of Sailing a Lifeboat
Jenkins trained on the Vindicatrix in the summer of 1949
and remembers his time there as if it was only yesterday. The whole
idea of the school was to instill seamanship, so the training was
hard and the boys learned to obey the instructors to the letter.
For the majority who had never been in a boat before, many of the
words used initially sounded like a foreign language. Des remembers
one occasion when a group were out in the lifeboat receiving sailing
instructions on how to dip the lug if ever on a long tack. The fun
started when the boat buried her bows into the bank, scattering
boys everywhere with the embarrassed instructor Mr. Banbury screaming
abuse at all and sundry. Fending off with a boat hook, the boys
found themselves in the middle of the canal with the standing lug
down and were falling over themselves in an effort to raise it.
One boy got the ire of the instructor who screamed at him “GET
OUT, GET OUT” which he promptly did, stepping over the side into
the water, were he floated alongside in his life jacket with a big
smile on his face. Any chance of getting sail up was doomed as all
the boys burst out laughing and gave a big cheer. Needless to say
the boy in question ended up “Under the Clock" outside Captain
Duguid’s office awaiting whatever punishment was coming.
Under the Clock
Dickinson remembers having to wait 'under the clock' in 1966
after being caught fighting with a Geordie boy who had been
pestering him. The option they were given was to be sent home
or get in the ring to sort it out. Mike was terrified as he
knocked the guy out and thought he had killed him. Still, Mike
wasn't bothered again and found he gained a lot of new friends.
One game played on
the ship below deck involved two opposing teams, port and
starboard, rushing towards each other. The aim was to get to
the other side without capture and to try to
capture members of the opposing team and prevent them from
reaching their side. All good fun. Away from the Vindicatrix,
Mike fondly remembers a place in the nearby town that was frequented by the Vindi
lads where they could get real thick bread lavished with home made strawberry
jam. To get there, they had to walk through what resembled a
timber yard, and even today he is reminded of it when he gets a
waft of pine wood scent.
Ken Hughes sent this picture of his
group in October 1957.
Leatherbarrow joined the Vindicatrix in May 1962 on the day after
his sixteenth birthday. In his hut was a lad from Gosport who did
little tattoos in indian ink of a spider with a trail of tiny footprints.
Most of the boys in the hut had one on their thumb or low down on
their leg so that they would recognise one another if they ever
met again in later life.
Wally Marshall sent this photo of
the Vindicatrix, which he joined in the early 1940s having said
he was older than his true age to get away from the bombing in London.
He remembers that at the initial medical, the doctor put his hand
on his forehead and said 'Yes. he's warm. Let him in.' Wally
used to play the piano at the local Missions to Seamen so the boys
could have a sing-song. One favourite included the lines:
they sent me off to join the Vindicatrix,
told me it was absolutely it.
shouted to the Boatswain,
And the Boatswain showed
us where to store our kit.
We went into the scuppers
and spewed up all our suppers.
And wished to Christ we'd never seen the sea.
It's all right for a few, but not for me and you.
Billy & His Mates
(Billy) Williams, who trained on the Vindicatrix Nov-Dec
1957, has sent two photos. The group on the left are Tommy,
Billy, John, Charlie and Terry. The aerial photo on the
right shows the training ship in the foreground and the huts
of the accommodation camp on the hillside behind.