Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 712,121         Comments: 2,598

Burnley Grammar School

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There's pleny of room in the modern-styled gymnasium for muscle developing, where the boys are supervised by Mr. R. Parry, the physical education instruction.
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, December 1959

2598 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Gedvin on 14th August 2016  

Frank ... Berkhamsted School and we were supervised by only male staff and sometimes by prefects

Comments by Roy on 14th August 2016  

I agree with Philip and if what Guy describes did happen and Social Services got somehow to hear of it they would regard it as a clear case of abuse.

Comments by Philip on 13th August 2016  

With reference to the posting by Guy, it is the teacher's responsibility to keep his class under his direct supervision at all times. However much Guy might have liked the scenario he describes, it is a figment of his imagination.

Comments by Guy on 6th August 2016  

Our Grammar School kit all year was just shorts. No top and bare feet and everyone loved it in the whole school and that is today. No boxers underneath and most lads had erections all periods and we enjoyed the wanking in showers afterwards or if the PE master left we had a most enjoyable extra session. This happens from first year at The Grammar.

Comments by Frank on 29th July 2016  

Gedvin, which school was this?
Did anyone watch you during your nude swimming classes, like teachers or staff, especially of the opposite sex?

Comments by Gedvin on 28th July 2016  

John ... Yes we had our own pool. For school swimming up to end of junior school we had to swim naked so up to age 12 or 13, in the senior school we were asked to wear trunks. School swimming was once a week and house swimming twice a week. School competitions necesitated the wearing of trunks ... They had to be Speedo type as any other was regarded as too informal!

Comments by Rob on 24th July 2016  

Hi Dave. It was at an all boys grammar school in England 1955-1961. My parents had a list of the uniform which included a T-shirt for PE. My mother told me that she had learned from the mother of a boy down the road who attended the school that 'in the summer the boys go around outside with nothing on', meaning no shirt when they had PE outside. I thought nothing of this at the time.ynzc2However, at the first PE lesson the teacher told us all to go to the changing room and take everything off, including our pants and socks and come back to the gym wearing just pe shorts and plimsolls. On the way to the changing room the topic of conversation was whether we were allowed to wear a T-shirt, to which I and others said, no, just shorts and plimsolls.We all duly stripped off and returned to the gym as instructed and I am not aware that the matter of PE kit ever became a further talking point. If we had team games in the gym, each team wore different colour bands across their chests.

Comments by Derek on 24th July 2016  

Some researcher in the future is going to be dumbfounded that this topic has had so many (over 1000) replies over so many years all saying more or less the same thing! What is so intriguing about it?

Comments by Dave on 23rd July 2016  

Hi Rob! Was there any comments among boys getting to know having to be shirtless for PE? Were it a talkin point among the boys sometimes? How did you get to know the compulsory PE kit? Was it in a list or the teacher himself told it to you? Hod did you play team games if you all were barechested? Which decade was it? Was it in England?

Comments by Rob on 22nd July 2016  

Dan, This was at an all boys grammar school. At my small primary school we didn't do pe but just moved around the school hall to 'Music & Movement' on the radio wearing our normal clothes.So it was a bit of a culture shock at the grammar school the first time when I had to strip off completely and wear just a pair of shorts and plimsolls.I remember taking off my sleeveless vest in the changing room and feeling strange wearing nothing on top.No doubt a lot of others felt the same but we very soon got used to it and enjoyed the freedom. Again I was apprehensive the first time about taking my shorts off and going in the showers but after that I felt no embarrassment.

Comments by Dan on 21st July 2016  

Rob, was this in primary or secondary school?
From what I gather showers after PE in primary schools would have been rare, unless it was a boarding school.
I am also curious how many posters here had the no swimsuit rule at their school with swimming pools.

Comments by Rob on 20th July 2016  

We certainly weren't allowed to wear underpants.Our kit was just shorts and plimsolls and that came off after every session as we always had compulsory showers.

