HMS Ganges – Suffolk

HMS Ganges is situated on the Shotley Peninsula in Suffolk. It used to be a training camp for the Navy until 1976, and in later years it was a police training school. It closed in 1998 or something.

At the start of 2006 the site was subject to a controversial planning war – some developers want to build a ton of homes etc on the site, but locals don’t want that. In July 2006 the Secretary of State intervened and rejected all plans!


Anyone who visits Shotley can’t fail to notice a huge mast that dominates the skyline. I can’t find out exactly how high it is – various websites say it’s between 130 and 150ft high. That is damn high. And kids had to climb it when they were training in the navy. If that doesn’t sound too bad, the wind on the ground was ferocious when I visited. I can’t imagine what it would be like at the top of it.

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Signal school

This building was a Signal School apparently, which was created to teach flag signalling and telecommunications. I don’t know too much about it, but it did have fantastic bricks inside.

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In one room were some educational posters on one wall. They were in quite a bad state, but some parts were still readable. Time to learn some nautical signals…

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Swimming pool

This’ll be where people swam.

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Main block

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Martello Towers

There are two of these towers on site, both of which have been converted to water towers. One has had an additional observation post built onto it which gives splendid views accross the estuary to Harwich and Felixstowe. The same tower also has a mast on it, and a broken one is stored underneath it.

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Other buildings

Some of the other buildings on site…

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An old battery remains on the grounds of HMS Ganges. It was built in 1865 to protect the port of Felixstowe, and to supplement the forts at Felixstowe and Harwich.

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Bomb Shelters

Scattered around the site are various bomb shelters.

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387 Responses to HMS Ganges – Suffolk

  1. Malcolm Smith MBE says:

    Ex Ganges boys remember HMS Ganges in their own very special way, love or hate the place almost every comment makes the point Ganges made boys into men. My last visit to Shotley was in 2004 to take photographs prior to a class reunion to mark 45 yrs since joining. After three years of searching we located all but one class member, one working worldwide on oil rigs and living Nr New Orleans USA, who made a great effort to attended the weekend gathering. Two unfortunatly had crossed the bar we remembered them at our reunion dinner. The still missing classmate is Angus Cameron who we understand was from the Glasgow area. Do you know of his whereabouts. We traced our Divisional Officer who kindly agreed to join us for our celebration dinner. Frobisher Division 36 Mess as we knew it in 1960 is no longer there but the spirit will linger on a while. Best wishes to all Ganges Boys where ever you are.

    • Alan Renwick says:

      It has been nearly[just a few days] 40 years since I joined Anson 21 mess 20 recruitment so like Malcolm I too would like to sent best wished to all trogs where ever you are in the world, so from Scotland “ara best”

      • Robert Law says:

        I too was in Anson 21 1958 to1959 .Seeing this brought back many memories,some good some not so’s to all ex Ganges boy’s ,have a great life

      • tony elswood says:

        robert were you known as jock as i was in anson 18 mess with a jock law nov 1958-oct 1959

  2. Harry Hobbs --CPOSA In Ganges 1969 - 1970 says:

    Ran the Cash Clothing store there during that period. Have visited the site only twice since 1970–once ,I think in 1999 when I did get a chance to look around but recently in Sept.2010– no chance at all. What a shame nothing can be done to retrieve at least some of it’s old memories and glory!! Remember also I spent 1 week as a sea cadet in the Annexe in 1950!! Anybodsy out there around during the period 1969-70 would like to contact. Love to hear from you.

    • mick green says:

      hi harry,i was there in 1969 rodney 43 or 44 mess, its been a long time, lasting memories but proud to have been a ganges boy..those were the days…

  3. Philip Goff says:

    I was at Ganges between April and July 1970.
    I was a discharge by purchase after three months,
    over half the recruitment left in that manner.
    I hated every minute of it, forty years later I look back on it
    with fond memories, I still make sure the toilet, shower and sink are
    clean after I have used them. Friday night routine left it’s mark on me.

    I was over weight and unfit when I arrived there,
    during my short stay there I lost a stone and a half
    and my fitness improved considerably.
    I have never been as fit as that since.

    I often wonder what it would it would have been like if I had stayed in
    rather than taking the easy option.

    Regards Phil G.

    • Alan Renwick says:

      After surviving Ganges the rest was a piece of cake.I must admit there was times when I could easily have packed my bags and left but I had to prove to myself if my grandfather could do it so could I.

    • Steve Jenner says:

      Yeh I was the about the same time only i stuck it out for six months and discharge by purchase Nov 1970

      • Phil Simpson says:

        Yep me to, six months was enough iwas in ashanti mess Dave Hooton was in charge of our mess when we went to main Establishment i was in Bulwark mess i remember PO Smaley he made my mind up about getting out by discharge by purchase Nov 1970..I do have some good memories tho.

    • Mick Lawrence says:

      Hi Phil, i was there from april 20th -july 18th 1970, discharge by purchase £20. started in Leander mess in the annexe and was unfortunately assigned to Drake division, i think Drake 20 mess right next door to Anson, cant really say i enjoyed much of my stay there, thanks to some nasty POs, shame the place wasnt preserved though.

  4. Russell Bishop says:

    Duncan 13 Mess 1963-64, 60Recruitment. Mess made up of Stokers,SBA’s, Fleet Air Arm Classes. Hard Times, Goodtimes, Great Mates. Never Forgotten.

