Hot Topic (More than 10 Replies) Subject: School (Read 21,256 times)
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Subject: School
10th Oct, 2007 at 4:38pm
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Name: M (genacct56@btinternet.com) 
Date: Tue 09 Oct 2007 14:37:31 BST
Subject: School
  I too suffered at the hands of the Royal Naval School in Vacoas. Three years of missed education had it’s temporary upside but it was hard work to recover the lost time. With hindsight I now think that schooling between the ages of 9 and 12 should consist only of football, cricket and swimming. Weekends for snorkelling only.
When I was there the Headmaster was a lieutenant commander Cook, no doubt Cooke with an ‘e’. His wife was an English teacher I think. Well she appeared to be the English teacher and all I can say about her was, indeed, she was English. I don’t think any of the teachers had any great skill in their chosen profession but I’m sure they enjoyed the prestige of being perceived as officer types.
One thing you mentioned made me think about my time in Mauritius was the station commander’s wife telling her daughter to get rid of the two boys who were not of officer class status. Sad that but that was the way it was in Mauritius for many people. I remember one time when the older boys were at a local college for woodwork there was a ‘situation’ with a Chinese shop owner whilst waiting for the bus back to Vacoas. I can still see the Chinaman in his flip flops, handkerchief used vest waving a chopping knife in the air as he chased us all around the shop. When we got back to school we were lined up for the cane.
Strange thing was the officer kids were not caned. All the rating’s kids were caned most of whom were innocent. The higher up the rank your dad was in the non officer world the more Cooke appeared to relish the caning . I always thought that an unfair act and worthy of a mutiny.

I went back to Mauritius a few years ago and stayed at a few of the now not so deserted beach locations where we spent weekends. I drove to Le Chaland and stayed at the original hotel which used to be one of the very few beach hotels during my time in Mauritius. I walked along the beach towards the ‘club’ and it’s still there, same yellow colour too. I also found the old wooden rowing boat alongside a rusted fenceline. She was well holed, in fact no bottom to her.
On the beach in front of the club I put on the mask, snorkel and flippers and made my way to the waters edge. Breathed in deeply as I swam over the top of the close in weed, always hated that as you never knew what was hiding in there. I swam out about 70 to 80 metres and stopped at a large coral outcrop. Yes they were still there, the large red scorpion fish. I knew their great great great great grandparents.

The mention of chilli cakes - I take it you bought them from the chap in the corner of the Vacoas market ? Hand made chilli cakes , very hand made. Hands used for nose picking and other pickings were well mixed in with the yellow chilli cake preparation. Use to buy bags of them and got immune to most of the Mauritian bacteria thanks to the chilli cake man. Whenever I go to an Indian restaurant I always try something that reminds me of the chilli cakes. Just not the same taste though.

Mr. Mauritius, and we always called him Mr Mauritius. In fact he could have been Mr GiB as I often overheard he was friendly with many people, especially their wives.

I also remember a pti called woolcot, something like that. There was always loud banging type noises coming from his flat every night. I think he appears in one of the photos here. The other pti, the smaller one replaced a Scots pti. He was good as was his replacement. The chap in the photo used to take us for football training and coached us in running. He was very popular.

A beautiful island with many good memories. I think I will go back soon for another look around.

As much as I enjoyed my time on the island evading a formal education I’m glad it was only for three years though. It was the end of a period in which Britain was changing for the better. A time when ’quality’ education and opportunity was available to all. Mauritius represented one of those far flung corners of the british empire where you knew your place and you stayed there. And if you were less than ten years old and spoke with an accent other than that of royalty you were pure sh*te and would stay sh*te. I never knew about the class system and its injustices until I experienced HMS Mauritius. Now that was educational !

  

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Steven Foster
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Re: Subject: School
Reply #1 - 10th Oct, 2007 at 5:25pm
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Excellent posts Chris and M.

Chris' memory is indeed amazing - I'm ashamed to say that I can barely remember any of my school friends (only one chap, my "Best Friend" called Dale...and I can't even remember his surname).

We called the beach around the corner from Grand Baie "Grand Sable", and it had a diving board on one of the volcanic rock outcrops (jet black and bloody hot). I can't see that on Google Earth....it's probably long gone. Le Chaland was memorable for the hornets nests in and around the crater in the promentary at the far right of the beach (remember that?). Grand Sable was the favored destination - spent many more weekends there than Le Chaland.

The naughtiest thing I ever did was fire some Chinese rockets at the (as you know wooden) school with a couple of mates. Quite mind-bogglingly stupid, but then 8-9 year old boys are, aren't they?

What I'm staggered by is my complete unawareness of the officer/rating boll***ks going on. My Dad's position on the 2nd tour made him "officer status" (so we had one of the houses, not a flat), and I had absolutely no idea of the inequality going on!

