Saturday, 6 February 2016

Arriving in Sierra Leone October 1943

Arriving at Freetown, Sierra Leone October 1943.

Sunday 31st October 1943

Sighted the African coast early in the morning and at 10.10 dropped anchor in Freetown harbour.
The town looks very pretty with brightly coloured houses, the outstanding objects being a church and two wireless aerials. Behind the town to the left is the coastal range of hills.
Large numbers of canoes fill the harbour, some mere dug-outs but others quite decent boats.
At 16.30 the launch arrives to take us ashore and our kit is unloaded by small boys.
We no sooner set foot ashore than scores of boys and girls mob us selling bananas. The first one tastes good.
After a long wait a lorry appears to take us to a place called Hastings where the Air Station is, its commissioned name being H.M.S. Spurwing.
.....after an hour’s travel we turn down a side track, past a cemetery and pull up against a bungalow which is the Regulatory Office of H.M.S. Spurwing.
We have arrived at the end of our journey.

There are many interesting video clips and photographs of the heritage of Sierra Leone at

Also see for the other photographs in my dad's collection.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Exploring Sidney, Australia in 1945

I've noticed on the Internet that 26th January is Australia Day. So, best wishes today to readers in Australia. 

This is an extract from my dad's diary that describes some of his experiences in Australia in 1945 while en-route to join his unit involved in the war in the Pacific.

On the morning of the 9th April 1945 

we arrived at Sydney, largest city in Australia and second largest in the British Empire. Before entering the great harbour the sea was very choppy but once inside became calm and we moved alongside without incident. The main impression I now recall is the first view of the magnificent bridge across the harbour.

About the middle of the afternoon we disembarked and travelled to a Naval Air Station a few miles outside the city which was to be our home for the next few weeks. We settled down and that same night caught the electric train back into the city. Our first call was an eating house (American style with little alcoves for couples) where we made up for the bad food on the ship with steak, eggs and chips. Sydney seems to be full of these houses and also milk bars. Its trams, trains, etc are very antiquated. It seems to be a city of ancient and modern all mixed up.

After the big eats we walked around for a while and finding that all the pubs close at 6p.m. had to go to the Fleet canteen for a drink. This place proved to be full of drunken matelots so we did not waste any time there but went instead to a film. The prices were quite reasonable and the building was very modern having comfortable seats and concealed lighting, but the film itself was very old. We were to find that all the shows out here were very much behind England – some of them I had seen at Royston before leaving home.

Afterwards we ate again and made our way to Central Station which is about the size of Leeds City [Station]. Here we caught a train, but, unfortunately, it proved to be the wrong one and after going to its terminus had to come all the way back and catch the right one. We got back to camp about 4a.m. and it was bitterly cold, found that we had no beds and shivered until 6.30.

The days passed quickly. We went to shows, saw the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, met Mrs Mellors niece, Shirley, ate many, many steaks, eggs, ice-creams, milk shakes, apples, grapes, etc and went for a day to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Just before leaving Sydney spent five days up there.

On Tuesday 8th May 

the newspapers were head-lined "It’s all over in Europe" and gave histories of the last five years. Flags were flying in Sydney but no crowds surged through the streets. We made sure our rooms were booked at the British Centre and went for a drink to celebrate Victory. A couple of drunken sailors were the only signs of the momentous day it was. At seven o’clock we were steaming out of Central Station just as the city began to warm up and celebrate.

If you'd like to read more of I Think I Prefer the Tinned Variety, there's a free sample at:

and for readers in Australia:

Happy Australia Day!

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Update for January 2016

Welcome back to my blog and all good wishes for 2016.

It's been a while since I checked the Amazon reviews for I Think I Prefer the Tinned Variety: The Diary of a Petty Officer in the Fleet Air Arm during World War II. 

I've been delighted to see these reviews posted by readers who've enjoyed the book.

Many thanks to all readers and reviewers.
If you would like to read some of our other titles please check out Spurwing Ebooks.