Anecdotes

The Beer Tent

The centre of activities for the S.N.C.O's at Port camp was the beer tent, a large khaki army job with a bar at one end and easy chairs around the sides and cocoanut matting covering the sand floor. Games, such as wrestling and other macho items took place on this matting with the resultant scrapes and cuts quickly turning septic unless protected from the coral sand.

The M.F.V.

Motor Fishing Vessels have long been a part of Naval life, the smaller wooden boats being used as tenders to Capital ships and the larger steel boats as Port Auxiliary vessels. The Christmas Island M.F.V.

Whispering Smith.

The workshops in the port area consisted of the Shipwright's department and the Engineer's department. The Shipwright's who did most of the welding had a four wheeled Petbow single operator machine powered by a two cylinder Armstrong Sidley diesel engine which could be started by one man using a length of string on the decompression lever while cranking the starting handle with the other.

The Bakers Arm's

In the Port area on the Wharf was a large refrigeration building and adjoining it the bakery, here one could obtain a drink of cold water from the fridge unit. The bakery was run by "Taff , the bread" who resided in our mess. One day one of our lads noticed a number of wicker covered jars parked in the bakery and on enquiring what they were, was told they had been there for ages and contained vinegar, to which he replied, "They look like rum jars to me".

Fijian Navy

The Shipwright's department was enlarged with the addition of three Fijian RNVR chaps, two P.O.'s, John (son of a chieftain), and Hoppy (taught us the art of spear fishing), and a Leading rate, Harry (a 17 year old skinny beanpole), Harry was very lonely being billeted in the junior rates area and spent most evenings sitting outside our beer tent where he could speak with his fellow Fijians and we could slip him some alcoholic beverage, there was a lot of friendly banter between us regarding skin colour and race with the Fijian's reminding us to be careful as their ancestors were very partial

Cray Fishing

We were taught the secrets of Cray fishing by the District Commissioner’s Fijian Engineer cum Handy man, Sureli ( not sure about the spelling) who would take us out at night onto the reef north of the village, when the tide and moon were right. (Sureli was also said to have got the DC's American jeep working after it was discovered in the lagoon). The fishing equipment needed consisted of, Tilley lamps, sacks, a bucket, strong gloves and stout boots, (on our first trip we wore gym shoes until someone read about the stone fish who's poisonous spines would easily penetrate gym shoe soles).

These Boots were made for walking

Before we left Devonport to form the advance party of NP2512 we paid a visit to the Royal Marine camp at Bickleigh to be issued with Boots-Cold-Wet Weather (C.W.W), complete with special insoles. They were the biggest boots I'd seen and were quite heavy, and anchored your feet to the ground with no fear of falling over. They took quite an effort to get mobile but once in motion would swing happily along the highway giving you the feeling you could travel on for ever. We came to love those boots which we wore for most of the day.