Hector Cameron
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Hector Cameron - Aberdovey, Wales, 1944

Like many a fourteen year old schoolboy in 1944, I wanted to go to sea - to get involved in something other than Latin verbs! Well meaning parents had other ideas and during that momentous summer, their tactic was to consign me to Outward Bound Sea School (OBSS) Aberdovey, to get the sea out of my system - some chance!

As you may know, in those days, the founders of Outward Bound were concerned with the high casualty rate among young merchant seaman after their ships were torpedoed - many of them dying unnecessarily, while the older seamen survived. The ethos of Outward Bound soon helped staunch the flow!

My course consisted of Gordonstoun Boys, Cadets from HMS Conway, a mixed bag of young men from factories throughout the UK, augmented by half a dozen apprentices and junior deck Officers from the Blue Funnel line, who had recently been torpedoed. The new warden, a Mr Fuller, had recently arrived after surviving many weeks in an open lifeboat off the West African coast.

To be rubbing shoulders with all those young men, some barely older than myself, who not only had one or two years sea service under their belts, but had lost their ships and survived, was heady stuff! One thing for sure though, they still never found the young man responsible for the potato stuffed up the exhaust of the renowned Mr Hogan's car and causing him much distress.

Having these young 'veterans' with us on the Ketch, the Garibaldi, whilst criss-crossing the Welsh & Irish coasts, when the Normandy Landings were going on, was more than comforting.

Within a month of the course, my father compromised and I was allowed to start my sea career on HMS Conway.

One strong signal remains with me after all these years - everyone helping each other and the stoicism of the young 'veterans'.

OBSS also taught me something else, which stayed close to me all my life and that was, do the thing you fear to do and the death of fear is inevitable.