N. J. Thomson # 777 – 1934/36

Early in 1934 I joined the S.A.T.S. General Botha. All went well for the first couple of weeks then things changed. The Second year cadets returned and there was a dramatic change. They called themselves “Old Salts” and we were “New Chum’s” or related to in more degrading terms. The second year cadets were obviously older and tougher than us “New Chums” so they took control in no uncertain manner, “Cock – a – jaw”, “Flash Back” and the oft delivered “Bum Hook” were the order of the day including the broom stick drill. Not so painful if the broomstick broke.

But one of the “Old Salts” befriended me, I thought because I was so young and so small. He was a nice guy and protected me from too much assault, then one day asked me if I had ever had a “tuck box” from my parents.

I said no so he suggested that I write to them and ask for a tuck box to be sent to me. I was apprehensive saying that the “Old Salts” might take it away from me. “No fear” he said, “I will look after it for you, I’ll put it into my locker so that you can get tuck out of it whenever you like”. I appreciated this gesture and wrote home for a “tuck box” which duly arrived. A large box 1 foot each way and rather heavy. My protector was there when I received it and suggested to get it immediately into his locker for protection. This was done and he suggested we open the box to see what was inside. The box was opened and displayed all sorts of goodies: toffees, chocolate slabs, dried fruit, etc. “Take a hand full of toffees” my friend invited and I did so. “Then I’ll lock the rest up in my locker so that it will be safe. You can always ask me to let you have more when you want to”.

After a couple of weeks I approached him and asked if I could have some more out of the “Tuck Box”. He looked at me in some surprise and said, “Don’t you remember that you took a hand full of toffees last time we went to the Tuck Box, well that is when it became empty”. I was shocked and wrote a letter to my parents:

“Please do not, repeat do not, send me any more “tuck boxes” until next year when I’ll be an Old Salt.”