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Peter Hammer (1963-4) - His story from the T.S. Indefatigable.

Peter Hammer no 92 Rodney Division 1963-4.

indefatigable plas llanfair

Plas Llanfair

I attended the "Inde" from 13th September 1962, starting at 14½ years old, until 26th November 1963, just 15 days before my 16th birthday.

I was at the Inde for 4 terms, being made a leading hand for the last 2 terms, I remember John Pope was the petty officer boy on Rodney Division on my third term, before he took the position of chief petty officer boy. The other leading hand was John McCarthy, Rodney. I was in dorm 18, a small 6 bed dorm sandwiched between dorms 17 & 19. All the other dorms were at the other end of the building.



This was my first time away from home, and coming from a good working class family in Brighton, I found it to be very tough indeed, but I learnt quickly and was able to lookout for myself. Bullying was rife at the Inde, and there were too many boys/thugs, from the inner cities, who only understood violence and beating other boys up and taking what they wanted from them. To them this was the normal way of life. If you have read, J Popes account of the Inde, I would agree with his summary. Saying that, I had some really good mates while there -John Matthews, Roger Pankhurst, and Jet Harris. We were all in the same dorm, and Chris Warren in the dorm 19 next door.
By the way, each week there was a competition for the cleanest dorm and the winning dorm received an iced cake to be shared by the dorms boys, but as hard as we tried we never won! It always seemed to be won by the same dorm, which housed most of the thugs and the bullies.


I started at the Inde as a boy seaman, but on my fourth term, joined the catering team in the galley under Mr Randel, and chef Mr Williams. This was because I failed the eye sight test, as I was apparently colour blind - but to this day I am quite able to distinguish colours, At least being in the galley I could get and give my mates extra little rations to keep them from starving.

The officers and instructors that I remember are Mr Napthine, - a nice old boy, Mr Lilly
(Creeping Jesus), Mr Jake Wade, the bosun and second in command, and of course
the big man himself Captain Irvin, he was a real old school sea dog, tough and rough,
and you kept out of his way. There were several others, but their names escape me.
Life at the Inde was real tough, tougher than most boys could imagine, it certainly made a man of me very quickly. I went there as an immature 14 year old, and it made me wise to the world, which as I look back was no bad thing really, During my time there of course there were boys who took more bullying than they should have, there always is. There were the Christmas twins, and Anthony Bowen - I remember he escaped a number of times - trying to make his way home, only to be picked up by the police and brought back, punished and bullied some more. He would walk across the rail lines of the Menai tubular bridge in his bid for escape.

I left to join my 1st ship, the S S Oronsay, of the P & O Orient Lines. and a world trip which would last 6 months.

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