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I had been allocated the euphonium and cello as my instruments and I did not have a clue what they were at that time when I eventually drew them from the S.O.M. and studied them for a very short period I wondered how long it would be before I would be homeward bound for I could not conceive of my ever mastering these two formidable objects. Little did I know of the courage and fortitude of those bandsmen who would be involved in the evolution of an embryo Admiralty Street arab to a fairly proficient cellist. We had now been absorbing the strategies of drill and wondering about wheeling and that if we did successive wheels in any given direction and if the leading rank, were in that case to approach too close to the rear rank of the squad, there would be a possibility of us all disappearing into oblivion. Joking aside we were glad that this period of our training was about to end and we could look forward, perhaps with some apprehension, to a serious musical education. I had already had a couple of euphonium and cello lessons and had got past the stage of sniffing at the horse hair of the bow to see if it smelled, as far as the euphonium was concerned I had not yet mastered an embouchure that did not sound like a pregnant cow.

The day arrived for our passout parade and we were wakened by Tom's usual morning serenade "Wakey wakey",rise an' shine, let go of your c------ , grab hold of socks, the sun's scorching your eyes out and administering a sharp sting with the "o be joyful" if there was not a rapid enough response to his request. The o be joyful in this case was the issued walking out cane, I wonder what happened to mine?

Within a very short period I soon settled in to the practice routine and began to understand the value of the instruction I was receiving. Our instructors in those days were NCO's who had been chosen for their proficiency on their instruments and had probably spent a long period away from home on foreign commissions. I know for a fact that in some cases it was a case of maybe 5 to 7 years away being consecutive commissions on the same ship for there was sufficient accommodation for repairs at the various dockyards at strategic positions all over our the empire. Life was not too bad then you know. We had a roof over our heads, a comfortable bed to sleep in, especially once the straw had settled down after bed filling. Bed filling...... ah yes! Bedfilling was a ritual which occurred once every quarter, the straw was delivered to east barracks and stowed under the colonade, a truss of straw for each bed and was duly issued for us to renew our beds. Invariably there were numerous rats in the bales and it was considered fair game to hunt them with whatever weapon could come to hand. The business of getting the straw into the new palliase covers was fairly messy and painful as we had no protection for our hands and arms and the dust tended to make breathing slightly more difficult and caused extensive bouts of hay fever to us in those days it was just sneezing and the resulting accomplishment was a huge sausage which would only be fixed by violent jumping up and down on it. One managed to get a fairly flat surface to lie on and great care was taken to tuck sheets and blankets very firmly in to ensure ones stability. I can still chuckle now as I remember the first time I saw Tom lying on top of his bed after bed filling we had made bets as to how much leeway he would have between the top of his belly and the ceiling.

Saturday was fatigue day and all the various jobs were carried out during that day and the one job every one dreaded being lumbered with was coal fatigues. This entailed six boys from each block being detailed to coal their blocks. This was done by transporting the coal in round iron coal bunses each carrying half hundredweight of coal. The best position to have was at the ends of the line, unfortunately for us shorthouse juniors, these places were snaffled by the senior boys. You can have no conception of the difficulties involved in this maneuver unless you have experienced it. The staircases in the blocks were of stone with steel safety strips across them and the combination of the two were not really conducive to the safety they were supposed to provide and of course if you were the middle transporter there was the difficulty of holding the forward end of your bunse to keep it level and the hanging weight of the after end dragging your other half of body down, think about it and thank your lucky stars.

Jerry Judge the younger!Looking back on those days we had a good life, the discipline was there I know, for I was always on the sharp end having for some reason incurred the adjudants dislike and spending many hours on extra drill and work, in fact it eventually came to the stage where on one occasion as we "skates" as we were called in those days lined up for muster and the corporal called out my name and on my reply said "right were all here lets go", apart from that we had much more than the poor sods out side, we had a good canteen with billiard tables and games and in the severe weather at stand easy in the mornings there was a huge vat of pea dew (peasoup) for which there was always a rush to be first to fish the hambones and bacon hocks from the bottom, something else I always "dipped out" on. There were also many amusing incidents such as the bugler being late to sound reveille in the morning and only catching it up by leaning out of the barrack room window and sounding off, or the occasion when he lined up ready to sound the fall in and on the command made valiant attempts to sound and in the endeavor only getting bluer and bluer in the face eventually giving up and on looking down the bell of his bugle finding out that someone had bunged it up with soft soap.

We were paid the princely sum of four shillings, (forty new pence), a week on enlistment and some of that was stopped I think sixpence a week and saved as leave pay so we were never short of rail fare money and a few shillings to spare for spending money. There are many happy memories and also many not so happy memories which seem to disperse in the mall of time such is the very nature of the human mind. There is so much which I would like to include in this epistle but have to consider my time limit. However having said that, I think I shall unavoidably continue to include the characters who tinged my life with much admiration and appreciation of their natures and insight into the multitude of personalities.

Jerry Judge

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