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 tent was pitched close to the lagoon and had music laid on by American radio stations at Hawaii, half of the programs were advertising items such as, Arthur Murray's school of dancing, "Arthur Murray taught me dancing in a hurry", and our favourite, Playtex living bra, "You will walk in beauty all day through, you'll look lovely in the evening too, playtex living bra", etc. There was generally a cordial atmosphere in the bar, but anyone who became too argumentative or boring, was, by popular consent, seized, carried outside, and dumped in the lagoon. This only applied to mess members, but there were certainly some visitors who would have benefited from this treatment. I recall one PO. from the New Zealand Frigate H.M.N.Z.S. Pukaki, who, after a couple of pints ranted on about Gallipoli and us kippers, (two faced, no backbone etc) it later transpired that he was a Brit who had emigrated to New Zealand, his fare no doubt, having been paid for by his ex-neighbours. As has been stated before, we were not evacuated from the island for the bomb tests, Grapple "X" and "Y", but mustered on the sand spit at the Port to witness the event. The Gilbertese were taken aboard HMS Messina and billeted below decks. The Junior Rates canteen and drinking area was known as, "Amstel Cathedral", presumably as the main beer was Amstel lager and they worshipped there, it was also the most dangerous area for the duty S.N.C.O. who was supposed to clear it at night,!!!! "some hopes". Elsewhere I mentioned that I went around the world via "Crabair",!! The term Crab was applied to anything R.A.F. and the R.A.F. types were known as Crabfats by the Navy, it wasn't meant as a derogatory term but stems from the time when the Home fleet ships were painted a dark grey and the sailors who had to paint the ships side termed the paint used as crabfat. It was very similar in colour to the RAF uniform and so they became Crabfats, shortened to Crabs, whether it is still used by today's sailors I don't know as terminology tends to change over the years, I think if I said that I had served in the "Andrew" I would probably get a blank look today. (Especially from Chatty!!) ©: Dave Rogers 03 February 2002


Joined: 16/11/2016
Posts: 1

Perhaps this vacation is very memorable, lots of fun and excitement. I never gone to that place yet, but maybe we will plan for the next trip by next year. And maybe relaxing by the beach is even more exciting if you are seating on a relaxing chair just as this