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  #1  
Old 20-10-2008, 18:09
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Default RN Shore Training Establishment: HMS Drake

I joined Drake barracks in 1950 in the Stokers mess. There were thousands of matelots in Drake at the time. I can remember the appaling conditions of those mess decks, we slept in hammocks & lived out of our kit bags. I have never seen any interior photos of the barracks at that time.I have searched the obvious places, no luck. Just maybe out there are photos of the place, does anyone have such pictures?
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  #2  
Old 20-10-2008, 23:06
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Default Re: HMS Drake

When I finished my sea training as a Boy seaman on the Largo Bay in 1953 I was drafted into Drake (Guzz) barracks and like yourself had to live out of a kitbag and sleep in a hammock. I must say it was quite an ordeal for a young lad of sixteen and a half and what made it worse was the fact that I didn't know a soul.
The attached picture gives a rough idea as to what it was like although I didn't have to wear a Ducks!
When I next went to the barracks two years later it was a little more civilised and we had beds to sleep in and a locker for our kit.

Bob.
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File Type: jpg Barracks.jpg (207.4 KB, 133 views)
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  #3  
Old 22-10-2008, 15:36
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Default Re: HMS Drake

When Finisterre paid off in 1962 the ships company were housed in wooden huts close to the playing fields. They were cold, damp, and full of wet rot. Cold chips were even served up for breakfast. (If your hungry you'll eat them said the cook) The skipper did rounds one day and was disgusted at the conditions. He immediately told the Jimmy and Coxn to arrange to get us all away on leave within 24 hours. Only time I ever got extra leave.

Tony L
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  #4  
Old 22-10-2008, 17:20
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Default Re: HMS Drake

I have that pic. Batstiger, it does show the size of the place , the mess tables I think were removed to a lower floor. The food was brought to the mess tables by the cooks of the mess, then passed down the table each one taking his share, if you were a junior at the end of the table you would be lucky if the trays had enough gippers in the bottom to dip your bread in.
The huts by the parade ground were used by the field gun's crews when they were in training.
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Old 22-10-2008, 20:43
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Default Re: HMS Drake

When I was there in '53 the tables had been removed from the messes as they had opened up dining facilities thank goodness.
The messes looked a lot bleaker without the tables and I was grateful to be rid of the place.
By the way I ended up in the huts as I joined the Field guns crew in a final fling before leaving the navy in '61. If I remember correctly they were also used by the 'Barrack guard' and the 'Travelling escorts'
This was at the time when they had loads and loads of men and had to find something for them to do.
I was detailed off for 'Barrack guard' during one spell in barracks but that is another story.

Bob.
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  #6  
Old 22-10-2008, 21:33
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Default Re: HMS Drake

I was there in '41,in G1 mess,and mess is an appropriate description. There was more men than hammock hooks,which meant that lots of men had to sleep where they could. At night we had to keep PD (Passive defence)watches on the rooftops. Coming down to the barrack room afterwards,you could almost cut the atmosphere. I was glad to get a draft chit out of it,but it was a case of 'out of the frying pan',as I joined a heavily laden troopship to take passage to Bombay,and conditions were on a par with 'Drake'. Tackline.
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  #7  
Old 24-10-2008, 18:08
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Default Re: HMS Drake

I was told during the war years the decks were scrubbed. They had several cases of meningitis which it was reckoned was caused by sailors sleeping on the decks because of too few hammock spaces. In the early 50's if you did'nt get your hammock up smartish you slept on the deck. At that time scrubbing decks was abandoned, some matelots at the morning work parade were told off for polishing the decks, walking up and down all day dragging a buffer (tool not a PO). It was as sole destroying as the tread mill in prisons must have been.
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Old 25-10-2008, 13:57
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Default Re: HMS Drake

Re HMS Drake.

I was in J mess Block,in 1952, I am sure the mess tables had been removed by then. The accommodation was much better at HMS Drake, than it was at HMS Defiance, where it was broad side messing and sling your hammock where you could find a space.
The cockroaches usually put paid to any sleep. It was crawling with the monsters.

Harry
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  #9  
Old 25-10-2008, 14:19
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Angry Re: HMS Drake

Interesting to read of G1 mess. My late dad was housed there in late 48 I think. He hated the place for all the reasons stated but also as he was waiting for discharge, someone cut a hole in his kitbag and helped themselves to his war medals. He never did see them again and I don't suppose the family will. I have always held a mental picture of someone my age somewhere saying to their son, "Look at these. Your grandfather stole these from a matelot at the end of the war." What a world!
Jan
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  #10  
Old 25-10-2008, 22:18
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Default Re: HMS Drake

Here is a little reminder for you Harry.
It was a sod playing snooker when the picket boats passed by!

HMS Defiance III,built by Portsmouth Dockyard as a Depot Ship/cruiser HMS Vulcan,launched 13/6/1889.Renamed Defiance III,training ship,17/2/1931.Arrived in Belgium for breaking up,12/1955.

As built,her main purpose was to launch smaller torpedo boats against enemy shipping. She looked very similar to a cruiser except for two large cranes used for deploying torpedo boats, similar protective deck armour to a cruiser. She was based at Malta between 1896 and 1905.

On return to England she was converted to a depot ship for submarines, commissioning as such in 1909.

During WW1 she served in various UK ports supporting submarine flotillas and continued to do so post-war.

In February 1931 she became part of the 'Defiance' training establishment at Devonport, and remained there until 1955 when she finally went to the scrapyard

Bob.
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  #11  
Old 26-10-2008, 14:58
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Default Re: HMS Drake

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan Steer View Post
Interesting to read of G1 mess. My late dad was housed there in late 48 I think. He hated the place for all the reasons stated but also as he was waiting for discharge, someone cut a hole in his kitbag and helped themselves to his war medals. He never did see them again and I don't suppose the family will. I have always held a mental picture of someone my age somewhere saying to their son, "Look at these. Your grandfather stole these from a matelot at the end of the war." What a world!
Jan
Jan - indeed that was a shame and a loss both for your GF and your family.

