HMAS Albatross

Naval Airmen Recruit School


I have often wondered as to the necessity of leaving and arriving in the middle of the night. We arrived at Bombaderry around 9 pm. Bundled into the back of a 15 cwt, we were then driven to the base, come morning I could understand the late arrival, the igloos and pre war dorms said it all.  Our intro into Naval life began in earnest during that phase with watch-keeping; colour guards and stage two of recruit training. Most of the class were assigned to handling and on completion I was assigned to the fire store.  Over the years I participated as part of the crash-tender crew; as a driver, and later as a Leading Hand. I did my fair share of watch-keeping back then. Many a cold night was spent on the Captain’s Gate with no guard box to comfort – cell sentry under Pongo Lemon.

Right Arm Rate


Once we gained our right arm rate we travelled far and wide to the various dances. They say that all the nice girls love a sailor, so we naturally assumed that would apply to those of us with the H on our sleeve.  With the branding of a Helicopter Pilot we couldn’t miss could we???  Truth is it never worked!


Vengeance Rumours


Not long after I did my motor driving course the rumours began to fly in relation to the Vengeance.   I As we were the last AH it was assumed that we would be the ones on the draft to escort the Vengeance home to England, where the Melbourne sat ready for delivery down under.  Of course the Navy in their wisdom sent me elsewhere! Not that I wouldn’t have minded a trip to the UK but as it turned out I was drafted to the HMAS Sydney. It was my first twelve months on the Sydney which I feel were my happiest ever. I was drafted to the Sydney with most of my mates.