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Robert McDougall
03-10-2009, 11:14
When I was in the navy during the 1970s tattoos were popular among the lower deck. I didn't get one due to cost, $20 for a sailing ship with banner, damn near a fortnights wages for an OD.
I did notice a number guys getting tattoos. One I remember, plastered his arms with a multitude of tattoos as soon as he left BCT training. I do remember the seeing the cobwebs and hinges he had tattooed on the inside and the outside of each elbow.
A popular tattoo that I saw was a square rigged sailing ship 3/4 view. With a banner underneath, Homeward Bound or RNZN being popular.
As a kid before 5, we had neighbours, Williams Madge and Bill. Bill was ex navy and had pictures, on his arms facsinating for a kid. An old mate Musk had his tattoo removed after he left RNZN for employment reasons, he started working in office work.
While I was in pussers got talking about tattoos to another mate he decided to get cartoon characters like Hotstuff and Popeye. I have seen one bloke with a large Jesus and cross on his back, stuff that, its too much looked ugly too.
Stories of tattoos, one always comes to mind. There was a length test, shortest wins. A dead heat occurred and so how to decide. So what was tattooed on your nob? one had a one cent piece (dime size) the other an ant, the ant won.

oldsalt
03-10-2009, 17:16
In addition to tattoos a gold ear ring was always popular inserted when ashore. The story goes that sailors wore the gold ring to pay for the funeral if you were washed up on the beach after some calamity.

Hixy
03-10-2009, 20:32
In addition to tattoos a gold ear ring was always popular inserted when ashore. The story goes that sailors wore the gold ring to pay for the funeral if you were washed up on the beach after some calamity.

Probably phased out by the 1970's oldsalt. :D

Old Salt
21-04-2010, 04:36
Whilst I was in HMNZS Blackpool in the Far East Fleet we were in harbour with units of the RN, RAN, and USN. Apparently a US marine was shouting the odds how superior the US Marines were. The Royals from HMS Bulwark (?) filled him with ale, took him next door and had the Union flag and 'Rule Britannia' tatooed on his chest. This was true, I remember trying not to smile when reading the nausea signals from the USN !

Seagull
21-04-2010, 09:42
Any one got some photographs of these works of 'art'?
Seagull

Ednamay
21-04-2010, 12:08
My father had the traditional red rose and my mother's name on a banner underneath, but one of his friends had a dancing girl on his right bicep and she 'danced' when he moved his arm!!!

Edna

Robert McDougall
08-05-2010, 08:18
Rule Brittania tattoo on the marine's chest what a wicked trick. LOL

Benbow
10-05-2010, 20:23
Pinky's in HK was a favourite port of call for guys 3 sheets in the wind and requiring some indelible art work !:o

steve roberts
10-05-2010, 20:45
Hi Benbow.Tell me about "Pinkies" I was having a tattoo done in there,when some idiot came in with one of those Laughing Bags! I could have killed him:mad:By the way,may work of art turned out to be the only Chinese Confederate Flag holder I have ever seen:D
Regards Steve.

Benbow
10-05-2010, 22:23
Hi Benbow.Tell me about "Pinkies" I was having a tattoo done in there,when some idiot came in with one of those Laughing Bags! I could have killed him:mad:By the way,may work of art turned out to be the only Chinese Confederate Flag holder I have ever seen:D
Regards Steve.

I ended up in his establishment (68/69 ?) after some certain lubricants we taken onboard only to wake on the mess deck with a large eagle tattoo on my right upper arm; real work of art. I think Mr Pinky relocated to the states.

http://www.tattooconnect.com/forum/showthread.php?t=100

oldsalt
14-05-2010, 18:02
In 51 I had a swallow tattoed between right thumb & forefinger. The tattoist Sailor Bill in Liverpool said "where ever you go in the world anyone will recognise that tattoo" 59 years later, no one has said,, I see you have been tattooed by Sailor Bill in Liverpool.

granpinto
19-11-2010, 22:46
I was interested to see the articles about Sailor Bill the tattoo artist from Liverpool.

