I still have vivid memories of our time at Leeuwin and
will never forget what a wonderful adventure it was.
I tell my kids about it and they just can't believe it.
Tales of how many trains we caught from
, the stopovers in the big cities of this country at that time.
Real trains and rail gauge changes.
What meals were served, where they were served and how?
Not like today’s kiosk set-ups but real café sit down meals.
The sites of those monster kangaroos on the Nullarbor and the rude
awakening of the first day at Leeuwin in the drill hall.
What's your number son? The
great hair cut that we just had to have!
Short back and sides please? The
“fang Bosun” tortures and Medical shots we just had to have. Show them
my yellow shot book. Although,
I haven’t told them about my MUPS session yet but I will get to it!
Running that bullring made me the fittest I had ever been!
After Leeuwin, the same as everyone else.
Still remember the stink of acid and the pong of the heads. The
tinea, the great sleeping arrangements we had in the mess' and hangar, the
fantastic meals (yeah rite!). The
first meal to sea and the army guys getting crook seeing that picture on
the wall swing side to side. The
bingo sessions, the nightmare watches and being freaked out by the RAR
guys as we returned home with their 1000 mile stares and shitting yourself
when they stared at you or confronted you at night as you went through
their mess on rounds. The
great Outback painting on the hammock bin in 3D2 mess (what ever happened
to it?). The Army dude who
flew off in Manila for swinging on the hammock rails and ended up with a
perforated arse by someone else’s SLR.
The RSM who got the empty casing on the way up to the
(wonder what ever happened to him?), and many more happenings.
Also, I tell people how old we were in that war at that
time and they just can't believe it. Today
they have sailors I. D. cards stamped with
“UNDER 18” in large black letters on them to keep them out of the wets
and out of war zones.
We were then posted to Penguin to be shown by CPORS
Biff O’Neil (ex HMAS Arunta) how men should drink explicitly in the
local pub before going up 10 floors at
to “sight and sound typing”. Apparently,
we pioneered that for the Navy. Also,
We were NOT pissed! Just stunned a little!
Next to Harman in the middle of winter on the
“Daylight Express” train to Queanbeyan.
Some Express! 4 hrs of snail steaming.
Who remembers leaving their clothes on the line overnight to find
them in the morning frozen to the line?
The great nights out with the WRANS at Civic?
Then Steve Summers and I in his Mini going on posting
to Cerberus. Cold and Cramped.
Never did that Again!! Followed
by 9 months on course at Cerberus Comm. school.
At Comm's school I did a deal with one of the guys on course,
he was hopeless at flags and meanings and I was hopeless at reading
a flashing light morse code. So
when we did the exams, I did his flags and meanings and he mine too, we
got a good pass there. We both
got through comm's school.
I mainly got around a lot in the RAN
because my great Uncle Bill Monaghan who started as a writer and ended as
a Lieutenant, Admiral’s secretary in
. I would meet him in pubs in
or at OS. (a bar in
) places and suggest where I would like to go. I got posted to HMAS
deployment (that’s why I waited at Moreton in lieu of some other places
after my RO course). Posted to HMAS Tarangau (Bill was stationed at
Tarangau when we went thru on the
, so we had a little luncheon & chat at his married quarter).
While at Manus I did a stint with Army Signals at
. We were trying to establish
HF radio links between
and Manus but the big Owen Stanley ranges just soaked up the signals and
made them useless.
On HMAS Madang, I went to the Saint Mathias
group of islands just north of Rabaul.
Stupid situation there is that it is mainly controlled by the
Seven-day adventurers religion mob that instruct the local not to eat the
local foods but rather to buy their food from the church canteen.
Also, on the way to Vuvulu island (just
north of Wewak) we had a power out one night.
The Ship completely shut down.
There we sailors at leaving ship stations in a flash, dressed in
their p/j's or naked, or with jocks on or in uniform. But all with
their rubber ducks around their wastes ready to go over the side.
