V.E. Day fell on the 8th May whilst we were still at HMS Glendower. Apart from a beer in the NAAFI that night it passed uneventfully although in one of the other Divisions someone set fire to a couple of chalets. As far as were concerned the war was still on in the Far East against the Japanese and that is probably where we were destined for.
We were on the last month of our four months course at this stage. It was a strange experience during these last weeks to see columns of sailors being marched into camp and into a part of the camp which was not normally used and to see them marching out again later in the day dressed as soldiers. I have never heard any mention of this from anyone ever since but can only assume that the European war being over, sailors were a surplus commodity but soldiers were in short supply for the Far East. I can’t imagine that the unfortunate transferred sailors were happy. There was certainly some apprehension among us that we might be so transferred but we weren’t.
Certain events at Glendower serve as a reminder of the time spent there.
Winter mornings of snow or frost when on being roused by shouting Petty Officers at 6am, having to dash 100 yards to the abulution block to toilet, wash and shave. A 56 gallon drum in there was filled to the brim with red hot coke and the sulphur fumes together with the odours of human excrement created a smell that certainly caused you not to linger.
Guard duties were carried out on the cliff tops facing the sea. It was usual for a detail of four sailors to collect rifles, bayonets and ammunition and to march three quarters of a mile to the cliff top where was situated a small hut. Guard duty commenced at 6pm and the detail marched back to camp at 8am next morning.
One particular night I was on duty with three others and at about 6am when daylight came we were patrolling the cliff top when we saw an aerial bomb at the water’s edge. Reported by telephone from the hut to the duty officer back at camp who tersely said “Bring it in”
We went down onto the beach to consider how we should tackle the problem. There seemed to be no help for it but to wade out the couple of yards to pick the bomb up. YOU can imagine the scene of four sailors each pushing one another to the front to pick the thing up when it suddenly moved in the water. Each man had his own personal heart attack until we realised that a wave had caused the bomb to move. Once we had retrieved it we became blase about it and marched back into camp at 8am each carrying the bomb in turns to show how brave we were.
Word came back to us a day or two later that it was not a German high explosive as we had hopes (visions of an award for bravery) but an RAF smoke bomb.