The Sea Cadet, No. 6, Vol. 2, February 1945

Winter Camps By LIEUTENANT A.W.E. GRAY, R.N.V.R.(S) I Twas a fortuitous circumstance which found me acting as Camp Commandant for the last week of a summer camp somewhere in the South. My experience that week convinced me that there were great possibilities at this camp for winter camping. The Nissen huts were in good condi­tion, dry and warm, and nestling as they did in avery convenient com­pound of tall trees the camp was admir­ably sheltered from the winds and incle­ment elements, although perched 700 feet above sea-level. Sid, avery excel­lent cook (ex-leading cook, R.N.), was on hand an ex-C.P.O. instructor,“ Chiefy,” was keen to help the boys, whilst Jack, the lorry driver, was ever ready to provide the necessary liberty boat to a nearby town. Well, why not? All the ingredients were there, and I knew m y boys would jump to it. SIGNALLED TO“GO AHEAD ”With the blessing of avery helpful C.O. of the parent station, I put up the suggestion to Headquarters full of hope and expectation. The signal came back, “Go ahead.” The following Saturday four officers and thirty-two cadets detrained at the nearby town at 1.45 p.m. and found Jack waiting to run them to the camp, two miles up the hill. The sparkle in the cadets’ eyes proved that the adven­ture was to their liking. One or two had been there during the summer, and with an air of superior and privileged know­ledge they made the road journey even more exciting by their tales of the wonders of the camp. EVERYTHING SHIPSHAPE At the top of the hill the lorry turned off the main road and stopped. We had arrived.“ Chiefy ”met us with an en­couraging smile. “The huts are nice and warm, sir. I’ve had the fires going since Thursday. The boys will be quite com­fortable. They’ve got four blankets each.” The nominal roll was produced and the ship’s company divided into two watches: starboard in the top hut and port in the lower one. The top part of starboard were detailed for duty and were soon showing an aptitude for peeling potatoes, etc., that even their mothers never suspected at home. PRIZE MONEY The remainder, after settling in. were marched off to the rifle range for .22 shooting, a competition being staged with prizes of 2s., Is. 6d. and Is. These latter proved a godsend to the winners, who found themselves in avery im­pecunious state after liberty on Satur­day evening, for 2s. worth offish and chips does not fargo between thirty- two lads, after sampling the “pictures.” However, as the prizes were not overhanded until after their return, three at any rate were wealthy again and able to look the world in the face. Returning from shooting, they were more than ready to pay tribute to Sid's cooking abilities, with the emphasis on quantity as well as quality. What I have not even yet been able to comprehend, after three week-ends with them, is the facility with which, to say nothing of ability, they descended upon Toe H within one hour of this evening meal, and made light of a large plate of baked beans and toast, cakes and tea, to be followed a little later by fish and chips. 1 envied their digestive powers. This, of course, was during liberty which fol­lowed the camp meal. Faithfully at 10.15 Jack and his lorry were outside the cinema ready to take us all back to camp. The roll call proved all present and correct, including the officers. After one or two reluctant “good-byes,” all were aboard^ and in twenty minutes were safely in camp enjoying hot cocoa. Rounds at 1 1 p.m. and all quiet. “They will all be too tired to try any tricks,” says one officer, anxious to turn in him­self. His experience of camps was not extensive. Older hands decided upon awaiting and watching policy. Sitting round our fire in the Mess exchanging yarns and experiences, we were suddenly aware of some commo­tion in the compound. Caps were donned, torches out and away to the scene of the battle. When we arrived, starboard were winning. A few well- chosen and kindly words brought a sense of shame on all the combatants for disturbing the countryside at so late an hour. They had had their bit of fun, however, and soto bed again and sleep. And so did we. ANOTHER DAY DAWNS Up betimes on Sunday, a short run and P.T. preceded breakfast. After divisions, colours and prayers at 9 a.m. Jack was waiting to take us to a nearby air station, the C.O. of which had very kindly arranged an attractive programme for Onus. the first occasion we were fortun­ate in the weather and the morning was taken up with “flying.” The trips in the Walrus were much appreciated. Whilst waiting their turn for flying, the cadets were shown slides of aircraft and war­ships, and their “recognition ”know­ledge was the envy of even the officers, or I should say all but one, who was found to be “absent without leave.” It subsequently transpired that, very quickly making friends with a pilot, he had “scrounged” a trip to another air station. He has since been suitably dealt with, although still looked upon as a hero by the cadets of his unit who were present at camp. We arrived back in camp at 1.45 p.m. and enjoyed a good lunch. A GRAND WEEK-END The day being brilliantly fine, more shooting before tea. Very reluctantly, at 6 p.m. we commenced our homeward journey after what was voted by all avery successful experiment in winter training camps. 1 should have said that another unit and my own have shared this experiment weekly, going fifty-fifty in the number of officers and cadets. We have just completed our fourth con­secutive week-end. Each has followed the pattern of the first, except that when weather has prevented the use of the range, indoor instruction with the quick-sighting rifle and nautical quizzes have been substituted. We each still have along waiting list. 165
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