March 8th 1955 I had just turned 16 and it was indeed an exciting time, I had recently received another official brown envelope with the bold black letters “On Her Majesty’s Service”. The latest letter included my travel schedule to HMS Ganges and itinerary along the way. I would leave Belfast early morning on the 14th March catching the steamer to Liverpool. I would be travelling with several other boys and we’d stay over night in Liverpool at the Seaman’s Mission. Catch the London train on Wednesday morning. Our approximate arrival time at Ganges was 3 pm on the 15th March 1955. I was very excited and just knew the next five days would drag on. My mind was full of all the good things I imagined about the Navy, travelling to exotic lands, girls galore once I got my uniform. Oh Boy!!! was I in for a few big surprises. Over the next twelve months I’d see no exotic lands or girls galore. It was early morning rising (5am) drill on the parade square in all weathers. Cold showers shared with 30 other boys, food I had never eaten before! example “shit on a raft” kidneys on toast, kippers, train smash, this was tin tomato’s and sausage. Hand washing kit, sewing names into kit, more drill, ironing kit, marching, there was definitely nothing exotic about being a boy seaman at HMS Ganges. However, for the moment I knew nothing of this and my excitement brimmed over.
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