    • Christopher Brown says:

      Hi Russell,

      Memory a bit hazy now, but I was in 60 recruitment and I’m sure I was in Duncan 13 mess. I was in the Fleet Air Arm aircraft mechanics (A/E) class. Other members were Alan Dearing, wee Brown, wee Mckendrick, Alan Gibbs, Noddy Challenger. A stoker, Jo Evans, occupied the bed next to me. I remember a tall Scots lad (an SBA) from the Western Islands of Scotland.
      PO Pinchin was was the FAA handlers leader.
      Chris B

      • Ian Cameron says:

        Hi Russell, I was in Duncan 13 at that time and we used to travel up in the train on leave together and I remember most of the personalities above including Chris Brown who wrote the last piece. I lost contact with nearly everyone after leaving Ganges but did meet Al Dearing on Board HMS Bulwark by which time I had transferred as an SBA (later MA) to the marines. I also met Rob Campbell a PO Junior in Pompey once. As a grandfather now I sometimes reflect how efficient the system was at Ganges to keep 2000 boys in line and busy at all times! The JSBAs who were in the mess bumped into each other from time to time. Significantly there was none of the hazing or bullying that you see in some American movies.

      • Robert Brown says:

        WEE bomber Brown here ! met Brian Mckendrick and Stan Downton many times since,how can I forget those days, 4ft 11 1/2 ” tall and the original 7 stone weakling. Filled out a bit since ! best wishes to all 60 recruitment. Duncan 13

      • Hi Chris,
        So sorry but I have just found your message, after Ganges served on the Ark , RN till the first cuts in 1970, Grampian Fire Brigade most of the time after that. Bill Pinchin died a few years ago , we were very lucky with our instructors, do you remember CAF Laws, C P O , Cooper ? Good guys every one

    • ray sexton says:

      you must have taken over the mess after summer leave, I was in Duncan 13 mess 52 recmt left Aug 63 day of great train robbery it was a seaman mes when we were in it.

      • Hi Ray,
        Sorry to have taken 2 years + to reply. That would be about spot on, I was in Dreadnaught mess over at the Annexe at the time of the train robbery and remember it well,
        ATB ,
        Russell Bishop

    • Ian Cameron says:

      Hi Russell, we used to travel up in the train on leave together and I remember most of the personalities above including Chris Brown who wrote the last piece. I lost contact with nearly everyone after leaving Ganges but did meet Al Dearing on Board HMS Bulwark by which time I had transferred as an SBA (later MA) to the marines. I also met Rob Campbell a PO Junior in Pompey once. As a grandfather now I have sometimes reflect how efficient the system was at Ganges to keep 2000 boys in line and busy at all times.

      • Hi Ian,
        I am so, sorry but I have just found your message, I remember you very well, on leaving Ganges, served on the Ark Royal with all my old Ganges class mates apart from Pat Sebastian (Eagle). Served till the 1970 cuts . Grampian fire brigade most the time after the RN.

  5. bert grainger says:

    honerd to be a ganges rating hawke div 47 mess sept 54 oct 55

  6. Bob Mundy says:

    Remember CPO Hunnybun. He broke my nose with his knee. I would like to meet him today. A bully and a nasty person. Lasting memories I will never forget.

    • Bob Mundy says:

      But nevertheless, so proud to be a “Ganages Boy”.

    • dave bowditch says:

      hi bob
      i was in leander mess 1970 i remember honeybun he didnt like me much either! also p o flak and a nice guy p o constantine anyone remember them? couple of guys i remember, martin glebe, steve jeffrees and steve gray, another one was seabourne,cant rember his first name funny guy tho ring any bells?
      i spent most of my time on punisment running the long covered way @ 5.30 with matress on my back.wore me down in the end, happy days! take care you guys

      • dave bowditch says:

        whoops! made a mistake it was 1971, think it was about april till october i was there and in dreadnought, first night after lights out had the welcome committee, got set on by ji,s and others whacked in our beds with boots in pillow cases! all nossers had to go through it. nice way to spend your first night away from home eh! anybody else remember that?

  7. Mario Fonk says:


    I was at HMS Ganges between February 1966 to January 1967. My instuctors were CPO Jeff Mortimer .& CPO Baxter I think the mess number was Benbow 29, but not 100% sure. Would love to hear from anyone who served with me


    • Diarmuid rath says:

      Hi mario, diarmuid rath from ireland . I remember you very well as we went to church together being roman catholics !! I hope you are well, are you living in malta ? I was there last year and looked up the phone book for your name without success. Let me know how you are getting on
      Regards diarmuid

    • alan pugh says:

      Hello Mario , could only be one person in the mob with that name. I was not a Ganges lad thank goodness , missed it by weeks and was a six week wonder back in 1962 but we were in the same mess on the Hermes so that would have been 801 squadron in 1970 i think. Only had 2 ships , Eagle and the “happy H” so going by your dates it had to be the “H”.
      You would not remember me , i was a Leading Air Mechanic. Type in your search engine , HMS Fulmar pipe band and a link should take you to a photo of some of the band members and i am on the extreme left.

      • Richard (Mac) McClintock says:

        Hi Alan,
        Just came across this site and saw your name. Think you are THE Alan Pugh that I remember??. I was at Ganges from March 63 to Oct 63 then went to HMS Condor Fleet Air Arm.
        On Eagle 800 Sqdn Aug 65-66 then Hermes 801 Sept 69 till Jan 70 as an LAM. Mostly based at Lossie Fulmar -final stint on Ark Royal ( the real one – not the just retired dinky toy)Jan 73 -April 74 Left the mob 74 as PO. HAD HAD ENOUGH Hope Iv’e got the right guy.

      • Robert Brown says:

        Are you the “Dick Mclintock” that was friends with my brother Jim Brown,we were all at Lossie together, I think you went to his wedding to Joan. If so send me an email to Regards wee bomber !

