They’re not children, they’re young adults.

The picturesque cottages that once sat behind the original Coach and Horses pub at Hilsea, Portsmouth.

Quaint old farm cottages were behind Coach and Horses pub

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There was an item on the news last week about children in which the newsreader referred to those ‘children’ as being aged 16.

‘What?’, I said to my wife. ‘They’re not children, they’re young adults.’

I was exasperated. Surely young adults should be responsible for their actions at 16?

At the age of 15-and-a-half I was in the navy – not cadets but the real thing. I was drilling around the parade ground and being shouted at by a gunnery chief petty officer who had seen action in a battleship in the Second World War.

‘You might break your mother’s heart but you won’t break mine,’ was the usual dressing down if little junior Jack wasn’t up to it. I, along with all other new recruits, were shouted at from dawn until dusk and God forbid anyone who did not come up to the mark.

We had to climb the 150ft mast without a word of protest and without any type of harness. You just hung on.

I could drill with a .303 rifle and fire six rounds every 30 seconds. I could parade for the Queen if needed and had enough uniform to fill a wardrobe at home not to mention additional kit, my cook’s whites.

Comprising four white vests, white trousers and white aprons, they had to be kept spotless and whiter than white and with the rest of my uniform had to be kept up together and ready for the dreaded kit muster at a moment’s notice.

A kit muster was when your kit was inspected and had to be laid out in a specific way. The officer doing the inspection would then know automatically that there was something not quite right. Woe betide anyone with part of the kit not up to scratch or, worse, missing,

All of this was done up to the age of 16-and-a-half when we left HMS Ganges in Shotley or HMS St Vincent in Gosport after nine months sbasic training.

Children? I don’t think so.

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