The reminiscences of Leading Air Fitter (Engines) Bruce
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.
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 .
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.
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
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.
a celebration to mark VE Day and then it was back to business as
usual. We also had a party after VJ Day.
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.
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
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.
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!!"
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.
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.
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.
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.