As far as I know, there were two tattoo artists of any note in Liverpool at the time. One was Sailor Jack and the other Sailor Bill, my grandfather. Sailor Bill Donnelly lived in Dombey Street, where I was born. My grandfather had 19 children, fifteen boys and four girls. Most of the boys were in the Andrew or the Merchant. Four of his sons were killed in the Battle of the Atlantic serving on convoy duty.

My earliest recollections are of visiting Sailor Billís house on a Sunday and seeing a queue of sailors from different countries standing in the street outside the large Victorian terraced house. The queue then ran up the front steps, along the hallway and down the stairs to the basement room where my grandfather had his tattoo parlour. The sailors were all good natured young men who would give me small foreign coins or sweets and gum.

In the back room of the basement, which acted as a store room, I could see the large square glass jars, called accumulators, they served to provide the DC current to drive the tattoo drill. Also stored in there was a variety of monkeys and bad-tempered parrots, usually left as payment by some of the sailors.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, my father, who had just turned sixteen, was dispatched to the safety of North Wales and told by my grandfather to join the army there as a volunteer. The idea being that the Navy would be too dangerous and a safer option was to go somewhere quiet.

However, after basic training with the Royal Welch Fusiliers my father was shipped out to Burma and did not return home until six years later. As for the safer option, he spent most of his time in the Burmese jungle fighting the Japanese with Wingateís Chindits. He was wounded twice and caught malaria and dysentery.

My father had six large tattoos, two on each arm and one on each leg. He advised me not to get any done so I decided against it also.

ekd
20-11-2010, 12:52
Fascinating post, Granpinto,:)

oldsalt
20-11-2010, 17:10
I'm pleased my memories were correct & that they rang a bell.

waimea
11-08-2011, 07:07
Then gold ring in the left ear was still in vogue in the 1960s and I had one. It wasn't banned onboard and one could wear it at all times as well as on parade, but its popularity was fading and it was more common then in the merchant navy. The advantage was, when I got sick of it I took it out, but tats one was stuck with forever.

oldsalt
11-08-2011, 14:24
Traditionally the earing was supposed for a sailors burial if he ever ended up dead on a beach somewhere.

johnny07
15-08-2011, 17:56
Pinky's in HK was a favourite port of call for guys 3 sheets in the wind and requiring some indelible art work !:o


I'll second that Benbow, I have 4 tats all done by Pinky in Hong Kong in 1961 whilst in Bulwark. I was never drunk when I told him what I wanted but did nip out for a Tiger anethstetic prior to the work being done. They have faded a lot over 50 years but are still just about visible.

thomo
15-08-2011, 19:12
I have a eagle on my chest, done in Singapore 1967.The name "Jonny Ghurka" has just came to mind...was he a tattoo artist in Nee Soon ??? I also have a few from Guz done by "Shakey ????"

sunray9
15-08-2011, 19:47
Hong Kong '69 - '70 ish, one of my fellow RM's, after a lengthy run ashore and well bladdered went into a tatoo parlour and was asked what he would like done, so he describes and writes down 'Naval Patrol' with a set of footprints to be inked around his belly button ... unfortunately, he left out the crucial letter 'r' in Patrol and was left with 'Naval Patol'. Had to go back a few weeks later to have a garland of flowers done to cover up the mistake.

Have also seen the face of a Sgt Major of Marines complete with peaked cap and tongue coming out of the only space available on the backside of another RM. Happy times!

Robelfast
15-08-2011, 20:49
Don't have any myself but my grandfather had plenty. One of which was a naked girl he got done in Malta on the front of his leg (shin).
"It was sore getting that one done" he said. Now, I know nothing about the pain of tattooing but that sounds like a bit of an understatement.

thomo
15-08-2011, 21:30
I found a comment on "Rum Ration" that confirms my senior moment of re-collection when I remembered the name "Johnny Ghurka" was a tattoo artist in Nee Soon.Still trying to remember the tattoo artists in Guz & Pompey in the sixties.:confused:

johnny07
15-08-2011, 21:36
I have a eagle on my chest, done in Singapore 1967.The name "Jonny Ghurka" has just came to mind...was he a tattoo artist in Nee Soon ??? I also have a few from Guz done by "Shakey ????"