You are both right - the school was sh*te, and I also spend 6 months making up for those lost 3 years when I came back to Blighty in '75.

Cheers,

Steven
  
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Ian Hunneybell
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Re: Subject: School
Reply #2 - 2nd Dec, 2007 at 11:55am
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Steven,

When were you in Mauritius? 1973-75? Was your best friend Dale, "Dale Ferguson"? Can't have been too many Dales out there. His sister Samantha was born out there.

I was there from '74-'76, and eventually had to return back home because they closed the place down!

Wonderful memories of a happy childhood, weekends at the beaches, not a care in the world. Ah, to be able to turn the clock back...!

Ian
  
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Steven Foster
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Re: Subject: School
Reply #3 - 7th Dec, 2007 at 8:32pm
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Ian Hunneybell wrote on 2nd Dec, 2007 at 11:55am:
When were you in Mauritius? 1973-75? Was your best friend Dale, "Dale Ferguson"?



My Dad wangled two tours - I was born there in 1965. We came back 1972-75. It was indeed Dale Ferguson Smiley.

I recognise the name - do you (did you) have freckles Ian (sorry if I'm remembering incorrectly, but when I saw your name I immediately thought of a freckly-faced chap)?

Cheers,

Steven
  
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Steven Foster
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Re: Subject: School
Reply #4 - 7th Dec, 2007 at 8:49pm
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...just answered my own question after seeing OUR school photo that you sent in: I do remember you and you did have freckles Smiley.

I'm the chap with the glasses in the school photo you sent in (two to the right from you). Dale is the chap between us.

Oh dear Wink.
  
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Re: Subject: School
Reply #5 - 8th Dec, 2007 at 11:49am
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Steven.
I have added your name to the photo.
  

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Re: Subject: School
Reply #6 - 2nd Sep, 2008 at 12:07pm
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Hello.

I was at the school between early 1965 up to the end of 1967 and I enjoyed your memories and comments - particularly your view that Lt. Cdr. Cook took rather too much pleasure in using the cane than is strictly decent! In today's world I suspect that he would have had a visit from the "appropriate authorities". I must, however, take issue with you on your suggestion that officers' kids never got caned - they most certainly did! My father was Lt. Peter Atkinson (SD) Communications and I got memorably caned just for not returning homework on time. I do not have the best memories of Cdr. Cook.

I also remember Mr. Mauritius really well, but at 12 years old was unaware of his extra-curricular activities! We used to spend huge amounts of time in the pool and I think most of the kids swam like fish. Mark Sallows was always very fast, and I remember that the PTI's son (Paul?) Woolcot was pretty good as well. I loved that pool so much, in fact, that I had my 13th birthday party there in December 1968.

I have only just joined your site, and thank you for putting it up. I'll add some phots and memories when I get a bit more time.

Rgds - David Atkinson.
  
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Re: Subject: School
Reply #7 - 12th Jan, 2009 at 10:04pm
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Hi, I was at the school from 74 - close. Ian I am in the picture with your sister, back row righthand side, yep the one with the stupid look....my sister is in you picture, Janet she also has a stupid look, must run in the family

Tony(Anton) Goree
  
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Re: Subject: School
Reply #8 - 3rd Aug, 2009 at 10:48am
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You mentioned the old wooden rowing boat at le Chaland, I have many memories of my father making it at our house and then taking it down.
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Re: Subject: School
Reply #9 - 18th Mar, 2010 at 12:50pm
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I was at the school when Cmdr O'Sullivan or was it Cmdr Sullivan, was headmaster, I remember having a huge crush on one of his daughters (actually both of them) and I also remember the sad day when he was hit in the temple by a golf ball, I was only 7 or 8 at the time but I remember it was serious.

My Dad was a trade officer with the Canadian High Commission in Port Louis, my mum was Scottish. We weren't officially part of the British community but almost all of our friends an neighbours were and we had access to all the RN facilities as Canadians.

I used to chum around with a lad who's last name was Caldwell and also Gerard Tinkler, who dad was English and as I remember, a bit of a playboy in the expat community!

I dont remember learning much at the school but I do remember playing marbles during playtime and catching fleas while playing under the school after being told not to play under the school because of the fleas!

I don't remember being caned for anything and if not doing homework was a reason to get the cane, I would have been the most caned boy at school! Maybe they didn't cane Canadians!!!
Anyway, Mauritius was the best 3 years of my childhood. No matter what our parents position was, we were all pretty privileged to have lived in paradise during much simpler, innocent times.

I lived in the UK until I was 17 then moved to Canada to join the Canadian Air Force, still here and still driving my kids nuts with tall tales of what I remember as the greatest adventure of my life, Mauritius!

