Joining the Navy in the 1960's

Discussion in 'History' started by writergirl, Nov 11, 2010.

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  1. Hi,

    I am a student currently writing a screenplay. It tells the story of a man named Jimmy, who is 65 in the present day but served in the Navy from 1960-1970.

    So as to be correct with my details, I was just wondering if anybody could help me out.

    I need to know what the process would have been for a 15 year old boy in Manchester enlisting in the Navy in 1960, and what type of training/work he would have set out to do. Also, it would be helpful to know what the uniform was like.

    If anybody could help me out at all I would be hugely grateful.

    Thanks so much,

  2. Strangely enough I am from Manchester, joined the navy at 15 and a half in September 1959:)
    Most, if not all, Northerners went to HMS Ganges at Shotley GAte near Ipswich, Suffolk.
    There is a website dedicated to HMS Ganges.

    HMS Ganges Association
  3. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    Sounds rather a daunting task from the point of view of achieving the appearance of authenticity from a zero base. My experience of reading anything to do with the RN is that people who haven't worn a blue suit can NEVER get it right.
  4. I cant help you with any of the details as it wasn't me era. Good luck with your screen play I hope it will be good enough for someone to turn it into TV one day.
  5. You attended the recruiting office twice. The first time you took your education test, and brought with you a letter of consent if under 18.
    You were told on the spot if you had passed or failed.
    If past you came back about three weeks later and had your medical and colour blindness/hearing test.
    You were informed within days if you were passed and were given a start date within a couple of weeks. The whole process from Birmingham recruiting office to Raleigh main gate took me approx 9 weeks.
    I went to Raleigh as although still only 15 I was too old for Ganges by about two weeks.
    The rig was great to wear except when wearing blue fronts (sea jumper) as unless I wore a tee shirt it was like a hair-suit.
    I suppose a few will remember the fact that you could tell a trainee at a fair few yards as trainees wore the sea jumper under the shirt, a trained man wore it over.
    One thing I never expected when I went to Raleigh was that about forty years later I would be having a sunday meal in a castle as the guest of the then Captain. 8O
  6. Thanks so much for all of your help!

  7. (Sorry if I'm sounding really simple here, I just don't have a clue) but how often would boys return home to their families?
  8. Term time was approx 14 weeks. Leave was three weeks long. Training consisted of Seamanship/Trade training and a hefty wack of academics. If anyone was to describe their time at Ganges/St Vincent, it would take volumes. So much was crammed into that one year. You entererd as a wet behind the ears sprog and came out a man, even though only 16 years old.
    In 1959/60, boys were paid 62 and a half pence pocket money per week, the rest reamaining in credit until leaving Ganges.
    Kids had to learn to laundry, iron, clean, polish, sweep, drill, box, train for the navy and sometimes at one and the same time.
    Someone said if you never did it you'd never understand. That about sums it up. 8) 8)

    edit fer spuling
  9. All good educational stuff.

    It might be useful to explain how long it was before you were granted your first night leave 'ashore'. I assume you were inspected before joining the 'liberty boat' and it was Cinderella leave (back 'on board' before midnight) as a junior.
  10. I think at Raleigh it was one week new entry, and then you got to go ashore at the end of the third week part one, on a Saturday after skippers rounds. As its 45 years ago I could be out by a week or two. I dipped in as the end of part one coincided with summer leave, which was two weeks.
    Money was £3.00 a week and three tobacco coupons every four weeks.
    Blue liners were 8/- for the three hundred I think, but its been a long time.
  11. Unless you were applying for a Commision: that was one visit. The next step was a visit to AIB at SULTAN, Gosport. You'd be chuffed to nuts crossing the road to the quite new Cocked Hat pub to discuss the day's "torture" with your fellow Candidates. Ah, Brickwoods.

