Hello Wannabeat and all, Recently Jerry Hatrick reminded us of when he joined HMS GANGES in 1954 so, being a comparative youngster/OD (albeit now an OAP) I trust I am on fairly safe soil without seeming too old, senile and decrepit. Following a recent example of another Submariner, Janner, I was wondering how best to offer those joining HMS RALEIGH on the auspicious day of 25th of October, my own particular best wishes. Standby, Standbyâ€¦â€¦Here goes: For 'twas on that very same date of your own entry, 25th Oct but in the fair and goodly year of our Grace 1960, that HMS RALEIGH extracted me from my home comforts and drew me into the capacious yet capricious bosom of our Regal Maritime Service: Thus binding me and mine for a period of 33 years (inc VAT, which came much later) That then callow youth felt none of the culture shocks or homesickness some others suffered; previous years as an eager Sea Cadet had provided an excellent preparation. (Between 1959-61 over a dozen from that Bedford Unit, TS VICTORIOUS SCC, were to sign the dotted line for various branches of the RN & RM.) Consequently he was kept busy assisting others with their strange kit; tiddly cap tally bows and tape bows, folding & pressing velco-less silks and embedding the 5 or 7 creases inside out on bell bottom trousers. (pre-Zips, too â€¦â€¦.) It was at that time that HMS RALEIGH had just started drawing in all new entries aged over 16Â¼. Only a few weeks earlier all of the Electrical Branch New Entries over 16Â¼ had joined up at HMS COLLINGWOOD for their Part one and Part two training. HMS St VINCENT at Gosport, was the Electrical Branch feeder for those aged younger than 16Â¼; the Juniors (U). and also fed some other branches which HMS GANGES could not handle. I appreciate that some will have serious packing still to do, but pray bear with me whilst I indulge myself in a recalling a couple of quick dits from Oct 1960. Pay â€˜tenshun at the back! National Service: Among the numerous other New Entry Classes at HMS RALEIGH was the final batch of those elite National Servicemen whose conscription had been deferred; some due to university completion, others for medical recovery reasons, etc. Being the last of the Nationâ€™s conscripts (on very low pay, some were even married with offspring) they were, quite understandably, not very happy bears at all. Nevertheless, and in the best traditions of our service and calling, it was to their credit that that they accepted their unfortunate lot, cracked on with their heads down and most did well at whatever was asked of them. Only those branches with the shortest training times were open to them, I knew of none who went into what was then the Electrical Branch; most seemed resigned to their fate as an ME. Many years later I was to encounter one conscript who put that two years RN National Service experience to very good effect. He served his statutory time quietly and learned as much as he could about the ways of the fleet before discharge. Afterwards, on gaining the academic qualifications needed, he joined the RN again; but through the AIB route as an Instructor Officer. He knew all the ropes and that he was guaranteed a respectable life-style/career but with only the minimum of sea time â€“ crafty beggar or what? Percy XX: Within days of arriving at HMS RALEIGH one of our intake was spotted sewing on his Good Conduct Badge. This caused considerably speculation and curiosity until it became clear that he had previously completed a time-qualifying engagement in the Army. Needless to say Percy XX was a calming influence and he was to become a very good Class Leader. The Parade GIs eventually weaved and patched the more fashionable dark blue and white patterns around, over, and within his distinctly brown quickstep and waltz guard drill routines. They were patient and kindly, but loud. In return he demonstrated familiarity and accuracy with that very same heavy .303 weapon â€“ when using it for its designed, dangerous and much noisier mode of operation. After some initial reluctance they grudgingly rewarded him with his gold crossed rifles Marksman Badge to complement his shiny new GCB. After all, his bullets & bullseyes had triumphed over their bull, bullying, and bullsh8te. AB Aries: Perhaps someone could emerge with the official history of this cloven oneâ€™s origins? It seemed most strange to us all that an RN Goat Mascot was borne on the shipâ€™s books, adorned with a much-embroidered ceremonial coat and complete with itâ€™s own special barrack-stanchion handler - for daily exercise, for company whilst attending Divisions and any alleged activities beyond lights out was kept strictly between the pair of them. The said Aries was one very fierce and bad tempered old critter who could be relied upon to drag itâ€™s portly handler well out of position during any musical interlude or at the final march past. This Goatâ€™s cuddy lay directly along our route to the dining hall. The staff abed didnâ€™t realise it but each damp and dark autumnal morning the long line of hungry NEs waiting for the diner to open gained innocent amusements by kicking at itâ€™s doors, goading it mercilessly and feeding it with anything and every thing from cigarettes and bubble-gum through to burberry buttons. (I must emphasise our innocence as we were as yet unschooled in the diabolical results arising from the act of donating large portions of ex-lax chocolate bars to both the Maltese gharry horse and itâ€™s unsuspecting driverâ€¦â€¦) I often wonder whatever happened to that Rampant Ramâ€¦.Culled & Curried for a later, more ethnically and culturally diverse, generation of baby sailors, perhaps? â€œ Menu - Aries withâ€™Arrigonisâ€¦..â€. Finally my glass is raised to you all, your Training Staff, and to all who follow you. From an old but happy survivor of 25/10/1960 (With a particular belated thank you to our patient Instructor: PO Coxâ€™n Jock Weir.) Bob PS Did I say just a couple of dits? I lied, there were at least three: Good luck but get used to it.