Comments by Dan on 19th July 2016  

The no-underpants rule for PE seems to have been common in many schools, though not at my school. I guess it did not apply to girls in most schools either, if any. But we did have showers after PE.
I wonder how many here had compulsary showers after PE.

Comments by Dan on 18th July 2016  

With gang showers after PE we were used to being naked together, so I don't see that nude swimming would have made any difference.

Comments by John on 18th July 2016  

@ Gavin: your school had its own pool,didn't it? How was swimming organised and conducted there?

Comments by Lewis on 12th July 2016  

Graham with regard to your comments about pajamas. I remember for scout camp the camp list always included PJ's,and they were packed. However, when on camp and in tents I remember that we opted to sleep in our pants in our sleeping bags. After a couple of nights we had opted to sleep naked. It seemed macho and we were away from our parents control. If we went to the loo in the middle of the night( which was usually over the other side of the field.) We would go over there naked. This was in the era before girls joined the scouts

Comments by Sam on 11th July 2016  

Dave, to answer your questions: yes, my school was all boys. Until our first PE lesson in the gym I think we were under the impression that we'd be wearing vests as part of the uniform. Then the teacher arrived, introduced himself and went through the register and promptly announced 'you boys won't be needing your vests for this lesson. Take them off and go and line up in the gym'. There were a few shocked stares and most of the boys went quiet, we hadn't expected that and a lot of us felt shy about doing the lesson shirtless. I did wonder what was the point of putting on a vest only to take it off straight away, but looking back that probably was the point - it suddenly made us feel vulnerable and less sure of ourselves. I certainly felt self conscious about my body for a while and so did most of my friends, but we all got used to it in time and I think it was no bad thing in the long term.

Comments by Dave on 11th July 2016  

Hi Sam!

Hi Sam! What was your mates reaction having to do PE shirtless. How did you get to know it? Was it in a uniform list or the teacher told it to you himself? Was there anys reason given to you having to do PE shirtless? Was it an all boys school?

Comments by Graham on 9th July 2016  

RE Mark's surprise (Dec 11th 2013) that a boarding school with a topless PE policy insisted on full PJs for sleeping, it would be interesting to know whether reality always reflects theory. Back when I started at a somewhat macho single-sex boarding school at the tender age of eleven (England, late 1950s early 1960s), the uniform list specified, inter alia, PE shorts (noting that PE was done topless), seven pairs of underpants (vests optional) and three pairs of pyjamas. So far, so conventional for the period - I did did PE topless at primary school, I stopped wearing vests before starting school, ditto most of my friends, and everyone I knew wore pyjamas in bed.

My first night in a dormitory of eight boys was a revelation. One by one, my room-mates stripped off uninhibitedly, revealing a universal lack of vests, showered, cleaned their teeth and equally uninhibitedly climbed into bed as naked as jaybirds. With this example, and reluctant to make an exhibition of myself by donning even the bottoms of my brand new pyjamas, all I could do was follow (birthday) suit, and ask questions afterwards! The boy in the next bed told me that PJs on the clothing list were a token gesture to convention. Under the school ethos, bare-chestedness was a manly trait required of all boys, especially for PE and sleeping, this manliness extending to not wearing vests, even in winter. Even more manly was sleeping nude, not formally mandatory but actively encouraged, not that any encouragement appeared to be needed.

I often slept topless in hot weather with my parents' approval, but wearing nothing at all in bed, without either their approval or knowledge, was a new experience that I eagerly embraced. Going home at half-term, with three unused PJ sets and apprehension at disclosing my new-found nightwear preference, was stressful, not least because I had said nothing about it in my letters home. I needn't have worried. Mum and Dad, amused at the situation, spared no efforts in reassuring me that what I wore in bed was my own affair, even at home, and suggested that they might follow my example that night!

