H.M.S. St. GEORGE

GeorgeFlag.jpg (3558 bytes)

Memories


REMEMBERING  WITH PRIDE
ALL EX SHIPMATES WHO DID NOT LIVE TO SEE THE END OF THE
WAR IN THE PACIFIC ON THE 15TH AUGUST 1945


Reunion Comments - Quotation marks omitted

On Food

  Kippers, Marmalade and a oat biscuit on the same plate.

  Unmentionable things that were found either in the cooking vats or on plates

Nelson Tart.  Manchester Tart.  Lancashire hot-pot.

 The  joy of being detailed off for Galley duties  during work ship weeks.      

The Regal cinema in Douglas and a meal in the Salvation Army 'Red Shield' canteen - pie, beans and chips for 6d.

Shylock in the Tuck Shop

I was always hungry at St. George

The fried bread was marvellous !

On Personalities

Our D.O.  was an absolute wimp - he never had a good word to say Our P.O. Boy was a absolute Sod!

Our Chief Yeoman was a super chap with a sense of humour

 

The G.I. was a absolute B******

 

You're Joking  !!                                             

Excellent training for somebody preparing for long stays in Naval Detention Centres

I loved the sports, games and swimming

I enjoyed it and was all for it at the time

I liked Sunday Divisions - all dressed up and marching to the Royal Marine Band

Quite enjoyed sewing in the names on my kit with red silk


 

MEMORIES OF H.M.S. ST.GEORGE

Shortly after my 16th birthday in 1943 I was instructed to report to the Liverpool Recruiting Office to enrol as a Boy Seaman in the Royal Navy.  I had volunteered some time previously.

My first experience of the sea was on the crossing by steamer from Fleetwood to Douglas Isle of Man and it was at this point that I wondered whether or not I had made a mistake. It was quite a rough crossing with seasickness in great evidence, the lounge being full of incumbent bodies and amongst them a large number of women service personnel.

The first six weeks I was one of a group of new entrants (nozzers) and the time was spent in familiarisation with lectures, haircuts and the worst of all sewing my name in red silk in every article of kit, 52 items in all and needless to say I was the last to finish. Selection after the initial period resulted in my being placed in Class Drake 186 in the Upper Camp along with 24 others. We were accommodated in huts with 4 in each hut. My colleagues were Dave Williams and Fred Billings who were cousins from Cornwall and Pete Harvatt and fortunately we got on very well together.

 The following months were a round of Gunnery, Seamanship and Academic instructions alternating weekly between morning, afternoon and evening sessions with interludes for recreation. The instructors were CPO Langdon for gunnery and CPO Cooper for seamanship and both although hard were fair in their treatment of us, and although the regime was tough, the routine was very organised and it was difficult to step out of line and I have no regrets at joining.

 Of the five shillings and three pence per week payment we earned we only received two shillings every fortnight, the remainder being paid into a deposit account until training was finished. As it happens there was not a great deal that one could spend money on with shore leave granted once a fortnight on alternate Saturdays and Sundays. This run ashore was from 1 to 6 pm and usually consisted of three pennyworths of stale cakes from quirks the baker, a visit to the cinema and Fish and Chips afterwards.

 As I recall the highlights were parading as guard of honour at the Tynewald at the opening of the Manx Parliament, and taking part and winning the Racing Whaler Race and sailing from Douglas Head to Onchan Head and then the return march with gun and limber. The final few weeks were spent in Draft Division awaiting dispersal and finally in October 1944  I was despatched with a number of others to join the Heavy Cruiser Norfolk at Hebburn On Tyne, and there began another chapter in my Naval career.

                       THOMAS STANLEY BUTTERWORTH

                                Ex Boy Seaman

The above article was sent in by Thomas's son David - if you knew Thomas or have any information that you would like to pass on please contact David at:-

                                            

david@david41.fsnet.co.uk


More Memories

ROY COCKER  P/JX 581653

My Life in Exmouth 144

 On the 4th September 1944 I left home and travelled to the Royal Naval recruiting office at Green Lane Derby. I was 15 years and 10 months old and on my way into the Royal Navy

 At Derby we were told we could have the evening off, as we would be travelling to the Isle of Man the next day. I was dressed in my Sea Cadet uniform and met a boy dressed in the uniform of T.S.Mercury.  He came from Nottingham where his parents kept a pub. We decided to go there for the evening and had a great time swaggering around Slab Square like a couple of `Old salts`

 The next day we travelled to the Isle of Man. First a train from Derby to Manchester, change and train to Preston. Free tea and sticky buns at the WVS canteen then another train to Fleetwood. Onto the I-O-M Steam packet boat for a fairly calm crossing to Douglas.

 On arrival at HMS St.GEORGE, we were allocated beds in the chalets of the New Entry (Nozzers) lines. I was put in Rodney 1 and shared a cabin with three others.    We were issued with our kit and began the laborious task of sewing our name into every article using red silk and the chain stitch. The final results were to be inspected so had to be neatly done with no `Homeward bounders`

 After a couple of days we had to go for a full medical examination where it was found that I needed an operation for the removal of varicose veins from a very sensitive area. I had had these for ages and being na´ve, thought everyone had them.    I was sent to R.N. Hospital where they operated and kept me for a couple of weeks until well enough to go home on sick leave.   I had two weeks leave as a proud young sailor with HMS on his cap tally but unfortunately, could not show off my war wounds.

 On return I had been back classed to join up with the next lot of New Entries and thus had extra time to get my kit sewn and my boots polished to mirror brightness.

