Pedophiles at HMS Ganges is probably not what Ganges boys want to remember. Nevertheless, the camp had its share in the days when such things were never mentioned. Like all Ganges boys I’m proud to say I passed through those hard and often frightening times. I too, emerged as a well trained seaman and was well on my way to becoming a man. Ganges was in my opinion the best Naval training system in the land, maybe the world. Fifteen year old boys entered through the gates unable to talk care of themselves many unable to tie their shoes without Mothers help. They left as capable young men who could washed and iron their clothes,repaired clothing sewed on buttoms and badges. We could do dishes and cook our own food when necessary. In other words, not merely well trained seamen, we were trained for life in general. Sadly there was a blot on the Ganges system between some instructors and their innocent charges. This certainly didn’t apply to all instructors but there were a few that took advantage of our fear and compulsion to please. We were often naked while doing our laundry, a smack on the bare bum common place. We showered in a communal shower room and were inspected by instructors by standing in front of them legs apart and arms raised. We were required to turn and bend over as part of the inspection. One night I was crossing the Quarter Deck when I noticed something strange goings on in the mess at the top of the long covered way. Looking in the window I saw all the boys standing on the end of their beds their pajama bottoms around their ankles. Their instructor a Chief Petty Officer was walking up one side of the mess and down the other fondling the boys as he went. I was fairly sure he had been drinking but didn’t stay around for fear I’d get caught. We had a commissioned officer at the school of seamanship, one of his jobs was to test our piping abilities with a Bo’sun call. If we passed his test we could wear a Bu’sun chain with our uniform instead of a lanyard. Most boys saw the chain as a symbol of success and pride, and it was something I really wanted. I remember other boys who already had their chains telling me to go down to his office in the evening and be sure to wear gym shorts. At the time I wasn’t aware why wearing shorts was needed to play the bo’sun pipe. But I took the advice and off I went in gym shorts. I passed my test while the instructor had his hand in my shorts. I don’t think any of us completely understood what was happening, we knew it was wrong, but instructors were Gods and we never challenged them. If I had reported my experience at the seamanship school, I doubt I’d have been believed and I would certainly have become marked as a boy to be watched by instructors.
Ganges was without doubt the hardest year of my young life. The training was harsh and unrelenting. we rose at the crack of dawn and turned in nine each night. Cuts were the ultimate punishment, something I’m glad to say I never experienced. Cuts were administered for such crimes as AWOL or perhaps stealing. The punishment was carried out by the Master at Arms, the offending boy bent over a chair (in older times it was over a cannon) and the cane would raise welts on the boys bottom, one welt for each stroke of the cane. Cuts were usually in numbers of six and twelve. A medical officer was required to be in attendance for the punishment. Ganges is long gone today, and modern society would never tolerate such cruelty or punishment . However I survived and have built my life and character on the training I received at Ganges, whose motto was “Wisdom is Strength” At the entrance to the gym was the famous poem by Kipling “If” which ended with the line “you will be a man my son” Today, I can’t help thinking our politicians would do better if they were first trained at Ganges.
God Bless and keep reading.(AWOL- Absent with out Leave)
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Ben although an army apprentice I understand completely your life at HMS GAnges. No matter some bad times, we survived and celebrate the Great times and the Great comradeships and friendships which were cemented during those days of training Merry Christmas and a Hae a Guid Hogmonay. I also leave you with these words from a Professor especially at our station in life as senior citizens:
“A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’
The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed..
‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.. The sand is everything else—the small stuff.
‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.
If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.
Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.
Take care of the golf balls first—the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.”
Good one Robby and thank you for the seasons wishes. I did spend one Hogmanay in the Highlands, not sure I could survive a second one though!!! Have a great Christmas and New Year. Oh! by the way there is a new name floating around for your favourite PM – Harpenfehrur.
CORRECTION: second Favourite PM Mr Harper First Favourite was of Irish Descent MB Mulroney
I like Brian too!! but he let me down when he promised to build or purchase nuclear submarines and didn’t
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