This is what I and a few others remember of our year there. If anyone wants to add a paragraph or change/correct anything - even rewrite it, please feel free and send me an email.
11th September 1967 S61 Entry join and are destined to spend 3 terms in Fisgard before moving on to Part II in the specialist training establishments. There are a few in an accelerated class who will only spend two terms there before moving on.
The New Entry period lasted for four weeks and during this time only No. 8's and boots and gaiters were worn. Civvies were boxed up and sent home, shore leave wasn't allowed and the time was spent on General service Training, drill, marking kit and a kit muster, PE and so on, and all at the double! Everything that moved had to be addressed as 'Sir'.
S59 and S60 were especially pleased with S61 as we were a large entry (228) and so they had plenty of sprogs for cleaning and all the other tasks only worthy of sprogs. Evenings were spent mess cleaning. I remember rubbing wire wool on the tiles to get rid of black scuff marks. After scrubbing the floors, solid orange polish was applied 'lovingly' and then buffed with the aid of underblankets, (as getting the electric polisher was like getting hold of gold dust).
Divisional rounds were held every morning and points/rescrubs awarded accordingly. Blame for rescrubs was accorded to the sprogs and credit for high marks to S59/S60 for their management of the cleaning!
Sprog punishments included swinging from the mess beams chanting 'tick tock I'm a clock' at 3 Classes' pleasure; being chucked in the static water tanks; sitting in a 'submarine' constructed out of oilskins in the drying rooms whilst cold water was poured down the 'conning tower' sleeve.
I remember being stroppy to some of the 3 Class hooks and getting tied underneath one of the old cast iron bed frames with gaiters and webbing belts and being pushed really fast down the covered way until the bed hit and then flew over those steps part way down (or was that a nightmare)? I still haven't recovered!! (Roy Markham)
The end of New Entry was marked by a Passing In Parade attended by parents and friends etc.
Divisions were held every weekend on alternate Saturdays and Sundays, No.8's on Saturdays and No. 1's on Sundays.
The Saturday morning that didn't include Divisions was spent on a 'Disaster Control Exercise' (Plenty of disaster and not too much control as I remember!) It seemed to involve a lot of running around in gas masks and oilskins chasing imaginary crashed aircraft with nuclear payloads on the sports field. I think they were just trying to keep us occupied really.
Shore leave was permitted on Saturday PM, Sunday PM and Wednesday evening subject to survival of the Liberty boat inspection, not being duty and having some money.
We were paid £7 a fortnight. Well I was anyway. Apparently this was because I was 17. Younger Apps only got £5. This was collected on a pay parade in the ICR along with a haircut and some other general bollocking if you were unfortunate enough to catch the eyes of authority. Haircuts were also collected from the Poker (mill Chief Stoker) as he walked round the ranks of sweating apprentices, all trying not to catch his eye. To no avail though. He didn't like Tiffs and this was a draft in a million for him!
After the New Entry period time was roughly divided into 40% school, 40% mill and the rest on General Service Training, expeds, assault courses and so on. Tech Drawing was done in the dog watches on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Duties were 1 in 8. I have difficulty now remembering what was involved. One task was a hands and knees job cleaning the edge of the swimming pool along the water line with a scrubbing brush. Another was something to do with sitting in the QMs lobby with the QM, another was riding round on an old fashioned dustcart emptying the bins and yet another was called 'bedboards'.
Bedboards could be dangerous. He had to follow rounds through the messes at pipedown, switching off the mess lights and closing the door. It was important to keep up with the rounds party. If he got too far behind and out of sight of authority, he would become the target of a hail of boots and other missiles as he ran through the mess trying to catch up. May even get a firebucket if caught in the covered way. He was fairly safe from that in a mess because it would have been cleaned for rounds the following morning.
I remember some poor Bedboards bod being captured as he hurried through the mess, desperately trying to keep up with the rounds party, as the duty Hook did his best, both to outpace Bedboards, and exhaust the OOD (and also prevent the OOD from looking too closely at one of the 3 Class beds that was occupied, not by a resting Apprentice, but by a pillow - said Apprentice having been delayed somewhere, probably at The Trot, or The Standard, in Torpoint!). The poor Bedboards was bundled into a wardrobe, and his place was taken by an Apprentice (1 Class, of course!) who was fully dressed, in bed, awaiting the instruction to "Go, Sprogg!".
