Mr. Sidney Pointer.

Signals Officer

Watts Naval Training School and Parkstone Sea Training School

    Signals Instructor: Sidney Pointer RN (WNTS: 1935-1949 & PSTS: 1949-1957)


Seaman Sidney William Pointer 

Born: 1893, Norfolk, son of a Farm Manager

Died: 1957 (Jan/Feb/Mar qtr.) in Poole, Dorset



1910 - Royal Navy

Sidney William Pointer joined the Royal Navy, in June 1910, Service Number; J8862  

He joined HMS GANGES as a Boy Seaman 2nd Class, Signals signing on to complete 12 years from 1st June 1912.

In the year that Sidney Pointer joined the Navy, King Edward VII reign came to a close on 6th May. He was succeeded by his son George V was crowned a year later 22 June 1911. 

1910 was the first year that the British Meteorological Office commenced the monthly recording of; ‘The Weather Report’   Issue 1 came out in January 1910, price 6d.

Sidney Pointers pay as a Boy 2nd class: was also 6d, …….  per day.



HMS GANGES Ships Crest



In 1910 the age limits for a boy to join the Royal Navy was; 15½ yrs. to 17yrs. 


1910. Boy 2nd Class.

On 20th Dec 1910 Sidney Pointer was advanced to Boy 1st Class on 7d per day.

Entry regulations for boys joining were;

(a) He must be of good character.

(b) He must be of robust frame, intelligent of perfectly sound and healthy constitution, 

     free from any physical defects or malformation, and not subject to fits.

(c) He must be able to;

     (1) read a short passage from a Standard IV Reading Book, or if not available, 

          from a Newspaper.

     (2) to write a similar passage of not more than  six lines, slowly read over and 

           then dictated.

     (3) have a fair knowledge of the first  rules of arithmetic.

(d) He must be within the proscribed age limits; 15½ yrs. to 17yrs. 

(e) His height and chests limits must be sufficient

(f)   Every boy, youth under 17 must contain consent of parents, guardian, or near 

       relative, and engaging to serve 12 years service from age 18.

Candidates are not received from Prison or Reformatories.



1911 - HMS VIVID

With entry training completed, Seaman Boy 1st Class Pointer is posted for Signals Training to HMS VIVID, Devonport. He joined HMS VIVID on 6th May 1911, for a short course. The Royal Naval Signals School at Devonport was housed within the Naval Barracks, which back in 1911, were HMS VIVID. The RN Barracks were named after the C-in-C’s  Yacht (the yacht was previously Capercailzie- see full details under House Master, Frank Seviour).

Signal Schools.

The Royal Navy had established three Signal Schools, they were at HMS VICTORY (RN Barracks, Portsmouth), HMS PEMBROKE (RN Barracks, Chatham) and HMS VIVID (RN Barracks Devonport).

The first two Royal Navy Signal Schools were established in 1888, at HMS DUKE OF WELLINGTON, Portsmouth and then later at Devonport when the Barracks are  completed. The Signal School at Devonport finally got underway in 1890. This coincided with the appointment of a new Warrant Rank for the Royal Navy; Chief Signal Boatswain.



1911-1913 HMS LEVIATHAN.

On the 16th May 1911, Boy 1st Class S. Pointer joined HMS LEVIATHAN, at Devonport, where she was Flagship Training Squadron, under Rear Admiral Sir Edward Bradford. On the 23rd June 1911 she took part in the Spithead Fleet Review, she was under the command of Captain Eric Percy Back RN.

On the 1st June 1912 Sidney Pointer was promoted Ordinary Signalman.

His Efficiency Assessment was rated as Superior. 





Armoured Cruiser – HMS LEVIATHAN


Built; 1901 John Brown & Co.  Clydebank

Commissioned:  16th June 1903

Displacement: 14,150 tons

Armament: 2 x 9.2 inch, 16 x 6 inch, 12 x 12pdrs

Speed: 19-23 knots

Complement: 900

Note; This was the same Class as that of HMS GOOD HOPE, the ill fated Command of Rear Admiral Craddock, sunk in the battle of Coronel off Chile, 1st November 1914.



1913 - HMS VIVID

In February 1913 Ordinary Signalman Pointer was posted to HMS VIVID for 4 weeks of training.






In mid March of 1913 he was posted to the ex Cruiser, HMS FORTH, now a Submarine Depot Ship. HMS FORTH and her accompanying Subs. had WT Sets (Motor Buzzer) especially modified. The Submarines were fitted with the new B5 (Type ‘X’ Fit) as battery gas was ever a hazard in Submarines, the Morse Key was enclosed in an Airtight Box (Airlock to avoid sparking).

Submarine Depot ship at Devonport in 1904 later attached to the 3rd Submarine Flotilla  based on the Humber, for Test Mobilisation



Cruiser, Mersey Class – HMS FORTH Depot Ship

Built; 1884 Pembroke Dock

Commissioned:  1886

Displacement: 4,050 tons






1914 – December 1918   HMS DUKE OF EDINBURGH

In March 1914 Ordinary Signalman Pointer received a posting to HMS DUKE of EDINBURGH, some 4 months later World War 1 broke out. HMS DUKE OF EDINBURGH was in the Mediterranean, she was ordered to the Red Sea on Convoy duties, and provided Gun Fire support for the Infantry during the capture of a Turkish Fort.  