    Mentioning the tests; the central heating system clanked and creaked like buggery and you were convinced it was a plot to distract you from the classroom tests. Also, the leadership exercise water tank was bloody freezing in November and some (most?) were scared of getting dunked in it (so I understand :D ). For that, though, your boy of 15 would have to have been 16.
  12. No leave for the first 5 weeks at all, as you were still in the nozzers division. Then every Wednesday 170O hrs to 2230 hrs Saturday after DOs rounds 1200hrs to 2230 hrs and on Sunday after divisions 1100 hrs untill 2230 hrs. There was one long weekend leave granted between each term time at St Vincent.
  13. HMS Ganges letter to parents
  14. Ganges April 15 1962, aged 15 years and 15 days.
    First six weeks in the annex learning the basics of Naval life. Washing, ironing (the silk was a real booger to get sorted!), how to iron the creases in the uniform bell trousers (paybook width).
    Drill marching, white blancoing of gaiters, khaki green also, spit and polishing of boots (2 pairs) and shoes, sports, more sports, and even more sports, even boxing (because the Skipper was a fanatic) etc
    What would be called these days as 'Deep Cleaning' of the mess and surrounding areas - no chance of diesase after what we had to do !!
    The Junior Instuctor (JI), who was a trained passed out rating was generally a real swine (ours was to say the least!).
    Sex education classes by Sexy Rexy ... quite an eye-opener for a 15 yo 8O
    And the alltime rememberd haircut by 'Shotley' the barber - "how do you want it", " a trim , please", then the head whipped sharply to one side, and the electric razor straight up to the sides !! :(
    No shore leave granted at all in the first six weeks.
    First shore leave, to Harwich, had to muster (for Liberty Boat as it was called) at the Main gate for inspection by the Regulating staff (very strict), if passes inspection allowed ashore, but had to be back by 10pm. Very serious offence to be late ! (more so in my case, as my old man was an RPO at ganges in the previous three years 59-61 - and they knew it somehow :scratch: :( )
    On completion of the basic training, as 2nd Class Juniors, marched to the Main Camp, and detailed for Messes, depending on trade; in my case Supply were messed with FAA trainees.
    No tobacco garanted to anyone under 18.
    If you wanted to use the laundry service, we had to buy an extra piece of kit (you were generally issued with two of most things - white fronts, blue collars in may case).
    If your cap had a "bow wave", generally caused by the not-so-round heads some of us, it was spiked on the bedpost - though you'll find some on here who dispute that, but it happened to my messmates as myself.
    Used to earn extra cash by setting up the pins in the bowling alley for the 1st class Juniors, generally 1d (1/2p) or 2d (1p) , but sometimes a whole 6d (2 1/2p) - lots of nutty - yummy !! :lol:
    5 shillings (25p) pay per week seems familiar to me, the balance being paid on first leave at Part 3 training in HMS Pembroke at Chatham - whoa!! Big Bucks !!.

    Probably a lot more, if I put my mind to it.
    I do recall a small blue booklet being issued which had some 'advice' in it, two of them, I do recall were "Always volunteer" and " Never help a woman downward" :wink:

  15. Hello Kate,

    A few pointers on the age and the length of Jimmy’s Service: You say that he is 65 now and served from 1960 to 1970. If you skip to the bottom I believe that it would have to have been to 1972 under normal circumstances. The middle scribbling, with some hypothetical dates, explains my reasoning.

    At that time, 1960, our Jimmy would have signed on (with written parental consent) for a nine year engagement. A big BUT is that his ‘time’ would only commence from the date of his eighteenth birthday; regardless of how old he was when he actually entered the Service. (I believe that 9 year engagement was called “LS1â€.)

    Case A: Manchester Jimmy JONES is currently 65 and has his date of birth 1 Jan 1945.

    In 1960 J JONES joins the RN at the earliest opportunity, his 15th Birthday, on 1 Jan 1960.

    As none of the time he served before becoming 18 ('Boy's Time' or 'Junior's Time') is considered to be reckonable then his earliest date for a normal discharge on completion of his nine year engagement (of 'Man's' Time) would be at his 27th Birthday;

    = 1 Jan 1972 That being JONES’s earliest normal ‘Terminal/Discharge Date’ or Tx, Time expiry.

    For his date of birth, above, his Discharge Date would be the same for ANY date that he actually joined in 1960, or indeed any date he joined before and up to his 18th Birthday.

    Kate - That's how it worked then - The RN effectively gaining that non-reckonable 'Free' time served [which was ignored for both Engagement and Pension purposes] by anyone joining up less than 18 years of age.
    As an aside, the under 18's rate of pay was far lower that of a rating aged 18 and over. The point being that the RN gained a considerable amount of free/almost slave labour from keen and willing youngsters in those days.
    Towards the end of the 1960’s a special commission produced the “Donaldson Reportâ€**. Implemented in 1970, that report changed many of those, and similar, unfair conditions of service by introducing opportunities for discharge much earlier than the harsh rigidity of the Nine-Years-From-Aged-18 engagements.

    Oh, we must never forget that although our ‘Junior Jimmy’ became a ‘Man’ at 18 he was still officially ‘Under Age’ until he became 20 and entitled to elect to draw his daily Rum Ration (cue – licks lips in nostalgia). A year later, at 21, the nation finally recognised our Jimmy as a fully fledged adult (with five to six years of RN service already under his money-belt mind you!) and then graciously awarded/rewarded him with the opportunity to discharge his new electoral responsibilities. (Ma and Pa also gave Jimmy, symbolically, the key of the door in those days).

