This is by no means a complete history but rather bits and pieces of times I remember relating to my Rangering days, which I hope are pretty accurate....although I was unable to contact any other ex Sea Rangers at the time of writing!
1920 - Sea Rangers or Sea Guides as they were first called started about 1920. Their first Leader was Veronica Erskine, but in 1922, Dame Catherine Furze joined the movement and became their inspirational leader.
The first official crew was 'The Golden Hind' of London, which was registered on June 25th 1920. Next came 'S G S Wren' which was registered in July 1922. Dame Vera Laughton Mathews D.B.E. was the Captain, and Miss D'Avigdor was trained as the Lieutenant. Later Miss D'Avigdor became the first Sea Ranger Pilot.....by 1927 all Sea Guides were known as Sea Rangers.
1936 - Miss Anne Hopkins became the Assistant Commissioner for Sea Rangers
A new era in seamanship began when 270 Sea Rangers took part in nautical training on board the "Implacable", which was moored in Portsmouth Harbour.
1939 - In 1939 with the outbreak of the World War II hundreds of Sea Rangers were ready and able to give service by joining the Women?s Royal Naval Service WRENS)
1943 - In 1943 H. R. H. Princess Elizabeth joined the S.R.S. President III and was enrolled as a Sea Ranger. Later this ship was renamed the "Duke of York" and the ceremony was performed by H.M. the King.
1945 - Princess Elizabeth became Commodore of the Sea Ranger Section. Two years later her sister, Princess Margaret joined S.R.S.Duke of York, and in 1949 she was appointed Sea Ranger Commissioner.
1948 - This was the year that the Sea Ranger Section celebrated it's Silver Jubilee, with over 6,000 Sea Rangers in the British Isles and their numbers increasing in the Empire!
In twenty eight years the Sea Section had attracted many young girls/women who shared the common of SEAMANSHIP. There is an indescribable common bond that seems to unite all sea loving people. It was once said that 99% of the blood in a Briton?s veins is made up of pure salt water!!.....our national heritage is the SEA!
S.R.S.SCARBOROUGH (..motto. .Tutes es fortis ...)
All girls joining the ships company had to be prepared to read and study; to meet and mix with others; to enjoy the skills of craftsmanship and show strength and fitness of body and spirit. In this dedication there would also be time for fun, adventure and happy comradeship for all those that joined the ships company known as S. R. S. SCARBOROUGH!
Sea Ranger Crews were open to all those who belonged to seafaring communities; or who lived by the sea , river, or lake and had access to boating facilities.
In the handbook SEA SENSE...the Sea Ranger Bible...it states that Crews are open to any girl between the ages of 15-21yrs. inclusive. They would be eligible to be enrolled as a Sea Ranger on passing the Sea Ranger enrolment test, having attended regularly for at least three months, and being able to swim 50 yards. The full training was planned to cover a period of five years from the date of enrolment.
The character training given to the sea ranger crew was based on the Law and the Promise of the Guide Association. These conveyed a code of living which included........
The Promise of the whole movement was.....
I promise on my honour to do my best to do my duty to God and the King, to help other people at all times, to obey the Guide Law, and to render service by taking this promise out in to a wider world.
Summer....White short sleeved blouse, navy skirt, navy 'battledress' with flashes on each side reading Sea Ranger, navy neckerchief ( triangular with a blue woggle,) a county badge on the back, and a white lanyard crossed at the front and attached at the side to the brown Guide belt. Brown shoes. Sea Rangers carried a Bosuns pipe on the belt and at times a sheath knife.
Winter ....Very similar to the summer uniform but with a navy jumper and black gloves if required.
When I joined in the Summer of 1951 the Ships Company was based at, and met on, the old Motor Torpedo Boat (MTB) which was moored in the inner harbour, behind the crab stalls...roughly opposite Ivy House. We accessed the MTB in two different ways depending if the tide was in or out!
Tide in. ...meant that we used a small boat and used a hand over hand method with a rope to pull ourselves across.
Tide out....meant that we used the gangplank.
We always stood to attention and saluted the Quarterdeck as we stepped aboard, true navy style.