  8. Robert Richardson says:

    I Joined H.M.S.Ganges on 19th Aug 1969 went into the annex and then into Hawk number 1 mess right at the top on the long covered way I hated every minute when I was there,But when you grow older and wiser you relise what Ganges actually did for you,It made you what you are today,it sets the way you even live, nothing out of place,everything cleaned after you use them,respect for others.I ended up being a CPO and left the Navy in 1993,I have never looked back and I am proud to have known all the mates I have met

  9. Brian Parry says:

    I was a Ganges boy in 1946 and it was a tough experience but one that I consider benefited me immensly

  10. Michael "Danny" Daniels says:

    I spent, what at the time was the worst year of my life. I was there in 1969/1970. Blake 10 mess. I look back at it now with fondness. I did have some great times, and grwat memories. If you can get through Ganges, the rest is easy they told. That was right. I did go back and have a look a few years ago, brought tears to my eyes………..

  11. Richard Hilton says:

    The mast was actually one hundred and forty three and a quarter feet high from base to button. I sat on that button a number of times during my training there – Hawke Division Class 280 Green Mansions (as was !!).. Best Wishes Richard (Dicky) Hilton.

  12. Richard Hilton says:

    Forgot the important bit: Trained October 1963 – October 1964. Class instructors: Yeoman of signals Ron Ellis and Chief Radio Supervisor Bill Burke. Captain B.C.G. Place VC DSC etc.

  13. Issy Isaacs says:

    Ho the memories ! JRO2 Isaacs. Captain Ash was the boss. You started of in the Annex for two weeks and had to get up early to go to breakfast, so the older recruits never saw you ! Cannot think of any other reason. Our Chief Instructor died on the football pitch when were about to move over to H.M.S. Ganges. He had a heart attack he was a nice chap. Sorry I have forgot his name. It as been nearly 40 years.
    We then moved to the bottom of the long covered way in Frobisher Division. Living in 19 Mess with a load of mad jocks (Greenies) who were 36 recruitment. We got a beating most nights after lights out. If you got caught making a noise after lights out it was either quick change routine or running up and down the long covered way in oilskins. At the top was was the quarterdeck with the sign to greet you ” FEAR GOD HONOUR THE KING “.

    We were nossers all the time we were there nobody came until Augustish that was number 1 recruitment 16 to 32’s. We had the Iranians turn up near the end and boy were they weird. All of 41 recruitment had to move to the Green Mansions to end our days. We had to call everybody Sir. When the first 16’s and over joined they got to call Chiefs Chief and P.O.’s and P.O.’s. We had been in 8 months but we still had to call Chiefs and below Sir. We all thought that was wrong. That was even Able Seaman sorry Sir !!
    Also we dipped out at the end we had to go to every divisions and be Ceremonial Guard just to show the new recruits how it was done.

    Then you got your Sea Suit it was time to leave Shotley what a time thinking about it now. Mr Fisk, Enwright block. Drill instructors Pinky Salmon and Rattler Morgan. Royal guard for the Duke of Edinburgh and the officer cocked up. He forgot to shoulder arms before marching away. First time I saw a ceremonial rifle fly from one end of the building to the other. Was it Nelson block by the parade ground. Cannot remember the name of the block I think it was Nelson. Anyway the memories will never leave what a time most of them would be locked up for what they did but my god did it do you good.
    Those were the days

    Issy Isaacs Ex CPO (OPS) (EW)

  14. George Harris says:

    Was at Ganges 1960-62 Blake 262 Instructors, Basher Briggs, R/S Yeo, fantastic times met a couple of mates on the net where I live in Australia, and they will be visiting in April this year, not seen them for 40 odd years, that was Ganges mates stayed mates forever, I loved it and really started a great life for me, thank you

  15. Harry HARGREAVES says:

    I joined Ganges in 1933 (that is not a misprint I am 92 years old.I remember “Dusty Miller” and many others. In those days the instructors were rejects from the fleet and sexual assault,physical cruelty and sadistic practices were commonplace. In my book “It wasn’t all mayhem”there is a description of wwhat was the norm.It is available through AMAZON. I can certainly say we became men in spite of Ganges not because of it. I finished as a Lieut Comdr and made damn sure no man was treated in this way.

  16. Simon Thresher says:

    @ Harry HARGREAVES – I am looking in to the RN service history of my Grandfather William Ronald OULTRAM; he too joined Ganges in 1933. He was there from Nov ’33 till Sept ’34 as a Bugler. Maybe you crossed paths…??? I will keep an eye out for your book too as I have a great interest in WW2 history – particularly RN and RAN..

    Cheers and hope you are well,

  17. Harry Hargreaves says:

    Bill Oultram was in the same new entry class as I was. He was trained as a seaman gunner. The bugle was a part time occupation when required.Nice to meet you.

    • Simon Thresher says:

      Thanks for your reply Harry – it has put a huge smile on my face. Unfortunately Bill died back in the early 80’s when he was in his early 60’s. I didn’t get to know him that well. As I am ex-navy myself, I feel a great connection to him and every little piece of the puzzle like this brings me great joy. Thanks again Simon – kersim1 (at) bigpond (dot) com

  18. Peter Studd says:

    Everytime I see pictures of Ganges I have fond memories of the establishment.
    Was there in 1954 ( when meat was still on ration ) left as a Boy Telegraphist to join HMS Jamaica.
    When I went on the Cruise ship Discovery from Harwich to sail to the Baltic, was able to show my wife where I was trained all those years ago.

    • Andy Mitchell says:

      Hi Peter,
      I noticed you arrived in 1954. I too went there in 1954, September 5 to be exact, when I was 15 years and 27 days, I believe that I was the youngest recrute to join the Navy since the war. After spending 13 months at Ganges then being drafted to the Far East on HMS Newcastle. Unfortunatly I was medicaly discharged late 1959, however this didn’t stop me going to sea and I and I joined Port Line. After leaving Port Line I emigrated to New Zealand where I now reside. I’ll be interrested to hear from either yourself or any others.

  19. Roland (Ted )Atterwell says:

    Joined Ganges 23rd.March 1964.I think it was 66 recruitment.Can’t remember what mess I was in whilst in the annex.I was in Rodney 14 mess half way down the long covered way.Can only remember one messmate,Tony Powell,probably because we served together in Vernon ,Glasserton and zulu together.Ganges was hard but I don’t regret a minute of it.