Apparently there were fuel problems with the donks.
Getting smart I though I may send my kit
via HMAS Madang to
when she went off for a refit. Wrong
choice. The bloody ship ran
aground at Samari just East of
. The fresh water tank busted
and flooded the void space under the mess deck where my kit was.
About three weeks later I get a visitor to my folks place in
Brisbane who show me my kit bag. Everything
that was white is now Yellow. To HMAS Supply, which went to Mururoa Atoll
for last three atmospheric atom bomb tests in 73. Still remember
Dave Knox swinging thru the rigging on that ship.
A point to remember was that a posting to
sea was not normal thing, especially after 15 and a 1/2 months at Manus
Is. The normal posting is to go from Tarangau to Albatross to detox from
any unusual tropical diseases you could have picked up.
Oh Yeah, I got a taste of malaria and was bogged to the eyeballs
with penicillin and Chloroquine.
On Supply’s return to Aust, I was given a
crash posting to Moreton because the navigator walked into the Comcen,
just as I was about to SNOT the PORS who had a habit of stealing our
receiver links to Aust for radio telephone calls.
I was in Moreton 2 hours and got
“dropped” onto the Wewak for 60 days – “Take a little trip to
, sailor” they said. We
loaded with 20 cartons of beer in the well deck lockers (We ran out in
) and in company with HMAS Tarakan and sailed south.
I discovered the boss (our skipper Lieutenant was a friend because
I used to swim against him when I was a high school). We got to
and I got in the shit from the fleet Comms WO because I missed a coded
signal for us on the broadcast. Too
we headed back to
where we met up with Balipapan and Tarakan and restocked with beer.
We all sailed up the coast and into the
heading up towards Grafton for an Army exercise.
we started the exercise. It
was from a radio point of view was a disaster as the countryside is so
hilly and plenty of high mountain ranges, radio signal would disappear or
just not get to their objective.
I went to the old recruiting centre to join
the RAAF and what do I see? The
photo of 'us' doing a march past at HMAS Leeuwin.
Me as right hand marker and the boys alongside.
The Bastards are using it as recruiting material!
I went to RAAF Edinburgh for rookies (3 mth holiday) in SA, Barossa
valley, wine, women.
I was put in charge of 30 guys and started double timing them all over the
place, throwing orders and generally teaching them NAVY marching basics.
Also we have a RAAF corporal in charge of the squad – His name
was Skull Davantier.
One of the guys was a mechanic by trade so three of us went into thirds in
a ’62 Holden sedan. We went
everywhere in that unit before we sold it onto to the next rookies who
immediately blew it up.
Then I was posted to RAAF Laverton –
for radio techs course – 9 months of electronics.
Here I ran into Ray Thompson (ex Navy tartar tech who taught all
the instructors at RADS about transistors and missile theory).
Trevor Barber – ex submariner RO who became a supply officer in
the RAAF and quite a few other ex Navy daredevils.
From RADS to RAAF Darwin where I served
most of time at 11 mile HF transmitter station.
Here, I got the opportunity to take 3 transmitters from
to RAAF Butterworth. Managed
to take my wife with me on the C130E to
and have a holiday with friends while I did the job.
someone must have had it in for me as I was posted from
to 1 Aircraft Depot at RAAF Laverton. Spent 3 months doing maintenance
control systems until I was nominated to do a Quad Radar course.
I never got to do this course because my name came out on a signal
asking me if I wanted to go to Footscray TAFE to do a Diploma in
Electronics. Well another RAAF
silly Question! You pay me to
go to school and get a Diploma? 15
of us started the third intake of that Diploma in 1983. I was
corporal at the time so I jumped at it.
