Welcome to the Website of the 17th Intake 

HMAS Leeuwin - Junior Recruit Training Establishment  

October 1966 to October 1967

This website is dedicated to Michael John BROWN who passed away 3 December 2006
Mike did an enormous amount of work to make this site a reality

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James (John) BENSLEY

Official No: R95705 Aged: 15 years 9 months Joined: 8th October 1966
Division: Morrow Home Port: Sydney Discharged: 6th February 1987


Postings: Leeuwin, Sydney, Watson, Brisbane, Albatross, Snipe, Stuart, Brisbane, Perth, Harman, Curlew, Watson, Tobruk
We (wife Toni) have recently purchased a Bed & Breakfast in Buderim and  welcome all passers by of the 17th to call in say G'Day.  Look us up at www.buderimbnb
Current Occupation: Employed by QLD State Government, Maritime Division of Transport at Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast. Responsible for installation & maintenance of all Navigation Aids for state waters in Sunshine Coast.



As with all of us the Sydney was the first sea posting staying onboard for three deployments to Vung Tau. From there to Watson for ABUW course which took care of the rest of '68.We stood on South Head and watched the brand new HMAS Brisbane sail into Sydney on her delivery voyage and ten days later I joined her in January of '69. 


Three months later I was back in Vung Tau but this time on a real warship.I stayed in Brisbane for two and a half years completing both her gunline deployments and the refit in between to fit the IKARA missile system. I was promoted to LSUW in Hong Kong and posted to Albatross at the end of the trip.  Being a Kellick Dib Dab at Albatross meant only one thing. The dreaded Gangway watchkeeper. 

After a year I was posted back to Watson for PO's course and then to the real Navy of minesweepers. Snipe for two years, then cyclone Tracy played havoc with Darwin which bought me back to the real world with a posting to Stuart which happened to be in Darwin Harbour. The two years on Stuart saw a refit in wonderful Williamstown and then a trip to USA to celebrate 200 years of Independence.We then completed the first of the big multi - nation exercises at Shoalwater Bay Kangaroo 1.


I then swapped draft off Stuart who was deploying to the far east for the Brisbane who was going to England for the Silver Jubilee This trip was the highlight of my time in pussers.


I then did a short posting to Perth which bought up five and a half years continuous sea time and then went ashore to Harman. More of the dreaded gangway watchkeeping but also managed to meet my future wife Toni Pearse LWRSTD. Nearly two years ashore was a record for a TAS rate but I then went back to the minesweeper navy in Curlew. Great ships who did great trips around the Pacific Islands and Far North Queensland.


At last a promotion, POUW but you guessed it back to the big smoke, Watson as an Instructor which was also for two years.

My next and last posting was to Queensland as POUW in Heavy Landing Ship Tobruk which was more like an Army ship than a Navy one. Great times were had and the feature of this posting was to drive the ship up onto the beach nearly in front of the Naval College at Jervis Bay The Old Man was grinning from ear to ear that day.


Tobruk as I said was my last posting which lasted three and a half years and saw me promoted to CPOUW and was my longest stay in any one place for twenty years and six months.


As I said at the beginning the familiar faces just faded away or weren't where I was so until that reunion last year it was it was all a mystery.

The biggest shock was to come in that at thirty six ,I had to line up with all the rest of society and apply for a job. Not a big call for CPOUW in the outside world.  


Life after Pussers

It seemed a pity to waste all those years at sea so I went to the Marine TAFE in Brisbane and gained my Master Class 4 Certificate which allows me to Skipper vessels over 25mtrs. along the Qld coast. No jobs available at that time so did the compulsory "Cab driver and Security Guard " until some thing came up.


It took two years but was employed by the Queensland Government in their Marine division which is responsible for the installation and maintenance of the Navigation Aids state wide and also first response for any Marine Oil Spills that occur in QLD.( We helped clean up the big spill in Sydney at Gore Bay a few years ago)


I have been with the department for nearly fifteen years and have just recently been "posted" to my current locality on the Sunshine Coast.

We bought this Bed & Breakfast last year as part of the retirement plan so hope all goes well. Wayne Bancroft and his wife Moira dropped in for "stand easy" while they were on their recent QLD holiday. We worked out we hadn't seen each other since 1970 or so.


With all the contacts we are having through the emails I now know how many of us are in the local area and maybe some contacts can be established again. I did travel to Sydney with Woody for the reunion as he only lives in the next suburb. when he is home!!!!)



John Bensley 

Personal photographs




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[Lest We Forget]

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Last modified: October 13, 2018