|HMS Conway 1859 - 1974
© Alfie Windsor 1998
Over time HMS Conway had three different ensigns. The first was the house flag of Conway's owners, the Mercantile Marine Services Association (MMSA) of Liverpool. It is on the left below. In 1896 the Admiralty sanctioned use of the blue ensign defaced with a yellow castle shown below right. In 1927 the shape of the castle evolved from the original rather stumpy design to the more curvaceous shape shown at the bottom of the page and used on the ensign to this day. This shape of castle was copied from the MMSA’s original coat of arms (see 1859 overleaf) but, strangely, was never used on any subsequent coat of arms, crests or badges.
Crests & Badges
1 HMS Conway Coat of Arms
What Old Conways often refer to as the crest is correctly a coat of arms. The official coat of arms of HMS Conway and its various legal incarnations centred around a three towered castle over a scroll bearing the motto ‘Quit Ye Like Men Be Strong’. Between the castle and the scroll was a stylised representation of waves, and from 1940 the whole was surmounted by the Royal Navy (RN) crown. The first version introduced in 1859 had the MMSA ensign over the castle. But by 1913 the coat of arms had simplified down to the core format used to this day. It evolved over the intervening years and the main versions are shown below. In each case the date accompanying the image is simply the first reference I have found to its use, not necessarily when it was first introduced. The main evolution was in the form of the scroll and shape of the castle. The colour (correctly the tincture) of the coat of arms also varied widely and multiple versions were often used at the same time e.g. in 1964 the ‘1940 version’ was used as the ship’s stationery letterhead, the ‘1962 version’ was used on the cover of sports programmes and term calendars, while the ‘1963 version’ was carved above the entrance to the New Block. The 1919 version was drawn by marine artist Kenneth Shoesmith (06-08).
2 The ‘Strap & Buckle’ Badges
Another set of emblems was in use at the same time as the ‘castle’ coat of arms. I have called them ‘Strap & Buckle’ badges because they were all enclosed in a belt and buckle or similar style device, and the heraldic term ‘badge’ seems to fit them best. These seem to have been used most often as the official letterhead and on other documents like fee receipts. Once again, the date accompanying each badge is simply the first reference I have found to its use. The 1880 and 1917 versions are very similar. Note the use of the term ‘school ship’ from the outset.
In April 1920 a monochrome
crest was introduced showing the ship (seen from the port quarter) surrounded by a laurel wreath,
surmounted by a red castle and with the motto handwritten in a scroll below. Its
purpose is not clear. It was first used in the April 1920 The Cadet and was
intermittently used thereafter on Cadet Record Books, Passing Out Certificates,
Merit Certificates and the Prospectus. It was not used on official stationery and
it never fully replaced the ‘castle’ coat of arms but it remains the most
recognisable Conway symbol for OCs.
4 Conway Club’s Coat Of Arms
From 1907 OCs began wearing a blazer
badge shown below as version 2, comprising the castle motif from Conway’s coat of arms over a shield
bearing the letters OC. The designer is not known. The club was formed in 1910
but did not adopt a coat of arms for some years so OCs continued to wear the
1907 version. Eventually version 1 below became the Club’s first coat of arms with OC changed to CC, i.e.,
Conway Club. The designer is believed to have been Lt Cdr W P Thompson OBE RNR
(1869-70). Late in 1925 version 2 was formally reintroduce
In 1953 in preparation for the planned refit., drauhmsten from Alfred Holt & Co produced incredibly detailed plans of every deck of the Ship. The originals are held by the Friends Of HMS Conway but copies are reproduced below.
Longest Serving Cadets
Cadets served for two or three years (24 or 36 months) but some stayed longer. The longest serving cadets were:
1945 QBs were allowed to use hammock stretchers which apparently made them much more comfortable!
1948. The order 'Lash up and stow' prompted a headlong helter-skelter down the hatch ladders in a race to reach your hammock into which you hastily stowed your bedding and lashed it up with (as I recall) seven equally spaced half-hitches which you laid back on with all your weight before rushing it off to fall in line with the rest of your Top to present your handiwork for inspection. The last one in the line immediately got three over the backside (somebody had to be last!). The inspecting CC then bent your hammock double to loosen the lashings, and then vigorously tugged at the canvas in the six spaces between the lashings to see if he could expose any bedding. You got one over the 'Butt' for each space where bedding could be exposed, and it follows that if bedding could be exposed in one space the canvass could be pulled through to expose it in the other five! And that was just the start of yet another day for your long-suffering 'Butt'! Happy Days!...
