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Memoirs from the T.S. Indefatigable on Anglesey, North Wales.

Occasionally, ex Inde boys relate their memories of their time spent in the Indefatigable to me, or to others. They are recorded here for posterity.

Capt. P.E.R. Hutchins at Indefatigable (1941-42).

When WWII broke out I was 13 years and 4 months of age and I was living in a village called Iver Heath in Buckinghamshire. It seemed that all the males had suddenly disappeared, and not wanting to be the only male left not doing my bit, decided to go to sea as soon as my education was finished.

The school leaving age was 14 at that time, so my father, mother and I, started looking into finding a training ship. It turned out that I could go in the Royal Navy as a Captain Bugler at 14 years and 6 months or to a training ship at 14 years and 4 months, but at that time 2 months seemed like a long time so decided on the training ship route.

My mother and a neighbour Mrs. Smith came along, as women in those days did not travel alone, and off we went to Liverpool, to the Sailors Home where 25 boys around my age sat an exam . We all past (strange), and the next thing I remember we were all heading for Rock Ferry, then out on a launch to the ship.
Arriving on board our shoes and socks vanished,( I guess they were sent home). It would appear one was expected to go over the top, (main mast), the first day! or live a life of disgrace for the rest of your years, or so the older boys told us. They also added that after the last new entries, one boy had fallen, but the safety net over the sky light had saved his life, and he had not descended two more decks to the school room. He had only broken his leg.

Life aboard was quite a shock we lived our days by the ships bell and bugler, raising and lowering the flag sunrise and sunset, we all stood to attention and faced aft and all QUIET as the Flag was hoisted, or lowered.

In the morning (turned out by the bugler), we lashed up (seven turns), and stored our hammocks, and after a cold water wash then fell in for duty detail. I was told who ever took on the companion way out side for the winter got their stripe and anchor, so deciding I wanted to advance in life, and took on the job. Each morning , frost, fog, rain or shine, and there was not much of the latter at that time in the morning, bucket and holystone down to the Mersey at the bottom, hang on and dip out a bucket full, up to the top, wet, and stone the platform and steps swilling them off as you went down kneeing in cold water all the way to the bottom, (lately have been getting some sore knees and was wondering about that), one was sort or encouraged by the climate to get a move on.

Then to breakfast which usually consisted off a slice of bread not too fresh, and a ladle of lumpy porridge. We had no cups, and used pudding basins for a cup, full of what could have been anything. If a basin was dropped every one shouted out two pence, except the duty officer, he was usually busy running round hitting as many boys as he could with his stick, to restore order.. .

The midday meal was no improvement, one of the cook house boys said they had to scrub the meat to get the green off. I remember not wanting to eat the horrible semolina , so I was held down by the ships bully and force-fed, (to this day cannot face the stuff), he later was expelled for bullying. It would appear that was his pastime!

We did have a tradition on board called so-many -a-boards. I joined on the 8th of August so on the 8th of September, anyone on the ship that had been their longer than you could come and hit you, anywhere they wanted! They usually tried to pick a place where the bruise would not show, as time past, boys ahead of you left, so there were not so many boys in front of you that could give you your, so-many-a-boards and more behind you.

I had a few bruises but some boys had a bad time. I will say during my time there the tradition was stopped, and outlawed, a good thing too. It was a cruel practice. On inspection day there were lots of boys saying they had fell down when bruises were sighted.

Our training was definitely hands on, we were instructed in Signals Morse with flag, International code, Semaphore, Seamanship, Boat work, so that after a while the older boys were teaching the newer boys.

One incident comes to mind while attending the ships school, (The Extended Education), as it said in the curriculum. All I remember doing was drawing the International Flags and colouring them in with coloured pencils. We had to attend the school up to 14 ½. years of age.

One of my friends asked me how to start the fire extinguish, I told him and after it started he tried to stop it by turning it upright. We finished up shooting the foam down into the bilges but it still was dribbling, so we put a bit of paper in the nozzle .

Shortly after that ships divisions were called and the Captain walked up and down in front of us telling the guilty boys to step out, I did not step forward and my friend did not step forward, so we got away without being hung. The only thing was, for a long time after that, whenever I passed by the Extinguisher, it spat at me!

I only ever saw one caning on board ship, which was done over a Horse. The ropes end was used but not to frequently, there was lots of shouting by P.O.'s & officers.

One of my training sessions consisted of running the Captains and his wife's kitchen .There was one trip from ashore when she returned with a package under her arm, looking very pleased with herself, it was a rabbit, meat was quite hard to come by in those days. She called me to the kitchen a showed me just how to prepare and cook it and just when to take it out of the anthracite stove . Well that night, just as last G sounded all quiet, I remember the ruddy rabbit, so jumped out of my hammock and dashed up to the kitchen , no rabbit just a very small black mouse laying in the bottom of the dish, I sure got a few words from her next day.