The Ships Company at that time consisted of two watches i.e. PORT WATCH and STARBOARD WATCH. Each watch consisted of 10-12 Rangers with a coxswain (Coxun) and Boatswain (Bosun) of each Watch. The Boatswain was responsible for her watch and the Coxun assisted or took over in the event of the Bosuns' absence. The Skipper at the time was Mrs Madge Huxtable, an ex Wren, and our Lieutenant was Margot Sanderson, a head physiotherapist at Scarborough Hospital. The Land Ranger Lieutenant was Joan Smith.
The MTB was also used by Scarborough Sea Cadets as a meeting place, but on a different night. We always met on Fridays. Occasionally the Cadet and Sea Rangers had joint meetings. Among other things they taught us Rifle Drill and Morse Code.
Rangers were actually the Senior branch of the Girl Guides. In those days there were Brownies, then Girl Guides, and finally Rangers who could specialise as Land, Sea or Air Rangers.
We used to begin each meeting with a formal ceremony, standing to attention in watches The Bosun of each watch took a report from the Coxun then marched smartly up to the Officers, saluted, and conveyed the report to them. Having done this the Bosun about turned and marched back to her place in front of her watch. There was a small group of Land Rangers attached to the ship. The Land Ranger Leader reported to her Lieutenant, who in turn reported to the Skipper.
After the opening ceremony and notices given out, the Skipper and Lieutenant inspected the ships company. The Bosun brought her watch to attention. Uniform was scrutinised and all metal badges had to be as bright on the back as they were on the front. Lanyards were whiter than white, and uniform carefully pressed. Skipper had an eye like a Hawk for the smallest detail!
After full inspection of both watches and the Land Ranger Company, we would then take part in different activities such as knotting, ship identification, squad drill etc. Sometimes the Lieutenant took recently joined rangers for basic instruction, and the rest of the ships company split up to practice splices, throwing weighted ropes accurately, navigation, reading nautical charts etc........there was never a dull moment!
There were badges and awards to work for....occasionally we went out on visits to this end, or we sometimes had speakers that came to the meeting.
Both Land and Sea Rangers worked towards Part I of the Ranger Service Star, then Part II, Part III, and finally Part IV, which took about two years. It was something like the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme.
At the same time as working for such awards Rangers carried out many varied tasks and activities. We camped frequently under canvas....I remember my first experience!....quite primitive compared to today's luxurious camping! I carried everything in a rucksack...groundsheet, two blankets, newspapers, camp uniform, washing gear, towels and some food!.....and it was h-e-a-v-y-! And we had to hike to the site! Sometimes we carried our own 'Pup' tent as well. When we arrived we pitched the tents, prepared a site for the campfire, dug latrines, and dug dry and grease pits for rubbish. Only after this did we put our rucksacks in the tents in case of rain, and set off foraging for dry wood for the fire. We took wood that was "dry but on the tree" as wood on the ground was frequently damp. A huge wood pile was created that would last for some time....it took a good half hour to collect a reasonable amount, and a bonus if we could find wood from fruit trees...it would burn with a lovely smell and was usually kept for the night campfire get together.
I found it c-o-l-d as night came in. We had cooked on the fire, built 'gadgets' to keep our gear off the ground, and had a sing song round the campfire. I crawled into my tent with Freda, who was to be my camp mentor. She showed me how to arrange the groundsheet, and how to make a "Hunters Bed" with the blankets. The newspapers were put between the blankets to give additional warmth....a camping trick! Pillow?!....ah well that was a luxury! It was my camp gym shoes wrapped in my towel! What a night...what with all the strange noises of the night and the cold, I was lucky if I slept a couple of hours!...My introduction to camping which I came to love!....After a year or so I became pretty good at making myself comfortable. I even took a HOT WATER Bottle!! It kept me snug at night and in the morning I had warm water to wash in!!
I later took and passed my Ranger Camp Permit which allowed me to be responsible for a group of up to eight Rangers at camp. In standing camps, where we pitched our tents for several days we were expected to have EVERYTHING ship shape. Gadgets made with branches displaying correct whipping. These would be used to lift everything off the grass anything left there would be damp in the morning! We made such things as shoe racks, coat pegs, supports of differing kinds for billy cans which we used in cooking, or boiling. Wash stands, clothes lines, mug trees ad infinitum!! We built bridges, stiles, tree house lookout platforms to mention just a few. Rangers had active minds and came up with all sorts of ideas!
