In the days before civilians/civilian organisations ran the Royal Navy, R.N. Barracks and Training Establishments were managed by a  naval officer appointed by the Admiralty, called a BARRACK MASTER [either a lieutenant or a lieutenant commander]. He was usually a Shipwright officer wearing silver coloured bands between his stripes of rank. In large barracks/establishment, he had a staff helping him to keep the place free of defects, vermin and pests [common in those days especially cockroaches], and was responsible for the overall infrastructure and its correct functioning.  Before WW2 and from 1906, the centre piece of HMS Ganges came under his watchful eye, namely the mast [and before that the 'Giant's Stride' and indeed all masts for there several of them [see my other pages on HMS Ganges]. Whilst not as high profile [at least in the minds of ex Ganges boys], was the Admiralty pier and all the official boats using it for training purposes and for transportation e.g. the ferrying of boys over to Felixstowe and to Harwich for main and short leave periods.

From the earliest of times both ashore and afloat, the boatswain [and his group] worked hand-in-glove with the barrack master organisation, the shipwright known formerly as the Carpenter in the days of yore. In the sail-navy, the carpenter made, modified or repaired it whilst the boatswain used it! The boatswain, either as a warrant officer [2 grades] or a chief warrant officer, had a mate, as indeed all departments of the navy did including the wardroom, its mate [assisting a lieutenant]  eventually becoming a sub lieutenant. If the boatswain was a warrant officer his mate was called the 'boatswains mate' but if a chief warrant officer, the mate became the 'chief boatswains mate'. We still use these titles in the 21st century navy, but the jobs have been diversified to such an extent that the 'boatswains mate' is a junior rating undertaking messenger duties, broadcasting warnings and alerts over the ships Tannoy system, marching ahead and piping a warning to those in the crew that an officer and his entourage follows doing inspections termed "rounds" in naval speak, etc, whereas the chief boatswains mate is usually a chief petty officer responsible under the first lieutenant for upper deck cleanliness and efficiency,  and is the proponent of the saying that if it moves salute it, but if it doesn't, paint it!  This rate is called the "buffer" rather derogatorily [for it refers to cleaning] when the job of the CBM is a very responsible job and often frustratingly difficult and demanding. For those reasons he is usually a very important member of the senior rates mess and pecking order of the lower deck.

Some time ago, I was given a little locally made aide memoire which I will show you in a minute or so, made and used by the  BARRACK BOATSWAIN of HMS GANGES. At the time I had no way of dating it,  for despite the names listed on its pages, there was no possible correlation at the time of receiving this gift! Thus, it stayed in my archive as yet another worth-having artefact which somewhere along the line, affected my younger years.

A few years ago, I had written a snippet about 'time frames in the R.N' which covered how quickly we can have something and just how quickly, almost on the blink of an eye, we can lose it, and my ditty included, inevitably, green-rubs, which we are all familiar with! Part of that story included the desperate state of the RN in early WW2 in terms of the few ships we could muster to fight the Germans. I think that you all understand the lease-lend system agreed with the USA, when we were offered replacements for our many sunken vessels [naval and mercantile], they being either brand new ships straight from the U.S., builders yard or ships the U.S., were prepared to decommission for us to commission under the UK Flag. Lease Lend meant that either we could borrow them for the duration of the war and then hand them back, or that we could purchase them under HP agreements and keep them in perpetuity.  We leased so many that our outstanding bill at the end of WW2 just about broke us financially. On this occasion we took what we were offered albeit as a gift involving no money, to supplement our surface navy, and this so-called gift was an old 4-stack [4 funnels] destroyer made at the very end of WW1 in 1918. It was still serving in the USN and its last journey was scheduled  to see it arriving in Halifax Nova Scotia when we had a crew standing by for a three day familiarisation - Halifax was always crowded with RN vessels and sailors so the event did not raise eyebrows.  Her name was the U.S.S. Welles [DD 257]. On the 9th September 1940 the hand over was effected and on the 11th, the ship now called H.M.S. Cameron set sail for the UK under the command of Lieutenant Commander P G Merriman R.N. There were several defects in the ship like the generators, serious, and her route to the UK was perilous, dodging U-Boots and combatting propulsion failures. She had to visit several ports en-route home for assistance but finally made Falmouth, then a "creep" to Plymouth followed by a part tow part, own steam trip, into the safety of Portsmouth. The CO received much praise for his seamanship and his stoicism in outwitting the U-Boot captains especially those operating off Southern Ireland. Once in Portsmouth he and everybody else spent most of their days dodging bombs being rained down on the City and the Dockyard by German bombs many of them 500lb bombs. Establishments like the Signal School was moved out of the RN Barracks/Dockyard areas and reestablished many miles away in the peace and safety of the Hampshire countryside at Leydene House near East Meon renamed HMS Mercury.

