Book Jacket

 

rank 923
word count 50921
date submitted 28.03.2012
date updated 07.06.2012
genres: Non-fiction, History, Biography, Tr...
classification: universal
incomplete

THE ROYAL NAVY& ME

FREDERICK RODGERS

The adventures of a young sailor who joined the Royal Navy at the age of 15 and served for twelve years.

 

The story is told through the eyes of a young sailor who joined the Royal Navy in 1955 as a Boy Seaman 2nd class, the absolute lowest rank in the Navy. Follow his induction at HMS Ganges, the toughest boys training establishment in England, if not the world, and his first assignment to HMS Cockade in time to visit Australia for the opening of the 1956 Olympic Games. This is a thoroughly amusing tale,tempered with dark moments of despair as he visits islands in the South Pacific,tours Hong Kong,Korea and Japan, passes through the Suez Canal en-route to Malta and Gibraltar. Patrols Iceland during the Cod Wars, and plunges to crush depth aboard a submarine. This is a voyage not to be missed

 
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THE ANNEX


 

 

 

My pleasant and dreamy sleep was suddenly invaded by the glare of lights and the shrill sounds of whistles blowing hysterically. It seemed like I’d only just gone to sleep a few minutes earlier and now I was out of bed and standing at attention.

A few heavy sleepers, or perhaps they were just trying to avoid the inevitable, remained under their covers. It was a bad idea. Beds were quickly flipped over, empting blankets and bodies onto the deck.

Instructor Boys loomed over the hapless late sleepers issuing dire threats of punishment. The most unpopular of these punishments was to double around the parade square with your rolled up mattress on your back.

After that first morning everyone became light sleepers. We were out of bed the instant we were called.

At 0500 hrs on that dark and chilly Thursday morning we were ordered to wash and shave. It mattered not that most of us didn’t need to shave. It was wiser to do what we were told without objection.

Everyone lathered up and with our newly issued razors removed imaginary stubble, bum fluff and peach fuzz. Shaving for the first time was made even more difficult by the fact that the water was very cold.

By five-thirty we were stripping our beds and folding the bedding. Like the night before, this was a long-suffering exercise. Once more, our two Instructor Boys paraded up and down the mess throwing blankets and sheets on the deck that failed to meet the required standards.

The bedding finally folded in a uniform state we were ordered to dress in our number eights with boots and gaiters. Number eights consisted of dark blue trousers, light blue shirt, boots, gaiters and cap. We were issued with a pair of khaki gaiters that set us apart from the Instructors who wore white gaiters.

Out on the parade square the first rays of daylight were appearing as we separated into two squads. Instructor Boy Moss was in charge of my squad. I was glad.  Of our two young mentors he was the more gentle. Although gentle probably isn’t the best word to describe any Instructor Boy.

Boys spilled out of the other two barracks to join us on the parade square. It was drill time! Drill requires total concentration, listening carefully to each order that was issued by the Squad Leader. The exercise was made doubly difficult by having six separate Squad Leaders all yelling similar orders at the same time.

The next hour was spent marching, doubling, turning left, turning right, and about turning. It was a disaster. Few boys appeared to know their left from their right. This sent the Instructors into a frenzy of more dire threats.

At 0700 hrs we were dismissed and told to form a single line outside the dining hall for breakfast. We were very hungry. Our last meal had been a meagre supper of bread and cheese. Added to this was the early morning hour of rigorous drill. We had become a ravenous hoard.

When I finally reached the food counter I surmised that the cook must be related to the one at the Liverpool Seaman’s Mission. My plate once more held a mystery food. It turned out to be kidneys on toast better known in Naval terminology as ‘shit on a raft’. I’d never tasted a kidney in my life, but with a powerful hunger I swallowed every bit washing it down with generous gulps of tea. I finished breakfast by polishing off several thick slices of bread, margarine and marmalade.

Breakfast was followed by a hectic morning. We collected the remainder of our kit and we had to stamp our name on every single article.

At the same time haircuts were taking place on the parade square. Several barbers (boys in training) from the main establishment were doing the shearing. I doubt any of them wouldn’t have been hired to shear sheep. Supervision came from two disinterested civilians who I assumed were qualified barbers. The parade square was a scene of lost curls and locks with occasional traces of blood. When it was over selling Brylcreem or a comb would have been impossible.

Through the course of the morning we learned that we were to remain in the Annex for six weeks. It was necessary to undergo basic training before moving to the main establishment to begin the actual seamanship training.

Boys in the Annex were known as Nossers, a somewhat detrimental name applied to newcomers and rookies.

During basic training our names had to be sewn into each article of kit with a red cotton chain stitch. To accomplish this task we’d been issued with a sewing kit, better known as a ‘housewife.’ A great many boys would spend every free minute of the next six weeks with their ‘housewife.’ No one could leave the Annex until the sewing was completed. No one wanted to be left behind to start all over again with the new intake.

In our naïve and simple minds we believed that once we reached the main establishment things would get easier.

Four particular things stand out in my memory of the Annex.  Sewing and folding, washing and marching.  Marching and marching. I believe we spent more time on the parade square than we did in bed.

Our first visit to the laundry was a severe shock for everyone. Hand washing our kit with ‘pusser hard’ soap was an experience none of us could have imagined. I suspect that the laundry and the sewing were a nightmare for many boys. The boys with long surnames suffered the sewing chore more than most.

However, many boys with short names who were woefully inept with a needle didn’t fair much better. Our Instructor Boys inspected each item of kit, and often made us cut the thread out again and redo it. I can’t remember the exact number of articles in a Naval kit but at the time it seemed like hundreds.