One of the exercises we did like was going out in the cutters. We used to row down to Cammell Lairds to watch the ships coming off the slips, we then would row back passing by the Conway, wondering if they were fed any better than we were. When we got back if the boat was not spotless we would have to make it so, using Mersey water, sand and a piece of fire hose. 15 oars plus the rest of the boat before we could go back on board, if you were late for a meal that was just to bad.

Our medical inspection came after our bath, once a week which consisted of a basin of warm water. Soap yourselves all over, then to the cold water shower, controlled by an officer with a stick. He would turn the cold shower on and you had to stand there till he was satisfied that all the soap was gone. When he touched you with his stick you could go onto the lower deck and dry yourself, usually on a very damp towel if someone got to your towel before you did, then without dressing, up to the Main deck, cloth over your arm, you lined up and in turn stood in front of the Captain, Chief officer and Doctor, and sometimes the Captains wife would appear. You had to spread your hands and turn round, touch on the back side with the C/O's stick, then dress. Sometimes the older boys (15years) had a little problem, so would keep moving to the back of the line (150 boys), hoping the problem would not be present when they did reach the front. If it did I can remember the Doctor saying, can not you control yourself boy. Never happened to me.

There were no swimming lessons at all on or off the ship, or in Wales.

Liverpool was really getting plastered at night. I remember laying in my hammock hearing the shrapnel landing on the boat deck. I can remember the Customs House dome melting and running down the side of the building. One very bad night we had a land mine come down in the river, not far from the ship and the authorities figured we may swing over it on the tide change and set it off so at 01.00 so we had to abandon ship.

Boats all were lowered and we were all off in 13 minutes , even the Captains wife, I guess our training had worked.. We all stayed at the Sailors Home for a few days, then were sent home for a few days leave while another location for us was found. Liverpool was having quite a bad time with night air raids it was a very bad period of distraction in the Dock land & City.

After about 2 weeks we were told to report to Clawdd Newydd in North Wales.

On arriving in Ruthin, the nearest Town, we found there was no transport so had to walk the 5 miles with kit to our new location.

The new location had been a holiday camp, quite high up on a hill if not a mountain.

The wooden huts we lived in had no insulation, and were designed with space between the wooden planks, in other words you could see out from inside. At night you spread your oilskin over your blanket so that when it snowed, (which it did on my birthday the 15th of May), you were protected somewhat.

Food was about the same, but we now wore boots, and marched to Church on Sunday, where I and many more boys were confirmed.

The bath house was open with a concrete floor, and no hot water, and just basins so did not take to long to get a bath. We had one trip with a group of boys on the back of an open lorry to Rock Ferry to bring back the ships Gig which we put into a small lake several miles away so that we could row now and then. It was a very cold trip and thinking about it now quite dangerous trying to goon board. I have often marvelled that the was no one missing when we got back to the camp. Half way back the Office bought us a cup of hot tea, I guess it was to fend off hypothermia.

I found life very boring there and when the opportunity came to leave was quite ready. Word came that there was a ship in Liverpool that required two Deck Boys and was I interested, the only trouble was one had to get permission from ones parents. On writing to my father, who was serving in the army as a Major, his reply was certainly not . I then wrote to my mother who said in her letter to me that she had to agree with my father, however, she did not wish to stand in my light, so covering up the first nine words I was honourable discharged to go to sea.

My leaving report certificate stated 'A GOOD ALL ROUND BOY ' and so I and one of my mates, (Jeff from Sheffield), started our sea going career by joining The S.S. Wanderer registered with Harrison's of Liverpool, which is of course another story.

Looking back over my experience, I would say that the training and the discipline were very good and proved to be a great help to me through out my career.

Brian. M. Riordan at Indefatigable (1943-45).
I joined the Indefatigable at Clawdd Newydd in 1943, three days before my 14th birthday. My real memories of that time relate to taking the first boat out to the lake on the Cerrig road, we loaded the boat on a truck and off we went, I think Unwin was with us and Dobson. We successfully launched it and in doing so failed to hold on to the line and the blasted boat drifted slowly from the shore with one lad and me on board, without any oars!!  You can imagine the faces of Unwin, Dobson and the lads ashore. Me having no sense in those days stripped off all my clothes and dived into the frigid lake to swim ashore to get a pair of oars, can tell you it was bloody cold. I tried to dry myself as 
well as I could and we proceeded to be instructed in the art of oarsmanship. No truck to go back to camp so after a couple of hours we hoofed it back. The next morning I woke up with a hell of a fever and aching from head to toe. There was considerable panic when my temperature was taken, it was 107. The next thing I remember was along bumpy ride to Ruthin, I had pneumonia!        
I really only bucked the system once and paid for it. That was when I left the picture party in Ruthin to go and have tea at the home of my future wife.  Williams who worked in the office caught me sneaking back. I lost my Petty Officer rank, and got six into the bargain!!

A.C. Howard at Indefatigable (1942-43).