Comments by Gavin on 6th July 2016  

John: yes some thought we were 'posh' but actually we were just pretty normal. Just sent to the schools our parents had decided upon, I guess. I know Aylesbury grammar and a good friend of mine attended the school.

Comments by Dominic on 3rd July 2016  

Mark - you are right about teachers and power trips - we did have some like that but not in p.e. Fortunately our p.e. teachers were generally supportive and encouraging. I was not particularly good at p.e. but enjoyed it partly because the teachers were so good and not interested only in the more able boys as was, I'm sure, the case in some schools.

Comments by John on 3rd July 2016  

@Gavin - Aylesbury Grammar . Yes rugby in winter and cricket in summer with running and PE .. Rarely did swimming at school .. I know your school as Berko isn't far away ... Posh boys then?

Comments by Mark on 3rd July 2016  

Hi Guys. Regarding power trips and teachers. many of our teachers did get off on the power trip of controlling those in their care.
Sadly I can remember some horrific incidents of teachers humiliating their pupils. Some indulged in bizarre punishments such as confiscating shoes and socks for the school day.
And with without a doubt there were teachers who did enjoy administering corporal punishment.

Comments by Andrew on 1st July 2016  

Paul, you ask was joining the Merchant Navy any more dignified than the Royal Navy.

The answer is a little but not much but then I started in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary so although we were civilians much was the same as the RN.

The selection was again a three day event, we slept in open dormitories, there were waist high partitions in the toilets but no doors and of course communal showers. All fitness testing was done wearing white shorts and plimsols but other than that we wore our own clothes. For the medical we were naked but rather than stand in a line we had to move around stations in the room, there was a doctor and a male orderly at each one. All the same checks were done but at least when told to bend over the back of a chair I knew what to expect. Some lads still got a shock.

Medicals were like that on an annual basis and when I left the RFA and went to P&O there was still a group of us examined together.

To pick up on a point about school PE, I thought it was very 'grown up' to do PE wearing shorts only - we had black ones. It may have been something to do with the teacher telling us that we were men so we wouldn't wear shirts or for that matter underpants.

Comments by Gavin on 1st July 2016  

John: did all sport at my school ... You name it. What about you? Which school etc?

Comments by John on 30th June 2016  

@ Gavin - oh that is an independent public school, isn't it? How much sport did you do there?

Comments by Dominic on 30th June 2016  

James - I certainly didn't consider it a hardship doing p.e. and games in just a pair of shorts - we thought it was very grown up and I remember feeling really alive running outside like that, especially in the winter.

Comments by James on 29th June 2016  

I'm sure it was no great hardship wearing only shorts for sports and gym.
I was kept in short trousers all the year round and it could be chilly in the winter

Comments by Gavin on 29th June 2016  Goerre@hotmail.com 

I went to Berkhamsted School for Boys

Comments by Sam on 28th June 2016  

That's true Rob, from what I know my friends who went to state schools didn't have the same emphasis on discipline or strict approach to PE kit.
To be honest with you, at first I didn't enjoy doing PE with my top off, partly because I was a skinny boy and partly because I wasn't expecting it! The kit we were told to get included a vest, then when we turned up for the first lesson in the gym we were suddenly ordered to take them off. A lot of boys who had been fairly noisy up to that point suddenly quietened down.
But later on you're right, it felt much more comfortable to be shirtless, especially when you were sweating a lot (which was usually the case in PE). I was a fairly good distance runner and although we wore vests for races against other schools, we did most practice sessions shirtless. So with that and the shirts v skins house races, I soon got used to running in shorts only. Never even occurred to me that anyone might be lurking to try and take photos, but yes they wouldn't have been able to do that on the grounds.
Overall I think it's a good thing that my school did things that way, I think it made me more comfortable with my body and probably healthier as well.

Comments by John on 28th June 2016  Jm_de_raven@hotmail.com 

@ Gavin - what school did you attend then?