The most unpleasant experience in the Annex, and the one I consider a blemish on an otherwise fair training system, was the laundry. Ganges training was indeed very harsh and it’s true that sometimes the Instructors went too far. Nevertheless, if you carried out your duties properly you could generally stay out of trouble.

The Annex laundry was a different matter. The person in charge was a civilian named Knobby Clark. It was rumoured that he’d once been a Royal Marine Corporal. If this was true it did nothing to enhance my image of the Marines. He was a bully and tyrant deriving pleasure from picking on the smaller boys in our division. He carried a sail baton and used it liberally and mostly without cause on many a bare buttock of his hapless victims.

His golden rule was silence! Should a boy dare to speak he was struck maliciously and made put a wet wool sock in his mouth for the duration of the session. It was a doubly unpleasant punishment. The dye from the sock ran into your mouth and dripped into the sink. Washing your whites while avoiding the blue dye dripping on them was nearly impossible.

Each washed item was held up in front of Clark to inspect and approve. He rarely approved anything the first time around. He enjoyed grabbing the wet article and, in a swinging motion, wrapping it around the unfortunate boy’s head.

He enjoyed inflicting punishment, and his face seemed permanently fixed in an evil grin. I no longer remember his actual features but retain an image of an unshaven, overweight bully with a half-smoked butt in the corner of his mouth. Looking back, it’s disappointing that our Instructors didn’t step in and take control. It will forever stand out as a serious blemish on the Ganges organization. To employ such an ill suited person and placing him in a position of authority over defenceless boys was, to say the least, shameful. From that dreadful laundry experience I have often wondered if the term ‘put a sock in it’ originated at Ganges.

Beside my bed was a kit locker. Its doors were always open displaying my (hopefully) neatly folded kit. A photograph of how the kit locker was supposed to look was placed on the mess notice board. Our lockers were supposed to look identical. Unfortunately many lockers failed to meet the standard and, like our beds, were often tipped over.

Once a week we had a full kit inspection. All kit items had to be laid out on our canvas hammock. Every article of clothing must be folded to the same length and width as our seamanship manual. The sewn on names had to be centrally located on each folded item. Spit and polish was soon added to an already overwhelming list of chores. Petty Officer Birmingham expected to see his face in the shine of our boots. Dawn to dusk was filled with work. If we found a spare minute it was used to complete our sewing.

A variety of other training events were happening at the same time. The mess hall was cleared one afternoon and a boxing ring set up. We were paired up regardless of size, and ordered to punch each other’s lights out.

On a cold and windy April morning we were ordered to strip to the waist and form three single lines on the parade square. I was covered in goose bumps with my teeth chattering as we waited in line for inoculations!

I still shudder at the methods employed back then. Three tables were set up at the end of the parade square. At each table sat two Sick Bay Ratings (nursing assistants of a sort). On each table was a Bunsen burner that was used to sterilize the needle after each use. The same needle was used on approximately thirty to forty boys.  We were lined up in alphabetical order. For those at the rear, which included me, the blunt needle felt more like a six-inch nail being driven into one’s arm.

We were never given more information than necessary during our day- to-day training in the Annex. So imagine our surprise when a rumour began to circulate that we were going on leave the following week.

I couldn’t believe it. Three weeks in the Navy and we were going on leave. It just didn’t seem possible. Nevertheless, it was true. The following Wednesday the entire camp was closing down for three weeks Easter leave.

The news was both good and bad. It was exciting to be going home wearing our uniforms.  However, it was a serious interruption to training just when we were adapting to the harsh routine. Going on leave could mean having to start all over again when we came back.  It was also a temptation for any unhappy lad to attempt desertions.

Organizing the leave of hundreds of boys and dispatching them to different locations across the nation was a grand example of Ganges efficiency. Everyone was separated into local zones; my group consisted of approximately thirty boys going to Northern Ireland.

A handful of boys from the South of Ireland had to travel in civvies. It was considered unwise to wear the Queens uniform South of the border.

Ipswich Station thronged with young sailors looking for space on the trains. Almost everyone travelled to London then fanned out and disappeared into various tube stations.

On the train I was amazed to see many of the boys from the main establishment busily sewing a variety of badges onto their tunics. They exchanged their Ganges cap tallies for those of sea going ships. We Nossers from the Annex sat apart in our plain and obviously brand new uniforms.

Nozzers were considered wet behind the ears and boys from the main establishment ignored us. Sailors for barely three weeks, we had yet to learn the trick of looking smart and natty in our new uniforms. Boys from the main establishment had learned to bleach their blue uniform collars. After many washes the collar turns a lighter shade of blue, and it was the sign of an old salt. My own collar, along with my companions, was dark blue. In fact it was almost black. 

During my time at Ganges I would see many a collar ruined with bleach and a variety of other experiments used to lighten the colour. I would surmise that the purchase of uniform collars from slops (Supply) was an item high in demand.

My first shore leave as a sailor was very quiet, and it required the constant explanation as to why I was home so soon after joining. Besides, having only been in the Navy for one payday, I had very little money to spend. Three weeks later I was back in the Annex to complete my basic training before moving on to the main establishment. When that big day finally arrived we were divided into our new divisions and introduced to our new Instructors.

I joined Drake Division, and I was allocated to number 40 Mess. We were further divided into two separate classes, number 16 and 17.

Our new Instructors were Petty Officers Booty and Russell. They would soon prove to be much harder on us than the ones we were leaving behind.

