James Main
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James Main - Aberdovey, Wales, 1941

During my childhood, I was privileged to win a scholarship to Gordonstoun School in Morayshire, Scotland. In May 1940, the school was evacuated as it lay between two airfields (Lossiemouth and Kinloss) and was moved to Llandinam, Montgomeryshire, Wales about 30 miles from the sea at Aberdovey.

In September two guest houses, "Penrynn"� and "Westhaven"� at Aberdovey were rented for two terms to accommodate the Junior part of the school. Meantime, the two sailing cutters were sent down by rail from Hopeman to Aberdovey. This formed the basis of the seamanship/sailing activities under the ferryman Mr Ellis Williams. In addition some of the senior boys came down by train from Llandinan on alternate Saturdays to continue sailing/seamanship.

In June 1941, I was one of the crew who sailed the "Prince Louis"� schooner from Hopeman to Aberdovey under the supervision of qualified Blue Funnel staff. The crew were a total of eight boys but as it was wartime, we were routed via the Caledonian Canal, Oban (where we had engine trouble), Bangor, North Wales where we anchored near the training ship "Conway"�, then on through the Menai Straits to Aberdovey, where we were welcomed by the majority of the population! In all, the trip took three weeks to complete after which the crew went home for the summer holidays.

Whilst on route, a conference was held in Liverpool between Mr Lawrence Holt, Mr Kurt Hahn (Headmaster of Gordonstoun) and the Headmaster of the training ship "Conway"� - and this, I understand, resulted in the formation of the Aberdovey Sea School which later became the Outward Bound Sea School.

During the summer, Blue Funnel provided some deck hands, together with staff supervision, to overhaul the rigging and generally prepare the "Prince Louis"� for the opening of the Outward Bound Sea School in October 1941. The sea school started at "Bryneithon"� as the Headquarters and the Black Shed at the harbour as the base for seamanship. Apart from the "Prince Louis"�, there were two rowing/sailing cutters afloat inside the pier and the school opened with eight "Conway"� boys, eight from Blue Funnel and eight Gordonstoun boys.

We were divided into three watches which allowed integration of all the boys and we marched in watches to and from the school and the Black Shed by the pier, much to the amusement of the local population. Activities included PE, sailing, knots, splices, land expeditions on a small scale, and weekly trips on the "Prince Louis"� (one watch at a time) mostly to Abersoch.

In all, I was there for a total of three courses (the first and two subsequent courses of a month each). During this period, the ketch "Garabaldi"� was purchased, commissioned and run in parallel with the "Prince Louis"� and the intake of boys was increased to about 100 per course. As a result of this, a further house beyond the base building was rented to accommodate all the new students. I then left the school and went away to sea as a Midshipman in October 1943.

I don't think that Outward Bound had that much influence on my life as it had the same principles as Gordonstoun, which had in many ways set the standard of training at Aberdovey. However, I might add that I enjoyed all 3 courses and mixing with the boys from different walks of life which really instilled comradeship.

Since then, I have had many opportunities to support the Outward Bound, being integral in the set up of the school in Hong Kong (where I was based, working for Alfred Holt & Co) as well as having spoken at various Clubs and Associations on the Outward Bound movement in order to further spread their principles. I was proud to receive the Diamond Jubilee Roll of Honour 1941-2001 and still believe in the motto "To Serve, To Strive and Not To Yield"�.

James Main - Aberdovey 1940-1943