1949. The general opinion was that they were comfortable to sleep in, but I slept in one for 2.5 years and I disagree. I adjusted to nettles, and even brought a small pillow from home and smuggled it onboard, but I could never get as comfortable as a half decent bed. Furthermore some miscreant could let you down in the night just for fun, and then there was the awful moment in the Summer when you had to put the whole kit and kaboodle on your shoulders and carry it ashore for scrubbing. At 13 years of age an about 130lbs ringing wet to carry it complete with contents down or up steep ladders and into a cutter jammed in with as many as possible and then up the pier to the scrubbing area was not a happy time. If memory serves the half hitches were actually supposed to be marline hitches and there was a difference in that to make the hitch the rope went over the standing part not under. The punishment for such infractions was you had to take your hammock ashore and double around the parade ground with it. Some of the tough kids would keep going for several hours but eventually collapse face down in the dirt and not moving, and the Seamanship Officer and Ex Heavy Weight Champion of the Navy would just stand there in the rain staring into the middle distance.
1952. Another shipboard memory concerns sleeping in a hammock. Some New Chums, myself included, had difficulty in lashing-up and stowing properly in the mornings. The ideal was to fold bedding and pyjamas into the canvas such a way the hammock could be tightly lashed in a series of looped rope, and end up by being relatively firm. It could then be hoisted onto one's shoulder and carried down to the hold where hammocks were stowed in the daytime. As you can imagine, a floppy hammock was not only difficult to wield, but could easily become undone to the acute embarrassment of the cadet concerned.
On my first night aboard, I wondered whether it would be possible to sleep on my right side, as I habitually did. It was!
Some apparently helpful seniors would "assist" New Chums to attach their hammocks, but use a slip-knot, so that the hapless cadet would crash to the deck when he got into his hammock. Of course, this was potentially very dangerous, as serious injury could have resulted had a New Chum landed sharply on his head.
Once hammocks we were safely slung, and we were comfortably settled for the night, a bugler would sound the Last Post. If this was expertly played, it could be a very moving moment. Sleep, like death, should ideally involve a trusting surrender, and there was something strangely humbling and comforting in this knowledge, underlined as it was by the evocative notes of bugler.
1968. Whilst sleeping in hammocks ended with the loss of the ship, even in 1968 cadets were still sleeping on hammocks as they were by then used as a liner between bed mattresses and bed springs.
The ship's motto was "Quit Ye Like Men Be Strong". This was taken from 1 Corinthians Chapter 16 verse 13 in the King James's Bible. The newer version of the bible translates it somewhat differently: "be men of courage; be strong".
Life onboard was very strict with many rules and regulations. When new cadets arrived they were called New Chums and given a period of grace to learn the ship's customs and patterns. After that all too short period, punishment - usually with a ropes end called a 'teaser' and delivered by one of the senior cadets, was sure to follow any breach. These arrangements were still in place over 100 years after the ship first opened.
Numbers (of cadets)
Cadet Numbering System
Conway cadet had a unique number although few understood how
these were allocated. It was all down to your first entry in the
The registers are very large tomes (about 4 inches thick) and
numbered pages and as each individual joined up his details
were entered on the next free double page spread and that page number
became a boy's cadet number. For instance,
Volume 13/36 (MMM numbering) showed - Webber page 225 -
page 226 - Bissell page 227 - Hayter page 228 - and
229. This volume went up to page 300
- then the next volume (MMM 13/37) went from 301 to 599. Over
the years numbers were reused many times.
