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QUICK QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

QUESTION 1 Why the need for a Royal Commission on Manning in the navy ?
ANSWER 1 Because we had too few men on which we could rely in times of war and we needed our own professional sailors.
   
QUESTION 2 Why did we need boys?
ANSWER 2 Because there were not enough men to go around.
   
QUESTION 3 Were there many boys available and was recruiting difficult ?
ANSWER 3 Yes and Yes.
   
QUESTION 4 Why Yes as regards to recruiting ?
ANSWER 4 Because only good  and healthy boys were accepted and we were in competition with the mercantile marine and the fishing fleets.  Additionally there were too many bad or inadequate boys.
   
QUESTION 5 Where were the boys trained.  Did each area have its own teaching school ?
ANSWER 5 In stationary training ships which had been active and powerful warships in their day. In the southern parts of England.  No, although later on,  Ireland and Scotland got their own training ships.
   
QUESTION 6 Was HMS Ganges part of that training.
ANSWER 6 Yes, but she was a late comer starting in 1866 whereas some had been going for ten years by that time. She was also an early finisher. Ganges was in effect the equivalent to a secondary modern school training boys of low to medium intellect which were called "ordinary boys" and later, General Class [GC] boys. Ships like the Impregnable were both grammar schools and secondary modern schools training ships and taught Advanced Class [AC] boys, boy signalmen and boy telegraphists as well as ordinary boys. Before WW1, AC boys were to play a large part in the rapid promotions schemes to young petty officers and then rapid promotion to warrant or commissioned officers.  Thus, their training was much more important than was the training for a GC boy. Ganges was a 3rd rate training ship and the Impregnable, a 1st rate training ship. However, in 1910, Shotley Barracks, which as from 1927 only was called HMS Ganges, switched over to the dual role and started to teach both AC and GC boys. A boy [or a youth] joining the Ganges or Shotley Barracks before 1910 who showed promise academically, was sent to HMS Impregnable in Devon to be trained as an AC boy.
   
QUESTION 7 Why did HMS Ganges go to Falmouth.
ANSWER 7 Bearing in mind from Answer 5 that the navy was in the South, there were no suitable ports/harbours east of Portsmouth - [Dover, for example was a man made harbour - the Thames estuary already had mercantile marine training ships and it plus Sheerness and Chatham were unsuitable - Harwich was a tiny and insignificant port].  All the suitable ports west of Portsmouth and including Portsmouth itself, already had training ships [Portsmouth: Britannia, moved to Portland and then to Dartmouth and St Vincent - Southampton: Boscawen moved to Portland, and thereafter Southampton deemed as unsuitable -Portland: Boscawen - Devonport: Implacable, Impregnable, Lion [and others] - Dartmouth:  Britannia.  In Devonport, the Implacable had boys from towns and cities whilst the Impregnable had boys from fishing communities and from agricultural areas. The captains had complained that the Implacable had poor or bad quality sickly boys whilst those in Impregnable were pleasant, of good and healthy physique who responded much better to their training. Based on those senior officer complaints, the navy wanted to recruit 'country boys' and not 'city boys' so they sent the Ganges to Falmouth, which despite it being a large town with a city ten miles away [Truro] was considered to have better quality men and boys unlike those to be found in London and other places.
   
QUESTION 8 Why did HMS Ganges leave Falmouth ?
ANSWER 8 It much depends upon whose story you want to believe, although there were only two of them.  Firstly, the First Lord of the Admiralty stated in the House of Commons that there were not enough recruits from the Cornish area joining the ship, that there were too many cases of sickness and that the makeshift naval shore hospital in the old dockyard of Mylor [the loft of a boat house] was totally inadequate for its purposes.  There would be a necessary spend of 20,000 to put things right.  It was not cost effective to keep her at Falmouth even though the Mayor of Falmouth petitioned the Admiralty to keep her in the west. Secondly, in the same House, a retired naval captain and now an MP who had served in the Ganges for three years, claimed that the ships company had too many married men who lived ashore with their families and found the greatest of difficult in getting to the Ganges in the early morning [and leaving in the evening] because of her berth and prevailing adverse weather and rough seas. There was much discontent and it was a draft or an appointment to be avoided at all cost. If you get that far have a look at page 15 and two 1900 files, one starting with 'Why move' and the other starting with 'A naval officer'.
   
