The reminiscences of Leading Air Fitter (Engines) Bruce Robinson.

Bruce was drafted to R.N.A.E Risley to join MONAB II. He remained with this unit until its closure when he joined MONAB VI during it's run down to paying off at RNAS Schofields. 

 

 

On Completion of my Technical Training at R.A.F. Hednesford, I was with a group of F.A.A. ratings loaned to the R.A.F. We started at R.A.F. Kenley, Surrey . (by luck a modest cycle ride to my father's house in Epsom, a pilot in one of the Canadian Squadrons gave me an aerial view of Epsom & home. From there we were posted to Warmwell in Dorset, our first meeting with U.S.A.A.F. flying P.58s, following on to Ford , Sussex , dealing with visiting aircraft.


Having returned to Lee-on-Solent I was posted to a unit forming at R.N.A.E. Risley; this unit was MONAB II, HMS Nabberley. After kitting out and training we had a final full parade, we were inspected by and briefed by the first sea Lord. Then we joined M.V. Athlone Castle at Liverpool .

 

We church goers, in discussion with two Salvation Army lads, decided that the Free Church members should have our own service. The Padre (from HMS ANSON) arranged for us to have the first class saloon for 10 am . service, after which, as a token of appreciation down we went down one deck and became the choir for the C of E service.


After crossing the Atlantic we tied up in Colon , Panama , where a local group entertained us. The Panama Canal was very impressive, especially the contrast between the giant locks and nearby jungle. Mid pacific, we suffered a 3-day breakdown on one engine; all the usual rumours were circulated as to what had happened. Then at 5 a.m. one morning we were awakened by a chorus of Kookaburras; we had arrived in Sydney.

 

We disembarked to be detailed to quarters at R.A.A.F Bankstown. The Station was taken over by MONAB 2 as a centre for the reception & inspection of aircraft, crated engines etc. I was part of the Test flight line crew, inspecting aircraft before they were check test flown. We made our inspection reports to our officer; he then issued them to the appropriate departments for the aircraft to either be test flown before being returned to service or returned to the hanger with faults. I also did some of the ground testing; this testing was done in the parking areas, the starting up of the engines raised clouds of dust so we were completing our work in semi-gloom.

 

I volunteered for town patrols; these were to check on the behaviour of ratings ashore and traffic direction. Good relations were established locally, but this was sometimes spoilt by new arrivals. When activities eased 10 days leave was granted, the first part I spent in Melbourne and then went on to Temora, some 300 miles from the sea. In both places we were treated very well with special outings in the mountains and hunting in the bush.

We had a celebration to mark VE Day and then it was back to business as usual. We also had a party after VJ Day.


 

 

I left HMS Nabberley on March 21st 1946 , I had a short stay at Golden Hind (a week) were some of us went back to school. I was then posted to HMS Nabstock, arriving March 29th.

 

There we spent a short period servicing usable aircraft in preparation for them flying off onto the carriers; we then turned our attention to collecting scrap. Wreckage of trucks and aircraft was collected into enormous heaps in the middle of the airfield. The C.O., after a short speech, fired his signal pistol into a trench of petrol, supposedly to deter dubious local scrap dealers coming onto the station. Several truckloads of scrap were dumped two miles out in the Bush.

 

At the start of trucking the first load into bush one of the team used an "X" word and a LAF/E (a fan of pre-war radio entertainment) told him “do not swear in front of the children”, a well-known catch phrase from one his favourite shows. The result was not one swear word for whole of that week.

 

My next move was being detailed to join a unit returning to Sydney . Upon arrival we were put on a ship that was to take us home, much to my surprise, it was the M.V. Athlone Castle . After a 12-hour delay due to mechanical problems we sailed round the south side of Australia to Fremantle , Western Australia . There a funny incident happened; a Mother met us with a pushchair rounding the dock buildings, this sight was to be greeted by loud chorus of “She’s come for you Jack!!"

 

Due to further engine problems we had two days leave to visit Perth . Being a member of the Rotary club I Presented my Rotary “intro” card at the Perth branch and I met the branch president who gave me a tour of the city.

 

The ocean en route to the East Indies was like a sheet of glass; the opposite was the case between Singapore and Aden with us running into a typhoon. Local fighting was still going on around the islands, were told that it was Indonesians against the Dutch.

 

We collected army personnel at Singapore , going home for "demob". We made one more stop; a few days stop in Aden to restock supplies before continuing on thought the Suez Canal and the Med. The Bay of Biscay lived up to its reputation, weather wise it was awful.

 

The R.N. were on manoeuvres as we came through to dock at Southampton, where a big N.A.A.F.I. welcome was received when finally our turn came to disembark.

 

Bruce Robinson

 

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