Petty Officers / Cadet Captains & Punishments
outset in 1859, a small number of senior boys were promoted as
Petty Officers responsible for the good and orderly day to day operation
of the ship. Each PO was given a specific area of responsibility,
either for part of the ship e.g. Library, Armoury or Canteen, or
for a body of cadets e.g. Port Fore and Stbd Main. The head boy was
called the Chief Petty Officer (CPO). POs had very considerable power
including laying on casual corporal punishment with a rope's end called
a Teaser. In the RN they were called Starters - because a quick stoke
would get slower sailors promptly started on an order. Later a formal
Gun Room system was instigated whereby POs had to charge a miscreant
with a misdemeanor which was then examined and
punishments awarded. Punishment Books recorded all reports and
outcomes. The majority are now in the Conway Archive at the
Meseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool. The punishments still included
corporal punishment but also (in the eyes of many cadets) far worse
things like an early heave out.
In Oct 1893 the CPO's title changed to Senior PO but in March 1904 he reverted to being called the CPO again, and the POs were renamed First Class POs but given the title Captain (eg Capt of Stbd Fore).
On 1st November 1908 Captain Broadbent announced that the system of Petty Officers was to stop forthwith and be replaced by a new title of Cadet Captain, with the head boy called the Chief Cadet Captain (CCC but more commonly still called the CPO) and the heads of Top Watches designated SCCs. No explanation for the change was given. The term CPO continued to be used colloquially as an alternative to CCC well into the late 60’s
A rank of SCC Shore Establishment was introduced in Jan 50 to coincide with the creation of the House and in Jan 1951 a completely new rank of Deputy CC was introduced with one “Ashore” (later “Shore”) and one “Afloat” (later “Ship”). Thos DCCs were also colloquially referred to as DCPO. The term Rate was also used to indicate any CC.
In Jan 1965 the term Captain was reintroduced to lead specific sports teams but those individuals were not rated specifically for the job.
Promotions were awarded at the end of each term. 'Ranks' were indicated
by gold braid on No 1 dress uniforms and by small collar badges for
normal working kit. Punishment evolved to include early heave outs
with additional morning exercises, stone picking (with a marlin spike
on hands and knees in the playing fields), extra duties and loss of
shore leave. As before many cadets preferred the Teaser - it was
over an done with quickly - no one wanted to get up early and do
exercises or stand watches during the minuscule amount of free time
allowed. The Teaser stopped in 1968 on the change from the MMSA with a Captain
Superintendent to normal school with a Headmaster in command.
In the 1850s, in order to qualify as a merchant navy officer a four year apprenticeship had to be served at sea. The Liverpool shipping company of Jones, Palmer & Co and others had, at the opening of the school, announced that two or three years on the Conway would be accepted by them as the equivalent of one year at sea, reducing their apprenticeship time. In 1861 the Board Of Trade decided that two years spent training at Conway would count as one year served as a cadet at sea. Thus Conway cadets only had to complete three years training at sea instead of the four required for anyone going straight to sea. For this reason Cadets in their last term were called Quarter Boys or QBs. This practice continued for over 100 years until closure in 1974. Cadets received a Conway Passing Out Certificate of Exemption when they left Conway.
Conways developed a whole language of their own in addition to normal naval terminology.
This Glossary serves two purposes. It provides a very short explanation of standard naval terminology/abbreviations used in the text, and it decodes the Conway specific slang words/terminology in everyday use in the Ship. The meaning of some slang terms changed over the years.
Aft 1. The back or stern end of a ship.
2. Towards the back of anything.
Andes One of the list of ships’ names adopted for one of the dormitories at the House.
Band Shag Member of the band and/or ‘free thinker’.
Bertha One of the seats in a rowing gig or cutter.
Big Stink The large motorboat.
Bilge Cod Fish.
Bishop A derisory term meaning out of date or old fashioned.
Bitts Short, heavy oaken ‘crucifixes’ round which the various cordage controlling the movement of the mainsail would be secured.
Blu Flu Alfred Holt’s Blue Funnel Line.
Boris An unclean cadet.