Comments by Sterling on 28th June 2016  

Those black plimsolls were horrid and offered no support or competitive advantage. Quite unlike today's expensive running shoes.
Worn without socks, ones feet squelched around inside something awful. We only wore them for outdoor games and XC, when they would come off if you ran through a muddy patch. Most boys ran barefoot because of this.
Gym was shorts only.
My nephew's school doesn't permit barefoot PE, even in gym. If they don't have trainers with non marking soles they must sit out the class. Howwever, they do still play shirts vs skins.

Comments by Rob on 28th June 2016  

Sam,yes it was very good to hear your comments, but you were at a private school and it is unfortunate that the traditional approach to boy's PE has not been maintained in state schools.No doubt like me, you enjoyed the freedom of being in just shorts and plimsolls.We were not permitted to wear socks and definitely nothing under our shorts.We wore shirts for football but never played with a shirts v skins system for football, or cross country when we were always stripped to the waist. I expect that at your school you had extensive grounds to run in where you were protected from people who might take photos of you on their 'phones, whereas in other schools today, they are no longer sent out for this reason. It doesn't explain why boys today can't do PE in the gym as we were. I was glad to hear that you always had to strip off and take showers together afterwards. In state schools it appears that showers have no longer been used for a number of years and the space is used for storage.

Comments by Gavin on 27th June 2016  Goerre@hotmail.com 

We had to wear a jockstrap for all sporting activity at my school.

Comments by Dominic on 26th June 2016  

Sam - that is encouraging though I expect a more traditional approach like that is very rare now. I expect your school also had a better than average work ethic and a generally high standard of discipline too. I was a bit surprised to see that you had to wear plimsolls or trainers inside - I thought bare feet inside was a traditional aspect that was more common now than boys being shirtless.

Rob - I think our lessons were fun partly due to the strictness of our teachers and being worked hard and partly due to our lack of kit. I also have fond memories of playing outdoor volleyball and going on cross country runs with the sun shining on my bare back and shoulders - happy days!

Comments by Sam on 24th June 2016  

Rob, you'll be pleased to know there are still some schools that take a more traditional approach to boys' PE. I left a couple of years ago and at the private school I attended we were required to do PE lessons in black shorts and plimsolls or trainers. Gym socks could also be worn but no tops of any description. We were expected to work hard on our fitness and the discipline was fairly strict. Outdoors we were allowed to wear a football jersey but sometimes team games were played with a 'shirts against skins' system. For athletics and cross country we wore a vest in the school colours but again, for house competitions, the boys on one team would be instructed to remove their vests and run as skins. All this was compulsory, as were showers after all PE for which we had to strip completely.

Comments by Rob on 24th June 2016  

Dominic,you're so right about our PE kit. Boys today should have to strip off like us and wear just a pair of gym shorts and nothing else. I thoroughly enjoyed PE in the gym when our master was strict and worked us hard, but it was a great feeling getting really hot and running with sweat and we certainly didn't need to be wearing anything else,and we looked forward to the showers afterwards.It was also a pleasure, and healthier, running outside in the fresh air
in just shorts.

Paul,I agree that things have moved on,but from my school experiences am also comfortable about my body. My wife and I went on a cruise recently,and I have in the past used the male sauna and steamroom,but was surprised at how many guys now wore shorts, even in the showers.I would find this most uncomfortable, and for goodness sake we were all men, and I continued with the minority to be naked. Also, as you mentioned in an earlier comment that even now you don't wear pants under your shorts at the gym, I still like to wear nothing under mine when I am working in the garden at home in the summer and am also usually stripped to the waist. Unfortunately, many guys will not be behaving in this manner when they get older but I see nothing wrong in enjoying the sun and fresh air and gaining the health benefits from being outside. We learned at school not to be ashamed of our bodies, and although times have moved on, I continue to remember this and instilled this in our two sons who often thank me as they didn't learn this in their PE lessons.

