Why is Ganges so emotive?

I've just joined the site and have enjoyed reading the threads here. I was drafted to Ganges for a Mast Manning Ceremony before joining HMS Osprey in 1967. We were there to set up the marquee etc. for the guests on the day. I remember eating meals to the beat of a drum while the lads practised. I got to know some of the trainees as they were detailed to assist us. The ones I met seemed happy with their lot. I remember one morning we were inside the marquee when a shout went up. It was a sunny day and when we looked up there was the shadow of two feet climbing up the roof, we nipped outside to see a young lad climbing up with a cloth and some polish. Somebody had sent him up to polish the red ball ontop of the pole, he just obeyed an order, poor sod. Luckily we saw him in time to get him down safely. Jack's sense of humour eh.?
 

witsend

MIA
Book Reviewer
I've just joined the site and have enjoyed reading the threads here. I was drafted to Ganges for a Mast Manning Ceremony before joining HMS Osprey in 1967. We were there to set up the marquee etc. for the guests on the day. I remember eating meals to the beat of a drum while the lads practised. I got to know some of the trainees as they were detailed to assist us. The ones I met seemed happy with their lot. I remember one morning we were inside the marquee when a shout went up. It was a sunny day and when we looked up there was the shadow of two feet climbing up the roof, we nipped outside to see a young lad climbing up with a cloth and some polish. Somebody had sent him up to polish the red ball ontop of the pole, he just obeyed an order, poor sod. Luckily we saw him in time to get him down safely. Jack's sense of humour eh.?
Wonderful.
 

Waspie

War Hero
I've just joined the site and have enjoyed reading the threads here. I was drafted to Ganges for a Mast Manning Ceremony before joining HMS Osprey in 1967. We were there to set up the marquee etc. for the guests on the day. I remember eating meals to the beat of a drum while the lads practised. I got to know some of the trainees as they were detailed to assist us. The ones I met seemed happy with their lot. I remember one morning we were inside the marquee when a shout went up. It was a sunny day and when we looked up there was the shadow of two feet climbing up the roof, we nipped outside to see a young lad climbing up with a cloth and some polish. Somebody had sent him up to polish the red ball ontop of the pole, he just obeyed an order, poor sod. Luckily we saw him in time to get him down safely. Jack's sense of humour eh.?
Welcome to the site. I was at Ganges in 67 but sounds like it happened before I arrived in September!!! (Anyway - first four weeks were in the Annexe - so we were well out of what went on across the road!!)
 

Judster

Newbie
Contributors Mode

I have just lifted this little dit from the HMS Ganges site. In 2005 I returned to Ganges with Nick (SIDON)(SWAMPY) Carter a Ganges boy cica 1949, myself one of the classes of 61. We wandered about the place and felt just as Jossman so expertly describes.

WHY? Read his dit.





HMS Ganges a visit. by "The Jossman"

I was on business in Clacton and had finished earlier than I expected. As I plugged in my satnav for the journey home to York I noticed that I was only 30 miles or so from Ipswich. I had been there a few times before but for some unknown reason in my mind I travelled back to 1972 and I thought of the day I joined HMS Ganges.

I checked my diary to make sure that I had no other forgotten appointments and typed SHOTLEY GATE into the route finder, 38 miles, shouldn’t take that long. As I pulled away it began to drizzle that fine drizzle that even permeates oilskins!

As I drove the final miles down the winding lanes with the river Ouse to my left I became apprehensive and the feeling in the pit of my stomach was the same as on that October afternoon in 1972. As I rounded a corner on a gentle rise my car slowed as if by itself and the tip of the mast came into view. Now I’m 50 and have seen a lot of things in my time but at that moment I experienced every conceivable emotion.
My mind played tricks on me as I drove slowly past the overgrown playing fields with the back of Nelson Hall in view; I swear I could hear the volunteer band practising somewhere away in the wind.

I parked my car outside the post office, I didn’t go in it’s out of bounds! I stared up the lane to the main gate, again was it just my memory or did someone shout “Double that class� The sound of a class marching past, stamping their right foot, echoed through the rustling trees in the afternoon breeze. I walked up the lane and found myself unconsciously straightening up and marching smartly towards the twin gate pillars. I saw the mast, it looked smaller than it did in 1972 but the sight of it still made me take a deep breath. This time though, as I marched through the gates, no Regulating Staff or GIs screamed at me and for just one last time I wish they had.