  20. Malcolm Edward Coburn says:

    I am the middle son of Malcolm Coburn if anybody out there has any info please could you contact me .
    I know that Malcolm served on this ship and many others ,he gained a place as leading seamen . any photos would be a plus
    Thanx Peter Coburn

  21. Malcolm Edward Coburn says:

    newzealand 06 844 9116

  22. harry box says:

    Hi all,anyone any idea at all,guestimate,how many of us are left world wide 46 recruitment nozzer.i finished sewing my kit in very quick,cheers mam.

    • pete latham says:

      Harry Box, hi mate, we were 48 recruitment,yep i remember you sewing your kit in,,,, in quick time,,, maybe you remember r.j.k. bedingfield, took forever!!!

  23. Mark Jenkinson says:

    @ Issy Isaacs, good to see you on this page shipmate. Myself & a few other Buntings/Sparkers from 38 Recruitment 1972 Frobisher 17 Mess are having our 40-year bash in September next year (2012) at the UJC, Waterloo. There’s quite a few of us back in touch. Whether or not we make the trip to Ganges remains to be seen, but I’m hearing buzzes that it’s not so accessible these days?? I’ll have to keep in touch with the Ganges Assoc webpage and we’ll decide nearer the time. You’re correct, Capt (later Rear-Adml) WN Ash RN was the Captain, I remember reading his obituary a few years ago. I always thought he was a Seaman Officer but in fact he was a Supply Officer. Pinky Salmon (small in stature, big in voice) was indeed the CGI and like you I also remember Rattler Morgan (a PO TAS rate). Two of the PTIs were Sandy Ellis and Sarnie Wedge. My D.O.s were Lt Cdr Brown, a dour scotsman who was a FAA officer if I remember correctly, and Lt Saunders, who I think was an SD Engineering officer. Both were good people. But I can’t remember the name of my Divisional PO Instructor? Gary Atherton was our PO Junior Instructor when we joined for our 3 weeks in the Annex, he didn’t seem to be too happy at being kept behind to show us the ropes while the remainder of his class (stokers) went off to Sultan but he was a nice bloke. The Chief Yeoman in the Signal School was CCY Beer if I remember correctly, and Yeoman Geoff Hone was our Comms instructor. I also remember a Yeoman Jeff Thompson, who a few years later died of cancer whilst still serving. The CPO who died on the football pitch was Eggy Bowen, a scouser on his final draft in the RN who was coming up to the end of his service time. He was our CPO in the Annex and we all went to his funeral. He’s buried in the local church cemetery at Shotley Point, if I remember correctly. RIP Eggy, a real decent bloke and a great instructor.
    My clearest memory of Ganges will always be thinking to myself “Thank God I was a Sea Cadet”, because being one for 4 years before I joined gave me a great insight into naval life and, above all, meant that I had no trouble looking after & wearing my uniform correctly and that I knew how to march & drill. I’d also learnt morse code and most of the signal flags in the Cadets, so I was very grateful for the head-start it gave me.
    I’m sure I’ll get back to Ganges one day, God willing……but that day is probably a long way off.
    Somebody (above) asks how many Ganges Boys there must be still alive around the world……I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess, but if pushed I’d say less than 20,000……

    • Alan Renwick says:

      Hi Mark,like you I was in the sea cadets as well before joining up.It really did give you a good start with every thing. Plus I had a townie who was about six months in front of me and giving me the heads up on everything, keep your eyes an ears open and your mouth shut was his advice.I was in Anson 21 mess, 20 recruitment. I met a friend last month the last time we had a pint together was nearly 40 years ago. It was great seeing him again after all this time.Anyway Mark you can count me as one of the 20000 take care pal.

  24. Paul Mayers says:

    I joined HMS Ganges in 1960, Blake 80/81 were both housed in the Long Covered Way, third from the top on the right. We had two instructors: PO Price and the infamous POGI Thompson; he who took no prisoners!
    I fully concur with previous comments, that if you survive Ganges, you’ll face anything in later life without too much difficulty.
    We had the Royal visit that year and the effort put into preparation was beyond belief.
    Sorry I didn’t recognise previous commenters but, as we used to say, “It’s a big firm”.
    I wonder how life has treated my old classmates, Skipper, Perfect, Hume, Argal, Murphy, Cleaver, Gallienne, Sexton, Chart, Dixon, McBane and Coventry, to name but a few? I left the Service in ’66 for health reasons, which was yet early enough for me to qualify in the commercial insurance field, followed by a successful career; I still say that the training and discipline of Ganges played a significant part.

    • George Harris says:

      I was at Ganges 60/62 and when you mention POGI Thompson I still shudder, we were in Blake and he would often come into the mess, we all hated/feared him he was something different, I remember some of the people you mentioned our instructor was Basher Briggs also quite a tyrant by not in the same class as Tomo

  25. Charles Henry Halliday (Doc) says:

    I joined the annexe at H.M.S.GANGES on the 10th.Jan 1967,and signed the dotted line the following day. I think we were there for a month then transfered to BENBOW div. The last mess on the left at the bottom of the long covered way. I can only remember two of the lads I trained with,Dave Childs and a Mike Cardopalous?,from Blackpool .

    • Jennifer Owen says:

      Hello. Mr Halliday. You do’nt know me but i am trying to contact old navy mates of my husband. He joined HMS Ganges in 1966 or 1967. His names is Derek Owen. All i know is. He was in Benbow Division. Derek is 60 at the end of this year and i would dearly love to get some old navy friends together as a surprise for him. So, i wondered if you knew my husband and would you have any suggestions how i can contact people. Unfortunately i have no names. Thankyou and Regards. Jenny Owen.