What I remember are those wooden huts, marching to St Mary's Church at Derwen on Sundays. Walking back to the school from that little railway station after Christmas leave, over snow covered fields. I remember names of some of the staff, Captain Bambra, Chief Officer Unwin, Headmaster Hughs, and Mr Doodson. After Inde I went to 'St George' on the Isle of Man, to train as a boy telegraphist.

Derek E. K. Evans at Indefatigable (1941-42).

I was one of the Inde lads
I was one of the boys
We learned our manners
We earned our tanners
We were respected
Wherever we went 
On a cold, damp typical February morning my widowed mother and I stepped off their train from Llandudno and out into the busy Liverpool Lime Street on route to the Sailors Home in Canning Place. I was due to take a medical and educational examination as a pre- entry condition to join the T.S.Indefatigable as a trainee seaman. 
On arrival at the Sailors Home I reported in and joined a number of other hopeful applicants. There was an aura of fear and trepidation and some uncertainty during all the preliminaries and once these were completed the results were then collated and the unsuccessful candidates were let down as lightly as possible, whilst the "fortunate few" were informed that they were due aboard that very afternoon, much to the surprise of my mother who had an unused return ticket and a very difficult explanation to make to her mother [Nain] as to why she had left her grandson in Liverpool. It turned out later there was a very frosty atmosphere at home for a considerable time.                                                                            

Good-bye's were said with a touch of embarrassment as I didn't want to appear to be a Mummy's boy, so kisses were kept to a minimum. After all the farewell's were made, the boys with an escort were tendered out to the Inde, which at first sight appeared very large and very daunting. All the boys aboard the tender were quiet and fairly apprehensive about what was in store, and what the future may hold for them. Could it be a somewhat unusual dream and could we possibly wake up in our beds in the comfort of our own homes?                                                  
However the embarkation took place and it was down to the mess deck for tea! There were no cups or mugs to drink out of but basins, and never having drunk out of a basin before this was another shock to the system. Thick slabs of bread and marge and some form of bread pudding which to say the least was very sloppy. After all the excitement of the day it was all very un-appetising and not wanted, which suited all the old hands who more than took advantage of the situation and the unexpected food bonus. Our appetites soon recovered and by the time of the next new boy intake we were as avaricious as everyone else and tried to take advantage of their queasy stomach's.                                                          
After our meal, we were taken to our part of ship and shown how to sling our hammocks and as no one had ever slept in a hammock before this was probably the highlight of the day. We were also shown how to lash up and stow in readiness for Reveille and as this was February 1941- Air Raids were very frequent at that time so all our clothes and footwear had to be placed near at hand in case of enemy action and possible evacuation.  Eventually Pipe Down occurred and everyone climbed into their hammocks (not without initial difficulty) and settled down after a most traumatic day. With all these thoughts racing around his mind, the boy had great difficulty in getting to sleep. However, sleep finally came and when Reveille sounded at a very unearthly hour, a new day, in strange surroundings, dawned with everyone but for the nozzers, knowing what was required and where to go and what to do. Strange loud shouts of Lash up and stow, more ribald shouts of Let go your *****and grab your socks rang out and the first full day of 'Inde' life had begun.                       
Breakfast was as exciting as last evenings tea, and then we had a tour of the ship and an introduction to the ship's Officers, then it was discovered (horror on horror) that school days were not over and that there were classrooms and even a schoolmaster on board. The Captain's name was Bambra and his wife (forever after known as Madame) was in charge of the sickbay and her alter ego was a form of Matron. Chief Officer (Jimmy the one) Unwin was in charge of day to day
running and responsible to the Captain for discipline. Charlie Roseavre "Daddy" Mash, and "Bandy" Williams, who
doubled as schoolmaster and bandmaster were some of the names the new intake had to remember and it was quite difficult initially to put a name to a face.                                                   
Another excitement for this day, was a visit to the Slop Chest for kiting out. At first nothing seemed to fit but eventually a
reasonable compromise was reached. After this, Official Numbers and parts of ship were allocated and the boy now found he was no longer Derek Evans but now was to be known an Number 162 of the 4th. Division and his part of ship, for cleaning stations, was the Poop Deck and these cleaning duties would take place as from Day 2 onwards. All these rules and regulations took a lot of getting used to, presumably the idea was to keep everyone busy and fully occupied as a form of therapy. After this very busy day, whilst in his hammock, which incidentally had turned out to be surprisingly comfortable, a little self doubt crept in and whilst muffled sobs and presumably tears from adjoining hammocks as homesickness reared its head and he was no longer sure that he had done the right thing. However, sleep took over and all of a sudden Reveille sounded and a new day had dawned.   
New routines of a daily nature took over and gradually homesickness receded until the first letters from home arrived (plus a parcel) and a big lump in the throat was there for most of the day.. Popularity was very apparent until the cake, which had arrived in the parcel, was all gone and then everything returned to normal.                                        
The older hands were a mine of information about everything and in particular an initiation rite or ceremony which went by the peculiar title of "so many aboard" which consisted of a series of punches to the upper arm muscles, one for each month aboard, by any boy senior to the recipient. This could only take place on the anniversary date of coming aboard, so one learned to keep a low profile on these days, but human nature being what it is we all looked forward to the next entry intake when one would not be a nozzer but at last senior to someone!!!            
Several of the older boys had what seemed to be good or cushy jobs, which carried some kudos, such as the Post Boy who had to go ashore most days to take the ships mail to Rockferry Post Office and to collect the incoming mail and of course to do a bit of shopping for essential supplies such as Woodbines or Players Weights etc. The going rate was, at this time, one cigarette for a penny and as the retail price was five for tuppence ashore a thriving business was being conducted except for the difficulty of buying the cigarettes as they were in very short supply due to wartime production and privatisation. The boys in the stokehold had a very well scrubbed shovel and could supply, for a penny, a slice of fried bread, fried to perfection on the aforementioned shovel. This helped to supplement the mess deck rations, the difficulty again being the pennies to purchase these delicacies. They were definitely budding entrepreneurs.     
Lessons, the three "R's" were conducted daily by "Bandy" Williams, so known because of his second stringed bow as Bandmaster of the Drum & Bugle Band, of which organisation the boy soon became a playing member because the Band being in great demand for the various Fund raisers ashore, obviously meant the Band being allowed ashore for various marches especially Warships Weeks and generally that meant "Big Eats" somewhere and a good run ashore was always welcome.                                  
Other lessons, which were compulsory, were Boat Handling and General Seamanship and these were a relief from the three "R's", after all this was what it was all about, the main reason for joining the Inde, not boring old school lessons but Bends & Hitches, Knots & Splices, Anchors & Cables. They took a great deal of mastering but once mastered they are still remembered to this day.                                              