Boris Box In the New Block each cadet had a chest of drawers for their belongings so the old sea chests were superfluous. Rather than throw them away, they were cut down in size, placed at the foot of each bunk and used to store dirty laundry until wash day. The term Boris meant an unclean cadet so the boxes were soon nicknamed Boris Boxes.
Bows The very front of a vessel.
Bright Work Any polished metal
Bright Work Juice Brasso.
BSF British Shipping Federation.
Bug Juice Hair oil.
Cab The second gig.
Cadet Captain Conway’s naval equivalent of a school prefect.
Carry On A two note bugle call in the Ship to indicate that the previous ‘Still’ and order were complete, and that normal activity could be resumed: Tuh, tuuuuuuu
CCC Chief Cadet Captain, interchangeable with CPO.
Cheese Crap Cheese and potatoes.
Chum A friend. Hence a new chum was a newly joined cadet.
Climb Zion To rush up to the Focsle chased by senior cadets.
Clout(S) Pieces of threadbare bedcovers or cloth, which cadets would slide around on to improve the shine of their section of deck and to avoid damage to it.
Colours 1. The act of raising the ensign in the morning.
2. Badge awarded for notable prowess in a sport.
Condenny See Conny.
Conny Condensed milk.
Cossack One of the list of ships’ names used from 1943 to 1949 to group cadets for sporting competitions.
Covered Wagon Fruit tart.
Cow Juice Milk.
CPO Chief Cadet Captain. Interchangeable with CCC.
Cuts Being struck over the backside with the Teaser.
Cutter A 10 or 12 oared pulling boat that could also be rigged for sailing.
DCCC Deputy Chief Cadet Captain, interchangeable with DCPO.
DCPO Deputy Chief Cadet Captain, interchangeable with DCCC.
Dead Man’s Leg Jam roly poly.
Dead Man’s Tool Long suet pudding with sultanas.
Deadeyes For Square? Shall I pass inspection at Divisions?
“Deck!” A request to pass over a part of the ship ‘owned’ by a Top other than the requester’s own.
Ditching The Gash Throwing out the rubbish.
Division A grouping of cadets, originally by size but later for sporting and other competitive purposes. Interchangeable with Top.
Divisions Parade and inspection of all cadets.
DMT Abbreviation for Dead Man’s Tool
Fife One of two Fife designed sailing boats.
First Spare! Request for any uneaten food.
Focsle Pronounced ‘folk-sul’
1. Abbreviation of forecastle, the area in the bows of a ship.
2. One of the Divisions.
Forrad Forward or towards the front.
Foretop One of the Divisions.
Fresh Juice Water.
Frig About To fool around.
G The special bugle note sounded five minutes before Division in the Ship. It was also used in series with other calls e.g. with the ‘Cutters Away’ call to indicate which cutter was required.
Gaff A small fore and aft yard angled upwards from the mizzen mast.
Galley Trogs Welsh kitchen staff.
Gangway 1. A passageway.
2. Mind your backs! "Gangway please" when addressing seniors.
Gig A six oared pulling boat.
Glyn Garth The Anglesey landing stage near the Ship’s Bangor moorings.
Groyse, To To spit.
Hawse Pipes Two openings in the bows of a ship through which the anchor cable passes.
Heave Round 1. Proceed vigorously.
2. Cleaning ship
HMS His/Her Majesty’s Ship.
Holy Joe One who is good at Scripture.
The House The north end of the Marquis of Anglesey’s home (Plas Newydd) used by cadets. Officially called the Nelson Block.
Howe One of the list of ships’ names used from 1943 to 1949 to group cadets for sporting competitions.
JCC(s) Junior Cadet Captain(s)
Jervis Bay One of the list of ships’ names adopted for one of the dormitories at the House.
Juice Barge Special boat used every day to collect water for the Ship.
Kelvin Block The converted stable block at Plas Newydd.
King Of The Woods The most powerful QB, later the QB most other cadets thought should have been a cadet captain.
Knacker/Knackering To borrow something with little intention of returning it. Quiet different to stealing, which was an unforgivable thing.
Light Oh! Request for more light called to anyone who blocks the light.
Lt. Cdr. Lieutenant Commander.