    • Mr patrick Cadden. P/D 101808 says:

      Hello, I too joined on the 10th January, 1967 but was in 7 mess, Blake division in the long covered way. My instructors were PO ‘Shiner’ Wright and CPO Annis. I have many happy memories of my ten months training there, ‘workship’ in the CMG and down on the pig farm, weren’t so pleasant but memorable just the same. Some of my old mess mates names are Pete Barry, Dave Saunders, Dave Kerracher, Pete Wells, Pete Allen. Others Surnames ( I can’t remember their first names) were McBain, Lindsay and Hilton, I apologise to any I have missed. Happy days indeed. I went on to serve in Cambridge, Fearless, Excellent, Lochinvar, Charybdis and finally Rosyth. I was saddened to see the photos of Ganges now. It trully did make you a man.

  26. Martin Hudson says:

    I was there in 1987 when it was being used as a Police Training Centre i had just joined Thames Valley Police.It was a little derelict then and didnt enjoy my 14 weeks there at all damp,cold you name it.
    Does anybody have any memories of it i was there from the 14th of April 87 for 14 weeks. Later moved back to the West Midlands,and still a Police Officer.

  27. Brian (Livi) Livingstone says:

    Great reading,great memories,great photos. Ganges3 May 1960-June 1961 Grenville 19 and 21. I remember :- DW Clark, Clive waugh , Fisher, Parker, Stuart-titchener,Eric Hewitt,Clancy,Fenn,Tom Pleavin(deceased) and many others. Do you remember the early morning runs with their short cuts? Shear bliss!!!! Coming back off xmas leave was horrific, culminating with the boat crossing from Harwich on a bitterly stormy evening. I think I was the only one in my mess to stand on the button of the mast. Terrifying, but I did it. Our instructors were CPO (scouse ) Kirby and POcox’n (taff) Jones. Later on in life I met our old D.O.who became Capt of a nuclear sub (anyone remember his name-he was human-really posh, but a real gent). They were,for me, good times fondly remembered of GANGES. Photos anyone?

    • Malcolm Smith MBE says:

      I hope the following answers your question HMS Ganges winter 1960
      Grenville D.O. was Lieutenant Commander P. Cobb
      Sub D.O. Lieutenant Dobson Followed by Sub Lieutenant (S.D.) G. Jubb.
      Commanding HMS Ganges 1960/
      Captain H.S. Mackenzie, D.S.O.*,D.S.C. (Submariner)
      Captain J.R. Gower,D.S.C. (Uncle of David Gower England Cricket Captain)

      • Brian (Livi) Livingstone says:

        Malcolm, many thanks for that, it’s been driving me potty for a long time. It was he,Lt. Cdr Cobb, the D.O. of Grenville who gave me a right royal rollicking , not for simply climbing onto the Button but for standing on it and saluting. He threw me a moilky way as I was leaving!!For those who don’t recall it, the MAST is/was 143ft high with the Button being 13ins

    • bill sanders-grenville division 1959. says:

      lt commander cobb is the DO you are thinking off. regards, bill (SANDY) sanders.

  28. Paul Mayers says:

    I am sure many of you will recall the Royal Marine band practises, which took place on the left of the GMG entrance, when it was a warm sunny day. There was always at least one extremely fit looking PTI on guard when this took place. A considerable crowd of lads had gathered to listen, having emerged from their mid-day meal. Almost inevitably, some wag tossed a coin into the bell of a Uphonium and all hell broke loose. Instinctively everybody took flight, closely pursued by the PTI. All credit to him for the speed he got up to but the culprit was never identified; oh, and by the way: it wasn’t me, in case you are wondering! This would have been in the summer of nineteen sixty; anybody remember it?

  29. Paul Mayers says:

    I’m a bit surprised nobody has treated you all to the following earlier; so here goes, and you will have to take my word for it that I write from memory:


    If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.
    If you can trust yourself, when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too.
    If you can wait, and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about: don’t deal in lies.
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good or talk too wise.

    If you can dream and not make dreams your master,
    If you can think and not make thoughts your aim.
    If you can meet with triumph and disaster,
    And treat those two impostors just the same.
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken,
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up again with worn-out tools.

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings,
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose and start again at your beginnings,
    And never breath a word about your loss.
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew,
    To serve your turn long after they are gone.
    And then hold on when there is nothing in you,
    Except the voice that says to them “Hold on”!

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with kings, nor lose the common touch.
    If, neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    And all men count with, but none too much.
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute,
    With sixty-seconds’ worth of distance run.
    Yours is the Earth, and everything that’s in it.
    And, which is more, you’ll be a MAN, my son.


    No prizes for telling me where this piece of fine advice was displayed but, I bet it meant far more to you on leaving Ganges than joining.

    My warmest wishes to all who passed through the Main Gate.

  30. Pat Powwer says:

    I was in HMS Ganges in 1963. Drake 37 Mess, a Junior Radio Operator. Enjoyed my time in Ganges. Last visited Ganges in 1971 shortly before I left the Royal Navy. RS Joe Cousins and Yeoman Whitlock were our class instructors. Last saw them in HMS Mercury in 1966.

    • Terry Parker (Retired PO Tel) says:

      Noel Whitlock and I joined Ganges in Oct 1949, he went into 281 Class Benbow I went into 282 Benbow,
      Noel was one of the finest footballers I saw in the RN, but it was years later that I found out the Navy-faced bastard finished up as a Fleet Chief……..

  31. dave bowditch says:

    i left comments further up the page love to hear from anyone remembers me had a nik name bozo, think cus part of my surname (i hope!)

