RSL sub branch secretary Bob Stretton and president Ivan Friske donate a bell to Lt Dave Petherick on behalf of the Gympie Navy Cadets.
RSL sub branch secretary Bob Stretton and president Ivan Friske donate a bell to Lt Dave Petherick on behalf of the Gympie Navy Cadets. Craig Warhurst

Tradition lives on

ONE of the first tasks for the new ship's bell recently presented to Gympie's Naval cadets may well be to ring out of the old name of their Duke Street training facility, the TS Onslow.

If the cadets and their supporters have their say, their “ship” is to be re-named TS Gympie, meaning that, sometime in the new year, they might expect to ring the traditional “eight bells,” to mark the end of watch for the time-honoured name.

And because a ship's bell is traditionally engraved with the name of the vessel, they are leaving the bell's final installation until then.

The new bell has been purchased with funds from the Gympie RSL Sub-Branch, along with the league's district, state and national organisations.

“We're happy to support all cadets, whatever way we can,” sub-branch president Ivan Friske said yesterday.

He said it is hoped the bell will have two stands, one inside the TS Onslow's structure, the Army reserve depot, and one outside for training purposes.

While dating back to a time when not every sailor had a waterproof chronometer on his or her wrist, the bells are still used to mark the passage of time, as well as a warning purposes.

A ship's bell was initially tolled by the ship's boy to mark each time the sand ran out of a half-hour glass, making eight bells the signal for the end of a four-hour watch.

Eight bells can also mark the passing of sailor, signifying the end of his “watch” here on earth.

The ancient tradition still survives in daily life aboard ship.

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