She then joined the 1st Cruiser Squadron of the Grand Fleet for the Battle of Jutland 31st May 1916, she saw against the German Light Cruiser Wiesbaden. After Jutland she joined the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, she patrolled north of the Shetland Islands against German blockade runners, In August 1917 she transferred to the West indies Station.

In June of 1915 Sidney Pointer was promoted to Leading Signalman his Efficiency was assessed as Superior. He passed the Educational Exam for Petty Officer



Armoured Cruiser – HMS DUKE OF EDINBURGH

Built; 1903/06 Pembroke Dockyard

Commissioned:  16th June 1903

Displacement: 12,590 tons

Armament: 6 x 9.2 inch, 10 x 6 inch, 20  3pdrs

Speed: 23 knots

Complement:  789



1918 - HMS VIVID

In August 1918 Leading Signalman Pointer was posted to HMS VIVID for Signals Training. He received his War Gratuity



                 Signal  N               Signal   D



1918 - 1919  HMS HECLA (ex British Empire)  / HMS HECLA II

On the 28th August 1918 Leading Signalman Pointer arrived in Ireland, at Loch Swilly in County Donegal to join HMS HECLA. She was a Depot Ship originally built as the merchant ship, British Empire. 

In 1917 the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla was based at Loch Swilly. During WW1 Loch Swilly was used as an anchorage and Operational Base for the Grand Fleet. Today the fortifications 6inch guns remain as an attraction for tourists. The Shore Base at Buncara, was known as HMS HECLA II, and supported the Fleet with maintenance and supplies.




Torpedo Boat Depot Ship  – HMS HECLA

Built; 1878 John Brown & Co.  Clydebank

Re-built: in 1912 @ 5,600 tons


Displacement: 6,400 tons

Armament:  4 x 12pdrs






On 1st October 1919 he received a posting to HMS COLUMBINE the Naval Shore Establishment at Port Edgar, on the River Forth near Edinburgh, (latter known as HMS LOCHIVAR). The RN Hospital Butlaw was located within the base, many of those wounded at Jutland were treated there,.

Torpedo Boat Destroyers (TBD) can be seen alongside the Jetty.





Jetty  at HMS Columbine (1918c)


During the HMS COLUMBINE posting he served on HMS VENTUROUS, which was based there.





V Class Destroyer  – HMS Venturous

Built; 1916/17 William Denny, Dumbarton, Scotland

Commissioned:  16th June 1903

Displacement: 1,272 tons

Armament: 4 x 4 inch, 2 x 2pdrs 4 x 21inch Torpedo

Speed: 34 knots

Complement: 110




17TH March 1923 posted to HMS CARADOC, she was with the Mediterranean Fleet with the 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron1923 -1926.

Sidney Pointer was promoted Yeoman of Signals , Petty Officer, 4th April 1923



Caledon Light Cruiser – HMS CARADOC

Built; 1916/17 Scotts Engineering, Greenock

Commissioned:  15th June 1917

Displacement: 4,190 tons

Armament: 5x 6 inch, 2 x 3 inch, 2 x 2pdrs  8 x21inch Torpedo

Speed: 29 knots

Complement: 327

1926 (Feb to Nov)  HMS VIVID

Petty Officer Sidney Pointer returned to HMS VIVID for a lengthy period of training.

As he would be Shore based for a number of months, it was the opportune time to marry his sweetheart Ida Land, they married in Norfolk, early in the year soon after getting leave from HMS VIVID.

Marriage Allowance had been introduced into the Royal Navy in 1920, replacing a myriad of Separation Allowances. Kings Regulations & Admiralty Instructions (KR&AI) stated that ; 

Marriage Allowance payable only to the legal wives and in respect of the legitimate children or stepchildren of married men.


The Marriage Allowances payable weekly;

For a Wife:                   9s  - 6d.

Wife and 1 Child:       19s – 0d

Wife and 2 Children:  26s – 6d

Wife and 3 Children:  32s – 0d

Wife and 4 Children:  35s – 0d


For Motherless Children the rate was:

1st Child:   9s - 6d

2nd  Child: 7s - 6d

3rd  Child:  5s - 6d

4th  Child:  3s - 0d       and  3s for each other child.


Pay For a Petty Officer Yeoman of Signals , with 3 years seniority was; 7s 10d per day. Each Good Conduct Badge was worth 3d per day, therefore with 2 Good Conduct Badges Petty Officer Pointers pay was 8s 4d per day. 




Valve Testing at the RN Signals School.





1926 – 1928 HMS LOWESTOFT.

Petty Officer Yeoman of Signals Sidney Pointer joined HMS LOWESTOFT in the Mediterranean where she was part of the 8th Light Cruiser Squadron. She was later ordered to the Africa Station with the 6th Light Cruiser Squadron. 

On the 1st January 1927, Sidney Pointer was promoted to Chief Yeoman of Signals.

He received his Long Service and Good Conduct (LSGC) Medal (15yrs Service) on the 4th September 1927.