  32. george mcdonald says:

    Joined Ganges October 1969. Dreadnought mess at the old annexe, instructor Chief Tuffs, JI frank cooves. Over to Drake 20 mess in main establishment Drake 241 class, communications, instructors RS Gair, later, RS Harris. Our D.O. was Lt. Cdr. Kaminsky. I had the dubious honour of being captain of the divisional football team, not very successful im afraid. But me andChris Brier (GOALIE), Stuart Cotterill (WINGER), enjoyed every game. Will never forget the old place

    • Mick Lawrence says:

      Hey George, was you still in Drake 20 during May/June/July 1970 ? i was there then, and a lad named MacDonald was great at lifting spirits, always jovial and light hearted banter. If it was you cheers, as things were pretty bleak whenever PO Butler was on duty, what a nasty piece of work he was.

  33. jeff harris says:

    I was at Ganges June 29th 1964,until June 1965.BENBOW 29 MESS.Ihave been going back to the site for a number of years now and have seen the sad decline of all the buildings and especially the mast. I am probably like a lot of ex-TROGGS who did not like everything about Ganges but still have fond memories of the place.Also I Still have a great friend in JOHN and his wife SUE,and also RON and CAROL.Seems like yesterday when we signed on the dotted line.

  34. Burt Lancaster says:

    There could be nowhere on earth that leaves an impression on a young boy like Shotley. Running up and down Faith Hope and Charity with an Imperial typewriter on your head for talking, Saturday morning on the pier in a freezing 1962 winter, Shotley routine for not being up to standard and the dreaded “cuts”. Wow, how would kids of today have handled this.
    I remembered every single day with great pride. Great friends, great times, great memories. Would love to catch up with anyone from Exmouth 213′ next to old Shotley the barber and Mr Fisk the photographer – Jan 62 to Dec 62.
    Burt Lancaster Ex WO CRS(SM) 62-89 Cheers and beers

  35. Andrew Fisher says:

    I was at Ganges in Feb 1971 Anson 23, unfortunately i made the decision to leave after 3months. I’ve regretted it ever since. It was tough, but still a great place.

    • Alan Renwick says:

      Hi Andrew, I was in Anson 21 in Feb 71. Sorry to hear that it didn’t work out for you.

    • Iain Currie says:

      Hi Andrew,
      I also joined on the 9th February 1971 and as far as I can remember our recruitment had the least passout numbers for a few years, whether that was down to the type of instructors or recruits I do not know, but I have to say I thouroughly enjoyed it.
      It may have been that (according to my memory) I got away with a few things because I played football for Ganges and the advantages of that, because that year the Semi and Finals of the Navy Youth Cup took place at Ganges, and those so and sos Hms Raleigh (older by 3 years) beat us.

      Anyway always remember you were there.


  36. keith chatwood says:

    joined november 1959 annex dainty mess ccy yule.moved to anson 22 mess crs henderson & cy foster (good cop bad cop) It is as everyone says brutal but the makings & setter of standards. when i hear people and press moan about current sits. & wonder what went wrong and how to put it wright. one word comes to mind GANGES. would love to meet up with some old oppo`s ie; palmer chase scraggs bostock schillemore sorry the old memory is beginning to fade plenty more . I had a checkered career but enjoyed all of it.

  37. I was 38 Recruitment October 1972. Ark Royal Division in the Annex and Anson Divison 29 mess at the bottom of Benbow Lane. I have been back a few times when on business and was at the presentation and open day by the developers earlier this year.

    When I went back the first time I was amazed by my own feelingas na reactions that I wrote this as soon as I could as it was something I felt I had to do.

    I was on business in Clacton and had finished earlier than I expected. As I plugged in my satnav for the journey home to York I noticed that I was only 30 miles or so from Ipswich. I had been there a few times before but for some unknown reason in my mind I travelled back to 1972 and I thought of the day I joined HMS Ganges.

    I checked my diary to make sure that I had no other forgotten appointments and typed SHOTLEY GATE into the route finder, 38 miles, shouldn’t take that long. As I pulled away it began to drizzle that fine drizzle that even permeates oilskins!
    As I drove the final miles down the winding lanes with the river Ouse to my left I became apprehensive and the feeling in the pit of my stomach was the same as on that October afternoon in 1972. As I rounded a corner on a gentle rise my car slowed as if by itself and the tip of the mast came into view. Now I’m 50 and have seen a lot of things in my time but at that moment I experienced every conceivable emotion.
    My mind played tricks on me as I drove slowly past the overgrown playing fields with the back of Nelson Hall in view; I swear I could hear the volunteer band practising somewhere away in the wind.

    I parked my car outside the post office, I didn’t go in it’s out of bounds! I stared up the lane to the main gate, again was it just my memory or did someone shout “Double that class”? The sound of a class marching past, stamping their right foot, echoed through the rustling trees in the afternoon breeze. I walked up the lane and found myself unconsciously straightening up and marching smartly towards the twin gate pillars. I saw the mast, it looked smaller than it did in 1972 but the sight of it still made me take a deep breath. This time though, as I marched through the gates, no Regulating Staff or GIs screamed at me and for just one last time I wish they had.

    I looked around the desolate and forlorn buildings and the once fearsome parade ground, now so overgrown with weeds that the Chief GI would be spinning in his grave. I could see in my mind’s eye the missing buildings which I imagine had been unceremoniously demolished. Scant regard would have been given to the boys, and hundreds of thousands of man hours which, over the years, would have been spent scrubbing mess squares with wire wool and scouring paste, and buffing by hand the brown linoleum floors with orange wax polish and old bits of pussers blankets. All in an effort to try and win a cake!

    I stood as close to the mast as the temporary fencing would let me and recalled the first time I had ‘scrambled aloft’. It was a terrifying ordeal negotiating the outside of the first elbow hanging almost upside down, no-one was allowed to take the easy route through the ‘lubbers hole’ onto the platform. I remembered the feeling of personal achievement and total exhilaration I had felt on reaching the upper yard; I had held onto the safety line for dear life with both hands, even the devil himself couldn’t have moved me, and all the while my legs trembled uncontrollably. That was one of the proudest achievements of my whole life and I was still only fifteen.

