More HMS Ganges


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I realize I have already blogged extensively about Ganges, and you may be wondering ,what now???

My book “The Royal Navy & Me” is on several sites and yesterday a very nice lady who had read the first three chapters, sent me her thoughts of my time at Ganges. What stood out for me was she said it sounded harsh and cruel, she couldn’t imagine her sons or grandsons submitting to such a system. I can understand why she would think that, in today’s society it couldn’t happen, people would surely be arrested. But Ganges is gone these many years and some of us might say, “mores the pity”. Ganges well may have been harsh and often cruel, but during my year there I never considered it as such. For me and I’m sure most other boys it was just the way things were done in the Navy. If we did as we were told, carried out our orders promptly and properly everything ran smoothly. Of course we were punished and often because of one boy failing to do his part. Always the whole class suffered, but it created a team spirit, we worked together and helped each other to accomplish the tasks we were set. A few boys ran away, they were always caught and returned to the camp. Their punishment was severe, either six or twelve cuts. Not quite like flogging but close! In the presence of the Commander, Medical Officer and the Master at Arms the boy was order to lower his pants and bend over a chair. The Master at Arms then administered the number of cuts across the boys bottom with a bamboo cane raising the required number of welts. Cruel? maybe, but this was considered desertion and few ever did it twice.
I completed my year at Ganges and then remained for three months as an Instructor boy, helping teach the new recruits during their first six weeks basic training before they entered the main camp. I think most boys would agree we left Ganges with a real pride of accomplishment. We had arrived as fifteen year old boys who could barely tie our own shoes. One year later we left as smart, proud and well trained sailors. Any ship in the fleet was happy to get Ganges boys as crew, we were the best trained seamen in the Royal Navy. Many years later, as a member of the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve, I was on an Officer Candidate training course. At the end of the course I was awarded outstanding candidate, I don’t tell you this to brag but merely to point out, it was due to my Ganges Training!!.
I’m now pushing 75 yet still remember and use my Ganges training. My wife is amazed that I insist in ironing my own clothes, she wouldn’t do it right!! In my dresser drawers my kit is still neatly folded and in its proper place. I can sew on a button mend a tear, clean and cook if I need too. I doubt there are a lot of civilian counterparts who could claim the same. Cruel and Harsh?? maybe, then again maybe it was done to be kind? Whatever others might think, for me the truth is, I joined as a boy and became a man. That training has stayed with me my whole life and has made me the person I’m today.

In closing I leave you with this. At the Ganges Gym engraved on a stone plaque was the famous poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling.

The last line reads – “Your is the Earth and everything that’s in it. And – which is more – you’ll be a man, my son

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.
This entry was posted in HM Submarines, HMS Cockade, hms ganges, military, The Royal Navy & Me, veterans and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to More HMS Ganges

  1. Budger says:

    sadly if you look around the world children are experiencing this type of treatment and not with the intention of making them better and stronger people. Great writing as usual!

  2. irishroverpei says:

    Not sure I agree with your comparison, we were clean clothed, well fed and had a bed and roof over our heads. The suffering children today would probably welcome a Ganges

  3. I was a Ganges rating from July 13th 1971 until June 1972. I was a badge boy in Rodney Division 44 mess. OEM trainee. I was the drum major in the Bugle Band, and earned my badge in field hockey. Best single year of my life to date. Made me what I am. Thanks.

    • irishroverpei says:

      Hi Billy great to hear from you, I think most all Ganges Boys would agree with you, the best year of our lives but also the toughest.

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