Chapters

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Slings 'n' Arrows wrote 61 days ago

This is a thoroughly enjoyable read delivered with great humour and a nice level of detail which really lets the reader understand the experience. I found it very thought provoking, one minute thinking 'Yes this is exactly what young people these days need a bit of!' and the next being dismayed by the suppression of the individual and the casual brutality. I think you show both sides of this very candidly. Its great to get an insight into the sort of experiences members of my own family would have had in their military days. Enjoyed the account of the trip to Melbourne very much and was chuckling out loud at the nervous jeep ride. That's where I'm up to so far. This is a very well written account of personal experiences and I think anyone will find something to enjoy in this coming of age account regardless of whether they have an interest in military history.

Temulkar wrote 62 days ago

Hi Frederick, I read the pitches and dived straight in. I thought the LP could do with some white space just to break it up for casual skim readers but both engaged.

Your descriptive prose is very strong indeed, although the first chapter I wanted more dialogue to drive the pace forward and to show the action. There is a really strong narrative voice but it for me needs interaction.

I read a book many years ago called we joined the navy which this reminds me of quite a bit. The humour is well drawn and it has a great coming of age focus. I didnt notice any grammar or punctuation issues(although mine is awful so Im not sure thats a recommendation)

I did actually really enjoy this and found myself reading up to C4. Ive given you high stars

Regards Jemahl.

irishrover wrote 79 days ago

Thank you so much, yours is without doubt the most generous review of my work, even humorous "Well done Rock" indeed!!! You asked about Naval radar aboard Cockade-Eastbourne etc. Contact me off authonomy at my email address -irishrover1@live.com and I will do what I can to answer your questions.

M Conrad wrote 80 days ago

Conclusion.

Once I started reading I could not stop, the ultimate sign of a good book!

It is a fascinating journal of life in the post war Navy with lots of personal annecdotes that lifts it above a simple journal to a human interest story. The author holds up a clear mirror to himself and at times what he records is savagely honest. I would like to have read the same kind of technical detail given on submarine service to the surface ships the author served on in his earlier career, but that is where my personal interests lie.

I often found myself sympathising with events and mishaps, and laughing over some of the characters as they evoked strong images, I particularly loved the Three Badge Old Dog "Red" who drip fed himself cider on the train!

I thought the post script into civilian life a really nice touch, and again a painful subject for any ex serviceman, and the inevitable "What ifs..."

The incident of the dive held me riveted, I wonder if that was actually in the infamous triangle where so many have come to mysterious grief.

A book I would absolutely add to my large library on Naval History.

Purely to feed back the formatting often falls apart which makes reading disjointed in places, nothing worse than being immersed in a book only to find the lines breaking up and paragraphs jumping to another page. But that is just a presentation issue.

Well done, "Rock"

M Conrad wrote 80 days ago

CH 11

Ah dude! If they gave out medals to every matelot duped with that line we would all be heroes! Brutal honesty and writing straight from the heart. Nice one, took guts to bare that, I know.

M Conrad wrote 80 days ago

Ch 2

I would have liked to have read more of the sudden return to family life, even after just three weeks. I was in the same situation and I found it an astounding culture shock, jumping to attention when spoken to by my father particularly sticks in my mind! And my mother bursting into tears when I would not let her iron my uniform.

It represents a unique and unused opportunity to tell the reader about the profound pyscological changes that take place in Basic, and are only really recognised when exposed to the old life.

I think to the unexperienced also you have not given any idea of just how long those three weeks were to you! Not meaning to be negative but I feel like I was just pushed impatiently past an exhibit in a gallary I wanted to pause to take in.

M Conrad wrote 80 days ago

Nice flow and narrative. A little bit of wry angst that here we go to Ganges again, makes me wonder if there was ever an RN tale that does not trip by that wonderful boy grinder; but you cannot control where you served I guess.

But seriously: Pyjamas? Brown Hatter's Overalls?? Surely not for the hard men of Ganges!

You have me hooked anyway and looking forward to reading on.

nautaV wrote 125 days ago

Dear Frederick,
The Royal Navy & Me is a very precisely described piece of the life gone. We lived there.We remember it. Nozzers from the Annex, their sewing and laundry experiences, 'Spithead Pheasant' and 'Shit on a Raft', the peculiarities of traveling in British Rail old carriages, the first love and the accuracy of the saying 'He who hesitates loses' - all these are given in such a manner that it comes directly to the reader's heart. Well done, Frederick!
Trying to be helpful, I'd pay your attention to:
Ch.1
1. '...we each had a pair of smoked kippers.' (As far as I know, the definition of a 'kipper' is 'a gutted, salted and cold smoked herring' Thus, the word 'smoked' looks unnecessary here.)
2.'...mugs of kye, (cocoa) bread...' ( '...mugs of kye (cocoa), bread...'?)
Ch.10
1.'I blushed as I clumsily apologized and explain...' ('explained'?)
2.'I made a mental note of the date...when I (a gap) got back to Portsmouth.' (A broken sentence,possibly due to formatting.)
3.The same is with: 'Gospel meetings (a gap) were not my style.'
4.'I was already guilty of their first three sins'(a missed full stop ?)
5.'...before joining an NATO...' (should be 'a' not 'an'?)
6.'In no (a gap) time at all we were clear...'
7.'...he asked me to pop in and see it she needed ...' ('if she needed?)

These few typos are easy to correct. But the book is great! Six stars and be backed soon.

