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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.

Brian's picture

UK's nuclear tests under scrutiny

The Metropolitan Police has begun an investigation into aspects of Britain's nuclear testing programme in the 1950s.


Chatty's picture

Who, me?

It started at breakfast, not the normal time for a rumour to start the rounds, but this was not your run of the mill event. “Guess what?, the BC’s pranged his wagon”. Initially this was in hushed tones. Soon, however, the talk at every table was the fact that the Base Commander, the most powerful Bluey on the Rock had smashed his car up on the way back from Main Camp. Another Friday night, another victim. Had he over indulged perhaps? Or maybe hit the claw of a threatened crab? Maybe even a blow out.

Chatty's picture

There’s a right way to do it!

I must say that I just couldn’t believe that anyone, especially a “Commissioned” Officer could allow such goings on as related in Bob’s last story ( H&S, Don’t make me laugh). What on earth was he doing to allow untrained Sappers into such a dangerous environment as a filthy fuel tank when there were 3 Fully Trained Petroleum Fitters serving on the Island. Now, we also had some tank cleaning due and in this story, you will see how it should be done. Firstly the equipment needed: Suit.

Bob Morrison's picture

One Dive Too Many

Anyone who remembers the Rock will never forget being ‘dive-bombed’ by Frigate or 'Gooney', birds. These were not your average British seaside type of seabirds but big fat things with a huge wingspan of about 5 or 6 feet as I recall. They were expert aerobats and could rip your bait or catch from the end of a fishing line whilst the hook was still airborne. These kitehawks would also menace moving vehicles at certain times by swooping down in front of them in a kind of Kamikaze manoeuvre, for what reason I know not.

Chatty's picture

I’ve got a bad case of crabs

I was really looking forward to the weekend. Everything seemed very rosy indeed. The truck was serviced, the rations all fixed up and the hay boxes were packed solid with ice and tinnies. This was going to be a real cracker. We finished our work about 11am, showered, got our kit ready and drove round to the cookhouse to pick up the scoff. There were only about 6 of us this time so the accommodation wasn’t going to be too overcrowded, there’d be more than enough to eat and with the amount of brew on board I couldn’t imagine there’d be too many sober conversations by midnight.