Fire lighting was a work of art....no....we didn't rub two sticks together! It never seemed to work! First we removed or rolled back a section of turf, so that it could be replaced later. Often we cut a large section the shape of a capital "H" in the grass and rolled the turf back in two sections. The rolled turf would be well watered, and then we would build a mini wigwam of wood in the centre, the middle of which would be some really dry 'punk' or 'fuzz' sticks. Once alight we could then add twigs and continue with small branches until the fire was well ablaze. Cooking needed heat but no flame.
'Sneaky' Sea Rangers carried small rubber phials containing petrol, originally produced to re-fill petrol lighters. These were used surreptitiously to start the fire, but certainly NOT when Skipper was around! It was a method used by a select few....including myself! ...showing initiative I would reckon!!
On one occasion I remember vividly my friend Maris (Coxun) and I went to a camp at Kirby Moor Side, cycling there in the rain with everything we needed apart from the tent Thankfully that had been pitched for us and was nice and dry. We were the only two Sea Rangers present. Of course, our fire was well alight before anyone else's! A Guide Commissioner came over and complimented us on the speed at which we achieved a good going fire....tongue in cheek, in true Ranger style, we replied that we were seasoned campers!!
We also practiced proper care of ropes, the practical use of a wide variety of knots and hitches, an ability to cook different meals on a campfire, proper storage of foods, hygiene, and.....how to make fire in ALL weather conditions! (no problem!)....how to take bearings, how to measure the width, depth and speed of water flow in rivers. We would study the stars and major constellations, sometimes doing an overnight hike where we relied on starlight and moonlight! Safe adventuring!
There were awards for such a wide range of activities, that it was impossible NOT to find an interest connected to the sea! In addition to the Camp Permit, I gained a Boating Permit which allowed me to take Rangers out rowing on the sea, without an Officer present.
I worked towards this whilst on a training week in Dartmouth. An old MTB, 630, was moored on the River Dart near to the Nautical Training College, and this was used as a training ship for Sea Rangers. I was 16/17 at the time. We rowed (pulled) all kinds of boats, including Whalers which were very heavy, and because the oars were so long, we had to sit on the opposite side of the thwart! The system of buoyage had to be well known, and I made a harbour entrance model, with moveable buoys, which was used for demonstrations. We learned the International Code of Signals, and the meanings of individual flags. Semaphore at a speed over a distance (involving the use of the Naval alphabet which began Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog Easy, Fox etc) We were taught the system of lights used at sea, constellations and finding direction at night by using them.etc ad infinitum!
It wasn't easy to do this in the time we had on the MTB, but most of us had a fair knowledge of such things before we began! Whilst on the ship we cleaned, polished and help prepare food. We slept in hammocks of a sort...not the canvas and rope ones I was accustomed to...they WERE canvas but had a tubular metal frame. Quite comfortable really and we spent a lot of our spare time in the mess comparing notes, badges, songs etc, in fact, anything that we found different about the various Sea Ranger Ships we represented. There were fifteen of us in all, not counting the Officers and we represented a variety of ships. i.e.
SRS Scarborough.....Dorothy Bond (myself)
SRS Vimy................Jean Bartlett
SRS Challenge.........Beryl Jackson
SRS Armada............Mayveen Ollis and Jean McLellan
SRS Scylla...............Brenda Fielder
SRS Erin.................Alison Hull
SRS Kimberley........Janet Francis and Margaret Syrett
SRS Medway..........Patricia Lowe
SRS Princess Royal.......Jean Duffield
SRS Endeavour.............Diane Bagbie
SRS Endurance.............Pat Hayes
SRS Discovery ll...........Ann Radford...(Australian ship)
SRS Renown................Marigold Constance
Then there was the Cookie, the Lieutenant W. Blaskend, and the MTB's CO. Mrs A Taylor. Whilst we were there we visited the Nautical Training School which was fairly close to our moorings. We were shown round a local Coastguard Station, and the Coastguards explained the workings of a variety of machines and rescue apparatus. They stripped out the contents of their Rescue Van and we were amazed that they carried so much in such a small space!
