Did you train in Arethusa before joining the Royal Navy? - Nostalgia

Admiral Alan West with former Arethusa boys.
Admiral Alan West with former Arethusa boys.
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I wonder how many ex-Arethusa boys still survive in our area? I’ve received a photograph from an E Walker, of Bridgemary, Gosport, but unfortunately no contact details. Mr Walker says he trained on Arethusa II from 1946 until 1948 when he joined the navy proper at HMS St Vincent in Gosport.

Arethusa II took over from HMS Arethusa which was in naval service from 1849 to 1874 when she was sold as a training ship to Shaftesbury Homes and Arethusa.

The former Arethusa II, renamed Peking, leaving New York for Hamburg. Picture: Company of Master Mariners

The former Arethusa II, renamed Peking, leaving New York for Hamburg. Picture: Company of Master Mariners

This charity took boys off the streets of London and trained them for a career in the Royal Navy or Mercantile Marine.

In 1933 the frigate was taken out of service and replaced by Peking, a four-masted steel-hulled barque.

The figurehead was retained ashore at Upnor, on the Medway in Kent,  where it remains after restoration in 2013.

Arethusa II was retired in 1974 and renamed Peking. She was then on view in New York as a museum ship. In 2012 she was gifted to Hamburg, where she was built, to be refurbished where she now remains on show.

The original memorial, unveiled last year, disappeared but has since been replaced. Picture: Robert James

The original memorial, unveiled last year, disappeared but has since been replaced. Picture: Robert James

• Seen leaving New York en route to Hamburg is the former Arethusa II. To think this massive vessel was once a training ship for boys seems unbelievable.

She has since been rigged as built with fore, main and mizzen masts square-rigged and jigger mizzen fore and aft rigged like a proper barque rig.

• Last year American Major Mangiaracina along with the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor Lee Mason, unveiled a memorial to the 460 American soldiers who died in St James’s Hospital, Locksway Road, Milton, soon after the First World War. They died either from wounds suffered on the battlefields of France or the Spanish flu epidemic.

Sadly, the memorial disappeared but I am glad to say, with the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War formally ending on June 28, 1919, it has been replaced. It is much more substantial and more like a proper gravestone.

An unchanged scene at Rowlands Castle with Ivy Miles's shop alongside the arches. Picture: Ralph Cousins's collection.

An unchanged scene at Rowlands Castle with Ivy Miles's shop alongside the arches. Picture: Ralph Cousins's collection.

Robert James, who took the photograph, says it appeared on social media recently. Many comments were made and it appears few knew the memorial service had happened and would liked to have been there. Perhaps it would have been better to wait until the 28th for the unveiling?

• Taken in the 1950s, here's another photo from Ralph Cousins’s new booklet Rowlands Castle in World War Two. It shows Ivy Miles’s shop alongside the railway arches.

The shop is still trading I am glad to say, otherwise it would be a case of driving to Havant or Horndean for groceries.

A relic from the past are the railway signalling telegraph wires above the arches’ parapet.