Comments by Dominic on 24th June 2016  

Paul - you are right about different values. Times change - sometimes for the better; sometimes for worse. I feel the "old fashioned" p.e. kit I wore, as did so many others, it seems, was far more practical in various ways and think it is sad that boys have to cover up so much these days.
I think nude swimming for males of all ages was not all that uncommon though mainly in America in the YMCA pools. I can't imagine any-one damaging themselves by diving into a pool naked.
My p.e. masters were strict but also made their lessons enjoyable - again no "power trip" as far as I can remember. Most of us thoroughly enjoyed p.e. - it came as a welcome change from being sat in uniform in stuffy classrooms.

Comments by Paul on 22nd June 2016  

Mark on 20th June 2016

Things have moved on a great deal since I was a boy at school and applying the values of now in judgement of times past is in my view a foolish road to take. Just as murderers are no longer sentenced to hang I doubt boys at school swim naked but that doesn't mean it was bad or wrong then, just that values were different. I'm glad I'm comfortable with my body whether it's clothed or naked, something I doubt many lads of today are. If I need to I can change in the changing room at the gym or if the doctor requires drop my trousers and underpants without having a panic attack.

I don't ever remember feeling that masters were on a 'power trip' as you choose to put it. Almost all were excellent teachers and I was very happy at school. Had there been any sense of abuse I doubt that would have been the case but I look back on it as a very positive time of my life.

Comments by Mark on 20th June 2016  

To make boys do swimming well into puebity seem highly irresponsible and I have never heard of this. Boys diving into the pool with their crotch unprotected could be painful and damaging. Also by the mid teens most boys hormones are rampant and they are liable to have visible reactions to being naked etc.
I am not saying it didnt happen but in my opinion its irresponsible and serves no practical purpose whatsoever.
I do know from experience that there were teachers who definitely enjoyed their power trip they held over children(especially boys) and some teachers did enjoy punishing them. In my time at school I did encounter teachers who enforced the most extreme punishments that only served to humiliate and bully the unfortunate recipients.

Comments by JamesT on 19th June 2016  

I have only just found this site and thought I would offer my own experiences starting as a 9yr old at a school in a rural part of North east England in the late 80's. The school's official kit was a pale blue vest, black shorts, and trainers. When we'd changed for the first lesson and had been taken into the gym for the first time our teacher quickly picked a boy at ramdom and told him to run and drop his vest on the bench at the bottom end of the gym. When returned to the group the teacher picked half the class, which included me, to do the same. From then on all our PE and Games lessons had a skins team. Myself and others who found themselves to be good at sports were always hand picked to strip off, regardless of weather or activity. School inter house competitions were done in a similar way, with one team in vests, the other in skins this included Cross Country. For other events like basketball, at half time the teams were reversed, with the vests becoming skins and vice versa. This was okay if you'd had a vest on for the first half but not the other way round and it wasn't long before they were seen sticking to their owner's back/chest. We always joked that this was done so the girls could see lads from both houses strip off. When I turned 10 mainly to stand up for myself, my parents took me to learn to box. When we did fight both lads were expected by family and the club to fight bare top during your bout. Funny, from then on no one bullied me again!

Comments by Paul on 19th June 2016  

Willy, the school pool had no possibility of having spectators around it. There were only the edge walkways which were about two metres wide and then the walls. The only way in was through the changing room. Occasionally a couple of fathers would be present on a Saturday morning but I can't remember mothers ever being present. Swimming was now something that we competed at and was only for fitness and personal safety.

No trunks applied throughout the school from seven to eighteen and I never saw a lad of any age in the pool wearing anything. I don't think nudity put us off, it was a popular lunchtime activity when it was totally optional. The water was always freezing but as you did back then, we just got on with it.

Andrew, was the experience of joining the Merchant Navy any more dignified than the Royal Navy? You certainly wouldn't be embarrassed after your Royal Navy experience - probably ever again!