The RN modifications and refit were hurriedly planned and before she moved into No 8 dry dock to start that process, a small ceremony was held to welcome her into the RN accompanied with customary prayers and not just a few horses necks and pink gins which followed. Lieutenant Commander P G Merriman RN was proud of his new command and the thanks he had already received on arrival. On the 16th November 1940, a few hours after the docking and the draining of the dock had been achieved, the daily visits of the Luftwaffe targetted No 8 dry dock and caused severe damage to poor old  HMS Cameron. On a later visit by US shipbuilding experts, they proclaimed that damage  like that was unprecedented and therefore had never been seen before, until virtually a year later [December 1941] after the Pearl Harbour attack.

Cameron was damaged beyond repair. In the following February [1941] she was lifted [refloated] and the hull became one of Portsmouth hulks. Later on in both July of 1942 and September 1943, the hulk was given to the Admiralty department dealing with 'shock' in ships for the purposes of testing so that the Americans might have a chance to build-into other ships the Shock Departments findings, in order to enhance it damage control and subsequent sea worthiness. Admiralty  papers state that she fulfilled a useful purpose! The ship was paid off in October 1943 and finally towed to Falmouth [November 1944]  for scrapping.

P G Merriman was very disappointed that his first command lasted for just a few weeks.

On completion of this part of the snippet I sold the snippet to a 'speaker' for his sole use on the understanding that he would not charge for the piece of work which had fourteen green-rubs, many of them funny, and all of course factual and provable!

RETURNING TO my BARRACK BOATSWAIN of HMS GANGES booklet and wondering how I can use it on my site, I re-read it looking for clues. To my own amazement, and whilst looking at my old Ganges division details viz RODNEY DIVISION, I stumbled upon the name MERRIMAN as Rodney's Divisional Officer, this chap here.

 and from there, all was relatively simple.

Lieutenant P G Merriman had been the DO of Rodney Division since 1935, and he had left Ganges in 1937 to join the Portsmouth  destroyer HMS FORESTER on the 13th December 1937. By December 1939, still in Forester, he had become a lieutenant commander. In HMS Active [H14] the first of the 'A' Class destroyers to be completed [joined 1 Jan 1943], as the commanding officer,  he won the DSC. HMS Active took part in the  sinking of four submarines.  She had a top speed of over 35 knots. By September 1944 he is shown to be in HMS Eaglet, and by the end of the war was in Devonport in HMS Drake.

Now for the all important booklet. Because of the known dates for Lieutenant Merriman 1935-1937 the date of this booklet with be within that time frame - certainly pre WW2.

Front Page.
Self explanatory. Barrack Boatswain HMS Ganges Shotley
Back Page.
Various working parties.
Field Party
Roads and Firewood
Sick Bay and Wardroom Gardens
Something [?] Tree Gardens
Instructors Mess
Gunnery Party
Laundry Party
Victualling Party [Annexe]
Marking DOM
Guard House
School Houses
Pier Party
Training Office
Report to me
Grass Cutting Party
Page 1. Self explanatory Page 2. Self explanatory. Rigging Party L.Sea King and AB Stonham  Page 3.Self eexplanatory. Page 4. Every piece of canvas in the camp is itemised. Switch on your Magnifying App if you can't read the screen direct 
Page 5. Whenever the page details is "busy" I have left a full picture and invite you to use your scroll bars for accurate viewing. Page 6. The comment for Page 5 apply equally here
Page 7. The comment for Page 5 apply equally here
Page 8. The comment for Page 5 apply equally here.  
Page 9. The comments to achieve clarity are relevant along this row too.   Page 10
Page 11. Ignore. What in today's speak we call a  doodalling pad! JFK's favourite "pad". Page 12. Same as for Page 9. This frame shows that 25.5 feet where sunk into the Suffolk terra firma to anchor the bottom section [metal] of the mast to avoid any azimuth circular movement.
Page 13.Ditto
If you go to my page and choose page 17 - The story of Ganges at Shotley - then scroll down the page to approximately half way down, you will see an animated GIF of the period 1911-12 which shows you were these masts were.
Page 14. Ditto   Page 15. Ditto  Page 16. Ditto 
Page 17. As for all other pages. 
Throughout these cameo's you will have to be in a position of able-interpretation.  Its all very simple really but you will need to apply your experience and naval  brain! 


P.S. Lieutenant Commander P G Merriman was a golfer and played for the Navy at Wentworth,  He was also the CO of the Hunt-Class destroyer HMS WHADDON [L45] when stationed on Rosyth for North Sea patrol duties.1941-3