Broughton and beyond!

Author: 
Richard Eastwood.(Formerly Goble)
school: 
PSTS
Year: 
1955-58

I can still picture the tall boy of 15 years wearing naval uniform, black cap, jersey, short trousers and boots, who was waiting at Bournemouth West station to collect me. The date was Jan.4th 1955, his name was  Whinney, Broughton House number 6 and to me he seemed like an Admiral, a world above a frightened, weedy, new boy.  I had come down from The Village Homes at Barkingside, by train, accompanied by a woman who I am sure did not speak one word on the journey, until approached by Whinney with the time honoured words, ”is this the new boy for Parkstone?”  She replied “yes”, turned and was gone, thank you so much Miss.

Well lucky old me landed the top prize, a berth in Broughton House, ruled with a rod of iron, also a strip of leather bootlaces and other instruments of torture by “Charlie Wood”, together with a harridan I was told to call “Mam Wood”.  I am sure it was instant dislike on both sides and remained so until that glorious day about 18 months later, when the word went round ”Charlie’s gone”. "Where," I asked?  "Got the sack"," kicked out," "done a moonlight,"were the informed reasons. So there was a God after all, the misery was going to end, prayers had been answered.

Would we be lucky enough to get someone decent such as “Archie” Harrington or George Moore?  Would I get chores other than cleaning the “heads” and “skirmishers” a job saved for me in the winter months?

The answer was neither yes or no, but we got a decent man, Frank Seviour, a strange choice for an officer, his uniform never quite fitted him properly,  he was normally covered in fag ash and we felt slightly embarrassed when it was his turn to take a parade.   I don’t think he quite understood words of command or the difference between right and left.   Still, he was miles better than his predecessor and “Mam Seviour” was OK too,  at least they had children of their own,  so could understand the things that boys go through at that age.  They were not sadistic bullies that ruled by fear and by pitting the strong against the weak.

To add to the misery of being in Broughton, I had the added challenge of my surname which was Goble. Yes, you can make up loads of cruel jibes from that name, with the war just 10 years away, the words to “Colonel Bogie” took on a whole new significance, Goballs to No balls in one easy lesson.  In 1960 I found my name was actually Eastwood, once again God smiled on me.

Being absolutely useless at sports, running, boxing and swimming, I devoted my energy to school work.  We were lucky to have some really good teachers.  I remember with great affection “Harry” Ford, and will be ever grateful for the things I learned from him. Together with Mr Norbury-Williams, Mr Giles and the headmaster Mr Wheeler, schoolwork was something to look forward to.

In 1996 I went to Barnardo’s at Barkingside to receive copies of the record of my time in care, I had to be “counselled”, as there were things that I never knew about my parents and it was felt this could upset me. What did upset me were the absolute lies that I found, not only in the records, but those told to me over the years, such as my father being killed in the war. The facts are he didn’t die until 1998!  As my mate John Wallace has said, how could the Captain write things about you when he had never spoken to you?

For those of us with nowhere to go for the holidays, summer meant two weeks at a holiday camp in St, Marys Bay, near Dymchurch, in Kent.  It was something to look forward to; the downside was that Mr & Mrs Wood were the ones supervising us. The first year I went, we travelled by train, this was a bit of an adventure in itself, especially when Charlie nearly had a fit when they couldn’t find one of the boys at Waterloo. The next three years we went, was in the school lorry, this was driven by Mr Stoakes, considered by all of us to be a really “good hand”.  Imagine if you can, two dozen mouthy, sex starved teenagers, hanging out of the back of a lorry, shouting and whistling at every girl we could see.  A family following us once, waited until we stopped, and complained to Charlie about the bad language and obscene gestures emanating from the back of the lorry, the remainder of the trip was made in darkness as he tied up the canvas back to stop us looking out.

Christmas holidays were spent with all of us in one house, yes, you guessed it, the first year was Broughton, oh goody, goody!  Christmas with the Woods, what joy. 1956 was in Howard with “laughing Bert Busby”, who wouldn’t have known a joke if it jumped up and bit him on the leg.  At least he didn’t dish out a good hiding for no particular reason.  My last Christmas there, 1957, was in Arranmore, I don’t remember seeing a lot of Mr and Mrs Butcher, but they seemed to be nice people.

Just before Christmas began, it was the custom for the school to put the names of those staying behind in the Bournemouth Echo newspaper, the idea was that any kind-hearted member of the public could send one of us a present.  I clearly remember my great delight on receiving a nice wrist watch from a Mr and Mrs Potter who lived in Verwood.  Some years later, I was driving an excavator for Selwood Plant Hire, on hire at a site in Verwood, in the mess hut one day I asked if anyone knew of a Mr Potter of Coronation Rd.  A quiet chap in the corner got up and said that was him.  He and his wife were absolutely delighted that I remembered their gift and also their name and address, small world isn’t it.  What I could not tell them was that the watch was stolen two days after Christmas, so I hope the scumbag that took it is reading this and knows that every Christmas I think about that watch and wish him every misfortune!