Comments by Dennis on 11th June 2016  

Mark As I said previously that a distinction was made between boys and girls in what they wore in pe. Although the class did it as a mixed group, and no one considered it unusual for boys not to be doing pe in underwear when the girls did. As you say, to think that for a punishment boys would be made to walk round in their underpants all day for forgetting their shorts would have the politically correct brigade going off the radar. also I agree if you were punished at school the parents supported the teacher and you must have deserved it.

At secondary school the 2 methods of punishment were cane or after school detention. Some teachers gave the lads the option of which punishment they wanted. Quite a few opted for the cane. It was quick over and done with and as you say you got on with it and parents need not know. As far as I recall the cane was only given on the hand. i do not recollect any one having to "bend over" The only exception was the sadistic PE teacher who would administer the slipper using the offenders own plimsoll across a tight backside on thin shorts and no pants for padding.

Whereas with after school detention they would know you were being kept behind and so when you got home you got a further punishment for being naughty at school.

We just got on with life and as you say no screaming Human Rights.

Comments by Andrea on 10th June 2016  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Hi Willy,
Your primary school PE arrangements sound similar to mine in the late 1960s / early 1970s.

Our school didn't have a gym but used to do 'music and movement' in the school hall. Most other PE activities took place in the school playground, or on a small grassed area if it was dry enough. I think the boys were sometimes taken to a local park pitch for football, but we girls did rounders and netball in the playground.

Our PE kit sounds similar to yours - T shirt, shorts or a PE skirt (girls could wear either)and plimsolls. Like one of the others posters our mums were supposed to make a drawstring bag (with our names embroidered on) to carry our PE kit in.

The school didn't have separate changing facilities either, we just changed into our PE kit in the classroom, boys on one side and girls on the other. By the end of our time at Primary we girls became pretty adept at pulling on our PE shorts or skirts before we removed our normal school skirt or dress! In the final year a few of my classmates who had started to wear bras rather than vests were allowed to change in the girls toilets to preserve their modesty.

Comments by Rob on 9th June 2016  

Willy, I went to an all boys grammar school in the late 50's and they used to refer to the first three years as middle school and after that we were seniors.In primary school, in the early 50's we had no gym but did some simple exercises in the school hall while the radio was turned to a programme called 'Music & Movement'. In the final two years the boys went with a male teacher to the local park where we kicked a football around. I can't remember what the girls did, but in both the hall and park we never had any special kit but simply ran around in our school clothes.Remember at that time all boys wore grey shorts, which many of us wore until our mid teens.We did all wear uniform ties to school.When I went to grammar school everyone had to wear the correct uniform of blazer, tie, pullover, white or grey shirt and black lace up shoes.It was a real change for me when we had PE, which was twice a week, and for the first time I had to get changed out of my school uniform, and take my vest off, which all boys wore,into just a pair of gym shorts with nothing on underneath & plimsolls with no socks, and stripped to the waist, both in the gym and outside, including cross country runs.For football we wore a shirt,boots and long socks,but were forbidden from wearing anything under our shorts. After all PE and football lessons we had to get our kit off and go into the customary showers together.

Comments by Mark on 9th June 2016  

Willy, I was at infant/ middle to 11 or 12, i cant remember precisely. The LEA changed over from the 11plus system and we did an extra year at infant/middle.
We had to wear a uniform and boys wore grey shorts all they way through until we left.
We didnt have a gym and rarely did PE outside. We didn't have PE kit as such. Boys did it in underpants and girls in pants and vest. We were always bare foot.
It was a church school and very strict. We had to change into plimsolls when we entered the building as outdoor shoes were not allowed. Our mums had to make a "slipper bag" for us. This was for our plimsolls(slippers) If we forgot them got tanned and then we went bare foot all day.
In winter when it snowed boys could wear long trousers to school but had to change to shorts once there. If anyone forgot them then they got a tanning and had to go around all day in their underpants
Can you imagine the outcry today if this happened? parents always took the teachers side. If I went home and told mum that someone had got in to trouble and punished she would say that he/she must have deserved.
When we did get punished, we took it and moved on. Nobody bleated about abuse and human rights. We just got on with it