QUESTION 9 Why was it moved to Harwich?
ANSWER 9 Four main reasons. Firstly on the recruiting front. The vast majority of boys in the ship were from east of line drawn north to south through mainland England, and when not that, from  Scotland and Ireland. It was thought that if they got those numbers when the ship was in the west, they could expect more when the ship was in the east. Remember at this stage 1899, Shotley was not even on the agenda and the Ganges was considered to be of sound structure, habitable and cost effective. It certainly had room for a lot more boys than hitherto averaging under 500 when at Falmouth. Secondly, although a small town with a population of under 11,000, the Admiralty had seized on the idea that Harwich had a fine harbour well suited to play its part in the defence of the country, and had therefore began the necessary build up. It had an antiquated shore hospital so in 1900, they built a new and much bigger hospital across the River Stour from Harwich on the Shotley peninsular which became RNH Shotley, often called RNSQ Shotley or Ganges. Thirdly that the township of Harwich and the MP for the area had expressed a wish to have a training ship stationed in its harbour. Fourthly, unlike at Falmouth but specifically St Just Pool in Roseland a few miles distant from Falmouth where Ganges was moored, at Shotley, if needed, there was land available for sports pitches, gymnasium, shore recreation [as there was in the west country] BUT HERE in the east  the richest man in East Anglia, the 3rd Marquess of Bristol, Frederick William John Hervey MP and Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, was willing to sell it to the Admiralty.  It was known as the Bristol Estate [after the family name] but all that is left now is the name Bristol Hill and the Bristol Arms. The other land was owned by the War Office.  Finally, for the last half of the 19th century and right up to and including world war one, the social division between the golden-spoon and silver-spoon cadets at Dartmouth [ship Britannia and college Britannia] and everybody else, including their less well off and less well connected peers, was such that it in effect created two officers clubs, the executive and the non-executives which included all those officers with no curl on their top stripe - virtually half the wardroom. Although I have found no direct reference or evidence, I am of the opinion that when the decision came to move the Ganges, senior officers lobbied the Admiralty into choosing the east of England well away from the officers territory, the west of England.
   
QUESTION 10 Why did they get rid of the ship Ganges ?
ANSWER 10 The main reason was money - plain and simple. Although the Ganges was sound after her 'touch up' at Sheerness enroute Falmouth-Harwich as I have said in Answer 9 above, it would need, in the foreseeable future, money spending on it to keep it habitable and watertight.  That would be expensive in more ways than one, necessitating its removal to Sheerness or Chatham, to de-store it and to re-locate its boys' to other accommodation. It was proved that by building a shore barracks on the Bristol/War Office Site the Admiralty could reduced the cost of training boys by a good margin - this, by a more pragmatic measure, was later disproved. Of secondary importance was the comfort factor - believe me, from the records, boys' were not important either to the Admiralty or to the money men in Parliament. Hygiene onboard had never been salubrious, extremely basic and functional; certainly adequate for boys. Sleeping ashore in beds would be preferred to sleeping onboard in a hammock, and utterances like that were used as having the boys best interests at heart when contemplating the move. There can be no doubt that leverage was used by some when it was decided that officer cadets could no longer be trained in the hulk Britannia and that a splendid college would be built ashore at Dartmouth as well as the cadets having the splendid college at Osborne on the Isle of Wight, the erstwhile home of Queen Victoria. What was good for the upper deck, must be good for the lower deck also.
   
QUESTION 11 Was HMS Ganges at Shotley a success ?
ANSWER 11 Undoubtedly on both accounts.  The 30 shillings per head per annum cost of training afloat came down to 7 shillings.  The boys had better facilities although the climate from 1900 onwards had been much harsher than that to be found in idyllic Cornwall - Shotley peninsular is not the most attractive chunk of land in the country and cannot compare with the beautiful surrounds of St Just Pool at Roseland. The River Stour at Harwich is ugly, dirty, unforgiving, but further up the river by some miles, one comes to the beautiful area of river side in and around Flatford Mill, the home of John Constable, and its surrounding villages.  Boys were healthier even though some claimed that the boys flourished in the sea air to be found when afloat, and the land air would not serve as well ! Obviously they had never visited the Shotley peninsular shore line. Without being too pedantic, you may have noted my penchant for calling HMS Ganges, Shotley.  The HMS Ganges Association has a ships badge and a motto which it is claimed covers the period from the 18th century until 1976 and I can never understand why.  HMS Ganges that all ex-boys refer to today officially started in 1927.  Shotley Barracks which started in 1900 [see page 17 first paragraph] and twenty seven years later after three former names, it was called HMS Ganges. After 1905,  it was officially called His Majesty's Training Establishment [HMTE] Shotley and in approximately 1912 it became officially known as the Royal Naval Training Establishment [RNTE] Shotley.  Twenty seven years is a long time and it is little wonder that many called it Shotley Barracks throughout fearing yet another name change to relearn.  I can think of many analogies but the best might be the renaming of RNB Portsmouth to HMS Nelson after having been HMS Victory for the past 71 years - that took some getting use to.  Equally, apart from revering its dead at Mylor, the Ganges at Falmouth was moored for a much longer period away from Mylor [at St Just Pool and then at Flushing]  and was only moved to Mylor much later on because the sea trip to the recreational grounds was long and often impossible in the high sea states. By moving to Mylor the chances of getting ashore safely were enhanced. One would have thought that they would have addressed that problem in 1866 !  So, why don't they talk about St Just Pool or Roselands or Flushing ? Why not just say Falmouth? 
   
QUESTION 12 Did you know that Winston Churchill visited Shotley Barracks ?
ANSWER 12 Well he did.  To see this you will have to go to page 15 [1913] to read all about it.

If you are content with this depth of knowledge, it only remains for me to thank you for your visit and I trust that you now know about the rise and fall of HMS Ganges the ship.  Farewell and good journeys.

If you want to have a look in pandora's box, then click on the next page.

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