- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Robert Porter
- Location of story:
- Parkstone near Poole Dorset
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 26 August 2003
I left school at 14 in 1942, work was scarce for young people as it was not an industrial town. Most people worked either in the Building Trade, for the local Council, the Gas Works,or in service to the wealthy families in Bournemouth.
I was fortunate in obtaining an apprenticeship with the Parkstone Joinery, a firm of some repute in the woodworking industry
I was paid 12/6 for working a 46.5 hour week which included Saturday morning. I had to buy my own tools costing in total about £50, a considerable sum bearing in mind that the average wage, at that time, locally, was about £3 per
The Joiners that trained me were quite elderly, in their seventies some of them,as they had been brought out of retirement to replace those called to the armed forces. They taught me how to survive in avery arduous industry and were philosophers on every aspect of life.
Early on in my training, work on normal joinery became scarce and the firm took on Admiralty contracts to make small naval craft.
It was quite a lesson to me to see how the joiners adapted to making boats with no previous experience, they used trade principles to adapt, something, sadly missing today.
We started off making small 10ft long dinghies and then progressed to 30ft Ambulance landing craft.These were intended to take the wounded off beaches following an invasion. These were followed by lifeboats that could be dropped, by parachute, from aircraft. All very exciting for a young lad in war time.
The next craft we built were, as it turned out to be,the most interesting,historically.They were the canoes to become famous as the cockleshells.
These were used by the commando forces in raids, the most notable of which was Operation Frankton led by ,as he was then,Major Hasler. Sadly a lot of brave men lost their lives in that raid.
I well remember my part in making these canoes all 750 of them.Each canoe had a plywood cut- water fore and aft which was hinged to fold flat on the deck.I personally fitted several hundred brass butt hinges on these cut-waters.
I would very much like to contact any one who had dealings with these "Cockles" in the past.
At a later date I would like to write more of my memories of an apprentice at war.
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