Step forward, the youngest recruit
THIS IS what the Comment pages are all about, controversy on topics that rumble on from issue to issue, such as the fast minelayer HMS Manxman’s mythical speed. I cannot let Lt Cdr Hagger’s letter (December) go without making a reply.
To recap, he and his twin brother joined the Royal Navy at HMS St Vincent on June 10 1958 aged 15 years 103 days. He asked: “Excluding those who lied about their age on enrolment, how many ex-Naval Boys (post World War 2) can claim to have joined at such a young age?” Here’s one – and no doubt there will be others, perhaps we have more than one ex-Boy who joined on his 15th birthday. My date of birth is May 27 1938 and I joined HMS Ganges on June 9 1953, aged 15 years and 13 days. Just a small dig – Ganges’ Boys
always did it better. – Eddie Summerfold, Secretary, HMS Opossum Association, Bury, Lancs
...I WAS born on April 24 1947 and joined HMS Ganges on May 1 1962 at the age of 15 years and seven days.
recruit in 1962?
Did this make me the youngest John Hallam, ex FAA
Armourer, Yeovil, Somerset
...I WAS BORN on April 5 1940 and entered HMS Ganges at the age of 15 years 28 days. That is 75 days younger (almost a lifetime then).
I am almost certain I was not the
youngest of that intake. – Mick George, ex A/B, Moulton, Northampton
E REGULATIONS to enlist as an Artifi cer Apprentice stated you had to be 15 years old on September 1. Having been born on August 27 1942, I joined Fisgard on September 9 1957 at the age of 15 years and 14 days! Amazingly, some ten days later I signed a form to say I would serve until I was 30 years old! I served until I was 30, the first
three years only counting as boys’ time, but even then, after 12 years’ service, my leaving present was £246, and no pension as I left before 1975!
– Trevor Newton,
ex CCEA(O), Great Doddington, Northampton
...I JOINED at HMS St Vincent on January 4 1955 at the age of 15 years and 55 days.
I was born on October 21 1939
and served 32 years. Sorry, Bill, I’ve outdone you! Chief Ops Pete Cleaver (Ret’d)
...I WAS 15 years old on January 17 1955 and I joined HMS Ganges on February 8, making me 15 years and 22 days old. I don’t think I was even the youngest in our class. – Tony Watson, Macclesfield, Cheshire
...I’M SURE there will be many who can ‘black cat’ my early days in the RN but here’s my two pennyworth on the subject. I was born on July 17 1952, joined HMS Ganges aged 15 years and 29 days, joined HMS Vernon aged 16 on my birthday, and joined HMS Scarborough aged 16 years and 97 days.
E BROTHERS Hagger were ancient compared to myself. I took the King’s Shilling at
Charing Cross recuiting office on February 4 1952, and joined HMS St Vincent the same day, which was 58 days after my 15th birthday. I’m sure there are many other ex
naval boys who have similar stories. – Sandy Sadler, ex Chief TASI.
...I CAN beat the Haggers by 100 days. I was born January 4 1943 and joined up at HMS Ganges on January 7 1958, making me 15 years and three days. – Brian Harrington, Bridlington, East Yorks
DATE of birth is April 18 1940 and I joined HMS Ganges on May 3 1955 (Class 292, Telegraphist) at 15 years and 16 days.
– Henry ‘Ron’ Barrett,
ex RS(I), Chairman, Balliol Boys’ Club Association, Woodstock, Oxfordshire
TER reporting to the Manchester Recruiting Offi ce on September 5 1960 I arrived at HMS St Vincent on the sixth. This was 72 days after my 15th birthday. I’m sure there would have been
many ‘boys’ who joined 34 Entry on that day that came well under the 15 years and 103 days’ mark! So, Bill, I’m afraid that you and
school on April 13 1962 and joined the Royal Navy on May 7 1962. I was 15 years, 37 days old on joining HMS St Vincent 49 Entry. – Mick Liddiard, ex LREM, Swindon, Wilts
date of birth is November 23 1938 and I joined St Vincent on January 5 1954.