On another occasion we were taken to a local ship builders yard where we saw the launching of a red Lightship...I expected it to enter the water stern first, but it was launched sideways and almost created a tidal wave We seemed to cram such a lot into a very short time!!...and of course in between the work and the concert we produced on the last night Ann (commonly known as Dennis!...the menace!) and I went on deck after lights out and strung a few 'borrowed' items on the Main Mast! ...er....pyjamas, and a number of items of female underwear!! These were recovered the next morning, and the Skipper took it in very good part, as we were not supposed to be on deck after dark!...... Dennis and I had become fairly well known to her that week!
It was a sad departure at the end of our training, but we looked back on a week of fantastic nautical activities, learning and of course fun....it is easy to make new friends in Rangers!! On the way back Dennis and I spent a night at 'Our Ark' in London.
There was a very wide range of awards to train for, but I can only really describe the ones that I gained:-
Swim 200 yards; swim 100 yards backstroke without using the arms; save a subject using the second method of rescue with a release of 20 yards; pick up a brick from a depth of not less than six feet on the first try. ONE minute rest was allowed after the 200 yards but everything else was done without a rest.
This allowed me to be responsible for the safety of up to twelve swimmers.
The applicant for this award must have already passed the Endurance Test successfully in the last twelve months and hold the Bronze Medallion of the Royal Life Saving Society, which should be renewed every five years. I passed the Bronze Medallion and was awarded the above permit. I was also allowed to wear a lifesaver badge on my battledress.
There were a number of other awards I gained but the new OSRABR; and Leading Sea Ranger were the ones I prized the most! I was the first Sea Ranger in SRS Scarborough to pass these after they were introduced. Briefly, they were as follows:-
ORDINARY SEA RANGER TEST
1) Learn and be tested on the History of the ship from which the crew has taken it's name.
2) Know the parts of a Bosuns pipe. Pipe the 'Still' 'Carry on' and 'Pipe the side'.
3) Learn the names and times of the different watches used at sea; strike the ships time correctly on the bell as instructed.
4) Read and be tested on a book about Customs and Traditions of the sea.
5) Be able to explain, and sketch the White, Blue, and Red ensigns and who are entitled to fly them.
6) Box a compass to at least sixteen points and know how a magnetic compass is used on board ship.
7) Be able to read all letters of the alphabet using semaphore flags. Read letters and words accurately.
8) Name and describe four types of pulling boats....also be able to name all parts of a boat and an oar by actual demonstration.
9) Use six different Bends and Hitches. Explain their use. ......Make and demonstrate a Short, Back, and Eye Splice......Know eight fancy knots and sennits.....including a Turks Head. Make a lanyard, with these, using two hundred yards of Plaiters Twine.
A.B. SEA RANGER TEST
1) Must have passed the OSR Test.
2) Signal and read messages in semaphore; know all procedure signals.
3) Recognise the Merchant Navy flags of twenty maritime nations.
4) Identify four different sailing boats in general use.
5) Identify six constellations in the night sky, and find compass points from three of them.
6) Understand simple weather signs and keep a weather chart.
7) Use ALL bends and hitches in the OSR Test, and do two types of whipping.
8) Know and describe six types of Naval or Merchant Navy Craft.
9) Understand the general principles of cargo carrying in the Merchant Navy. Describe four types of cargo; how it is packed, stowed, the country of origin and its destination.
10) Row a boat with others. Know common terms in connection with rowing boats, and be able to make a boat fast to a ringbolt, cleat and bollard.
11) Read and be questioned about a book on the development of shipping. Be able to recognise and describe four types of square rigged vessel.
LEADING SEA RANGER TEST
1) Must have passed the AB Test.
2) Efficiently perform one of the following; Semaphore; Flashing; Buzzing.
3) Learn the flags and pennants of the International Code of Signals, including single flag signals.
4) Know the distinguishing marks and of Royal Naval and WRNS Officers.