Valentine But
Escape

Alan O' Dowd wrote 165 days ago

IR:

I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable read. I am currently on Ch. 3, and so far, the writing is engaging and accessible. I like how direct and colloquial your language and descriptions are; this is key in ensuring that this memoir-styled book is accessible to the public. Your description definitely thrust the reader into the cultural context, and everything seems culturally sound (though I am not an expert in history, so I cannot provide too much feedback there). One aspect I enjoyed was the exposure of the darker side of the military life; the boy's humiliation mirroring the "stripping" of the glory and "prestige" or war/combat. The invasive nightmares and rigid routines work well in conveying a sense of bleakness and despair, making your character human and sensitive, a stark contrast to the brutality of his surroundings.
High stars (and hopefully shelved once space frees up!) Its watch listed for now :D
Good luck!

irishrover wrote 259 days ago

thank you Elizabeth for your kind words and interest in my book, HMS Ganges was indeed a rough introduction to the Royal Navy, but perhaps not as bad as being hunted by a bear!! I have starred and WL your book, and hope you will consider doing the same for my book.

Elizabeth Kathleen wrote 259 days ago

This is such an interesting recollection. It's nice to see the things you've written about. I had several uncles in the navy and it's nice to read some about your experiences in the British navy. How exciting, scary, amazing and adventurous it would be the join the navy at any time, but especially when one is 15!
God bless you!!!
Elizabeth Kathleen
"If Children are Cheaper by the Dozen, Can I Get a Discount on Six?"
"The Sticks and Stones of Hannah Jones"

irishrover wrote 264 days ago

Hello Cait how do I begin to thank you for the amazing amount of time you have given to my book. I'm so please and indeed flattered at your interest. I appreciate all your comments, too many weres and wases. You are right of course and my only excuse is my education. This is my second book, Lily & Me was my first and covered the first fifteen years of my life. This book takes up where the first leaves off. I wont go into too many details, my mother died in 1939 when I was eleven months old, my eldest sister Lily adopted me along with her English husband. It was an unhappy childhood where I attended a total of 15 schools before leaving at the age of 14. Probably what lead me to joining the Navy a year or so later. Anna is also a sister, sorry I didn't explain that properly. I have self published both books so unfortunately I'm unable to make the changes you have suggested, I can and will do so on my EBook copies though. I did have both books up on the site, but with two the chances of reaching the desk was much less. I removed Lily & Me a year ago. I have Keedy on my WL and hope to see you in the top six next month, if you need more support let me know. You words have inspired me to write a blog today on my Ganges time. Thanks again Cait and good luck at the desk. I appreciate you having me on your Wl too.

Cait wrote 265 days ago

THE ROYAL NAVY AND ME - Revisited: July 28, 2013

Fred, had another thought about The Royal Navy and Me. Have you ever considered writing this in present tense as though it is actually happening? See what you think of what I’ve done below.
~~~
Tuesday, the fifteenth of March 1955

I inhale a deep breath of the northern Irish sea air and board the Belfast to Liverpool steamer, one of six new Royal Navy recruits en-route to HMS Ganges.

Crossing the Irish Sea from Belfast is unusually calm. Perhaps it has something to do with the misty overcast weather. Still, I’m grateful for a flat sea, it will be embarrassing if I’m seasick on my first day as a sailor. Not that other passengers would notice, to them I must appear as just another silly young boy.

During the last hour of the crossing I stand alone, daydreaming, at the ship’s guardrail. I imagine myself on the bridge of a warship. A stalwart seaman, feet firmly planted on a pitching deck, binoculars at the ready, searching for an enemy fleet.

The ship’s foghorn sounds overhead, breaking my salty reverie. The ship slows as it nears the wharf at the Albert Docks. My five companions join me on deck and we watch the Liverpool skyline gradually materialize through the fog.

Twenty minutes later the gangway is in place and passengers disembark. Six young Jolly Jacks finally set foot on a Liverpool jetty, thus ending the first part of our epic journey.

Our next task is to find the seaman’s mission where we will spend the night before travelling on to London the following morning. The address is clearly listed on the sheet of instructions given to us by the recruiting officer in Belfast.

After asking a dockworker for directions we set out on foot to find it. Having no luggage to carry, we decide to walk and save on bus fares. I almost regret this decision because on leaving the dock area, I spot a line of trams parked in front of a huge building which I assume is the City Hall. (but I later discovered that it was the Mersey Port Authority Building.) If important, you can fit this in later?

The sight of the trams rekindle fond memories of the old Belfast trams no longer in service since 1952. They have for years been my favourite mode of travel. The Liverpool trams are the same familiar Chamberlain models but in their drab green paint they don’t look nearly as grand as my Belfast trams.

Now isn’t the time to reminisce about the past. I have far greater priorities on this important day.

We continue down the main street, taking in the sights and sounds of the unfamiliar city. Ten minutes later, on the opposite side of the street, we spot the mission sign on a two-storey red brick building.

One of the boys notices a cinema a couple of doors down. The feature film is George Orwell’s ‘1984’. “Hey, how about us all going to the pictures after supper?” he says.

"I'm game," I say, and the others follow suit.

At the mission we’re assigned beds, issued with pillows, blankets, towels and soap. The menu for tonight’s supper is bangers and mash, tea and rice pudding.

“Supper won’t be served until six o’clock,” someone (add so-an-so’s name here) tells us.

Having an hour or so to kill, we decide to test our bunks and rest up before eating. We smoke cigarettes, talk and laugh at silly jokes.

We’re nervous, anxious and impatient to move on to the next stage of our adventure. We agree after supper that we will go to the cinema. “It’ll help pass the time for us,” I say.

It’s a strange film about an imagined world some thirty years in the future that I don’t particularly enjoy. I have little interest or comprehension in such a futuristic world. 1984 is just too far in the distance to think about.

Cáit

Cait wrote 265 days ago


THE ROYAL NAVY& ME: July 28, 2013

Fred, sorry for the long delay in reading this for I’m way behind in my return reads.:o(

So far, I’ve just read your first three chapters, and was pleasantly surprised to discover how much I really enjoyed them. Also, I do envy the amazing memory you have! Impressed with the detail you’ve provided from all these years ago.

This is funny in places but also heart-breaking in places, the way some of the recruits were treated. My heart went out to poor Trevor in chapter three. I found it difficult to read as I was imagining either one of my two sons or four grandsons going through this humiliation. How cruel a punishment in the open, he had.

In the same chapter, you mention Anna, and maybe you already mentioned her before this but I couldn’t recall it. If you didn’t, perhaps add a few lines to let the reader know who she is? Also, wouldn’t it be something if Carol read this and saw her address in print?

Your writing is very good, and it will be even better when tightened a little. I have a few picky nits, and I hope you don’t mind. Do a search for your ‘wases’ and ‘weres’ and try to rearrange their sentences to make them more active. Just a sample of several, below.

I’ve only had time to make a few notes on the first chapter. If I make it through the desk, I’ll have time to do a bit more line-edits if you’re interested.

For what they’re worth, here’s a few suggestions for chapter one. Doesn’t mean I’m right, though, and I won’t mind if you disagree. ;o]

Hope they make sense.