This made me 15 years and 43
days old. I was certainly the youngest boy in our class, Duncan 69, but maybe there is someone out there that joined at an earlier age. – Owen Curtis, ex-Able
Seaman (UC 2), Swindon, Wilts
...I WAS 15 years old on April 3 1956, I joined HMS Ganges on April 30 1956, 15 years and 27 days old. I believe we were the first class
– Reg Farmer, Intake, Doncaster
your twin, although a rare pair, are not unusual in your early start in the Andrew. I served 17 years,
leaving as a
POREL in 1978. Many of my entry shipmates went on to serve many more years, finishing higher up the ladder.
Also in December’s letters, Andy
Christie wrote about his family service in the RN. In addition to my mere 17 years,
my older brother served 25 years. The Pryor
family tradition of
serving the Crown and Country goes way back into the 19th century with my great-grandfather serving in the Sheffield City Police (22 years) my grandfather in the King’s Own Light Infantry in the Boer War and WW1 (22 years in total) my father in the same Regiment for 22 years (including WW2) being wounded in Italy in 1943. Today my nephew still serves in the
West Yorkshire Police (over 22 years). A total around 130 years to date. There are probably many families with similar service records and as proud as we are. Once having served and following
a family tradition it lives with you all through life! We are a fortunate country that so
many young men and women are still willing to put their lives on the line for justice.
– Rodger Prior, Wakefield
...I JOINED at HMS Ganges on May 4 1954 at the age of 15 years and 58 days. I was in Hawke Division and the instructor was PO Telegraphist Paul. I was a Boy Telegraphist, and after Ganges served on the America and West Indies Station, Coastal Forces, Submarine Service, and Mediterranean Fleet, Northern Ireland and Far East Fleet (during the ‘confrontation’ with Indonesia) I left the Navy in 1965.
– John Hartley, Lytham-St-Annes, Lancashire
LL HAGGER and his twin were not even the youngest recruits in 14 Entry that joined St Vincent in June 1958, in fact they weren’t even the youngest in their New Entry class, Fisher Class. I was in that class with them, and I was born April 27 1943, which would make me 15 years 44 days on joining, some 59 days younger than the Hagger twins. I’m sure there must have been
others that were younger. – Mike Ball, Havant, Hampshire
...FAR be it from me to rain on a naval offi cer’s parade, but I’m afraid Lt Cdr Bill Hagger was not the youngest recruit of 1958.
My date of birth is February and
I joined as a
Ganges entrant (13 recruitment, Collingwood 44 mess) on May 6 1958, aged 15 years and 80 days. Vital statistics, four foot 11 inches and seven stone six lbs. I was taken on the assumption that I would grow, given time and naval exercise, I did! I eventually completed 25 very
eventful and enjoyable (mostly) years,
finally leaving in
1983, after which I spent 28 years in the oil industry,
retiring from fulltime offshore work at the age of 68.
I can honestly
say I have enjoyed every year of my working life and will always credit my work ethic to the values instilled into me by
finest Navy in the world.
‘Scouse’ Toms, ex CMEM, Liff Village, Dundee, Tayside
of Junior Engineering and Junior Naval Air Mechanics. I was made a Leading Junior. Was I the first Leading Junior
Engineering Mechanic in the Royal Navy? Come on all you Leading Junior Eng Mech – who can beat that? – Joe Rourke, Stretford, Manchester
date of birth is April 24 1942 and I joined St Vincent on May 7 1957, thus making me 15 years and 15 days old. I still remember, as I entered the
gates of St Vincent, the sight of the mast being rigged for dress ship, for Commonwealth Day, (and not me) as I found out later! – Derek Whittaker, POMW Ret’d, Cosham, Hants
...I CAN beat Bill Hagger’s claim by nine days, as my date of birth is November 6 1949 and I joined Ganges on February 8 1965, giving me an age of 15 years, 94 days. My oppo Graeme Coutts, ex
LRO(G) joined at the same time, both of us from the Aberdeen area, and his age was 15 years, 58 days. – Tom Moultrie, Exmouth, Devon
BIRTHDAY is July 16 and I joined at HMS St Vincent on September 6 1960. I was 15 years and 51 days old. I was led to believe I was the youngest boy out of entry of over 100.
No doubt someone will put me
right on this. I don’t claim to be the youngest to join the RN in the modern era, but I was certainly younger than Bill Hagger and his twin.
