Cdr. William G Constantine
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Cdr. William G Constantine - Aberdovey, Wales, 1948

I was trained aboard HMS CONWAY as a Cadet RNR. It was a two year course of six school terms. In our 4th Term it was customary for the Cadets to go to Aberdovey Outward Bound Sea School for two weeks.

The 'Aberdovey fortnight' was something to which Conway Cadets looked forward with eagerness during their first year in Conway. It was regarded as a 'Holiday' as it meant that one got off the Ship for two weeks, one would sleep in a BED not an uncomfotable hammock in a draughty Orlop deck and, best of all, the Food was said to be much better! In fact cancellation of ones attendance at Aberdovey was held over one's head as a punishment for any misdeed in that year. There was a 'Merit' and 'Demerit' award system for good school-work and behaviour, and the opposite. One had to have a 'Credit balance' of Merits over Demerits to ensure attendance at Aberdovey.

We thoroughly enjoyed being ashore and doing expeditions in the lovely Welsh countryside and doing athletics which included Javelins and Shot putting, which my Grammar School did not have in the late 40's due to wartime shortages. I managed to get an 'Honours' award in the 5 mile walk! The sea-sailing side was a doddle as we spent a lot of time in and out of boats on the Conway which was then moored in the middle of the Menai Straits off Bangor Pier and was totally dependant on boatwork. However, I did enjoy operating a 'dipping-lug' cutter for the first time.

The food was good, considerably better than we had in Conway. In fact in my second year on board in 1948 we `mutineed'. This I believe was the one and only in Conway's history. All 250 Cadets stood at attention on the Lower Deck where the 'falls' or ropes for hoisting up the boats lay and refused to obey the order 'Hoist Away'. Eventually the Captain Superintendant addressed us and promised that there would be an improvement in the food. There was but it was only temporary. If it had not been for regular monthly Food-parcels from home we would have starved. A bit like Red Cross Parcels in 'Stalag Luft 13' POW camps. Many is the time I ate dry bread with only HP Sauce or sugar on it! I kid you not!.

So you will understand when I say that I am not really qualified to comment on the 'character building' aspects of my Outward Bound experience. There were others whom we, rather unkindly, considered to be in need of such a course and hopefully benefitted from it. But seriously, the concept is an excellent one. It tests one's strength of character and teaches teamwork. These vital attributes are in danger of decay in this 'misinterpreted Health & Safety' society.

I had the privelege of Lecturing on Mid-Apprenticeship Release Courses in the 60's. The Courses were for Cadets at sea from different Shipping Companies, the idea being to widen their horizons and improve their knowledge of the Shipping World so that when they had completed their 'Articles' they were more likely to continue with a sea career and sit for the examinations for 'Officers Certificates of Competency'. It was amazing what a difference one year at sea had made to their characters and bearing.

Keep up with the good work.

Cdr. W.G. Constantine RD** RNR, Master Mariner.