Clear Lower Deck was piped one day. All hands fall in on the main deck.  Everyone fell in at their stations; Mr. Unwin "Jimmy the one", announced that one of the older boys had been having trouble with his personal hygiene and was failing to wash either himself or his clothes and an example was to be made and he was to receive a public scrubbing. The water was obtained from the River Mersey by buckets. A combination of long handled deck scrubbers, disinfectant and liberal quantities of soft soap was used with vigour if not expertise by the crew and it left the unfortunate boy red raw and
very humiliated. This public exhibition had a very salutary effect on everyone who had witnessed it and resulted in everyone being very fussy about their own personal hygiene for quite a considerable time afterwards. When the ships company fell out there were many huddles and Soton voice comments about the harsh discipline aspect but it was a lesson readily understood and stood the boy in good stead for the rest of his life. Cleanliness is a very necessary requirement in confined spaces like shipboard accommodation. Discipline, although hard at times, was generally fair.                                                 
After several days, routine established itself and as time passed homesickness was forgotten and everything became very ordered with plenty of cleaning [spit & polish] plus seamanship lessons and the hated 3"R's" and then the business of greeting the new intake of nozzers thus losing the hated title and trying to behave like "old hands".                     
A buzz went around the ship one day that one of the boys had been taken ill and was to be taken ashore to hospital. Apparently the first diagnosis was he had contracted spinal meningitis and was going to have various tests to confirm or deny this. He was placed in an ammunition stretcher and lowered over the side into a waiting tender and thence to hospital. A favourable report was received later but he never came back aboard.        
Shortly afterwards, the Captains two Coolies [so called because of the high buttoned white mess jackets worn] were due to be drafted either to the Royal or Merchant Navy and their successors were duly chosen and the boy was ordered to report aft to the Captain and Madam's quarters where he and his new "oppo" were to be initiated into the mysteries of Domestic Life under the eagle eyes of Madame herself. Cleaning and polishing were easily mastered but cooking [when in reality he could burn water] was much more difficult but Madam was a patient lady. This job had one great consolation because it meant the boys ate the same food as the Top Brass and a little of the leftovers sometimes ended up with mates on the mess deck which guaranteed a modicum of popularity. Lessons, of course, had to be done but there was to be no more deck scrubbing to be done, which was a blessing, because winter and summer it was always done barefoot and with cold water out of the Mersey.                                         

Liverpool at this time was suffering nightly Air Raids and when it was discovered mines were being dropped by parachute, [and a magnetic mine was found near the wooden training ship Conwy, lying astern of the Indy] the powers decided that an evacuation of the Indefatigable crew be made and to this end everyone was tendered ashore to the "safety" of the Sailors Home in Canning Place. All the crew were installed in the cabins on the various landings [these were reminiscent of American prison movies] and when the air raid sirens sounded we were all required to muster down in the cellars which doubled as an air raid shelter. During one of these raids the Customs House, which was opposite the Sailors Home received a direct hit through the dome so the following morning when we emerged it was a sight of utter devastation that we beheld. It was then that the decision was made to send the boys on extended leave whilst alternative accommodation could be found in order that schooling could be continued.                 
During the stopover at the Sailors Home a very serious incident occurred. During a high staked game of cards a Lascar seaman suffered a fatal stab wound apparently by one of the other card players. This had been witnessed by one of our boys, if memory serves right he had to stay behind in Liverpool as one of the witnesses in the ensuing murder case. We never did find out the result of this occurrence as we left the Sailors Home within a couple of days and with home leave being offered this was a more interesting prospect and even after regrouping nothing was further heard of this matter.                                                            
After a few weeks at home all boys were ordered to report to the ex Merseyside Holiday Camp at Clawdd Newydd, nr. Ruthin in North Wales. However that could be another story.

