'All the nice girls love a tar'

I was browsing the Discovery catalogue this afternoon in a quiet half hour (as you do) and was struck by 5 entries in the Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services from 1907-1917. All were for young men from the local area who had signed up for the Navy. None were from the immediate Springhill area but all gave their birthplace as 'Cloughfold', the village of which Springhill is part.

There were three things in particular which struck me:

Firstly, this area is approx 40 miles from the sea and I wonder what induced them to join the navy. Was it the excitement of the unknown? Did they have any idea what they were letting themselves in for? Had any of them ever actually seen the sea?

Secondly, 3 of the five joined up before the start of WW1 so it was presumably a conscious career choice for them rather than an attempt to avoid a less palatable option in the trenches. There was plenty of employment locally and the area was a net importer of labour so it is not likely to be desperation to find work.

Thirdly two of the lads (Fred Taylor - good luck researching that name round here- and Charles Wright - attested at the same time and have registration numbers which are not quite consecutive but separated by one digit. Were they friends who signed up together? They both registered in 1914 - did they see which way the wind was blowing and opted for the navy rather than the army?

I haven't sent off for the records yet. In that parallel universe with plenty of time…

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