View Full Version : New Zealand Naval Training Memories

Brian Probetts (Site Admin)
10th September 2015, 12:15 PM
Hi team
Some interesting recollections of ​New Zealand naval ​training days by Jack Donnelly, HMS HOOD and HM Australian Submarine AE1.
Thanks to HMNZS NGAPONA Assn.

Peter Hogg
Royal NZ Naval Assn
South Canterbury Branch
New Zealand



(Another post from WOGI Jack Donnelly (Rtd) – Thank you Jack.)
"You pieces of sh.t! are the lowest, living, crawling objects that God ever put on this earth.....You are at the bottom of the sh.t heap....And today you begin to crawl out of it.!"

And so started the life of a Trainee. True words or just pure.. BS...The life of a Naval trainee begins with meeting new friends, learning the Navy's culture, and is fully influenced by navy senior rates. "In the day" we were totally "divorced" from the outside world, no radios, no TV, and no computerized equipment, we had to be totally focused on the instructors and what they showed and taught us was gospel! We were administered by routines 7 days a week.

I actually joined wearing no underpants, had hardly ever wore proper shoes, poor sense of dress and very little idea of what hygiene was all about. A minimum of two showers per day, ironing all your own clothes. hand washing your kit in a concrete tub or bucket with a large wooden washing board and a cake of sunlight soap and darning your sox and other items of clothing. Today, 55 years on I still do most of these tasks.

Most of the training was physical, polishing the decks of our dorms was achieved by wrapping rags around our feet and "skating" around to present a shiny highly polished deck for the Saturday "Captains cake" rounds. In our dorm (Drake 1) we were taught by our A/PO Dave Bollins to make canvas doilies with tassels to decorate the upper shelves. We were issued with a metre long length of manila rope to carry with us so as to tie the various knots at any time of the day.

The worst punishment you could be awarded 'in the day" was the dreaded No 9's, which meant you wore green anklets/belt, an hours rifle drill (rifles at the high port) two hours extra work in the early hours of the morning and late at night and of course stoppage of leave. They told us that it "Strengthened the Soul"....Yeah right! 15 shillings in the hand and 9 pounds a fortnight automatically went into your bank account, which meant that at the end of a year you could have amassed the grand total of ....216 pounds!

Relaxation occasions were few and far between but there were some. Sports, a weekly movie, sailing expeds, short leave periods, the Sunday 1/2 hour sleep. But the highlight of the week was the Sunday "Free to roam" which meant you were actually allowed to go anywhere on the island for a whole 6 hours!. The ferries brought the ladies across from the mainland, you could mix and mingle and almost feel as though you were once again human. However at 1600 you were once again back to the confines of TAMAKI. That night you would prepare for the next week of training in the life and times of a trainee.

"Tell me and I forget..Show me and I remember..But include me and I learn."

NEXT WEEK in my series I will present...The anecdote of..A bosuns mate.


This image is of the 15th Ordinary Seamen and 9th Ordinary Telegraphists marching through Auckland on Navy Weekend 1950. The Officer in charge is Lt “Teddy” Thorne (later Rear Admiral)

This image is of the 15th Ordinary Seamen and 9th Ordinary Telegraphists marching through Auckland on Navy Weekend 1950. The Officer in charge is Lt “Teddy” Thorne (later Rear Admiral)

(From Tony Goodwin – 339145, 4th intake January 1954. Tony was in the same intake as "Blue" Whitmore and completed his service at Ngapona in April 1957.)
“I worked in the dockyard Drawing office [EMDO] when we were looking at replacement engines for the GM71s. Alec Darroch was the Assistant Engineering Manager [The Engineering Manager was a Naval Commander, Jim East]. We had been involved in sourcing engines for the new police launch Deodar, Alec had been to the UK and determined on Fodens. The Deodar was a dog, including the engines. After this exercise why we stuck with Fodens for the Mls confounded everyone ,except Alec. They were a source of noise pollution par excellence!
He was an interesting fellow. He had been a Dockyard Apprentice, did his AMI[Mec] E and became the real head of Engineering in the Dockyard. I worked with him on replacing the Main reduction gearing on Royalist,which from memory we swapped from the Bellona. I always though Royalist a dog, but some loved her.”


From 27 November 1923 to 28 September 1924 Hood in company with HMS Repulse and vessels of the First Light Cruiser Squadron, participated in the “Cruise of the Special Service Squadron”. This epic journey, known to the public as the “Empire Cruise”, was a highly successful public relations victory for the Empire. It served as a subtle reminder, to friend and foe alike, that Britannia still ruled the waves. The squadron logged over 38,152 miles and visited numerous different countries around the globe. During the course of this cruise, over one million visited the entire squadron, with Hood getting approximately 742,049 visitors alone.