Saturday 27 April 2013

Hello Sailor!

In a comment on the post below by Subrosa relating to the Australians and Gallipoli in 1915, Edward Spalton reminds us of the youth of some of those involved in the Navy, notably the Midshipmen.  Not only were they teenagers, some had only just attained that status.

Again we often need when we look at the past we often need the detail to remind us that the way it is written up today may not be accurate in that often the comment or interpretation depends on assumptions and limited sources. 

Clearly, the Navy was a hard taskmaster, but it may not have been regarded as badly by those at the time as we tend to do today.  One question is how many “pressed” men were in fact volunteers?  Given the conditions in some merchant vessels the Navy may have seemed desirable to the hungry and badly paid.

The photograph above was something found in the Morning Chronicle of Friday 30th July 1852, as usual when looking for something else, it states that its source was the Dundee Advertiser.  It is about recruiting boys and seems to present a different picture to that which we might expect.

Also, it relates to Dundee, which is of interest not only to Subrosa.  One of my forebears was a Master Mariner whose vessel was registered there.  Given his voyages and the work that had to be done, any of the boys may well have preferred the Royal Navy.

Also, when you look at the other options for employment in the factories and the mines in this period (1852) for youngsters of this age and their prospects, despite all the hardships and discipline of the Royal Navy, to those at the time it may have seemed a reasonable choice.

On Youtube, the group “Fishermans Friends” are South Australia bound:

So what is it to be?  Crawling around and under filthy machines in a factory for twelve or more hours a day?  Working all the hours as the lowest farm labourer for a pittance?  Going down the pit until your lungs give out in your mid 30’s to 40’s if your survive?

Or would you choose to weigh anchor and see the world?

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