Yes Thomo, I remember Johnny Ghurka from Nee Soon although I never used him myself. On the subject of Nee Soon I also remember something about a woodpile. Im sure it will come back to me.

oldsalt
17-08-2011, 16:52
I had four of Johnny Gurkha's artistic efforts done in 1953. Between us, can we work out how long Johnny was at work in Nee Soon.

thomo
17-08-2011, 20:27
I had four of Johnny Gurkha's artistic efforts done in 1953. Between us, can we work out how long Johnny was at work in Nee Soon.

As I already said I got a eagle tattoo at Johnny Gurkha's in 67. I had quite a few pints of tiger whilst getting it done. I awoke the following morning with a sore head and to discover my new tattoo was minus its "Landing Gear" (Claws) and we where sailing that day.I had to wait until 71 when I returned Singapore and paid Johnny a visit to get the "landing gear" put on my eagle.:D :D

oldsalt
18-08-2011, 15:11
So far we have 53 to 67 when Johnny was active, can anyone stretch this period. His shop if my memory is correct was on a slope leading up to the Army camp.

Derek Dicker
18-08-2011, 15:43
Afternoon Thomo, I bet I have the same eagle on my chest done by J.G in 1963. I sent the boys in the shop next door for Bottles of Anchor during the torment. Looking a bit faded now after nearly 50 years but do not regret the pain. Grand children think its wonderful to touch.
No Im not going to post a photograph

Derek (bunts)

johnny07
18-08-2011, 21:22
Afternoon Thomo, I bet I have the same eagle on my chest done by J.G in 1963. I sent the boys in the shop next door for Bottles of Anchor during the torment. Looking a bit faded now after nearly 50 years but do not regret the pain. Grand children think its wonderful to touch.
No Im not going to post a photograph

Derek (bunts)



Oh, Go on.

oldsalt
19-08-2011, 15:12
Because JG used only red & blue ink a lot of my shipmates waited to get their tattoos in Hong Kong where green & yellow inks were also used. One of our guys enlarged a drawing of St George & dragon that used to be on Dettol bottles, he then had it tattooed on his back. When I was in Ark Royal our messman had a spider tattooed in a very delicate place.

johnny07
19-08-2011, 21:32
Yes Thomo, I remember Johnny Ghurka from Nee Soon although I never used him myself. On the subject of Nee Soon I also remember something about a woodpile. Im sure it will come back to me.

Something else has come back about Johnny GhurKas parlour in Nee Soon Nonose, does anyone remember her?.

oldsalt
20-08-2011, 15:07
I remember Nonose well , she frequented the bar on the corner leading uo to JG's.

Metrate
22-12-2012, 22:35
I was an OD under training in February 1964, my training division in HMCS Cornwallis had been drilled as the guard of honour for new Canadian flag. The ceremony was in Halifax on the 15th of February. We were authorized shore leave the night before. After a snoot full of beer inthe wet canteen we struck off ashore. I ended up in Chalie Snow's Tattoo shop on Barrington St. I got the red rose with banner and the name of the WREN I was dating. Fast forward four years and I am back in a tattoo parlour having her named covered up as she was not the girl I was going to marry.

johnny07
23-12-2012, 10:41
I was an OD under training in February 1964, my training division in HMCS Cornwallis had been drilled as the guard of honour for new Canadian flag. The ceremony was in Halifax on the 15th of February. We were authorized shore leave the night before. After a snoot full of beer inthe wet canteen we struck off ashore. I ended up in Chalie Snow's Tattoo shop on Barrington St. I got the red rose with banner and the name of the WREN I was dating. Fast forward four years and I am back in a tattoo parlour having her named covered up as she was not the girl I was going to marry.

