Prince of Wales Sea Training Hostel Ingham
Ingham Old Hall Stalham
Norfolk NR12 0TW
1940 to 1953
The following information is from the British and International Sailor's Society Helm magazine:
May - June 1941
Since the last issue of Chart and Compass the following boys have been admitted to the Prince of Wales Hostel for a course of training lasting approximately six months :-
KD Gillett - Dover
The under mentioned have been found good berths at sea and their progress will be followed with interest:-
G Hendry - Port Gordon Banffshire
July - August 1941
During the past month the following boys been placed in good berths at sea:-
RL Humphrey - Norwich
September - October 1941
The following boys have been admitted to the hostel:-
CJ Mitchell - Brighton
The society has secured berths at sea:-
JC Sykes - Huddersfield
The following boys were conformed by Rev H Woodfield Hon Chaplain of the hostel. Confirmed by the Bishop of Norwich at Norwich Cathedral on 31st July:-
A Wise - Matlock
Entries to the hostel during the month of September were:-
N Armitage - Hoylake Cheshire
The following were found good berths after a sea weeks leave:-
NW Cameron - Port Gordon Banffshire
July - September 1943
During the last few months the following boys have left the hostel and joined their ships:-
WH Dixon - Darvell Ayshire
The summer months have been full of variety and interest. On May 26th we were pleased to welcome Admiral Sir Dudley-North, KVCO and his Chief of Staff Captain Lord Alastair Graham RN, who came over to inspect the boys. The Admiral gave a most interesting talk to the ships company and after looking around the hostel, expressed much satisfaction with all he saw.
October - December 1943
Since our last report the following boys have left the hostel and joined their ships:-
DL Lomax - Cambridge
The following boys have signed on ships :-
AJ Basye - Crondall
We are very sorry to have news that AG Blackman, Eastbourne who was trained in 1932, and WA James, Chester (1941) have been lost at sea through enemy action. We are glad to announce that on January 13th a son was born to Lieutenant Commander and Mrs G Watts.
April - June 1945
The following boys have left the hostel to go to sea:-
AL Bassett - Sunderland
Wednesday May 23rd 1945 was a Red Letter Day at Ingham Old Hall, for it was the date of the first visit to the hostel of the Royal Patron, H.R.H The Duchess of Kent. Shortly after 3 o'clock Her Royal Highness arrived by road from Norwich where she had fulfilled a series of engagements in the morning.
The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander SG Rivers-Smith RN (Retd) conducted
Her Royal Highness and the boys were inspected where they were lined up on the
signal deck. A few of the Old Boys who were able to get to Ingham for the
occasion were also presented and were each greeted by the Duchess.
Since the last issue the following boys have left the hostel to go to sea:-
WS Wyllie - Arbroath
Since the Old Boys Association Office was opened in London two years ago, many interesting features have been brought to light on the progress and achievements of several of the Old Boys of the hostel throughout the war.
Our losses have been rather severe and we grieve for the eighty five old boys who have given their lives for their country, and whose sacrifice will always remain an inspiration to the boys who enter the hostel for training in the future.
No less than nine boys have achieved awards of one kind or another for devotion
to duty : 4 MBE's, 1 OBE, 2 GCM's, 1 DSM, 1 Albert Medal and one boy was
presented with the Norwegian Military Cross by King Haakon of Norway.
August - October 1946
A memorial services of the Old Boys of the Prince of Wales Sea Training Hostel who gave their lives in the war, will be held at St Peter-Upon-Cornhill, London, on Wednesday, September 11th 1946 at 3pm.
The service will be conducted by the Rector of the church The Rev. Aubrey Owen, MA. assisted by the Hon. Chaplain of the Prince of Wales Hostel, The Rev. H. Woodfield and the Superintendent Chaplain of the British Sailors Society, the Rev. RW Phillips.
November 1946 – January 1947
September 1946 will stand out as a memorable month in the history of the Hostel for during that month not only did the Old Boys meet again for their annual reunion dinner but homage was paid by the Old Boys, Staff and Directors of the Society alike to the eighty five Old Boys of the Hostel who gave their lives in the service of their country during the war.
