Anniversary Toast - HMS RALEIGH 25th Oct 2009

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, Standby……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 …….)

It was at that time that HMS RALEIGH had just started drawing in all new entries aged over 16¼. Only a few weeks earlier all of the Electrical Branch New Entries over 16¼ 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 16¼; 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 ‘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 Nation’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 – 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 – 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 one’s origins? It seemed most strange to us all that an RN Goat Mascot was borne on the ship’s books, adorned with a much-embroidered ceremonial coat and complete with it’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 it’s portly handler well out of position during any musical interlude or at the final march past. This Goat’s cuddy lay directly along our route to the dining hall. The staff abed didn’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 it’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 it’s unsuspecting driver……)

I often wonder whatever happened to that Rampant Ram….Culled & Curried for a later, more ethnically and culturally diverse, generation of baby sailors, perhaps?
“ Menu - Aries with’Arrigonis…..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 Cox’n Jock Weir.)


PS Did I say just a couple of dits? I lied, there were at least three: Good luck but get used to it.


Lantern Swinger
My memories of raleigh com back with these post,s.
I joined there November 62, bloody freezing, lol.
Our class instructors was one POME Kingdon, and a POGI whose name i can,t remember.
He (the GI) used to take his false teeth out as we got to the parade ground. He stood to attention so ridgedly with his chest stuck out, he seemed to be leaning foreward at a ridiculous angle. He would then stand at what seemed a mile away across the parade ground and shout orders. With no teeth and being a mile away we could not understand a word he was saying, lol.
So i like many others in the class ended up thinking - How come its always me that has to run round the parade ground with a .303 over my head, lol.

Towards the training there being taken to visit a ship in Guzz dockyard, it was HMS Diana which was alongside. Our instructors disapeared as soon as we got there and we were taken round by some old 3 badgeman, who kept muttering, bloody OD,s. We sat for ages on the jetty after the tour, waiting for our instructors. They turned up red faced and slurring, saying that they had had special instructors tour to do, lol lol.

On our final night before all going our seperate ways, we took the instructors to the NAAFI (Compulsory). We lashed them up to loads of ale, and they became Almost human.

I never did meet them again, but i hope they had or are having a good life. As for me i enjoyed the vast majority of my time in the mob.


War Hero
Hi Fred,
I too was at Raleigh in November 1962, but not under training.
George Crowley was the Captain, a gunnery officer, and I believe a bit of a martinet where the parade ground was concerned. :twisted:
At home however, he was a bit of a pussycat. I was his killick chef and worked down at Trevol House. I have fond recollections of Christmas, when the Crowleys invited the staff (PO Stwd, me, and a stoker) and our families to a party. The Skipper, in his full four ring suit, was crawling round under the dining room table with our combined force of five kids chasing him whilst we sat back enjoying our drinks, served by the Lady of the house! :lol:

Happy days!