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Thread: Joining up

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Joining up

    Back to Joining Up!

    It was in 1958 Middle part , and my late Father was Employed with the Union Castle Line, so had a bit of push at that time.

    The old Dunnottar Castle had Docked in Cape Town and as my Dad had heard was running with a shortage of some Crew, Stewards and others!

    As he knew that i was always looking to get on these Castle Ships, he contacted me to give me the News!

    Well i was like a Chook with its head cut off, not knowing where to start, but did get advice on all.
    So there i was running around Cape Town, arranging all the various Documents i needed to get on the Ship, as one needed things like Police Clearance, Passport, References and the like. Actually never did get a Passport, just got a Temp. Travel Document, which was enough to leave the Country, until my Seamans Book and ID were issued to me in London.

    As it was early in the day thank goodness, after really running myself ragged, i even tually manged to get everything together, and then had an Appointment on Board with the Captain in the first instance!

    To say the least it was so much easier than i had thought (The Interview) after showing my Papers and References (Especially the one from the South African Railways and Harbours) when i was a Silver Service Waiter on the Long Distance Train, that i think got me the Job. So soon was taken to the Second Steward, where i was given my first duty of scrubbing down the Stairwell in the First Class Saloon. Not what i had thought but well i was on Board and Employed! What a great feeling, me at such a young age and off to see the World!

    The most joyous time of my Life i reckon, except also of course when i joined the RAF. that to come later!
    Cheers
    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 24th March 2023 at 09:59 PM.
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  2. #12
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    Default Re: Joining up

    Yes Vernon, the good old scrub out, what would we have done without nit.
    There is an add here on radio, 'Every morning at six o'clock' it begins,
    On UCL every morning at six o'clock the scrub outs begin.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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  4. #13
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    Default Re: Joining up

    #11 And that first Foreign port Southhampton. I know the feeling Vernon mine was Avonmouth. JS.....
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 25th March 2023 at 08:34 AM.
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  5. #14
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    Default Re: Joining up

    My first sea going job, at the age of 13, I went to various trawler owners offices for weeks until one, St Andrews Steam Trawlers Company (Hull) gave me a job on the 'Swanland' (H402) within 24 hours I was on my way to the Arctic Circle. She was a 1914 built coal fired tiddler, but to me she was a giant of the seas.

    I was an avid reader in the Library (when the opportunity arose) of 'Lloyds List' and 'The Journal of Commerce' following Dad's ships and looking at trading routes of various companies, those sailing out of Hull always seemed bound for cold climates, whilst those from Liverpool seemed to head to the Southern hemisphere, so at 15 I got the train to Liverpool and presented myself at PSNC offices without an appointment, the doorman (dressed like a South American General) wasn't going to let me in, but I pleaded, he relented and told me to wait, he came back and said follow me. I was interviewed by two Marine Supt's who after a long time said they would give a position as an apprentice when I was 16 if I passed certain exams, which I did, and the rest is history. However I had failed to realise that 'apprenticeship' was a pseudomyn for 'cheap labour' and the only time I got involved in navigation was cleaning the brass on the bridge. But it was worth it, it gave me a life others could only dream of, 16/18 hour days with no overtime.


  6. #15
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    Default Re: Joining up

    I find it amazing that you guys can remember all the details; I remember at 15 I had tried to get in the army I had been in army cadets and got a badge for shooting an old re bored 303 so I thought that was the way to go, all went well until the medical I had a perforated eardrum and failed the medical. one day someone told me about the merchant navy and I thought that was the go. To this day I can't remember how I went about applying I just remember ending up with someone giving me a medical so I said you might as well know I have a perforated eardrum and the army didn't want me; his response was "Nelson only had one arm you'll do" The next thing I knew I was on a train heading for the Vindi and the rest of my life.

  7. #16
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    As far as i can recall , i applied by post to a shipping company , cannot recall who, but i was asked to attend an interview in Leadenhall st in London. Cannot remember much about the interview itself, but they obviously decided i was not apprentice material, thankfully, but from there i was sent joining instructions for Gravesend sea school. A couple of years later, i was on a South American saint boat, i was by this time a JOS, and for some reason the skipper got talking to me, and tried to talk me into going for an apprenticeship with the company. When i looked in to the money, it was less than the wage i was on with overtime. In addition i had a problem in the family, and was sending home the maximum allotment allowed to help at home, so i declined his offer. One of life's *what ifs*. Four years down the line and the MN was winding down, so i have no regrets the way my life turned out. kt
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  8. #17
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    Default Re: Joining up

    Before leaving school at 15 South Shields Marine school did a pre-sea course which ran for 12 months. If you did the full course you got 6 months remission of sea time , I can never remember anyone doing the 12 months as soon as 16 were looking to be away. There was a small entrance exam to do this course and can say no one failed. The one I sat a young boy with horn rimmed glasses also passed and it was later found he was sitting the wrong exam he was up for an engineering course. However the ship owners came to the school itself advertising for applicants. Luckily all my fees and expenses were paid by a grant so nothing to fork out. Even in those days one could see that class distinction was still in vogue as the better off students all seemed to go for the liner companys. However as it turned out although a steeper hill to climb it paid off in life style apart from the work load. JS
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  9. #18
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    #15 Mark there are certain things that stick in the mind for life when enjoying oneself. I spent most time in the ATC than the army or navy cadets. I think the bloke in charge of us 13 year olds must have been out of the RAF regiment as was an awful lot of square bashing. Our rifles were P17s the American infantry rifle of WW 1 .The tanger aparture fore sight and tanger aparture back sight are strong memories of such , and unlike most infantry rifles it was of .300 and not 303 calibre. It had bayonet fixture and a grenade cup attachment to enable to fire a grenade a distance . Firing a grenade of the British type 9 times out 10 the filling cap at the bottom would come directly back from its forward projection and take your head off so was wise to keep it grovelling in the dirt.
    The sten gun was the cheapest weapon made during WW11 about 3/6d did not have a rifled barrel and had 32 rounds and could be fired single shot or a burst , it was a close quarter weapon and not accurate at a distance.I remember things like that although it was 73 years ago. But ask me where I left my teeth last night , and I havenít got a clue. Back to the P17 it was about 6 inches taller than me , and nearly a foot with the bayonet attached .Cheers JS
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 27th March 2023 at 10:22 AM.
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  10. #19
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    Thanks for that John; I believe the old 303's we trained with were re sleeved to take 22 bullets, 40 years ago I inherited the family rifle a 1933 model Remington long rifle single shot 22cal; It provided meat for the table for 70 years but has been retired like me for the past 20 years. I believe it is actually illegal to shoot roo's these days even though there is plenty of road kill every day. Time and tide:

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  12. #20
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    Default Re: Joining up

    Got my Cross Rifle Sleeve Badge for Marksman with the old 303 when in the RAF doing my 8 Weeks Training at Bridgnorth , was a proud Lad!

    Cross Rifles RAF Marksman.JPG

    Cheers
    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 29th March 2023 at 08:15 PM.
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