HMS Royal Arthur, Skegness
Today has seemed about three weeks long! Now I know what Michael feels like when he’s had a really full day!
I have drawn all my uniform today except respirator and gaiters. Tomorrow I have to take bellbottoms back to have them altered. We have even been issued with tropical kit – white duck trousers and blazer and white topped hat. What a laugh for you if you could but have seen me. Still, I was not so bad as some of the lads here who were so keen to don uniform that they were to be seen parading in a hat with no ribbon, a sailor blouse, grey flannels, and a collar and tie. Some just wore the naval overcoat – we have a coat and an oilskin – over their civvies. We have, thank God, touched for a very decent Chief Petty Officer who is in charge of our dress and he does all he can to make life easier for us.
This morning, it seems much more remote than that, we had a little homily from the second in command here and it struck me how well he would “go” over the radio. No nonsense, a fairly strong play on the tradition and customs of the Navy (saluting the ensign and that sort of stuff) and a promise of help and a square deal if we were in trouble domestically. He told us, with just the right amount of pride, that he was for seven years in lower deck. The theme of his little speech was that we were at Skegness to learn discipline. According to him this involves no degradation. Discipline is to a big organisation what self-control is to an individual and it looks to me as if one will go along quite well here by doing what one is told to do.
The timetable is rather complicated, with bugles blowing about every quarter of an hour, or so it seems. The thing which has hit me most, however, is the restriction on smoking. There have been several half hours today, for instance, when we have been standing about just waiting for something or someone. But we could not smoke because we were “on duty”. There are two stand-easy spells, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, for a smoke and there are, of course, breakfast, dinner, tea and supper when we can smoke, so it is not so bad really. We cannot, however, smoke in the chalets and there are only three of us to each chalet. Apparently, the danger of fire is too great. Incidentally, we should feed in a mess which was burned out two weeks ago. The result is that we have to share a mess with another crowd, which makes meals rather a scramble.
We learned today, by the way, that we are here for discipline only, which means that we will be making a move in five weeks. Whether that means leave as well I don’t know yet, but a lot of people seem to think so. Still, I’m not banking on it. When I can find anything definite out I will let you know.
Among others I saw the dentist today. His laconic comment to the clerk was “Extensive: urgent”. Happy thought! We have yet to be inoculated and I heard tonight that we are to be “done” on Saturday, which would have been our only day “ashore” this week.
Well, pet, this is all the “business” side of things for now, except that I’m constipated and cold and I’m going to make a supreme effort to cure one of those complaints now.
I’ve got to be off now because somebody has blown a damn bugle again. Write me soon, sweet. No need to tell you how much I miss you. It will be worse at the weekend. I think of you often.
All my love, darling, look after yourself properly and I hope you have a nice weekend. My love to May and the family. Will write you again soon. Bye for now, my love.
P.S. Tell Wendy and Michael I’ll probably write them at the weekend.