– George Wise, ex POMEM(L) Chatham, Kent
RRY Bill, but my date of birth is December 4 1939 and I joined the RN on November 10 1954, so I was 14 years, 11 months
and days old.
After HMS Ganges training I joined HMS Diamond and in
January or February 1956 went out to the Med for nine months, or so we thought.
ideas Each month Pussers Rum are of our top letter.
● This photo was undated in our Ganges archive, but probably dates from about 1971. However, the players are identifi ed and the caption reads as follows (as far as I could make out the faded pencil ) 16 Mess, Drake: JRO John Heaton, JEM Derek Hollies, Maurice Hogden, JEM David Allen, J Stwd Martin Newsome, J Asst Ck Ian Haidon – Ed
26 FEBRUARY 2012 :
...I WAS 15 years and 62 days when I joined at Ganges but my old shipmate Colin Newsham was only 15 years and 29 days when we joined. – J Gwynfor Jones, Blaenau Ffestiniog
President Nasser had other for keeping
offering to courier a bottle of taking place on the their finest tipple to the writer
Smith for being the youngest Boy to come forward so far – we think he’ll be old enough to drink it by now...
us out there longer with the Suez crisis. With this all
November 6 1956,
This month’s winner is: Mike I was still a boy seaman and still
only 16 years old, so does that make me the youngest boy
seaman to serve in a conflict? I am sure Navy News readers will let me know otherwise! – Mike Smith, Marshland Maritime Museum,
...I WAS born on April 1 1947, left Clenchwarton, King’s Lynn six
Jack’s singular sense
E W PORTER’S letter (January) brought back some memories. I joined the Andrew in July 1943, My first draft was to HMS Bristol for eight weeks physical training to bring me up to A1 condition. Bristol was a stone frigate,
known in peace time as Muller’s Orphanage. The Navy requisitioned part of it for this specific purpose. We used the ablutions provided for the peacetime habitants. Attached to the washroom we found a drying room equipped with numerous wooden racks. We also found a cupboard with some drawers containing white powder. This proved to be bleach. We had already observed
that most of the ship’s company wore collars that were light blue, obviously reflecting some service time.
Ours were dark blue, which marked us out as rookies. The answer was easy. Wash your collars in bleach. Fill the sink with hot water, immerse the collar and sprinkle in the powder. Wrong, add the powder to the water, stir vigorously and then immerse the collar.
Should you do the former the bleach would act on some parts of the collar but not others. Result, a collar of patches of dark blue, various shades of lighter blue and some pure white. Totally unwearable. Fortunately one could buy another from Slops, if you had the ackers. I was always fascinated by Jack’s desire to get away with wearing something not conforming to regulations. Example, cap bow, tied at the
front, not over the ear, not wearing the lanyard, cap worn ‘flat aback,’ wearing shoes not issue boots, sewing an extra piece of serge in the bottom of the trousers to widen them, wearing a raincoat instead of the issue overcoat. I suppose it was our way of maintaining a spirit
independence. Does anyone know whether the other branches of the Services were as keen to do the same thing? Stan Taylor, ex Coder 1943- 1946, Falcon Inn, Willenhall, Wolverhampton
honoured, thanks to Jim
I WAS very pleased to see in January’s edition the article about the
dedication and unveiling
ceremony of the stone to honour the 534 Boys killed in action during World War 2. As the article said,
ceremony will take place on Sunday March
Portsmouth Cathedral. On that day,
it’s hoped that
12 ex-Ganges and St Vincent boys from Thanet will take a mini coach to Portsmouth to attend the service. Again, it is hoped, we are
taking four standards with us. These will be the three local RNA standards, Birchington, Ramsgate and Margate, plus the standard of HMS Phoebe Association which I will be carrying. HMS Phoebe lost three boys
during WW2 in two separate actions. I was a Boy Seaman on Phoebe during her 1946-8 commission in the Med. I hope there will be many more ex-Boy Seamen attending on the day, and I would like to congratulate Jim Reed on the success of his project; he has worked hard to bring it to fruition. – Derek West, HMS Phoebe
Association, Minster, Ramsgate, Kent
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