Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Accidental Submariner (Part III)

Arrival in England was at Gatwick Airport, courtesy of the RCAF. I reported to the Canadian Defence Liaison Staff in London, then was directed to Gosport and the Royal Navy's submarine school.
To the best of my recollection there were perhaps four of us RCN refugees in our training class at HMS Dolphin, along with a smattering of Aussies and Kiwis but mostly RN types. Some of the RN fellows were sporting ribbons from the Malaysian campaign, and a few went on to distinguished careers.
Many of my classmates lived on board Dolphin while enrolled in the shore-based officers’ submarine course. The British submariners were a breed apart, with their own traditions and culture, the foundations of which were laid down by their predecessors in the two World Wars.
An activity at which we “colonials” from Canada did not excel at was the game of cricket. For us, the match seemed to go on forever, and to make it more difficult, the rascals bounced the ball before it got to home plate! Very hard to hit.
I can’t say that physical fitness was high on the list of priorities for our training regimen. One of our instructors explained that he belonged to AA: Athletics Anonymous. If he ever felt the urge to do something sporting he would phone his sponsor, who would come straight over with a half dozen bottles of the local brew.
Much more attention was paid to technical aspects of our training. Main line, six-valve chest, cross-connections, kingston valves....The details went on and on, focussing mainly on what we would encounter in Porpoise or Oberon class boats, with some T- and A-boat specifics. Just as well, because it was to an A-boat that the Accidental Submariner was next dispatched. 
(Note--I'd be very happy to hear from other ex- or present-day submariners about their training or other experiences. Feel free to contact me via a comment or email at


Lamont said...

Hi Accidental Submariner. Were all those naval terms confusing to you at the time? Can you provide a short list of definitions for A-boat, T-boat, Porpoise class, Oberon class, for us naval wannabees?

Robert Mackay said...

Yes, it was all very confusing, but it was not something that could ever be admitted! I'll provide some detailed info soon.

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