    I turned and walked towards the quarterdeck and wiped some tears from my eyes, the wind must have blown something into them. I stopped at the row of square metal studs which marked the edge of the quarter deck; they looked very dull, I had polished everyone many a time when I was on DO’s routine. I tutted, smiled and took a big step forward, there was no one left to shout “Double across the quarterdeck”. I followed the temporary road to the infamous Laundry Hill. I stood at the top and believe me I shuddered at the memory of my whole mess being doubled up and down that hill until we could not stand, the screams of our divisional instructor berating us continually with swear words even a scroat like me, from the slums of Liverpool, had never heard!

    I walked down the hill. As I reached the foreshore I saw that the lower playing fields were now a marina and Enright block was, amongst other things, a pub! As I looked up the steps through the arch which had been underneath the NBCD store I remembered how me and my fellow partner in crime had lost control of a rather large hand-pulled grass roller which had careered down the grass bank into the block, causing a not insubstantial crack to appear at the point of impact. I looked carefully but could not see it.

    I wandered along the foreshore road towards the sailing centre and was stopped by a gruff workman who told me the ‘effing’ road was closed to pedestrians. I could see the gate in the fence and asked him if I could just have a peek, his response was unexpected and he mellowed and said to me quite gently and politely “It must have been hard here” and let me pass. Those few steps to the small gate filled me so much dread I couldn’t believe it, I looked up and saw pristine in the afternoon sun as it broke through the clouds, even though they were overgrown, ’Faith, Hope and Charity’. How many times had we doubled up and down those terrifying granite steps as a punishment for some minor insignificant misdemeanour? Our divisional instructor enjoyed making sure we took turns with a dummy 4.5 inch shell. I remembered every single step and the indescribable pain you endured in the calf muscles as tired limbs and exhausted bodies struggled up them once again, only to be sent to the bottom again.

    I took a photo and turned away and retraced my steps up the hill back to the quarter deck. It’s funny how your mind plays tricks on you and I actually began to double and then stopped myself, stupid pillock I thought. I stood in the centre of the quarter deck alone, faced the main mast and saluted, don’t ask me why I don’t know, I just did and then I stepped off whistling ‘Hearts of Oak’, the unheard voices of long ago shouted commands to long past sailors in my mind. And I marched with the pride I had when I passed out after ten hard gruelling months, I didn’t care who saw me or what they thought. You see I am a Ganges boy and a matelot and always will be.

    • Peter David says:

      Well written Scouse!

    • Fraser Adams says:

      I to was there in 1970 and visited Ganges last May on the way home from a visit in Chatham, I was sad to see what has happened to the old place but I suppose that’s progress but I agree with your sentiments wholeheartedly.

  38. Malcolm Dobbins says:

    Hello, anyone out there?
    I was based in Ganges between July 1966 and Aug. the following year and bunked in Rodney division (the number eludes me). I went on to serve on Cambridge (gunnery school) Argonaut; Cochrane; Yarmouth; Lochinvar; Excellent and Norfolk

    • Alan Botcherby says:

      hi i rekon it was 34 mess if you where there when i was ..names i remember charnick bagley mason evans greener kent … badge boys houghton and kennedy who beat me up in the wash room because i had a fight during the night with mason i pl,ayed fot the ganges football team ….are you the same one i remember the mane Dobbins

  39. dennis geddes says:

    i was in ganges in 1947/1948 exmouth division Esk mess first on the right top of the long covered way i did laundry hill several times, i was a backward kicker which meant climbing to the second yard before breakfast then doubling to the swimming pool, sometimes when you climbed the mast before breakfast the rattlings were frozen stiff and the ice would break off as you climbed.happy days it never did me any harm.

  40. Paul Harris says:

    My father was a Petty Officer Instructor at HMS Ganges in the early ’60’s. We lived in Shotley (The Street) at first, then moved to Married Quarters at Great Harlings. Would Anyone remember a P.O./C.P.O. Peter Harris? Ashanti Mess,I think? Any memories,good or bad,would be appreciated!

    • Mick Lawrence says:

      There was a Petty Officer Harris in Drake Division 1970 i’m sure his name was Peter, whether he was your father or not, he actually was a nice guy. He confiscated 60 cigarettes when my locker was turned out on the floor, but after making me wait 3 days he was decent enough to return them.

  41. Malcolm Smith says:

    Try contacting the Ganges Association they may have some of the information you are looking for, start with the division & class number your father was an instructor, there may be a Ganges association member who was in his class.
    Ganges issued a magazine at the end of every term with mess reports and a few divisional photographs. The museum next to shotley marina may be able to assist.
    Hope you find the above helpful.

  42. David barry says:

    At Ganges feb 62-63, JRO Hawk 324′ going back for a visit 9/11/12….Went to NZ after 12yrs service (LROW)