~~~
KIPPERS reminded me of my brother, who loves kippers for breakfast. He was in the Merchant Navy in the Fifties so maybe they were on the breakfast menu also. :o)

So having an hour or so to kill COMMA we decide to…etc
We smoked cigarettes COMMA talked and laughed at silly jokes.

I had little interest or comprehension in such a futuristic world. 1984 was just too far in the distance to think about. – I remember back in the Fifties wondering what the world would be like in the Eighties. I couldn’t understand how people could actually talk to other people all the way from England, through telephone wires! I thought it was pure magic. And I didn't know what a television was!

~ a clock was chiming the hour – a clock chimed the hour?

~ the dinning area – dining

the four other recruits were already in line waiting to be served. -…the four other recruits stood waiting to be served,

We had ample time; the London train didn’t leave until 8.30am.

Blank space here between these sentences. Bring bottom text up.

The next leg of our journey began with a five-hour train ride to Euston Street Station in London.

In the fifties, British Rail – In the Fifties

Of course, in desperation, one could always use the window. – haha!
~ known as getting your own back. – Good one!

~ just as I was being served the whistle would blow, signalling that the train was leaving.
…just as I was being served, the whistle blew. – No need to tell us what it meant.

In an orderly fashion we (were) loaded into the vehicles

Once we were formed into three ragged lines, - Once we’d formed into three ragged lines?

So that’s who these guys in the white gaiters were, Instructor Boys. - Present tense here.
So that was who these guys in the white gaiters were, Instructor Boys.

By the time everyone’s name was called we’d formed three separate groups. ‘Formed’ is used several times. Use other word?

By the time everyone’s name had been called we’d assembled into three separate groups?

Only one of the six lads from Belfast was in my group.
Only one of the six lads from Belfast remained in my group.

Things were moving too rapidly. – Things moved too rapidly.

The buildings were formed evenly – The buildings stood/grouped evenly?

Once inside, we were told to, - instructed to, as ‘told’ is a bit overused, I think.

and told us to stand at ease. - The Petty Officer who had called out our names entered the block. “At ease,” he said. “My name is…etc.

I was beginning to wonder – I wondered why…

Instructor Boy Moss told the boys on the left to turn right and follow him in single file.
Those of us remaining were told to sit on the long bench…

Instructor Boy Moss faced the boys on the left. “Turn right, and follow me in single line,” he said. “Those of you remaining, sit on the long bench in the middle of the mess.”

By the time our letters were completed, the other group was returning.
By the time we had completed out letters, the other group had returned.

We marched in single filed… - single file

“Strip! Everything off, underwear, socks, the lot! Put everything on your mattress, and stand by you beds again.” - I can just imagine how humiliating this must have been! Would something like this happen nowadays in the Navy?

…by you beds again.” – your beds again.

Twenty-seven red face boys – red-faced boys

Within two minutes we were (clothed) in our work uniforms,… Or, Within two minutes we had donned our work uniforms?

On that first day we were told to gather… - On that first day, we had to gather, etc.

stack of one page letters… - one-page

Those remaining were told to march in single file to the washrooms, wash our hands then fall in three deep outside the mess hall. - “The rest of you march in single fine to the washrooms, wash your hands, then fall in three-deep outside the mess hall,” said whomever?

It was now almost 1900 hrs as we (were) marched into the mess hall for supper.

~ mugs of kye, (cocoa) bread, margarine, cheese and jam. – mugs of kye (cocoa), - Comma needs to be to the right of the brackets.

When the meal was over it was back into three lines to march back to the accommodation block where we were told to strip again! Two ‘backs’ here.

When we’d finished our meal, and back into three lines, we marched to the accommodation block, and ordered to strip again! - Gets rid of one ‘back’ and two pesky ‘wases’.

I was learning that there was neither modesty nor privacy in the Navy.
I soon learned that neither modesty nor privacy could be had in the Navy.

Lots of Donegal stardust sprinkled over this and on my 'For Backing' list.

