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Royal Naval Detention Quarters

Royal Navy  Detention Quarters (Portsmouth) Full details of this facility can be found at bottom of this page.




RNDQ’s as seen by a naughty submariner!

Long ago and far away
While working for the Queen
I thought I`d have a spot of leave
So left my submarine.

The crushers came to get me
In the middle of the night
An as they caught me on the job
I didn`t have much fight.

They marched me off to Pompey
And put me in a cell
I asked them what was going on
but they wouldn’t tell

I’d just barely settled in
when I got the news
that I been charged and weighed off,
with 60 days D Q`s

Next morning bright and early
My kitbag on my back
I marched in through the gates of hell
There was no turning back.

First I met a nice GI
who showed me to my cell
I asked him where the toilets where
He said “just ring the bell”

All day long we rushed about
or sorted out our kit
The grub was bloody awful
But I was getting fit

Up at 6 each morning
Our routine seemed to be
PT first, then marching,
some marching, then PT

Then after that we had a task
There was no time to mope
We had to unpick lengths of hemp
And make it into rope,

With bacon on a Wednesday
That was our only meat.
And now and then tomatoes
Was a special treat.

Before you knew my time was up
And so they sent me home
But no kit fitted any more
I was all skin and bone

“Where you been” said her indoors
giving me a kiss.
“you`re looking bloody awful,
“Have you been on the piss”

RNDQ’s is now a Grade II listed Building:

Description: Royal Navy Detention Quarters (Building Number 2/44)
Grade: II
Date Listed: 13 August 1999
English Heritage Building ID: 476631Listing Text
(Southwest side)
HM Naval Base, Portsmouth
774-1/8/184 R.N Detention Quarters
(Building No. 2/44)
Military, then naval, prison. c1834; bomb-damaged c1940 with subsequent rebuilding. Red brick in Flemish bond; concealed roof. PLAN: axial plan of central full-height aisle with cells opening off. EXTERIOR: 3 storeys and basement. 18 bays, the NE and 5 SW bays rebuilt after bomb damage. Small segmental-arched windows with small-paned glazing, projecting sills, and some with bars. Large air vents with stone lintels and sills and perforated covers. Second-floor band; eaves band below concrete-coped parapet; gabled ridge sky-light; conical roof vents. North-west side: at left .end, entrance- with metal grille formerly giving access to a small open court now an entrance porch. South-east side: at left end, basement door and window (further basement windows below present ground level). T o right, a single-storey ablutions block, reroofed and added to. Gable ends each have a louvred segmental- arched vent to the roof skylight; at south-west end a door with iron gate.
INTERIOR: two sets of iron stairs with octagonal newels up to cantilevered cast-iron galleries which run around 1st and 2nd floors, with 3 open wells on each floor and cross-braced balustrades (some balustrading and stairs renewed). Cells: some heavy nail-studded wooden doors survive; each has wooden shelf, hammock hooks, and floor and ceiling vent. Cell no. R4 retains old graffiti, including the date 1864 and the name of someone from HMS Warrior. HISTORY: a relatively intact example of an early C19 detention block. Maintenance records for the building go back to 1834.

53 Responses to Royal Naval Detention Quarters

  1. Ben Benfield

    March 14, 2016 at 20:40

    Coming home from the Far East Dec 31st 1965, I was detailed off to escort a Royal Artillery Commando lad to UK on a charter flight. [Spider Kelly whom I knew went on the run in Australia and made a living on the boxing booth circuit down under. A very good boxer whos mugshot was eventually published with his details in the Aussie press and he was caught] He was weighed off and to do his time in Pompey DQ’s. We had a curtained off area on the flight home, priority treatement and first off the plane without going through customs where I handed him over to the awaiting RN Patrolmen. I lived in Cosham at the time so they gave me alift home in the tilly van as well. … Sorted!

  2. Pete Naylor

    April 16, 2016 at 10:30

    My claim to fame regarding the RNDQs was that in mid-1966, I was ‘duty crew’ at Victory Barracks one Saturday afternoon and I and 4 or 5 others were told we were required as Escort Party to take a Cook to DQs in a Bedford 3-tonner. He was a big guy and so was I, so I was the one who got handcuffed to him for the drive through the Dockyard to the DQs, seeing the Pusser believed in equality in all things (yeah, right!) Halfway there I had to ask the killick in charge to loosen the cuff on my wrist, because my hand was starting to hurt and go dark red because it was on so damn tight. Our ‘customer’ the cook was OK, though. When we reached DQs my cuff was taken off and fitted to the prisoner, I seem to recall. So he now had both his hands cuffed up! He was left like that standing to attention outside the regulating office, before the Duty PO – who was actually a Marine Sergeant – finished his cuppa, and came out to ‘welcome’ the miscreant Cook with a mouthful of harsh warnings about this and that punishment for the slightest misdemeanour. I never worked out if that nasty diatribe was for the Cook’s benefit, or to impress us as the Escort Party. Maybe both? In any case, it certainly worked for me deterrent-wise and I couldn’t get back up into the back of the Bedford truck quickly enough. Not that many months later the sh*t hit the fan about conditions at the DQs, following a young guy committing suicide because of bastardisation by the SNCO guards. I was out in the Far East by then, but was pleased to read in due course that the Nelsonian Hell-Hole had finally got closed down, and not before time ………… (Pete N)

  3. Jack Tickler

    April 5, 2017 at 04:43

    I remember MCTC Tanglin from a holiday there in 1970. Although it was supposed to be a fun-filled couple of months, it was cut short because (a) I had spent some weeks in cells at HMS Terror and (b) I was a good little lad when I was inside.
    Run by the Army, where the Army marching and saluting style had to be learned by us matelots, where even in the tropical heat and humidity we had to wear long sleeve shirts and long trousers, boots for outside. All spick and span and polished up.
    Mealtimes we would be ordered to eat our “diets” as they were called. We played a variety of rugby with medicine ball called “murder ball” in a tiny grassy area. Battle PT wearing all the gear including boots, with mandatory minimum 20 pressups for the tiniest failure to attain the required number of star jumps or doing shoulder abductions right (hold your arms out straight to the side, horizontal, and don’t move or drop them until told). Rifle drill using LMGs (complete with tripods). Running not so much, but we had forced marches of 5 miles or so with backpacks through the countryside, and rifle practice out at a Bukit TImah range. Haircut would be better called “leave a short tuft of hair at the top of the skull”. There were Kiwis, Aussies when i was there as well as the usual UK army and navy, but also a Gurkha.
    All this in the heat and humidity with the occasional tropical torrential pissdown was bad news but at the end of it, I was back in Terror for a few days (and a trip down Bugis St for a touch of relief…) before my flight back to the UK and Victory barracks for an overnight until my new ship sailed into port. I must have been the fittest on board after that little jaunt, but I didn’t miss it one bit. Honest..

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