Extract from the reminiscences of Aircraft Artificer 4th Class
(Ordinance) Maurice Ayling, formerly of 1843 Squadron,, working
up in Australia as a part of the reserve No. 3 Carrier Air Group.
HMS Nabstock 4th June - 15th July1945
The airfield was still occupied by the
R.A.A.F, in the process of being handed over, and we were the first
Squadron to be supported by "Nabstock", after its location there on
It was a pretty relaxed establishment,
with many bolt holes in the perimeter fence. There was also a fairly
large contingent of W.A.A.A.F in two or three rows of the huts.
Returning from our first run ashore into Maryborough, an oppo and I
walked down the main road of the camp which, because of its
proximity to the sea, was blacked out, and turned up a side road
into what we took to be our hut. It was very late, so we were very
careful to make no noise. Having felt my way to my bed space, I sat
on the bed to take off my shoes and felt someone in it! I quietly
made this known to my oppo who had made a similar discovery.
Suddenly, a female Aussie voice let rip "What the bloody Hell do you
think you're at?" We had turned up the wrong side road - we shot out
of there like a pair of scalded cats! Some of those Aussie women
would have had the likes of us for breakfast!
I had had my 20th birthday in the Red
Sea on the way out, and was now entitled to draw my tot. In the
ship, we had had the normal Jamaican rum, but I must confess that I
was not enamoured of 'Grog', - 2 parts water to 1 of rum. In
Australia, we were issued with Aussie rum, considered to be a pretty
inferior tipple especially when watered down. I therefore opted to
change from 'Grog' to 'Temperance' (G to T), and was not very
popular. My messmates thought I should have drawn it and shared it
around. Not on your Nelly! I was just coming to the end of my
training and rating to PO.
There were four of us on the Squadron
from the same entry of Apprentices, me, Jimmy James, Darby Allen,
all (0), and Bill Ellis, an (L). There had been 5, but Stumpy Tucker
left us for South Africa on our return to UK from the US. Hitherto,
we had been advised that we would be rated PO Air Fitter and have to
do some more courses to become Artificers. This was the case with
those who had trained at Halton (RAF). Fortunately for us, there was
a very switched on Gunnery Officer at Maryborough, having as his
senior rating, an AA4 from 3 entries before ours. We were therefore
rated correctly for ex-Newcastle-under-Lyme Apprentices, as Acting.
AA4, on 1st July.
However, there was no slops at
Maryborough and therefore no PO badges to be had. Our new messmates
donated some rather tatty cap badges and gilt buttons. Strictly
speaking, we should have retained our red badges and black buttons
while in the acting rate, but the CO gave us permission to wear
gilt, as that was the only available distinction of Petty Officer
As Artificers, of course, we wore no
trade badges, and un-shipped our Air Fitter badges. Since Bombay,
we had our tobacco issue in Indian manufactured cigarettes labelled
Players, Senior Service, and Woodbines, which Jolly Jack described
as camel, horse, and donkey shit. Just how horrible they were was
illustrated when I offered one to the father of a young lady who had
taken me home as a trophy. He, usually rolling his own, eagerly took
one from my packet with the sailor looking through a lifebelt.
Having lit up, he exclaimed "Jeez! where'd you pick that camel crap
Even though it was Aussie winter, it
was hot at Maryborough, which is well up the coast above Brisbane.
There were therefore many of the noises of the tropical night,
including frogs. All of this was new and fascinating to us
youngsters. The citizens of Maryborough were very good to us. One
armourer trapped a young lady who had her 21st birthday while we
were there, and almost the whole of the Squadron. armament section
were there. The family was delighted to have so many from "The Old
Country" and, for once, they behaved themselves reasonably well.
(FAA armourers were noted as a rip roaring bunch).
Darby Allen and I had a few problems at
Maryborough as we had joined the Squadron as Able Rates under the
supervision of three or four Leading Air Mechanics, who were now our
subordinates. In peace time of course, we would have been moved, but
we had to stick it out. The Chief Air Mechanic (0) I/C the armament
section was not much help either, letting it be known that "he
couldn't stand jumped up Tiffs". It must be understood that there
were few Aircraft Artificers in those days and that most of them
were Ordnance Artificers from the other half of the RN, with little
understanding of aeroplanes. While I was at Lee after passing out,
there was only one Artificer, and he was a 'direct entry' from
civilian life i.e. he had been called up as a skilled tradesman.
"Nabstock" provided my first
opportunity to sample a passion fruit. A young lady and I ate one
each sitting on the front door steps of her home at about 0100 one
balmy evening. This was particularly memorable in that that was all
the passion I did get! It was also as good place for sea food.
There was a very intensive period of
flying at Maryborough, requiring a considerable amount of second
line support. Although this was good in many respects, there was a
dearth of spares, probably because the MONAB had not been in
commission long enough. MONABs had to support both UK and US
manufactured aeroplanes, but could never hope to support every type
in use by the BPF at any one time.
Our next move was ordered for July
15th to Jervis Bay...