No doubt many of you watched the television documentary on naval training at HMS Raleigh in the west country.
No doubt many of you, especially ex-naval people, turned the programme off. It really disgusted me and many I have spoken to.
I joined HMS Ganges, the boys’ training establishment near Ipswich in 1966. It was a place of darkness and forbidding where young lads were taken as boys and turned into men in 12 short months.
Ganges was relatively unknown to the outside world but was legendary within the navy. Anyone who had been involved with Shotley Barracks was looked upon with awe.
Yes, for the first month or so it was a shock to the system, but after getting into that system it was more like a public school except with a lot more discipline.
I must say, I cannot remember ever being sworn at or ever hearing anyone swear. Even the gunnery instructors, when instructing 15-year-old boys how to drill and march with a Lee Enfield .303 rifle with fixed bayonets never actually swore, although they might have done under their breath a few times. They knew how to instruct without swearing.
I don’t think swearing within an officer’s hearing, let alone while talking to them, would have been condoned in a month of Sundays.
Then again, the officers and the petty and chief petty officer instructors had been through a war and knew how to instruct without the use of foul language or shouting like demented football hooligans.
What was also unacceptable was the Americanisation of the passing out parade after just a couple of months with everyone tossing their caps in the air and hugging and kissing.
I am sure Chief Phillips and Petty Officer Woods of Frobisher Division, 31 Mess, would be spinning in their graves.