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 Nabthorpe 3rd May - 3rd June 1945

 

 

The station was still under expansion construction when the squadron arrived. The first memories are of being billeted in wooden huts with no doors, windows, or fly screens. Each man was issued with a mosquito net for his bed space, but I do not remember how we rigged them. I do vividly recall the unique experience of awakening in the morning, under the net, with a white frost on the airfield on several occasions.   The frost disappeared by 0830 and we were in khaki shirts and shorts. The weather was sunny and clear, and we were all fascinated by the deep blue colour of the Blue Mountains, about 30 miles up the road.

 

There were other aeroplanes on the station; one of the 1700 series squadrons of Fireflies was there as was a R.A.A.F squadron of Wirraways which, we believed, were a souped up Harvard. One of 1843 pilots crashed a Wirraway on an illicit flight, I think being killed.

 

VE Day came after we had been at Schofields about a week. We had had a week or so alongside in Sydney for runs ashore. On VE Day, we were given leave, and went into Sydney expecting a bit of a rave up.

We were bitterly disappointed. Sydney was closed by 1700. The following day, the newspapers reported that some members of the BPF congregated in Martin Place to celebrate, but were moved on by Police. Everyone drifted back to Central station where it was found that there had been a sudden rail strike. We had all used the train from Blacktown station into the city.

 

A CPO rang the airfield to explain our predicament, and all manner of transport was sent to retrieve us. I returned on a 5 ton flat top truck, with no cover or sides or tailboard - on a night of frost. I was frozen stiff - so much for VE Day celebrations (Wait until VJ Day!). There were nevertheless some celebrations at Nabthorpe, with a day off and a special menu especially dinner. I still have the menu.

 

There was no shortage of milk as there had been on board. All these things were important to a bunch of late teenagers! The Aussie beer took a lot of getting used to, being all lager type (according to Jack, un-adulterated horse piss!). Our last beer venue had been Eglinton where there was no shortage of our favourite tipple, Guinness porter, so the change to Aussie beer - in ridiculously small glasses - was an awful contrast.

 

After a month at Schofields, the Squadron again moved, this time to MONAB 6 at Maryborough in Queensland.


Maurice Ayling

 

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