  43. David Barry .......Hawk 324 class Feb 62-63 says:

    On 9/11 in NZ I and a friend in NZ where on top of a local extinct volcano Mt Maunganui taking pics of the sunrise…..this 9/11 Aileen and I went to our old RAF a RN camps…..RAF Bawdsey the home of radar and mine on a peninsular between the Orwell and Stour rivers just by Felixstowe where the RN boys training establishment of HMS Ganges is/was (1906-76)…… 2000 boys where there and what a sorry state it is in…..the 143ft mast we used to climb and play on is rotten and rust stained, half the main spar lies on the deck…the parade ground etc has scrub and weeds growing in it…..I stood there after nearly 50yrs trying to work out what was what, all seemed smaller, all the ghosts came back…” Stroppy Nozzers ” all of us….faces, names of boys and Hawk Div instructors, Yoe Bryant, Hoffmeyer, ropes in the gym and ”If”…. the inter div swimming and track events, cross country, cutters and being caught by the tide clinging to a buoy awaiting rescue by the HLD…I won that years photographic competition with the photo of the buoy we were tied to, the sun sparkling on the water as it ripped passed….Fisk kept the negative !…….a year we spent there before going to Mercury for 6mths and then Agincourt, Lazaretto Creek……the gates are chained and locked and the whole place is surrounded by a high metal fence to stop metal thieves getting in….but we found a way in and saw some of the place and had a feed of blackberries……the foreshore is now a marina with a cafe and the old pier with it’s davits holding the whalers and cutters which we raised and lowered by hand is derelict……A place like Ganges which molded the character of so many young boys to be men of quality has been discarded and left to the mercy of nature and no doubt the wrecking ball of developers ? quite disheartening, perhaps I should not have gone back, I did not feel the same on seeing the state of Mercury, still I have my photographs of Ganges when it was ship shape…….call me Pussar Faced !
    On the other bank is a huge container terminal with Chinese ships and ugly container cranes blotting the horizon…..
    Aileen was unable to get into her base as Bawdsey Manor which is now an international school….some of the old radar buildings and accommodation are visible from the road but the security guard said no access………………………………………………………….Nelson’s Navy no more !

  44. Desmond Halfacre says:

    Having read all the comments, I wonder why it brought a tear! I arrived in Shotley late evening 11 Nov, 1958
    Raining, cold, hungry. Hundreds of uniformed body’s running around shouting and screaming, I was reminded of story’s my Father had told me about the Nazis in Germany, “give an idiot a uniform, etc etc!!”
    I was quite convinced that I had NOT done the right thing! Untill we went to the C M G, for a monster supper of fish an chips, then I thought maybe things are not that bad! but they were that bad, and worse!! Grenville division 20 recruitment, 19 mess I think? RS Chapman, I later got fedup with morse code, and changed to the seaman branch, Duncan div. where I learned many things, some quite usefull! Like being able to look after myself, “conduct one’s self in a smart seaman like manner at all times!” I’m 68 now and never forgotten any of it, did some wire splicing quite recently, for a friend who has a small factory, eye splices for slings, “where the hell did you learn to do that?” “oh, place called HMS Gangese 50 years ago!”

  45. Steve Masser says:

    Hi All! Came across this site by accident. I joined Ganges February 1996 (Was Stephen Doyle then – my stepfathers surname since changed back to my birthname) – annexe first then main site Drake 38 mess short covered way. No discharge by purchase in my day!! Had to grin and bear it. Ended up being a bunting for a few years but left some 8 years later with ill-health. Fond memories but they were harsh days. Went on the run once – got 6 strokes for my efforts, God that hurt, and I was used to getting the cane at school but I still remember the pain of those strokes. Two CPO’s holding me down across a chair and the skipper giving it Welly!! One thing for sure, the place really did turn boys in to men. Anyone from the same intake?

  46. George B Scott ( Scotty ) says:

    Hi all, I joined Ganges on 9th August 1966, A junior stoker in Grenville division 163 class, I remember not liking the place some of the time but as I get ready for retirement soon ( Iam 60 years old ) I rember Ganges with fondness and an overwhelming feeling of pride that I passed through and went on to serve in the fleet, I once met an old CPO from before my time in the Andrew and he said to me ” If you passed through Ganges you can pass through any Establishment in the world ” NO regrets and fond memories. Scotty.

    • Roy Caven says:

      Hi George,
      My names Roy Caven and I was in Grenville 174 Class. September 13th. 1966 I signed up. Mike Jones was in your class 163 and he was a good mate of mine but we lost contact and I was wondering if you knew his where abouts. If by any chance you do please get in touch. Its good to see so many mates are still kicking it. Roy

  47. Bill Sanders, Grenville division-48 class,23 Mess, 1959 to 1960. says:

    Hi Gents,Anyone out there from the above class,mess division,or year.Would like to hear from you !.Regards Bill.

    • David Adams says:

      Hi Bill,
      I was at Ganges 1959-60 Anson Division 46 mess (I think) I was in Bulwark mess in the annex! I am a member of the Ganges Association and have been for a number of years! Went to the West Indies after HMS Cambridge then home fleet Portsmouth before off to the Far East in ’62 just in time to be on first ship into Brunie when that kicked off!! Can’t believe its my 68th birthbay next week, where have all the years gone! I was thinking of going back to the old place later this year! but some of the comments on here have put me off a bit!! Cheers, David.

  48. Sean Freeman says:

    I joined HMS Ganges 17th Feb. 1976. I think there were only 2 or 3 intakes after us.
    It was hard work getting through that basic training, but at the end of it, when we passed out and went onto specialist training (HMS Mercury in my case), it made you feel 10ft tall!
    One thing that really sticks out in my memory, is that there were a lot of Iranians doing trainng at HMS Ganges at the time I was there. I will always remember their cap tallies ‘IMPERIAL IRANIAN NAVY’. I couldn’t understand what they were doing training at the same place as us! I was still only 16 when I joined the RN and so I didn’t ask any questions. They were a funny looking bunch on parade, all shapes and sizes. Tall lad squat fat lad tall lad etc. At least we were on parade tallest at each end smallest in the middle! I think they were there for 6 months. They were alledgedly earning £200 per week compared to our £13 per week. No wonder the girls in Ipswich were all over them like a rash! haha
    Only good (hind-sight) memories from Ganges.
    Good Luck and God Bless all our HM Forces personnel past and present.
    Sean Freeman. D156…K

  49. patrick james mack says:

    Hi. This brings back a few memorys of the long covered way and 25 mess near the end. I was there in 1966. It was hard at first doing basic training in the annexe but it was better in the main establishment.

  50. Pam Coleano says:

    I am trying to contact men who were at Ganges from 1952. My dad Philip Newton went there as a 15 year old, straight from school. I would love to be able to give him a present of old friends for his birthday. Here’s hoping!

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