5) Be able to read a chart and find positions by cross bearings.
6) Know and identify the buoys in use under the Uniform System of Buoyage
7) Instruct recruits in Ordinary Sea Ranger knots; make a long splice; learn two new fancy knots.
8) Be able to recognise ships of different periods.
9) Make an article eg. Simple model ships displaying the various sail patterns.
10) Manage a dinghy single handed or cox a boat under oars.
11) Show one method of rescue and release or demonstrate Artificial Respiration.
The blue trefoil is actually the Sea Ranger badge which we are given at our enrolment. It is made of brass, the shape of a trefoil, and embellished with blue enamel.
In 1954 the crew of SRS Scarborough were very excited to learn that they had been given an oldish boat which would be useful for rowing practice...It also had a small marine engine, but required a bit of work before we could use it. Soooooo....at last, in 1955, having waited through the Winter the crew were able to start work on her....paint everywhere and on everybody!! The paint was kindly supplied by the Harbour Master, Captain Hall, and he also supervised the work. After some time, when she was completed to his satisfaction, we pulled her round behind the lighthouse. Here she was filled with water to tighten up the seams, and later emptied. Some of us were available to smarten her up, and prepare her for the Launching Ceremony scheduled for April 20th 1955.
For this occasion she was dressed overall with International flags and taken to the slipway opposite the Harbour Bar, by Mr Robson, two workmen and myself. On arriving at the slipway the boat was hauled up in readiness for the Official Launching.
The Rangers and Guides were marched smartly into position, on the slipway, with Guiders and Commissioners standing at attention. The Mayor arrived, and the numerous speeches began...but we didn't really mind...we had a BOAT!! The Mayor then stepped forward and cut the cord holding the champagne bottle in position. There were three rousing cheers and the Trefoil was given a token shove into the water....we were off!
Our Skipper took the helm and several loads of VIPS were taken round the harbour in our boat.....I acted as Bowman, then I took the helm and had three loads of passengers to take round before our crew could have their turn. Well...did they raise the roof!! ..if we had a roof they would have...we were all SO excited! .....and they had an extra trip round the harbour too!
After all the excitement died down the boat was left in the capable hands of Mr. Robson, a local fisherman, who we were told had been decorated by the late King George at Buckingham Palace! Skipper, her husband, and our Officers, went to the Norfolk with the VIPs to celebrate. Later they joined us at our celebration, where we toasted the Queen, and the Blue Trefoil...er....several times! The perfect end to a great day!!
THE BLUE TREFOIL was a very special boat and we had a lot of fun rowing in her for many years....On one such trip I was coxing and Maris was on the stroke oar. We had been out in the bay for some time practicing various manoeuvres, when I noticed a huge fishlike shape under the boat that seemed to stay with us. I turned to Mr Robson to enquire about it as I was very concerned. 'That he said...' Oh that's just a shark!' Well..... I'm not kidding when I say that I must have turned as white as snow! My gut reaction kicked in, I yelled at Maris 'Double time' and we were tying up at the harbour minutes later!!
The crew were exhausted!! 'It was just a Basking Shark!' laughed Mr Robson, but I didn?t think it funny until my heartbeat slowed! It took me some time to live that one down!!
Years later after College, when I rejoined SRS Scarborough as Sea Ranger Lieutenant, I had occasion to inspect the TREFOIL for sea worthiness and found that she had become unsafe, so she was sold on. In the two years I was away at College our Sea Ranger Skipper had died due to a diabetes problem and it never really felt the same. I only stayed for a short time after that.
During the years I was Sea Rangering I had loads of fun and adventures with my mates of SRS Scarborough and I will add some that I can remember as extra text!
THINKING DAY....FEBRUARY 22nd
(The birthday of our Founder, Lord Baden-Powell, and also that of his wife!)
Thinking Day was so called because it was a special day, when Guides and Rangers all over the world connected mentally with each other, by performing an early morning task on the 22nd of each year......or an Evening task....Of course Skipper insisted that we should do early morning activities!!