After a few glorious weeks at home, a very unwelcome arrival was received at home in Llandudno, in the shape of an official looking envelope containing my recall papers and requiring my presence at the ex Merseyside Holiday Camp at a place called Clawdd Newydd which apparently was near Ruthin in the then county of Denbighshire which was not too far from home although it would necessitate a couple of trains to reach there.                                                                         
The due day arrived and I and my kit duly left Llandudno Railway Station, changed at Llandudno Junction and eventually arrived at Ruthin Railway Station, a town I had never visited before. I walked up the hill to the Town Square and then made enquiries as to the whereabouts of Clawdd Newydd and the best way to get there. Information received was it was only a couple of miles to the camp and as there were no buses running in those days due to petrol rationing, it would be a stroll and as it was a nice day off I set. As I remember it was about five miles , but then I always believe Welsh miles are much longer than English miles, so eventually it was a very tired, thirsty and hungry boy who arrived at the Merseyside  
Holiday Camp [at least that was what the sign at the gate said!].

At first appearance it all seemed uphill or at least on the side of a small mountain and in the distance were a lot of what appeared to be long huts or bunkhouses!!! Just inside and to the left there was a house, which turned out later to be the Captains Quarters and where I would spend a considerable amount of my future time. To the right of the path was what seemed to be a summerhouse, more of which later, and to the extreme right [as I found later, a covered swimming pool].                               
Reporting to the main office, which was halfway up the hill!!! I think it was Charlie Roseavere, one of the Officers and Instructors, who detailed one of the other boys to guide me up to the Fourth Division hut - this was further up the hill again. We duly trudged up to the hut and I stood in the doorway and my heart sank more than a little as I surveyed their interior. There were double rows of bunks on both sides with wire bases, I don't think I ever counted them, but there appeared to be dozens. I chose a lower bunk towards the far end on the right hand side and placed my kit on it. I was then shown to the galley and mess deck to find out if there was any food to be had. As in everything else, nothing changes about growing boys' appetites, and whatever was on offer was gratefully received and the inner man (or boy) satisfied. Curiosity then took over and a tour of the new "Ship" and her amenities was undertaken. Bedding and towels were supplied from the "Slop Chest" and my bunk was duly made up. It wasn't going to be as comfortable as a hammock however, but with my kit stowed away and everything looking more shipshape, the world looked a little better even if there was an uncertain air about everything. It turned out that the boys who lived the nearest to Ruthin had been sent for first so that we would be the advance party to get things shipshape and to smooth things out for the rest of the ship's company when they were due to arrive over the next weeks. The rest of the ship's company arrived in dribs and drabs for day's after, whilst we were squaring things off and generally tidying up and making everything shipshape.                      
There was, as previously mentioned, an indoor swimming pool on site, and as summer was approaching this was to be a very popular activity and many sporting contests were undertaken, although I must confess this was not one of my better attributes.                                               
After a short settling down period, routine reared it's ugly head and all lessons and duties were resumed, all on a similar basis to the ship's routine. My fellow" coolie "and I returned to our duties as general factotums to Captain and Mrs. Bambra - incidentally the nickname "coolie" which we had to put up with, referred to the white mess jackets, buttoned tightly up to the neck, which had to be worn at all times whilst on duty "in aft". This meant a considerable amount of dobeying to keep them in pristine condition, as Madam could spot a dirty spot from a thousand paces, and it was easier to do the washing than risk a tongue lashing from Madam. Rationing was heavily in force at this time but we lived very well indeed taking everything into consideration as we coolies ate the same food as the Top Table!!! Whenever we could we would supply our mates with a few titbits and these were always gratefully received and looked forward to. Some distance away from the Captains Quarters there was a quasi summerhouse and whilst on cleaning and polishing duties there was a great deal of reading done as there was a considerable library contained in this quiet and friendly bolt hole. I think my love of books and literature probably stemmed from this period of my life.                              
Contact from home and parents, at this time, was by letter and parcel so the arrival of the Postman, on his bicycle, each day led to eager anticipation, which was not always realised, of a parcel from home. This was one of the day's happenings and one's popularity with the other boys reached a zenith until all the contents had been consumed , and then returned to normal until another treat arrived from whatever quarter.      
The farms, in the locality, supplied us [The Top Table] with hard to come by provisions, most of these were on ration, so one of our perks was to be sent out to fetch a previously ordered pile of "goodies". This was fine until one day I was told to go and fetch some new laid eggs from one of the farms nearby. Armed with Madam's wicker shopping basket I made my way to pick up the eggs. There were possibly three or four dozen eggs in the basket and the sun was shining, all was well with the world until in a moment of utter bravado and folly I decided to swing the basket over my head, to see if centrifugal force would keep the eggs in the basket. Guess what happened next? Of course, sod's law entered the picture and I dropped the basket. The eggs smashed, or at least, it seemed that most of them had. Heart in mouth, and with my budding omelet leaking out of the basket I rushed back to confess to having fallen over, hence the broken eggs.  Madam was very good about it and managed to salvage some of the wreckage enough for scrambled eggs or an omelette, I forget which, but she appeared to accept my explanation although my oppo never let me forget my "eggsiting" outing!! He always went to fetch the eggs afterwards.          
There was also a very unusual custom which took place every night before lights out, a very large bucket was placed just inside the hut doorway in case anyone needed to go to the "heads" as a complete blackout was the order of the day and as the heads were some distance away, it was a safety measure in case anyone fell whilst attempting this perilous journey, These buckets were called "Pumpship" buckets for obvious reasons. They were to be a boon during the winter months as there was no heating in the huts and it was absolutely freezing so if you couldn't wait until morning you      
didn't have to venture outside. Although it was somebody's unpleasant duty to make sure they were emptied and cleaned out every day ready for the next night. Reveille would sound and it was then time to find out what the weather was like outside, then it was a quick dash to the ablutions (it was always a quicker dash in the winter) and another day had dawned.       