Sláinte,

Cáit ~ Keedy ~


BeeJoy wrote 303 days ago

I loved this. I have read a few chapters actually last night. I loved the hook you started with. The submarine parts I loved. It was gripping and I couldn't put it down. I really have nothing negative to say. Rated 5 stars from. Excellent job

irishrover wrote 313 days ago

Thank you so much for W Listing my book and for your very kind comments. Yes Belfast is indeed a grand old city be it we still have a few idiots running on the Falls and Shankill. Talking of Armalites, in 1986 I took my 9 year old daughter home with me , we were stopped by a British army patrol near the top of the Shankill, I fumbled to find my passport while an 18 year old soldier boy held me at gun point. Sad times and have never understood why the protestants have such fear and hatred of the Catholics. I'm a protestant but more than that I'm proud to call myself Irish. I love all of Ireland and all the peoples both North and South. I believe the root cause is the lack of Irish history being taught in the public schools, I never knew anything about 1916 or James Connolly et al. But enough about Ireland, your book is hilarious and so entertaining, I only had time to read the 1st chp. Sorry my shelf is full at present but I have added you to my W'L and starred.

Otter wrote 313 days ago

"Kippers for Breakfast" - a wonderful evocative opening.

I really enjoyed your opening chapter, it certainly invites the reader to follow these young boys on their adventure.

Watch listed and may even back when i have read a lot more.

I remember the Belfast of the mid sixties, for a small town west of ireland lad, the rows of red brick buildings were a world apart. The famous cranes of H&W, the quays, for three summers, I holidayed in Belfast and have fond memories. All that changed when the Armalites took to the streets. I remember smell of fear as we walked the Shankhill road and a bomb exploded in the distance.

Maybe its high time, I walked the Shankhill road again.

Norman Morrow

http://authonomy.com/books/53181/the-con-father-brennan-book-1/

bannism4 wrote 319 days ago

Hi Frederick,
your writing style is very much like mine so of course I loved it!!
Kind Regards,
Mick Bannister (Gibbous Moon).

irishrover wrote 350 days ago

Hi Fredrick
Having no naval nor any forces (for that matter) background to relate this to I found it rather hard to follow. Your memoirs are something for you to cherish, but I can see why you wanted to share them. I can see this going down well though, with ex military or naval personnel, who would have more in common with it than me. Sorry if this disappoints you but this is my opinion and I like to be honest on here. It is only my opinion so discard it if you want.
Hi Brian am I to assume from your comments that you did not return my support???
Cheers.
Brian.

Brian G Chambers wrote 350 days ago

Hi Fredrick
Having no naval nor any forces (for that matter) background to relate this to I found it rather hard to follow. Your memoirs are something for you to cherish, but I can see why you wanted to share them. I can see this going down well though, with ex military or naval personnel, who would have more in common with it than me. Sorry if this disappoints you but this is my opinion and I like to be honest on here. It is only my opinion so discard it if you want.
Cheers.
Brian.

Seringapatam wrote 421 days ago

Frederick, This is wonderful and intelligent piece of writing and I enjoyed it very much, Nice pace Nice flow. Well done.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage

irishrover wrote 421 days ago

Thank you Lynn glad you enjoyed, I will get to your book soon.

Lyn4ny wrote 422 days ago

Great Story. I enjoyed it! I wish the best of luck with it. High Stars!

-Lyn
Forty-Four Footprints Following Me

ShirleyGrace wrote 426 days ago

Thank you so much for your comment. I read and backed you a long time ago. I enjoyed your book. Maybe I can back you again soon.
ShirleyGrace

irishrover wrote 496 days ago

Thanks Catherine, I appreciate your comments. took a look at your book, great opening and I didn't notice any editing issues???but I know what you mean its a tough job and no matter how many times I check and recheck I still manage to miss things. Merry Christmas, I have starred and added you to my WL

Cathy Hardy wrote 497 days ago

Fab story. 6 stars x

patio wrote 502 days ago

I read part of this story some time ago and commented. I read a bit more and opinion still the same. Its a great story. Max stars

Brendie wrote 507 days ago

An excellent story that will awake some wonderful memories in all the old salts that served in the Royal Navy - or any other Navy, for that matter. Told with style and humour, it really captures the mood of those times.

Software wrote 527 days ago

A very personal and convincing story invoking remembrances of the work the work of Nicholas Monsarrat. Real life always provides the best baseline material for adventure yarns, and this draws heavily on the authors experiences. Skillfully crafted, backed and stared highly.

Clive Radford
Doghouse Blues

irishrover wrote 540 days ago

Hi thank you for taking the time to read my book, glad you enjoyed it. I have taken a quick look at your first chapter and will offer you this advice. Although you should keep in mind I'm no expert!!! I found your first chapter heavy going and wasn't clear where your story was headed, it was also very long. I have always believed the first chapter is the most important chapter, if it doesn't grab the reader they will probably not read further. I have starred and add to my WL. I wish you luck finding that elusive publisher, you might consider self publishing, it seems to be the way to go these days, also have your book as an E book, gives you much wider coverage.

irishrover wrote 540 days ago

Hllo
the first day o Naval career is interesting to read. I like everything about you wrote. Most of them was the cinema of 1984 by George Orwell. common men, that is one of my great mentors. that shows you are bringing literature into your writing. dont change that style. ofcus memoir sounds very interesting and you created it well here. it tells us how young boy in Naval was trying to be responsible man. high stars from me.

will you kindly look at mine also. it is title Animals In Paradise

Isoje David wrote 541 days ago

Hllo
the first day o Naval career is interesting to read. I like everything about you wrote. Most of them was the cinema of 1984 by George Orwell. common men, that is one of my great mentors. that shows you are bringing literature into your writing. dont change that style. ofcus memoir sounds very interesting and you created it well here. it tells us how young boy in Naval was trying to be responsible man. high stars from me.

