H.M.S. GANGES Memorabilia Books DVD Gifts Merchandise Shop by John Douglas
H.M.S. GANGES Forum
H.M.S. GANGES - 'The Final Farewell' (DVD) This is a 60 minute documentary shot before H.M.S. GANGES was to be razed to the ground to make way for a housing complex of houses, bungalows and flats. But two days before the bulldozers moved in it was taken over by the Police as a Training College and demolished later. Only the Chiefs & P.O.`s messes now stand, with the swimming pool and parade-ground. Most of the rest is gone forever, and that includes all the mess-decks.An hour-long documentary of scenes of the whole of the Ganges establishment, showing parade-ground, mast and mast-manning, swimming pool, gymnasiums, Seamanship Block, Communication School, foreshore, playing fields and sports field. An ideal birthday, Christmas present or surprise present for someone who was there! Also: boat-sailing, sports, school complex, Shotley village and views across to Harwich. Shots of manning the mast to music on Parents Day, quarter-deck, Wardroom and Regulating offices plus scenes of joining the Annex, kit issue, hair-cuts, marching and kit-sewing. Many other scenes too numerous to list.Lots of photographs and scenes of the mess-decks, kit musters, etc. A ride down the 'Long Covered Way' showing all the messes on that route. Shots also of the 'Short-Covered Way', 'Benbow Lane', and footage that covers the two parade-ground messes.Professionally shot and produced using Pro equipment in 1982, the quality of the film is of course of 1980s standard, and not that of HQ-HD of today. However, it is the content that really matters, and I have many letters of commendation for the initiative of making the one and only lasting moving pictorial record of a place which no longer exists - except in our hearts and memories.This is the only comprehensive video footage of the now demolished establishment.H.M.S. GANGES - New Recruits (DVD)This is similar to THE FINAL FAREWELL, but was shot in black and white 16mm film in the early 60s, and discloses more on the actual training of new recruits. This film shows in detail pulling boats, manning the mast and seamanship teaching scenes. Also - details of flashing, semaphore, and typing for the Communication Boys.It is 30 minutes long, and takes the form of a presenter being shown around the establishment by one of the trainee Communicator Boys whose expertise at reading a flashing light, it seems, in my own opinion as an ex Signal Boy, was not too good. He was probably a W/T rating! H.M.S. GANGES - 'Tales of the T.R.O.G.s'By: John DouglasA compilation of stories from ex Boys who responded to a national advertisement asking ex-Ganges Boys for humorous of Ganges.Lots of tales about the mast, PT instructors etc, and general escapades of the Ganges inmates.Twelve full-page illustrated cartoons by John Wheatley, ex-Boy, and many other smaller cartoons and thumb-nail sketches taken from the Shotley Mag. Photo of the original Shotley Terror, or Shotley Shadow, the mast and others. 280 pages in all. H.M.S. GANGES "Roll on my Dozen!" - eBookExtract of the Foreword, by DAVID HILL:John Douglas parades before us with fearsome clarity the memories of officers, instructors and fellow 'sufferers' that we all met and knew. As a communications 'sprog' myself, my training followed the same pattern, and John Douglas brings it all back with horrific thoroughness.SynopsisAn accurate and truthful depiction of John's own personal experiences of joining and being part of the shore establishment 'H.M.S. GANGES'. At times both thought provoking and laugh-out-loud; this is the real-life story of a young lad's effort to escape the drudgery of the factories by joining the Navy to travel the world.Truly a must read for those who passed through the now infamous, 'H.M.S. GANGES'. John Douglas was born in Birmingham in 1931 He joined H.M.S. GANGES the day after his sixteenth birthday, and spent his time there training as a Boy Signalman. He served ten years in the Royal Navy, visiting twenty-two countries including several in the East Indies, Mediterranean and one or two within the Arctic Circle. His final posting was for two-and-a-half years in the Main Signal Office, Lascaris, Malta. John was an author for over twenty years, with five published best-selling books, including writing scripts for radio plays, TV, and a regular contributor to local newspapers.As well as publishing many poems, and books of poems about his home-town Birmingham, he also wrote and released a record called 'Saturday Night in the Bull Ring' - a song depicting the days and nights in the now demolished marketplace and landmark of old Birmingham.A fluent speaker, conversationalist and story-teller, he guested over 400 radio programmes and many TV spots.John was married with seven children, and spent the last decades of his life semi-retired in an old village school converted into a house in sunny Cornwall. The Legend of H.M.S. GANGES by John Douglas There's a village they call Shotley to the east of Ipswich town,The port of Felixstowe across the way.There's a stone-built frigate, 'Ganges', near the Orwell flowing down,And skirted by the shores of Harwich Bay.Well, we joined as Nozzers new, the 'sailor-boys' in blue:And punched our oppo's teeth out in the gym.We marched and doubled - fast! Then we climbed that bloody