 On passing out from Nozzers I went to the other side of the parade ground to Exmouth Division where we formed 44 and 144 classes. I shared a cabin with three others, WISE. CHARTERS and FRANKS. We shared that cabin for a year and all got on well with each other. Tommy Wise became my chum and we would share most things.  I used to receive a regular parcel from home containing a jar of jam and a packet of Woodbines with a half-crown smuggled inside the packet (we were not allowed to receive money). We would sneak dry bread out from the mess hall and make jam sandwiches till it ran out. We would go into Douglas on afternoon leave and spend the half-crown on a trip to the pictures and more food.  At that age and with all the exercise we got it was nigh impossible to satisfy ones hunger.

 The training was very intense.  The days were split into three parts. One for Seamanship, one for School and one for Sport and Games.  In Summer months the sport was carried out in the evening whilst in Winter it was in the afternoon. School and Seamanship were alternated week about which meant that the 2 mile march to and from school at Ballakameen was carried out in the dark in winter months. As half the camp was at school at any one time, we were marched there and back, usually to the beat of a drum and with Chiefs, POs, and Boy Pos shouting orders and trying to prevent all the skylarking that went on. It was God help anyone who was caught! And usually the whole class who would be punished.

 Wednesday was pay-day. We used to line up, off caps to the Paymaster who would place your weekly allowance on it. As a Boy 2nd class we received 2 shillings and as Boy 1st class 2 shillings and sixpence. Out of this money we had to buy small luxuries like toothpaste and writing material. Tom Wise and myself once devised a plan to save on writing. I wrote to his parents and he wrote to mine each saying the other had broken his right arm and could not write for a few weeks. During confirmation classes with Sniffy the camp Padre, we had to attend confession prior to being confirmed.  I got rid of my guilt by confessing this to him and being the man he was, thought it very amusing.

 When we were allowed ashore it was for the afternoon only. We would either go down into Douglas or, if penniless, go for walks. I recall being in Douglas one Sunday afternoon. Walking along the front passed HMS VALKYRIE 1 and 2, which were groups of seafront hotels converted into Radar Training establishments, towards Onchan. As I neared the Villa Marina end of the front I heard a choir singing. It was a fine sunny  day and there on the front, in another group of hotels, were German POWs who were all singing and enjoying the hospitality of the British whilst their friends were in full retreat in France. Not many of them would have thought about escape although one once did and caused tempory mayhem on the Island.

 Great delicacies of the I-O-M were the Manx Kippers. I once ordered a box to be sent home to Mum and Dad.  They were on their own, as my brother was away serving in submarines out the Far East. They, of course, didn’t have refrigerators or freezers in those days so had to consume them pretty quick. Mum said they were wonderful and I suppose with years of rationing they were something special. I think it was a long time before they ever had Kippers again! But I bet they could taste them for months afterwards. I don’t suppose that they have Manx Kippers anymore, with all the Nuclear submarines operating in the Irish sea and the Nuclear Power Stations sending waste into it the Herrings will probably be caught ready smoked with a fluorescent sheen!

May 1945 and VE Day arrived. Tommy and I decided that we would go out and join in the celebrations in Douglas. We made up our beds with coats etc. to make them appear to be occupied.  We went under the cabin and over the wall at the back avoiding the barbed wire on top. We had a great night until we returned in the early hours to find Petty Officer Laws had caught us out.  We were taken before the Officer of the Day who put us on Commanders report. Next day we were put on Captains report and were brought up in front of Captain Bell (of HMS EXETER fame), who gave us a severe lecture and 14 days Jankers.

 We had to get up in a morning and report to the quarterdeck where we were given work to do till breakfast. At lunchtime we had half an hour to eat then report for more work. In the evening came the punishment of an hours work followed by an hour of running round the parade ground with a rifle bouncing off your shoulder and being constantly sent to change into other rigs such as pyjamas boots and gaiters, or white duck suit and gym shoes. Then back to night clothing fully booted. After two weeks we were fitter than Joe Louis.

 I enjoyed all sports except Rugby, which I could never enjoy.  I was once sent for to play in the St.George 2nd eleven at cricket. We went to Castletown and played against a college side.  Well into the game, the captain threw the ball to me and said “have a go”. My first ball, a leg break, clean bowled the batsman. My second ball was an off- break and the batsman was caught in the slips.  The umpire at my end was a Lt.Schoolmaster who turned to me and said “Half a Crown if you get the hat-trick” Full of determination I ran up and bowled. The new batsman at the other end took an almighty swipe and knocked a magnificent six. Disappointed I finished without any more wickets but had become a fairly regular selection for the team.

 In July1945, the King and Queen visited the island and 144/44 classes were selected to be The Royal Guard.  CPO.Kelloway was our instructor and trained us to perfection.  PO.Boy `Bunny` Austin was guard commander and by special permission of the Palace, was allowed to present the guard to the King. He is the youngest person ever to be given that honour.

 About the end of October we completed our training and were sent to Draft Division under Lt.Cdr `Danny` Enright who gave me my first write up which said “ Cocker by name and Cocky by nature”.  I suppose I was lucky my name was not Pratt.

Tommy Wise and myself were in a draft to HMS Victorious for passage to Australia. I was by then 17 years old and so proud to have become a sea-going sailor. I was sent to join HMS Argonaut in Yokohama and enjoyed being a `Conquering Hero` in Tokyo, never having seen an angry shot fired.

mailto:roycocker@onetel.net.uk

(See some of Roy's photographs on the Photos Page)

                                  

HOME