The reminiscences of Petty Officer Radio Mechanic Terry Rushton.

Terry joined MSR 9 at Middle Wallop, he remained with MSR 9 as part of MONAB VIII, HMS Nabcatcher until returning home to the UK in June 1946.

 

 

I was drafted to Middle Wallop along with the remainder of MSR 9, and there we were issued with tropical kit and battledress etc.


During our short stay there we learnt that we were to become a component part of MONAB VIII, HMS Nabcatcher, and there were various "buzzes" going around about our ultimate role and destination in the Pacific. However, we duly sailed from Liverpool on July 7th 1945 bound for Sydney under the command of Captain Surtees DSO, aboard the P & O liner "Maloja", which had been serving as a troopship.

 

 

Our first port of call was Port Said, Egypt where we were given a few hours shore leave. I wasn't very impressed with the place, and frankly after stretching my legs for a while, I was glad to get back on board. After going slowly through the Suez Canal and down the Red Sea we made for Colombo, Ceylon where we docked for a few hours whilst taking on supplies. Within a few days, I well remember, as we crossed the Indian Ocean, hearing of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki followed soon afterwards by the welcome news of the Japanese surrender.

 

Our next port of call was Fremantle, Australia and here once more we were allowed shore leave. This was more enjoyable, taking in a short visit to nearby Perth, where we were able to sample a few "schooners" of the local brew. Eventually we reached Sydney and disembarked on August 31st 1945, where we were transferred via HMS Golden Hind to Warwick Farm Racecourse, being accommodated under canvas awaiting allocation of an operational base.

 

Whilst in Sydney we saw all the sights including of course the magnificent natural harbour, its famous bridge and Bondi beach. We eventually learned that we were to be based at Kai Tak airfield, Hong Kong. MONAB VIII embarked on HMS Slinger September 5th 1945 and departed for Hong Kong, whilst M.S.R 9 embarked on HMS Reaper, another escort carrier, two to three weeks later also bound for Hong Kong. During this voyage one calm sunny day rope ladders were dropped over the side of the ship and we were allowed to clamber down and bathe in the sea.

 

 

I remember Kai Tak as a wide open airfield almost surrounded by mountains and stretching down to Causeway Bay. We were housed in long tents, with each camp bed protected by a mosquito net, and we also had to take mepacrine tablets daily as a precaution in case of mosquito bites. Once the rainy season was upon us, we became bogged down in mud and duck boards were used as flooring for the tents. Dorland Hangars had been erected to house the aircraft but the canvas covering was unable to withstand almost hurricane force winds which tore the covering from the metal frames.

 

Our section dealt with the RT sets inspecting and servicing them in the Corsair fighter planes. We had a 15cwt van, containing our equipment, for driving about the airfield, whilst each trade section had its own workshop on the edge of the airfield. On one occasion, I was lucky enough to go with one or two colleagues and an Officer on a trip by motor launch to Macau, then under Portuguese administration. The purpose of this trip was to see whether our aircraft sets would work effectively in their police cars. I don't know whose idea this was, but needless to say the experiment was less than successful although we had an interesting day out being driven around Macau and visiting the local radio station.

 

Large groups of Jap prisoners were marched into the airfield daily from Stanley prison camp and after bowing to the White Ensign on our quarter deck, they were kept hard at work on the airfield - pushing aircraft in and out of hangars, repairing and maintaining the perimeter fence and keeping everywhere clean and tidy.

 

Whilst at Kai Tak, the ship's company of HMS Nabcatcher were encouraged to take part in various sporting activities e.g. football and hockey, and a special treat was an occasional visit to Clearwater Bay, which was perfect for swimming and entailed a few miles journey on the back of a lorry. The proprietors of the Peninsula Hotel, Kowloon, allowed servicemen the use of their indoor swimming pool and once or twice this proved to be a pleasant change. During our free time we were entertained for short periods with popular records of the day played over the public address system, and occasionally we were treated to an open air cinema show on a big screen erected in the middle of our camp. We had many interesting trips ashore in the New Territories and also across to Hong Kong by Star Ferry.  A local building in Kowloon had been converted into a canteen - we had a beer ration (Australian) of one bottle per week (I think), so you can imagine non drinkers were asked for their vouchers, so that more bottles could be bought at the canteen to share around.

 

Eventually, my number came up and I left Kai Tak in June 1946 on my way home for demobilisation. I sailed from Hong Kong on the light cruiser HMS Black Prince to Sydney and once again was stationed at HMS Golden Hind for a short time before boarding the troopship "Winchester Victory" homeward bound.

 

Terry Rushton 

 

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