We had a very large night watchman whose nickname was "Roughhouse" and it was rumoured that his pre-war occupation was that of an all in wrestler - it was his job to patrol the camp and also to give early morning calls to galley staff and to me whenever I was duty bugler and had to rise and shine in order to sound Reveille. I can vouch to the Roughhouse title as he was none to gentle with his waking up techniques. This "gentleman" used to roll his own cigarettes and his tobacco was always either Bacco Bryniau or Amlwch Shag, both of which were very strong and had a very pungent odour, hence one was always aware of his presence (before he even arrived) because of his personal
In a letter from home, my mother told me that my Auntie Dilys, (my father's sister) who lived in Penrhyn Bay, had a relative in Clocaenog, a village a few miles from Clawdd Newydd, so one Saturday afternoon (with official permission) I made my way to Clocaenog and called at the cottage and then to my surprise I found another Inde boy visiting. It tuned out later that we were related and were indeed second cousins. His name was Leuan Evans and it was my regret that we never kept in touch after leaving the Inde so I have no idea whatever happened to him. We spent many afternoons in that rural cottage.                                          
Daily routine was Reveille, Ablutions, Breakfast and then morning Divisions when the Colours were hoisted to Sunrise then lessons - the three R's of Seamanship. However, we "coolies" had to do our duty to the hierarchy and see that their quarters were spick and span after their breakfast was prepared and served and as I remember they always had porridge
we used to prepare enough for the week and cook it in a Bain Marie. Our days were very full and by the end of the day we slept soundly. 
Part of our seamanship lessons consisted of Boat work and there was a lake  a few miles away where a cutter and a whaler were moored and the arts of pulling and sailing were installed into our not to willing lives. Nearby the lake was a freshwater spring and I swear the water within was the coldest and purest in the Northern Hemisphere. We would march there and back and sometimes in the most inclement weather so it was not always the most popular of our outside pursuits.                                      
" Warship Weeks" were a very popular method of getting the public to donate cash to a fund to buy a warship, so the Bugle Band and the ship's company were often called upon to take part in Parades up and down the North Wales coast, plus some inland towns. Denbigh, Ruthin, Rhyl, Prestatyn, Colwyn Bay and Rhos-on-Sea, Llandudno, Bangor, Mold Buckley, to name some of them. They were always popular because we would more often than not get a good feed after the Parade and we felt that our little war effort was being appreciated.                                                         
One of the local clergymen used to come to the Camp to take Sunday Services and Church Parade and it was decided to hold Confirmation Classes for anybody who wished to become Confirmed, so after a number of lessons, we the chosen few, arrived at Derwen Parish Church and were duly confirmed into the Church of England by the visiting Archbishop. I really must go back sometime to remember my vows.                                         
The camp's electricity was powered by a generator, which was somewhat temperamental and the boy whose job it was to supervise this beast had many a bruise to prove how obstinate and hard to start, it was. There was a hook handle which fitted onto the flywheel and this when cranked had a nasty habit of slipping off and cracking him in the ribs. He was probably the best customer in the Sick Bay, which was the province of the Captain's wife Mrs. Bambra.                                                          
Summer and Autumn led to Winter and it was a very cold one that year (1941), but being young and reasonably fit, plenty of exercise and good food helped to pass the winter by, and in the Spring it was time to Pass Out and leave the comparative safety of the Indefatigable to make my way into the wide world and the Royal Navy. Overall I had enjoyed my time both on the ship and at the camp and had achieved some self confidence, some cooking ability (thanks to Madam) and a belief in my self which has stood me in good stead for the last fifty five years.                      
As I write, I have in front of me my Apprentice's Indentures which were signed by me on 13/02/1941 and my discharge was signed on 18/05/1942.  After this I served in the Royal Navy until being badly wounded after H.M.S. Spartan was sunk at the Anzio Beachhead in Italy and consequently discharged as unfit for further service with a 70% Disability Pension.     
These memories are of happenings of fifty six years ago and are to the best of my recollection accurate, but who knows, someone may differ, as their memories might be better than mine. However, I wouldn't have missed it, whatever the outcome and I'll always be proud of being "One of the Inde lads, One of the Inde boys".                                          
Footnote to Inde days:                                                   
Recently my wife and I took a voyage of rediscovery to Clawdd Newydd and Derwen. We drove to Ruthin and then took the scenic Cerrigydrudion road and discovered that the length of the Welsh mile, if anything, had increased in length. Signs which read 3 miles invariably found a differential with our car milometer. However we arrived at Clawdd Newydd
and failed to recognise any landmarks which I had thought were indelibly etched in my memory.                                                       
Sadly we traced our way to see St. Mary's Church in Derwen to see if that held any memories. First we had to negotiate a series of very narrow roads, just wide enough to take one medium sized motor car. The road was tarmac with plenty of grass growing down the centre of the road which I presume was there to clean the exhaust system. The journey to Derwen was not achieved without a considerable amount of prayer in anticipation of hopefully not meeting up with any other road user as someone would have had to give way and back up until a suitable passing place was found. Our fears proved groundless [or our fervent prayers had worked] and no other vehicle came into our view.                                            
After parking opposite the Church, we went through the churchyard and into the Church and then memories took over. This indeed was the Church of my confirmation and where I had taken my first Communion back in the long distant days of 1941. Where had all the years gone and what had happened to all my shipmates ?. These obviously were answers I would never know.  The interior of the Church was as I remembered it but it seemed much smaller, perhaps this is the penalty of ageing, whereby ones memory is not as fallible as it should be... I signed the visitors book before we left, 
stating I was an ex. Inde boy and was there in 1941.                       
We safely negotiated the narrow roads again without any intrusive motor cars and made our way back to Colwyn Bay. I had thoughts of the old Inde days on the way home buy I was glad to have retraced my steps in time and somewhat satisfied my curiosity of the good old days.
Derek E. K. Evans 1941-42. No 162.

