They have taken the men that were careless lads at Dartmouth in 'Fourteen ..
… They were not rated too young to teach, nor reckoned unfit to guide
When they formed their class on Helles' beach at the bows of the “River Clyde” ...
… They have borne the bridle upon their lips and the yoke upon their neck,
Since they went down to the sea in ships to save the world from wreck-
Since the chests were slung down the College stair at Dartmouth in 'Fourteen ..
Excerpted from Rudyard Kipling, ‘The Scholars’ (1919)
At the outbreak of the First World War the subject of this autobiography, Allan Hillgarth (1899-1976) - known as Hugh Evans until he began, in 1915, a long and never explained chrysalitic process of name change completed in 1928 - was at the age of 15 one of the naval cadets sent peremptorily off to sea from Dartmouth. He was appointed to HMS Bacchante
, a cruiser of the ‘Live Bait Squadron’ three other of whose members were sunk on the same day, together with a large number of his contemporaries, largely through ignorance of the potential of the submarine. It was the start of a life of adventure-seeking, he unfazed by such tasks as throwing amputated legs over the side - perhaps being from a medical family helped - and coming under fire at Gallipoli and, ashore, personally bayoneting a Turk. Either he was that way inclined anyway, or turned by the excitement of war; throughout his life he was drawn to adventure as a moth to a flame, and that is what makes his ‘Life’ so fit for sharing.