mast;The Foreign Legion never was as grim!Ten Divisions - Admirals all - parade-ground, Nelson Hall,And Nozzer's Lane tucked out of sight away.There was Collingwood and Blake, there was Benbow, Hawk and Drake;And Grenville - down the long, Long Covered Way.The 'dabtoes' learned to sail a boat, correct a starboard list,And take evasive action from the bombs,They could 'bend' and 'splice' and 'hitch', they could knot a 'monkey's-fist',There was semaphore and flashing for the 'Comms'.Down Laundry Hill on jankers, tin-hat shades the sweating frown,And bayonet bangin' 'ard against the thigh.Rifles chafed our collar-bones, the hot Sun scorching down,From inverted bowl of blue, the summer sky."Do just as you're told, lad, make do with what you've got;Obey the orders, Boy! No 'if's' or 'buts'!".The discipline was 'hot', and some went 'on the trot',But they dragged 'em back and lashed 'em with twelve 'cuts'.We had Faith and we had Hope, we had Charity as well;But these were not just virtues - as you know!We stumbled and we fell, - on those concrete steps to Hell,Our souls were signed to Ganges - be it so.What faith? What hope? What Charity? Was there really no comparity?As we staggered up those steps with muscle-pain?We-e-ll, we knew we'd had enough - but assumed that we were tough -So they made us double up and down again!GANGES motto states at length, that 'Wisdom, it is strength!'Is there one of you who wouldn't go agen?Tho' you flogged us an' you flayed us, by the livin' God what made us;You took us on as boys - and made us men!
H.M.S. GANGES MAST
The increasing professionalism of the Royal Navy and the reform of practices during the mid-nineteenth century led to the need to establish new training centres at which recruits could be inducted into navy life. The Admiralty decided to set aside five old laid up hulks in different ports around the country, and use them as bases at which volunteers aged between 15 and 17 could spend a year being educated for future service in the navy. The plan called for an annual intake of 3,500 boys. They were to be trained in seamanship and gunnery, as well as traditional aspects of sea life. One of the hulks chosen to be converted into a school was the old 84-gun second rate ship of the line HMS Ganges. Despite initial objections that her layout made her unsuitable for the task, the decision went ahead.
The second ship to be named HMS Ganges, and the first to be a training ship
During Ganges's time in Cornwall allegations of harsh and brutal treatment were reported to the Admiralty. One wardroom steward shot himself over the matter, and the reports aroused indignation in the local community. Captain Tremlett, the Senior Officer of training ships, was ordered to investigate the situation and reported that Commander Stevens 'had given punishments which were not laid down in the Training Regulations and had also prevented his ship's company from taking due leave.' Stevens and his First Lieutenant were subsequently removed, and were replaced by Commander F.W. Wilson on 24 July 1866. By the end of 1866 there were 478 boys at the establishment.
Ganges was occasionally sailed to Devonport to undergo refits. The establishment had become an important part of local life, as in 1870 a rumour began to circulate that Ganges would not return after one such refit. The mayor was pressured to contact the local Member of Parliament, and also to ask questions of a Government minister. The rumour was then disproved. By 1899 the declining number of boys joining the Ganges led the Admiralty to decide to move her to a more populated area. Petitions were organised by the local councils, but were unable to sway the Admiralty. Ganges sailed from Mylor on 27 August 1899. She was refitted in Devonport, which involved her keel being scraped. The boys were quartered at HMS Lion and HMS Impregnable whilst this work was carried out. She then sailed to Sheerness in company with HMS Arrogant. She spent two months here before being towed to Harwich by the tug Alligator. She arrived on 11 November 1899. HMS Caroline had arrived shortly before Ganges and served as a temporary hospital ship.
She put into Devonport on 5 May 1865 and underwent a refit. She took her first intake of 180 boys on 1 January 1866. They had been transferred from the training ship HMS Wellesley, then at Chatham. The Wellesley's commander, Frederick H. Stevens also came with the boys and became the Ganges's commanding officer. Having been refitted to provide accommodation for 500 boys, the Ganges was towed to Mylor by the paddle tug Gladiator. She arrived on 20 March 1866 and was anchored in the Carrick Roads.
 Allegations of abuse
Ganges at Harwich
Ganges commenced her usual role at Harwich, with Caroline providing medical facilities whilst shore facilities were constructed in the town. Hospital facilities had been completed by 1902 and Caroline was refitted at Chatham to serve as an overflow training ship for Ganges, providing accommodation for another 60 boys. Despite these developments, it was decided to move Ganges again, this time to Shotley, in Suffolk. Work had already begun there on new Royal Naval Sick Quarters. Ganges left Harwich in 1903 for Shotley. £20,000 had been set aside to build shore based accommodation, and a further £80,000 had been earmarked to cover the future expansion of the facility.