David Parkes at Indefatigable (1955-56).

In my day the place was run on very strict lines, almost penal! There were three categories of boys, fee paying (which I was) orphans and welfare cases and those sent for a bit of discipline. I remember one particular incident, when, about 2 a. m. we were all roused from our bunks and ordered onto the parade ground in our pyjamas. Apparently one of the duty officers had spotted smoke coming up from under the floorboards on the main stairs. It turned out that a boy had deliberately shorted out the electric wiring to start a fire, which could have had devastating consequences. We were
kept 'at attention' for over two hours, waiting for the guilty boy to own up-he didn't. a few days later a boy did confess and was ceremoniously 'drummed out' of the school. I shall never forget witnessing that event. A pleasanter moment was the visit of Wilfred Pickles, I remember we had to sing the Inde song, can anyone remember the words? There were boys who
tried to run away, but they were nearly always caught!. Whenever we heard that a runaway had made it home we would give a cheer.

P.J. Pope at Indefatigable (1961 - 63).

I joined Indefatigable on the 13th of September 1961 and left on 18th July 1963. The Captain Superintendent was George Washington Irvin (yes really), a seaman of the "old school" who would today be considered not only non-PC
but "rough with it." School was divided into four Divisions, Drake, Raleigh, Rodney and Hood (colours red, blue, green and yellow.) All boys were numbered there being about 130 -140 at any one time. Each division had a PO Boy and two Leading Boys in charge there being a C.P.O. Boy of the School. Interdivisional rivalry was actively encouraged and depending upon the encouragement of the divisional officer instructors could be interesting from an Anthropologist's angle, if studying tribal warfare.

The food was pretty awful however a goodly and unlimited quantity of sliced Mothers Pride stowed in a large rack at one end of the mess deck kept us all from starvation. My friend Terry Kelly could get a whole meal (well mixed) spread thinly into a stack of sandwiches some 10" tall. We didn't exactly starve but were constantly hungry, no doubt due to the very long and physical day. The thing I did retain from this period is the knack to eat anything (if it doesn't move too quickly) and a love of bread with meals! This has been helpful during my time at sea. The day started at 0630, 0730 on Sundays with either a swim in the pool (unheated) summer and winter, or a quick dash through the shower. two divisions per activity. Then it was clean ship before breakfast at 0800. Morning parade at 0900 and then classes/training until lunch 1230 and then a full afternoon ending at 1630. Tea was 1730 followed by more cleaning/study/practise etc. and to bed by
1930. These times are approximate.