On Feb 22nd 1954 Skip arranged a challenge between the Lands and Seas. She gave a sealed written message to the Land Rangers who had to perform a bicycle relay to get the information to the final point. Sea Rangers had to semaphore a message from Scalby Mills to Peasholm Gardens and from there to the Castle Hill. This all sounds very easy....but easy....it was not!!
I arranged to call for my Coxun, Stella, at 6:30 am so that we would have ample time to reach Scalby Mills for 7:15am, but, as usual, Stella wasn?t ready. She finally finished dressing and we cycled like fury down Northstead Manor Drive, stopping briefly to talk to Annick and Lilian who were at that point.
Stella and I arrived at Scalby Mills, but couldn't see the others because of a mist that was rolling in! After a quick debate, Stella heroically scrambled down the cliff and climbed onto her boneshaker. Off she cycled to tell Annick that we were ready to send the message, and was back in double quick time telling me to go ahead with the signal....I unfurled the flags, Stella read out the message for me, and off it went! We still could not see the others! When we opened the sealed message, it was partly in French and partly in English (Skipper always did that to prevent us guessing the next word!!) The two of us then cycled to Peasholm, where Annick and Lilian had a fit of the giggles....they hadn't seen a thing!! We collected Dennis and Maureen on the Castle Hill and went round the Marine Drive singing International Songs.....Our part of the challenge had been a flop because of the poor visibility, but we had all enjoyed ourselves! After looking at some of the boats newly arrived in the harbour we dispersed, some of us going to work and others to school. Just to make sure that we didn?t forget that particular Thinking Day, Dennis put more appropriate words to 'Early in the morning' and we sang it to the others at our next meeting!!
'Un message de Scarborough Marine Rangers contacting La Chief Guide.
Heureuse anniversaire from SRS Scarborough a la Chief Guide, Lady Baden-Powell and to Guides and Scouts all over the world we envoyons special thinking day greetings we pensons aujourdhui especially of our founder Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell who started the Boy Scout movement forty six years ago. Today aussi we remember past members of the Ranger and Rover crews and wish them a happy annee of guiding and scouting til the twenty second February comes round again.'
We had a few more camps and escapades, but these are less interesting to the occasional reader, so I will go forward in time to April 24th of the same year, when
four of us hired a boat on the Broads!!
Annick Liddicot, Anne Beardsall (DENNIS...the menace!) Stella Horton and I hired an auxiliary yacht which was berthed at Tewksbury. She was just under 25 feet in length and 8 feet on the beam. Quite sleek and very pretty! She was called 'The Charm'.
We were sixteen and seventeen year olds and looked forward to having our own yacht for a week!....er....did I mention that none of us had actually sailed a yacht before?!
We met at Scarborough Railway Station, changed trains at York, arriving at Cheltenham, and then on to Tewksbury. Our cases had become so heavy that we had frequent stops before arriving at the Yachting Station,..... totally exhausted! Dennis and I settled the bill, whilst Stella and Annick went aboard. We received some instruction on sail and motor ...but....not enough! However, we tried to look professional, cast off, and motored upstream to a mooring. We made a meal then crashed out.....fast asleep! Sunday morning we woke up late and decided to try sailing in the little dinghy we were trailing before putting up sail on the Charm. Stella and Dennis scrambled into the dinghy and threw me the painter. I pulled on the rope walking backwards to the stern of the boat...and ran out of deck!! SPLASH! Ranger overboard!!
They all had a good laugh, yanked me out of the water and brewed up some tea whilst I changed into dry clothing! We sailed up the river Avon, enjoying the freedom, and peacefulness of our surroundings, and moored where we stopped to eat. We usually moored up around four o'clock and did a lot of sailing and rowing in the dinghy, which we had christened the G.H.A.....or General Hold All!
We experienced our first lock at Strensham. We motored slowly in and threw a line to Dennis who had scrambled onto the path. The great wooden doors slowly closed behind us in the water, and the other pair of lock doors opened equally slowly allowing water to rush in and raise the boat to the necessary level. In the meantime Stella had gone into the small shop there to buy a few more groceries...and some cider for Dennis and herself...Annick and I stuck to orange juice! We carried on our way feeling chuffed with our achievements. At that moment we went round a bend in the river and immediately were surrounded by small yachts travelling in different directions. One came at us, totally out of control, ...I pushed the helm hard over, turned on a sixpence, and...we stuck on a mud bank in the shallows!!