On September 11th a memorial service was held at St Peter’s-upon- Cornhill, conducted by the Rector, Rev Douglas A. Owen, MA, assisted by the Hon. Chaplain of the Hostel, Rev H. Woodfield, and the Society’s Superintendent Chaplain, Rev. RW Phillips.
The Old Boys reunions dinner took place at the Empire Memorial Hostel on September 11th and the Chair was taken on this occasion by one of the Old Boys, AE Mitchell MBE, the guest of the evening being Mr Kenneth Swan, Chairman of the Board.
November 1947 – January 1948
Since the last issue the following boys have been put to sea:-
DG Allan - Newton Stewart
Many of our Old Boys and friends of the school will have learnt with regret of the retirement of Mr Herbert E Baker, special Commissioner of the Society. It will be remembered that it was Mr Baker who founded the Prince of Wales Training Hostel in 1920 and it is to him we owe our thanks for its success, and through his untiring efforts the surmounting of many difficulties in recent years. In sending him our best wishes and sincere thanks we feel sure that it must be a very great joy to him to realise that two thousand boys have gone to sea and started on their careers from the Hostel he founded. We would wish him to know that we shall make every effort to keep the flag flying and retain the wonderful reputation, which has been built up through the years.
May – August 1948
The sound of a ship’s bell in the heart of the beautiful countryside in Norfolk would probably cause visitors to stop in their tracks and wonder if they’d heard aright. Could it have been a ships bell? But when this was followed by the unmistakeable shrill notes of a bosun’s whistle, they would look around to see where the ship could be. If they were of a curious turn of mind they might decide to investigate.
If they looked, as we did, through a gap in the trees boarding the estate, their view would open out to a beautiful country house standing in delightful grounds and gardens. On the wide, smooth lawn in front of the house was a tall flag mast at the head of which flew the red ensign bearing the crest of the Prince of Wales feathers. Upon the appearance of a boy in sailor uniform, we realised this was the Prince of Wales Sea Training School.
We had just time to turn and admire the beautiful garden and lawns before being admitted by a smartly dressed sailor boy. It was well that we doffed our hats, for later the Commanding Officer told us we had stepped aboard his ship and were standing on the Quarter Deck.
In that simple act of doffing the hat we learned, the civilian takes part in what is perhaps, the oldest tradition – saluting the Quarter Deck. It seems that the salute dates from when ‘Shippes of Warre’ held a raised Crucifix at the stern and men bared their heads to that sacred emblem.
A beautiful house, centuries old, was shown to us. The rooms with the panelled walls and stone fireplace, the winding staircases, the quaint hallways and corridors, all bore names familiar only to those who ‘go down to the sea in ships’. First we saw the ward room, the recreation room complete with billiard table, darts board and comfortable easy chairs: then passed to the mess deck and the galley where three boys, under expert supervision, were busy preparing dinner for the rest of the ship’s company; a class room where everyone’s eyes were focused on the blackboard from which an Officer was imparting knowledge on points of the compass.
We left quietly and were taken upstairs until we came to the ships bunks all looking very neat and tidy, standing upon highly polished floors. We crossed to the old mullioned windows to look upon another class of boys under instruction round a full sized ships hatch, situated jus at the side of the building.
Some washing was drying in the courtyard and we were told the lads are taught to launder some of their own clothes and on Fridays ‘Make and Mend’ – the nautical term for darning, patching, etc.
We visited the ships sick bay – a cheery room with windows overlooking a charming walled garden – but we were glad to see that the room was not occupied, provably an excellent sign of the healthy conditions under which the boys were being trained.
After seeing the washrooms, showers and locker rooms, we were taken down the drive to a lofty building standing just inside the boundary. This, the Skipper told us, was the gymnasium and cinema hall where a weekly film show is given throughout the year – a very popular feature with the lads.
Another short walk through the trees – daffodils, primroses and bluebells were growing in profusion – brought to us a recreation hall where a fine boxing ring is erected. Two lads had just finished sparring and were rubbing down. We noticed also that table tennis is provided too. It is here, we learned, that concerts and whist drives are sometimes held in the winter months.