 Ganges at Shotley
New building works began in February 1904, and the old HMS Minotaur arrived. She had already spent time as a depot ship for various establishments. She had been named HMS Boscawen in March 1904 whilst at Portland and now arrived to provide further facilities for Ganges. The completion of shore works in 1905 led to the establishment of RNTE Shotley on 4 October. The facility included the buildings onshore and the ships offshore, which were HMS Ganges, HMS Caroline and HMS Boscawen II. The focus of the establishment now moved to shore based activities, and the capstan, bitts and figureheads were moved from the ships onto the shore. In November the establishment received the ex HMS Agincourt, which had been renamed HMS Boscawen III.
 1906 changes
1906 was a period of considerable changes for the establishment. On 21 June HMS Ganges was renamed HMS Tenedos III in preparation for her reassignment to become part of the Boy Artificers Establishment at Chatham. She left the establishment on 5 July. Also on 21 June HMS Boscawen (the old HMS Minotaur) was renamed HMS Ganges as her replacement. The establishment was further swelled by the merging of the pupils of the establishments of HMS Boscawen, HMS St Vincent and HMS Caledonia. HMS Boscawen II (the former HMS Agincourt) was renamed HMS Ganges II.
 Later developments
In 1916 the establishment was bombed by a German Zeppelin. Rationing measures nearly produced a mutiny in 1917 but dispersed peacefully. Other wartime activities included the establishment of a trawler base at Ganges II, and the completion of 600 miles (966 km) of anti-submarine nets by boys and staff. In 1918 the base suffered outbreaks of influenza and diphtheria. Armistice Day was celebrated by a display of mast manning.
 Post war developments
In 1907 the 143-foot (44 m) high mast of the old steam corvette HMS Cordelia was erected. It would become a major landmark. The old HMS Minotaur had been HMS Ganges since 1906, but was renamed HMS Ganges II on 25 April 1908. HMS Caroline was renamed HMS Ganges that month as her replacement. In 1909 the Signal School was established and three signal masts were erected. In 1910 the old HMS Agincourt had been removed to become a coal hulk, leaving only the old HMS Minotaur as Ganges II. By 1912 Ganges II was being used as an overflow ship as the number of boys in the establishment increased, and she was duly moved closer inshore. A floating dock was also moored nearby for the use of destroyers and submarines. In September 1913 HMS Ganges (the former HMS Caroline) was renamed HMS Powerful III and left the establishment. HMS Ganges II (the former HMS Minotaur) was renamed HMS Ganges. She became the base ship of the establishment during the First World War. On 8 October 1913 HMS Ganges II became an independent command and was based at RNTE Shotley.
 First World War
By October 1919 HMS Blake briefly became the depot ship for the base. Also that year HMS Ganges, the former HMS Minotaur was renamed HMS Ganges II, and so joined RNTE Shotley in sharing the name. On 3 August 1921 the Hunt class minesweeper HMS Tring became the establishment's tender. By now so many boys were attending the base that they had to be sent to training battleships to finish their training. These included the Portsmouth based HMS Monarch, HMS Courageous and HMS Conqueror. HMS Ganges II (the old HMS Minotaur) was towed away in 1922 by the Dutch tug Swartezee and was broken up. Since only active ships bore names at this time, the name HMS Ganges temporarily ceased to exist, but the training establishment at RNTE Shotley continued. HMS Tring was paid off into reserve on 20 October 1925 as an economy measure.
It was decided by 1927 that RNTE Shotley would be renamed after the original training ship and she was recommissioned as HMS Ganges that year. In 1930 Edward, Prince of Wales visited the establishment. A number of administrative reforms were also carried out this year, including the establishment of eight internal divisions named after famous Admirals. 
 Ganges in the Second World War
The outbreak of the Second World War led to the decision to close HMS Ganges as a boys' training centre. Training finished on 16 May 1940 and operations were moved to HMS St George. HMS Ganges continued in service, being used as a centre for 'Hostilities Only New Entry Training'. A new overspill centre was commissioned at Highnam Court, near Gloucester on 28 April 1941, and it was defined as a tender to HMS Ganges. Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent paid a visit to HMS Ganges on 1 October 1941, and on 31 January 1942 operations at Highnam Court were transferred to HMS Cabbala. Another royal visit came on 12 October when Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester inspected the establishment. Eventually by the end of the war 60,968 ratings had passed through Ganges.
 Postwar and closure
Ganges reopened as a boys' training establishment in October 1945. The establishment soon regained its former size and importance, continuing to expand its facilities. A number of VIP visits took place, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited in 1956, First Lord of the Admiralty Lord Carrington visited in 1960 and HM Queen Elizabeth in 1961. In 1968 the Ham class minesweepers HMS Flintham and HMS Dittisham were attached to Ganges. In 1975 Ganges was opened to the public for the first time, with Admiral of the Fleet Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma the guest of honour. It was decided by the Admiralty to close HMS Ganges, which was done on 6 June 1976. The white ensign was lowered for the last time on 28 October and the establishment's training duties were transferred to HMS Raleigh.