Crossing The Line Ceremony
Ahoy there. What
ship is that and where are you bound?
His Britannic Majesty’s Cruiser Ajax from Bermuda bound for
south American Ports. Who
I am the Herald of his Oceanic Majesty, King Neptune, and I wish to come
I will stop the ship. Stop
both. My engines are
appears and bows to the bridge)
By what right do you challenge us upon the High Seas.
By command of my Royal Master, Lord of the Ocean.
I crave His Majesty’s pardon, and request permission to enter
His Equatorial Domain.
Royal Neptune bids you welcome, together with your crew, but will
demand the homage, which is due. For
he Decrees that all who cross the Line must first be shaved and then
baptized in brine; save those who having passed this way before and in
accordance with our Ancient Law, have shared in our time honoured
Mysteries and been presented with The Freedom of the Seas.
Are you prepared to swear to our Recorder, that everybody’s
papers are in order?
Nay, Sir Herald, this I cannot do for there are novices among our
crew. Yet everyone is keen
to play his part when the good King Neptune gives the word to start.
Tis well. His
Majesty commands that you will cause a muster of all hands to greet him
and his court from down below, tomorrow at 0-nine-double-0, at that hour
with his Queen Exquisite. My
Lord and Master come to pay his visit attended by his bears and retinue,
to see that every novice has his due.
of Police. Avast.
Belay, and likewise stop the bus.
Thus far you seem to have forgotten us King Neptune’s Maritime
Constabulary, of whom we warn all persons to be wary.
My satellites and I will search the ship to see that no one gives
our bears the slip. All
papers will be subject to close scrutiny, and woe to him unwise enough
Silence, Bears. And now hear one and all, at nine tomorrow we shall pay our
call, and so we leave you with this greeting Farewell! To our next merry meeting.
The next day
Clear lower deck. Everybody
aft. Officers athwart
ships, immediately abaft “Y” turret.
Captain and Commander in front.
starts from starboard waist. R.M.
Band and Buglers on “X” gun deck.
When the head of the procession reaches the quarterdeck, Buglers
sound the “Still.” Band
begins a Processional March and continues until court is assembled in
Captain. (Bowing of Neptune.) Our
humble Duty, Sire, may we with one accord welcome you and your lovely
Queen onboard. May I crave
pardon for my gallant crew for being nearly twelve months overdue in
making our appearance at your Court, to pay respectful homage as we
ought; but we have been preoccupied of late with certain little business
of State, which took us to a much more hostile region where we enlisted
in the “Foreign Legion.” That
work completed, we are back again seeking once more to enter your
Domain, so bid your Bears “Lay On,” you’ll find us tough, and
damned be he who first cries, “Hold, enough.”
Neptune. Well spoken, Ajax, I give you hearty greetings for many moons
I’ve waited for this meeting. Upon
this Day of days do I renew old friendships, and make friendships new.
Since you sped eastward at your King’s behest I’ve watched
you with the keenest interest. In all your journeying in Eastern waters, in all your
dallying with Egypt’s daughters, in all your games, from the day you
beat the Hood, I’ve seen you-knew you to be good.
And though tis true you never won a pot from all that fleet, they
chose you to be yacht, for no less person than the C-in-C, oh Queen
Elizabeth what a blow to thee. You
made firm friends with Officers and Ranks of t’ gallant Twentieth, the
Fusiliers from Lancs; while everywhere you’ve been, when you departed
someone, somewhere, has been left broken hearted.
And now you’re back once more upon this Station in work and
play keep up your reputation, so, when you meet your Admiral and the
rest, you’ll impress upon them who is really “Best.”
Neptune. Silence, ye Bears, forgive the dreadful pun, I know you’re
anxious for your little fun. (To
Ship’s Company.) But ere
we start upon our royal sport, methinks I’ll introduce you to my
court. First, me behold. Neptune
is I, the Might, and then my Queen, the peerless Amphitrite.
Now mark ye well my famous Chief of Police.
Who’ll never countenance a breach of peace.
The Motto of his Force is “Get your Man” and tis their boast
they carry out their plan. Nor
rank nor size can cause them to desist in arresting any persons who
resist. These will they
carry by the shortest path before my Court of justice, then-the Bath!
But meet my Doctor, who, with tasty pills will keep you fit and
cure you of all ills, and then our barbers, who with soap and brush,
will leave your skin just like a maiden’s blush.
(To Amphitrite.) Speaking
of mermaids, where are our girls today?
Amphitrite. I know the Ajax, so bade them stay away.
These fellows here, their fame has travelled far, and Neppy dear,
you know what sailors are. There is a chance, too, that the pretty dears might give the
younger element ideas.
Neptune. Ah well, my dear, no doubt you’re quite correct, in all we
do we should be circumspect, and this is not the time nor yet the place
to be distracted by a pretty face.
(To ship’s Company.) My
introductions are not yet complete; my bodyguard are hungry for their
Then when the
preliminaries are braved and every trembling novice has been shaved, we
pass them from our famous Rocking Chairs to the tender mercies of our
seeking for a meal will do their task with energy and zeal. So, when our Ancient Mysteries you’ve learned and by your
grit and courage you have earned our approbation, then it shall us
please, to confer on you “The Freedom of the Seas.”
