HMS Raven – safety equipment training in World War 2

My Dad continues his memoirs of the Navy moving from HMS Deadalus to HMS Raven for safety equipment training.

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HMS Raven – safety equipment training in World War 2

As explained before, Daedalus was the main Fleet Air Arm base depot and as the European war ended all manner of Naval categories drifted through. A familiar sight, particularly in the NAAFI which was open to all ratings and non-commissioned ranks were the large numbers of Petty Officers and Chief Petty Officers who were qualified Pilots and Observers. It seemed strange to be rubbing shoulders with say a Chief Petty Officer Pilot who was hardly 20 years of age little older than myself.

There were many Officers too who were extraneous to service needs. Officers of all ranks. In fact, there was an RNVR Captain whose sole job was to supervise ratings who tended the potato fields. Due to shortage of food in war time the entire grassed area between the flight paths was cultivated and potatoes were grown there.

I spent most of the Summer of 1945 at Daedalus until on 14th August I moved to HMS Raven to undergo Trade Training. Raven was in fact Southampton Airport at Eastleigh but at that time remained as a Fleet Air Arm base as there was no civilian flying from the airfield at that stage.

We were accommodated here in wooden huts which were one stage better than the Nissan huts of Daedalus. Discipline also whilst still maintained was not as severe as Daedalus. The Commanding Officer was Commander Saint, a veteran of the defence of Crete and of the Mediterranean Campaign. He has the Naval aviator’s approach to relationships with his men i.e. a more relaxed attitude attitude to discipline than was met with in general in the Navy. Nevertheless that is not to say that you got away with any infringements of discipline. HMS Raven had a small and compact Ships Company and was a happy ship.

The training period was four months and during that time we were taught all about the safety of aircrew. This involved the composition and repair of parachutes, how to look after them and pack them.. How they were used in an emergency to abandon an aircraft and how they were used to supply by air stores, ammunition etc and also to drop lifeboats or dinghies to survivors in the water.

From there we moved onto dinghies of all descriptions once again repair, maintenance and use.

We were also instructed in the various items of survival gear and food rations, how they were to be stored and used.

Having learned all the technicalities we were then taken through the practical use of parachutes, dinghies and survival equipment in simulated conditions so that we understood the importance of doing the job right.

Dinghies were inflated and boarded in Southampton Baths before we graduated to spending several hours in 3 man dinghies in the sea off Southampton.

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