As you may have gathered by now, I did not enjoy my time at PSTS, in fact I hated the place enough to “do a bunk” twice and you know the reward for that. “Doing a bunk” was great fun until you got caught and sent back, then you were made to see the error of your ways, first by Charlie Wood then by the Captain, at the end of the day all you had to show for it were the marks of the cane on your backside, which all would come to see and remark on the severity and the positioning.  My first break for freedom was made by walking to Highcliffe, the only place I knew. The journey was about 20 miles, it was February 1955 and bitterly cold, I can remember being so hungry and as I started my journey before lunch on a Saturday, it got dark after about 5 hours and I wished I had never left.  I got to Highcliffe around 6 pm and met one of my old school mates, he took me to his house and his Mum gave me a great big tea, she let me stay there for the evening but of course in the morning they took me to the local policeman and by Sunday lunch I was back “inside”.

My second trip was made in the summer, once again on a Saturday but this time I waited until we went out on leave so I had my "number ones" on.  As I had prepared for this break, I saved money over a few weeks and clever old me, I went by bus!  Once again back to Highcliffe but I was there in 1.5 hours and of course stood out like a sore thumb!  This time I got a mate to get me some food, stayed around till late and slept on the beach.  By now I was a bit of a hero with my mates, plenty of food lots of laughs but when they all went back to their homes in the evening, I was left on my own.  Then it started raining, just what I needed, so I surrendered to the copper, who telephoned the school who asked if they could collect me the next morning and I could stay in a cell overnight.  I can’t begin to tell you how pleased Charlie was to see me on that Monday morning!

Although I was only at the school for 44 months, it seemed like a lifetime, at times I thought I was never going to get away from the place.  Of course there were good times, summer camp wasn’t too bad and Xmas meant a few trips out, a pantomime, a good feed at a hotel or similar and a present or two from some kind member of the public.  There were also the trips over to Studland and Shell Bay (watch out for the queers) and a trip to the New Forest where someone always managed to get lost.

To be fair to the place, it taught me how to look after myself both domestically and physically but I saw other boys suffer from the cruel treatment that they were just not used to, did this affect them in later life?

Until I received my records from Barnardo’s, I did not realise that all our mail, both incoming and outgoing, was censored, I am not sure by who, I find this to be totally inexcusable, whatever did Barnardo’s have to hide?

In June 1958, I took the entance exam for Royal Naval Artificer apprentices,it was in a room in Shaftesbury House. A couple of weeks later, I was told that I had come fourth out of over 800 boys who took the exam, my teachers were really pleased. The next move was a medical at Orchard Place, Southampton and then an aptitude test at HMS Nelson in Portsmouth. It was during this latter visit that I bumped into one of Broughton's old boys, Jacky Biggs. The time soon came round when I was on a train bound for Plymouth North Road station and with lots of other lads, on to a RN lorry which took us to H.M.S.Fisgard at Torpoint, Cornwall. Fortunately for me, two of my friends from PSTS were already at Fisgard, John Grantham and Hugh Upward, both also being in Grenville division, S31 entry and both were "Hooks", they made me welcome.

I was one of the youngest in my intake and soon found that the other lads mainly had a much higher level of education having been educated at grammar and technical schools. My achievement of coming fourth out of over eight hundred who took the entrance exam, was to lead to some disappointment from the instructors as to my true academic ability, for instance I had never been taught “engineering drawing” so parabolas and hyperbolas left me baffled. This subject did actually drag my overall class position down considerably, although I did manage to stay in “2” stream to the end of Fisgard.

When it came to practical work, once again I struggled as the brief excursion we had in woodwork at PSTS was overshadowed by the teachers liking of alcohol. Like many of my classmates I had no experience whatsoever of metalwork, I liked using the lathes and milling machines, welding, copper- smithing etc, but hacksawing and filing a lump of mild steel left me cold. I was quite surprised to find a score of 62.5% at the end of both two and four class.

There were certain things that I could excel at, doing ones laundry, repairing kit, cleaning, “square bashing”, rifle drill and seamanship all were second nature to me after four years at PSTS, perhaps I was in the wrong part of the RN?

Never having excelled at any sport, I did feel rather inadequate especially when a senior apprentice asked if he could put me down for rugby trials and I had to confess that I had never played the game or even understood it. I loved soccer but was not that good so if there had been a “twelfth team” I might have made an appearance. Our divisional officer, Lieutenant “Mick” Watson, came to my rescue and introduced me to “squash”, this I took to like a duck to water. As there were not too many squash players among the apprentices, I soon found myself playing against Officers and senior ratings, even having the privilege of representing the ship, even if only as the reserve!

Lt, Mick Watson was a brilliant D.O., together with P.O.M.E. Downs , Grenville division was a happy one, our 4 class (S31 entry) were a good bunch and apart from four much older Nigerian (or similar ?) apps, in S35, I got on with nearly everyone. Sad to say, I found the Nigerians to be arrogant, lazy, unhygienic and grossly overpaid compared to our meagre rates, their government enhanced their pay considerably and this led inevitably to comparison and jealousy.