Been there, done it. :o:o

harris
23-12-2012, 18:22
The best one I ever saw courtesy of JG was a hunting scene on an oppo's back. The hounds were streaming down his back and the fox was disappearing up his bum - just the brush sticking out. He earned lots of "sippers" showing that masterpiece off the next day.
Fred.

johnny07
23-12-2012, 21:22
In the 50s the old tars would sing about " A great big fat lady covered from head to knee" The song starts off :- One night in gay Paree. One of the verses was:- On her back was a Union Jack so I paid five francs more. Another was Up and down her spine were the cruisers of the line.
I would love to remember all the words and sing that song again. :o

Clive 58
23-12-2012, 22:26
I typed "A great big fat lady covered from head to knee" into google, and it's there - and quite as adult as you'd expect! :)

Mitch Hinde
23-12-2012, 22:36
Hi All

HK 1960, waking up and wondering why I had a piece of tissue paper stuck to my left forearm and being quietly reminded of a visit to a certain tattoo parlour to the rear of the China Fleet Club I think. Very faded now but still recognisable as an eagle.

Mitch Hinde

johnny07
24-12-2012, 19:45
I typed "A great big fat lady covered from head to knee" into google, and it's there - and quite as adult as you'd expect! :)

That's all right Clive, most of us here are adults.
I got the words off google so that will be my party piece tomorro.

oldsalt
30-12-2012, 15:39
Our mess man in Ark Royal had a bee tattoo'd on a very tender part of his masculinity, he must have been very drunk, OH- OH THE PAIN!!!

ASSAIL
04-01-2013, 23:25
I've seen a few tats on shipmates' hidden parts as I was in the ships' rugby sides of every ship I served in so, many communal showers.

One of the funniest was on a stokers backside, Devil on one cheek shovelling coal, Angel on the other with a fire extinguisher and flames billowing out of the middle.

Heard but not seen, WOO tattooed on ones masculity. Actually when aroused it read, WOOLOOMOOLOO (a well known pussers location in Sydney)

the grocer
20-03-2013, 21:09
I don't know if this will be allowed to stay on air but I have to share it.

I have tattoos and all of them were done at Pinky's after a good run ashore. The pain threshhold held out quite good but for one, and that did hurt. However, I can only imagine that it did not go anywhere near the pain of one tattoo another crew member had done. He had a Ladybird tattooed on the top of his Bell... I kid you not, I cringe even now at the thought of it.

BlackBat242
21-03-2013, 06:41
Groucho Marx' 1971 version of the 1939 classic song written by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg, and performed by Groucho in the 1939 Marx Brothers film "At the Circus.
Lydia the Tattooed Lady (http://dmdb.org/lyrics/lydia.html):


Note: after the "Lady Godiva" line, the original lyrics said
When she stands, the world gets lit'ler.
When she sits, she sits on Hitler
Here's Nijinsky a-doin' the rhumba.
Here's her social security numba.

The first 2 lines were replaced for the film by:
Here is Grover Whelan unveilin' The Trylon.
Over on the west coast we have Treasure Isle-on.

The link at the top omits this entire stanza.

alexrad
24-03-2013, 03:54
I hope this is legible...

D01Caprice
29-03-2013, 18:38
In the tourists centres of Thailand such as Pattaya, Krabi and Phuket wedged in between the bars, go-go palaces and massage parlours can be found tattoo shops. Strings of Chinese characters are very popular as 'adornments' for those who patronise these shops. Little do they know that very often the characters read like a shopping list or advertise a bar. Ignorance is bliss. The 'millionaire for a fortnight' type tourists are a laugh a line for we long term ex-pats.