Lt Col. Lieutenant Colonel
Mauritania One of the list of ships’ names adopted for one of the dormitories at the House.
Meat Crap Meat and potatoes.
Mess Clout The weekly duster supplied to each mess.
Mess Deck Restaurant; ok, in deference to Old Conways now clutching their sides with laughter, the place where meals were served.
MN Merchant Navy.
MMSA Mercantile Marine Services Association.
MMSS Mercantile Marine School Ship
Mooch Walking around (the deck) in company but with no real purpose.
MSOD Menai Strait One Design sailing dinghy.
Murphy Half a baked potato.
Muster To line up / queue for any purpose.
Nelson Block See the House.
Nestor One of the list of ships’ names adopted for one of the dormitories at the House.
New Block The new purpose built shore establishment opened in 1964.
new chum New cadet just joined the ship.
Niffle To smoke.
Nix A Buff Look out - someone has broken wind!
Nix Oh! 1. A warning that someone in authority is approaching!
2. Mind your back!
No 1 / Number 1 One of the three motorboats.
No 2 / Number 2 One of the three motorboats.
Nursery Area of the Ship reserved for new chums.
Old Conway Old Conway.
Ohio One of the list of ships’ names used from 1943 to group cadets for sporting competitions. In 1949 the system was abandoned and this name was adopted for one of the dormitories at the House.
Orontes One of the list of ships’ names adopted for one of the dormitories at the House.
PD Port Dinorwic
Pinnace The largest of the three motorboats.
Pipe Down Keep quiet.
Piss-Quicks Cadets who sadly wet their hammocks and so were required to sling in a row near the night heads in the Ship.
Pleb(S) New Chums and other junior cadets in their first couple of terms.
Poop (Deck) The upper most deck at the stern of a vessel.
Port 1. The left side of a vessel, building etc., looking forward.
2. An opening in the side of the Ship.
Pretty Spare Chum Bullshit.
QB Quarter Boy or cadet in his last term whose Conway course has gained him one year’s remission of his four year apprenticeship at sea.
Rangitiki One of the list of ships’ names adopted for one of the dormitories at the House.
Rate A cadet captain of any rank.
Rawlpindi One of the list of ships’ names used from 1943 to group cadets for sporting competitions. In 1949 the system was abandoned and this name was adopted for one of the dormitories at the House.
RCN Royal Canadian Navy.
RD Reserve Decoration, awarded for service in the RNR.
REAN Royal East African Navy.
Reefers Best RNR uniforms.
Returning Gash! The Yak tub was emptied over the side. If anything was blown back towards the ship the cry “Returning Gash!” was used to warn others.
Rig Appropriate/required clothing for an activity.
Rigging The complex system of ropes and blocks, which kept masts and yards in place and, which allowed masts and sails to be to be manoeuvred for sailing.
RIN Royal Indian Navy.
RN Royal Navy.
RNR Royal Naval Reserve.
Ronuk 1. Floor polish.
2. Floor polishing machine.
SCC(s) Senior Cadet Captain(s).
Scouse Irish stew (obvious really).
Sea Lion One of the list of ships’ names used from 1943 to 1949 to group cadets for sporting competitions.
Senior Hand Senior cadet.
Shag 1. The shape a cadet bent his cap into, the more independently minded the individual - the greater the shag in his cap.
2. A cadet one would expect to have a massive shag in his cap!
Shit On A Raft Kidneys or liver on toast.
That portion of
the Ship, right aft on the lower deck, where Sister ministered to sick cadets.
Skilley Tea (any hot drink in earlier years).
Slack Party A group of cadets performing a punishment activity.
Slash Creek Secluded inlet on the Anglesey side of the strait between Plas Newydd and Port Dinorwic.
Sling To rig a hammock ready for the night.
Slippery Hitch So hitching a hammock that the owner falls to the deck when he gets into his hammock.
Small Stink The small motorboat.
Soduk For A Spread Usually heard right after the bread load came aboard the old ship.
Spell Period of time usually of work.
Spello A rest from work.
Spooky Lt. Cdr. (previously Lt) John Brooke Smith aka Brookie.
