More reminiscences of The Life in Howstrake and the I.O.M
The Ferry to the Island - The I.O.M. Steam Company Ships "Rushen Castle" "Snaefell" and at the end of the War "Ben My Chree", were mainly used to cross from Fleetwood. Maybe there was a tacit agreement with the enemy that the Ferries would be unmolested as besides the service and civilian passengers, enemy aliens were taken over. There was some enemy activity, as U246 was sunk off the Calf of Man early 1945. H.M.S Maynell and H.M.S. Seymour were possibly responsible for the area as the two ships took the Boy's Band to Barrow in Furness to play during a "War Weapons week" The Band lodged on H.M.S. Queen.
During the early time, the catering was by the original civilian staff, who no doubt did their best. I must have developed a taste for Manx Kippers at that time having them twice a week for breakfast. Streaky bacon with butter beans was also served up Tuesday and Thursday breakfasts. Saturday's sweet was Ways boiled rice with plenty of extras. Boys going on shore leave could easily be taken short! The grass being greener the other side of the fence created agitation for R.N. catering which when it did arrive was from the fireplace into the fire.
The lady responsible for the Canteen, needed to get her supplies from H.M.S. Valkirie and always managed to obtain an excessive amount which she passed on to the boys who no doubt would have put on extra weight if Mickey Hunt the P.T.I. allowed it! That slope running up to the Guardroom with a Spring Rifle and Bayonet at arms length above the head soon got rid of spare fat.
The weekend for the shore goers started with the train ride to The Derby Castle (4 pence return), then a walk along the promenade to one of the 3 cinemas. No transport as the internment camp fences took up most of the pavement.
It cost the princely sum of 3d admission at one of the picture houses and sixpence at the others. Following the show it was to the Salvation Army Canteen in Strand Street. If affordable, a drink of Dandelion and Burdock on the way. On giving the order it was a wait with a numbered draw ticket, until a rather strident voice called that number for you to collect your egg and chips (or similar).
The junior boys needed to rush to the Derby Castle to return to Howstrake by 7.pm. The older boys had until 9.p.m. The Duty Bugler sounded The First Post at the Gate at 8.45, as an indication to those who were walking back
Some of the Lads were fortunate as locals invited them to their homes for tea. Three of us were guests of a local Scottish lady who lived in Bucks Road, (when I was in R.N. Sick Quarters with fractures I was in for a telling off for failing to tell her.)
Mrs. Gale, W.O. Gale's wife made a point of inviting, in small groups his entire platoon to tea. She was a very pretty South African lady who immediately charmed the lads.
In November 1943 The D.O.M. Geordie Keen had Ray Banning and I attend an Armistice Days Service at a local church. It became our first paying job when a few days later Captain Keen gave us each a half crown (half a weeks pay on joining and a fifth after a year) In 1945 Ray and I played a duet at a concert the Villa Marina in Douglas.
Various photos show where our main armament (A Hotchkiss Light Machine Gun) was placed. The instructors Tug o' War team using a Jack Staff and Tackle at that site to practice, eventually winning first place at the local sports.
There a story of Bandmaster McClean as Drum Major was alleged to have thrown his mace, and failed to catch it during a sports day display at Nobles Recreation Ground. To the delight of the onlookers he counter marched the band, grasped the mace which fortunately was standing upright and carried on with the display, drawing applause from the crowd.
Maybe contemporaries of Isle of Man days will add a few more yarns in the future - hopefully.
Frank Coleman R.N.S.M. - I.O.M. 1942 -1945.