NABERA
29-03-2013, 19:27
An OD stoker on one ship was a patriotic Jock and decided to get a thistle tat on his upper arm..... Having had a few sherberts, he heads off to the tats parlour, but has a bit of a problem describing a thistle to the Chinese artist..... Eventually the description is agreed and Jolly Jack staggers back aboard, waking up next morning to find .... a beautiful pineapple....:D

brian james
29-03-2013, 21:01
An AB I knew by the name of 'Shady Lane' had tattooed on his nether region..... ''Lane's Emulsion''!!!.....Brian

Jan Steer
29-03-2013, 21:48
My grandfather who had been a china station sailor prior to world war 1 had two blue Chinese dragons, one on each forearm, done with a bamboo 'needle'. He was told that for the rest of his life he would never need an inoculation!

best wishes
Jan

Mitch Hinde
29-03-2013, 23:06
Hi All

An oppo of mine, Alan Dobson, bunting tosser and ex prison officer had a large and very elaborate crucifixtion scene on his chest. Unfortunately he required a triple by pass in the 80s. The surgeon at Ashford hospital in Middlesex did a wonderful job of matching up and the scar was hardly noticeable.

Mitch Hinde

BlackBat242
30-03-2013, 01:20
In the tourists centres of Thailand such as Pattaya, Krabi and Phuket wedged in between the bars, go-go palaces and massage parlours can be found tattoo shops. Strings of Chinese characters are very popular as 'adornments' for those who patronise these shops. Little do they know that very often the characters read like a shopping list or advertise a bar. Ignorance is bliss. The 'millionaire for a fortnight' type tourists are a laugh a line for we long term ex-pats.

I studiously avoided tat-shops in my 1987 visit to Pattaya... although the gem stores did get some of my business (I grew up in a rock-hounding family, and spotted a number of fakes in my browsing the Pattaya shops, so I only bought what I KNEW were authentic).

oldsalt
02-04-2013, 15:42
We had a Stoker in Unicorn who carefully enlarged the picture of St George & the Dragon, which used to be on Dettol bottles. He waited until we got to Hong Kong (they had other coloured ink besides blue & red) took his drawing ashore & had it tattooed on his back, very nice it was too.

Nobby_N
11-04-2013, 13:27
My dad, First World War army, had a regimental badge on his forearm. I've never had tattoos myself, though I don't despise them. I always thought that the cost took away from what money I had for beer and other pleasures. Several messmates had them and one had the fox and hounds down his back as described by someone earlier.
This was in Singapore. Being shorebased (in Terror) our run ashore was JB and we never went near NeeSoon, except to pass through on the bus going to Singapore. This same messmate with the fox and hounds wanted desperately to get an ear-ring in his left ear. As I was the one with most contacts in JB I said I'd arrange it for him.
We went to the Rina restaurant and bar (Jalan Wong Ah Fook), and I had words with the barman: yes ok - he would do it himself. I don't know whether he charged anything, he enjoyed it. We dosed my messmate up with large brandys, he'd already had a few bottles of Tiger, and when he was ready here comes the barman with a needle and thread and a cork. The needle being first held for a few seconds in the flame from my zippo. Cork behind the ear-lobe and in with the needle. Pull the thread through and tie a knot and job done! After a few days he swapped the blood encrusted thread for a gold earring. Whenever I tell that story in mixed company I am always told by the ladies to desist: "we don't want to hear it!"

oldsalt
11-04-2013, 14:49
Nee Soon, Johnny Gurkha.

ivorthediver
30-09-2013, 17:04
Well following in the Naval tradition of her family our dear lady karen has decided to keep the custom alive and today had her wrist Tattooed to commemorate her dear old dad Chalky who crossed the bar four year last May and much missed by others on this Forum .

It would seem that Chalky had swallow's tattooed on his thumb base on either hand so dear Karen decided to have hers on her right White wrist:)

ivorthediver
30-09-2013, 17:18
Now that I have managed to find it .......here's a picture of it.

It is larger than Karen described it but the colour, which I know will fade, is good and quite a good design . but its what she wanted , so bless her .....who am I to object ............

Karen was always very close to her Dad and spent most of her time with him during his last few weeks before he parted this shore

karen
01-10-2013, 20:03
Turned out well if I say so myself....

SheppeyMiss
01-10-2013, 20:14
A lovely constant reminder of your dear ole Dad.