When we emerged from the recreation hall we came out into an excellent playing field, boarded on three sides by trees and with ancient church of Ingham in the background. We asked what the nice little thatched hut that faced the playing field was for and were told that this was their cricket pavilion and that cricket and football are played during school hours as part of organised games.
On returning to the house, we passed through well-kept orchards and kitchen gardens and a gardener, bending over some young lettuce plants, looked up and touched his cap. The Skipper told us then that all the vegetables cooked in the galley are produced in the garden.
We asked where the boys learn their boating and were told that the cycles we had seen were used to take them down to the river or the Broads where practical instruction was given in boating pulling, sailing and in the use of davits. Apparently the last named were erected there too. What lucky chaps they were to get such first class instruction we thought.
“Do the boys get any time off?” we asked, “Oh, they go to Norwich, Great Yarmouth or North Walsham on Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoons when they are not on duty. A number of the boys have brought their own bicycles with them and they find it a great boon to be able to cycle off to explore the countryside.
Before we shook hands with the officers and said goodbye to the boys, the Commanding Officer told us that the lads are trained for six months for the deck department of the Merchant Navy. In training British boys for British ships, the British Sailors Society attaches great importance to the religious and moral side, especially in character training. In addition to the usual nautical subjects, the boys are taught to be clean, straightforward, manly Christian sailors. The Society being inter-denominational in its constitution and activities has the boys of all denominations, and they are specially encouraged to carry on as members of the church in which they have been brought up.
The Society interests itself wholeheartedly in the lads’ careers and no point concerned with their welfare is overlooked. Not only are they trained for a definite purpose in life but for an honourable position in that service which has more than maintained those glorious traditions of British seamen.
On completion of their training, they are put to sea with reputable Shipping Companies; even then, the Society does not lose touch with them as its representatives and Port Missionaries all over the world contact them on their ships at the various ports of call and encourage them to join the Society’s International Sailors Brotherhood. At the end of their first four years of service at sea, the lads can sit for their Second Mates Certificate at the Society’s King Edward VII Nautical School in London.
It was not without some pride that the C.O told us that many boys who passed through the school were now Master Mariners and some command their own ships.
Our little party, which first halted at the sound of the ship’s bell and looked through the gap in the trees, now walked back down the drive much wiser people, each with our own thoughts about all we had seen and determined to spread our knowledge of the boys’ school.
As we turned in to the lane to make for home, the ship’s bell struck again and we could not resist one last look up the drive at the grand old place where such splendid work is being done by the Ship’s Officers, all devoted to their tasks. Signed T.R.C
Looking back over the last twelve months we feel very inspired by the rapid progress the school has made since the end of the war. During the year 68 boys entered the school for training as compared with 43 in 1947 and berths have been found for 57 boys as compared with 30 last year. At the end of the war there were only 15 boys in the school under training and it was not until the middle of last year that we were able make an increase in that number. There are now 34 boys in the school and it is hoped that in the coming year we shall be able to improve that figure. When referring to the number of entrants into the school we would stress the fact that over 30 boys were sponsored by the B.S.S. Guild who paid the training fees for these boys and in many cases helped even further. This is a very fine record and we are grateful to the members of the Guild who have done such a fine job of work. We extend to them our cordial thanks.
The following boys have joined ships found for them on completion of their training:-
SG Brown - Minchinhampton
We are glad to report that JW Smith of Leeds,
trained at the hostel, has passed his Board of Trade Master’s Certificate. We
regret to announce the death at sea, through enemy action, of TN Brennand who
left in August 1942, also of B Marshall who was here in 1935. A Hepburn is
reported missing and PVR Bloomfield a prisoner of war.
January – March 1949
Readers will remember that the Command of the Prince of Wales School has now changed and that Commander K Munro, OBE, RD, RNR has been appointed.
Commander Monro began his connection with the sea at an early age when he was with the ‘Conway’ and later served with the Merchant Service and joined the Royal Navy Reserve in 1925. During the 1939-45 war he was for three years Commodore of Coastal Convoys, being awarded the OBE for his work during the Normandy Invasion.