Working your Ticket

Working your ticket???anyone know what that means in Jack Speak? Well it means trying to get out of the Royal Navy before your time has expired. Let me explain, when I joined the Navy in 1954 I had to sign a document saying I would serve for twelve years service. What the recruiter didn’t dwell on was the fact that at 15 years (need my fathers signature) what I had just signed up for. I was signing for twelve years, but my time didn’t actually start until I reached my 18th birthday. In other words the Navy had me for a total of 15 years. Now I’m not complaining I was very happy in the Navy and was quite surprised when told my time was almost up and I had to return to Portsmouth in July 1966 because I had to be in home waters for the last six months of service.
However, not everyone was happy with the long period of service but there was no easy way to get out of it. You could buy yourself out but that was expensive and few could afford it. The only other alternative was to “work your ticket”, try to convince the Medical Officer you were unfit, pretend to be deaf was a popular one or maybe try a variety of mad-loco-crazy scams. Hence, if successful you might receive a medical discharge. Easier said than done. I recall a Jack Dusty (jack speak for supply rating) aboard HMS Cockade, he hated the Navy and attempted the crazy route to freedom. He began by talking to himself when an officer came in for supplies, that didn’t work, so he took to walking imaginary ducks on the upper deck during action stations. That didn’t work either, just got him into trouble with loss of pay or leave. He tried a variety of other methods with similar negative results. After trying to work his ticket for about a year he decided to up his game. He next claimed to have trained pet spiders. One day traveling from Singapore by train he had the spiders sitting on the seat next to him and would not allow anyone to sit on them. At the next station a Naval Lieutenant entered the compartment, he ignored Jack Dusty’s demand he not sit on the spiders. He plonked himself down and dusty punched him full in the face. You are probably thinking he got out of the navy this time??? but he didn’t, instead he was shipped off to the British Army stockade for three months hard labour. When he returned to the ship he looked quite fit and trim with his head shaved, and apparently he could dis-assemble and re-assemble a Sten Gun in record time. But he was still in the navy. At the end of our tour of duty we returned to Plymouth and I lost touch with Dusty. I was never to learn if he worked his ticket or served his time. Seems to me it would have been a lot easier just to do the time.
God Bless and keep reading

About irishroverpei

Author of "Lily & Me", "The Royal Navy & Me" and Chapter XXl Armageddon. Writer, blogger and RN Submariner, antique automobile enthusiast.
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