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Groaning about greenies

I WAS delighted to read Joe Carnill’s letter (May) about the fi rst two entries

Apprentices. I was one year behind Joe, being in the 4th entry. The first four entries had an unsettled progress.

of Aircraft Artifi cer

The first entry from Cosford, went to Caledonia, at Rosyth, for six months’ workshop training before rejoining us at Newcastle-under-Lyne, to where we had transferred at the end of 1940. There were four categories of Aircraft Artificers – Airframes, Engines, Ordnance and Electrical. My entry, the fourth, should have joined at Lee-on-the-Solent in August 1940. However, the infrastructure of that establishment had recently undergone alterations by the young gentlemen of the Luftwaffe and as a consequence, we joined at HMS Medina, formerly known as Billy Butlin’s, Puckpool Park, Ryde, Isle of Wight. It is not generally known that before the first RN entries in 1939, when the RN recaptured the Fleet Air Arm in

1938, some RAF

apprentices sold their birthright for a tot and packet of duty-free fags and became RN Apprentices. After three years’ training, when

we were all about 18, we were turned loose on the Fleet for one year as an Able Rate (Air Fitter) followed by a year as a Leading Air Fitter. In 1945, it was decided to reduce the Aircraft Artificers categories from four to two by combining A&E and O&L, cross-training being inaugurated. Thus I went to HMS Kestrel at

Worthy Down, near Winchester, for six months training in Greenery, which I completed at the end of 1946, being rated AA4(O/L). However, in January 1947, a restructured RN

Electrical branch was inaugurated, subsuming the Air Electrical branch. I was given the choice of becoming an EA(Air) or remaining an AA(O).

By this time I had concluded that electricity was dangerous stuff, so opted for the latter which was just as well as, although I was subsequently commissioned as an Air Ordnance Engineer, no-one would have commissioned me as a Greenie, court martial being a more likely outcome. In the early 50s, Air Ordnance Artificer training

was discontinued in favour of the newer category of Mechanician, although a little later four volunteers did transfer from A&E to O, but they were the last. When the RN officer structure was revised in


Eagle in 1967-68, Air Ordnance became the responsibility of the Air Electrical Dept and, to my dismay, I found myself a Greenie after all, my training in the days when chips went with fish being completely useless. However in retrospect the apprentice training enabled one to tackle almost anything, and it is to be hoped that what replaces it will prove as effective in versatility. You are a long way from a stores depot in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

to saying, when something broke: ‘You’re a Tiffy, make a b.....d.” They usually did.

– M Ayling, Bognor Regis,

what a Tiffy’s counterpane looked like, please see this photo (centre). Why I have still got one is something of a mystery. I will blame my brother, also a Tiff. As you can see, it is somewhat faded now, but then I did pass out in 1959. – Tony Seal, Weymouth RNA Ceremonial Officer

Dinner freed Argonaut dozen

The piece on Malta, Down Memory

Lane to the Gut (page 31, May)

was a reminder of my ship, HMS Argonaut, when we stopped in Malta in 1946. We were returning to Pompey from the Far East and Malta was our last run ashore before reaching Portsmouth. The run ashore was too much for about 12 of the crew, who had been too liberal with the local brew.

They were put into cells by the

Military Police – the Red Caps. I was called into the captain’s cabin to be told that our ship was due to leave Malta the following morning for Portsmouth, and the captain was not prepared to leave without the men. I was instructed to go ashore and do what I could to get them released. I went back to my office and wondered what I could do.

My solution was to ask the captain if he was prepared to invite the boss of the Red Caps (an Army colonel, I believe) to dinner on board our ship. The captain agreed and the colonel accepted. I do not know what happened

at the dinner, but our boys were released.

– W H Procter, ex Lt RNVR,

(Captain’s Secretary

HMS Argonaut), Stroud, Glos

...LOVED the photograph of the old Tiffs’ march past. About as good as the day HMS Fisgard closed, but there were more of us. In case your readers do not know

Those of lesser skills were prone appointment

half-way through as AOEO of

1956, responsibility for the Ordnance was transferred from the Gunnery Branch to the Air Engineering (and not before time)! However,

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