We did a three year course of 30 points in 14 months and graduated
handsomely. We had 3 guys who
got 100% for every friggin subject exam so my low 90s and upper 80s seem
just par. During the course, I
got glandular fever, which really set my scores back in upper 80s, but I
got thru. I did 32 points –
extra 2 points in
transformation mathematics, which are used in the fire control systems of
all fighters and helicopter systems today. After the course I was Promoted
to Sergeant. This Course
offered automatic promotion through to WO every couple of years as well as
step up to Officer ranks if you wanted to do it.
After Footscray I went back to RADS to
teach Basic and Advance Digital Electronics for 32 hours a week for 15
months to RAAF Apprentices. Only
failed one guy out of the entire courses I taught.
He must have been the only one interested in stealing hub caps
(midnight spares) and chasing women.
After RADS I was posted back to 1AD down
the other end of the airfield where I was in a Research and Development
cell. We did projects like
develop a microprocessor IC to replace a 19” rack full of electronics to
track aircraft at 300nm. But
the RAAF didn’t like that idea as it cost too much to get rid of the
cabinet. Eventually I was
again found to be surplus to requirement and was given the option of
moving into Support Command, which was over the west gate bridge or go
down the road to TEMPEST Test Flight.
I didn’t like the idea of paying the toll on the gate and paying
for parking every day so I went down the road to TEMPEST.
I was here for 3 weeks and posted to RAF HENDON GCHQ for a 12-week
course March 1986. (Got to fly
in Nimrods over the
This posting really opened the world for me
- TEMPEST is the detection of radio frequencies that can carry classified
data (plain language) from communication and computer components,
equipments and systems. My job
was to detect these undesirables and take action to eliminate them!
I had a team of four guys and a few millions dollars of detection
equipment. So Off we went
, Overseas and to places that the average bear has no idea existed and
will never know. I used to
catch C130 Hercs like people used to catch taxis.
Heaps and heaps of flying hours in C130s and P3Cs.
What a tourist?
While I was in the
, I went for a fly in a Nimrod aircraft over the
doing another Operation Gateway. Not
a bad trip but these aircraft can’t stay up long as the jets burn fuel
pretty quickly. We were out
for about 7 hours whereas the P3C would be out for up to 12 hours.
I return to TEMPEST and we did about 6 years of work in 4 for the RAAF and
other Government Departments.
So in 1989 and after 22 ½ years all up, I
had had enough of the military and knew that I could get better pay for my
expertise out in civvie street. I
did a short stint in Defence Signal Directorate in
until I was recruited with a very good pay offer to join COMPUCAT Pty Ltd
doing the same job but for big bucks.
I was at this place for 10 years before I took up a 2 year contract
in late 99 in
. More big Bucks but they sure
can keep the great white desert. Canadian
Spring to Autumn is absolutely beautiful and the fishing over there is
absolutely out of this world. 20
to 60 lb salmon, 58 varieties of trout that average 5 pounds or more and
lots of other fish varieties to catch.
Eventually my Canadian friend (who now lives in
) and I got pissed off catching small mouth and big mouth bass all the
time. Fish can only be caught
for 3 months of the year as the rest of the year is under ice during snow
When I came back to Oz I had a little rest at my folks place in
and then returned to
to be with my kids.
I work with one of our extended family - Mike Sheely who is my Supervisor
(lucky bugger, takes all the flak!) and in a semi-retired mode with not
too much stress and plenty of time to paint RAN warships in oils on Canvas
as well as being there for my kids!
1. I had my 21st birthday
in HMAS Brisbane on 25th August 1971 while we were steaming around in
ever decreasing circles chasing the USS Kitty Hawk around the "race
track" at Yankee Station, gulf of Tonkin.
2. I had my 51st birthday
in the Brisbane on 25th August 2001 in Auckland NZ. Shortly after
I arrived back in Australia from Canada, I travelled as a "sea
rider" with 4 other guys from Brisbane to Auckland. A three
day cruise, lucky I had my dads movie camera with me.
So there you go. 30 years
apart and two birthdays on the same ship, don't think too may other guys
can claim this? Oh this time I ate in the WARDROOM , not in the
general seamen's mess!