Norman Smith
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Norman Smith - Aberdovey, Wales, 1952

I was seventeen in the autumn of 1952 and my employer at that time saw fit to send me on a course at the Outward Bound Sea School in Aberdovey. I will always be grateful for that and the experiences of that month are indelibly fixed in my memory.

There are so many memories that it's difficult to decide where to start. Arriving in Aberdovey by train from London my first memory relates to wildlife - The first time I had heard and seen a Buzzard - other firsts were to follow - Seeing Shelduck = seeing and hearing Curlew - and coming down to earth = Ladies Tresses Orchids - Sundew and Butterwort. Special memories for me but side issues, and not really matters connected to the course and the people I met.

Arriving at the school and being orientated into the place - Meeting the instructors - Being told the code of behavior we were to observe - Beingplaced into a watch with a group of other young men who were to become a team working together supporting each other whilst still at times competing against each other. (A real fore taste of what was to come in the spring of 1953 when National Service called me into the military)

Regrettably I never made a friendship with any of them that lasted beyond the course. We were a mixed bunch of youths - Boys from the Arethusa training ship - boys from different walks of life - a Portuguese boy - and a German boy who was the prefect example of Aryan youth. Tall with a magnificent physique, and an all round athlete, In particular he was a javelin thrower, and had competed at White City. On the course when it came to that event whist most of us strove to achieve a respectable distance, his throw put the javelin into and up a tree at the end of the field. He was going to school at the prestigious college in Stranraer and was academic - We weren't in awe of him but he certainly stood out - I wonder what happened to him.

What of the course - So many first time experiences - Those 8 oared cutters - learning how to row and be nearly knocked overboard by the dreaded command "back water"� = ducking that dipping lugsail - getting them off the davits into the water and back again.
The Warspite and the Irish Sea and sea sickness.
Learning how to tie knots - back spicing
The rope nets and more on the commando course

Predawn breakfast - packed lunches - a map and a compass - transported miles from the school in the dark and given the task of leading a group of us back to the school for dinner. Not a country ramble this was hill country and to ensure we didn't take short cuts a set of map coordinates that had to be passed through. I managed to pull that off and we all welcomed the hot meal at the end was most welcome.
Mountain rescue - controlling a stretcher on a steep slippery hillside

Cold showers before breakfast or a dip in the sea - I avoided the latter because I couldn't swim (alas a skill I have never acquired)

Then it all came to an end and it was back to life as usual = I couldn't wait for that first cigarette (a habit that took me forty-two years to give up) and to get back to my girlfriend.

I often wonder what was in the school report to my employer - They never commented.

Doesn't seem like a lot of memories, but they are just the tip of the iceberg - All of that some sixty years ago - enjoyable and definitely memorable.