Training was along RN lines as most of the instructors were from this service. Laundry was done by hand with large bars of soap and lukewarm water which didn't prevent almost all the boys taking a great pride in having very clean and smart uniforms, sartorial elegance was the order of the day when on parade and also when on "liberty". Collars and white front
edgings had to have the correct shade of light blue, trousers, blouses and silks all creased correctly and sharply in the right places caps bent and worn at the correct angle and name tallies tied with an ornate (usually false) bow. All this was achieved without the aid of irons or modern appliances and without attracting the attention of any instructor who was
on the lookout for non-regulation items or colours. Cleaning polishing etc. was a constant operation all done by hand the decks of oak board were polished with large quantities of RONUK polish, and gleamed like glass. The fire risk doesn't bear thinking about!

Inspections were numerous and a cake was presented each week to the cleanest dormitory, a prize indeed. Bullying of a very violent or psychological nature was rife, black eyes cuts lumps and bruises often in evidence discipline was military with defaulters doing extra and unpleasant tasks, the ultimate was caning which given the violent nature of some boys
wasn't much of a deterrent the wheals and bruises even being seen as a status symbol that you could "take it." The boys came from all walks of life, many from backgrounds which today would entitle them to their own Social Services team, some came as an alternative to reform schools and others like myself from a middle class upbringing.

This mixture was responsible for many of the less agreeable aspects of the school there being very little in the way of attention or interest taken in those who were having a "hard time." I could go on at more length enough to say that I didn't particularly enjoy my time at "Indie" even though it gave me a good insight into the make up of the male society of this country over the last 30 years. The educational level was not high, given the vastly differing mental abilities of the boys, those of us who had the capacity rose and the rest didn't, in those days more reliance was placed on physical and manual ability than education, it was after all a school for would be seaman. Some of us 3 or 4 every term managed to reach an educational standard which was acceptable within the industry as evidence that we could be trained as deck cadets/apprentices.

The remainder went to sea as deck boys/catering boys in the Merchant Navy or joined the RN as boy seamen. Sports were fives, rugby or some athletics, naturally rowing (cutters) and sailing were indulged in on the Menai Straight. The ethos of the school I understand changed after I left probably due to the new Superintendent who took over. The regime would have changed when Mr. Wade became the Superintendent, he was ex RN and much more enlightened than GWI, Wade was 2 I/C when I was there and must have been itching to make some changes. Caning was usually carried out in the rigging loft (I think) and as I never participated I cannot tell you what the sequence of events was. Rig of the day was No. 8 blue shirts and blue trousers, boots and gaiters for parades, blue jersey in the winter. Sleeves always rolled above the elbow.

I suppose you have to look at the big picture when the type of violence that was present at Inde is concerned. A lot of the boys in those days came from family backgrounds and inner city areas that were far from perfect, "standing up for yourself" was a survival requirement. Also you find that many teenagers who are perhaps not very articulate and have difficulty in verbal communication will get their point across with a smack in the mouth! There are also the types who are big fish (physically) in a small pond and enjoy the benefits thereof. Put all this together in a school were being "tough" was seen as a requirement by the senior staff and bullying becomes a fact of life. Yes, if it got really out of hand then steps were taken to discipline the bully, however getting the evidence is difficult when you are again up against the "not telling tales" syndrome! Put this together with a large old building, full of nooks crannies, dormitories, corridors etc. and the opportunity is endless for clandestine violence. It didn't all stop after Tom Browns School days! I know that it all changed in the 1970's but then they type of boy that they were teaching changed as well as the senior staff attitude.

In memory of (Peter) 'Mr Burrell' at Indefatigable (1973-95) P.E. Instructor.

Peter (Pete) Burrell, P.E. and physical fitness instructor to generations of 'Inde Boys', will be remembered for his bunch of 'keys', held by a thin whiplash of leather, with which he would administer 'summary- justice'! Another favoured 'instrument' was 'the paddle', wielded with great effect and giving huge entertainment to the boys on the mess deck at mealtimes! And
that was the 'secret'. Peter's 'corporal-punishment', though officially banned, was administered with a sense of humour, such that no boy, to my knowledge, ever took offence! Though small in stature, this ex-corporal of the Green jackets had
the ability to control the whole school and could get the boys to do almost anything he wanted! For a number of years , I shared 'duty' with Pete and marvelled at his power of control. For example, if he so minded, he would impose a 'silent meal', which meant, not a single word to be spoken by any boy for the duration! I don't think Peter was feared, but he was certainly hugely respected. One of his favourite P.E. 'lessons', was L.A.D. (life after death)! I never knew what exactly took place, except that it seemed very akin to an Army endurance test and for teenage boys it was tough-but
they loved it!
I am sure that Peter's secret of success with the boys was the fact that he cared for and respected them. He was a man with whom many of them could identify.

T.S. Indefatigable Main Page


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