The story begins on January 30th 1957

The story begins on January 30th 1957. I was at RNAS Eglinton (HMS Gannet) in Northern Ireland. A tannoy call required me to report to the Main Office where I was informed I had come up on the roster for a draft, but could not be told where to, also I did not have to take it - but if I did I had to go now. I was told it would be an experience and exciting - little did I know!!! Discussing this at lunch, Mick Kemp said it would be Christmas Island. I thought, well I had joined up to see the world, and so far had only been on shore stations, so why not.

Brian's picture

Back To Blighty

On July 10th, some of our group was scheduled to begin the long haul home. Around 1030, a howl of engine-noise heralded the arrival of a Super Connie into the airfield pattern. The randy ones (i.e. most) amongst us were up there awaiting its arrival, not so much to cheer the departure of colleagues, but more to get our first sighting of a nubile young female hostess in eight months. A very good-looking young bird she proved to be too!

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Another trip down memory lane

I arrived by Hasting from Honolulu in the second week of March 1958, and found the Island as it had been described in the UK newspapers. Hot, primitive and smelly ! Over 4” of rain had fallen in the previous 24 hours; the coral roads from airfield to Main Camp were awash and our driver took great delight in roaring through the waves, swerving from side to side in order to crush as many land crabs as possible as they gathered in dozens to eat their comrades who had been killed by other drivers.

Tony Leyland

Sorry Ladies!!!!

Brian's picture

The Big Bang

Early April must have been some sort of monsoon period. We had many prolonged downpours lasting several hours each, and the diary records occasions when we had to dig trenches around our tents in an attempt to keep a dry floor area. It also made trips to the cinema pretty miserable as we huddled beneath groundsheets whilst trying to enjoy the movie. Frequent power cuts did nothing to relieve our misery.

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Being very keen on flying, I'd been putting out feelers as to the chances of a trip in one of the Shackletons engaged in met patrols and other surveillance tasks.

Me, speeding?

Now a little tale about Myself and a Snow Drop. Just after arriving on the Island, legs still a vivid shade of white and hairless of knee, the Chief Stores P.O, asked me to go up to Main Camp for some spares. He made it quite clear that he didn't want me to get back too early. The idea being, it would be too late to start a new job that day. "Make a good run ashore of it he said". Only too happy to oblige, off I went. After picking the spares up at the Airfield, I called at the J.N.C.O's mess in the Main camp, spending a happy hour chewing the fat with a couple of Army bods.

Hooray, the Marines are here!

Hi Peter, here's a brief resume of my service history. I Joined the Royal Marines in June 1953, passed out as Kings Squad May 1954. Posted to 45 Commando 3 Commando Brigade 2nd July 1954. Served all over the Middle East, Egypt, Cyprus etc etc, too many places to mention at this time. Good times, bad times and some sad times. I met my future wife on foreign service leave, a Lady I have been happily married to for 46 years next Boxing day. We were due to go to Singapore together in August 1958, when out of the blue I was posted to H.M.S. Resolution, Christmas Island.

Brian's picture

Life On A Target Island

On January 29th, I learned that I was due to a nice little posting down to Malden Island about 400miles south. The RAF it seemed didn't believe in too much notice; take off was scheduled for 9am next day. At the appointed hour, a few other 'lucky' sods and me clambered aboard the Dakota aircraft for our three-hour trip. At least after this, we could boast of having crossed the equator, if not much else. I haven't recorded the name of our pilot, but the name Squadron Ldr Hurst has swum up from the memory banks.

Brian's picture

Start Of New Year (1957)

There was one 'downer' which appeared around this time. Some guy named Dickey Valentine, had recorded a song called 'Did you ever spend Christmas on Christmas Island?' Music was being piped from various sources continuously, around the island, but this particular tune started to get on everyone's' wick. No doubt thinking they were contributing to 'troop moral', folks back home were requesting that the song be played over and over. Good job old Dickey didn't bother to visit; I think he'd have been fed to the sharks in short order. December 28th brought my first close encounter with a shark.