But other matters
we would now attend bring Captain Thomson, an old and trusted friend.
brings Captain Thomson before Neptune.
Colin Sinclair Thomson, Royal Navy.)
Captain Thomson I am very glad to meet you at my
Court again, my lad. Indeed,
I’m proud to clasp you by the hand and compliment you on a very fine
command, but in addition to my greetings warm I have a pleasant duty to
perform, this being the twelfth time you’ve crossed my border, I now
invest you with this Ancient Order.
Captain with “The Order of the Trident.”)
Commander John Edmund Sissmore, Royal Navy.
A Commander’s thankless task, what’ ere his plans is usually
to carry someone’s cans; but I appreciate your heart of gold,
disclosed when yards of flannel are unrolled, so, in return for all your
deeds untold, I give you just another can to hold.
Commander with “The Order of the Periodical Can.”)
Commander (E) John Frederick Ward Tamplin, Royal Navy.
The normal duties of a Chief I find are of a very wide and
diverse kind; steam, water, oil, electric power supply and catapults to
help those men who fly; addicted to the Cine-Camera, and so to show you
how it pleases me I invest you with the Cine (E).
Commander (E) with “The Order of the Cine (E).”)
Paymaster-Commander B. H. Bowen, royal Navy.
Fish is fish and “pi” is “pi,” and ne’er the twain
shall meat. So try to keep
them separate and give the lads a treat; and trusting that in future, to
do this you will try I invest you with “The Most Exalted Order of Fish
Paymaster-Commander with “The Order of Fish Pi,” with “Roll
Major E. J. O. Ellison, royal Marines.
The rumour that has just been going round says, very shortly
you’ll be Homeward bound; and though, before, an unkind fate delayed
yer I’ll do the best I can for you, dear Major.
This little ship comes from your faithful Corps who wishes you
many happy days in store.
Major Ellison with “The Blue Funneller.”)
Flight-Lieutenant John Dalyell Stead.
Often when I’m sleeping in my bed I’m roused by hideous
noises overhead, and as tis you who causes me to rise to see a strange
contraption in the skies, to make your takings off less difficult, I
present to you this little Catapult.
flight Lieutenant Stead with “The Order of the Catapult.”)
Petty Officer Harrison.
By boats of divers things, both real and feigned, a certain
reputation you have gained, for when a story teller’s yarn is done you
usually cap it with a bigger one; instead of giving you the “Outsize
Crumpet” I shall bestow on you this little trumpet.
Able Seaman Parrett.
From the time this strange old World began I’ve always loved
the hearty trencherman. A
man to whom his food is such a joy, he’ll go the second time round the
buoy. Good men like you are
few upon this planet so please accept “The Order of the Gannet.”
A.B. Parrett with “The Order of the Hungry Gannet.”)
As Lord of all the Seas, upon my throne I have to lend an ear to
many a moan; invariably the answer that I give, “To err human-tis
noble to forgive,” So gaze on this, you’ll find it well worthwhile,
the order of the everlasting smile.
O Mighty Neptune, the Ocean’s rightful Lord, this ends the list
of those you would reward; the court must to the Bath; each at his
station all ready to perform initiation.
From here then, to the Bath, where I will wait to give a welcome
to each candidate unless he misbehave; in that event, severe but just
will be his punishment. And
when my Court and I have done our task a favour, Captain Thomson, I
would ask, that to your merry crew you will extend, today, the privilege
of a “Make and Mend.”
Lat. 00-00 North
Whereas it has been represented to me by a Competent Member of
King Neptune’s Maritime Police, that H. STRUDWICK, Leading Seaman:
CLASS FOR CONDUCT…IRREGULAR
CHARACTER ASSESSED TO DATE…BOLD AND BAD CLASS FOR
LEAVE…ALWAYS OVER THE SIDEDED Act in a manner to the prejudice and
good order and Oceanic discipline in that he had attempt t disguise
himself with a view to evading His Majesty’s bodyguard, by removing
from his face his natural chin covering of seaweed.
I hereby adjudge him to be GUILTY and sentence him to BE REFUSED
ADMITTANCE TO ANY UNDERSEA CABARET FEATURING SHRIMPS AND NYMPHS TO BE
LATHERED IN PINK AND TO BE STEEPED IN BRINE UNTIL HE IS BLUE.
Before awarding the foregoing Punishment, I did NOT investigate
the matter, and heard NO evidence in support of the Charge, nor what the
accused had to offer in his defence, but I consider the Charge to be
substantiated against him. Taking
into consideration that this is the SECOND Offence registered against
him in the Conduct Book, I adjudge him to be punished as afore stated.
Given under my hand onboard H.M.S. Ajax, at the Equator on the
First Day of September 1936.
E. J. Dale.
Police and Maritime Judge.)
Mr E.H.H. Rampling, Warrant Engineer
Chief of Police
Clerk of the World
Assistant Clerk of the World
Chief Shipwright Neville
Chief Yeoman Signals Harper
Chief Cook Babey
Sergt. Hand, R.M.
Paymaster-Commander B. H. Bowen
Makers of Regalia
Plumber Fletcher (Crowns and Trident)
Staging, etc (which collapsed) Mr
Butler (Warrant shipwright) and Staff
Swales, Commissioned Gunner