The Boatswain's Call history

Like anything else with the Royal Navy the history of the Boatswain's call is interesting. No doubt its use has diminished with the introduction of ' canned ' sounds and not everybody appreciated the shrill , penetrating sound when experiencing a hangover. Always liked it in 3rd division North with ' awaa the noo the sea boats crrrrew '. The good old days indeed.
Was still used whilst I was in but I only ever carried out The Side, The Carry on, The still and Call the Hands


War Hero
Book Reviewer
Boatswain's Call is still in use, but trying to find anyone capable of getting any tunes out of it is another thing. Had a 'mare as CQM trying to find a Dabber for Evening/Captain's Rounds which usually elicited the repsonse: "But I was never taught how to blow it at Raleigh..." That response REALLY hacks me off; since when do we only learn what we were taught in Basic Training? We all know where the NAAFI is, but it's not part of the Joining Routine!

Anyway, suffice to say, the LHs who were QMs would get a rocket up their arse for not teaching their BMs basic General Naval Knowledge whilst on watch during Silent Hours, as I - and most Dabbers of a certain age - were.

On Nottingham I started to Board all my QMs to test their ability to do the job, and BMs prior to signing off their Task Books. There was many a pissed off AB expecting me to sign his TB/Watchkeepers' Chit, but I asked him for six occasions when the Side would be piped, or ten publications held on the Gangway... 8O :wink:
The call is one thing when on Herpies sorry Hermes the Bosun insisted that every pipe be preceeded or made by bugle. I made a Booty blue card as he was the only bugger I could find to do it.
I can't believe they don't teach it in Raleigh anymore???

All the QM's and BM's had to know how to use it on the ships I was in and that wasn't that long ago
So do all the QM's & BM's of today have the different pipes for colours/sunset etc stored on their phones, they then just play it down the main broadcast!!
I was the killick scribes on the Roebuck and ended up teaching two of the baby survey recorders to pipe.

The Coxswain went mad when he found out, beasted the pair of them.
Who was the Phantom Piper on Fearless?? at any & all times of the day / night this bloke would pipe "JAKE" The reggies padlocked all the broadcast sites but it still happened.
First commision '82 on Illustrious we had a RM Bugler, fittest man on the ship because they insisted all calls were made from the bridge under the direction of the OOW, calls included flying stations hands to dinner, [email protected] 0645


Lantern Swinger
Back in the dark ages I was a bugler in HMS FISGARD. I knew many of the basic calls and Repel Boarders was one such ( I think this was the Repel Aircraft). Others include Officers Call ((The officers wives eat pudding and pies, the soldiers wives eat skilly)- not too bad after 56 years? Later on I also mastered the Bosun's Call which I put use in a display in summer 55, when folloing a visit by HMQ to Winchester the civic authoritues laid on show centered on the statue of King Alfred, Piping and saying in a manly voice "Up Spirits". As an aside I as duty bugler I was doing the rounds withe DLCR who, when passing through main the galley, checked the contents of a Gas/water extinguisher.

As if by magic the water a had been changed to petrol; prison sentences came about but the the possible cosequences of galley fire!
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