ISLE OF MAN AND HOWSTRAKE CAMP
There can't be many of us left right now, so it really is important
that any RMBx of those days write just one little snippet of experience
or memory. Let me add to the already noted lines of Frank Coleman, by
taking you back to the days of Georgie Major Keen, 'Buster' Bradley,
Ted Lowther, 'Pop' Christmas, Syd Walkden, 'Doc' Compton, Frank Skinner,
M.E. Earl 'Gusty' Gale, Ken Reeves, Micky Hunt, George Pook and so on.
All instructors, music and drill.
One of my precious memories relate to sports day, after running through
Groudle Glen (on the outskirts of Onchan on the Isle of Man, is
formed in a valley leading to the sea at the small port of the same
name) to get to the sports field, I managed to come out tops and
won best boy under 16, for that I received a small medal and ten shillings
and sixpence in savings bonds. The best boy over 16 was one Bob Ellis
whom I remember from my Home Fleet days. Bob was a makee learner Drum
Major and from what I understand, Bob is still around and living in
the midlands somewhere?
As I write I also remember that I won the coveted Gym Medal for 93 Squad,
and John Webb won the Squad Cane. John didn't complete his time and
retired to Wales, his birthplace.
100% boxing was also in the boys training manual and I had the unfortunate
task of fighting Jim Fagg (pianist) who featured in the 'Minder'
series on TV. I got the biggest hiding of the night, hence the nick-name
'Max' Beare, after the Heavy Weight champion of yesteryear, Max Baer.
Would you believe, come our annual leave time, cigarettes were issued
to one and all, and it was no shame to smoke going over on the boat
to Fleetwood. Some of the older boys had pieces put in their trousers
to mimic flares and yes, some had the audacity to wear chevrons and
I even saw a war wound stripe as worn by 'B______T' McClean. Blue Caps
were our normal head-dress but then came a white cover, some of which
were difficult to come by.
Our day started at 0615hrs right through to 7pm. We had to scrub out
our rooms, wood floors, place our kit on the shelf above the bed with
folded waterproof cape to tidy up the whole scene. Meals were a story
on their own. It also included 'mail call' and this is where Ted Lowther
would come into his own and declare "THERE IS GASH" at which
time there was an almighty rush to the server by the 150 boys seeking
out anything that was going. Just like life itself the older boys took
precedence. Then there were the money lenders who thought nothing of
lending out money for double back! It would not be fair to name names
and pay days saw a queue at the dining room exit, boys paying back their
Kit musters were dreaded. Everything had to be marked with your very
own TYPE and all under-clothes and socks had your surname sewn
into them, a task which you had to do in your first couple of weeks.
Poor old Meatheringham was always last to finish.
OK then, I have said my piece, so come on you remaining RMBx's and let's
hear from you and add to my few lines.
Regards and best wishes to all serving and retired. Don't forget…………..WE
ARE THE GREATEST!
S 'Maxie' Beare.