Squeaker A small, noisy cadet.
Squit A small cadet.
Starboard The right side of a vessel, building etc., looking forward.
Stars Out 1. To go red in the face.
2. To express incredulity.
Stay A large tarred rope angled down from a mast to the deck, which helped keep the mast in place.
Stern The very back of a vessel.
Still The special bugle call in the Ship instructing everyone to be quiet and listen to the following order. It was four notes, a G plus three ascending notes: Tum, tu-tu-tuuuu.
Stow /Stowed 1. To Put something into storage.
2. To stop doing something.
Suction Suction was the equivalent of modern brown-nosing. When anybody obtained an unusual favour it was always put down to suction, often accompanied by horrible sucking noises, rather like a pump running dry.
Sweep An area of the ship that a cadet was responsible for cleaning and maintaining, every cadet had one.
(To) Sweep To clean.
Tarted Out A poor specimen.
Teaser A ropes end used to inflict corporal punishment.
The Huts The temporary wooden huts built on the site of the Marquis of Anglesey’s old dairy farm to accommodate cadets while the New Block was built, they lasted from 1953 to 1963.
The Ship The wooden wall sailing ship of the line ex HMS Nile used as the floating home for Conway until she was lost in 1953
The Tents The temporary camp site erected for the summer term of 1953 after the loss of the Ship.
Toe Nail Pie A stodgy pudding with bits in.
“Top Please!” A request to pass through a part of the ship owned by a Top other than the requester’s own.
Top 1. The platform where two sections of mast joined and from which where marines could fire down on sailors in enemy ships.
2. A part of the Ship.
3. A grouping of cadets, originally by size but later for organisational, sporting and other competitive purposes. Interchangeable with Division.
Train Crash Tinned tomatoes on toast.
Truck The small wooden plate in the very top of each mast.
Vulch, To See Vulture.
Vulture A Cadet eying your plate in the hope you might have left something worth eating.
Water Lilly Cadet who wets the hammock.
Yack / Yak Rubbish or dirt.
Yack Tub Old barrel ends fitted with rope handles on either side, and used as rubbish containers.
Yard A wooden beam attached to a mast from which sails were originally hung.
Yuck Pilchards in tomato sauce.
Zion’s Hill The old Focsle head (pre1938).
The 'Teaser' probably derived its name from the rope ‘Starters’ used historically in the RN; short lengths of rope used to strike, encourage or "start" any crewman who did not respond promptly to an order. The Teaser was a vicious little weapon made from 3/8" tarred hemp maybe 18" overall with an eye-splice at one end, and a 6" back splice at the business end. The back splice thickened and strengthened the rope. The back splice was also "whipped" using a very thin twin to give it further strength and make it less flexible. It was stored in a bottle of salt water which gave it the consistency of a metal bar. Sometimes there was metalwork in the whipping. This rope was then used to beat cadets as a punishment. In the early years it was wielded liberally by anybody with the slightest pretence to petty authority. Over time it was used far less and in more controlled circumstances. It was an extremely painful punishment which very few Conway cadets avoided.
1943-45. Concerning the teaser in my time it was not used all that much. I think the first 2 or 3 weeks as new chums we were let off but as soon as it was over we were liable and I got 3 on the first day. It was from my Chief Cadet Captain he gave me an order and I asked "Why" I never questioned an order again but I did not get it much after that save under the bell, when according to Bossy I was in a disgusting condition at Sunday divisions. The Skipper Wah said he had seen a spot on my collar.
There was once a semi public flogging. Wah went into a pub near the Bangor pier and found 2 Cadets drinking. At Divisions the nest day before marching off the lower deck, the 2 Cadets were fallen in front of the Skipper and told that on account of their offence they would be flogged. "Mr Phelps please take these Cadets to the Orlop deck." Bossy turned up with a cane under his arm. "The Cadets under punishment follow me to the Orlop Deck" They did and we heard the thrashing taking place , 4 or 6. When finished they were marched back before the Skipper and Bossy reported "The Punishment carried out Sir" The Cadets were then told to fall in with their divisions and we marched away.