Cheers,
Alasdair Kerr
  
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Re: Subject: School
Reply #10 - 4th Mar, 2012 at 11:41am
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Hi Alasdair,

It is interesting how people have different views on the place - I'm sure it wasn't the best school around, but I don't recall my education suffered while I was there. I was also lucky enough to spend a couple of years at the military school in Singapore (1969-71) and when I came back to the UK after two years away and slotted back into the same class in the same school in England I was streets ahead of my classmates - so Singapore must have been a great school, academically.

I kept that "lead" up after I came back from Mauritius so I'm pretty sure that my education also kept up while I was there.

As you and others have said, the best part of it all was having the "Mauritian Experience" which is an education all of itself, and one that no classroom anywhere else in the world could have replicated. I wouldn't trade that for the world, and memories from those days will last all of my life.

Cheers,
Ian
  
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Re: Subject: School
Reply #11 - 5th Mar, 2013 at 11:42pm
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The school was like a bostal with a staff of bullies headed by Cooke who enjoyed every minute of being a .....
  
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Re: Subject: School
Reply #12 - 21st Nov, 2015 at 7:40pm
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spitfire wrote on 5th Mar, 2013 at 11:42pm:
The school was like a bostal with a staff of bullies headed by Cooke who enjoyed every minute of being a .....

  
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Re: Subject: School
Reply #13 - 21st Nov, 2015 at 7:42pm
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HMS Mauritius Admin wrote on 10th Oct, 2007 at 4:38pm:
Name: M (genacct56@btinternet.com)  
Date: Tue 09 Oct 2007 14:37:31 BST
Subject: School
 I too suffered at the hands of the Royal Naval School in Vacoas. Three years of missed education had it’s temporary upside but it was hard work to recover the lost time. With hindsight I now think that schooling between the ages of 9 and 12 should consist only of football, cricket and swimming. Weekends for snorkelling only.
When I was there the Headmaster was a lieutenant commander Cook, no doubt Cooke with an ‘e’. His wife was an English teacher I think. Well she appeared to be the English teacher and all I can say about her was, indeed, she was English. I don’t think any of the teachers had any great skill in their chosen profession but I’m sure they enjoyed the prestige of being perceived as officer types.
One thing you mentioned made me think about my time in Mauritius was the station commander’s wife telling her daughter to get rid of the two boys who were not of officer class status. Sad that but that was the way it was in Mauritius for many people. I remember one time when the older boys were at a local college for woodwork there was a ‘situation’ with a Chinese shop owner whilst waiting for the bus back to Vacoas. I can still see the Chinaman in his flip flops, handkerchief used vest waving a chopping knife in the air as he chased us all around the shop. When we got back to school we were lined up for the cane.
Strange thing was the officer kids were not caned. All the rating’s kids were caned most of whom were innocent. The higher up the rank your dad was in the non officer world the more Cooke appeared to relish the caning . I always thought that an unfair act and worthy of a mutiny.

I went back to Mauritius a few years ago and stayed at a few of the now not so deserted beach locations where we spent weekends. I drove to Le Chaland and stayed at the original hotel which used to be one of the very few beach hotels during my time in Mauritius. I walked along the beach towards the ‘club’ and it’s still there, same yellow colour too. I also found the old wooden rowing boat alongside a rusted fenceline. She was well holed, in fact no bottom to her.
On the beach in front of the club I put on the mask, snorkel and flippers and made my way to the waters edge. Breathed in deeply as I swam over the top of the close in weed, always hated that as you never knew what was hiding in there. I swam out about 70 to 80 metres and stopped at a large coral outcrop. Yes they were still there, the large red scorpion fish. I knew their great great great great grandparents.

The mention of chilli cakes - I take it you bought them from the chap in the corner of the Vacoas market ? Hand made chilli cakes , very hand made. Hands used for nose picking and other pickings were well mixed in with the yellow chilli cake preparation. Use to buy bags of them and got immune to most of the Mauritian bacteria thanks to the chilli cake man. Whenever I go to an Indian restaurant I always try something that reminds me of the chilli cakes. Just not the same taste though.

Mr. Mauritius, and we always called him Mr Mauritius. In fact he could have been Mr GiB as I often overheard he was friendly with many people, especially their wives.

I also remember a pti called woolcot, something like that. There was always loud banging type noises coming from his flat every night. I think he appears in one of the photos here. The other pti, the smaller one replaced a Scots pti. He was good as was his replacement. The chap in the photo used to take us for football training and coached us in running. He was very popular.

A beautiful island with many good memories. I think I will go back soon for another look around.

As much as I enjoyed my time on the island evading a formal education I’m glad it was only for three years though. It was the end of a period in which Britain was changing for the better. A time when ’quality’ education and opportunity was available to all. Mauritius represented one of those far flung corners of the british empire where you knew your place and you stayed there. And if you were less than ten years old and spoke with an accent other than that of royalty you were pure sh*te and would stay sh*te. I never knew about the class system and its injustices until I experienced HMS Mauritius. Now that was educational !


  
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