    Case B: Manchester Jimmy SMITH will be 65 at the end of this year, 2010, as his date of birth is 31st Dec 1945.

    In 1960 J SMITH joins the RN at the earliest opportunity, his 15th Birthday, on 31st Dec 1960.

    As explained above, SMITH’s earliest date for a normal discharge on completion of his nine year engagement (of 'Man's' Time) would be at his 27th Birthday;

    = 31st Dec 1972 that being SMITHS earliest normal ‘Terminal Date/Discharge Date’ or Tx, Time expiry.

    In reality an RN Entry would not start on either the first or the last day of a year and I cannot recall if a Discharge Date would have been his 27th birthday or the previous day; it matters not unless any of your plots or sub-plots has events hinging on those key dates.

    To condense the above: Any 15 year old joining the RN in 1960 who served for the complete term of his nine year engagement would have to serve to his 27th birthday in 1972: Not, as you premise, from 1960-1970.


    NOTE **Too late to affect our Jimmy’s Discharge Date - Yet the implementation of a raft of other items would affect him and anyone else then considering re-engagement for further service. The impact of the social changes within the RN brought about by that ‘Donaldson Report’ has echoes even today; probably a worthy subject for a historian’s project but it could be safely ignored for the purposes of your character and play.

    PS Some more background.

    A young rating joining at 15 in 1960 would enter the RN at either HMS GANGES or HMS St. VINCENT as a ‘Junior (U)’ That suffix indicating an age of between 15 and 16 years 3 months. Their initial training at those ‘Junior’ or ‘Boys’ RN Establishments was approx. 12 months.

    A slightly older rating entering was classed as a ‘Junior (O)’ ie Over 16 years and 3 months but not yet 18.
    Those youngsters being older on entry, but still ‘Juniors’, commenced their initial training at various establishments elsewhere, along with the ‘Adults’ entering at 18 years plus.

    During the latter part of 1960 all Junior (O)s and Adult rating entrants joined the RN at HMS RALEIGH for their common, initial, ‘Part1’ Training before undertaking their ‘Part 2’ specialist training; either continuing at HMS RALEIGH or at one of the many other specialist shore training establishments elsewhere. [That was my entry route - as a Junior (O), joining RALEIGH in Oct 1960, at exactly 16 and 4 Months - but purposely & cunningly avoiding either HMS GANGES or HMS St VINCENT]

    Kate, to an outsider the RN word ‘Junior’ has often caused some confusion: the terms ‘Junior (U) & (O)†at that time signified those below 18 whilst those humble beings were also encompassed by the RN term ‘Junior Rating’.
    ‘Junior Rates’ did, and still does, include every RN rating from recruit up to and including the Leading Rate, who is himself/herself akin to a Corporal.
    A ‘Senior Rating’ is a non-commissioned Petty Officer and/or a Chief Petty Officer, the next up the hiearchy being ‘RN Warrant Officers, 1 & 2†who are all non-commissioned Officers, too

    PPS A recommended chronology of RN events during Jimmy’s period of service is at:
  16. But one little plus for Jimmy and myself. Who did join up on his 15 th birthday and completed a 12 year engagement 3 plus 9. When getting discharged at Victory the MAA informed me, the RN Wasnt finished with me yet, as eveyone goes on reserve for the next 3 years :twisted: Sorry Master not me!!!!!! i have already done my 3 yrs in reserve :p :p :p BYE
  17. Aaaaaah...1964....had just turned 16 so Rayleigh it was. First month was bad.....thought I had made the worst mistake of my life. No change of mind in those days. Once you signed the dotted line you were in! Only way out was compassionate, medical...or get thrown out. Fortunately I did not qualify for any of the above! Looking back, best thing I ever did.

    Remember my first pint at the NAAFI..'Kingpin' bitter if memory serves. Tasted bloody awful at that time but I was learning to be 'Jack the Lad' so soon learned to love 3 quid a week sounds about right. Probably the most positive life changing event of my young existence though their were times I would have wrapped my hand in if it were possible.

    By the time I left the mob in the mid '70's, recruits at 'Ganges' could leave after 3 months or so if they didn't like it! Wonder how many youngsters who took that path look back and wish they had done otherwise?
  18. Thread hi-jack. I joined Ganges in '73 (aged 16 1/2) and as far as I remember you had to complete basic training before you could leave (stand fast medical/compassionate reason's). I know one lad in my class who did that.

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