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ON GUARD. Robert, the mascot of Flinders Naval Depot, minds the caps worn by cadet ratings doing a
paymasters' course at the Officers' Training School.
GUNNERY INSTRUCTION for sailors at Flinders. There's a saying in tue Navy that "a gunner's-eye view of a shiv is a floating nunnery vlattorm."
BLINDERS NAVAL DEPOT-school for sailors
Th ree thousand
men trained yearly now
By BETTY NESBIT
Seagulls and sailors on bicycles were my first im- pressions of Flinders Naval «Depot when I spent a week there to see how Australia trains her sailors.
From the old rose-garden shel- tered behind a clipped hedge, the sea would seem far away if it were not for the seagulls, which settle in white clouds on the parade ground, fly up and down the narrow lane between tlu sleep- ing quarters, and flock in hundreds around the galley doors.
THE bicycles are as much
a part of Flinders as the seagulls. Every member of the Depot's staff either rides a bike or is fond of walking. Dis- tances "between the buildings are long, and an officer on his rounds
rides at least five miles.
His bike has stripes equivalent to rank painted across the rear mud- guard.
But for all this riding about, Flin- ders people never forget for a moment that they are at sea. The complete phraseology of shipboard life is observed by all. At first it sounded a little odd when, driving through wide iron gates into a leafy lined road. I heard the escort officer reporting, "Press party coming aboard, sir."
When war broke out Flinders began to stretch its limbs. It has grown from a depot where 1000 men a year were leisurely trained in peacetime to a base responsible for training three times that number.
This is indicated in the new build- ings.
Two-thirds of the accommodation blocks are new, the hospital has been extended to twice its size. Wrans' quarters have been built.
A group of temporary buildings comprises the Officers' "Training School, which is one of the depot's wartime babies.
The largest part of Flinders ls the New Entry School.
Recruits enter Flinders for a four months' course, which in peacetime was a year. The first month is spent entirely in a disciplinary course, in which they learn naval routine, terms, procedure, and drilling.
They are drafted to their various schools according to the category in which they came into the Service
TORPEDO SCHOOL. Chief Petty-Officer Nicholas Dix (second from ? left) with (from left) A/B.s Robert Turner, Ronald King, Les Bridger,
and Gordon Trotter.
SEAMANSHIP. Recruits at Flinders Naval Deport have 20 minutes' boat pulling exercise each morning to teach them how to handle ship's boats.
electrical and ordnance artificers, stokers to the engineering school, seamen to the seamanship classes, stewards and writers to their classes, and cooks to the galleys.
Most picturesque sight of all this training is provided every morning at precisely 8.30, when a small fleet of whalers puts out from the wharf at the depot.
Manning the boats are future sailors getting their first taste of seamanship, all lads whose ages range from 18 to the early twenties who have just joined the Navy.
At the end of the wharf, which seethes with blue uniforms and white caps, stands Lieutenant-Com- mander D. P. Croft, R.N., disciplin- ary officer for the New Entries.
From him they learn what to do, and, most important, what not to do when one is a sailor in the R.A.N.
In the various schools the raw recruits are continually working with old hands ashore for a spell.
For example, in the bakehouse I saw recruits working along- side men such as Leading-Cook Albert Rees, of Victoria, who had been ashore only a few weeks.
In civilian life a sleeper-cutter, Leading-Cook Rees has been a cook in the Navy for four years. He was serving in an Australian corvette which took part in the invasion of Sicily.
"It was stew for two days in suc- cession," he said. "Made it one day and put a top on it for the next day."
TWO brass dolphins coil them-
selves round the door-post lead- ing into the gunnery school, where
I met Lieutenant-Commander R. J. V. Hodge, R.A.N., who came ashore from HM.A.S. Australia eight months ago to command the school.
"To be a gunner in the Navy is to be the salt of the earth," said Lieut. - Commander Hodge. "Only the rating with superior intelligence is picked for gunnery training."
On a tour of inspection Lieut. Commander Hodge showed me ratings being instructed on a load- ing teacher, replica of a gun in H.M.A.S. Hobart.
He pointed out another class which had commenced with 15 men and Efter a few weeks had decreased to 10. "In gunnery a man has to know his job perfectly. No gunner at all is better than a bad one," he said.
On another machine known as a Rypa men were learning how to direct the fire on to a target. The machine, which carries out the motions of a ship, is named after the initials of the words Roll, Yaw, Pitch, and Alteration of course.
I learnt from Lieut.-Commander Hodge that a ship does not have a band just to play martial music.
The ship's band is a most import- ant section of the gunnery crew. Thc bandsmen are the fire-control ex- perts. They are chosen to bc bands- men because they are musicians in
the first place, but as such they must
The gunners' mates who Instruct the gun crews have a jargon all of
For instance, I heard this from one instructor: "Should the gun misfire the gunlayer shall not say '-it!' nor shall he dwell a pause of two hours and double away for his tot of rum or grab the jaunty (master-at arms) by the lower band (belt) and 'eave 'im over the side, but order 'Still! Misfire. Carryon.'"
This said at top speed at a roar seems to work wonders with a back- ward class.
Typical of the wartime speed-up in training is the course at the cookery school. Head of the school is Paymaster-Lieutenant W. J. Honey bunn, R.A.N., who has been in that job since 1929.
The course used to be 26 weeks; it's now eight, four weeks in the galley and four in the bakehouse. Every cook has to know how to bake bread. Sailors eat a lot of it.
In two years 277 cooks have gone through the school.
"No previous experience neces- sary," said Lieutenant Honeybunn. "I've turned expert bricklayers into cooks in my time." .
There are five sections of officers training at Flinders-officers known as Jogs (Junior Officers, General Services); Junior Reserve Officers; Senior Reserve Officers; newly mobilised officers, such as engineers, doctors, or dentists; and Naval Auxiliary Patrol Officers-in addi- tion to the cadet ratings in the Officers' Training School (O.T.S.), and the W.R.A.N.S. O.T.S.
In peace and war the graduates of the Royal Australian Naval College become the officers for the per- manent Navy.
PETTY-OFFICER J. I. ROBIN- SON, of Melbourne, riding at Flin- ders, where everybody from the Commander down bicycles about.
PLOTTING A COURSE. Cadet ratings Robert Khan and Tom Hogg at work in a navigation class at Officers' Training School.
BREAD-MAKING LESSON for future cooks of the R.A.N. in the
bakehouse at Flinders.
Occasionally in peacetime a "man came up through the hawse pipe" (which is the naval expression for a sailor reaching officer's rank), but this was so rare that special arrangements were made for his training.
But in wartime more ships are built and more men are needed to officer them.
The O.T.S. was instituted in July 13, 1942, to train these officers.
The commanding officer of the school is Commander F. B. James, K.A.N.. formerly in command of an armed merchant cruiser, H.M.S. Kanimbla. His is the job of seeing that in less than a year a man learns what in peacetime would take four years.
"The men who come to us may have been at sea for months and have been recommended by their commanding officer," he said, "or men in the New Entry School who have a sufficiently good educa- tional background may be selected as candidates for an officers'