will you kindly look at mine also. it is title Animals In Paradise

Maevesleibhin wrote 541 days ago

The Royal Navy and Me
I am really not a big reader of memoirs, and have frankly read more on this site than anywhere else. The main issue with memoirs is that they rarely follow a clear trajectory - of course, life is rarely so coherent as to follow a plot arc. So many memoirs come out as being a bit episodic.
I read to chapter four and really found it quite interesting. Just not gripping. It reminded me of hearing stories from my dad. They are fascinating anecdotes, but only held together by my interest in him. I feel that in order to engage me as a reader you need to give me a goal, be it a direction or a theme. I felt that you missed several opportunities to do this. For example, when you talk about the boy who was a mess, whose whites were ever grey and whose mother asked you for help.(sorry, I am rubbish at names).
It seemed a good opportunity for character development, even if the relationship does not flourish. I also felt that you eluded some great possibilities to have rich descriptions. The airplane trip seems like a phenomenal experience, as does the incident with the shoe shining urchin and even the laundry experience. But, again, they come across as a bit rushed to me, like you are anxious to move on to the next anecdote. I feel this is a shame, because you have a great deal of interesting stories, and I think the story wants to be told.
I would humbly recommend that you consider giving me a goal. Towards which we can work. It might be starting at a later moment in your life, where you can talk philosophically and maybe even comically about your past. That or start with some fabulous description that will grab hold of me.
As with all less-than-rosy comments, this is just my opinion. Follow your guts.
Best of luck with it,
Maeve

TPN wrote 569 days ago

A fascinating story! Reminds me of those wonderful old Jack Hawkins movies--the dark sea roiling and salt spray lashing at one's face, only this time Mr. Rodgers was in a submarine. Rodgers really evokes the gritty atmosphere of life below the waves as well as the ups and downs of the life of a sailor offshore and on. An enthralling read!

irishrover wrote 569 days ago

Thank you Jesamine, that was probably the nicest review I have received to date. I'm pleased you enjoyed my adventures/misadventures??? I have often thought of Trevor and still feel some guilt, wondering if I could have done more. Trevor really wanted to succeed and become a sailor, he simply didn't have the capacity to cope with the harsh training. I have often wondered what became of him.



ThaQUOTE] Realclub review.

This is a charming and impeccably written tale of a boy becoming a man in the Royal Navy. It flows so well that you feel like you're following him through his journey.
The first day and following weeks you realise how much these new sailors are just small boys. They're excited and frightened and unaware of what awaits them.
Little accurate descriptions make this more than a story that could be fiction. The kidneys on toast sounds revolting. The needles being sterilised on Bunsen burners and used over and over, blunting them makes you wince with the pain that this caused these naïve boys.
I really felt sorry for Trevor. Some people just can't ever get anything right and he seemed to be one of them. I couldn't help thinking that maybe he wasn't as useless as he made out and really he just didn't want to be there.
I liked how you showed us the transformation from naïve boy to responsible individual. When being taken advantage of in the streets (by the older sailors) you realised the seriousness of your own actions and took control of the situation.
Once the basic training horrors were out of the way, the story goes down a fantastic path into a trip to Australia (during the Olympics), the ideal job and the freedom to have some fun.
The part where the two of them are hiding like frightened rabbits under the girl's beds and making their escapes out through the bedroom window made me chuckle. They truly sound like happy times.
The boyish jokes and tricks, like shaving off half of Reds beard, shows us how things haven't really changed that much over the years.
The references to sayings was interesting and I hope these continue throughout the story.
It is very well written, edited and polished. I did spot a couple of tiny edits that you might want to change.
...and made put a wet wool sock in his mouth...and made to put...
...for any unhappy lad to attempt desertions......maybe that ones ok, but lads or desertion would make it sound better.
Great story Frederick, I'll have to read more another time. I'm sure there'll be harsh times too and a lot more fun to go with it. Highly starred. Backing to follow when I have space.
Jesamine.

ShirleyGrace wrote 570 days ago

Frederick:
I have read three chapters of your work. Due to the subject matter, I didn't think I would be able to get into it but I did. It's well written and I felt bad for the guys being forced to put up with all that s#it. What don't kill us makes us strong? I guess but I did not envy you. ..Laughs. I thought it was well told and good reading. High stars from me.
Shirley Grace
The Devil's Stepchild
Realclub review

Tod Schneider wrote 573 days ago

Great job of showing us what life was like for a new recruit! Your writing is very clean, and you capture details well.
Critique-wise, if there was one thing I might tinker with it would be to look for ways to spice up chapter one with more dialogue, and if you can come up with a hook that would be good -- something to grab the reader and say "oh no, what happened next?" But overall, really very clean and solid.
Best of luck with this!
And if you have any interest in children's literature, do drop in on the Lost Wink.
Thanks!
Tod
http://authonomy.com/books/40646/the-lost-wink/

jack hudson wrote 576 days ago

The Royal Navy and Me is an error free memoir that moves along at a fast pace and seems to improve as it unfolds. From the failure of Trevor, through marital difficulties with an unfaithful wife, a harrowing uncontrolled descent in a submarine, and the aftermath after the end of a navy career, the diary-like narrative unfolds. My only suggestion is to consider starting the story with the tense event in the last chapter and telling the story through a" my life unfolds as I am about to die" flashback to hook the reader and start with a bang before getting back to the eventual resolution of the uncontrolled dive event late in the book. High stars. jack hudson

Neville wrote 641 days ago

The Royal Navy & Me.
By Frederick Rodgers.

