- Letter Writer
- History - general, Letter to the Editor
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 1996 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
In the December 1995 issue of SHIPS MONTHLY, which I receive, was an article called “BOY ON A BATTLE” by Roger Fry recounting his Easter 1956 experiences as a Sea Cadet voyaging for the first time in HMS VIRGO.
It was of interest to me as I was a Sea Cadet in Australia at that time. One of the experiences he relates is that of handling a hammock for the first time. I still possess the issue hammock used by me, albeit relegated to cover the bird aviary. I found that as a young boy, a properly slung hammock was extremely comfortable to sleep in and very warm in winter in unheated mess decks. In my old age however, when I have regarded the old “cart”, I have often wondered how men slept in them – as they were so short!
I took a ruler to my old canvas and measured it as three feet nine inches by five feet with sixteen holes each end. To these holes were attached, when in use, nettles one foot six inches in length. The old gory dits spun in those days by sailors back from WWII were livened by details of sewing the remains of dead men in their hammocks, with the last stitch through their nose before dropping over the side.
Roger Fry describes his hammock as measuring seven feet by two feet, which would allow credence to the story tellers. It raises a question – were RAN hammocks shorter than the RN issue or has his impressions distorted with age? Alternatively, did the RAN save money by making the National Service loan hammock shorter than one for general use?
Perhaps this might revive memories of some old salts of their struggles moving ship with a kit-bag over one shoulder and a “cart” over the other.