Town Class Cruiser – HMS LOWESTOFT

Built; 1912/1914  Chatham Dockyard

Commissioned:  April 1914

Displacement: 5,400 tons

Armament: 9 x 6 inch, 1 x 3inch, 4 x 3pdrs  2 x21inch Torpedo

Speed: 25 knots         Complement: 433/480



1935 Pensionable Retirement.

After completing 23 yrs pensionable service (1 additional year during Hostilities),

Chief Yeoman of Signals Sidney Pointer retired from the Royal Navy.

His pay as a Chief Yeoman of Signals had risen from 6d per day which he received on joining (1910 as a Boy 2nd Class) to 9 shillings & 6d



1935 Watts Naval Training School.

After retiring Sidney Pointer joined WATTS as Signals Training Officer. He was a most able Instructor in all forms of  Naval Communications, from; Semaphore, to Flags, Pennants, Ensigns to Morse, The learning of  Morse Code can be a bit daunting, but Signals Officer Sidney Pointer had a method second to none. There are a number of Morse Code Mnemonics, but Mr Pointer’s version was an absolute winner, ensuring that boys soon became quite proficient in the use of Morse.

In his book, ‘One of a Baker’s Dozen, Reg Trew, WATTS old boy sums this up …..


Mr Pointer didn’t just instruct us in naval communications; he taught us that art in such a masterly and highly amusing way that the subject was perhaps the most popular in the whole school. I’ve met many an old boy who more than fifty to sixty years after receiving his tuition can clearly recall the hilarious mnemonics with which we remembered our Morse Code, the Naval and International Codes of Flags, or the Semaphore code. Almost entirely due to that fine gentleman and friend, because that is how so many of us saw him, many boys went onto successful careers in the communication branches of the services, or as radio officers in the Merchant service.



World War 2 1939-1945

CPO Yeoman of Signals Sidney Pointer was recalled to Duty 6 months before the war started and served in the Royal Navy for the duration of the War.

We have been unable to research Sidney Pointer’s WW2 Service, his daughter Janet Bolton, tells us he was recalled some 6 months before war broke out. (See Stories; ‘Memories of my Father’). 

Its highly probable that Sidney Pointer, a Chief Yeoman of Signals would be posted to one of the numerous  new Signals Schools that were being set up for ‘Hostilities Only’ personnel that were being called up.

Amongst the new Signals Schools was HMS SCOTIA, a Butlins holiday camp at Ayr, Scotland. The Admiralty had asked Billy Butlin to build a camp at Ayr, that would be used to train the many thousands of new communicators for the expanding Fleet.

Billy Butlin built several such camps that were requisitioned for War use, another was in North Wales at Pwllheli, that became HMS GLENDOWER, earlier there was RAF Hunmanby Moor at Filey, whilst more well known were the Billy Butlin holiday at Skegness which became HMS ROYAL ARTHUR, and Clacton, Essex, which was used by the Army.









Like most things wartime, accommodation was Spartan. Those under training were accommodated in rows of Nissen Huts, 40 per hut, in double tiered iron bunk. A Stove at either end of the hut helped ward off the inhospitable Scottish Winter.

Courses consisted of Signals, Signal Flags, Flag Hoists, Morse Code, (both for WT, and Signal Lamp), Semaphore. 

As with all RN Establishments the ‘Mast’  is a centre piece, and sailors since time immemorial had to learn to climb the mast.

The Chief Yeomen of Signals and the Signal staff were crucial to the training of so many new sailors in wartime.









1949  Parkstone Sea Training School (PSTS)

In 1949 Watts closed and the school moved to Parkstone, in Dorset. The Russell Cotes Nautical School, which had opened in 1919 merged with WATTS and was renamed Parkstone Sea Training School. Its first Captain Superintendent was Commander ES Felton, RN.




Lady Russell Cotes House (LRCH)



Sadly, Signals Officer Sidney Pointer, died in 1957, his funeral being held in the School Chapel.

He was a great loss to Parkstone Sea Training School and will be fondly remembered by old boys.






1. The Navy List, 18th September 1913, p.876, Boys Entry of,  Admiralty, HMSO.

2. Signal Schools of the Royal Navy by Godfrey Dykes

3. Royal Naval Communications Association. PSTS gratefully acknowledges the    

    Historical Information – ‘The First Signal Schools’

4. Watts Naval Training School, Goldings by Frank Cooke

5, Ships of the Royal Navy; The Complete Record of All Fighting Ships, JJ Colledge

    and Ben Warlow, Case Mate, 17 Cheap St., Newbury, RG14 5DD, 2010.

6. Jane’s Fighting Ships, various editions, 1922 to 1945, Sampson, Low, Marston &

    Co. Ltd. London.

7. One of a Baker’s Dozen, Reg Trew, Badgerwood Publications, North Ferriby, 

    England.  Page 60.

8. Godfrey Dykes @ Info… an great data base of all thing RN:


Special Thanks. Parkstone ‘Old Boys’ kindly thank  Janet Bolton (nee Pointer), the daughter of Sidney Pointer for  her article;  ‘Memories of my Father’.