It sounds quite funny, and, I suppose, is, in retrospect; but I remember the real fear associated with any trip to the "other side" (or the next door Division, come to think of it). The threat, all too real, of yard brooms and liberally-applied boot polish was enough to make the strongest App weaken (especially if the visit was to take place just after a pre-Captain's Rounds "raid" on them by your side, when all their midnight cleaning had been ruined by water, dustbins, and worse!).
Other fun and games, e.g., 2 & 3 Class "trials" were Battleships and Chicken Runs (variations of the same theme - running between rows of senior Apprentices armed with heavy pillows). One of these delights (I don't remember which) meant having to run over blankets stretched across a row of beds. (Gordon Morris)
On the subject of Sprog Sport...at the end of term when I was in One Class....I was targeted by East Side on a raid and was "lifted" [it was a set up with no support from senior Cooke lads cos I had a big mouth]. I was taken in my PJs to the top of the hill and dumped into the Static Tank...the game continued. I was then ran round the back of the factory [no shoes] by the howling mob and taken to the first set of top heads on East Side. There I received first a "head flush" swiftly followed by "hot/cold shower" and then covered in boot polish and green renovator - balls and all! Last and by no means least I was paraded through all the messes for all to cover me in foo foo/aftershave etc - very painful. Finally, I was chucked out the other end, rather battered and bemused, to find my own way home! The next day I still had green eyebrows, which caused some mirth when questioned by one of the schoolies at the end of a lecture!! As you can imagine, I was a little more careful how I addressed 3 Class after that...but of course enjoyed the same sport once I became 3 Class. (Mike Phillips S58 Cooke)
Bed Boards - had to collect the outgoing mail from behind the conduit to the lightswitch and of course the letters were always tucked in about 7 feet up so if you were a 'shortase' you were a sitting duck as you lagged behind the Duty Chief having struggled to collect the mail. (Martin White)
'Bedboards' would often be kidnapped and substituted, with the victim being subjected to some kind of torture eg: painted with silver paint or covered in boot polish, before being returned to his own division. Inter-divisional raids were also a popular pastime, with captives being subjected to torture as above. Firehoses played a major part in some these skirmishes I recall. (Roy Lusted)
Each term an exped was organised and the words cold and wet immediately spring to mind! Similarly the assault course in HMS Raleigh.
Cardinham, the 2-Class Exped. The photo in the 'Gallery' really captures' just how bloody freezing that was. Then there was the long walk back of 15 miles against the clock, in teams, all for some more points for that poxy 'Cock'. (John Temme)
The first job in the mill was to chisel and file a block of mild steel into a 1" cube +/- 0.003" Having sweated blood to achieve this it was later cut up to become the slider in a steel rule holder. In the foundry we cast a propellor and a hand wheel in aluminium, had them marked and then had to chuck them back in the melting pot! Demoralising!
We also did rivetting, coppersmithing, welding, tinplate bashing, something with Gobbie Draddy, (I forget what now - it involved a lot of sparks I seem to recall) turning and chippying. Apparently East Side called him Daddy Draddy, but I only ever heard him called Gobbie Draddy.
He had that big, hydraulic press machine that one could set the height on. The 'In Thing' was to get hold of his trilby hat and set it up with the press working so it would punch down but just clear his hat for him to be greeted by after his Stand Easy. He also always had a dew drop hanging from the end of his beaky nose. (John Temme)
Daddy Draddy - also famous for having a small ear (nibbled away by rats in a Japanese POW camp) was famous for the hot metal saw trick. "Gather round lads and watch closely the cutting characteristics of the blade through the hot metal" he promptly disappeared in the shower of sparks whilst everyone else went the other way at some speed. (Martin White)
The 'sing songs' in the dining hall come to mind and I remember well a ginger haired app from Bennett when he made up a new chant for Bennett. It resulted in Cooke, Frew and Lane just listening in amazement. I recall it started with eenie meenie mac a racka , rare eye dominacka ( I can't remember the rest). (John Deeprose)
I certainly remember "eenie meenie mac a racka , rare eye dominacka" to which as I recall there were two certain replies: West Side Best Side, East Side Gash......swiftly followed by ....Oh for the wings of an angel and the arse of a dirty black crow, I'd fly over East Side tomorrow.......... (Mike Phillips S58 Cooke)