I looked around the desolate and forlorn buildings and the once fearsome parade ground, now so overgrown with weeds that the Chief GI would be spinning in his grave. I could see in my mind’s eye the missing buildings which I imagine had been unceremoniously demolished. Scant regard would have been given to the boys, and hundreds of thousands of man hours which, over the years, would have been spent scrubbing mess squares with wire wool and scouring paste, and buffing by hand the brown linoleum floors with orange wax polish and old bits of pussers blankets. All in an effort to try and win a cake!

I stood as close to the mast as the temporary fencing would let me and recalled the first time I had ‘scrambled aloft’. It was a terrifying ordeal negotiating the outside of the first elbow hanging almost upside down, no-one was allowed to take the easy route through onto the platform. I remembered the feeling of personal achievement and total exhilaration I had felt on reaching the upper yard; I had held onto the safety line for dear life with both hands, even the devil himself couldn’t have moved me, and all the while my legs trembled uncontrollably. That was one of the proudest achievements of my whole life and I was still only fifteen.

I turned and walked towards the quarterdeck and wiped some tears from my eyes, the wind must have blown something into them. I stopped at the row of square metal studs which marked the edge of the quarter deck; they looked very dull, I had polished everyone many time when I was on DO’s routine. I tutted, smiled and took a big step forward, there was no one left to shout “Double across the quarterdeckâ€. I followed the temporary road to the infamous Laundry Hill. I stood at the top and believe me I shuddered at the memory of my whole mess being doubled up and down that hill until we could not stand, the screams of our divisional instructor berating us continually with swear words even a scroat like me, from the slums of Liverpool, had never heard!

I walked down the hill. As I reached the foreshore I saw that the lower playing fields were now a marina and Enright block was, amongst other things, a pub! As I looked up the steps through the arch which had been underneath the NBCD store I remembered how me and my fellow partner in crime had lost control of a rather large hand-pulled grass roller which had careered down the grass bank into the block, causing a not insubstantial crack to appear at the point of impact. I looked carefully but could not see it.

I wandered along the foreshore road towards the sailing centre and was stopped by a gruff workman who told me the ‘effing’ road was closed to pedestrians. I could see the gate in the fence and asked him if I could just have a peek, his response was unexpected and he mellowed and said to me quite gently and politely “It must have been hard here†and let me pass. Those few steps to the small gate filled me so much dread I couldn’t believe it, I looked up and saw pristine in the afternoon sun as it broke through the clouds, even though they were overgrown, ’Faith, Hope and Charity’. How many times had we doubled up and down those terrifying granite steps as a punishment for some minor insignificant misdemeanour? Our divisional instructor enjoyed making sure we took turns with a dummy 4.5 inch shell. I remembered every single step and the indescribable pain you endured in the calf muscles as tired limbs and exhausted bodies struggled up them once again, only to be sent to the bottom again.

I took a photo and turned away and retraced my steps up the hill back to the quarter deck. It’s funny how your mind plays tricks on you and I actually began to double and then stopped myself, stupid pillock I thought. I stood in the centre of the quarter deck alone and saluted, don’t ask me why I don’t know, I just did and then I stepped off whistling ‘Hearts of Oak’, the unheard voices of long ago shouted commands to long past sailors in my mind. And I marched with the pride I had when I passed out after ten hard gruelling months, I didn’t care who saw me or what they thought. You see I am a matelot and always will be.


The Jossman
HMS Ganges Site
18. Oct 2007 at 19:43

++++++++++++++++


Nutty
Just read this post i to went to ganges in october 72 myself and i couldnt of wrote it better i felt like i was back there myself faith hope and charity my god those bastards put you through it benbow 35 mess up and down with that bloody great big 6 inch shell just for sodding talking after ligjts out never forget it they would get done now.
 

WreckerL

War Hero
Super Moderator
Just read this post i to went to ganges in october 72 myself and i couldnt of wrote it better i felt like i was back there myself faith hope and charity my god those bastards put you through it benbow 35 mess up and down with that bloody great big 6 inch shell just for sodding talking after ligjts out never forget it they would get done now.
Did the long covered way doubling with a mattress on my back, in jim jams (mandatory) and plimsolls for slack hammocks once, just the once though. 6 a.m. in the morning in the middle of November certainly perks you up :oops:

Also had to sew my 8's trouser pockets up for having my hands in them. 40 stitches per inch, and the twat counted them, never forgot that either.
 

Waspie

War Hero
Still have a brown boot brush that we used to polish the deck with that horribly yellow polish!!!

Mrs W was going to throw it away a few years ago - mistake!!!!!! She is now aware the brown brush isn't for using OR throwing way!!!!

Long Covered Way. Marching down there when guard week. Move out the way or get trampled underfoot!!!:oops:
 
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