H.M.S. St. GEORGE
A Brief History
Establishing St. George.
H.M.S. St. George was commissioned on the 9th September 1939 at Cunningham's Holiday Camp, on the outskirts of Douglas in the Isle of Man, with Commodore Forster as Commanding Officer. The camp was on a continuous slope down towards the sea not far from Onchan Head. A main road ran through the camp dividing the two into upper and lower sections so safe access between the two camps was through a long underground passage (subway) which led to a glass-roofed and paved patio in Lower Camp. This subsequently became the quarterdeck.
St. George had not only absorbed the whole of H.M.S. Ganges but was taking in boys from a number of other training ships such as the St. Vincent, Caledonia, Exmouth, Arethusa, Royal Hospital School, etc. As a result, another holiday camp was taken over on the Isle of Man. This was Howstrake Camp nearer Onchan Head which was used to provide the first six weeks Induction Training.
Accommodation. At St. George, Boys, and those Chief and Petty Officers acting as class instructors were accommodated in summer chalets arranged in 'Lines'. The chalets were constructed of wood and asbestos sheeting with no heating system other than electric heaters for the Instructors. Conditions were so bad in the winter of 1939 that a piped heating system was installed during 1940 and completed just as the most of the first 1939 intake to St. George were on their way to sea. At Howstrake Camp, the Boys were accommodated in unheated chalets, fitted with four bunks per chalet. It was cold there as well and in February and March 1941 many of the boys went down with severe chilblains to hands and feet.
Food. When the camp first opened up there was waitress service ! It didn't last for long though. 'Cooks of the Mess' soon came into being, while officers and instructors continued to enjoy the comforts of personal service.