Comments by Dennis on 8th June 2016  

With reference to primary school I recall that all boys wore grey shorts ( which were very short not like today) all the year round. For pe we simply removed our shirt and did the lesson in shorts and singlets which all boys wore. Those days the girls wore skirts for uniform because " girls just did not wear trousers" so for pe they simply removed their skirts and did the lesson in their regulation navy blue underwear and vest. We did not think it odd. That was just how it was. The politically correct people would go mad if that was suggested these days. After all it seems nearly all girls in junior school wear long trousers as do the boys. Occasionally you see a boy in junior school wearing shorts.

Comments by Willy on 7th June 2016  

Hi Mark, up to what age was middle school? I only remember there being primary and secondary schools back in my scholdays in the 50s and 60s.
In primary, up to age 11, we did PE mostly in the large schoolyard. We had no gym in primary. I wonder how many primary schools had a gym back then. Maybe other posters can relate.
Our primary school PE consisted of simple physical exercises or occasionally games like football and the like. Our class teacher simply acted as a coach. It was different in secondary of course.
Besides just underpants did you also have to go barefoot or did you wear PE slippers?
I remember on PE days, which was once or twice a week from what I remember, we had to take our PE kit to school, which consisted of white vest and shorts and slippers. Some boys and girls never bothered to carry them since they came dressed in just their PE kit on PE days, with maybe just a woollen top if it was cold. It was a different era.
In Secondary it was different because we had to wear a school uniform, with tie and all.

Comments by Rob on 6th June 2016  

Gosh, Andrew, that beats all comments written here, and certainly an experience that all thirty of you will never forget.Thank you for sharing this with us.We all thought we had something to tell, but your account beats everything.

Comments by Andrew on 3rd June 2016  

I think there is mileage in the idea of no underpants and communal showers getting us ready for the military. Both were the norm through my school years.

I went on to join the Merchant Navy but not before I had an interview to be an Officer Cadet with the Royal Navy. The selection lasted three days and there were thirty of us in the group. There was absolutely no privacy at any time while we were there.

The information sent out talked about tests and practical exercises and told us everything would be provided, we only needed to bring a change of clothes.

Some of the stuff was in a classroom doing formal exams, some was discussions mostly about naval tactics but there were a few rogue topics thrown in too. A lot of the stuff was field exercise where we were in groups and had to complete tasks and there was also a certain amount of what you might call PE, circuit training and similar testing out our fitness. The only attire we were provided with for anything to do with fitness was plimsols and white cotton shorts.

We were accommodated in a thirty bedded dormitory with no privacy at all, off it was a washroom that had communal showers and basins as well as toilets that had no partitions, I think I'd expected the communal showers, the toilets were a shock but there was no choice but to get on with it.

There was also a medical, I expected something like I was used to at school but again, it was done with no privacy at all. We were ordered into a big hall and ordered to strip, one or two who were dilatory were told strip included underpants. Then we had to line up side by side with our hands clasped behind our necks. Four doctors worked the line each with an orderly who made notes.

There was almost no communication from them bar commands like 'open wide' as they wanted to look in your mouth and of course 'cough.' Just as I thought it was over we were ordered to bend over and touch our knees with our elbows, I really had no idea why. An orderly worked the front of the line and a doctor the back but bent over you couldn't see anything so what came next was a complete surprise.

I was just aware of the orderly pressing down on my neck saying something like 'bend tighter lad.' There was no choice given his strength and the pressure he was applying and I can remember my hamstrings burning momentarily before I was shocked to feel hands spreading my buttocks and then mortified to experience my first rectal examination which afterwards I learned was a first and a shock for everyone.

In terms of preparation for WW3, that experience certainly did desensitise us from any sense of personal privacy.