Isn`t there some way in which new ones can be obtained??
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  #12  
Old 26-10-2008, 15:11
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Default Re: HMS Drake

Re HMS Drake.
Thanks for that information Bob, I had a couple of short spells on the old girls, I was always glad to get away from them.

Yes I remember the snooker table, did any game ever finish,without someone potting balls, without playing a stroke.

The Sunday lunchtime sessions were great fun especially the sods operas.

Harry
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  #13  
Old 26-10-2008, 15:42
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Default Re: HMS Drake

Can anyone confirm that up to the 50's Defiance had a couple of old wooden ships tied up across the Hamoaze on the cornwall side.
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  #14  
Old 26-10-2008, 15:59
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Default Re: HMS Drake

You will find this site most informative as regards the HMS Defiance.

http://www.cyber-heritage.co.uk/defweb/

Bob.
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  #15  
Old 26-10-2008, 19:28
John Odom John Odom is offline
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Default Re: HMS Drake

Bob, those were wonderful pictures of places and times of long ago. Thanks!
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  #16  
Old 28-10-2008, 19:01
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Default Re: HMS Drake

Going back to Guzz in the early 50's and the accomodation, in the stokers block the "bath room ", so called, was a dank space with metal sinks surrounded by a myriad of pipes, seemingly unsupported. The bath tubes were all over the place, I think they just drained onto the deck to run into the drains.I would really like to have photos of then just to see if my memory is playing tricks.
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  #17  
Old 28-10-2008, 19:09
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Default Re: HMS Drake

I found this old picture which is just entitled " laundry" obviously an early pic. It does'nt appear to be a large enough space for the one I remember, it also seems to have an angled roof, so it cannot be a basement area.
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Old 28-10-2008, 20:40
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Default Re: HMS Drake

You will be pleased to learn that things were very much the same at Chatham!

Bob.
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  #19  
Old 29-10-2008, 18:40
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Default Re: HMS Drake

The thought struck me that for about 150 yrs a matelot's living conditions remaind fairly static. The warships built during WW2 , apart for a few, were the same living standards as the first WW. I remember when the Darings came into service, the astonishment from the rest of the fleet when we found out they had washing machines. I joined in 1949 and it was'nt until 1961 when I joined Ark Royal that I had a bunk. The RN has come a long way in accomodation aboard and ashore, but I feel a bit uneasy that the new Darings, superb ships they may be, a lot of money and space has gone into the accomodation. I think maybe more less costly ships would serve the country better.
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Old 30-10-2008, 15:48
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Default Re: HMS Drake

I think that the reason that the accommodation space on the new Daring's is 'larger' is due to that fact that everything else is controlled by electronics which have got smaller, thus allowing more space for the fewer crew to live in. You only have to look at the size of the modern mobile telephone and what it contains - GPS, Camera, Internet connections - for example. I can remember in the '60's - watch it you lot, not the 1860's the 1960's, people were amazed at what mainframe computers could do and the size of them. Now the equivalent is the PC sitting in front of you. Likewise military electronic hardware has decreased in physical size but increased mightily in operating power. Bring back the long boats I say..................!!!
Mik
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  #21  
Old 23-01-2009, 19:33
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Default HMS Drake

I have tried unsuccessfully to obtain photos of the interior of the mess decks in Drake from the early 50's, just to show how sparse the accomodation was. The only photo I can find is from around WW1 when they ate on the same deck, in 1950 one of the mess decks was a dining room, the "living accomodation" was a large empty space, kit kept in kit bags, hammock spaces were at a premium. This is the only photo I can find:-
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  #22  
Old 23-01-2009, 20:14
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Default Re: HMS Drake

Keith, we have had this topic before, hunt around and you may come across it but if I remember correctly we didn't get very far with it as there were no pictures about only a couple similar to yours.

Bob.
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  #23  
Old 23-01-2009, 21:09
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Default Re: HMS Drake

Thanks for the info Bob, I'll run a search.
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  #24  
Old 24-01-2009, 22:29
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Default Re: HMS Drake

My first mess in Drake barracks, after joining the Ark in refit in 1964, was one of the big old messes, with row upon row of metal bunks set two high, with two metal lockers alongside. There must have been around 200 bunks in the mess. Along the middle of the mess were a number of coke "pot belly" stoves. Fortunately, I soon moved into the huts next to the cinder training track used by the field gun crew (bottom left corner of the 2nd photo). Next to the huts was a dhoby house which, to me, seemed ancient. A number of sinks were set around the wall and a large, hand cranked spinner was located in the middle of the room. To one end were the drying rails, which were heated by ducted air from a coke boiler room. The doors to the drying rails were about six feet high and about twelve inches wide. Each door was pulled out from the wall, on rails, and a number of hanging rails was behind each door. The heat was maintained around the clock and it was possible to hang a full rail of washing before turning to on a morning and be dry, and ready for ironing by lunch time. Although the attached photograph is dated 1897, things hadn't changed much in that dhoby house in 1964
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File Type: jpg drake dhoby house 1897.jpg (195.1 KB, 37 views)
File Type: jpg drake ratings end of rnb.jpg (697.8 KB, 50 views)
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  #25  
Old 28-01-2009, 15:59
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Default Re: Albert John Dunn - Electrician

I have recently learned that my grandfather served aboard the HMS Drake as an electrician, His name was Albert John Dunn. If there are any recolections that could aid me in knowing a little about my missed granfather i would love to hear from you.
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