So this was it . . . . Deal! Well on this 24th day of January 1939 I had............arrived.

To me it looked to be in the same mould as all our other small seaside towns and that pleased me, as I thought of the center of Plymouth, that great garrison town, which on Saturday nights was alive with the uniforms of all three fighting services. Yes the Army, Navy and the Air Force all striving to see if they could complete what was considered to be a great accomplishment, the drinking of a pint in every pub in Union Street, the main street of the town which was a mile long and along which progress was made staggering from pubs on one side of the street to the other.

As we drew into the station at Deal, I looked out of the carriage window and saw two corporals in Royal Marine uniforms and wondered why this was necessary for two band boys and two marine recruits. However, on alighting from the train I realised that the uniforms of the two differed, in as much as one wore the usual marine collar ornaments of the globe and laurel and the other wore a lyre which naturally portrayed music and must be our escort to our destination. Furthermore, I noticed that the cap badge of our chap also differed, in that instead of the globe and laurel being surmounted by the royal cypher of the lion and crown, it was instead displaying the lyre. The thought crossed my mind that I could not recall having seen this badge before even though this was "ships bands" and it was not till much later that I realised that I had been living next to one, well near enough, as he lived up our street and I could only surmise that as the uniforms were virtually the same, I had taken for granted that the badges would be also.

" I suppose you two are mine" the corporal chuckled, and with that he turned on his heels and started to stride away up the road and we virtually had to run to keep up with him. When he eventually realised he was losing us he eased his pace to allow us to keep up with him and after a long walk we arrived at the Royal Marine Infirmary which by this time was closed and locked up, at least the area which we were to use which turned out to be the ablutions section where we were assigned towels and soaps from a locker and dumped in to a bathroom. I said to my companion " You can go first, I'll get in after " and this produced from our escort a further chuckling remark, "Both of you get in, you'll only get one lot of water". So this extreme luxury was spoiled by the sharing and for the first time in my life I was able to bath, though reluctantly and self consciously and back to back. At least I didn't have to hump three or four five gallon cans of water up four flights of stairs to hot up and fill the old tin bath in front of the fire like at home.

So with our arrival at barrack room P1 in East Barracks, Depot Royal Marines - Deal, I began my venture into a new world and my introduction to it by our trained soldier of the room, Tom! What a character! He was as broad as he was long, with a pleasant face, sporting a fine trim moustache and a kindly smile. He pointed to two beds and told us to make them down. I looked at them, looked at him and after due consideration moved over to remove the folded blankets and sheets from the folded straw mattress, pulled out the bed iron which comprised part of the bed and did just that, made my bed down. I wasn't really all that clever as I had slept in the Buglers room in the Royal Marines Barracks at Stonehouse the previous night and had some conception of what was required of me. There were already five new boys in the room on our arrival and it seemed we would have it easy until the entry squad was completed . We spent a quiet evening round the coal fire appreciating the warmth and luxury of it, for many times the majority of us had spent nights at home snuggled up in whatever we could find to keep warm, having run out of coal. Eventually lights out sounded and by that time we were all settled on our beds marveling at the softness of the straw mattresses and looking to a good nights sleep which seemed to be disturbed very soon by the stirring call of reveille at six o`clock the next morning.

I can't really remember how the time was spent waiting for the rest of the squad to appear but eventually the day arrived when we were told that we would be going the next morning for our first kit issue and having had a fairly quiet day here we were on the march next to the clothing store to receive our kit. I think the main articles that need to be mentioned were our underclothes. Very thick linen shirts with a main blue colour with thin white lines, thick, rough yellow flannel vests and long handled dung hampers as they were affectionately called in the navy in other words, long johns, grey socks and seemingly armour plated boots but which were actually very thick leather covered with a thick coating of tallow which we were to spend many hours turning into a brilliant shine. Apropos removing the tallow from the boots someone discovered a very relevant solution we had next to the recruit block a stable for the adjutants horse and we were told that if we buried our boots in the manure from the stable, the acid in the pile would dissolve the grease, and it worked.

The clothing parade finished and the kit which had been issued carried back to the room, we then received a lecture on our future and were told that our uniforms would be issued as soon as alterations had been completed which turned out to be sooner rather than later and we mustered one morning to be told that we were to dress in the issued clothing we had (which I have already mentioned) and be marched to the clothing store for a final fitting, but before that we were to go to the sick bay for our final inoculation having had the first the same day as our clothing issue. Now please, just for a moment let your imagination run wild whilst I try to describe our appearance. I think the only person in the squad who had long trousers was one who had joined as a musician. So, starting from the top, one cap peaked, slightly too big to allow for growth and liable to slip over ones ears at any given moment, one shirt blue with white stripes atop the very scratchy flannel vest, dunghampers, grey socks and dirty great boots that weighed a ton and all with a top dressing of short trousers and the normal civvy boys jacket. Clomping proudly in step through the streets, fortunately a short one to the sick bay and having to return still proudly with sympathetic clucks from the older folk and much laughter from those who were less mature.

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