I can recall all of my Grenville entry, but especially Guest, Billings, Fergusson, Inns, Harry, Dominy and  Smith. Rod Smith kindly took me to his home at Shepton Mallett for a long weekends leave where his mother treated me most generously, I recall watching “77 Sunset Strip” on TV and drinking whiskey and ginger ale in the pub, going to his grandparents house in Midsommer Norton by steam train on the old Somerset and Dorset line, my grateful thanks for that Rod. One of my mates from PSTS, John Trott, arrived at Fisgard in the next entry to mine, S35, he too was in Grenville division and he also took me to his home in Hove for a long weekend. Once again I was treated most kindly by his parents and we had a great time, going to”Applejohns Cider Bar” and getting plastered drinking pints of rum and cider, never again!!!

In the summer of 1959, Mick Watson organised a holiday to the Channel Islands, he hired an MFV from the dockyard and with Sub-Lt Williams (The Gunner) and POME downs we set sail for Alderney as the first port of call. The weather was atrocious for the crossing with all of us being violently seasick, so the first night faded into obscurity. We left the next day to spend three days in Guernsey and berthed in St Peters Port, a lovely quiet place and thankfully calm water for the trip. Then we sailed to St Helier, Jersey, for the final five days, what a wonderful place it was, plenty to eat and drink, lovely weather, great coach trips to night clubs etc, and gorgeous girls! One evening we went by coach to one of the clubs, I made friends with a girl about my age, the club organised these wild games where after a few drinks all the girls had to remove one shoe, throw it in the centre of the dance floor and when the music stopped the first girl to find her own shoe received a prize. You have never seen females fight like this before, legs in the air, torn dresses, scratches and language that made me blush, but what a wonderful, unforgettable night. All to soon it was time to sail back, I hope I thanked the officers for all their hard work, the trip made at least one Art. App. very happy.

Now it is September 1959, and I am in “4 class”, no “sprogging” by mutual consent of the class and for me no appointment of Petty officer App or Leading App, just as well I suppose, as it would have curtailed my unofficial shore leave activities. Instead I acquired two very important things, the first being a “doeskin” No. 1 suit with brass buttons and the second being a “girlfriend”. I fell hook line and sinker for Audrey, she was beautiful, sophisticated and although slightly older than me we got on famously.

She lived just outside Plymouth with her parents and young brother at a place called Pomphlett, and her best friend who lived nearby was courting a lad from Frobisher division, Geoff Rawlinson, he and I seemed to get on well together and the four of us had a wonderful last term. Sunny afternoons at Cawsand, swimming, getting sun burnt, weekends in the “Il Cappuccino” coffee bar in Plymouth, smooching in the “Drake” cinema and drinks with the family in the “Blue Peter” pub.

On the day before Xmas leave 1959, Geoff and I decided to go under the fence wearing civvies, to see the girls before we went on leave, it was a really good night but on the way back in the last bus from the ferry we were recognised by Frobishers POME and placed on Commanders report first thing in the morning. Everyone else went on leave but the two of us were "promoted" to Captains Report that same morning. Captain Cawthra listened to our sad tale of teenage  love, gave us a bollocking together with seven days 9A punishment which was to be held over until our next establishment, we were then free to carry on with our leave. Geoff had missed his train to wherever and as I had nowhere to go anyway we decided to stay in Plymouth and see the girls, so we booked in at Dame Agnes Westons and caught the bus to Pomphlett. On arriving at his girls house we explained the situation to her Mum who immediately insisted on both of us staying with her for the whole Xmas leave. I can honestly say it was the best Xmas and New Year I have ever had, even Captain Cawthra had a present for us because our 9A punishment was never forwarded to our part 2 establishment, Caledonia I believe for Geoff and Collingwood for me.

I often wonder what happened to Geoff, he was a really nice chap, I also wonder what happened to the two girls, Audrey and Sandra.

During ones lifetime there are certain days that stick in the memory for ever, for me one of those days was New Years eve of 1959. I was at Audrey’s house that evening and just before midnight we went outside to listen to the ships at anchor in the harbour and Sound. At twelve-o-clock precisely they all sounded their sirens, horns, bells and suchlike, that cacophony of noise was magical, I shall never forget it.

Jan 1960 to April 1960.

Now it is time to report at HMS Collingwood, I was placed in Middleton division with my mate Bob Guest, sad to say we were not made welcome by those of senior entries. They treated us like dirt, both Bob and I refused to submit to “sprogging”, this served to make things worse. I sincerely hope that those responsible for inflicting misery upon us ,namely those in S30 to S27,  found the same things happening to them in later life. It was at this time that I found my real surname was Eastwood and NOT Goble. There had been some confusion at Fisgard when I was confirmed as my birth certificate was stated as lost and I was issued with one from the adopted childrens register. 

In February I applied through my DO to request the Captain for permission to change my name, after a lengthy period my request was refused with no explanation as to why. I found this to be grossly unfair as a precedent had been set in 2 class when one of our entry changed his name due to his mother re-marrying.

In my wisdom I decided that the Royal Navy and myself would be best served if we parted company, the Captain agreed with me, and towards the end of April I found myself issued with a rail warrant to New Milton, given sixteen pounds in accumulated pay and ordered to return my uniform and any other kit within fourteen days.  So, goodbye Royal Navy!  Hello civvy street!