A good description of the night at the Mission before travelling down to London, I enjoyed the scene.
I had to laugh though about the train with no toilet facilities and the way it was managed to overcome the problem…good job you never had the kippers at breakfast!
Quite a shock when you arrive at HMS Ganges, all the commotion and activity.
Chief Petty Officer, Bermingham with his welcome tone of voice, ha, ha.
Such a shock from ‘civvy street’ I would have thought!
You’ve written this very well, I can almost feel that I’m there, in the cold shower, wondering what’s next to come, what you’ve got yourself into!
I love the carefree way you write and I found no errors as I moved along—it’s all good!
I will have to come back again, Fred as I’ve only got past your first day but already like the book.
You look very smart in your sailor’s uniform—something to be proud of!
Well starred and I’ll be back!!

Kind regards,

Neville. The Secrets of the Forest – The Time Zone.

…Check the heading- THE ROYAL NAVY(&) ME (The Royal Navy & Me)… Space!

Shelby Z. wrote 648 days ago

This is very interesting.
The realistic plot really draws the reader in with interest.
You do well by starting right into things.
The words flow well as the story develops.
Good work!

Shelby Z./Driving Winds

P.S. Please take a look at my pirate adventure Driving Winds.

Silvia Gambia wrote 650 days ago

Interesting. The book says 'biography', but isn't this autobiography?

grahamwhittaker wrote 660 days ago

I'm giving this a read Fred because we share things. I too went to Ganges at the age of 14 and nine months. Drake 40 Mess and became a Sparker. Went into EW on Phoebe and all that stuff. I haven't gone through it as such yet but I certainly will. It's an interesting biog and there is a decent market for good biogs. BTW if you are not already there visit www.forcesreunited.com and register. You will qualify and it's where we all keep up with one another. Take care and I will give you may opinion now that the book is on my WL
Graham Whittaker The Girl From Kosovo

David Price wrote 681 days ago

Frederick, I've just finished the first two chapters, and I now know why I never wanted to become a sailor! This is very well-written and well-remembered, but I guess there was a reason for that. I will read on, but just want to let you know my thoughts for now.
Some of your imagery is wonderful, for example: 'a scene of lost curls and locks with occasional traces of blood' and 'shit on a raft'.
It's possible I missed this, but I would like to know how old you are on the day you set off on the steamer from Belfast to Liverpool. This will help the reader identify with you, and care more about you from the beginning. I also wondered if you made any friends - on the train down to London, or in your first 24 hours as a sailor? If you didn't make any friends, it would be helpful to know that too, because once again, it will give us an insight into your character. By the way, it's not Euston Street Station but Euston Station (which is on Euston Road). (Unless they've changed the name in the last 50 years, which is possible!)
Not really knowing anything about a sailor's life, I didn't quite understand what 'double smartly across it' and 'an hour of doubling' signified exactly. Perhaps you might want to consider expanding a little on these terms.
Finally, I noticed a few typos you may want to fix - all in chapter 2 I think. '...empting blankets and bodies onto the deck' - the 'y' is missing in 'emptying'. 'I doubt any of them wouldn't have been hired to shear sheep.' I think you mean '...would have been hired..'.
But overall, I think this is a very genuine account of a sailor's life, written with care and affection. A place on my watchlist for now, and five stars.
David
MASTER ACT: a memoir

irishrover wrote 684 days ago

Thanks Lenny I appreciate your comments and hope you might consider backing my book

Lenny Banks wrote 684 days ago

Hi Frederick, I read chapter 6. I found the recount of your journey very interesting, especially the stop when you bought the momentos. Some of the chapters in my book follow an hour or a day in the life of my characters, this chapter accounts for weeks of your life, I am sure you have many interesting stories and accounts of events you could have included. You have led an interesting life and it is a great shame the forces have been scaled down depriving many of the adventures you experienced. I wish you luck with your book, it is very intersting.

Kind Regards and Best Wishes
Lenny Banks
Tide and Time: At the Rock

Camac wrote 689 days ago

I was a member of a school cadet force and made several trips on Irish Sea ferries - albeit at a later time than you - so your opening chapters brought back memories of my own youth. This is an extremely well-written account and your recollection of events back in the '50s is astonishingly clear. The training undergone by teenage RN recruits will seem Spartan by today's standards - not so back then when caning was allowed in schools and capital punishment one of the laws of the land. I can visualize your book in shop windows in towns with a RN tradition, so I sincerely hope that you will go on to finish it. High stars!

Camac Johnson
Hemingway Quest

jasonronin wrote 691 days ago

A well written trip down memorie lane. The adventures of the boy that would become a man, at times I felt I was walking close behind in your footsteps. A great insite into the salty sea dog life of a sailor from back in the day.

irishrover wrote 708 days ago

I appreciate that you took the time to look at my book, sorry it didn't hit the mark for you,. We all have deferring opinions of what is good or bad. I don't necessarily agree with your comments, indeed I have had some very positive remarks about the book from readers not of a Naval background. I have especially received positive comments from other Ganges boys saying how my story brought back so many memories. I do agree they were good times, sadly now long in the past. Yours Aye Irishrover

Pretzki wrote 708 days ago

Unfortunately this work fails to hit the mark, less told through the eyes of a boy, more the man who has difficulty expressing the true emotion felt all those years ago.
I did the same, wrote a memoir of my time in the Andrew and where yours is too late, mine was too soon, dripping with jack speak, so much so that no one outside of the mob could understand.
They were good times, but the only people who'd ever understand them, are the ones we served alongside and more often than not we missed that opportunity

Mr. Nom de Plume wrote 710 days ago

The "mild and bitter" is a new one. The "sweet and sour" notations always amused me. This work is extremely well written with humorous situations neatly included, e.g. "None" as a signal flag hoist. Backed, I was never in the RN but this work is informative and entertaining. Well Done. Chuck

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