the Camp."
The Ship's Company Climbs
"I think it was my last term
at the house before going up to the camp and on April Fools Day
Brooksmith's bicycle was up the flag pole near the canteen with
some flags. He was actually good about it with his large smile.
He took the 2nd XV I think. One start of an Easter term the weather
had been so cold that the away matches were cancelled due to the
hard ground so we all went to climb Snowdon - up the back way
and down the railway side. We climbed Snowden in wellington boots
and greatcoats. Brooksmith and Kingsford said at the summit that
if any cadets beat them down they would buy a beer for them. I
think 6 or 10 cadets beat them down."
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