We tried rocking the boat. We tried using a quant to push her off....but all to no avail. Two Sea Cadets seemed to turn up from nowhere, and after a bit off puffing and pushing she was free! The Cadets came aboard to help us negotiate the small yachts that were still all around us! We went as high up the river as an area known as the Swans Neck, then turned and sailed back downstream.
The next day we passed one of the Cadets on the river in a small boat called 'Sharpie''. He and his friend visited us later to teach us all to sail the Sharpie, which of course boosted our confidence. We also hoisted the huge sail on the "Charm" with their help and got under way. Great excitement! and she sailed like a dream!
We decided to go up the River Severn and the Cadets, who we later found were called Chris and Alan, said that they would help us navigate a tricky mud bank at the confluence of the two rivers. We dropped them off at Lythe Bridge about ten minutes later. The Severn was a very busy river for barges, and when they went past, their wake made the boat rock as if it was at sea!! At Upton on Severn our engine conked out and finding a phone point we rang Bathursts, who sent an engineer out. He fitted a new battery! Off we went again!
We had a surprise visit from the two Sea Cadets who had cycled all the way from Tewksbury, but they left soon after to change into uniform for a meeting. We decided to moor a mile or so upstream and the Cadets said they would bring us all some fish and chips after the meeting! Well!!... I mean!!.... How can a Ranger turn down an offer like that!? A couple of hours later Alan paid us a visit in the Crews launch. He was instructing some junior recruits . We saw a R N sailor with him who was wearing one of the new Admiralty plastic cap covers... the first we had seen.....
Chris and Alan had arranged to bring the 'Sharpie' round again at 0900 hours on our last day and we all enjoyed sailing her...we had become quite expert by then! Stella had fallen overboard earlier that day...in fact all of us had a taste of the overboard before leaving. We continued to sail the 'Charm', 'GHA' and 'Sharpie' until Stella and Alan scuppered her! Fore deck down and full of water!!
We had two other minor incidents...ie. our mainsheet rope had somehow become entangled with the propeller and we had to lower Dennis over the stern, holding onto her legs, to free it. Laugh!...what a kafuffle! Eventually Dennis used her sheath knife to cut the rope, and hauled it inboards. I spliced the two ends together and they were as good as new!!....and of course...Annick fell overboard during that escapade! We returned home....tired out but very happy!
The Bosuns pipe is a special kind of whistle which we carried attached to our brown leather Guide belt. We used it frequently and had to learn to pipe all the different calls, which included a trill...not easy!! Mine was made of chrome and I had it in my possession for fifty years(!) then I met a young man called Lee who was crewing on the Grand Turk (a square rigged ship) at the same time as I was. He was keen to learn the calls, and when he went to join the Royal Navy I gave him the Bosuns Pipe. The pipe was used in the Navy to pass round orders by certain recognised sounds, followed by a shouted order. It was also used as a mark of respect or to give salutes.
Its use in English ships dates back to 1248 AD during the Crusades. Later it was used as a Badge of Rank and was worn only by Lord High Admirals, from about 1485 to 1562. It was known as the whistle of honour, made of gold and hung on a gold chain round the Admirals neck. After 1562 it reverted to its original use, for passing orders. The sound is very thin because it was meant for use in the confined spaces of wooden ships.
The salute is entirely a nautical honour, but Sea Rangers were allowed to 'Pipe over the side' any distinguished visitors! As I previously mentioned my Bosuns pipe was made of chrome, and easily accessible clipped to the side of my belt. Using it was easier said than done! It often resulted in other Rangers having a fit of the giggles at the squeaks and other noises that emerged! It is held in a particular way, cushioned by the forefinger and thumb of the right hand, leaving the other three fingers available to alter the sound. This involved throttling the escaping air as it emerged, by raising and lowering the other three fingers!
Most of us could pipe a variety of signals efficiently....eventually!
We regularly used .....Still = Attention..
.......All Hands and Lash up and stow.
.........Pipe the side.
.........Pipe to meals.