Another Cadet got 3 under the Bell on one occasion and when they had finished he did not get up and was told that he should turn in. "But I thought I was going to be thrashed Sir"
The thought of the teaser kept me from being caught out - I seem to remember was it not called being bummed?
1945/46 was a period when the teaser was used unmercifully. I well recall the lashing up of hammocks, and anything more than two minutes after your first day on the ship incurred the immediate wrath of a teaser wielding JCC. The lining up and bending the hammocks was done all the time, and one over the bum for every bit of bedding in sight. Also one if it was considered that you did not employ enough energy in bending the hammock over. Never really enjoyed the hammock, except as a QB when we had the seniority to use hammock stretchers. The last term was the only time that this little luxury was permitted. The teaser was used indiscriminately on anyone for any dreamt up excuse. Failure to ask to ask for "top" when moving around the deck was a cardinal sin. I went to the Conway a wimp, but when I eventually left and went to sea, it was a life of luxury in comparison and the hard knocks were easy to take. A great pity that we are unable to knock the young blokes into shape today. In the long run they will be the losers.
1947-49. Any CC or JCC could legitimately carry a teaser to administer "justice" for any breach of rules, spoken or unspoken, any breach of cadet etiquette, or any other reason that offended the sensibilities of a CC. Official Justice was done under the ship's bell at lights-out, usually by a CC under the watchful eye of an officer, and usually limited to "six of the best"!! As JCC and cox'n of the pinnace, I had the "honour" of carrying a teaser, which I am pleased now to say that was used VERY infrequently and only for genuine transgressions.
1949 saw a very dramatic reduction in teaser use on the appointment of Captain Hewitt. Prior to that year teaser punishment was not an after-lights-out-washroom job for genuine misconduct, but was the on the spot immediate consequence mostly for minor infringements of Conway rites and practices; failure to ask permission before crossing the deck or going up a ladder for example, being the last to fall-in to a bugle call, you could get six for a poorly lashed-up hammock, and so on. As a result teaser were much in evidence everywhere and it seemed to me that more than just CC's carried teasers. The widespread daily teaser wielding which needed little excuse was a constant fact of shipboard life. I doubt if any from those days can remember how many 'cuts' they had and certainly not tell you any of the petty reasons why. From 1949 its use was severely limited and infinitely more regulated. Certainly the ever present threat of the teaser as we had known it was no longer there after 1949. Misconduct was an entirely different matter. For offences of this nature there was either the much preferred immediate Gun-room job, or more serious offenders were dealt with by the Duty Warrant Officer under the bell after lights-out. (Presumably so sighted at the through decks hatch so that just like the bell, the whacks could be heard the length of the ship by us all as we lay (thoughtfully!) in our hammocks.)
1954. The funny thing is that I can't remember this beastly rope's end being called a teaser. Although I do definitely remember cuts. Cuts weren't too bad really although they couldn't half raise a welt if the administering CC put his mind to the job at hand. I think I must have been the only cadet ever to have been caned by the Murph, the six-gun toting Shurff of Beaumaris. I've no recollection of how I aroused his ire, but I remember going round to the camp staff room (not far from the Hold huts) and finding Murph reading Sea Breezes. He asked me why I had come and I reminded him he wanted to cane me. He looked at me rather doubtfully and told me to bend down, which I duly did. Seemingly with great effort and a considerable amount of panting he applied the cane to my backside with four of the gentlest taps you can imagine. That was it. So we shook hands and I sloped off.
1954-56. The teaser was still fully employed and as Deputy Chief my allowance officially was up to 3 cuts, Senior Cadet Captains 2, and Juniors was one cut. This was matched by an equal number of Extra Watches or for a delightful variation Slack Party.
1955-58. I can remember many a visit to the washroom for cuts. You were expected to shake hands afterwards too, I usually did but not to xxxxxxx!
