I visited the site of HMS Ganges in Shotley Gate recently and took my book with me. Although the old training ship is in a state of disrepair bordering on ruin there was enough left to remind me of the horrors of the place and it still sent a shiver through me to be back there.
Thanks to for putting this on twitter: Complaints about improper behaviour in military triple since 2012: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/mar/24/complaints-improper-behaviour-military-triple
I write in my book that the main reason I became a Conscientious Objector whilst serving in the armed forces was because of the horrors of the war on the Vietnamese people. Please read this report as a reminder of the brutality and futility of war:
Extract from Chapter 25 – The Bermuda Triangle
After a day at sea following the hurricane we returned to Bermuda where we spent our final week there anchored in the harbour at Hamilton, the island’s Capital. There was a radio station broadcasting from Hamilton that we received on our ships radios. It was a good station playing pop music and requests and whilst working in the Galley one day enjoying the songs the radio station’s DJ read out a request from two sailors on board HMS Hecate for the Animal’s single, “We’ve gotta get out of this place.” “I hope they don’t mean Bermuda,” said the DJ.
Listening to the radio the next day the DJ said that he had received over twenty calls to the station saying that none of the sailors on board HMS Hecate wanted to leave Bermuda; it was the Royal Navy they were referring to! The DJ also imparted to us the information that the Animal’s song was especially popular among United States Armed Forces serving in the Vietnam.
Enjoy the song by clicking here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUpBSvN1a50
On my first night in the Annexe at HMS Ganges I was in my new mess where we were told we had to make our beds, properly stow our new kit into lockers and were given various cleaning materials to clean the decks, windows, heads, dustbins, everything in fact that didn’t move. I was given a tin of metal polish and told to buff up the mess dustbin until I could see my face reflected in it. As I rubbed and polished away at the dustbin the radio was on and Sandie Shaw was singing her song, “There’s Always Something There to Remind Me” but for me there was nothing there to remind me anymore. My clothes, my last link with the world I had left behind, were on the back of a lorry making their way back to my Mum and Dad’s flat in London and my hair had been swept up from the barber room floor and thrown away. I was miserable.
Nevertheless, to cheer myself up I gustily sang along with Sandie Shaw as you can now:
The first chapter of my book Sadism, Songs and Stolen Liberty is called My Boy Lollipop. Chapter One describes my short time at a firm called Holloway Engineering where I worked whilst waiting for my start date to join the Royal Navy.
To my surprise and delight I discovered that Millie had worked there. Once I knew that and for the rest of my time at the firm, along with a lovely sixty year old Jamaican woman named Hyacinth who worked next to me on the assembly line, we couldn’t get the words of Millie’s song out of our heads and every day we joyfully sang “My Boy Lollipop.” Hyacinth though would make me blush when she looked into my eyes as she serenaded me with the song.
See the book here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sadism-Songs-Stolen-Liberty-Stephen-ebook/dp/B00I9LG9T8/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
or at the VFP shop here: http://veteransforpeace.org.uk/shop/