Missy

karen
02-10-2013, 20:36
Thanks Missy... Dad is always with me..xx

piggolo
09-03-2017, 15:32
I've got the Navy Service record for a Petty Officer Stoker which includes a physical description of the serviceman including his tattoo's !

So it includes things like; Bust of Woman, Union Jack, Clasped Hands etc. but also says 'Flower and Eddie'.

Does anyone know what 'Flower and Eddie' might be ?

Thanks.

jbryce1437
09-03-2017, 16:07
Eddie could be someones name close to him, his or his fathers?

Jim

oldsalt
16-03-2017, 12:12
I've got the Navy Service record for a Petty Officer Stoker which includes a physical description of the serviceman including his tattoo's !

So it includes things like; Bust of Woman, Union Jack, Clasped Hands etc. but also says 'Flower and Eddie'.

Does anyone know what 'Flower and Eddie' might be ?

Thanks.

Could it be a play on words, ie flow & eddy , as in tides.?

ceylon220
23-03-2017, 21:35
A shore run in S`pore in 59 --a few beers and my mate suggested a tattoo, so we found a tattooist and being no good with needles I opt for a picture of a sailors head and added my mates name to it ie :Bryn---not to be out done my mate got one on his leg--it was`nt until next that he showed me what he had done -- a woman leaning against a palm tree and underneath he had put Dave--bl--dy idiot--thank goodness it was cover up and not on show:D:D

When on my first trip abroad (1954) in the RN I like most sailors in those days went for a tattoo in Malta ----next day I was working with the CPO Stoker on checking all fire fighting gear aboard the ship---he notice my tattoo which was a swallow with the name of my girl friend below ie: JOYCE---- "very nice Dave but what happens if she has packed you in when we get back to Portsmouth---I have an idea,if she has then get RE put in front--REJOYCE"----pleased to say that she did`nt pack me in and we will be celebrating our Diamond Wedding Anniversary in May this year---not many can say that these days:D

Jan Steer
24-03-2017, 11:33
Many congratulations to you and your lady wife Dave. May you have many more happy years together. You are so right. It is an astonishing feat of endurance. Many young couples today decide to call it a day straight away rather than try and solve a problem.
I must add that Jenni and I thought we were doing rather well but I realise now that with only 48 years under our joint belt we are still just learners!

For our Mod:
Nothing to do with tattoos of course but I simply could not pass up the chance to comment publically.

Jan Steer
24-03-2017, 11:42
My grandfather had two identical Chinese dragons, in bright blue, tattooed one to each forearm. He told me that he had gained them in China many years before the first world war and they had been done with a piece of bamboo! I can only imagine how painful that must've been for him but these Edwardian sailors were a tough breed I suppose.

johnny07
24-03-2017, 17:47
It's not just bamboo that's painful. A standard tatoo with an iron needle hurts like hell.
I had some tatoos done in HK a mere 55 years ago and the once bright blue part has faded into a grey smudge.

oldsalt
27-03-2017, 14:24
Festival of Britain year 1951 I had a swallow tattooed between the thumb & forefinger by a "Sailor Bill" of Liverpool. He assured me from then on anyone who saw the tattoo would instantly say " Sailor Bill of Liverpool did that." Sixty six years later I have never had any such recognition.

johnny07
27-03-2017, 14:40
Pinky in HK was a really good artist and his work is quite easy to recognize.

Mitch Hinde
27-03-2017, 17:09
Hi All

Except when they fade almost beyond any recognition as has the sunburst behind my eagle. Pinky's effort, Woodbridge Haven 1960.

Mitch Hinde

oldsalt
29-03-2017, 12:55
Johnny Gurkha, Nee Soon, his black leopard with claws drawing blood is easily identified. I have one of his dragons on my left forearm.

Forester
31-03-2017, 12:43
This thread tickles my sense of humour. I just can't get the words of the song out of my head.

"One night in gay Paree, I paid five francs to see..."

johnny07
31-03-2017, 17:34
And across her back was a union jack so I paid 5 francs more.
Yes a great ditty. I think it's called I love my mother in law.