1958-60. I can definitely and personally verify the existence of teasers and subsequent "cuts" in 58-60. I managed to qualify to experience them both in the first term at the House and later at the Camp. As I recall, firstly for hiding in my locker to avoid the early morning pre-breakfast run which qualified for a couple of cuts. Too many of us chose to hide on the same day and the large absence must have been rather noticeable as we were all exposed in a snap locker inspection. To receive the cuts, the drill was to appear in pyjamas in the bathroom just before lights out for the rounds to report to the JCC administering them. It was then obligatory to return to the dormitory and display them to all and sundry to see how good (accurate) the JCC was. There was some admiration, not from the recipient, when consecutive cuts had been administered all in one place. I managed at least one set of six cuts from an officer for suspicion of smoking when at the camp. Apparently when returning from shore leave the nicotine fingers and somewhat smoky uniform were a bit of a giveaway.
My QB book has a centre double page for the 'Gun-Room' signatures. Varoious JCCs are listed surrounded by my own scribed border of well known phrases or sayings of the time. "I'll turn you in" "Did you get a substitute?", "That's no excuse", "Do you agree with the punishment?" (that really was a good one), " Three cuts", "Days Slack", "Early Heave Out", "Shake hands" (no hard feelings afterwards!!), "Extra watch". I think I experienced all of them more than once. They were after all my formative years. But no grudges held, I know I deserved all I got. It was just that once bent-over there was a pre-strike tightening and smoothing of the seat of ones trousers by the CC which I rather resented, a bit of slack might have eased the pain a bit.
1959. Cuts came in groups of one to 12! Down at the house I remember having six because a parcel of food from home had £1 included.
1961. It is amazing to think how many cuts were given for smoking. It never seemed to deter most people. Most of the Officers smoked - in fact I believe Hewitt smoked - and never thought for a minuite about the double standard. As someone who has had to motivate people to excellence in my live after Conway, I look back on the use of the Teaser (which was, as noted, used all through my time) and wonder what on earth the people in charge were thinking! My lasting memory of the teaser was having to get an extra cut because I refused to say Thank You and shake hands with the cadet captain who delivered the cuts!
1964. I recall falling out bigtime in my first term with the DCPO House my Divison JCC. Think I ended up with 24 "cuts" that term, the last 3 on the last day of term for coming second in a fight! My mother saw the damage a few days later and was more concerned at the bruises on my buttocks than the stitches in my mouth!
1967. "Teaser" salt water soaking was definitely still on in '67 and I can remember being told that saying the phrase "May the Lord harden my heart and strengthen my arm to administer justice to this culprit!" was just long enough to let the sting of the first cut really take home! Still I always preferred the instant justice of cuts to being forced to run up and down the dock road holding stones in outstretched arms until you lost all feeling, had involuntary tears rolling down your cheeks and still had some sadistic b...d screaming at you at the top of his lungs, threatening you with another early heave out!
1968. The Teaser was still in use although in a very limited and controlled way. It’s appearance was little changed although it no longer had an eye splice at one end. It was kept in a milk bottle full of salt water which had the effect of stiffening it so it was more like a solid metal rod than a length of rope. Any offence or misdemeanour was liable to result in the cadet being put on a charge by the JCC or Senior Cadet Captain. JCCs could also be put on a charge by an SCC. Offenders would have to line up outside the Gun Room – generally with some trepidation as cuts were very painful. They always caused bruising and often drew blood, recipients sometimes went straight from the Gun Room to sick bay! Not all cadets could stand the pain and had to return for their allocated number of cuts to be completed. Offenders were marched into the Gun Room, accompanied by their accuser. The CCC or his deputy (standing behind a desk with the SCCs standing around him) would read out the charge, give the offender an opportunity to explain himself before some (if any) punishment was awarded. More often than not this was a Slack Party or extra watches (both of which deprived the person of what little free time they had), an early heave out (and we got up early enough as it was) or a number of cuts from the teaser. The CCC could deliver 6, other cadet captains lesser numbers depending on rank. Any cadet who was promoted to Cadet Captain and who had never received any cuts would have to receive some before they were allowed to deliver them as punishement to other cadets. All punishments were recorded in the Punishment Book and reviewed by Captain Hewitt. (Ed: Punishment Books are all held by the Club and are not in the Conway Archive).
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